HORSES

AFTER a mile or so, the riders slackened speed, and kept an easy pace
thereafter till they were near the town. Two or three times they had
made a momentary halt to listen, but had heard nothing to indicate that
they were followed. Everell had frequently asked Georgiana how she did,
and she had declared, “Very well.” He now inquired whether she could
travel much farther without stopping to rest, and begged her to be
perfectly honest in her reply. She assured him she was equal to a dozen
miles, at least.

“Then it is a question,” said he, “whether we should stay a few hours at
the place we are coming to, or go on to the next town southward. I
conceive we have naught to fear from your uncle. As for Thornby, I know
not. He may desire that nothing of all this shall become known; on the
other hand, his wrath may outweigh his vanity. ’Tis not likely his men
would give chase so far without his commands. The clerk would certainly
go to consult him before ordering a long pursuit, and Thornby’s first
care would be to get himself liberated from the closet. No doubt all
depends on his state of feeling at that moment. Were Jeremiah Filson
still a factor in the case, I should count on pursuit. Men of that
persistent sort, having once set themselves a task, are not to be thrown
off, however slight be the gain or the motive. They know how to make
such as Thornby the servants of their wills. But without Filson’s egging
on, I doubt if Thornby or his clerk will give themselves much trouble
concerning us. Your uncle, I think, will find means to dissuade them. In
any case, we have a fair start, so that if you feel the least fatigue or
discomfort, sweet,—And yet, ’twould go hard to lose all, after coming
off so well hitherto. Certainly Thornby will be in a great fury:—to be
locked in his own closet, after being robbed of you and of his power
over your uncle! At first he will be for revenge at any cost. And who
knows but he may linger in that mind? He may make it a great matter,
inform the sheriff of the county, and raise a general hue and cry. ’Tis
a possibility we must reckon with. Our only security against it is a
long start at the outset. And yet you’ve already undergone too much
to-night. Perhaps two or three hours of rest—But, devil take it, Filson
has been at this town!—’twas here you warned me of him. No doubt he has
left accounts of me. I may be recognized if I show my face at any house.
But, if we pass through the town in this darkness—”

He was going on to consider the alternatives further, but Georgiana,
having waited in vain for a pause, now interrupted with the most
positive assertion that she would not think of stopping at the town they
were about to enter. So they walked their horses through such of its
narrow streets as lay in their route, and were soon upon the open road
again, having encountered no light nor other sign of life. They improved
their speed, and, having passed the spot where Everell had taken leave
of Roughwood a fortnight before,—though its location could not be
certified in the darkness,—arrived at another town of silent streets
wherein no lamp or candle relieved the night. By their own lantern, the
lovers were enabled to inspect the house-fronts, and to select what
appeared to be the chief inn of the place. After much imperative calling
for the landlord, Everell was answered by a half-dressed man, of whom he
demanded accommodations in the tone of authority that had imposed upon
the servants at Thornby Hall. Here, as there, it availed, and, as soon
as the travellers were admitted, Everell curtly explained that the lady
had met with an accident; he added, carelessly, that they had come from
the South.

The half-dressed man proving to be the landlord, Everell bespoke a
chaise and fresh horses for an early hour in the morning; and, as there
was only one sleeping-room available, saw Georgiana conducted thereto;
after which he made his own bed, with the aid of his cloak, on a settle
in the bar-parlour. He passed the night in a half-sleep, ready to take
alarm at any sound of later arrivals. In the morning, when the time set
for departure was near, he summoned a maid and was about to send her to
Georgiana, when that lady herself appeared on the stairs. She was quite
ready to travel, having interviewed the innkeeper’s wife, and acquired a
hat, a mantle, and some other articles, all in a fair state of
preservation, in exchange for one of her rings.

Everell complimented her upon this timely regard for appearances while
travelling by daylight, and declared that no other woman in England
could look as well in the costliest finery as Georgiana did in the
second-hand wardrobe of a country landlady. Georgiana was pleased at
this; but not entirely so, until he added that she should supply herself
in better accordance with her own taste at the first opportunity. He
then handed her into the chaise, entrusted to the landlord the
despatching of the horses and pistols to Foxwell, and gave directions to
the postilion. Hearing these, the innkeeper was much puzzled, for
Everell had designedly given him the impression that the journey of the
couple was Northward. Ere he could scratch a probable solution of the
problem into his head, the chaise was rattling away.

The freshness of the morning had its effect upon the lovers at first;
but Everell soon perceived that Georgiana was pale and languid. He urged
her to try to sleep, and offered his shoulder as a pillow. She, on her
side, observed that his voice was quite hoarse, and insisted upon
arranging his cloak so that he, too, could rest. Presently, in spite of
herself, her eyes closed. He pillowed her head as he had suggested, and
softly kissed her hair. The next fact of which he was distinctly
conscious was that the chaise had stopped before a roadside inn, and the
postilion was telling him that here was a good place at which to
breakfast. Glad to find, on inquiry, how many hours and miles they had
got rid of in sleep, Everell awakened Georgiana, and they were regaled
with bread, cheese, and fried bacon. They were now quite cured of
fatigue, though Everell’s hoarseness was increased.

The journey was resumed. A few towns and many villages were left behind.
Finally, at the end of a stage, Everell thought the time of changing
horses might safely be utilized in visiting some shops near the
posting-inn. When the travellers returned with their purchases, their
new conveyance was ready. They set out immediately, putting off dinner
to the late afternoon rather than make a longer stop at present. As they
drove out of the yard into the street, Georgiana uttered a quick “Oh!”
and drew back from the chaise window, at the same time laying her hand
on Everell’s breast to make him do likewise.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“The man on horseback,” she replied; “don’t look out! ’Tis Jeremiah
Filson!”

“Impossible! I left him as good as dead. You are mistaken, sweet. How
could you know him?—you have scarcely seen him.”

“I saw him well enough at Thornby Hall last night; and this I am certain
was he. He was riding up the street; there was another horseman with
him. He looked tired, and the horses seemed fagged. ’Twas he, I could
swear,—the same clothes.”

“Then the dog must have feigned, last night, to save himself from a
_coup de grace_. Did he see us, I wonder?”

“He didn’t appear to. He was looking at the houses, I thought.”

“Looking for the inn, probably. Well, if he stops there, he will inquire
for us. If not, he is close behind us. In either case, he is on our
track. Thank heaven, we are almost out of the town.”—The new postilion,
as soon as the chaise was safe in the street, had whipped up his horses
to a gallop, in order to make the showy start affected by artists in his
craft.—“Filson’s experience last night has given him a respect for my
sword,” Everell went on; “he will not dare come within reach of it
himself. I at least pinked his other ear, as I promised to. He will now
act with caution; will attempt to hunt me down without showing himself,
and, if he finds me tarrying anywhere, will apply to the local
authorities. He will be no less dangerous for proceeding in that way—he
will be the more so, rather. We shall not dare stop long anywhere. We
had best take our meals at solitary country inns, where he cannot come
up unperceived, nor set the authorities upon me without time and
trouble. We must travel night and day till we are safe: to sleep at an
inn would give him his opportunity. I see ’tis possible for you to sleep
as we go. So then, barring accident, we shall doubtless keep our lead to
the end, if he hangs on so far.”

“But if we are delayed at the posting-houses?” said Georgiana.
“Sometimes one cannot get horses immediately.”

“Ay, there is one danger,” Everell replied. “But we must gain such a
distance that we may lose time and yet be away before he can steal upon
us; or at least before he can bring officers about us. We must not tarry
long in a garrison town. Military officers would be too ready to act
upon information in such a case as mine. He cannot get the civil powers
to move so quickly. Well, we must keep our lead. In the country he will
not venture too close upon our heels. We are out of the town, at last. I
wonder if he stopped at that inn.”

Everell thrust his head out of the side window and looked back. Nobody
was following. He then called to the driver, and gave instructions in
regard to the pace of travel, hinting at the reward in store for
obedience. The lad was so compliant, the horses so fresh, that in due
time Everell thought a pause might be made for dinner without much risk
of their being overtaken. At the next suitable house of refreshment he
ordered a halt, somewhat to the disapproval of the postilion, who would
have preferred to stop at an inn of his own suggesting. Everell chose
this, however, because it had as neighbours only two or three brick
houses and a half-dozen thatched cottages, all looking drowsy behind
ragged hedges, while its chief window commanded a view of the road over
which the fugitives had come.

They caused a table to be placed at the window, and there, on a soiled
cloth, were served with boiled eggs, cold bacon, and bread, by the
frowsy woman who had taken the order, set the table, and done the
cooking. But the eggs were fresh, and the bacon good, so that little was
left on the table when the travellers rose from it. The postilion had
evidently found the ale, bread, and cheese better than he had expected;
and the horses apparently had nothing to complain of in their
refreshment. At all events, the journey was resumed in good spirits,
and, as no sign of Filson had appeared upon the stretch of road in
sight, the lovers began to feel more secure. Georgiana now recalled
Filson’s jaded appearance. Perhaps, as on a former occasion, he had
yielded to the dictates of tired nature: perhaps he had thrown over the
pursuit, and was merely bound for London. As for the horseman with him,
that might have been a postboy or a casual fellow traveller. While their
own chaise went rolling along at good speed, the lovers felt hope
increase within them. Nevertheless, they were still determined to go on
by night.

Dusk had risen—or, rather, fallen, to be accurate in spite of the
poets—when they arrived at the place where they would have to obtain the
horses and vehicle for their night journey. It was a small town, with a
High Street enlivened by the humbler inhabitants strolling up and down
in the light from the shop windows. A lamp hung over the entrance to the
principal inn. As soon as the chaise was in the yard, Everell called for
a fresh conveyance.

The landlord was very sorry, but there were no horses. How soon would
there be any? Certainly not that night: he wouldn’t send out tired
cattle, not for love or money. Would there be a stage-coach, or even a
carrier’s wagon? Not before morning. Everell turned to the postilion,
who was now busy with his own fagged horses. No, sir; this was as far as
he dared go: he knew his orders; his cattle were done for, and _he_ was
done for, and he wouldn’t let his beasts go another mile, not for love
or money or the King himself.

“Mind how you speak of the King, booby,” a voice broke in, pertly; and
Everell, looking around, saw three or four trim young fellows at the
taproom door, all in red coats.

“Soldiers in town?” said Everell to the landlord.

“Yes, your Honour; two companies waiting orders. You’d ’a’ had the
pleasure of meeting the officers at dinner if you’d come a little
sooner, but now they be all gone to a ball at a gentleman’s house in the
neighbourhood. Most of them lodge here; but I have a very good room
left, at your Honour’s service.”

“I don’t want a room. I want horses. Where can I get them? Is there no
other place in the town?”

The landlord shook his head sadly; but one of the soldiers said:
“There’s a house across the way, sir,—the Red Swan. I’m not sure you can
get horses there, but ’tis there or nowhere if this house can’t supply
them.”

Everell thanked the man, pressed a shilling into his hand, settled with
his own postilion, and had his luggage carried before himself and
Georgiana to the Red Swan. This was a smaller house than the one they
had left. It had no driveway through the middle; the entrance to the
yard was by a side lane. The travellers, entering by the front door,
found a corridor leading to the bar—and to the landlady. Could one hire
horses and some sort of light vehicle? Yes, to be sure; but not that
night: all the horses and carriages in the town were taking people to
the ball a few miles out. Everell looked blankly at Georgiana. The
landlady could offer his Honour the best rooms in the house. On the
morrow there would be horses a-plenty. They would be returning from the
ball by midnight.

“Ah, then, if we wait till midnight, we may have the first horses that
come in?” said Everell.

The landlady was not sure. She would have to ask John, who was now
driving to the ball. When he returned with his horses, he might be
willing; the cattle would be fresh enough, but John might not be. At
this, Everell spoke so eloquently, despite his hoarseness, of rewards
and of his confidence in the landlady’s ability to influence John if she
would, and Georgiana supported him with such sweetly anxious looks, that
the good woman thought she could almost certainly promise a conveyance
and John’s attendance at midnight or thereabouts. As for the intervening
time, it was decided that Georgiana should lie down dressed, while
Everell should remain on the alert. He saw her to the door of a room at
the head of the stairs, and returned to caution the landlady against
acknowledging their presence to possible inquirers. He relied on the
woman’s good-will and evident belief that they were an eloping pair
fearful only of parental discovery. He then went by a rear door to
stretch his legs in the inn yard, which he thought to find deserted.

The yard was for the most part in darkness, its only light being that of
a lantern hung against the gate-post. To Everell’s surprise, a pair of
horses attached to a post-chaise were feeding under the care of a small
boy. Everell was promptly inquisitive, but the undersized hostler had no
gift of communication, and could say no more than that the chaise had
arrived awhile ago and would be going on pretty soon. Everell returned
to the landlady.

“Oh, ay,” she said, in reply to his remark about the horses. “They
belong to a gentleman with a toothache, who stops only long enough for
supper.”

“You didn’t mention him before.”

“Why, sir, from his coming to this house instead of t’other, and from
his ordering a private room to sup in, I took it he’d rather nothing was
said of his being here. But, come to think of it, he might want to keep
out of sight because of his face being swollen up—’tis all tied round
with a yankerchief. Yet that wouldn’t account for his having his
postilion eat in the same room with him, would it, sir? It looks as how
he was afeard the man would say too much if let eat in the kitching.
Well, I hope as I’ve done him no harm by what I’ve told your Honour.”

“Not in the least. I wish I had his horses. I would even accept his
toothache, if I could have the horses with it.”

He entered the small public parlour, and dropped into a chair at the
head of the long table. He had the room to himself, and could flee to
the darkness of the yard if anybody intruded. Leaning forward with his
elbows on the table, he lapsed into a drowsy state which seemed, in the
circumstances, the state best calculated to cheat the time. He had
remained therein for more than half an hour, when his ears, on the
alert, informed him of a soft step outside the room. He rose, and beheld
Georgiana in the half-open doorway. Finger on lip, she approached and
whispered:

“I have seen him. I think he knows we are here.”

“Who?” asked Everell.

“Filson. I happened to look out of my window—”

“Impossible! He couldn’t have followed so close.”

“He must have gained upon us toward nightfall, and arrived at the inn
across the way a little while ago. I happened to glance out of my window
just now—not putting my head out, but looking through the glass—and I
saw four men standing under the lamp before that inn—the lamp over the
entrance. Three of them were the soldiers we saw in the yard. The other
was Filson. He was talking with the soldiers, and he and they were
looking at this house. I am sure they were telling him we had come
here.”

“Did they see you?”

“I think not. They weren’t looking at my window when I first saw them,
and after that I watched from behind the curtain.”

“Well, then, he knows we are here. The fellow who carried our luggage
across would have told the soldiers we failed to get horses. I should
have taken some pains to cover our track. We are too easily described. I
might have known Filson would inquire before even entering the inn; his
fear of coming suddenly within reach of my sword would make him do that.
Well, the evil is done. What steps will the fellow take?—that is the
question. Fortunately, those soldiers can do nothing without orders, and
their officers have gone to the ball.”

“But hear me through,” said Georgiana. “After they had talked a minute
or so, Filson and one of the soldiers walked up the street, so fast that
I soon lost sight of them. The other two soldiers remained—to watch this
house, perhaps. And then I came to tell you.”

“H’m! Without doubt Filson has gone in quest of somebody in authority.
We must be gone from this house, at all events. Filson may return—who
knows how soon?—may return with a gang of constables or a file of
soldiers. Come, we must leave this inn, at least.”

“But those two are watching: they will see us go.”

“We’ll go through the yard. It opens to a lane, which may have two
entrances—else we must find some back way, or scale a wall, if need be.
Come; I’ll see the landlady as we go.”

“Oh, heaven! In the passage—footsteps—of men!”

Everell listened a moment, his hand on his sword-hilt. “Nay, ’tis all
well. Two men walking from the stairs to the yard: they are a guest and
his postilion. ’Tis a gentleman with a toothache. The landlady has been
telling me of him. I would to heaven—Ah, perhaps—Come, sweet! come!”

Seizing her hand, Everell led her swiftly from the room, along the
passage, and through a back door, to the yard.

The forms of the strange gentleman, the postilion, and the small hostler
were dimly visible at the darker side of the chaise. The postilion was
evidently about to light his lamps. Everell left Georgiana standing in a
shadowed corner by the house door, and advanced to the other gentleman,
keeping as much in the darkness as he. The stranger’s head presented a
very bulky appearance, thanks not only to the handkerchief encircling
it, but also to its being thickly muffled up to the mouth. His hat,
moreover, was drawn down to his eyes. So, indeed, was Everell’s.

“Sir,” began Everell, inwardly cursing the hoarseness that prevented a
more ingratiating tone, “pardon the intrusion of one who means no
offence. ’Tis a matter of life and death that moves me, a stranger, to
address you as I do. There is also a lady whose fortunes are at stake.
’Tis of the first importance that we leave this place immediately. We
have not been able to obtain horses. Seeing you about to depart alone, I
am impelled to throw myself on your generosity. Will you take us as
passengers, to the next town, at least? If you will take the lady in the
chaise, I can sit on the bar in front. The postilion shall be well
rewarded.”

“Why, sir,” replied the other, in a thick voice, the more indistinct
from his much muffled condition, “if you are travelling in my
direction—”

“Southward,” said Everell, eagerly.

“I am sorry, then, for I am going North.”

“North? What ill fortune! For an instant I thought myself happy.
North!—but surely, sir, your necessity for going on at once is not as
great as ours: it cannot be. If you knew the case—the lady is waiting
yonder in the darkness, trembling with anxiety as to our fate. Our whole
future, sir, hangs upon the next few minutes. Dare I ask you—nay, dare I
refrain from asking you—to resign this conveyance to us? There will be
another available at midnight. Your business certainly is not so
urgent.”

“My business, sir, is as urgent as any can be. It has the first claim on
me, much as I would fain serve you. I dare not lose an hour.”

“But, good heaven, sir, have I not told you my affair is one of life or
death?”

“And so is mine,” said the strange gentleman, stepping back to be out of
range of the chaise-lamp, which the postilion had now lighted.

Everell followed into the darker gloom, pleading desperately: “But
consider, sir, my case concerns the happiness of a woman.”

“Mine concerns the safety of a man.”

“Good God!” exclaimed Everell, maddened at the other’s phlegmatic
brevity of speech. “To see these horses ready for the road, to need them
as I do, to know how she must suffer if I—Sir, I entreat you: I must
have these horses: I demand them in the sacred name of love.”

“I require them in the sacred interest of friendship,” was the answer.

“Friendship!” laughed Everell, scornfully. “The love of man and woman—do
you know what that is?”

“None knows better; but at present I serve the friendship of man for
man. One task at a time. Were I not entered upon this, I would do much
to oblige you. I can only wish you better fortune than you expect;
and—good night.” With that the stranger went toward the chaise, all
being now ready for departure.

“Not yet good night, either!” cried Everell, stepping into the other’s
way. “’Tis a rude thing I do, but necessity compels me. If your mission
is all to you, mine is all to me. Let our swords decide for us—I see you
wear one.”

“I wear one,” said the gentleman, patiently, “but I had rather not draw
it now.”

“You had rather be commanded, then,” said Everell, drawing his own. “You
have a toothache, I hear. A gentleman with a toothache ought not to
travel at night. For your own good, I must forbid you.”

“And you have a bad cold, as your voice betrays. A gentleman with a bad
cold ought still less to travel at night.” And the stranger now calmly
drew. “Make way, sir, if you please.”

“Stand back, sir,” replied Everell, “till I call the lady to enter the
chaise.”

The stranger’s retort to this was a sword-thrust at Everell’s groin.
Though the men were in too great darkness to distinguish faces, a
certain sense he had acquired by much training enabled Everell to parry
this attack. When he returned the thrust, his adversary showed an equal
instinct for judging the movements of a barely visible weapon. Several
passes were exchanged, to the great affright of Georgiana, who could
only make out the moving forms in the gloom and hear the clashing of the
steel. She had the presence of mind to close the house door, lest the
sound might bring other spectators. As for the postilion and the boy,
they stood astonished at a safe distance, not daring to raise an alarm
for fear of incurring the vengeance of the combatants. The fight was hot
and equally maintained. Unexpectedly Everell struck his left hand
against the chaise door. For greater safety of movement, he stepped back
a few paces, and so came, without thought, into the lamplight.

The other gentleman, in the act of following, uttered a cry of surprise,
and held his sword motionless. The voice was quite different from that
he had previously used.

“Eh!—who are you?” exclaimed Everell, lowering his own weapon.

The stranger advanced into the light, pulling down his muffler.

“Roughwood!” cried Everell, springing forward to embrace the man he had
just been trying to wound.

“H’sh!” warned the other, cautious as ever.

“Good heaven!—if we had killed each other!”

“We should have been served right for not knowing each other. But till
this moment I didn’t rightly see you. Your husky voice deceived me: I
should never have thought it your voice.”

“’Tis the best voice I can muster at present. But _you_ seem to have two
voices.”

“The other was put on—like the muffler, handkerchief, and toothache. I
was recognized on my way South after leaving you; and now, coming back
through the same country—”

“But why coming back? I supposed you safe in France.”

“I saw her whom I wished to see; but I could not persuade myself to sail
without you, or knowledge of you. As days passed and you arrived not—In
short, I feared your rash resolve had got you into trouble—”

“And you were coming to my aid! Dear Roughwood!”

“But we lose time. You spoke of a lady.”

“You will recognize her,” said Everell, and hastened to conduct
Georgiana into the light. Leaving her and Roughwood to mutual surprise
and explanation, he returned to the bar of the inn, and, having overcome
the landlady’s refusal of payment, possessed himself of his and
Georgiana’s luggage. When he reappeared in the yard, his friend had
already handed the young lady into the chaise, and was giving directions
to the postilion. Everell was for Roughwood’s taking the place beside
Georgiana, but that gentleman cut short all dispute by mounting the bar
in front and allowing Everell ten seconds in which to enter the chaise.
Before less time had passed, Everell was seated at his Georgiana’s side,
her hand was stealing into his, the hostler had closed the door of the
chaise, and the postilion had given the word of starting. He drove
carefully out through the gate with the solitary lamp, slowly on through
the lane to the street, and then for the open road southward, the horses
getting up speed at the crack of the whip.

“And so, Jeremiah Filson,” said Everell, as the lights of the houses
ceased and the night lay blue and misty over the fields, “we have left
you behind once more.”

Thanks to the careful arrangements of Roughwood, no time was lost on the
rest of the journey, day or night, and the lovers never saw Jeremiah
Filson again. A man answering to his description arrived a day late at
the fishing village from which they had set sail; and lingered for a
week or more, questioning the inhabitants, and often, from the highest
cliffs, gazing far out to sea with a puzzled expression. This they
learned from Roughwood’s future wife, when she and her brother came to
them in Paris.

From Prudence, for whom Georgiana sent as soon as she conveniently
could, the lovers—for lovers they remained after marriage and through
life—heard the latest news of Foxwell Court and Thornby Hall. Mr.
Foxwell had come to a better understanding with his neighbour Thornby,
so that the pair now frequently got drunk together at one or the other’s
table; they spent considerable time at cards, with results apparently to
Foxwell’s satisfaction; and it was settled that he should lend the
distinction of his presence to the Squire’s approaching nuptials. For
the Squire, as if to show the depth of disappointed love by an urgent
need of consolation, had suddenly—and successfully—resolved to marry
Sukey Marvell.

Continue Reading

ROADS

LEFT alone in the dining-room, Foxwell first indulged in a momentary
smile of satisfaction, as who should say, “For once has circumstance
been kind to me;” and then, setting himself to the task yet remaining,
he opened the library door, and called Everell.

The young man came without delay; looked swiftly around the room, and
then at Foxwell with eyes that said, “She is not here!”

“She has gone to her room,” said Foxwell, very quietly. “I have granted
her request: you are to go free.”

“Go free!”

“At her solicitation, and solely for her sake. For her sake, then, and
for mine, too, if you consider not your own, I beg you will be secret in
your departure—and above all, speedy. You must be especially on your
guard against Jeremiah Filson, who still lodges at the public-house in
the village yonder. Were I in your place, I wouldn’t pass through the
village, I would go to Burndale and take conveyance there. But however
you proceed, though I may seem inhospitable to urge it, you should set
out immediately. You have money, I believe: if not, my purse—though I
could wish it better lined—”

“Nay, a thousand thanks, but I have enough. As to this release, I know
not what to say: I never would have asked it—”

“But you must accept it, for the sake of her who did ask it. I well know
you would have stood to our compact. Stay not for protestations or
thanks: the sooner you are gone, the better for us all.”

“But ’tis not yet ten o’clock.”

“Good heaven, sir, does it not follow that our agreement is annulled by
your release if you accept it?—and your duty to her leaves you no choice
but to accept. Will you stand upon an hour or two, when you’ve had near
full benefit of the bargain for nothing, as it turns out?”

“You are right,” said Everell, with humility. “I will go as soon as I
have said farewell to her.”

“But, my dear sir, that very ordeal is one you must spare her. Do you
not see how the case stands? She was in great terror lest you should be
given up: relieved upon that point, she asks no more. She is content
with having gained your life: in that mood, she is willing to forego
another meeting. It would only start her grief afresh: for that reason,
I advised her to go to her room. As you value her peace, you must depart
without seeing her.”

“Depart without seeing her!” Everell looked wistfully toward the hall,
through which she must have passed to reach her apartments. He fetched a
long and tremulous sigh; then bethought him of the miniature, and,
taking it out, stood gazing on it with moist eyes. He gently kissed it,
and replaced it in his pocket. “Well, sir, heaven knows I wouldn’t cause
her fresh grief. But this I may ask—nay, must know:—when shall I be
permitted to see her again?”

“’Tis not in my power to answer, your own future being unknown to me.
Certainly you mustn’t see her during your present stay in England—which,
if you are wise, you will devote entirely to getting out of England. As
to the future more distant, all depends upon how matters shape
themselves.”

“At least, then, I may hope! She will be true, I know. There will be an
amnesty some day, and I may return to England without danger. In the
meantime, you—and she—may be coming to France. I will write to her from
there.”

“And not till you have arrived there, I trust. Until your safety is
assured, any communication from you must give a new edge to her anxiety.
But I demand no promises.” Foxwell intended to expedite the marriage:
once his purposes were secured, Georgiana’s conduct would be Thornby’s
affair. Now that her consent had been obtained, haste was possible.
Meanwhile, he could intercept any letter that came by regular post.
Therefore, ’twas better not to force Everell to secret means of
correspondence.

“Then, sir,” said Everell, with a wan attempt at a smile, “as you demand
no promises, I will make none. On the hope of meeting her again, in
safer times, I shall live. In that hope, I must go. Tell her—” he paused
a moment, but his thoughts were in a tumult—“Nay, words are too feeble!
I thank her, not for my life, which is hers to use as she will; but for
her love, which gives my life all its value. Adieu, sir!—no more!”

With that, he hastened abruptly, half-blindly, to the hall; and thence
to his chamber, where he donned his sword, hat, cloak, and riding-boots.
He threw his few other belongings into the bag, made sure his money was
safe in pocket, and returned to the hall, thinking to leave by way of
the courtyard and thus soonest gain the road. There was the darkness for
his safety, and the whirl of his thoughts to speed him on to Burndale,
where he could knock up some innkeeper, and take horse for the South at
dawn.

Caleb and another servant, charged by Foxwell to attend the departing
guest to the gate, were at the door. Everell handed each a coin, and the
second man ran ahead to open the gate. Everell was following across the
dark courtyard, when he bethought him of the services of Prudence. He
turned back to the light of the open doorway, selected a gold piece, and
asked Caleb to convey it to the maid.

“If it please your Honour, sir, asking your pardon, may I call Miss
Prudence to receive it herself?” said Caleb; “’twill take but a minute.”

Perceiving that the valet was averse to the trust, Everell acquiesced.
The idea then came to him that he might utilize the brief delay by
writing a message of farewell to Georgiana: there could be no objection
to a few written words of love and faith, which Prudence might deliver
at a suitable time. Everell strode into the dining-room.

Nobody else was there, for Foxwell had returned to the drawing-room to
pen a letter which should accompany Georgiana’s to Thornby. He had begun
to apologize to Rashleigh and Mrs. Winter for the long trial he had put
upon their patience.

“You might at least have left the door ajar, that we could have heard
your fine scenes yonder,” said Mrs. Winter.

“So I might have done, I own,” replied Foxwell.

“Yes; as you didn’t, we thought ourselves justified in listening at the
keyhole.”

“We?” exclaimed Rashleigh, in protest.

“Well, if you didn’t listen, Rashleigh, you certainly didn’t stop my
telling you what I heard.”

“Then you know what has happened?” queried Foxwell.

“I could make a good guess at the general event,” answered the lady.
“The rebel goes free, and pretty Georgiana marries for love.”

“For love!” said Foxwell. “Hardly so, I fear.”

“Certainly. For love of one man, she marries another. ’Tis often
done—especially in France. ’Tis a plan that has its beauties.”

“I’m afraid Georgiana is too English to see its beauties,” said
Rashleigh, as Foxwell sat down to write his letter.

Return we to another writer, in the adjoining room. Everell had found
the book from which Georgiana had been reading to him, which he had
dropped in going to support her when she seemed about to faint. He had
scarce begun to pencil his message on a blank leaf, when Prudence looked
in at the door.

“Oh, ’tis here your honour is, sir; and sure I’m sorry you’re going away
so suddent,” she said, advancing. “When Caleb told me just now, I
couldn’t believe my ears, and I wouldn’t yet, neither, if I didn’t see
your cloak and bag, more’s the pity.”

“Yes, I am going,” said Everell, handing her the reward of merit.

“Oh lor, sir, what princely generosity! I’m sure I aren’t no ways
deserving of such! It reely breaks my heart, begging your Honour’s
pardon, to see how things have come about. After all that’s took place
this past week, to hear of this marriage—’tis enough to make one think
of witchcraft—”

“This marriage? What marriage?—whose?”

“Why, this here marriage, in course. Bean’t that what sends your Honour
away all of a suddent at such a time o’ night?”

“Whose marriage? Speak, Prudence!—in a word, whose?”

“Why, mistress’s marriage, to be sure. Whose else in the world—”

“Mistress’s mar—! What mistress?”

“Mistress Georgiana Foxwell, in course: I don’t own to no other
mistress, I’m sure.” The maid drew back from Everell, wondering if the
loss of his sweetheart had affected his wits.

“Mistress Georgiana! Are you mad, Prudence? What do you mean?”

“Mad, sir? Not me! I scorn the word. ’Tis my betters I takes to be mad,
to go and make a match of it with a gentleman she’s scarce set eyes on,
be he ever so rich.”

“What gentleman do you speak of? Truly I think you _are_ mad.”

“I’m a-speaking of Squire Thornby, sir, who but he? Sure then, haven’t
they told your Honour?”

“Squire Thornby?” repeated Everell, with but vague recollection of the
little he had heard of that person. “A neighbour of Mr. Foxwell’s, isn’t
he?”

“Yes, with a large estate, I’ve heard say. ’Tis all I know of him,
barring they’ve arranged he shall marry my mistress; though that’s quite
enough, heavens knows, and you could have knocked me down with a feather
when I heard as much.”

“But ’tis impossible! They little know her: let them arrange as they
will, she will never consent.”

“Indeed, sir, but that’s the strangest part of it; for didn’t I hear her
consent in this very room, with these ears, not ten minutes ago? ‘Excep’
Squire Thornby’s proposal of marriage,’ them was her uncle’s words, and
she said yes, and Lady Strange is with her now, a-tellin’ how
adventidjus a match ’twill be. And if you think a poor waiting-woman’s
word can’t be took, you’re free to go and ask for yourself.”

“Marry Squire Thornby!—after all that has passed—her grief at my
going—her appeal for my life! It can’t be; I’ll not believe it, unless
she tells me.”

He went swiftly from the room, and ran up the stairs. Before he had time
to reflect upon the impulse he obeyed, he was on the landing outside her
antechamber, calling through the closed door:

“Georgiana!—my love! Come and deny this slander! Come, let me hear the
truth!”

The door opened, and Georgiana appeared, pale and sorrow-stricken. Lady
Strange was at her side, with a gently restraining touch upon her arm.
But Everell seized the girl’s hand and led her down the stairs, partly
as if he claimed her from any other’s possession, and partly that he
might see her face in the better light of the hall below. “Sweet, what
blundering tale is this?” he asked, as they descended;—“of a marriage
with Squire Thornby, and that you have given your consent?”

Georgiana was silent, with averted glance.

“Why don’t you answer?” he said, as they reached the foot of the stairs.

She lifted her eyes to his, but could not bring her lips to frame a
word.

“What!” he exclaimed; “’tis true, then? Oh!”

His cry was like that of sharp pain; he dropped her hand, and walked a
few steps from her. “Who would have believed it?” he said, plaintively;
“I would have staked my soul upon it that you loved me.”

“Loved you!” she said, in a faint whisper.

“But what can it mean, then?” he asked, touched alike by her words and
her look. “Surely you don’t put wealth and convenience before love? Do
you fear I may never come back to you? And to give your consent at such
a time—but ten minutes ago, the maid says! Why, you had just been
pleading for my life.—Ah! now I understand!—blind fool that I’ve been,
not to see at once! forgive me, dearest love! ’Tis your uncle’s doing:
he has sold you my life for your consent to the marriage!” With that,
Everell grasped her hand, and started toward the dining-room.

“Hush, Everell!” said Georgiana, fearful lest all might be undone; “go,
for heaven’s sake, for my sake, ere it be too late!”

Fortunately Caleb had stepped out to the courtyard to gossip with his
fellow servant who had opened the gate, and, as the house door was but
slightly ajar, there were no witnesses to what was passing in the hall,
save Lady Strange and Prudence, who had both followed down the stairs.
Holding back from the dining-room door, Georgiana still begged Everell
to go.

“Go, on those terms?” he said. “Not I! Rather die the worst of deaths.
Let you marry another? I’ll give myself up first!”

“Nay, Everell—my love—I implore—on my knees! Must I plead with you as I
pleaded with my uncle? You should know I cannot endure the thought of
your death. Only that you live, that is enough! Go, I beseech!—let not
my sacrifice be in vain.”

“You sha’n’t make the sacrifice,” he said, fiercely.

“’Tis made already: my uncle has my promise.”

“Your uncle!—where is he?” And Everell strode into the dining-room,
followed by the three women. Before he had time to reach the
drawing-room door, it was opened from the other side, and Everell had no
farther to go to meet Foxwell, who had heard the young man’s loud-spoken
words. At sight of Georgiana, her uncle made an ejaculation, and
advanced toward Everell with a resentful look: he held in one hand a
pen, in the other the letter which the sound of Everell’s voice had
interrupted; and this time both Mrs. Winter and Rashleigh took the
liberty of intruding upon the scene.

“Ah, you come in good time!” cried Everell. “I refuse my liberty at the
price you set. She shall not marry another to save me.”

“’Tis too late, sir,” said Foxwell, with forced quietness; “she has
already bound herself by her promise.”

“Then give her back her promise, as I give myself back to you!”

“Pardon me, but you have no part in the covenant: ’tis between my niece
and myself—your liberty for her promise. Even were she inclined to
cancel the agreement, she cannot do so now: I have given your liberty,
have performed my part: she is bound by her promise.”

“You see ’tis too late, Everell,” said Georgiana, in whom every other
feeling yielded to anxiety for his safety; “you cannot mend matters now.
Save yourself—at least that!—for my sake!”

For a moment her lover was thoughtful. He threw back his cloak at both
shoulders, so that it hung behind him. To enforce her plea, Georgiana
laid her hand upon his arm: she stepped forward so that she now stood
beside him.

“But _I_ am not bound by her promise,” said Everell to Foxwell.

“You are no longer bound by anything, sir, to me,” Foxwell replied. “If
you insist upon staying in this neighbourhood, ’tis at your own peril.
And I warrant you ’twill avail nothing: I shall see that my niece
neither leaves her apartments, nor communicates with any one outside
them, until her marriage; you force me to that use of my authority.”

Before Everell could answer, a voice was heard in the hall doorway
behind him—Caleb’s voice, addressed to Foxwell: “Please, your Honour,
Joseph has the horse ready, sir.”

The word “horse” shot through the confusion of Everell’s thoughts.

“Tell Joseph to wait,” said Foxwell, glancing at the unfinished letter
in his hand. Everell heard Caleb walk away through the hall to the house
door. He knew there was a mounting-block at the side of that door: would
Joseph let the horse wait there, or walk it up and down the courtyard?
“And now again, Mr. Everell,” resumed Foxwell, “I bid you farewell; and
I beg that this leave-taking may be final.”

Everell drew a deep breath; then replied: “I am willing it shall be
final, sir. But one word before I go. I have pondered what you have
said: ’tis clear I am no longer bound to you by any obligation: as for
your niece, I am not bound by her promise.”

“I grant you,” replied Foxwell, “’tis for her alone to keep that.”

“But if I should prevent her keeping it?”

“’Tis not possible; or, if so, not to a man of honour.”

“Why not, pray? I am answerable only for my own promises. She is bound
by hers, and will keep it—if she can. But if I prevent her, by force,
she’ll not be to blame for that. There will be no breach of honour
then.”

“I must end this, sir.—To cross another’s promise is no better than to
break one’s own—”

“Not in this case, sir,” replied Everell, his voice rising in spite of
himself, as his heart rose to the wild attempt he was about to
make—rashness had brought him to this pass, let rashness bring him
out!—“not in this case, for the promise concerns me, yet I was not
consulted in its making—there’s reason for you! As for possibility,
let’s put it to the test! Prevent her? Yes!” He had half-drawn his
sword, but he quickly slid it back; flung his arms around Georgiana’s
waist, and, lifting her high, made a dash for the hall, passing between
Lady Strange and Prudence on the way; ran on out to the courtyard,
where, by a lantern in Joseph’s hand, he saw the horse at the
mounting-block; thanks to which, he gained the saddle in two steps, with
the slight form of Georgiana still in his arms; jerked the bridle from
Joseph’s hold ere the groom or the two other servants knew what was
happening; applied the spurs, and was off at a gallop through the open
gateway before Foxwell had got as far as to the house door in pursuit.

Foxwell had lost no more time through sheer astonishment than most men
would have lost. But, as he started to go after Everell, the maid
Prudence also started, apparently upon the impulse of concern for her
mistress: being nearer the doorway, she arrived first; tripped at the
threshold, and dropped on all fours, filling up the opening so that
Foxwell was delayed for some seconds ere he could pass to the hall. He
had hope that the servants about the house door would stop the fugitive;
but they were taken by surprise, they knew that Everell was to leave,
and they did not know for what purpose the horse had been got ready. So
now the lover, with his prize in his arms, was galloping away in the
darkness. Foxwell ordered two horses saddled, and sent Caleb to listen
as to which direction the fugitive was taking.

FOR the first few moments, Everell left matters to the horse, merely
keeping the rein in hand while he adjusted his burden so that Georgiana
might be as free from discomfort as necessity allowed. He dared not
trust to placing her behind him, as if she had been a consenting partner
in his flight. For the time being, she must remain prisoned between his
arms. He worked his body as far back on the horse as agreed with his
sure control of the animal, thus giving Georgiana the benefit of the
saddle: he could dispense with stirrups. The horse plunged wildly down
the slope, finding the unbarred opening at the bottom rather by its own
sense than by Everell’s guidance.

The sky was black with clouds, but by the time he had thus gained the
road, the young gentleman had become sufficiently used to the darkness
to make out something of his way ahead. He was at an instant’s
hesitation as to which way he should turn. Remembering that Foxwell had
advised him to go by Burndale, and might suppose this advice taken, he
decided for the other—in itself less safe—direction. So he reined his
steed toward the village, as was presently advertised to the listening
Caleb by the thump of hoofs on the bridge. At the entrance to the
village, there was again choice of two ways. The road ahead, passing the
public-house, led to the town at which Everell had first met Georgiana.
As he now recalled, it passed in sight of Thornby Hall. The other road,
turning off at the right and skirting the churchyard, eventually arrived
at the great highway for London some miles farther south than the first
road: so the ale-house keeper had told Everell. For more than one
reason, then, it seemed preferable. The ale-house keeper had not
mentioned, however, that this road was in great part little used and
much neglected; nor did it occur to Everell at the moment that some such
consideration must have made the Foxwells use the other road in
returning from the South.

The young man, then, turned to the right, and, passing the church,
quickly left the village behind. He had not met a soul, nor heard a
human sound: doubtless people kept within doors on account of the
nipping air; as for noise, most of the habitual producers thereof were
probably at the ale-house. Presently the way bent to the left, and
seemed for awhile to run nearly parallel to the other road. Everell felt
Georgiana shiver slightly in his arms. He stopped his horse, and,
hearing no sound as of anybody in pursuit, he undid his cloak and
contrived to wrap it around her. He then set forward again, though at a
less mad pace.

In all this time Georgiana had not uttered a word; nor Everell to her,
his only exclamations having been addressed to the horse. What were her
feelings? We know that she was being carried away by force, in a dress
certainly not designed for travel on a cold and dark night, and without
bag or baggage; carried away on horseback, without her consent, by a
reckless young gentleman whose neck was now doubly in danger—nay, trebly
so, for at that time abduction and horse-stealing were both hanging
matters, no less than treason; carried away by sheer strength of arm,
even as any Sabine or other woman who ever underwent the experience of
marriage by capture; carried away unceremoniously and suddenly—but by
the man she loved! Was she entirely shocked, indignant, and terrified?
Let us leave it to the imagination of other young ladies of her age—and
perhaps of young ladies a few years older. Whatever Georgiana’s feelings
may have been, they were constantly mingled with the questions, “What
next? Where now? What is he going to do?”

Everell was proposing to himself that same riddle. He wondered what he
_was_ going to do. For the present, the only thing was to push on. Not
until a considerable distance lay between him and Foxwell Court would he
dare seek shelter. How long could Georgiana endure the cold and fatigue?
How long could the horse travel? No doubt a stop must needs be made
during the night, at some village inn or farmhouse, where a plausible
story would have to be told in order to account for their situation and
to obtain admittance—a story of the lady being robbed and left for dead
by the roadside, and found there by her present custodian; or some such
tale. Would Georgiana deny his account, and seek to frustrate him, as in
honesty she ought to do? He must prevent that by dire threats, must
enforce her to silence upon penalties of wholesale disaster, so that she
must feel bound by every womanly fear, by conscience itself, to avert
the greater evil of tragedy to all concerned, by obeying his commands.
She must be in terror of him, and of the consequences of resisting his
will. If he frightened and offended her, he must hope to make his peace
and atonement later. Would she really need such thorough intimidation?
would not mere formal compulsion suffice—such as might serve as a
woman’s excuse for not making the protest that strict duty required? He
could not be sure, and he dared not ask her: he resolved to take no
risks; she should have ample reason to feel justified in non-resistance.
But should all his commands and menaces not avail?—would he make good
his threats? He knew not: so far, he could only hope the occasion would
not arise.

So much for his course with regard to Georgiana’s possible opposition.
Wherever they should stop, he would allow her no chance of speaking to
anybody out of his presence: when she slept, not even a maid should have
access to her room, and he himself would rest outside her door, with the
key in his pocket. At the first town they should enter on the morrow, he
would take measures to supply her with the necessaries she now lacked;
he would have to provide a few things for himself also, for he had left
his cloak-bag at Foxwell Court. At the same town, he would abandon the
horse, and hire a post-chaise for the continuance of their journey. His
ultimate aim must be, to reach the small seaport to which Roughwood had
gone before him, and thence be conveyed with Georgiana to France.
Whether circumstances would permit him to make her his wife on their
Southward journey, he could not know; if not, the ceremony should be his
first concern upon setting foot in France.

So the future took general form in his thoughts as he rode. But
meanwhile, only the first step had been made. A thousand difficulties, a
thousand dangers, stood in the way. He saw himself at the beginning of a
long and toilsome business, which would make incessant demands upon his
wit, resolution, and endurance. He could allow himself little time for
rest. All depended upon his retaining the start he had gained; upon his
keeping ever ahead of the pursuit that would be made, and of the news
which, spreading in all directions, would follow close upon his heels.
He now thanked his impulse for having led him into this road. If Foxwell
had set out as soon as horse could be saddled, he must lose much time by
taking the wrong road, which Everell, still hearing nothing behind,
assumed that he would surely do.

But this advantage, if it really existed, might be more than offset ere
all was done. A sudden sharp sense of this caused Everell to urge the
horse to its former pace. The animal responded readily enough; sped most
gallantly for a furlong or so; then, without any warning, stumbled upon
its knees, almost throwing the riders. It rose trembling, and started to
go on—but with a limp that made Everell’s heart sink within him.

“Curse upon the bad road! The horse is lamed—hopelessly! Poor beast!
brave fellow, he would bear us still in spite of his pain! Well, he can
serve us no more to-night! There’s nothing for it but going afoot till I
can get another mount.”

He lifted Georgiana from the saddle, threw his leg over it, and slid
with her to the ground. For a few moments he let her stand, but kept one
arm around her, while he looked up and down the road in search of a
habitation. But the darkness baffled him. He remembered having passed a
few scattered cottages, but the nearest was a good way back. He was
likely to find a house sooner by going ahead, which seemed on other
accounts the better course. As for the poor steed, Everell was first of
a mind to leave it to its will; but he feared it might thus serve to
inform his pursuers of his enforced delay in the neighbourhood, and
cause more particular search to be made near at hand. Retaining the
halter in his grasp, and taking up Georgiana so as to carry her as one
carries a child in long clothes, he started forward. He hoped he might
discover a house before the young lady’s weight became too much for him;
in other case, he must subject her lightly shod feet to contact with the
rough road. Fortunately, he soon beheld a light, which by its steadiness
and position he judged to belong to a house not far ahead, on higher
ground, a little way back from the left-hand side of the road. Everell
stopped, and again set Georgiana on her feet.

“Do you know whose house that is?” he asked, curtly.

“No,” she replied, in the lowest audible voice.

“Good,” said he. “From its situation I think it may be a gentleman’s. At
all events, I intend to borrow a horse there—perhaps a pair of horses,
or—who knows?—a chaise and pair. I shall tell what story I see fit; and
you will say nothing—or at most a mere yes or no to confirm my account.
You are under my compulsion, which I am ready to enforce by desperate
acts. Remember, my life is not worth a farthing, in the eye of the law;
nothing more that I may do can add to the fate I have already incurred;
so if all’s lost I’m determined to stop at nothing. I warn you then,
once and for all, attempt not to thwart me in the slightest matter,
unless you wish to bring down such a catastrophe as you dare not even
imagine. You are not to quit my side unless at my command. It may be,
your face is known to the people we shall see in that house: you must
have been closely observed the day you appeared at church. So I must bid
you take your neckerchief and veil your face with it—I’ll tie it myself
when you have it arranged. And you will on no account remove it—nor the
cloak, either, which hides your figure. For all this concealment and
silence, I shall contrive to account. All depends on whom I have to deal
with yonder; till I see what manner of person, I know not what tale I
must invent. Whatever you find it, you will support it by silence and
obedience. Bear in mind, you are not your own mistress: you are under my
enforcement. If evil come of your obedience, the consequences will be
upon my head; but ’tis nothing to the evil that will come if you
disobey. So beware, then, of causing such disaster as I will not even
speak of!”

He then fastened behind her head the neck-handkerchief, which she had
already begun, with slow and trembling fingers, to adjust over her face.
Taking this compliance as a sign of submission, he next arranged his
cloak more carefully around her, clasped her once more in his arms, and
walked on, leading the horse, till he arrived at a small cottage which
manifestly served as lodge to the house from which the light shone. The
gate was closed, but from between its tall pickets Everell could make
out an avenue of tall trees leading up to the mansion. He knocked and
halloed, and presently a man, half-dressed, carrying a lantern, came out
of the lodge and inspected him through the gate.

It occurred to Everell that he had best speak, at this stage, as if he
were a friend, or at least an acquaintance, of the master of the house:
he was thus more likely to obtain prompt admittance, and, secondly, he
might thus better secure the gatekeeper against betraying him to the
inquiries of pursuers. Upon this later point, moreover, he took a grain
of comfort from the fact that Foxwell was not liked by the gentry in the
neighbourhood.

“Is your master at home?” he said. “We have met with an accident. Pray
do not keep us waiting in the cold—the lady is shivering. We have had to
leave a horse behind, and this one is quite lame. ’Tis lucky we were so
near a friend’s. Come, my good fellow, open quickly!—this lady must be
got indoors—your master is at home, isn’t he?”

“Yes, sir, he’s at home,” said the fellow, and dubiously scratched his
head. “As to opening the gate at this time of night, why, if your Honour
will but let me take your name to master, I make no doubt—”

“Rascal! Dare you think of keeping us here to freeze? Names, say
you?—dog, if you but knew our names!—knew whom you are delaying!—or if
your master knew! Open at once, I command you, and lead us to your
master, or bitterly you’ll rue it!”

The imperiousness of the manner exceeded even that of the words. The
man, convinced that the speaker was some great person whom his master
would be fearful of offending, opened the gate with much bowing and
apology.

“Now shut the gate,” ordered Everell, when he and his company had
entered. “And if any one comes inquiring for a lady and gentleman on
horseback, say you know nothing of them. Remember that. And have the
horse taken care of.”

Emphasizing his commands with a coin, and letting Georgiana walk beside
him, Everell proceeded up the avenue, the gatekeeper leading the horse.
The mansion proved to be a large house in the square-built style
nowadays called Georgian. Arriving before the great central door, the
guide summoned a rustic-looking footman, to whom he resigned the
visitors with a whispered recommendation that caused them to be received
with as much respect as surprise. Their appearance was indeed sufficient
cause for the latter, Everell still having an arm clasped around
Georgiana in her masculine cloak and improvised veil.

They found themselves in a dimly lighted hall, at the farther end of
which was a door matching that by which they had entered. There was the
stairway usual to such houses, beginning along one side of the hall,
crossing at the end, and finishing the ascent along the other side in
the return direction. Having closed the door, the servant asked by what
name he might announce my lord and her ladyship to his master.

“Tell him a gentleman and lady,” said Everell, “who are in great haste,
and will not trouble him long.”

“A gentleman and lady, sir,” repeated the servant, obediently. “Begging
your lordship’s pardon, but master, being in his cups, may wish to
know—I mean to say, master is main hard to draw from his comforts at
this time o’ night—though I dare say when I tell him you be friends of
his—”

“Friends? Certainly—unless I am mistaken as to the house. But that’s
easily set right:—who is your master?”

“Squire Thornby, sir; and this house is Thornby Hall.”

From Everell’s look, the servant concluded that the gentleman probably
_was_ mistaken as to the house.

“But how can that be?” cried Everell. “Thornby Hall is on the other
road.”

“’Tis on both roads, so to speak, sir. The two run near together just
hereaways; the house looks on each. There’s two gates, you know, sir,
and two lodges; the gardener lives in one, and Jenkins in t’other.”

Everell took a moment’s thought. Resolution appeared on his face.

“’Tis just as well,” he said. “Mr. Thornby is known to me by reputation.
Tell him I am here, and must needs beg he will see me without delay.”

This was spoken with such an air that the servant conceived it best to
carry the message at once, without a second attempt to elicit the
speaker’s name. As soon as the man was gone, Everell said to Georgiana:

“I must brave it out with this Squire Thornby, there’s nothing else for
it. We must have horses, and soon: ’twere folly to go on afoot, heaven
knows how far, till we found another house. As well solicit this
gentleman’s help as another’s—’tis all one, he may be no harder to
persuade. He has never seen me, and now he shall not see you. Take good
heed you don’t show your face, nor shift the cloak, nor let your voice
be heard: or ’twill go ill, I promise you.”

Georgiana made no answer, nor gave any sign of existence save to draw a
long breath. Was it of helpless resignation to the compulsion she was
under? was it to brace herself for resistance to that compulsion? or to
steady herself against anxiety as to the outcome? Did she really see
through his show of dark threat? Was her scrupulosity of conscience so
great, that so much intimidation was required to keep her from opposing
her abductor, in the interests alike of her given promise and of
maidenly propriety? Oh, woman, woman!—

The footman returned with word that his master would attend upon the
visitors in a minute; and showed them into a large room, which appeared,
by the candles he lighted, to be devoted to the exercise of his master’s
functions as justice of the peace. Near one end was a large table
whereon were an inkstand, pens, and a few weighty-looking books. The
walls were paneled in oak, and the bare floor was of the same wood.
There were two armchairs drawn up to the table, and two before the
fireplace, while oak settles stood against the wall. The servant fanned
the smouldering fire into a blaze, put on a fresh log, and left the
apartment.

Everell had been looking at a door in the side of the room, near the
table. It was slightly ajar, and its key was in place,—two indications
that it sheltered no secret. As soon as he and Georgiana were alone,
Everell led her hastily to it, and, throwing it open, discovered a large
closet containing a disorderly array of shabby cloaks, wigs, whips, hats
and such, on pegs; and old record books piled in a corner.

“’Tis none so roomy, but ’twill do at a pinch,” said Everell. “I think
it best you should be out of sight altogether, miss. I can tell my story
better. I must command you to enter.” And he gently pushed her into the
closet. “Do not dare to cry out; and when I open the door to fetch you,
be veiled, cloaked, and silent, as you are now. Remember!—or injury will
be done.—Stay, those books will serve you to sit on—you will be tired
standing.” He guided her to the pile of old volumes, and then came out
of the closet, and locked the door. The key, long unused save as a door
handle, turned hardly, and he had difficulty in getting it from the lock
in order to pocket it. As he was in the act of drawing it out, a heavy
step made him glance around. He beheld a robust-looking man with a red
face, who stood regarding him with pugnacious astonishment.

“Your servant, sir,” said Everell, with an easy bow. “Mr. Thornby, I
believe.”

“That’s my name, sir,” said the Squire, bluntly. “Might I ask what
you’re doing at that there closet door, sir?”

“Closet door, sir?” repeated Everell, lightly.

“Only locking it, sir,—that’s all.” And he held up the key as evidence
of the truth of his assertion.

“And perhaps I have a right to know what the devil you’re a-locking it
for? Who asked you for to lock my doors, sir? Ecod, I must say this is
rare manners in a stranger. I don’t remember as how I ever had the
honour of seeing your face afore, sir.”

“’Tis quite true we have never met before, sir. The loss has been mine,”
said Everell, resting upon courtesy till he could see how best to deal
with his man. At the same time, he carelessly pocketed the key.

“Are you trying to put a game on me, sir?” said Thornby, wrathfully.
Though he had evidently been called from his bottle, he was in full
possession both of his legs and of his usual wits. “Look ye, ’tis mighty
suspicious, poking your nose into my closets. I have a shrewd guess what
you came into my house for—passing yourself off as a lord to my fool
servants. And the lady?—I don’t see any lady here!—ecod, perhaps she’s
poking her nose into the silver closet! Hey, Jabez, the plate!” With
that, the Squire started for the door by which he had entered.

“Nay, sir, you wrong us!” cried Everell, striding to intercept him. “The
lady is in that closet—I took the liberty—she desires not to be seen.
Upon my honour, sir, we had no purpose in entering your house but to ask
your aid.”

Thornby, having been stayed by Everell’s first declaration, gazed at the
closet and then at the young gentleman. “But what the devil does the
lady please to hide in a closet for?”

“She desires not to be seen, as I tell you. ’Twas the nearest place of
concealment. I locked the door lest you might open it before I could
explain.”

“And why doesn’t she desire to be seen? ’Tis the first of her sex
afflicted that way, as ever I heard on. Is there aught the matter wi’
her looks? Ecod, what o’ that? There’s a plenty in the same boat amongst
the she-folk hereabouts. There’s only one beauty in these four parishes,
if I be any judge.”

“’Tis for no such reason,” said Everell, with a smile, as he began to
see his way. “Sir, I perceive you’re a blunt, outspoken gentleman, given
to plain dealing yourself, and no doubt preferring it in others. I’m
resolved to throw myself on your confidence, as far as I think safe, and
tell you my story, or as much as I dare. Perhaps then your
fellow-feeling—for your words imply a gallant sense of beauty in the
tender sex—may impel you to assist me.”

“H’m!” ejaculated the Squire, dubiously, though his relaxed countenance
showed him to be decidedly mollified. “Perhaps—and then again, perhaps
not. Let’s hear your story, howsomever. ’Tis all devilish curious—the
lady desiring not to be seen, and the rest of it. Please to take this
here chair.” The Squire moved an armchair from what was evidently the
clerk’s place to where it faced across the table to the seat of
judgment. He then went around and assumed the latter, having meanwhile
rung for a servant. “And just to be on the safe side,” he added, “in
case it _is_ a game you’re a-trying on, I’ll be prepared.” He drew a
bunch of small keys from his pocket, opened a drawer in his side of the
table, and fetched out a pair of pistols, which he laid before him; he
then closed the drawer, all but a few inches. “Yes, sir, I keep ’em
always loaded,” he said, as he looked to the priming. “I’m a blunt,
outspoken man, as you observe, and I take my precautions.”

“I have no right to complain, sir,” said Everell, who sat with his face
to the Squire, and his back to the door of the apartment; “a stranger
intruding at this hour of the night must take what reception he finds.”

“Very well said, sir. And at the same time I’ll show you as I know how
to treat a gentleman, too, in case you be one.—Jabez,” for the servant
had now entered, “tell Bartholomew to fetch a bottle of what I’ve been
drinking. And tell the gentlemen at table—no, they bean’t gentlemen
neither, and damn me if I’ll call ’em so!—tell ’em to make the best of
it without me, I’ll be with ’em when I see fit.—A man is hard put to it
for proper company sometimes, sir,” he explained, when Jabez had gone.
“Though if some beggarly attorney, or worse, can do justice to his
bottle, and tell a good tale or so, talk intelligently of dogs and
horses, and listen with respect to his betters, why, some things may be
winked at.”

It was manifestly Thornby’s wish to postpone matters till the wine came;
so Everell answered in the strain he thought likely to command the
other’s favour. Bartholomew presently appeared with bottle and glasses,
observed the pistols with mild wonder, and retired.

“Now, sir,” said Thornby, “we’ll drink the lady’s health, and then for
your business. Nay, don’t trouble yourself to reach; keep to your own
side of the table.” And the Squire pushed bottle and glass to Everell’s
hands, preferring that these should not come too close to the pistols.
“The lady’s health, as I said. Shall we have her name, sir?”

“Not at present, if you’ll excuse me.”

“As you please. Health of the fair unknown in the closet—eh?”

“The fair unknown in the closet,” said Everell, and the glasses went to
the lips.

“And now, by the Lord,” said the Squire, “you shall return the
compliment. I’ve drunk to your fair companion: you shall drink to a lady
of my proposing.”

“With all my heart,” replied Everell, and dissembled his impatience
while the glasses were filled anew.

“Yes, sir,” said Thornby, “a lady of my proposing: the beauty of the
four parishes—nay, the beauty of the county—damme, I may as well say the
beauty of England! I’ll give her name, too: there’s no reason, as I know
of, for to keep it back. To Miss Georgiana Foxwell!”

“Miss Georgiana Foxwell,” echoed Everell, wondering, as he drank,
whether she could hear herself thus twice honoured in so short a time.

“I suppose you never saw that young lady I proposed, sir,” said Thornby,
as he put down his glass and resumed his seat, for the toasts had been
drunk standing.

“I am a stranger in this part of England, sir,” Everell answered.

“I take you for a town-bred man. Maybe, then, you’ve met an uncle of
hers in London aforetime—one Mr. Robert Foxwell?”

“I _have_ met a Mr. Robert Foxwell—but I cannot truly say I know much of
him.”

“The less the better, if truth must be told; he’s a damned supercilious
fop! A rogue, too. He hates me like poison, but, for all that, he’ll let
me marry his niece.”

“How so, if he hates you?”

“Because,” said Thornby, tapping the drawer of the table with his
fingers, “I have that in my possession which makes him consider my
wishes. Yes, sir,” and he thrust his hand carelessly into the drawer,
till Everell heard a rustle of papers, “I hold the means of keeping Mr.
Robert Foxwell in his place. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s
hear your petition, friend; and you might begin with your name, which I
don’t remember as how you’ve yet mentioned.”

“I would rather finish than begin with it,” said Everell, “if, when
you’ve heard me, you still require it. You may not wish in the future to
admit having helped me: if you remain ignorant of my name, you can never
be sure.”

“’Tis by no means certain that I _shall_ help you,” declared the Squire,
bluntly.

“I have good hopes of you,” said Everell. “Frankly, sir, I am running
away with that lady.” Thornby stared and blinked; finally threw back his
head and laughed loudly. “Oho, that’s how the wind sits, eh? Ecod, I
might ’a’ guessed as much.”

“You are a man of spirit, with an eye for beauty,” Everell went on
rapidly: “therefore you will not blame me. I love her, she loves me; but
her nearest relation wishes her to marry another—one whom she does not
love.”

“Devil take her nearest relation!” said Thornby.

“Amen! He has so worked upon her mind, by threats of ill consequences to
me, as to obtain her consent to marry this other gentleman, much against
the dictates of her heart. She is a lady who, having once given her
promise, would fulfil it: she was thus barred from eloping with me of
her own will. What then was I to do?”

“Ecod, sir,” Thornby replied, heartily, “you was to take matters in
hand, and carry her away, of _your_ own will!”

“Precisely what I have done, sir! I knew I could rely upon your
approval.—Well, sir, I seized her under her guardian’s very nose, set
her upon a horse that stood waiting, mounted behind her, and was away at
a gallop before anybody had the wit to stop me. I made what speed I
could, over roads unknown to me; how far we have ridden, what adventures
we have had, I beg you will excuse me from relating. So far, no pursuit
has come within sight or hearing: though, if her relation was prompt, he
need have lost no time but to saddle his horses. Our own beast, which
kind fortune had placed ready to my hand, at last broke down; but within
a short distance of your gate, which I take as another circumstance of
fortune’s favour.”

“That’s as how it may be,” said the Squire, who had followed the lover’s
recital with lively interest. “But first I’d give something to know who
’tis you’ve—ha, ha!—carried off. Ecod, perhaps ’tisn’t the first time a
woman has been carried off against her will but not against her wish!
Who is it, man?—come, who is the lady?”

“I beg you will not insist upon knowing just now. Doubtless the news
will travel all too soon. Meanwhile I would have your help without a
scruple. Should you be acquainted with her family, you might feel bound
to cross my purpose.”

Thornby, after a moment’s thought, admitted there was something in that.
Still, “I wonder who it can be:—how far do you say you’ve rid?”

“I do not say,” replied Everell, smiling.

“There’s Miss Hollowfield,” mused Thornby, aloud; “her grandfather’d be
opposed to a stripling like you—but nobody’d run away with such a face
as hers. And there’s Miss Marvell—why, I’ll wager ’tis Dick Birch they
want to marry her to. Sukey Marvell, that’s who ’tis.”

“I must not tell,” said Everell, shaking his head.

“Yes, ’tis Sukey,” declared Thornby: “well, she’s not as bad as t’other.
And old Dick Birch, I’ll be glad to see him done out of her!—damned
coxcomb! serves him right for the trick he played me at York races. Oh,
I’ll have the laugh on Dick next time we meet!—I’ll have him here for
some shooting, a-purpose. Ha, ha! These conceited fellows think they can
marry any pretty girl they set their minds on. Well, young sir, I wish
you joy. I’ve owed Dick Birch a grudge these many months.”

“The favour I have to ask,” said Everell, “is the loan of a chaise, with
horses and a man, to the nearest town from which I can travel on by
post.”

“Why, damn me, that’s not so much to ask, neither,” said Thornby, still
vastly good-humoured over the discomfiture of Dick Birch.

“I thank you from my heart. And, as every minute counts, I hope I may be
set on my way as soon as possible.”

“H’m!—many a man, sir, would think twice afore sending out his
horses—but I don’t want to spoil sport. In for a penny, in for a pound.
I’ll give orders; and meanwhile my housekeeper can show Sukey to the
guest-chamber—she may like to make herself trim in front of a glass—you
know the ways o’ that sex—while the horses are being put to.”

“A thousand thanks, but I daren’t allow the lady so far out of my
control. She may be shown to a room, if she will; but the room must have
but one door, and I must wait outside that door. Pray bear in mind, she
is travelling under compulsion.”

“Compulsion!—oh, certainly—ha, ha! I’ll send for Mrs. Jenkins, and for
old Rodge; he shall drive you—’twill need a careful man with the
horses.” Thornby, who had risen from the table, pulled the bell-cord.
“And meanwhile we’ll drink confusion to Dick Birch. Dod, to see him
bubbled out of a bride this way!—it does one’s heart good! But, man,
we’d better let Sukey out o’ that closet, now ’tis all settled. Come,
you’ve got the key: unlock, unlock.”

“But there must be a condition: you’ll not ask the lady to uncover her
face: she must still remain unknown.”

“Oh, be it so: let Sukey remain unknown; it may save me trouble, to be
sure. But let her out, let her out.”

Everell unlocked the door, and, peering in before he opened it wide, saw
that Georgiana was still cloaked and veiled. He led her forth with a
whispered “Remember!—not a word!”

“Your humble servant, ma’am,” said Thornby, bowing with all the elegance
at his command.

Before there was time for either speech or silence, a noise of steps and
voices arose outside the apartment. Thornby turned, with a look of wrath
at the interruption, toward the door. It was flung open, and a man in
cloak and riding-boots walked in, followed by a servant of his own, and
by the footman Jabez.

“To horse, Thornby! we must scour the country!” cried the newcomer as he
hastily approached. His glance now fell upon Everell and Georgiana, and
of a sudden he stopped short, with an ejaculation of surprise.

“What’s the matter, Foxwell?” inquired Thornby. “Why d’ye stare like
that?”

THORNBY’S words indicated surprise at Foxwell’s surprise. Foxwell shot a
keen glance to see if the other’s surprise was genuine. There could be
no doubt of that. This occasioned new surprise in Foxwell.

“Egad, sir,” said he, “I should think I might be pardoned for staring.
How come they to be here? It puzzles me, I own.”

“Who here?” blurted Thornby. “This gentleman and lady, d’ye mean?”

“Ay, the gentleman and lady I’ve been in search of.”

“Why, you don’t desire to stop ’em, do you? What the deuce is little Sue
Marvell to you?—and Dick Birch? Captain Marvell is no friend of yours.
Rather help these young people away, if only for the joke on Dick
Birch.”

“Of what are you talking?” cried Foxwell. “Can it be possible you don’t
know who these young people are?”

“I don’t know much of the gentleman,” Thornby admitted; “but the girl is
Sukey Marvell.”

“Sukey Marvell!—Sukey devil!” exclaimed Foxwell, and, striding up to
Georgiana, he snatched the handkerchief from her face. Everell had left
her standing at the end of the table, himself having moved around to
Thornby’s former place a moment earlier for a purpose of his own.
Checking an impulse to go to Georgiana’s side, he now stood between the
magisterial chair and the table. Despite all that was at stake, he was
amused at the sight of Thornby gazing with mouth wide open at the face
so unexpectedly revealed.

“It seems _you_ find reason to stare now,” said Foxwell to the Squire.
“Egad, Thornby, had they bamboozled you?”

“Mr. Thornby, I hold you to your promise,” Everell put in; “a chaise,
horses, and a man.”

“Chaise, horses, and damnation!” was the reply of Thornby, as he at last
found a voice. “I never knew ’twas _she_ you was a-running away with.
You said ’twas Sukey Marvell.”

“Pardon me, no; _you_ said ’twas Sukey Marvell. And I hold you to your
promise.”

[Illustration: “HE SNATCHED THE HANDKERCHIEF FROM HER FACE.”]

“Hold and be damned!—And Foxwell, you’ve deceived me, too. You said
you’d persuade her to have me.”

“So I have done,” asserted Foxwell, “and she has given her consent.”

“Given her consent? Then _you_ was the relation—and _I’m_ the Dick
Birch! What?—and this here stripling would ’a’ had me help to do myself
out of a bride! Oh, you shall all pay for this among you!”

“Softly, softly, Thornby,” said Foxwell. “She has promised to marry you.
Have you not, miss?”

After a brief hesitation, Georgiana uttered a reluctant “yes.”

“Then you forced the promise from her,” said Thornby.

“She gave it willingly,” returned Foxwell. “Did you not, miss?”

“Yes—willingly,” said Georgiana, in the faintest of voices.

“And yet you ran away with this here other man,” said Thornby.

“I was—carried away,” she replied, in a tone as frail as before.

“And you are still willing to marry Mr. Thornby?” said her uncle.

“Y—yes.”

Thornby’s brow cleared. “Then, ecod, not much harm’s done, after all.
’Tis all well that ends well.”

Everell again put in, addressing Thornby: “She is willing to marry you,
perhaps. But ask her if she will ever love you, man.”

“Eh! Well, what about that? D’ye think you’ll ever love me, miss?”

“No, I do not, sir,” cried Georgiana, suddenly emphatic of voice. “I
shall always love this gentleman! For ever, and ever, and ever!” And she
moved toward the man of her choice.

Her manner of speech, her look of disdain, and Everell’s smile of
triumph were too much for Thornby’s savage vanity. “Then don’t flatter
yourself I’ll marry you,” he answered, with retaliatory scorn. “A
white-faced vixen, when all’s said and done! Mistress of Thornby Hall,
after this night’s business?—dod, I’m warned in time!”

“Oh, say it again!” exclaimed Georgiana, rejoiced.

“I do say it again! Ecod, I know my value!”

“I am freed of my promise!” she cried.

“Ay,” said Thornby, with a swelling wrath which had to be discharged
upon somebody, “and your blundering uncle may go whistle.—You shall
answer for this, Foxwell, d’ye hear? I’ll see to that. ’Tis all along o’
your mismanagement. But I’ll be quits wi’ ye. I’ll make use o’ that
there letter!—rat me but I will!”

“You are quite unreasonable, Thornby,” said Foxwell, patiently, and,
turning to his attendant, “Joseph, wait without.”

Joseph left the room, whereupon Thornby had the grace to order his own
servant to be off; so that the four principals were left alone. Foxwell
made sure that the door was closed against espial, and thrust into the
keyhole a part of the handkerchief he had taken from Georgiana. He then
returned to Thornby, who had meanwhile been fuming and pacing the floor.

“You have cause for anger, I admit,” said Foxwell; “but you are bound to
own I have done my part.”

“Don’t talk to me, sir,” roared Thornby. “I’ll make you smart afore I’ve
done! See if I don’t!”

Foxwell’s own temper gave way. He had been put to much exercise of
self-command this evening, and had scarce yet regained his bodily
composure after his ride. Of a sudden, now, his face darkened. “Then by
heaven I’ll not smart alone! You shall suffer, miss,—and your lover,
too! Let all come out. You say you know little of this young gentleman,
Thornby. Would you know more?—who he is, _what_ he is?”

“Uncle, you will not!” entreated Georgiana. “With my promise I bought
your silence—remember that!—and I have not broken my promise. ’Tis Mr.
Thornby has released me.”

“Very well. Let us stick to promises, by all means! But I have your
Romeo upon other grounds.—Before you as a justice of the peace, Mr.
Thornby, I charge this gentleman with the abduction of my niece.—That,
too, is a hanging matter, miss.”

“Not so, Mr. Thornby,” cried Georgiana; “for, now that I am free, I go
with this gentleman of my own consent. ’Tis not abduction, ’tis on my
part a voluntary flight.”

“You forget you are not yet your own mistress,” said Foxwell. “Besides,
the abduction has been committed. Moreover, Thornby, the gentleman has
appropriated to himself a horse of mine. I demand of you to act upon
these charges.”

Thornby underwent a sudden accession of magisterial dignity. “I know my
office, Mr. Foxwell. Nobody has ever accused me of failing there.
Sir,”—this to Everell,—“when the case is put to me in that form, I must
do as my commission requires. I must needs hold you for a hearing.—I’ll
send for my clerk, Foxwell; I left him at the table, but I dare say he’s
still sober enough for what’s to be done.” Relapsing then into his more
usual puerility, he added, “Dod, such impudent young strangers sha’n’t
carry off our ladies with impunity, neither!”

Georgiana had hastened to Everell’s side. “Oh, save yourself _now_,” she
besought him in a whisper.

“Not without you, sweet.—Gentlemen,” he cried, in time to stop Thornby’s
movement toward the door, “one word. I am in a desperate position.
Abduction, horse-stealing, the other business,—any one of them is the
price of a halter. With but one life to lose, then, what is a crime or
two more? ’Tis but getting the more value for my neck.” He took up the
pistols left on the table by Thornby, who had lost all thought of them
on being convinced of Everell’s honesty. Dexterously cocking them as he
spoke, the young man went on: “If I must die, be sure that one or both
of you shall go before me—’tis fair precedence, _cedant arma togæ_! But
first I will have one more venture for my life—and for my love.” By this
time, he had each of the gentlemen in line with a different pistol. “Mr.
Thornby, move or call out, at your peril. Mr. Foxwell, the same to you;
and this also: I think I can persuade you to withdraw your charges, and,
furthermore, to lend me the horses that brought you and your man to this
place.”

Foxwell’s only weapon at the moment was his sword; he had left his
pistols outside in the holsters, thinking to spend but a minute in
Thornby Hall and foreseeing no need of them there. He perceived from
Everell’s manner of handling the pistols that the young man was of
perfect assurance in their use. The same circumstance found speedy way
to the mind of Thornby, who was unarmed. So the two gentlemen stood as
they were requested. Foxwell, for want of a better temporizing answer,
feigned to yield with a good grace, saying: “You present so strong an
argument, that I know not how to oppose you.”

“I fear if the pistol were my only argument,” said Everell, calmly, “my
victory would end as soon as my back was turned. I will try an argument
that may have more lasting effect. Miss Foxwell, I must bid you pull out
this drawer of the table,—stay where you are, Mr. Thornby!—which the
owner has carelessly left open.” Everell moved a step to the side,
giving Georgiana closer access to the drawer. She obeyed in wonder, for
she had overheard little of the talk while she was in the closet, and
nothing of Thornby’s allusion to that in the drawer which gave the power
of keeping Mr. Robert Foxwell in his place. Everell now told her to
empty the contents of the drawer upon the table, and to spread them out
so that each document might be seen. “Not a step, Mr. Thornby! You, Mr.
Foxwell, come near enough to see if there be anything of interest to
you. That will do—no farther! Look carefully.”

Foxwell’s keen eye had already begun to range the various papers as they
lay separately exposed. Suddenly he uttered a quick “Ah!” and stepped
forward, reaching out. Everell checked him by a sharp “Back!” and a
movement of the pistol; then followed with his glance the line of the
extended arm.

“Miss Foxwell,” said Everell, “be good enough to take up the paper your
uncle reached for. ’Twill be one of those three the shadow falls
athwart,—the shadow of the wine-bottle;—ay, those.—Don’t move, Mr.
Thornby.—Open them out, Georgiana, and hold them where I can see. H’m;
apparently a legal document concerning one William Hardy. The next,
please: ‘a new cure for the glanders.’ The other: a letter signed ‘R.
Foxwell.’—Back, Mr. Foxwell. Is that all you see here of importance to
you?—Mr. Thornby, if you take a step toward the door—! Is that all, Mr.
Foxwell? I will not read it unless I am forced to.”

“That is all,” replied Foxwell, “and ’tis something Mr. Thornby has no
right to possess. I ask you, as a man of honour, to restore it to me.”

“In proper time, sir. Meanwhile, Miss Foxwell, fold the paper as it was,
and place it in my waistcoat pocket.—’Tis well done; though I dare not
thank you, for you do this under compulsion.”

“By the Lord, sir,” Thornby burst out at last, “this here’s robbery,
sir!—rank robbery under arms! You may carry it off for the moment—I’m
not moving, I’m only warning you, for your own good—but this sort of
thing is bound to end in a halter, sir.”

“Possibly; but, as I have said, a crime or two more can make no
difference to a man in my situation. You were kind enough to tell me
that in this drawer was the means of making Mr. Foxwell consider your
wishes. Let us see if it will make him consider mine. Mr. Foxwell,
whatever the document contains, I’m not like to use it against
Georgiana’s kinsman. But if I am taken prisoner here, ’twill no doubt
fall into Mr. Thornby’s hands again. Your interest, then, lies in my
escape.”

“Damn Foxwell’s interest!” broke in Thornby. “I’m the man to bargain
with. If you restore that letter and them pistols—’tis my property, that
letter, for all he says; mine, bought and paid for, as I can prove by
Jeremiah Filson—”

This name, in relation to the letter, was another surprise to Foxwell.
But ere Thornby could proceed farther, Everell commanded silence.

“You are very good, Mr. Thornby, but I will not bargain with you. I will
forego the chaise and horses, release you from your promise,—on
condition of your entering that closet. Come, I mean it. You shall be
let out in good time. ’Tis no such bad place—the lady suffered no harm
there. Into the closet, if you please. I’ll return your pistols—by and
by.” Everell, while speaking, had come around the end of the table, and
was now threatening Thornby with both pistols at close quarters. “Into
the closet, sir! By heaven, don’t try my patience!—a man who may be
hanged three times over doesn’t balk at the chance of a fourth. In, in!”

Slowly retreating from the weapons as they were thrust almost into his
face, Thornby backed into the closet, glaring futile wrath.

“’Tis well,” said Everell; “if you keep silence there, I engage not to
fire through the door.” Having put one pistol in his coat pocket, he
locked the door and repocketed the key. He turned now to Foxwell, who
had been pondering. “I must borrow your horses, sir, to the first
posting-place. I will send them back from there, with these pistols and
this key. You can then release this gentleman, if he be not freed by
other means before that;—he will soon begin to make himself heard. I
think you will now see fit to speed my parting; for, look you, if I am
taken in my flight, Heaven knows whose hands this letter may fall into.”

“And if you are not taken?” inquired Foxwell.

“I will not read it, nor let anybody else read it; and will send it to
you from France as soon as I am married to your niece. Regarding that
matter, I will only say now that I am a man of honour, of good family,
and some fortune.—I must still carry you off, sweet. ’Tis the one safe
course, despite the dangers and discomforts you must share.”

“Better the dangers and discomforts with you, than the anxieties if I
were left behind,” said Georgiana.

“Then, Mr. Foxwell, may I beg you to conduct us to the horses?—your
servant might dispute our taking them.”

Everell had now put the second pistol into the opposite coat pocket,
believing that the letter gave him sufficient control over Foxwell’s
actions. But he kept his hand upon his sword-hilt, intending that
Foxwell should walk in front of him to the horses.

“A moment, pray,” said Foxwell. “Consider the legal position I shall be
left in if I assist you. It does not suit me to fly the country, as it
does you.”

“Who will trouble you on that score? Certainly this booby justice will
not desire to publish a matter in which he makes so poor a figure. He
knows not who I am. In what crime can he then accuse you of aiding me?
The abduction and the horse-stealing you need not pursue—you have signed
no charge, sworn to none.”

“The theft of the letter,” said Foxwell. “If I help you to escape, I
shall be accessory to that.”

“But you say he has no right to its possession. In any case, you can
show him how ridiculous he will appear. I think you run little risk; but
be that as it may, I must think of my own risk. Every moment adds to it;
and to the danger of this letter coming to wrong hands. So, if you
please, to the horses.”

A curious look was on Foxwell’s face. It was true that any struggle with
Everell in the presence of Thornby or his people might result in the
letter’s falling again into that gentleman’s hands. But there was now no
such person to interfere. A quick sword-thrust—which could be justified
as against an escaping rebel—might win the letter in a moment; Foxwell
could destroy it immediately at the fire, and make his peace with
Thornby by releasing him and showing his outrage avenged. No danger,
then, of the letter’s capture in the long journey of a fugitive, or of
Thornby’s attempting retaliation by course of law. It was all seen in an
instant. Foxwell’s sword flashed in the air, and Everell had to spring
aside to save himself.

“Ah, treacherous!” cried the young man, as his own blade leaped out.

Foxwell’s second thrust came with surprising swiftness, but was fairly
met; and the two swords darted and clashed again and again. Georgiana,
with every impulse to rush between the fighters, dared not do so, and
was indeed compelled to move rapidly to keep out of their way, watching
them with fear and horror. While the noise of their quick feet, their
loud breathing and sharp ejaculations, and the clashing steel filled the
apartment, there came from some other part of the house a sound of
half-drunken singing. This was unheeded, even when it was evidently
approaching. Foxwell, perceiving that he had counted too much upon the
suddenness and sureness of his attack, and feeling that he was entitled
to little mercy if he lost, fought with the impetuosity of desperation.
His arm at length grew heavy; and Everell, who on his side used a
concentration of faculties worthy of the issue at stake, found opening
for a lunge that pinked the other’s forearm, causing him to lower his
hand with a cry of chagrin. The next instant the young man struck the
weapon from Foxwell’s weakened grasp, sending it flying to the door;
which at that moment opened, letting in two men who walked arm in arm
and bawled a bacchanalian song.

From their dress and appearance, it was evident that these newcomers
were Mr. Thornby’s table companions, doubtless come in search of him.
One of them, a short, heavy-set person with a wig awry, was plainly very
drunk indeed. The other, a slim, prudent-looking fellow, seemed in good
command of his senses. This man, having nearly tripped over the sword,
picked it up, and looked with astonishment at those in the room.

“Eh!” he exclaimed. “My Jacobite, by all that’s holy! Here’s
providential work! Call your men, Mr. Potkin.”

The stout little man pulled himself together, blinked at Everell, and
then bolted from the room. “The justice’s clerk, gone to bring varlets
of the law,” thought Everell, who stood regaining his breath. Foxwell
withdrew panting to the other side of the table, dropped into Thornby’s
chair, and began pulling up his sleeve to examine his wound. Filson put
himself on guard with the sword before the doorway, with the manifest
intention of disputing Everell’s escape from the room till help should
come. Perhaps the courage of wine, the excitement of beholding his
quarry at last, or the sight of Everell’s winded condition, emboldened
the man: at any rate, he showed resolution, and his manner with the
sword was that of some practice in fencing—not a surprising thing at a
time when gentlemen’s gentlemen imitated the accomplishments of their
masters.

“What! you menace me!” cried Everell; “then be careful of your other
ear, hound!” With this he rushed upon Filson, thrusting along the side
of the latter’s head, and running the point through the wig, though not
touching the ear.

Filson turned pale, but made a pass, which was narrowly avoided. Everell
gave a second lunge, and this time the weapon pierced the somewhat
extended auricular shell.

“Help! help, Mr. Foxwell!” shouted Filson, clapping one hand to the
injured ear, but still wielding his sword against Everell.

“Call for help to those who buy letters from you, cur,” replied Foxwell,
scarce looking up from his task of binding his arm with a handkerchief,
a business performed by his left hand with the aid of his teeth.
Georgiana had looked an offer of assistance, which her uncle had
repelled. Her attention instantly returned to her lover.

On hearing Foxwell’s answer, Filson shrank back; but Everell pressed him
close, parried a desperate lunge, and sent a swift long thrust for the
region of the heart. Filson dropped like a log, and lay as still as one,
a result somewhat unexpected by Everell, to whom the resistance had
seemed only that of the man’s loose coat.

“Come!” cried Everell, and, while Georgiana hastened to his side, he
added to her uncle: “All that I said awhile ago still holds true. I wish
you good night.” He then led Georgiana around the prostrate body of
Filson, and through the doorway. Just outside in the hallway stood
Joseph and the footman, who had been attracted by the noise to peer into
the room, which as yet they dared not re-enter. Everell waved them aside
with his sword, and the lovers quickly passed. The two men, not knowing
what to do, again looked into the room, Joseph expectant of his master’s
orders, and the footman wondering at the disappearance of Thornby.
Nobody else was in the hall, and Everell and Georgiana were in a moment
at the door opposite that by which they had entered the house. It was
not fastened. Throwing it open, Everell found that he was right in what,
from his present knowledge of the roads and gates, he had
assumed,—namely, that Foxwell’s horses were waiting at this entrance.
They were in charge of a boy who evidently belonged to Thornby Hall,
perhaps to the gate-lodge. On the door-step was a lantern.

Everell sheathed his sword, and said, quietly, to the boy: “We are to
use Mr. Foxwell’s horses, my good lad.” He coolly helped Georgiana into
the saddle, mounted the other horse, and bade the boy hand him the
lantern. The lad, ignorant of Foxwell’s purposes and of the fighting in
the house, and obedient by habit, complied. “Now run before, and you
shall receive a crown at the gate,” said Everell, grasping Georgiana’s
rein and his own. He was at the same time wondering to what part of the
house or vicinity the clerk had gone for his forces. He trusted that
Foxwell would now see his interest in passively aiding the flight, and
would find means to keep Joseph and Thornby’s servant from interfering
or giving alarm.

In this he was not deceived. Foxwell saw all chance gone of obtaining
the letter by force of his own; and now feared that, if taken by
Thornby’s men, Everell would rather entrust it to them than suffer
Foxwell to possess it after what had occurred.

Foxwell, therefore, upon noticing the two servants at the doorway,
called Joseph to assist in binding his wound. He then assigned the
footman to the impossible task of prizing open the door of Thornby’s
prison with a poker. This apparent concern for Thornby’s comfort was
partly for the future conciliation of that gentleman; and Foxwell
intended to employ his wound to the same end, on the ground that he had
received it in the Squire’s interest. As he sat thinking the matter out,
and watching Joseph’s bungling attempts to fasten a bandage, Foxwell
heard a loud tramping, as of several heavy feet, in the hall.

“The men whom the clerk went to fetch,” thought he; and, without turning
his head, considered how he might delay them with perfect safety to
himself. But, just as they seemed about to enter the room, there was a
brief pause in their movements; and then they were heard rushing away
and out of the hall. It was as if they had learned at the very threshold
that the person they sought was gone elsewhere. Foxwell turned his eyes
upon the doorway, near which Filson had fallen. To his amazement, the
body of that rascal was not to be seen. This enabled Foxwell to account
for the movements of the justice’s men: the knave had yet life enough to
crawl out and indicate the way the fugitive had taken. The trampling of
the men in the hall, the footman’s noise with the poker, and certain
incoherent words of inquiry and command which Thornby had begun to shout
from his closet, had covered the sound of Filson’s exit.

Meanwhile, Everell and Georgiana had ridden down a driveway of
considerable length, following close upon the heels of the boy, whom the
lantern enabled them to keep in sight. The gate had swung to after
Foxwell’s entrance. As the lad went to open it, and Everell put his hand
in his pocket for the promised crown, there came a noise of men issuing
from the house they had left, followed by a cry: “Stop them! gate, ho!
let nobody pass!”

The boy gave a startled look at the riders, and stood hesitating.
Everell, who had been holding the lantern high so as to see the way,
quickly handed it to Georgiana; drew one of the pistols from his pocket,
pointed it at the lad’s head, and, at the same time offering the crown
piece with his left hand, said: “Lead or silver, which?”

[Illustration: “THE HORSES DASHED FORWARD.”]

The boy, whose mind had probably never worked so rapidly in his life
before, flung the gate open. Men were now heard running toward them from
the top of the driveway. Everell threw the coin at the boy, and the
horses dashed forward. Once in the road, the lovers turned to the right,
thus aiming for the town wherein they had first met. Everell put away
the pistol, but allowed Georgiana, at her own suggestion, to retain
possession of the lantern, that he might be the readier with his
weapons, should occasion arise. Of this there was not much immediate
likelihood, for, now that the gate was passed, Thornby’s men must needs
resort to horses if they meant to give chase.

“Do you ride well, sweet?” Everell called to Georgiana, as they galloped
along the road.

“Well enough,” she replied, as cheerily as she could.

He now observed, for the first time, that she was riding man-fashion;
his cloak, which she still wore, enabling her to do so with less loss in
appearance than addition of safety.

“You will not soon forget the night of your abduction,” said he, gaily.

She reminded him it was no longer an abduction, but a flight on her part
as well as his. And both of them, though they said nothing, wondered
what would be the end of it.

Continue Reading

PROPOSALS

THE conversation just related took place in a passage where the two men
kept watch outside the room in which Everell was temporarily confined.
It was a small chamber with an iron-barred window, and the Jacobite sat
gazing into the flame of a candle on the mantelpiece, while his fate was
being discussed in the drawing-room. He was still under the restraint of
the cords, which, like that of lock and key, was warranted by his
persistent refusal to give his word that he would not escape. The master
of the house had personally seen, however, that the prisoner’s
surroundings were made as endurable as the necessities of the case
allowed.

“So this,” said Foxwell, as he then rejoined his guests in the
drawing-room, “is what lay behind our Georgiana’s prudery. How the deuce
could she have met the Jacobite?”

“The question is,” said Rashleigh, “what the deuce are you going to do
with the Jacobite?”

“I wish I knew,” replied Foxwell, looking at the document presented to
him by Jeremiah Filson. “’Tis clear enough what our duty is, as loyal
subjects, and so forth.”

“’Twere a pity such a lovable fellow should be thrown to the hangman,”
said Mrs. Winter.

“A thousand pities,” said Lady Strange. “And so loving a fellow, too! If
ever a man had a true lover’s look!—well, to be sure, the little
Georgiana is a pretty thing, but—”

“But the young blade might look higher if he had better taste—is that
what you were thinking, Diana?” asked Mrs. Winter, with ironical
artlessness.

“No such thing, neither!” said Lady Strange, indignantly. “I admire him
for his constancy—for I warrant he is constant to her, and will be
constant to her; and I wouldn’t have him else, not for the world. Thank
Heaven, I am above envy.”

A slight emphasis upon the I—so slight as scarce to seem intended—was
perhaps what drew from the other lady the answer:

“Don’t be too sure of the young fellow’s constancy. You know, Diana
dear, you always have been somewhat credulous of men’s constancy—’tis
your own fidelity makes you trustful, of course.”

“Doubt as much as you like, Isabella: we are all aware you have
particular reasons to complain of men’s fickleness.”

Feeling that the preservation of the peace required an immediate
diversion, Rashleigh broke in with the first remark that occurred to him
as appropriate:

“Certainly this young man is a lover who has risked his life for the
sake of love.”

“Ay, and that proves you and I were right at dinner, Cousin Rashleigh!”
cried Lady Strange.

“Hardly so, my lady,” said Foxwell. “This young gentleman merely
_risked_ his life in coming to meet his beloved. He by no means counted
surely upon losing it: his active endeavours to escape prove that. Mrs.
Winter’s contention, which I supported, was that no man would
deliberately give his life for the sake of love—by which I mean the
passion of love, itself, apart from pity or duty or other consideration.
Now, had this gentleman come to meet his beloved, knowing certainly that
death awaited him in consequence, then indeed he would have proved your
assertion.”

“Well, and how do you know he wouldn’t have done so, if the
circumstances had required?” asked Lady Strange. “For my part, I believe
he would.”

“Provided, of course,” added Rashleigh, “that by failing to meet her he
might lose her for all time.”

“That is implied, certainly,” said Foxwell. “The alternative we are
imagining is: Death for love gratified—life for love renounced.”

“Catch a fellow of his years and looks choosing death on any such terms,
if the choice were offered him,” said Mrs. Winter, derisively.

“’Tis precisely his youth that would make him give all for love,” said
Rashleigh; “the more so if this be his first serious love.—But what _is_
to be his fate, Bob? If you hand him over to the authorities, he will
certainly be hanged, unless that paper lies.”

“Egad, I was just thinking,” replied Foxwell, with the faint smile that
comes with a piquant idea; “an Italian duke, a century or two ago, would
have amused his visitors, and settled the point of our dispute, by
putting this young gentleman to the test. I must say, experiments upon
the human passions have an interest, though the loggish minds of our
countrymen don’t often rise to such refinements of curiosity.”

“I see nothing in it to balk at,” said Rashleigh. “At the worst, the
young man can but die, as he must if you do your plain duty as a loyal
subject. ’Twould really be giving him a chance for his life. It seems an
excellent way out of your own indecision as to what you should do with
him: you transfer his fate from your will to his.”

“I believe he does love the girl,” said Foxwell, revolving the notion in
his mind. “And certainly his life is in my power—we may let him go if we
choose, and the government be none the wiser, or we may dutifully hand
him over to the law. We can offer him, on the one hand, his life and
freedom if he will give up his love upon the instant and for ever, not
to set eyes upon the girl again: on the other hand, a brief period of
grace, which he may pass with her on the footing of a favoured suitor,
on condition of handing him over to the authorities at the end.”

“And if he decline to choose?” asked Rashleigh.

“Then I can send word straightway to Jeremiah Filson to fetch the
officers. In that event, young Troilus will lose both life and love.
Either choice will be a gain upon that.—But you may save your pity, Lady
Strange: he will choose to live and go free, depend on it.”

“I will not depend on it. He will obey the dictates of his love, and
choose death rather than never see her again.”

“Indeed, I shall not be surprised if he does so,” said Rashleigh. “You
take too little account of his youth, Bob. When men are of his age, and
of an ardent nature, their love shuts out everything else from their
view. ’Tis their universe. Beyond it, or apart from it, there’s
nothing.”

“Fudge and nonsense!” exclaimed Mrs. Winter. “He will prefer to run away
and live to love another day.”

“We shall see,” cried Lady Strange, “if Bob will really put it to the
test. I’m so sure of the man, I’ll lay five guineas he will choose love
and death.”

“Well, my lady, I’ll take your wager,” said Foxwell. “Your five guineas
will be a cheap price for the lesson, that we men are not such devoted
creatures as you do us the honour to suppose.”

“Never fear my doing _you_ that honour, Foxwell. But thank you for
taking the wager. I’m dying of curiosity to see how the young fellow
will receive the proposal.”

“There is no need you should linger in suspense,” replied Foxwell,
pulling the bell. “Let us have the matter out now, while we’re in the
humour.”

Taking up his sword, for use only in case of some desperate attempt on
the prisoner’s part, Foxwell stationed himself at the door of the room,
whence he could see across the hall and up the passage to the place of
confinement. He then sent Caleb to request, in terms of great
politeness, Mr. Everell’s company in the drawing-room, whither he was to
be attended, of course, by the two men now guarding him.

While Caleb was upon this errand, it was possible for Foxwell both to
keep eyes on the passage and to talk with his friends.

“Will you bet five guineas against me, too, Bob?” asked Rashleigh.

“Nay, I’ll do that,” put in Mrs. Winter, quickly, “and five more, if you
like.”

“Done—ten guineas,” said Rashleigh.

“Good!” cried Mrs. Winter. “I believe I know how far a man is capable of
going for love’s sake—even when young and of an ardent nature.”

“For all your talk,” answered Rashleigh, with barefaced affability,
“you’ll not make me believe you’ve never found a man who would face
death for love of you.”

“I may have found some who said they would,” replied Mrs. Winter,
complacently swallowing the flattery despite all her sophistication,
“but that’s a different thing. Let us see how this Romeo comes out of
the test.”

“How are you going to put the matter to him, Foxwell?” asked Lady
Strange.

“Leave it to me,” was the reply. “Either he shall go free and never see
her again, or he shall be our guest here for a stipulated time, and then
be given up. The only question is, how long shall that time be?”

“A day,” suggested Mrs. Winter.

“Cruel!—a month,” said Lady Strange.

“I cannot have him on my hands so long,” said Foxwell. “Say a week.
Shall the wagers stand, on that condition?”

Rashleigh made no objection, and the two ladies were brought to a hasty
acceptance of the compromise by Foxwell placing his finger on his lip in
warning of the prisoner’s approach.

Everell came as rapidly as the restraint upon his motions would allow;
and stopped as soon as he had entered the room, to avoid proceeding
farther with his shuffling steps before the company. Foxwell had a chair
placed for him. Caleb and the two other men were ordered to stand ready
outside the door, which was then closed. Foxwell sat down near the
ladies and Rashleigh, so that the Jacobite now found himself confronted
by four pairs of eyes, which paid him the compliment of a well-bred
regard vastly different in its effect from the rude stare of the vulgar.
His own glance had swiftly informed him that Georgiana was not present.

He sat with undissembled curiosity as to what this interview might
unfold. He had obeyed the summons with alacrity, eager to be informed of
what was to come. He was neither defiant nor crushed; exhibited neither
sullenness nor bravado. In the solitude of his place of detention, he
had been tormented with the reproach of having brought trouble upon
Georgiana; and he had been sobered and humbled by the knowledge that at
last his rashness had laid him by the heels. What could he say to
Roughwood now, if that wise friend were there to see the fulfilment of
his warnings? But these feelings did not banish hope. Everell’s nature
was still buoyant. He was, at least, under the same roof with Georgiana.
Death seemed far away: he scarcely thought of it as the natural sequel
to his situation. He now looked with frank inquiry at the face of his
principal captor for enlightenment as to what was intended concerning
him.

“Sir, I have solicited this meeting,” began Foxwell, “in order to
discuss our positions—yours and my own. My friends were witnesses to the
occurrence by which you fell into my—that is to say, by which you became
my guest. They know why I felt bound to detain you, and they will share
my confidence to the end of the affair. It would, of course, be their
right—perhaps their duty as loyal subjects—to act independently in the
interests of Government, if I chose not to act so. But they have agreed
to abide by my course, whatever that shall be. So it is well, I think,
that they should be present at this interview.”

“I am far from making the least objection, sir,” said Everell, bowing to
the ladies and regarding the whole company with an amiable though
expectant composure.

“You are aware, of course,” Foxwell continued, “of what will follow if I
give you up to the nearest justice. Perhaps you may not know that one
Jeremiah Filson is actively concerning himself about you in this
neighbourhood on behalf of the Government. He has caused a warrant to be
issued against you, he is circulating descriptions which show him to be
an accurate and thorough observer.” Foxwell put his hand upon the paper
which Rashleigh had laid on the table. “He waits only for news of your
whereabouts, to bring the constables upon you. He will be one of the
witnesses against you, and the other, I believe, is now at York or
Carlisle—I know not which, but the judges have been trying and
sentencing your unlucky comrades by the score, gentlemen as well as the
lower orders.”

As Foxwell paused, Everell, for want of knowing what better reply to
make, answered in a half-smiling manner, though his heart was beating
rather faster than usual:

“Sir, I have nothing to say to this—except that ’tis a pity so many poor
fellows should die for being on the losing side. Nor do I own that I am
the man you think.”

“Too many circumstances leave me no doubt on that point, sir,” said
Foxwell, with a serenity which showed the hopelessness of any contest on
the ground of identity. “’Tis in your power and right certainly to deny
and temporize; but, if you choose to tire me by those methods, I have
only to deliver you up at once.”

There was something in the speaker’s quiet voice and cold eyes that gave
the whole possibility—trial, sentence, the end—a reality and nearness it
had never had in Everell’s mind before. He was startled into a gravity
he had not previously felt.

“But,” Foxwell went on, “if you choose that we shall understand each
other, there is a chance for your life—a condition upon which you may
have immediate liberty.”

Everell looked frankly grateful. The form of death assigned to traitors
and rebels, with its dismal preliminaries and circumstances, had not
allured him the brief while he had contemplated it. It wore a vastly
different aspect from that of a glorious end in the self-forgetfulness
of battle. “Immediate liberty?” he repeated, with some eagerness.

“With my warranty,” continued Foxwell, “that neither my friends, nor
myself, nor my servants shall pursue you, or give information against
you, or in any manner hinder your departure from this country—”

“Sir,” Everell broke in, “I should be an ingrate not to be moved by such
generosity—you are worthy to be her kinsman!—”

“Upon the single condition—” went on Foxwell, without any change of
manner.

“Ah, yes; conditions are but reasonable,” said Everell.

“The single condition,” said Foxwell, “that you will never again, during
the whole length of your life, see or communicate with my niece:—and for
this you will give me your word of honour.”

“Never—see her—again?” said Everell, faintly, gazing at Foxwell as if
unsure of having heard aright.

“Upon your word of honour,” replied Foxwell, who did not alter either
his attitude of easy grace nor his tone of courteous nonchalance during
the interview; “but, indeed, as a part of the condition, you will leave
this neighbourhood at once. That will be for the comfort of all of us
concerned, as well as for your own safety. If, after twenty-four hours,
you are seen hereabouts, or in this county, I shall be freed of my
obligation: in that event, beware of Jeremiah Filson and the justice’s
men. And, in the meantime, my niece will be inaccessible. I will make it
my care to see that she is soon married, so there will be no hope for
you in that quarter. But as the old ballad says that love will find out
the way,—though I greatly doubt the possibility in this case,—I must,
nevertheless, make doubly sure by requiring, as I have said, your word
of honour that you will never of your own intention see or address her,
directly or indirectly, in this world. That is all, I think.”

“It is too much that you ask!” cried Everell. “Your condition is too
hard—I can’t accept it—no, sir, I cannot.”

“Yet if I hand you over to the law straightway,” said Foxwell, quietly,
“you will not see her again.”

“There will still be the possibility of escape,” replied Everell; “there
will be no binding word of honour. But go free without _one_ hope of
ever meeting her again?—no, make the condition something else, I beg
you, sir; or hand me over to the law, and let me retain my right of
escape.”

Lady Strange’s eyes shone with applause, but Rashleigh and Mrs. Winter
waited for the scene to continue. After a moment’s silence, Foxwell
began anew:

“Well, sir, I must congratulate my niece upon your devotion. Rather than
give her up for ever, you will risk death. You hazard all upon your
chance of escape. ’Tis a slight chance enough: that you will own.”

“No doubt,” replied Everell, in a faltering voice; “but ’tis something.”

“Suppose it fails you. Then, in losing your life, you lose the lady,
too. Your chance of seeing her again is even smaller than the small
chance of your escape: you may be sure that special precautions will be
taken with you—such that your chance will be hardly worth calling by
that name.”

Everell sighed deeply, and it is no use denying that he looked plaintive
and miserable.

“But what if I propose an alternative?” said Foxwell. “What if I offer
to make you our guest here—for a week—as free as any other guest, except
that you may not leave the grounds or put yourself in danger of
discovery,—a guest with all the opportunities of meeting my niece that a
recognized suitor might have?”

It was a moment before Everell could speak. “Sir, what does all this
mean?” he cried. “Is it a jest? In God’s name, don’t hold out such a
prospect merely to play with me.”

“’Tis a prospect in your power of realizing, upon my honour.”

“Then your generosity—but generosity is too mean a word—I know not how
to describe your action, nor to express my gratitude.”

“Pray wait till you have heard the condition: to everything there is a
price.”

“Whatever it be, ’twere cheap payment for such happiness. I won’t
disguise my love for your niece, sir: why should I, when I began by
confessing it? To be with her all the day, without anxiety or risk—”

“For a week, I said.”

“Such a week will be worth a lifetime!” Everell declared.

“’Tis well you count it so, for that is the price at which it is
offered. At the end of the week, I mean, you shall be given up to the
authorities. If you accept this proposal, you will engage upon your
honour to surrender yourself at the appointed hour, and to forego all
chance of escape—though at the same time every precaution will be taken
to make sure of you.”

“At the end of the week—given up?” repeated Everell, again startled and
open-eyed.

“Given up to the officers of justice, with advice to use special care
against your escape—though, indeed, your word of honour will be the
better security. As to what will follow—your conveyance to York, your
trial, and the rest—” Foxwell gave a shrug in lieu of finishing the
sentence.

“A week,” said Everell, rather to himself than to the company, “a week
with _her_—to be absolutely _sure_ of that!—”

“A week with her,” said Foxwell, “and then to face the judges. A few
tedious days of imprisonment and trial—hardly to be reckoned as days of
life—and ‘the rest is silence,’ as the play says. How many possible
years of life is it you would forfeit to pay for this week? Two score,
perhaps,—and some of them years of fine young manhood, too. Well, the
choice is yours. You may give life for love, if you wish. Or love for
life, if you will:—my first offer still holds—’tis still in your power
to go from this neighbourhood at once, perfectly free, and to find your
way abroad. Egad, when I think how many joyous days and merry nights lie
between your age and mine!—Life is pleasant in France.”

“I well know that,” said Everell, whose thoughts had responded to the
other’s words.

“There are friends, I dare say, who would not be sorry to see you
again.”

“Friends, yes,—dear friends!” mused Everell.

“’Tis not fair, Foxwell,” Lady Strange put in; “you are influencing
him.”

“I say no more. Those are the alternatives, sir. Once your choice is
made, there shall be no going back upon it: Love, or life:—if you
decline to choose, you are pretty certain to lose both.—Well, sir, take
a few minutes to think upon it. I see these ladies are eager to hear
your decision, but for once you may leave them to their impatience.”

Everell was not heedful of the ladies. Certain words were echoing in his
mind, each accompanied by a rush of the ideas attached to it:
life—love—friends—joyous days and merry nights—but never to see her
again!—to fly from this neighbourhood, from the garden.—Ah, the dear
garden! To be with the adored one for seven days—blissful days, with her
by his side, her hand in his, her eyes softening to his, her voice—

“Sir, could you doubt a moment?” said the young lover. “I choose her!—a
week with her! I hold you to your word—I’ll not shirk mine when the time
comes.”

“Bravo! I knew it!” cried Lady Strange, clapping her hands.

“Lady Strange, I owe you five guineas,” said Foxwell, gallantly. “Mr.
Everell, at this hour a week hence—ten o’clock, shall we call it?—you
are my prisoner.” He rang the bell, and Caleb entered. “Cut this
gentleman’s cords—there has been a mistake. And nothing is to be said of
his presence here, or of what has occurred to-night—nay, I’ll give
orders separately to all the servants.” He waited till Everell stood
entirely freed; he then sent a message to Miss Foxwell, asking her to
come to the drawing-room if she had not yet retired.

“I take it,” he explained to Everell, when Caleb had left the room, “you
would have her know at once how matters have fallen out—as far as you
would have her know at all for the present—that you are to be our guest
for awhile, at least.”

“Certainly,—but”—and here Everell turned pale—“she must not know the
condition.”

“I agree with you there,” said Foxwell, smiling. “For the comfort of
both of us, she had best not know—till afterward, at least.”

“Afterward!” echoed Everell; “and what will be her feelings then? I
hadn’t thought of that.”

“We have all overlooked that, I own. We have thought only of you and
your feelings. But you need not be dismayed—the most devoted of women
are not inconsolable.”

“’Tis not that I think she loves me much; but she is of so tender a
nature, when she learns the price I shall have paid—yet how could I have
chosen otherwise, even considering her feelings?—what would she have
thought, had I preferred to renounce her? Or suppose I had declined to
choose?”

“Why, then, her feelings would be the same, on your being handed over to
justice at once, as they will be a week hence. Nay, indeed, in a week’s
time she may not be as sorry to be rid of you. We shall see when the
time comes: if need be, we can hide the truth from her then as now—when
the week is over, you can take your leave upon some pretext, and trust
time to efface your image from her heart. Take my advice, trouble
yourself not about her feelings: be happy for a week, and don’t think of
‘afterward.’”

Everell sighed, but in truth he could not at that time see how her
feelings could have been spared in any measure by either of the other
courses open to him. Indeed, it seemed to him that fidelity to her
required him to elect as he had done; that any other choice would have
been a renunciation of her, a treason to love. So let him be happy for a
week: at the end, it would be time to think how to save her feelings.

“Very well, sir,” he said to Foxwell; “let her know nothing but that I
am to be your guest for the present.”

“So be it; and you will help us all to keep your presence here a secret
from the outside world. Best never appear on the side of the house
toward the road.—But we can talk of that to-morrow, at breakfast. I will
lay the servants under the heaviest charges, that they will hardly dare
mention you to one another. If you are discovered by Jeremiah Filson or
any such, not only may I fall under suspicion, but your week may be cut
short.”

“I will be cautious, sir, if I have never been so in my life before.”

“And you had best go by some other name in the household. Shall we call
you—ah—Mr. Charlson?”

Everell signified his willingness, and the next moment Georgiana
entered, still dressed as she had been in the garden. Her face was pale
and anxious, but her eyes brightened as they fell upon Everell released
from his bonds. She was close followed by Prudence, whose nose shone red
with the weeping in which she had copiously indulged to the delight and
self-approval of her romantic soul.

“Georgiana,” said Foxwell, before his niece could speak, “this
gentleman, Mr. Charlson, will be our guest for a time. His visit must,
for certain reasons, be kept secret; and you, I am sure, will not fail
in the duties of a hostess. I am going now to give orders for his
accommodation.—Await me here, if you please, Mr. Charlson. Ladies, I
will join you presently—in the library—and you, Rashleigh.”

The three London visitors took the hint and sauntered into the adjoining
room as Foxwell passed out to the hall.

“What does it mean, Everell?” asked Georgiana, in astonishment. “He has
become your friend?”

“I am to be your guest, as he has said,” replied Everell, smiling as he
took her hand. “I shall be near you all the long day—as many hours as
you find it in your heart to give me. Sweet, ’tis too great happiness!”
He put his arm gently around her.

“Happiness!” said she, looking up into his eyes. “’Tis more than I dare
believe. My uncle shelters you and befriends you!—Then there is nothing
to separate us—we may be happy together, day after day—for ever!”

He smiled, and summoned his wonted gaiety. “Well, not—quite—for ever, my
darling!”

The smile and the gaiety had so nearly died out ere he finished those
few words, that he was fain to draw her closer to him, that she might
not see his face.

LET us do Mr. Foxwell justice. He had honestly believed that Everell
would choose to renounce love and be set free. This indeed would have
been the most humane event that any reasonable person could have
expected Foxwell to bring about. He might, of course, have played the
part of a beneficent deity, and at once aided the Jacobite’s escape,
approved of his love, and sanctioned the future union of the lovers. But
he was no Mr. Allworthy. Indeed it is more than doubtful whether Mr.
Allworthy himself would have carried benevolence to that length. A
flying rebel, with a price on his head, whose possessions in the
kingdom, if he had any, were liable to confiscation, was not the suitor
a young lady’s relation could be supposed to favour offhand. One even
fears that the virtuous Allworthy would rather have interpreted the
duties of loyalty in all strictness, and placed the captive in the hands
of justice immediately. But Foxwell, with all his selfishness and
callousness, was not the man to make patriotism a vice to that extent,
unless there was something to gain or save by it. He might be a
heartless rake, but he was too much a gentleman to practise that degree
of Roman virtue without any personal motive of profit or fear.

So the best course had seemed to be to send the fugitive packing, and
nip this love-affair in the bud. And that was what Foxwell had supposed
would result from the alternative offers. In any reasonable issue of the
matter, there must have been separation for the lovers and sorrow for
Georgiana. Would that sorrow be ultimately greater for the postponement,
and for the probable deepening of the attachment between the lovers?
Perhaps; but Foxwell had not looked for this outcome. The cruelty of his
little experiment upon the human passions, then, consisted in his
exposing the young lover’s heart, and playing upon it, for the amusement
of onlookers. The cruelty of the intention was not lessened by the fact
that Everell himself, wholly concerned as to his fate and his love, did
not at the time see himself as a man exhibited and played upon.

Perhaps Foxwell and his friends underwent some self-reproach. However
that be, it is certain they had the delicacy to refrain from spying or
intruding upon the lovers during the week for which Everell had so
devotedly bargained. The party of four went their way, and the party of
two, attended by the faithful Prudence, went theirs, both parties
meeting twice or thrice each day at meals. On these occasions, a
pleasant courtesy prevailed, and there was no rallying of the lovers, no
inquisitive observation of them. Indeed it is doubtful if the feelings
of young lovers were ever more nicely considered. The two found
themselves always favoured by that conspiracy which good-natured people
customarily form for the benefit of a young lady and her favoured
suitor. Everell found that he was not even expected to remain at the
table with the other gentlemen after the ladies had gone, nor was it
required that he and Georgiana should join the latter at the tea-table
or at cards. The lovers’ chief place of resort within the house was the
library, a room quite neglected by the others, who preferred only the
newest plays, poems, and magazines for their reading. In good weather
the lovers sat in the old garden, or strolled in the park, Foxwell and
his visitors going farther afield for their outdoor amusements, and
receiving no company from the neighbourhood. Thus the young couple, from
their meeting at breakfast to their parting at night, passed all the
hours together, in a singular freedom from observant eyes.

We shall imitate Foxwell and his friends in this abstention from prying;
not because the love-making of the two young people is sacred from us,
but because such love-making, interesting as it is to the participants,
is sadly tedious to the spectator. The love-stories of actual people are
interesting for the events that give rise to their love, and to which
their love gives rise; not (excepting the critical moments of the
awakening, the unintentional disclosure, the first confession, and such)
for the regular course of its own manifestation. The reader who has
dreaded the slow account of a week’s love-making—the sighs, the gazes,
the silences, the hand-holdings, the poutings, the forgivings, and all
the rest—may breathe freely. The peculiar pathos of the situation of
these young lovers—a pathos as yet perceptible only to Everell—did not
much alter their conduct from that of other young lovers. For Everell
made fair shift to put the future out of sight, to regard only the day:
he was resolved not to look forward till the last hour of his term
should arrive. As long as he was with Georgiana, he could keep to this:
’twas only when he had retired to his own chamber that visions of the
approaching end would harass him in the darkness; only then would he
count the hours that yet remained.

On the eventful night of his capture, and after Georgiana had retired,
Everell had obtained Foxwell’s permission to communicate with John Tarby
by means of the keeper, who, as he had learned from Tarby himself, was
privately on excellent terms with the poacher. By this medium, then,
Everell had taken leave of his former host with due expressions of
thanks, both in words and in gold, and had obtained the cloak-bag
containing his travelling equipment. Tarby had been left under the
impression that the young gentleman, after being sheltered secretly for
a time at Foxwell Court, was to proceed upon his journey.

That indeed was the impression of the servants at Foxwell Court, and of
Georgiana herself. Everell did not tell her how long or short was to be
his visit, and she, glad enough to postpone all thought of his
departure, never broached the subject. Only once did he hint at the
probability of his leaving her before many days. It was when, on
Saturday evening, she spoke of going to church next day. “Nay,” he
pleaded, with a sudden alarm in his eyes, “you will have Sundays enough
for church-going, when I am not here.” It was not necessary to say more;
but he had to feign excessive lightness of heart to quiet the vague
apprehension his own earnestness had raised in her mind.

Foxwell and his friends appeared at church that Sunday without
Georgiana. Her absence was noted by one important person, at least, for,
after the service, Squire Thornby accosted Foxwell outside the church
porch, with a lack of preliminary salutation, blurting out:

“How now, neighbour Foxwell, ’tis no illness, I hope, keeps Miss Foxwell
home such a fine day?”

“No illness, thank you,” replied Foxwell, mildly; “nothing of
consequence, that is: my niece slept rather badly last night, because of
the wind.”

“I’m glad ’tis nothing serious. Tell her I said so, with my best
compliments. Tell her she was missed. We could better ’a’ spared you,
Foxwell,—and that’s a true word spoken in jest, if ever there was one.”

This pleasantry was accompanied by a smile of such confident insolence
that the onlookers set their ears for the piercing retort they thought
sure to come. It was on the tip of Foxwell’s tongue; but he checked it,
dropped his eyes, and sought refuge in a feebly counterfeited laugh. His
enemy looked around triumphantly, and walked off. Foxwell, who saw
nothing in the Squire’s concern for Georgiana but a pretext for rudeness
to himself, digested his chagrin in silence, though aware of the
surprised glances of Rashleigh and the ladies, to whom he had mentioned
his former method of dealing with this booby.

The next morning, as Foxwell was about to set forth on horseback with
his friends, the gamekeeper sought an interview. Being ordered to speak
out, the man said that Squire Thornby’s people had again broken down the
fence on t’other side of the four beeches, and were busy putting it up
again on the hither side. “Us were going to drive them back, and were
a’most come to blows, when the Squire’s agent told us we’d best come
first to your Honour, and see as if you hadn’t changed your mind about
the rights o’ that bound’ry. He said it in such a manner, sir, as how I
thought maybe there was some new agreement, or the courts had decided,
or something—begging pardon if I’m wrong, sir. So, after a few words, I
thought I’d better see your Honour afore us starts a-breaking heads.”

Foxwell had been able to keep a clear brow, and to stifle a bitter sigh,
but he could not prevent his face from turning a shade darker. His
visitors, who had heard the keeper’s tale, looked with curiosity for the
answer. After a moment’s silence, Foxwell said: “Oh, damn the
fence!—’tis no matter:—yes, we’ve made a new agreement; let Thornby’s
men alone,” and turned his horse to ride off with his guests.

He was by turns morose and excessively mirthful on that day’s excursion.
In the afternoon, as the four were riding up the slope toward the house,
they saw a mounted gentleman emerge through the gateway. Nearing them,
he proved to be Thornby. Foxwell dissembled his inward rage, and had
sufficient self-command to greet his enemy with polite carelessness.

“I suppose you came to see me in regard to the fence,” he added, reining
in his horse. His companions also stopped, on pretence of viewing the
distant sun-bathed hills to the west; but they listened to what passed
between their host and his foe.

“Fence?” said Thornby. “Oh no, sir,—no need to see you in regard to
that. I don’t consult anybody as to what I do on my own land—not even
such a wise fellow as you, Foxwell.”

“Oh, I merely thought it required some particular occasion to persuade
you to visit us at Foxwell Court. I heard you were—rebuilding the fence
by the four beeches.”

“So I am, that’s true enough. I intend to do a considerable amount of
rebuilding of that sort; but I sha’n’t need to come to Foxwell Court on
that account. No; ’twas just the whim brought me to Foxwell Court
to-day—just a neighbourly visit, that’s all.”

“Then pray turn back with us,” said Foxwell.

“No, thankye, sir. I’ve got business awaiting me at home. Glad to find
Miss Foxwell is quite herself again.—No, I won’t trouble you in respect
of my fences, Foxwell,—not me. Good evening to you.”

The Squire’s assured, derisive manner made his speeches doubly
exasperating. As Foxwell rode on with his guests, he could only suppose
that his enemy had come to Foxwell Court for the purpose of exulting
over him upon this new settlement of the old boundary dispute. As the
reader knows, however, Foxwell Court had another attraction for Mr.
Thornby. He had, in fact, rejoiced at Foxwell’s absence, and, upon
arrival, had asked to see Miss Foxwell. The servant found her walking in
the garden with Everell; but she sent her excuses to the visitor, whom
she then casually described to Everell as a neighbour having some
business with her uncle. But the servant presently returned, saying that
Mr. Thornby declared his business important, and would come to her in
the garden if it was a trouble for her to go to him in the house.

Fearing a second refusal might make the Squire too inquisitive,
Georgiana obtained leave from Everell to go and get rid of this
gentleman. As she entered the drawing-room, where Thornby waited, she
began abruptly by saying that she was very much occupied, and that she
hoped his business would not take many minutes.

“Why, now, I’ll tell you truth, Miss Foxwell,” was the reply, “’twas
just for another glimpse of yourself that I came.”

“But you said important business,” answered Miss Foxwell, looking her
displeasure.

“Well, and it was important to me. When I thought of you, I couldn’t let
my horse pass the gate without turning in. To tell the truth again,
’twas the thought of you that made me ride in this here direction. You
wasn’t at church yesterday—I’d been looking forward to see you there.
For my life, I ha’n’t been able to get your face out of my head this
whole week past, odd rabbit me if I have!—not that I ever wanted to,
neither.” The rustic gentleman had lapsed into a state of red-faced
confusion which at another time Georgiana would have pitied; but just
now she was merciless in showing her annoyance.

“I’m vastly flattered, Mr. Thornby; but you have come at a time when I’m
very much taken up with my own affairs—very much taken up. So I beg
you’ll excuse me.”

“Oh, now, wait a minute, Miss Foxwell, as you’ve got a kind Christian
heart. Why, rat me! if you knew as how I’ve pined to see you again since
t’other day, I’ll warrant you’d never go to treat me so unneighbourly.
If you knew as how—”

“Really I must go, Mr. Thornby,—really.”

“Why can’t we be neighbourly, Miss Foxwell,—us two? Your uncle and me
ha’n’t always been sworn brothers, so to speak, but I think as how we
shall be mending that; and if you’d only just—er—ah—be neighbourly
like—”

“I’m perfectly willing we should be good neighbours, Mr.
Thornby,—perfectly. But just now if you’ll do me the favour to excuse—”

“Ah, that’s what I hoped for from such a sweet, gentle face, Miss
Foxwell. Perfectly willing to be good neighbours. You make me a happy
man, by the lord Harry, you do that! Ecod, if you knew as how I’ve laid
awake nights this week past—”

Georgiana, convinced that fair means would not serve, feigned a sudden
dizziness, which threw the Squire into such embarrassment, as he knew
nothing of what to do for a lady in a faint, that he was very glad to
leave the field, though he manfully remained until she declared she was
better and would entirely recover if left alone. As soon as she saw him
ride out of the courtyard, she went back to Everell in the garden.

“How long you stayed!” said he.

“Nay, if you knew this gentleman!—so stupid, and repeating himself a
hundred times:—and after all, ’twas nothing I could be of use in.”

Alluded to in this careless manner, the personality of Thornby awakened
no curiosity in Everell’s mind. He vaguely remembered the name as that
of a landowner in the neighbourhood, whom the innkeeper and John Tarby
had mentioned. How glad Mr. Foxwell would have been could he have felt a
like indifference with regard to the Squire! The reader is aware of
their encounter as Thornby was riding down the slope that afternoon. As
soon after that as Foxwell found himself alone with Rashleigh, his
vexation broke out in words.

“Damn that Thornby! Damn, damn, damn him!”

“The gentleman you were accustomed to take down in company, didn’t you
tell us?” said Rashleigh with marked innocence.

“Ay, George, laugh at me: I deserve it, I own. But something has
happened since I told you that. No doubt you remember, the fellow came
to see me the other day. Do you know what he showed me then?”

“Not I—unless it was a list of men he had killed.”

“Alas, nothing of that sort. To make a long story short, years ago in
London, when I was in bad straits, I wrote a foolish letter—imbecile
that I was!—wrote it in the madness of anger, poverty, imprisonment,—in
the recklessness of drink.”

“We make such blunders now and then, certainly,” was Rashleigh’s sage
comment.

“I soon enough realized my blunder. The recipient of the letter—he is
dead now—told me he had burnt it. It contained things I should be sorry
to have everybody see.”

“But if it was burnt?”

“It wasn’t: there was trickery somewhere. And the letter is now in the
possession of this Thornby. ’Tis the real letter—I recognized it. He
will show it to the world if I provoke him. Till I can get it from
him—and heaven knows how that is to be done: he is a cunning fellow, and
on the _qui vive_—well, now you understand my meekness. He really has me
at his mercy—hardly less than I have the Jacobite yonder at mine.”

From the window the gentlemen could see Everell and Georgiana strolling
within the verge of the park. As Foxwell evinced no mind to say more
about Thornby or the letter, but rather seemed to dismiss them with a
sigh of disgust, Rashleigh took the cue for a change of subject.

“Will you really hand over the Jacobite, after all, Bob?”

“I haven’t thought much of that matter,” replied Foxwell. “I frankly
didn’t expect him to choose as he did.”

“His time is coming to an end,” said Rashleigh. “You will soon have to
decide.”

“Why, deuce take it, has he not decided for himself? What can I do but
hand him over? Were I to let him go free, he would probably be caught,
nevertheless: in the end I should be in trouble for having harboured
him.”

“You’ll pardon me, of course, for introducing the subject. We’ve all
avoided it, as you set the example of doing. But to-day Lady Strange was
hoping that you could find it in your heart to let the young fellow go.”

“Oh, I could find it in my heart; but should I find it to my interest?
Several possibilities have occurred to me, but they all seem attended by
risk or inconvenience. The safest and easiest course is clearly to
observe both the law and our agreement. The man Filson is still in the
village. He seems to have an instinct that his prey is in the
neighbourhood—nay, as he looked at me yesterday at church, I could
almost imagine he suspected something. He has a clue, perhaps. He told
Caleb he might be hereabouts for another fortnight. So you see—well, I
can make up my mind at the last moment if need be—one can always toss a
coin. ’Tis time we were changing our clothes.”

On the afternoon of the last day of Everell’s week, something occurred
to bring Foxwell to a decision without recourse to the toss of a coin.
Georgiana having mentioned to Everell a miniature portrait of herself,
he had eagerly expressed a desire to see it. He had thought she would
send Prudence for it, but Georgiana, saying that she alone could find
it, and that she would return in a minute, left Everell in the garden.
As she entered the hall, on the way to her apartments, she saw her uncle
there in the act of greeting Squire Thornby, who had evidently just
dismounted from his horse. She curtsied, and essayed to pass swiftly to
the stairs, but Thornby intervened.

“Nay, one moment, Miss Foxwell,” said he, with precipitation, and
looking very red in the face. “I’m going to say something to your uncle
that concerns you.” As he stood directly in her way, she had no choice
but to stop. She did not conceal her impatience. “It needn’t keep you
long,” Thornby went on, “for I won’t beat about the bush. Mr. Foxwell, I
may say without vanity I’m a man of some substance as fortunes go in
this here part of the world. And, in course, you know I’m a bachelor.
Not because I’m a woman-hater, but because, to be all open and
aboveboard, I never yet saw the woman in these parts that I thought fit
to be mistress of Thornby Hall—damn me if I ever did!”

“I can understand your feeling, Mr. Thornby,” said Foxwell, while the
Squire paused and glared at both uncle and niece.

“That is to say,” resumed Thornby, “never till a few days ago. Ecod, it
seems more than a few days, one way I look at it! I mean, I saw your
niece—yes, you, Miss Foxwell, I say it to your face. Now the secret’s
out. I hadn’t thought to come to the point so soon—I thought to go
softly, and court the young lady awhile, and so forth—but hang me if I
desire to wait and give somebody else a chance to carry off such a
prize.—Well, what d’ye say, Miss Foxwell?”

Georgiana was quite too confounded to say anything.

“She says you do us a great honour, Mr. Thornby,” put in Foxwell,
discreetly; “a very great honour. My niece, I am sure, is fully sensible
of the honour. But are you aware how small her fortune is?”

“Hang fortunes! I’ve enough for two!” cried Thornby.

“And then, sir,” went on Foxwell, with quiet frankness, “upon her
marriage, you must know, the division of our estate will leave me rather
ill provided for. That would not influence me, were she not so young;
but, as it is, she can very well afford to wait two or three years,
during which I may improve my affairs.”

“You sha’n’t suffer, Foxwell,” said the Squire, bluntly: “you shall come
out of the affair as well provided for as both of you now are together.
But what does the lady say?”

“The lady says, no!” And emphatically she said it, too, now that she had
found her voice. “I thank you very much, Mr. Thornby; but ’tis not to be
heard of!”

“Oh, come now, Miss Foxwell! Don’t be so determined all in a moment.
Consider it—be kind—be—be neighbourly!”

“’Tis not to be heard of, I assure you, Mr. Thornby. No, no, no, I say!
I will never consider it—I will never—” As Thornby still barred her path
to the stairs, she turned suddenly and hastened from the hall by the way
she had entered. After making sure she was not followed, she rejoined
Everell, with an excuse for postponing her quest of the miniature. She
trusted to her uncle to soften the refusal of Thornby’s offer; for she
could not but think, although she had nobody’s word for it, that Foxwell
had decided to favour Everell as her suitor—a turn she attributed to
some assurance of Everell’s prospects in France, which, she supposed,
the fugitive had given Foxwell on the night of the capture. Indeed in no
other way could she account for the strange situation that existed; she
was glad enough to accept without question a state of affairs in which
she found joy for the present and hope for the future.

But her exit from the hall did not finish the scene there. Thornby,
after staring open-mouthed a moment, addressed himself to Foxwell:

“Ecod, why should she fly out like that—well, well, I haven’t the gift
of fine speech. You have that, Foxwell, and I look to you to persuade
her, d’ye hear? I’ll make it worth your while. The day I marry her, you
shall have back that there letter we both know of; but if she won’t have
me, damme if I know what use I sha’n’t make of it!”

“I hold you to that promise,” said Foxwell, quickly, “and to what you
mentioned in regard to terms of settlement.”

“As to providing for you, and so forth? You’ll find me as good as my
word: I’ll have my lawyer ready for yours the minute she gives her
consent.”

“’Tis but a girl’s coyness that stands in the way: we shall break that
in a little time.”

“Nay, no force, neither!” said Thornby. “It must be of her own free
will—she must tell me herself she takes me willingly—you’re to persuade,
not compel.”

“Certainly.”

“I dare say I’d best not see her again to-day,” the Squire faltered.

“Not for a few days, at the least, I should advise.”

“Well, I suppose you know. I’ll do my best to bide patient for two
days.”

“But I scarcely hope to change her mind within a week,” said Foxwell,
thoughtfully.

“I’ll come to see how you fare, nevertheless.—If you _do_ succeed sooner
than you hope, send me word immediately.”

Left alone, Foxwell paced the hall, in cogitation. He was joined
presently by Rashleigh.

“Egad, Bob, your meditations must have grown pleasanter, to make you
smile to yourself.”

“Was I smiling? Well, you must know my excellent niece has received an
offer of marriage—a mighty advantageous one. The little fool spurns it:
the Jacobite stands in the way, of course, and will as long as he is
alive to communicate with her. I shall have to do my duty as a loyal
subject of King George, I see.”

“But will she be the more favourable to another suitor, while the one
she loves is about being hanged?”

“Perhaps I can keep the Jacobite’s fate from her knowledge. ’Tis plain
he hasn’t told her of our bargain: he probably will not tell
her—probably will but announce his departure on some pretext—may indeed
say nothing of it, leaving us to break it. I will deliver him up
to-night, but not in her presence. At ten o’clock his claims cease. If
he has meanwhile prepared her for his going, well and good: if not, she
shall think he has taken sudden leave for his own reasons. Hearing no
more of him, she will put his silence down to inconstancy; in that case,
pride may incline her to the other man. If she learns the truth, she
will be too broken to resist my persuasions long.—I’m sorry for the
rebel: but there’s much at stake for me in the affair—and ’tis only what
he agreed to and expects—what he risked before ever I saw him—his just
deserts under the law. The girl will suffer, too,—but not for many days.
I hope he will not tell her the full truth.”

Everell himself was in doubt as to what he should tell her. He was
trying still to postpone consideration of the end so close at hand. He
was sorely perplexed for her sake, for he knew now how far beyond mere
compassion her love was.

EVERELL’S last meal at Foxwell Court was not marked by lively
conversation. He had his own thoughts, or, rather, his own confused and
whirling state of mind, so that he scarce knew whether the others spoke
or were silent. Outwardly he still maintained a brave face, so that
Georgiana might not yet be alarmed. The young lady herself had never
taken much part in the table talk. Lady Strange and Rashleigh felt the
occasion too sensibly to be capable of easy discourse, and Foxwell knew
a gentleman’s part too well to intrude a gaiety either real or feigned.
He quietly kept the ball rolling, however, with Mrs. Winter, who
alone—save Georgiana—seemed untouched by the shadow of coming events.

As soon as the ladies had finished, Georgiana left the room for the
library. Everell, with a bow to the company, turned to follow her.

Lady Strange, already risen, laid a gentle hand upon his sleeve and
said, softly: “Upon my soul, sir, I pity you!”

He looked at her a moment; then, summoning a smile, answered: “I thank
you from my heart; but ’tis not near ten o’clock. I have some hours yet
remaining. Ladies, your servant.”

When he had gone out, Mrs. Winter said: “So you may keep your pity till
ten o’clock, Diana. Sure the young fellow carries it off well. ’Twill be
worth seeing if he does so to the end. Ten o’clock—’tis several hours
off, and card-playing begins to be tedious. What a long evening ’twill
be!”

“Short enough for those two young lovers,” said Lady Strange, with a
sigh, as she passed to the drawing-room.

“I suppose you have made your arrangements, Bob,” said Rashleigh, when
the two gentlemen were alone; “for delivering him up, I mean.”

“They are very simple. I will send Joseph with a message to Jeremiah
Filson an hour or so before ten o’clock. Filson will require a little
time to muster the justice’s men; he may have to go to Thornby Hall—no
doubt Thornby’s clerk will command the party, to make sure that all is
regular. So ’twill scarce be possible for them to arrive before ten: in
any case, I’ll warn Filson they mustn’t do so. Till ten I may not call
the rebel from Georgiana’s presence. I hope he will leave her in
ignorance. Well, we shall see.”

In the library Georgiana sat reading to her lover. What the words meant,
what the book was, he hardly knew; she would have preferred to be the
listener, but in that case he would have had to keep his eyes upon the
page, and he would rather keep them upon her face. He could interrupt
when he chose, and then her eyes rose to meet his; so that he often
interrupted. Suddenly he remembered the miniature she had started to get
for him in the afternoon; and now the desire to possess it—to have that
image of her beauty to carry with him to the end—grew strong in a
moment. He reminded her.

She rose at once to go to her room for it, saying, as before, that only
she could find it. He followed her through the dining-room; which was
now deserted, as Foxwell and Rashleigh had soon joined the ladies in the
drawing-room. In the wide entrance-hall, as Everell could accompany her
no farther, he caught her hand lightly, and said:

“Don’t be long in finding it, I pray. Remember, every moment—” He
checked himself, and turned the supplication to gaiety by a smile. “Be
considerate of my impatience, dear.”

Struck by his manner, she looked searchingly at his face. But he kissed
her hand in a playful way, and gave it a little toss toward the
stairway; up which she hastened a moment later, reassured.

There was a footman stationed in the entrance-hall, and Everell, not
wishing his mood to be observed, went back into the dining-room to await
Georgiana’s return. He still held in one hand the book from which she
had been reading. He turned the pages, gazing at the words, but
receiving no impression from them. The table remained as the gentlemen
had left it, except that the candelabrum had been removed, only two
candles in wall-sconces remaining to light the room. The fire in the
chimney-place was low, and the air rather chill, for the evening had set
in with a cold wind. “Little do I care, though it freeze and blow,”
thought Everell, standing by the fireplace. “Why does she delay?
Cruel!—but she knows not. The minutes!—the minutes I am losing!”

But in truth she was expeditious, and so quiet in her return that she
entered the room before he had heard her step. He went to her with a
subdued cry, seized the miniature from her hand, and pressed it—and then
the hand itself—with passionate tenderness to his lips.

“It shall never leave me,” he said. “It shall be the last thing I look
upon—it shall feel the last beat of my heart.”

“But that will be many, many years in the future,” said Georgiana, with
a half-comic air of complaint, “and meanwhile you don’t even look at the
picture now!”

“Time enough for that!—Let me look only at you now.”

“What do you mean? There is time enough for looking at me, too. Tell me
if the likeness flatters me.”

“Nothing could do that. ’Tis a lovely portrait—never was a lovelier; but
the eyes are not as sweet as the original’s—nor the face as angelic—nor
the hair as soft—nor the colour as fair—nor the look as tender. ’Tis
nothing to the life—and yet ’tis adorable. ’Twas kindly thought, to give
it me,—more kindly than you know, dear.”

He kissed it once more; then, having placed it carefully in the breast
pocket of his waistcoat, took both her hands, and regarded her with an
intentness that reawoke the vague alarm she had felt in the hall.

“Why do you look in that manner, Everell? Why do you speak so strangely
this evening? You make me almost afraid—for you, that is—nay, for both
of us. What is it?”

“Nothing—nothing, sweet!” But whatever he might say, it was no longer
possible for him to counterfeit either gaiety or unconcern with any
success. “God knows, I would be the same now—I would have us both be the
same now—as we have been all this week. I grudge every thought that we
give to anything but our love. Let us have the full worth of each
moment, to the very end.—Nay, what am I saying? I rave, I think. Yes,
yes, dear, I speak strangely—strangely was well said.”

“Everell, you frighten me! What is behind all this?—what is it you have
in mind?”

“Only you, dear: you, as you are at this instant. There is nothing but
this instant—no past, no future!—there is only _now_, with you in my
arms, and your eyes looking into mine. Oh, if the course of time could
be stopped, and this moment last for ever!”

“I should be content,” said Georgiana, taking refuge in the possibility
that his manner might be the effect of a transient excess of emotion,
such as ardent lovers sometimes experience. “But haven’t we all our
lives in which to love each other? We must only guard against your being
taken. But you’ll be safe once you are out of England—as you will be by
and by—not yet, of course. And then after awhile we shall meet again in
France. My only dread is of the separation meanwhile—’tis fearful to
think of separation, even for a short time, but doubtless it must be—”
She broke off, with a sigh.

“Ay, must be!” Everell replied, in a low voice.

“But it must not be long. I believe my uncle will be glad of an occasion
to visit France. And then, when danger and separation are past, what
happiness!”

She had, it will be seen, formed her own plans for the future; and had
talked of them, too, more than once in the last few days, taking her
lover’s acquiescence for granted, as indeed his manifestations of love
gave her full right to do. Such initiative on the woman’s side is, by a
convention of romancers, assumed to be indelicate; if it be so, then the
world must grant that real women are not the delicate creatures they
have been taken for. Be that as it may, Georgiana’s dreams of the future
had been bitter-sweet hearing to Everell, though he saw nothing
indelicate in her mentioning them. Yet he could not bring himself to
disillusion her. But now at last, when the hour was drawing near—

“Nay, talk not of the future, dear,” he said, holding her close in his
arms, and endeavouring to speak without wildness. “There is only the
present, I say. Life is full of uncertainty. Who can tell? This
separation—it may be final—we may not see each other again.”

“Now you start my fears again!” cried Georgiana. “You puzzle me
to-night, Everell. There’s something in your thoughts—something in your
heart. Look at me: you are pale—one would suppose a calamity was before
us. What is it? Oh, in the name of heaven, tell me!”

“Nay, ’tis nothing, I protest.—And yet you must know too soon. Why not
from me? Who has such love for you as I have? who can feel for you as I
can? who would try so fondly to console?”

“You are right, Everell; let me hear it from you! Oh, speak, dear!”

“’Tis—only this, sweetheart,” he said, when he could command his voice:
“we are to part soon. I am going away.”

“Soon? How soon? Certainly, you must go to France—but not yet.”

“Ay, that is it, dear: I must go, I know not how soon. Perhaps—this very
night.”

“This night? Impossible! You have said nothing to me of going—’tis too
unexpected!”

“Forgive me, dear,” he pleaded, simply. “I wished not to cloud our
happiness with any thought of separation; so I never spoke of—my day of
departure.”

“Nay, but I must have time—to strengthen my heart! And we have arranged
nothing yet—in regard to meeting again—no particulars. There is
everything to be discussed before you go. This separation—how long is it
to last?” Her voice and eyes were on the verge of tears.

“Longer, dear, than I have the heart to tell!—Oh, sweet, forgive,
forgive me! When I bargained for one blissful week, ’twas only of myself
I thought—I weighed my happiness against only the price _I_ was to pay.
I considered not what you might feel—that a week might turn your fancy
into love, and make our parting as cruel for you as for me. Forgive me,
dearest, and charge the sin to my love of you—my unthinking,
inconsiderate love!”

“Nay, dear, there is nothing to forgive,” she said, with sorrowful
compassion. “Parting will be hard—heaven knows it will!—but I must set
my thoughts on our next meeting. The separation will be—somewhat long,
do you say?—ah, that’s sad to hear. How long, Everell?”

He turned his face from her.

“Speak, Everell,” she pleaded; “how long?—a year?”

“Longer than that,” he whispered.

“Longer!—oh, pity me, heaven!”

Besides the doors at either end of this dining-parlour, to the library
and the hall, there was at one side a third, which led to the
drawing-room. This door now opened, and Lady Strange appeared: seeing
the lovers, she closed it gently behind her. They stood clinging to each
other, with looks sorrowful and distraught.

“You have told her, then?” she said, in a tone softened by compassion.

“Almost,” replied Everell; and Georgiana began to sob.

“My poor child,” said Lady Strange, “from my heart I grieve for you.
Sir, we are all much to blame. Had we foreseen this a week ago!—Would
that this week could be recalled, for the sake of this child’s
happiness! I have pleaded with Foxwell; but he is determined to deliver
you up.”

“What!—deliver—” Georgiana became for a moment speechless; then uttered
a scream, and was like to have fallen to the floor, had not Everell
grasped her more tightly in his arms.

“Heaven pity her!—my dear love!”

“Why, then—did she not know?” cried Lady Strange.

“Not the whole truth—only that I was going away.”

He was about to carry Georgiana to a chair, but she suddenly regained
her strength.

“Deliver you up!” she said, excitedly. “My uncle shall not! You shall
put it out of his power! Escape now, while you may! Go—we’ll meet
again.” She essayed to push him toward the hall, keeping her glance the
while on the drawing-room door by which her uncle might enter.

“I cannot,” said Everell. “I’ve given him my word—’twas to purchase this
week of love, sweet.”

“Your word! He shall not claim it of you! Your word!—oh, heaven help me,
you would keep your word though it broke my heart!—honour, you call
it!—’tis men’s madness, women are no such fools!—Nay, forgive me, I
would not love you else. But he shall not hold you to your word. He
shall not deliver you up. He shall release you.” She broke from
Everell’s clasp, and flung open the drawing-room door, calling, “Uncle!
Uncle!”

Foxwell appeared, with some playing cards in his hand. He was slightly
pallid, and wore the frown of one to whom has fallen a vexation he has
dreaded.

“Uncle, you will not deliver him up? You will release him from his word?
You will let him go free, will you not? ’Tis no gain to you that he
should die. Speak!—uncle, tell me you’ll not deliver him up.”

“My child, you do not understand these matters,” replied Foxwell,
patiently resorting to a judicial softness of speech. “Mr. Everell
himself, as a soldier, who assumed the chance of war and lost, knows
what my duty is—knows I once even offered to forget that duty, had he
but accepted the condition.”

“Certainly I have but myself to blame,” said Everell. “For myself I make
no complaint. For her, alas! my heart bleeds. I can but pray she will
soon forget.”

“Forget!” cried Georgiana. “Indeed, no! I say you shall not die,
Everell. Uncle, I beg you, on my knees—his life! Sure you can’t be my
kinsman and refuse—you can’t be a sharer of the same blood as flows in
me, and be so cruel. Answer me, uncle!—you will spare him, will not you?
You say you once offered to forget your duty: if you could forget it
once, you can again, cannot you?”

[Illustration: “‘UNCLE, I BEG YOU, ON MY KNEES—HIS LIFE!’”]

“Nay, ’tis not possible now, niece; circumstances have altered. ’Twould
be useless for me to explain. I can only beg you to end this
supplication, Georgiana,—it will not serve you. I am not to be moved.
Mr. Everell will say whether I have dealt fairly with him—would have
dealt more than fairly, had he but willed. ’Tis all vastly to be
regretted. Had he chosen so a week since, your sorrow had been much
less. Had you bestowed your confidence upon me when he first came here,
you might have been spared all sorrow. As it is, events must take their
course.”

“Oh, my God, can one’s own kin be so heartless? To send him to death,
who is more than life to me! What has he done?—what injury to you? He
only fought for the prince in whose right he believed. Had his side won,
_he_ would have been merciful. What harm will it do you to let him
go?—what harm to the kingdom, now the rebellion is put down? ’Tis
profitless, ’tis needless, ’twill serve nothing, that he should die.—Oh,
heaven, soften my uncle’s heart!—let him see as I see, feel as I feel!”

Foxwell, little relishing these vehement appeals, or the sight of the
kneeling girl with supplicating hands, turned to Everell:

“Sir, this can accomplish nothing. I will leave you with her till the
appointed time—though perhaps it were more kind to—”

“No, no!” cried Georgiana, grasping her uncle’s coat-skirt as he made to
step back into the drawing-room. “Do not go!—uncle, hear me! Anything
for his life!—only his life! I will do anything, give anything—only that
he may not die!”

Foxwell looked down at her. The birth of a thought showed on his face,
clearing away his frown of annoyance. Again he turned to Everell, and
said, quietly:

“Sir, will you grant me a few minutes alone with my niece? The time
shall be made up after, if you choose.”

Everell stood hesitating.

“Go, Everell,” said Georgiana, eagerly; “’tis for our advantage.”

“I pray it may be for yours, sweet,” replied Everell, gently, and went
into the library, closing the door after him.

Lady Strange, conceiving herself not wanted, would have passed Foxwell
to retire to the drawing-room; but he softly closed that door, and said:

“Nay, Lady Strange, don’t go. I had as lief you heard this. Georgiana,
you ask for this gentleman’s life: now if that were all—” He paused for
effect.

“All!” echoed Georgiana, now risen to her feet; “’tis everything! I ask
no more. You will grant it, then?—you will make me happy?”

“If you would indeed be content with that—and his freedom—” Foxwell
still seemed to halt in doubt.

“I will be,” Georgiana declared, emphatically; “only say he shall live.”

“If you would abandon any dreams you may have entertained of marriage—of
future meetings with him—of correspondence, in the event of my saving
him from the gallows—”

“I will abandon whatever you require,—only to know that he goes free,
only to feel that somewhere in the world he lives!”

“Well,” said Foxwell, slowly, “I will let him go free—”

Georgiana uttered a cry of joy.

“—if,” continued Foxwell, “you will accept the proposal—the very
advantageous proposal—which Mr. Thornby has done you the honour of
making.”

“Accept the proposal—of Mr. Thornby?” repeated Georgiana, in utter
surprise.

“Yes—give your consent to the marriage, of your own free will, letting
it be clear that there has been no force or compulsion to influence
you.”

“But,” Georgiana faltered, looking distressedly toward the door by which
Everell had left the room, “I cannot love Mr. Thornby.”

“’Tis not absolutely necessary you should love him,” replied Foxwell,
dryly.

“Oh, no, no!” cried Georgiana, as her imagination fully mastered the
case. “I cannot! ’Twould be like—’twould be horrible!”

“’Twould be saving your Everell’s life,” said Foxwell, dispassionately.

“’Tis an excellent match, dear,” put in Lady Strange, softly, “if Mr.
Thornby’s estate is what I take it to be.”

“Oh, but, Lady Strange,—you are a woman—_you_ should understand.”

“I do, child,” replied the elder lady, with an inward sigh, “but—these
matters reconcile themselves in time. ’Twill not be so intolerable,
believe me. And who knows—” Whatever it was that who knew, Lady Strange
abruptly broke off to another line of thought. “The point is, to save
your lover’s life, my dear.”

“Ay,” said Foxwell, beginning to show impatience, “ere the opportunity
is gone. Now lookye, Georgiana, I must hear your answer without more
ado. I am going to have a horse saddled at once. It shall carry either
your acceptance to Mr. Thornby, or word of this rebel to those who will
not be slow in securing him. ’Tis for you to say which, and before many
minutes.”

Instead of calling a servant, Foxwell went out to the hall to give the
order, consigning Georgiana by a look to the persuasions of Lady
Strange.

“Come, my dear,” said that lady, bending kindly over Georgiana, who had
sunk weeping into a chair by the table; “’tis but marrying him you love
not, for the sake of him you love.”

“’Tis being false to him I love,” sobbed the girl.

“False to him, but to save his life—a loyal kind of falseness, poor
child!”

She continued in this strain, though with no apparent effect upon
Georgiana, who presently flung her arms upon the table and, bowing her
head upon them, shook with weeping. In this attitude her uncle found her
when he returned from ordering the horse.

“Nay, persuade her no more, Lady Strange,” said he, testily. “God’s
name, miss!—be true to your lover, if you think it so, and send him to
die for your truth. I am going now to write a line for my messenger to
carry. It might have been a line to Thornby, accompanied by a few words
of your own inditing. But, as it cannot be so, it must be to those who
want news of the rebel.” With that, Foxwell was about to go to the
drawing-room.

“No, no!” exclaimed Georgiana, rising to stop him. “I will consent—I
will save the rebel. False to him, for love of him!—he will understand.”

“Nay, but he is not to understand,” objected Foxwell. “He is to know
nothing of this. Do you not see, he might rather give himself up than
have you marry another?—might refuse to be saved by such means. For his
own sake, he mustn’t know the condition. You had best not see him again:
leave me to dismiss him. I make no doubt he will accept his liberty now
for your sake, and agree to the voiding of our compact, whereof he has
had near the full benefit. Best not see him: you might betray all.”

“Not see him!” wept Georgiana.

“’Tis best not. If he stand to our agreement and demand to see you, why,
then, so it must be, and I know not what will ensue. Do not fear I shall
misrepresent you to him. He shall know you have won his life by your
pleading, upon condition he goes away forthwith—that is all. ’Tis agreed
to, then?”

“Yes,” said Georgiana, faintly; and added as if speaking to herself, “I
shall know that somewhere he lives!”

At this instant the door from the library opened, whereupon Foxwell
looked around sharply, thinking Everell had taken it upon himself to
reappear unbidden. But the intruder proved to be the waiting-woman
Prudence, who had fallen asleep over her sewing while Georgiana was
reading to Everell, and whom the lovers had left unnoticed in her
corner. Having just now wakened, and seen Everell alone before the
fireplace, looking strangely pale and excited, she had come forth in
quest of her mistress. In obedience to Foxwell’s imperious motion, she
shut the door, and hastened to the half-swooning niece.

“Then,” said Foxwell to Georgiana, “I beg you will go to your room and
write a brief letter to Mr. Thornby, informing him you accept his
proposal of marriage, conditionally upon such terms as your
representative—and so forth. Lady Strange will perhaps be so kind as to
advise you in the wording—the form matters little, only let it be plain
you act of your free will.”

“Of my free will—yes,” murmured Georgiana, wearily, accepting the
guidance of Lady Strange’s hand.

“When the letter is finished, send it down to me straightway; and best
keep to your room for the rest of the evening,” added Foxwell, as Lady
Strange and the girl passed out to the hall.

Prudence followed them up the stairs, but stopped for a moment outside
Georgiana’s anteroom, to give oral expression to her feelings: “Marry
Mr. Thornby! Oh, lor! What will the Jacumbite say to this, I wonder?”

Continue Reading

THREATS

“TO thank me?” she repeated, round-eyed. “You mean that is what brings
you here—to thank me for such a little thing?”

“Not such a little thing, either,” he replied with a smile, as he rose;
“the saving, perhaps, of my life and my comrade’s.”

“Oh, indeed, yes—a very great thing!—but a little thing to do—so easily
done. And to come all the way hither to thank—” She stopped short and
looked at him steadily, then blushed deeper. “Oh!—you will think me a
fool, sir:—for a moment I believed exactly what you said; I made no
allowance for compliment; I am inexperienced, as you can see.”

“Nay, but upon my honour I spoke the truth,” he protested in surprise.

“Then you indeed came here only to thank me?”

“To thank you, but not only that. I came to see and hear you.”

“You mean—nothing else—brought you to this neighbourhood?”

“Nothing but you. Had I not met you at the inn yesterday, I should now
be with my friend, far on the road Southward.”

The look of apprehension returned to her face.

“Oh, heaven, yes!—the danger you are in! How do you intend to save
yourself? Are you not risking your life by remaining in England?”

“Pray don’t be alarmed on that score: I have the means of leaving
England when the time comes.”

“When the time comes? When will that be? What is it that delays you?”

He was not prepared with an answer. “Why,—ah—you must know my friend has
some matters to settle before he leaves;—we are to sail together, when
he is ready.”

“Then you should have remained together. Why did you leave him? If what
you said is true, you have interrupted your flight—to see me.”

“You are worthy of a far greater compliment than that,” said he, as
gallantly as the confusion he felt in her presence allowed him to speak.

“But if danger came to you through this, how I should have to reproach
myself! Oh, I beg you, follow your friend: overtake him. Lose no time:
now that you have thanked me, go—go quickly!”

“And have you the heart to send me away when I have but just found you?”

“Nay, if your life were not at stake—no, I mean not that. I ought not to
talk with you—I ought not to stay here.”

Trembling, she made to retreat, but he gently interposed.

“Nay,” he said, very tenderly, “the ‘oughts’ and ‘ought nots’ of custom
do not apply to us, situated as we are. Are you not among people who
make you unhappy? Am I not a man whose life you have saved, and who
would do anything in the world for you? Can you not trust me as I trust
you? Why then shouldn’t you talk with me? Tell me, what if my life were
not at stake?”

“I have forgot what I was saying.”

“If my life were not at stake, you would not bid me go?”

“How can I tell?—Why shouldn’t I?”

“You were startled to see me here. Did you not think I might come?”

She could have truly answered that she had been without the slightest
expectation of ever seeing him again. Yet she had permitted her
imagination the indulgence of a vague scene of future meeting, not far
unlike that which was now taking place. The consciousness of this added
to the sweet embarrassment she felt, and she could only reply,
foolishly, “Why should I have thought so?”

Everell sighed, realizing that, as far as speeches went, he was not
making rapid progress. “At all events,” said he, rallying his powers of
gaiety, “here I am, and in this neighbourhood I mean to stay for a time,
so ’tis of no use bidding me go—”

“But are you safe in this neighbourhood?” she broke in, her eyes
forgetting their shyness in searching his face to see if his confidence
was real. “That man at the inn may have described you to many people.”

“I will take care none of them see me. I have a secure hiding-place in
the wilderness, and a friend to supply my wants. I shall be visible to
none but him—and you.”

“To me? How to me?”

“Even as I am at this moment: here, in this garden. ’Tis evidently a
deserted place; the shrubbery and walls conceal us, and escape is easy
to the glen yonder if we should hear anybody approach. No one, finding
you here alone, would suspect you had had a visitor.”

“I must not risk that discovery,—for your sake, I must not. I shall be
missed in the house, I’m afraid,—my uncle and his friends have
returned.”

“Nay, don’t go yet. Pray, not yet! I have said nothing yet, accomplished
nothing.”

“What would you say, then? Speak quickly.”

“A thousand things. I can’t unload my heart of a sudden at the cry,
‘Stand and deliver!’—you send my thoughts into confusion. Do not go
yet!—’tis not so much saying what I would, as being with you.”

“But they will be inquiring for me—my maid will be seeking. My uncle—”

“Is your uncle so heedful of you that he must always know where you
are?”

“Far from it. I am nothing to him and his friends. But if the whim
_should_ seize him—if by any chance they should find me talking with a
stranger—Oh, really, sir, I must go.”

“Again you call me stranger!”

“Why, in their eyes you would be a stranger.”

“But not in yours? Ah, thank you for that much, at least. You
acknowledge me as a friend?”

“Why, I suppose—since you declare yourself so, I must needs believe you.
Heaven knows, I have felt some want of a friend, having none in this
house. Were it otherwise, were this place my aunt’s, perhaps I should
not have stayed a moment to hear you.”

“I must bless my fortune, then, that this house is not your aunt’s. I
can even be glad you are not among friends here, since that leaves room
in your heart for me. And yet I could slay any who were lacking in the
friendship you had a right to expect of them. How can they be so, to
_you_?”

His gaze had so much ardour that her own eyes softened in it, and the
consequence of that melting was that he swiftly folded her in his arms
and pressed a kiss obliquely upon her lips.

“Now I _must_ go,” she whispered, after a moment, gently pushing him
away.

“Now less than ever, sweet,” he replied, still clasping her.

“Oh, but I must—sure I beg—Prudence will be looking for me.”

Her insistence of manner was such that he dared not hold her longer
without feeling guilty of violence. But he still retained her hand, to
say:

“And when will you be here again?”

“I know not,” she answered, hurriedly. “How can I say?”

“Well, then, whenever you do come, you will find me waiting for you.”

“No, no; that will not be safe. I had forgotten the danger you are in.
Do not come here at all—by daylight.—If you must, why, come after
sunset. They will be at their cards and wine then.”

“And you?—you are sure to be here then?”

“’Tis the safest time. They will think me in my room—well, I may be
here—to-morrow evening—if nothing prevents.”

“But why not this evening?”

“No. I will really go to my room this evening, as I did yesterday: they
will take it as a matter of course afterwards. To-morrow evening,
perhaps.”

“But ’tis so far away: so many hours must pass till then!” He still
detained her hand, though she was at arm’s length to be gone.

“You will have the more time to reconsider—to resolve upon joining your
friend, and not tarrying here longer at the risk of your life.”

“What, do you still wish me to go at once?”

“If you should be taken!—if you should have to meet the fate—oh, I dare
not think of it! How can I wish you to stay, when I think of the
danger?”

“’Tis for me to think of the danger; ’tis for you only to let me love
you—and to meet me here as often as you will.”

“Well, I shall no doubt be here to-morrow after sunset. I must take my
maid into confidence: she can keep watch at the terrace steps. Farewell,
then!—and be careful—till to-morrow sunset!”

He stepped forward in hope of repeating the kiss, but she recovered her
hand from his grasp and fled rapidly up the lane of shrubbery. Everell
followed, and saw her ascend the steps, hasten along the terrace, and
disappear without looking back. He stood and sighed, thinking how short
had been the long-awaited meeting, how tedious would be the time till
the next. But he had the kiss to comfort his reflections, at least,—the
kiss and the compliant though startled manner in which she had submitted
to it. His heart glowing at this recollection, he turned his steps to
the seclusion of the glen.

Since she would not meet him before the end of the next day—what an
interminable stretch of empty time the interval appeared!—he knew his
best course was to return at once to John Tarby’s cottage. But he found
it so hard to drag his legs farther from the Foxwell mansion, that he
decided to remain concealed among the bracken, on the possibility that
she might change her mind and revisit the garden that evening. In this
hope he tarried till an hour after nightfall, without reward. He then
betook himself reluctantly, with the pangs of hunger and the sighs of
disappointment for company, to where his road left the park. At that
place Tarby was waiting, and with little speech the two made their way
homeward. Everell took the lead, that he might test his knowledge of the
path; twice or thrice he had to fall back upon the poacher’s guidance,
but on these occasions he made such note of landmarks as should assure
him of going right in future.

When they arrived at the cot, Everell gave a different reception to his
host’s mention of supper from that which he had given on the previous
night. Though love had enabled him to go all the day without food, it
did not weaken his appetite now that supper was to be had. John Tarby
proved to be no mean cook, and the Jacobite officer, the rustic poacher,
and the poacher’s dog partook together of a hearty though simple meal
with manifest enjoyment. But love, not to be denied its proverbial
effects in all things, asserted its presence by robbing Everell of some
hours of sleep, and by directing his dreams when at last his eyes did
close.

The next day was but a repetition of that which had gone before, save
that the love-sick young gentleman, by taking the forethought to provide
himself with bread and cheese, was able, as he reclined among the
bracken, to pay some observance to dinner-time when it arrived. At last
the slow sun descended upon the Westward hills. A bit of its rim still
showed over the sky-line, when Everell glided into the garden, his heart
beating faster than ever it had beat when he was going into battle.

Georgiana did not keep him waiting long. She came down the steps, with
her finger on her lip, and with the maid Prudence, all excitement, at
her heels. “Oh, lor!” whispered Prudence at first sight of Everell; “Oh,
lor!” again, when, having taken her station near the steps, she saw
Everell lead her mistress up the lane of shrubbery; and “Oh, lor!” a
third time when the young man, not yet trusting himself to speech,
raised Georgiana’s hand in his trembling fingers to his lips.

And now Everell had to learn that the second interview in a love-affair
does not begin where the first left off. Whether it is that the ardour
of expectation produces by reaction a chill that mutually benumbs; or
whether each participant, still uncertain of the other’s heart, awaits
some assurance before again committing his or her own; or whether it be
due to any one or all of a dozen conceivable causes, the truth is that
the second meeting usually begins with an embarrassment, or shyness, or
other feeling, that seems to put the lovers farther apart than they were
at the outset; and yet under this the craving for the tokens of love is
as strong as ever. This was now Everell’s experience; he wondered why
Georgiana was perversely cool, and then why he himself was tongue-tied,
powerless to express what was in his heart.

When they had paced the more secluded walks of the garden some fifteen
minutes, speaking of anything but that which was most in Everell’s mind,
Georgiana suddenly reverted to the question of his safety. The anxious
concern with which she regarded him served to break the spell he had
suffered under. Making light of his danger, he showed himself so
grateful for her solicitude that a still more encouraging tenderness
appeared in her eyes. With love in his looks, and in the touch of his
hand upon hers, he burst out with declarations of his happiness in her
company, and of his misery in her absence. She made no verbal return for
these tributes, but the sweet agitation visible in her face was enough.
He was about to venture a similar embrace to that of the day before,
when they heard Prudence call, in a low but excited voice, “Oh,
mistress, mistress, we shall be discovered!” Georgiana, in alarm,
whispered to Everell, “Conceal yourself!—good night!” and fled swiftly
to where the maid was watching. Standing perfectly still, Everell heard
the two women go up the steps, and soon the sound of their footfalls on
the terrace died out. They had returned to the house, then; what had
caused the maid to give the alarm, he knew not, for there was no sound
to indicate any human presence.

Vexed at this abrupt termination of the interview at the very moment
when it seemed about to reward him, he waited in the hope of Georgiana’s
return. But the hope was vain, and after two or three hours of
diminishing expectancy, he sadly—nay, with heart-burning, grievous
sighing, and clenching of teeth—resigned himself to the prospect of
another long night and another endless day ere the next meeting. And
indeed there was no certainty of the meeting even after that vast
interval, for no appointment had been made. But he trusted to her
humanity, if he dared not count upon feelings fully reciprocal to his
own, to bring her to the garden at the next sunset. If she did not come,
he knew not what rash thing he might do.

His reliance upon her compassion was not in vain. She was prompt in
appearance when at last the long night and the slow day had passed.
Taking pity, perhaps, on his haggard countenance, she was kind from the
outset of their interview. Prudence attended, as before, but with
instructions to be more certain before crying danger than she had been
on the previous evening, when, as Georgiana now told Everell, the maid,
in the novelty of her duty, had given the alarm at the mere sound of
laughter in the house—the laughter of Foxwell and his visitors over
their wine and cards.

But though this, the third clandestine meeting of these two young
people, was not marred by any preliminary chill or by any waste of time,
it was soon over. Georgiana herself had set the limit of half an hour,
and, whatever it may have cost her of inner reluctance, she showed her
resolution by breaking away at the end of that time, silencing her
lover’s protests with a voluntary kiss so swiftly bestowed that, in his
delighted surprise, he let her slip from his grasp. Again he stood alone
in the garden while the dusk came on. Again that weary blank of lagging
hours faced him, with the promise of such brief joy to compensate him at
the end. He lingered late in the garden, now reviewing in his memory the
delectable scene of the evening—delectable but too fleeting!—and now
repining at the conditions under which his love had to subsist. “Oh, to
be with her one whole day—one day as long as those I pass in waiting for
the sunset!” was the burden of his thought.

He stood near the terrace steps, taking his last look at the house for
the night. The lateness of the hour, the comparative darkness, and
perhaps the petulance of his feelings, made him less than usually
cautious against observation. Suddenly he heard a patter of feet on the
terrace, and the voice of a maid servant calling, “Puss! puss! come,
puss!—Devil take the cat!” Everell remained motionless, lest any sound
might attract the girl’s attention. In a moment, a cat appeared at the
head of the steps, glided along the top of the bank, and plunged amidst
the shrubbery of the garden. It had no sooner disappeared than the girl
in chase arrived at the edge of the terrace, where she stopped and
peered down into the garden, launching imprecations at the animal that
had eluded her. Her eyes fell upon Everell, and her wrath died upon her
lips.

She stood gaping as if rendered powerless by fright, and Everell could
think of nothing better than to continue perfectly still. Wrapped in his
cloak, and with his face turned toward the maid, he did not move even
his eyes, but appeared not to be aware of her presence. His thought was
that this unlifelike behaviour might cause the rustic wench to take him
for an apparition, or a trick of her fancy, the more so as the darkness
would give vagueness to his figure. After a few seconds of this silent
confrontation, the maid, uttering a faint wail of terror, apparently at
the back of her mouth, turned and took to her heels. Everell profited by
her flight to leave the garden instantly, and made his best speed for
John Tarby’s castle. If the girl told of what she had seen, and brought
investigators to the spot, who could find nothing to verify her account,
they would doubtless believe she had suffered from a delusion. As she
herself, whether she came to their conclusion or not, was likely to
avoid the place after dark in future, Everell considered that the garden
was not the less safe as a meeting-place for this occurrence.

When he met Georgiana the next evening, he expected some allusion by her
to the incident, as he supposed the maid servant must have spread the
tale through the household. But Georgiana said nothing of the matter.
She had indeed heard nothing of it, for the isolation in which she dwelt
in the house was copied by her maid, partly in imitation and partly
because, with her Southern ideas of propriety, Prudence found herself as
much antagonized by the rude Northern servants of the house as by the
affected London attendants of the visitors. Thus she spent as much of
her time as possible in her mistress’s apartments, big with the secret
entrusted to her of the clandestine meetings. Being thus on sniffing
terms with her equals in the servants’ hall, and out of their gossip,
she remained in ignorance of the kitchen-maid’s adventure. From
Georgiana’s silence on the subject, Everell inferred that the occurrence
had created no talk in the house; and he did not mention it himself,
lest Georgiana, in her scruples as to his safety and her own conduct,
might lessen the frequency of their meetings. His periods of longing
were sufficiently endless, his tastes of joy sufficiently brief, as they
were.

But the kitchen-maid’s adventure had not really gone without
circulation. “You never told us your house was haunted, Foxwell,” said
Lady Strange, meeting her host at the breakfast-table, from which
Georgiana had already gone. Mrs. Winter and Rashleigh were yet to
appear.

“I never knew it—till this moment, at least,” replied Foxwell, stifling
a yawn which owed itself, perhaps, to the punch or primero of the
previous night. “Though every crumbling old brick-heap like this has its
ghost or so, no doubt. But what do you mean?”

“My waiting-woman has been telling me of a strange figure that appeared
to your scullery-maid the other night. In the sunken garden, I believe
it was: a man in a cloak, wearing a sword.”

“It must have been a ghost, indeed,” said Foxwell, smiling. “There is
certainly no such living man whose appearance in that garden is
probable—unless Rashleigh has taken to mooning outdoors after bedtime.”

“Not I,” said Rashleigh, who had just entered. “What are you talking
of?”

“My lady has discovered, through the servants, that a ghost walks in the
sunken garden—a man in a cloak, with a sword at his side. I say it must
be a ghost indeed, and yet there is this difficulty: suppose there _are_
ghosts of human beings, what of the clothes they appear in? What of this
ghost’s cloak and sword?—are they real cloak and sword, or are they the
ghosts of cloak and sword?—and do inanimate things have ghosts?”

“Why, certainly, ghosts always appear in clothes,” said Lady Strange,
quite ignoring the dilemma, and not entering into Foxwell’s skeptical
mirth.

“And pray what did the ghost do or say while the scullery-maid was
present?”

“Merely gazed at her in a strange, supernatural manner till she ran
away. But hadn’t you best question the maid?”

“By all means. One ought to be well informed about the ghosts that haunt
one’s house—though I don’t consider my ancestors did so much for me that
I need care a button if one of them does find his grave uneasy. I’ll
have the girl up for interrogation after breakfast.”

But this promise was driven from Foxwell’s mind just as the time came to
perform it. A visitor was announced, whose name caused him surprise: it
was that of Mr. Thornby.

“What should bring him to see me?” said Foxwell, showing his
astonishment to his guests. “’Tis my lubberly neighbour, of whom I have
told you. He abominates me because I sometimes pit my powers of speech
against his boorish arrogance, and show him what a bumpkin he is. I
thought he was sworn never to cross my threshold.”

Ruled by courtesy and curiosity, Foxwell went immediately to the
adjoining drawing-room, where he found his enemy standing on the hearth,
his legs wide apart, and his burly figure clad in a riding costume
neither well-fitting nor new.

SOMETHING confident and overbearing in Thornby’s look went to Foxwell’s
intelligence at once, and checked for an instant the speech on his lips.
But he quickly recovered his nonchalance, and began as if he noticed
nothing unusual:

“Good morning, Mr. Thornby. I am much honoured. Pray be seated, sir.”

“I’d as lief stand, sir,” was the blunt answer. “Much honoured you feel,
I dare say!”

“And why not?” said Foxwell, pleasantly. “You do yourself a great
injustice, surely, if you don’t consider your visit an honour to the
fortunate recipient. You must not undervalue yourself.”

“Well, sir, you’ll see how much honour I mean by coming here, when
you’ve learnt what brings me.”

“That, I confess, I am impatient to know. But really, will you not sit?”

“No, sir! I sha’n’t stay long enough to tire my legs with standing. My
visit will be short, I promise you.”

“I perceive you are in a mood of shortness.”

“I can choose my own moods, sir,” said the Squire, rendered more savage
by every successive speech of his enemy. “And I choose short moods for
my visits to you. Not that I meant to pay you a visit when I left home
this morning. My business took me past your gate, and, as I have
something for your ears, I thought I’d as well say it soon as late.”

“A very wise thought; for accidents will happen, and ’twould be a pity
if anything so interesting should be left unsaid—for I know it must be
interesting.”

“Maybe you’ll find it so, ecod! As for leaving things unsaid, lemme tell
you, sir, that’s a policy I recommend to you in future, whenever you
feel inclined to try your wit upon me. If a witty thing, as you consider
it, comes into your head to say against me, leave it unsaid. That’s my
commands, sir, and I look to see ’em obeyed.”

“Commands? Upon my soul, Mr. Thornby,—pardon my smiling,—but you are
exceedingly amusing.”

“Smile your bellyfull; you may laugh, too: we’ll see which on us laughs
last. Ecod, we’ll see that! Try some of your town wit upon me the next
time we meet in company! Try it, and see what happens.”

“Can’t you spare my curiosity the suspense by telling me now?”

“Yes, I can. This is what’ll happen:—I’ll answer you back by asking what
you think of a man who robs the dead.”

“Robs the dead?” quietly repeated Foxwell, puzzled.

“Ay, a dead body, in some such place as Covent Garden, for example.—Eh,
that touches you, does it?”

Foxwell’s face had indeed undergone a change: for an instant he was
quite pale and staring. But he recovered his outward equanimity.

“Please explain yourself,” he said, with composure.

“A word to the wise is enough, sir. If ever again you try to put me down
afore company, or dare to take first place o’ me anywheres, I’ll tell
the world who got Lord Hilby’s money that night in Covent Garden.”

Foxwell drew a deep breath, and then replied as calmly as before, “Are
you walking in a dream, Mr. Thornby? Really, I don’t understand you.
What is Lord Hilby’s money to me?”

“No use trying that game upon me, Foxwell. You know all, and I know all,
and there’s an end. You’ve heard my commands: act as you think best.”

“Sir, I know nothing. Your words are gibberish to me, and I say but
this: if you attempt to raise any slander against me, be sure I will
make you answer—”

“And I’ll answer, ecod, by producing this here letter,” blurted Thornby,
bringing from his pocket the document we have already seen in the hands
of Jeremiah Filson, and holding it high, with the signed part in
Foxwell’s view, “which you wrote in the sponging-house to Sir John
Thisleford, and which anybody who knows your hand can swear to—as your
face owns to it now. ‘If you don’t help me out of this, I will confess
all, and let the world know who got Lord Hilby’s money that night,’ says
you, in black and white. ‘_Confess_ all,’ d’ye see? Signed ‘R. Foxwell.’
Your wit failed you that time, I’m a-thinking. What ’ud the county say
if I exhibited this here bit o’ writing? Even your town friends, as I
hear be a-visiting you, would find this more nor they could swallow, I
dare say.”

“Let me see the letter—closer,” said Foxwell, in a hushed and quaking
voice.

“I value it too much as a bit o’ your beloved handwritin’.” The Squire
repocketed it carefully, with a grim chuckle at his own humour. “As to
how I shall use it, that depends partly on how you use me. But I don’t
promise anything. I hold it over your head, neighbour Foxwell,—like the
sword of Dionassius in the story-book—over your head, ecod! Ha! Good
day, Foxwell. Go back to your pleasures—I’ll show myself out.”

Foxwell made an effort to regain his self-possession. “’Tis a forgery—I
defy you—this is a trumped-up tale—”

“We shall see. You’d go near killing to get the letter from me, I’ll
warrant.” With this parting shot, his heavy features stretched in a leer
of triumph, the Squire stalked from the room, leaving Foxwell—silent and
shaken—to his thoughts.

The victorious Squire had to pass through the wide entrance-hall to
reach the forecourt, where his man Bartholomew awaited with the horses.
He stopped in the hall, which was for the moment deserted, in order to
refold the precious letter and place it more securely. As he pocketed it
once more, he turned his glance toward the closed door of the
drawing-room, soliloquizing after this fashion, “I’ll make him play the
whipped cur afore I’ve done with him. He shall come when I call, so he
shall,—and go when I bid, and speak when I allow, and hold his tongue
when I command. You fine beau of the town, you’ll make a jest of us
country gentlemen, will you?—you’ll teach us manners, will you?—Eh,
who’s this?”

The hall was panelled in oak, decorated with heads of stags and foxes,
provided with a large fireplace, and furnished with chairs and settles.
At one side, the stairway began which led to the upper floors, and the
Squire’s ejaculation was caused by the appearance of somebody on those
stairs—a young lady, rather slight, but well-shaped, with a very pretty
face distinguished by a somewhat rebellious expression; and with a pair
of eyes that set the Squire agape with the wonder of a new sensation, as
they rested for an instant full upon him.

“Sure I suppose you be the niece that came home t’other day,” said the
Squire, as she stepped from the lowest stair. He had not relaxed his
gaze from his first sight of her, nor did he now.

Georgiana replied by making a curtsey, and was about to pass on. But Mr.
Thornby, with as great politeness as he could put into his tone,
detained her as much by an unconscious gesture as by speech.

“Sure I heard tell as Foxwell’s niece had come home, but I ne’er
expected to see _such_ a young lady! Why, miss, or mistress, begging
your pardon if I make too free, but there bean’t your match in the
county; that there bean’t—I’ll take my oath of it! I’m your neighbour,
Thomas Thornby, at your service. Mayhap you’ve heard o’ me.”

“I have heard your name, Mr. Thornby,” said Georgiana, looking quite
tolerantly upon him.

“But not heard much good o’ me, if you heard it from your uncle, I’ll
warrant. You mustn’t believe all he has said against me, Miss Foxwell.
’Tis like he’ll give a different account o’ me after this: I’ve just had
a talk with him, and he knows me a little better. Ecod, miss, I hope you
and me can be good neighbours, at all events. Such a face!—excuse the
freedom, mistress, but we don’t run across such faces every day
hereabouts. There’ll be some, that think themselves beauties, will turn
green when they see you at the assembly ball. Ecod, we shall have
somebody worth a toast now; for between you and me, the beauties of this
neighbourhood don’t muster enough good looks among ’em all to do credit
to the punch we drink their healths in. At any rate, that’s my opinion,
and explains why I’m still a bachelor. I’m not easy pleased, ma’am; no
doubt I look a plain fellow in these here old clothes, but anybody’ll
tell you how fastidious Tom Thornby is when it comes to dogs, horses,
and women. ’Tis well known, ma’am.”

“I am the more obliged for your compliments, sir; and I wish you good
morning,” said Georgiana, amiably, and, after another curtsey, performed
with unexpected swiftness, she got away by the nearest door before her
new admirer could summon an idea for another speech.

Thornby stared wistfully at the door by which she had left. Indeed he
made a step or two toward it; but, thinking better, stopped and drew a
ponderous sigh. A servant came into the hall from the forecourt,
whereupon the Squire abruptly took his departure. As he rode mutely out
of the courtyard, followed by Bartholomew, his countenance betokened
thoughts quite other than those with which he had left Foxwell’s
presence a minute or two earlier. When he had passed through the
village, Thornby motioned his man to ride beside him, and began to
converse upon Mr. Foxwell and his present habits. In the course of the
talk, it came out, as Bartholomew had been informed by Caleb while
waiting in the courtyard, that Foxwell and his guests were accustomed to
make some excursion on horseback every day, leaving the niece at home.
The consequence of this knowledge was that next day, soon after the
party had sallied forth as usual, a servant came to Miss Foxwell in her
own small parlour to say that Mr. Thornby waited upon her in the
drawing-room.

Mystified, but desiring not to offend, she went to him immediately. He
was sprucely dressed, beaming, and all deference. For two hours he sat
and sustained the chief burden of a general conversation upon everything
in the neighbourhood. While he was more moderate and indirect in his
frequent compliments than he had been on the previous day, he maintained
a steady gaze of admiration, no less overpowering. Georgiana, wearied to
death, had finally to plead household duties in order to dislodge him.

The following day was Sunday, and Miss Foxwell, making her first
appearance at the village church, found herself again the object of the
Squire’s constant attention, as indeed of the whole congregation’s,
although she divided the latter with the London ladies. That evening she
was discussed at Thornby Hall by the cronies who happened to be sharing
the Squire’s bachelor table; and such was the praise uttered by several
gay dogs who considered themselves devilish good judges that Mr. Thornby
was kept secretly alternating between elation and jealousy. It needed
only this approval and covetousness on the part of others, to complete
the Squire’s sense of the young lady’s surpassing excellence.

In the morning, to Bartholomew’s considerable wonder, Mr. Thornby again
discovered business that took him past Foxwell Court. He had not the
courage against appearing ridiculous, to repeat his visit so soon, but
he rode very slowly in passing the place, both going and coming; and,
welcoming a pretext for remaining as long as possible in the near
vicinity, he no sooner saw, through the doorway of the village
ale-house, a man who was now a guest there, than he drew up his horse
with alacrity, saying to his attendant, “The very fellow I desired to
see: we’ll tarry here awhile, Bartholomew.”

The man in the ale-house came forth as Mr. Thornby dismounted, and
offered that respectful greeting which the Squire was so conscious of
deserving and Jeremiah Filson so capable of bestowing.

“Good day, Filson; good day t’ye. I don’t wish to come indoors: we’ll
walk to and fro here on the green.—I’ve been anxious to see you, Filson,
to know how you’re faring in respect of your Jacobite.”

“Poorly, sir, poorly as yet; though I take it most kind of your Worship
to be concerned upon the matter.”

“Concerned? In course—why the devil not? Ain’t I a magistrate? Didn’t I
give you the warrant? D’ye think I dropped the matter there? I’m as keen
upon punishing the rebels as any man in England. Once you discover where
the fellow is, you’ll see how ready my officers are to help you take
him.”

Filson was rather surprised at this sudden zeal, for the Squire, after
purchasing the Foxwell letter and granting the Everell warrant, had not
shown a desire for more of Filson’s society, so that Jeremiah had been
forced to curry favour with the justice’s clerk, that he might rely upon
the ready coöperation of the legal officers in apprehending the rebel.
But he kept his surprise to himself.

“I’m quite sure of that, sir. I hope I shall track the man to his cover,
with the aid of Providence. I hate to give a thing up, sir, once I’ve
set myself to do it. When I start upon a chase, no matter what’s the
game, I can’t leave it unfinished, and that’s why I still linger here,
though at some little expense to myself. But we act as we’re made; and
I’m made like that, your Worship.”

“It does you credit, Filson: I like a staying hound. But are you sure,
now, the man is still in this neighbourhood?”

“I don’t presume to be sure of anything, sir; but I trace him to this
neighbourhood and no farther. ’Twas on or about this very spot, your
honour, that he was seen by the postilion whom I met that same night at
the inn where I had the honour of first making your acquaintance. The
next day, you’ll remember, I had the privilege of transacting some
business with your Worship. I came directly from your house to this, but
my gentleman had fled the night before. He told the landlord a
cock-and-bull story of having found a wagon to take him on to Burndale.
But the landlord spied on him, and saw no wagon at the place he said it
was waiting. Furthermore, the landlord declares the gentleman
disappeared from sight at that very place. It was night-time, and the
truth must be, that the gentleman turned aside from the road. Howsoever,
that’s the last account I can get of him—his disappearance at the bridge
yonder. I’ve been to Burndale, but no such person has been seen there,
or between here and there. Neither is there any trace of his doubling
back over his course. And, besides, if he was bound for Burndale, or
that side of the kingdom, why should he have come so far by the road I
found him in?—there are shorter ways to Burndale from Scotland. No, sir,
if I may express an opinion to your Honour, his business must have been
in this neighbourhood, not beyond it; he has found snug hiding
hereabouts, but I’ll have him out yet.”

“Trust you for a true terrier, eh, Filson.”

“Yes, sir, with your Worship’s approval and the forces of the law to
support me. I failed in vigilance that day at the inn—allowed the
corporeal desire of sleep to get the better of me, and was punished by
the man slipping through my fingers. But Providence, after teaching me
the lesson, sent the postilion to hear my belated inquiries, which I
ought never to have postponed to the needs of the body. The question is,
where could my gentleman have gone when he vanished under the nose of
this old fool—begging your Worship’s pardon—that night?”

“There’s the Foxwell estate begins just beyond that bridge.”

“Yes, on one side of the road. And the Dornley on the other. I’ve
quietly seen Mr. Dornley, after making sure of his loyalty in politics,
and furnished him with a written description of my gentleman. I’ve
hesitated to approach Mr. Foxwell, lest perhaps you might have told him
how you came by that letter.”

“No fear o’ that; but, if he saw you, he’d soon enough guess, take my
word on’t.”

“Why, scarcely, sir, if I may venture to say so. If you told him that
Sir John Thisleford’s former valet was in the neighbourhood, and if you
gave some notion of my present appearance, then he might indeed guess.
But otherwise I’ll warrant he wouldn’t know me. You see, sir, we look
different out of livery, and my name wasn’t Filson when I served Sir
John; and in various ways my manners have altered—for the better, I
trust. So if your Honour has given him no hint of the matter, I think I
may safely go and solicit his interest in my quest.”

“Oh, do as you see fit, man. If he discovers you, ’tis your back must
abide the cudgel, nobody else’s. Ecod, the letter will serve my purpose
just as well, whether or not he knows how I came by it.”

Jeremiah Filson was not long in availing himself of the security with
which he now felt he might interview Foxwell. He thanked Providence he
had not been too late to stipulate against the Squire’s mentioning him
in connection with the letter, which he had neglected to do at the time
of their transaction. The afternoon of that same day saw him make his
very civil and yet not obsequious approach, the manner of which rather
recommended him to Foxwell, as being unmistakably of London. Learning
that his business was of a private nature, Foxwell heard him in the
drawing-room, where Filson introduced himself with a careful ambiguity
as upon a business “in the interest of Government.” Foxwell listened
with polite attention to the glib description of the “fugitive rebel,
one Charles Everell, who was of the Pretender’s body-guard of gentlemen
at Culloden,” and who was suspected of being now in hiding in the
neighbourhood, possibly upon the Foxwell estate.

Filson, being satisfied by his hearer’s unconcerned manner that Foxwell
neither knew nor cared anything about the Jacobite, explained that,
while a justice’s warrant had been made out, upon his affidavit, to
“take and apprehend” this Charles Everell, he was prosecuting the search
quietly rather than by such public means as might give the refugee the
alarm. He was, therefore, in this private manner soliciting the
coöperation of the loyal gentlemen in the neighbourhood, and begging
that, in the event of their discovering such a person, either by chance
or as a result of investigations their loyalty might prompt, they would
cause the man to be detained, and would send word to him, Jeremiah
Filson, at the ale-house in the village. “For, d’ye see, sir, I’ve
arranged matters that I can put my hand on the justice officers at short
notice. I shall be the chief witness against the rebel, and I know where
to find another, as two are required. The other, in fact, is at
Carlisle, where the trials are now on.”

Foxwell, not at all interested, went as far as loyalty ordered, in
saying that, if occasion arose for his services in the matter, he would
act as duty required; and offering the spy the freedom of the estate in
the prosecution of inquiries. Filson, after a profound bow of
acknowledgment, handed Foxwell a written description of the rebel,
calling attention to his own name and address at the bottom of the
sheet; declared himself the other’s very humble servant, bowed as low as
before, and took his leave.

Foxwell glanced carelessly over the written description, and then thrust
it unfolded into his pocket. It had not power to drive from his mind the
vexatious subject already lodged there. He frowned and sighed, and took
an impatient turn up and down the room. Then, forcing his brow to
smoothness and the corners of his mouth to pleasantness, he returned to
his friends on the terrace.

“You laughed at me the other day, Foxwell,” said Lady Strange, as he
approached, “for telling you the place was haunted. But what do you say
now? The ghost has been seen again, in the old garden yonder; and not
only that same ghost—a man in a cloak—but a female figure as well.”

“Two female figures, the girl said,” corrected Mrs. Winter.

“Wonderful, most wonderful!” exclaimed Foxwell, smiling. “And whence
comes this news?”

“The keeper’s daughter has just told us,” said Rashleigh. “Her
sweetheart, it appears, was coming last night from the village to see
her, and took a short way through the fields into the park. ’Twas he saw
the three figures in the garden; and one of them, it seems, was like
that seen by the scullery-maid the other evening.”

“The scullery-maid?” said Foxwell. “I remember: I promised to question
her, but something put it out of my mind. Well, ’tis not too late: we’ll
catechize her now—and the keeper’s daughter, too.”

But the keeper’s daughter had gone home to the lodge, and the
examination was confined to the kitchen girl, who came to the summons as
much frightened as if she were brought, not to tell of a ghost, but to
face one. Foxwell and his visitors seated themselves in the hall to hear
her story, the other servants being excluded. By patient interrogation,
Foxwell contrived to elicit an account hardly more circumstantial than
Lady Strange had previously given him. The girl had pursued the cat with
the intention of employing it against the mice in the dormitory of the
maids. Drawn thus toward the garden, she had perceived the motionless
cloaked figure, which had stared at her in a strange, death-like manner.
It wore a sword, and she thought that in life “the gentleman might have
been a king’s officer,” though she could not say what made her think so.

The word “officer” seemed to touch some association in Foxwell’s mind.
His hand went to the pocket containing the paper Filson had given him,
and he showed a faint increase of interest in the few answers the girl
had yet to make. When he had dismissed her, he turned smilingly to his
guests:

“Well, we must avail ourselves of this ghost while it is in the humour
of haunting us. Kind fortune seems to have sent it for your
entertainment. What say you to a ghost-hunt?”

“How are ghosts usually hunted?” asked Rashleigh; “with hounds? beagles?
terriers?”

“No, that would not do,” said Foxwell, thoughtfully. “As we know where
it appears—for it has been seen twice in the sunken garden, according to
the evidence—we had best set a trap for it. What do you think, ladies?
It may help enliven the night for us.”

“I should dearly love to see a ghost,” said Lady Strange; “but what
manner of trap would you use? Sure such an insubstantial thing can’t be
held by any machine of wood and iron.”

“A trap composed of three or four stout fellows armed with cudgels,”
suggested Foxwell, “would doubtless serve to hold the creature till
Rashleigh and I could arrive with our swords.”

“But a ghost is like air, is it not?” said Lady Strange. “It can’t be
caught, or stopped, or even felt.”

“I have always suspected that a ghost that can be seen can be felt,
especially if it wears clothes,” replied Foxwell. “However it be, here
is an opportunity to settle the question,—if the ghost continues to
haunt the same place. We will set our trap this evening; if we catch
nothing, we’ll try again to-morrow; and so on, till something occurs, or
we grow tired. We had best tell nobody of our purpose: the ghost may
have accomplices. Pray let none of the servants know, but the men I
employ in the affair.”

He bestirred himself at once in preparations, glad of having found fresh
means, not only of distracting his own thoughts somewhat from the letter
in Squire Thornby’s possession, but also of blinding his guests to the
disturbance of mind which that matter still caused him.

His plans were simple. Choosing three men rather for stoutness of heart
than for stoutness of body, though they were not deficient in the latter
respect either, he instructed them to post themselves, while it was
still day, in well-concealed places at different sides of the garden.
Two, the gardener and the groom, were provided with cudgels, while the
keeper took a fowling-piece, which he was not to fire except in extreme
circumstances. At the appearance of the ghost in the garden, the keeper
was to utter a signal, whereupon Foxwell and his guests—who were to pass
the evening as usual at the card-table—would come forth as quietly as
possible, the gentlemen with their swords ready to enforce the
intruder’s surrender. Should the ghost attempt flight before the
gentlemen could arrive, the three servants were to close round him,
using their weapons only as a last resource, and after due warning—for
the ghost was probably a gentleman, and Foxwell would have it treated as
such. The three watchers were to go singly to their places of
concealment, entering the garden directly from a postern in the ruinous
eastern wing of the house, so that nobody outside of the garden itself
could see them.

“And is not the pretty pouting niece to be admitted to this sport?”
asked Rashleigh.

“By no means,” replied Foxwell, with a frown. “She has elected to keep
out of all our amusements, we can spare her company in this. If the
young prude finds satisfaction in holding aloof, for God’s sake let her
do so. She disapproves of so many things we do and say, ’tis very like
she would disapprove of this. Threatening a ghost with a cudgel,
egad!—she might take it into her head to play the spoil-sport—you know
the malice of excessive virtue.”

So nothing was spoken of the matter at dinner. This meal—which occurred
at the London hour, in the late afternoon—was now the only regular
occasion upon which Georgiana joined the company. For the passing of her
days, she had her books, the care of her wardrobe and apartments, her
music, drawing, embroidery, and walks—for she took these, though never
on the side of the house toward the park, lest Everell might risk his
safety by approaching her. She still met that gentleman each evening, at
a later hour now than at first; and he it was that occupied her thoughts
all the day, whatever the employment of her hands and feet. She
acknowledged to herself her love for him, and wondered, sometimes with
hope but oftener with deep misgiving, what the end would be. At times
she had a poignant sense of the danger he was in by remaining near her,
but she shrank even then from sending him away, for their separation
must be long and might be eternal. As deeply as he, though less
vehemently, did she lament the circumstances that compelled them to be
secret and brief in their meetings. She was by no means of that romantic
turn of mind which would have made the affair the more attractive for
being clandestine. People who do romantic things are not necessarily
people of romantic notions: it is a resolute fidelity to some cause or
purpose, that leads many a generous but matter-of-fact hero or heroine
into romantic situations. Indeed, is it ever otherwise with your true
hero and your true heroine? Are not the others but shams, or at best
poseurs? Georgiana followed courageously where love led; but because she
really loved, and not because the conditions were romantic: she was no
Lydia Languish—she would joyfully have dispensed with the romance.

On this particular evening, the conversation at dinner took a turn which
gave it a disquieting significance to her, though she bore no part in it
herself. Lady Strange had mentioned a certain young lord as having died
because he preferred his love to his life. Foxwell had politely laughed.
Lady Strange had somewhat offendedly stood by her assertion, whereupon
Foxwell had declared the thing unknown in nature. Mrs. Winter supported
him; but Rashleigh took his cousin’s side, saying, “What! no man ever
died for love, then? Surely there have been cases, Bob.”

“Men have been brought to death by their love-affairs, I grant you,”
said Foxwell, “but that is because circumstances arose which they had
not foreseen, and from which they could not escape. They have even
risked their lives to prosecute their amours, but _risking_ one’s life
upon fair odds is a vastly different thing from _deliberately offering_
it in exchange for the indulgence of one’s love. That is what my lady’s
words really mean: ‘preferring one’s love to one’s life.’ Such bargains
are mentioned in ancient history—as of the youth who, being deeply in
love with a queen, agreed to be slain at the end of a certain time if he
might pass that time as her accepted lover. Only such an act can really
be described as giving one’s life for love; and not the getting killed
unintentionally in some matter incident to a love-affair.”

“But men have killed themselves at the loss of the women they loved,”
urged Lady Strange. “There was Romeo, that Garrick plays so
beautifully.”

“’Tis the work of a poet who says in another place, ‘Men have died from
time to time, but not for love.’ When men kill themselves at the loss of
a woman, you will find they have lost other things as well—fortune and
reputation; or their wits, in drink.”

But Lady Strange held that a true lover would not hesitate to mortgage
his life for a season of love, if the latter could not be obtained by
any means at a lower price. “If he is young, and in love for the first
time,” added Rashleigh. But Foxwell and Mrs. Winter remained cynical,
and the latter became even derisive, so that the dispute grew warm on
the part of the two ladies, who did not disdain to colour their remarks
with sly personalities.

The discussion promised to be endless, and was still going on when
Georgiana left the table. Not unaffected by the allusions to fatal
consequences arising from dangerous love-affairs, she waited in her own
rooms till dusk, and then, attended by the faithful Prudence, stole
softly down the stairs, and along the terrace to the sunken garden.

AS she passed below the room in which her uncle and his friends were,
she heard their voices, and observed that one of the windows was open.
But to this she attached no importance, unusual as the fact was at that
hour, for she had other matters to think of. And indeed the night was
not chill, though a slight breeze was stirring the leaves in the garden
as she entered it. Leaving Prudence at the foot of the steps, Georgiana
swiftly threaded the different alleys of shrubbery to make sure that no
person chanced to be in the garden, a precaution she had adopted since
the first meetings; but she did not peer under any of the bushes, or
behind those that grew close to the wall, for she had not conceived that
anybody might come into the garden to hide, or for other purpose than
his own pleasure. She went and stood in the gateway near the glen-side.
A moment later she saw the dark form of her lover approaching in the
gloom of the park, and presently his arms were around her.

“How you tried my patience, sweet!” said he, leading her slowly toward
the midst of the garden. “You are later than usual. I was beginning to
think you must have appeared already, and that my eyes were so blurred
watching the gateway they had failed to see you. Two minutes more, and I
should have left my thicket and come to assure myself.”

“Never do that, I beg! Never come into the garden till you see me in the
gateway—not even though you hear my voice. Promise me you will
not—promise, Everell.”

“I would promise you anything in the world when you ask with that voice
and those eyes—anything but to cease loving you or to leave you. But I
do believe the goddess of love has this garden in her keeping, and
reserves it wholly for us, we have been so safe from intrusion in it.”

“We have been very rash. I tremble to think how careless we were at
first, when you were wont to come in before I saw that the coast was
clear. But we are never perfectly safe here—as we found last night, when
that country fellow stared in at the gateway.”

“I doubt if the yokel really saw us. But, if so, he would find nothing
strange in your being here with your maid. If he saw me, he would
suppose I was your uncle or some visitor. But I will take all
precautions, dear, if only to make your mind easy. I wouldn’t have you
suffer the least fear, not even for the sake of that look of solicitude
in your eyes, which is certainly the tenderest, most heavenly look that
a woman or an angel can bestow. It goes to my inmost heart, and binds me
to you for ever. And yet I’d have you smile, for all that, if you’d be
happier smiling.”

“I might be happier smiling, but I think I should not be as concerned
for you then,” replied Georgiana, simply, and with a smile that had a
little sadness in it.

“Ah, my dearest!” said Everell, softly, with a sudden tremor in his
voice.

The silence that followed might have been longer but that the young man
could not forget, for more than a few seconds at a time, how brief their
interview was to be. He imagined, perhaps mistakenly, that the value of
such meetings was to be measured in speeches rather than in silences,
although he attached full worth to eloquent glances.

“When I feel how dull the hours are between these short glimpses of
heaven,” said he, “I marvel to think how tedious the years must have
been before I saw you, though I knew it not.—I never chafed at danger
till now. Sometimes when I lie in the bracken yonder, or pace the dark
bottom of the glen, I am tempted to ignore all risks, come boldly to
your house, seek the acquaintance of your uncle, and measure my
happiness by hours instead of minutes.”

“Oh, Everell!—do not think of it!”

“Nay, have no fear, sweet. Your commands are sacred with me—till you
command me to leave you, or not to love you.”

“But if I commanded you earnestly to leave?—resolutely, so that you knew
I meant it?”

“Could you have the heart to do that?”

“Would that I had! I ought to have. But would it be useless?”

“As useless as it would be cruel, sweet, I vow to you.”

“But ’tis cruel to let you stay. ’Tis a wonder your presence in the
neighbourhood isn’t known already—a wonder the poacher hasn’t betrayed
you.”

“Nay, he is true as steel. We are in the same galley—both rebels, he
against the game laws and the world’s injustice, I against the present
dynasty. You must know, we outlaws stand together.—You are again in the
mood of fearing for my safety. But see how baseless your fears have been
so far. Trust our stars, dearest: mine, at least, has ever been
fortunate.”

“My fears are always returning. Sometimes I have the most poignant
feeling of danger surrounding us, of reproach to myself that I was the
cause of interrupting your flight. I have that feeling now. Oh, Everell,
loth as I am to send you away, I feel in my soul that I ought! My heart,
which would keep you here, at the same time urges you to fly: with one
beat it calls to you, ‘Stay,’ and with the next cries, ‘Go!’ Oh, why did
you not go on with your friend?”

“Indeed, ’tis better he and I are apart, since that fellow at the inn
knew we travelled together,” replied Everell, trying to reassure her.
“If the man really meant to continue dogging us, our separation was the
best means of confusing him. Dismiss your fears, sweet. If your regard
for me were love rather than compassion,—love such as I have for
you,—the only impulse of your heart would be to keep me with you: beyond
that, you would not think, either with hope or fear. And yet your
compassion, so angelic,—nay, so womanly,—I would rather have than the
love of any other woman.”

He said this honestly; for she had never in plain terms owned to him
that she loved him, and he, in the humility of a man’s first love, saw
himself unworthy of her by as much as he adored her, and therefore did
not imagine himself capable of eliciting from her what he felt for her.
Her indulgence he ascribed to the pity of a gentle heart for one whose
situation, both as a refugee and as a lover, pleaded for him while his
courtesy and honour gave assurance that her tenderness was safe from
betrayal. If her heart desired him to stay near her, he supposed, ’twas
because it hesitated to put him to the unhappiness of leaving her. That
she might suffer on her own account in his absence, did not occur to
him: she herself was all loveliness, and where she was, there would all
loveliness be; what was he that she should find him necessary to make
the world complete? Were his presence needful to her content, she would
not limit their meetings to so few moments in a long day. Thus he
thought, or, rather, thus he felt without analyzing the feeling.

“’Tis the duty of my compassion, then,” she answered, “to drive you
away. I am more convinced of it now than ever. Such foreboding, such
misgiving!—why do I feel so? I pray Heaven ’tis not yet too late.—Hark!
what was that?”

“’Tis only the master and his guests a-laughing over their
dissipations,” said Prudence, near whom the lovers happened at the
moment to be standing. “They’ve left the window open, ma’am.”

“See how easily you are frightened without cause,” said Everell. “Come,
has not the mood run its course?”

“Blame me not that I bid you go, Everell!” she replied, as if not to be
reassured. “You may come to blame me that I ever stayed to hear you!”

“For that dear fault my heart will thank you while it moves.”

“It _was_ a fault!—I see now that it was. I was so solitary, so
rebellious against my uncle and his company, that when you came my heart
seemed to know you as a friend; and I listened to you.”

“Ay, sweet listener that you were! What effect your listening had upon
me! I had wished to return to France, which in exile I had grown up to
love. This England, though I was born in it, was to me a strange
country, but you have made it home!”

He raised both her hands to his lips, while she stood irresolute, her
eyes searching his face for the secret of his confidence, which she
would have rejoiced to think better warranted than her fears. The
silence was suddenly broken by a slight, brief noise in the greenery
near the steps.

“What’s that?” she said, quickly.

“The wind,” replied Everell; but the sudden straightening of his body,
and fixity of his attention upon the place of the sound, betrayed his
doubt.

“No,” whispered Georgiana, “’twas quite different.”

“Some animal moving among the shrubs,” said Everell. “I’ll go and see.”

With his hand upon his sword-hilt, he walked to the shrubbery growing
along the foot of the bank which rose to the terrace. “’Twas
hereabouts,” he said, and, drawing his weapon, thrust it downward into
the thick leafy mass. From the further side of the mass came the loud
hoot of an owl, followed by the noise of a man scrambling to his feet.

“Ah! come out, spy!” cried Everell, as the human character of the
intruder was certified by a sound of husky breathing.

He darted his weapon swiftly here and there through the shrubbery, and
then ran seeking the nearest opening by which he might get to the enemy.
But the enemy spared him that trouble by appearing on the hither side of
the barrier, from the very opening that Everell had sought. The strange
man had a gun raised, to wield it as a club.

Everell, recalling his experience of John Tarby’s fowling-piece,
nevertheless ran toward the fellow, hoping to dodge the blow, and
disable the man by pinking him in the arm or shoulder, after which it
might be possible to learn his purpose and come to terms. But just as
the young gentleman went to meet his approaching foe, a sharp scream
from Georgiana distracted him, so that, though he saved his head, he
caught the gun-stroke on his right shoulder, and his sword-thrust passed
wide of his adversary. He now heard other feet hastening toward him
through the garden: it was, indeed, the appearance of the two other men,
coming to the keeper’s aid upon his signal of the owl’s hoot, that had
caused Georgiana to cry out. Everell, seeing his first opponent draw
back to recover himself, turned swiftly to consider the newcomers,
placing his back to the high shrubbery. One was approaching on his
front, the other at his left. They both brandished cudgels; but, as they
saw him dart his glance upon them in turn and hold his sword ready for a
lunge in either direction, they stopped at safe distance.

“Oh, Everell, fly!” cried Georgiana, hastening to his side.

“What! and leave you to these rascals, sweet?” he answered.

“They’ll not harm me: they are servants here. Save yourself!—for _my_
sake!”

He looked at her for an instant, read in her eyes the pleading of her
heart, and said, softly, “For yours, yes!—we shall meet again.”

He then started toward the gateway leading to the park and glen. But the
gardener and the groom swallowed their fear of steel, and made bravely
to intercept him. He had confidence in his ability with the sword to
deal with two men armed with cudgels. But he knew that his ultimate
situation would be so much the worse if he killed either of these
fellows. His thought, therefore, was to elude them by mere fleetness, or
slightly to disable them. He soon abandoned the former hope, for at the
first turn he tried they were swift to head him off. So he charged
straight at the nearer, thrusting so fortunately as to prick the
fellow’s shoulder, making him lower his cudgel with a howl. Everell now
tried a similar lunge at the other cudgel-man, but the latter divined
his purpose, and saved himself by tumbling over backward. The wounded
man had instantly transferred his cudgel to his left hand, and now stood
again in Everell’s way, while the fellow with the gun had come up to
threaten him in the rear. Informed of this last danger by his hearing,
the Jacobite sprang aside to the right in time to avoid a second blow.
He turned swiftly upon the gun-wielder, whose fear of the sword made him
thereupon flee toward the gateway. Everell’s three adversaries were now
all in that part of the garden through which he had intended to escape.

“This way!” cried Georgiana, from behind him; “and by the terrace!”

Everell wheeled around and made a dash for the steps. His enemies were
prompt to recover from their surprise and rush after him, the fallen man
having speedily got on his feet again. But the clean-limbed Jacobite won
to the steps by more than striking-distance. He thought to clear them in
two bounds, then cross the terrace and gain the park.

“Eh! the deuce!” exclaimed a voice at the head of the steps, as a dark
form, backed by several others, appeared there. Everell, who had just
set his foot on the middle step, checked himself at the risk of his
balance, and leaped back. The newcomer, who had a sword in his hand,
thrust downward at Everell, at the same time calling out, “The light,
Caleb!”

A lantern, which had been concealed under the coat of its bearer, now
cast its rays over the scene from one side of the stair-top. Its help
was more to those who arrived with it than to Everell, whose eyes had
become used to the light shed by the stars alone. But he was now enabled
to make sure that his new intercepter was Mr. Foxwell himself; that
Rashleigh was at that gentleman’s side, with drawn sword; that the two
London ladies stood close behind, peering forward and yet shrinking
back, as curiosity disputed with fright; and that the man servant with
the lantern carried also a coil of rope. All this was the observation of
an instant. Even as he made it, Everell put his sword at guard, and
looked a questioning defiance.

“A sturdy ghost, as I live!” cried Foxwell, motioning the three fellows
at Everell’s back, who had come to a halt at the first intimation of
their master’s arrival, to stay their hands. “My niece, too!—the
guileless Georgiana!”

“Uncle!” she began, scarce able to speak, though her pale face and
terrified eyes were eloquent enough; “this gentleman—”

“Is my prisoner, till he gives an account of himself. Do you surrender,
sir?”

“No, sir,” replied Everell.

“Then I must reluctantly order these men to take you,” said Foxwell,
politely.

“Then their deaths be on your head,” said Everell, and turned to make
another dash for the gateway, determined this time to spare none who
barred the way. To this direction of escape he was limited by his
unwillingness to try fatal conclusions with Georgiana’s kinsman. But he
was robbed of choice in the matter; for no sooner had he taken two
strides than Foxwell, afraid of losing him, leaped down the steps, and
shouted, “Turn and defend yourself!”

[Illustration: “THE TWO GENTLEMEN MADE THEIR SWORDS RING.”]

Fearing that non-compliance might result in the indignity of being
struck on the back with the sword while in flight, Everell obeyed. Ere
he could think, his blade had crossed that of Foxwell, who a second time
bade the three underlings hold off. The two gentlemen made their swords
ring swiftly, in that part of the garden near the steps, Caleb moving
the lantern so as to keep its light upon them. Georgiana watched in
fearful silence, Prudence clinging to her and recurrently moaning, “Oh,
lor!” Rashleigh stood on the steps, ready to interfere at call. The
combatants seemed admirably matched, and each had reason to admire the
other’s fencing. But, to Everell’s relief, it presently became apparent
that the elder man’s arm was weakening. The Jacobite now indulged the
hope of disarming him. But Foxwell, too, saw that possibility. He
beckoned Rashleigh, who thereupon ran forward and struck up Everell’s
sword, while the groom and the gardener, obeying a swift command of
their master, seized the Jacobite’s elbows from behind. Everell made a
violent effort to throw them off, but in sheer strength he was no match
for them. Relinquishing the attempt, he said, quietly, to Foxwell,
“’Twas scarcely fair.”

“For that I beg your pardon,” replied Foxwell, still panting for breath.
“In a matter between us two alone as gentlemen, ’twould be dastardly.
But I had to take you at all cost. You would not surrender; though you
certainly owe me an explanation on one score, and are an object of
suspicion on another.”

“Oh, Everell!” murmured Georgiana, who had fallen to weeping, and was
heedful only of her lover’s plight and not at all of her uncle’s words.

“Everell, say you? Bring the lantern here, Caleb.” In the better light,
Foxwell scrutinized his prisoner’s face. “The scar on the cheek, too.
’Tis as I thought. But how Miss Foxwell happens to participate—well,
there will be time for explanations. Sir, if you will give me your
_parole d’honneur_, I need not inflict upon you the restraint of—” He
indicated the cords in Caleb’s possession.

“I thank you, but I prefer to retain my right of escape.”

“In that case, you will admit the necessity of the precautions I
reluctantly take.” And Foxwell set about directing the servants in
fastening the captive’s wrists behind him, and in tying his ankles so as
to limit the length of his steps. With a courteous “Allow me, sir,”
Foxwell disengaged the sword from Everell’s fingers and returned it to
its own scabbard, which Everell had retained at his side. This act of
grace the Jacobite acknowledged with a bow.

“Uncle, you will not detain this gentleman?” entreated Georgiana,
conquering her tears. “He has done you no offence. As to our meeting
here, I will tell you all; the fault is mine.”

“Not so!” said Everell, quickly. “If there be any fault in that, ’tis
mine. Sir, it was not by Miss Foxwell’s desire that I came here; it was
against her will that I spoke to her. My presence was forced upon her.”

“Well, well, you shall be heard presently. You have a more serious
charge to face than making love clandestinely to young ladies.—As for
you, Georgiana, I thought you were in your chamber, wrapped in the sleep
of innocence. I’ll never trust prudery again. I beg you will go in
immediately, miss.”

“Uncle, I will not go till you have set this gentleman free. You shall
have all my gratitude and obedience: I’ll give you no cause of
complaint. Be kind—generous—I pray—” Her voice failing her, she fell
upon her knees, and essayed to take Foxwell’s hand.

“Nay, sweet, you go too far,” said Everell, tenderly.

“Too far, indeed,” said Foxwell. “No scenes of supplication, I beg,—they
are sure to make me more severe. I advise you to go to your chamber,
miss. You had best oblige me in this, else stubbornness on your part may
awaken stubbornness on mine.”

“Go, dear, and trust all to me,” counseled Everell, who had been
regarding her with eyes in which there was no attempt to belie his love.
“Go—this is not the end.”

She looked at him a moment; then turned sorrowfully away, and went
slowly up the steps and to the house, followed by her maid, to whose
proffers of assistance she gave no more heed than if she had been
walking in a dream.

“Sir,” said Everell, with a slight huskiness of voice, “let me assure
you that I am a gentleman and a man of honour; and that I respect your
niece, and have every reason to respect her, as I would a saint.”

“No assurance is needful to convince me you are a gentleman,” replied
Foxwell. “I will lodge you in a manner as nearly befitting your quality
as security and my poor means will allow. I must be your jailer for
to-night, at least.—Caleb, go before with the lantern. To the hall
first. And slowly.—I trust you can make shift to walk, sir.”

Placing the gardener and the groom at either side of the prisoner, and
the keeper at his rear, Foxwell set the party in motion. The two
gentlemen, following close, gave their arms to the ladies upon reaching
the head of the steps, and the procession went on at the slow pace which
Everell’s ankle-cords made imperative.

“A mighty pretty fellow, whatever he may be,” said Lady Strange, _sotto
voce_.

“Georgiana is to be envied,” said Mrs. Winter. “Such are the rewards of
virtue.”

“He is vastly in love with her,” declared Lady Strange. “Did you ever
see such tender glances?”

“’Tis the kind of ghost you could find it in your heart to be haunted
by, is it not, Di?” queried Mrs. Winter.

“The keeper must have been in some doubt whether the ghost _was_ the
ghost,” put in Rashleigh, “before he decided to give the alarm.”

There had indeed been indecision on the part of the keeper, but upon
other ground than Rashleigh mentioned. As he sat with the gardener over
their extra beer later that night, the keeper explained to his comrade:

“I were in a powerful state o’ uncertainty, and that’s the truth of it.
For, in course, I knowed the young mistress and her maid as soon as ever
they come into the garden. And when this here young captain,—for I take
it, he can’t be no less, what with the air he have, and the way he
handle his sword,—so when the young captain appeared, I soon see how the
land lay. Though I couldn’t make out what they was a-sayin’, I could
tell it were a matter o’ clandestine love. Now I were to give a owl’s
hoot when the ghost appeared. Thinks I, ‘Devil a ghost this is, but yet
’tis the only ghost we’re like to behold. If I wait for a real ghost,’
thinks I, ‘we sha’n’t get to our beds this night; and yet I haven’t the
heart to spoil the young lady’s love-affair.’”

“And small blame to you, David,” said Andrew the gardener. “Your
thoughts was my thoughts, and I kep’ a-wondering to myself, ‘What will
David do? If he doesn’t hoot, we shall have to stay out here all night,
and then only get credit for going asleep and seeing nothing. And yet,
if he does hoot, there’ll be a pretty kettle o’ fish for the young
lady.’”

“Yes, Andrew, it were a great responsibility. I wished it had been left
to you to do the hootin’, for, thinks I, ‘Andrew’s a wiser man than me,
and he’d know the right thing.’”

“Maybe so, David, but not such a good hooter,” said Andrew, modestly.
“I’ll admit I did a’most make up my mind that such kind of love-affairs
comes to no good, and the master ought to know, so the best thing for
all of us would be for you to consider the stranger a ghost, and hoot.”

“No doubt, no doubt, Andrew, now that I hear you say so. But I couldn’t
muster up the heart, because I done my own love-makin’ in a clandestine
manner, in my lovin’ days, and I had a sort o’ fellow-feelin’ with these
young people, as you might say. So I couldn’t make up my mind. But I
happened to move my leg, which were powerful cramped with sittin’ long
in one position, an’ I made more noise nor I bargained for. And the
first thing I knew, the young gentleman were a-proddin’ at me through
the shrub’ry. So before I ever thought, the hoot come out, more as if
there was a owl inside o’ me which hooted of its own accord, than if it
was of my own free will.”

“It wasn’t of your own free will, man. Take my word for it, the matter
was took out o’ your hands altogether. The moving of your leg was
ordered from above, to bring about the end that was predestinated.”

“I believe it were, Andrew. At all events, once the hoot was out, the
fat was in the fire. It weren’t a bad hoot, though, were it?”

“Better nor a real owl could do, David,” said Andrew, raising his beer
to his mouth.

Continue Reading

RISKS

THE slender young gentleman, after his swift survey of the surroundings,
opened the door to the public dining-room.

“Come along, the place is empty,” he said, and, picking up one of the
cloak-bags, stepped briskly into the room so recently vacated by Mr.
Jeremiah Filson. “Thank God for a decent-looking inn!” he added,
heartily, tossing his cloak-bag into a corner and dropping into a chair,
where he began to hum:

“‘Charlie is my darling,
My darling, my darling;
Char—’”

“Hush!” exclaimed his companion, who had followed with the other bag and
closed the door. “Heaven’s sake, Charles, none of those songs!”

But Charles finished:

“‘—lie is my darling,—
The young Cheva_leer_,’”

and then answered, gaily: “Why not? We’re alone here?”

The face of the young man—the slender one, addressed by his comrade as
Charles—was not only handsome, but pleasant and animated, being lighted
by soft blue eyes. The nose was slightly aquiline, the other features
regular. He wore his own hair; his old suit of blue velvet carried an
appearance of faded elegance; his three-cornered hat still boasted some
remnants of silver lace; he was in riding-boots, and a sword hung at his
side.

His comrade, more broadly and squarely made in face as in body, a man
serious and resolute in aspect, was similarly dressed, in clothes now in
their decline but of a darker shade.

“Ay, alone here,” said he, putting his bag with the other’s, “but ’tis
as well to leave off habits that may be dangerous. You might as easily
break out into one of the old ditties in company as alone. I dare say
nobody finds any harm in the mere singing of them; but ’tis apt to set
people’s minds on certain matters, and we’d best not have them think of
those matters in relation to us. We excite curiosity enough, I make no
doubt.”

“Only your fancy, Will. Why should we excite more curiosity than any
other two travellers?” said Charles. “What is so extraordinary in our
appearance? Come, I’ve asked you a hundred times, and you can’t answer.
Your constitutional prudence, your natural cautiousness, which you know
I vastly admire and try to emulate—”

Will smiled at this.

“Those excellent traits of thine, dear lad,” Charles went on, “cause you
to magnify things, or rather to transfigure them altogether, so that, if
anybody looks at us, you see suspicion where there is really nothing but
the careless curiosity of a moment. Where he says in his mind,
‘Strangers,’ you can almost hear him saying with his lips, ‘Jacobites.’”

“Hush! You may laugh as you please, Charles: prudence and caution, even
carried to excess, are likelier to serve our turn than carelessness and
boldness, till we are safe out of England.”

“Why, there again! You are more apprehensive a thousand times since we
have crossed the border than you were during all the time in Scotland,
all the hiding time, and the time of dodging enemies on the alert for us
in every direction.”

“I confess it. As one nears the end of a difficult or dangerous
business, one should be the more fearful of disaster. Think how it may
turn to naught all the toils that have brought one so far. Never relax
because the goal is in sight: if you trip at the last, and through your
own folly, too, ’tis the more to be regretted.”

“All true, my dear Roughwood; and yet, for our peace of mind, ’tis
comforting to think how much safer we really are in England than we were
across the border. Nobody expects to find Jacobites on the highroads of
England.”

“There have been far too many seen on the highroads of England lately,”
said Roughwood, with a gloomy smile.

“Ah, yes, the poor fellows now at Carlisle and York,” replied Charles;
“but Jacobites uncaught are a different matter. They are all thought to
be skulking in the Highlands, the Duke of Cumberland’s soldiers closing
nearer and nearer round them. Heaven send that the Prince may escape!
Would that his chances were as good as ours! ’Tis probable every mile of
the Scottish coast is patrolled by government vessels, as every foot of
the Highlands is hunted over by regulars and militia—or will be hunted
over, ere all is done. ’Twas high time we left our quarters among the
rocks and heather, and a miracle of good luck that we slipped through
the enemy’s lines and across the border. England is the safer land for
us, and vastly easier to escape from by sea.”

Their talk was interrupted by the entrance of the landlady, who took
their orders for dinner, after which meal they intended to resume their
journey. When they were again alone, Charles continued:

“So, my dear lad, as I was about to say, let us be easy in our minds,
put away apprehensions, and avoid suspicion by showing no expectation of
it. Your mad resolve to come to England and see the beloved lady before
you flee the kingdom, turns out to be the wisest course we could have
taken.”

“Wise or mad, my dear Everell,” said Will Roughwood, “I’d have taken it
at any risk.”

“And wise or mad,” said Everell, gaily, “I’d have followed you at any
risk—for company’s sake, to say no more. But indeed there’s less risk
for me than you. Very few people in England know my face: ever since
boyhood, my life has been spent abroad, until I joined the Prince. ’Tis
different with you, who were brought up almost entirely within the two
kingdoms. Egad, there’s the advantage I derive from my father having
been the complete Jacobite—one of those who, for all their love of
country, preferred exile in order to be at the centre of the plotting.”
The young man smiled to think how all that plotting for a second Stuart
restoration had come to naught.

“There’s chance of recognition for you, too,” said Roughwood. “Consider
how many people saw you when we invaded these Northern counties last
year. And consider those of our own party who have turned traitor,
buying their lives by informing against their comrades. And we are in
constant danger of encountering men who fought against us, like that
fellow we dodged so narrowly yesterday.”

“Oh, he and I had our particular reasons for remembering each other,”
said Everell, touching the scar on his cheek. “’Tis not in chance that
we should run across him again. One such coincidence is remarkable
enough.”

“Who can tell? In any case, he is not the only soldier of the enemy who
would remember us. We are like to fall in with more; and ’tis of such,
as all accounts agree, that most of the witnesses are, who have
testified at Carlisle and York.”

“Well, then, such are to be looked for in Carlisle and York at present,
except those who are in London for the like purpose. We have given
Carlisle a wide berth, we will steer clear of York, and we’ll not go to
London. And it may be that those of the enemy who remember us are still
with the army in Scotland, hunting down our comrades.”

Roughwood smiled at his friend’s habitual power of seeing the favourable
possibilities and ignoring the adverse; and could not help wondering
that fortune had brought him unscathed through so many hazards in all
the months of flight and concealment since that fatal day of defeat in
the wind and snowfall on Culloden Moor.

“You’ll run into trouble yet, I’m fearing,” said Roughwood, with
solicitude and affection in his smile.

“As for mere busybodies here in England,” Charles Everell continued,
apparently bent upon disposing of every class from which discovery might
be possible; “people to whom the idea of fugitive Jacobites might occur
at this time, they will not look to find officers travelling openly as
gentlemen. They will suppose that fugitives of our quality, if any fled
into England at all, would come disguised. Going boldly in the dress and
manner of gentlemen, wearing swords and showing no secrecy, how can we
excite suspicion? We have nothing to fear but some unlucky chance
meeting, like that we galloped away from yesterday; and the same
accident is not like to befall us again.”

“But if that fellow who recognized you should have taken it into his
head to hound us?”

“Is he likely to have put himself to the trouble? Doubtless he has his
own affairs to pursue. Be that as it may, we got rid of him easily
enough by spurring our horses and turning out of the road at the next
byway; and, if forced to it, we can do so again.”

“We may not have the same advantage again. If there had been anybody at
hand yesterday, I am sure he would have called out and denounced us. I
don’t forget his look when he first saw us, as he stood in front of that
wayside ale-house. He was about touching his hat to us as we rode up,
when he beheld your face. His hand remained fixed in the air, and he
stared as if you had been the devil. Then he glanced wildly around, and
in at the ale-house door; he was certainly looking to see if help was in
call.”

“’Twas a question for an instant whether I should run my sword through
him,” said Everell, “but thank God such impulses never prevail with me.
So I merely decided not to stop at that house of refreshment, and gave
my horse the spur. And you were good enough to follow without question,
which speaks well for your wisdom and my own, my dear Will. Always do
so, and we shall always have similar good fortune in escaping the perils
that beset us.”

“I would I knew what our guide thought of the incident, and of our
bribing him to let his horses come so far out of the way.”

“He thought merely as I told him, no doubt:—in the first case, that my
horse bolted, and that I took it as an omen against stopping there; in
the second, that we really had a friend whose house we thought to find
by turning out of the way. But whatever he may have thought, he was a
mum fellow, and doubtless went to bed as soon as we arrived at last
night’s inn; therefore he probably had no speech with the lad who took
his place this morning.”

“Well, well,” said Roughwood, smilingly resigning himself to the other’s
sense of security, “I hope your confidence will be justified to the end
of the journey. But when we come to my own county, where I am well
known, there indeed we must needs go warily.”

“Why, then, of course, we shall stir only by night,” said Everell. “And
we shall not tarry long, if all goes well.”

“Only till I can see her,” replied his friend, in a voice low with
sadness and tenderness. A brief silence fell between the two young men,
till Roughwood added, “One last meeting! And then to part,—for how long,
God knows!”

“Oh, you may come back to England safely in two or three years. When the
government has made examples enough, there will be a general pardon; or
at worst a Jacobite may slink back and his presence be winked at. So
much if our cause be never revived; if it _be_ revived, we may be able
to come back openly enough.”

Roughwood shook his head. “’Twill never be revived to any purpose. We
can never rally a larger force than we had this time; yet one can see
plainly now how vain our hopes were from the first. No, ’twas a dream, a
dream. The house of Hanover is firmly established in these kingdoms: the
star of the Stuarts is set. If a general pardon is ever granted us, it
will be for that reason,—because we can do no harm. But, meanwhile, ’tis
the day of punishment, and we must look to our necks. After I have seen
her, we have only to find Budge, and lie hid till he happens to be
sailing.”

The arrival of a maid with their dinner put a stop for the time to this
kind of conversation, in which they but reviewed their situation as they
had done a score of times within the past few days. They had ordered
frugally, out of respect to the state of their common purse, which they
counted upon to carry them to the place near which lived both
Roughwood’s affianced wife—with whom it was his hope to exchange
assurances of faith and devotion ere he fled his native country—and the
master of a certain vessel, upon whom he relied for their conveyance
across the channel. Roughwood had relations at this place, but, as they
sympathized not with his Jacobitism, which he had acquired through his
Scottish kin, he considered it imprudent to seek a further supply of
money from them. Once in France, however, he could communicate in safety
with his sources of maintenance. As for Everell, the modest but
sufficient fortune he inherited from his Jacobite father had long been
placed in France, and would be at his command as soon as he reached
Paris. The young men were now travelling upon the remainder of the gold
with which both had fortunately been supplied a few days before the
battle of Culloden. They had not had occasion to spend money during the
months of concealment immediately following upon the total defeat of
their cause at that contest, their hiding-place—first a “bothy” and
afterwards a cave—having been on the estate of a Highland gentleman who
shared in their seclusion, and by whose adherents he and they were fed.

To this comrade in defeat they owed also the clothes they now wore, as
they had considered it better advised to appear as ordinary gentlemen in
their journey through England, than to use a disguise which it would
require some acting to carry off. Having lived a part of his time in the
great world, this Highland laird was possessed of a considerable
wardrobe besides that limited to the national dress, and in order to
furnish out his two friends he had risked with them a secret visit by
night to his own mansion, which was under the intermittent watch of
government troops. The gentleman was of a build rather lighter than
Roughwood and stouter than Everell, so that his loosest set of garments
was not impossible of wear to the former, and his tightest did not hang
too limply on the body of the latter. Discarding entirely their
battle-worn and earth-soiled clothes for these, and otherwise altering
and augmenting their equipment at their friend’s expense, the two
fugitives had, by travelling at night and making a carefully planned
dash at the most critical point, put themselves outside of the region
surrounded by the Duke of Cumberland’s forces. Thereafter they had dared
to move by day, hiring horses; and either Everell’s boldness or
Roughwood’s caution, or both, had carried them so far without other
adverse chance than the meeting with the man who remembered Everell from
their encounter at Culloden. Being without passports, they had avoided
every place where troops were said to be stationed, and in crossing the
border they had kept to the moors instead of the roads: for their
eccentric manner of travelling, their invention was equal to such
pretexts as the curiosity of horse-boys and others might require.

When the servant left them to their dinner, they reverted to their
former subject, talking as they ate.

“’Tis all plain sailing, to my sight,” said Everell, cheerfully, “until
we entrust our precious bodies to the care of your friend the smuggler.”

“I’ll warrant Budge to be true stuff,” replied Roughwood, confidently.
“He would risk his cutter to save my neck. We used to play with his
children on the cliffs, he and I.—And now I shall be looking on those
cliffs for the last time, perhaps,—and on England! Well, ’tis the fate
of losers in the game of rebellion.” He made no attempt to restrain the
sigh this melancholy reflection evoked.

“Tut, tut, lad!” protested Everell, with unfeigned lightness of heart;
“take my word for it, a man can live out of England. What is it
Shakespeare says, that my father used to quote when our
fellow-countrymen visiting us would commiserate our exile? ‘There’s
livers out of Britain.’ And that speech of Coriolanus, too: ‘I turned my
back upon my native city and found a world elsewhere.’ ’Twould surprise
some Englishmen to be convinced of it, I know, but indeed there is a
world elsewhere. ’Tis a lovely country, Britain, I grant you, and would
be my choice for living in, when all’s said and done, but—there’s livers
out of it.”

“You talk as if ’twere only the leaving England,” said the other, with a
sorrowful smile.

Everell was silent a moment, gazing at his friend as if to make out some
sort of puzzle which had repeatedly baffled him. “Sure, ’tis more than I
can understand,” he said, at last. “For that lady I have the profound
respect and admiration which your own regard for her declares her due;
for every lady who merits them I have respect and admiration: but this
power of love, as I see it manifested in you! Give me leave, on the
score of our friendship, to confide that it astonishes me. How a man can
fret his soul over a woman, be miserable at the idea of parting from
her, risk his life for a meeting with her—for though we find it the
safer course now, it _was_ risking our lives to make that dash through
the enemy’s lines and across the lowlands—”

“Yet you risked yours readily enough for mere friendship’s sake,” said
Roughwood, breaking in upon the parenthesis, and so wrecking the
sentence for ever.

“For friendship’s sake, yes!—brave comradeship, good company!—indeed,
yes, and who would not? But for love of a girl!—why, ’tis worthy of Don
Quixote! Forgive me: I speak only my mind.”

“Lad, lad, what is friendship in comparison with love of a girl—real
love of a girl? You’ll sing another tune some day.”

“Never! I can assure you, never. I know not what the disease is, of
which you speak. Certainly I’m now old enough to have had it if I ever
was to be attacked.—Not that I don’t admire the beauty of women, and
commend them for their gentleness,—when they _are_ gentle,—and
compassionate their weakness as I do that of children, and find pleasure
in their smiling faces, and soft eyes, and tender blushes. I can take
joy enough in the society of a pretty creature when it falls my lot, and
count it among the other amenities of life. I value the grace and
goodness that high-minded women diffuse in this rough world. I can be
happy with sensible women, and amuse myself with light ones. But as to
being what you call _in love_, I have not fallen into that strange
condition, and I can promise you I never shall. ’Tis not in my
constitution.”

“The day will come, and the disease be all the worse for being late, as
is the case with other ailments delayed beyond the usual time.”

“No, sir: and as for hazarding life for love of a woman, I must tell you
I put a higher value upon life than that implies. You understand me—for
_love_ of a woman. To save a woman in danger, to serve a woman in any
way, is a different matter. But merely to participate in the absurdities
of love, to exchange assurances and go through the rest of the
comedy,—will you have me believe ’tis worth staking such a gift as life
for? Pretty odds, egad!—life against love! Love, which is at most an
incident, against life, which is everything and includes all incidents!
Love, against the possibilities of who knows how many years! My dear
Will!—and yet you say I am rash.”

“I am glad to find you a convert to a sense of the value of life,”
laughed Will.

“Why, you don’t think I have held life cheap because I have sometimes
ventured it perhaps without much hesitation? Be sure I have always known
what I was doing. There has always been, as there is now, a good chance
of winning through. I have not lagged behind the boldest in a fight,
’tis true—”

“Except in a retreat.”

“Ah, well, it broke my heart to fly from the field at Culloden. When I
thought of the Prince and his hopes—when I perceived that all was ended
in the whirling snow of that bleak day—I forgot myself. For a moment
life did seem of little worth; not that I ever had the cause so much at
heart, but ’twas a sad end of a brave adventure, and I felt what was
passing in the Prince’s mind. I tarried for a last stroke of protest,
and a pity it is it fell on no better object than a dog whose only
business on the field was plunder,—for I don’t think that fellow was a
true soldier; ’twas by fool’s luck he pinked me with his bayonet.—But,
deuce take it, where was I? Ah, yes. If I’ve been venturesome now and
again, I have never felt that the danger was more than my arm and eye
were equal to,—and that’s not rashness, Will. A man is a fool who
doesn’t hold life precious. If it isn’t precious, what’s the merit in
risking it for a good cause? There are so many fine things to see and do
when one is alive, ’tis sheer lunacy to place them all in the balance
against a trifle. As for the satisfaction of looking on a pretty face
for a greater or less space of time,—no, ’tis not enough.”

“Wait till you see the right face, dear lad,” said Roughwood, quietly.

“When I do, dear lad, you shall hear of it.”

Upon this speech, blithely uttered, Everell filled their two glasses
with wine from the single bottle they had ordered. The young men were
about to pledge each other, when the sudden opening of the door caused
them to look sharply in that direction, holding their glasses midway
between table and lips. A young lady came in with quick steps. At sight
of the gentlemen, she stopped at once, and looked sweetly embarrassed.
Everell and Roughwood rose to their feet, and bowed.

“Your pardon, sirs,” said the intruder. “I was—I wanted to see
Prudence.” Her confusion, to which was due the strangeness of this
remark, became all the greater on her perceiving that strangeness, and
she blushed deeply.

“Prudence?” echoed Everell, politely. “If you mean a lady of that name,
we have not seen her here.”

“She is my waiting-woman,” explained Georgiana. “I didn’t expect to find
her in this room. She is in the kitchen, no doubt, so I thought of
coming to this room and ringing the bell. I thought there might be
nobody here, but I see I intrude.”

“Not in the least,” said Everell, earnestly. “You arrive just in time to
provide us with a toast. To those sweet eyes!”

He was about to drink, when the new wave of crimson that swept over her
face at this tenderly spoken praise of her visual organs engendered a
sudden abashment in Everell. “I have been too bold, perhaps,” he said,
in a kind of vague alarm. “If so, I entreat your pardon, madam.”

She looked at him with undisguised interest, and said, slowly, “I know
not. If you are bold, there seems a respect in your boldness,—a
gentleness and a consideration—” She stopped short, as having gone too
far. A slight quiver of the lip, and a certain note of resentment in her
last words, combined with the words themselves, conveyed a message to
his quick wit.

“Madam, some one has offended you,” he said, instantly setting down his
wine, and walking toward her and the door. “Where is the person?”

She raised her hand to check him, frightened at having created the
possibility of a scene. “Nay, ’tis nothing! Stay, I beg you, sir!”

“Who could be ungentle to one who is all gentleness?” cried Everell. “It
must have occurred but now—they must be near—in this inn. In what room?
Pray tell me.”

“’Twas nothing, sir, I assure you. I spoke in a moment of foolish
vexation. I was merely annoyed at their talk. I had no right to be—no
offence was meant.”

“People should be careful that offence is not given, as well as not
meant. They should be chastised for their carelessness, if for nothing
more.”

“Nay, it is not to be heard of. Two of them are of my own sex, and
another is my relation. I had no real cause to be angry. The fault is
all mine, indeed. I have been much in the wrong to leave them so
rudely,—and more in the wrong to speak of the matter to a stranger. Pray
forget all I have said, sir,—pray do, as you are a gentleman.”

He had been on the point of answering at the end of each sentence, but
her rapidity of speech prevented. She stopped now, with a look that
continued her appeal and besought an assurance.

“As I am a gentleman,” said Everell, “I will obey your least command—or
your greatest. But as I am a gentleman, I would not have you consider me
as a stranger. I grant we have never met before; but such true and
gentle eyes as yours make friends of all who are privileged to see them.
As for my own deserts, I can plead only the respect and tenderness your
looks compel. Believe me, nothing in the suddenness of this meeting can
make me act lightly toward you, or think lightly of you, if you will do
me the honour to count me among your friends. My name is—”

A loud “hem” from Roughwood, who had been looking on with astonishment
at his friend’s earnest and precipitate demonstration of regard, made
Everell stop short. Georgiana, who had listened and gazed with a
bewilderment that had something exceedingly novel and pleasant in it,
was at a loss how to fill the pause with speech or act. She stood
feeling quite incapable and delighted; but her face betrayed nothing
unusual except wonder, which very well became it. Everell, however, did
not leave her long suspended. With a smile at his own predicament, he
resumed:

“Egad, I have a choice of names to tell, madam. For certain reasons, I
don’t parade my true name at present.—And yet why not in this case? I
wouldn’t deal in falsehood even so slight, with one whose looks
declare—”

But Georgiana had suddenly recalled her wits to their duty, and they had
promptly informed her how the world would expect a young lady to comport
herself in such a situation. She quietly interrupted:

“Nay, sir, I haven’t asked your name, and there is no need you should
tell it, as we are not likely to meet again. I thank you for your
willingness to befriend me, and your offer of service.—There is one
thing you may do for me, if you will.”

The dejected look that had come over Everell’s face flashed into
eagerness, and he started forward. “Name it, madam!”

Georgiana smiled, but said as sweetly as possible, to compensate in some
measure for the disappointment she foresaw too late, “If you will pull
the bell-rope yonder, I shall be very grateful—_most_ grateful.”

Everell’s looks groaned for him, and he was too far taken down to move.
Roughwood laughed gently, and after a moment, as he was nearer the
bell-rope, went toward it. This restored Everell to animation.

“Nay, Will, ’tis _my_ affair!” he cried, and, stepping between his
friend and the rope, gave it so earnest a pull, with such a flourish,
that anybody must have marvelled to see how serious and magnificent a
performance the pulling of a bell-rope could be made.

Georgiana thanked him, and stood smiling, with nothing more to say.
Everell found himself afflicted with a similar lack, or confusion, of
ideas, as well as from inability to take his eyes off the young lady.
She sought relief from his gaze by walking to the window. Presently the
maid appeared, in response to the bell.

“Tell my waiting-woman to come to me,” said Georgiana. The maid having
gone, another space of embarrassment ensued, until Georgiana was fain to
break the silence by an ill-simulated cough. This was followed by a
profound sigh on the part of Everell, who had indeed never been so
tongue-tied in his life. Roughwood meanwhile stood witnessing with
amusement. He was not the sort of man to come to the rescue at such
junctures in any case, being of a reserved disposition, and he was
certainly not inclined to pity the discomposure of his gay and confident
friend.

At last Prudence made her appearance, with officious haste and
solicitude. “What is it, your la’ship?” Seeing the gentlemen, she turned
her glance upon them before her mistress could answer. “Oh, lor!” she
cried, and stood stock-still, staring open-mouthed at Everell.

“Prudence! what do you mean?” said Georgiana.

“Oh, lor!” repeated the girl. “The gentleman with the heart! Under his
right eye, too! The very place!”

“Prudence, what impertinence! Have you lost your senses?—Sir, I beg
pardon for the poor girl. I don’t know what she means, but no harm, I’m
certain.”

“Oh, mistress, your la’ship, come away!” begged Prudence, and, taking
hold of Georgiana’s sleeve, essayed to draw her from the room. In
astonishment, and hope of learning the cause of this extraordinary
conduct, Georgiana made a brief curtsey to the gentlemen, and followed
the maid out to the passage, where she bade her explain herself. But
Prudence was not content till she had led her mistress into the opposite
entry and partly up the stairs, whither it was impossible for the gaze
of the two gentlemen to reach them.

Everell, quite heedless of the maid’s behaviour, had started forward
with a stifled exclamation of protest when Georgiana had moved to leave
them. He had stopped before arriving at the door, of course; and now
that she had disappeared from view across the passage, he turned to
Roughwood with a forlorn countenance. Roughwood, however, was in no mood
for either sympathy or rallying. Prudence’s demonstration had worked its
full effect upon him, and his brow was now grave with concern.

“Did you ever see such angelic sweetness, such divine gentleness?” asked
Everell.

“Did you attend to what her waiting-woman said?” replied Roughwood,
rather sharply.

“Something about my heart, or my eye, was it not? Sure, my heart may
well have been in my eyes, when they looked on that lovely creature.”

“She was noticing the scar on your face. She has heard you described, no
doubt. News of us has travelled along the road. ’Tis the work of the
fellow we saw yesterday, I dare say. How often did I beg you to cover
that scar with a patch?”

“Pshaw, you always see the worst possibility. The boy with the horses
has been talking of us in the kitchen, that’s all. He has invented some
wild tale of us, as those people do of their masters and employers.”

“We had best order fresh horses, and pay the reckoning; and meanwhile
finish our wine—it may be some time before we think it safe to stop long
at another inn.”

He stepped toward the bell-rope, but Everell again intervened, with the
words:

“Nay, if any report of us has gone about, a hasty departure is the very
thing to confirm suspicion. Nothing in haste:—my dear Will, how often
have I heard you give that good counsel.”

“There will be no apparent haste. We have dined without hurry.”

Everell sighed, and looked toward the door. His face brightened.

“But if we wait here awhile, we may—don’t you know—perhaps we can—we may
learn why that waiting-woman cried out at the sight of my scar,—for,
look you, if we should meet the mistress again, no doubt, if it is
something harmless—”

“At least,” said Roughwood, firmly, “I will ring and give orders and
pay. Even if you still feel inclined to tarry, there’s no harm in being
ready to go.”

Everell could not reasonably dispute this, but he was so little inclined
to take a hand in anything implying an immediate departure, that he left
all to his friend, and sat looking through the open door while Roughwood
gave orders and paid the landlady. Nothing occurred to reward his watch
during the first few minutes that passed while horses were being made
ready. He took up the glass that Roughwood gently pushed to his hand,
and drank down the wine half-consciously. He dreaded to see the horses
appear, knowing that his comrade must have his way, and that he should
probably never again behold the vision that had suddenly gladdened his
sight and warmed his heart.

But meanwhile there had been activity in the yard, and now there was a
great stamping of hoofs and rattling of harness, accompanied by the
ejaculations peculiar to men who have to do with horses. Roughwood went
to the door and looked toward the yard.

“’Tis a coach-and-six making ready to depart,” he said. “And there’s a
post-chaise, too. We are not the only people who are about to leave this
inn.”

Everell was by his side in an instant. No doubt, then, the young lady
would be leaving. A fat coachman was on the box of the private vehicle,
and the postilion was in readiness to mount before the chaise, but the
passengers of neither were yet visible. There came, however, from across
the passage the sound of well-bred voices, in easy, half-jesting tones,
and then appeared a sumptuously charming lady on the arm of a handsome,
discontented-looking gentleman; a second couple, not as distinguished in
appearance; and the young lady who had so fired Everell’s fancy. The
party moved toward the conveyances, Georgiana having no share in their
mirthful talk. She had cast a quick glance at the two young gentlemen
while her face was toward them, but had given no sign of acquaintance. A
second procession, consisting of the waiting-women and men servants with
the smaller impedimenta, followed in the footsteps of the gentlefolk,
and Georgiana’s figure was almost lost to view in the crowd about the
carriages, which was now swelled by the people of the inn.

“Which way can they be going? Who is she? If I could but learn where she
lives!” said Everell.

“The knowledge would serve you little at present, I fear,” replied
Roughwood.

“Those are the people whose talk offended her. One is her relation, she
said. By Jupiter, I must find out!”

Ere his friend could stop him Everell had started for the yard, as if
upon his own business, with some general idea of questioning the inn
folk. Going near the travellers, he heard the two strange ladies and one
of the gentlemen discussing how the party should be divided between the
coach and the chaise. The taller gentleman was speaking to the landlady.
The word “baggage” caught Everell’s ear, and he stood still.

“There are three trunks following by the wagon,” the gentleman was
saying, “to be left here. You will have Timmins the carter fetch them to
Foxwell Court immediately.”

Everell needed to hear no more. The party was evidently bound for
Foxwell Court, which must be near if the baggage following thus far by
regular wagon was to be conveyed the rest of the way by a local carter.
And of course the place must be off the route of the stage-wagons—that
is to say, off the great highway. Three trunks would have been small
luggage for so numerous a party of such quality; but Everell saw baggage
on the coach, as well. This, in fact, belonged to Lady Strange and her
party. That about which he had heard directions given was of Georgiana
and her uncle.

Everell was on the edge of the little crowd, and he turned about to look
toward the midst of it, where he had last caught a glimpse of the young
lady. To his wonder, he now beheld her close in front of him, her eyes
meeting his.

[Illustration: “‘SAVE YOURSELF,’ SHE WHISPERED, RAPIDLY. ‘YOU ARE IN
DANGER HERE.’”]

“Save yourself,” she whispered, rapidly. “You are in danger here. A man
is up-stairs who is hunting you—one Jeremiah Filson. For heaven’s sake,
fly while you may!”

Before he could answer, she had slipped back through the crowd, and was
in her former place, near the two older ladies. The attention of the
lesser folk was upon the London people, who were concerned only with one
another, and the tall gentleman was still engaged with the woman of the
inn. No one had observed Georgiana.

AT last the tall gentleman turned to his friends. Everell saw Georgiana
disappear into the coach with the older ladies; saw the two gentlemen
spring into the chaise, after casting doles to the yard servants; saw
the two maids established upon outside seats, the valets mounted, the
postilion up before the chaise, the coachman gather his reins and whip;
saw the procession move off, with Caleb at the head to show the way, the
coach next, the chaise following, and the trim London lackey riding
behind all the rest. Everell followed as far as to the door, where still
stood Roughwood. The coach had already turned down the High Street.

“She’s gone,” said he. “But not far—only to Foxwell Court.”

“Pray, where and what is Foxwell Court?” asked Roughwood, leading him by
the arm into the parlour.

“I know not, but ’tis easily learned.”

“No doubt, but we shall do better to restrain our curiosity. I trust we
shall have nothing more to excite it—or to tempt you to mingle
unnecessarily in miscellaneous crowds from inn kitchens.”

“My dear Will,” cried Everell, “my going among that crowd was a stroke
of heaven-sent luck. I received a most valuable warning—and from her,
too! Think of it, those sweet lips, those heavenly eyes, that—”

“Warning? What do you mean?”

Everell told him.

“H’m!” said Roughwood. “That explains her maid’s conduct. Somebody had
described you to the maid—somebody now up-stairs.”

“Yes, and the maid no sooner tells her of it than she takes the first
opportunity to put us on our guard, at the risk even of her good name.
What divine compassion! What—”

“And the somebody up-stairs? No doubt your acquaintance of yesterday.
Why, he may chance upon us at any moment, and give the alarm. And, if he
has mentioned you to the maid, why not to a whole kitchenful of people?
’Tis high time indeed we were out of this place. How slow they are with
the horses! We should be in another county by sunset.”

“Ay, dear Will, _you_ should—and must.”

“_I_ should? _We_ should. Here are the horses at last. Come.” Roughwood
seized the cloak-bags.

“Nay, Will, I—I will follow a little later,” said Everell, taking his
own piece of luggage.

“Later? Are you mad?—Come, come, no nonsense, Charles. You will go with
me, of course.”

“From this inn, certainly. But from this neighbourhood not for a—day or
two. I mention it now, so that the boy need hear no discussion between
us. I will ride with you a mile or so, then take my own way afoot. The
boy, of course, must keep his horses together.—I will follow you, I say:
I can find your man Budge. Let his house be our rendezvous,—I can find
it from your description,—and of course I will appear thereabouts only
at night. Instruct him to be on the watch for me. If he can sail before
I arrive, make good your own escape, and bid him expect me on his
return. That is all, I think; and now to horse.”

“But, my dear lad,—my dear, dear lad,—what folly is this? Hear reason;
you must be guided by me. You know not what you would risk—”

“No more than I’ve risked before now, and for no such cause, either.
’Tis settled, Will, I intend to stay hereabouts till I’ve seen that
young lady again. Come, the boy is waiting with the horses. ’Tis you now
that delays our going.”

“Charles, listen to me!—Rash! foolish! mad!”

“No.—I said you should hear when I saw the right face, Will. I declare
I’ve seen it—and must see it again, whatever be the cost or the
consequence.”

In another minute they were on horseback, moving down the High Street.
The coach and chaise had started in the same direction, but were now out
of sight. Everell hoped to come nearly up to them, that he might see
where they left the highroad. But even after he had cleared the town and
beheld a straight stretch of road far ahead, he found no sign of the
vehicles in which he was interested. He inferred that they must have
turned off through one of the streets of the town, which was indeed the
case.

Meanwhile, Roughwood, full of sadness and misgiving, had kept up his
usual vigilance so far as to watch their guide for possible signs of
having heard any such talk at the inn as had enabled the maid Prudence
to identify Everell. But the boy did not regard either of the gentlemen
at all suspiciously; he showed no curiosity or interest, and Roughwood
was assured that, if Everell’s enemy had spoken of them at the inn, this
lad had not been a listener. Such, as the reader knows, was the case,
for Mr. Filson had thus far confided his story to nobody in the house
but Prudence, and she had excluded herself from the conversation of the
kitchen under a sense of affront, until summoned by her mistress.
Georgiana, upon hearing the cause of her alarm at the sight of the young
stranger, had put the girl under the strictest commands of secrecy, and
had kept her in attendance afterward, quietly returning to Foxwell and
his friends as they were making ready to depart.

While he still rode with his friend, Everell allowed no mention of his
resolve or of Foxwell Court to escape him, for he knew that the guide,
whom Roughwood would dismiss at the end of that stage, would be
returning with the horses, and might be interrogated by their enemy, who
by that time would probably have learned of their short stay at the inn.
On the other hand, Everell devoted some conversation to the purpose of
deceiving the boy as to his reasons and intentions in leaving his friend
and his saddle as he was about to do. Observing a house among some trees
upon a hill, he pointed it out to Roughwood as the residence of a friend
whom he meant to surprise with a brief visit. Having spoken to this
effect, as if the matter had been previously understood between them, he
added that, in order to make the surprise complete, he would approach
the house on foot among the trees, and would therefore take leave of
Roughwood, for the time, in the road. He could depend upon the gentleman
he was about to visit to furnish him with conveyance to the next town,
whence he would follow Roughwood by post-horse. This much having been
said in the guide’s hearing, Everell pulled up his horse, and, Roughwood
doing likewise, the two fugitives held a whispered conference upon the
details of their next reunion.

To the last, Roughwood tried, by voice and look, to dissuade his comrade
from this rash and sudden deviation from their original plans, but
vainly. They made a redivision of their money, for each in his heart
felt that some time must elapse ere they should—if ever—be fellow
travellers again. Then Everell slid from his horse, slung his cloak-bag
over his shoulder, gave a quick pressure of his friend’s hand, and a
whispered “God speed you, dear lad!” in exchange for a silent and
protesting farewell in the other’s clouding eyes; and stood alone in the
highway. He waited till the horses disappeared with a last wave of
Roughwood’s hand, around a turning: he then faced directly about, and
set off with long and rapid strides.

His pace very soon brought him back to the town he had so recently left.
Instead of going as far as to their former inn, he sought out one of
humbler appearance, near the beginning of the street. Here he left his
cloak-bag, for already in his brief walk he had experienced the stares
of wonder naturally drawn by a gentleman who carried at the same time a
sword at his side and a cloak-bag at his shoulder. He went into a
barber’s shop, where, as he had used his razor that morning, and very
little sign of beard had become visible in the meantime, his order for
shaving created in the barber’s mind an impression that he must be an
extremely luxurious gentleman in spite of his threadbare
clothes,—probably a lord in misfortune. Everell easily set the barber
talking about all the estates in the neighbourhood, and thus, without
seeming to have more design in regard to Foxwell Court than to a dozen
other places, elicited the information that that house was eight miles
away on the road to Burndale.

Returning to the inn where he had left his bag, he told the landlord he
was bound for Burndale, and had made up his mind to accomplish part of
the journey that afternoon, in order to arrive there betimes the next
day. He bargained for a horse and guide to take him seven or eight miles
on the way, and leave him at some place where he could pass the night
and obtain conveyance on to Burndale in the morning. In this way,
without mentioning Foxwell Court, he contrived that he should be set
down in its vicinity and yet have it supposed that his destination was
far beyond.

He had so far trusted to luck and his quickness of sight to avoid
confrontation with the enemy who, as he could not doubt, was close
enough at hand. But he breathed a sigh of relief when he at last rode
out of the town in the direction of Burndale: he believed that, whatever
inquiries might be made upon the discovery that he had passed through
the town, his traces were sufficiently confused, one set leading
southward after his friend, and the other leading to Burndale, a good
distance beyond Foxwell Court. So he rode forward with his new guide, in
as great security of mind as he had enjoyed in months.

The road lay at first between fields, and here and there great trees
stretched their boughs shelteringly over it. Sometimes green banks rose
on one hand or both, and at a certain place a stream joined the road and
went singing along in its company for half a mile. Then the way emerged
upon an open common, which undulated on one side in rounded waves of
heather till the purple mass met the gray sky, and on the other side to
the border of a wood. But presently Everell was again in cultivated
country, with stone farm-buildings set now and then upon lawny slopes
among the fields.

One great house, of which the chimneys rose in the midst of trees, and
which was to be approached by a driveway of some hundreds of yards from
a gate and lodge at the roadside, held Everell’s attention for a moment.
The guide volunteered the information that this was Thornby Hall.
Everell repeated the name carelessly, looked a second time, and thought
no more of it. Had he been able to foresee the future, he would have
given the place a longer inspection.

Two or three miles more brought them to a village. The guide said that
here was the only public-house of entertainment in the near
neighbourhood, and that if he went farther he was in danger of getting
benighted on his return. Nothing could have suited Everell’s own plan
better than this clear hint. He dissembled his content, however, and put
on a frown of disappointment as he gazed at the mere ale-house—a low and
longish building whose unevenness of line betokened its antiquity—before
which the boy had drawn up. Everell feigned a reluctant yielding to
necessity; dismounted peevishly, and showed a petulant resignation in
asking the rustic-looking landlord who appeared at the door if a decent
room was to be had for the night.

The landlord, a drowsy little old man, who was too dull, too
humble-minded, or too philosophical to resent any doubt of the
excellence of his house, replied that the best room was at his honour’s
service. Whereupon Everell, for the hearing of his guide, inquired
urgently about the possibility of getting a horse in the morning to
carry him to Burndale. Being assured on this point, also, Everell
dismissed the guide, and had his single piece of baggage taken into his
room, which proved to be not merely the best room, but the only room,
properly so-called, in addition to the long apartment which served as
kitchen, bar, living-room of the family, and general clubroom of the
village; the chambers up-stairs being mere lofts under the roof.

Everell ordered a supper of bacon and eggs, which were cooked by the
landlord’s fat, middle-aged daughter, and served by the old man himself.
Turning quite reconciled to his accommodations as soon as his guide had
left the scene, Everell drew the host into conversation, and, as the old
fellow proved to be an amiable and honest soul, even in the matter of
his charges, the traveller was shortly in possession of as many facts,
legends, and reports concerning the gentry of this and adjacent parishes
as his host had accumulated in years. All this information went through
Everell’s mind as through a sieve, with the exception of the
circumstance that the old red-brick place, with the ivy and the gables,
crowning the slope at the right, with a park behind it, which old
red-brick place his honour would have seen had he ridden a little
farther on, and would see when he rode that way in the morning, was
Foxwell Court. This piece of news did not come out till Everell had
finished his meal, and he might have learned a vast deal about the
Foxwells, for the old man’s face brightened as if at the opening of a
fresh and copious subject; but the young gentleman, with his usual
precipitancy, rose and declared his intention of stretching his legs.
Though he had cautiously refrained from being the first to mention
Foxwell Court, he no sooner knew where it was, and how near, than he
felt himself drawn as by enchantment in its direction.

As he stepped out upon the green space before the inn, a post-chaise
came rattling by at a round speed. It was empty, and Everell recognized
it as the one which had accompanied the coach from the inn yard that
day: it was now returning from Foxwell Court, as it ought to have been
doing sooner. The postilion, no doubt, had wasted time in the
sociability of the servants’ hall, and was now making his horses fly to
avoid belatement. He stared a moment at Everell, and was gone. Thinking
nothing of this meeting, so brief and casual, Everell walked rapidly off
toward Foxwell Court.

The sun had come out toward evening, and now shone bright on the
weathercock and spire of the parish church that stood embowered some
distance from the road, on Everett’s left, as he proceeded. A short walk
brought him to the end of the village street of low gray cottages in
their small gardens. Thence a little bridge bore him across a stream
that came murmuring down through a large field from the wooded land
Northward. Looking ahead on that side of the road, he perceived the
curved gables of an old house of time-dulled brick partly clad in ivy.
It stood rather proudly at the top of a broad slope and against a
background of woods or park, its upper windows ablaze with the sunlight.
The lower part of the building was hidden by the walls of a forecourt
and by a dilapidated-looking gate-house which dominated them. At the
near end of the mansion appeared a shapeless remnant of broken tower and
wing, ruinous and abandoned: from these ruins a wall extended to the
verge of a slight precipice and, there turning at a right angle, ran
back to the wood. Over the top of this wall were visible the signs of a
neglected garden or orchard.

The further, or Western, end of the house was flanked by trees and
greenery, but the slope of rich green turf which descended in one long
and gentle swell from the forecourt to the road was clear lawn. This
great convex space of green was separated from the adjacent fields, and
from the road, by a rude hedge of briar. Everell, having gazed a few
moments from the bridge, walked on along the road, intending, if
possible, to describe the circuit of the house at a respectful distance
before attempting any near approach. He came to the barred opening in
the hedge through which the private road led from the highway to the
gate-house of the forecourt, but he let only his eyes travel up the
curving way. As the hedge grew on lower ground beyond the roadside
ditch, Everell had the house in full sight while he was passing. He came
at length to where the hedge turned for its ascent, and here he found
that a narrow lane ran between it and the field adjoining.

He was speedily over the barred gate that shut this lane from the road.
Ascending toward the park behind the house, he frequently lost sight of
the latter by reason of the height of the hedge, which was, moreover,
accompanied on that side by a line of oaks. As it came to the level of
the forecourt, the hedge was interrupted by a gate. Looking across the
bars of this, Everell could see not only the house but, nearer to him,
stables and other outbuildings skilfully concealed by shrubbery and
trees. His observation from the gateway being rewarded by nothing to the
purpose, and that he might make the most use of the remaining light,
Everell went on through the lane toward the park, to which he now saw it
gave access. Passing the trees which prevented his view of the Western
end of the house, he came abreast of a terrace which lay between the
North front and the park, and which he could see across the hedge when
he stood on tiptoe. A few more steps, and a vault over a five-barred
gate, took him into the park itself, from the shades of which—for it was
not kept clear of small growth, and offered plentiful covert of bush and
bracken and other brush—he gazed upon the house as he turned and
strolled Eastward.

The balustrade of the terrace was broken here and there; and the mansion
itself, where the ivy allowed its surface to be seen, was weather-worn
and unrepaired. Yet, by virtue of its design and situation, the house
had a magnificence. This, however, did not much affect Everell at the
time, sensitive though he was to such impressions. What concerned him
was, that he saw no face at any window, nor heard any voice from any
part of the mansion except below stairs.

To complete the circuit of the place, in quest of any discovery to aid
his purpose, he walked on till he came to a deep, thick-wooded glen that
cut into the park from the grounds about the ruined Eastern end of the
house. Through this ran the stream which, subsequently traversing the
great field between the house and the village, crossed under the bridge.
Everell turned along the crest of the glen-side, and thus in a few steps
emerged, through a gate in the stone wall, upon the wild garden or
orchard, of which he had seen signs from the road. It was a neglected
place, evidently not now resorted to. Steps descended to it from the
terrace, yet it was not so much lower but that Everell could glance
along the terrace and the North front of the house. He leaned against a
vacant stone pedestal to rest and consider.

The sun had set, and, far beyond the length of the terrace, the
undulating fields and moorland, and the distant darkening mountains, was
a sky of red and gold. But Everell had eyes for nothing but the old
mansion, which was to him a case holding the loveliest jewel he had ever
beheld. As the dusk came on, light appeared at some of the lower
windows; a few notes of laughter and other vocal sounds gave evidence of
life. But nobody came forth. Everell dared not hope to catch a glimpse
of the admired one that evening. He was at last sensible that night had
fallen. All the colour had gone out of the West, and stars had appeared.

He would have moved, to warm himself by walking, but that two of the
upper windows began to glow. Were they _her_ windows? He watched with a
beating heart, stilling even the sound of his breath. But several
minutes passed without any manifestation even of a shadow momentarily
darkening the panes. The light vanished. No doubt she had gone to bed,
fatigued with the journey of the day. Certainly they must be her
windows, for the others of the party were less likely to retire so
early. Everell heaved a sigh, and threw a kiss at the windows. Of a
sudden he was uncomfortably chilly: he bestirred himself, wished he had
thought of bringing his cloak, and started off, as much upon a feeling
that he could better meditate a course of procedure while walking as
upon the impulse to set his blood in motion. But so far was he from any
desire of going back to his inn that, without much conscious choice in
the matter, he took a quite different direction, and followed the top of
the glen-side into the park.

He had been moving at a rapid pace for several minutes before he gave
any heed to his whereabouts. He had been guided safely among bush,
bracken, and the great trunks of the trees by that unconscious
observation for which in those days there was no better name than
instinct. He now saw—for in many places the trees were not too close
together for the admission of some light from stars and sky—that he had
penetrated a good distance into the park, and had left the course of the
glen. As he stood gazing into the gloom, wondering how accurately he
could retrace his steps, he heard the loud crack of a gun, fired
seemingly about two furlongs away.

“Poachers,” said he, after a moment’s thought.

He stepped forward to the edge of an open place, which sloped down
gradually to a stream—doubtless the same that threaded the glen, or a
tributary. Beyond this water the corresponding ascent was clear of trees
for perhaps a hundred yards. Down that side of the glade a dark figure
was approaching so swiftly, and in such manner else, that Everell knew
it as that of a man running for his life. There is a difference so
pronounced as to be plain even in twilight and afar between the attitude
of a man who runs in pursuit, and that of a man who runs from pursuit;
and again, in either case, between that of one who runs in accordance
with, and that of one who runs in opposition to, the law.

Having no desire to interfere with a rogue who had just fired at, or
been fired at by, somebody’s gamekeeper, or at best had taken a
forbidden shot at somebody’s game, Everell concealed himself among some
bracken of a man’s height. He waited a few minutes, hoping to be
informed by his ears when the man should have passed. But he heard
neither footfall nor panting, nor any noise of pursuit.

Supposing that the fellow had changed his course at the stream, Everell
stepped out from the bracken. He was just in time to confront a broad
figure striding toward him. Ere Everell thought of self-defence, the
newcomer uttered an ejaculation, and sprang aside with something
upraised in the air. The next thing that Everell knew—for one rarely
feels a knock-down blow on the head from such an instrument as the
butt-end of a gun—he was lying among the bracken from which he had
recently come forth.

AT his side knelt the man who had felled him, and who was endeavouring
to ascertain if he still breathed. Everell essayed to grasp his
sword-hilt, but the other caught his wrist with a powerful hand.

“Softly, master,” said a gruff but apparently pacific voice. “’Tis all a
mistake, belike, and, if so be it is, I ask your pardon humbly. I make
you out to be a gentleman, sir, and in that case not what I supposed.
But you appeared so sudden, I took it you’d been lying in wait for me. I
struck out first, and thought afterwards, which was maybe the wrong way
about. So I stayed to see what hurt was done, and lend a hand if need
be.—Nay, you’ll find I haven’t touched your pockets, sir.”

Forgetting the injury in the chivalrous after-conduct—for nine men out
of ten would have run away, whether the blow had been mistaken or
not—Everell replied as heartily as he could:

“Why, friend, you seem a very brave fellow, and I forgive you the
mistake. As for harm, I do begin to feel something like a cracked crown;
but my wits are whole enough, so the damage can’t be very great. I can
tell better if you will allow me to rise—which you can safely do, as I
assure you I’m not your enemy, nor was I lying in wait.”

Everell then explained his concealment among the bracken, relating
exactly what he had seen. “I thought you must have got far away, to
judge from your speed down yonder slope.”

“Nay, sir,” said the man, stepping back so that Everell might rise, “I
had no need to run further. I was already off the land of them that were
chasing me—the boundary is just beyond the glade: you could see the
fence among the trees if ’twere daylight—but I kept running lest they
might send a shot after me. As soon as I found covert on this side the
glade, I stopped to get my breath. Now, sir, I’ve been as frank with you
as you’ve been with me; and I’m glad to see, by the way you stand and
step, that no lasting injury is done, after all.”

Everell, whose hat had saved his skull, and who could feel only a little
blood, and that already coagulating, was able to stand without other
unpleasant symptoms than a thumping ache of the head. His new
acquaintance seemed ready to go about his own business, but Everell was
loth to part with him so soon. He was a short, thick-set, long-armed
fellow, with a broad face, whose bold, rugged features would by ignorant
people be termed ugly, and whose scowling, defiant look would by the
same people be called wicked. But something in his speech or manner, or
even in his appearance as far as could be made out in the comparative
darkness, stamped him in Everell’s mind as an honest rascal, worthy of
confidence.

“No injury, I assure you,” replied Everell. “Indeed I must thank you for
a lesson. Henceforth I shall look before I leap, in any similar case;
with my hand on my sword, too.”

“’Tis a wise resolve, master. Though I for one am glad your hand was not
on your sword to-night: for then I should have felt sure you were in
league with them yonder, and worse might have happened.”

“By ‘them yonder,’ I take it you mean gamekeepers.”

“Ay, sir, Squire Thornby’s men. ’Tis his wood, yon enclosure. Here on
the Foxwell land a fellow is safe enough, so long as it be only a rabbit
or pheasant now and then. Sure the more fool I for not thinking of that
when you appeared—I might ’a’ known the Foxwell people would never stop
a man them Thornby keepers was down upon.”

“Then the shot I heard awhile ago was fired at you by the Thornby
keepers?”

“No need to speak of that, sir. If so be you heard a shot, why, you
heard it, and there’s an end.” While he spoke, the man fingered with the
flap of a well-stuffed pocket in his coat. “How I knew it was the
Thornby people was by their voices, sir, whereby I saw fit to run. Not
that I’m afeard of e’er a body of them all, but I hold it ’ud be fool’s
work to shorten my own life or another man’s. And right glad I be to
know I didn’t shorten your honour’s, especially now I see what sort of
gentleman your honour is.”

“’Twould have been an odd twist of luck indeed,” returned Everell,
good-humouredly. “I am much in your own case, friend: far from desiring
to trip up another man, I must look to it that I’m not tripped up
myself. My fellow-feeling at present is with the fox rather than the
hounds.”

“Then belike you are seeking cover hereabouts?” inquired the poacher, in
a tone of friendly interest.

“At all events, I wish to remain in this neighbourhood a few days,
without encountering a great degree of publicity. I say as much to an
honest rogue like yourself—I mightn’t be as free with a more respectable
man.”

“You’re not far wrong there, sir,” replied the fellow, not at all
displeased, but, on the contrary, gratified at the justice done him. “I
don’t ask to know anything; I have secrets enough of my own. But if I
can be of any small service, in the way of information about the lay o’
the land or such a matter—for I see you’re a stranger hereabouts, and I
know these parts well—better than they know me, by a great deal—why,
then, I’m your servant to command. But, if not, I’ll bid ye good night
and safe lying wherever you may lodge.”

“Oh, as for that, I lodge at the ale-house in the village, for to-night,
at least. I told the landlord I would ride on to-morrow; I shall have to
find some pretext for staying.”

“Well, sir, you know your own wishes—but ’tis not the most private
place, that there ale-house, and they be inquisitive folk, them in the
village.”

“What other lodging would you recommend?” asked Everell, for the first
time seriously awake to the curiosity that his presence must arouse in
so remote a place. “I certainly desire to go and come unobserved: I have
no mind that my motions should be watched and discussed.”

“Why, that’s a question,” said the other, frankly nonplussed.

“You ought to know the answer,” said Everell. “Surely you are able to go
and come without witnesses, when upon such amusements as brought you out
this evening.”

“Be sure I don’t live at the village ale-house, master. Nor at any
village, neither; nor in sight of one.”

“Where, then, do you live?”

“I have my cottage, and my patch o’ ground that I contrive to coax a
livin’ out of—with a little assistance from outside.” He scarce
consciously laid his palm against the fat pocket. “’Tis a poor place,
sir, but has the recommendation of privacy. ’Tis so lost in the woods,
so to speak, and closed round by hillocks and thickets, I doubt you
could ever find it if I told you the way.”

“Who lives with you?”

“Nobody at present, since my last son was took by the press-gang—he was
in Newcastle to visit his brother, who’s a porter there. They would go
out to see the world, them lads!”

“Then you have room for a lodger,” said Everell, tentatively.

“Fine lodgings for a gentleman like you, sir!”

“Never mind; I’ve had worse,” Everell replied, thinking of Scotland;
“and not so long since, either.”

“And the food, sir,—with your tender stomach?”

“Man, I’ve lived two days on a wet oatcake.”

The poacher was not the sort of fellow to offer the same objections over
again, nor to be upset by the novelty of the suggestion. The two being
circumstanced as they were, and intuitively trusting each other, no
proposal could have been more natural. So far from hemming and hawing,
therefore, the man merely enumerated such further disadvantages as a
gentleman must encounter in sharing his abode and larder, and, these
being made light of, gave his assent. The question immediately arose as
to how Everell should transfer his residence from the ale-house to the
poacher’s cottage without leaving a trace. It was important that he
should depart from the ale-house in regular fashion, lest it be supposed
that he had met with foul play, and a search be made. Moreover, he must
have his belongings—for the cloak-bag contained his clean linen,
stockings, razor, and other necessaries of decent living: though he
desired to be visible to but one person while in the neighbourhood, he
desired that to her he should appear at no disadvantage. After some
discussion, a course was planned, which Everell and his intended
host—who gave his name as John Tarby—immediately set out upon.

John Tarby led the way through that part of the wood which Everell had
lately traversed. They came, at length, to the verge of the glen; but,
instead of keeping to the edge, the guide descended the bracken-covered
side into the deeper gloom of the thickly timbered bottom. Here, indeed,
Everell found what was to him complete darkness, and he had to clutch
his companion’s coat-skirt for guidance. John Tarby, however, proceeded
without hesitation or doubt, deviating this way or that to avoid tree or
thicket, the music of the stream rising or falling as the two men moved
more or less close to its border. At last they emerged from the glen’s
mouth, at the foot of the steep incline that rose to the old sunken
garden of Foxwell Court. Here John Tarby concealed his gun by laying it
across the boughs of a young oak. Where the glen and the timber ceased,
the walkers were encountered by the high palings which served to enclose
the park on that side except where wooden bars spanned the stream. By
using the bars as a bridge, Everell and his guide crossed the stream.
Tarby led the way a few rods farther, stopped, and carefully removed a
loose paling or two. They squeezed themselves through the opening, and
stood in the field. Tarby replaced the palings in their former
apparently secure position, and then the two rapidly skirted the field,
keeping close to the fence so as to profit by the dark background it
afforded their bodies. Turning at the angle of the field, and skulking
along a rough stone wall, they finally reached the village end, meeting
their former companion, the stream, just in time for a momentary
greeting ere it passed under the bridge. Leaving the poacher to lie
unseen in the shadowed corner of the field, Everell clambered over a
wooden barrier and up a low bank, and, having thus gained the road, went
on alone to the ale-house.

The village street was deserted, but the ale-house windows showed light;
and the sound of slow, broad voices, mingled in chaffing disputation,
indicated that ale was flowing in the general room. Everell went by way
of the passage to his own chamber, where a lighted candle awaited him.
He rang for the landlord.

“I’ve found a conveyance to Burndale to-night,” said Everell, when the
old man appeared. “A belated carrier, I believe, whom I met at the
bridge yonder, where he’s waiting for me. But as I took this room for
the night, you must allow me to pay for it, and the price of breakfast,
too.”

The landlord, whose face had lengthened at the first words, now resumed
his serenity, and he amiably gathered in the silver that Everell had
laid on the table. This seemed to warm him into solicitude for the
departing guest’s convenience, and he expressed the hope that the
wagoner was at the door to carry the bag.

“Nay, he wouldn’t turn back,” said Everell; “nor could he leave his
horses. But ’tis not far to the bridge.” And he took up the bag to bear
it himself.

“Nay, then, your pardon, sir, I’ll carry it,” interposed the landlord.

“My good man, I wouldn’t think of taking you from your house and
customers.”

“’Tis not far, as you say, sir, and my daughter—”

But Everell had gone, and the obliging old fellow was left to scratch
his head and wonder. The more he wondered, the more reason there seemed
for doing so. He had not heard anything like a carrier’s wagon pass, as
it must have done if it was now at the bridge and bound for Burndale. It
was strange enough that a carrier’s wagon should travel that road at
such an hour, and stranger still that it should do so without its
custodian stopping for a cup of good cheer. And the gentleman’s
unwillingness to have his baggage carried!

The ale-house keeper was not so old as to have outlived curiosity. He
slipped out, crossed the green, and stood in the middle of the road,
peering through the starlit night. Yes, there was the figure of the
gentleman, truly enough, swiftly retreating down the village street that
led to the bridge. The landlord slunk after him, keeping close to the
walls and hedges, and stepping silently. He was soon sufficiently near
the bridge to perceive that no conveyance waited there. The assurance of
this acted so upon his mind as to make him stop and consider whether it
was safe to go further. As he stood gaping, the form of the strange
gentleman suddenly vanished. The old man stared for another moment:
then, assailed with a feeling that here was mystery nothing short of
devil’s work, he turned and fled in a panic to his ale-house.

Everell, who had not once looked back, had passed from the old man’s
view by turning from the road to rejoin the waiting poacher. Without a
word, Tarby arose, relieved Everell of the cloak-bag, and led the way
over the route by which they had come from the park. The palings were
again removed and replaced, the stream was again crossed by means of the
bars. The two entered the blackness of the glen, Tarby repossessing
himself of his fowling-piece. By the time they had ascended to the
general level of the park, the moon had risen, and, as they proceeded in
a Northwesterly direction, the more open spaces, whether clothed in
green sward or in bracken of autumnal brown, wore a beauty which Everell
associated in his mind with the young lady not far away, and thus the
silent woods and glades seemed to him a forest of enchantment.

Tarby spoke only to call Everell’s attention to landmarks by which he
might know the course again. He indicated the whereabouts of the
keeper’s lodge without passing near it. They left the park by means of
another such weak place in the barrier as had served them before, the
poacher remarking that he preferred that kind of egress even when barred
gates were near at hand. They now traversed a deserted bit of heath,
covered with gorse, and plunged into a rough wood, much thicker and
gloomier than the park behind them. Following a ditch, or bed of a
dried-up stream, they emerged at last upon some partly clear, rugged
land which rose gradually before them. This they ascended, and so came
to a region of bare, rocky hills and deep wooded hollows. Tarby kept
mainly to the hollows, until at last, having crossed a little ridge, he
descended to a vale lying in the shape of a crescent, and seeming in the
moonlight to be covered with timber; but a narrow patch of clearing ran
diagonally across, watered by a little stream. Everell and his guide
came into this clearing at the end by which the brook left it. Near the
stream—so near, indeed, that they had barely room to walk between—was a
thick mass of tall gorse bushes, threatening scratches to any intruder.
Tarby turned in among these at a narrow opening, followed close by his
wondering guest. In a moment Everell discovered that the bushes, instead
of constituting a solid thicket, formed but a hollow circle, within
which was a low cottage of timber and rough plaster.

“Here us be,” said John Tarby, dropping bag and gun to respond to the
leaping caresses of a mongrel hound that had sprung up from the
door-stone. “He won’t hurt you, sir; ’tis a ’bedient animal. When I
tells him to stop here, ’tis here he stops, and won’t come out even to
meet me, unless I call or whistle.”

The dog transferred his attentions to Everell on perceiving him to be an
approved visitor, while the poacher opened the door and lighted a candle
within. Entering, Everell found a combination of kitchen,
sleeping-chamber, and living-room, the whole giving an impression of
comfort far exceeding that of the bothy he had for a time inhabited in
Scotland.

“So this is your castle,” said Everell, looking around with approbation.

“Ay, sir, with the gorse for wall and the brook for moat. And I don’t
lack a postern to escape by, if so be I was ever hard pressed in front.”
He opened a small square shutter in the back of the room. “’Tis all
gorse out there, sir, and only me and the dog knows the path through to
the rocks.”

There was at one end of the room a pallet bed, which Tarby assigned to
his guest, saying he would shake down some heather for his own use at
the opposite end. He went out, and returned with a sackful of this,
having borrowed from the reserve supply of his cow, which he housed in a
shed on the other side of the stream. He informed Everell that he kept a
few fowls also, though the great part of his clearing was made to serve
as a vegetable-garden. He asked what Everell would like for supper, and
named three or four possibilities besides the rabbit he drew from his
large pocket. But Everell had supped at the ale-house, and, as he was
now quite fatigued, he went to bed, leaving his host to partake of bread
and cheese, while the dog munched a cold bone in the corner.

When Everell awoke, bright day was shining in through the single window
and the open doorway, and John Tarby was preparing a breakfast of eggs
and bacon. Everell, despite his now eager appetite and his impatience to
be about his purpose, dressed himself with care, performing his toilet
with the aid of the stream, and putting on fresh linen and stockings. He
then ate heartily, and, having given his host a sufficient idea of where
he wished to spend his day, set forth in Tarby’s company, that the
poacher might show him the way by daylight. Taking care to note every
landmark, Everell arrived finally in that portion of the Foxwell park
which lay near the mansion. Tarby here took his leave, to attend to his
own affairs, making a rendezvous with his guest in case the latter
should not have returned to the cottage by nightfall—for it was not
certain that he could find his way after dark at the first attempt.

Everell strolled on till the gables of Foxwell Court appeared through
the trees. He found a convenient spot where he could sit and observe the
terrace that stretched between the house and the park. His highest hope
was that the young lady would, sooner or later, come to take the air
upon the terrace and extend her walk into the park.

He sat amidst bracken, peering out through countless small openings
among the browning leaves and stems. A hundred times he changed his
position, and a hundred sighs of impatience escaped him, before anything
occurred to break the monotony of his watch. And when, toward noon, the
great door of the house opened, and figures in feminine garb appeared,
they proved to be only the two ladies in whom he was not interested.
They sauntered along the terrace, arm in arm, talking and laughing,
making a graceful picture against the broken balustrade, or on the wide
steps between the moss-covered, crumbling flower-pots. They were joined
presently by the stouter gentleman, and at last by the taller. Finally,
after a half-hour of mirthful chatter, the four went indoors again, and
left the terrace empty for another long time of waiting.

In the afternoon the same four appeared on horseback in the lane which
served as the bridle-path from the courtyard side of the house to the
park. Entering the park at some distance from Everett’s hiding-place,
they were soon lost to his view among the trees. If she should appear
now, while they were absent! As time lengthened, he meditated going
boldly to the house and asking for her. But he forced himself to
patience, only moving to another watching-place a few yards away. He had
scarcely done so, and resumed his gaze, when he beheld her standing upon
the steps of the house.

He sat perfectly still, as if the least alarm might frighten her away.
She advanced slowly down the terrace, looked West, then East, then into
the park. Would that those inviting shades might lure her!—would that
she might feel and obey the beckoning of his heart! But she turned and
walked to the Western end of the terrace, and stood for awhile in
admiration of the soft landscape and distant mountains. Presently he saw
her look sharply toward the park, as if her attention had been suddenly,
and not pleasantly, drawn that way. He heard the riders, who were
doubtless coming back, and would pass near her in going through the
lane. She turned and moved toward the opposite end of the
terrace—evidently to avoid them. She did not stop till she was looking
on the neglected garden from the top of the steps descending to it.
There she stood for a few moments, contemplating the scene; then passed
down the steps, disappearing from view.

Everell took his resolution: sprang from his place, and, bending his
body forward, dashed through bracken and behind trees to the glen-side.
He darted along the crest, reached the gate in the wall, and saw the
young lady sauntering amidst the trees and shrubbery. He glided swiftly
forth, and was on his knee, pressing her hand to his lips, ere she could
do more than utter a low cry of astonishment.

The surprise in her face was quickly followed by pleasure; but
consciousness came a moment later, with a rush of scarlet to her cheeks
and a look of faint reproof and vague apprehension to her eyes.

“Good heaven, sir,” she said, in a low voice, “I never dreamed of seeing
you again!”

“Fear nothing,” he replied, in a tone as guarded as hers; “we cannot be
observed here—the shrubbery is all around us.—I have come to thank you
for the warning you gave me at the inn yesterday.”

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