“Is Otway Bethel at West Lynne? If not; where is he? And when will he be returning to it?”
It elicited a prompt answer.
“Otway Bethel is not at West Lynne. Supposed to be in Norway. Movements uncertain.”
A MISHAP TO THE BLUE SPECTACLES.
Mr. Carlyle and Barbara were seated at breakfast, when, somewhat to their surprise, Mr. Dill was shown in. Following close upon his heels came Justice Hare; and close upon his heels came Squire Pinner; while bringing up the rear was Colonel Bethel. All the four had come up separately, not together, and all four were out of breath, as if it had been a race which should arrive soonest.
Quite impossible was it for Mr. Carlyle, at first, to understand the news they brought. All were talking at once, in the utmost excitement; and the fury of Justice Hare alone was sufficient to produce temporary deafness. Mr. Carlyle caught a word of the case presently.
“A second man? Opposition? Well, let him come on,” he good-humoredly cried. “We shall have the satisfaction of ascertaining who wins in the end.”
“But you have not heard who it is, Mr. Archibald,” cried Old Dill, “It—”
“Stand a contest with him?” raved Justice Hare. “He—”
“The fellow wants hanging,” interjected Colonel Bethel.
“Couldn’t he be ducked?” suggested Squire Pinner.
Now all these sentences were ranted out together, and their respective utterers were fain to stop till the noise subsided a little. Barbara could only look from one to the other in astonishment.
“Who is this formidable opponent?” asked Mr. Carlyle.
There was a pause. Not one of them but had the delicacy to shrink from naming that man to Mr. Carlyle. The information came at last from Old Dill, who dropped his voice while he spoke it.
“Mr. Archibald, the candidate who has come forward, is that man Levison.”
“Of course, Carlyle, you’ll go into it now, neck and crop,” cried Justice Hare.
Mr. Carlyle was silent.
“You won’t let the beast frighten you from the contest!” uttered Colonel Bethel in a loud tone.
“There’s a meeting at the Buck’s Head at ten,” said Mr. Carlyle, not replying to the immediate question. “I will be with you there.”
“Did you not say, Mr. Dill, that was where the scoundrel Levison is—at the Buck’s Head?”
“He was there,” answered Mr. Dill. “I expect he is ousted by this time. I asked the landlord what he thought of himself, for taking in such a character, and what he supposed the justice would say to him. He vowed with tears in his eyes that the fellow should not be there another hour, and that he should never have entered it, had he known who he was.”
A little more conversation, and the visitors filed off. Mr. Carlyle sat down calmly to finish his breakfast. Barbara approached him.