« PreviousContinue »
The Gordon then his bugle blew,
And said, awa, awa;
When Julian awakened the next morning, all was still and vacant in the apartment. The rising sun, which shone through the half closed shutters, showed some reliques of the last night's banquet, which his confused and throbbing head assured him had been carried into a debauch.
Without being much of a boon companion, Julian, like other young men of the time, was not in the habit of shunning wine, which was then used in considerable quantities; and he could not help being surprised, that the few cups he had drunk over night had produced on his frame the effects of ex
He rose up, adjusted his dress, and sought the apartment for water to perform his morning ablutions, but without success.
Wine there was on the table; and beside it one stool stood, and another lay, as if thrown down in the heedless riot of the evening. Surely, he thought to himself, the wine must have been very powerful, which rendered me insensible to the noise my companions must have made ere they finished their carouse.
With momentary suspicion he examined his weapons, and the packet which he had received from the Countess, and kept in a secret pocket of his
upper-coat, bound close about his person. All was safe; and the very operation reminded him of the duties which lay before him. He left the apartment where they had supped, and went into another, wretched enough, where, in a truckle-bed, were stretched two bodies, covered with a rug, the heads belonging to which were amicably deposited upon the same truss of hay. The one was the black shock head of the groom; the other, graced with a long thrumb night-cap, showed a grizzled pate, and a grave caricatured countenance,
which the hook-nose and lantern jaws proclaimed to belong to the Gallic minister of good cheer, whose praises he had heard sung forth on the preceding evening. These worthies seemed to have slumbered in the arms of Bacchus as well as of Morpheus, for there broken flasks on the floor; and their deep snoring alone showed that they were alive.
Bent upon resuming his journey, as duty and expedience alike dictated, Julian next descended the trap-stair, and essayed a door at the bottom of the steps. It was fastened within. He called—no answer was returned. It must be, he thought, the apartment of the revellers, now probably sleeping as soundly as their dependants still slumbered, and as he himself had done a few minutes before. Should he awaken them?-To what purpose? They were men with whom accident had involved him against his own will; and situated as he was, he thought it wise to take the earliest opportunity of breaking off from society, which was suspicious, and might be perilous. Ruminating thus, he essayed another door, which admitted him to a bedroom, where lay another harmonious slumberer. The mean utensils, pewter measures, empty cans and casks, with which this room was lumbered, proclaimed it that of the host, who slept, surround
ed by his professional implements of hospitality and stock in trade.
This discovery relieved Peveril from some delicate embarrassment which he had formerly entertained. He put upon the table a piece of money, sufficient, as he judged, to pay his share of the preceding night's reckoning; not caring to be indebted for his entertainment to the strangers, whom he was leaving without the formality of an adieu.
His conscience cleared of this gentleman-like scruple, Peveril proceeded with a light heart, though somewhat a dizzy head, to the stable, which he easily recognised among a few other paltry outhouses. His horse, refreshed with rest, and perhaps not unmindful of his services the evening before, neighed as his master entered the stable; and Peveril accepted the sound as an omen of a prosper, ous journey. He paid the augury with a sieve full of corn; and, while his palfrey profited by his attention, walked into the fresh air to cool his heated blood, and consider what course he should pursue in order to reach the Castle of Martindale before sunset. His acquaintance with the country in general, gave him confidence that he could not have greatly deviated from the nearest road; and with his horse in good condition, he conceived he might easily reach Martindale before night-fall.
Having adjusted his route in his mind, he returned into the stable to prepare his steed for the journey, and soon led him into the ruinous courtyard of the inn, bridled, saddled, and ready to be mounted. But as Peveril's hand was upon the mane, and his left foot in the stirrup, a hand touched his cloak, and the voice of Ganlesse said,
What, Master Peveril, is this your foreign breeding? or have you learned in France to take French leave of your friends."
Julian started like a guilty thing, although a mo
66 the ras
ment's reflection assured him that he was neither wrong nor in danger. “ I cared not to disturb you," he said, “ although I did come as far as the door · . of your chamber. I supposed your friend and you might require, after our last night's revel, rather sleep than ceremony. I left my own bed, though a rough one, with more reluctance than usual; and as my occasions oblige me to be an early traveller, I thought it best to depart without leave-taking. I have left a token for mine host, on the table of his apartment.”
“ It was unnecessary,” said Ganlesse; cal is already overpaid.—But are you not rather premature in your purpose of departing? My mind tells me that Master Julian Peveril had better proceed with me to London, than turn aside for any purpose whatever. You may see already, that I am no ordinary person, but a master-spirit of the time. For the cuckoo I travel with, and whom I indulge in his prodigal follies, he also has his uses. But you are of a different cast; and I not only would serve you,
to be my own.” Julian gazed on this singular person when he spoke. We have already said his figure was mean and slight, with very ordinary and unmarked features, unless we were to distinguish the lightnings of a keen gray eye, which corresponded in its careless and prideful glance, with the haughty superiority which the stranger assumed in his conversation. It was not till after a momentary pause, that Julian replied, “Can you wonder, sir, that in my
if they are indeed known to you-I should decline unnecessary confidence on the affairs of moment which have called me-hither, or refuse the company of a stranger, who assigns no reason for desiring mine?” “ Be it as you list, young man,
answered Ganlesse; “ only remember hereafter, you had a fair
offer—it is not every one to whom I would have made it. If we should meet hereafter, on other, and on worse terms, impute it to yourself, and not to me.
“I understand not your threat," answered Peveril, “ if a threat be indeed implied. I have done no evil-I feel no apprehension-and I can not, in common sense, conceive why I should suffer for refusing my confidence to a stranger, who seems to require that I should submit me blindfold to his guidance."
“Farewell then, Sir Julian of the Peak,--that may soon be," said the stranger removing the hand which he had as yet left carelessly on the horse's bridle.
“ How mean you by that phrase?” said Julian; "and why apply such a title to me?"
The stranger smiled, and only answered, “ Here our conference ends. The way is before you. You will find it longer and rougher than that by which I would have guided you.
So saying, Ganlesse turned his back and walked toward the house. On the threshold he turned about once more, and seeing that Peveril had not yet moved from the spot, he again smiled and beckoned to him; but Julian, recalled by that sign to recollection, spurred his horse, and set forward on his journey.
It was not long ere his local acquaintance with the country enabled him to regain the road to Martindale, from which he had diverged on the preceding evening for about two miles. But the roads, or rather the paths, of this wild country, so much satirized by their native poet, Cotton, were so complicated in some places, so difficult to be traced in others, and so unfit for hasty travelling in almost all, that, in spite of Julian's utmost exertions, and though he made no longer delay upon the journey