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cried the monks, "whom have we got for a guide?"—" A guide in truth," said Mephibosheth, "not a guide over mountain and moor, but a guide that will make the crooked straight, and cause that your feet stumble not on the dark mountains:—I am one that am raised up to testify against an idolatrous generation; I am as one appointed to remove the high places, and to cut down the groves, and to break in pieces the brazen serpent, and call it Nehushtan. At the voice of my crying, Bel shall bow down, Nebo shall stoop, and men shall cast the idols of silver and the idols of gold, which they made to worship, to the moles and to the bats."
Here the monks crossed themselves in horror, and Mephibosheth, who had an excellent memory, took advantage of their silence to repeat the forty-fourth chapter of Isaiah from beginning to end, without missing a word by the way. This gave them time to recover from their amazement, and the first use they made of their hands, after they had recovered from their uplifted position, Was to seize on the deacon, whom they held fast, without, however, being determined as to the mode m which they would express their gratitude for his exhortation. —" What means this, my masters?" cried Mephibosheth, vainly struggling with them; "why do ye lay hands on me; will ye rend my raiment;? will ye slay me?"—" Thou hast, indeed, spoken matters that should be answered with thy life," said one of the monks. "By the faith of my order!" said the other, " he is either an incarnate fiend, or ah heretic, aridlti either case must be dealt with: if the one, by a cunning exorcist; if the other, by those means which the legate well handled in his Sermo de hcereticis combiirendis."—,"And is this my guerdon for your safe guidance?" quoth the unfortunate deacon; "am I thus quitted for leading you by the right path where your footsteps slipt not?"-:" Marry art thou," said Rusbriquis, Who was assisting to tie his hands, "and it is but doing reason and fair quittance withal. Thou hast been their guide in carnal things, and they will be thy guides in things spiritual; so follow, Sir Catechumen, with what stomach you may, for yonder are the towers of the abbey of Normoutier;" and the travellers indeed drew near that stately pile of which the monks were inmates.—" Stomach!" murmured the deacon internally, "alas! I have followed my stomach but too far!—Ah, Mephibosheth, Mephibosheth, thy god hath been thy belly, and a devil of, a god he is likely to prove; better hadst thou fared gnawing a fragment of goat's-milk cheese, though it were hard enough to split thy teeth in splinters, and quaffing whey, though sourer than all vinegar, than to have gone after their feast of fat things, and desired their dainty meats. Oh! for a mess of pottage and a draught of water as it were in safety, or perchance a savoury quarter of a kid of the goats, or peradventure, portion of a stalled ox, or store of feathered fowls! The Lord rebuke that prating, vapouring gallant, with his apocryphal conger and legendary venison, thus to send me a whoring after the flesh-pots of Egypt, when I might have fed on manna in the wilderness!—Behold now I am brought into captivity, and led unto the death."
They were now at the gate, on which they smote with their riding rods, and, to the enquiry of the porter, " Who knocked so late?" replied, "Open quickly, for we are brothers Austin and Hilary, with the traveller the famous Rusbriquis, and a prisoner, of whom we know not well whether he be heretic or only devil incarnate."—" If he be heretic," quoth the porter, whose voice announced him very drunk—" if he be heretic, I will not undraw a bolt for him—marry if he be devil, he is dearly welcome, for we have chosen an abbot of misrule, the revels are held in the chapter-room, and we lack a devil for the nonce."—" Truce with thy foolery," said the monk; " we bring thee wine from Beaucaire." No talisman could sooner have opened the doors of an enchanted palace in romance, than these few words did the gate of the abbey; and the monks, hurrying Rusbriquis and the deacon along with them through a cloister that ran round three sides of the outer court, flung open the doors of the spacious chapter-room, which the brotherhood, in that cold season, preferred as the scene of their revels to the vast refectory, where, erewhile, had feasted the band of the Crusaders. As the doors were flung open, a sight burst on the eyes of the astonished deacon that made him for a moment imagine himself a Daniel summoned to the idolatrous feast of Belshazzar.
In the absence of the Abbot of Normoutier the brotherhood had agreed to hold a species of revel, then not inadmissible within conventual walls, had elected their abbot of misrule, dispatched missives in search of lemans and costly wines; and the relaxed character of the abbot gave them little cause of fear that their frolic, however it might pass the bounds of decorum, would transgress the limits of his patience. The scene disclosed by the open