The Cloister and the Hearth, by Charles Reade

Chapter 35

Gerard awoke, and found Denys watching him with some anxiety.

“It is you for sleeping! Why, ’tis high noon.”

“It was a blessed sleep,” said Gerard; “methinks Heaven sent it me. It hath put as it were a veil between me and that awful night. To think that you and I sit here alive and well. How terrible a dream I seem to have had!”

“Ay, lad, that is the wise way to look at these things when once they are past, why, they are dreams, shadows. Break thy fast, and then thou wilt think no more on’t. Moreover, I promised to bring thee on to the town by noon, and take thee to his worship.”

Gerard then sopped some rye bread in red wine and ate it to break his fast: then went with Denys over the scene of combat, and came back shuddering, and finally took the road with his friend, and kept peering through the hedges, and expecting sudden attacks unreasonably, till they reached the little town. Denys took him to “The White Hart”.

“No fear of cut-throats here,” said he. “I know the landlord this many a year. He is a burgess, and looks to be bailiff. ’Tis here I was making for yestreen. But we lost time, and night o’ertook us — and —

“And you saw a woman at the door, and would be wiser than a Jeanneton; she told us they were nought.”

“Why, what saved our lives if not a woman? Ay, and risked her own to do it.”

“That is true, Denys; and though women are nothing to me, I long to thank this poor girl, and reward her, ay, though I share every doit in my purse with her. Do not you?”

“Parbleu.”

“Where shall we find her?”

“Mayhap the alderman will tell us. We must go to him first.”

The alderman received them with a most singular and inexplicable expression of countenance. However, after a moment’s reflection, he wore a grim smile, and finally proceeded to put interrogatories to Gerard, and took down the answers. This done, he told them that they must stay in the town till the thieves were tried, and be at hand to give evidence, on peril of fine and imprisonment. They looked very blank at this.

“However,” said he, “’twill not be long, the culprits having been taken red-handed.” He added, “And you know, in any case you could not leave the place this week.”

Denys stared at this remark, and Gerard smiled at what he thought the simplicity of the old gentleman in dreaming that a provincial town of Burgundy had attraction to detain him from Rome and Margaret.

He now went to that which was nearest both their hearts.

“Your worship,” said he, “we cannot find our benefactress in the town.”

“Nay, but who is your benefactress?”

“Who? why the good girl that came to you by night and saved our lives at peril of her own. Oh sir, our hearts burn within us to thank and bless her; where is she?”

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