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Lavengro by George Henry Borrow

The beggarly British aristocracy


'I

shouldn't wonder,' said I, 'if you go to America you will say of the President and country what now you say of the King and Church, and cry out for somebody to send you back to England.'

The Radical dashed his pipe to pieces against the table. 'I tell you what, young fellow, you are a spy of the aristocracy, sent here to kick up a disturbance.'

'Kicking up a disturbance,' said I, 'is rather inconsistent with the office of spy. If I were a spy, I should hold my head down, and say nothing.'

The man in black partially raised his head, and gave me another peculiar glance.

'Well, if you aren't sent to spy, you are sent to bully, to prevent people speaking, and to run down the great American nation; but you shan't bully me. I say, down with the aristocracy, the beggarly British aristocracy. Come, what have you to say to that?'

'Nothing,' said I.

'Nothing!' repeated the Radical.

'No,' said I, 'down with them as soon as you can.'

'As soon as I can! I wish I could. But I can down with a bully of theirs. Come, will you fight for them?'

'No,' said I.

'You won't?'

'No,' said I; 'though, from what I have

seen of them, I should say they are tolerably able to fight for themselves.'

'You won't fight for them,' said the Radical triumphantly; 'I thought so; all bullies, especially those of the aristocracy, are cowards. Here, landlord,' said he, raising his voice, and striking against the table with the jug, 'some more ale--he won't fight for his friends.'

'A white feather,' said his companion.

'He! he!' tittered the man in black.

'Landlord, landlord,' shouted the Radical, striking the table with the jug louder than before. 'Who called?' said the landlord, coming in at last. 'Fill this jug again,' said the other, 'and be quick about it.' 'Does any one else want anything?' said the landlord. 'Yes,' said the man in black; 'you may bring me another glass of gin and water.' 'Cold!' said the landlord. 'Yes,' said the man in black, 'with a lump of sugar in it.'

'Gin and water cold, with a lump of sugar in it,' said I, and struck the table with my fist.

'Take some!' said the landlord inquiringly.

'No,' said I, 'only something came into my head.'

'He's mad,' said the man in black.

'Not he,' said the Radical. 'He's only shamming; he knows his master is here, and therefore has recourse to these manoeuvres, but it won't do. Come, landlord, what are you staring at? Why don't you obey your orders? Keeping your customers waiting in this manner is not the way to increase your business.'


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