THE HOLLY-TREE--THREE BRANCHES
I have kept one secret in the course of my life. I am a bashful
man. Nobody would suppose it, nobody ever does suppose it, nobody
ever did suppose it, but I am naturally a bashful man. This is the
secret which I have never breathed until now.
I might greatly move the reader by some account of the innumerable
places I have not been to, the innumerable people I have not called
upon or received, the innumerable social evasions I have been guilty
of, solely because I am by original constitution and character a
bashful man. But I will leave the reader unmoved, and proceed with
the object before me.
That object is to give a plain account of my travels and discoveries
in the Holly-Tree Inn; in which place of good entertainment for man
and beast I was once snowed up.
It happened in the memorable year when I parted for ever from Angela
Leath, whom I was shortly to have married, on making the discovery
that she preferred my bosom friend. From our school-days I had
freely admitted Edwin, in my own mind, to be far superior to myself;
and, though I was grievously wounded at heart, I felt the preference