Nay, I'll hold touch--the game shall be play'd out;
It ne'er shall stop for me, this merry wager:
That which I say when gamesome, I'll avouch
In my most sober mood, ne'er trust me else.
THE HAZARD TABLE.
"And how doth your kinsman, good mine host?" said Tressilian, when Giles Gosling first
appeared in the public room, on the morning following the revel which we described in
the last chapter. "Is he well, and will he abide by his wager?"
"For well, sir, he started two hours since, and has visited I know not what purlieus of his
old companions; hath but now returned, and is at this instant breakfasting on new-laid
eggs and muscadine. And for his wager, I caution you as a friend to have little to do with
that, or indeed with aught that Mike proposes. Wherefore, I counsel you to a warm
breakfast upon a culiss, which shall restore the tone of the stomach; and let my nephew
and Master Goldthred swagger about their wager as they list."
"It seems to me, mine host," said Tressilian, "that you know not well what to say about
this kinsman of yours, and that you can neither blame nor commend him without some
twinge of conscience."
"You have spoken truly, Master Tressilian," replied Giles Gosling. "There is Natural
Affection whimpering into one ear, 'Giles, Giles, why wilt thou take away the good name
of thy own nephew? Wilt thou defame thy sister's son, Giles Gosling? wilt thou defoul
thine own nest, dishonour thine own blood?' And then, again, comes Justice, and says,
'Here is a worthy guest as ever came to the bonny Black Bear; one who never
challenged a reckoning' (as I say to your face you never did, Master Tressilian--not that
you have had cause), 'one who knows not why he came, so far as I can see, or when he
is going away; and wilt thou, being a publican, having paid scot and lot these thirty
years in the town of Cumnor, and being at this instant head- borough, wilt thou suffer
this guest of guests, this man of men, this six-hooped pot (as I may say) of a traveller, to
fall into the meshes of thy nephew, who is known for a swasher and a desperate Dick, a
carder and a dicer, a professor of the seven damnable sciences, if ever man took
degrees in them?' No, by Heaven! I might wink, and let him catch such a small butterfly
as Goldthred; but thou, my guest, shall be forewarned, forearmed, so thou wilt but listen
to thy trusty host."
"Why, mine host, thy counsel shall not be cast away," replied Tressilian; "however, I
must uphold my share in this wager, having once passed my word to that effect. But
lend me, I pray, some of thy counsel. This Foster, who or what is he, and why makes he
such mystery of his female inmate?"