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The following morning came letters to every body from every body else. Reuben had three, one from Hyacinth Primrose, another from his aunt, Mrs. Mountjoy, who was in Scotland, and a third from Mrs. Wyndham, at Geneva, playfully subscribed his loving grandmamma.” Mrs. Medlicott had a very long letter from her friend Theodore, and her husband a communication from the apothecary, both coolly dated from the Vicarage, and giving the minutest details of the progress of the interesting patients, what medicines they were taking, how many blisters had been applied to each, how the father and son had differed once or twice on questions between the leech and the lancet, and how Rose was expected to be the first of the two ladies to leave her chamber.
" The apothecary's Rose," said the Vicar.
“ I think,” said Dr. Page, “ the other girl might appropriately be called Scarletina."
Reuben smiled; he never made a pun himself, but he sometimes graciously encouraged that weakness in others.
Breakfast over, the Doctor went about his professional avocations, which were very extensive, and left his friends to dispose of themselves at their pleasure until evening. The Medlicotts had business to transact also. A very important matter was settled that morning, namely, Reuben's preferment to Cambridge in the autumn, and that having been agreed on, the Vicar thought a quiet economical tour in Wales would for the present be the best thing they could do.
“Let us hear what the Doctor says,” said Mrs. Medlicott, when the dinner hour came round again.
“The Doctor thinks very well of it,” said Page, “if he cannot induce you to stay where you are, but there must be no long marches, and no climbing after Cadwallader and his goats.” “ We shall only creep,” said the Vicar; “is there any
chance of your creeping with us?"
“I have a mind to join you,” said the Doctor; young friend is not strong enough yet to travel without his physician, and by-the-bye, I have got a little carriage, which I think will hold us all comfortably, four inside and one on the box.”
An early day was fixed, and the interval was agreeably spent; Reuben took his father over to Westbury, to pay his respects to Mrs. Reeves, and to show him the place where the great hay-rick stood no longer.
The Vicar had now an opportunity of hearing repeated all
66 I think my
the flattering things of his son, which Mrs. Medlicott had heard before, and though he was not so fondly credulous as his wife, it would be underrating paternal vanity to suppose that he was not pleased on the whole with the vox populi. When it was anrounced that Reuben was on the point of starting on a Welch tour, the effect produced was nearly as electric as if he had been going up in a balloon, or out in the “ Hecla” with Captain Parry.
The great proof, however, of the popularity which our hero had earned by his music, his astrology, and his good-nature, was reserved for the day which was fixed for leaving the neighbourhood. The Doctor's carriage, as it stood at his door, was surrounded with the people from Westbury, all waiting to see Reuben for the last time, and give him and his parents a parting cheer. Nor were some of them content with that easy mode of testifying applause and gratitude. The tradesmen had all joined in the expense of a neat box of carpenter's tools, which he was entreated to accept, as a token of their feelings towards him. The blushing Dolly stood there with a basket of fruit as ripe and glowing as her own rustic charms, and as the carriage drove off amidst general hurrahs, she and the other maidens threw bouquets into it, and pelted him with flowers like a Prima Donna.
“This is too absurd," said the Vicar, receiving a volley of cabbage roses upon one of his ears.
THE MEDLICOTTS ON THEIR TRAVELS.-BEUBEN BUYS A WELOH GRAM
MAR, MAKES THE AOQUAINTANCE OF A WELOH BARD, AND FAILS IN WITH SOME FAIR FRIENDS.
The tour in the Principality was a very agreeable one, though not so easy and comfortable in point of travelling as it is at present. When Reuben Medlicott first visited North Wales, that mountainous region was not quite as easily traversible as the fens of Lincolnshire or Salisbury Plain. * The roads climbed the hills and ran down again into the valleys : for one mile of dull straight route there were twenty of charming zig-zag. Far from shrinking from the edges of ravines and precipices, the wild Cambrian engineers seemed to delight in conducting travellers to them. As to the by-ways, they appeared to have been constructed by the goats and sheep; and there were numerous glens, gorges, hollows, and passen, which
you may now penetrate in a Bath chair, if you please, but through which you must then have travelled on horseback or on foot, if you were not content to imagine their beauties.
The Vicar and the Doctor, being both advanced on the shady side of fifty, affected to have very lively fancies when they came to romantic places of this description; but neither Mrs. Medlicott nor her son were so imaginative. It was easy to say that mountains have all a family likeness, and that one valley must bear a striking resemblance to another, as the elements of all mountain scenery must generally be pretty much the same: Reuben had no notion of travelling through Wales without actually and thoroughly seeing it; and his mother took the same view of the matter, modified only by her prudent consideration for her son's health and her respect for Doctor Page's advice. On the scor of health, however, there soon ceased to be any reasonable ground of anxiety, for the mountain air, with the novel excitement and delight of travelling, had such a beneficial effect on our hero, that after about a week's easy progress, at the rate of about twenty miles a day, he felt and looked as strong as ever he had been in his life, while, as to his appetite, it was such as to gratify his father and mother more than the Cambrian inn-keepers, whose interest in the subject was the reverse of parental. But no host or hostess with a grain of amiability could look at Reuben Medlicott and harbour a hostile feeling towards him, because he picked a leg or shoulder of small mutton almost bare for his dinner. He was the incarnation of good-humour, and continued to make himself popular wherever he came, without the slightest ambition or thought of popularity, for you may suppose he had no sinister object in winning the hearts of the ancient Britons. But everything amused and interested him, and his countenance faithfully reflected the happiness which he enjoyed from morning to night, and which increased with every new scene he visited and every additional mile he travelled. There was no occasion to “bid him discourse.” He was always ready to "enchant the ear." He talked to the Welch people, when they happened to be able to converse in English, as if he felt under personal obligations to them for having such a picturesque country,-such fine lakes, streams, and waterfalls. When conversation was impossible, he looked at them so talkatively, particularly at the women, and paid such a number of sincere little silent compliments to their faces when they were fair, and when it was otherwise, to their costumes, their cottages, their children, or the scenery of their neighbourhood, always to something or another interesting to them, that had the whole Principality been one borough, and had Reuben aspired to represent it, his success would have been highly probable, at least if universal suffrage had been the system established. Mrs. Medlicott would gladly have understood the remarks which were made on her son in return for his various amenities, but her leash of tongues, unfortunately, did not comprehend the ancient one in which those remarks were generally uttered, and she was, therefore, under the necessity of interpreting them by the looks and smiles of the speakers, which were in general quite a sufficient key to the meaning:
They travelled for some days without falling in with anybody of whom they had the slightest knowledge, although Reuben turned over the pages of the travellers' books at every inn where they stopped; volumes, by-the-bye, which amused the Doctor and the Vicar greatly, and which they generally perused in the evenings over their wine or negus. At Aberystwith, however, among the
very latest entries, in the freshest ink, the party found, to their great satisfaction and no small surprise, the names of Hannah and Mary Hopkins, both evidently written by the hand of the latter, but in so hasty and scratchy a way that the Vicar had no doubt she was laughing heartily while she wrote them.
“ Hannah Hopkins in Wales at last !" cried Mrs. Medlicott. A trip to Wales had for many a long year been to the Quakeresses the great desire of their hearts, but one which they had scarcely dared to dream would ever be gratified.
“ Are they not happy ?” cried Reuben.
They will not leave a sprig of heath or fox-glove behind them in the Principality,” said the Vicar. The Quakeresses were wild about flowers, and the wilder the flowers were the wilder were the Quakeresses about them: wherever they rambled (for they had lived all their lives in the country) they gathered brooms of them, which were, indeed, the only ornaments of their humble apartments, except the feathers of peacocks and other domestic birds, of which Hannah especially was a zealous collector.
Reuben made enquiries, and it turned out that the Hopkinses had left the inn only that morning; their destination was not certain, but it was in the direction which the Medlicotts were taking, so that there was a fair chance of a happy reunion at some point or another,—the more unexpected, the more agreeable. We have already mentioned how kind the Vicar always was to old Mrs. Hopkins. Mrs. Medlicott had a sincere regard for her also; and as to the cosy, laughter-loving Mary, she was a favourite everywhere except at meeting, not being half grave enough for the Obadiahs and Rachaels, though she was always dressed as sadly and severely as any of them, which perhaps, however, only made the incorrigible gaiety of her nature the more conspicuous.
Reuben was not long content to be ignorant of the language of the country he was traversing. At Aberystwith he bought a Welch grammar and vocabulary, in a neat little shop on the skirts of the town, at the door of which, overhung by an elm of great age, was a wooden bench, upon which the old bookseller, a seedy but venerable man, was taking his ease; and Mr. Medlicott got into chat with him, while his
wife and son were bargaining for the grammar. He proved to be the parson of the parish as well as the librarian. The Vicar little suspecting this, had been asking him questions about the state of the clergy in Wales, of which he had heard surprising accounts, and among other enquiries had asked what might be the value of the parish they were then in.
“ Twenty pounds a year,” said the old man.
“ A sınall living for a man of education and a gentleman," said the Vicar.
“ There are smaller in the Principality," said the bookseller.
“Selling books must be a more profitable profession," said Mr. Medlicott.
My shop is the best part of my benefice,” said the old man.
The Vicar went into the shop and communicated to his wife and Reuben the strange discovery he had made, for such it appeared to him. The purchase of the grammar had been effected, but they could not leave the reverend bookseller abruptly, and accordingly, as there was room enough on the bench, they sat down, at his courteous invitation, and passed an interesting halfhour in conversation with him. They found that he was an author and a poet, in addition to his other kindred vocations; he was too simple a man to hide any chapter of his history, and when Reuben questioned him about the bards and their lyric rhapsodies, it soon elicited the confession that in his greener days he had attempted a poetical translation of some of the wildest. Being greatly struck with Reuben, and flattered by the interest he felt in the bards, a member of whose sacred corporation he considered himself, he rose from the bench, when he saw his cus