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Thomas Love Peacock
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finish a bottle of mead, which he willingly accepted, both as an excuse to remain
and as a drink of the dark ages, which he had no doubt was a genuine brewage
from uncorrupted tradition.
In the meantime, as soon as the cloth was removed, the children had brought out
Miss Susannah's harp. She began, without affectation, to play and sing to the
children, as was her custom of an afternoon, first in their own language, and their
national melodies, then in English; but she was soon interrupted by a general call
of little voices for "Ouf! di giorno." She complied with the request, and sang the
ballad from Paer's Camilla: "Un di carco il mulinaro." The children were very
familiar with every syllable of this ballad, which had been often fully explained to
them. They danced in a circle with the burden of every verse, shouting out the
chorus with good articulation and joyous energy; and at the end of the second
stanza, where the traveller has his nose pinched by his grandmother's ghost,
every nose in the party was nipped by a pair of little fingers. Mr. Chainmail, who
was not prepared for the process, came in for a very energetic tweak from a
chubby girl that sprang suddenly on his knees for the purpose, and made the roof
ring with her laughter.
So passed the time till evening, when Mr. Chainmail moved to depart. But it
turned out on inquiry that he was some miles from his inn, that the way was
intricate, and that he must not make any difficulty about accepting the farmer's
hospitality till morning. The evening set in with rain: the fire was found agreeable;
they drew around it. The young lady made tea; and afterwards, from time to time,
at Mr. Chainmail's special request, delighted his ear with passages of ancient
music. Then came a supper of lake trout, fried on the spot, and thrown, smoking
hot, from the pan to the plate. Then came a brewage, which the farmer called his
nightcap, of which he insisted on Mr. Chainmail's taking his full share. After which
the gentleman remembered nothing till he awoke, the next morning, to the
pleasant consciousness that he was under the same roof with one of the most
fascinating creatures under the canopy of heaven.