To Have and To Hold
XVIII. In Which We Go Out Into The Night
THE guest house was aflame with lights. As I neared it, there was borne to my
ears a burst of drunken shouts accompanied by a volley of musketry. My lord
was pursuing with a vengeance our senseless fashion of wasting in drinking
bouts powder that would have been better spent against the Indians. The noise
increased. The door was flung open, and there issued a tide of drawers and
servants headed by mine host himself, and followed by a hail of such minor
breakables as the house contained and by Olympian laughter.
I made my way past the indignant host and his staff, and standing upon the
threshold looked at the riot within. The long room was thick with the smoke of
tobacco and the smoke of powder, through which the many torches burned
yellow. Upon the great table wine had been spilt, and dripped to swell a red pool
upon the floor. Underneath the table, still grasping his empty tankard, lay the first
of my lord's guests to fall, an up-river Burgess with white hair. The rest of the
company were fast reeling to a like fate. Young Hamor had a fiddle, and, one foot
upon a settle, the other upon the table, drew across it a fast and furious bow.
Master Pory, arrived at the maudlin stage, alternately sang a slow and
melancholy ditty and wiped the tears from his eyes with elaborate care. Master
Edward Sharpless, now in a high voice, now in an undistinguishable murmur,
argued some imaginary case. Peaceable Sherwood was drunk, and Giles Allen,
and Pettiplace Clause. Captain John Martin, sitting with outstretched legs, called
now for a fresh tankard, which he emptied at a gulp; now for his pistols, which, as
fast as my lord's servants brought them to him new primed, he discharged at the
ceiling. The loud wind rattled doors and windows, and made the flame of the
torches stream sideways. The music grew madder and madder, the shots more
frequent, the drunken voices thicker and louder.
The master of the feast carried his wine better than did his guests, or had drunk
less, but his spirit too was quite without bounds. A color burned in his cheeks, a
wicked light in his eyes; he laughed to himself. In the gray smoke cloud he saw
me not, or saw me only as one of the many who thronged the doorway and
stared at the revel within. He raised his silver cup with a slow and wavering hand.
"Drink, you dogs!" he chanted. "Drink to the Santa Teresa! Drink to to-morrow
night! Drink to a proud lady within my arms and an enemy in my power!"
The wine that had made him mad had maddened those others, also. In that hour
they were dead to honor. With shameless laughter and as little spilling as might
be, they raised their tankards as my lord raised his. A stone thrown by some one
behind me struck the cup from my lord's hand, sending it clattering to the floor
and dashing him with the red wine. Master Pory roared with drunken laughter.
"Cup and lip missed that time!" he cried.
The man who had thrown the stone was Jeremy Sparrow. For one instant I saw
his great figure, and the wrathful face beneath his shock of grizzled hair; the next
he had made his way through the crowd of gaping menials and was gone.
My lord stared foolishly at the stains upon his hands, at the fallen goblet and the
stone beside it. "Cogged dice," he said thickly, "or I had not lost that throw! I'll