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And driven – it might be, by the terror of the storm, from more secure quarters, a bird, at this instant, was dashed against the window, and fell to the ground. " That's a call,” continued Peter; “it will be over soon, and we must set out. The dead will not need to tarry. Look at that trail of fire along the avenue ; dost see yon line of sparkles, like a rocket's tail ? That's the path the corpse will take. St. Hermes' flickering fire
Robin Goodfellow's dancing light, or the blue flame of the corpse-candle, which I saw flitting to the church yard last week, was not so pretty a sight — ha, ha! You asked me for a song a moment ago - you shall have one now without asking.” And without waiting to consult the inclinations of his comrades, Peter broke into the following wild strain with all the fervour of a half-crazed improvisatore.
Lambere flamma Topos et circum funera pasci.
“ I can't
say I like thy song, master Peter," said Toft, as the sexton finished his stave, “but if thou didst see a corpsecandle, as thou call'st thy pale blue flame, whose death doth it betoken? - eh!”
“ Thy own,” returned Peter, sharply.
“ Mine ! thou lying old cheat dosi dare to say that to my face? Why, I'm as hale and hearty as ever a man in the house. Dost think there's no life and vigour in this arm, thou drivelling old dotard ? ”
Upon which, Toft seized Peter by the throat with an energy that, but for the timely intervention of the company, who rushed to his assistance, the prophet might himself have anticipated the doom he prognosticated.
Released from the grasp of Toft, who was held back by the by-standers, Peter again broke forth into his eltrich laugh ; and staring right into the face of his adversary, with eyes glistening, and hands uplifted, as if in the act of calling down an imprecation on his head, he screamed, in a shrill and discordant voice, 66 Soh!
you will not take my warning ? you revile me you flout me! 'Tis well ! your fate shall prove a warning to all unbelievers they shall remember this night, though you will not. Fool ! fool! — your doom has long been sealed ! I saw your wraith choose out its last lodgment on Halloween ; I know the spot. Your grave is dug already - ha, ha! And, with renewed laughter, Peter rushed out of the room.
“ Did I not caution thee not to provoke bim, friend Toft ? said Plant; “it's ill playing with edged tools ; but don't let him fly off in that tantrum - one of ye go after him.”
“ That will I," replied Burtenshaw, and he departed in search of the sexton.
“I'd advise thee to make it up with Peter so soon as thou canst, neighbour,” continued Plant ; “he's a bad friend, but a worse enemy.
“ Why, what harm can he do me? returned Toft, who, however, was not without some misgivings. “ If I must die, I can't help it I shall go none the sooner for him, even if he speak the truth, which I don't think he do ; and if I must, I shan't go unprepared — only I think as how, if it pleased Providence I could have wished to keep my old missis company some few years longer, and see those bits of lasses of mine grow up into women, and respectably provided for. But His will be done. I shan't leave 'em quite penniless, and there 's one eye at least, I'm sure, wo’n't be dry at my departure.” Here the stout heart of Toft gave way, and he shed some few “natural tears;" which, however, he speedily brushed away.
I tell you what, neighbours,” continued he, “I think we
may all as well be thinking of going to our own homes, for, to my mind, we shall never reach the churchyard to-night.”
“ That you never will,” exclaimed a voice behind him; and Toft turning round, again met the glance of Peter.
“ Come, come, master Peter,” cried the good-natured farmer, " this be ugly jesting - ax pardon for my share of it
sorry for what I did - so give us thy hand, man, and think no more about it.”
Peter extended his claw, and the parties were, apparently, once more upon terms of friendship.
In northern customs duty was ex prest
KING. - Art of Cookery.
Ceterum priusquam corpus humo injectâ contegatur, defunctus oratione funebri laudabatur. - DURAND.
A SUPPLY of spirits was here introduced ; lights were brought at the same time, and placed upon a long oak table. The party gathering round it, ill-humour was speedily dissipated, and even the storm disregarded, in the copious libations that ensued. At this juncture, a loiterer appeared in the hall. His movements were unnoticed by all excepting the sexton, who watched his proceedings with some curiosity. The person walked to the window, appearing, so far as could be discovered, to eye the storm with great impatience. He then paced the hall rapidly backwards and forwards, and Peter fancied he could detect sounds of disappointment, in his muttered exclamations. Again he returned to the window, as if to ascertain the probable duration of the shower. It was a hopeless endeavour; all was pitch-dark without; the lightning was now only seen at long intervals, but the rain still audibly descended in torrents. Apparently, seeing the impossibility of controlling the elements, the person approached the table.
“ What think you of the night, Mr. Palmer ?” asked the sexton, of Jack, for he was the anxious investigator of the weather.
“Don't know-can't say -- set in, I think-cursed unlucky for the funeral I mean — we shall be drowned if we go.' “ And drunk if we stay,” rejoined Peter.
" But never fear- it will hold up, depend upon it, long before we can start. Where have they put the prisoner ? asked he, with a sudden change of manner.
“I know the room, but can't describe it ; it's two or three doors down the lower corridor of the eastern gallery.” “ Good.
Who are on guard?" “ Titus Tyrconnel, and that swivel-eyed quill-driver, Coates.”
Come, come, master Peter,” roared Toft, “ let's have another stave. Give us one of your odd snatches. No more corpse-candles or that sort of thing. Something lively – something jolly-ha, ha!"
“ A good move,” shouted Jack. “ A lively song from you — lillibullero from a death's head-ha, ha!”
My songs are all of a sort,” returned Peter; seldom asked to sing a second time. However, you are welcome to the merriest I have.” And preparing himself, like certain other accomplished vocalists, with a few preliminary hems and haws, he struck forth the following doleful ditty:
6 I am
THE OLD OAK COFFIN.
Sic ego componi versus in ossa velim, – TIBULLUS.
A coffin old and black it was, and fashioned curiously,
It was not difficult to discover the effect produced by this