A strange story! said the man who had been the cause of the narration.Stranger still if it comes about as you predict. Is that all?
A question so unexpected, nettled Solomon Daisy not a little. By dint of relating the story very often, and ornamenting it (according to village report) with a few flourishes suggested by the various hearers from time to time, he had come by degrees to tell it with great effect; and Is that all? after the climax, was not what he was accustomed to.
Is that all? he repeated, yes, thats all, sir. And enough too, I think.
I think so too. My horse, young man! He is but a hack hired from a roadside posting house, but he must carry me to London to- night.
To-night! said Joe.
To-night, returned the other. What do you stare at? This tavern would seem to be a house of call for all the gaping idlers of the neighbourhood!
At this remark, which evidently had reference to the scrutiny he had undergone, as mentioned in the foregoing chapter, the eyes of John Willet and his friends were diverted with marvellous rapidity to the copper boiler again. Not so with Joe, who, being a mettlesome fellow, returned the strangers angry glance with a steady look, and rejoined, It is not a very bold thing to wonder at your going on to-night. Surely you have been asked such a harmless question in an inn before, and in better weather than this. I thought you mightnt know the way, as you seem strange to this part.
The way repeated the other, irritably.
Yes. do you know it?
Illhumph!Ill find it, replied the man, waving his hand and turning on his heel. Landlord, take the reckoning here.
John Willet did as he was desired; for on that point he was seldom slow, except in the particulars of giving change, and testing the goodness of any piece of coin that was proffered to him, by the application of his teeth or his tongue, or some other test, or in doubtful cases, by a long series of tests terminating in its rejection. The guest then wrapped his garments about him so as to shelter himself as effectually as he could from the rough weather, and without any word or sign of farewell betook himself to the stableyard. Here Joe (who had left the room on the conclusion of their short dialogue) was protecting himself and the horse from the rain under the shelter of an old penthouse roof.
Hes pretty much of my opinion, said Joe, patting the horse upon the neck. Ill wager that your stopping here to-night would please him better than it would please me.
He and I are of different opinions, as we have been more than once on our way here, was the short reply.
So I was thinking before you came out, for he has felt your spurs, poor beast.
The stranger adjusted his coat-collar about his face, and made no answer.
Youll know me again, I see, he said, marking the young fellows earnest gaze, when he had sprung into the saddle.
The mans worth knowing, master, who travels a road he dont know, mounted on a jaded horse, and leaves good quarters to do it on such a night as this.
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