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George Borrow
The Man and His Books

written by "Thomas, Edward, 1878-1917"
...ny of the preacher and his wife, and was about to cross the Welsh border with them when Jasper Petulengro reappeared, and he turned back.  Jasper told him that Mrs. Herne had hanged herself out of disappointment at his escape from her poison.  This made it a point of honour for Jasper to fight Borrow, whose bloody face satisfied him in half an hour: he even offered Borrow his sister Ursula for a wife.  Borrow refused, and settled alone in Mumper’s Dingle, which was perhaps Mumber Lane, five miles from Willenhall in Staffordshire. {97}  Here he fought the Flaming Tinman, who had driven Slingsby out of his beat.  The Tinman brought with him his wife and Isopel Berners, the tall fair-haired girl who struck Borrow first with her beauty and then with her right arm.  Isopel stayed with Borrow after the defeat of the Tinman, and their companionship in the dingle fills a very large part of “Lavengro” and “The Romany Rye,” with interruptions and diversions from the Man in Black, the gin-drinking priest, who was then at work undermining the Protestantism p. 98of old England.  Isopel stood by him when suffering from “indescribable horror,” and recommended “ale, and let it be strong.”  Borrow makes her evidently inclined to marry him; for example, when she says that if she goes to America she will go alone “unless—unless that should happen which is not likely,” and when he says “. . . If I had the power I would make you queen of something better than the dingle—Queen of China.  Come, let us have tea,” and “‘Something less would content me,’ said Belle, sighing, as she rose to prepare our evening meal”—and when at the postillion’s suggestion of a love affair, she buries her face in her hands.  “She would sigh, too,” he says, “as I recounted the many slights and degradations I had received...

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