Georgette Heyer, “The Toll-Gate”

Ok, folks.  I am thinking about giving up on this one.

I enjoy reading.  I like historical fiction.  So far, I have read three Georgette Heyer books and mostly liked them, although the Regency era is not really my favorite period.  However, so many book bloggers rave about Heyer’s writing that I decided to keep on with her books.

Last week I came home from the library with “The Toll-Gate”.  So far so good….

After the first few chapters I found myself wondering where Mr. Brean, (the gate-keeper who mysteriously disappeared), could be.  What would happen to the heroine, (whose nefarious cousin had come to stay for a while, unannounced and unwanted….but within the manners and hospitality of England in those days, you just don’t ‘throw out’ relatives without good reason)?

Will the hero of the story, John Staple, be ‘found out’ in his charade of masquerading as the gate-keeper’s cousin (while attempting to figure out the mystery behind the man’s disappearance?)

But then I came across some dialogue in this chapter:

“A couple of bordes – what you call shillings, Mr. Nib-Cove! – a groat, and three grigs was all she had left in the stocking.  So I went to work in the factory…”

“Was that when you took to the bridle-lay?” John asked.

“A peevy cove, ain’t you?” Chirk said.  “What d’ye want to do? Cry rope on me?  Who told you I was on the bridle-lay?”
“Who told you I was a green ‘un?” retorted John.

Chirk smiled reluctantly, and applied himself to the beef.  “Danged if I know what you are!” he said.  “But I wasn’t a rank-rider all them years ago.  Lordy, when you get to be that you’re top-o-the-trees!  I started on the dub-lay, and worked my way up.”

And I realized that I had no idea what I had just read.

I put the book down and picked up a Maeve Binchy (a much easier read) and a day or so later, picked it up again.  Got through that chapter with little idea of what I had read, but then read some more and was beginning to enjoy it again when, THIS happened:

(John Staples, the hero, has come unexpectedly upon Mr. Stogumber, who is sneaking around the toll gate):

“I won’t try to slumguzzle you, big ‘un,” responded Stogumber.  “I wasn’t.  But this being a very lonely road,  d’ye see, and me a peaceable man, I didn’t want to run into no trouble.  How was I to know you wasn’t a bridle-cull?”

“You knew well enough who I was when you heard me speak to my horse!  Why didn’t you show yourself then?”

“What, and have you laughing at me for being cow-hearted, which I won’t deny I am – very!”

“Coming it too strong!” said John.  “What kind of a flat do you take me for, to be flammed by such gammon as that?”

Since you ask me, Mr. Staple, I don’t know as how I take you for a flat at all, not by any manner o’ means!”

“Then stop trying to turn me up sweet, and tell me what the devil you mean by spying on me!”

I am not sure now if I am going to finish the book, pick up a dictionary and hold it in one hand with “The Toll-Gate” in the other, skim the rest of the book, or just put it aside for another day.


About Theresa

I live in an old farmhouse in upstate New York (no, *not* the big city!) in the country with my family, two dogs, two calves, and two horses. I love to cross stitch, quilt, read, and look at needlework blogs :) and I love coffee *and* tea!
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