The Black Dwarf
Let not us that are squires of the night's body be called
thieves of the day's booty; let us be Diana's foresters,
gentlemen of the shade, minions of the moon.
HENRY THE FOURTH, PART I.
The Solitary had consumed the remainder of that day in which he had the
interview with the young ladies, within the precincts of his garden. Evening again
found him seated on his favourite stone. The sun setting red, and among seas of
rolling clouds, threw a gloomy lustre over the moor, and gave a deeper purple to
the broad outline of heathy mountains which surrounded this desolate spot. The
Dwarf sate watching the clouds as they lowered above each other in masses of
conglomerated vapours, and, as a strong lurid beam of the sinking luminary
darted full on his solitary and uncouth figure, he might well have seemed the
demon of the storm which was gathering, or some gnome summoned forth from
the recesses of the earth by the subterranean signals of its approach. As he sate
thus, with his dark eye turned towards the scowling and blackening heaven, a
horseman rode rapidly up to him, and stopping, as if to let his horse breathe for
an instant, made a sort of obeisance to the anchoret, with an air betwixt
effrontery and embarrassment.
The figure of the rider was thin, tall, and slender, but remarkably athletic, bony,
and sinewy; like one who had all his life followed those violent exercises which
prevent the human form from increasing in bulk, while they harden and confirm
by habit its muscular powers. His face, sharp-featured, sun-burnt, and freckled,
had a sinister expression of violence, impudence, and cunning, each of which
seemed alternately to predominate over the others. Sandy-coloured hair, and
reddish eyebrows, from under which looked forth his sharp grey eyes, completed
the inauspicious outline of the horseman's physiognomy. He had pistols in his
holsters, and another pair peeped from his belt, though he had taken some pains
to conceal them by buttoning his doublet. He wore a rusted steel head piece; a
buff jacket of rather an antique cast; gloves, of which that for the right hand was
covered with small scales of iron, like an ancient gauntlet; and a long broadsword
completed his equipage.
"So," said the Dwarf," rapine and murder once more on horseback."
"On horseback?" said the bandit; "ay, ay, Elshie, your leech- craft has set me on
the bonny bay again."
"And all those promises of amendment which you made during your illness
forgotten?" continued Elshender.
"All clear away, with the water-saps and panada," returned the unabashed
convalescent. "Ye ken, Elshie, for they say ye are weel acquent wi' the
"When the devil was sick, the devil a monk would be, When the devil was well,
the devil a monk was he."