The dragon of wantley

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TheProjectGutenbergEBookofTheDragonofWantley,byOwenWister ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.net Title:TheDragonofWantley HisTale Author:OwenWister Illustrator:JohnStewardson ReleaseDate:August28,2008[EBook#26448] Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEDRAGONOFWANTLEY*** ProducedbyIrmaSpeharandtheOnlineDistributed ProofreadingTeamathttp://www.pgdp.net(Thisfilewas producedfromimagesgenerouslymadeavailablebyThe InternetArchive/AmericanLibraries.) Transcriber'sNote Due to the nature of illustrations, this file is best viewed in Firefox or Internet Explorer The illustrations might appear slightly shifted in other browsers THE DRAGON OF WANTLEY HISTALE ByOwenWister IllustrationsbyJohnStewardson SECONDEDITION Philadelphia J·B·LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 1895 ·COPYRIGHT·1892· ·BY·J·B·LIPPINCOTT·COMPANY· PRINTED·BY·J·B·LIPPINCOTT·COMPANY ·PHILADELPHIA·USA· TO MYANCIENTPLAYMATESINAPPIAN WAYCAMBRIDGETHISLIKELY STORYISDEDICATEDFORREASONS BESTKNOWNTOTHEMSELVES Preface WHENBetsindaheldtheRose AndtheRingdeckedGiglio’sfinger Thackeray!’twassporttolinger Withthywise,gay-heartedprose Booksweremerry,goodnessknows! WhenBetsindaheldtheRose Whobutfoggydrudglingsdoze WhileRobGilpintoaststhywitches, WhiletheGhostwaylaysthybreeches, Ingoldsby?Suchtalesasthose Exorcisedourpeevishwoes WhenBetsindaheldtheRose Realism,thouspeciouspose! Haplyitisgoodwemetthee; But,passedby,we’llscarceregretthee; Forwelovethelightthatglows WhereQueenFancy’spageantgoes, AndBetsindaholdstheRose Shallwedareit?Thenlet’sclose Doorsto-nightonthingsstatistic, Seekthehearthincirclemystic, Tilltheconjuredfire-lightshows WhereYouth’sbubblingFountainflows, AndBetsindaholdstheRose PrefacetotheSecondEdition Wetwo—theauthorandhisillustrator—didnotknowwhatwehaddoneuntil the newspapers told us But the press has explained it in the following poised andconsistentcriticism: “Toomanysuggestionsofprofanity.” —Congregationalist,Boston,8Dec ’92 “Itoughttobethedelightofthenursery.” —NationalTribune,Washington,22Dec ’92 “Grotesqueandhorrible.” —Zion’sHerald,Boston,21Dec ’92 “Someexcellentmorallessons.” —Citizen,Brooklyn,27Nov ’92 “Ifithasanylessontoteach,wehavebeenunabletofindit.” —Independent,NewYork,10Nov ’92 “Thestoryisafamiliarone.” —DetroitFreePress,28Nov ’92 “Refreshinglynovel.” —CincinnatiCommercialGazette,17Dec ’92 “Itisaburlesque.” —AtlanticMonthly,Dec ’92 “All those who love lessons drawn from life will enjoy this book.” —ChristianAdvocate,Cincinnati,2Nov ’92 “Thestyleofthisproductionisdifficulttodefine.” —CourtJournal,London,26Nov ’92 “Onewonderswhywriterandartistshouldputsomuchlabor on a production which seems to have so little reason for existence.” —HeraldandPresbyterian,Cincinnati Nowthepublicknowsexactlywhatsortofbookthisis,andwecannotbeheld responsible TableofContents CHAPTERI HowSirGodfreycametolosehisTemper PAGE 19 CHAPTERII HowhisDaughter,MissElaine,behavedherselfinConsequence 35 CHAPTERIII RevealstheDragoninhisDen 52 C H A P T E R I V TellsyoumoreaboutHimthanwasevertoldbeforetoAnybody 62 C H A P T E R V InwhichtheHeromakeshisFirstAppearanceandisLockedUp immediately 77 C H A P T E R V I InwhichMissElainelosesherHeart,andfindsSomethingofthe GreatestImportance C H A P T E R V I I ShowswhatCuriousThingsyoumaysee,ifyoudon’tgotoBed whenyouaresent 91 113 C H A P T E R V I I I ContainsaDilemmawithtwosimplyegregiousHorns 136 CHAPTERIX LeavesmuchRoomforguessingaboutChapterTen 168 CHAPTERX ThegreatWhiteChristmasatWantley 187 ListofIllustrations Ornamentedtitle Copyrightnotice Head-piece—Preface Head-piece—PrefacetotheSecondEdition Head-piece—TableofContents Head-piece—ListofIllustrations Half-titletoChapterI Head-piecetoChapterI PophamawaiteththeResultwithDignity Page 11 13 17 19 27 TheBaronpursuethWhelpdaleintotheButtery Tail-piecetoChapterI Half-titletoChapterII Head-piecetoChapterII SirGodfreymakethhimreadyfortheBath SirGodfreygettethintohisBath MistletoeconsulteththeCookingBook ElainemakethanunexpectedRemark Half-titletoChapterIII Head-piecetoChapterIII HubertsweepeththeSteps Half-titletoChapterIV Head-piecetoChapterIV HubertlookethoutoftheWindow Tail-piecetoChapterIV Half-titletoChapterV Head-piecetoChapterV GeoffreyrepliethwithdeplorableFlippancytoFatherAnselm Tail-piecetoChapterV Half-titletoChapterVI Head-piecetoChapterVI TheBaronsettethforthhisPlanforcircumventingtheDragon GeoffreytuggethattheBars Tail-piecetoChapterVI Half-titletoChapterVII Head-piecetoChapterVII ElainecomethintotheCellar GeoffreygoethtomeettheDragon Half-titletoChapterVIII Head-piecetoChapterVIII TheDragonthinkethtoslakehisThirst TheDragonperceivethHimselftobeEntrapped 32 33 34 35 39 41 43 49 51 52 55 61 62 69 75 76 77 84 89 90 91 96 101 111 112 113 120 128 135 136 142 148 155, ANoiseintheCellar 156 Half-titletoChapterIX Head-piecetoChapterIX SirFrancisdecidethtogodownagain BrotherHubertgoethbacktoOyster-le-MainforthelastTime Tail-piecetoChapterIX Half-titletoChapterX Head-piecetoChapterX SirThomasdeBriehastenstoaccepttheBaron’spolite Invitation TheCourt-yard TheDragonmakethhislastAppearance L’Envoi 167 168 176 181 185 186 187 192 198 203 208 QUINESAULTESAULTESERA HERE was something wrong in the cellar at Wantley Manor Little Whelpdale knewit,forhewasButtons,andButtonsalwaysknowswhatisbeingdonewith thewine,thoughhemaylookasifhedidnot AndoldPophamknewit,too He wasButler,andresponsibletoSirGodfreyforallthebrandy,andale,andcider, andmead,andcanary,andotherstrongwaterstherewereinthehouse Now, Sir Godfrey Disseisin, fourth Baron of Wantley, and immediate tenant byknight-servicetoHisMajestyKingJohnofEngland,wasparticularabouthis dogs, and particular about his horses, and about his only daughter and his boy Roland,andhadbeenveryparticularindeedabouthiswife,who,Iamsorryto say, did not live long But all this was nothing to the fuss he made about his wine Whentheclaretwasnotwarmenough,ortheMosellewinewasnotcool enough,youcouldhearhimroaringalloverthehouse;for,thoughgenerousin heartandastaunchChurchman,hewasimmoderatelycholeric Veryoften,when SirGodfreyfellintooneofhisragesatdinner,oldPopham,standingbehindhis chair,trembledsoviolentlythathiscalveswouldshakeloose,thusobliginghim to hasten behind the tall leathern screen at the head of the banquet-hall and readjustthem TwiceineachyeartheBaronsailedovertoFrance,wherehevisitedthewinemerchants,andtastedsamplesofallnewvintages,—thoughtheyfrequentlygave himunmentionableaches Then,whenhewassatisfiedthathehadselectedthe soundest and richest, he returned to Wantley Manor, bringing home wooden casksthatwereasbigashay-stacks,andsofulltheycouldnotgurglewhenyou tippedthem Uponarriving,hesentforMrs Mistletoe,thefamilygovernessand (for economy’s sake) housekeeper, who knew how to write,—something the Baron’s father and mother had never taught him when he was a little boy, becausetheydidn’tknowhowthemselves,anddespisedpeoplewhodid,—and whenMrs Mistletoehadcutneatpiecesofcard-boardforlabelsandgotready her goose-quill, Sir Godfrey would say, “Write, Château Lafitte, 1187;” or, “Write,Chambertin,1203.”(Those,youknow,werethenamesanddatesofthe vintages.) “Yes, my lord,” Mistletoe always piped up; on which Sir Godfrey would peer over her shoulder at the writing, and mutter, “Hum; yes, that’s correct,”justasifheknewhowtoread,theoldhumbug!ThenMistletoe,who wasasillygirlandhadlostherhusbandearly,wouldgo“Tee-hee,SirGodfrey!” But, wig and all, Mistletoe had a high position in Wantley Manor The as the gallant gentleman gave a kiss Of course, this was not just whatthe he household was conducted onher strictly feudal principles Nobody, except shouldhavedone;buthewasawidower,youmustremember,andbesidesthat, members of the family, received higher consideration than did the old as the yearsShe went on this little ceremony be kept up they When Governess and the Chaplain were on ceased a level,to socially, and satit atwas the “Château Lafitte, 1187,” kissing Mistletoe was one thing; but when it came to sametablewiththeBaron Thatdrewtheline OldPophamtheButlermighttell “Chambertin,1203,”theladyweighedtwohundredandtwenty-fivepounds,and littleWhelpdaleasoftenashepleasedthathewasjustasgoodasMistletoe;but woreawig hehadtopouroutMistletoe’swineforher,notwithstanding Ifshescoldedhim (whichshealwaysdidifSirGodfreyhadbeenscoldingher),doyousupposehe dared to answer back? Gracious, no! He merely kicked the two head-footmen, Meeson and Welsby, and spoke severely to the nine house-maids Meeson and Welsby then made life a painful thing for the five under-footmen and the grooms, while the nine house-maids boxed the ears of Whelpdale the Buttons, OW are all the people long awake and out of their beds Wantley Manor is stirring busily in each quarter of the house and court, and the whole county likewiseisagog Byseveno’clockthismorningitwasnoisedineverythatched cottageandineverygabledhallthatthegreatDragonhadbeencaptured Some said by Saint George in person, who appeared riding upon a miraculous white horse and speaking a tongue that nobody could understand, wherefore it was heldtobethelanguagecommoninParadise Some declaredSaintGeorgehad nothingtodowithit,andthatthiswasthepiousachievementofFatherAnselm OthersweresureMissElainehadfulfilledthelegendandconqueredthemonster entirely by herself One or two, hearing the event had taken place in Sir Godfrey’s wine-cellar, said they thought the Baron had done it,—and were immediately set down as persons of unsound mind But nobody mentioned Geoffrey at all, until the Baron’s invitations, requesting the honour of various people’spresenceatthemarriageofhisdaughterElainetothatyoungman,were received;andthatwasaboutteno’clock,theceremonybeingnamedfortwelve thatdayinthefamilychapel SirGodfreyintendedtheburningoftheDragonto take place not one minute later than half-past eleven Accordingly, besides the invitationtothechapel,allfriendsandneighbourswhosepositioninthecounty orwhoseintimacywiththefamilyentitledthemtoarecognitionlessformaland more personal, received a second card which ran as follows: “Sir Godfrey Disseisin at home Wednesday morning, December the twenty-fifth, from half after eleven until the following day Dancing; also a Dragon will be roasted R S V P.” The Disseisin crest with its spirited motto, “Saute qui peult,” originated by the venerable Primer Disseisin, followed by his son Tortious Disseisin,andbornewithsomuchrenowninandoutofahundredbattlesbya thousandsubsequentDisseisins,ornamentedthetopleft-handcorner “Ithinkweshallhavebutfewrefusals,”saidtheRev HucbaldtoSirGodfrey “Not many will be prevented by previous engagements, I opine.” And the Chaplain smiled benignly, rubbing his hands He had published the banns of matrimonythreetimesinalumpbeforebreakfast “Whichisratherunusual,”he said;“butunderthecircumstancesweshalleasilyobtainadispensation.” “Inprovidingsuchanentertainmentforthecountyasthiswillbe,”remarked the Baron, “I feel I have performed my duty towards society for some time to come Noonehashadadragonataprivatehousebeforeme,Ibelieve.” “Oh,surelynot,”simperedthesleekHucbald “NotevenLadyJumpingJack.” “Fiddle!”gruntedtheBaron “Sheindeed!Fandangoes!” “She’s very pious,” protested the Rev Hucbald, whom the lady sometimes askedtofishlunchesinLent “Fandangoes!”repeatedtheBaron Hehadonceknownherexceedinglywell, but she pursued variety at all expense, even his As for refusals, the Chaplain wasquiteright Therewerenone Nobodyhadapreviousengagement—orkept it,iftheyhad “Goodgracious,Rupert!”(orCecil,orChandos,asitmightbe,)eachdamein thecountyhadexclaimedtoherlordonopeningtheenvelopebroughtbyprivate hand from Wantley, “we’re asked to the Disseisins to see a dragon,—and his daughtermarried.” “By heaven, Muriel, we’ll go!” the gentleman invariably replied, under the impressionthatElainewastomarrytheDragon,whichwouldbeashowworth seeing TheanswerscameflyingbacktoWantleyeveryminuteortwo,mostof themwritteninsuchhastethatyoucouldonlyguesstheywereacceptances And those individuals who lived so far away across the county that the invitations reachedthemtoolatetobeanswered,immediatelyrangeverybellinthehouse andorderedthecarriageinfrantictones Ofcoursenobodykeptanyengagement SirGuyVol-au-Vent(andnonebuta most abandoned desperado or advanced thinker would be willing to such a thing on Christmas) had accepted an invitation to an ambush at three for the slaying of Sir Percy de Résistance But the ambush was put off till a more convenientday SirThomasdeBriehadbeengoingtospendhisChristmasata cock-fight in the Count de Gorgonzola’s barn But he remarked to his man Edward,whobroughtthetraptothedoor,thattheCountdeGorgonzolamight go——Nevermindwhatheremarked Itwasnotnice;thoughoddlyenoughit was exactly the same remark that the Count had made about Sir Thomas on tellinghisownmanJamestodrivetoWantleyanddropthecock-fight Allthese gentlemen,assoonastheyheardthegreatnews,startedfortheManorwiththe utmostspeed Nor was it the quality alone who were so unanimous in their feelings The Tenantry(towhomSirGodfreyhadextendedaveryhospitablebiddingtocome andtheyshouldfindstanding-roomandgoodmeatandbeerinthecourt-yard) went nearly mad From every quarter of the horizon they came plunging and ploughingalong Thesunblazeddownoutofaskywhenceauniversalradiance seemed to beat upon the blinding white Could you have mounted up birdfashionoverthecountry,youwouldhaveseentheManorlikethecentreofsome great wheel, with narrow tracks pointing in to it from the invisible rim of a circle, paths wide and narrow, converging at the gate, trodden across the new snowfromanywhereandeverywhere;andmovingalongtheselikeants,allthe inhabitantsformilesaround Andthroughthewidesplendourofwinternowind blowing,butthesoundofchimingbellsfarandnear,clearfrozendropsofmusic inthebrittleair Old Gaffer Piers, the ploughman, stumped along, “pretty well for eighty, thanky,”ashesomewhatsnappishlyansweredtotheneighbourswhoout-walked himontheroad Theywouldgettherefirst “Wonderful old man,” they said as they went on their way, and quickly resumedtheirspeculationsupontheDragon’scapture FarmerJohnStilescame drivinghisox-teamandsnuffling,foritwasprettycold,andhishandkerchiefat home Upon his wagon on every part, like swallows, as many of his relations as could get on His mother, who had been Lucy Baker, and grandmotherCeciliaKempe,andalitterofcousinThorpes Buthisstep-father Lewis Gay and the children of the half-blood were not asked to ride; farmer Stiles had bitterly resented the second marriage This family knew all the particulars concerning the Dragon, for they had them from the cook’s second cousin who was courting Bridget Stiles They knew how Saint George had wakedFatherAnselmupandputhimonawhitehorse,andhowtheAbbothad thus been able to catch the Dragon by his tail in the air just as he was flying awaywithMissElaine,andhowatthatthewhitehorsehadturnedintoayoung man who had been bewitched by the Dragon, and was going to marry Miss Elaineimmediately On the front steps, shaking hands with each person who came, was Sir Godfrey He had dressed himself excellently for the occasion; something betweenaheavyfatherandanoldbeau,withabeautifulpartdownthebackof hisheadwherethehairwas Geoffreystoodbesidehim “My son-in-law that’s to be,” Sir Godfrey would say And the gentry welcomedtheyoungman,whilethetenantsbobbedhimrespectfulsalutations “You’reoneofus Gladtoknowyou,”saidSirThomasdeBrie,surveyingthe ladwithapproval Lady Jumping Jack held his hand for a vanishing moment you could hardly makesureof “Ihadmadeupmymindtohateyouforrobbingmeofmydearest girl,”shesaid,smilinggayly,andfixinghimwithherodd-lookingeyes “ButI seewe’retobefriends.”ThenshemurmuredachoicenothingtotheBaron,who snarledpolitely “Don’t let her play you,” said he to Geoffrey when the lady had moved on Andhetappedtheyouth’sshoulderfamiliarly “Oh, I’ve been through all that sort of thing over in Poictiers,” Geoffrey answeredwithindifference “You’rearogue,sir,asI’vetoldyoubefore Ha!UncleMortmain,howd’ye do?Yes,thisisGeoffrey Where’smyboyRoland?Coming,ishe?Well,hehad betterlooksharp It’saftereleven,andI’llwaitfornobody Howd’yedo,John Stiles?Thatbullyousoldme’scostingthirtyshillingsayearinfences You’ll findsomethingreadydownbythosetables,Ithink.” Harktothatroar!Thecrowdjostledtogetherinthecourt-yard,foritsounded terriblyclose “The Dragon’s quite safe in the pit, good people,” shouted Sir Godfrey “A fewmoreminutesandyou’llallseehim.” The old gentleman continued welcoming the new arrivals, chatting heartily, withajokeforthisoneandakindinquiryfortheother ButwretchedGeoffrey! SotheDragonwastobeseeninafewminutes!Andwherewerethemonksof Oyster-le-Main? Still, a bold face must be kept He was thankful that Elaine, afterthecustomofbrides,wasinvisible Theyouth’slefthandresteduponthe hilt of his sword; he was in rich attire, and the curly hair that surrounded his foreheadhadbeencarefullygroomed Half-wayupthestonestepsashestood, hisblueeyeswatchingkeenlyforthemonks,hewasafigurethatmademanya humble nymph turn tender glances upon him Old Piers, the ploughman, remainedbesideabarrelofrunningaleanddrankhishealthallday Forhewasa wonderfuloldman Hitherandthitherthedomesticsscurriedswiftly,makingpreparations Some were cooking rare pasties of grouse and ptarmigan, goslings and dough-birds; someweresettinggreattablesin-doorsandout;andsomewerepilingfagotsfor the Dragon’s funeral pyre Popham, with magnificent solemnity and a pair of new calves, gave orders to Meeson and Welsby, and kept little Whelpdale pantingforbreathwitherrands;whileinandout,betweeneverybody’slegs,and over or under all obstacles, stalked the two ravens Croak James and Croak Elizabeth,abigwhitewedding-favourtiedroundtheneckofeach Toseethese grave birds, none would have suspected how frequently they had been in the mince-pies that morning, though Popham had expressly ruled (in somewhat stiltedlanguage)thattheyshould“takenothinkbytheirbills.” “Geoffrey,” said the Baron, “I think we’ll begin Popham, tell them to light thatfirethere.” “Theguestsarestillcoming,sir,”saidGeoffrey “Nomatter Itishalfaftereleven.”TheBaronshowedhissun-dial,andthere wasnodoubtofit “Here,takethekeys,”hesaid,“andbringthemonsteroutfor us.” “I’ll go and put on my armour,” suggested the young man That would take time;perhapsthemonksmightarrive “Why,thebrute’schained Youneednoarmour Nonsense!” “Butthinkofmyclothesinthatpit,sir,—onmywedding-day.” “Pooh!That’sthefirstsignofaFrenchmanI’veseeninyou Takethekeys, sir.” ThecrackleofthekindlingfagotscametoGeoffrey’sears Hesawtheforty menwithchainsthatweretohaultheDragonintothefire “But there’s Father Anselm yet to come,” he protested “Surely we wait for him.” “I’ll wait for nobody He with his Crusades and rubbish! Haven’t I got this Dragon, and there’s no Crusade?—Ah, Cousin Modus, glad you could come over Justintime Thesherry’stoyourleft Yes,it’saveryfineday Yes,yes, this is Geoffrey my girl’s to marry and all that.—What I care about Father Anselm?” the old gentleman resumed testily, when his cousin Modus had shuffledoff “Come,sir.” He gave the keys into Geoffrey’s unwilling hand, and ordered silence proclaimed “Hearken,goodfriends!”saidhe,andalltalkandgoingtoandfroceased The tenantrystooddowninthecourt-yard,amassofmotionlessrussetandyellow, every face watching the Baron The gentry swarmed noiselessly out upon the stepsbehindhim,theirhandsomedressesbrightagainsttheManorwalls There wasashortpause OldGafferPiersmadeaslightdisturbancefallingoverwith hiscupofale,butwasquicklysetonhisfeetbyhisneighbours Thesunblazed down,andthegrowlingoftheDragoncamefromthepit “Yondernoise,”pursuedSirGodfrey,“speaksmoretothepointthanIcould I’llgiveyounospeech.”Allloudlycheeredatthis “Don’t you think,” whispered the Rev Hucbald in the Baron’s ear, “that a little something serious should be said on such an occasion? I should like our brethrentobereminded——” “Fudge!”saidtheBaron “Forthirteenyears,”hecontinued,raisinghisvoice again, “this Dragon has been speaking for himself You all know and I know howthathasbeen Andnowwearegoingtospeakforourselves Andwhenhe isontopofthatfirehe’llknowhowthatis Geoffrey,openthepitandgethim out.” Againtherewasacheer,butashortone,forthespellofexpectancywason all The young man descended into the court, and the air seemed to turn to a wavering mist as he looked up at the Manor windows seeking to spy Elaine’s faceatoneofthem Wasthistobetheend?Couldhekissheronelastgood-byif disasterwasinstoreforthemafterall?Alas!noglimpseofherwastobeseenas hemovedalong,hardlyawareofhisownsteps,andthekeysjinglinglightlyas he moved Through the crowd he passed, and a whispering ran in his wake followedbydeepersilencethanbefore Hereachedtheedgeofthepeopleand crossed theopenspacebeyond,passingtheleapingblazeofthefagots,andso drewneartheirondoorofthepit Thekeywentslowlyintothelock Allshrank with dismay at the roar which rent the air Geoffrey paused with his hand grippingthekey,andtherecameasoundofsolemnsingingoverthefields “Themonks!”murmuredafewundertheirbreath;andsilencefellagain,each listening Men’svoicesitwas,andtheirchantingrosebyonesuddensteptoahighnote that was held for a moment, and then sank again, mellow like the harmony of hornsinawood ThenovertheridgefromOyster-le-Mainthelengthofaslow processionbegantogrow Thegraygownshungtotheearthstraightwithscarce anywavingasthemenwalked Theheavyhoodsreachedovereachfacesothere wasnotellingitsfeatures Noneinthecourt-yardspokeatall,asthebrooding figures passed in under the gateway and proceeded to the door of the bear-pit, singing always Howlings that seemed born of terror now rose from the imprisonedmonster;andmanythought,“evidentlytheevilbeastcannotendure thesoundofholywords.” Elaineinherwhitedressnowgazedfromanupperwindow,seeingherlover withhisenemiesdrawingcontinuallycloseraroundhim Perhapsitwaswellforhimthathisdeathalonewouldnothaveservedtolock theirsecretupagain;thatthewhitemaideninthewindowisreadytospeakthe wordanddirectinstantvengeanceonthemandtheirdragonifanyillbefallthat youngmanwhostandsbytheirondoor Thesongofthemonksended SirGodfreyonthestepswaswonderingwhy FatherAnselmdidnotstandoutfromtherestofthegraypeopleandexplainhis wishes “Thoughheshallnotinterruptthesport,whateverhesays,”thoughtthe Baron,andcastonthegroupofholymenalesshospitableeyethanhadbeamed onhisotherguests Geoffreyoverattheirondoor,surroundedbythemotionless figures,scannedeachhoodnarrowlyandsoonmetthefamiliareyesofHubert Hubert’s gown, he noticed, bulged out in a manner ungainly and mysterious “Openthedoor,”whisperedthatyouth AtonceGeoffreybegantoturnthekey Andatitsgrindingallheldtheirbreath,andaquiveringsilencehungoverthe court The hasty drops pattered down from the eaves from the snow that was meltingontheroof Thensomestripofmetalinsidethelocksprungsuddenly, makingasharpsong,andceased Thecrowdofmonkspressedclosertogetheras theirondoorswungopen WhatdidGeoffreysee?Nonebutthemonkscouldtell Instantlyasingleroar moreterriblethanany burstout,andthehugehorribleblackheadandjawsof themonsterrearedintotheviewofSirGodfreyandhisguests Oneinstantthe fearful vision in the door-way swayed with a stiff strange movement over the knotofmonksthatsurroundedit,thensankoutofsightamongthem Therewas asoundofjerkingandfierceclankingofchains,mingledwithloudchantingof pious sentences Then a plume of spitting flame flared upward with a mighty roar,andthegrayfiguresscatteredrightandleft Therealongthegroundlaythe monster, shrivelled, twisted in dismal coils, and dead Close beside his black body towered Father Anselm, smoothing the folds of his gray gown Geoffrey was sheathing his sword and looking at Hubert, whose dress bulged out no longer,butfittedhimasusual “We have been vouchsafed a miracle,” said Father Anselm quietly, to the gapingspectators “There’ll be no burning,” said Geoffrey, pointing to the shrunken skin But though he spoke so coolly, and repelled all besieging disturbance from the fortressofhiscalmvisageandbearing,asaboldandhaughtyyouthshoulddo, yet he could scarcely hold his finger steady as it pointed to the blackened carcase ThenallatoncehiseyesmetthoseofElainewhereshewatchedfrom her window, and relief and joy rushed through him He stretched his arms towardsher,notcaringwhosaw,andthelookshesenthimwithasmiledroveall surroundingthingstoanimmeasurabledistanceaway “Here indeed,” Father Anselm repeated, “is a miracle Lo, the empty shell! Thesnakehathshedhisskin.” Father Anselm’s quick brain seized this chance He and his monks should makeamorestatelyexitthanhehadplanned “Thisisverydisappointing,”saidSirGodfrey,bewildered “Istherenodragon toroast?” “See,”hesaidinaclearvoicetohismonks,“howalliscomingtruethatwas revealedtomethisnight!Myson,”hecontinued,turningtoyoungRoland,“thy “The roasting,” replied the Abbot, impressively, “is even now begun for all braveresolvereachedmeerethouhadstmadeit Knowithasbeenthroughthee eternity.”Hestretchedoutanarmandpointeddownwardthroughtheearth “The thattheDragonhasgone!” evilspirithasfled TheChurchhathtakenthismatterintoherownhands,and claimsyonbarrenhideasarelic.” Uponthistherewasprofoundsilence “And now,” he added solemnly, “farewell The monks of Oyster-le-Main go “Well,—Idon’tseewhytheChurchcan’tletgoodsportalone,”retortedSir Godfrey hencetotheHolyLandalso,tobattleforthetrueFaith Behold!wehavemade usreadytomeetthetoil.” “Hopeshe’llnottaketobreakingupmy cock-fightsthis way,”mutteredthe CountdeGorgonzola,sulkily His haughty tones ceased, and he made a sign The gray gowns fell to the snow, and revealed a stalwart, fierce-looking crew in black armour But the “The Church cares nothing for such profane frivolities,” observed Father Abbotkepthisgraygown Anselmwithcolddignity “You’llstayforthewedding?”inquiredSirGodfreyofhim “Atallevents,friends,”saidSirGodfrey,cheeringup,“thecountryisridof theDragonofWantley,andwe’vegotaweddingandabreakfastleft.” “Ourdutyliestothesea Farewell,forIshallneverseethyfaceagain.” Heturned Hubertgatheredupthehideofthecrocodileandthrewafriendly Justatthismomentayounghorsemanrodefuriouslyintothecourt-yard glance back at Geoffrey Then again raising their song, the black band slowly ItwasRoland,SirGodfrey’sson “Greatnews!”hebeganatonce “Another marched out under the gate and away over the snow until the ridge hid them Crusadehasbeendeclared—andIamgoing MerryChristmas!Where’sElaine? fromsight,andonlytheirsingingcouldbeheardinthedistantfields Where’stheDragon?” “Well,” exclaimed Sir Godfrey, “it’s no use to stand staring Now for the wedding!Mistletoe,goupandtellMissElaine Hucbald,telltheorganisttopipe uphismusic Andassoonasit’soverwe’lldrinkthebride’shealthandhealthto the bridegroom ’Tis a lucky thing that between us all the Dragon is gone, for there’sstillenoughofmyBurgundytolastustillmidnight Come,friends,come in,foreverythingwaitsyourpleasure!” Reader,ifthouhastfoundthyWaythusfar, SurethenI’vewritbeneathaluckyStar; AndNothingsobecomesallJourneys’Ends AsthattheTravellersshouldpartasFriends EndoftheProjectGutenbergEBookofTheDragonofWantley,byOwenWister ***ENDOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEDRAGONOFWANTLEY*** *****Thisfileshouldbenamed26448-h.htmor26448-h.zip***** Thisandallassociatedfilesofvariousformatswillbefoundin: http://www.gutenberg.org/2/6/4/4/26448/ ProducedbyIrmaSpeharandtheOnlineDistributed ProofreadingTeamathttp://www.pgdp.net(Thisfilewas producedfromimagesgenerouslymadeavailablebyThe InternetArchive/AmericanLibraries.) 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singlehanded Whelpdale,poorwretch!answered the bell) of the bestpossible Andnow,this moment,heisbeingtoldby the lucklessButtonsthat the Dragon of Wantley has Now, of course,thisisnotwhatlittleWhelpdaleistryingtotell the Baronup... And the Dragon holds the spoil Alldaylongthrough the earth Thatyeomanmakeshismoan; Alldaylongthereismirth Behindthesewalls of stone Forweare the Lords of Ease, The gaolers of carkingCare,... gone out of the sky, a band of venerable pilgrims stood at the great gates of the Monastery Their garmentsweretattered,theirshoeswereinsaddisrepair Theyhadwalked(they said)all the wayfromJerusalem
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