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首页 » 经典英文小说 » His Grace of Osmonde » CHAPTER XXVIII Sir John Rides out of Town
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CHAPTER XXVIII Sir John Rides out of Town

Tom Tantillion had not appeared at the ball, having otherwise entertained himself for the evening, but at an hour when most festivities were at an end and people were returning from them, rolling through the streets in their coaches, the young man was sitting at a corner table in Cribb's Coffee-House surrounded by glasses and jolly companions and clouds of tobacco-smoke.
One of these companions had been to the ball and left it early, and had fallen to talking of great personages he had seen there, and describing the beauties who had shone the brightest, among them speaking of my Lady Dunstanwolde and the swoon which had so amazed those who had seen it.
"I was within ten feet of her," says he, "and watching her as a man always does when he is near enough. Jack1 Oxon stood behind her, and was speaking low over her shoulder, but she seeming to take little note of him and looking straight before her. And of a sudden she stands upright, her black eyes wide open as if some sound had startled her, and the next minute falls like a woman dropping dead, and lies among her white and silver like one carven out of stone. One who knows her well—old Sir Chris Crowell—says she hath never fallen in a swoon before since she was born. Gad2! 'twas a strange sight—'twas so sudden." He had just finished speaking, and was filling his glass again, when a man strode into the room in such haste that all turned to glance at him.
He was in riding-dress, and was flushed and excited, and smiling as if to himself.
"Drawer!" he called, "bring me coffee and brandy, and, damme! be in haste."
Young Tantillion nudged his nearest companion with his elbow.
"Jack Oxon," he said. "Where rides the fellow at this time of night?"
"Eh, Jack!" he said, aloud, "art on a journey already, after shining at the Court ball?"
Sir John started, and seeing who spoke3, answered with an ugly laugh.
"Ay," said he, "I ride to the country in hot haste. I go to Wickben in Essex, to bring back a thing I once left there."
"'Twas a queer place to leave valuables," said Tom—"a village of tumble-down thatched cottages. Was't a love-token or a purse of gold?"
Sir John gave his knee a sudden joyous4 slap, and laughed aloud.
"'Twas a little thing," he replied, "but 'twill bring back fortune—if I find it—and help me to pay back old scores, which is a thing I like better." And his grin was so ugly that Tom and his companions glanced aside at each other, believing that he was full of liquor already, and ready to pick a quarrel if they continued their talk. This they were not particularly inclined to, however, and began a game of cards, leaving him to himself to finish his drink. This he did, quickly tossing down both brandy and coffee the instant they were brought to him, and then striding swaggering from the room and mounting his horse, which waited in the street, and riding clattering5 off over the stones at a fierce pace.
"Does he ride for a wager6?" said Will Lovell, dealing7 the cards.
"He rides for some ill purpose, I swear," said Tom Tantillion. "Jack Oxon never went in haste towards an honest deed; but to play some devil's trick 'tis but nature to him to go full speed."
But what he rode for they never heard, neither they nor anyone else who told the story, though 'twas sure that if he went to Wickben he came back to town for a few hours at least, for there were those who saw him the next day, but only one there was who spoke with him, and that one my Lady Dunstanwolde herself.
Her ladyship rode out in the morning hoping, 'twas said, that the fresh air and exercise would restore her strength and spirits. She rode without attendant, and towards the country, and in the high road Sir John Oxon joined her.
"I did not know he had been out of town," she said, when the mystery was discussed. "He did not say so. He returned to Dunstanwolde House with me, and we had talk together. He had scarce left me when I remembered that I had forgot to say a thing to him I had wished to say. So I sent Jenfry forth8 quickly to call him back. He had scarce had time to turn the street's corner, but Jenfry returned, saying he was not within sight."
"Whereupon you sent a note to his lodgings9, was't not so?" asked Sir Christopher.
"Yes," answered her ladyship, "but he had not returned there."
"Nor ever did," said Sir Christopher, whenever the mystery was referred to afterwards; "nor ever did, and where he went to from that hour only the devil knows, for no man or woman that one has heard of has ever clapt eyes on him since."
This was, indeed, the mysterious truth. After he entered the Panelled Parlour at Dunstanwolde House it seemed that none had seen him, for the fact was that by a strange chance even the lacquey who should have been at his place in the entrance hall had allowed himself to be ensnared from his duty by a pretty serving-wench, and had left his post for a few minutes to make love to her in the servants' hall, during which time 'twas plain Sir John must have left the house, opening the entrance-door for himself unattended.
"Lord," said the lacquey in secret to his mates, "my gizzard was in my throat when her ladyship began to question me. 'Did you see the gentle, man depart, Martin?' says she. ''Twas you who attended him to the door, of a surety.' 'Yes, your ladyship,' stammers10 I. ''Twas I—and I marked he seemed in haste.' 'Did you not observe him as he walked away?' says my lady. 'Did you not see which way he went?' 'To the left he turned, my lady,' says I, cold sweat breaking out on me, for had I faltered11 in an answer she would have known I was lying and guessed I had broke her orders by leaving my place by the door—and Lord have mercy on a man when she finds he has tricked her. There is a flash in her eye like lightning, and woe12 betide him it falls on. But truth was that from the moment the door of the Panelled Parlour closed behind him the gentleman's days were ended, for all I saw of him, for I saw him no more."
And there was none who saw him, for from that time he disappeared from his lodgings, from the town, from England, from the surface of the earth, as far as any ever heard or discovered, none knowing where he went, or how, or wherefore.
Had he been a man of greater worth or importance, or one who had made friends, his so disappearing would have aroused a curiosity and excitement not easily allayed13; but a vicious wastrel14 who has lost hold even on his whilom companions in evil-doing, and has no friends more faithful, is like, indeed, on dropping out of the world's sight, to drop easily and lightly from its mind, his loss being a nine days' wonder and nothing more.
So it was with this one, who had had his day of being the fashion and had broken many a fine lady's brittle15 heart, and, living to be no longer the mode, had seen the fragile trifles cemented together again, to be almost as good as new. When he was gone he was forgot quickly and, indeed, but talked about because her ladyship of Dunstanwolde had last beheld16 him, and on the afternoon had been entertaining company in the Panelled Parlour when the lacquey had brought back the undelivered note with which Jenfry had waited three hours at the lost man's lodgings in the hope that he would return to them, which he did no more.
"'Tis a good riddance to all, my lady, wheresoever he be gone," said Sir Christopher, sitting nursing his stout17 knee in the blue parlour a week later (for her ladyship had had a sudden fancy to have the panelled room made wholly new and decorated before the return of his Grace from France). "Tis a good riddance to all."
Then he fell to telling stories of the man, of the creditors18 he had left in the lurch19, having swindled them of their very hearts' blood, and that every day there was heard of some poor tradesman he had ruined, till 'twas a shame to hear it told; and there were worse things—worse things yet!
"By the Lord!" he said, "the ruin one man's life can bring about, the heartbreak, and the shame! 'Tis enough to make even a sinner as old as I, repent20, to come upon them face to face. Eh, my lady?" looking at her suddenly, "thou must get back the roses thou hast lost these three days nursing Mistress Anne, or his Grace will be at odds21 with us every one."
For Mistress Anne had been ailing22, and her sister being anxious and watching over her had lost some of her glorious bloom, which was indeed a new thing to see. At this moment the roses had dropped from her cheeks and she smiled strangely.
"They will return," she said, "when his Grace does."
She asked questions of the stories Sir Christopher had told and showed anxiousness concerning the poor people who had been so hardly treated.
"I have often thought," she said, "that so rich a woman as I should set herself some task of good deeds to do. 'Twould be a good work to take in hand the undoing24 of the wrongs a man who is lost has left behind him. Why should not I, Clo Wildairs, take in hand the undoing of this man's?" And she rose up suddenly and stood before him, straight and tall, the colour coming out on her cheeks as if life flooded back there.
"Thou!" he cried, gazing at her in loving wonder. "Why shouldst thou, Clo?" None among them had ever understood her and her moods, and he surely did not understand this one—for it seemed as if a fire leaped up within her, and she spoke almost wildly.
"Because I would atone25 for all my past," she said, "and cleanse26 myself with unceasing mercies, and what I cannot undo23, do penance27 for—that I may be worthy—worthy."
She broke off and drew her hand across her eyes, and ended with a strange little sound, half laugh.
"Perhaps all men and women have been evil," she said, "and some are—some seem fated! And when my lord Duke comes back, I shall be happy—happy—in spite of all; and I scarce dare to think my joy may not be taken from me. Is joy always torn away after it has been given to a human thing—given for just so long, as will make loss, madness?"
"Eh, my lady!" he said, blundering, "thou art fearful, just as another woman might be. 'Tis not like Clo Wildairs. Such thoughts will not make thee a happy woman."
She ended with a laugh stranger than her first one, and her great black eyes were fixed28 on him as he had remembered seeing her fix them when she was a child and full of some wild fancy or weird29 sadness.
"'Tis not Clo Wildairs who thinks them," says she; "'tis another woman. 'Twas Clo who knew John Oxon who is gone—and was as big a sinner as he, though she did harm to none but herself. And 'tis for those two—for both—I would have mercy. But I am a strong thing, and was born so, and my happiness will not die, despite—despite whatsoever30 comes. And I am happy, and know I shall be more; and 'tis for that I am afraid—afraid."
"Good Lord!" cried Sir Chris, swallowing a lump which rose, he knew not why, in his throat. "What a strange creature thou art!"
His Grace's couriers went back and forth to France, and upon his estates the people prepared their rejoicings for the marriage-day, and never had Camylott been so heavenly fair as on the day when the bells rang out once more, and the villagers stood along the roadside and at their cottage doors, courtesying and throwing up hats and calling down God's blessings31 on the new-wed pair, as the coach passed by, and his Grace, holding his lady's hand, showed her to his people, seeming to give her and her loveliness to them as they bowed and smiled together—she almost with joyful32 tears in her sweet eyes.
In her room near the nurseries, at the window which looked out among the ivy33, Nurse Halsell sat, watching the equipage as it made its way up the long avenue, and might be seen now and then between the trees, and her old hands trembled in her lap, for very joy. And before the day was done his Grace, knocking on the door gently, brought his Duchess to her.
"And 'twas you," said her Grace, standing34 close by her chair, and holding the old hand between her own two, which were so white and velvet35 warm, "and 'twas you who held him in your arms when he was but a little new-born thing, and often sang him to sleep, and were so loved by him. And he played here—" and she looked about the apartment with a tremulous smile.
"Yes," said his Grace, with a low laugh of joyful love, "and now I bring you to her, and 'tis my marriage-day."
Nurse Halsell gazed up at the eyes which glowed above her.
"'Tis what his Grace hath waited long for," she said, "and he would have died an unwedded man had he not reached it at last. 'Tis sure what God ordained36." And for a minute she looked straight and steady into the Duchess's face. "A man must come to his own," she said, and bent37 and kissed the fair hand with passionate38 love, but her Grace lifted the old face with her palm, and stooped and kissed it fondly—gratefully.
Then the Duke took his wife to the Long Gallery and they stood there, he holding her close against his side, while the golden sun went down.
"Here I stood and heard that you were born," he said, and kissed her red, tender mouth. "Here I stood in agony and fought my battle with my soul the first sad day you came to Camylott." And he kissed her slow and tenderly again, in memory of the grief of that past time. "And here I stand and feel your dear heart beat against my side, and look into your eyes—and look into your eyes—and they are the eyes of her who is mine own—and Death himself cannot take her from me."


1 jack 53Hxp     
  • I am looking for the headphone jack.我正在找寻头戴式耳机插孔。
  • He lifted the car with a jack to change the flat tyre.他用千斤顶把车顶起来换下瘪轮胎。
2 gad E6dyd     
  • He is always on the gad.他老是闲荡作乐。
  • Let it go back into the gloaming and gad with a lot of longing.就让它回到暮色中,满怀憧憬地游荡吧。
3 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
4 joyous d3sxB     
  • The lively dance heightened the joyous atmosphere of the scene.轻快的舞蹈给这场戏渲染了欢乐气氛。
  • They conveyed the joyous news to us soon.他们把这一佳音很快地传递给我们。
5 clattering f876829075e287eeb8e4dc1cb4972cc5     
  • Typewriters keep clattering away. 打字机在不停地嗒嗒作响。
  • The typewriter was clattering away. 打字机啪嗒啪嗒地响着。
6 wager IH2yT     
  • They laid a wager on the result of the race.他们以竞赛的结果打赌。
  • I made a wager that our team would win.我打赌我们的队会赢。
7 dealing NvjzWP     
  • This store has an excellent reputation for fair dealing.该商店因买卖公道而享有极高的声誉。
  • His fair dealing earned our confidence.他的诚实的行为获得我们的信任。
8 forth Hzdz2     
  • The wind moved the trees gently back and forth.风吹得树轻轻地来回摇晃。
  • He gave forth a series of works in rapid succession.他很快连续发表了一系列的作品。
9 lodgings f12f6c99e9a4f01e5e08b1197f095e6e     
n. 出租的房舍, 寄宿舍
  • When he reached his lodgings the sun had set. 他到达公寓房间时,太阳已下山了。
  • I'm on the hunt for lodgings. 我正在寻找住所。
10 stammers aefedb99f20af7d80e217550cc5a83e5     
n.口吃,结巴( stammer的名词复数 )v.结巴地说出( stammer的第三人称单数 )
  • She stammers when she feels nervous. 她紧张时就口吃。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The little child stammers in the presence of strangers. 那小孩在陌生人面前说话就结巴。 来自辞典例句
11 faltered d034d50ce5a8004ff403ab402f79ec8d     
(嗓音)颤抖( falter的过去式和过去分词 ); 支吾其词; 蹒跚; 摇晃
  • He faltered out a few words. 他支吾地说出了几句。
  • "Er - but he has such a longhead!" the man faltered. 他不好意思似的嚅嗫着:“这孩子脑袋真长。”
12 woe OfGyu     
  • Our two peoples are brothers sharing weal and woe.我们两国人民是患难与共的兄弟。
  • A man is well or woe as he thinks himself so.自认祸是祸,自认福是福。
13 allayed a2f1594ab7abf92451e58b3bedb57669     
v.减轻,缓和( allay的过去式和过去分词 )
  • His fever is allayed, but his appetite is still flatted. 他发烧减轻了,但食欲仍然不振。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • His fever was allayed by the medicine. 这药剂使他退烧了。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
14 wastrel 0gHwt     
  • Her father wouldn't let her marry a wastrel.她的父亲不会让她嫁给一个败家子。
  • He is a notorious wastrel in our company.他在我们单位是个有名的饭囊,啥活儿都干不好。
15 brittle IWizN     
  • The pond was covered in a brittle layer of ice.池塘覆盖了一层易碎的冰。
  • She gave a brittle laugh.她冷淡地笑了笑。
16 beheld beheld     
v.看,注视( behold的过去式和过去分词 );瞧;看呀;(叙述中用于引出某人意外的出现)哎哟
  • His eyes had never beheld such opulence. 他从未见过这样的财富。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The soul beheld its features in the mirror of the passing moment. 灵魂在逝去的瞬间的镜子中看到了自己的模样。 来自英汉文学 - 红字
18 creditors 6cb54c34971e9a505f7a0572f600684b     
n.债权人,债主( creditor的名词复数 )
  • They agreed to repay their creditors over a period of three years. 他们同意3年内向债主还清欠款。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Creditors could obtain a writ for the arrest of their debtors. 债权人可以获得逮捕债务人的令状。 来自《简明英汉词典》
19 lurch QR8z9     
  • It has been suggested that the ground movements were a form of lurch movements.地震的地面运动曾被认为是一种突然倾斜的运动形式。
  • He walked with a lurch.他步履蹒跚。
20 repent 1CIyT     
  • He has nothing to repent of.他没有什么要懊悔的。
  • Remission of sins is promised to those who repent.悔罪者可得到赦免。
21 odds n5czT     
  • The odds are 5 to 1 that she will win.她获胜的机会是五比一。
  • Do you know the odds of winning the lottery once?你知道赢得一次彩票的几率多大吗?
22 ailing XzzzbA     
  • They discussed the problems ailing the steel industry. 他们讨论了困扰钢铁工业的问题。
  • She looked after her ailing father. 她照顾有病的父亲。
23 undo Ok5wj     
  • His pride will undo him some day.他的傲慢总有一天会毁了他。
  • I managed secretly to undo a corner of the parcel.我悄悄地设法解开了包裹的一角。
24 undoing Ifdz6a     
  • That one mistake was his undoing. 他一失足即成千古恨。
  • This hard attitude may have led to his undoing. 可能就是这种强硬的态度导致了他的垮台。
25 atone EeKyT     
  • He promised to atone for his crime.他承诺要赎自己的罪。
  • Blood must atone for blood.血债要用血来还。
26 cleanse 7VoyT     
  • Health experts are trying to cleanse the air in cities. 卫生专家们正设法净化城市里的空气。
  • Fresh fruit juices can also cleanse your body and reduce dark circles.新鲜果汁同样可以清洁你的身体,并对黑眼圈同样有抑制作用。
27 penance Uulyx     
  • They had confessed their sins and done their penance.他们已经告罪并做了补赎。
  • She knelt at her mother's feet in penance.她忏悔地跪在母亲脚下。
28 fixed JsKzzj     
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
29 weird bghw8     
  • From his weird behaviour,he seems a bit of an oddity.从他不寻常的行为看来,他好像有点怪。
  • His weird clothes really gas me.他的怪衣裳简直笑死人。
30 whatsoever Beqz8i     
  • There's no reason whatsoever to turn down this suggestion.没有任何理由拒绝这个建议。
  • All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,do ye even so to them.你想别人对你怎样,你就怎样对人。
31 blessings 52a399b218b9208cade790a26255db6b     
n.(上帝的)祝福( blessing的名词复数 );好事;福分;因祸得福
  • Afflictions are sometimes blessings in disguise. 塞翁失马,焉知非福。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • We don't rely on blessings from Heaven. 我们不靠老天保佑。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
32 joyful N3Fx0     
  • She was joyful of her good result of the scientific experiments.她为自己的科学实验取得好成果而高兴。
  • They were singing and dancing to celebrate this joyful occasion.他们唱着、跳着庆祝这令人欢乐的时刻。
33 ivy x31ys     
  • Her wedding bouquet consisted of roses and ivy.她的婚礼花篮包括玫瑰和长春藤。
  • The wall is covered all over with ivy.墙上爬满了常春藤。
34 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
35 velvet 5gqyO     
  • This material feels like velvet.这料子摸起来像丝绒。
  • The new settlers wore the finest silk and velvet clothing.新来的移民穿着最华丽的丝绸和天鹅绒衣服。
36 ordained 629f6c8a1f6bf34be2caf3a3959a61f1     
v.任命(某人)为牧师( ordain的过去式和过去分词 );授予(某人)圣职;(上帝、法律等)命令;判定
  • He was ordained in 1984. 他在一九八四年被任命为牧师。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He was ordained priest. 他被任命为牧师。 来自辞典例句
37 bent QQ8yD     
  • He was fully bent upon the project.他一心扑在这项计划上。
  • We bent over backward to help them.我们尽了最大努力帮助他们。
38 passionate rLDxd     
  • He is said to be the most passionate man.据说他是最有激情的人。
  • He is very passionate about the project.他对那个项目非常热心。


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