Kenilworth eBook

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

“Nay, my good Gammer Sludge,” answered the preceptor, “Ricardus shall go but to the top of the hill, and indicate with his digit to the stranger the dwelling of Wayland Smith.  Believe not that any evil can come to him, he having read this morning, fasting, a chapter of the Septuagint, and, moreover, having had his lesson in the Greek Testament.”

“Ay,” said his mother, “and I have sewn a sprig of witch’s elm in the neck of un’s doublet, ever since that foul thief has begun his practices on man and beast in these parts.”

“And as he goes oft (as I hugely suspect) towards this conjurer for his own pastime, he may for once go thither, or near it, to pleasure us, and to assist this stranger.—­Ergo, HEUS RICARDE!  ADSIS, QUAESO, MI DIDASCULE.”

The pupil, thus affectionately invoked, at length came stumbling into the room; a queer, shambling, ill-made urchin, who, by his stunted growth, seemed about twelve or thirteen years old, though he was probably, in reality, a year or two older, with a carroty pate in huge disorder, a freckled, sunburnt visage, with a snub nose, a long chin, and two peery grey eyes, which had a droll obliquity of vision, approaching to a squint, though perhaps not a decided one.  It was impossible to look at the little man without some disposition to laugh, especially when Gammer Sludge, seizing upon and kissing him, in spite of his struggling and kicking in reply to her caresses, termed him her own precious pearl of beauty.

“RICARDE,” said the preceptor, “you must forthwith (which is PROFECTO) set forth so far as the top of the hill, and show this man of worship Wayland Smith’s workshop.”

“A proper errand of a morning,” said the boy, in better language than Tressilian expected; “and who knows but the devil may fly away with me before I come back?”

“Ay, marry may un,” said Dame Sludge; “and you might have thought twice, Master Domine, ere you sent my dainty darling on arrow such errand.  It is not for such doings I feed your belly and clothe your back, I warrant you!”

“Pshaw—­Nugae, good Gammer Sludge,” answered the preceptor; “I ensure you that Satan, if there be Satan in the case, shall not touch a thread of his garment; for Dickie can say his Pater with the best, and may defy the foul fiend—­Eumenides, STYGIUMQUE NEFAS.”

“Ay, and I, as I said before, have sewed a sprig of the mountain-ash into his collar,” said the good woman, “which will avail more than your clerkship, I wus; but for all that, it is ill to seek the devil or his mates either.”

“My good boy,” said Tressilian, who saw, from a grotesque sneer on Dickie’s face, that he was more likely to act upon his own bottom than by the instructions of his elders, “I will give thee a silver groat, my pretty fellow, if you will but guide me to this man’s forge.”

The boy gave him a knowing side-look, which seemed to promise acquiescence, while at the same time he exclaimed, “I be your guide to Wayland Smith’s!  Why, man, did I not say that the devil might fly off with me, just as the kite there” (looking to the window) “is flying off with one of grandam’s chicks?”

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Kenilworth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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