3. CHAPTER III
I have only the most indistinct recollection of what happened
at Hotherstone's Farm.
I remember a hearty welcome; a prodigious supper, which would
have fed a whole village in the East; a delightfully clean bedroom,
with nothing in it to regret but that detestable product of the folly
of our fore-fathers--a feather-bed; a restless night, with much
kindling of matches, and many lightings of one little candle;
and an immense sensation of relief when the sun rose, and there was
a prospect of getting up.
It had been arranged over-night with Betteredge, that I was to call for him,
on our way to Cobb's Hole, as early as I liked--which, interpreted by my
impatience to get possession of the letter, meant as early as I could.
Without waiting for breakfast at the Farm, I took a crust of bread in my hand,
and set forth, in some doubt whether I should not surprise the excellent
Betteredge in his bed. To my great relief he proved to be quite as excited
about the coming event as I was. I found him ready, and waiting for me,
with his stick in his hand.
"How are you this morning, Betteredge?"
"Very poorly, sir."
"Sorry to hear it. What do you complain of?"
"I complain of a new disease, Mr. Franklin, of my own inventing.
I don't want to alarm you, but you're certain to catch it before
the morning is out."
"The devil I am!"
"Do you feel an uncomfortable heat at the pit of your stomach,
sir? and a nasty thumping at the top of your head? Ah! not yet?
It will lay hold of you at Cobb's Hole, Mr. Franklin. I call
it the detective-fever; and I first caught it in the company of
"Aye! aye! and the cure in this instance is to open Rosanna Spearman's letter,
I suppose? Come along, and let's get it."