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ham-hall, said Chilvers, for it has been to let these two years; but how are they to pay for it? I wouldn't have gone to law for myself if he had blocked up my hall door, and compelled me to get in at the top of my house, like Robinson Crusoe; but though I might compromise my own rights, I do not feel at liberty to sacrifice those of the poor, so I'll just step on and call on Mr. Clinch.
Mr. Clinch was a brisk little lawyer, who, by a smirking industry, and technical knowledge of legal quibbles and subleties, had bustled himself into a thriving business, though he knew no more of the leading-principles upon which the noble palladium of the law was built, or of its great expositors, than the rat which is conversant with all the holes, flaws, and hiding-places under St. Paul's, knows of architecture and Sir Christopher Wren. He had lately settled in the neighbourhood, having bought a small brick house at the confluence of thre roads, on whose top he had built a fantastical wooden tower, where he occasionally took his wine and the dust: and upon the strength of this castellated superstructure, and two little brass cannons on the lawn, which were always fired when he set off for London at the commencement of term, he gave his residence the very consistent name of Castle-cottage. The rustics called it the Lawyer's Folly;-Chilvers denominated the tower Mr. Clinch's Coke upon Littleton, and the guns his Term Reports. At this interview, hostilities were resolved on, and the man of law having learnt, in the course of his inquiries, that old Adam Wright remembered when then there was not even a stile at the thoroughfare in question, and had rode through it scores of times on horseback, wrote to my friend requesting he would order the fellow to step up to C-Row, and he would come over, take his bit of mutton with him, and examine the rustic immediately after dinner. Old Adam Wright was a pensioner of the benevolent Squire Tilson, in whose lodge he resided, and as Chilvers knew him to be infirm as well as old, his method of ordering the fellow to step up was to send over a chaise-cart for him, with a civil message requesting an interview. I was in the parlour
when he arrived, and could not help smiling at his rueful looks, when he saw Mr. Clinch at table, with paper before him, and pen in hand. Standing close to the door, as if fearful of advancing, he cast a most suspicious glance from his little grey eyes, which, from the bend of his body, he was obliged to turn upwards, while a sudden blush reddened his wrinkled forehead, and even tinged his bald head. Sit down, Mr. Wright, said my friend, at the same time pouring him out a bumper of wine, which the old man tossed off at one gulp with a dexterity worthy of his younger days. The lawyer stared; Adam Wright sat timidly down-drew up his breath, and again gazed round him suspiciously; but upon learning the object of his examination, presently recovered his composure. I understand, good man, said Mr. Clinch, that you have rode through this field when it was open, scores of times. Never but once, was the reply. Only once! why then did you say you had? I never did say so. Hem! said Clinch-a shy bird. Behold the exaggeration of village gossips, said Chilvers :-but you did once ride through it, Mr. Wright; will you have the goodness to relate to us what you recollect of the circumstances?-I recollect them all, replied Adam, as well as if it happened yesterday, though I was only nine years old at the time.
Mayhap, sir, you might know straight-haired Jack, as they called him, that drove the Cambridge. Chilvers regretted that he never had that honour. Well, sir, I was then apprentice to his own father, old Harrison, that kept the farrier's shop at the lower common.How was it bounded on the north? interrupted Clinch. The Lord knows, resumed Adam. That must be ascertained, however, quoth Clinch, laying down his pen. It can't be done no how, said Adam, for the great stack of chimneys has fallen in, right where I used to stand and blow the bellows. God preserve us! thank heaven, there's only a low chimney to our lodge. See how an old man clings to life, whispered Chilvers; he never troubled his head about chimneys when he was young. -Well, sir, said Wright in continuation, old Harrison
(I called him master then) had been trumpeter or horsedoctor in the Greys Which was he? again interrupted Clinch-he must have been one or the other. No, sir, he wasn't, for I believe he was both. Ay, that will do-go on. Well, he served in the Greys, I don't know how many years, and when he was discharged superannuated, they allowed him to buy his grey mare that he always rode: and how old she was, I know not, for the mark was out of her mouth afore ever she came to him, and he rode her twelve years in the army.-Upon this mare he used to go about for orders, attending the gentlemen's hunters round the country, and what not; but never suffered any body to mount her without it was himself. He had only to call out Polly, and she would come running up to him directly, and would follow him up and down town, just like a dog, without ever a bridle, no, nor so much as a halter.-Well, master never breakfasted at home:-the first thing in the morning, he used to put some soft gingerbread in his pocket, for his teeth were knocked out at some great battle, and go down to the King's Head, and there if you passed the bow window you would be sure to see him in his cocked hat sitting behind a half pint of purl. On the morning I was telling you of You have told us of no morning yet, cried Clinch. I mean the morning when I rode through the field in the afternoon;-on that morning I took Polly down to the King's Head according to orders, as master was going over to Romford to look at Squire Preston's hunter that was took ill; but it seems that just as he got to Woodlyend, down came Polly, and a terrible fall by all accounts it was. However, master wasn't much hurt, but we saw something had happened by his coming home without Polly, though he never said a word, but desired us all, for he kept three men besides me, to leave off work, take spades, and dig a great hole in the yard, while he broke up the ground for us with a pickaxe. To work we went, and in three hours we had made a rare pit, all wondering what it could mean.-Adam, said he to me when we had done, go to the paddock at the upper common, where you will find Polly; bring her here, but
don't offer to get upon her back, and don't go faster than a walk.-So I took a halter-Was it leather or rope? inquired Clinch; Adam could not tell, so he proceeded. When I got to the paddock, there was Polly, sure enough, with her knees all bloody; but as I saw she wasn't lame at all, and seemed in good spirits, I put the halter in her mouth, and going back a little, so as to get a short run, I put my hand upon her shoulder, and jumped upon her back. Jumped upon her back! echoed Clinch, looking incredulously at the decrepit object before him. Lord love you, continued Adam, I was then as nimble as a squirrel, and as lissome as a withy. So I rode her across this here field, for there wasn't even a stile then, nor any sign of one, and got off when we reached the high road, for fear of being seen, and led her into our yard, where master was sitting in his cocked hat, and the men all whispering together up in a corner. As soon as I came in, he called out to our big foreman; Sam, says he, step up into my room, and bring me down the horse pistols that I took from the French officer at the battle of -; I forget what place he said, but I know it ended with a quet, or a narde, or some such sound; so I can't be much out. -They glittered as he took them out of their cases, for he always cleaned them every Sunday morning; and as I stared first at master as he proceeded to load them, putting two bullets in each-then at the great hole in the ground, then at the men all looking solemn-like, and then at poor Polly, gazing in master's face, while her knees and legs were covered with blood, I felt my heart beat, and was all over in a fluster. When he had finished loading the pistols, he went and stood in front of the mare. Polly, said he, I have rode thee these sixteen years over road and river, through town and country, by night and by day, through storm and sunshine, and thou never made a bolt or a boggle with me till now. -Thou hast carried me over five thousand dead bodies before breakfast, and twice saved my life-once when the allies left us in the lurch, and we were obliged to scamper for it; once when our company fell into an
ambush, and only thirty men escaped. We must both die soon, and should I go first, which I may quickly do if you give me such another tumble, it will be a bad day's work for thee. Thou wouldst not wish to be starved, and mauled, and worked to death, and thy carcass given over to the nackers, wouldst thou? Polly put down her head, and rubbed it against him, and while she was doing so, he tied a handkerchief over her eyes, and kissing her first on one side of the face, and then on the other, he said, Polly, God bless thee! and instantly fired one of his pistols right into her ear. She fell down, gave one kick, and never moved nor moaned afterwards; but I remember the tears gushed out of my eyes just as if a Christian had been shot, and even big Sam looked ready to cry as he stood over her, and said, poor Polly! We buried her in the hole, and master told us we had wrought enough for one day, and might spend the afternoon where we liked; and he was just going to fire his other pistol in the air, when he saw a crow on the top of the weather-cock; and, sure enough, he brought her down, for he was a rare shot, After all it was a cruel thing to use a poor dumb beast in that way, only for tumbling with him; and no one could tell why he buried her in the yard, when the Squire's gamekeeper would have given a fair price for the carcass to feed the hounds. But old Harrison was an odd one! Ah! we've got a mort of regular doctors in the parish now, besides the poticary, and I dare say they may do well enough for Christians, and such like, but I reckon there's ne'er a one of 'em could stop the - glanders in a horse like master Harrison.
I have given this dialogue, and old Adam Wright's examination circumstantially, because every particular is deeply fixed in my own recollection, by the fatal results of which the affair was speedily productive. Chilvers, as I have mentioned, had been ill when he sallied forth to read the placard announcing the shutting up of the footpath. Upon that occasion he got wethe sat some time at Mr. Clinch's; his complaint, which was the gout, was driven into his stomach; and in