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Black Bartlemy's Treasure(Chapter40)

2006-08-28 22:34

  Chapter XL. Of Clothes

  I awoke late next morning to find my clothes clean gone and others in their place; but garments these whose like I had never seen. For here were purple breeches be-laced and ribbanded at the knee and buttoning there with great gold buttons (six a side), and each set with a great pearl; a fine cambric shirt; a doublet cut in at the waist with gold-braided lappets, the sleeves slashed and very wide and turned up at the wrists with point-lace, and this wondrous garment fastening in front with many gold buttons all set with goodly pearls; so that I judged this coat to be a very fortune in itself. Besides this I found a great lace collar or falling band, a pair of silk stockings, shoes with gold buckles set with diamonds, and a great penthouse of a hat adorned with a curling feather fastened by a diamond brooch; whiles hard by was an embroidered shoulder-belt carrying a long rapier, its guards and quillons of wrought gold, its pommel flaming with great brilliants. Beholding all of which gauds and fopperies, I vowed I'd none of them, and cowering beneath the sheets fell to shouting and hallooing for my lady; but finding this vain, scowled at these garments instead. They were of a fashion such as I remembered my father had worn; and now as I gazed on them a strange fancy took me to learn how I (that had gone so long half-naked and in rags) might feel in such sumptuous apparel. So up I got and dressed forthwith, and found this a matter of no small difficulty, what with the unfamiliar shape of these garments and their numberless points and buttons. Howbeit 'twas done at last, and now, coming without the cave, there was my lady upon her three-legged stool preparing breakfast. Beholding me she stared wide-eyed for a moment, then rose, smiling roguishly, and sank down in a slow and gracious curtsey.

  "Good morrow to your lordship," says she. "Your lordship called, I think, but I could not answer your lordship's shouts since I was busied preparing your lordship's breakfast."

  Now beholding all the sweet and roguish witchery of her, the sun so bright and the world about us so joyous, what could I do but smile and, sweeping off my great hat, make her as deep and profound a reverence as ever was seen at Whitehall or Versailles.

  "Madame," quoth I, "your ladyship's most humble and very obedient servant. I trust your ladyship hath breakfast ready, for of a truth my magnificence is mighty sharp set."

  "O Martin," cries she, clapping her hands, "I vow 'twas most gallant! It needeth but for you to trim your hair and beard——no, I think I will have you clean-shaven, 'twill mind me of the boyish Martin of years ago! Yes, you shall shave——"

  "Shave!" quoth I, staring like any fool.

  "Yes, Martin, I have all things ready. Come, it shall not take you long, we will breakfast when you are shaved and trimmed." So, willy-nilly, she brings me back to the cave and presently comes bearing a gold-mounted box, wherein lay razors with soap and everything needful to a fine gentleman's toilet. Then she sets before me a gold-framed mirror, and taking a pair of scissors at her bidding I began to clip the hair from my face, but so bungled the business that she presently took the scissors and did it for me. Thereafter I shaved (awkwardly enough, and she mighty anxious lest I cut myself——the which I did!) and, having at last washed and dried my face, I stood all amazed to find myself so much younger-looking. Now, seeing how she stared at me, and with rosy lips all a-quiver, I smiled, then wondered to behold her eyes suddenly a-brim with tears.

  "O Martin, you do look the same Martin after all!" says she and so away into the sunshine; yet when I presently joined her I found her blithe enough.

  "Are you hungry, sir?"

  "Ravenous, my lady!"

  "Why then, here we have broiled fish——caught by my ladyship—— salt, Martin! Butter——churned by my ladyship——and——bread, Martin! Bread baked by my ladyship's own two hands."

  "O marvellous, sweet lady!" says I.

  "And 'tis none so ill though I had no yeast, is it, Martin?"

  "Delicious!" says I, my mouth full.

  And now, all our recent woes and sorrows clean forgotten, a right joyous meal had we; our hearts light as the sweet air that breathed around us, and untroubled as the placid ocean and broad serenity of heaven, with no dark shadow anywhere to warn us of those evils to come. Thus we ate and talked, finding joy in everything. Often my fingers must go to feel my smooth cheeks and chin, and she, catching me, must needs laugh and vow a smooth face suited me well, and that I should be handsome were my nose another shape and my eyes a different colour. Thus (as I say) brooding sorrow seemed clean vanished from my world, so that my heart swelled with gratitude for that I should live to breathe the air she made sweet.

  Breakfast done, I fetched my saw, and despite her remonstrances and my resplendent breeches, forthwith set about making a cupboard; vowing I was well again, that I never felt better, etc. Hereupon, finding me set on it, she presently brings me the following, viz., an excellent new saw, divers chisels of goodly edge, a plane, a hammer, an auger and an adze; the which rejoiced me greatly, more especially the adze, the which is an exceeding useful tool in skilled hands. All these she had brought from the secret store and I mighty grateful therefor, and told her so.

  "Why then, Martin," says she, "if your gratitude be real and true, you shall do somewhat for me——"

  "What you will!" says I eagerly.

  "Nay," she laughed, "'tis no more than this——keep you shaved—— henceforth."

  And so it was agreed.

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