Nightmare Abbey, by Thomas Love Peacock

Chapter XV

The day after Mr Glowry’s departure was one of incessant rain, and Scythrop repented of the promise he had given. The next day was one of bright sunshine: he sat on the terrace, read a tragedy of Sophocles, and was not sorry, when Raven announced dinner, to find himself alive. On the third evening, the wind blew, and the rain beat, and the owl flapped against his windows; and he put a new flint in his pistol. On the fourth day, the sun shone again; and he locked the pistol up in a drawer, where he left it undisturbed, till the morning of the eventful Thursday, when he ascended the turret with a telescope, and spied anxiously along the road that crossed the fens from Claydyke: but nothing appeared on it. He watched in this manner from ten A.M. till Raven summoned him to dinner at five; when he stationed Crow at the telescope, and descended to his own funeral-feast. He left open the communications between the tower and turret, and called aloud at intervals to Crow — ‘Crow, Crow, is any thing coming?’ Crow answered, ‘The wind blows, and the windmills turn, but I see nothing coming;’ and, at every answer, Scythrop found the necessity of raising his spirits with a bumper. After dinner, he gave Raven his watch to set by the abbey clock. Raven brought it, Scythrop placed it on the table, and Raven departed. Scythrop called again to Crow; and Crow, who had fallen asleep, answered mechanically, ‘I see nothing coming.’ Scythrop laid his pistol between his watch and his bottle. The hour-hand passed the VII. — the minute-hand moved on; — it was within three minutes of the appointed time. Scythrop called again to Crow: Crow answered as before. Scythrop rang the bell: Raven appeared.

‘Raven,’ said Scythrop, ‘the clock is too fast.’

‘No, indeed,’ said Raven, who knew nothing of Scythrop’s intentions; ‘if any thing, it is too slow.’

‘Villain!’ said Scythrop, pointing the pistol at him; ‘it is too fast.’

‘Yes — yes — too fast, I meant,’ said Raven, in manifest fear.

‘How much too fast?’ said Scythrop.

‘As much as you please,’ said Raven.

‘How much, I say?’ said Scythrop, pointing the pistol again.

‘An hour, a full hour, sir,’ said the terrified butler.

‘Put back my watch,’ said Scythrop.

Raven, with trembling hand, was putting back the watch, when the rattle of wheels was heard in the court; and Scythrop, springing down the stairs by three steps together, was at the door in sufficient time to have handed either of the young ladies from the carriage, if she had happened to be in it; but Mr Glowry was alone.

‘I rejoice to see you,’ said Mr Glowry; ‘I was fearful of being too late, for I waited till the last moment in the hope of accomplishing my promise; but all my endeavours have been vain, as these letters will show.’

Scythrop impatiently broke the seals. The contents were these:

Almost a stranger in England, I fled from parental tyranny, and the dread of an arbitrary marriage, to the protection of a stranger and a philosopher, whom I expected to find something better than, or at least something different from, the rest of his worthless species. Could I, after what has occurred, have expected nothing more from you than the common-place impertinence of sending your father to treat with me, and with mine, for me? I should be a little moved in your favour, if I could believe you capable of carrying into effect the resolutions which your father says you have taken, in the event of my proving inflexible; though I doubt not you will execute them, as far as relates to the pint of wine, twice over, at least. I wish you much happiness with Miss O’Carroll. I shall always cherish a grateful recollection of Nightmare Abbey, for having been the means of introducing me to a true transcendentalist; and, though he is a little older than myself, which is all one in Germany, I shall very soon have the pleasure of subscribing myself

Celinda Flosky

I hope, my dear cousin, that you will not be angry with me, but that you will always think of me as a sincere friend, who will always feel interested in your welfare; I am sure you love Miss Toobad much better than me, and I wish you much happiness with her. Mr Listless assures me that people do not kill themselves for love now-a-days, though it is still the fashion to talk about it. I shall, in a very short time, change my name and situation, and shall always be happy to see you in Berkeley Square, when, to the unalterable designation of your affectionate cousin, I shall subjoin the signature of

Marionetta Listless

Scythrop tore both the letters to atoms, and railed in good set terms against the fickleness of women.

‘Calm yourself, my dear Scythrop,’ said Mr Glowry; ‘there are yet maidens in England.’

‘Very true, sir,’ said Scythrop.

‘And the next time,’ said Mr Glowry, ‘have but one string to your bow.’

‘Very good advice, sir,’ said Scythrop.

‘And, besides,’ said Mr Glowry, ‘the fatal time is past, for it is now almost eight.’

‘Then that villain, Raven,’ said Scythrop, ‘deceived me when he said that the clock was too fast; but, as you observe very justly, the time has gone by, and I have just reflected that these repeated crosses in love qualify me to take a very advanced degree in misanthropy; and there is, therefore, good hope that I may make a figure in the world. But I shall ring for the rascal Raven, and admonish him.’

Raven appeared. Scythrop looked at him very fiercely two or three minutes; and Raven, still remembering the pistol, stood quaking in mute apprehension, till Scythrop, pointing significantly towards the dining-room, said, ‘Bring some Madeira.’

This web edition published by:

eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/peacock/thomas_love/p35n/chapter15.html

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 16:24