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Crotchet Castle

18.
Chainmail Hall
Vous autres dictes que ignorance est mere de tous maulx, et dictes vray: mais
toutesfoys vous ne la bannissez mye de vos entendemens, et vivez en elle,
avecques elle, et par elle. C'est pourquoy tant de maulx vous meshaignent de
jour en jour.--RABELIAS, 1. 5. c. 7.
The party which was assembled on Christmas Day in Chainmail Hall comprised
all the guests of Crotchet Castle, some of Mr. Chainmail's other neighbours, all
his tenants and domestics, and Captain Fitzchrome. The hall was spacious and
lofty; and with its tall fluted pillars and pointed arches, its windows of stained
glass, its display of arms and banners intermingled with holly and mistletoe, its
blazing cressets and torches, and a stupendous fire in the centre, on which
blocks of pine were flaming and crackling, had a striking effect on eyes
unaccustomed to such a dining-room. The fire was open on all sides, and the
smoke was caught and carried back under a funnel-formed canopy into a hollow
central pillar. This fire was the line of demarcation between gentle and simple on
days of high festival. Tables extended from it on two sides to nearly the end of
the hall.
Mrs. Chainmail was introduced to the company. Young Crotchet felt some
revulsion of feeling at the unexpected sight of one whom he had forsaken, but
not forgotten, in a condition apparently so much happier than his own. The lady
held out her hand to him with a cordial look of more than forgiveness; it seemed
to say that she had much to thank him for. She was the picture of a happy bride,
rayonnante de joie et d'amour.
Mr. Crotchet told the Reverend Doctor Folliott the news of the morning. "As you
predicted," he said, "your friend, the learned friend, is in office; he has also a title;
he is now Sir Guy de Vaux."
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Thank heaven for that! he is disarmed from further
mischief. It is something, at any rate, to have that hollow and wind-shaken reed
rooted up for ever from the field of public delusion.
MR. CROTCHET. I suppose, Doctor, you do not like to see a great reformer in
office; you are afraid for your vested interests.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Not I, indeed, sir; my vested interests are very safe from
all such reformers as the learned friend. I vaticinate what will be the upshot of all
his schemes of reform. He will make a speech of seven hours' duration, and this
will be its quintessence: that, seeing the exceeding difficulty of putting salt on the
bird's tail, it will be expedient to consider the best method of throwing dust in the
bird's eyes. All the rest will be
[Greek text in verse]
as Aristophanes has it; and so I leave him, in Nephelococcygia.
Mr. Mac Quedy came up to the divine as Mr. Crotchet left him, and said: "There
is one piece of news which the old gentleman has not told you. The great firm of
Catchflat and Company, in which young Crotchet is a partner, has stopped
payment."
 
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