Two on a Tower
He was standing immediately inside the door at the bottom, though it was so dark
she could hardly see him. The villagers were audibly talking just without.
'He's sure to come, rathe or late,' resounded up the spiral in the vocal note of
Hezzy Biles. 'He wouldn't let such a fine show as the comet makes to-night go by
without peeping at it,--not Master Cleeve! Did ye bring along the flagon,
Haymoss? Then we'll sit down inside his little board-house here, and wait. He'll
come afore bed-time. Why, his spy-glass will stretch out that there comet as long
as Welland Lane!'
'I'd as soon miss the great peep-show that comes every year to Greenhill Fair as
a sight of such a immortal spectacle as this!' said Amos Fry.
'"Immortal spectacle,"--where did ye get that choice mossel, Haymoss?' inquired
Sammy Blore. 'Well, well, the Lord save good scholars--and take just a bit o' care
of them that bain't! As 'tis so dark in the hut, suppose we draw out the bench into
the front here, souls?'
The bench was accordingly brought forth, and in order to have a back to lean
against, they placed it exactly across the door into the spiral staircase.
'Now, have ye got any backy? If ye haven't, I have,' continued Sammy Blore. A
striking of matches followed, and the speaker concluded comfortably, 'Now we
shall do very well.'
'And what do this comet mean?' asked Haymoss. 'That some great tumult is
going to happen, or that we shall die of a famine?'
'Famine--no!' said Nat Chapman. 'That only touches such as we, and the Lord
only consarns himself with born gentlemen. It isn't to be supposed that a strange
fiery lantern like that would be lighted up for folks with ten or a dozen shillings a
week and their gristing, and a load o' thorn faggots when we can get 'em. If 'tis a
token that he's getting hot about the ways of anybody in this parish, 'tis about my
Lady Constantine's, since she is the only one of a figure worth such a hint.'
'As for her income,--that she's now lost.'
'Ah, well; I don't take in all I hear.'
Lady Constantine drew close to St. Cleeve's side, and whispered, trembling, 'Do
you think they will wait long? Or can we get out?'
Swithin felt the awkwardness of the situation. The men had placed the bench
close to the door, which, owing to the stairs within, opened outwards; so that at
the first push by the pair inside to release themselves the bench must have gone
over, and sent the smokers sprawling on their faces. He whispered to her to
ascend the column and wait till he came.
'And have the dead man left her nothing? Hey? And have he carried his
inheritance into's grave? And will his skeleton lie warm on account o't? Hee-hee!'
''Tis all swallered up,' observed Hezzy Biles. 'His goings-on made her miserable
till 'a died, and if I were the woman I'd have my randys now. He ought to have
bequeathed to her our young gent, Mr. St. Cleeve, as some sort of amends. I'd
up and marry en, if I were she; since her downfall has brought 'em quite near