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Chapter 4
Not serve two masters?--Here's a youth will try it--
Would fain serve God, yet give the devil his due;
Says grace before he doth a deed of villainy,
And returns his thanks devoutly when 'tis acted,
The room into which the Master of Cumnor Place conducted his worthy visitant was of
greater extent than that in which they had at first conversed, and had yet more the
appearance of dilapidation. Large oaken presses, filled with shelves of the same wood,
surrounded the room, and had, at one time, served for the arrangement of a numerous
collection of books, many of which yet remained, but torn and defaced, covered with
dust, deprived of their costly clasps and bindings, and tossed together in heaps upon
the shelves, as things altogether disregarded, and abandoned to the pleasure of every
spoiler. The very presses themselves seemed to have incurred the hostility of those
enemies of learning who had destroyed the volumes with which they had been
heretofore filled. They were, in several places, dismantled of their shelves, and
otherwise broken and damaged, and were, moreover, mantled with cobwebs and
covered with dust.
"The men who wrote these books," said Lambourne, looking round him, "little thought
whose keeping they were to fall into."
"Nor what yeoman's service they were to do me," quoth Anthony Foster; "the cook hath
used them for scouring his pewter, and the groom hath had nought else to clean my
boots with, this many a month past."
"And yet," said Lambourne, "I have been in cities where such learned commodities
would have been deemed too good for such offices."
"Pshaw, pshaw," answered Foster, "'they are Popish trash, every one of them--private
studies of the mumping old Abbot of Abingdon. The nineteenthly of a pure gospel
sermon were worth a cartload of such rakings of the kennel of Rome."
"Gad-a-mercy, Master Tony Fire-the-Fagot!" said Lambourne, by way of reply.
Foster scowled darkly at him, as he replied, "Hark ye, friend Mike; forget that name, and
the passage which it relates to, if you would not have our newly-revived comradeship
die a sudden and a violent death."
"Why," said Michael Lambourne, "you were wont to glory in the share you had in the
death of the two old heretical bishops."