Tressilian perceived that the wine had made some impression even on the seasoned brain of mine host, which was chiefly to be inferred from his declaiming against drunkenness. As he himself had carefully avoided the bowl, he would have availed himself of the frankness of the moment to extract from Gosling some further information upon the subject of Anthony Foster, and the lady whom the mercer had seen in his mansion-house; but his inquiries only set the host upon a new theme of declamation against the wiles of the fair sex, in which he brought, at full length, the whole wisdom of Solomon to reinforce his own. Finally, he turned his admonitions, mixed with much objurgation, upon his tapsters and drawers, who were employed in removing the relics of the entertainment, and restoring order to the apartment; and at length, joining example to precept, though with no good success, he demolished a salver with half a score of glasses, in attempting to show how such service was done at the Three Cranes in the Vintry, then the most topping tavern in London. This last accident so far recalled him to his better self, that he retired to his bed, slept sound, and awoke a new man in the morning.
Nay, I’ll hold
touch—the game shall be play’d out;
It ne’er shall stop for me, this merry wager:
That which I say when gamesome, I’ll avouch
In my most sober mood, ne’er trust me else. The hazard table.
“And how doth your kinsman, good mine host?” said Tressilian, when Giles Gosling first appeared in the public room, on the morning following the revel which we described in the last chapter. “Is he well, and will he abide by his wager?”
“For well, sir, he started two hours since, and has visited I know not what purlieus of his old companions; hath but now returned, and is at this instant breakfasting on new-laid eggs and muscadine. And for his wager, I caution you as a friend to have little to do with that, or indeed with aught that Mike proposes. Wherefore, I counsel you to a warm breakfast upon a culiss, which shall restore the tone of the stomach; and let my nephew and Master Goldthred swagger about their wager as they list.”
“It seems to me, mine host,” said Tressilian, “that you know not well what to say about this kinsman of yours, and that you can neither blame nor commend him without some twinge of conscience.”
“You have spoken truly, Master Tressilian,” replied Giles Gosling. “There is Natural Affection whimpering into one ear, ’Giles, Giles, why wilt thou take away the good name of thy own nephew? Wilt thou defame thy sister’s son, Giles Gosling? wilt thou defoul thine own nest, dishonour thine own blood?’ And then, again, comes Justice, and says, ’Here is a worthy guest as ever came to the bonny Black Bear; one who never challenged a reckoning’ (as I say to your face you never did, Master Tressilian—not