When after seven years my brother returned to his native woods, he looked in at Scotts farm, and there was Moore, the only familiar face about which did not seem a day older. After other friendly inquiries my brother said:
That I wool, said Moore, delighted to find a good listener to a grievance which to him was ever new, though the circumstance was five years old. I was at dung-cart most of that day, and then I washed and tried to get a minute to milk the cow; but bless your heart, they never will let me milk her afore sunset. Its Moore here, and Moore there, from half a dozen of em; and Mr. Moore here, and Mr. Moore there, from the one or two as have learned manners, which very few of em have in these parts; and between em they allus contrive to keep me from my own cow till dusk. Well, sir, I had got leave to milk her, hurry-scurry as usual, and night coming on, when a man I had sold a fat hog to came into the yard to pay. Wait a minute, says I. But no, he was like the rest, couldnt let me milk her in peace; wanted to settle and drive the baacon home. So I took my head out o the cow, and I went to him without so much as letting my smock down, and he gave me the money, £6 17s. I took the gold in one hand so, and the silver in tother so, and I went across the yard to the house, and I asked the missus to get a light, and then I told the money before her, six sovereigns and seventeen shillings, and left her to scratch him a receipt, while I went back to my cow, and I thought to milk her in peace at last. But before I had drained her as should be, out comes my missus, and screams fit to wake the dead, George! George! I be coming, says I. So I up with the milk-pail and goes to her. Whose cats dead now? says I, for mercys sake.
Come in, come in, says she. George, whoever is that man? He have paid us a bad shilling. Look at that. Well, we tried that there shilling on the table first, and then on the hearth. Twas bad; couldnt be wus. Run after him, says she; run this moment. Lard, says I, they be half way to Wallingford by this time. Here, give me a scrap of paper. Ill carry it about in my fob; he goes to all the markets; he will change it, you may be sure.
Well, the very next Friday as ever was I met him at Wallingford market, pulls out the paper, shows him the shilling, tells him it warnt good. He looks at it and agreed with me. Then change it, if you please, says I. What for? says he. I dont want no bad shillings no more nor you do. But, says I, price of hog was six seventeen, and you only paid six sixteen in money. Yes, I did, says he; I gave you six seventeen. No, ye didnt. Yes, I did. No, ye didnt; you gave me six sixteen, and this. Now, my man, says I, act honest and pay me tother shilling. No, he wouldnt. There was a crowd by this time, so I said, Look here, gentlemen, I sold this man a hog, and he gave me this in part pay, which it aint a real shilling, and mine was a genuine hog. So they all said it warnt a shilling at all. When the man heard that he was for slipping off, but I stepped after him, with half the market at my heels. Will you pay me my shilling? I dont owe you no shilling, says he. You do, says I; and pay me my shilling you shall. I wont. You shall; Ill pison your life else.
Next time of asking, as the saying is, was Reading market. Catches him cheapening a calf. Takes out shilling. Now, says I, heres your bad shilling as you gave me for my hogwhich it is a warning to honest folk with calves to sell, says I. Be you going to change it? No, I baint. You baint? says I. You shall, then, says I. Time will show, says he, and bid me good-day, ironical. I let him get a little way, and then I stepped after him. Hi, stop that gentleman, I hallooed. He have given me a bad shilling. You might hear me all over the market. Then he threatened defanation or summat. I didnt keer; I bawled him out o Reading market that there afternoon.
Met him at Henley next; commenced operationstook out the shilling. He crossed over directly, I after un, and held out the shilling. Taint no use, says I. You shant do no business in this here county till you have changed this here shilling. Come, my man, tis only a shilling. What is all this here to do about a shilling? says I. Act honest and give me my shilling, and take this here keepsake back. I wont, says he. You wont? says I. Then Ill hunt you out of every market in England. Ill hunt ye into the wilderness and the hocean wave.
He got very sick of me in a year or twos marketing, I can tell you; for I never missed a market now, because of the shilling. He had to give up trade and go home whenever he saw my shilling and me a-coming.