Bracebridge Hall, or The Humorists eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 476 pages of information about Bracebridge Hall, or The Humorists.
the little light that remained in the chamber.  The gloom that now prevailed was contagious.  Around hung the shapeless, and almost spectral, box-coats of departed travellers, long since buried in deep sleep.  I only heard the ticking of the clock, with the deep-drawn breathings of the sleeping topers, and the drippings of the rain, drop—­drop—­drop, from the eaves of the house.  The church-bells chimed midnight.  All at once the stout gentleman began to walk overhead, pacing slowly backwards and forwards.  There was something extremely awful in all this, especially to one in my state of nerves.  These ghastly greatcoats, these guttural breathings, and the creaking footsteps of this mysterious being.  His steps grew fainter and fainter, and at length died away.  I could bear it no longer.  I was wound up to the desperation of a hero of romance.  “Be he who or what he may,” said I to myself, “I’ll have a sight of him!” I seized a chamber candle, and hurried up to number 13.  The door stood ajar.  I hesitated—­I entered:  the room was deserted.  There stood a large, broad-bottomed elbow chair at a table, on which was an empty tumbler, and a “Times” newspaper, and the room smelt powerfully of Stilton cheese.

The mysterious stranger had evidently but just retired.  I turned off, sorely disappointed, to my room, which had been changed to the front of the house.  As I went along the corridor, I saw a large pair of boots, with dirty, waxed tops, standing at the door of a bed-chamber.  They doubtless belonged to the unknown; but it would not do to disturb so redoubtable a personage in his den; he might discharge a pistol, or something worse, at my head.  I went to bed, therefore, and lay awake half the night in a terrible nervous state; and even when I fell asleep, I was still haunted in my dreams by the idea of the stout gentleman and his wax-topped boots.

I slept rather late the next morning, and was awakened by some stir and bustle in the house, which I could not at first comprehend; until getting more awake, I found there was a mail-coach starting from the door.  Suddenly there was a cry from below, “The gentleman has forgot his umbrella! look for the gentleman’s umbrella in No. 13!” I heard an immediate scampering of a chamber-maid along the passage, and a shrill reply as she ran, “Here it is! here’s the gentleman’s umbrella!”

The mysterious stranger then was on the point of setting off.  This was the only chance I should ever have of knowing him.  I sprang out of bed, scrambled to the window, snatched aside the curtains, and just caught a glimpse of the rear of a person getting in at the coach-door.  The skirts of a brown coat parted behind, and gave me a full view of the broad disk of a pair of drab breeches.  The door closed—­“all right!” was the word—­the coach whirled off:—­and that was all I ever saw of the stout gentleman!


  “A living gallery of aged trees.”

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Bracebridge Hall, or The Humorists from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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