In the kitchen Sally was extremely busy--saucepans
and frying-pans were standing in rows on the gigantic hearth,
the huge stock-pot stood in a corner, and the jack turned with
slow deliberation, and presented alternately to the glow every
side of a noble sirloin of beef. The two little kitchen-maids
bustled around, eager to help, hot and panting, with cotton sleeves
well tucked up above the dimpled elbows, and giggling over some
private jokes of their own, whenever Miss Sally's back was turned
for a moment. And old Jemima, stolid in temper and solid in bulk,
kept up a long and subdued grumble, while she stirred the stock-pot
methodically over the fire.
"What ho! Sally!" came in cheerful if none too
melodious accents from the coffee-room close by.
"Lud bless my soul!" exclaimed Sally, with a
good-humoured laugh, "what be they all wanting now, I wonder!"
"Beer, of course," grumbled Jemima, "you don't
`xpect Jimmy Pitkin to `ave done with one tankard, do ye?"
"Mr. `Arry, `e looked uncommon thirsty too,"
simpered Martha, one of the little kitchen-maids; and her beady
black eyes twinkled as they met those of her companion, whereupon
both started on a round of short and suppressed giggles.
Sally looked cross for a moment, and thoughtfully
rubbed her hands against her shapely hips; her palms were itching,
evidently, to come in contact with Martha's rosy cheeks--but inherent
good-humour prevailed, and with a pout and a shrug of the shoulders,
she turned her attention to the fried potatoes.
"What ho, Sally! hey, Sally!"
And a chorus of pewter mugs, tapped with impatient
hands against the oak tables of the coffee-room, accompanied the
shouts for mine host's buxom daughter.
"Sally!" shouted a more persistent voice, "are
ye goin' to be all night with that there beer?"
"I do think father might get the beer for them,"
muttered Sally, as Jemima, stolidly and without further comment,
took a couple of foam-crowned jugs from the shelf, and began filling
a number of pewter tankards with some of that home-brewed ale
for which "The Fisherman's Rest" had been famous since that days
of King Charles. "`E knows `ow busy we are in `ere."
"Your father is too busy discussing politics
with Mr. `Empseed to worry 'isself about you and the kitchen,"
grumbled Jemima under her breath.
Sally had gone to the small mirror which hung
in a corner of the kitchen, and was hastily smoothing her hair
and setting her frilled cap at its most becoming angle over her
dark curls; then she took up the tankards by their handles, three
in each strong, brown hand, and laughing, grumbling, blushing,
carried them through into the coffee room.
There, there was certainly no sign of that bustle
and activity which kept four women busy and hot in the glowing
The coffee-room of "The Fisherman's Rest" is
a show place now at the beginning of the twentieth century. At
the end of the eighteenth, in the year of grace 1792, it had not
yet gained the notoriety and importance which a hundred additional
years and the craze of the age have since bestowed upon it. Yet
it was an old place, even then, for the oak rafters and beams
were already black with age--as were the panelled seats, with
their tall backs, and the long polished tables between, on which
innumerable pewter tankards had left fantastic patterns of many-sized
rings. In the leaded window, high up, a row of pots of scarlet
geraniums and blue larkspur gave the bright note of colour against
the dull background of the oak.
That Mr. Jellyband, landlord of "The Fisherman's
Reef" at Dover, was a prosperous man, was of course clear to the
most casual observer. The pewter on the fine old dressers, the
brass above the gigantic hearth, shone like silver and gold--the
red-tiled floor was as brilliant as the scarlet geranium on the
window sill--this meant that his servants were good and plentiful,
that the custom was constant, and of that order which necessitated
the keeping up of the coffee-room to a high standard of elegance
As Sally came in, laughing through her frowns,
and displaying a row of dazzling white teeth, she was greeted
with shouts and chorus of applause.
"Why, here's Sally! What ho, Sally! Hurrah for
"I thought you'd grown deaf in that kitchen of
yours," muttered Jimmy Pitkin, as he passed the back of his hand
across his very dry lips.
"All ri'! all ri'!" laughed Sally, as she deposited
the freshly-filled tankards upon the tables, "why, what a `urry
to be sure! And is your gran'mother a-dyin' an' you wantin' to
see the pore soul afore she'm gone! I never see'd such a mighty
rushin'" A chorus of good-humoured laughter greeted this witticism,
which gave the company there present food for many jokes, for
some considerable time. Sally now seemed in less of a hurry to
get back to her pots and pans. A young man with fair curly hair,
and eager, bright blue eyes, was engaging most of her attention
and the whole of her time, whilst broad witticisms anent Jimmy
Pitkin's fictitious grandmother flew from mouth to mouth, mixed
with heavy puffs of pungent tobacco smoke.
Facing the hearth, his legs wide apart, a long
clay pipe in his mouth, stood mine host himself, worthy Mr. Jellyband,
landlord of "The Fisherman's Rest," as his father had before him,
aye, and his grandfather and greatgrandfather too, for that matter.
Portly in build, jovial in countenance and somewhat bald of pate,
Mr. Jellyband was indeed a typical rural John Bull of those days--the
days when our prejudiced insularity was at its height, when to
an Englishman, be he lord, yeoman, or peasant, the whole of the
continent of Europe was a den of immorality and the rest of the
world an unexploited land of savages and cannibals.
There he stood, mine worthy host, firm and well
set up on his limbs, smoking his long churchwarden and caring
nothing for nobody at home, and despising everybody abroad. He
wore the typical scarlet waistcoat, with shiny brass buttons,
the corduroy breeches, and grey worsted stockings and smart buckled
shoes, that characterised every self-respecting innkeeper in Great
Britain in these days--and while pretty, motherless Sally had
need of four pairs of brown hands to do all the work that fell
on her shapely shoulders, worthy Jellyband discussed the affairs
of nations with his most privileged guests.
The coffee-room indeed, lighted by two well-polished
lamps, which hung from the raftered ceiling, looked cheerful and
cosy in the extreme. Through the dense clouds of tobacco smoke
that hung about in every corner, the faces of Mr. Jellyband's
customers appeared red and pleasant to look at, and on good terms
with themselves, their host and all the world; from every side
of the room loud guffaws accompanied pleasant, if not highly intellectual,
conversation--while Sally's repeated giggles testified to the
good use Mr. Harry Waite was making of the short time she seemed
inclined to spare him.
They were mostly fisher-folk who patronised Mr.
Jellyband's coffee-room, but fishermen are known to be very thirsty
people; the salt which they breathe in, when they are on the sea,
accounts for their parched throats when on shore. but "The Fisherman's
Rest" was something more than a rendezvous for these humble folk.
The London and Dover coach started from the hostel daily, and
passengers who had come across the Channel, and those who started
for the "grand tour," all became acquainted with Mr. Jellyband,
his French wines and his home-brewed ales.
It was towards the close of September, 1792,
and the weather which had been brilliant and hot throughout the
month had suddenly broken up; for two days torrents of rain had
deluged the south of England, doing its level best to ruin what
chances the apples and pears and late plums had of becoming really
fine, self-respecting fruit. Even now it was beating against the
leaded windows, and tumbling down the chimney, making the cheerful
wood fire sizzle in the hearth.
"Lud! did you ever see such a wet September,
Mr. Jellyband?" asked Mr. Hempseed.
He sat in one of the seats inside the hearth,
did Mr. Hempseed, for he was an authority and important personage
not only at "The Fisherman's Rest," where Mr. Jellyband always
made a special selection of him as a foil for political arguments,
but throughout the neighborhood, where his learning and notably
his knowledge of the Scriptures was held in the most profound
awe and respect. With one hand buried in the capacious pockets
of his corduroys underneath his elaborately-worked, well-worn
smock, the other holding his long clay pipe, Mr. Hempseed sat
there looking dejectedly across the room at the rivulets of moisture
which trickled down the window panes.
"No," replied Mr. Jellyband, sententiously, "I
dunno, Mr. 'Empseed, as I ever did. An' I've been in these parts
nigh on sixty years."
"Aye! you wouldn't rec'llect the first three
years of them sixty, Mr. Jellyband," quietly interposed Mr. Hempseed.
"I dunno as I ever see'd an infant take much note of the weather,
leastways not in these parts, an' I've lived `ere nigh
on seventy-five years, Mr. Jellyband."
The superiority of this wisdom was so incontestable
that for the moment Mr. Jellyband was not ready with his usual
flow of argument.
"It do seem more like April than September, don't
it?" continued Mr. Hempseed, dolefully, as a shower of raindrops
fell with a sizzle upon the fire.
"Aye! that it do," assented the worth host, "but
then what can you `xpect, Mr. `Empseed, I says, with sich a government
as we've got?"
Mr. Hempseed shook his head with an infinity
of wisdom, tempered by deeply-rooted mistrust of the British climate
and the British Government.
"I don't `xpect nothing, Mr. Jellyband," he said.
"Pore folks like us is of no account up there in Lunnon, I knows
that, and it's not often as I do complain. But when it comes to
sich wet weather in September, and all me fruit a-rottin' and
a-dying' like the `Guptian mother's first born, and doin' no more
good than they did, pore dears, save a lot more Jews, pedlars
and sich, with their oranges and sich like foreign ungodly fruit,
which nobody'd buy if English apples and pears was nicely swelled.
As the Scriptures say--"
"That's quite right, Mr. `Empseed," retorted
Jellyband, "and as I says, what can you `xpect? There's all them
Frenchy devils over the Channel yonder a-murderin' their king
and nobility, and Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke a-fightin'
and a-wranglin' between them, if we Englishmen should `low them
to go on in their ungodly way. `Let 'em murder!' says Mr. Pitt.
`Stop `em!' says Mr. Burke."
"And let `em murder, says I, and be demmed to
`em." said Mr. Hempseed, emphatically, for he had but little liking
for his friend Jellyband's political arguments, wherein he always
got out of his depth, and had but little chance for displaying
those pearls of wisdom which had earned for him so high a reputation
in the neighbourhood and so many free tankards of ale at "The
"Let `em murder," he repeated again, "but don't
lets `ave sich rain in September, for that is agin the law and
the Scriptures which says--"
"Lud! Mr. `Arry, `ow you made me jump!"
It was unfortunate for Sally and her flirtation
that this remark of hers should have occurred at the precise moment
when Mr. Hempseed was collecting his breath, in order to deliver
himself one of those Scriptural utterances which made him famous,
for it brought down upon her pretty head the full flood of her
"Now then, Sally, me girl, now then!" he said,
trying to force a frown upon his good-humoured face, "stop that
fooling with them young jackanapes and get on with the work."
"The work's gettin' on all ri', father."
But Mr. Jellyband was peremptory. He had other
views for his buxom daughter, his only child, who would in God's
good time become the owner of "The Fisherman's Rest," than to
see her married to one of these young fellows who earned but a
precarious livelihood with their net.
"Did ye hear me speak, me girl?" he said in that
quiet tone, which no one inside the inn dared to disobey. "Get
on with my Lord Tony's supper, for, if it ain't the best we can
do, and `e not satisfied, see what you'll get, that's all."
Reluctantly Sally obeyed.
"Is you `xpecting special guests then to-night,
Mr. Jellyband?" asked Jimmy Pitkin, in a loyal attempt to divert
his host's attention from the circumstances connected with Sally's
exit from the room.
"Aye! that I be," replied Jellyband, "friends
of my Lord Tony hisself. Dukes and duchesses from over the water
yonder, whom the young lord and his friend, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes,
and other young noblemen have helped out of the clutches of them
But this was too much for Mr. Hempseed's querulous
"Lud!" he said, "what do they do that for, I
wonder? I don't 'old not with interferin' in other folks' ways.
As the Scriptures say--"
"Maybe, Mr. `Empseed," interrupted Jellyband,
with biting sarcasm, "as you're a personal friend of Mr. Pitt,
and as you says along with Mr. Fox: `Let `em murder!' says you."
"Pardon me, Mr. Jellyband," febbly protested
Mr. Hempseed, "I dunno as I ever did."
But Mr. Jellyband had at last succeeded in getting
upon his favourite hobby-horse, and had no intention of dismounting
in any hurry.
"Or maybe you've made friends with some of them
French chaps 'oo they do say have come over here o' purpose to
make us Englishmen agree with their murderin' ways."
"I dunno what you mean, Mr. Jellyband," suggested
Mr. Hempseed, "all I know is--"
"All I know is," loudly asserted mine
host, "that there was my friend Peppercorn, `oo owns the `Blue-Faced
Boar,' an' as true and loyal an Englishman as you'd see in the
land. And now look at 'im!--'E made friends with some o' them
frog-eaters, `obnobbed with them just as if they was Englishmen,
and not just a lot of immoral, Godforsaking furrin' spies. Well!
and what happened? Peppercorn `e now ups and talks of revolutions,
and liberty, and down with the aristocrats, just like Mr. `Empseed
"Pardon me, Mr. Jellyband," again interposed
Mr. Hempseed feebly, "I dunno as I ever did--"
Mr. Jellyband had appealed to the company in
general, who were listening awe-struck and open-mouthed at the
recital of Mr. Peppercorn's defalcations. At one table two customers--gentlemen
apparently by their clothes--had pushed aside their half-finished
game of dominoes, and had been listening for some time, and evidently
with much amusement at Mr. Jellyband's international opinions.
One of them now, with a quiet, sarcastic smile still lurking round
the corners of his mobile mouth, turned towards the centre of
the room where Mr. Jellyband was standing.
"You seem to think, mine honest friend," he said
quietly, "that these Frenchmen,--spies I think you called them--are
mighty clever fellows to have made mincemeat so to speak of your
friend Mr. Peppercorn's opinions. How did they accomplish that
now, think you?"
"Lud! sir, I suppose they talked `im over. Those
Frenchies, I've `eard it said, `ave got the gift of gab--and Mr.
`Empseed `ere will tell you `ow it is that they just twist some
people round their little finger like."
"Indeed, and is that so, Mr. Hempseed?" inquired
the stranger politely.
"Nay, sir!" replied Mr. Hempseed, much irritated,
"I dunno as I can give you the information you require."
"Faith, then," said the stranger, "let us hope,
my worthy host, that these clever spies will not succeed in upsetting
your extremely loyal opinions."
But this was too much for Mr. Jellyband's pleasant
equanimity. He burst into an uproarious fit of laughter, which
was soon echoed by those who happened to be in his debt.
"Hahaha! hohoho! hehehe!" He laughed in every
key, did my worthy host, and laughed until his sided ached, and
his eyes streamed. "At me! hark at that! Did ye `ear `im say that
they'd be upsettin' my opinions?--Eh?--Lud love you, sir, but
you do say some queer things."
"Well, Mr. Jellyband," said Mr. Hempseed, sententiously,
"you know what the Scriptures say: `Let `im `oo stands take `eed
lest `e fall.'"
"But then hark'ee Mr. `Empseed," retorted Jellyband,
still holding his sides with laughter, "the Scriptures didn't
know me. Why, I wouldn't so much as drink a glass of ale with
one o' them murderin' Frenchmen, and nothin' `d make me change
my opinions. Why! I've `eard it said that them frog-eaters can't
even speak the King's English, so, of course, if any of `em tried
to speak their God-forsaken lingo to me, why, I should spot them
directly, see!--and forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes."
"Aye! my honest friend," assented the stranger
cheerfully, "I see that you are much too sharp, and a match for
any twenty Frenchmen, and here's to your very good health, my
worthy host, if you'll do me the honour to finish this bottle
of mine with me."
"I am sure you're very polite, sir," said Mr.
Jellyband, wiping his eyes which were still streaming with the
abundance of his laughter, "and I don't mind if I do."
The stranger poured out a couple of tankards
full of wine, and having offered one to mine host, he took the
"Loyal Englishmen as we all are," he said, whilst
the same humorous smile played round the corners of his thin lips--"loyal
as we are, we must admit that this at least is one good thing
which comes to us from France."
"Aye! we'll none of us deny that, sir," assented
"And here's to the best landlord in England,
our worthy host, Mr. Jellyband," said the stranger in a loud tone
"Hi, hip, hurrah!" retorted the whole company
present. Then there was a loud clapping of hands, and mugs and
tankards made a rattling music upon the tables to the accompaniment
of loud laughter at nothing in particular, and of Mr. Jellyband's
"Just fancy me bein' talked over by any
God-forsaken furriner!--What?--Lud love you, sir, but you do say
some queer things."
To which obvious fact the stranger heartily assented.
It was certainly a preposterous suggestion that anyone could ever
upset Mr. Jellyband's firmly-rooted opinions anent the utter worthlessness
of the inhabitants of the whole continent of Europe.
to Chapter 3 - THE REFUGEES
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