“I would gladly pay your halves of the risk, sir,” said Tressilian, “to be permitted to accompany you on the adventure.”
“In what would that advantage you, sir?” answered Lambourne.
“In nothing, sir,” said Tressilian, “unless to mark the skill and valour with which you conduct yourself. I am a traveller who seeks for strange rencounters and uncommon passages, as the knights of yore did after adventures and feats of arms.”
“Nay, if it pleasures you to see a trout tickled,” answered Lambourne, “I care not how many witness my skill. And so here I drink success to my enterprise; and he that will not pledge me on his knees is a rascal, and I will cut his legs off by the garters!”
The draught which Michael Lambourne took upon this occasion had been preceded by so many others, that reason tottered on her throne. He swore one or two incoherent oaths at the mercer, who refused, reasonably enough, to pledge him to a sentiment which inferred the loss of his own wager.
“Wilt thou chop logic with me,” said Lambourne, “thou knave, with no more brains than are in a skein of ravelled silk? By Heaven, I will cut thee into fifty yards of galloon lace!”
But as he attempted to draw his sword for this doughty purpose, Michael Lambourne was seized upon by the tapster and the chamberlain, and conveyed to his own apartment, there to sleep himself sober at his leisure.
The party then broke up, and the guests took their leave; much more to the contentment of mine host than of some of the company, who were unwilling to quit good liquor, when it was to be had for free cost, so long as they were able to sit by it. They were, however, compelled to remove; and go at length they did, leaving Gosling and Tressilian in the empty apartment.
“By my faith,” said the former, “I wonder where our great folks find pleasure, when they spend their means in entertainments, and in playing mine host without sending in a reckoning. It is what I but rarely practise; and whenever I do, by Saint Julian, it grieves me beyond measure. Each of these empty stoups now, which my nephew and his drunken comrades have swilled off, should have been a matter of profit to one in my line, and I must set them down a dead loss. I cannot, for my heart, conceive the pleasure of noise, and nonsense, and drunken freaks, and drunken quarrels, and smut, and blasphemy, and so forth, when a man loses money instead of gaining by it. And yet many a fair estate is lost in upholding such a useless course, and that greatly contributes to the decay of publicans; for who the devil do you think would pay for drink at the Black Bear, when he can have it for nothing at my Lord’s or the Squire’s?”