“This fare is perhaps too coarse for your worship,” said Wayland, as the limbs of the capon disappeared before his own exertions; “but had you dwelt as long as I have done in yonder dungeon, which Flibbertigibbet has translated to the upper element, a place where I dared hardly broil my food, lest the smoke should be seen without, you would think a fair capon a more welcome dainty.”
“If you are pleased, friend,” said Tressilian, “it is well. Nevertheless, hasten thy meal if thou canst, For this place is unfriendly to thy safety, and my concerns crave travelling.”
Allowing, therefore, their horses no more rest than was absolutely necessary for them, they pursued their journey by a forced march as far as Bradford, where they reposed themselves for the night.
The next morning found them early travellers. And, not to fatigue the reader with unnecessary particulars, they traversed without adventure the counties of Wiltshire and Somerset, and about noon of the third day after Tressilian’s leaving Cumnor, arrived at Sir Hugh Robsart’s seat, called Lidcote Hall, on the frontiers of Devonshire.
Ah me! the flower and
blossom of your house,
The wind hath blown away to other towers.
—Joanna BAILLIE’S family legend.
The ancient seat of Lidcote Hall was situated near the village of the same name, and adjoined the wild and extensive forest of Exmoor, plentifully stocked with game, in which some ancient rights belonging to the Robsart family entitled Sir Hugh to pursue his favourite amusement of the chase. The old mansion was a low, venerable building, occupying a considerable space of ground, which was surrounded by a deep moat. The approach and drawbridge were defended by an octagonal tower, of ancient brickwork, but so clothed with ivy and other creepers that it was difficult to discover of what materials it was constructed. The angles of this tower were each decorated with a turret, whimsically various in form and in size, and, therefore, very unlike the monotonous stone pepperboxes which, in modern Gothic architecture, are employed for the same purpose. One of these turrets was square, and occupied as a clock-house. But the clock was now standing still; a circumstance peculiarly striking to Tressilian, because the good old knight, among other harmless peculiarities, had a fidgety anxiety about the exact measurement of time, very common to those who have a great deal of that commodity to dispose of, and find it lie heavy upon their hands—just as we see shopkeepers amuse themselves with taking an exact account of their stock at the time there is least demand for it.