« AnteriorContinuar »
learned sons of Esculapius, did all in his power to divert his mind from brooding over its secret sorrows. He thus gave fair' play to the exertions nature and youth made in his friend's favour, whose health of body, at least, was soon reestablished, though his mind's disease remained
His greatest pleasure now was to wander along the beach lining the base of those bold cliffs defending the southern coast of England, which frown defiance alike upon the anger of the waves, and the impotence of the continental foes of Britain. The wild roar of the infuriated breakers, or the low murmur of the more gentle waves, as they insinuated themselves slowly among the large loose rounded pebbles, were equally lulling to his misery
It happened that, on the very evening in which the interruption of Miss Delassaux's marriage took place, Amherst was indulging in one of these his solitary rambles. He had extended it rather farther along the shore than ordinary, having been carried unconsciously onwards by the musing fit he had fallen into, that permitted him not to remark the unusual darkness of the sky, where large heavy masses of an inky hue came rolling on, giving
warning of an increasing storm. At length he was awakened from his walking dream by the sudden burst of the tempestuous blast, breaking, as it were, from the sailing clouds, with a fury irresistible as it was instantaneous; and he wheeled round to retrace his steps as speedily as possible. His slow mode of advance, that, to an observer, might have had the appearance of the caution of a spy, and his guilty-like retreat, that was in reality owing to no other cause than a desire to turn his back on the storm, excited the alarm of three men who were at that moment skulking behind a mass of fallen rock, near the mouth of a natural ravine. Mistaking him for some one reconnoitring their actions with hostile intentions, they rushed upon him, and overpowering him before he was aware, bound his hands, stopped his mouth, blind
folded him, and forced him to ascend the ravine. ! Unarmed and weak as he was, Amherst was alto
gether unfit as well as unprepared for resistance. He believed that he was in the hands of robbers , but he had become so careless as to what might befal him, that he moved passively up the ascent in the grasp of his conductors, who led him to a hovel perched on the summit of the cliff, con
structed of planks, and covered with the inverted hull of a large boat, under which he entered with apathetical submission, Fri He was no sooner within the door-way, than be was released from his bonds, and the bandage they had tied over his eyes having been removed, he was enabled to observe the persons and things within the curious apartment he had been so strangely introduced into. He now perceived that the sailor-looking men who had seized him had taken post at the door behind him, as if to pre vent all chance of his escape, and the pistols and other arms they exhibited, sufficiently warned him that it was necessary to act with prudence. 1. The hovel was small, and stuffed in every corner with strange looking pieces of furniture, all of them old, most of them very antique in their form, and many of them of foreign manufacture, and wearing the appearance of having made many a voyage,', At one side was a large fire-place, built up with fragments of flint from the chalky cliffs. in which was piled a huge heap of burning billets, and a deal table of rude workmanship, plentifully covered with eatables, liquors, bottles, tall beakers, rummers, and Dutch tobacco-pipes, extended it
self down the middle of the place. On one side sat a rather bulky man, like a foreign pilot, with a great, rough, seaman's watch-coat on, and his head énsconced in a huge brown wig, covered by a broad brimmed hat, which, with his black whiskers, mustachios, and a three weeks beard, almost hid his face,
(xi) 20W As to the other figure, if that might be called a figure which appeared at the upper end of the table, it was difficult to tell by the light of the single candle dimly illuminating the place, whether it was that of a man or of a sea-monster.! It was elevated, or rather nestled in an arm-ehair, amongst coarse, greasy checked cushions, and it presented the shocking spectacle of a body head, without legs or arms, for what remains of limbs there were, appeared to be little more than stumps of half a foot long. The defciency of the body in these respects, was amply compensated by the enormous bulk of the head, that nourished a profusion of black horse-like hair, hanging around the shoulders like the tails of a whole troop of heavy cavalry. The trunk, all upwards to the neck, seemed to be clothed in a sort of close made garment of checked stuff, the hue, material, and shape of it, being so
much like the surrounding cushions, that the enormous head appeared to be poised upon
the top of a perpendicularly-placed bolster of enormous magnitude, and when put in motion, it seemed as if about to roll down upon the table
. The broad face was of a red so furiously intense, that the whole tide of blood, once nourishing the extremities, seemed to have settled there. With one stump this monster supported a long Dutch clay pipe, with the bole resting on the table
, whilst, with the other end of it in his mouth, he half enveloped himself in a cloud of smoke of his own raising :. This extraordinary object so much engaged the attention of Amherst on his entrance, that he had little leisure to look at the other personage we have mentioned.
On an old piece of canvas placed on the floor, at a little distance from the foot of the chair on which this animated head was propt, lay two savage looking bull-dogs, with squint eyes. They growled, and appeared disposed to fly at Amherst, until chid into quietness by the deeper growl of their master's voice, that sounded as if it came from the interior of an empty tun.