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natural were one of my years unable to deceive such a boy as that. Sixty-seven-sixty-eight. He doth not like the hundredth psalm, the reprobate ! and as for her, she be the impudentest baggage that lives. I would I could get back what she hath so infamously cozened me of! Sixty-nineseventy. That be just right:” he added, as he
proceeded to put this store of gold back by handfuls into the old stocking; and whilst he did so his eyes seemed to glisten with exceeding gratification.
6 'Tis well I married not that villainous jadea murrain on her !” exclaimed he, “ Else the infinite pleasure I find in such brave sight as this, should I not know for long; for all would go to satisfy her prodigal humours. What a dolt was I to let her have of me such store of costly things; and he such an ungodly wretch as not to like the hundredth psalm! My head doth seem to split of this aching. Oh, 'tis an exquisite fine sight to see so much lovely gold !"
«'Tis an exquisite fine sight, indeed!” said a gruff voice, at his elbow.
66 Mur-mur-mur-mur-murder !” screamed Gregory Vellum, as loud as his fright would allow, and letting drop some of the gold upon noticing two fierce-looking men standing over him, regarding his treasures with eyes kindling with excessive covetousness.
“ Take that for thy bawling !” exclaimed one, hitting him sharp over the pate with the pommel of his dagger, “and if thou breathest but a sound loud enough to be heard within a yard of thee, I'll slit thy weasan the same minute.”
“ Nay, what be the use of sparing such an old hunks,” observed the other, who looked the most desperate cut-throat of the two.
66 Let me give him a dig in the ribs, 'twill do his business for him, I'll warrant.”
56 'Sblood! be not such a fool, Tony,” replied the other, sharply. “ He hath more hoards than what we see; and how shall we find 'em, if we make him not point 'em out to us?”
“ True, Jack !” responded the other. 66 So let's bind him whilst we secure the prog around, then will we make him tell where lieth the rest." Then these villains bound the miser, with cords, to the chair on which he sat; he, too frightened either to move or speak, made no noise, save that of his teeth chattering together, and rolling of his eyes, (from which the spectacles had fallen), with extreme fear, as he turned his looks from one to the other.
“ 'Slife! this be a proper windfall, Tony !” cried he that was called Jack, as he proceeded to pour into his hat the contents of the stocking.
6 But I did tell thee the old miser was a bird worth the plucking.”
“ So thou didst, bully rook !" answered Tony. “ But let us count all the coin into thy hat, that we may the easier divide it.”
“ That will not I,” replied the other, with a loud laugh. “ Find a stocking for thyself, man, and mayhap it shall fit thee as doth this me.”
6 What, shall we not share alike, and be hanged to thee?” asked Tony, fiercely, as he undid one of the parcels done up in a dirty rag. ( Nay, I care not,” he added, and instantly swept all the parcels into his hat. “ Each of these be full of Harry the Eighth's nobles.”
“ Nay, then, let us share, Tony," cried Jack, his forbiding visage now seeming disturbed at the other's greater good fortune, “ 'twas but a jest of mine.”
“ 'Sblood! I care not, jest or no jest !” responded Tony with a chuckle of satisfaction, as he poured out the contents of each dirty rag, “ Keep to thy stocking—I'll keep to my rags."
“ Hang thee for a villain !” muttered the other, and then turning round, went straight to the open chest, the which seeing, made the old miser utter a faint exclamation--a sort of wailing that denoted both terror and despair.
“ 'Slife! art weary of thy life?” exclaimed Jack, threatening the trembling scrivener with his drawn dagger, which he held as if about to plunge into the
old man's side, and giving him a look which seemed to make his very blood turn cold within him.
“ Here be the best prize of all !” cried Jack, as he began searching of the chest.
“ Ha! what hast got ?" enquired Tony, hastening to the side of his companion. “I'faith, Jack, this be a prize, indeed !" continued he, as following the other's example, he eagerly commenced hawling out of the chest divers pieces of rich silver plate, such as candlesticks, tankards, drinking cups, plates, and the like, whereof each appropriated as much as he could lay his hands on; yet seemed he to grumble much at whatever his associate did get into his possession. The spirit of avarice was at work in the hearts of both, and the great wealth each one found himself possessed of, only made him all the greedier to have more.
“ If this be not the making of us for life, I know not what filching means," observed one, with his eyes glowing with unlawful pleasure at the costliness of the spoil he was making his own.
“ We will turn honest upon the strength of it," said the other, equally busy at his work. will buy us some place of lordship in the country, and swagger it as bravely as any knight of the shire.”
" And why not become parliament men ?" asked the first. They that have been knights of
the post will make better knights of the shire than any, seeing that they be already marvellous skilful in fingering the people's money.”
“ Ha! ha !—that be true enough,” exclaimed his companion. “ So knights of the shire we must needs become; and then will we have a law made that rogues shall be protected in their calling till they turn honest.”
“Oh !” groaned Gregory Vellum in all a miser's agony, as he beheld his secret treasures passing away from his custody.
66 Ha! What, dost move ?-dost breathe?” cried Jack, scowling at him so ferociously that it did set his teeth a chattering all the more.
66 'Slife !-let's finish him at once," said Tony. 66 Then will he tell no tales. Methinks we shall have enough to do to get away what we have found without seeking for more.”
“ I tell thee we will pluck him bare first," replied the other ferociously. 66 Such a prize comes not in our way oft, therefore are we the more bound to make the most of it we can. For mine own part, I'll risk Tyburn rather than leave him so much as would keep his miserly old carcase for an hour.”
«« Well, hang him for a villain, I care not,” observed his associate. 66 But what have here?” he added, as on putting his hand into