The Cloister and the Hearth, by Charles Reade

Chapter 29

Gerard was staggered by this sudden communication, and his colour came and went. Then he clenched his teeth with ire. For men of any spirit at all are like the wild boar; he will run from a superior force, owing perhaps to his not being an ass; but if you stick to his heels too long and too close, and, in short, bore him, he will whirl, and come tearing at a multitude of hunters, and perhaps bore you. Gerard then set his teeth and looked battle, But the next moment his countenance fell, and he said plaintively, “And my axe is in Rhine.”

They consulted together. Prudence bade them avoid that village; hunger said “buy food.”

Hunger spoke loudest. Prudence most convincingly. They settled to strike across the fields.

They halted at a haystack and borrowed two bundles of hay, and lay on them in a dry ditch out of sight, but in nettles.

They sallied out in turn and came back with turnips. These they munched at intervals in their retreat until sunset.

Presently they crept out shivering into the rain and darkness, and got into the road on the other side of the village.

It was a dismal night, dark as pitch, and blowing hard. They could neither see, nor hear, nor be seen, nor heard; and for aught I know, passed like ghosts close to their foes. These they almost forgot in the natural horrors of the black tempestuous night, in which they seemed to grope and hew their way as in black marble. When the moon rose they were many a league from Dusseldorf. But they still trudged on. Presently they came to a huge building.

“Courage!” cried Denys, “I think I know this convent. Aye it is. We are in the see of Juliers. Cologne has no power here.”

The next moment they were safe within the walls.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33