2. CHAPTER II
"Betteredge!" I said, pointing to the well-remembered book on his knee,
"has ROBINSON CRUSOE informed you, this evening, that you might expect
to see Franklin Blake?"
"By the lord Harry, Mr. Franklin!" cried the old man, "that's exactly
what ROBINSON CRUSOE has done!"
He struggled to his feet with my assistance, and stood for a moment,
looking backwards and forwards between ROBINSON CRUSOE and me,
apparently at a loss to discover which of us had surprised him most.
The verdict ended in favour of the book. Holding it open before
him in both hands, he surveyed the wonderful volume with a stare
of unutterable anticipation--as if he expected to see Robinson
Crusoe himself walk out of the pages, and favour us with a
"Here's the bit, Mr. Franklin!" he said, as soon as he had
recovered the use of his speech. "As I live by bread, sir,
here's the bit I was reading, the moment before you came in!
Page one hundred and fifty-six as follows:--'I stood like
one Thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an Apparition.'
If that isn't as much as to say: 'Expect the sudden appearance
of Mr. Franklin Blake'--there's no meaning in the English language!"
said Betteredge, closing the book with a bang, and getting
one of his hands free at last to take the hand which I
I had expected him, naturally enough under the circumstances,
to overwhelm me with questions. But no--the hospitable
impulse was the uppermost impulse in the old servant's mind,
when a member of the family appeared (no matter how!)
as a visitor at the house.
"Walk in, Mr. Franklin," he said, opening the door behind him,
with his quaint old-fashioned bow. "I'll ask what brings
you here afterwards--I must make you comfortable first.
There have been sad changes, since you went away. The house
is shut up, and the servants are gone. Never mind that!
I'll cook your dinner; and the gardener's wife will make your bed--
and if there's a bottle of our famous Latour claret left in
the cellar, down your throat, Mr. Franklin, that bottle shall go.
I bid you welcome, sir! I bid you heartily welcome!"
said the poor old fellow, fighting manfully against the gloom
of the deserted house, and receiving me with the sociable and
courteous attention of the bygone time.