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Kenilworth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about Kenilworth.

     Thus sore and sad that lady grieved,
     In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear;
     And many a heartfelt sigh she heaved,
     And let fall many a bitter tear.

     And ere the dawn of day appear’d,
     In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear,
     Full many a piercing scream was heard,
     And many a cry of mortal fear.

     The death-bell thrice was heard to ring,
     An aerial voice was heard to call,
     And thrice the raven flapp’d its wing
     Around the towers of Cumnor Hall.

     The mastiff howl’d at village door,
     The oaks were shatter’d on the green;
     Woe was the hour—­for never more
     That hapless Countess e’er was seen!

     And in that Manor now no more
     Is cheerful feast and sprightly ball;
     For ever since that dreary hour
     Have spirits haunted Cumnor Hall.

     The village maids, with fearful glance,
     Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall;
     Nor ever lead the merry dance,
     Among the groves of Cumnor Hall.

     Full many a traveller oft hath sigh’d,
     And pensive wept the Countess’ fall,
     As wand’ring onward they’ve espied
     The haunted towers of Cumnor Hall.

ARBOTSFORD, 1st March 1831.

KENILWORTH

CHAPTER I.

     I am an innkeeper, and know my grounds,
     And study them; Brain o’ man, I study them. 
     I must have jovial guests to drive my ploughs,
     And whistling boys to bring my harvests home,
     Or I shall hear no flails thwack.  The new inn.

It is the privilege of tale-tellers to open their story in an inn, the free rendezvous of all travellers, and where the humour of each displays itself without ceremony or restraint.  This is specially suitable when the scene is laid during the old days of merry England, when the guests were in some sort not merely the inmates, but the messmates and temporary companions of mine Host, who was usually a personage of privileged freedom, comely presence, and good-humour.  Patronized by him the characters of the company were placed in ready contrast; and they seldom failed, during the emptying of a six-hooped pot, to throw off reserve, and present themselves to each other, and to their landlord, with the freedom of old acquaintance.

The village of Cumnor, within three or four miles of Oxford, boasted, during the eighteenth of Queen Elizabeth, an excellent inn of the old stamp, conducted, or rather ruled, by Giles Gosling, a man of a goodly person, and of somewhat round belly; fifty years of age and upwards, moderate in his reckonings, prompt in his payments, having a cellar of sound liquor, a ready wit, and a pretty daughter.  Since the days of old Harry Baillie of the Tabard in Southwark,

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