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north, “ if I should repeat to you the last words which the Countess used to you when you left the Castle of that Amalekitish woman? Thus she spoke;
I am a forlorn widow,' she said, whom sorrow has made selfish.?"
Peveril started, for these were the very words the Countess had used; but he instantly recovered himself, and replied, “ Be your information of what nature it will, I deny, and I defy it, so far as it attaches aught like guilt to me. There lives not a man more innocent of a disloyal thought, or of a traitorous purpose.
What I say for myself, I will, to the best of my knowledge, say and maintain, on account of the noble Countess, to whom I am indebted for nurture."
" Perish then in thy obstinacy!” said Bridgenorth; and turning hastily from him, he left the room, and Julian heard him hasten down the narrow staircase, as if distrusting his own resolution.
With a heavy heart, yet with that confidence in an overruling Providence which never forsakes a good and brave man, Peveril betook himself to his lowly place of repose.
The course of human life is changeful still,
Whilst, overcome with fatigue, and worn out by anxiety, Julian Peveril slumbered as a prisoner in the house of his hereditary enemy, Fortune was preparing his release by one of those sudden frolics with which she loves to confound the calculations and expectancies of humanity; and as she fixes on strange agents for such purposes, she condescended to employ, on the present occasion, no less a personage than Mistress Deborah Debbitch.
Instigated, doubtless, by the pristine reminiscences of former times, no sooner had that most prudent and considerate dame found herself in the vicinity of the scenes of her earlier days, than she bethought herself of a visit to the ancient housekeeper of Martindale Castle, Dame Ellesmere by name, who, long retired from active service, resided at the keeper's lodge, in the west thicket, with her nephew, Lance Outram, subsisting upon the savings of her better days, and on a small pension allowed by Sir Geoffrey to her age and faithful services.
Now Dame Ellesmere and Mistress Deborah had
not by any means been formerly on so friendly a footing, as this haste to visit her might be supposed to intimate. But years had taught Deborah to forget and forgive, or perhaps she had no special objection, under cover of a visit to Dame Ellesmere, to take the chance of seeing what changes time had made on her old admirer the keeper. Both inhabitants were in the cottage, when, after having seen her master set forth on his expedition to the Castle, Mistress Debbitch, dressed in her very best gown,
, footed it through gutter and over stile, and by pathway green, to knock at their door, and to lift the latch at the hospitable invitation which bade her come in.
Dame Ellesmere's eyes were so dim, that even with the aid of spectacles, she failed to recognise, in the portly and mature personage who entered their cottage, the tight well-made lass, who, presuming on her good looks and flippant tongue, had so often provoked her by insubordination; and her former lover, the redoubted Lance, not being conscious that ale had given rotundity to his own figure, which was formerly so slight and active, and that brandy had transferred to his nose the colour which had once occupied his cheeks, was unable to discover that Deborah's French cap, composed of sarsnet and Brussels lace, shaded the features which had so often procured him a rebuke from Dr. Dummerar, for suffering his eyes, during the time of prayers, to wander to the maid-servants' bench.
In brief, the blushing visiter was compelled to make herself known, and when known, was received by her aunt and nephew with the most sincere cordiality.
The home-brewed was produced; and in lieu of more vulgar food, a few slices of venison presently hissed in the frying-pan, giving strong room for inference that Lance Outram, in his capacity of keeper, neglected not his own cottage when he supplied the larder at the Castle. A modest sip of the exeellent Derbyshire ale, and a tasting of the highlyseasoned hash, soon placed Deborah entirely at home with her old acquaintance.
Having put all necessary questions, and receive ed all suitable answers, respecting the taste of the neighbourhood, and such of her own friends as continued to reside there, the conversation began rather to flag, until Deborah found the art of again renewing its interest, by communicating to her friends the dismal intelligence that they must soon look for deadly bad news from the Castle; for that her present master, Major Bridgenorth, had been summoned by some great people from London, to assist in taking her old master, Sir Gcoffrey; and that all Master Bridgenorth's servants, and several other persons whom she named, friends and adherents of the same interest, had assembled a force to surprise the Castle; and that as Sir Geoffrey was now so old, and gouty withal, it could not be expected he should make the defence he was wont; and then he was known to be so stout-hearted, that it was not to be supposed that he would yield up without stroke of sword; and then if he was killed, as he was like to be, amongst them that liked never a bone of his body, and now had him at their mercy, why, in that case, she Dame Deborah, would look upon Lady Peveril as little better than a dead woman, and undoubtedly there would be a general mourning through all that country, where they had such great kin; and silks were like to raise on it, as Master Lutestring, the mercer of Chesterfield, was like to feel in his purse bottom. But for her part, let matters wag how they would; an if Master Julian Peveril was to come to his own, she could give as
near a guess as e'er another who was like to be Lady at Martindale.
The text of his lecture, or, in other words, the fact that Bridgenorth was gone with a party to attack Sir Geoffrey. Peveril in his own Castle of Martindale, sounded so stunningly strange in the ears of those old retainers of his family, that they had no power either to attend to Mistress Deborah's inferences, or to interrupt the velocity of speech with which she poured them forth. And when at length she made a breathless pause, all that poor Dame Ellesmere could reply, was the emphatic question,
Bridgenorth brave Peveril of the Peak! -Is the woman mad?”
Come, come, dame," said Deborah, " woman me no more than I woman you. I have not been called Mistress at the head of the table for so many years to be woman’d here by you. And for the news, it is as true as that you are sitting there in a white hood, who will wear a black one ere long.” 66 Lance Outram," said the old woman,
66 make out, if thou be’st a man, and listen about if aught - stirs
at the Castle.” “ If there should,” said Outram,“ I am even too long here," and he caught up his cross-bow, and one or two arrows, and rushed out of the cottage.
“ Well-a-day!" said Mistress Deborah, “ see if my news have not frightened away Lance Outram too, whom they used to say nothing could start. But do not take on so, dame; for I dare say if the Castle and the lands pass to my new master, Major Bridgenorth, as it is like they will-for I have heard that he has powerful debts over the estate-> you shall have my good word with him, and I mise you he is no bad man; something precise about preaching and praying, and about the dress which one should wear, which, I must own, beseems not a gentleman, as, to be sure, every wo