Peveril of the Peak, by Walter Scott

Chapter 14

This day at least is friendship’s — on the morrow

Let strife come an she will.

OTWAY.

Deborah Debbitch, summoned by her master, now made her appearance, with her handkerchief at her eyes, and an appearance of great mental trouble. “It was not my fault, Major Bridgenorth,” she said; “how could I help it? like will to like — the boy would come — the girl would see him.”

“Peace, foolish woman,” said Bridgenorth, “and hear what I have got to say.”

“I know what your honour has to say well enough,” said Deborah. “Service, I wot, is no inheritance nowadays — some are wiser than other some — if I had not been wheedled away from Martindale, I might have had a house of mine own by this time.”

“Peace, idiot!” said Bridgenorth; but so intent was Deborah on her vindication, that he could but thrust the interjection, as it were edgewise, between her exclamations, which followed as thick as is usual in cases, where folks endeavour to avert deserved censure by a clamorous justification ere the charge be brought.

“No wonder she was cheated,” she said, “out of sight of her own interest, when it was to wait on pretty Miss Alice. All your honour’s gold should never have tempted me, but that I knew she was but a dead castaway, poor innocent, if she were taken away from my lady or me. — And so this is the end on’t! — up early, and down late — and this is all my thanks! — But your honour had better take care what you do — she has the short cough yet sometimes — and should take physic, spring and fall.”

“Peace, chattering fool!” said her master, so soon as her failing breath gave him an opportunity to strike in, “thinkest thou I knew not of this young gentleman’s visits to the Black Fort, and that, if they had displeased me, I would not have known how to stop them?”

“Did I know that your honour knew of his visits!” exclaimed Deborah, in a triumphant tone — for, like most of her condition, she never sought farther for her defence than a lie, however inconsistent and improbable —"Did I know that your honour knew of it! — Why, how should I have permitted his visits else? I wonder what your honour takes me for! Had I not been sure it was the thing in this world that your honour most desired would I have presumed to lend it a hand forward? I trust I know my duty better. Hear if I ever asked another youngster into the house, save himself — for I knew your honour was wise, and quarrels cannot last for ever, and love begins where hatred ends; and, to be sure, they love as if they were born one for the other — and then, the estates of Moultrassie and Martindale suit each other like sheath and knife.”

“Parrot of a woman, hold your tongue!” said Bridgenorth, his patience almost completely exhausted; “or, if you will prate, let it be to your playfellows in the kitchen, and bid them get ready some dinner presently, for Master Peveril is far from home.”

“That I will, and with all my heart,” said Deborah; “and if there are a pair of fatter fowls in Man than shall clap their wings on the table presently, your honour shall call me goose as well as parrot.” She then left the apartment.

“It is to such a woman as that,” said Bridgenorth, looking after her significantly, “that you conceived me to have abandoned the charge of my only child! But enough of this subject — we will walk abroad, if you will, while she is engaged in a province fitter for her understanding.”

So saying, he left the house, accompanied by Julian Peveril, and they were soon walking side by side, as if they had been old acquaintances.

It may have happened to many of our readers, as it has done to ourselves, to be thrown by accident into society with some individual whose claims to what is called a serious character stand considerably higher than our own, and with whom, therefore, we have conceived ourselves likely to spend our time in a very stiff and constrained manner; while, on the other hand, our destined companion may have apprehended some disgust from the supposed levity and thoughtless gaiety of a disposition that when we, with that urbanity and good-humour which is our principal characteristic, have accommodated ourself to our companion, by throwing as much seriousness into our conversation as our habits will admit, he, on the other hand, moved by our liberal example, hath divested his manners of part of their austerity; and our conversation has, in consequence, been of that pleasant texture, betwixt the useful and agreeable, which best resembles “the fairy-web of night and day,” usually called in prose the twilight. It is probable both parties may, on such occasions, have been the better for their encounter, even if it went no farther than to establish for the time a community of feeling between men, who, separated more perhaps by temper than by principle, are too apt to charge each other with profane frivolity on the one hand, or fanaticism on the other.

It fared thus in Peveril’s walk with Bridgenorth, and in the conversation which he held with him.

Carefully avoiding the subject on which he had already spoken, Major Bridgenorth turned his conversation chiefly on foreign travel, and on the wonders he had seen in distant countries, and which he appeared to have marked with a curious and observant eye. This discourse made the time fly light away; for although the anecdotes and observations thus communicated were all tinged with the serious and almost gloomy spirit of the narrator, they yet contained traits of interest and of wonder, such as are usually interesting to a youthful ear, and were particularly so to Julian, who had, in his disposition, some cast of the romantic and adventurous.

It appeared that Bridgenorth knew the south of France, and could tell many stories of the French Huguenots, who already began to sustain those vexations which a few years afterwards were summed up by the revocation of the Edict of Nantz. He had even been in Hungary, for he spoke as from personal knowledge of the character of several of the heads of the great Protestant insurrection, which at this time had taken place under the celebrated Tekeli; and laid down solid reasons why they were entitled to make common cause with the Great Turk, rather than submit to the Pope of Rome. He talked also of Savoy, where those of the reformed religion still suffered a cruel persecution; and he mentioned with a swelling spirit, the protection which Oliver had afforded to the oppressed Protestant Churches; “therein showing himself,” he added, “more fit to wield the supreme power, than those who, claiming it by right of inheritance, use it only for their own vain and voluptuous pursuits.”

“I did not expect,” said Peveril modestly, “to have heard Oliver’s panegyric from you, Master Bridgenorth.”

“I do not panegyrise him,” answered Bridgenorth; “I speak but truth of that extraordinary man, now being dead, whom, when alive, I feared not to withstand to his face. It is the fault of the present unhappy King, if he make us look back with regret to the days when the nation was respected abroad, and when devotion and sobriety were practised at home. — But I mean not to vex your spirit by controversy. You have lived amongst those who find it more easy and more pleasant to be the pensioners of France than her controllers — to spend the money which she doles out to themselves, than to check the tyranny with which she oppresses our poor brethren of the religion. When the scales shall fall from thine eyes, all this thou shalt see; and seeing, shalt learn to detest and despise it.”

By this time they had completed their walk, and were returned to the Black Fort, by a different path from that which had led them up the valley. The exercise and the general tone of conversation had removed, in some degree, the shyness and embarrassment which Peveril originally felt in Bridgenorth’s presence and which the tenor of his first remarks had rather increased than diminished. Deborah’s promised banquet was soon on the board; and in simplicity as well as neatness and good order, answered the character she had claimed for it. In one respect alone, there seemed some inconsistency, perhaps a little affectation. Most of the dishes were of silver, and the plates were of the same metal; instead of the trenchers and pewter which Peveril had usually seen employed on similar occasions at the Black Fort.

Presently, with the feeling of one who walks in a pleasant dream from which he fears to awake, and whose delight is mingled with wonder and with uncertainty, Julian Peveril found himself seated between Alice Bridgenorth and her father — the being he most loved on earth, and the person whom he had ever considered as the great obstacle to their intercourse. The confusion of his mind was such, that he could scarcely reply to the importunate civilities of Dame Deborah; who, seated with them at table in her quality of governante, now dispensed the good things which had been prepared under her own eye.

As for Alice she seemed to have found a resolution to play the mute; for she answered not, excepting briefly, to the questions of Dame Debbitch; nay, even when her father, which happened once or twice, attempted to bring her forward in the conversation, she made no further reply than respect for him rendered absolutely necessary.

Upon Bridgenorth himself, then, devolved the task of entertaining the company; and contrary to his ordinary habits, he did not seem to shrink from it. His discourse was not only easy, but almost cheerful, though ever and anon crossed by some expressions indicative of natural and habitual melancholy, or prophetic of future misfortune and woe. Flashes of enthusiasm, too, shot along his conversation, gleaming like the sheet-lightening of an autumn eve, which throws a strong, though momentary illumination, across the sober twilight, and all the surrounding objects, which, touched by it, assume a wilder and more striking character. In general, however, Bridgenorth’s remarks were plain and sensible; and as he aimed at no graces of language, any ornament which they received arose out of the interest with which they were impressed on his hearers. For example, when Deborah, in the pride and vulgarity of her heart, called Julian’s attention to the plate from which they had been eating, Bridgenorth seemed to think an apology necessary for such superfluous expense.

“It was a symptom,” he said, “of approaching danger, when such men, as were not usually influenced by the vanities of life employed much money in ornaments composed of the precious metals. It was a sign that the merchant could not obtain a profit for the capital, which, for the sake of security, he invested in this inert form. It was a proof that the noblemen or gentlemen feared the rapacity of power, when they put their wealth into forms the most portable and the most capable of being hidden; and it showed the uncertainty of credit, when a man of judgment preferred the actual possession of a mass of a silver to the convenience of a goldsmith’s or a banker’s receipt. While a shadow of liberty remained,” he said, “domestic rights were last invaded; and, therefore, men disposed upon their cupboards and tables the wealth which in these places would remain longest, though not perhaps finally, sacred from the grasp of a tyrannical government. But let there be a demand for capital to support a profitable commerce, and the mass is at once consigned to the furnace, and, ceasing to be a vain and cumbrous ornament of the banquet, becomes a potent and active agent for furthering the prosperity of the country.”

“In war, too,” said Peveril, “plate has been found a ready resource.”

“But too much so,” answered Bridgenorth. “In the late times, the plate of the nobles and gentry, with that of the colleges, and the sale of the crown-jewels, enabled the King to make his unhappy stand, which prevented matters returning to a state of peace and good order, until the sword had attained an undue superiority both over King and Parliament.”

He looked at Julian as he spoke, much as he who proves a horse offers some object suddenly to his eyes, then watches to see if he starts or blenches from it. But Julian’s thoughts were too much bent on other topics to manifest any alarm. His answer referred to a previous part of Bridgenorth’s discourse, and was not returned till after a brief pause. “War, then,” he said, “war, the grand impoverisher, is also a creator of wealth which it wastes and devours?”

“Yes,” replied Bridgenorth, “even as the sluice brings into action the sleeping waters of the lake, which it finally drains. Necessity invents arts and discovers means; and what necessity is sterner than that of civil war? Therefore, even war is not in itself unmixed evil, being the creator of impulses and energies which could not otherwise have existed in society.”

“Men should go to war, then,” said Peveril, “that they may send their silver plate to the mint, and eat from pewter dishes and wooden plates?”

“Not so, my son,” said Bridgenorth. Then checking himself as he observed the deep crimson in Julian’s cheek and brow, he added, “I crave your pardon for such familiarity; but I meant not to limit what I said even now to such trifling consequences, although it may be something salutary to tear men from their pomps and luxuries, and teach those to be Romans who would otherwise be Sybarites. But I would say, that times of public danger, as they call into circulation the miser’s hoard and the proud man’s bullion, and so add to the circulating wealth of the country, do also call into action many a brave and noble spirit, which would otherwise lie torpid, give no example to the living, and bequeath no name to future ages. Society knows not, and cannot know, the mental treasures which slumber in her bosom, till necessity and opportunity call forth the statesman and the soldier from the shades of lowly life to the parts they are designed by Providence to perform, and the stations which nature had qualified them to hold. So rose Oliver — so rose Milton — so rose many another name which cannot be forgotten — even as the tempest summons forth and displays the address of the mariner.”

“You speak,” said Peveril, “as if national calamity might be, in some sort, an advantage.”

“And if it were not so,” replied Bridgenorth, “it had not existed in this state of trial, where all temporal evil is alleviated by something good in its progress or result, and where all that is good is close coupled with that which is in itself evil.”

“It must be a noble sight,” said Julian, “to behold the slumbering energies of a great mind awakened into energy, and to see it assume the authority which is its due over spirits more meanly endowed.”

“I once witnessed,” said Bridgenorth, “something to the same effect; and as the tale is brief, I will tell it you, if you will:—

“Amongst my wanderings, the Transatlantic settlements have not escaped me; more especially the country of New England, into which our native land has shaken from her lap, as a drunkard flings from him his treasures, so much that is precious in the eyes of God and of His children. There thousands of our best and most godly men — such whose righteousness might come of cities — are content to be the inhabitants of the desert, rather encountering the unenlightened savages, than stooping to extinguish, under the oppression practised in Britain, the light that is within their own minds. There I remained for a time, during the wars which the colony maintained with Philip, a great Indian Chief, or Sachem, as they were called, who seemed a messenger sent from Satan to buffet them. His cruelty was great — his dissimulation profound; and the skill and promptitude with which he maintained a destructive and desultory warfare, inflicted many dreadful calamities on the settlement. I was, by chance, at a small village in the woods, more than thirty miles from Boston, and in its situation exceedingly lonely, and surrounded with thickets. Nevertheless, there was no idea of any danger from the Indians at that time, for men trusted to the protection of a considerable body of troops who had taken the field for protection of the frontiers, and who lay, or were supposed to lie, betwixt the hamlet and the enemy’s country. But they had to do with a foe, whom the devil himself had inspired at once with cunning and cruelty. It was on a Sabbath morning, when we had assembled to take sweet counsel together in the Lord’s house. Our temple was but constructed of wooden logs; but when shall the chant of trained hirelings, or the sounding of tin and brass tubes amid the aisles of a minster, arise so sweetly to Heaven, as did the psalm in which we united at once our voices and our hearts! An excellent worthy, who now sleeps in the Lord, Nehemia Solsgrace, long the companion of my pilgrimage, had just begun to wrestle in prayer, when a woman, with disordered looks and dishevelled hair, entered our chapel in a distracted manner, screaming incessantly, ‘The Indians! The Indians!’— In that land no man dares separate himself from his means of defence; and whether in the city or in the field, in the ploughed land or the forest, men keep beside them their weapons, as did the Jews at the rebuilding of the Temple. So we sallied forth with our guns and pikes, and heard the whoop of these incarnate devils, already in possession of a part of the town, and exercising their cruelty on the few whom weighty causes or indisposition had withheld from public worship; and it was remarked as a judgment, that, upon that bloody Sabbath, Adrian Hanson, a Dutchman, a man well enough disposed towards man, but whose mind was altogether given to worldly gain, was shot and scalped as he was summing his weekly gains in his warehouse. In fine, there was much damage done; and although our arrival and entrance into combat did in some sort put them back, yet being surprised and confused, and having no appointed leader of our band, the devilish enemy shot hard at us and had some advantage. It was pitiful to hear the screams of women and children amid the report of guns and the whistling of bullets, mixed with the ferocious yells of these savages, which they term their war-whoop. Several houses in the upper part of the village were soon on fire; and the roaring of the flames, and crackling of the great beams as they blazed, added to the horrible confusion; while the smoke which the wind drove against us gave farther advantage to the enemy, who fought as it were, invisible, and under cover, whilst we fell fast by their unerring fire. In this state of confusion, and while we were about to adopt the desperate project of evacuating the village, and, placing the women and children in the centre, of attempting a retreat to the nearest settlement, it pleased Heaven to send us unexpected assistance. A tall man, of a reverend appearance, whom no one of us had ever seen before, suddenly was in the midst of us, as we hastily agitated the resolution of retreating. His garments were of the skin of the elk, and he wore sword and carried gun; I never saw anything more august than his features, overshadowed by locks of grey hair, which mingled with a long beard of the same colour. ‘Men and brethren,’ he said, in a voice like that which turns back the flight, ‘why sink your hearts? and why are you thus disquieted? Fear ye that the God we serve will give you up to yonder heathen dogs? Follow me, and you shall see this day that there is a captain in Israel!’ He uttered a few brief but distinct orders, in a tone of one who was accustomed to command; and such was the influence of his appearance, his mien, his language, and his presence of mind, that he was implicitly obeyed by men who had never seen him until that moment. We were hastily divided, by his orders, into two bodies; one of which maintained the defence of the village with more courage than ever, convinced that the Unknown was sent by God to our rescue. At his command they assumed the best and most sheltered positions for exchanging their deadly fire with the Indians; while, under cover of the smoke, the stranger sallied from the town, at the head of the other division of the New England men, and, fetching a circuit, attacked the Red Warriors in the rear. The surprise, as is usual amongst savages, had complete effect; for they doubted not that they were assailed in their turn, and placed betwixt two hostile parties by the return of a detachment from the provincial army. The heathens fled in confusion, abandoning the half-won village, and leaving behind them such a number of their warriors, that the tribe hath never recovered its loss. Never shall I forget the figure of our venerable leader, when our men, and not they only, but the women and children of the village, rescued from the tomahawk and scalping-knife, stood crowded around him, yet scarce venturing to approach his person, and more minded, perhaps, to worship him as a descended angel, than to thank him as a fellow-mortal. ‘Not unto me be the glory,’ he said; ‘I am but an implement, frail as yourselves, in the hand of Him who is strong to deliver. Bring me a cup of water, that I may allay my parched throat, ere I essay the task of offering thanks where they are most due.’ I was nearest to him as he spoke, and I gave into his hand the water he requested. At that moment we exchanged glances, and it seemed to me that I recognised a noble friend whom I had long since deemed in glory; but he gave me no time to speak, had speech been prudent. Sinking on his knees, and signing us to obey him, he poured forth a strong and energetic thanksgiving for the turning back of the battle, which, pronounced with a voice loud and clear as a war-trumpet, thrilled through the joints and marrow of the hearers. I have heard many an act of devotion in my life, had Heaven vouchsafed me grace to profit by them; but such a prayer as this, uttered amid the dead and the dying, with a rich tone of mingled triumph and adoration, was beyond them all — it was like the song of the inspired prophetess who dwelt beneath the palm-tree between Ramah and Bethel. He was silent; and for a brief space we remained with our faces bent to the earth — no man daring to lift his head. At length we looked up, but our deliverer was no longer amongst us; nor was he ever again seen in the land which he had rescued.”

Here Bridgenorth, who had told this singular story with an eloquence and vivacity of detail very contrary to the usual dryness of his conversation, paused for an instant, and then resumed —“Thou seest, young man, that men of valour and of discretion are called forth to command in circumstances of national exigence, though their very existence is unknown in the land which they are predestined to deliver.”

“But what thought the people of the mysterious stranger?” said Julian, who had listened with eagerness, for the story was of a kind interesting to the youthful and the brave.

“Many things,” answered Bridgenorth, “and, as usual, little to the purpose. The prevailing opinion was, notwithstanding his own disclamation, that the stranger was really a supernatural being; others believed him an inspired champion, transported in the body from some distant climate, to show us the way to safety; others, again, concluded that he was a recluse, who, either from motives of piety, or other cogent reasons, had become a dweller in the wilderness, and shunned the face of man.”

“And, if I may presume to ask,” said Julian, “to which of these opinions were you disposed to adhere?”

“The last suited best with the transient though close view with which I had perused the stranger’s features,” replied Bridgenorth; “for although I dispute not that it may please Heaven, on high occasions, even to raise one from the dead in defence of his country, yet I doubted not then, as I doubt not now, that I looked on the living form of one, who had indeed powerful reasons to conceal him in the cleft of the rock.”

“Are these reasons a secret?” said Julian Peveril.

“Not properly a secret,” replied Bridgenorth; “for I fear not thy betraying what I might tell thee in private discourse; and besides, wert thou so base, the prey lies too distant for any hunters to whom thou couldst point out its traces. But the name of this worthy will sound harsh in thy ear, on account of one action of his life — being his accession to a great measure, which made the extreme isles of the earth to tremble. Have you never heard of Richard Whalley?”

“Of the regicide?” exclaimed Peveril, starting.

“Call his act what thou wilt,” said Bridgenorth; “he was not less the rescuer of that devoted village, that, with other leading spirits of the age, he sat in the judgment-seat when Charles Stewart was arraigned at the bar, and subscribed the sentence that went forth upon him.”

“I have ever heard,” said Julian, in an altered voice, and colouring deeply, “that you, Master Bridgenorth, with other Presbyterians, were totally averse to that detestable crime, and were ready to have made joint-cause with the Cavaliers in preventing so horrible a parricide.”

“If it were so,” said Bridgenorth, “we have been richly rewarded by his successor.”

“Rewarded!” exclaimed Julian; “does the distinction of good and evil, and our obligation to do the one and forbear the other, depend on the reward which may attach to our actions?”

“God forbid,” answered Bridgenorth; “yet those who view the havoc which this house of Stewart have made in the Church and State — the tyranny which they exercise over men’s persons and consciences — may well doubt whether it be lawful to use weapons in their defence. Yet you hear me not praise, or even vindicate the death of the King, though so far deserved, as he was false to his oath as a Prince and Magistrate. I only tell you what you desired to know, that Richard Whalley, one of the late King’s judges, was he of whom I have just been speaking. I knew his lofty brow, though time had made it balder and higher; his grey eye retained all its lustre; and though the grizzled beard covered the lower part of his face, it prevented me not from recognising him. The scent was hot after him for his blood; but by the assistance of those friends whom Heaven had raised up for his preservation, he was concealed carefully, and emerged only to do the will of Providence in the matter of that battle. Perhaps his voice may be heard in the field once more, should England need one of her noblest hearts.”

“Now, God forbid!” said Julian.

“Amen,” returned Bridgenorth. “May God avert civil war, and pardon those whose madness would bring it on us!”

There was a long pause, during which Julian, who had scarce lifted his eyes towards Alice, stole a glance in that direction, and was struck by the deep cast of melancholy which had stolen over features, to which a cheerful, if not gay expression, was most natural. So soon as she caught his eye, she remarked, and, as Julian thought, with significance, that the shadows were lengthening, and evening coming on.

He heard; and although satisfied that she hinted at his departure, he could not, upon the instant, find resolution to break the spell which detained him. The language which Bridgenorth held was not only new and alarming, but so contrary to the maxims in which he was brought up, that, as a son of Sir Geoffrey Peveril of the Peak, he would, in another case, have thought himself called upon to dispute its conclusions, even at the sword’s point. But Bridgenorth’s opinions were delivered with so much calmness — seemed so much the result of conviction — that they excited in Julian rather a spirit of wonder, than of angry controversy. There was a character of sober decision, and sedate melancholy, in all that he said, which, even had he not been the father of Alice (and perhaps Julian was not himself aware how much he was influenced by that circumstance), would have rendered it difficult to take personal offence. His language and sentiments were of that quiet, yet decided kind, upon which it is difficult either to fix controversy, or quarrel, although it be impossible to acquiesce in the conclusions to which they lead.

While Julian remained, as if spell-bound to his chair, scarce more surprised at the company in which he found himself, than at the opinions to which he was listening, another circumstance reminded him that the proper time of his stay at Black Fort had been expended. Little Fairy, the Manx pony, which, well accustomed to the vicinity of Black Fort, used to feed near the house while her master made his visits there, began to find his present stay rather too long. She had been the gift of the Countess to Julian, whilst a youth, and came of a high-spirited mountain breed, remarkable alike for hardiness, for longevity, and for a degree of sagacity approaching to that of the dog. Fairy showed the latter quality, by the way in which she chose to express her impatience to be moving homewards. At least such seemed the purpose of the shrill neigh with which she startled the female inmates of the parlour, who, the moment afterwards, could not forbear smiling to see the nose of the pony advanced through the opened casement.

“Fairy reminds me,” said Julian, looking to Alice, and rising, “that the term of my stay here is exhausted.”

“Speak with me yet one moment,” said Bridgenorth, withdrawing him into a Gothic recess of the old-fashioned apartment, and speaking so low that he could not be overheard by Alice and her governante, who, in the meantime, caressed, and fed with fragments of bread the intruder Fairy.

“You have not, after all,” said Bridgenorth, “told me the cause of your coming hither.” He stopped, as if to enjoy his embarrassment, and then added, “And indeed it were most unnecessary that you should do so. I have not so far forgotten the days of my youth, or those affections which bind poor frail humanity but too much to the things of this world. Will you find no words to ask of me the great boon which you seek, and which, peradventure, you would not have hesitated to have made your own, without my knowledge, and against my consent? — Nay, never vindicate thyself, but mark me farther. The patriarch bought his beloved by fourteen years’ hard service to her father Laban, and they seemed to him but as a few days. But he that would wed my daughter must serve, in comparison, but a few days; though in matters of such mighty import, that they shall seem as the service of many years. Reply not to me now, but go, and peace be with you.”

He retired so quickly, after speaking, that Peveril had literally not an instant to reply. He cast his eyes around the apartment, but Deborah and her charge had also disappeared. His gaze rested for a moment on the portrait of Christian, and his imagination suggested that his dark features were illuminated by a smile of haughty triumph. He stared, and looked more attentively — it was but the effect of the evening beam, which touched the picture at the instant. The effect was gone, and there remained but the fixed, grave, inflexible features of the republican soldier.

Julian left the apartment as one who walks in a dream; he mounted Fairy, and, agitated by a variety of thoughts, which he was unable to reduce to order, he returned to Castle Rushin before the night sat down.

Here he found all in movement. The Countess, with her son, had, upon some news received, or resolution formed, during his absence, removed, with a principal part of their family, to the yet stronger Castle of Holm-Peel, about eight miles’ distance across the island; and which had been suffered to fall into a much more dilapidated condition than that of Castletown, so far as it could be considered as a place of residence. But as a fortress, Holm-Peel was stronger than Castletown; nay, unless assailed regularly, was almost impregnable; and was always held by a garrison belonging to the Lords of Man. Here Peveril arrived at nightfall. He was told in the fishing-village, that the night-bell of the Castle had been rung earlier than usual, and the watch set with circumstances of unusual and jealous repetition.

Resolving, therefore, not to disturb the garrison by entering at that late hour, he obtained an indifferent lodging in the town for the night, and determined to go to the Castle early on the succeeding morning. He was not sorry thus to gain a few hours of solitude, to think over the agitating events of the preceding day.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29