Little thinking of the plan for his happy settlement in life which had suggested itself to the teeming brain of his provident commander, Hugh made no pause until Saint Dunstans giants struck the hour above him, when he worked the handle of a pump which stood hard by, with great vigour, and thrusting his head under the spout, let the water gush upon him until a little stream ran down from every uncombed hair, and he was wet to the waist. Considerably refreshed by this ablution, both in mind and body, and almost sobered for the time, he dried himself as he best could; then crossed the road, and plied the knocker of the Middle Temple gate.
The night-porter looked through a small grating in the portal with a surly eye, and cried Halloa! which greeting Hugh returned in kind, and bade him open quickly.
We dont sell beer here, cried the man; what else do you want?
To come in, Hugh replied, with a kick at the door.
Where to go?
Sir John Chesters. Each of which answers, he emphasised with another kick.
After a little growling on the other side, the gate was opened, and he passed in: undergoing a close inspection from the porter as he did so.
you wanting Sir John, at this time of night! said the man.
Aye! said Hugh. I! What of that?
Why, I must go with you and see that you do, for I dont believe it.
Come along then.
Eyeing him with suspicious looks, the man, with key and lantern, walked on at his side, and attended him to Sir John Chesters door, at which Hugh gave one knock, that echoed through the dark staircase like a ghostly summons, and made the dull light tremble in the drowsy lamp.
Do you think he wants me now? said Hugh.
Before the man had time to answer, a footstep was heard within, a light appeared, and Sir John, in his dressing-gown and slippers, opened the door.
I ask your pardon, Sir John, said the porter, pulling off his hat. Heres a young man says he wants to speak to you. Its late for strangers. I thought it best to see that all was right.
Aha! cried Sir John, raising his eyebrows. Its you, messenger, is it? Go in. Quite right, friend. I commend your prudence highly. Thank you. God bless you. Good-night.
To be commended, thanked, God-blessed, and bade good-night by one who carried Sir before his name, and wrote himself MP to boot, was something for a porter. He withdrew with much humility and reverence. Sir John followed his late visitor into the dressing- room, and sitting in his easy-chair before the fire, and moving it so that he could see him as he stood, hat in hand, beside the door, looked at him from head to foot.
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