Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker


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Page 2

"I am glad, my boy. Another link between us."

"Just fancy what a delight it will be, sir, to see so much of England--and
with you!"

"Thank you again, my boy. I will tell you all about your future home and
its surroundings as we go. We shall travel in old-fashioned state, I
tell you. My grandfather always drove four-in-hand; and so shall we."

"Oh, thanks, sir, thanks. May I take the ribbons sometimes?"

"Whenever you choose, Adam. The team is your own. Every horse we use to-
day is to be your own."

"You are too generous, uncle!"

"Not at all. Only an old man's selfish pleasure. It is not every day
that an heir to the old home comes back. And--oh, by the way . . . No,
we had better turn in now--I shall tell you the rest in the morning."


Mr. Salton had all his life been an early riser, and necessarily an early
waker. But early as he woke on the next morning--and although there was
an excuse for not prolonging sleep in the constant whirr and rattle of
the "donkey" engine winches of the great ship--he met the eyes of Adam
fixed on him from his berth. His grand-nephew had given him the sofa,
occupying the lower berth himself. The old man, despite his great
strength and normal activity, was somewhat tired by his long journey of
the day before, and the prolonged and exciting interview which followed
it. So he was glad to lie still and rest his body, whilst his mind was
actively exercised in taking in all he could of his strange surroundings.
Adam, too, after the pastoral habit to which he had been bred, woke with
the dawn, and was ready to enter on the experiences of the new day
whenever it might suit his elder companion. It was little wonder, then,
that, so soon as each realised the other's readiness, they simultaneously
jumped up and began to dress. The steward had by previous instructions
early breakfast prepared, and it was not long before they went down the
gangway on shore in search of the carriage.

They found Mr. Salton's bailiff looking out for them on the dock, and he
brought them at once to where the carriage was waiting in the street.
Richard Salton pointed out with pride to his young companion the
suitability of the vehicle for every need of travel. To it were
harnessed four useful horses, with a postillion to each pair.

"See," said the old man proudly, "how it has all the luxuries of useful
travel--silence and isolation as well as speed. There is nothing to
obstruct the view of those travelling and no one to overhear what they
may say. I have used that trap for a quarter of a century, and I never
saw one more suitable for travel. You shall test it shortly. We are
going to drive through the heart of England; and as we go I'll tell you
what I was speaking of last night. Our route is to be by Salisbury,
Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham, Worcester, Stafford; and so home."

Adam remained silent a few minutes, during which he seemed all eyes, for
he perpetually ranged the whole circle of the horizon.

"Has our journey to-day, sir," he asked, "any special relation to what
you said last night that you wanted to tell me?"

"Not directly; but indirectly, everything."

"Won't you tell me now--I see we cannot be overheard--and if anything
strikes you as we go along, just run it in. I shall understand."

So old Salton spoke:

"To begin at the beginning, Adam. That lecture of yours on 'The Romans
in Britain,' a report of which you posted to me, set me thinking--in
addition to telling me your tastes. I wrote to you at once and asked you
to come home, for it struck me that if you were fond of historical
research--as seemed a fact--this was exactly the place for you, in
addition to its being the home of your own forbears. If you could learn
so much of the British Romans so far away in New South Wales, where there
cannot be even a tradition of them, what might you not make of the same
amount of study on the very spot. Where we are going is in the real
heart of the old kingdom of Mercia, where there are traces of all the
various nationalities which made up the conglomerate which became

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 15th Dec 2019, 21:15