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The driver only laughed his answer, and went out.
How shall we paint tho expression of the two faces ? Tlie annoyancealmost shame-on Mr. Rymer's, to be so unexpectedly caught and exposed in his secretive arrangements; the genial
, broadening mirth on the other's, who had risen to receive his visitor, and could not help exclaiming
*Hang me, if I didn't think so!'
Mr. Rymer, with admirable self-possession, began to explain. And then Mr. Chamberlayne could no longer restrain himself within the bounds of courtesy and good-breeding. He laid down knife and fork and roared again.
Mr. Rymer joined in the laugh, or tried to do so, then he said • But I thought you were gone by the coach ?' was full ; they wouldn't have me.'
How absurd ! How very ridiculous! But I asked the man if it was a gentleman in a dark overcoat, and he said, No.'
I wore two--they're very thin—and I was getting so hot with my walk that I took one off before the man came up to
So you also are going to Dolgarrog? How very odd !' * Very! And how fortunate we should thus meet again!'
· Yes; but why the deuce didn't you think so before ? ' was the question in Chamberlayne's expressive eyes. Rymer didn't choose to notice them. They got into the coach and were driven off.
'I assure you,' said Mr. Rymer, after a pause, 'I am really glad of this meeting again- quite apart from its convenience to me.'
Chamberlayne needed some such assurance to recover his former interest. He smiled. And then Mr. Rymer, as if conscious of his false position, evidently determined to have it soon forgotten, by regaining his ascendency over the mind of his companion. So he promptly forced the conversation into particular and agreeable channels, and again delighted the young farmer.
But he was not quite successful in making Mr. Robert Chamberlayne forget. He saw that that gentleman was getting more sensitive, reticent, and cautious. No wonder. How could Chamberlayne overlook the fact that Mr. Rymer, even if he had not liked to go by the coach to Dolgarrog,
might have said he was going there, and might have offered a share in the carriage he had been intending to take? What did it mean? That he had been standing on his social rank? Confound his social rank! Chamberlayne was inclined to cry, if his social rank was mean enougli to encourage other men to talk of their affairs, and then when they exhibited in return equal interest in his, to coolly make them a bow, and walk off.
So mused Chamberlayne, in spite of Rymer's pleasant talk. But, somehow, the latter gained upon him nevertheless. He liked him, gentleman or no gentleman. Perhaps he had mistaken altogether the cause of his reticence. Perhaps he had mistaken even his social position.
A bright idea strikes him. Isn't he a speculator in the gold mines, of which so much has lately been said ? Of course he was! Why they were both now on the direct road to them. Bod Elian itself, Elias Morgan's place, had four or five gold mines within its immediate neighbourhood. That hypothesis needed only to be true to explain all. Was it true ?
I suppose,' he said to Rymer in the most artfully quiet way he knew how to assume, ‘you have heard of the new mines ? '
*Ah, yes. The British Eldorado! Anything in them?' The words were indifferent enoughbut there was quite a promising ring in the voice, Chamberlayne thought.
'I fancy so,' was his answer. And there he stopped, and turned away a little to show his indifference. And both were silent.
• Which is said to be the best of these mines ?' asked Rymer after a little pause.
The Duke of Cornwall's, I think.'
You don't happen to know-do you? the present value of the shares, the annount of paid-up capital, and the likelihood of success ?' 'No,' said Chamberlayne, but it would be easy to learn.'
Ay, but so that one might trust to the alleged facts—if one were inclined to speculate?'
"I think so.'
There the subject dropped, but Chamberlayne could not help saying slyly to himself, Aha! I thought I'd find him out! He doesn't want to buy a pig in a poke, nor pay too much when he does buy. 'Čute fellow ! I may help him if
he's on that scent.' Then he said aloud, “What are your plans on reaching Dolgarrog?'
Plans! I haven't got any that I know of.”
'I am going to a private house-Butty Hughes's! I'd rather be there than in the tourists' hotels, which must be still very crowded—though the season's nearly over.'
'I don't know but I am in the same mind. Who is Butty Hughes ? What a name!'
* You musn't call him so—he's a most respectable old gentleman. When I was pupil to the Reverend Daniel Lloyd, whom I hope to see to-morrow, I used to sit in the parlour at Mr. Hughes's, and eat bread and butter every time I came into Dolgarrog. His invitation (always the same)—“Have a bit of bread and butty ? ” was a standing joke. I and the little Lloyds called him among ourselves Butty Hughes. But he's a very respectable old gentleman. Shall we see if he can accommodate us ?' With all my heart,' responded Rymer.
The rooms are ridiculously smali, but clean and comfortable,' added Chamberlayne.
From that moment Mr. Rymer, as if he had, on second thoughts, discovered special advantages in an intimacy he had previously striven and manoeuvred to shun, threw off whatever even of occasional reticence his manner had previously exhibited. He seemed now to accept Chamberlayne's first advances in a thoroughly genial spirit. In a word, there was, thenceforward, a perfect tone of equality.
They were still ascending, as they had been doing almost from the first mile or so of the journey. The sharp mountain air penetrated to every corner of the rickety carriage. Chamberlayne, as he grew more comfortable about his companion, fell asleep. Å heavy drowsiness had also for some time been stealing over Rymer. But the cold would not let him give way to it, so he remained in a state of miserable half-consciousness-personal and mental-patiently pushing back Chamberlayne's heavy form, as it kept falling against him; patiently listening to the rattle of the broken windows; to the bleating of a sheep lost somewhere in the black watery chaos without; and to the sudden fall of masses of slate, that seemed to him as if the very foundations of the hills were shaking and shivering away into fragments.
As he leaned back, to escape the drifting rain, with halfclosed eyes, he saw lights twinkling, now down in giddy depths, now up on what had before appeared to be dark rolling clouds.
The noise of waters was everywhere, trickling, babbling, leaping, roaring. There seemed to be a kind of water jubilee that night, in which river shouted to river, sea to sea, the waters under the earth to the waters above the earth ; and yet they were now on the highest ridge of a shoulder of the Criba Ban; and Rymer would have seen, if there had been light, a wondrous panorama of mountain tops, with mountain valleys squeezed in between them--or looking so,
Once they stopped in front of an inn. Rymer, at the sight of the red firelight streaming from the door, felt inclined to get out, and stretch his limbs, and warm himself; but Chamberlayne was so sound asleep, and the interior of the house looked so strange and uninviting, he fancied, that he preferred to remain where he was; so while a boy came out to give the horse water, and the driver went in, John Rymer took his first look at a Welsh interior.
A flight of rough stone stairs faced the door, and on these stairs an army of black shadows coming from above, and an army of lurid fire gleams from the room on the side, met and struggled for possession. Now the red light ascended in triumph, pushing off the darkness, and showing more and more of the stained damp stones. Revealing two tiny children tired and dirty, eating their oat-cake supper, side by side, on the stairs ; revealing, first, their little wooden brass-toed shoes; then, the dirty, dimpled knees; their arms; the lovely little faces leaning cheek to cheek; the great round oat-cake, with two mouths closing on its thin edge at the same moment; the tumbled, glittering curls. Then back would fall the red light, and down would come the darkness, swallowing stair after stair, till bright curls, baby faces, fat knees, wooden shoes, all were gone from sight, and there was only a worn step or two left visible, and the room to the right, where three solemn men, watched by a solemn long-nosed shepherd-dog, were drinking, and talking in a strange tongue. A young woman was nursing a child in one corner ; while a stiff old dame with short petticoats, and with her knitting in her hands, came stalking out to look at the strangers, to whom she vouchsafed a bobbing courtesy.
The young woman began to sing to her child a soft little Welsh air, to which the old dame's flapping cap-frill kept solemn time. Two voices, small, fresh and clear, from the dark stairs joined in the song.
• What's that?' cried Chamberlayne, waking, and staring about with his wide blue eyes.
By this time the driver had resumed his seat. The firelight gave Rymer one more glimpse of the stairs, and the tiny mouths opened to the shape of a round O, and two clumsy wooden shoes raised to beat time to the tune they sang, and then began again the rattling of windows.
'N's da'!' (Nos da'-good night), said the old dame.
‘N’s da'!' answered the driver, and they went down into the windy, watery darkness.
Down, still down, mile after mile, between dark woods, which in the light of day are so inexpressibly beautiful, with their fern-covered ground, surface teeming with wild flowers, and low guardian wall, where the moss, most delicious of natural cushions, may be felt several inches deep on the rounded stones of the top.
Down, still down, through the pelting rain, till the lights in the sombre and low stone houses on each side tell the travellers they are in Dolgarrog. And there, to the driver's great relief,—who had been ordered by Rymer, when starting, to drive to his own hotel,-he was directed by Chamberlayne to take them to Mr. Hughes's, at the Council House.
This was a long, low building, at the very bottom of the market-place. Rymer could see nothing striking about it in the darkness and rain, and was glad to follow Chamberlayne into the shop. A single flaring jet of gas lighted it and its contents, which formed the oddest mixture Rymer had ever
The shop was paved with bright red bricks, which a stout young woman with her hair over her eyes was mopping vigorously. Tarpaulin hats, untanned leggings, tin kettles, onions, and dried hams, hung from the low ceiling. On the deal counter smoked a batch of bread, hot from the oven ; and behind the counter, sorting the loaves, stood a woman of about forty, with a worn, amiable face, and soft dark eyes, which continually glanced to the far end of the shop, where, in a little parlour, and seated by a roaring fire, the master of the Council House was taking his supper. He was a finelooking old gentleman, fair faced, and with blue eyes, full of gentle, childish enjoyment of his food and of everything