The King's Highway eBook

George Payne Rainsford James
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 529 pages of information about The King's Highway.
preceding evening.  He returned with another man, both loaded with provisions.  There was much coming and going between the village and the boat during the day.  By eventide the storm had sobbed itself away; the sea was calm again, the sky soft and clear; and beneath the bright eyes of the watchful stars, the boat once more took its way across the broad bosom of the ocean, with its course laid directly towards the English shore.

CHAPTER IV.

Those were days of pack-saddles and pillions—­days certainly not without their state and display; but yet days in which persons were not valued according to the precise mode of their dress or equipage, when hearts were not appraised by the hat or gloves, nor the mind estimated by the carriages or horses.

Man was considered far more abstractedly then than at present; and although illustrious ancestors, great possessions, and hereditary claims upon consideration, were allowed more weight than they now possess, yet the minor circumstances of each individual,—­the things that filled his pocket, the dishes upon his table, the name of his tailor, or the club that he belonged to,—­were seldom, if ever, allowed to affect the appreciation of his general character.

However that might be, it was an age, as we have said, of pack-saddles and pillions; and no one, at any distance from the capital itself, would have been the least ashamed to be seen with a lady or child mounted behind him on the same horse, while he jogged easily onward on his destined way.

It was thus that, about a quarter of an hour before nightfall, a, tall powerful man was seen riding along through one of the north-western counties of England, with a boy of about eight years of age mounted on a pillion behind him, and steadying himself on the horse by an affectionate embrace cast round the waist of his elder companion.

Lennard Sherbrooke—­for the reader has already divined that this was no other than the personage introduced to him in our first chapter—­Lennard Sherbrooke, then, was still heavily armed, but in other respects had undergone a considerable change.  The richly laced coat had given place to a plain dark one of greenish brown; the large riding boots remained; and the hat, though it kept its border of feathers, was divested of every other ornament.  There were pistols at the saddle-bow, which indeed were very necessary in those days to every one who performed the perilous and laborious duty of wandering along the King’s Highway; and in every other respect the appearance of Lennard Sherbrooke was well calculated neither to attract cupidity nor invite attack.

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The King's Highway from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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