“Praying in his sleep,” said Varney, “and confounding his old and new devotions. He must have more need of prayer ere I am done with him.—What ho! holy man, most blessed penitent!—awake—awake! The devil has not discharged you from service yet.”
As Varney at the same time shook the sleeper by the arm, it changed the current of his ideas, and he roared out, “Thieves!—thieves! I will die in defence of my gold—my hard-won gold—that has cost me so dear. Where is Janet?—Is Janet safe?”
“Safe enough, thou bellowing fool!” said Varney; “art thou not ashamed of thy clamour?”
Foster by this time was broad awake, and sitting up in his bed, asked Varney the meaning of so untimely a visit. “It augurs nothing good,” he added.
“A false prophecy, most sainted Anthony,” returned Varney; “it augurs that the hour is come for converting thy leasehold into copyhold. What sayest thou to that?”
“Hadst thou told me this in broad day,” said Foster, “I had rejoiced; but at this dead hour, and by this dim light, and looking on thy pale face, which is a ghastly contradiction to thy light words, I cannot but rather think of the work that is to be done, than the guerdon to be gained by it.”
“Why, thou fool, it is but to escort thy charge back to Cumnor Place.”
“Is that indeed all?” said Foster; “thou lookest deadly pale, and thou art not moved by trifles—is that indeed all?”
“Ay, that—and maybe a trifle more,” said Varney.
“Ah, that trifle more!” said Foster; “still thou lookest paler and paler.”
“Heed not my countenance,” said Varney; “you see it by this wretched light. Up and be doing, man. Think of Cumnor Place—thine own proper copyhold. Why, thou mayest found a weekly lectureship, besides endowing Janet like a baron’s daughter. Seventy pounds and odd.”
“Seventy-nine pounds, five shillings and fivepence half-penny, besides the value of the wood,” said Foster; “and I am to have it all as copyhold?”
“All, man—squirrels and all. No gipsy shall cut the value of a broom—no boy so much as take a bird’s nest—without paying thee a quittance.—Ay, that is right—don thy matters as fast as possible; horses and everything are ready, all save that accursed villain Lambourne, who is out on some infernal gambol.”
“Ay, Sir Richard,” said Foster, “you would take no advice. I ever told you that drunken profligate would fail you at need. Now I could have helped you to a sober young man.”
“What, some slow-spoken, long-breathed brother of the congregation? Why, we shall have use for such also, man. Heaven be praised, we shall lack labourers of every kind.—Ay, that is right—forget not your pistols. Come now, and let us away.”
“Whither?” said Anthony.
“To my lady’s chamber; and, mind, she must along with us. Thou art not a fellow to be startled by a shriek?”