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43. Chapter Forty-three
HAS AN INFLUENCE ON THE FORTUNES OF SEVERAL PEOPLE. MR PECKSNIFF IS EXHIBITED IN THE PLENITUDE OF POWER; AND WIELDS THE SAME WITH FORTITUDE AND MAGNANIMITY
On the night of the storm, Mrs Lupin, hostess of the Blue Dragon, sat by herself in her little bar. Her solitary condition, or the bad weather, or both united, made Mrs Lupin thoughtful, not to say sorrowful. As she sat with her chin upon her hand, looking out through a low back lattice, rendered dim in the brightest day-time by clustering vine-leaves, she shook her head very often, and said, 'Dear me! Oh, dear, dear me!'
It was a melancholy time, even in the snugness of the Dragon bar. The rich expanse of corn-field, pasture-land, green slope, and gentle undulation, with its sparkling brooks, its many hedgerows, and its clumps of beautiful trees, was black and dreary, from the diamond panes of the lattice away to the far horizon, where the thunder seemed to roll along the hills. The heavy rain beat down the tender branches of vine and jessamine, and trampled on them in its fury; and when the lightning gleamed it showed the tearful leaves shivering and cowering together at the window, and tapping at it urgently, as if beseeching to be sheltered from the dismal night.
As a mark of her respect for the lightning, Mrs Lupin had removed her candle to the chimney-piece. Her basket of needle-work stood unheeded at her elbow; her supper, spread on a round table not far off, was untasted; and the knives had been removed for fear of attraction. She had sat for a long time with her chin upon her hand, saying to herself at intervals, 'Dear me! Ah, dear, dear me!'
She was on the eve of saying so, once more, when the latch of the house-door (closed to keep the rain out), rattled on its well-worn catch, and a traveller came in, who, shutting it after him, and walking straight up to the half-door of the bar, said, rather gruffly:
'A pint of the best old beer here.'
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