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whiz, whizzing like a mill full of spinning-jennies in my own head.” “But you could see, ma'am P." “Yes, a bit of the back of a brown coat, for Brother Someody had plumped himself down right afore the keyhole — and that’s all as I know of the Fremason's Secret !”
“THE Secret! The Secret! The Secret!” The uproar is greater than ever ! That last disappointment — from the closet of the Dragon, has turned Curiosity and her vast brood into mere savages, fierce as Furies, ravenous as famished wolves, and so fearless, that were there a Tiger in the bag instead of a Cat, they would ask for it to be let out ! If I could only sell the thing in shares I should make my fortune. Already an official gentleman, who for obvious reasons must remain nameless, has bribed me, in a whisper, with the offer of a round sum of the public “Service Money,” called Secret. “The Secret! The Secret ! The Se—se—secret !” O, those dreadful gossips those terrible School Girls. Hark to Prospect House ! “Do tell us, do, do, do, do, do, there's a love, there's a duck, there's a darling, there's a dear creature; only the first syllable, only the first letter. Make a riddle of it, and let us guess it !” What a strange yet fearful sight ! A hundred thousand at the least of men and women, boys and girls, all agape, as if they were listening with their mouths; and five thousand deaf people, with their tubes, cornets, and trumpets, fighting, pushing, and elbowing like mad things to get in front. And all this striving to hear a word, a single word, not so long by an inch as “Honorificabilitudinitatibus,” a word, possibly, of only two syllables, perhaps only of one, and, maybe, not even that
“AND do you mean to say, sir,” bellows a burly, pompous personage, with the very tone and manner of an oracle in his own circle — one of those human omnibuses that are invariably “All right” by their own proclamation, whether full or empty, fast or slow, going up the road, or breaking down in it –“ do you really mean to say that the Freemasons have no Secret, sir — no private sign, sir — no symbolical rites, sir — no symbolical ceremonies, sir—of the highest significance?” “By no means. On the contrary, I propose, according to my promise in the first chapter, to tell all I know on the subject; and to that end am about to detail what I personally witnessed last Christmas.” “Very good, sir,” replies the Great Infallible, with that complacent air with which he bestows such patronage on a modest opinion when it coincides with his own, – “very good, sir — go on, sir.” “I shall premise, then, that the performance in question took place at a House about six miles from London,” “Ah — a Provincial Lodge. Well, sir — and the ceremony was a mystery to you, of course ?” “Quite. A perfect riddle.” “No doubt — as it must be, sir, to the uninitated.” “O, completely. However, as I said before, the meeting took place in the country — in a large room, handsomely decorated, and profusely lighted up — ” “Stop, sir! Did you observe any Candlesticks?” “Yes — several very massive ones, and apparently of silver.” “I thought so — very good. And some of the company wore purple scarves, and some had blue ones — and some were decorated with jewels P” “Certainly — and feathers.” “No doubt, sir — and now for the ceremonies. What came first, sir?” “A tall gentleman — in a cap and feathers, and a mantle; followed by several companions.” “Companions? — well, sir— what next?” “The tall gentleman knelt down, very humbly, before another gentleman, – I should say from his accent and physiognomy, a North Briton.” “Not a doubt of it. They’re reviving the Order of Chivalry in Edinborough. Pray how was he dressed, sir?” “I hardly remember, except that he looked much like a gentleman going to a masquerade.” “Any sword, sir?” “Yes, naked, in his right hand. He flourished it a great deal about the head of the kneeling gentleman, till I thought he was going to kill him, but, instead of decapitating him, he only gave him a smart blow with the flat of the blade on the shoulder.” “Precisely. I knew it.” “After that the tall gentleman got up, and one of his companions fixed a pair of riding spurs on his heels.” “I said so ; — a Knight Templar.” “The tall gentleman in the cap and feathers and mantle then retired with his companions, escorting the gentleman with the drawn sword, with as great ceremony as if he had been a Prince of Blood Royal.” “And so some of them were in old times. Go on, sir.” “After a few minutes the Scotch gentleman came in again, but in a different costume — a robe more like a figured dressing-gown, with a fur cape over his shoulders, and a gold chain over the cape. The tall man walked before him with a long sword, but sheathed ; and a shorter man walked behind, with something like a mace. There was a great deal of bowing and ceremony, and then the Scotch gentleman in the robes seated himself, like a judge, in a large elbow-chair. I suppose at least that he represented some kind of judge, for several persons were brought before him on some charge which, being rather deaf, I could not hear.” “For a breach of discipline, sir; something against the Rules of the Order.” “Perhaps so. However, by degrees, the whole party began to wrangle, and got to high words.” “What about, sir — what about?” “Heaven knows 1 for they all talked together, and made such a noise, that at last, by order of the great man in the chair, whatever he was, the whole of the disputants were put under arrest and forced out of the presence.”
“Yes! there has been some schism in the Chapters; but surely they would not expose themselves so before a stranger! Then you don't know, sir, what the quarrel was about, sir?”
“Not in the least. I only heard the gentleman in the robe, and fur tippet, and gold collar — ”
“The Grand Master, sir.”
“Well, I only heard him invite the rest of the gentlemen to some Banquet or Festival.”
“Where, sir — where?”
“I presume at the Promisional Priory. And then the chairman departed, with the same state and ceremony as at his entrance.”
“And that was the end, sir?”
“By no means. After a little while the Scotch gentleman —”
“The Knight, sir — the Knight Templar !”
“Well, the Knight Templar, or whatever he was, returned; but with a white cap on his head, and in a long white garment, like a night-gown.”
“A surplice, sir — a surplice. First, a Knight and then a Priest, to represent the Church Militant.”
“I do not know, sir, whether he was a clergyman or not. At least he did not preach: though he knelt down and seemed to say his prayers, after which he snuffed all the candles in the room, and then lay down on the floor, with only a cushion under his head, and apparently went to sleep.”
“Like a Crusader in Palestine. — Good! capitall very symbolical, indeed! Very ! — Well, sir, the Knight went to sleep?”
“Or, at least, made believe; and snored louder than any gentleman I ever heard. But he had hardly slumbered five minutes, when the door suddenly burst open, and in rushed a dozen men, dressed up like savages, and with their faces blacked, as if to represent devils.”
“Moors, sir, Moors — Excellent! — An irruption of the Saracens !” * *
“Why, they certainly looked more like Pagans than Christians; and more like wild Indians, or hobgoblins, than either. And then to see how they danced round the sleeping man; brandishing shovels, tongs, pokers, swords, guns, clubs, bows and arrows, and all sorts of strange weapons; whilst one of the figures straddled across the poor gentleman on the floor, and finally sat down on his body, compressing his chest and stomach till he groaned again l’’ “Beautiful! famous ! And now, sir, having been present —lord knows how — at a Grand Conclave of the Knight Templars, will you presume, sir—to say, sir — that Free Masonry has no Secrets, sir— no significant rites, sir— no signs, sir— no symbols, no mystical word, sir?” “Excuse me. All I mean to say is, that, in my decided opinion, the Ceremony just described was only — ” “What, sir; pray what?” “An ACTED CHARADE, sir; and that the Grand Secret, the mystical word, expressed by symbols, was simply KnightMay’r 1"
“Read! it's very easy to say read.” — THE BURGOMASTER.
“Hoy | – Cotch | – Co-ach | – Coachy | – Coachee — hullo 1 — hulloo ! — woh !—wo-hoay ! — wough-hoaeiouy l’’ — for the last cry was a waterman's, and went all through the vowels.
The Portsmouth Rocket pulled up, and a middle-aged, domestic-looking woman, just handsome enough for a plain cook at an ordinary, was deposited on the dickey ; two trunks, three bandboxes, a bundle, and a hand-basket, were stowed in the hind boot. “This is where I’m to go to,” she said to the guard, putting into his hand a slip of paper. The guard took the paper, looked hard at it, right side upwards, then upside down, and then he looked at the back; he in the mean time seemed to examine the consistency of the fabric between his finger and thumb; he approached it to his nose as if to smell out its meaning; I even thought that he was going to try the sense of it by tasting, when, by a sudden jerk, he gave the label with its direction to the winds, and snatching up his key-bugle began to play “O where, and O where,” with all his breath.