Mr Chester lighted the candles which stood upon his dressing-table, and wheeling an easy-chair towards the fire, which was yet burning, stirred up a cheerful blaze, sat down before it, and bade his uncouth visitor Come here, and draw his boots off.
You have been drinking again, my fine fellow, he said, as Hugh went down on one knee, and did as he was told.
As Im alive, master, Ive walked the twelve long miles, and waited here I dont know how long, and had no drink between my lips since dinner-time at noon.
And can you do nothing better, my pleasant friend, than fall asleep, and shake the very building with your snores? said Mr Chester. Cant you dream in your straw at home, dull dog as you are, that you need come here to do it?Reach me those slippers, and tread softly.
Hugh obeyed in silence.
And harkee, my dear young gentleman, said Mr Chester, as he put them on, the next time you dream, dont let it be of me, but of some dog or horse with whom you are better acquainted. Fill the glass onceyoull find it and the bottle in the same placeand empty it to keep yourself awake.
Hugh obeyed again even more zealouslyand having done so, presented himself before his patron.
Now, said Mr Chester, what do you want with me?
There was news to-day, returned Hugh. Your son was at our housecame down on horseback. He tried to see the young woman, but couldnt get sight of her. He left some letter or some message which our Joe had charge of, but he and the old one quarrelled about it when your son had gone, and the old one wouldnt let it be delivered. He says (thats the old one does) that none of his people shall interfere and get him into trouble. Hes a landlord, he says, and lives on everybodys custom.
Hes a jewel, smiled Mr Chester, and the better for being a dull one.Well?
Vardens daughterthats the girl I kissed
and stole the bracelet from upon the kings highway, said Mr Chester, composedly. Yes; what of her?
She wrote a note at our house to the young woman, saying she lost the letter I brought to you, and you burnt. Our Joe was to carry it, but the old one kept him at home all next day, on purpose that he shouldnt. Next morning he gave it to me to take; and here it is.
You didnt deliver it then, my good friend? said Mr Chester, twirling Dollys note between his finger and thumb, and feigning to be surprised.
I supposed youd want to have it, retorted Hugh. Burn one, burn all, I thought.
My devil-may-care acquaintance, said Mr Chesterreally if you do not draw some nicer distinctions, your career will be cut short with most surprising suddenness. Dont you know that the letter you brought to me, was directed to my son who resides in this very place? And can you descry no difference between his letters and those addressed to other people?
If you dont want it, said Hugh, disconcerted by this reproof, for he had expected high praise, give it me back, and Ill deliver it. I dont know how to please you, master.
I shall deliver it, returned his patron, putting it away after a moments consideration, myself. Does the young lady walk out, on fine mornings?
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