The rooms are clean, the beds and bedding neat and comfortable, and the charge for supper, lodging, and breakfast not exceeding an average of about fifty cents. At some of the interior stations I was charged only about twenty-five cents, and in no instance was I imposed upon. The inn-keepers are so generally obliging and good-natured that there is very little difficulty in getting along with them.
"Why, it is a calamity that has befallen his betters!" returned the publican, interlocking his fingers across the rotundity of his person, with an air of grave consideration. "We inn-keepers who live, as it were, in plain sight of every man's secrets; for it is after a visit to us that one is apt truly to open his heart should know something of the affairs of a neighbourhood.
A hot season makes him rich, a rainy season ruins him; in a single morning puncheons worth eleven francs have been known to drop to six. In this country, as in Touraine, atmospheric vicissitudes control commercial life. Wine-growers, proprietors, wood-merchants, coopers, inn-keepers, mariners, all keep watch of the sun.
"Three weeks we worked, carrying the treasure to our own ship, and I began to feel as much at home under water as above it. At last we set sail without mishap, and every man on board had his share and some of them gave up pirating and settled down as inn-keepers and tradesmen."
But with one of his light fingers, we may fancy that he took as good as he gave; for every rag of his tail, he would manage to indemnify himself upon the population in the shape of food, or wine, or ringing money; and his route would be traceable across France and Burgundy by housewives and inn-keepers lamenting over petty thefts, like the track of a single human locust.
Refer to an old book of roads, and to a more modern conveyance directory. Let memory perform its office: reflect upon the crowds of persons who gained a subsistence from the fact that yourselves and many others were obliged to travel along the high-road on your way from London to York. There were inn-keepers, and waiters and chambermaids, post-boys and "boots."
His superlatives of censure were in such constant employment that they began to have a threadbare sound before he left us; and as he has it in prospective to run the gantlet of all the inn-keepers on the continent of Europe, to say nothing of farther lands, where inn-keepers would be a relief, there is no knowing what exhaustion his powers in this sort may undergo before he reaches us again.
With that keenness of perception that characterizes inn-keepers in every country on the globe, he remarked: "I should not wonder if these gentlemen and this young lady would like breakfast." "Yes," replied Sylvius Hogg, "but let us have it as soon as possible." "It shall be served immediately." The repast was soon ready, and proved a most tempting one.
He seemed, indeed, to have a pleasure in displaying the alertness with which he could baffle investigation, and amuse himself by putting the curiosity of tapsters and inn-keepers on a false scent.
Forbes reported to Pitt that their officers, except a few in the higher ranks, were "an extremely bad collection of broken inn-keepers, horse-jockeys, and Indian traders;" nor is he more flattering towards the men, though as to some of them he afterwards changed his mind.