King of the Beggars - Chapter XXXIV

Chapter XXXIV

He turns Conjurer; and is Revenged on the Uncharitable

            Sometimes he and his wife, in conjunction with Coleman and his wife, being all dressed genteelly, passed for Gypsies of extraordinary knowledge and reputation: many a poor credulous unsuspecting person became their prey, and many a good booty they got in almost every town of the counties of Cornwall and Devon. Once in particular, himself and Coleman, with both their spouses, being in Buckford-sleigh, near Exeter, one Mr. Collard, a wealthy but simple shoemaker, came to their quarters, to consult them on a very intricate and important affair; he told them, "that it was the opinion of everybody in the country, that his grandmother had somewhere concealed very large sums of money before her death, and that himself, by several dreams, was confirmed in the same opinion, and that he thought proper to advise with them upon the affair; not doubting but they, by the help of their profound learning and knowledge, for which they were so famous through the west, were capable of informing him in what particular place he might find this particular treasure, which if they would discover to him, he would give them thirty guineas."

            Our magicians, after long deliberation and consultation with their books, told him, "that if he would that night take a walk with one of them, he would see the spirit of his grandmother; that he must not be afraid of the apparition, but follow it till it vanished away, and in that individual spot of ground from which the ghost vanished, there he would find the hidden treasure."

            In order for the execution of this scheme, Coleman put a woman's cap on his head, washed his face, and sprinkled meal on it while wet, stuck the broken pieces of a tobacco-pipe between his teeth, and wrapping his body in a white sheet, planted himself in the road that Collard and Mr. Carew were to come; the moon at this time shone very bright, which gave an additional horror to the pretended spectre. Our hero, by virtue of his supposed profound learning and most mysterious science, spoke to it in an unknown language, to the following effect:—High, mort, bush rumley to the toggy cull, and ogle him in the muns; at which command the terrific hobgoblin fiercely advanced up to poor Collard, and with a most ghastly look stared him in the face; the shoemaker was greatly terrified thereat, and shook and trembled as if a fit of the ague had been upon him, and, creeping close to Mr. Carew, laid fast hold of his clothes, imagining he had sufficient power to protect him from the threatening appearance of this insolent apparition; whereupon he bid the ghost, hike to the vile; and would have persuaded the frightened Collard to have followed his departing grandmother, in order to observe the particular place from which she vanished; but no persuasions of his could induce him to move from his side.

            They then returned to the alehouse they had left, and Mr. Carew (this method of conjuration miscarrying through the shoemaker's fear,) cast a figure, and informed Crispin, that, if he took up two or three planks of the floor of his little parlour, he would there find the concealed treasure, at the depth of about three or four feet: upon his hearing this joyful news, the shoemaker instantly disbursed the thirty guineas, highly extolling them as people of the profoundest skill that he had ever heard of or conversed with: but whether he was of the same opinion when he came to dig for the treasure, we will not take upon us to say—but we may suppose the contrary.

            Happening, a short time after this, to be in Brakeness, near Lymington, in the character of a cast-away seaman, he went to the house of Mr. Joseph Haze, an eminent and wealthy Presbyterian parson, of whom he begged relief, in the most earnest manner he was able, for God's sake, with uplifted eyes and hands, and upon his bended knee; but could not with all his importunity and eloquence obtain a crust of bread, or a draught of small beer. Mr. Carew, not accustomed to be unsuccessful in his applications, could by no means brook this churlishness of the parson, and thought it highly necessary, for the benefit of his community, that it should not go unpunished. He was a great sportsman, and had two fine greyhounds, the one named Hector, the other Fly; and two excellent spaniels, Cupid and Dido, and an admirable setting dog, called Sancho. Our hero, therefore, about twelve o'clock on the same night, paid a second visit to the parson's house, and brought away all these fine dogs with him. And afterwards he sent a letter to the parson, to this purpose:—

            "REV. SIR,
            "You err, if you suspect yourself to have been wronged of your dogs by any of your neighbours; the cast-away seaman, who begged so earnestly, for the love of God, to whom you would not vouchsafe a crust of bread, or a draught of small beer, took them away, to teach you another time to behave to unfortunate strangers more as becomes your profession, and your plentiful circumstances."

            The mayor of Weymouth, in Dorsetshire, fared little better at his hands. This gentleman was an implacable enemy to all Mr. Carew's subjects. He therefore, happening to be in that town, and overhearing the mayor talking to a gentleman in the street, and saying that he was going to dine with Captain Colloway, of Upton, he thought this a proper opportunity for taking some revenge of the mayor, for the many indignities he had put on his subjects. Having soon got intelligence what suits of clothes the mayor had, and understanding he had a good snuff-coloured suit, he went to his house, and informed the lady mayoress that he was a seaman under misfortunes, had met with the mayor, as he was going to dinner at Captain Colloway's, of Upton, and his honour had sent him to her, giving him orders to receive his snuff-coloured suit of clothes from her; which the good natured gentlewoman hearing, without the least scruple, quickly brought him the coat, waistcoat, and breeches. Thus our hero, by turning his natural ingenuity to account, procured a handsome suit of clothes, while, at the same time, he was revenging himself upon his enemy; fulfilling the old proverb of killing two dogs with one stone. It is unnecessary to say, that our hero departed from Weymouth forthwith.

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