Isopel Berners eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 364 pages of information about Isopel Berners.


One evening Belle and myself received another visit from the man in black.  After a little conversation of not much importance, I asked him whether he would not take some refreshment, assuring him that I was now in possession of some very excellent Hollands which, with a glass, a jug of water, and a lump of sugar, were heartily at his service; he accepted my offer, and Belle going with a jug to the spring, from which she was in the habit of procuring water for tea, speedily returned with it full of the clear, delicious water of which I have already spoken.  Having placed the jug by the side of the man in black, she brought him a glass and spoon, and a teacup, the latter containing various lumps of snowy-white sugar:  in the meantime I had produced a bottle of the stronger liquid.  The man in black helped himself to some water, and likewise to some Hollands, the proportion of water being about two-thirds; then adding a lump of sugar, he stirred the whole up, tasted it, and said that it was good.

“This is one of the good things of life,” he added, after a short pause.

“What are the others?” I demanded.

“There is Malvoisia sack,” said the man in black, “and partridge, and beccafico.”

“And what do you say to high mass?” said I.

“High mass!” said the man in black; “however,” he continued, after a pause, “I will be frank with you; I came to be so; I may have heard high mass on a time, and said it too; but as for any predilection for it, I assure you I have no more than for a long High Church sermon.”

“You speak a la Margutte?” said I.

“Margutte!” said the man in black, musingly.  “Margutte?”

“You have read Pulci, I suppose?” said I.

“Yes, yes,” said the man in black, laughing; “I remember.”

“He might be rendered into English,” said I, “something in this style:—­

   “’To which Margutte answered with a sneer,
   I like the blue no better than the black,
   My faith consists alone in savoury cheer,
   In roasted capons, and in potent sack;
   But, above all, in famous gin and clear,
   Which often lays the Briton on his back,
   With lump of sugar, and with lymph from well,
   I drink it, and defy the fiends of hell.’”

“He! he! he!” said the man in black; “that is more than Mezzofante could have done for a stanza of Byron.”

“A clever man,” said I.

“Who?” said the man in black.

“Mezzofante di Bologna.”

“He! he! he!” said the man in black; “now I know that you are not a Gypsy, at least a soothsayer; no soothsayer would have said that—­”

“Why,” said I, “does he not understand five-and-twenty tongues?”

“O yes,” said the man in black; “and five-and-twenty added to them; but—­he! he! it was principally from him who is certainly the Prince of Philologists that I formed my opinion of the sect.”

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Isopel Berners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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