out with me, he did so merely because he despised the Whiggish principles of Lord C-’s servant, and that if I thought he intended to associate with me I should be mistaken. Politics, I must tell you, at that time ran as high amongst the servants as the gentlemen, the servants, however, being almost invariably opposed to the politics of their respective masters, though both parties agreed in one point, the scouting of everything low and literary, though I think, of the two, the liberal or reform party were the most inveterate. So he took my challenge, which was accepted; we went out, Lord C-’s servant being seconded by a reformado footman from the palace. We fired three times without effect; but this affair lost me my place; my master on hearing it forthwith discharged me; he was, as I have said before, very sensitive, and he said this duel of mine was a parody of his own. Being, however, one of the best men in the world, on his discharging me he made me a donation of twenty pounds.

‘And it was well that he made me this present, for without it I should have been penniless, having contracted rather expensive habits during the time that I lived with the young baronet. I now determined to visit my parents, whom I had not seen for years. I found them in good health, and, after staying with them for two months, I returned again in the direction of town, walking, in order to see the country. On the second day of my journey, not being used to such fatigue, I fell ill at a great inn on the north road, and there I continued for some weeks till I recovered, but by that time my money was entirely spent. By living at the inn I had contracted an acquaintance with the master and the people, and become accustomed to inn life. As I thought that I might find some difficulty in procuring any desirable situation in London, owing to my late connection with literature, I determined to remain where I was, provided my services would be accepted. I offered them to the master, who, finding I knew something of horses, engaged me as a postilion. I have remained there since. You have now heard my story.

‘Stay, you shan’t say that I told my tale without a per - peroration. What shall it be? Oh, I remember something which will serve for one. As I was driving my chaise some weeks ago, I saw standing at the gate of an avenue, which led up to an old mansion, a figure which I thought I recognised. I looked at it attentively, and the figure, as I passed, looked at me; whether it remembered me I do not know, but I recognised the face it showed me full well.

‘If it was not the identical face of the red-haired priest whom I had seen at Rome, may I catch cold!

‘Young gentleman, I will now take a spell on your blanket - young lady, good-night.’

End of the Project Gutenberg eText Lavengro

Lavengro, The Scholar, The Gypsy, The Priest By George Borrow.

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