It was true, the Lady Bertha was won, and Sir Arthur Home claimed his bride, and then they attempted to defeat his claim; yet Bertha at once expressed herself in his favour, to strongly that they were, however reluctantly compelled, to consent at last.
At this moment, a loud shout as from a multitude of persons came upon their ears and Flora started from her seat in alarm. The cause of the alarm we shall proceed to detail.
THE FUNERAL OF THE STRANGER OF THE INN.—THE POPULAR COMMOTION, AND MRS. CHILLINGWORTH’S APPEAL TO THE MOB.—THE NEW RIOT.—THE HALL IN DANGER.
As yet the town was quiet; and, though there was no appearance of riot or disturbance, yet the magistracy had taken every precaution they deemed needful, or their position and necessities warranted, to secure the peace of the town from the like disturbance to that which had been, of late, a disgrace and terror of peaceably-disposed persons.
The populace were well advertised of the fact, that the body of the stranger was to be buried that morning in their churchyard; and that, to protect the body, should there be any necessity for so doing, a large body of constables would be employed.
There was no disposition to riot; at least, none was visible. It looked as if there was some event about to take place that was highly interesting to all parties, who were peaceably assembling to witness the interment of nobody knew who.
The early hour at which persons were assembling, at different points, clearly indicated that there was a spirit of curiosity about the town, so uncommon that none would have noticed it but for the fact of the crowd of people who hung about the streets, and there remained, listless and impatient.
The inn, too, was crowded with visitors, and there were many who, not being blessed with the strength of purse that some were, were hanging about in the distance, waiting and watching the motions of those who were better provided.
“Ah!” said one of the visitors, “this is a disagreeable job in your house, landlord.”—“Yes, sir; I’d sooner it had happened elsewhere, I assure you. I know it has done me no good.”
“No; no man could expect any, and yet it is none the less unfortunate for that.”—“I would sooner anything else happen than that, whatever it might be. I think it must be something very bad, at all events; but I dare say I shall never see the like again.”
“So much the better for the town,” said another; “for, what with vampyres and riots, there has been but little else stirring than mischief and disturbances of one kind and another.”
“Yes; and, what between Varneys and Bannerworths, we have had but little peace here.”
“Precisely. Do you know it’s my opinion that the least thing would upset the whole town. Any one unlucky word would do it, I am sure,” said a tall thin man.