"Where are you?"
"Order!" cried a merry-faced little man, who had brought his young daughter with him to see life, and who always modestly hid his face in his beer-mug after he had thus assisted the business.
"John Nightingale, William Thrush, Joseph Blackbird, Cecil Robin, and Thomas Linnet!" cried Friar Bacon.
"Here, sir!" and "Here, sir!" And Linnet, Robin, Blackbird, Thrush, and Nightingale, stood confessed.
We, the undersigned, declare, in effect, by this written paper, that each of us is responsible for the repayment of this pig-money by each of the other. "Sure you understand, Nightingale?"
"Can you write your name, Nightingale?"
Nightingale's eye upon his name, as Friar Bacon wrote it, was a sight to consider in after years. Rather incredulous was Nightingale, with a hand at the corner of his mouth, and his head on one side, as to those drawings really meaning him. Doubtful was Nightingale whether any virtue had gone out of him in that committal to paper. Meditative was Nightingale as to what would come of young Nightingale's growing up to the acquisition of that art. Suspended was the interest of Nightingale, when his name was done--as if he thought the letters were only sown, to come up presently in some other form. Prodigious, and wrong-handed was the cross made by Nightingale on much encouragement--the strokes directed from him instead of towards him; and most patient and sweet-humoured was the smile of Nightingale as he stepped back into a general laugh.
"Order!" cried the little man. Immediately disappearing into his mug.
"Ralph Mangel, Roger Wurzel, Edward Vetches, Matthew Carrot, and Charles Taters!" said Friar Bacon.
"All here, sir."
"You understand it, Mangel?"
"Iss, sir, I unnerstaans it."
"Can you write your name, Mangel?"
Breathless interest. A dense background of smock-frocks accumulated behind Mangel, and many eyes in it looked doubtfully at Friar Bacon, as who should say, "Can he really though?" Mangel put down his hat, retired a little to get a good look at the paper, wetted his right hand thoroughly by drawing it slowly across his mouth, approached the paper with great determination, flattened it, sat down at it, and got well to his work. Circuitous and sea-serpent-like, were the movements of the tongue of Mangel while he formed the letters; elevated were the eyebrows of Mangel and sidelong the eyes, as, with his left whisker reposing on his left arm, they followed his performance; many were the misgivings of Mangel, and slow was his retrospective meditation touching the junction of the letter p with h; something too active was the big forefinger of Mangel in its propensity to rub out without proved cause. At last, long and deep was the breath drawn by Mangel when he laid down the pen; long and deep the wondering breath drawn by the background--as if they had watched his walking across the rapids of Niagara, on stilts, and now cried, "He has done it!"
But, Mangel was an honest man, if ever honest man lived. "T'owt to be a hell, sir," said he, contemplating his work, "and I ha' made a t on 't."
The over-fraught bosoms of the background found relief in a roar of laughter.
"OR-DER!" cried the little man. "CHEER!" And after that second word, came forth from his mug no more.