Kenilworth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 697 pages of information about Kenilworth.

“The men who wrote these books,” said Lambourne, looking round him, “little thought whose keeping they were to fall into.”

“Nor what yeoman’s service they were to do me,” quoth Anthony Foster; “the cook hath used them for scouring his pewter, and the groom hath had nought else to clean my boots with, this many a month past.”

“And yet,” said Lambourne, “I have been in cities where such learned commodities would have been deemed too good for such offices.”

“Pshaw, pshaw,” answered Foster, “’they are Popish trash, every one of them—­private studies of the mumping old Abbot of Abingdon.  The nineteenthly of a pure gospel sermon were worth a cartload of such rakings of the kennel of Rome.”

“Gad-a-mercy, Master Tony Fire-the-Fagot!” said Lambourne, by way of reply.

Foster scowled darkly at him, as he replied, “Hark ye, friend Mike; forget that name, and the passage which it relates to, if you would not have our newly-revived comradeship die a sudden and a violent death.”

“Why,” said Michael Lambourne, “you were wont to glory in the share you had in the death of the two old heretical bishops.”

“That,” said his comrade, “was while I was in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity, and applies not to my walk or my ways now that I am called forth into the lists.  Mr. Melchisedek Maultext compared my misfortune in that matter to that of the Apostle Paul, who kept the clothes of the witnesses who stoned Saint Stephen.  He held forth on the matter three Sabbaths past, and illustrated the same by the conduct of an honourable person present, meaning me.”

“I prithee peace, Foster,” said Lambourne, “for I know not how it is, I have a sort of creeping comes over my skin when I hear the devil quote Scripture; and besides, man, how couldst thou have the heart to quit that convenient old religion, which you could slip off or on as easily as your glove?  Do I not remember how you were wont to carry your conscience to confession, as duly as the month came round? and when thou hadst it scoured, and burnished, and whitewashed by the priest, thou wert ever ready for the worst villainy which could be devised, like a child who is always readiest to rush into the mire when he has got his Sunday’s clean jerkin on.”

“Trouble not thyself about my conscience,” said Foster; “it is a thing thou canst not understand, having never had one of thine own.  But let us rather to the point, and say to me, in one word, what is thy business with me, and what hopes have drawn thee hither?”

“The hope of bettering myself, to be sure,” answered Lambourne, “as the old woman said when she leapt over the bridge at Kingston.  Look you, this purse has all that is left of as round a sum as a man would wish to carry in his slop-pouch.  You are here well established, it would seem, and, as I think, well befriended, for men talk of thy being under some special protection—­nay, stare not like a pig that is stuck, mon; thou canst not dance in a net and they not see thee.  Now I know such protection is not purchased for nought; you must have services to render for it, and in these I propose to help thee.”

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Kenilworth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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