Clovelly Court in the Olden Time

“It was among the ways of good Queen Bess,
   Who ruled as well as ever mortal can, sir,
When she was stogg’d, and the country in a mess,
   She was wont to send for a Devon man, sir.”
   —West Country Song.

The next morning Amyas Leigh was not to be found. Not that he had gone out to drown himself in despair, or even to bemoan himself “down by the Torridge side.” He had simply ridden off, Frank found, to Sir Richard Grenville at Stow: his mother at once divined the truth, that he was gone to try for a post in the Irish army, and sent off Frank after him to bring him home again, and make him at least reconsider himself.

So Frank took horse and rode thereon ten miles or more: and then, as there were no inns on the road in those days, or indeed in these, and he had some ten miles more of hilly road before him, he turned down the hill towards Clovelly Court, to obtain, after the hospitable humane fashion of those days, good entertainment for man and horse from Mr. Cary the squire.

And when he walked self-invited, like the loud-shouting Menelaus, into the long dark wainscoted hall of the court, the first object he beheld was the mighty form of Amyas, who, seated at the long table, was alternately burying his face in a pasty, and the pasty in his face, his sorrows having, as it seemed, only sharpened his appetite, while young Will Cary, kneeling on the opposite bench, with his elbows on the table, was in that graceful attitude laying down the law fiercely to him in a low voice.

“Hillo! lad,” cried Amyas; “come hither and deliver me out of the hands of this fire-eater, who I verily believe will kill me, if I do not let him kill some one else.”

“Ah! Mr. Frank,” said Will Cary, who, like all other young gentlemen of these parts, held Frank in high honor, and considered him a very oracle and cynosure of fashion and chivalry, “welcome here: I was just longing for you, too; I wanted your advice on half-a-dozen matters. Sit down, and eat. There is the ale.”

“None so early, thank you.”

“Ah no!” said Amyas, burying his head in the tankard, and then mimicking Frank, “avoid strong ale o’ mornings. It heats the blood, thickens the animal spirits, and obfuscates the cerebrum with frenetical and lymphatic idols, which cloud the quintessential light of the pure reason. Eh? young Plato, young Daniel, come hither to judgment! And yet, though I cannot see through the bottom of the tankard already, I can see plain enough still to see this, that Will shall not fight.”

“Shall I not, eh? who says that? Mr. Frank, I appeal to you, now; only hear.”

“We are in the judgment-seat,” said Frank, settling to the pasty. “Proceed, appellant.”

“Well, I was telling Amyas, that Tom Coffin, of Portledge; I will stand him no longer.”

“Let him be, then,” said Amyas; “he could stand very well by himself, when I saw him last.”

“Plague on you, hold your tongue. Has he any right to look at me as he does, whenever I pass him?”

“That depends on how he looks; a cat may look at a king, provided she don’t take him for a mouse.”

“Oh, I know how he looks, and what he means too, and he shall stop, or I will stop him. And the other day, when I spoke of Rose Salterne”—“Ah!” groaned Frank, “Ate’s apple again!”—“(never mind what I said) he burst out laughing in my face; and is not that a fair quarrel? And what is more, I know that he wrote a sonnet, and sent it to her to Stow by a market woman. What right has he to write sonnets when I can’t? It’s not fair play, Mr. Frank, or I am a Jew, and a Spaniard, and a Papist; it’s not!” And Will smote the table till the plates danced again.

“My dear knight of the burning pestle, I have a plan, a device, a disentanglement, according to most approved rules of chivalry. Let us fix a day, and summon by tuck of drum all young gentlemen under the age of thirty, dwelling within fifteen miles of the habitation of that peerless Oriana.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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