One of the thieves come back again! I'll stand close,
He dares not wrong me now, so near the house,
And call in vain 'tis, till I see him offer it.
"A stranger!" echoed the Justice--"not upon business, I trust, for I'll
His protestation was cut short by the answer of the man himself. "My
business is of a nature somewhat onerous and particular," said my
acquaintance, Mr. Campbell--for it was he, the very Scotchman whom I had
seen at Northallerton--"and I must solicit your honour to give instant
and heedful consideration to it.--I believe, Mr. Morris," he added,
fixing his eye on that person with a look of peculiar firmness and almost
ferocity--"I believe ye ken brawly what I am--I believe ye cannot have
forgotten what passed at our last meeting on the road?" Morris's jaw
dropped--his countenance became the colour of tallow--his teeth
chattered, and he gave visible signs of the utmost consternation. "Take
heart of grace, man," said Campbell, "and dinna sit clattering your jaws
there like a pair of castanets! I think there can be nae difficulty in
your telling Mr. Justice, that ye have seen me of yore, and ken me to be
a cavalier of fortune, and a man of honour. Ye ken fu' weel ye will be
some time resident in my vicinity, when I may have the power, as I will
possess the inclination, to do you as good a turn."
"Sir--sir--I believe you to be a man of honour, and, as you say, a man of
fortune. Yes, Mr. Inglewood," he added, clearing his voice, "I really
believe this gentleman to be so."
"And what are this gentleman's commands with me?" said the Justice,
somewhat peevishly. "One man introduces another, like the rhymes in the
'house that Jack built,' and I get company without either peace or
"Both shall be yours, sir," answered Campbell, "in a brief period of
time. I come to release your mind from a piece of troublesome duty, not
to make increment to it."
"Body o' me! then you are welcome as ever Scot was to England, and that's
not saying much. But get on, man--let's hear what you have got to say at
"I presume, this gentleman," continued the North Briton, "told you there
was a person of the name of Campbell with him, when he had the mischance
to lose his valise?"
"He has not mentioned such a name, from beginning to end of the matter,"
said the Justice.
"Ah! I conceive--I conceive," replied Mr. Campbell;--"Mr. Morris was
kindly afeared of committing a stranger into collision wi' the judicial
forms of the country; but as I understand my evidence is necessary to the
compurgation of one honest gentleman here, Mr. Francis Osbaldistone, wha
has been most unjustly suspected, I will dispense with the precaution. Ye
will therefore" (he added addressing Morris with the same determined look
and accent) "please tell Mr. Justice Inglewood, whether we did not travel
several miles together on the road, in consequence of your own anxious
request and suggestion, reiterated ance and again, baith on the evening
that we were at Northallerton, and there declined by me, but afterwards
accepted, when I overtook ye on the road near Cloberry Allers, and was
prevailed on by you to resign my ain intentions of proceeding to
Rothbury; and, for my misfortune, to accompany you on your proposed
"It's a melancholy truth," answered Morris, holding down his head, as he
gave this general assent to the long and leading question which Campbell
put to him, and seemed to acquiesce in the statement it contained with
"And I presume you can also asseverate to his worship, that no man is
better qualified than I am to bear testimony in this case, seeing that I
was by you, and near you, constantly during the whole occurrence."
"No man better qualified, certainly," said Morris, with a deep and
"And why the devil did you not assist him, then," said the Justice,
"since, by Mr. Morris's account, there were but two robbers; so you were
two to two, and you are both stout likely men?"
"Sir, if it please your worship," said Campbell, "I have been all my life
a man of peace and quietness, noways given to broils or batteries. Mr.
Morris, who belongs, as I understand, or hath belonged, to his Majesty's
army, might have used his pleasure in resistance, he travelling, as I
also understand, with a great charge of treasure; but, for me, who had
but my own small peculiar to defend, and who am, moreover, a man of a
pacific occupation, I was unwilling to commit myself to hazard in the
I looked at Campbell as he muttered these words, and never recollect to
have seen a more singular contrast than that between the strong daring
sternness expressed in his harsh features, and the air of composed
meekness and simplicity which his language assumed. There was even a
slight ironical smile lurking about the corners of his mouth, which
seemed, involuntarily as it were, to intimate his disdain of the quiet
and peaceful character which he thought proper to assume, and which led
me to entertain strange suspicions that his concern in the violence done
to Morris had been something very different from that of a
fellow-sufferer, or even of a mere spectator.
Perhaps some suspicious crossed the Justice's mind at the moment, for he
exclaimed, as if by way of ejaculation, "Body o' me! but this is a
The North Briton seemed to guess at what was passing in his mind; for he
went on, with a change of manner and tone, dismissing from his
countenance some part of the hypocritical affectation of humility which
had made him obnoxious to suspicion, and saying, with a more frank and
unconstrained air, "To say the truth, I am just ane o' those canny folks
wha care not to fight but when they hae gotten something to fight for,
which did not chance to be my predicament when I fell in wi' these loons.
But that your worship may know that I am a person of good fame and
character, please to cast your eye over that billet."
Mr. Inglewood took the paper from his hand, and read, half aloud, "These
are to certify, that the bearer, Robert Campbell of--of some place which
I cannot pronounce," interjected the Justice--"is a person of good
lineage, and peaceable demeanour, travelling towards England on his own
proper affairs, &c. &c. &c. Given under our hand, at our Castle of
"A slight testimonial, sir, which I thought fit to impetrate from that
worthy nobleman" (here he raised his hand to his head, as if to touch his
hat), "MacCallum More."
"MacCallum who, sir?" said the Justice.
"Whom the Southern call the Duke of Argyle."
"I know the Duke of Argyle very well to be a nobleman of great worth and
distinction, and a true lover of his country. I was one of those that
stood by him in 1714, when he unhorsed the Duke of Marlborough out of his
command. I wish we had more noblemen like him. He was an honest Tory in
those days, and hand and glove with Ormond. And he has acceded to the
present Government, as I have done myself, for the peace and quiet of his
country; for I cannot presume that great man to have been actuated, as
violent folks pretend, with the fear of losing his places and regiment.
His testimonial, as you call it, Mr. Campbell, is perfectly satisfactory;
and now, what have you got to say to this matter of the robbery?"
"Briefly this, if it please your worship,--that Mr. Morris might as weel
charge it against the babe yet to be born, or against myself even, as
against this young gentleman, Mr. Osbaldistone; for I am not only free to
depone that the person whom he took for him was a shorter man, and a
thicker man, but also, for I chanced to obtain a glisk of his visage, as
his fause-face slipped aside, that he was a man of other features and
complexion than those of this young gentleman, Mr. Osbaldistone. And I
believe," he added, turning round with a natural, yet somewhat sterner
air, to Mr. Morris, "that the gentleman will allow I had better
opportunity to take cognisance wha were present on that occasion than he,
being, I believe, much the cooler o' the twa."
"I agree to it, sir--I agree to it perfectly," said Morris, shrinking
back as Campbell moved his chair towards him to fortify his appeal--"And
I incline, sir," he added, addressing Mr. Inglewood, "to retract my
information as to Mr. Osbaldistone; and I request, sir, you will permit
him, sir, to go about his business, and me to go about mine also; your
worship may have business to settle with Mr. Campbell, and I am rather in
haste to be gone."
"Then, there go the declarations," said the Justice, throwing them into
the fire--"And now you are at perfect liberty, Mr Osbaldistone. And you,
Mr. Morris, are set quite at your ease."
"Ay," said Campbell, eyeing Morris as he assented with a rueful grin to
the Justice's observations, "much like the ease of a tod under a pair of
harrows--But fear nothing, Mr. Morris; you and I maun leave the house
thegither. I will see you safe--I hope you will not doubt my honour, when
I say sae--to the next highway, and then we part company; and if we do
not meet as friends in Scotland, it will be your ain fault."
With such a lingering look of terror as the condemned criminal throws,
when he is informed that the cart awaits him, Morris arose; but when on
his legs, appeared to hesitate. "I tell thee, man, fear nothing,"
reiterated Campbell; "I will keep my word with you--Why, thou sheep's
heart, how do ye ken but we may can pick up some speerings of your
valise, if ye will be amenable to gude counsel?--Our horses are ready.
Bid the Justice fareweel, man, and show your Southern breeding."
Morris, thus exhorted and encouraged, took his leave, under the escort of
Mr. Campbell; but, apparently, new scruples and terrors had struck him
before they left the house, for I heard Campbell reiterating assurances
of safety and protection as they left the ante-room--"By the soul of my
body, man, thou'rt as safe as in thy father's kailyard--Zounds! that a
chield wi' sic a black beard should hae nae mair heart than a
hen-partridge!--Come on wi' ye, like a frank fallow, anes and for aye."
The voices died away, and the subsequent trampling of their horses
announced to us that they had left the mansion of Justice Inglewood.
The joy which that worthy magistrate received at this easy conclusion of
a matter which threatened him with some trouble in his judicial capacity,
was somewhat damped by reflection on what his clerk's views of the
transaction might be at his return. "Now, I shall have Jobson on my
shoulders about these d--d papers--I doubt I should not have destroyed
them, after all--But hang it! it is only paying his fees, and that will
make all smooth--And now, Miss Die Vernon, though I have liberated all
the others, I intend to sign a writ for committing you to the custody of
Mother Blakes, my old housekeeper, for the evening, and we will send for
my neighbour Mrs. Musgrave, and the Miss Dawkins, and your cousins, and
have old Cobs the fiddler, and be as merry as the maids; and Frank
Osbaldistone and I will have a carouse that will make us fit company for
you in half-an-hour."
"Thanks, most worshipful," returned Miss Vernon; "but, as matters stand,
we must return instantly to Osbaldistone Hall, where they do not know
what has become of us, and relieve my uncle of his anxiety on my cousin's
account, which is just the same as if one of his own sons were
"I believe it truly," said the Justice; "for when his eldest son, Archie,
came to a bad end, in that unlucky affair of Sir John Fenwick's, old
Hildebrand used to hollo out his name as readily as any of the remaining
six, and then complain that he could not recollect which of his sons had
been hanged. So, pray hasten home, and relieve his paternal solicitude,
since go you must. But hark thee hither, heath-blossom," he said, pulling
her towards him by the hand, and in a good-humoured tone of admonition,
"another time let the law take its course, without putting your pretty
finger into her old musty pie, all full of fragments of law
gibberish--French and dog-Latin--And, Die, my beauty, let young fellows
show each other the way through the moors, in case you should lose your
own road, while you are pointing out theirs, my pretty Will o' the
With this admonition, he saluted and dismissed Miss Vernon, and took an
equally kind farewell of me.
"Thou seems to be a good tight lad, Mr. Frank, and I remember thy father
too--he was my playfellow at school. Hark thee, lad,--ride early at
night, and don't swagger with chance passengers on the king's highway.
What, man! all the king's liege subjects are not bound to understand
joking, and it's ill cracking jests on matters of felony. And here's poor
Die Vernon too--in a manner alone and deserted on the face of this wide
earth, and left to ride, and run, and scamper, at her own silly pleasure.
Thou must be careful of Die, or, egad, I will turn a young fellow again
on purpose, and fight thee myself, although I must own it would be a
great deal of trouble. And now, get ye both gone, and leave me to my pipe
of tobacco, and my meditations; for what says the song--
The Indian leaf doth briefly burn;
So doth man's strength to weakness turn
The fire of youth extinguished quite,
Comes age, like embers, dry and white.
Think of this as you take tobacco."*
* [The lines here quoted belong to or were altered from a set of verses
at one time very popular in England, beginning, _Tobacco that is withered
quite._ In Scotland, the celebrated Ralph Erskine, author of the _Gospel
Sonnets,_ published what he called "_Smoking Spiritualized,_ in two
parts. The first part being an Old Meditation upon Smoking Tobacco." It
This Indian weed now withered quite,
Tho' green at noon, cut down at night,
Shows thy decay;
All flesh is hay.
Thus thank, and smoke tobacco.]
I was much pleased with the gleams of sense and feeling which escaped
from the Justice through the vapours of sloth and self-indulgence,
assured him of my respect to his admonitions, and took a friendly
farewell of the honest magistrate and his hospitable mansion.
We found a repast prepared for us in the ante-room, which we partook of
slightly, and rejoined the same servant of Sir Hildebrand who had taken
our horses at our entrance, and who had been directed, as he informed
Miss Vernon, by Mr. Rashleigh, to wait and attend upon us home. We rode a
little way in silence, for, to say truth, my mind was too much bewildered
with the events of the morning, to permit me to be the first to break it.
At length Miss Vernon exclaimed, as if giving vent to her own
reflections, "Well, Rashleigh is a man to be feared and wondered at, and
all but loved; he does whatever he pleases, and makes all others his
puppets--has a player ready to perform every part which he imagines, and
an invention and readiness which supply expedients for every emergency."
"You think, then," said I, answering rather to her meaning, than to the
express words she made use of, "that this Mr. Campbell, whose appearance
was so opportune, and who trussed up and carried off my accuser as a
falcon trusses a partridge, was an agent of Mr. Rashleigh
"I do guess as much," replied Diana; "and shrewdly suspect, moreover,
that he would hardly have appeared so very much in the nick of time, if I
had not happened to meet Rashleigh in the hall at the Justice's."
"In that case, my thanks are chiefly due to you, my fair preserver."
"To be sure they are," returned Diana; "and pray, suppose them paid, and
accepted with a gracious smile, for I do not care to be troubled with
hearing them in good earnest, and am much more likely to yawn than to
behave becoming. In short, Mr. Frank, I wished to serve you, and I have
fortunately been able to do so, and have only one favour to ask in
return, and that is, that you will say no more about it.--But who comes
here to meet us, 'bloody with spurring, fiery-red with haste?' It is the
subordinate man of law, I think--no less than Mr. Joseph Jobson."
And Mr. Joseph Jobson it proved to be, in great haste, and, as it
speedily appeared, in most extreme bad humour. He came up to us, and
stopped his horse, as we were about to pass with a slight salutation.
"So, sir--so, Miss Vernon--ay, I see well enough how it is--bail put in
during my absence, I suppose--I should like to know who drew the
recognisance, that's all. If his worship uses this form of procedure
often, I advise him to get another clerk, that's all, for I shall
"Or suppose he get this present clerk stitched to his sleeve, Mr.
Jobson," said Diana; "would not that do as well? And pray, how does
Farmer Rutledge, Mr. Jobson? I hope you found him able to sign, seal, and
This question seemed greatly to increase the wrath of the man of law. He
looked at Miss Vernon with such an air of spite and resentment, as laid
me under a strong temptation to knock him off his horse with the butt-end
of my whip, which I only suppressed in consideration of his
"Farmer Rutledge, ma'am?" said the clerk, as soon as his indignation
permitted him to articulate, "Farmer Rutledge is in as handsome enjoyment
of his health as you are--it's all a bam, ma'am--all a bamboozle and a
bite, that affair of his illness; and if you did not know as much before,
you know it now, ma'am."
"La you there now!" replied Miss Vernon, with an affectation of extreme
and simple wonder, "sure you don't say so, Mr. Jobson?"
"But I _do_ say so, ma'am," rejoined the incensed scribe; "and
moreover I say, that the old miserly clod-breaker called me
pettifogger--pettifogger, ma'am--and said I came to hunt for a job,
ma'am--which I have no more right to have said to me than any other
gentleman of my profession, ma'am--especially as I am clerk to the
peace, having and holding said office under _Trigesimo Septimo Henrici
Octavi_ and _Primo Gulielmi,_ the first of King William, ma'am, of
glorious and immortal memory--our immortal deliverer from papists and
pretenders, and wooden shoes and warming pans, Miss Vernon."
"Sad things, these wooden shoes and warming pans," retorted the young
lady, who seemed to take pleasure in augmenting his wrath;--"and it is a
comfort you don't seem to want a warming pan at present, Mr. Jobson. I am
afraid Gaffer Rutledge has not confined his incivility to language--Are
you sure he did not give you a beating?"
"Beating, ma'am!--no"--(very shortly)--"no man alive shall beat me, I
promise you, ma'am."
"That is according as you happen to merit, sir," said I: "for your mode
of speaking to this young lady is so unbecoming, that, if you do not
change your tone, I shall think it worth while to chastise you myself."
"Chastise, sir? and--me, sir?--Do you know whom you speak to, sir?"
"Yes, sir," I replied; "you say yourself you are clerk of peace to the
county; and Gaffer Rutledge says you are a pettifogger; and in neither
capacity are you entitled to be impertinent to a young lady of fashion."
Miss Vernon laid her hand on my arm, and exclaimed, "Come, Mr.
Osbaldistone, I will have no assaults and battery on Mr. Jobson; I am
not in sufficient charity with him to permit a single touch of your
whip--why, he would live on it for a term at least. Besides, you have
already hurt his feelings sufficiently--you have called him
"I don't value his language, Miss," said the clerk, somewhat crestfallen:
"besides, impertinent is not an actionable word; but pettifogger is
slander in the highest degree, and that I will make Gaffer Rutledge know
to his cost, and all who maliciously repeat the same, to the breach of
the public peace, and the taking away of my private good name."
"Never mind that, Mr. Jobson," said Miss Vernon; "you know, where there
is nothing, your own law allows that the king himself must lose his
rights; and for the taking away of your good name, I pity the poor fellow
who gets it, and wish you joy of losing it with all my heart."
"Very well, ma'am--good evening, ma'am--I have no more to say--only there
are laws against papists, which it would be well for the land were they
better executed. There's third and fourth Edward VI., of antiphoners,
missals, grailes, professionals, manuals, legends, pies, portuasses, and
those that have such trinkets in their possession, Miss Vernon--and
there's summoning of papists to take the oaths--and there are popish
recusant convicts under the first of his present Majesty--ay, and there
are penalties for hearing mass--See twenty-third of Queen Elizabeth, and
third James First, chapter twenty-fifth. And there are estates to be
registered, and deeds and wills to be enrolled, and double taxes to be
made, according to the acts in that case made and provided"--
"See the new edition of the Statutes at Large, published under the
careful revision of Joseph Jobson, Gent., Clerk of the Peace," said Miss
"Also, and above all," continued Jobson,--"for I speak to your
warning--you, Diana Vernon, spinstress, not being a _femme couverte,_
and being a convict popish recusant, are bound to repair to your own
dwelling, and that by the nearest way, under penalty of being held felon
to the king--and diligently to seek for passage at common ferries, and
to tarry there but one ebb and flood; and unless you can have it in such
places, to walk every day into the water up to the knees, assaying to
"A sort of Protestant penance for my Catholic errors, I suppose," said
Miss Vernon, laughing.--"Well, I thank you for the information, Mr.
Jobson, and will hie me home as fast as I can, and be a better
housekeeper in time coming. Good-night, my dear Mr. Jobson, thou mirror
of clerical courtesy."
"Good-night, ma'am, and remember the law is not to be trifled with."
And we rode on our separate ways.
"There he goes for a troublesome mischief-making tool," said Miss Vernon,
as she gave a glance after him; it is hard that persons of birth and rank
and estate should be subjected to the official impertinence of such a
paltry pickthank as that, merely for believing as the whole world
believed not much above a hundred years ago--for certainly our Catholic
Faith has the advantage of antiquity at least."
"I was much tempted to have broken the rascal's head," I replied.
"You would have acted very like a hasty young man," said Miss Vernon;
"and yet, had my own hand been an ounce heavier than it is, I think I
should have laid its weight upon him. Well, it does not signify
complaining, but there are three things for which I am much to be pitied,
if any one thought it worth while to waste any compassion upon me."
"And what are these three things, Miss Vernon, may I ask?"
"Will you promise me your deepest sympathy, if I tell you?"
"Certainly;--can you doubt it?" I replied, closing my horse nearer to
hers as I spoke, with an expression of interest which I did not attempt
"Well, it is very seducing to be pitied, after all; so here are my three
grievances: In the first place, I am a girl, and not a young fellow, and
would be shut up in a mad-house if I did half the things that I have a
mind to;--and that, if I had your happy prerogative of acting as you
list, would make all the world mad with imitating and applauding me."
"I can't quite afford you the sympathy you expect upon this score," I
replied; "the misfortune is so general, that it belongs to one half of
the species; and the other half"--
"Are so much better cared for, that they are jealous of their
prerogatives," interrupted Miss Vernon--"I forgot you were a party
interested. Nay," she said, as I was going to speak, "that soft smile is
intended to be the preface of a very pretty compliment respecting the
peculiar advantages which Die Vernon's friends and kinsmen enjoy, by her
being born one of their Helots; but spare me the utterance, my good
friend, and let us try whether we shall agree better on the second count
of my indictment against fortune, as that quill-driving puppy would call
it. I belong to an oppressed sect and antiquated religion, and, instead
of getting credit for my devotion, as is due to all good girls beside, my
kind friend, Justice Inglewood, may send me to the house of correction,
merely for worshipping God in the way of my ancestors, and say, as old
Pembroke did to the Abbess of Wilton,* when he usurped her convent and
establishment, 'Go spin, you jade,--Go spin.'"
* Note F. The Abbess of Wilton.
"This is not a cureless evil," said I gravely. "Consult some of our
learned divines, or consult your own excellent understanding, Miss
Vernon; and surely the particulars in which our religious creed differs
from that in which you have been educated"--
"Hush!" said Diana, placing her fore-finger on her mouth,--"Hush! no more
of that. Forsake the faith of my gallant fathers! I would as soon, were I
a man, forsake their banner when the tide of battle pressed hardest
against it, and turn, like a hireling recreant, to join the victorious
"I honour your spirit, Miss Vernon; and as to the inconveniences to which
it exposes you, I can only say, that wounds sustained for the sake of
conscience carry their own balsam with the blow."
"Ay; but they are fretful and irritating, for all that. But I see, hard
of heart as you are, my chance of beating hemp, or drawing out flax into
marvellous coarse thread, affects you as little as my condemnation to
coif and pinners, instead of beaver and cockade; so I will spare myself
the fruitless pains of telling my third cause of vexation."
"Nay, my dear Miss Vernon, do not withdraw your confidence, and I will
promise you, that the threefold sympathy due to your very unusual causes
of distress shall be all duly and truly paid to account of the third,
providing you assure me, that it is one which you neither share with all
womankind, nor even with every Catholic in England, who, God bless you,
are still a sect more numerous than we Protestants, in our zeal for
church and state, would desire them to be."
"It is indeed," said Diana, with a manner greatly altered, and more
serious than I had yet seen her assume, "a misfortune that well merits
compassion. I am by nature, as you may easily observe, of a frank and
unreserved disposition--a plain true-hearted girl, who would willingly
act openly and honestly by the whole world, and yet fate has involved me
in such a series of nets and toils, and entanglements, that I dare hardly
speak a word for fear of consequences--not to myself, but to others."
"That is indeed a misfortune, Miss Vernon, which I do most sincerely
compassionate, but which I should hardly have anticipated."
"O, Mr. Osbaldistone, if you but knew--if any one knew, what difficulty I
sometimes find in hiding an aching heart with a smooth brow, you would
indeed pity me. I do wrong, perhaps, in speaking to you even thus far on
my own situation; but you are a young man of sense and penetration--you
cannot but long to ask me a hundred questions on the events of this
day--on the share which Rashleigh has in your deliverance from this petty
scrape--upon many other points which cannot but excite your attention;
and I cannot bring myself to answer with the necessary falsehood and
finesse--I should do it awkwardly, and lose your good opinion, if I have
any share of it, as well as my own. It is best to say at once, Ask me no
questions,--I have it not in my power to reply to them."
Miss Vernon spoke these words with a tone of feeling which could not but
make a corresponding impression upon me. I assured her she had neither to
fear my urging her with impertinent questions, nor my misconstruing her
declining to answer those which might in themselves be reasonable, or at
"I was too much obliged," I said, "by the interest she had taken in my
affairs, to misuse the opportunity her goodness had afforded me of prying
into hers--I only trusted and entreated, that if my services could at any
time be useful, she would command them without doubt or hesitation."
"Thank you--thank you," she replied; "your voice does not ring the cuckoo
chime of compliment, but speaks like that of one who knows to what he
pledges himself. If--but it is impossible--but yet, if an opportunity
should occur, I will ask you if you remember this promise; and I assure
you, I shall not be angry if I find you have forgotten it, for it is
enough that you are sincere in your intentions just now--much may occur
to alter them ere I call upon you, should that moment ever come, to
assist Die Vernon, as if you were Die Vernon's brother."
"And if I were Die Vernon's brother," said I, "there could not be less
chance that I should refuse my assistance--And now I am afraid I must not
ask whether Rashleigh was willingly accessory to my deliverance?"
"Not of me; but you may ask it of himself, and depend upon it, he will
say _yes;_ for rather than any good action should walk through the world
like an unappropriated adjective in an ill-arranged sentence, he is
always willing to stand noun substantive to it himself."
"And I must not ask whether this Campbell be himself the party who eased
Mr. Morris of his portmanteau,--or whether the letter, which our friend
the attorney received, was not a finesse to withdraw him from the scene
of action, lest he should have marred the happy event of my deliverance?
And I must not ask"--
"You must ask nothing of me," said Miss Vernon; "so it is quite in vain
to go on putting cases. You are to think just as well of me as if I had
answered all these queries, and twenty others besides, as glibly as
Rashleigh could have done; and observe, whenever I touch my chin just so,
it is a sign that I cannot speak upon the topic which happens to occupy
your attention. I must settle signals of correspondence with you, because
you are to be my confidant and my counsellor, only you are to know
nothing whatever of my affairs."
"Nothing can be more reasonable," I replied, laughing; "and the extent of
your confidence will, you may rely upon it, only be equalled by the
sagacity of my counsels."
This sort of conversation brought us, in the highest good-humour with
each other, to Osbaldistone Hall, where we found the family far advanced
in the revels of the evening.
"Get some dinner for Mr. Osbaldistone and me in the library," said Miss
Vernon to a servant.--"I must have some compassion upon you," she added,
turning to me, "and provide against your starving in this mansion of
brutal abundance; otherwise I am not sure that I should show you my
private haunts. This same library is my den--the only corner of the
Hall-house where I am safe from the Ourang-Outangs, my cousins. They
never venture there, I suppose for fear the folios should fall down and
crack their skulls; for they will never affect their heads in any other
way--So follow me."
And I followed through hall and bower, vaulted passage and winding stair,
until we reached the room where she had ordered our refreshments.
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