Page:What will he do with it.djvu/646

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<636 WIIA T WILL HE DO WITH IT?

Her garments seemed literally composed of particles of dust glued together, while her face might liave insured her condem- nation as a witch before any honest jury in the reign of King James the First. His breakfast, and the brandy-bottle that flanked the loaf, were now placed before Losely ; and, as distaste- fully he forced himself to eat, his eye once more glanced toward, and this time rested on, the shabby man, in the sort of interest with which one knave out of elbows regards another. As Jas- per thus looked, gradually there stole on him a reminiscence of those coarse large features — that rusty, disreputable wig. The recognition, however, was not mutual ; and, presently, after a whisper interchanged between the man and the woman, the lat- ter rose, and approaching Losely, dropped a courtesy, and said, in a weird undervoice, " Stranger, luck's in store for you. Tell your fortune ?" As she spoke, from some dust-hole in her gar- ments she produced a pack of cards, on whose half-obliterated faces seemed incrusted the dirt of ages. Thrusting these antiq- uities under Jasper's nose, she added, " Wish and cut."

" Pshaw," said Jasper, who, though sufficiently superstitious in some matters and in regard to some persons, was not so com- pletely under the influence of that imaginative infirmity as to take the creature before him for a sibyl. " Get away; you turn my stomach. Your cards smell ; so do you ! "

" Forgive her, worthy Sir," said the man, leaning forward. " The hag may be unsavory, but she is wise. The Three Sisters who accosted the Scottish Thane, Sir (Macbeth — you have seen it on the stage ?) were not savory. Withered, and wild in their attire, Sir, but they knew a thing or two ! She sees luck in your face. Cross her hand and give it vent ! "

" Fiddledee," said the irreverent Losely. "Take her off, or I shall scald her," and he seized the kettle.

The hag retreated grumbling ; and Losely, soon dispatching his meal, placed his feet on the hobs, and began to meditate what course to adopt for a temporary subsistence. He had broken into the last pound left of the money which he had ex- tracted from Mrs. Crane's purse some days before. He re- coiled with terror from the thought of returning to town and placing himself at her mercy. Yet what option had he . While thus musing, he turned impatiently round and saw that the shabby man and the dusty hag were engaged in an amicable game of ecarttf, with those very cards which had so offended his olfactory organs. At that sight the old instinct of the gambler struggled back ; and, raising himself up, he looked over the cards of the players. The miserable wretches were, of course,

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