Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/161

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155
THE SEVEN VAGABONDS.

tall, thin figure in rusty black, whom the show-man and the conjurer shortly recognised to be, what his aspect sufficiently indicated, a travelling preacher of great fame among the Methodists. What puzzled us was the fact, that his face appeared turned from, instead of to, the camp-meeting at Stamford. However, as this new votary of the wandering life drew near the little green space, where the guide-post and our wagon were situated, my six fellow vagabonds and myself rushed forward and surrounded him, crying out with united voices—

'What news, what news, from the camp-meeting at Stamford?'

The missionary looked down, in surprise, at as singular a knot of people as could have been selected from all his heterogeneous auditors. Indeed, considering that we might all be classified under the general head of Vagabond, there was great diversity of character among the grave old show-man, the sly, prophetic beggar, the fiddling foreigner and his merry damsel, the smart bibliopolist, the sombre Indian, and myself, the itinerant novelist, a slender youth of eighteen. I even fancied that a smile was endeavoring to disturb the iron gravity of the preacher's mouth.

'Good people,' answered he, 'the camp-meeting is broke up.'

So saying, the Methodist minister switched his steed, and rode westward. Our union being thus nullified, by the removal of its object, we were sundered at once to the four winds of Heaven. The fortune-teller, giving a nod to all, and a peculiar wink to me, departed on his northern tour, chuckling within himself as he