90 KIPLING'S SUSSEX
with such gusto that several curious people came in and joined us.
At the first the people who drifted in to hear the sing-song were all desperately correct. But by degrees the jovial music and the good aroma which rose from the Old October ale set a tune in their hearts. Loud laughter and free jests replaced formal conversation between the songs ; the consumption of ale was Rabelaisian. But Balger was the great, the omnipotent personage of the feast. Indeed, he had the incommunicable gift of setting his soul a-dancing as he played and sang his songs, of putting a hundred little devils into the feet of the listeners which made them long to dance to his mad tunes. But with all his buffoonery, and runagate ways, he never quite lost a certain aristocracy of demeanour.
The Tramp : " Seeing how you're a man of rare musical gifts, I should like you, sir, to mek a rhyme of mine run to a tune—a right good rollicky tune."
Balger : "I will make you a tune which will pretty well knock a lark out o' the sky."
The Tramp : " Then I will speak to you the rhyme."
" Hipperdy, nipperdy, nick-nock, The Poor Man's back of the clock-clock ;