“But I will pluck her from you!” he muttered, in a spasm of jealousy; the image of himself as an outcast against the world that held her, striking him with great force at that moment.
“I must give up the Austrian commission, if she takes me.”
And be what? For he had sold out of the English service, and was to receive the money in a couple of days. How long would the money support him? It would not pay half his debts! What, then, did this pursuit of Emilia mean? To blink this question, he had to give the spur to Hippogriff. It meant (upon Hippogriff at a brisk gallop), that he intended to live for her, die for her, if need be, and carve out of the world all that she would require. Everything appears possible, on Hippogriff, when he is going; but it is a bad business to put the spur on so willing a beast. When he does not go of his own will;—when he sees that there are obstructions, it is best to jump off his back. And we should abandon him then, save that having once tasted what he can do for us, we become enamoured of the habit of going keenly, and defying obstacles. Thus do we begin to corrupt the uses of the gallant beast (for he is a gallant beast, though not of the first order); we spoil his instincts and train him to hurry us to perdition.
“If my sisters could see me now!” thought Wilfrid, half-smitten with a distant notion of a singularity in his position there, the mark for a frosty breeze, while his eyes kept undeviating watch over Penarvon.
After a time he went back to the inn, and got among coachmen and footmen, all battling lustily against the frost with weapons scientifically selected at the bar. They thronged the passages, and lunged hearty punches at one another, drank and talked, and only noticed that a gentleman was in their midst when he moved to get a light. One complained that he had to drive into Monmouth that night, by a road that sent him five miles out of his way, owing to a block—a great stone that had fallen from the hill. “You can’t ask ’em to get out and walk ten steps,” he said; “or there! I’d lead the horses and just tip up the off wheels, and round the place in a twinkle, pop ’m in again, and nobody hurt; but you can’t ask ladies to risk catchin’ colds for the sake of the poor horses.”
Several coachmen spoke upon this, and the shame and marvel it was that the stone had not been moved; and between them the name of Mr. Powys was mentioned, with the remark that he would spare his beasts if he could.
“What’s that block you’re speaking of, just out of Monmouth?” enquired Wilfrid; and it being described to him, together with the exact bearings of the road and situation of the mass of stone, he at once repeated a part of what he had heard in the form of the emphatic interrogation, “What! there?” and flatly told the coachman that the stone had been moved.
“It wasn’t moved this morning, then, sir,” said the latter.
“No; but a great deal can be done in a couple of hours,” said Wilfrid.