Kenilworth, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter XXVIII.

What, man, ne’er lack a draught, when the full can

Stands at thine elbow, and craves emptying! —

Nay, fear not me, for I have no delight

To watch men’s vices, since I have myself

Of virtue nought to boast of — I’m a striker,

Would have the world strike with me, pell-mell, all.


Tressilian, in strange agitation of mind, had hardly stepped down the first two or three steps of the winding staircase, when, greatly to his surprise and displeasure, he met Michael Lambourne, wearing an impudent familiarity of visage, for which Tressilian felt much disposed to throw him down-stairs; until he remembered the prejudice which Amy, the only object of his solicitude, was likely to receive from his engaging in any act of violence at that time and in that place.

He therefore contented himself with looking sternly upon Lambourne, as upon one whom he deemed unworthy of notice, and attempted to pass him in his way downstairs, without any symptom of recognition. But Lambourne, who, amidst the profusion of that day’s hospitality, had not failed to take a deep though not an overpowering cup of sack, was not in the humour of humbling himself before any man’s looks. He stopped Tressilian upon the staircase without the least bashfulness or embarrassment, and addressed him as if he had been on kind and intimate terms:— “What, no grudge between us, I hope, upon old scores, Master Tressilian? — nay, I am one who remembers former kindness rather than latter feud. I’ll convince you that I meant honestly and kindly, ay, and comfortably by you.”

“I desire none of your intimacy,” said Tressilian —“keep company with your mates.”

“Now, see how hasty he is!” said Lambourne; “and how these gentles, that are made questionless out of the porcelain clay of the earth, look down upon poor Michael Lambourne! You would take Master Tressilian now for the most maid-like, modest, simpering squire of dames that ever made love when candles were long i’ the stuff — snuff; call you it? Why, you would play the saint on us, Master Tressilian, and forget that even now thou hast a commodity in thy very bedchamber, to the shame of my lord’s castle, ha! ha! ha! Have I touched you, Master Tressilian?”

“I know not what you mean,” said Tressilian, inferring, however, too surely, that this licentious ruffian must have been sensible of Amy’s presence in his apartment; ‘i but if,” he continued, “thou art varlet of the chambers, and lackest a fee, there is one to leave mine unmolested.”

Lambourne looked at the piece of gold, and put it in his pocket saying, “Now, I know not but you might have done more with me by a kind word than by this chiming rogue. But after all he pays well that pays with gold; and Mike Lambourne was never a makebate, or a spoil-sport, or the like. E’en live, and let others live, that is my motto-only, I would not let some folks cock their beaver at me neither, as if they were made of silver ore, and I of Dutch pewter. So if I keep your secret, Master Tressilian, you may look sweet on me at least; and were I to want a little backing or countenance, being caught, as you see the best of us may be, in a sort of peccadillo — why, you owe it me — and so e’en make your chamber serve you and that same bird in bower beside — it’s all one to Mike Lambourne.”

“Make way, sir,” said Tressilian, unable to bridle his indignation, “you have had your fee.”

“Um!” said Lambourne, giving place, however, while he sulkily muttered between his teeth, repeating Tressilian’s words, “Make way — and you have had your fee; but it matters not, I will spoil no sport, as I said before. I am no dog in the manger — mind that.”

He spoke louder and louder, as Tressilian, by whom he felt himself overawed, got farther and farther out of hearing.

“I am no dog in the manger; but I will not carry coals neither — mind that, Master Tressilian; and I will have a peep at this wench whom you have quartered so commodiously in your old haunted room — afraid of ghosts, belike, and not too willing to sleep alone. If I had done this now in a strange lord’s castle, the word had been, The porter’s lodge for the knave! and, have him flogged — trundle him downstairs like a turnip! Ay, but your virtuous gentlemen take strange privileges over us, who are downright servants of our senses. Well — I have my Master Tressilian’s head under my belt by this lucky discovery, that is one thing certain; and I will try to get a sight of this Lindabrides of his, that is another.”

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00