from the last tavern in which he had regaled: boasting no greater extent of accommodation than the brick- floored kitchen yielded: but the mind so soon accommodates itself to the necessities of the body, that this poor waggoner's house-of-call, which he would have despised yesterday, became now quite a choice hotel; while his dish of eggs and bacon, and his mug of beer, were not by any means the coarse fare he had supposed, but fully bore out the inscription on the window-shutter, which proclaimed those viands to be `Good entertainment for Travellers.'
He pushed away his empty plate; and with a second mug upon the hearth before him, looked thoughtfully at the fire until his eyes ached. Then he looked at the highly-coloured scripture pieces on the walls, in little black frames like common shaving-glasses, and saw how the Wise Men (with a strong family likeness among them) worshipped in a pink manger; and how the Prodigal Son came home in red rags to a purple father, and already feasted his imagination on a sea-green calf. Then he glanced through the window at the falling rain, coming down aslant upon the sign-post over against the house, and overflowing the horse-trough; and then he looked at the fire again, and seemed to descry a double distant London, retreating among the fragments of the burning wood.
He had repeated this process in just the same order, many times, as if it were a matter of necessity, when the sound of wheels called his attention to the window out of its regular turn; and there he beheld a kind of light van drawn by four horses, and laden, as well as he could see (for it was covered in), with corn and straw. The driver, who was alone, stopped at the door to water his team, and presently came stamping and shaking the wet off his hat and coat, into the room where Martin sat.
He was a red-faced burly young fellow; smart in his way, and with a good-humoured countenance. As he advanced towards the fire he touched his shining forehead with the forefinger of his stiff leather glove, by way of salutation; and said (rather unnecessarily) that it was an uncommon wet day.
`Very wet,' said Martin.
`I don't know as ever I see a wetter.'
`I never felt one,' said Martin.
The driver glanced at Martin's soiled dress, and his damp shirt-sleeves, and his coat hung up to dry: and said, after a pause, as he warmed his hands:
`You have been caught in it, sir?'
`Yes,' was the short reply.
`Out riding, maybe?' said the driver
`I should have been, if I owned a horse; but I don't,' returned Martin.
`That's bad,' said the driver.
`And may be worse,' said Martin.
Now the driver said `That's bad,' not so much because Martin didn't own a horse, as because he said he didn't with all the reckless desperation of his mood and circumstances, and so left a great deal to be inferred. Martin put his hands in his pockets and whistled when he had retorted on the driver: thus giving him to understand that he didn't care a pin for Fortune; that he was above pretending to be her favourite when he was not; and that he snapped his fingers at her, the driver, and everybody else.
The driver looked at him stealthily for a minute or so; and in the pauses of his warming whistled too. At length he asked, as he pointed his thumb towards the road.
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