But, like counsel of every other kind, this species of direction is much more easily given than followed; and what betwixt the intricacy of the way, the darkness of the night, Tressilian’s ignorance of the country, and the sad and perplexing thoughts with which he had to contend, his journey proceeded so slowly, that morning found him only in the vale of Whitehorse, memorable for the defeat of the Danes in former days, with his horse deprived of a fore-foot shoe, an accident which threatened to put a stop to his journey by laming the animal. The residence of a smith was his first object of inquiry, in which he received little satisfaction from the dullness or sullenness of one or two peasants, early bound for their labour, who gave brief and indifferent answers to his questions on the subject. Anxious, at length, that the partner of his journey should suffer as little as possible from the unfortunate accident, Tressilian dismounted, and led his horse in the direction of a little hamlet, where he hoped either to find or hear tidings of such an artificer as he now wanted. Through a deep and muddy lane, he at length waded on to the place, which proved only an assemblage of five or six miserable huts, about the doors of which one or two persons, whose appearance seemed as rude as that of their dwellings, were beginning the toils of the day. One cottage, however, seemed of rather superior aspect, and the old dame, who was sweeping her threshold, appeared something less rude than her neighbours. To her Tressilian addressed the oft-repeated question, whether there was a smith in this neighbourhood, or any place where he could refresh his horse? The dame looked him in the face with a peculiar expression as she replied, “Smith! ay, truly is there a smith—what wouldst ha’ wi’ un, mon?”
“To shoe my horse, good dame,” answered Tressiliany; “you may see that he has thrown a fore-foot shoe.”
“Master Holiday!” exclaimed the dame, without returning any direct answer—“Master Herasmus Holiday, come and speak to mon, and please you.”
“FAVETE LINGUIS,” answered a voice from within; “I cannot now come forth, Gammer Sludge, being in the very sweetest bit of my morning studies.”
“Nay, but, good now, Master Holiday, come ye out, do ye. Here’s a mon would to Wayland Smith, and I care not to show him way to devil; his horse hath cast shoe.”
“Quid MIHI cum Caballo?” replied the man of learning from within; “I think there is but one wise man in the hundred, and they cannot shoe a horse without him!”
And forth came the honest pedagogue, for such his dress bespoke him. A long, lean, shambling, stooping figure was surmounted by a head thatched with lank, black hair somewhat inclining to grey. His features had the cast of habitual authority, which I suppose Dionysius carried with him from the throne to the schoolmaster’s pulpit, and bequeathed as a legacy to all of the same profession, A black buckram cassock was gathered at his middle with a belt, at which hung, instead of knife or weapon, a goodly leathern pen-and-ink case. His ferula was stuck on the other side, like Harlequin’s wooden sword; and he carried in his hand the tattered volume which he had been busily perusing.