It was known that there was discontent abroad--there always is; he had been accustomed to address the people by placard, speech, and pamphlet, upon other questions; nothing had come, in England, of his past exertions, and nothing was apprehended from his present. Just as he has come upon the reader, he had come, from time to time, upon the public, and been forgotten in a day; as suddenly as he appears in these pages, after a blank of five long years, did he and his proceedings begin to force themselves, about this period, upon the notice of thousands of people, who had mingled in active life during the whole interval, and who, without being deaf or blind to passing events, had scarcely ever thought of him before.
'My lord,' said Gashford in his ear, as he drew the curtains of his bed betimes; 'my lord!'
'Yes--who's that? What is it?'
'The clock has struck nine,' returned the secretary, with meekly folded hands. 'You have slept well? I hope you have slept well? If my prayers are heard, you are refreshed indeed.'
'To say the truth, I have slept so soundly,' said Lord George, rubbing his eyes and looking round the room, 'that I don't remember quite--what place is this?'
'My lord!' cried Gashford, with a smile.
'Oh!' returned his superior. 'Yes. You're not a Jew then?'
'A Jew!' exclaimed the pious secretary, recoiling.
'I dreamed that we were Jews, Gashford. You and I--both of us-- Jews with long beards.'
'Heaven forbid, my lord! We might as well be Papists.'
'I suppose we might,' returned the other, very quickly. 'Eh? You really think so, Gashford?'
'Surely I do,' the secretary cried, with looks of great surprise.
'Humph!' he muttered. 'Yes, that seems reasonable.'
'I hope my lord--' the secretary began.
'Hope!' he echoed, interrupting him. 'Why do you say, you hope? There's no harm in thinking of such things.'
'Not in dreams,' returned the Secretary.
'In dreams! No, nor waking either.'
--'"Called, and chosen, and faithful,"' said Gashford, taking up Lord George's watch which lay upon a chair, and seeming to read the inscription on the seal, abstractedly.
It was the slightest action possible, not obtruded on his notice, and apparently the result of a moment's absence of mind, not worth remark. But as the words were uttered, Lord George, who had been going on impetuously, stopped short, reddened, and was silent. Apparently quite unconscious of this change in his demeanour, the wily Secretary stepped a little apart, under pretence of pulling up the window-blind, and returning when the other had had time to recover, said:
'The holy cause goes bravely on, my lord. I was not idle, even last night. I dropped two of the handbills before I went to bed, and both are gone this morning. Nobody in the house has mentioned the circumstance of finding them, though I have been downstairs full half-an-hour. One or two recruits will be their first fruit, I predict; and who shall say how many more, with Heaven's blessing on your inspired exertions!'
'It was a famous device in the beginning,' replied Lord George; 'an excellent device, and did good service in Scotland. It was quite worthy of you. You remind me not to be a sluggard, Gashford, when the vineyard is menaced with destruction, and may be trodden down by Papist feet. Let the horses be saddled in half-an-hour. We must be up and doing!'
He said this with a heightened colour, and in a tone of such enthusiasm, that the secretary deemed all further prompting needless, and withdrew.
--'Dreamed he was a Jew,' he said thoughtfully, as he closed the bedroom door. 'He may come to that before he dies. It's like enough. Well! After a time, and provided I lost nothing by it, I don't see why that religion shouldn't suit me as well as any other. There are rich men among the Jews; shaving is very troublesome;--yes, it would suit me well enough. For the present, though, we must be Christian to the core. Our prophetic motto will suit all creeds in their turn, that's a comfort.' Reflecting on this source of consolation, he reached the sitting-room, and rang the bell for breakfast.