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Chapter 23


SWASH-BUCKLER. Bilboe's the word--
PIERROT. It hath been spoke too often,
The spell hath lost its charm--I tell thee, friend,
The meanest cur that trots the street, will turn,
And snarl against your proffer'd bastinado.
SWASH-BUCKLER. 'Tis art shall do it, then--I will dose the mongrels--
Or, in plain terms, I'll use the private knife
'Stead of the brandish'd falchion.
_Old Play_.

The noble Captain Colepepper or Peppercull, for he was known by both
these names, and some others besides; had a martial and a swashing
exterior, which, on the present occasion, was rendered yet more
peculiar, by a patch covering his left eye and a part of the cheek.
The sleeves of his thickset velvet jerkin were polished and shone with
grease,--his buff gloves had huge tops, which reached almost to the
elbow; his sword-belt of the same materials extended its breadth from
his haunchbone to his small ribs, and supported on the one side his
large black-hilted back-sword, on the other a dagger of like
proportions He paid his compliments to Nigel with that air of
predetermined effrontery, which announces that it will not be repelled
by any coldness of reception, asked Trapbois how he did, by the
familiar title of old Peter Pillory, and then, seizing upon the black-
jack, emptied it off at a draught, to the health of the last and
youngest freeman of Alsatia, the noble and loving master Nigel
Grahame.

When he had set down the empty pitcher and drawn his breath, he began
to criticise the liquor which it had lately contained.--"Sufficient
single beer, old Pillory--and, as I take it, brewed at the rate of a
nutshell of malt to a butt of Thames--as dead as a corpse, too, and
yet it went hissing down my throat--bubbling, by Jove, like water upon
hot iron.--You left us early, noble Master Grahame, but, good faith,
we had a carouse to your honour--we heard _butt_ ring hollow ere we
parted; we were as loving as inkle-weavers--we fought, too, to finish
off the gawdy. I bear some marks of the parson about me, you see--a
note of the sermon or so, which should have been addressed to my ear,
but missed its mark, and reached my left eye. The man of God bears my
sign-manual too, but the Duke made us friends again, and it cost me
more sack than I could carry, and all the Rhenish to boot, to pledge
the seer in the way of love and reconciliation--But, Caracco! 'tis a
vile old canting slave for all that, whom I will one day beat out of
his devil's livery into all the colours of the rainbow.--Basta!--Said
I well, old Trapbois? Where is thy daughter, man?--what says she to my
suit?--'tis an honest one--wilt have a soldier for thy son-in-law, old
Pillory, to mingle the soul of martial honour with thy thieving,
miching, petty-larceny blood, as men put bold brandy into muddy ale?"

"My daughter receives not company so early, noble captain," said the
usurer, and concluded his speech with a dry, emphatical "ugh, ugh."

"What, upon no con-si-de-ra-ti-on?" said the captain; and wherefore
not, old Truepenny? she has not much time to lose in driving her
bargain, methinks."

"Captain," said Trapbois, "I was upon some little business with our
noble friend here, Master Nigel Green--ugh, ugh, ugh--"

"And you would have me gone, I warrant you?" answered the bully; "but
patience, old Pillory, thine hour is not yet come, man--You see," he
said, pointing to the casket, "that noble Master Grahame, whom you
call Green, has got the _decuses_ and the _smelt_."

Which you would willingly rid him of, ha! ha!--ugh, ugh," answered the
usurer, "if you knew how--but, lack-a-day! thou art one of those that
come out for wool, and art sure to go home shorn. Why now, but that I
am sworn against laying of wagers, I would risk some consideration
that this honest guest of mine sends thee home penniless, if thou
darest venture with him--ugh, ugh--at any game which gentlemen play
at."

"Marry, thou hast me on the hip there, thou old miserly cony-catcher!"
answered the captain, taking a bale of dice from the sleeve of his
coat; "I must always keep company with these damnable doctors, and
they have made me every baby's cully, and purged my purse into an
atrophy; but never mind, it passes the time as well as aught else--How
say you, Master Grahame?"

The fellow paused; but even the extremity of his impudence could
scarcely hardly withstand the cold look of utter contempt with which
Nigel received his proposal, returning it with a simple, "I only play
where I know my company, and never in the morning."

"Cards may be more agreeable," said Captain Colepepper; "and, for
knowing your company, here is honest old Pillory will tell you Jack
Colepepper plays as truly on the square as e'er a man that trowled a
die--Men talk of high and low dice, Fulhams and bristles, topping,
knapping, slurring, stabbing, and a hundred ways of rooking besides;
but broil me like a rasher of bacon, if I could ever learn the trick
on 'em!"

"You have got the vocabulary perfect, sir, at the least," said Nigel,
in the same cold tone.

"Yes, by mine honour have I," returned the Hector; "they are phrases
that a gentleman learns about town.--But perhaps you would like a set
at tennis, or a game at balloon--we have an indifferent good court
hard by here, and a set of as gentleman-like blades as ever banged
leather against brick and mortar."

"I beg to be excused at present," said Lord Glenvarloch; "and to be
plain, among the valuable privileges your society has conferred on me,
I hope I may reckon that of being private in my own apartment when I
have a mind."

"Your humble servant, sir," said the captain; "and I thank you for
your civility--Jack Colepepper can have enough of company, and thrusts
himself on no one.--But perhaps you will like to make a match at
skittles?"

"I am by no means that way disposed," replied the young nobleman,

"Or to leap a flea--run a snail--match a wherry, eh?"

"No--I will do none of these," answered Nigel.

Here the old man, who had been watching with his little peery eyes,
pulled the bulky Hector by the skirt, and whispered, "Do not vapour
him the huff, it will not pass--let the trout play, he will rise to
the hook presently."

But the bully, confiding in his own strength, and probably mistaking
for timidity the patient scorn with which Nigel received his
proposals, incited also by the open casket, began to assume a louder
and more threatening tone. He drew himself up, bent his brows, assumed
a look of professional ferocity, and continued, "In Alsatia, look ye,
a man must be neighbourly and companionable. Zouns! sir, we would slit
any nose that was turned up at us honest fellows.--Ay, sir, we would
slit it up to the gristle, though it had smelt nothing all its life
but musk, ambergris, and court-scented water.--Rabbit me, I am a
soldier, and care no more for a lord than a lamplighter!"

"Are you seeking a quarrel, sir?" said Nigel, calmly, having in truth
no desire to engage himself in a discreditable broil in such a place,
and with such a character.

"Quarrel, sir?" said the captain; "I am not seeking a quarrel, though
I care not how soon I find one. Only I wish you to understand you must
be neighbourly, that's all. What if we should go over the water to the
garden, and see a bull hanked this fine morning--'sdeath, will you do
nothing?"

"Something I am strangely tempted to do at this moment," said Nigel.

"Videlicet," said Colepepper, with a swaggering air, "let us hear the
temptation."

"I am tempted to throw you headlong from the window, unless you
presently make the best of your way down stairs."

"Throw me from the window?--hell and furies!" exclaimed the captain;
"I have confronted twenty crooked sabres at Buda with my single
rapier, and shall a chitty-faced, beggarly Scots lordling, speak of me
and a window in the same breath?--Stand off, old Pillory, let me make
Scotch collops of him--he dies the death!"

"For the love of Heaven, gentlemen," exclaimed the old miser, throwing
himself between them, "do not break the peace on any consideration!
Noble guest, forbear the captain--he is a very Hector of Troy--Trusty
Hector, forbear my guest, he is like to prove a very Achilles-ugh-ugh-
---"

Here he was interrupted by his asthma, but, nevertheless, continued to
interpose his person between Colepepper (who had unsheathed his
whinyard, and was making vain passes at his antagonist) and Nigel, who
had stepped back to take his sword, and now held it undrawn in his
left hand.

"Make an end of this foolery, you scoundrel!" said Nigel--"Do you come
hither to vent your noisy oaths and your bottled-up valour on me? You
seem to know me, and I am half ashamed to say I have at length been
able to recollect you--remember the garden behind the ordinary,--you
dastardly ruffian, and the speed with which fifty men saw you run from
a drawn sword.--Get you gone, sir, and do not put me to the vile
labour of cudgelling such a cowardly rascal down stairs."

The bully's countenance grew dark as night at this unexpected
recognition; for he had undoubtedly thought himself secure in his
change of dress, and his black patch, from being discovered by a
person who had seen him but once. He set his teeth, clenched his
hands, and it seemed as if he was seeking for a moment's courage to
fly upon his antagonist. But his heart failed, he sheathed his sword,
turned his back in gloomy silence, and spoke not until he reached the
door, when, turning round, he said, with a deep oath, "If I be not
avenged of you for this insolence ere many days go by, I would the
gallows had my body and the devil my spirit!"

So saying, and with a look where determined spite and malice made his
features savagely fierce, though they could not overcome his fear, he
turned and left the house. Nigel followed him as far as the gallery at
the head of the staircase, with the purpose of seeing him depart, and
ere he returned was met by Mistress Martha Trapbois, whom the noise of
the quarrel had summoned from her own apartment. He could not resist
saying to her in his natural displeasure--"I would, madam, you could
teach your father and his friends the lesson which you had the
goodness to bestow on me this morning, and prevail on them to leave me
the unmolested privacy of my own apartment."

"If you came hither for quiet or retirement, young man," answered she,
"you have been advised to an evil retreat. You might seek mercy in the
Star-Chamber, or holiness in hell, with better success than quiet in
Alsatia. But my father shall trouble you no longer."

So saying, she entered the apartment, and, fixing her eyes on the
casket, she said with emphasis--"If you display such a loadstone, it
will draw many a steel knife to your throat."

While Nigel hastily shut the casket, she addressed her father,
upbraiding him, with small reverence, for keeping company with the
cowardly, hectoring, murdering villain, John Colepepper.

"Ay, ay, child," said the old man, with the cunning leer which
intimated perfect satisfaction with his own superior address--"I know-
-I know--ugh--but I'll crossbite him--I know them all, and I can
manage them--ay, ay--I have the trick on't--ugh-ugh."

"_You_ manage, father!" said the austere damsel; "you will manage to
have your throat cut, and that ere long. You cannot hide from them
your gains and your gold as formerly."

"My gains, wench? my gold?" said the usurer; "alack-a-day, few of
these and hard got--few and hard got."

"This will not serve you, father, any longer," said she, "and had not
served you thus long, but that Bully Colepepper had contrived a
cheaper way of plundering your house, even by means of my miserable
self.--But why do I speak to him of all this," she said, checking
herself, and shrugging her shoulders with an expression of pity which
did not fall much short of scorn. "He hears me not--he thinks not of
me.--Is it not strange that the love of gathering gold should survive
the care to preserve both property and life?"

"Your father," said Lord Glenvarloch, who could not help respecting
the strong sense and feeling shown by this poor woman, even amidst all
her rudeness and severity, "your father seems to have his faculties
sufficiently alert when he is in the exercise of his ordinary pursuits
and functions. I wonder he is not sensible of the weight of your
arguments."

"Nature made him a man senseless of danger, and that insensibility is
the best thing I have derived from him," said she; "age has left him
shrewdness enough to tread his old beaten paths, but not to seek new
courses. The old blind horse will long continue to go its rounds in
the mill, when it would stumble in the open meadow."

"Daughter!--why, wench--why, housewife!" said the old man, awakening
out of some dream, in which he had been sneering and chuckling in
imagination, probably over a successful piece of roguery,--"go to
chamber, wench--go to chamber--draw bolts and chain--look sharp to
door--let none in or out but worshipful Master Grahame--I must take my
cloak, and go to Duke Hildebrod--ay, ay, time has been, my own warrant
was enough; but the lower we lie, the more are we under the wind."

And, with his wonted chorus of muttering and coughing, the old man
left the apartment. His daughter stood for a moment looking after him,
with her usual expression of discontent and sorrow.

"You ought to persuade your father," said Nigel, "to leave this evil
neighbourhood, if you are in reality apprehensive for his safety."

"He would be safe in no other quarter," said the daughter; "I would
rather the old man were dead than publicly dishonoured. In other
quarters he would be pelted and pursued, like an owl which ventures
into sunshine. Here he was safe, while his comrades could avail
themselves of his talents; he is now squeezed and fleeced by them on
every pretence. They consider him as a vessel on the strand, from
which each may snatch a prey; and the very jealousy which they
entertain respecting him as a common property, may perhaps induce them
to guard him from more private and daring assaults."

"Still, methinks, you ought to leave this place," answered Nigel,
"since you might find a safe retreat in some distant country."

"In Scotland, doubtless," said she, looking at him with a sharp and
suspicious eye, "and enrich strangers with our rescued wealth--Ha!
young man?"

"Madam, if you knew me," said Lord Glenvarloch, "you would spare the
suspicion implied in your words."

"Who shall assure me of that?" said Martha, sharply. "They say you are
a brawler and a gamester, and I know how far these are to be trusted
by the unhappy."

"They do me wrong, by Heaven!" said Lord Glenvarloch.

"It may be so," said Martha; "I am little interested in the degree of
your vice or your folly; but it is plain, that the one or the other
has conducted you hither, and that your best hope of peace, safety,
and happiness, is to be gone, with the least possible delay, from a
place which is always a sty for swine, and often a shambles." So
saying, she left the apartment.

There was something in the ungracious manner of this female, amounting
almost to contempt of him she spoke to--an indignity to which
Glenvarloch, notwithstanding his poverty, had not as yet been
personally exposed, and which, therefore, gave him a transitory
feeling of painful surprise. Neither did the dark hints which Martha
threw out concerning the danger of his place of refuge, sound by any
means agreeably to his ears. The bravest man, placed in a situation in
which he is surrounded by suspicious persons, and removed from all
counsel and assistance, except those afforded by a valiant heart and a
strong arm, experiences a sinking of the spirit, a consciousness of
abandonment, which for a moment chills his blood, and depresses his
natural gallantry of disposition.

But, if sad reflections arose in Nigel's mind, he had not time to
indulge them; and, if he saw little prospect of finding friends in
Alsatia, he found that he was not likely to be solitary for lack of
visitors.

He had scarcely paced his apartment for ten minutes, endeavouring to
arrange his ideas on the course which he was to pursue on quitting
Alsatia, when he was interrupted by the Sovereign of the quarter, the
great Duke Hildebrod himself, before whose approach the bolts and
chains of the miser's dwelling fell, or withdrew, as of their own
accord; and both the folding leaves of the door were opened, that he
might roll himself into the house like a huge butt of liquor, a vessel
to which he bore a considerable outward resemblance, both in size,
shape, complexion, and contents."

"Good-morrow to your lordship," said the greasy puncheon, cocking his
single eye, and rolling it upon Nigel with a singular expression of
familiar impudence; whilst his grim bull-dog, which was close at his
heels, made a kind of gurgling in his throat, as if saluting, in
similar fashion, a starved cat, the only living thing in Trapbois'
house which we have not yet enumerated, and which had flown up to the
top of the tester, where she stood clutching and grinning at the
mastiff, whose greeting she accepted with as much good-will as Nigel
bestowed on that of the dog's master.

"Peace, Belzie!--D--n thee, peace!" said Duke Hildebrod. "Beasts and
fools will be meddling, my lord."

"I thought, sir," answered Nigel, with as much haughtiness as was
consistent with the cool distance which he desired to preserve, "I
thought I had told you, my name at present was Nigel Grahame."

His eminence of Whitefriars on this burst out into a loud,
chuckling, impudent laugh, repeating the word, till his voice was
almost inarticulate,--"Niggle Green--Niggle Green--Niggle Green!--why,
my lord, you would be queered in the drinking of a penny pot of
Malmsey, if you cry before you are touched. Why, you have told me the
secret even now, had I not had a shrewd guess of it before. Why,
Master Nigel, since that is the word, I only called you my lord,
because we made you a peer of Alsatia last night, when the sack was
predominant.

--How you look now!--Ha! ha! ha!"

Nigel, indeed, conscious that he had unnecessarily betrayed himself,
replied hastily,--"he was much obliged to him for the honours
conferred, but did not propose to remain in the Sanctuary long enough
to enjoy them."

"Why, that may be as you will, an you will walk by wise counsel,"
answered the ducal porpoise; and, although Nigel remained standing, in
hopes to accelerate his guest's departure, he threw himself into one
of the old tapestry-backed easy-chairs, which cracked under his
weight, and began to call for old Trapbois.

The crone of all work appearing instead of her master, the Duke cursed
her for a careless jade, to let a strange gentleman, and a brave
guest, go without his morning's draught.

"I never take one, sir," said Glenvarloch.

"Time to begin--time to begin," answered the Duke.--"Here, you old
refuse of Sathan, go to our palace, and fetch Lord Green's morning
draught. Let us see--what shall it be, my lord?--a humming double pot
of ale, with a roasted crab dancing in it like a wherry above bridge?-
-or, hum--ay, young men are sweet-toothed--a quart of burnt sack, with
sugar and spice?--good against the fogs. Or, what say you to sipping a
gill of right distilled waters? Come, we will have them all, and you
shall take your choice.--Here, you Jezebel, let Tim send the ale, and
the sack, and the nipperkin of double-distilled, with a bit of diet-
loaf, or some such trinket, and score it to the new comer."

Glenvarloch, bethinking himself that it might be as well to endure
this fellow's insolence for a brief season, as to get into farther
discreditable quarrels, suffered him to take his own way, without
interruption, only observing, "You make yourself at home, sir, in my
apartment; but, for the time, you may use your pleasure. Meanwhile, I
would fain know what has procured me the honour of this unexpected
visit?"

"You shall know that when old Deb has brought the liquor--I never
speak of business dry-lipped. Why, how she drumbles--I warrant she
stops to take a sip on the road, and then you will think you have had
unchristian measure.--In the meanwhile, look at that dog there--look
Belzebub in the face, and tell me if you ever saw a sweeter beast--
never flew but at head in his life."

And, after this congenial panegyric, he was proceeding with a tale of
a dog and a bull, which threatened to be somewhat of the longest, when
he was interrupted by the return of the old crone, and two of his own
tapsters, bearing the various kinds of drinkables which he had
demanded, and which probably was the only species of interruption he
would have endured with equanimity.

When the cups and cans were duly arranged upon the table, and when
Deborah, whom the ducal generosity honoured with a penny farthing in
the way of gratuity, had withdrawn with her satellites, the worthy
potentate, having first slightly invited Lord Glenvarloch to partake
of the liquor which he was to pay for, and after having observed,
that, excepting three poached eggs, a pint of bastard, and a cup of
clary, he was fasting from every thing but sin, set himself seriously
to reinforce the radical moisture. Glenvarloch had seen Scottish
lairds and Dutch burgomasters at their potations; but their exploits
(though each might be termed a thirsty generation) were nothing to
those of Duke Hildebrod, who seemed an absolute sandbed, capable of
absorbing any given quantity of liquid, without being either vivified
or overflowed. He drank off the ale to quench a thirst which, as he
said, kept him in a fever from morning to night, and night to morning;
tippled off the sack to correct the crudity of the ale; sent the
spirits after the sack to keep all quiet, and then declared that,
probably, he should not taste liquor till _post meridiem_, unless it
was in compliment to some especial friend. Finally, he intimated that
he was ready to proceed on the business which brought him from home so
early, a proposition which Nigel readily received, though he could not
help suspecting that the most important purpose of Duke Hildebrod's
visit was already transacted.

In this, however, Lord Glenvarloch proved to be mistaken. Hildebrod,
before opening what he had to say, made an accurate survey of the
apartment, laying, from time to time, his finger on his nose, and
winking on Nigel with his single eye, while he opened and shut the
doors, lifted the tapestry, which concealed, in one or two places, the
dilapidation of time upon the wainscoted walls, peeped into closets,
and, finally, looked under the bed, to assure himself that the coast
was clear of listeners and interlopers. He then resumed his seat, and
beckoned confidentially to Nigel to draw his chair close to him.

"I am well as I am, Master Hildebrod," replied the young lord, little
disposed to encourage the familiarity which the man endeavoured to fix
on him; but the undismayed Duke proceeded as follows:

"You shall pardon me, my lord--and I now give you the title right
seriously--if I remind you that our waters may be watched; for though
old Trapbois be as deaf as Saint Paul's, yet his daughter has sharp
ears, and sharp eyes enough, and it is of them that it is my business
to speak."

"Say away, then, sir," said Nigel, edging his chair somewhat closer to
the Quicksand, "although I cannot conceive what business I have either
with mine host or his daughter."

"We will see that in the twinkling of a quart-pot," answered the
gracious Duke; "and first, my lord, you must not think to dance in a
net before old Jack Hildebrod, that has thrice your years o'er his
head, and was born, like King Richard, with all his eye-teeth ready
cut."

"Well, sir, go on," said Nigel.

"Why, then, my lord, I presume to say, that, if you are, as I believe
you are, that Lord Glenvarloch whom all the world talk of--the Scotch
gallant that has spent all, to a thin cloak and a light purse--be not
moved, my lord, it is so noised of you--men call you the sparrow-hawk,
who will fly at all--ay, were it in the very Park--Be not moved, my
lord."

"I am ashamed, sirrah," replied Glenvarloch, "that you should have
power to move me by your insolence--but beware--and, if you indeed
guess who I am, consider how long I may be able to endure your tone of
insolent familiarity."

"I crave pardon, my lord," said Hildebrod, with a sullen, yet
apologetic look; "I meant no harm in speaking my poor mind. I know not
what honour there may be in being familiar with your lordship, but I
judge there is little safety, for Lowestoffe is laid up in lavender
only for having shown you the way into Alsatia; and so, what is to
come of those who maintain you when you are here, or whether they will
get most honour or most trouble by doing so, I leave with your
lordship's better judgment."

"I will bring no one into trouble on my account," said Lord
Glenvarloch. "I will leave Whitefriars to-morrow. Nay, by Heaven, I
will leave it this day."

"You will have more wit in your anger, I trust," said Duke Hildebrod;
"listen first to what I have to say to you, and, if honest Jack
Hildebrod puts you not in the way of nicking them all, may he never
cast doublets, or dull a greenhorn again! And so, my lord, in plain
words, you must wap and win."

"Your words must be still plainer before I can understand them," said
Nigel.

"What the devil--a gamester, one who deals with the devil's bones and
the doctors, and not understand Pedlar's French! Nay, then, I must
speak plain English, and that's the simpleton's tongue."

"Speak, then, sir," said Nigel; "and I pray you be brief, for I have
little more time to bestow on you."

"Well, then, my lord, to be brief, as you and the lawyers call it--I
understand you have an estate in the north, which changes masters for
want of the redeeming ready.--Ay, you start, but you cannot dance in a
net before me, as I said before; and so the king runs the frowning
humour on you, and the Court vapours you the go-by; and the Prince
scowls at you from under his cap; and the favourite serves you out the
puckered brow and the cold shoulder; and the favourite's favourite--"

"To go no further, sir," interrupted Nigel, "suppose all this true--
and what follows?"

"What follows?" returned Duke Hildebrod. "Marry, this follows, that
you will owe good deed, as well as good will, to him who shall put you
in the way to walk with your beaver cocked in the presence, as an ye
were Earl of Kildare; bully the courtiers; meet the Prince's blighting
look with a bold brow; confront the favourite; baffle his deputy, and-
-"

"This is all well," said Nigel! "but how is it to be accomplished?"

"By making thee a Prince of Peru, my lord of the northern latitudes;
propping thine old castle with ingots,--fertilizing thy failing
fortunes with gold dust--it shall but cost thee to put thy baron's
coronet for a day or so on the brows of an old Caduca here, the man's
daughter of the house, and thou art master of a mass of treasure that
shall do all I have said for thee, and--"

"What, you would have me marry this old gentlewoman here, the daughter
of mine host?" said Nigel, surprised and angry, yet unable to suppress
some desire to laugh.

"Nay, my lord, I would have you marry fifty thousand good sterling
pounds; for that, and better, hath old Trapbois hoarded; and thou
shall do a deed of mercy in it to the old man, who will lose his
golden smelts in some worse way--for now that he is well-nigh past his
day of work, his day of payment is like to follow."

"Truly, this is a most courteous offer," said Lord Glenvarloch; "but
may I pray of your candour, most noble duke, to tell me why you
dispose of a ward of so much wealth on a stranger like me, who may
leave you to-morrow?"

"In sooth, my lord," said the Duke, "that question smacks more of the
wit of Beaujeu's ordinary, than any word I have yet heard your
lordship speak, and reason it is you should be answered. Touching my
peers, it is but necessary to say, that Mistress Martha Trapbois will
none of them, whether clerical or laic. The captain hath asked her, so
hath the parson, but she will none of them--she looks higher than
either, and is, to say truth, a woman of sense, and so forth, too
profound, and of spirit something too high, to put up with greasy buff
or rusty prunella. For ourselves, we need but hint that we have a
consort in the land of the living, and, what is more to purpose, Mrs.
Martha knows it. So, as she will not lace her kersey hood save with a
quality binding, you, my lord, must be the man, and must carry off
fifty thousand decuses, the spoils of five thousand bullies, cutters,
and spendthrifts,--always deducting from the main sum some five
thousand pounds for our princely advice and countenance, without
which, as matters stand in Alsatia, you would find it hard to win the
plate."

"But has your wisdom considered, sir," replied Glenvarloch, "how this
wedlock can serve me in my present emergence?"

"As for that, my lord," said Duke Hildebrod, "if, with forty or fifty
thousand pounds in your pouch, you cannot save yourself, you will
deserve to lose your head for your folly, and your hand for being
close-fisted."

"But, since your goodness has taken my matters into such serious
consideration," continued Nigel, who conceived there was no prudence
in breaking with a man, who, in his way, meant him favour rather than
offence, "perhaps you may be able to tell me how my kindred will be
likely to receive such a bride as you recommend to me?"

"Touching that matter, my lord, I have always heard your countrymen
knew as well as other folks, on which side their bread was buttered.
And, truly, speaking from report, I know no place where fifty thousand
pounds--fifty thousand pounds, I say--will make a woman more welcome
than it is likely to do in your ancient kingdom. And, truly, saving
the slight twist in her shoulder, Mrs. Martha Trapbois is a person of
very awful and majestic appearance, and may, for aught I know, be come
of better blood than any one wots of; for old Trapbois looks not over
like to be her father, and her mother was a generous, liberal sort of
a woman."

"I am afraid," answered Nigel, "that chance is rather too vague to
assure her a gracious reception into an honourable house."

"Why, then, my lord," replied Hildebrod, "I think it like she will be
even with them; for I will venture to say, she has as much ill-nature
as will make her a match for your whole clan."

"That may inconvenience me a little," replied Nigel.

"Not a whit--not a whit," said the Duke, fertile in expedients; "if
she should become rather intolerable, which is not unlikely, your
honourable house, which I presume to be a castle, hath, doubtless,
both turrets and dungeons, and ye may bestow your bonny bride in
either the one or the other, and then you know you will be out of
hearing of her tongue, and she will be either above or below the
contempt of your friends."

"It is sagely counselled, most equitable sir," replied Nigel, "and
such restraint would be a fit meed for her folly that gave me any
power over her."

"You entertain the project then, my lord?" said Duke Hildebrod.

"I must turn it in my mind for twenty-four hours," said Nigel; "and I
will pray you so to order matters that I be not further interrupted by
any visitors."

"We will utter an edict to secure your privacy," said the Duke; "and
you do not think," he added, lowering his voice to a confidential
whisper, "that ten thousand is too much to pay to the Sovereign, in
name of wardship?"

"Ten thousand!" said Lord Glenvarloch; "why, you said five thousand
but now."

"Aha! art avised of that?" said the Duke, touching the side of his
nose with his finger; "nay, if you have marked me so closely, you are
thinking on the case more nearly than I believed, till you trapped me.
Well, well, we will not quarrel about the consideration, as old
Trapbois would call it--do you win and wear the dame; it will be no
hard matter with your face and figure, and I will take care that no
one interrupts you. I will have an edict from the Senate as soon as
they meet for their meridiem."

So saying, Duke Hildebrod took his leave.


Sir Walter Scott