A sailor carrying a small baby is seen to enter the Thurstley Ship, a wayside inn between Goldaming and Portsmouth, where he meets three men, who follow him from the inn and murder and rob him. The baby and dead man are found later by Jonas Kink (the broom-squire), so called because he is one of a settlement of squatters whose chief industry is broom-making. Eventually Mehetabel the foundling marries Jonas, and her interesting history thereafter is given, and many local superstitions of the time (1786) are introduced.
the sooner the better," said the landlady. "But not you just now, and the baby has dropped off into the sweetest of sleeps. 'Twere a sin to wake her."
"I'm going on to the Huts," said the seaman.
"And we're going with him as a guard to the baby," said the Irish fellow.
"A blackguard set," threw in Bideabout.
"What about the color so long as it is effective?" asked Casey.
By degrees the anger of Lonegon was allayed, and he seated himself growling at the table, and wiped the blood from his torn wrist on his sleeve, and drawing forth a dirty and tattered red kerchief, bound it round the bruised and wounded joint. The man, Bideabout, did not concern himself with the wrath or the anguish of the man. He rubbed his hands together, and clapped a palm on each knee, and looked into the fire with a smirk on his face, but with an eye on the alert lest his adversary should attempt to steal an advantage on him.
Nor was he unjustified in being on his guard, judging by the malignant