The Broad Highway eBook

Jeffery Farnol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 424 pages of information about The Broad Highway.

“His cousin, sir.”  My companion appeared lost in thought, for he was puffing at his empty pipe again.

“Do you happen to know Sir Maurice?” I inquired.

“No,” returned the Preacher; “no, sir, but I have heard mention of him, and lately, though just when, or where, I cannot for the life of me recall.”

“Why, the name is familiar to a great many people,” said I; “you see, he is rather a famous character, in his way.”

Talking thus, we presently reached a stile beyond which the footpath led away through swaying corn and by shady hopgarden, to Sissinghurst village.  Here the Preacher stopped and gave me his hand, but I noticed he still puffed at his pipe.

“And you are now a blacksmith?”

“And mightily content so to be.”

“You are a most strange young man!” said the Preacher, shaking his head.

“Many people have told me the same, sir,” said I, and vaulted over the stile.  Yet, turning back when I had gone some way, I saw him leaning where I had left him, and with his pipe still in his mouth.

CHAPTER XXXVIII

IN WHICH I MEET MY COUSIN, SIR MAURICE VIBART

As I approached the smithy, late though the hour was (and George made it a rule to have the fire going by six every morning), no sound of hammer reached me, and coming into the place, I found it empty.  Then I remembered that to-day George was to drive over to Tonbridge, with Prudence and the Ancient, to invest in certain household necessities, for in a month’s time they were to be married.

Hereupon I must needs contrast George’s happy future with my dreary one, and fall bitterly to cursing myself; and, sitting on the Ancient’s stool in the corner, I covered my face, and my thoughts were very black.

Now presently, as I sat thus, I became conscious of a very delicate perfume in the air, and also, that some one had entered quietly.  My breath caught in my throat, but I did not at once look up, fearing to dispel the hope that tingled within me.  So I remained with my face still covered until something touched me, and I saw that it was the gold-mounted handle of a whip, wherefore I raised my head suddenly and glanced up.

Then I beheld a radiant vision in polished riding-boots and speckless moleskins, in handsome flowered waistcoat and perfect-fitting coat, with snowy frills at throat and wrists; a tall, gallant figure, of a graceful, easy bearing, who stood, a picture of cool, gentlemanly insolence, tapping his boot lightly with his whip.  But, as his eye met mine, the tapping whip grew suddenly still; his languid expression vanished, he came a quick step nearer and bent his face nearer my own—­a dark face, handsome in its way, pale and aquiline, with a powerful jaw, and dominating eyes and mouth; a face (nay, a mask rather) that smiled and smiled, but never showed the man beneath.

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The Broad Highway from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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