They might have let her live. She was poor enough.'
'How very sad!' exclaimed his patron, with a condescending smile. 'I have no doubt she was an exceedingly fine woman.'
'You see that dog of mine?' said Hugh, abruptly.
'Faithful, I dare say?' rejoined his patron, looking at him through his glass; 'and immensely clever? Virtuous and gifted animals, whether man or beast, always are so very hideous.'
'Such a dog as that, and one of the same breed, was the only living thing except me that howled that day,' said Hugh. 'Out of the two thousand odd--there was a larger crowd for its being a woman--the dog and I alone had any pity. If he'd have been a man, he'd have been glad to be quit of her, for she had been forced to keep him lean and half-starved; but being a dog, and not having a man's sense, he was sorry.'
'It was dull of the brute, certainly,' said Mr Chester, 'and very like a brute.'
Hugh made no rejoinder, but whistling to his dog, who sprung up at the sound and came jumping and sporting about him, bade his sympathising friend good night.
'Good night; he returned. 'Remember; you're safe with me--quite safe. So long as you deserve it, my good fellow, as I hope you always will, you have a friend in me, on whose silence you may rely. Now do be careful of yourself, pray do, and consider what jeopardy you might have stood in. Good night! bless you!'
Hugh truckled before the hidden meaning of these words as much as such a being could, and crept out of the door so submissively and subserviently--with an air, in short, so different from that with which he had entered--that his patron on being left alone, smiled more than ever.
'And yet,' he said, as he took a pinch of snuff, 'I do not like their having hanged his mother. The fellow has a fine eye, and I am sure she was handsome. But very probably she was coarse--red- nosed perhaps, and had clumsy feet. Aye, it was all for the best, no doubt.'
With this comforting reflection, he put on his coat, took a farewell glance at the glass, and summoned his man, who promptly attended, followed by a chair and its two bearers.
'Foh!' said Mr Chester. 'The very atmosphere that centaur has breathed, seems tainted with the cart and ladder. Here, Peak. Bring some scent and sprinkle the floor; and take away the chair he sat upon, and air it; and dash a little of that mixture upon me. I am stifled!'
The man obeyed; and the room and its master being both purified, nothing remained for Mr Chester but to demand his hat, to fold it jauntily under his arm, to take his seat in the chair and be carried off; humming a fashionable tune.
How the accomplished gentleman spent the evening in the midst of a dazzling and brilliant circle; how he enchanted all those with whom he mingled by the grace of his deportment, the politeness of his manner, the vivacity of his conversation, and the sweetness of his voice; how it was observed in every corner, that Chester was a man of that happy disposition that nothing ruffled him, that he was one on whom the world's cares and errors sat lightly as his dress, and in whose smiling face a calm and tranquil mind was constantly reflected; how honest men, who by instinct knew him better, bowed down before him nevertheless, deferred to his every word, and courted his favourable notice; how people, who really had good in them, went with the stream, and fawned and flattered, and approved, and despised themselves while they did so, and yet had not the courage to resist; how, in short, he was one of those who are received and cherished in society (as the phrase is) by scores who individually would shrink from and be repelled by the object of their lavish regard; are things of course, which will suggest themselves. Matter so commonplace needs but a passing glance, and there an end.
The despisers of mankind--apart from the mere fools and mimics, of that creed--are of two sorts. They who believe their merit neglected and unappreciated, make up one class; they who receive adulation and flattery, knowing their own worthlessness, compose the other.