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Chapter 2
A Monk there was, a fayre for the maistrie,
An outrider that loved venerie;
A manly man, to be an Abbot able,
Full many a daintie horse had he in stable:
And whan he rode, men might his bridle hear
Gingeling in a whistling wind as clear,
And eke as loud, as doth the chapell bell,
There as this lord was keeper of the cell.
Notwithstanding the occasional exhortation and chiding of his companion, the noise of
the horsemen's feet continuing to approach, Wamba could not be prevented from
lingering occasionally on the road, upon every pretence which occurred; now catching
from the hazel a cluster of half-ripe nuts, and now turning his head to leer after a
cottage maiden who crossed their path. The horsemen, therefore, soon overtook them
on the road.
Their numbers amounted to ten men, of whom the two who rode foremost seemed to be
persons of considerable importance, and the others their attendants. It was not difficult
to ascertain the condition and character of one of these personages. He was obviously
an ecclesiastic of high rank; his dress was that of a Cistercian Monk, but composed of
materials much finer than those which the rule of that order admitted. His mantle and
hood were of the best Flanders cloth, and fell in ample, and not ungraceful folds, around
a handsome, though somewhat corpulent person. His countenance bore as little the
marks of self-denial, as his habit indicated contempt of worldly splendour. His features
might have been called good, had there not lurked under the pent-house of his eye, that
sly epicurean twinkle which indicates the cautious voluptuary. In other respects, his
profession and situation had taught him a ready command over his countenance, which
he could contract at pleasure into solemnity, although its natural expression was that of
good-humoured social indulgence. In defiance of conventual rules, and the edicts of
popes and councils, the sleeves of this dignitary were lined and turned up with rich furs,
his mantle secured at the throat with a golden clasp, and the whole dress proper to his
order as much refined upon and ornamented, as that of a quaker beauty of the present
day, who, while she retains the garb and costume of her sect continues to give to its
simplicity, by the choice of materials and the mode of disposing them, a certain air of
coquettish attraction, savouring but too much of the vanities of the world.
This worthy churchman rode upon a well-fed ambling mule, whose furniture was highly
decorated, and whose bridle, according to the fashion of the day, was ornamented with
silver bells. In his seat he had nothing of the awkwardness of the convent, but displayed
the easy and habitual grace of a well-trained horseman. Indeed, it seemed that so
humble a conveyance as a mule, in however good case, and however well broken to a
pleasant and accommodating amble, was only used by the gallant monk for travelling