BOOK X. IN WHICH THE HISTORY GOES FORWARD ABOUT TWELVE HOURS.
2. Chapter ii. Containing the arrival of an Irish gentleman...
Containing the arrival of an Irish gentleman, with very extraordinary
adventures which ensued at the inn.
Now the little trembling hare, which the dread of all her numerous
enemies, and chiefly of that cunning, cruel, carnivorous animal, man,
had confined all the day to her lurking-place, sports wantonly o'er
the lawns; now on some hollow tree the owl, shrill chorister of the
night, hoots forth notes which might charm the ears of some modern
connoisseurs in music; now, in the imagination of the half-drunk
clown, as he staggers through the churchyard, or rather charnelyard,
to his home, fear paints the bloody hobgoblin; now thieves and
ruffians are awake, and honest watchmen fast asleep; in plain English,
it was now midnight; and the company at the inn, as well those who
have been already mentioned in this history, as some others who
arrived in the evening, were all in bed. Only Susan Chambermaid was
now stirring, she being obliged to wash the kitchen before she retired
to the arms of the fond expecting hostler.
In this posture were affairs at the inn when a gentleman arrived there
post. He immediately alighted from his horse, and, coming up to Susan,
enquired of her, in a very abrupt and confused manner, being almost
out of breath with eagerness, Whether there was any lady in the house?
The hour of night, and the behaviour of the man, who stared very
wildly all the time, a little surprized Susan, so that she hesitated
before she made any answer; upon which the gentleman, with redoubled
eagerness, begged her to give him a true information, saying, He had
lost his wife, and was come in pursuit of her. "Upon my shoul," cries
he, "I have been near catching her already in two or three places, if
I had not found her gone just as I came up with her. If she be in the
house, do carry me up in the dark and show her to me; and if she be
gone away before me, do tell me which way I shall go after her to meet
her, and, upon my shoul, I will make you the richest poor woman in the
nation." He then pulled out a handful of guineas, a sight which would
have bribed persons of much greater consequence than this poor wench
to much worse purposes.