'And I am glad to see you,Mr.Petulengro;but this is sad news which you tell me about Mrs.Herne.'
'Somewhat dreary,brother;yet,perhaps,after all,it is a good thing that she is removed;she carried so much Devil's tinder about with her,as the man said.'
'I am sorry for her,'said I;'more especially as I am the cause of her death-though the innocent one.'
'She could not bide you,brother,that's certain;but that is no reason'-said Mr.Petulengro,balancing himself upon the saddle-'that is no reason why she should prepare drow to take away your essence of life;and,when disappointed,to hang herself upon a tree:if she was dissatisfied with you,she might have flown at you,and scratched your face;or,if she did not judge herself your match,she might have put down five shillings for a turn-up between you and some one she thought could beat you-myself,for example-and so the matter might have ended comfortably;but she was always too fond of covert ways,drows,and brimstones.This is not the first poisoning affair she has been engaged in.'
'You allude to drabbing bawlor.'
'Bah!'said Mr.Petulengro;'there's no harm in that.No,no!she has cast drows in her time for other guess things than bawlor;both Gorgios and Romans have tasted of them,and died.Did you never hear of the poisoned plum pudding?'
'Then I will tell you about it.It happened about six years ago,a few months after she had quitted us-she had gone first amongst her own people,as she called them;but there was another small party of Romans,with whom she soon became very intimate.It so happened that this small party got into trouble;whether it was about a horse or an ass,or passing bad money,no matter to you and me,who had no hand in the business;three or four of them were taken and lodged in-Castle,and amongst them was a woman;but the sherengro,or principal man of the party,and who it seems had most hand in the affair,was still at large.All of a sudden a rumour was spread abroad that the woman was about to play false,and to 'peach the rest.Said the principal man,when he heard it,"If she does,I am nashkado."Mrs.Herne was then on a visit to the party,and when she heard the principal man take on so,she said,"But I suppose you know what to do?""I do not,"said he."Then hir mi devlis,"said she,"you are a fool.But leave the matter to me,I know how to dispose of her in Roman fashion."Why she wanted to interfere in the matter,brother,I don't know,unless it was from pure brimstoneness of disposition-she had no hand in the matter which had brought the party into trouble-she was only on a visit,and it had happened before she came;but she was always ready to give dangerous advice.Well,brother,the principal man listened to what she had to say,and let her do what she would;and she made a pudding,a very nice one,no doubt-for,besides plums,she put in drows and all the Roman condiments that she knew of;and she gave it to the principal man,and the principal put it into a basket and directed it to the woman in-Castle,and the woman in the castle took it and-"'Ate of it,'said I;'just like my case!'
'Quite different,brother;she took it,it is true,but instead of giving way to her appetite,as you might have done,she put it before the rest whom she was going to impeach;perhaps she wished to see how they liked it before she tasted it herself;and all the rest were poisoned,and one died,and there was a precious outcry,and the woman cried loudest of all;and she said,"It was my death was sought for;I know the man,and I'll be revenged."And then the Poknees spoke to her and said,"Where can we find him?"and she said,"I am awake to his motions;three weeks from hence,the night before the full moon,at such and such an hour,he will pass down such a lane with such a man."'
'Well,'said I,'and what did the Poknees do?'
'Do,brother!sent for a plastramengro from Bow Street,quite secretly,and told him what the woman had said;and the night before the full moon,the plastramengro went to the place which the juwa had pointed out,all alone,brother;and in order that he might not be too late,he went two hours before his time.I know the place well,brother,where the plastramengro placed himself behind a thick holly tree,at the end of a lane,where a gate leads into various fields,through which there is a path for carts and horses.The lane is called the dark lane by the Gorgios,being much shaded by trees.So the plastramengro placed himself in the dark lane behind the holly tree;it was a cold February night,dreary though;the wind blew in gusts,and the moon had not yet risen,and the plastramengro waited behind the tree till he was tired,and thought he might as well sit down;so he sat down,and was not long in falling to sleep,and there he slept for some hours;and when he awoke the moon had risen,and was shining bright,so that there was a kind of moonlight even in the dark lane;and the plastramengro pulled out his watch,and contrived to make out that it was just two hours beyond the time when the men should have passed by.Brother,I do not know what the plastramengro thought of himself,but I know,brother,what I should have thought of myself in his situation.I should have thought,brother,that I was a drowsy scoppelo,and that I had let the fellow pass by whilst I was sleeping behind a bush.As it turned out,however,his going to sleep did no harm,but quite the contrary:just as he was going away,he heard a gate slam in the direction of the fields,and then he heard the low stumping of horses,as if on soft ground,for the path in those fields is generally soft,and at that time it had been lately ploughed up.
George Henry Borrow