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Crotchet Castle

speedily, villain; are you a simple thief, or would you have manufactured me into
a subject for the benefit of science? Ay, miscreant caitiff, you would have made
me a subject for science, would you? You are a school-master abroad, are you?
You are marching with a detachment of the march of mind, are you? You are a
member of the Steam Intellect Society, are you? You swear by the learned
friend, do you?"
"Oh, no! reverend sir," answered the criminal, "I am innocent of all these
offences, whatever they are, reverend sir. The only friend I had in the world is
lying dead beside me, reverend sir."
The reverend gentleman paused a moment, and leaned on his bamboo. The
culprit, bruised as he was, sprang on his legs, and went off in double quick time.
The Doctor gave him chase, and had nearly brought him within arm's length,
when the fellow turned at right angles, and sprang clean over a deep dry ditch.
The divine, following with equal ardour, and less dexterity, went down over head
and ears into a thicket of nettles. Emerging with much discomposure, he
proceeded to the village, and roused the constable; but the constable found, on
reaching the scene of action, that the dead man was gone, as well as his living
"Oh, the monster!" exclaimed the Reverend Doctor Folliott, "he has made a
subject for science of the only friend he had in the world." "Ay, my dear," he
resumed, the next morning at breakfast, "if my old reading, and my early
gymnastics (for, as the great Hermann says, before I was demulced by the
Muses, I was ferocis ingenii puer, et ad arma quam ad literas paratior), had not
imbued me indelibly with some of the holy rage of Frere Jean des Entommeures,
I should be, at this moment, lying on the table of some flinty-hearted anatomist,
who would have sliced and disjointed me as unscrupulously as I do these
remnants of the capon and chine, wherewith you consoled yourself yesterday for
my absence at dinner. Phew! I have a noble thirst upon me, which I will quench
with floods of tea."
The reverend gentleman was interrupted by a messenger, who informed him that
the Charity Commissioners requested his presence at the inn, where they were
holding a sitting.
"The Charity Commissioners!" exclaimed the reverend gentleman, "who on earth
are they?"
The messenger could not inform him, and the reverend gentleman took his hat
and stick, and proceeded to the inn.
On entering the best parlour, he saw three well-dressed and bulky gentlemen
sitting at a table, and a fourth officiating as clerk, with an open book before him,
and a pen in his hand. The church-wardens, who had been also summoned,
were already in attendance.
The chief commissioner politely requested the Reverend Doctor Folliott to be
seated, and after the usual meteorological preliminaries had been settled by a
resolution, nem. con., that it was a fine day but very hot, the chief commissioner
stated, that in virtue of the commission of Parliament, which they had the honour