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Lavengro by George Henry Borrow

Then that sap is not your father


_Myself_.

What good could I do you?

_Man_. What good? plenty! Would you not bring us luck? I have heard say that one of them there always does, if it will but settle down. Stay with us, you shall have a tilted cart all to yourself if you like. We'll make you our little God Almighty, and say our prayers to you every morning!

_Myself_. That would be nice; and, if you were to give me plenty of these things, I should have no objection. But what would my father say? I think he would hardly let me.

_Man_. Why not? he would be with you; and kindly would we treat him. Indeed, without your father you would be nothing at all.

_Myself_. That's true; but I do not think he could be spared from his regiment. I have heard him say that they could do nothing without him.

_Man_. His regiment! What are you talking about?--what does the child mean?

_Myself_. What do I mean!--why, that my father is an officer-man at the barracks yonder, keeping guard over the French prisoners.

_Man_. Oh! then that sap is not your father?

_Myself_. What, the snake? Why, no! Did you think he was?

_Man_. To be sure we did. Didn't you tell me so?

_Myself_. Why, yes;

but who would have thought you would have believed it? It is a tame one. I hunt vipers, and tame them.

_Man_. O--h!

'O--h!' grunted the woman, 'that's it, is it?'

The man and woman, who during this conversation had resumed their former positions within the tent, looked at each other with a queer look of surprise, as if somewhat disconcerted at what they now heard. They then entered into discourse with each other in the same strange tongue which had already puzzled me. At length the man looked me in the face, and said, somewhat hesitatingly, 'So you are not one of them there after all?'

_Myself_. One of them there? I don't know what you mean.

_Man_. Why, we have been thinking you were a goblin--a devilkin! However, I see how it is: you are a sap-engro, a chap who catches snakes, and plays tricks with them! Well, it comes very nearly to the same thing; and if you please to list with us, and bear us pleasant company, we shall be glad of you. I'd take my oath upon it, that we might make a mort of money by you and that sap, and the tricks it could do; and, as you seem fly to everything, I shouldn't wonder if you would make a prime hand at telling fortunes.

'I shouldn't wonder,' said I.

_Man_. Of course. And you might still be our God Almighty, or at any rate our clergyman, so you should live in a tilted cart by yourself, and say prayers to us night and morning--to wifelkin here, and all our family; there's plenty of us when we are all together: as I said before, you seem fly, I shouldn't wonder if you could read?


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