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wordle like a mommick !" she scudded away in order to arrange her curls, without attending to a single one of her mother's directions.
Old Jan Chervil, the grandfather, and his superannuated dame, were, however, still left in the room, the former leaning upon his favourite crutch-headed stick as he sate in the sunshine of the open door, endeavouring by the assistance of spectacles to read the Bible ; the latter ensconced in her customary corner, where she was placed to be out of the way, and plying her eternal spinning-wheel, as if she were herself a piece of machinery.
My good friends," said the stranger, putting his head into the room, while he still held the bridle of his steed from which he had dismounted, “can you tell me the horse-road to Goathurst ? and will you still farther oblige me by a draught of beer, or even of milk and water, for I see no public-house in this hamlet, and I have been riding in the heat for some hours ?"
“ Anan !" ejaculated the old man who had
not heard a syllable of what he said, " speak up, nif you please, Sir, vor I be a zummat dunch.”
“It 's niver-the-near, Sir, to talk to my gaffer," cried the dame, quitting her wheel, curtsying as she hobbled forward, and speaking in the high shrill key she had acquired from screaming to her husband. “ I can hear whatsomiver ye may ha' to zay, but as to Jan he be as dunch as a stwon, poor creetur!' Ye may suppaws, amaybe, he were reading the Bible. Dear hort ! he do but snaggle auver it like, vor his eyes vail en, spite o' tha sparticles on's nose, and zo do his legs too, vor the matter o'thic. Aw, Sir, tha more's tha pity, 'vor a better and kinder-horted gaffer than auld Jan Chervil niver druv plough nor stood atween the stilts, and a good husband hath he been to me, Lord love en! Aw, Sir, it's a sad thing when poor volk auverlive their eyes, and their ears, and their legs, as he hath a doo'd, and I may thank the Lord that I bain't alike Jan, vor I can zee to zet up the spill and worra of my wheel as well as ever, aw, and to dird a niddle, too ;-I can
hear the humming o' tha bees and dumbledores in our gorden, or the purring o' tha cat when she sitteth in yonner winner, and I can stump auver to Bedgwater, and that's more nor Jan hath a dood theazam vive year. To be shower I bain't zo auld as him by a whol twelvemonth, and thic do make all the differ atween us, as it's naatal it shoo'd, you knaw, Sir.”
“Perfectly,” said the stranger smiling, " but nevertheless I should be glad to learn the road to Goathurst."
“ Dang it! I ha' vound thee out,” cried the old woman peering in his face, the expression of her countenance suddenly changing to a look of vacant simpering imbecility as her wandering wits deserted her. “ Thee casn't take in auld dame Chervil, a b'leeve. Thee beest one o' the player volk from Bedgwater that rode Skimmerton, and played the heydigees last Hallantide. Aw, ees, I ha' vound thee out, I ha vound thee out, zo don't ee think to coom here a galliganting, for we ha' no gigleling girls hereaway.”
“ Poor auld soul !” exclaimed the husband, as his dame hobbled back to her wheel and resumed her spinning; “don't ee mind her vlother and northering talk, Sir, for her wits be quite betwattled, thof she be the best creetur in the whol parish o' Liney vor all thic. It's quite shocking ta zee how she do vorget all mander o' things, and dwon't sometimes even knaw her own gaffer. Aw, thank God! I bain't zo far agwon as she. What thof I be zummat dunch, and can't zee ta read without sparticles, and bain't quite so lissome as I war vorty year agoo, I niver talk in thic nonation style ; I ha' got all my gumption about me as sharp as ever, and thic be the main thing auver all, bain't it, Sir ?”
The stranger was amused by this instance of the natural selfishness of old age, even in a mutually attached couple, thus congratulating themselves on their freedom from each other's infirmities, and respectively deeming each lot to be the most fortunate. He thought it perfectly natural that they should snatch at every consolation within their reach; but as he wanted to
learn the horse-road to Goathurst, rather than the respective ailments of these rustic ancients, he repeated his question in a tone that reached the ears of old Jan Chervil, notwithstanding his wife's averment that he as dunch as a stwon.” Before he could answer it, however, his daughter-in-law re-entered with a clean cap, holding Ned's far-famed piece of writing in her newly washed hands. Mortified as she was at finding that the stranger had not come to inspect it, she civilly furnished the information he required ; and in compliance with his farther request, mixed him a' cup of milk and water, during the presentation of which Meg returned to the room, blushing and bridling in the pride of her jauntily arranged curls, and of a sky.coloured neck-handkerchief which she had pinned on as becomingly as possible.
Plague take the wench !" cried the mother, irritated at finding that none of her orders had been obeyed. " What! hast been dizening and curling instead o' doing what I told ee? Begwon then, we dwon't want ee here, so hike