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suffice to show how it was that a good woman, occupied solely in doing her duty to her neighbour and her children, and an honest, brave lad, impetuous, and full of good, and wishing well to every mortal alive, found enemies and detractors amongst people to whom they were superior, and to whom they had never done anything like harm. The Clavering curs were yelping all round the house of Fairoaks, and delighted to pull Pen down.
Doctor Portman and Smirke were both cautious of informing the widow of the constant outbreak of calumny which was pursuing poor Pen, though Glanders, who was a friend of the house, kept him au courant. It may be imagined what his indignation was: was there any man in the village whom he could call to account? Presently some wags began to chalk up "Fotheringay for ever!" and other sarcastic allusions to late transactions at Fairoaks' gate. Another brought a large play-bill from Chatteris, and wafered it there one night. On one occasion Pen, riding through the Low Town, fancied he heard the Factory boys jeer him; and finally, going through the Doctor's gate into the churchyard, where some of Wapshot's boys were lounging, the biggest of them, a young gentleman about twenty years of age, son of a neighbouring small Squire, who lived in the doubtful capacity of parlourboarder with Mr. Wapshot, flung himself into a theatrical attitude near a newly-made grave, and began repeating Hamlet's verses over Ophelia, with a hideous leer at Pen.
The young fellow was so enraged that he rushed at Hobnell Major with a shriek very much resembling an oath, cut him furiously across the face with the riding-whip which he carried, flung it away, calling upon the cowardly villain to defend himself, and in another minute knocked the bewildered young ruffian into the grave which was just waiting for a different lodger.
Then, with his fists clenched, and his face quivering with passion and indignation, he roared out to Mr. Hobnell's gaping companions, to know if any of the blackguards would come on? But they held back with a growl, and retreated, as Doctor Portman came up to his wicket, and Mr. Hobnell, with his nose and lip bleeding piteously, emerged from the grave.