Read CHAPTER XX. of Eugene Aram, free online book, by Edward Bulwer Lytton, on ReadCentral.com.

Walter’s meditations. ­The corporal’s grief and anger. ­The corporal personally described. ­An explanation with his master. ­The corporal opens himself to the young traveller. ­ His opinions on love; ­on the world; ­on the pleasure and respectability of cheating; ­on ladies ­and A particular class of ladies; ­on authors; ­on the value of words; ­on fighting; ­with sundry other matters of equal delectation and improvement. ­An unexpected event.

Quale per incertam Lunam sub luce maligna
Est iter
­Virgil.

[Even as a journey by the upropitious light
of the uncertain moon.]

The road prescribed to our travellers by the change in their destination led them back over a considerable portion of the ground they had already traversed, and since the Corporal took care that they should remain some hours in the place where they dined, night fell upon them as they found themselves in the midst of the same long and dreary stage in which they had encountered Sir Peter Hales and the two suspected highwaymen.

Walter’s mind was full of the project on which he was bent.  The reader can fully comprehend how vivid must have been his emotions at thus chancing on what might prove a clue to the mystery that hung over his father’s fate; and sanguinely did he now indulge those intense meditations with which the imaginative minds of the young always brood over every more favourite idea, until they exalt the hope into a passion.  Every thing connected with this strange and roving parent, had possessed for the breast of his son, not only an anxious, but so to speak, indulgent interest.  The judgment of a young man is always inclined to sympathize with the wilder and more enterprising order of spirits; and Walter had been at no loss for secret excuses wherewith to defend the irregular life and reckless habits of his parent.  Amidst all his father’s evident and utter want of principle, Walter clung with a natural and self-deceptive partiality to the few traits of courage or generosity which relieved, if they did not redeem, his character; traits which, with a character of that stamp, are so often, though always so unprofitably blended, and which generally cease with the commencement of age.  He now felt elated by the conviction, as he had always been inspired by the hope, that it was to be his lot to discover one whom he still believed living, and whom he trusted to find amended.  The same intimate persuasion of the “good luck” of Geoffrey Lester, which all who had known him appeared to entertain, was felt even in a more credulous and earnest degree by his son.  Walter gave way now, indeed, to a variety of conjectures as to the motives which could have induced his father to persist in the concealment of his fate after his return to England; but such of those conjectures as, if the more rational, were also the more despondent, he speedily and resolutely dismissed.  Sometimes he thought that his father, on learning the death of the wife he had abandoned, might have been possessed with a remorse which rendered him unwilling to disclose himself to the rest of his family, and a feeling that the main tie of home was broken; sometimes he thought that the wanderer had been disappointed in his expected legacy, and dreading the attacks of his creditors, or unwilling to throw himself once more on the generosity of his brother, had again suddenly quitted England and entered on some enterprise or occupation abroad.  It was also possible, to one so reckless and changeful, that even, after receiving the legacy, a proposition from some wild comrade might have hurried him away on any continental project on the mere impulse of the moment, for the impulse of the moment had always been the guide of his life; and once abroad he might have returned to India, and in new connections forgotten the old ties at home.  Letters from abroad too, miscarry; and it was not improbable that the wanderer might have written repeatedly, and receiving no answer to his communications, imagined that the dissoluteness of his life had deprived him of the affections of his family, and, deserving so well to have the proffer of renewed intercourse rejected, believed that it actually was so.  These, and a hundred similar conjectures, found favour in the eyes of the young traveller; but the chances of a fatal accident, or sudden death, he pertinaciously refused at present to include in the number of probabilities.  Had his father been seized with a mortal illness on the road, was it not likely that he would, in the remorse occasioned in the hardiest by approaching death, have written to his brother, and recommending his child to his care, have apprised him of the addition to his fortune?  Walter then did not meditate embarrassing his present journey by those researches among the dead, which the worthy Courtland had so considerately recommended to his prudence:  should his expedition, contrary to his hopes, prove wholly unsuccessful, it might then be well to retrace his steps and adopt the suggestion.  But what man, at the age of twenty-one, ever took much precaution on the darker side of a question on which his heart was interested?

With what pleasure, escaping from conjecture to a more ultimate conclusion ­did he, in recalling those words, in which his father had more than hinted to Courtland of his future amendment, contemplate recovering a parent made wise by years and sober by misfortunes, and restoring him to a hearth of tranquil virtues and peaceful enjoyments!  He imaged to himself a scene of that domestic happiness, which is so perfect in our dreams, because in our dreams monotony is always excluded from the picture.  And, in this creation of Fancy, the form of Ellinor ­his bright-eyed and gentle cousin, was not the least conspicuous.  Since his altercation with Madeline, the love he had once thought so ineffaceable, had faded into a dim and sullen hue; and, in proportion as the image of Madeline grew indistinct, that of her sister became more brilliant.  Often, now, as he rode slowly onward, in the quiet of the deepening night, and the mellow stars softening all on which they shone, he pressed the little token of Ellinor’s affection to his heart, and wondered that it was only within the last few days he had discovered that her eyes were more beautiful than Madeline’s, and her smile more touching.  Meanwhile the redoubted Corporal, who was by no means pleased with the change in his master’s plans, lingered behind, whistling the most melancholy tune in his collection.  No young lady, anticipative of balls or coronets, had ever felt more complacent satisfaction in a journey to London than that which had cheered the athletic breast of the veteran on finding himself, at last, within one day’s gentle march of the metropolis.  And no young lady, suddenly summoned back in the first flush of her debut, by an unseasonable fit of gout or economy in papa, ever felt more irreparably aggrieved than now did the dejected Corporal.  His master had not yet even acquainted him with the cause of the countermarch; and, in his own heart, he believed it nothing but the wanton levity and unpardonable fickleness “common to all them ere boys afore they have seen the world.”  He certainly considered himself a singularly ill-used and injured man, and drawing himself up to his full height, as if it were a matter with which Heaven should be acquainted at the earliest possible opportunity, he indulged, as we before said, in the melancholy consolation of a whistled death-dirge, occasionally interrupted by a long-drawn interlude half sigh, half snuffle of his favourite augh ­baugh.

And here, we remember, that we have not as yet given to our reader a fitting portrait of the Corporal on horseback.  Perhaps no better opportunity than the present may occur; and perhaps, also, Corporal Bunting, as well as Melrose Abbey, may seem a yet more interesting picture when viewed by the pale moonlight.

The Corporal then wore on his head a small cocked hat, which had formerly belonged to the Colonel of the Forty-second ­the prints of my uncle Toby may serve to suggest its shape; ­it had once boasted a feather ­that was gone; but the gold lace, though tarnished, and the cockade, though battered, still remained.  From under this shade the profile of the Corporal assumed a particular aspect of heroism:  though a good-looking man on the main, it was his air, height, and complexion, which made him so; and a side view, unlike Lucian’s one-eyed prince, was not the most favourable point in which his features could be regarded.  His eyes, which were small and shrewd, were half hid by a pair of thick shaggy brows, which, while he whistled, he moved to and fro, as a horse moves his ears when he gives warning that he intends to shy; his nose was straight ­so far so good ­but then it did not go far enough; for though it seemed no despicable proboscis in front, somehow or another it appeared exceedingly short in profile; to make up for this, the upper lip was of a length the more striking from being exceedingly straight; ­it had learned to hold itself upright, and make the most of its length as well as its master! his under lip, alone protruded in the act of whistling, served yet more markedly to throw the nose into the background; and, as for the chin ­talk of the upper lip being long indeed! ­the chin would have made two of it; such a chin! so long, so broad, so massive, had it been put on a dish might have passed, without discredit, for a round of beef! it looked yet larger than it was from the exceeding tightness of the stiff black-leather stock below, which forced forth all the flesh it encountered into another chin, ­a remove to the round.  The hat, being somewhat too small for the Corporal, and being cocked knowingly in front, left the hinder half of the head exposed.  And the hair, carried into a club according to the fashion, lay thick, and of a grizzled black, on the brawny shoulders below.  The veteran was dressed in a blue coat, originally a frock; but the skirts, having once, to the imminent peril of the place they guarded, caught fire, as the Corporal stood basking himself at Peter Dealtry’s, had been so far amputated, as to leave only the stump of a tail, which just covered, and no more, that part which neither Art in bipeds nor Nature in quadrupeds loves to leave wholly exposed.  And that part, ah, how ample! had Liston seen it, he would have hid for ever his diminished ­opposite to head! ­No wonder the Corporal had been so annoyed by the parcel of the previous day, a coat so short, and a ­; but no matter, pass we to the rest!  It was not only in its skirts that this wicked coat was deficient; the Corporal, who had within the last few years thriven lustily in the inactive serenity of Grassdale, had outgrown it prodigiously across the chest and girth; nevertheless he managed to button it up.  And thus the muscular proportions of the wearer bursting forth in all quarters, gave him the ludicrous appearance of a gigantic schoolboy.  His wrists, and large sinewy hands, both employed at the bridle of his hard-mouthed charger, were markedly visible; for it was the Corporal’s custom whenever he came into an obscure part of the road, carefully to take off, and prudently to pocket, a pair of scrupulously clean white leather gloves which smartened up his appearance prodigiously in passing through the towns in their route.  His breeches were of yellow buckskin, and ineffably tight; his stockings were of grey worsted, and a pair of laced boots, that reached the ascent of a very mountainous calf, but declined any farther progress, completed his attire.

Fancy then this figure, seated with laborious and unswerving perpendicularity on a demi-pique saddle, ornamented with a huge pair of well-stuffed saddle-bags, and holsters revealing the stocks of a brace of immense pistols, the horse with its obstinate mouth thrust out, and the bridle drawn as tight as a bowstring! its ears laid sullenly down, as if, like the Corporal, it complained of going to Yorkshire, and its long thick tail, not set up in a comely and well-educated arch, but hanging sheepishly down, as if resolved that its buttocks should at least be better covered than its master’s!

And now, reader, it is not our fault if you cannot form some conception of the physical perfections of the Corporal and his steed.

The reverie of the contemplative Bunting was interrupted by the voice of his master calling upon him to approach.

“Well, well!” muttered he, “the younker can’t expect one as close at his heels as if we were trotting into Lunnon, which we might be at this time, sure enough, if he had not been so damned flighty, ­augh!”

“Bunting, I say, do you hear?”

“Yes, your honour, yes; this ere horse is so ’nation sluggish.”

“Sluggish! why I thought he was too much the reverse, Bunting?  I thought he was one rather requiring the bridle than the spur.”

“Augh! your honour, he’s slow when he should not, and fast when he should not; changes his mind from pure whim, or pure spite; new to the world, your honour, that’s all; a different thing if properly broke.  There be a many like him!”

“You mean to be personal, Mr. Bunting,” said Walter, laughing at the evident ill-humour of his attendant.

“Augh! indeed and no! ­I daren’t ­a poor man like me ­go for to presume to be parsonal, ­unless I get hold of a poorer!”

“Why, Bunting, you do not mean to say that you would be so ungenerous as to affront a man because he was poorer than you? ­fie!”

“Whaugh, your honour! and is not that the very reason why I’d affront him? surely it is not my betters I should affront; that would be ill bred, your honour, ­quite want of discipline.”

“But we owe it to our great Commander,” said Walter, “to love all men.”

“Augh!  Sir, that’s very good maxim, ­none better ­but shows ignorance of the world, Sir ­great!”

“Bunting, your way of thinking is quite disgraceful.  Do you know, Sir, that it is the Bible you were speaking of?”

“Augh, Sir! but the Bible was addressed to them Jew creturs!  How somever, it’s an excellent book for the poor; keeps ’em in order, favours discipline, ­none more so.”  “Hold your tongue.  I called you, Bunting, because I think I heard you say you had once been at York.  Do you know what towns we shall pass on our road thither?”

“Not I, your honour; it’s a mighty long way. ­What would the Squire think? ­just at Lunnon, too.  Could have learnt the whole road, Sir, inns all, if you had but gone on to Lunnon first.  Howsomever, young gentlemen will be hasty, ­no confidence in those older, and who are experienced in the world.  I knows what I knows,” and the Corporal recommenced his whistle.

“Why, Bunting, you seem quite discontented at my change of journey.  Are you tired of riding, or were you very eager to get to town?”

“Augh!  Sir; I was only thinking of what best for your honour, ­I! ­’tis not for me to like or dislike.  Howsomever, the horses, poor creturs, must want rest for some days.  Them dumb animals can’t go on for ever, bumpety, bumpety, as your honour and I do. ­Whaugh!” “It is very true, Bunting, and I have had some thoughts of sending you home again with the horses, and travelling post.”

“Eh!” grunted the Corporal, opening his eyes; “hopes your honour ben’t serious.”

“Why if you continue to look so serious, I must be serious too; you understand, Bunting?”

“Augh ­and that’s all, your honour,” cried the Corporal, brightening up, “shall look merry enough to-morrow, when one’s in, as it were, like, to the change of road.  But you see, Sir, it took me by surprise.  Said I to myself, says I, it is an odd thing for you, Jacob Bunting, on the faith of a man, it is! to go tramp here, tramp there, without knowing why or wherefore, as if you was still a private in the Forty-second, ’stead of a retired Corporal.  You see, your honour, my pride was a hurt; but it’s all over now; ­only spites those beneath me, ­I knows the world at my time o’ life.”

“Well, Bunting, when you learn the reason of my change of plan, you’ll be perfectly satisfied that I do quite right.  In a word, you know that my father has been long missing; I have found a clue by which I yet hope to trace him.  This is the reason of my journey to Yorkshire.”

“Augh!” said the Corporal, “and a very good reason:  you’re a most excellent son, Sir; ­and Lunnon so nigh!”

“The thought of London seems to have bewitched you; did you expect to find the streets of gold since you were there last?”

“A ­well Sir; I hears they be greatly improved.”

“Pshaw! you talk of knowing the world, Bunting, and yet you pant to enter it with all the inexperience of a boy.  Why even I could set you an example.”

“’Tis ’cause I knows the world,” said the Corporal, exceedingly nettled, “that I wants to get back to it.  I have heard of some spoonies as never kist a girl, but never heard of any one who had kist a girl once, that did not long to be at it again.”

“And I suppose, Mr. Profligate, it is that longing which makes you so hot for London?”

“There have been worse longings nor that,” quoth the Corporal gravely.

“Perhaps you meditate marrying one of the London belles; an heiress ­eh?”

“Can’t but say,” said the Corporal very solemnly, “but that might be ’ticed to marry a fortin, if so be she was young, pretty, good-tempered, and fell desperately in love with me, ­best quality of all.”

“You’re a modest fellow.”

“Why, the longer a man lives, the more knows his value; would not sell myself a bargain now, whatever might at twenty-one!”

“At that rate you would be beyond all price at seventy,” said Walter:  “but now tell me, Bunting, were you ever in love, ­really and honestly in love?”

“Indeed, your honour,” said the Corporal, “I have been over head and ears; but that was afore I learnt to swim.  Love’s very like bathing.  At first we go souse to the bottom, but if we’re not drowned, then we gather pluck, grow calm, strike out gently, and make a deal pleasanter thing of it afore we’ve done.  I’ll tell you, Sir, what I thinks of love:  ’twixt you and me, Sir, ’tis not that great thing in life, boys and girls want to make it out to be; if ’twere one’s dinner, that would be summut, for one can’t do without that; but lauk, Sir, Love’s all in the fancy.  One does not eat it, nor drink it; and as for the rest, ­why it’s bother!”

“Bunting, you’re a beast,” said Walter in a rage, for though the Corporal had come off with a slight rebuke for his sneer at religion, we grieve to say that an attack on the sacredness of love seemed a crime beyond all toleration to the theologian of twenty-one.

The Corporal bowed, and thrust his tongue in his cheek.

There was a pause of some moments.

“And what,” said Walter, for his spirits were raised, and he liked recurring to the quaint shrewdness of the Corporal, “and what, after all, is the great charm of the world, that you so much wish to return to it?”

“Augh!” replied the Corporal, “’tis a pleasant thing to look about un with all one’s eyes open; rogue here, rogue there ­keeps one alive; ­life in Lunnon, life in a village ­all the difference ’twixt healthy walk, and a doze in arm-chair; by the faith of a man, ’tis!”

“What! it is pleasant to have rascals about one?”

“Surely yes,” returned the Corporal drily; “what so delightful like as to feel one’s cliverness and ’bility all set an end ­bristling up like a porkypine; nothing makes a man tread so light, feel so proud, breathe so briskly, as the knowledge that he’s all his wits about him, that he’s a match for any one, that the Divil himself could not take him in.  Augh! that’s what I calls the use of an immortal soul ­bother!”

Walter laughed.

“And to feel one is likely to be cheated is the pleasantest way of passing one’s time in town, Bunting, eh?”

“Augh! and in cheating too!” answered the Corporal; “’cause you sees, Sir, there be two ways o’ living; one to cheat, ­one to be cheated.  ’Tis pleasant enough to be cheated for a little while, as the younkers are, and as you’ll be, your honour; but that’s a pleasure don’t last long ­t’other lasts all your life; dare say your honour’s often heard rich gentlemen say to their sons, ‘you ought, for your own happiness’ sake, like, my lad, to have summut to do ­ought to have some profession, be you niver so rich,’ ­very true, your honour, and what does that mean? why it means that ’stead of being idle and cheated, the boy ought to be busy and cheat ­augh!”

“Must a man who follows a profession, necessarily cheat, then?”

“Baugh! can your honour ask that?  Does not the Lawyer cheat? and the Doctor cheat? and the Parson cheat, more than any? and that’s the reason they all takes so much int’rest in their profession ­bother!”

“But the soldier? you say nothing of him.”

“Why, the soldier,” said the Corporal, with dignity, “the private soldier, poor fellow, is only cheated; but when he comes for to get for to be as high as a corp’ral, or a sargent, he comes for to get to bully others, and to cheat.  Augh! then ’tis not for the privates to cheat, ­that would be ’sumpton indeed, save us!”

“The General, then, cheats more than any, I suppose?”

“’Course, your honour; he talks to the world ‘bout honour an’ glory, and love of his Country, and sich like ­augh! that’s proper cheating!”

“You’re a bitter fellow, Mr. Bunting:  and pray, what do you think of the Ladies ­’are they as bad as the men?’”

“Ladies ­augh! when they’re married ­yes! but of all them ere creturs, I respects the kept Ladies, the most ­on the faith of a man, I do!  Gad! how well they knows the world ­one quite invies the she rogues; they beats the wives hollow!  Augh! and your honour should see how they fawns and flatters, and butters up a man, and makes him think they loves him like winkey, all the time they ruins him.  They kisses money out of the miser, and sits in their satins, while the wife, ’drot her, sulks in a gingham.  Oh, they be cliver creturs, and they’ll do what they likes with old Nick, when they gets there, for ’tis the old gentlemen they cozens the best; and then,” continued the Corporal, waxing more and more loquacious, for his appetite in talking grew with that it fed on, ­“then there be another set o’ queer folks you’ll see in Lunnon, Sir, that is, if you falls in with ’em, ­hang all together, quite in a clink.  I seed lots on ’em when lived with the Colonel ­Colonel Dysart, you knows ­augh?”

“And what are they?”

“Rum ones, your honour; what they calls Authors.”

“Authors! what the deuce had you or the Colonel to do with Authors?”

“Augh! then, the Colonel was a very fine gentleman, what the larned calls a my-seen-ass, wrote little songs himself, ’crossticks, you knows, your honour:  once he made a play ­’cause why, he lived with an actress!”

“A very good reason, indeed, for emulating Shakespear; and did the play succeed?”

“Fancy it did, your honour; for the Colonel was a dab with the scissors.”

“Scissors! the pen, you mean?”

“No! that’s what the dirty Authors make plays with; a Lord and a Colonel, my-seen-asses, always takes the scissors.”

“How?”

“Why the Colonel’s Lady ­had lots of plays ­and she marked a scene here ­a jest there ­a line in one place ­a sentiment in t’ other ­and the Colonel sate by with a great paper book ­cut ’em out, pasted them in book.  Augh! but the Colonel pleased the town mightily.”

“Well, so he saw a great many authors; and did not they please you?”

“Why they be so damned quarrelsome,” said the Corporal, “wringle, wrangle, wrongle, snap, growl, scratch; that’s not what a man of the world does; man of the world niver quarrels; then, too, these creturs always fancy you forgets that their father was a clargyman; they always thinks more of their family, like, than their writings; and if they does not get money when they wants it, they bristles up and cries, ’not treated like a gentleman, by God!’ Yet, after all, they’ve a deal of kindness in ’em, if you knows how to manage ’em ­augh! but, cat-kindness, paw today, claw to-morrow.  And then they always marries young, the poor things, and have a power of children, and live on the fame and forten they are to get one of these days; for, my eye! they be the most sanguinest folks alive!”

“Why, Bunting, what an observer you have been! who could ever have imagined that you had made yourself master of so many varieties in men!”

“Augh! your honour, I had nothing to do when I was the Colonel’s valley, but to take notes to ladies and make use of my eyes.  Always a ’flective man.”

“It is odd that, with all your abilities, you did not provide better for yourself.”

“’Twas not my fault,” said the Corporal, quickly; “but somehow, do what will ­’tis not always the cliverest as foresees the best.  But I be young yet, your honour!”

Walter stared at the Corporal and laughed outright:  the Corporal was exceedingly piqued.

“Augh! mayhap you thinks, Sir, that ’cause not so young as you, not young at all; but, what’s forty, or fifty, or fifty-five, in public life? never hear much of men afore then.  ’Tis the autumn that reaps, spring sows, augh! ­bother!”

“Very true and very poetical.  I see you did not live among authors for nothing.”

“I knows summut of language, your honour,” quoth the Corporal pedantically.

“It is evident.”

“For, to be a man of the world, Sir, must know all the ins and outs of speechifying; ’tis words, Sir, that makes another man’s mare go your road.  Augh! that must have been a cliver man as invented language; wonders who ’twas ­mayhap Moses, your honour?”

“Never mind who it was,” said Walter gravely; “use the gift discreetly.”

“Umph!” said the Corporal ­“yes, your honour,” renewed he after a pause.  “It be a marvel to think on how much a man does in the way of cheating, as has the gift of the gab.  Wants a Missis, talks her over ­wants your purse, talks you out on it ­wants a place, talks himself into it. ­What makes the Parson? words! ­the lawyer? words ­the Parliament-man? words! ­words can ruin a country, in the Big House ­words save souls, in the Pulpits ­words make even them ere authors, poor creturs, in every man’s mouth. ­Augh!  Sir, take note of the words, and the things will take care of themselves ­bother!”

“Your reflections amaze me, Bunting,” said Walter smiling; “but the night begins to close in; I trust we shall not meet with any misadventure.”

“’Tis an ugsome bit of road!” said the Corporal, looking round him.

“The pistols?”

“Primed and loaded, your honour.”

“After all, Bunting, a little skirmish would be no bad sport ­eh? ­especially to an old soldier like you.”

“Augh, baugh! ’tis no pleasant work, fighting, without pay, at least; ’tis not like love and eating, your honour, the better for being, what they calls, ‘gratis!’”

“Yet I have heard you talk of the pleasure of fighting; not for pay, Bunting, but for your King and Country!”

“Augh! and that’s when I wanted to cheat the poor creturs at Grassdale, your honour; don’t take the liberty to talk stuff to my master!”

They continued thus to beguile the way, till Walter again sank into a reverie, while the Corporal, who began more and more to dislike the aspect of the ground they had entered on, still rode by his side.

The road was heavy, and wound down the long hill which had stricken so much dismay into the Corporal’s stout heart on the previous day, when he had beheld its commencement at the extremity of the town, where but for him they had not dined.  They were now little more than a mile from the said town, the whole of the way was taken up by this hill, and the road, very different from the smoothened declivities of the present day, seemed to have been cut down the very steepest part of its centre; loose stones, and deep ruts encreased the difficulty of the descent, and it was with a slow pace and a guarded rein that both our travellers now continued their journey.  On the left side of the road was a thick and lofty hedge; to the right, a wild, bare, savage heath, sloped downward, and just afforded a glimpse of the spires and chimneys of the town, at which the Corporal was already supping in idea!  That incomparable personage was, however, abruptly recalled to the present instant, by a most violent stumble on the part of his hard-mouthed, Romannosed horse.  The horse was all but down, and the Corporal all but over.

“Damn it,” said the Corporal, slowly recovering his perpendicularity, “and the way to Lunnon was as smooth as a bowling-green!”

Ere this rueful exclamation was well out of the Corporal’s mouth, a bullet whizzed past him from the hedge; it went so close to his ear, that but for that lucky stumble, Jacob Bunting had been as the grass of the field, which flourisheth one moment and is cut down the next!

Startled by the sound, the Corporal’s horse made off full tear down the hill, and carried him several paces beyond his master, ere he had power to stop its career.  But Walter reining up his better managed steed, looked round for the enemy, nor looked in vain.

Three men started from the hedge with a simultaneous shout.  Walter fired, but without effect; ere he could lay hand on the second pistol, his bridle was seized, and a violent blow from a long double-handed bludgeon, brought him to the ground.