Black Bartlemys Treasure (Chapter 4, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 4

I awoke to find the waggon at a standstill and Master Trueman watching me with a scowl the while his plump fingers toyed lovingly with his whip-stock; but as I roused, this hand crept up to finger his several chins.

"Yonder lieth Lamberhurst!" quoth he sulkily, and nodded where, in the valley below, was a village with a green wherein was a placid pool shaded by trees; and about this green stood white-walled cottages, many of them bowered in roses or honeysuckle to the very thatch (right pleasant to the eye), while beyond these again rose gables of barns or the pointed roofs of oasthouses. "Lamberhurst!" says Trueman again; whereon, having yawned and stretched myself, I clambered down into the road.

"Well?" I questioned, seeing how he watched me, triple chin in hand.

"Well," quoth he stoutly, "I be wondering what the likes o' you should be wanting wi' the likes o' Sir Richard Brandon o' Shene?"

"Nought but this," says I, shaking the hay from my tattered cloak, "I am come to watch him die, and the manner of it shall mayhap be something slow and painful!" and speaking, I clenched my right hand to a sunburnt fist. Now looking on this clutching hand, Trueman blinked and, saying no word, whipped his horses and the heavy wain rumbled and creaked on its way. But, when he had gone some distance, he grinned at me over his shoulder and called something whereof I caught the words "labour lost." For a moment I was minded to run after and demand his meaning; howbeit, in a little, I turned and went down the hill very full of thought.

Reaching the village I found it not yet astir, for the clock of the church tower showed the time was but half after four; and now, leaning on my staff I stared up at the church tower with its new weathercock, brave with gilding, agleam in the early sun, and from thence turned my gaze where (hard beside the pool upon the green) rose the grim shape of Sir Richard's new pillory. Just now it stood untenanted and I wondered idly what unhappy wight was destined next to suffer there. Thus stood I some while, staring round me on this peaceful hamlet where all (save only myself) forgot their cares awhile in blessed sleep; the wide road, the gabled cottages, oast-house and fragrant rick yard--all was as I minded it five weary years since: nothing strange was there saving only Sir Richard's hateful pillory, wherefore I smote it with my staff and, cursing him that set it there, turned away.

Now within a stone's-cast of the church was a goodly tavern with a weatherbeaten signboard a-swing above the door, whereon was painted what purported to be a leopard asleep and below the following legend, viz.: ROUSE ME NOT and below this again: YE CONISBY ARMS.

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