The June of 18-- had been glorious and sunny, and full of flowers; but July came in with pouring rain, and it was a gloomy time for travellers and for weather-bound tourists, who lounged away the days in touching up sketches, dressing flies, and reading over again, for the twentieth time, the few volumes they had brought with them. A number of the Times, five days old, had been in constant demand in all the sitting-rooms of a certain inn in a little mountain village of North Wales, through a long July morning. The valleys around were filled with thick, cold mist, which had crept up the hillsides till the hamlet itself was folded in its white, dense curtain, and from the inn-windows nothing was seen of the beautiful scenery around. The tourists who thronged the rooms might as well have been "wi' their dear little bairnies at hame;" and so some of them seemed to think, as they stood, with their faces flattened against the windowpanes, looking abroad in search of an event to fill up the dreary time. How many dinners were hastened that day, by way of getting through the morning, let the poor Welsh kitchen-maid say! The very village children kept indoors; or, if one or two more adventurous stole out into the land of temptation and puddles, they were soon clutched back by angry and busy mothers.
It was only four o'clock, but most of the inmates of the inn thought it must be between six and seven, the morning had seemed so long--so many hours had passed since dinner--when a Welsh car, drawn by two horses, rattled briskly up to the door. Every window of the ark was crowded with faces at the sound; the leathern curtains were undrawn to their curious eyes, and out sprang a gentleman, who carefully assisted a well-cloaked-up lady into the little inn, despite the landlady's assurances of not having a room to spare.
The gentleman (it was Mr. Bellingham) paid no attention to the speeches of the hostess, but quietly superintended the unpacking of the carriage, and paid the postillion; then, turning round, with his face to the light, he spoke to the landlady, whose voice had been rising during the last five minutes--
"Nay, Jenny, you're strangely altered, if you can turn out an old friend on such an evening as this. If I remember right, Pen tre Voelas is twenty miles across the bleakest mountain-road I ever saw."
"Indeed, sir, and I did not know you; Mr. Bellingham, I believe. Indeed, sir, Pen tre Voelas is not above eighteen miles--we only charge for eighteen; it may not be much above seventeen,--and we're quite full, indeed, more's the pity."
"Well, but, Jenny, to oblige me, an old friend, you can find lodgings out for some of your people--that house across, for instance."
"Indeed, sir, and it's at liberty; perhaps you would not mind lodging there yourself. I could get you the best rooms, and send over a trifle or so of furniture, if they weren't as you'd wish them to be."