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Title: Lawrence Clavering
Author: Mason, A. E. W. (Alfred Edward Woodley), 1865-1948
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lawrence Clavering" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/lawrenceclaveri00masouoft

   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



                               LAWRENCE

                              CLAVERING



                                  BY

                            A. E. W. MASON

                              AUTHOR OF
          "THE WATCHERS," "CLEMENTINA," "THE FOUR FEATHERS,"
                         "THE TRUANTS," ETC.



                      WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED
                         LONDON AND MELBOURNE



                _Made and Printed in Great Britain by_
                  WARD, LOCK & Co., LIMITED, LONDON.



                               CONTENTS


     CHAPTER

      I. TELLS OF A PICTURE.

     II. I TAKE A WALK AND HEAR A SERMON IN THE COMPANY OF LORD
           BOLINGBROKE.

    III. MY KINSMAN AND I RIDE DIFFERENT WAYS.

     IV. AND MEET. I CROSS TO ENGLAND AND HAVE A STRANGE ADVENTURE ON
           THE WAY.

      V. BLACKLADIES.

     VI. MR. HERBERT.

    VII. A DISPUTE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.

   VIII. THE AFTERNOON OF THE 23RD OF AUGUST.

     IX. THE NIGHT OF THE 23RD: IN THE GARDEN.

      X. A TALK WITH LORD DERWENTWATER. I ESCAPE.

     XI. APPLEGARTH.

    XII. I RETURN TO KESWICK.

   XIII. DOROTHY CURWEN.

     XIV. I DROP THE CLOAK.

      XV. I REVISIT BLACKLADIES.

     XVI. ASHLOCK GIVES THE NEWS.

    XVII. THE MARCH TO PRESTON.

   XVIII. AT PRESTON AND AFTERWARDS.

     XIX. APPLEGARTH AGAIN.

      XX. A CONVERSATION IN WASTDALE CHURCH.

     XXI. I TRAVEL TO CARLISLE AND MEET AN ATTORNEY.

    XXII. REPARATION.

   XXIII. THE LAST.



                         LAWRENCE CLAVERING.



                              CHAPTER I.

                         TELLS OF A PICTURE.


The picture hangs at my lodgings here at Avignon, a stone's throw from
the Porte de la Ligne, and within the shadow of Notre Dame des Doms,
though its intended housing-place was the great gallery of
Blackladies. But it never did hang there, nor ever will; nor do I care
that it should--no, not the scrape of a fiddle. I have heard men
circumstanced like myself tell how, as they fell into years, more and
more their thoughts flew homewards like so many carrier-pigeons, each
with its message of longing. But Blackladies, though it was the only
home I ever knew in England, did not of right belong to me, and the
period during which I was master there was so populous with troubles,
so chequered with the impertinent follies of an inexperienced youth
raised of a sudden above his station, that even now, after all these
years, I look back on it with a burning shame. And if one day,
perchance, as I walk in the alleys here beyond the city walls, the
wind in the branches will whisper to me of the house and the brown
hills about it--it is only because I was in England while I lived
there. And if, again, as I happen to stand upon the banks of the
Rhone, I see unexpectedly reflected in the broken mirror of its
waters, the terraces, the gardens, the long row of windows, and am
touched for the moment to a foolish melancholy by the native aspect of
its gables--why, it is only because I look out here across a country
of _tourelles_.

However, I come back to my lodging, and there is my picture on the
wall--an accountant, as it were, ever casting up the good fortune and
the mishaps of my life, and ever striking a sure balance in my favour.

I take the description of it from a letter which Mr. George Vertue
wrote to a friend of mine in London, and that friend despatched to me.
For, since the picture is a portrait of myself, it may be that an
account of it from another's hand will be the more readily credited.
Mr. Vertue saw it some years since at a dealer's in Paris, whither,
being at that time hard pressed for money, I had sent it, but was
lucky enough not to discover a purchaser.

"I have come across a very curious picture," he wrote, "of which I
would gladly know more, and I trust that you may help me to the
knowledge. For more than once you have spoken to me of Mr. Lawrence
Clavering, who fought for the Chevalier de St. George at Preston, and
was out too in the Forty-five. The picture is the bust of a young
gentleman painted by Anthony Herbert, and with all the laborious
minuteness which was distinctive of his earlier methods. Indeed, in
the delicacy with which the lace of the cravat is figured, the painter
has, I think, exceeded himself, and even exceeded Vandermijn, whom at
this period he seems to have taken for his model. The coat, too, which
is of a rose-pink in colour, is painted with the same elaboration, the
very threads of the velvet being visible. The richness of the work
gives a very artful effect when you come to look at the face, which
chiefly provokes my curiosity. In colour it is a dead white, except
for the lips, which are purple, as though the blood stagnated there;
the eyes are glassy and bright, with something of horror or fear
staring out of them; the features knotted out of all comeliness; the
mouth half opened and curled in the very sickness of pain; the whole
expression, in a word, that of a man in the extremity of suffering--a
soul's torture superimposed upon an agony of the body; and all this
painted with such circumstantial exactness as implies not merely great
leisure in the artist, but also a singular pleasure and gusto in his
subject...."

After a few more remarks of a like sort, he continues: "I made it my
business to inquire of Mr. Herbert the history of the picture. But he
would tell me no more than this: that it was the portrait of Mr.
Lawrence Clavering, painted in that gentleman's youth, and that if I
would have fuller knowledge on the matter, I must get it from Mr.
Clavering himself; and Mrs. Herbert, a very gentle woman, now growing
old, but I should say of considerable beauty in her prime, warmly
seconded him in his reticence. Therefore I address myself to you to
act as an intermediary between Mr. Clavering and myself."

The information I did not think it fitting at that time to deliver.
But both Mr. Herbert and his wife are dead these three years past; and
so I write out the history of my picture, setting down, as my memory
serves, the incidents which attach to it in the due order of their
sequence. For if the picture is a strange one, it has, I think, a
history to match.



                             CHAPTER II.

                I TAKE A WALK AND HEAR A SERMON IN THE
                     COMPANY OF LORD BOLINGBROKE.


That history I take to have begun on the 28th day of March at Paris in
the year 1715. I was sitting in my room at the Jesuit College in the
Rue St Antoine, with the "De Imitatione" at one elbow, and Marco
Polo's travels at the other; and, alas! I fear that I gave more
attention to the adventurer than I did to the theologian. But, in
truth, neither author occupied the chief place in my thoughts. For the
spring sparkled in the air, its music was noisy among the budding
trees, and something of its music, too, seemed to be singing in my
blood. From my window I looked down across the roof-tops to the Île
St. Louis, and I could see a strip of the Seine flashing in the
sunlight like a riband of steel. It was on the current of the river
that my thoughts floated, yet they travelled faster than the current,
seeing that while I still looked they had reached the bar where the
river clashes with the sea. I had the tumble of its waters in my ears
when the door was opened, and one of the lay coadjutors entered with a
message that the rector wished to speak with me.

I followed him down the stairs, not without a guilty apprehension as
to the nature of the interview in store for me, and found the rector
pacing backwards and forwards across one end of the hall, with his
hands folded behind his back. As I made my reverence, he stopped and
eyed me for a moment thoughtfully.

"Twelve months since," said he, "you received from the Duke of Ormond
in England the offer of a cornetcy in the Horse Guards."

"Yes, Father," I replied, taken aback by his unexpected commencement;
and I replied hastily, "I refused it."

"You refused it!" he repeated very deliberately; and then, suddenly
bending his eyebrows, "And without reluctance?"

I felt my face flush as he asked the question. "Father," I stammered,
"I refused it;" and so came to a stop.

He nodded his head once or twice, but pressed me no further upon the
point. Instead--

"You know at whose instance the commission was offered to you?" he
asked.

"I have no certain knowledge," I replied, with considerable relief;
"but I can think of but one person in the world with the power and
inclination to do me that service."

"Ah," broke in the rector, sharply, "you count it a service, then?"

"He would count it a service," I answered, with a clumsy effort to
retrieve the mistake. "For my part, Father, I refused it."

"Precisely," said he. "He would count it a service he was doing you.
There are no fine feathers in our army, and there is no leisure to
parade them were there any. Yes, Lord Bolingbroke would count it a
service he was doing you."

Now, although the relationship between Lord Bolingbroke and myself was
the merest thread--my father having married a niece of Lady Joanna St.
John--I was well enough acquainted with his diligence to know that the
sneer was unjust; and I was preparing to make some rejoinder in a
proper spirit of humility when the rector continued--

"It is of Lord Bolingbroke that I wish to speak to you. He is in
Paris."

"In Paris, Father!" I exclaimed incredulously.

"In Paris. He came last night, and asks permission of me this morning
that you should wait on him."

"Father," I cried, "you will give that permission?"

He shook his head over my eagerness and resumed his walk.

"Very well," he said at length, and he gave me Lord Bolingbroke's
address. "You can go now," he added.

I waited no longer than sufficed to utter a brief word of thanks, and
hurried towards the door.

"My son."

I turned back towards the rector, with a doleful thought that he would
revoke his permission. But as I approached him reluctantly enough, I
saw something of a smile brighten upon his rigorous face.

"My son," he said, without a trace of his former severity, "you have
taken no vows as yet, and will not for eight months to come. Think,
and think humbly, during those months! Our Order, thank God, is not so
poor in service that we need to reckon obstinacy as devotion."

I stood abashed and shamefaced at his words. "Father," I said, "I have
chosen."

"But it is for us to ratify the choice," he answered, with a cast back
to his former sternness, "or to annul it as unworthy." With that he
dismissed me; but this time, being somewhat stung by his warning, I
retired with a more decorous step. Once in the street, however, I made
up for the delay. For, in truth, I was at some trouble to account for
my kinsman's sudden arrival in France; for, although Walpole had
publicly declared his intention of bringing both Bolingbroke and the
Earl of Oxford to trial for their work in compassing the Peace of
Utrecht, it was common rumour that Bolingbroke and his colleague
awaited the impeachment in all confidence as to its issue. This hasty
departure, however, bore to my thinking all the appearance of a
desperate flight, and I hurried to his lodging in no small anxiety of
spirit. My Lord Bolingbroke makes but a slight figure in this story of
my picture, compared with that he made upon the wider field of a
nation's chronicle; and it is very well for me that this is so. For,
indeed, I never understood him; although I held him in a great liking
and esteem, and considered him to have confronted more adversity and
mischance than commonly falls to any one, I never understood him. He
was compacted of so many contradictions, and in all of them was so
seemingly sincere that a plain man like Lawrence Clavering was
completely at a loss to discover the inward truth of him. But as he
was a riddle to my speculations, so was he a cherished object to my
affections. For even during those last years of Queen Anne's rule,
when his life was at its busiest and his fortunes at their climax, he
still found time to show kindness to one whose insignificance was only
rivalled by his poverty. He was "Harry St. John" to me as to his
equals and my betters, and in spite of the difference of our years;
and when I found myself in company with Dr. Swift and Mr. Congreve and
Mr. Prior and the little crook-back poet whose "Windsor Castle" had
brought him into a sudden reputation, he was ever at pains to
distinguish me in his conversation, so that I might suffer no shame
from my inferiority. Doubtless it was to the natural courtesy of the
man rather than to any special inclination that his behaviour was due,
but I was none the less grateful to him on that account.

He had just finished dinner, and was still at the table over his wine,
when his footman introduced me into his apartment.

"Ah," said he, "I expected you would come;" and he drew a chair to the
table, and filled a second glass, "It is not the welcome you have had
from me at Bucklersbury, but philosophers"--and he made a polite
flourish of the hand to include me in the phrase--"will ever be
content with a makeshift. For my part," he continued, "I do not know
but what the makeshift is the better. A few trustworthy friends, a few
honest books and leisure wherein to savour their merits--it is what I
have chiefly longed for these last five years;" and he threw up his
arms with a long breath of relief, as though he had been unexpectedly
lightened of some burdensome load. I had heard him talk often enough
in this way before, and was disinclined to set great value upon his
contentment.

"What brought you in this scurry to Paris?" I asked.

"They meant to pursue me to the scaffold," he returned. "I had sure
information of that. No testimony would have helped me or thwarted
them. It was my blood they needed--Marlborough told me so--my blood
and Oxford's." And he flashed out into a sudden passion. "There's the
point. Alone I would have faced them. These whimsical Tories are the
frailest of reeds, the Whigs the most factious and vindictive
opponents. Still, I would have faced them had I stood alone. But to
make common cause with Oxford! No, I abhor him to that degree, I
cannot. It were worse than death. However, let's talk no more of it!"
and he recovered himself with an effort, and sat for a little, silent,
fingering his glass. "Oxford!" he exclaimed again with a bitter laugh
of contempt. "Soft words, and never a thing done! To live till
to-morrow was the ultimate of policy to him. And jealous, too! The
bubble of his own jealousy! Had he cared to act, or had he been
dismissed but a few weeks earlier, I tell you, Lawrence, the Tories
would now be cemented to such a solidity of power that----" He stopped
abruptly, and leaned over to me: "For whom are you?" he asked, "the
Hanoverian, or the"--and he paused for the briefest space--"the
Chevalier de St. George?"

"I am for King James the Third," I replied promptly.

"Oh," says he; and, rising from his chair, he took a turn across the
room. "I rather fancied," he resumed, with a queer smile, "that
discretion was amongst the lessons taught at the Jesuit Colleges."

"We are taught besides," I answered, "to distinguish between the
occasion for discretion and the occasion for plain speaking."

"Then," said he, "I fear me, Lawrence, the teaching is faulty, if I am
to judge from the instance you have given me. I had some talk with my
Lord Stair this morning, and the talk was of the friendliest."

"Lord Stair?" I cried, rising in some confusion, for I knew the
Chevalier to possess no more redoubtable opponent than the English
ambassador.

"Yes," replied Bolingbroke. "And I leave Paris for the Dauphiné--mark
that, Lawrence--not for Lorraine, though I have been invited thither.
But, in truth, I have had my surfeit of politics." Even while he
spoke, however, a serving-man was ushered into the room with a letter
to deliver.

"I was bidden, my lord, to give it into your hands," he explained.

"Very well," replied Lord Bolingbroke, something hastily; and I
noticed that he dropped his hand over the superscription of the
letter. "I will send the answer;" and he added, correcting himself,
"if one be needed."

The servant bowed, and went out of the room. I began to laugh, and
Bolingbroke turned an inquiring glance at me.

"There is some jest?"

"It is of your making, my lord. I fancy those few honest books will
not be opened yet awhile."

He flushed a little. "I don't understand," he said.

"That is because you cover so closely the hand-writing of your letter
that you have not as yet perceived from whom it comes."

"That is very true," he replied immediately; and he glanced at the
cover of it. "The hand is strange to me. Perchance you recognize it;"
and he frankly held it out to me.

"No," I replied; "but I recognized the servant who brought it.
Marshall Berwick has sent him more than once with messages to the
rector of my college."

"Oh," said he, with a start of surprise, "Marshall Berwick, the
Chevalier's minister?" He opened the letter with a fine show of
indifference. "I think I mentioned to you that I had already been
invited by the Chevalier to Bar. Doubtless this is to second the
invitation." He read it through carelessly, and tore it up. "Yes. But
I travel south, not east, Lawrence. I go to Dauphine, not Lorraine;"
and as if to dismiss the subject, he diverted his speech from the
Chevalier to myself.

"And so, Lawrence," he said, "it is to be the soutane, and not the
red-coat; the rosary, and not the sword."

It seemed to me that there was a hint of wonder and disappointment in
his voice; but, maybe, I was over-ready at that time to detect a
slight, and I answered quickly--

"I have to thank you for the cornetcy. The offer was a-piece with the
rest of your kindness; but I was constrained to refuse it."

"And what constrained you? Your devotion to the priesthood?"

He glanced at me shrewdly as he spoke, and I knew that my face was hot
beneath his gaze. Then he laughed. The laugh was kindly enough; but it
bantered me, and if my face was hot before, now it was a-flame.

"You come of an obstinate stock, Lawrence," he continued; "but I was
misled to believe that you had missed the inheritance."

"It was out of my power to accept the cornetcy," I returned, "even had
I wished it For I am a Papist."

"You would not have found yourself alone," he said, with a laugh. "The
Duke of Ormond prefers Papists for his officers. He showed me a list
not so long ago of twenty-seven colonels whom he had a mind to break,
and strangely enough they were all Protestants, with never a fault
besides to their names."

"Moreover," I went on, "I was too poor;" and there I think I hit the
true and chief reason, though I would not acknowledge it as such even
to myself.

"But you have an uncle in Cumberland," said Bolingbroke.

"He is a Whig and a Protestant," I replied. "He can hardly hold me in
that esteem which would give me warrant to approach him."

My kinsman nodded his head as though he approved the argument, and sat
for a little silent over his wine, while my fancies went straying over
imagined battle-fields. It is strange how a man will glorify this
business of cutting throats, the more particularly if he be of a
sedentary life. Most like it is for that very reason. I have seen
something of a war's realities since then; I have seen men turned to
beasts by hunger and thirst, and the lust of carnage; I have seen the
dead stripped and naked upon the hill-side of Clifton moor white like
a flock of sheep. But at the time of which I write I thought only of a
battlefield as of a place where life throbbed at its fullest to a
sound of resonant trumpets and victorious shouts; and the smoke of
cannon hid the trampled victims, even from my imaginings.

"Come!" said Lord Bolingbroke, breaking in upon my reflections of a
sudden; "if your afternoon is not disposed of, I would gladly take a
turn with you. I have it in my mind to show you a picture."

I agreed willingly enough to the proposal, and together we went down
into the street.

"This will be our way," he said; and we walked to the monastery of the
Chartreux. Then he stopped.

"Perhaps you know the picture."

"No," I replied. "This is the first time that ever I came hither."

He took me forthwith to the wonderful frescoes of Le S[oe]ur, and,
walking quickly along them, stopped at length before the most horrid
and ghastly picture that ever I set my eyes on. It was the picture of
a dead man who spoke at his burial, and painted with such cunning
suggestion and power that, gazing at it, I felt a veritable fear
invade me. It was not merely that his face expressed all the horror,
the impotent rage, the pain of his damnation, but there was also
conveyed by the subtlest skill a certain consciousness in the sufferer
that he received no more than his merits. It was as though you looked
at a hypocrite, who knew that his hypocrisy was discovered.

"Well, what think you of it?" asked my companion. "It does credit to
the painter's craftsmanship;" and his voice startled me, for, in my
contemplation of the picture, I had clean forgotten his presence. The
painting was indeed so vivid that it had raised up alert and active
within my breast a thought which I had up till now, though not without
effort, kept resolutely aloof from me.

"But yet more to his imagination," I replied perfunctorily, and moved
away. Lord Bolingbroke followed me, and we quitted the monastery, and
walked for some way in silence.

I had no mind for talk, and doubtless showed my disinclination, for my
companion, though now and again he would glance at me with an air of
curiosity, refrained from questions. To speak the truth, I was
fulfilled--nay, I overbrimmed with shame. The picture lived before my
eyes, receding in front of me through the streets of Paris. It seemed
to complete and illustrate the rebuke which the rector had addressed
to me that morning; it pointed a scornful commentary at my musings on
the glory of arms. For the figure in the picture cried "hypocrite,"
and cried the word at me; and so insistently did the recollection of
it besiege me that I came near to thinking it no finished painting
limned upon the wall, and fixed so until such time as the colours
should fade, but rather a living scene. I began almost to expect that
the figures would change their order and disposition, that the dead
man speaking would swerve from his attitude, and, as he spoke, and
spoke "hypocrite," would reach out a bony and menacing finger towards
me. So far had my fancies carried me when my kinsman touched me on the
arm.

"It is as you say, Lawrence," he said, as though there had been no
interval of silence since my last words--"it is the imagination, not
the craftsmanship, which fixes the attention. It is the idea of a dead
man speaking--no matter what he speaks."

There was a certain significance in his tone which I did not
comprehend.

I stopped in the street.

"You were anxious to show me the picture," I said.

"Yes," he replied.

"Why?"

"Does it tell you nothing concerning yourself?"

I was positively startled by the question. It seemed incredible that
he could have foreseen the effect which it would produce on me.

"What do you mean?" I exclaimed.

He gave an easy laugh, and pointed across my shoulder.

"There is a church," said he, "and moult and moult people entering it.
Let us go in too."

I looked at him in increased surprise, for I had not believed him very
prone to religious exercises. However, he crossed the road, with me at
his heels, and went up the steps in the throng.

The church was dim, and because I came into it out of the April
sunshine, it struck upon my senses as dank besides.

The voices of the choir beat upwards through an air blue and heavy
with incense; the tapers burning on the altar at the far end of the
nave over against us shone blurred and vague as though down some misty
tunnel; and from the painted windows on the right the sunshine
streamed in slanting rods of light, vari-coloured, disparting the
mist.

At the first, I had an impious thought, due partly may be to my
unfamiliarity with the bustle of the streets, and partly no doubt to
the companionship of my kinsman, who ever brought with him, as it
were, a breath of that wide world wherein he lived and schemed, that I
was returning to a narrow hemisphere wherein men had no manner of
business. But after a little a Carmelite monk began to preach, and the
fire of his discourse, as it rose and fell, now harsh with passion,
now musical with tenderness, roused me to a consciousness of the holy
ground on which I stood. I bent forward, not so much listening as
watching those who listened. I noted how the sermon gained upon them,
how their faces grew expectant. Even Lord Bolingbroke lost his
indifference; he moved a step or two nearer to the preacher. His
attitude lost the lazy grace he was wont to affect; he stood
satisfied, and I knew that there was no man on earth so critical in
his judgment of an orator.

I was assured then of the sway which the monk asserted over his
congregation, and the assurance pierced to my very soul.

For I knew the cause of his power; one had not to listen long to
realise that. The man was sincere. This was no pleasurable discourse
waved delicately like a scented handkerchief to tease the senses of
his auditors. Sincerity burnt like a clear flame kindling his words,
and compelled belief. Of the matter of his sermon I took no note. Once
or twice "the Eve of St. Bartholomew" came thundering at my ears, but
for the most part it seemed that he cried "hypocrite" at me, until I
feared that the congregation would rise in their seats in that dim
church, and a mob of white faces gibber and mow the accusation. I
stood fascinated, unable to move, until at last Bolingbroke came back
to me, and, taking my arm, led me out of church.

"You study late of nights?" he asked, looking into my face.

"The preacher wrought on me."

"He has eloquence," he agreed; "but it was a dead man speaking."

I stopped in the street, and stared at him.

"Yes," he continued; "he warns, he exhorts, like the figure in the
picture there, but the man himself--what of him, Lawrence? He is the
mere instrument of his eloquence--its servant, not its master. He is
the priest--dead to the world in which he has his being, a shadow with
a voice, a dead man speaking."

"Nay," I broke in, "the words were born at his heart. He was sincere,
and therefore he lives. The dead man speaking is the hypocrite."

I cried the words in a very passion of self-reproach, and without
thought of the man I addressed them to.

"Well, well," said he, indulgently, "he has, at all events, a live
advocate. I did not gather you were so devoted to the vocation;" and
he laughed a little to belie the words, and so we parted company.

It was in no complacent mood, as you may guess, that I returned to the
college, and, indeed, I loitered some while before the gates or ever I
could make up my mind to enter them. The picture weighed upon my
conscience, and seemed like to effect my Lord Bolingbroke's evident
purpose, though by means of a very different argument. It was not the
priest, but myself, the hypocrite, who was the dead man speaking; and
thus, strangely enough, as I had reason to think it afterwards, I came
to imagine the picture with myself as its central figure. I would see
it at nights as I lay awake in my bed, painted with fire upon the dark
spaces of the room, and the face that bore the shame of hypocrisy
discovered, and with that shame the agony of punishment was mine. Or,
again, a word of reproof; the mere sight of my Marco Polo was
sufficient to bring it into view, and for the rest of that day it
would bear me company, hanging before my eyes when I sat down to my
books, and moving in front of me when I walked, as it had moved in
front of me through the streets of Paris on that first and only
occasion of my seeing it. For, though many a time I passed and
repassed the monastery of the Chartreux, I never sought admittance. I
saw the picture no more than once; but, indeed, I was in no danger of
forgetting it, and within the compass of a few months events befell me
which fixed it for ever in my memory. I have but to shut my eyes, and
I see it after this long interspace of years, definite in every
detail. I have but to open them, and, sitting at this table at which I
write, I behold, actually painted, the second picture into which my
imagination then transformed the first--the picture of myself as the
dead man speaking.



                             CHAPTER III.

                MY KINSMAN AND I RIDE DIFFERENT WAYS.


Two days later, being deputed upon some errand, the import of which I
have forgotten, I chanced to-pass by the barrier of the Rue de
Grenelle, and a travelling-carriage drew up at my side. My eyes were
bent upon the ground, so that I took no heed of it until I heard my
name cried. I looked up, and there was my Lord Bolingbroke at the
window.

"You see, Lawrence," he said, "I leave Paris as I promised Stair, and
I travel into Dauphiné."

"But by a roundabout road," I answered eagerly. "It is possible that
you might take St. Germains on the way;" for it had reached my ears
that Queen Mary of Modena was desirous to try her persuasions upon
him.

"No," he returned, with a shake of the head; "I have my poor friends
in England to consider. I should provide a fine excuse for ill-using
them if I made common cause with the Chevalier. They have served me;
it is my turn to serve them; and I shall be better employed that way
than in weaving fairy-stories with Queen Abdicate.--But what's the
trouble?" he continued, with a change of tone. "You walked as though
the world had withered at your feet."

"Nay," I answered, with a laugh, "there is no trouble. I was merely
wondering----" and I hesitated.

"At what?" he asked curiously.

"At the rule which bids me sleep with my chamber-window closed," I
returned, with a laugh. And, indeed, it was a question you had reason
to put during this hot spring, when from behind your stifling panes
you looked out at night across Paris lying cool and spacious beneath a
purple sky. But the truth is that all these regulations which were
instituted to discipline the novice to a habit of obedience, were
beginning to work me into a ferment of irritability; and through the
months that followed, April, May, and June, the irritability increased
in me to a spirit of rebellion. At times I felt a mad desire to rise
in my seat and hurl defiance, and with that defiance my books, at my
tutors' heads. The desire surged up within my veins, became active in
every limb, and I had to set my teeth until my jaws ached to repress
it. At times sick and dispirited, I counted up the years to come; I
passed them through my thoughts even as I passed the beads of my
rosary beneath my thumb, and even as the beads of my rosary, they were
monotonously alike one to the other.

Doubtless, too, the recollection of the picture I had seen at the
monastery of the Chartreux helped to intensify my unrest. For it abode
vividly in my memory, and the menace I drew from it grew more and more
urgent as the days slipped on. I should note, however, that a certain
change took place in the manner in which it presented itself. I could
still see, I could still hear the figure speaking. But it did not so
much cry "Hypocrite!" as thunder out, in the very lines of the
Carmelite preacher, "The Eve of St. Bartholomew--the Eve of St.
Bartholomew."

Of course, as the rector had declared, I was under no vows or
obligation to persist in my novitiate. But I felt the very knowledge
that I was free to be in some way a chain about my ankle constraining
me. I took a cast back to the period of my boyhood when enrolment
amongst the priests of the Jesuit order had been the aim of a fervid
ambition; when the thought of that body, twenty thousand in number,
spread throughout the earth, in Japan, in the Indies, in Peru, and
working one and all in a consonant vigilance for the glory of their
order, had stirred me with its sublimity; and I sought--with what
effort and despair!--to recreate those earlier visions. For to count
them fanciful seemed treachery; to turn deliberately aside from them
was evident instability.

So much I have deemed it necessary to set down concerning my
perplexities at this time, since they throw, I think, a light upon the
events which I am to relate. For I was shortly afterwards to depart
from this safe corner, and wander astray just as I wandered when I
lost myself in the labyrinth of Blackladies. And the explanation I
take to be this--for it is merely in explanation and not at all in
extenuation that I put this forward--I had clean broken from the one
principle by which, however clumsily, I had hitherto guided my life,
and had as yet grappled to no other with sufficient steadiness of
faith to make it useful as a substitute.

It was on the Saturday of the first week of July that I left the
Jesuit College. I was standing at my window about two of the
afternoon, and looking down at the river and the bridge which crossed
it. I had a clear view of the bridge from end to end betwixt the
gables of a house, and I noticed that it was empty, save for one man,
who jogged across on horseback--or rather, so it seemed at the height
from which I looked, for when I saw the horse close at hand a short
while afterwards, I found reason to believe that the man had galloped.
I stood watching him idly until he crossed out on to the quay; and I
remember that the refectory bell rang just as he turned the corner and
passed out of my sight. Towards the end of dinner, a message was
brought to me that the rector desired to see me in his study as soon
as we were risen from table. This time, however, it was in no
hesitancy or trepidation that I waited on him, but rather with a
springing heart. For let him but dismiss me from the college, and here
was an end to all the torture of my questionings--an unworthy thought,
you will say, and, indeed, none knew that more surely than myself.

On the contrary, however, the rector received me with a benevolent
eye. "I have strange news for you, my son," said he, with a glance
towards a stranger who stood apart in the window; and the stranger
stepped forward hurriedly, as though he would have the telling of the
news himself. He was a man of middle height and very close-knit,
though of no great bulk, dark in complexion, and possessed, as far as
I could judge, of an honest countenance.

"Mr. Clavering," he began, with a certain deference, and after these
months of "brother" and "my son" the manner of his address struck upon
my ears with a very pleasant sound, "I was steward to your uncle, Sir
John Rookley, at Blackladies in Cumberland."

"Was?" said I.

"Until Monday was se'nnight," says he.

"Then what may be your business with me?" I asked sharply. For there
was throughout England such a division of allegiance as set even the
members of a family on opposite sides the while they maintained to the
world an appearance of concord, so that many a dismissed servant
carried away with him secret knowledge wherewith to make his profit. I
was therefore pretty sharp with the steward, and quickly repeated the
question.

"Then what may you have to ask of me?"

"That you will be pleased to continue me in the office," he returned
humbly.

I stood cluttered out of my senses, looking from the servant to the
rector, and from the rector again to the servant, with I know not what
wild fancies choking at my throat.

"It is true," said the rector. "Your uncle died of an apoplexy a
fortnight back."

"But he has a son," I gasped out

"Sir John quarrelled with Mr. Jervas two days before he died,"
answered the steward. "Blackladies comes to you, Mr. Clavering, and I
have travelled from Cumberland to acquaint you of the fact."

It was true! My heart so throbbed and beat that I could not utter a
word. I could not so much as think, no, not even of my uncle or my
cousin. It is true that I had seldom seen the one, and never the
other. I was conscious only of an enlarging world. But my eyes chanced
at the moment to meet the rector's. His gaze was fixed intently upon
my face, and with a sudden feeling of shame I dropped my eyes to the
ground.

"My son," he said, drawing me a little on one side and speaking with
all kindliness, as though in answer to my unspoken apology, "it may be
well that you can do better service as the master of Blackladies. You
will have the power and the means to help effectually, and such help
we need in England;" and as I still continued silent, "If you become a
priest, by the laws of your country you lose that power, and surely
the Church will share in the loss. And are you fitted for a priest?"
He looked at me keenly. "I spoke my doubts to you some while back, and
I do not think they went much astray."

I did not answer him, nor did he wait for an answer, but took me by
the arm and led me back to the steward.

"My cousin quarrelled with his father. Then what has become of him?" I
asked, still in an indecision.

"I do not know, sir. Most like he is in France."

"In France?" I cried with a start. For the answer flashed a suspicion
into my mind which--prove it true, and it was out of my power to
accept the inheritance! "In France? And the substance of the quarrel?"

"It is not for me, sir, to meddle in the right or wrong of it," he
began.

"Nor did I ask you to," I cut him short "I ask you for the bare fact."

He looked at me for a second like one calculating his chances.

"Mr. Jervas sided with the Jacobites," and the words struck my hopes
dead. My world dwindled and straitened as swiftly as it had enlarged.

"Then I can hardly supplant him," I said slowly, "for I side with that
party too."

The steward's eyes gleamed very brightly of a sudden.

"Ah!" said I, "you, too, have the cause at heart"

"So much, sir, that I make bold to forget my station and to urge you
to accept the bequest. There is no supplanting in the case. For if you
refuse Blackladies it will not fall to Mr. Jervas." He drew from his
pocket a roll of paper fastened with a great seal, and held it out to
me. I broke the seal, and opened it. It contained a letter from Sir
John's attorney at Appleby, and a copy of the will which set out very
clearly that I was to possess the house and lands of Blackladies with
all farms, properties, and rents attached thereto, upon the one
condition, that I should not knowingly divert so much as the value of
a farthing into the pockets of Mr. Jervas Rookley.

So far I had read when I looked up at the steward in a sudden
perplexity.

"I do not understand why Sir John should disinherit his son, who is,
at all events, a Protestant, because he is a Jacobite, in favour of
myself, who am no less a Jacobite, and one of the true faith besides."

The steward made a little uneasy movement of impatience. "I was not so
deep in my master's confidence that I can answer that."

I held out the will to him, though my fingers clung to it. "I cannot,"
I said, "take up the inheritance."

It was not, however, the steward, but the rector who took the paper
from me. He read it through with great deliberation, and then--

"You did not finish," he said, and pointed his finger to the last
clause.

"I saw no use in reading more, Father," I replied; but I took the will
again and glanced at the clause. It was to this effect: that if I
failed to observe the one condition or did not enter into possession
from whatsoever cause, the estate should become the property of the
Crown.

"I cannot help it," I said. "To swell the treasury of the Hanoverian
by however so little, is the last thing I would wish to do, but I
cannot help it. Mr. Jervas Rookley suffers in that he is what I pride
myself on being. I cannot benefit by his sufferings," and I folded up
the will.

"There is another way, sir," suggested the steward, diffidently.

"Another way?" I asked.

"Which would save the estate and save Mr. Jervas too from this
injustice."

"Explain!" I cried. "Explain!" For indeed it grieved me beyond measure
that I should pass these revenues to one whom I could not but consider
an usurper.

"I do but propose it, sir, because I see you scruple to----" he began.

"Nay, man!" I exclaimed, starting forward, "I need no apologies. Show
me this way of yours!"

"Why, sir, the will says the Crown. It names no names. If you infringe
the condition or refuse the estate, Blackladies goes to the Crown.
But," and he smiled cunningly, "it is not likely that King James, did
he come to the throne, would accept of a bequest which comes to him
because the rightful owner served his cause so well."

I nodded my head. "That is true. King James would restore it," I said.

"To the rightful owner," said he.

"So be it, then!" I  cried. "I will hold Blackladies in trust for
Jervas Rookley," and then I stopped. "But meanwhile Mr. Jervas Rookley
must shift for himself," I added, bethinking me of the condition.

The steward smiled again. "If you knew him, sir, you would not fear
for him on that account;" and he continued, "You will return with me
to England?"

"Yes, but not now," I exclaimed, for all at once a new resolve had
taken shape within my mind. There was no word in the will about my
politics. Sir John was acquainted with them when he made the will. I
was free to use Blackladies as I chose.

"Wait you here in Paris," I cried to the steward, and came of a sudden
to an awkward pause. "You brought money with you?" I asked.

"I have an order upon Mr. Waters the banker," he replied.

"Good," I said, my spirits rising with my voice. "Get it cashed--now,
at once, and bring the money back to me. But be quick, be quick. For I
have business in Lorraine."

"In Lorraine?" exclaimed the steward, and his face flashed to an
excitement equal with my own.

"In Lorraine," I repeated, "and at Bar-le-Duc."

He waited for no further explanation, but made his reverence to the
rector, a low bow to me, and departed on his errand. I began to pace
impatiently about the room, already looking for his return, even as I
heard him pass beneath the window.

"Was I not right, my son?" asked the rector. "You walk, you speak,
like a man refreshed. And yet--and yet----"

He came over to me and laid a hand upon my shoulder, while a great
gravity overspread his face, and somehow at the touch of his hand, at
the mere sight of his face, my overweening confidence burst like a
bubble. For looking through my eyes he seemed to search my soul, and
in his eyes I seemed to see, as in a mirror, the naked truth of all
the folly that he noted there.

"These are the last words," he went on, "which I shall speak to the
pupil, and I would have you bear them as the crest and motto of your
life. I would have you beware of a feverish zeal. To each man I do
solemnly believe there comes one hour of greatness, and only one. It
is not the hour of supreme happiness, or of a soaring fortune, as
worldlings choose to think, but the hour when God tries him upon His
touchstone. And for that hour each man must watch if he would not
fail. Indeed, it brings the test which proves--nay, makes--him man,
and in God's image, too, or leaves him lower than the brutes; for he
has failed. Therefore watch! No man knoweth the hour of God's coming.
Therefore watch! But how shall he watch"--and his voice to my hearing
had in it some element of prophecy--"how shall he watch who swings
ever from elation to despair, and knows no resting-place between
them?"

He spoke very quietly, and so left me alone. I do not know that I am
inclined now to set great store upon the words. They seem almost to
present some such theory as children and men over-occupied with
book-learning are wont to fondle. But after he had left me alone, I
sat with his discourse overlaying me like an appalling shadow. The
sunlight in the court without lost its brightness; the very room
darkened within. I saw my whole life before me, a procession of
innumerable hours. Hooded and cloaked, they passed me with silent
feet. I sought to distinguish between them. I chose at random from
amongst them. "This," I cried, in a veritable fear--"this is the
hour;" and even as I spoke, one that had passed threw back the hood
and turned on me a sorrowing face. So would the hour come, and so
unready should I be to challenge it! My fear swelled to a panic; it
bore me company all that day as I made my purchases in the streets, as
I took leave of my companions, as I passed out of the Porte St.
Antoine. It was with me, too, in the quiet evening long after the
spires of Paris had vanished behind me, when I was riding with my
steward at my back across that open country of windmills and poplar
trees on the highroad to Lorraine.



                             CHAPTER IV.

               AND MEET. I CROSS TO ENGLAND AND HAVE A
                    STRANGE ADVENTURE ON THE WAY.


For the steward rode with me, though I barely remarked his presence
until we had ridden some ten miles. Then, however, I called him to my
side.

"I bade you wait at Paris for my return," I said, and I reined in my
horse. He followed my example, but with so evident a disappointment
that I forgave him his disobedience on the instant.

"You left no word, sir, as to the date of your return, or where I
should look for you," he explained, readily enough.

"Besides," I added, with a laugh, "I ride to Bar-le-Duc, is it not
so?" and I allowed him to continue with me, bethinking me at the same
time that I might inform myself the sooner concerning Blackladies and
the politics of the county. Upon these points he gave me information,
which inclined me in his favour. The northern counties, as far south
as Derbyshire, were so much tinder. It needed but a spark to set them
ablaze from one coast to the other. I was ready to listen to as much
talk of that kind as he could pour into my ears, and indeed he did not
stint me of it; so that, liking his story, I began in a short while to
like the man who told it, and to hold myself lucky that I was
possessed of a steward whose wishes so jumped with his service.

He had been born on the estate, he told me, some thirty years since,
and had been reared there, though, thanks to the kindness of his late
master, my uncle, he had received a better schooling than his father
before him. He spoke, indeed, very correctly for a servant, but with a
broadish accent and a clipping of his _the's_, as the natives of that
district are used to do. But for my part I never got the tang of it,
and so make no effort to reproduce it here. He was called Leonard
Ashlock.

In his company I journeyed, then, the fifty-eight leagues to
Bar-le-Duc, where I seemed all at once to have come into my own
country without the trouble of crossing over seas. For as I rode
through the narrow streets, it was the English tongue that I heard
spoken on every side, though more often with a Scotch or an Irish
accent. But the one whom I came to seek I did not find. The Chevalier,
they told me, had gone to Commercy. So to Commercy we travelled
eastwards after him for another eight leagues or so, and arrived there
towards the close of the afternoon on the next day.

We rode straight to the Toison D'or, the chief inn of the town, and
while I was dismounting in the courtyard, I noticed a carriage, which
was ranged, all dirtied and muddy, against an angle of the wall. I
stepped over and examined it. There was a crest upon the panels.

I turned to the ostler.

"When did the carriage come?"

"This morning."

"And monsieur?"

"He is within, I think."

I ran up the steps into the house and fell plump against a girl who
was carrying some glasses and a jug upon a tray. She gave a little
scream; the tray struck me on the chest; there was jingle of broken
glass, and a jugful of claret was streaming down my breeches and
soaking about my knees.

"Monsieur is in?" I asked.

"Stupid!" she said, with a stamp of the foot.

"Monsieur is in?" I asked again.

"Booby," says she, and caught me a swinging box on the ears.

"I beg your pardon," said I, and I ran up the stairs. A footman stood
beside the door on the landing, and I knew the man.

"Ah," said I, "he is here."

The footman advanced a step towards me.

"My lord is busy."

"He will see me."

"I have the strictest orders, sir."

I pushed past the fellow and hammered at the door. It was thrown open
from the inside, and Lord Bolingbroke stood anxiously in the door.

"Good morning," said I, airily. "It is a roundabout journey, this of
yours to Dauphiné;" and while he stared and frowned at me I stepped
past him into the room. In the window opposite there stood a man with
his back towards me--a man of a slender and graceful figure, plainly
dressed in a suit of black velvet. He turned hastily as I stumbled
across the threshold, and in a twinkling I knew what I had done. There
was no mistaking the long, melancholic features, the gentle aspect of
long-suffering. His race was figured in the mould of his lineaments,
and the sad history of his race was written in his eyes.

I dropped upon my knees.

"Your Majesty," I stammered out; and again, "your Majesty."

He took a step eagerly towards me. I felt the claret trickling down my
legs.

"You bring pressing news," he exclaimed; and then he checked himself
and his voice dropped to despondency. "But it will be bad news. Not a
doubt of that! 'Tis always bad news that comes in such hurry;" and he
turned to Bolingbroke with the saddest laugh. "Bad news, my lord, I'll
warrant."

"Nay, your Majesty," I answered, "I bring no news at all;" and I
glanced helplessly at Bolingbroke, who, having closed the door, now
stood on one side, midway between King James and myself. How I envied
him his easy bearing! And envying him thus I became the more confused.

"It is a kinsman of mine," he said, in some perplexity--"Mr. Lawrence
Clavering, and a devoted servant of your Majesty."

"A kinsman of yours," said the King, affably. "That makes him doubly
welcome."

And then the most ridiculous thing occurred, though I perceived
nothing of its humour at the time. For of a sudden the King gave a
start.

"He is wounded, my lord," he cries. "He shall have my surgeon to
attend to him. Tell Edgar; he is below. Bid him hurry!" and he came a
little nearer towards me, as though with his own hands he would help
me to rise. "You were hurt on your journey hither. How long--how long
must blood be the price of loyalty to me and mine?"

The poignant sadness of his voice redoubled my confusion.

"Quick!" cried the King. "The poor lad will swoon." And, indeed, I was
very near to swooning, but it was from sheer humiliation. I glanced
about me, wishing the floor would open. But it was the door that
opened, and Lord Bolingbroke opened it. I jumped to my feet to stop
him.

"Your Majesty," I exclaimed, "it is no wound I would to my soul that
it were!"

"No wound!" said the King, drawing back and bending his brows at me in
a frown.

"What is it, then, Lawrence?" asked Bolingbroke as he closed the door.

I looked down at my white buckskin breeches, with the red patches
spreading over them.

"It is," said I, "a jugful of claret."

No one spoke for a little, and I noticed the King's face grew yet
sterner and more cold. He was, in fact, like so many men of a reserved
disposition, very sensitive to the least hint of ridicule upon all
occasions, and particularly so when he had been betrayed into the
expression of any feeling.

"Your Majesty," I faltered out ruefully, "the Rector of the Jesuit
College in Paris warned me before I set out, of the dangers which
spring from overmuch zeal, and this is the second proof of his wisdom
that I have had to-day. For now I have offended your Majesty by
stumbling impertinently into your presence; and before, the maid boxed
my ears in the passage for upsetting her claret."

The speech was lucky enough to win my pardon. For Bolingbroke began to
laugh, and in a moment or two the King's face relaxed, and he joined
in with him.

"But we have yet to know," said he, "the reason of your haste."

I explained how that, having come into an inheritance, I had ridden
off to Bar-le-Duc, to put it at his disposal, and from Bar-le-Duc to
Commercy; and how, on the sight of Lord Bolingbroke's carriage in the
courtyard, I had rushed into his presence, without a thought that he
might be closeted with the King. I noticed that at the mention of
Blackladies the King and Bolingbroke exchanged a glance. But neither
interrupted me in my explanation.

"You give me, at all events, a proof of your devotion to your
kinsman," said the King; "and I am fain to take that as a guarantee
that you are no less devoted to myself."

"Nay," interposed Lord Bolingbroke; "your Majesty credits me with what
belongs to yourself. For I doubt if Lawrence would have shown such
eagerness for my company had he found me in the Dauphiné instead of
in Lorraine."

The King nodded abstractedly, and sat him down at the table, which was
littered over with papers, and finally seized upon a couple of
letters, which he read through, comparing them one with the other.

"You can give me, then, information concerning Cumberland," he said,
changing to a tone sharp and precise; and he proceeded to put to me a
question or two concerning the numbers of his adherents and the
strength of their adhesion.

"Your Majesty," I replied, "my news is all hearsay. For this
inheritance has come to me unexpected and unsought The last year I
have lived in Paris."

He drummed with his fingers upon the table, like one disappointed.

"You know nothing, then, of the county?"

"I have never so much as set foot in it. I was born in Shropshire."

"Then, your Majesty," Lord Bolingbroke interrupted, "neither is he
known there. There is an advantage in that which counterbalances his
lack of information."

The King raised his eyes to my face, and looked at me doubtfully, with
a pinching of the lips.

"He is young for the business," he said, "and one may perhaps
think"--he smiled as he added the word--"precipitate."

My hopes, which had risen with a bound at the hint that some special
service might be required of me, sank like a pebble in a pool. I
cudgelled my brains for some excuse, my recollections for some
achievement, however slight, which might outweigh my indiscretion. But
I had not a single deed to my name: and what excuse could acquit me of
a hot-headed thoughtlessness? I remained perforce silent and abashed;
and it was in every way fortunate that I did, for my Lord Bolingbroke
tactfully put forward the one argument that could serve my turn. Said
he quite simply--

"His grandfather fell at Naseby, his father in the siege of Deny, and
with those two lives, twice were the fortunes of the family lost."

The King rose from his table and came over to me. He laid a hand upon
my shoulder.

"And so your father died for mine," he said, and there was something
new, something more personal in the kindliness of his accent, as
though my father's death raised me from a unit in the aggregate of his
servants into the station of a friend; "and your grandfather for my
grandfather."

"Your Majesty sees that it is a privilege which I inherit," I replied.
From the tail of my eye I saw my kinsman smiling appreciation of the
reply.

"Lawrence has the makings of a courtier, your Majesty," said he, with
a laugh.

"Nay," I interrupted hotly, "this is honest truth. Let the King prove
me!"

It was the King who laughed now, and he patted my shoulder with a
quite paternal air, though, in truth, he was not so many years older
than myself.

"Well," he said, "why not? He is a hawk of the right nest. Why not?"
and he turned him again to Bolingbroke. "As you say, he is not known
in Cumberland, and there is, besides, a very natural reason for his
presence in the county." He stood looking me over for a second, and
then went back abruptly to his papers on the table. "But I would you
could give me reliable news as to those parts."

"News I can give your Majesty," I answered, "though whether it is
reliable or not I cannot take it upon oath to say. But the man who
passed it to me was the steward of Blackladies, and he spoke in that
spirit wherein I would have all men speak." And I told him all that
Ashlock had recounted to me.

"Oh," said the King, when I had ended, and he made the suggestion
eagerly to Bolingbroke. "Perhaps it were best, then, that I should
land upon the coast of Cumberland in England. What say you?"

I saw Bolingbroke's eyebrows lift ever so slightly.

"I thought," he answered, with the merest touch of irony in his tone,
"that your Majesty had determined some half an hour since to land at
Montrose?"

"I know," said the King, with something of petulance; "but these later
advices may prove our best guide."

"But are they true?" said Bolingbroke, spreading out his hands.

"They tally with the report of Mr. Rookley," said the King.

I started at the mention of the name, and the King remarked the
movement. He looked towards me, then again at the letter in his hand,
which was written in a round and clumsy character. I caught sight of a
word in that letter, and I remembered it afterwards, because it
chanced to be misspelt.

"Oh," said he, "Mr. Jervas Rookley signs himself of Blackladies? I
fancied that the name was familiar to me, when first you uttered it."

I repeated all that Ashlock had related to me concerning the man, and
how I was to hold his estate in trust for him until the King came to
his throne.

"We will see to it," said he, "that Mr. Clavering shall not be the
loser."

I felt the blood rush into my face.

"It was with no thought of that kind that I spoke," I declared
earnestly. "I pray your Majesty to believe me."

But Lord Bolingbroke broke in upon my protestations.

"This steward is with you at Commercy? Then, if it please your
Majesty, I would advise that we see the man here, and question him
closely face to face. For Mr. Jervas Rookley----" And he filled the
gap of words with a shrug of significance.

"You distrust him?" asked the King; "yet it appears his loyalty has
cost him an estate."

"It is that perplexes me; for I know these country gentlemen," and his
voice sharpened to the bitterest sneer. "At night, over their cups,
they are all for King James; then they consult their pillows, and in
the sober morning they are all for King George. Oh, I know them! A
sore head makes a world of difference in their politics."

The words seemed to me hot and quick, with all the memories of his
defeated labours during those last six years of Queen Anne's reign,
and I fancied the King himself was inclined to discount their value on
that account.

"Yet," he urged, "these letters speak in no uncertain terms."

"They speak only of a disposition towards your Majesty," rejoined his
minister. "It is a very tender, delicate, and unsatisfactory thing, a
disposition. What we would have is their resolve. Are they resolved to
drive on with vigour, if matters tend to a revolution? Will they
support the revolution with advantage, if it spins out to a war? It is
on these points your Majesty needs to be informed; and it is on these
points they keep so discreet a silence. We ask them for their plan, as
Marshall Berwick asked them time out of mind, and we get the same
answer that he received. How many troops will his most Christian
Majesty land? How many stands of arms? how many thousand crowns? Not
one word of a definite design; not one word of a precise statement of
their resources."

He walked about the room as he spoke, with every mark of
discouragement in his gestures and expression, while the King listened
to him in an uneasy impatience, as though he was rather irritated than
impressed by Bolingbroke's doubts.

"Very well," said the King, tapping his foot on the floor, "we will
examine Mr. Clavering's steward;" and he bade me go and fetch Ashlock
into the room. But search as I might, nowhere could I find a trace of
him. He had stayed no more than five minutes in the house, the people
of the inn informed me. I hurried to the stables, thinking perchance
to find him there. I questioned the ostlers, the drawers, even the
wench who had boxed my ears. No one had knowledge of his whereabouts,
and since it would be an idle business to go hunting for him through
the unfamiliar streets of Commercy, I left a sharp word that he should
come up the moment he returned, and so got me back chapfallen to Lord
Bolingbroke's apartment.

The King's secretary, Mr. Edgar, was now in the room, gathering
together the papers which overspread the table.

"It is no great matter," said the King, when I explained how that I
had failed in my search, "for I doubt me that I could have heard him
out. Besides, Mr. Clavering, I have had some talk concerning you with
your kinsman here, and since your inheritance and your journey hither
fit so aptly with our needs, it were a pity to miss the occasion."

"Your Majesty," I cried, and I felt my heart swell and leap within me,
and my head spin with exultation. Here was the very thing of which I
had dreamed hopelessly so often during those weary months at Paris,
letting my fancies dally with it as with some bright and charming
fairy tale, and, lo! it had come true. It had come true! The words
made a silent music at my heart, and animated all my blood. It had
come true! and then, of a sudden, there shot through me, chilling me
to the centre, the rector's warning, and the forebodings that had
flowed from it. Did this mission, which the King assigned to me,
harbinger the hour of trial? Should I fail when it came? I set my
teeth and clenched the nails into the palms of my hands. My whole body
cried No! No! but underneath I seemed to hear a voice, very low, very
persistent, speaking with full knowledge, and it said Yes! Yes!

"Then this will be your charge," continued the King, recalling me to
myself. "You will journey with all speed to London, and bear with you
a letter in my hand to the Duke of Ormond, at Richmond," and he paused
upon the words. "It must pass from your hand into the Duke's. You will
then go north to your estate, and collect knowledge for our use as to
what help we may expect from Cumberland, and, so far as you can
gather, from the counties adjoining. Lord Bolingbroke will inform you
more of the particulars. Your errand, of course, you will keep
secret--locked up from all--from our supporters, no less than from our
opponents. It would be of detriment to us if they came to think that
we distrusted them. Nor do we--it is their judgment, not their
loyalty, about which we wish to be assured. We think, therefore, that
it would be prudent in you to make no parade of your convictions. Hear
both sides like one that holds the balance evenly. For, if you take
one side openly, you will hear from our friends just what we hear so
far away as Bar-le-Duc; and so God speed you!" and he held out his
hand to me, and I kissed it. Then Mr. Edgar opened the door, and the
King walked to it. He was already across the threshold, when he
stopped and turned back, pulling a silver medal from his fob.

"This," said he, "is the fac-simile of that medal which the Duchess of
Gordon presented to the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh, seven years
back," and he gave it into my hand. "It may serve to keep me in your
heart and memories. Moreover, a day may come when it will be necessary
for you to convince our friends in the North, on whose side you stand;
and this will help you to the end. For there is no other copy."

I knelt down and kissed the medal reverently. On the one side was
struck the head of King James--very true and life-like--with the words
"cujus est;" on the other a picture of the British Islands, with this
motto inscribed beneath it, "Reddite."

"It is a text," I said, and indistinctly enough, for that simple word
"Reddite," so charged was it with a sad and pitiful significance,
brought the tears welling to my throat "It is a text I would have
every man in England preach from."

"You will act on it," said the King; and I flattered myself with the
thought that I noted something of a veritable tenderness in his accent
"You will act on it; that is better;" and so he went out of the room.

Lord Bolingbroke closed the door, flung himself into a chair, and
yawned prodigiously.

"Lawrence," he said, "I am very thirsty."

A bottle of Rhenish wine was standing on a sideboard at one end of the
room. He went over and opened it, and filled two glasses.

"Let us drink," said he, and handed one to me "Let us drink to
ourselves," and he raised the glass to his lips.

"Nay," I cried, "to the King first"

"Very well, to the King first, if you will, and to ourselves next.
What matters the toast, so long as we drink it?" and he drained his
glass to the bottom. I followed his example.

"Now to ourselves," said he; and he filled them again. "It is a good
fashion," he continued, in a musing tone, "that of drinking to the
King. For so one drinks double, and never a word can be said against
it." I noticed, however, that he drank triple and quadruple before he
had come to an end. Then he looked at my breeches and laughed.

"And so the wench boxed your ears," he said, and, becoming quite
serious, he took me by the arm. "Lawrence, let's drink to her!"

"I should reel in my saddle if I did," said I, drawing back.

"Then don't sit in it!" he replied. "Let's drink to her several times,
and then we'll go to bed."

"I trust to go to bed a good twenty miles from Commercy."

He shook his head at me.

"Lawrence, it is plain that you are new to the service of kings."

"You have a letter for me," said I.

"To the Duke of Ormond," and he looked at me in surprise. "You mean to
start to-night?"

"Yes."

"Very well," and he sat himself down to the table, transformed in a
second to a cool man of business. "The letter is in the chevalier's
hand"--he drew it from his pocket as he spoke--"and there are many
ships in the Channel. You had best charter a boat at Dunkirk, the
smaller the better, and set sail at night-fall, so that you may strike
the Downs before sunrise." Thereupon he proceeded to instruct me as to
the precise details concerning which I was to inform myself in
Cumberland--such as the number of troops they could put into the
field, and how competent they were to face well-drilled and
disciplined squadrons, their weapons, the least assistance from France
they would hazard the rising upon, and such-like matters. Then he rose
and prepared to accompany me downstairs. I was still holding the medal
in my hand, and now and again fingering it, as a man will what he
holds most precious. "And, Lawrence," he said, "I would hide the
medal, even from yourself, if that be possible. You may find it a very
dangerous gift before you have done."

He spoke with so solemn a warning as even then did something to sober
my enthusiasm.

"It was a wise word that the Chevalier spoke when he bade you beware
how you sided openly with the Jacks."

"Oh!" said I, as the thought struck me. "It was you, then, that
prompted that advice--and for my sake."

"Not altogether."

"But in the main, for my sake."

"Lawrence," said he, leaning across the table, with his eyes fixed
upon my face and his voice lowered to a whisper, "I misdoubt me, but
this is a fool's business we're embarked upon. You heard the
Chevalier. He has no fixed design," and he brought his hand down upon
the table with a dunch. "One day he will land at Montrose, the next in
Devonshire, the next in Cumberland, and, God knows, but the most
likely place of all is the Tower steps."

"No!" I cried. "I'll not believe that. He has you to help him now."

Bolingbroke smiled, but shook his head.

"He has six other ministers besides myself, with Fanny Oglethorpe and
Olive Trant at the head, and all of them have more power than I. He
will concert a plan with me, and the hour after give a contrary order
behind my back. It was the same when Berwick had the disposing of his
affairs. No, Lawrence, I would have you be prudent, very prudent."

He came down the stairs with me and stood in the courtyard repeating
ever the same advice, the while I mounted my horse. Of my steward I
still could see no sign, and, leaving another direction that he should
follow with all speed, I rode off towards the village of Isoncour,
where Ashlock caught me up some two hours after I came there. I rated
him pretty soundly, being much contraried by the melancholy
forebodings of Lord Bolingbroke.

Ashlock made his excuses, however, very submissively, saying that he
had dined at an ordinary in the town, and thereafter, being much
fatigued with the hurry of our travelling, had fallen fast asleep. And
I, bethinking me that, in spite of his gloomy forecast, Lord
Bolingbroke would none the less serve the King with unremitting
vigour, began to take heart again, and so pardoned Leonard Ashlock.

We came then to Dunkirk in the space of four days, and I was much put
to it how I should get safely over into England with the King's
letter. For the English warships were ever on the watch for the King's
emissaries, and one of them, a sloop, was riding not so far out in
full view of Dunkirk. In this difficulty Ashlock was of the greatest
service to me, discovering qualities which I should never have
suspicioned in him. For, espying a little pinnace drawn up on the
beach, he said:

"The two of us could sail that across, sir."

"No doubt," said I, "if one of us could steer a course and the other
handle the sails."

"I can do the first, sir, by myself, and the second with your help,"
he replied.

I went down the sands to the boat, and discovering to whom it belonged
from a bystander, sought the owner out and forthwith bought it at his
own price. For thus we need confide our business to no one, but
waiting quietly till nightfall, we might slip past the big ship under
cover of the dark. And this we did, launching the boat and bending the
sails by the light of a lantern, which we kept as nearly as we could
ever turned towards the land. The moon was in its fourth quarter and
not yet risen when we started, so that the night, though not so black
as we could wish, was still dark enough for our purpose. We had
besides the lights from the port-holes of the warship to guide us,
which gleamed pure and bright across the water like a triple row of
candles upon an altar. We ran cautiously, therefore, for some distance
to the west close under the shadow of the coast, and then fetching a
wide compass about the ship, set our course straight for England. It
was a light boat we were in, rigged with a lug-sail and a jib, and we
slipped along under a fine reaching wind that heeled us over till the
thwart was but an inch from the froth of the water.

"If only the wind hold!" said Ashlock, with a glance at the sail, and
there was a lively ring of exultation in his voice. And, indeed, it
was an inspiriting business this flight of ours across the Channel, or
at all events this part of it I lay forward in the bows with a great
coat atop of me, and my face upturned to the spacious skies, which
were strewn with a gold-dust of stars and jewelled with the planets.
The wind blew out of the night sharp and clean, the waves bubbled and
tinkled against the planks as the prow split them into a white fire,
and we sped across that broad floor of the sea as if licensed to an
illimitable course. Now and again the lights of a ship would rise to
the right or left, glimmer for a little like an ocean will-o'-the-wisp
and vanish; now and again we would drive past a little fleet of
fishing-smacks lying to for the night with never so much as a candle
alight amongst them all, and only the stars, as it were, entangled
amongst their bare poles and rigging; and, after a little, the moon
rose.

I thought of my crib in the Rue St Antoine and the months of
confinement there as of something intolerable. The wide freedom of the
sea became an image of the life I was entering upon. I felt the brine
like a leaven in my blood. And then of a sudden the sail flapped above
me like the wing of a great bat, the strenuous motion of the pinnace
ceased, and we were floating idly upon an even keel.

I looked towards Ashlock; he sat motionless in the stern with the
tiller in his hand and the moonlight white upon his face. Then he took
a turn about the tiller with a rope, glanced along the boat with his
body bent as though he was looking forward beneath the sail, and came
lightly stepping across the benches towards the bows. I lay still and
watched him in a lazy contentment. Midway betwixt bow and stern he
stopped and busied himself with tightening a stay; then again he
crouched down and looked forwards, but this time it seemed to me that
he was not looking out beyond the bowsprit, but rather into the bows
to the spot where I lay huddled under my coat in the shadow of the
thwart I could see his face quite plainly, and it appeared to me to
have changed, in some way to have narrowed. It may have been a fancy,
it may have been the moonlight upon his face, but his eyes seemed to
glisten at me from out a countenance suddenly made trivial by cunning.

After a second he crept forward again, and I noticed how lightly--how
very lightly he stepped. Would he stop at the mast, I asked myself?
Was his business the tightening of a sheet even as he had tightened
the stay? He stooped beneath the sail and still crept forward, running
his hand along the top of the gunwale as he came; and it broke upon me
as something new that he and I were alone in mid-channel, cabined
within the planks of a little boat, he the servant,--but whose
servant?--I not so much the master as the master's substitute and
tripper-up.

I felt for my sword, but I remembered that I had loosed it from my
belt when we had put to sea. From the spot where I lay I could see the
scabbard shining by the tiller. At all events, Ashlock had not brought
it with him. I watched him without a movement as he approached, but
underneath the coat, every nerve and muscle in my body was braced to
the tightness of a cord.

He bent over me, holding his breath, it seemed; his hands came forward
hovering above my chest, but they held no weapon; his face sank out of
the moonlight, dropped beneath the gunwale lower and lower down upon
mine. Meanwhile I watched him, looking straight into his eyes. His
face was but a few inches from mine when he drew back with a little
quivering cry--it was, indeed, more of a startled in-drawing of the
breath than a cry--and crouched on his hams by my side. Still I did
not move, and again his face came forward over mine, very slowly, very
cautiously, and down to where I lay in the dark, with my eyes open
watching his. I could endure the suspense no longer.

"What is it, Ashlock?" I asked quietly, and in asking the question
that moment, made a very great mistake, the importance whereof I did
not discover until long afterwards.

Ashlock sprang back as though I had struck him in the face, I raised
myself on one elbow and thrust the other outside the covering.

"I could not tell, sir, whether you waked or slept," he said; and I
thought his voice trembled a little.

"I was awake, Ashlock. What is it?"

"The wind has shifted, sir," and now he answered confidently enough,
"and blows dead in our teeth. We must needs tack if we are to reach
the coast by daybreak."

"Well?"

"I cannot do it, sir, without your help. It needs two to tack if you
sail with a lug-sail."

And that I found to be true. For the sail being what is called a
square-sail with a gaff along the top of it, each time the pinnace
went about it was necessary to lower it, and hoist it again on the
other side of the mast. The which it fell to me to do, while Ashlock
guided the tiller. So that I knew there was good reason for his waking
me. However, I had little time for speculation upon the matter one way
or another, since we sailed into a mist shortly afterwards, and were
on the stretch, both eyes and ears, lest we should be run down by some
vessel, or ever we could see it.

I was much exercised, too, what with the stars being hid, and our
constant going about, whether Ashlock would be able to keep the boat
in a course towards England. I need not, however, have troubled my
head upon that score, for it was as though he had some sixth sense
which found its occasion upon the sea, and when the day broke and the
mist rolled down and massed itself upon the water, we were within five
miles of the white cliffs with Dover Castle upon our starboard bow.
The mist, I should say, was at that time about chin high, for standing
up in the boat we looked across a grey driving floor, above which the
smaller vessels only showed their masts.

"Shall I run her into the harbour?" asked Ashlock, and he turned the
boat's head towards land.

"No!" I cried vehemently. For now that we were come within sight of
England the letter that I carried began to burn in my pocket, and I
felt the surest conviction that if we disembarked at Dover, we should
be surrounded, catechised, and finally searched, upon the ground of a
tell-tale face, which face would assuredly be mine. "No!" I said; "let
us take advantage of the mist, and creep along the coast till we find
some inlet where we can beach the boat."

This we did, and running now with a freer sail, we came in little more
than an hour to a cove some four or five miles to the north-east of
Dover, the cliffs breaking off very sharp at each side with a line of
thin rocks jutting out at the south corner, and the walls of the cove
steep all round and thickly wooded as low as we could see. Towards
this cove we pointed, intending to run in there and abandon the boat
But when we were within half a mile of land the sun blazed out in the
sky and the fog shredded like so much gauze burnt up in a fire. It was
a fortunate thing for us that we had come no nearer to the shore. For
there, low down on the beach, and but a yard or two from the water's
edge, on a tiny strip of level ground, were four little cottages with
the British ensign afloat. Ashlock rapped out an oath and thrust the
tiller across to its further limit, meaning to go about and run back
out of sight of the cove.

"The sail, sir!" he cried in great excitement, "Oh! damn it, sir, the
sail!"

I sprang to the mast, loosed the sheets, lowered the sail, and of
course must needs in my hurry get the spar entangled amongst the stays
a foot above the thwart. Ashlock rose in a passion, and leaving the
tiller to shift for itself, came leaping towards me.

"There, there, sir," he sneered, "leave it to me!" and losing at once
his air of deference, he was for wresting rather than taking the spar
out of my hands. "Did ever man see?" he exclaimed. "O Lord, did ever
man see----"

"Such a fool-master and such a clever servant," said I, finishing the
sentence for him. But the words were hardly out of my mouth when I let
go of the spar. He staggered back, holding the one end of it in his
hands, the other caught me a crack in the joint at the knees, and the
next moment I was sprawling on my back at the bottom of the boat. I
heard Ashlock mutter, "Lord send us less pride and a ha'porth of
common sense," the while he busied himself with getting the sail into
position, and then he turned to me.

"You'll find, sir, the Preventive men will make little difference
between master and servant when they discover the pretty letter you
are carrying."

"The Preventive men!" I cried, scrambling to my feet.

"Ay, sir, the Preventive men," said he with a glance at the beach.

Now Ashlock was standing with his back to me bowsprit, whereas I faced
him, and looking across his shoulder, I saw a sheer face of white
cliff, topped with a thatch of grass, glide, as it were, behind him. I
turned me about. The boat was swinging round with the tide now that it
had neither sail nor a hand at the rudder to direct it. Before, it had
been pointing for the beach midway in the cove; now it was heading for
the rocks at the south corner of the bay; and each moment it moved
faster, as I could judge from the increasing noise of the ripple at
the bows. I jumped across the benches to the rudder.

"Hoist the sail!" I said in a low, quick command.

Ashlock looked from me to the rocks.

"The tide is running round the corner like a mill-race," said he,
doubtfully, and he made a movement as though he would take my place.

"Hoist the sail!" said I, and he obeyed, and again prepared to come
astern.

"No, stay where you are," I ordered sharply. He looked at me sharply,
shrugged his shoulders, and sat him down by the mast. I brought the
boat's head up until the wind against which we had been tacking was
directly astern of us, and the tiller kicked in my hand as we drove
through the water. We were now within the line of rocks, and I saw
Ashlock give a start as he noticed the point I was making.

"You must round the corner of the reef, sir," he cried.

"We have no time for that. The tide runs in shore. There's a gap in
the reef; we'll make for the gap."

The gap was, in fact, in a bee-line with the tip of the bowsprit. I
had wind and tide to quicken my speed, and I felt the boat leap and
pulse beneath me like a live thing. Ashlock looked at me in surprise,
and then gave a little pleased laugh, as though my action chimed in
with his nature.

Doubtless the plan was foolhardy enough; but the day was clear, and we
were within full sight of the cottages upon the beach. More, our boat
was the only boat in this secluded bay. I thought, indeed, only of the
latter point, and not at all of the narrowness of the passage, and
maybe it was that very oblivion which kept my hand steady. So
engrossed was I, in truth, in my one idea, that I could not forbear
from glancing backwards now and then in a mortal dread, lest I should
see the sun flash upon the disc of a perspective glass or mark a boat
splash out through the surf into the sea. Upon one such occasion I
heard Ashlock rise to his feet with a muttered "God save us!" and a
second later we grazed past a tooth of chalky rock some half a foot
below the surface.

"Sit down!" I cried sharply, for the fellow obscured my vision. He
dropped into his seat; I bent forward, peering out beneath the sail.
We were within twenty yards of the gap in the reef, and the water
converging on it from right and left, foamless and oily like a rapid
in the Severn. The boat gave a great spring, and then slid with a
swift, easy motion like a sledge. I heard the waves burst over the
rocks and patter back upon the sea; I felt the spray whipping my
forehead; and then the cliffs fell away from my eyes and closed up
behind my back. Ashlock lowered the sail and dropped the kedge from
the bows. We were floating in still water, just round the point and
close in to shore under the shadow of an overhanging cliff.

"Now, Ashlock!" said I, "you can come astern."

He came reluctantly, and in his coming began to babble an apology for
the disrespect he had shown me. I cut him short at the outset of it.

"I am not concerned with your insolence," I said. "It is too small a
thing. I am willing to believe, moreover, that you were hurried into
it through devotion to a higher master than myself. I have forgotten
it. But how came you to think that I carried a letter?"

"Your hand, sir," he replied readily, "was ever at your pocket on the
road if we galloped--on the sea if we passed a ship."

It was truth that he said--every word of it--and it caused me no small
humiliation. For here was I entrusted with a mission of some
consequence, and I had betrayed a portion of my business at the
outset.

"There is another thing," I continued sharply. "How comes it that you,
Cumberland-born and Cumberland-bred, have so much knowledge of the
sea?"

I looked at him steadily as I spoke, and I saw his face change, but
not to any expression of suspicion or alarm. Rather it softened in a
manner that surprised me; a look, tender and almost dreamy, came into
his eyes, a regretful smile flickered on his lips. It was as though
the soul and spirit of a poet peeped out at you from a busy, practical
countenance.

"I should have been a sailor," he said, in a low, musing voice. "All
my life I have longed for that one thing. The very wind in the
branches for me does no more than copy the moan of the surf. But my
parents would not have it so, and I live inland, restless,
unsatisfied, like a man kept out of his own." He checked himself
hastily, and continued in a flurry, for no reason which I could
comprehend, "Still, I made such use as I could of the opportunities
that presented. At Whitehaven and at Workington I learnt the handling
of a boat."

"But," I interrupted him, "this is not the first time you have sailed
from Dunkirk to England."

"No, sir," he answered, and his face hardened at my questioning. It
was as though a lid had been slammed down upon an open box. "I have
crossed more than once with young Mr. Rookley."

"That will do," I said; and he drew a breath of relief.

The explanation, I assured myself, was feasible enough, but--but--I
could not get from before my eyes the vision of him creeping
stealthily from the tiller to the bows. As he lay sleeping just where
I had lain--for all that day we remained hidden within the cliffs--I
saw him continually stoop beneath the sail; I saw his face sink out of
the moonlight down and down to mine, and his hands hover above my
breast. And with that a light flashed in on me. He knew of the letter
I was carrying! He knew of the pocket I carried it in! I sat staring
at him dumfounded. Was this the link? Was he playing me false?

"If I had only closed my eyes!" I cried, and in my perturbation I
cried the words aloud.

Ashlock woke up with a start.

"What is it, sir?" he asked, in a whisper. "The Preventive men?" and
the eagerness of his voice gave the lie to my suspicion. Yes, I
reasoned, he had shown an anxiety equal with my own to escape from
their clutches, was showing it now, and his anxiety was due to this
very knowledge that I had the letter in my possession. I relapsed into
perplexity, and in a little my fears took another and engrossing
shape. Doubtless it was Ashlock's startled whisper set my thoughts
particularly that way, and from minute to minute I lay expecting the
Preventive men to row round the point and discover us. There was no
possible escape for us if they did. The more I searched and searched
the cliffs, the more clearly I saw how impossible they were to scale.
It would, I think, have made the strain and tension of this waiting
more tolerable had I been able to reach some point whence I could
command a view of the bay, though it would have served no other end.
But that too was denied to me. I lay the livelong day the impatient
hanger-on of chance. No sound came to me but the ceaseless lapping of
the waves beneath me, the ceaseless screaming of the gulls above my
head, in a single monotonous note, sharp and clean like the noise that
a large pebble makes hopping over ice. To add to my discomfort, we had
no water in the boat, nothing, indeed, but a few hard biscuits, which
served to choke us. And the sun was pitiless all day in a shadowless
sky. The very colour of the sky seemed to have faded so that it curved
over our heads, rather grey than blue, hot and hard--a cap of steel.

However, the day wore to sunset in the end, and the Preventive men had
not come. We set sail as soon as it was dark, and coasting along,
landed shortly after two in the morning, at a spot in the Downs a few
miles from Deal. Thence, after setting our pinnace adrift, we made
what haste we could to London.

Ah me! that ride through the night to London! I remember it as if I
had ridden along that road yesterday. It was so long since I had been
in England. I remember the homely little inn at which we roused a
grumbling landlord and hired our horses. His very grumbles were music
to my ears. I laughed at them, I remember, with such enjoyment that we
had much ado to persuade him to part with the horses at all, and it
was because of his grumbles that I paid him double what he asked. I
remember, too, the hedgerows a-glimmer with wild-roses as with so many
pale stars. To ride ever between hedgerows! It seemed the ultimate of
happiness. And the larks in the early morning--never since have I
heard larks sing so sweetly as they sang that morning over the Kentish
meadows. We passed a little whitewashed church, I remember, with its
mossy gravestones nestling in deep grass about its walls. Well, well,
this is Avignon, and my old bones, I take it, will sleep just as
easily under Avignon soil.



                              CHAPTER V.

                             BLACKLADIES.


I wasted no long time in London, you may be sure, but leaving Ashlock
at the Hercules' Pillars in Piccadilly, went down with my letter to
Richmond. On my return I supplied myself with a wardrobe better suited
to my present state and set out for the north.

The mansion of Blackladies lies off Borrowdale upon the flank of Green
Comb. I got my first view of it from the top of Coldbarrow Fell; for
on coming to Grasmere, Ashlock had informed me of a bridle-path
leading by Harrop Tarn and Watendlath, which would greatly shorten the
journey, and since my impatience had grown hotter with every mile we
had traversed, I despatched my baggage by the roundabout high-road
through Keswick, and myself took horse in company with Ashlock.

It was noonday when we came to the ridge of the fell, and the valley
lay beneath us shimmering in a blue haze, very lonely and very quiet.
Now and again the thin sharp cry of a pee-wit came to our ears. Now
and again our voices waked a sleepy echo. A little hamlet of white
cottages--Stonethwaite they called it--was clustered within view, and
towards the centre of Borrowdale, but so small was it and so still
that it seemed not so much a living village as a group of huts upon
some remote island which a captain, putting in by chance for water,
may discover, long since built by castaways long since perished.

"Look, sir!" cried Ashlock, pointing downwards with his whip. "That is
your house of Blackladies."

It lay in the hollow at my feet, fronting Langstrath and endwise to
me; so that I only saw the face of it obliquely, and got no very clear
idea of that beyond that it was pierced with an infinity of windows,
for a score of mimic suns were ablaze in the panes. It was a long
house with many irregular gables, built in three stories, of grey
stone, though this I could hardly make sure of at the time, for the
purple bloom of a wisteria draped the walls close and clambered about
the roof. What attracted my eyes, however, far more than the house,
was the garden, of which I had the plainest view, since it was built
up from the slope at the east end of Blackladies, and not so much on
account of its beauty as because of the laborious care which had been
bestowed upon it. It was laid out in the artificial fashion of half a
century ago, with terraces and stone staircases, and the lawns cut
into quincunces and etoiles, and I know not what geometrical figures.
The box-trees, too, were fashioned into the likeness of animals; here
and there were statues. I could see the spray of a fountain sparkling
in the sun, and on the level below the first terrace, a great white
grotto and an embroidered parterre like a fine lady's petticoat.
Nature sprawls naked hereabouts; only at this one point had it been
trimmed and dressed, and that with so quaint an extravagance as to
make me conjecture whether I had not been suddenly translated within
sight of some fairy pleasaunce of the Arabian Nights.

I sat in my saddle, gazing at the house silently, and bethinking me of
what service it might prove in the enterprise on which I was embarked.

"It is a handsome property, sir," said Ashlock, from just behind my
elbow, and he spoke in a tone of anxious inquiry, as though he would
fain discover what effect the glimpse of it had wrought in me.

"With a handsome rent-roll to match?" I asked no less eagerly, as I
looked downwards.

A shadow fell sharply along the neck of my horse. I turned and saw
Ashlock's face stretched forward, and peering into mine with startled
eyes.

"A very handsome rent-roll, sir," he replied; "so handsome that a
plain man finds it difficult to understand how the heir could
sacrifice it for any cause." He dropped the words very slowly one
after the other.

I understood the fellow's suspicion, and I swung my horse round with a
jerk, so as to look him squarely between the eyes. He drew himself
straight on the instant, and it seemed to me that his hand tightened
insolently upon his whip.

"Ashlock!" I exclaimed, "before we go down to Blackladies, I will say
a word to you. In Paris you showed me a way by which I could hold this
estate fairly and honourably."

"It was at your own wish, sir, that I spoke," he interrupted
hurriedly, "and because I saw that you meant to refuse it."

"Yes, yes," I went on. "But I thanked you then for the readiness of
your wits, and there was an end of your concern in the matter. I hold
Blackladies in trust for this cousin of mine, Mr. Jervas Rookley. I
have said so, and I need no mentor at my elbow to remind me of a
pledge I gave to myself. Least of all will I permit my servant"--and
in my heat I threw an ungenerous scorn into the term--"to take that
office on himself. If he does, his first word sends him packing."

The man bent his head so that I could no longer see his face, and
replied with all the confidence gone from his voice and manner.

"I came to Paris with no thought but of serving you as faithfully as I
endeavoured to serve Sir John before you. But it was your reluctance
that put the thought of Mr. Jervas into my head; and once it was
there, it stayed and grew; for I loved Mr. Jervas, sir. It was Mr.
Jervas I served in my heart, and not Sir John."

The fellow spoke with such evident contrition, and a devotion so
seemingly sincere, that I felt reproved for the severity I had used,
and I began to admire what sort of man my cousin must be who could
leave so clear an image of himself in the hearts of his dependents. I
was for saying something of the sort, when a movement which Ashlock
made arrested me. It was an insignificant movement--just the reaching
out of his hand to the snaffle of his bridle--but it woke all my
distrust of him; for I noted the quick play of his long, sinuous
fingers, and I recalled his stealthy advance from the tiller of the
pinnace to the bows, and the hovering of his hands above my chest.

"Get down from your horse!" I cried suddenly.

He looked in surprise at me, as well he might. I repeated the order;
he obeyed it.

"Are you Catholic or Protestant?" I asked.

Ashlock's surprise increased.

"Catholic, sir," he answered.

"Good! Now, understand this. Of the journey to Bar-le-Duc, of the
passage from Dunkirk, you must never speak, you must never think. So
much hangs on your silence and mine as you can have no notion of. You
came to Paris, and from Paris I returned with you. That is all you
know. Of the rest, whisper so much as a hint to the deafest yokel in
the valley, and it will go very ill with you."

"I promise," he answered.

"But I need more than a promise; I need an oath. You are Catholic, you
say, so there's better chance of your keeping it. Down on your knees
here, and swear to me that not a word, whatever you know, whatever you
believe, shall escape your lips."

Ashlock started back, looking about him, as though he would find some
diversion or excuse. But the blue, sunlit sky was above us, the brown
fells about us, and never a living soul beside us two.

"Come!" said I, insisting. "Swear it! Swear it by the Cross; swear it
by the Holy Virgin."

"I swear," he began, holding up his hand.

"Nay," I broke in upon him. "On your knees! on your knees!"

Again he looked about him, and then to my face. But I kept my eyes
stubbornly upon him. I would have him swear that oath, and I gathered
all my strength into the resolution, that I might compel him; for I
felt, in some strange way, that we were pitted in a contest for the
mastery of Blackladies, and I was minded to settle that contest before
I set foot across its door. I looked upon this oath that he would
swear before me on his knees chiefly as an emblem of his submission. I
might be to him a vicarious master; still, his master I would be, not
having that confidence in him that I could allow him to harbour doubts
upon the score.

Of a sudden his horse gave a startled plunge and broke away from him.
It ran past me, and, leaning over as it passed, I caught it by the
bridle and so held it.

"Come!" said I. "There will be many days on which I can see the sunset
from Coldbarrow Fell."

There was no escape for Ashlock except by a direct refusal, and that
he did not venture. So with a very ill grace he plumped down on his
knees upon the heather and grumbled out his oath.

"Now," said I, "we will ride down to Blackladies;" and I descended the
track mightily pleased with myself at the high way in which I had
carried it. But my elation was short-lived, for so engaged was I in
pluming myself, that I took little care of how my horse set his feet,
and in a short while he slips on a stone, shies of one side, and I--I
was lying with all the breath knocked out of my body on the grass.

I picked myself up on to my knees; I saw Ashlock sitting on his horse
in front of me, and he held my horse by the bridle. I remained on my
knees for a moment, recovering my breath and my wits. Then of a sudden
I realised that here was I kneeling before Ashlock as but a minute
since he had knelt before me; and here was Ashlock sitting his horse
and holding mine by the bridle, precisely as I had sat and held his.
In a word, we had just changed places, by the purest accident, no
doubt, but I had set such great store upon bringing about that earlier
position and relationship, that this complete reversal of it within
the space of a few moments filled me with the keenest humiliation. And
mingled with that humiliation was a certain fear that ran through my
veins, chilling my blood. I felt that the man mocked at me. I looked
into his face, expecting to discover on it a supercilious smile. But
there was no trace of such a thing.

"You are hurt, sir?" he asked gravely, and dismounted.

"No," said I, rising to my feet

Ashlock moved a few steps from me, and stooped down, parting the grass
with his hands.

"What is it?" I asked, setting a foot in the stirrup.

"Something, sir, that you dropped when you fell It is too big for a
coin."

He was standing with his back to me, turning that something over in
his palms. I clapped my hand into my fob.

"It is mine, yes!" I cried, and I ran towards him. "Give it to me at
once;" and I made as though I would take it from him.

"You asked me what it was," said Ashlock, and he placed in my hands
the medal the King had given me. I looked it over carefully, noticing
certain scratches upon the King's face, and seeking to rub them out I
saw Ashlock looking at me shrewdly.

"I know," said I in a fluster; "but it has memories for me, and I
would not lose it;" and with that we got again to our horses, and so
down to the Blackladies.

The rest of that day I spent in examining the many corridors and
galleries of the house, and in particular the garden, which had
greatly whetted my curiosity. It had been laid out, Ashlock informed
me, by Sir John Rookley's father, and with a taste so fantastic as
would have gladdened Sir William Temple himself. There were three
terraces linked to each other by three stone staircases--one at each
of the two ends, and the third in the centre, and at the top of each
of these last flights were heavy iron gates. From the bottom of these
steps the parterre spread out, and beyond the parterre was a space of
meadow-land, fringed by a grove of trees which they called the
wilderness. The strangest device of all, however, was a sort of
labyrinth beyond the trees at the extreme end of the garden. The
labyrinth, in fact, was a number of little gardens, each with a tiny
plot of grass, and flowers planted about it, like so many rows of
buttons. These gardens were shut in by hedges of quickset ten feet or
more in height, and led from one to the other by such a perplexing
diversity of paths, that once you had entered deep among them it was
as much as you could do to find your way out of them again. Even
Ashlock, who guided me amongst them, ended by losing his way, so
nearly alike was one to the other; and I, not stopping to consider
that where he failed, I, a stranger, was little likely to succeed,
must needs separate from him and go a-searching on my own account,
with this very natural result--that I got more and more enmeshed in
the labyrinth, and was parted from Ashlock into the bargain.

"Ashlock!" I shouted, and again and again, with never a reply, for the
space of half an hour or more. At last, by the merest chance, I
happened upon the right path, and so came out upon that meadow-like
space they called the wilderness.

"Ashlock!" I called again, and again there was no answer. Had he got
himself free, I wondered, and gone quietly about his business, leaving
me there? I walked up the steps in an ill enough humour at the slight,
and passed through the parlour into the hall.

It was of a great size and height, with long, painted windows from the
ceiling to the ground; its roof, indeed, was the roof of the house,
and somehow it struck upon me as very empty and desolate.

"Ashlock!" I cried, and I heard my voice reverberating and dying away
down the corridors. Then came the sound of a man running from the
inner part of the house.

"Ashlock!" I repeated, and a servant appeared. He was a tall, spare
man, past the middle age, I should say, and was called Jonnage Aron. I
sent him to look for the steward, but it was evening before he found
him.

"I thought, sir, that you had hit upon the path before I did," Ashlock
explained.

"But you heard me shouting?"

"No, sir," said he. "I found the way out a few minutes after you had
parted from me, and thought that I was following you."

I bade him show me to his office and give me some account of the
estate, which he did, laying considerable stress upon the wad-mines,
from which some part of the revenue was derived.

"Sir John's attorney," said I, when he had finished, "lives at
Keswick. It will be well that I should see him to-morrow."

"It is but nine miles from here to Keswick," he assented, "and the
road is good."

"Then send a servant early in the morning to fetch him here." Ashlock
shot a quick glance at me. "We will go over these matters again," I
continued, "with his help--the three of us together."

Ashlock bent his head down upon the papers.

"Very well," he said, and seemed diligently to peruse them. Indeed, he
held one in his hand so long that I believed he must be learning it by
heart. "Very well," he repeated, in a tone of much thought.

But during the night I changed my mind, reasoning in this way. I
recognised clearly enough that the advice which King James had given
me--I mean that I should not disclose myself as a Jacobite--was due to
the promptings of Lord Bolingbroke, and those promptings in their turn
took their origin from a regard for my safety, rather than for the
King's interest I was, therefore, inclined to look upon the
recommendation as a piece of advice to be followed or not, as occasion
pointed, rather than as a command. On the whole, I believed that it
would be best, considering the ends I had in view, to express myself
moderately as favouring the Stuart claims. Moderately, I say, because
I could not avow myself an emissary of King James without stating the
special business on which I had come, and that I was forbidden to do.
At the same time, I had to carry that business to an issue, and with
as little delay as might be. Now, it was evident to me that I should
get little knowledge of the Jacobite resources, and less of their
genuine thoughts, if I were to sit down at Blackladies in this nook of
Borrowdale. I must go abroad to do that, and if I was to excite no
suspicion, I must have a simple and definite excuse. The attorney at
Keswick would, for the outset, at all events, serve my turn very well.

So the next morning I countermanded the order I had given to Ashlock,
and rode in past Castle Crag and Rosthwaite to Keswick. And this I did
on many a succeeding day, to the great perturbation of the little
attorney, who had never been so honoured before by the courtesy of his
clients. Also, I made it my business to attend the otter-hunts,
coursing matches, fairs, and wrestling-bouts, of which there were many
here and there about the countryside; so that in a short while I
became acquainted with the principal gentry, and got some insight,
moreover, into the dispositions of the ruder country folk.

Now amongst the gentry with whom I fell in, was my Lord Derwentwater
and his lady, who were then living in their great house upon Lord's
island of that lake, and from them I received great courtesy when they
came to know of my religion and yet more after that I had made avowal
of my politics; so that often I was rowed across and dined with them.

Upon one such occasion, some three weeks after I had come to
Blackladies, that is to say, about midway through August, Lord
Derwentwater showed to me a portrait of his wife, newly painted and
but that day brought to the house. I was much struck by the delicacy
of the craftsmanship, and stooped to examine the signature.

"You will not know the name," said Lord Derwentwater. "The man is
young and, as yet, of no repute--Anthony Herbert."

"Anthony Herbert," I repeated. "No, I have never heard the name,
though, were he better known, I should doubtless be as ignorant. For
this long while I have lived in France."

"It is very careful work," said I, looking closely at the picture.

"Indeed, it errs through excess of care," replied he, "for one's
attention is fixed thereby upon the details separately."

"One need have no fear of that," said I, with a bow to Lady
Derwentwater, "when such details are so faithfully represented."

The pair smiled at one another, and she laid her hand upon her
husband's arm in the prettiest way imaginable.

"The man is staying at Keswick," Lord Derwentwater continued. "That is
how I chanced on him. He came hither in the spring for the sake of the
landscapes."

"Oh," said I, "at Keswick? Is he, indeed?" and I spoke with something
of a start. For a new idea had been brought to me from his words. For,
having come clean to the end of my business with the attorney, I had
been casting about during the last few days for some fresh cloak and
pretext to cover my diurnal journeys from Blackladies, and here, it
seemed to me, was as good a solution of the difficulty as a man could
wish. It may be that I set too much stress on the need for such a
pretext; it may be that I could have ridden hither and thither about
the country without any one turning aside to busy himself about my
errand. But, in the first place, I was the youngest scholar of
conspiracy certainly in experience, if not quite in years, and I was
on that account inclined to exaggerate the value of a mysterious
secrecy. I took my responsibilities _au plus grand sérieux_, shrouding
them from gaze with an elaborate care, when no one suspected so much
as their existence. Moreover, it was the habit of the people in those
parts to stay much within their native boundaries; they rarely went
afield; indeed, I have heard a dalesman of Howray, by Keswick,
confidently assert that at Seatoller, a little village not two miles
from Blackladies, the sun never shone between the months of September
and March owing to the height of the circumjacent mountains. In a
word, those fells which these countrymen saw close before their eyes
each morning that they rose, enclosed their country; what lay beyond
was foreign land, wherein they had no manner of concern. And this same
habit of mind was repeated in their betters, though in a less rude
degree. Therefore I thought it did behove me to practise some
dissimulation lest either my friends or my enemies should get the wind
of my business. So again I said--

"The painter stays at Keswick. And where does he lodge?"

"In the High Street," said Lady Derwentwater; and she named the house.

"But, Mr. Clavering," added the husband, with a laugh, "the painter
has a wife, very young and not ill-looking; and he is very jealous. I
would warn you to pay no such compliments to her as you have paid to
Lady Derwentwater." And he clapped me on the back, and so we went in
to dinner.

He was silent through the first courses, and his wife rallied him on
his reserve.

"I was thinking," said he, and he roused himself suddenly. "I was
thinking," and then he stopped with a whimsical glance at me. "But
perhaps I am forestalled."

Lady Derwentwater clapped her hands and gave a little laugh of
delight.

"I know," she said, and turned to me. "My husband is the most
inveterate match-maker in the kingdom, Mr. Clavering. He is like any
old maid that sits by the window planning matrimony for every couple
that passes in the streets. I should like to dress him up in a gown of
linsey-woolsey and lappets of bone-lace."

"That's unfair," he returned "For there is this difference between the
old maid and me--she is a match-maker by theory, I through
experience."

He spoke lightly, as befitted him in the presence of an acquaintance,
but his eyes were upon his wife's face, and her eyes met his. She
reddened ever so little, and looked at her plate. Then she sent a
shyish glance towards me, another to her husband--and all her heart
was pulsing in that--and so again to her plate, with a ripple of happy
laughter. I seemed to be trespassing upon the intimacy of a couple but
half an hour married--and there were children asleep in their cots
upstairs. A pang of genuine envy shot through me, the which Lady
Derwentwater remarked, though she misunderstood it For--

"James," she said, turning reproachfully to her husband, "there is Mr.
Clavering absolutely disconcerted, and no wonder. Darby and Joan may
be well enough by themselves, but with a guest they are the most
impertinent people in the world."

"True," said he, "and if Mr. Clavering patronises Herbert, he will
have enough of Darby and Joan to sicken him for his lifetime, though
it is a Darby and Joan in the April rather than the autumn of their
years," he added, with a smile.

"Nay," I interrupted, "to tell the truth, I was thinking of the big,
empty galleries of Blackladies."

"There!" he exclaimed, triumphantly, "Mr. Clavering justifies my
match-making. Out of his own mouth he justifies me. We must marry him.
Now, to whom?" and once or twice he patted the table with the flat of
his hand in a weighty deliberation.

His wife broke into a ringing laugh.

"James, you are incorrigible," says she,

"There is Miss Burthwaite," says he.

"Impossible," says I. "I have met her. She says nothing but 'O La!'
and 'Well, there!' and shakes her curls, and giggles."

"Her vocabulary is limited," he allowed "But there's the widow at
Portinscales."

"She swears," I objected.

"Only when she's coursing," he corrected. "But, no matter,
there's----"

"Nay," said I, interrupting his list "This is no time, I take it, for
a man to think of marrying. For who knows but what the country may be
ablaze from sea to sea before we are three months older."

With that a sudden silence fell upon as all, and I sat inwardly
cursing myself for the heedlessness which had prompted so inopportune
a saying. Looking back upon that evening now, it seems to me as though
all the disaster with which that year of 1715 was heavy, and near its
time, for her, for him--ay, and for me, too, projected its shadow over
our heads. I looked into their faces, grown at once grave and
predestinate; the shadow was there, a cloud upon their brows, a veil
across the brightness of their eyes. And then very solemnly my Lord
Derwentwater rose from his chair, and lifted up his glass. The light
from candle and lamp flashed upon the goblet, turning the wine to a
ruby fire.

"The King!" he said simply, without passion, without heat. But the
simplicity had in it something august We also rose to our feet.

"The King!" he said again, his eyes fixed and steady upon the dark
panels over against him, as though there he read the picture of his
destiny. And so he drained his glass, pledging his life and his home
in that wine he drank, making it sacramental.

We followed his example, and so sat ourselves down again. But, as you
may think, there was little talk of any kind between us after that
Lord Derwentwater made no effort at all that way, but remained
engrossed in silence, with all his thoughts turned inwards. Once or
twice his wife sought to break through the spell with some trivial
word about the country-side, but ever her eyes turned with concern
towards her husband's face, and ever the words flickered out upon her
lips. And for my part, being sensible that my indiscretion had brought
about this melancholy cloud, I seconded her but ill. At last, and just
as I was intending to rise up and take my leave, Lord Derwentwater
starts forward in his chair.

"I have it!" he cried triumphantly, bringing his fist smack upon the
table.

"Well?" asked his wife, leaning forward.

"I have it!" he repeated, turning to me.

"What?" I asked anxiously.

"There's Dorothy Curwen, of Applegarth," said he, laying a finger on
my arm; and at that we all fell to laughing like children, as though
the unexpected rejoinder had been the wittiest sally in the world. "It
would be very appropriate, too," he continued, with a laugh, "for it
was rumoured that Mr. Jervas Rookley was paying his attentions in that
quarter at one time, and the girl deserves a better fate."

"Jervas Rookley?" said I, curiously. "You knew him, of course. What
sort of a man was he?"

For a moment there was a pause.

"The honestest man in the world," replied Lord Derwentwater--"to look
at But there it ends. His honesty, Mr. Clavering, is all on the
outside of him, like the virtues of a cinnamon tree. He should have
been a sailor. It was ever his wish, and maybe the hindrance to its
fulfilment warped him."

How that evening lives again in my memories! Indeed, enough happened
not so long after its event to keep it for ever green within my
thoughts. I recalled Lord Derwentwater's solemn toasting of the King,
when, no later than the next February, he went, with the King's name
upon his tongue, to the block on Tower Hill. I recalled his wife's
loving glance and happy laugh--with what pity!--when, dressed as a
fishwife, she crept to Temple Bar and bribed the guardians of that
gate to drop into her apron his head fixed there on the spikes. And
more--that evening was a finger-post to me, pointing the road; but,
alas! a finger-post that I passed unheeding, and only remembered after
that I had gone astray into a slough.

For that device of a picture was fixed firmly in my mind, and I acted
in the consequence of the thought. I rode home to Blackladies that
night, and passed at once into the great hall. A fire of logs was
burning on the hearth--for even in August I felt at times the nights
fall chilly there--and the glow of the flames played upon the
portraits of the Rookleys, dancing them into frowns and smiles and
glances, as though the faces lived. Father and son, master and heir,
they were ranged orderly about the walls in a double row, the father
above the heir, who in his turn figured painted anew as the master. I
turned to the lackey, a roughish fellow named Luke Blacket who had
admitted me.

"Is Mr. Ashlock still up?"

"He is in the office, sir, I think," he answered in some doubt or
hesitation. "I will go and see."

"I will go myself." And I crossed the hall.

A man was sitting at the table with his wig off, and his head was
bald. His back was towards me, and he did not hear me enter, so
engrossed was he about his papers. His pen scratched and scratched as
if all time was against him. It was doubtless a fancy, but it seemed
to me to run ever quicker and quicker as I stood in the doorway.
Behind me the house was very dark and silent; only this pen was
scratching across the paper nimble like a live thing. I stepped
forward; I heard a startled cry, and Jonnage Aron stood facing me,
with his mouth dropping and a look of terror in his eyes.

I waited for him to speak, comprehending neither his fear nor his
business in my factor's office. At last in a jerky, trembling voice,
resting one hand upon the table to steady him, he asked wherein he
could serve me.

"It was Mr. Ashlock I needed," I replied.

"He is not here, sir," faltered Aron, looking about him like a trapped
beast.

"I can see that for myself, Where is he?"

"I don't know, sir," and his confusion increased, "in bed, maybe.
Shall I send him to you?"

He made a hasty movement as though he would escape from further
questioning.

"No," said I, "stay where you are," and I stepped forward to the
table. I took up the last paper he had been writing; the ink was still
wet upon it, and I saw that it was a letter to one of my tenants in
Johnny Wood concerning some improvements of which I had spoken to
Ashlock.

"You do the work I pay my steward for," I said. "And how comes that
about?"

"Very seldom, sir," he babbled out; "once or twice only, when Mr.
Ashlock has been busy. It is not well done," and he made as though he
would take the paper from my hands, "for I am no clerk, but he told me
the letter was not of the first importance."

I looked at the sharp, precise characters of the letter.

"I'll tell you what is not well done, Aron," I cried in some heat,
"and that is your excuse. The handwriting here tells of practice, and
I see that you thrust your pen behind your ear."

Aron's yellow face flushed a dull red. He gave a start and plucked the
pen from behind his ear; and the impulsive movement ludicrously
betrayed his sense of detection.

"Ah!" said I with a sneer. "You had best ask Mr. Ashlock in the future
to provide you with the excuse at the same time that he provides you
with the work."

I bent over the table to examine the other papers which were littered
upon it I had just time to remark that they were all in Aron's
handwriting when a sharp click sounded through the silent house, not
loud, but very clear, like the cocking of a trigger. The door was
open; I stepped into the passage and peered along it. Aron moved
uneasily in the room at my side, and his movement brought him betwixt
me and the lamp, so that a shadow fell across my face and on the
passage wall. I realized that I had been standing visible and distinct
in a panel of light that was thrown from the open doorway. Aron moved
again out of the light. I took a couple of paces into the dark, and
again stretched forward, peering in front of me. I could see well nigh
the length of the house. The corridor in which I stood ran straight to
the hall. On the far side of the hall, opposite to me, there opened a
wide gallery, which was closed at the end by a parlour, and this
parlour lay at the east end of the house, and gave on to the topmost
terrace of the garden. The door of the parlour stood open, so that I
saw right through it to the moonlight shining white upon the
window-panes. But I saw more than this. I saw the window opening--it
was the catch of the window which I had heard--and a man, with his hat
pulled down upon his brows and a heavy cloak about him, stealing in. I
was the more astonished at the sight because Ashlock had informed me
that there was no outlet from the garden at all; and that I had
considered to be true, since on one side a cliff rose sheer above it,
while on the other side and at the end it was enclosed with a sunk
fence of stone. The intruder closed the window and came a-tiptoe down
the passage. I drew close against the wall and held my breath. He
passed by me insensible of my presence and walked into the room, and
as he came into the light I saw that he was holding the ends of his
peruke in his mouth. I did not, however, on that account fail to
recognise that the new-comer was my steward. I followed very softly
close upon his heels.

"Ashlock!" he began, and would have said more, but Aron held up a
finger to his lips and grimaced at him.

I closed the door behind me with a bang and leaned against its panels.
The steward swung round abruptly.

"And what stress of business keeps Mr. Ashlock so late from his bed?"
I asked; and added pleasantly, "By the way, which of you is Mr.
Ashlock?"

Seldom have I seen a man so completely taken aback, as my steward was
then, and I was in the mind to profit by his confusion.

"And which of you is Mr.----" I continued, and came all at once to a
dead stop. For the strangest suspicion flashed into my mind.

"I rode over to the farmer of Johnny Wood," explained the steward, and
Aron's brows went up into his forehead, as well they might, "thinking
that a word with him would expedite the business."

"It was a pity then," I returned, "that you kept Aron up so late
writing a letter on that very subject."

I picked up the paper from the table and placed it in his hands. His
face puckered for a second and then smoothed again. He read it through
from beginning to end with the completest nonchalance.

"It will do very well," he said easily to Aron, and then turned to me
with a smile. "The letter, of course, is a usual formality."

"Surely an unnecessary one," I insisted.

"Men of business," he returned suavely, "will hold it the reverse. I
presume, sir, that you have some urgent need of me."

I recovered myself with a laugh.

"Not urgent," I replied, "but since you are here----" I took up the
lamp from the table and went into the passage. The steward followed
me, and after him, though at some distance, Aron stumbled in the dark.
So we came into the hall. I held up the lamp above my head. At one
point, in the lower row of pictures, there was a gap; the oak panels
made as it were a black hollow amongst the bright colours of the
figures, and the hollow was just beneath the portrait of Sir John.

I pointed an arm to it.

"It is the one vacant space left in the hall."

Ashlock glanced sharply at me.

"Mr. Jervas Rookley's picture should have hung there," he replied in a
rising tone, which claimed the prerogative of that space still for Mr.
Jervas Rookley.

"But it did not," I replied. "The space is vacant, and since it is the
fashion of the house that the master's portrait should hang in the
hall, why, I will take my predecessors for my example."

Ashlock took a quick step forward as though pushed by some instinct to
get between me and the wall, and turned upon me such a look of
perplexity and distrust, that for a moment I was well-nigh dissuaded
from the project.

I heard a step behind me. It was Jonnage Aron drawing nearer. I turned
and gave the lamp to him to hold, bidding him stand further off, and I
said with a careless laugh, though I fixed my eyes significantly upon
Ashlock--

"My successor has full licence from me to displace it when his time
comes to inherit, but for the present my picture will hang there."

Ashlock looked me steadily In the eyes. The distrust faded out of his
face, but the perplexity remained and deepened.

"Your picture, sir?" he asked in a wondering tone, as though he would
be asking what in the devil's name I needed with a picture at all.

"Yes, Mr. Ashlock," said I with a swaggering air, which I doubt not
was vilely overdone, "my picture. And why not, if you please?"

"It must needs be painted first," he said.

"That is very true," I replied. "I had even thought of that myself,
and so apt an occasion has presented itself, that it would be folly to
disregard it For a painter has but lately come to Keswick. My Lord
Derwentwater spoke of him to me, and indeed showed me some signal
evidence of his skill."

"Lord Derwentwater?" exclaimed Ashlock, In a curious change of tone.
The perplexity in its turn began to die off his face, and it was
succeeded by an eager curiosity. It seemed as though the name gave to
him a glimmering of comprehension. Though what it was that he
comprehended I could not tell.

"Yes, Lord Derwentwater told me of the man," I repeated, anxious to
colour my pretext with all the plausibility of which it was capable.
"Mr. Anthony Herbert----"

"Mr. Anthony Herbert?" questioned Ashlock, slowly.

"It is the painter's name," said I, and he seemed to be, as it were,
savouring it in his mind. "You will not have heard it before. Mr.
Herbert has painted a portrait of Lady Derwentwater," and I turned
away and got me to my room, with Aron to light the way. I left Ashlock
standing in the hall, and as I mounted the lower steps of the
staircase, I heard him murmur to himself in a tone of reflection--

"Mr. Anthony Herbert!"--and he shook his head and moved away.

Now, some half an hour afterwards, as I was lying in bed, a thought
occurred to me. I got me to the door and opened it. The house was
still as a pool. I took my candle in my hand and crept to the
stairhead. The moonlight pouring through the tall windows, lay in
great silver stripes upon the floor. I stood for a little and
listened. Once or twice a board of the staircase cracked; once or
twice an ember spurted into flame and chattered on the hearth, but
that was all. I stole downstairs, not without a queer shame that I
should be creeping about my own house. At the bottom I lighted my
candle, and shading it with my hand, crossed swiftly to the vacant
space among the portraits. I held the light close against the panels.
Yes, there were the splintered holes where the nails had been driven
in.

I lowered the candle till it was level with the lowest rim of the
picture-frames on either side of the space. Yes, there was a dimming
of the oak, like breath upon a window-pane, where the edge of a
picture had rubbed and rested against it. I rose upright, blew the
candle out, and stood in the dark, thinking. "Mr. Jervas Rookley's
portrait should have hung there," he had said. It _had_ hung
there--not a doubt of it. Was it destroyed, I wondered? Was it in some
lumber-room, hidden away? And I remembered a room in the upper part of
the house which I had found locked, and was told the key was lost. Why
had the picture been removed? Was it so that I might not recognize it?
Well, it did not matter so long as I never stumbled across it. I
groped my way up the staircase, repeating to myself one sentence from
the will, "I must not knowingly support Mr. Jervas Rookley." I did not
_know_, I said to myself. I might suspect, I might believe, but I had
no proof; I did not know. I clutched the phrase to my very heart. I
could keep my trust--the estate need not enrich the Hanoverian--Jervas
Rookley should come to his own, if God willed it, in his own time. For
I did not know. My steward was my steward--no more. What if he was
ever out of sight when a visitor reined in his horse at the door? He
might be busy in his office. What if another wrote his letters? There
was work enough for the steward, and who should blame him for that he
lightened his labours, so long as his work was done? I did not know.

Yet how the man must hate me, I thought, as I recalled that hour on
the ridge of Coldbarrow Fell.



                             CHAPTER VI.

                             MR. HERBERT.


It was eleven of the forenoon when I stopped at Mr. Herbert's door,
and the long incline of the street was empty. At the bottom of the
hill, beyond the little bridge, there was a shimmer of green trees,
and beyond the trees a flashing corner of the lake. Through a gap in
the houses on my left, I caught a glimpse of the woods of Brandelaw,
and the brown slope of Catbells rising from the midst of them. A
shadowless August morning bent over the country, cradling it to sleep
with all its drowsy murmurings, so that contentment was like a perfume
in the air. And it was with a contentment untroubled by any presage
that I tied up my horse and knocked at the door.

Mr. Herbert's lodging was on the first floor, and as I mounted the
stairs the noise of an altercation came to me from behind the closed
door. The woman who led me up shrugged her shoulders and stopped.

"One of the April showers," I thought, recalling Lord Derwentwater's
words.

"Will you go up?" she asked doubtfully.

"Yes," said I. "For I take it that if I deferred the visit till
to-morrow, to-morrow might be own brother of to-day."

She knocked at the door twice and got no answer. I heard a man's voice
exclaim acrimoniously:

"It was the worst mistake man ever made," and a woman cry in a
passion--

"Or woman either. Deary me, I wish I were dead!"

And "Deary me, I wish it too," said my attendant, and impatiently she
turned the handle and opened the door. A man sprang forwards. He was
young, I noticed, of a delicate face, with a dark, bilious complexion.

"Mr. Anthony Herbert, I suppose," I said, taking off my hat, and I
stepped into the room. The next moment I regretted nothing so much as
that I had not taken the landlady's advice, for a woman sat at the
table, with her face couched upon her arms, crying.

"Your business?" asked Mr. Herbert, abruptly, getting between myself
and the table.

I turned my back to the room and looked out of the window, making as
though I had not seen his wife.

"Lord Derwentwater showed me yesterday a picture of his wife painted
by you," I said; and I unfolded the purport of my visit slowly. In the
midst of my speech I heard the rustle of a dress and a door cautiously
open and shut. A second or two later I turned back into the room; it
was empty. The artist accepted the commission, and I arranged with him
that he should set to work next day.

"I am afraid," he said awkwardly, as he bowed me from the room, "that
you caught me at an inopportune moment."

"Did I?" I returned, playing surprise. "Ah yes, you are not dressed,"
for he was wearing a dressing-gown. "But it is my fault in that I came
too early."

And he closed the door.

"Thank you!"

The words were breathed in a whisper from the landing above that on
which I stood. I looked up; the staircase was ill-lighted and panelled
with a dark mahogany, so that I saw nothing but the outline of a head
bent over the balustrade; and even as I looked that outline was
withdrawn.

"Not at all," I replied to the empty air.

The door behind me was thrown open.

"What is it, Mr. Clavering?" asked Herbert, and he glanced
suspiciously up the stairs.

I, on the contrary, stared down them.

"It is," I answered, "that your staircase is cursedly dark."

"True," says he, and steps to my side. "One cannot see an inch further
than is needful;" and he looked down them too.

"One cannot even see so far," says I, and I peered upwards.

"One might break one's neck if one were careless," he continued in a
musing tone.

"Oh, I did not stretch it out enough for that," I replied, thinking of
something totally different.

Herbert looked at me with a puzzled expression.

"It occurs to me, Mr. Clavering," he resumed, "that if it would please
you better I could fetch my easel over to Blackladies."

"There is no manner of occasion for that," I replied hastily, and I
got me into the street with as little difficulty as if there had been
a window to every step of the stairs.

Thus, then, I had my excuse. I rode back to Blackladies that
afternoon, and bade Luke Blacket carry such clothes as I required to
Mr. Herbert's lodging.

"Very well, sir," he said, but did not go. For just as it was getting
dusk I saw from the library window Ashlock--for so I still called him,
even or perhaps more particularly to myself--ride down the drive with
the package upon his saddle-bow. I was as much surprised now at this
voluntary exposure of himself as I had been previously at his sedulous
concealments. But I bethought me in time that it would be dark long
before Ashlock reached the village of Keswick, and as to his
doings--well, I deemed it wisest to busy myself as little as possible
on that head. For I was never certain from one minute to the next but
what I might stumble upon some proof which I could not disregard.
Consequently neither then, nor when he returned, did I utter a single
word.

But on the next morning I followed my clothes to Mr. Herbert's
lodging, sat to him for an hour or so, and then went about my
business. And this I did day after day, visiting the gentry about, and
attending the fairs and markets until I had acquired as complete a
knowledge of what the district intended as would have satisfied my
Lord Bolingbroke in person. That there were a great many, not merely
of the gentry, but of the smallest statesmen and even peasants who
favoured King James, I was rejoiced to perceive. But against this
disposition I had to set a deplorable lack of arms and all munitions
of war. Here and there, indeed, one came across a gentleman, like Mr.
Richard Salkeld, of Whitehall, in Cumberland, who had carefully
collected and stored away any weapon that he could lay his hands on,
and I remember that in Patterdale, one Mr. John Burtham, a man very
advanced in years, led me with tottering steps down to his cellar and
showed me with the greatest glee a pile of antique musketoons and a
couple of barrels of gunpowder, which his grandfather had hidden there
for the service of King Charles I., but had discovered no use for
after Marstoon Moor. For the most part, however, such as took the
field I saw would take it with no more effectual armament than scythes
and sickles and beaten-out ploughshares; and, indeed, I am not sure
but what I would rather have so armed myself than with the musketoons
and gunpowder of Mr. Burtham. One necessary condition, however, or
rather I should say, one necessary preliminary of a rising, all with
whom I had speech required and in a unanimous voice--I mean that his
Most Christian Majesty should land twenty thousand troops in England
and with them money for their subsistence. On the other hand, I knew
that the French King, howbeit disposed to the utmost friendliness, was
yet anxious, before he violated the peace of Utrecht, to ascertain
which way the wind blew in England, and whether it was a steady breeze
or no more than a flickering gust. It was about this time, too, that
news was brought to me of the Duke of Ormond's flight to Paris, and I
did not need the letter of Lord Bolingbroke which conveyed the news,
to assure me how great a discouragement that flight must be to our
friends in France. This, then, was the posture of affairs: France
waited upon the Jacobites in England, and they in their turn waited
upon France.

"There is but one hope," said Lord Derwentwater, when we were
discussing the uncertainty wherein we lived--"there is but one hope of
precipitating the matter to an issue, and that hope lies in the
activity of the English Government. The Commons have suspended the Act
of Habeas Corpus until next January, in the case of all persons
suspected of conspiracy; Papists and Non-jurors are banished from the
cities of Westminster and London and for ten miles round; the laws
against them are to be put into the strictest execution. I do not know
but what the rigour of these proceedings may goad the Jacobites to an
extremity. But therein lies the one hope. And how goes it with Darby
and Joan?" he broke off in a laugh. "I saw the portrait but yesterday,
and it will do no discredit to the young Master of Blackladies."

But the young Master of Blackladies turned his face awkwardly to the
window, and felt the blood rush to his cheeks, but never a word of
answer to his lips. For, alas! what before had been the pretext and
excuse was now become the real object of my journeyings. I had
garnered my information--and the picture was still a-painting and
little more than halfway to completion. I cannot even after this long
interval of years think of that period without a lurking sense of
shame--though I paid for the wrong--yes, to the uttermost farthing,
and thank God in all humility that it was given me to repair it. For
this, indeed, is true: the wrong went not beyond the possibility of
reparation.

It was on the third occasion of my coming to the artist's apartment
that I first met Mrs. Herbert face to face. She entered the room by
chance, as it seemed, in the search for some embroidery. Mr. Herbert,
for a wonder, was in a great good-humour that morning and presented me
to her.

"This is Mr. Clavering, of Blackladies," he said with a wave of the
hand, and so went on with his work. I rose from my chair and bowed to
her. But with a quick impulsive movement she came forward and held out
her hand to me, reddening, I must think, with some remembrance of the
occasion whereon I had first seen her. And then--

"Tony," she cried reproachfully, with a glance about the room. Indeed,
it had something of a slatternly appearance, which seemed to me to
accord very ill with the woman who dwelled in it. The poor remains of
breakfast--a dish of clammy fish, a crumbled oatmeal cake, and a plate
of butter soft and oily--were spread upon a stained table-cloth. But
the stains were only upon one side, and I chose to think it was there
the man had sat.

"Well," says he, looking up in a flash of irritation, "what is it?
What is it?" And then following the direction of her gaze, "We can
afford nothing better," he snapped out.

"That is no reason," she replied, "why it should drag here till
midday;" and she rang a little bell upon a side-table. He shrugged his
shoulders and returned to his picture. She stood looking at him for a
second, as though she expected him to speak, but he did not.

"Then, Mr. Clavering," she said, turning to me with a flush of anger
upon her face, "I must needs undertake my husband's duty and make you
his apologies."

Herbert started up from his seat, throwing the brush which he held
petulantly on to the floor.

"Nay," I answered in some distress, for this apology was the last
thing I expected or desired, "madam, there is no manner of need that
such consideration should be shown me. Mr. Herbert honours me
sufficiently by painting my portrait."

"That is very courteous of you," she answered with a little bow, "and
I expected nothing less. _But_," and she drew herself up again and
faced her husband, "it is not fitting we should receive our patrons
with so little regard."

"Madam," I blurted out in the greatest confusion, "I beseech you. It
would cause me the greatest distress to think that I had proved a
trouble betwixt your husband and yourself."

It was not the discreetest phrase I could have chosen, but it served
its turn, for it brought them both to a stop, and in a little Mrs.
Herbert left us alone. Thereupon I put my hand in my pocket and drew
out the medal of which I have spoken.

"Mr. Herbert," I said, "I have an ornament here, which I would fain
have you add to the portrait;" and I held it out to him.

"Very well," said he, taking it "If you will leave it here, I will
paint it in at my leisure."

"But," said I, "it would not be wise to let it lie open to the gaze of
any chance-comer."

He turned it over in his hands and glanced at it

"For myself," said he, "I do not meddle in politics one way or the
other. I will keep it locked. See!" And he placed it in a little iron
box, and locking it put the key in his pocket.

On the next day that I came, the room was all tidied and newly swept,
though the improvement brought no more peace than did its previous
disorder. For, this time Mr. Herbert could find nothing that he
wanted--even his brushes and colours had been tidied out of sight; so
that he was forced to call in his wife to help him in the search for
them, and seeing her thus engaged somehow fell ungratefully to rating
her. The which she listened to with a patience which I could not but
greatly admire; and after all it was she who discovered the brushes.
Then very quietly she said:

"I will be no party to a quarrel before Mr. Clavering. It might
perchance savour of ill-breeding;" and so she departed with the
pleasantest smile, leaving Herbert in a speechless exasperation. For
my part I wished intensely that she had not dragged my name into the
business.

Herbert turned from the door to me, and from me again to the door; his
mouth opened and shut; he spread out his hands in despair, as though
the whole world was a riddle to be given up. Then he looked at the
brushes in his hand.

"She hid them," he cried. "Damme but she hid them."

I felt inclined to rise from my chair and determine my visits there
and then. I changed my mind, however, bethinking me that the couple
were poor, and that if I acted on the inclination, I should be
punishing not merely the husband but the wife as well.

To drive the notion finally from my head I needed nothing more than
that by accident I should chance upon Mrs. Herbert on the stairs. For
she spoke to that very point as I wished her good day.

"It will be good-bye you mean, Mr. Clavering," she answered, with
something of a sigh for the loss which would befall them, since the
defection of a client thus prematurely could not but damage his
reputation in those parts.

"It will be good-bye if you wish it," I returned with a laugh, "but
not otherwise."

Mrs. Herbert gave a start and looked across my shoulder. I turned
sharply and saw Mr. Herbert himself standing in the doorway above me.
He must have heard the words, I knew, but he stood quite still, his
face passionless as stone, and for that reason, maybe, I did not at
the time consider the construction he would be likely to put on them.

"Speaking for myself," I continued, "I shall not easily part from Mr.
Herbert until the picture is finished and in my safe keeping."

So I spake with a polite bow to the painter, little thinking in how
strange and hazardous a fashion I was destined to fulfil my words.

It must not, however, be thought that the pair were ever a-seething in
this pot of quarrels. The sun shone betwixt the thunderclaps and with
no dubious rays. At times, for instance, Mrs. Herbert would bring a
book of plays into the room and read them aloud whilst her husband
worked, and I--I, alas! watched the changes of her face. Once I
remember she read in this way Mr. Congreve's "Love for Love," with a
decent slurring of some passages and a romantical declaiming of
others, at which Mr. Herbert would break into languishments and sighs,
and Mr. Lawrence Clavering would feel himself the most awkward
intruder in the world.

It was in the midst of this particular reading that Anthony Herbert
was called downstairs upon some business, and she and I were left for
a little to our devices. Mrs. Herbert continued to read with her eyes
glued upon the pages, but gradually I could not but notice that a
certain constraint and awkwardness crept into her voice. At last she
stumbled over a passage and stopped. I rose from my chair, and,
sensible that a like awkwardness was stealing over me, went and gazed
at the picture. I made the mistake, however, of praising it, and of
praising it, perhaps, with some extravagance, for the encomium
naturally enough being couched in that vein, brought the artist's wife
across the room to consider of it too.

"In truth," says she, looking from the portrait to myself, "he has
caught your features, Mr. Clavering, even to the eyes and the curve of
the chin."

"Yes!" I replied. "It needs no connoisseur to foretell how much Mr.
Herbert will achieve."

She did not answer, but kept looking at me curiously, and I continued,
in an unaccountable flurry:

"Sir Godfrey Kneller ages; one hears of no one who can fitly claim his
place. The honour of it should fall to Mr. Herbert--nay, must fall to
him, I think--and it is no barren honour. He has an estate at Witton,
Lord Derwentwater tells me. He sits as Justice of the Peace there, and
he is even now painting his tenth monarch. It is no barren honour."

I spoke with all the earnestness I could command, but of a sudden,
from the corner of my eye, I saw her lips part in a queer smile. I
felt my voice shake, and covered the shaking with a feeble laugh.

"So an obscure country gentleman," I continued, "has reason to count
himself lucky in getting his picture done by Mr. Herbert before the
sovereigns of Europe engross his art;" and at that, for sheer want of
assistance, I faltered to a stop. The silence crept about us,
insidious, laden with danger, and every second that passed made it yet
more dangerous to speak. The woman at my side stood motionless as a
statue. I did not dare to glance at her; I stared at the portrait and
saw nothing of it. It was as though my face had faded from the canvas
in a mist I was conscious only of the tall figure at my side. I tried
to speak, but no thoughts came to me--nothing but a tumult of
unconsidered words--words which I had never spoken before, and of
which even now I did not apprehend the meaning. They whirled up within
me and beat against my teeth for passage, I locked my mouth to keep
them in, and then I began to be afraid; I began to tremble, too, lest
the woman should move. At last I conned over a sentence in my mind,
and repeated it and repeated it, silently, until I was sure that I
could utter it without a trip.

"It must be a noble thing to be the wife of so great an artist," and
as I spoke the words I was able to move away.

She gave a little quiet laugh, and answered--

"With, besides, the prospect of being wife to a Justice of the Peace
at Witton."

For speaking that word I almost felt that I hated her.

"Oh, why won't you help?" I cried in a veritable despair, stretching
out my arms to her.

She turned on me suddenly with her face aflame and a cry half uttered
on her lips. What would have been the upshot I cannot tell, but the
door opened or ever she could articulate a word, and Mr. Herbert
returned to put an end to our talk. For a week after that I mounted
the stairs with uncertain steps, each footfall accusing me for that I
came. However, during that week I saw her no more, and was beginning
to acquire some confidence in my powers of self-mastery. Indeed, I
went further, and became even vaingloriously anxious that I might
chance upon her in order to put those powers to the test.

The opportunity came, and this is what I made of it. There had been
some dispute that morning over a trivial domestic matter, and Mr.
Herbert sat glooming before his easel, when his wife entered the room
with a certain air of defiance and took her customary seat She held a
book in her hand, bound in old leather, with gold lettering upon the
back, so that I was able to read the title. It was Sir Thomas Malory's
Book of the Morte d'Arthur, and in a very deliberate voice she read
out of the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, and much emphasis she laid
on the temperate gentleness of King Arthur and his unreadiness to
believe in any misdoings either of his wife or his companions. But her
words fell vainly upon deaf ears, for Herbert took no heed of any word
she read or any accent of her voice; the which she came to see, and
losing all her defiant dignity in a little, shut the book with a bang
and ran out of the room.

For my part I had listened to the story in the greatest disorder of
spirit, and was very glad to be quit of it, and of Mr. Herbert too,
for that day at all events, in spite of the supremacy of his genius.

But the staircase, as I have said, was very dark, and particularly so
at one corner where it turned sharply two flights below the doorway
and made an angle in the wall. Now as I passed this angle, something
moved in it I stopped, wondering what it was, and then a voice came to
me in a whisper--

"Lancelot!"

Instinctively I drew back and threw out my hands. They touched--they
held another pair of hands--for the fraction of a second.

"No," said I with an attempt at a laugh, hollow as the clatter of an
empty mug, "the name does not fit me, for at all events Lancelot could
fight, and I have not learnt even so much skill as that."

Unconsciously I raised my voice as I spoke, and a second after the
door creaked gently above us. She drew back into the corner all
a-tremble, like a chided dog, and the movement touched me with a pity
that made my heart sicken. The angle I knew could not be seen from the
stair-head. I slipped purposely on a step, and swore a little not
over-quietly.

"What is it?" asked Mr. Herbert.

"An ill-lighted staircase is the devil," said I; and I grumbled my way
to the street-door. But I heard Mr. Herbert's door shut before I left
the house.

Whither I went after leaving the house I was in that perturbation of
mind I cannot tell. It was my habit to stable my horse at the Lamb and
Flag, opposite, and subsequently I was told that I entered the
courtyard and wandered out of it again like one blind. A fire burned
in my blood, and the aspect of the world was fiery to my vision. I
went whither my footsteps guided me, and all places they led me to
were alike. Afterwards it came upon me like the memory of a dream,
that I had stood for some while with the sheen of water beneath my
eyes, and the lapping of water in my ears, and that hereafter I had
climbed for long hours up a wearisome green slope; and indeed my
insteps and knees ached for days to come, so it may be that I went
down to Derwentwater and thence toiled up some part of Skiddaw. But of
all this I knew nothing at the time; I only knew that I came again to
the possession of my wits in Keswick Street about ten o'clock of the
night, very hungry and very tired. I entered the inn and bade the
landlord get me some supper before I started homewards. And this he
did, laying a table for me in the best parlour of the house--a long
room on the first floor, with window-seats, from which one commanded
the street. The landlord prepared the table for me at the inner end of
the apartment and set the lamp there; so that as the light was but
dim, and I rested myself in the window until such time as supper
should be brought, I was well-nigh in the actual dark.

Now while I was seated there, a man came down the street towards me. I
should not, I think, have noticed him at all but for the caution of
his movements. For he kept very close to the houses and stepped
lightly upon his toes; and when for all his care his spurs clinked or
his foot rolled on a loose stone, he paused and looked behind and
about him. So he walked until he came in front of Mr. Herbert's house.
Then he stopped, and it came upon me that there was something familiar
in his appearance.

I drew back into the curtains. He gazed up and down the street and
then to the windows of the Lamb and Flag. A heavy tramp sounded on the
cobbles some yards away, very loud and unexpected, so that it startled
me little less than it did the man I watched. I drew yet farther into
the curtains; he slunk into a cavity between two of the houses, and
that action of his flashed of a sudden a plan into my mind; I
remembered that dark angle on the staircase. The footfalls grew
louder, a dalesman passed along the centre of the roadway, his steps
died away up the hill. My man crept from his hiding-place, and
whistled softly under Mr. Herbert's windows. The blind was pushed
aside from the window an inch or so, and I saw a head against the
light pressed upon the window-pane. Then the window creaked and
opened. The head was thrust out and a few words were interchanged, but
in so low a tone that I could catch nothing of their purport. Then the
window was shut and the man advanced to the door. One thing was clear
to me from these proceedings, that whosoever he might be, and I had
little doubts upon that score, this was by no means his first visit to
Mr. Anthony Herbert.

I set that piece of knowledge aside, however, for the present. There
was a further point which concerned me more particularly just then.
Was the street-door on the latch? Or must Mr. Herbert descend to give
his visitor entrance?

The visitor turned the handle, opened the door, and closed it again
behind him. I waited until I saw his shadow on the blind. He had taken
off his hat and his cloak, and his profile was figured upon it in a
silhouette.

I ran down the stairs and across the street without so much as picking
up my hat. I opened Mr. Herbert's door, and crept up the staircase
until I came to the angle which I had reason to know so well. There I
hid myself and waited in the dark. And how dark it was and how
intolerably still! Very rarely a burst of laughter, or a voice louder
than the usual, would filter up to me from the back part of the house.
But from the studio above, nothing--not the tread of a foot, not the
whisper of a voice, not the shuffle of a chair.

What were they debating in such secrecy? I asked myself and then,
"Perhaps I had been mistaken after all?" I clung to the possibility,
though I had little faith in it. At all events, this night I should
make sure--one way or another I should make sure.

After the weariest span, the door was opened. I could not see it
because of the turn of the staircase. I stood, in fact, just under the
door; but I could see on the wall facing me, at the point where the
stairs turned a bright disk of light suddenly appear, such as a lamp
will throw. The visitor would pass by that disk; he would intercept
the rays of the lamp; those rays would burn upon his face. I leaned
forward, holding my breath; the steps above me cracked as a man
descended them. I heard a short "good night," but it was Mr. Herbert
who spoke; and then the door was closed again and the disk vanished
from the wall I could have cursed aloud, so bent was I upon
discovering this visitor; but the footsteps descended towards me in
the dark, and I drew myself back into my corner.

As they passed me I felt a sudden flap of wind across my face, as
though the man was moving his hands in the air to guide him, and I
reckoned that the hand was waved within an inch of my nose. A few
seconds later and the street-door opened. The sound brought home to me
all the folly of my mistake. If I had only waited outside, in that
alley, say, where he himself had crept, I should have seen him--I
should have known him! Now I must needs wait where I stood until he
was clean out of reach, I counted a hundred, a hundred and fifty, two
hundred and then in my turn I slipped down the stairs and out of the
house. The night was not over-clear, and I could perceive no one in
the street. I strained my ears until they ached, and it seemed to me
that I heard a light tip-toe tread very faint, diminishing up the
hill. I ran in its direction with as little noise as I might. But I
heard my spurs clink-clinking even as his had done, only ten times
louder.

I stooped and loosed them from my feet. Then I ran on again; it seemed
to me that the footsteps grew louder. I turned the corner at the head
of the street. In front of me there was a blur of light; the blur
defined itself into four moving points of flame as I approached, and,
or ever I was aware of it, I had plumped full into my Lord
Derwentwater, who was walking homewards behind his torch-bearers to
the lake.

"Come, my man," said he, "what manners are these?"

"The manners of a man in a desperate hurry," says I, "and so good
night to you, my lord;" and I moved on one side.

"Lawrence Clavering!" he cried out and caught me by the arm. "The very
man I would be speaking with."

"But to-morrow, my lord--to-morrow."

"Nay, to-night. You come so pat upon my wish that I must needs believe
God sent you;" and the deep gravity of his tone was the very
counterpart of his words. I stopped, undecided, and listened. But I
could no longer hear the faintest echo of those stealthy footsteps.

"Then there is something new afoot," said I.

"Something new, indeed," says he, "though I take it, it concerns no
one but you." And he bade his footmen go forward. "A minute ago a man
passed me on this road, his cloak was drawn about his face, his hat
thrust down upon his ears, but the light of my torches flickered into
his eyes, and I knew the man."

"It was doubtless my steward," I blurted out. "He was in Keswick
to-day."

"Your steward?" he asked in wonderment "Your steward? No, I should not
pester you with news about your steward. It was young Jervas Rookley."

"Well," said I, "what of him, my lord? I have nothing to fear from
Jervas Rookley."

"You think that?"

"I know it," I answered, a trifle unsteadily. "At all events, there is
solid reason why I should have no grounds for fear." For I bethought
me that I had loyally kept faith with him.

Lord Derwentwater stood for a moment silent.

"Walk a step with me," he said, and holding my arm he continued, "I
would not meddle in your private concerns, Mr. Clavering, but I know
Jervas Rookley, and it will be a very ill day for you when you hear
his step across the threshold of Blackladies."

I felt a chill slip into my veins, for if he spoke truth and his
words fitted so aptly with my suspicions that I could not disbelieve
them--why, that day was long become irrevocable. However, I sought to
laugh the matter off.

"A very ill day indeed, for on that day I lose Blackladies to the
Crown."

"The danger will come from Jervas Rookley himself."

"Then it will be man to man."

We were now come within a few paces of the footmen, so that the flare
of their torches lighted up our faces fitfully. My companion stopped.

"I have known men, Lawrence," he said, "who went down to their graves
in the winter of their years--children--all the more lovable for that,
maybe," for an instant his grip tightened about my arm, "but none the
less children, and I have known others who were greybeards in their
teens."

He paused and looked at me doubtfully, as though he would say more.

"You will be wary of this man. He can have little friendliness for you
and it will be no common motive that can bring him back to these
parts. You will be wary of him, Lawrence?"

So much I readily promised, and again he stood shifting from one foot
to the other, balanced, uneasily, betwixt speech and silence. But all
he said was, again--

"You will be wary of him, Lawrence," and so with a grasp of the hand
moved off.

I watched him going, and as the torches dwindled to candle-flames and,
from candle-flames to sparks, a great desire grew in me to run after
him and disclose all that I knew of Jervas Rookley. The desire grew
almost to a passion. Had I spoken then, doubtless he would have spoken
then, and so, much would have been saved me. But I had given my word
to hold this estate in trust, and ignorance or the assumption of
ignorance was the condition of my keeping it. The torches vanished in
the darkness. I walked back to the inn and mounted my horse. As I rode
out of the courtyard, I saw, far away down the street and close to the
lake's edge, four stars, as it were, burning. There was still time. I
turned my horse; but I had given my word, and I spurred him to a
gallop up the Castle Hill and rode down Borrowdale to Blackladies.



                             CHAPTER VII.

                   A DISPUTE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.


But as I rode, this warning I had received swelled in importance; it
became magnified to a menace, and my desire to speak changed into an
overmastering regret that I had not spoken. I had kept my word loyally
to--well, to Ashlock, since so I still must term him, even in my
thoughts--nay, was still keeping it the while he played false with me.
That he trusted me to keep it I was assured by the memory of his words
and looks on that night when he had talked of my picture in the hall.
Why, then, should he play false? There was but one man who might be
able to enlighten me upon the point--Lord Derwentwater--and to that
one man my lips were closed, I was, moreover, disturbed too by the
knowledge that I had planned to travel to Grasmere on the following
day, and be absent there until the night, thus leaving Rookley a free
hand. It was late when I turned out of Borrowdale, but I noticed that
there was a light still burning in the steward's office. I rode into
the courtyard of the stables, and, leaving my horse there, walked to
the front of the house. One or two of the attic windows still showed
bright, and the ground floor was dimly lit. But somehow the house
smote on me as strangely desolate and dark.

Luke Blacket was waiting to let me in, and whether it was that my
strained fancies tricked me into discovering a mute hostility upon his
face, but it broke in upon me with a full significance that all the
servants, down to the lowest scullion, must be in the secret, and were
leagued against me. I saw myself entering a trap, and so piercing a
sense of loneliness invaded me, that I plumbed to the very bottom of
despondency. I stood in the doorway gazing across the valley. The
hills stood sentinel leaguering me about, the voices of innumerable
freshets sounded chilly in my ears, as though their laughter had
something of a heedless cruelty; my whole nature cried out for a
companion, and with so urgent a demand that I bethought me of the
light shining in the steward's office. It would be Aron without a
doubt, sitting late over the books. I went down the passage and opened
the door.

Aron rose hastily to his feet, and began some apology.

"Mr. Ashlock," he said, "requested me----" But I cut him short, weary
for one honest word of truth.

"That will do, Aron. I have no wish to disturb you;" and I threw
myself on to a couch which was ranged against the wall. "I am very
tired," said I, and lay with my eyes closed.

Aron's pen stopped scratching. He sat for a second without moving.
Then he came over to the couch, and, or ever I was aware of it, began
pulling off my boots.

I opened my eyes and started up. In his old, worn face there was a
look of friendliness which at that moment cheered me inexpressibly.

"Nay," said I, "you are too old a servant, Aron, to offer help of that
kind, and I too young a master to accept it. Let it be!"

He straightened his back, and the friendliness increased upon his
face. He glanced quickly about the room, and stepped softly to my
side.

"Master Lawrence," he began, in much the tone a nurse may use to a
child, and then, "sir, I mean, I beg your pardon." In a trice he was
the formal, precise servant again.

"Nay," said I, "I know not but what I like the first title the
better."

"It was a liberty," said he, with his face grown rigid.

"And the privilege of an old servant," I replied. "But that is just
the point. You are not my servant, except in name," and I turned my
head petulantly away.

The next moment his mouth was at my ear.

"Master Lawrence," he said, in a voice which was very low, "Master
Lawrence, were I you, I would not ride again to Keswick."

I started up. Aron flushed so that the bald top of his head grew red,
hopped back to his table, bit his pen, and set to writing at an
indescribable rate, as though he was sensible he had said too much.

I leaned upon my elbow and looked at him. So I had a friend in the
household, after all! I hugged the thought close to me. Had he any
precise knowledge which prompted the advice? I wondered. But I could
not ask him, and for this reason amongst others--I was too grateful
for this proof of his goodwill to provoke him to a further
indiscretion. But as I looked at him, I recalled something which I had
noticed whilst riding about the estate. I suppose it was his
scribbling at the papers put it into my head, but once it had come
there, I thought vaguely that it might be of relevance.

"Aron," I said, "this plumbago? It is a valuable product?"

He looked at me startled.

"Yes," said he.

"The mine is opened once in five years?"

"Yes."

"And on that side of the mountain which faces Borrowdale?"

"Yes."

And with each assent his uneasiness increased.

"But there's a ravine runs back by the flank of the mountain, and on
the mountain-side there I saw a small lateral shaft."

"It is closed now, and has been for long," he interrupted eagerly.

"But it was open once," I persisted. "The place is secret. Who opened
it?"

"It was opened during Sir John Rookley's life," he answered, evading
the question.

"No doubt; but by whom?"

He shuffled his feet beneath the table.

I repeated the question.

"By whom?"

"By Mr. Jervas," he answered reluctantly.

"With Sir John's knowledge and consent?"

Aron glanced at me with an almost piteous expression.

"Sir John knew of it"

"But before it was opened, or afterwards?"

The answer was slow in coming, but it came at last.

"Afterwards."

"Then I take it," I resumed, "that Mr. Jervas Rookley robbed his
father?"

I spoke in a loud tone, and Aron started from his seat, his eyes drawn
towards the door. I rose from the sofa and opened it; there was no one
in the passage, but I left the door open. When I turned back again I
saw that Aron was looking at me in some perplexity, as if he wondered
whether I _knew_.

"But his father forgave him," he said gently.

"Very true," said I, fixing my eyes steadily upon him; "and besides,
it is hardly fair to rake up the misdeeds of a man who is so very far
away."

I spoke the words very slowly one by one. Aron's mouth dropped; a
paper which he had been holding in his hand fluttered to the floor.
The perplexity in his eyes changed into a blank bewilderment, and from
bewilderment to fear.

"You know, sir?" he whispered, nodding his head once or twice in a way
that was grotesque. "Then you know?"

"I know this, Aron," I interrupted hastily. "I hold the estate of
Blackladies upon this condition: that I do not knowingly part with a
farthing of its revenue to Mr. Jervas Rookley. You know that? You know
that if I fail to fulfil that condition the estate goes to the Crown?"

Aron nodded.

"But this you do not know," I continued. "When Ashlock came to me in
Paris, and told me that Mr. Jervas was disinherited because he was a
Jacobite, I refused to supplant him, being a Jacobite myself. It was
my steward who persuaded me, and by this argument: that when King
James came to his throne, the will might easily be set aside. I
accepted Blackladies upon those terms--as a trust for Mr. Jervas. But
to keep that trust I must fulfil the conditions of the will. I must
not knowingly do aught for Mr. Rookley. The condition should be easy,
for I have never been presented to Mr. Jervas. I have not so much as
seen a portrait of him"--and at this Aron started a little; "he might
be living in my house as one of my servants. I might even suspect
which was he; but I should have no proof. I should not know."

Aron gazed at me with wondering eyes.

"You hold Blackladies in trust for Mr. Jervas?" he asked, and I
gathered from the tone of the question that my steward had thought fit
to keep that knowledge to himself.

"And hope to do so until it can be restored to him. But," I urged, "I
am in no great favour with the Whigs in these parts, and if they could
prove I knowingly supported Mr. Jervas, they would not, I fancy, miss
the occasion. My attorney, for instance, is a Whig and the attorney of
Whigs, and they tell me strangely enough that Mr. Jervas Rookley has
been seen in Keswick."

Aron, however, seemed to be thinking of something totally apart. He
said again, and with the same wonderment--

"You hold Blackladies in trust for Mr. Jervas?"

"That is so," said I, "but it need not keep us out of bed." And I
walked into the passage.

Aron lifted up the lamp and very politely led the way to my door.
There he stopped and came into the room with me.

"Sir," said he, setting down the lamp, "you will pardon me one more
question?"

"It is another privilege of the old servant," I answered with a yawn.

"You were poor when Mr. Ashlock came to you in Paris?"

"Penniless," said I, and I began kicking off my boots lazily.

"Then God knows," he cried, "I would you were Sir John Rookley's son;"
and with that he plumped down on his knees and drew off my boots. And
this time I suffered him to do it.

I had not done with him, however, even for that night. For an hour or
so later, when I was asleep in bed, some one shook me by the shoulder.
I looked with blinking eyes at the flame of a candle held an inch from
my nose. Behind the candle was Aron, with a coat buttoned up to his
chin as though he had thrown it over his nightgear.

"Aron," I said plaintively, "the question will keep till to-morrow."

"It is no question, sir, and to-morrow I shall be in Newlands," he
said gravely. "I know nothing--only, were I you, I would not ride
again to Keswick."

"Well, I shall not ride there to-morrow, at all events," I said,
"since to-morrow I leave for Grasmere."

But on the morrow I did ride thither after all. For I woke up the next
morning with one thought fixed in my mind, as though it had taken
definite shape there the while I lay asleep. I must discover Rookley's
business with Anthony Herbert. The matter was too urgent for delay. My
resolve to sit no more for my portrait, my journey to Grasmere I set
on one side; and while I was yet at breakfast I ordered a horse to be
saddled. The fellow hurried off upon the errand, and I seemed to
detect, not merely in his bearing but in the bearing of all who had
attended me that morning, a new deference and alertness in their
service; and I wondered whether Aron had shared with them his recent
knowledge of my purpose.

As I rode down the drive I chanced to look back to the house, and I
saw Aron on the steps, shaking his head dolefully, but I kept on my
way.

Mr. Herbert received me with the air of a man that seeks to master an
excitement. He worked fitfully, with fitful intervals of talk, and I
remarked a deep-seated fire in his eyes, and a tremulous wavering of
the lips. His manner kept me watchful, but never a hint did he drop of
any design between my steward and himself. On the contrary, his
conversation was all in praise of his wife, and the great store and
reliance he set on her. I listened to it for some while, deeming it
not altogether extravagant; but after a little I began again to fall
back upon my old question, "What end could my steward serve by playing
me false?" and again, "In what respect could Herbert help him?"

In the midst of these speculations, an incident occurred which struck
them clean out of my mind. I was attracted first of all by something
which Herbert was saying.

"It is out of the fashion," he said, with a sneer, "for a man to care
for his wife, and ludicrous to own to it. But it is one of the few
privileges of an artist, however poor he be, that he need take no
stock of fashions; and for my part, Mr. Clavering, I love my wife."

I replied carelessly enough that the profession was very creditable to
him, for in truth I had seen him behave towards her with so cruel an
inconsistency of temper that I was disinclined to rate his
protestations very high.

"And so greatly, Mr. Clavering," he went on--"so greatly do I love
her, that"--and here he threw down his pencils and took a step or two
until he reached the window--"that if aught happened amiss to her I do
not think I should live long after it, If she deceived me, I do not
think that I should care to live. I do not think I should even hold it
worth while to exact a retribution from the man who helped in the
deceit."

And I saw his wife in the open doorway. She must have caught every
word. I saw a flush as of anger overspread her face, and the flush
give place to pallor.

"Mr. Ashlock, my steward, was with you last night, Mr. Herbert. Was it
upon this subject that you talked?"

Herbert flung round upon his heel

"You take a tone I do not understand," he said, after a pause. "You
may have a right to pry into the conversations of your servants, Mr.
Clavering, but I am not one of them"--and of a sudden he caught sight
of his wife in the doorway. "You here?" he asked with a start.

"It is only fair," she answered, "that I should be present when you
discuss my frailties with your patrons. But it seems," and her voice
hardened audibly, "you do me the kindness to discuss them with your
patrons' servants too."

She stood before him superb in pride; every line of her body seemed to
demand an answer.

"It is because I love you," he answered feebly; and at that her
quietude gave way.

She flung up her arms above her head.

"Because you love me!" she cried "Was ever woman so insulted, and on
so mean a plea?" And she sank down at the table in a passion of tears.

Herbert stepped over to her, and laid a hand upon her shoulder.

She shook his hand off, and rising of a sudden, confronted me with a
blazing face.

"And you!" she cried bitterly--"you could listen to such talk--ay,
like your servant!" And she swept out of the room before either her
husband or myself could find a word to say.

Indeed, though I had not thought of the matter in that light before, I
considered her accusation of the justest, and the sound of her sobbing
remained in my ears, tingling me to pity of the woman and a sore
indignation against the husband. It was for myself I should have
felt that indignation I knew well, but I am relating what occurred,
and--well, maybe I paid for the offence heavily enough.

"Mr. Herbert," said I, rising, with as much calmness as I could
command, "I will not trouble you to continue the work."

"But the portrait!" he exclaimed, almost in alarm. "It is my best
work!" And he stood a little aloof gazing at it.

"The portrait!" I cried, in a fury at his insensibility--"the portrait
may go hang!"

"On the walls of Blackladies?" he asked, with a quick sneer.

"Oh," said I slowly, "you gossiped to some purpose with my steward, it
appears."

He stood confused and silent I went into the room where it was my
habit to change my dress, and left him. But when I came out I found
him standing in the passage with a lighted candle in his hand, though
it was broad noonday. Doubtless I looked my surprise at him.

"An ill-lighted staircase, Mr. Clavering, is the devil," he remarked;
and with a sardonic deference he preceded me to the street.

"It will rain, I think," he said, looking op at the sky.

"The air is very heavy," said I.

He stretched out the candlestick to the full length of his arm, and
the flame barely wavered.

"Yes, no doubt it will rain," he repeated.

I noticed that one or two people who were passing up the street
stopped, as well they might, and stared at us. I bent forward and blew
out the candle.

"You will pardon me," I said.

"It has served its purpose," said he, and he kicked the door to behind
me.

I mounted, and walked my horse slowly homewards. About two miles from
the town I dismounted, and tethering my horse to a tree, paced about
the lake shores, resolved to unpick his sentences word by word until I
had disentangled from amongst them some reference which would give me
an inkling into the steward's designs. He had told Herbert of that
talk we had had together in the hall concerning the hanging of the
picture. Of so much I was assured, and so much I still found myself
abstractedly repeating an hour later. For alas! in spite of my
resolve, my thoughts had flown along a very different path. I had a
vision of the woman, and her alternations from pride to tears, ever
fixed before my eyes. It was myself who had caused them. One moment I
accused myself for not undertaking her defence, the next for that I
had ever entered her lodging; and whatever outcry I made sprang from
the single conviction that I was responsible to her for the distress
which she had shown. Just for that moment there seemed but two people
upon God's earth--myself and a woman wronged by me.

"Mr. Clavering."

The name was uttered behind me with an involuntary cry, and I knew the
voice. I turned me about, and there was Mrs. Herbert standing in a gap
of the trees.

She was dressed as I had seen her an hour ago, with the addition of a
hood thrown loosely over her head.

"What can I do?" I cried. "I can think of nothing. It is my fault, all
this. God knows I am sensible of the remorse; I feel it at the very
core of my heart; but that does not help me to the remedy. What can I
do?"

"It is not your fault," she replied gently. "This would have happened
sooner or later. Jealousy is never at a loss to invent an opportunity.
No, it is not your fault."

"But it is," I cried. "You know it; you know that the excuse you make
for me is no more than a kindly sophistry. It is my fault. What can I
do?"

She gave me no answer; indeed, it almost seemed as though there was
something of impatience in her attitude.

I moved a few steps away and sat down upon a boulder by the water's
edge, with my head between my hands.

"There is but one thing that I can do," I said, and I heard her move a
step or two nearer. "But it is so small, so poor a thing;" and at that
I think she stopped. "I shall not go back again to Mr. Herbert's
lodging."

"Neither shall I."

The words dulled and stupefied me like a blow. I sat staring out
across the lake, and I noticed a ripple that broke and broke in a tiny
wave, ever at the same spot, some thirty yards from the shore. I fell
to counting the waves, I remember, and lost my reckoning and began
afresh; and in a while I commenced to laugh, though it did not sound
like laughter.

"Neither shall I," she repeated, and struck the laugh dead. I started
from my seat. She stood patiently before me with folded hands, and to
argue against that patience seemed the merest waste of words. Before,
however, I could make the effort, her spirit changed. Passion leapt
out of her like a flame. "I hate him," she cried, beating her hands
one upon the other. "Oh, to be made a common talk for his
acquaintances! The humiliation of it! Servants too, he will debate of
me with them, for them to mock at."

"No!" I answered vehemently. "You do not know that. It was I that
spoke of my steward and I knew nothing. I did but guess idly,
heedlessly. It was not he, it was I who spoke of Ashlock." But there
was no sign of assent in her demeanour. "It was I spoke of him," I
repeated, "and before you. Ah, God, it is my doing this, from the
beginning to the end!"

"Think!" she went on, taking no more notice of my interruption. "They
are making merry over me in your servants' hall. Think, Lancelot!"

She tried to check the name, but it was carried beyond her lips on the
stream of her passion. A great silence fell upon us both; I saw the
colour come and go fitfully upon her face, and her bosom rise and fall
with her fitful breath. Then she covered her face with her hands and
sank down upon the boulder.

Yes, I thought, it was my fault. They had quarrelled before, but never
for such a reason; and that reason I had provided. I had gone there of
my own free will to serve my own objects. But, somehow, as I looked at
her seated by my side, the thought of the slatternly room she had been
compelled to live in shot into my mind. I remembered how unfitted to
her I had thought it on my first going thither. Of a sudden, while I
was thus watching her, she lifted her eyes to mine. What babbling
incoherencies I spoke, I do not know; I do not think she caught more
than their drift. If they are known at all, it is because they stand
ranged against my name in the Judgment Book. I became like one drunk,
his senses reeling, his words the froth of his vilest passions. I
think that I cried.

"Be it so, then! Since the harm is done, let the name be Lancelot;"
but I know that she rode before me on my horse to the gates of
Blackladies, that we dismounted there and walked up to the house; and
that I found the hall-door open, and the house to all seeming
deserted.

Now, this day was the 23rd of August.



                            CHAPTER VIII.

                 THE AFTERNOON OF THE 23RD OF AUGUST.


I led her into the little parlour which gives on to the terraces at
the south end of the house. The wall upon one side was broken by a
great open fireplace faced with bricks, and all too big for the room,
into which a man could walk and wherein he could sit too, were he so
disposed, upon a chilly night, and smoke his pipe with a crony over
against him; for there were cushioned seats on either side of the
hearth and a curtain hung to keep your head from the bricks.

The room seemed very silent as we entered it, and the silence
deepened. She crossed over to this fireplace and stood with a foot
raised towards the hearth, though there was no fire to warm it by. I
tossed my hat and whip on to the table with more noise than was
necessary and made a step as if to join her. She drew back
instinctively. I stopped as though the step had been a liberty; and
neither of us had a word to say. Once she untied the ribands of her
hood, for she must be doing something; but the moment she was aware of
what it was she did, she tied them again with hasty uncertain fingers,
and then reddened and paled, of a sudden becoming, it seemed to me,
sensible of the hastiness of her action. I sent my eyes wandering to
every corner of the room, so that they should not rest upon her face;
but none the less, after a little our glances crossed, and with one
movement we averted our heads. After that one of us had to speak.

"You will be hungry," I said lamely. "You have eaten nothing since the
morning;" and I walked to a little sideboard on which a bell was
standing.

"No, no!" she cried, but I had struck the bell or ever the words were
past her lips. "Oh, what have you done?" she said with a shiver; "one
of your servants will come;" and then she checked herself and added,
with her fingers plucking at her gown in a pitiful helpless way,
"Well, what does it matter? They had the story before it happened.
This will but confirm and seal it."

I went out into the hall to stop whosoever should be answering the
summons. But no one came to answer it I crossed the hall and opened
the door which led to the kitchens. As a rule, the noise of women's
voices was incessant in that quarter of the house, but to-day not a
sound, not so much as the clatter of a dish-cover! I went back to the
hall and listened. The house was as still as on that night when I
crept down the stairs and discovered the marks of a picture-frame upon
the wall.

Was the house empty? I wondered, and shouted to solve the doubt. My
voice went echoing and diminishing along corridor and gallery, but
that was all. I moved down the passage to the office, half thinking
that I might find Aron there, but remembered that he would be away,
and so returned reluctantly. Thereupon I mounted the stairs and walked
from room to room, and maybe lingered over-long in each. I was not,
indeed, concerned with their silence and vacancy so much as with the
knowledge that each step brought me actually a step nearer to the
parlour-door. But I came to the end of my search, and there was
nothing for it but to descend again. The hall-door, however, stood
open, and I saw my horse at the bottom of the steps tethered by the
rein to a knob of the stone balustrade. I walked down the steps,
loosed it, and led it round to the stables. There was a boy or two in
the stable-yard, and I remember putting to them a number of aimless
questions which I was at great pains to think of, but did not listen
to the answers; until their fidgeting made me sensible of the
cowardice of my delay and drove me back to the house. Then I
remembered why I had left the parlour, and going to the pantry, I got
together some food upon a tray and brought it with a decanter of
Burgundy into the parlour. Mrs. Herbert was standing where I had last
seen her. I set out the table saying, "My servants seem all to have
taken holiday;" and more for something to do, you may be sure, than
from any sense of hunger, she sat herself at the table and began to
play with the food. I had brought but one plate and set a chair for
but one person; and neither of us noticed that. The truth is, there
was a shadow in the room; the shadow cast by sin, and we watched it as
children in a fitful firelight will watch a strange shadow on the
wall--neither drawing near to it nor fleeing from it, but crouched
watching it. Once she said, "I have brought nothing with me;" and
after a little, some thought seemed to strike her. For she lifted her
head suddenly and said:

"There is no one in the house but you and I?"

"No one," I said.

"That is strange," she said absently.

Strange! The word was an arrow of light piercing through the mist of
my senses. Strange! It was indeed strange! Aron had warned me not to
ride to Keswick; that was strange too. For the first time I set this
desertion of my servants together in my mind with my suspicions of
Ashlock's treachery. I started to my feet, invaded by a sudden fear;
but I saw Mrs. Herbert at the table running her fingers along the hem
of my fine tablecloth and her throat working as though she was
swallowing her tears. I knew by some instinct of what she was
thinking. She was thinking of her poor furniture in her lodging at
Keswick. It was hers, you see, won by her husband's toil, and maybe
she had a passing thought, too, of Sir Godfrey Kneller's estate at
Witton--earned, too, by a painter's art. And such a pity for her, such
a loathing of myself, flooded my mind as drove out all thought of Mr.
Ashlock's machinations. I recalled how I had deemed that slatternly
apartment unfit for her. It needed that we two should be here with the
shadow about us, for me to realize how contemptible was the thought.

Again she said:

"No one is in the house except yourself and me," and in the same
thoughtful tone. Then she rose from her chair with the air of one that
has come upon an outlet when all outlets seemed barred. "It was kind
of you," she said, "to show me your house, I would gladly have seen
the gardens too, but the day is clouding, and it will rain, I think,
ere long."

She dropped me a formal curtsey as she spoke. I did not want the
urgent appeal of her eyes to take her meaning. My heart rose to it
with a spring.

"I will have a carriage made ready for you," I replied; and I turned
me to the window. "Yes, I am afraid that it will rain."

"Thank you!" she said.

And I, like the blundering fool I was, must needs, in my great joy,
add:

"It is no long journey into Keswick, after all"

"Keswick!" says she with a start, and drops her eyes. "I had not
thought of that. I had not thought where I should go to."

I stood before her dumb. I knew--yes, I knew that the only place for
her was that little apartment in Keswick. Grant her but the sight of
it, and the sight of her husband in it--for he loved her--and, well,
it needed no magician to forecast the result. But there was one person
in the world who could not use that argument--myself. However, she
helped me out.

"I cannot go back," she said, "without he knows. It would not be just
No! it is not possible;" and at that the tears came at last. The sound
of her weeping pierced me like a sword.

"He shall know, then," I cried. "He shall know. I myself will ride to
Keswick and tell him."

"You will?" she asked, suddenly lifting her head.

"Maybe, too, I may find means to bring him back."

"If that might be!" she whispered in a fervour of hope, her whole face
lightening and a timorous smile dawning through her tears. "But no!"
and the hope died out of her face. "Payment will have to be made for
this. You'll see, payment will be made."

She spoke in a low tone of such perfect certainty, that it seemed to
me it was not so much the woman who spoke, but that Providence chose
her voice that moment for its mouthpiece.

"Heaven send the payment fall to me," I said.

She glanced at me quickly.

"Oh," she said, in a complete change of voice, "what will you tell
him?"

"Why, the truth," I answered. "That I found you by the lake, and
brought you here."

"No!" she exclaimed, "I will not have you say that. It must be the
truth--that I came to you."

She drew a note from her pocket as she spoke, and tossed it on to the
table. I picked it up, wondering what she meant. It was a line
scribbled in a hand which was familiar to me, and there was a word
curiously misspelled--"wateing" for "waiting." Somewhere I had seen
that word misspelled precisely in that way before, and surely in this
handwriting too. Then the truth flashed upon me. It was in the inn at
Commercy, and the handwriting was Jervas Rookley's. The line was this:

"I shall be wateing for you by the lake, on the road to Blackladies."

But Jervas Rookley knew that I was journeying to Grasmere, that I was
not returning to Blackladies until night The letter was a snare, then,
to draw Mrs. Herbert from the house.

If so, all the more need for haste.

I opened the door and stepped into the hall. But the hall was no
longer empty. The hall-door was still open; I had left it open, and a
man stood in the centre of the hall. It was Anthony Herbert. His back
was towards me, and from his manner I gathered that he was considering
which of the passages giving upon the hall he should choose. It was
for no more than a second that he stood thus, but that second gave me
time enough to do the stupidest thing that ever a man out of his wits
conceived; and yet in a way it was natural. For I slammed the door to
behind my back, and stood barring it, with my hand upon the knob. Mr.
Herbert twisted round upon his heel.

"Caught!" he cried, spitting the word at me.

I realized the folly of my action, and let go of the handle.

"I was this instant setting out to find you."

The words sounded false to me, though I knew them to be true, and my
voice took a trembling indecision from the foreknowledge that he would
disbelieve them.

"No doubt," said he. "Otherwise you would not be guarding the door."

He spoke with a great effort to be calm, but his eyes were aflame, his
limbs quivered with his wrath, and now and again his voice lost its
steadiness and ran up and down in a fitful scale.

"I thought to find you in the garden," he continued.

"In the garden?" I asked.

"But doubtless you point me out the way;" and he took a step towards
me. With the movement his cloak slipped from his left shoulder, and I
noticed that he was carrying a sword and a pistol in his belt. My hand
went back to the handle.

"The few words I have to say to you," said I, "had better be spoken
here."

"But it would be best of all," he returned, "to defer them altogether.
I have some business with you, it is true, but that business comes
second, and I think we shall need no words for its discussion." He
took yet another step.

"Your business with me, Mr. Herbert, may come when it will," said I,
"but these words cannot be deferred. They are few."

"However few, they are still too many," he broke in. "Out of my way!"

"You must hear them before you pass this door." I gripped the handle
tighter.

"I'll not listen to you," he cried. "You overrate my credulity, Mr.
Clavering. Out of the way!"

"I will not. This is my house."

"But it shelters my wife."

"It was she sent me to fetch you."

I gathered all my strength into the utterance of the words, that I
might enforce their truth upon him. But they only served to whet his
fury and confirm him in disbelief.

"That's a lie," he shouted, and in a flash his sword was out of the
scabbard and the point of it pricking my breast. "If she sent you to
fetch me, why do you guard the door? Stand aside!"

But since I had made that mistake, I must go through with it.

"I will not," I answered doggedly, and I set a hand upon each side of
the doorway. "There is more to tell. I will not."

"Will not," says he grimly, "gives the wall to must," and he leaned a
little very gently on the sword.

I did not move, but behind me the handle of the door rattled. I tried
to seize it, but the door was pulled open from within; I staggered
back into the room. Herbert sprang through the opening after me, and
stood, drawing in his breath, his eyes fixed upon his wife. She
recoiled towards the hearth.

"It is the bare truth I told you," I exclaimed passionately. "Oh,
believe that! When I caught sight of you, I had taken the first step
in pursuit of you; and it was Mrs. Herbert who set me on the task. Oh,
believe that too! It was no doing of mine; it was she sent me. For
myself, I gave little thought to you, I own it. It was she declared
she could not return without you knew. I but obeyed her."

For a moment it seemed to me that his anger lulled. I watched his
eyes. They were fixed upon his wife, and I saw the conviction in them
fade to doubt, the doubt waver and melt into--was it forgiveness? I do
not know, for Mrs. Herbert shifted her position; his eyes wandered
from her face and fell upon the table. The note which she had shown me
was lying open beneath his gaze. He stooped his head towards it. I
made a movement to hinder him. He remarked the movement, and on the
instant snatched the paper up.

"You persuade me to read it," said he, which accordingly he did. As he
read, an idea occurred to me. For let him believe I wrote that note,
and he would be the more likely to attribute the blame where it was
due and exhaust his anger in the same quarter. So that when he asked,
rapping the note with his knuckles--

"This is your hand?" I kept silence.

He repeated the question, and I positively relished the growing menace
of his voice, and still kept silence. But he gave me credit for more
subtlety than I possessed.

"Oh, I understand," he burst out "You were going to fetch me, no
doubt. This letter bears you out so well. And my wife sent you to
fetch me--a cunning afterthought when the first excuse had missed its
mark. A very likely story, to be sure, but enough to hoodwink a
dull-witted fool of a husband, eh? Reconcile husband and wife, and Mr.
Lawrence Clavering may laugh in his sleeve--damn him!"

"It is the truth," I exclaimed in despair. "Believe it! Believe it!"

"The truth," he retorted with bitterest sneer, "the truth, and you are
speaking it God, I believe truth itself would become a lie if you had
the uttering of it! Believe you! Why, every trickster keeps his
excuses ready on his tongue against the time he's caught. I would not
believe you kneeling before the judgment-seat."

He poured his abuse upon me with an indescribable fury and in a voice
gusty with passion.

"But you shall answer for it," he continued.

"When you will," I answered quietly.

He was still carrying his sword in his hand, and he suddenly thrust it
out at arm's length before him, and turned it to and fro with his
wrist, so that the light flashed on it and streaked up the blade to
the hilt.

"Then I will now," he replied "now--now!" and at each word he flashed
the sword, and with each word his voice rose exultingly. "In your
garden, now!"

He moved towards the window. His wife stepped forward with a cry, and
laid a hand upon his arm. He stopped and looked at her, with eyes that
told her nothing. It must have been a full minute, I should think,
that he stood thus. He had as yet spoken no word to her, and he spoke
no word now. I saw her head decline, her whole frame relapse and
droop, and she slipped on to her knees. Herbert shook her hand from
his arm, kicked open the window, and crossed the terrace. I went into
the hall to fetch my sword. As I crossed the threshold of the room, I
heard the iron gates clang at the top of the terrace steps as though
he had flung them to behind him. While I picked up my sword I heard
the sound repeated but more faintly from the second terrace. And as I
entered the room again and drew the sword from its scabbard I heard it
yet a third time. Through the open window I could see him descending
the steps of the third terrace. But between myself and the window, the
wife was kneeling on the floor. Said she:

"You will not harm him;" and she clasped her hands in her entreaty.
"Say you will not! The payment must not fall to him."

I almost laughed, so strange and needless did the entreaty sound.

"Madam," I said, "this is the pommel of the sword and this the point.
One holds the sword too by the pommel, I believe. In fact, I know so
much, but there my knowledge ends."

She spoke a little more, but I gave scant heed to what she said. For a
sentence which she had spoken somewhile since, drummed in my ears to
the exclusion of her present speech, and the import of it shone in my
mind like a clear light. "Payment will have to be made for this," she
had said.

Over her shoulder I saw Mr. Herbert move further and further from the
house. It was about six o'clock of the afternoon and very windless and
still. A great strip of cloud, hung from Green Comb to High Knott,
gloomed across the garden, thick as wool and bulging like a sail, so
that even the scarlet flowers of the parterre took from it a tint of
grey. And underneath this cloud, from end to end, from side to side,
the garden seemed to me to be waiting--waiting consciously in a
sinister quietude for this payment to be made. The fantastic figures
into which the box-trees were shaped, bears, leopards, and I know not
what strange mammoths, appeared patient and alert in the fixity of a
sure expectation, while the oaks and larches in the Wilderness beyond
seemed purposely to restrain the flutter of their leaves. I felt the
garden beckon me by its immobility and call me by its silence.

Mr. Herbert had stripped his cloak from his shoulders, and dropped it
upon the third flight of steps; so that he now moved, a brown figure,
here showing plain against the grotto, or the grass, there confounded
with the flowers. He held his sword in his hand--at that distance, and
in that dull light it looked no more dangerous than a strip of lead,
and ever and again he would cut at a bush as he passed.

"No harm can come to him," I said, seeking to disengage myself, for
the wife still clung to me in her misplaced fear. "I could not harm
him if I would. For they do not teach one swordsmanship at the Jesuit
Colleges."

The words rose to my lips by chance and by chance were spoken. But I
know that the moment after I heard them, I staggered forward with a
groan, and stood leaning my forehead against the framework of the
window. Mrs. Herbert rose to her feet.

I was looking down the terraces across the parterres to the brown
figure moving away, but I did not see that. It was as though a black
curtain had swung down between the garden and myself. What I saw was a
very different scene--a little twilight room far away in Paris and a
stern face that warned me. I heard a voice telling me of a supreme
hour wherein God would put me to His touchstone, an hour for which I
must stand sentinel. Well, the hour had passed me and I had not
challenged it; and I might have foreseen its coming had I watched. I
lifted my head; the garden again floated into view. Anthony Herbert
was marching through the long grass of the Wilderness, with never a
look backwards. In a moment he reached the fringe of trees. The trees
were sparse at the border, and I knew that he would not stop there,
but would rather advance until he arrived at some little dingle
closely wooded about from view of the house. In and out amongst the
boles of the trees I saw him wind. Then for a second he disappeared
and came to sight again upon a little patch of unshadowed grass. I
remember that the sun gleamed of a sudden through an interstice of the
cloud as he stepped into the open. The patch of grass shone like an
emerald and the dull strip of lead in his hand turned gold; and a
larch upon the far rim where the trees grew dense, taking some stray
breath of wind, rippled and shook the sunlight from its leaves. In
some unaccountable way my spirits rose at the sight. I still was
sensible of that saying, "Payment must be made for this," but it took
a colour from the sunlight. It became rather, "Payment can be made for
this."

I slipped out of the window. Mrs. Herbert started forward to detain
me.

"A duel," she exclaimed, in a tone as though the idea became yet more
inconceivable to her. "Oh no! Not a duel."

"No, not a duel," I replied across my shoulder, "only the pretence of
one;" and while my head was thus turned a pistol-shot rang from the
Wilderness.

It sounded like the crack of a whip, and I might have counted it no
more than that but I saw a wisp of blue smoke float upwards above a
shrubbery and hang curling this way and that in the sunlight.

"God save us," I cried, "but he carried a pistol!" and I made as
though I would run across the terrace towards him. But or ever I could
move, I felt a hand tighten and tighten upon my arm. I tried to shake
it off.

"You do not understand," I exclaimed. "He carried a pistol. It was a
pistol that we heard. Maybe he was looking to the priming. Maybe he is
wounded I must go to him;" and I seized Mrs. Herbert's hand at the
wrist and sought to drag it away from my sleeve. I felt her fingers
only grip more closely. I dropped her wrist and began to unclasp them,
one by one.

"It is you who do not understand," she said, "and he is not wounded."

She spoke in a dry, passionless voice, which daunted me more than the
words she uttered. I turned and looked at her in perplexity. Her face
was like paper, even her lips were white--and her eyes shone from it
sunken and black; I was reminded of them afterwards by the sight of a
black tarn set in a moor of snow, which I was destined to look upon
one sad November afternoon in this same year. They seemed to have
grown bigger, the better to express the horror which she felt.

"He is not wounded. Be sure--be very sure of that!" she continued,
nodding her head at me in a queer, matter-of-fact way, which, joined
with the contrast of her face, had something, to my thinking, awsomely
grotesque.

"What do you mean?" I gasped, and in a momentary weakness staggered
back against the framework of the window. I felt her clasp strengthen
upon my arm, drawing me within the parlour.

"He carried a pistol--yes, but why should he look to the priming since
you were to fight with swords?" she whispered, shaking my arm with a
little impatient movement. "Did you not see? His walk grew slow, his
head drooped--drooped. He was tired, you see, so tired;" and she
uttered a low, mirthless laugh while her eyes burned into me. It was a
sound which, I thank God, I have never heard but the once. It was as
though a preternatural horror claimed a preternatural expression. "It
was not worth while," she resumed.

"Ah, no," I cried, as her meaning broke in upon me. "I'll not believe
that. I'll not believe it;" and once or twice I thrust out with my
hands as if that way I could keep belief aloof.

"But you do," she returned, and the whisper of her voice took on a
certain eagerness. It seemed that she must have a partner in her
thought. "You do believe it. Look, am I pale? Then I am your mirror.
Do I tremble? It is an ague caught from you. You do believe it. We
know, you and I--guilt binds us in knowledge. We heard this morning.
He told us, he warned us. If his wife proved false, he would not count
it worth his while to punish the betrayer. But he has--he has punished
us, so perfectly that he himself would pity us, were he alive to do
it. Would God we both were dead!" And again she laughed, and letting
drop my arm she moved away into the room.

I had no doubt her words were true, and from the bottom of my heart I
echoed her vain prayer. I remembered the conviction with which he had
spoken--all the more assured for the very quietude of his voice. Yes,
those trees, motionless under a leaden sky, in a leaden silence, were
the watchers about his bed. I braced myself to descend, but as my
first step crunched the gravel of the terrace, Mrs. Herbert was again
as my side.

"No," she cried. "Not yet, not without me, and I dare not go."

"Nay, madam," I replied, "do you stay here. There is no need for you
to come."

"But there is--there is," she insisted, looking at me wildly, like one
distraught "Step by step we must go together. And so it will be
always. You will see, you and I are fettered each to each by sin, and
there's no breaking the locks." She shook her hands piteously.

"Nay," I said, "I will go alone."

"I dare not be left alone," she replied. "For what if he passed you
while you searched for him!" and she gave a shuddering cry and
recoiled into the room. "What if he came striding from the thicket
across the grass to where I waited here! No! No! Wait, wait until it's
dark. I will go down with you. But now, in the daylight! His eyes will
be open; I dare not."

She stood with her hands clasped before her, toppling towards madness.
I dared not leave her. There was no choice for me; between the dead
man and the living woman there was no choice. I returned to the room.

"You will wait?" she asked.

"Until it is dark."

She moved into the alcove of the fireplace and crouched down upon the
seat, with her back against the wall nearest to the garden. I remained
by the window, looking down the garden with the valley on my right. I
saw the strip of cloud unfold across the valley and lower upon the
hilltops like a solid roof, The hillsides darkened, the bed of the
valley grew black--it seemed to me with the shadow of the wings of
death. Here a tree shivered; from another there, the birds of a sudden
chattered noisily. I turned and gazed across to Eagle Crag. The dale
of Langstrath sloped upwards, facing me between the mountains; and as
I gazed I saw the rain drive down from the Stake Pass to the mouth in
a great slanting column. It deployed along the hillsides;--the
mountains became unsubstantial behind it--it swept across the valley,
lashing the house, bending the trees in the garden.

"And his eyes will be open," said Mrs. Herbert behind my shoulder.

I started round. Her white face was like a wax mask in the gloom of
the chamber. But as I turned she moved back again to the fireplace.
"It is cold," she said with a shiver. I set fire to the wood upon the
hearth, and as the logs crackled and blazed, she bent forward and
spread out her hands to the flame.

I dropped into the seat opposite to her, and so we sat for a long
while in silence. Once, it seemed to me, that I heard the hoofs of a
horse upon the gravel of the drive--galloping up to the house, and in
a little galloping away from it. But what with the beating of the rain
and the turmoil of the wind I could not make sure--nor, indeed, did I
feel any concern to know. Once Mrs. Herbert raised her head to me and
said, as if answering some objection which I had urged:

"It _was_ because he loved me that he told the steward. That was his
way. God made him so;" and her voice as she spoke was very soft. Her
face, too, softened, as I could see from the glow of the fire, and I
knew that her husband in his death was drawing her more surely towards
him than he had ever done in life.

"He was very good to me," she said to herself. "It was I that plagued
him. He was very good to me, and I--I love him."

It was as though she had forgotten he was dead, and more than one
remark of the kind she made while the room darkened behind as and the
night fell upon the world without, and the raindrops hissed down the
chimney into the fire. I dared not rouse her, though the forgetfulness
struck me as horrible, but once, I know, I shifted restively upon my
seat, and she looked at me suddenly as though she had forgotten that I
was there, as though, indeed, she did not know me. But in a little,
recognition gleamed in her eyes, and they hardened slowly to hatred.
However, she said nothing, but turned her face again to the fire, and
so stared into it with eyes like pebbles.

After a while the wind lulled, the rain-drops hissed less often down
the chimney and finally ceased altogether. A line of moonlight shot
into the room and lay upon the carpet like a silver rod. The room
became mistily luminous and then pitilessly bright. Meanwhile no one
seemed as yet to be astir within the house.

I rose unsteadily from my seat; she followed my example,

"Yes, let us go," she said, and we went out on to the terrace.



                             CHAPTER IX.

                THE NIGHT OF THE 23RD: IN THE GARDEN.


As we descended the terrace-steps, the horror of this task on which we
were set broke in upon me in its full significance. Above our heads,
it is true, the moon sailed through a clear sky; upon the trees in the
Wilderness the rain-drops glistened with a sprightly brilliancy like
the silver lamps of fairies; but beneath us, on the floor of the
garden, a white mist smoked and writhed, and somewhere--somewhere
under that mist lay the dead body slain by me.

We met the mist at the line where the parterre borders on the
Wilderness, and walked through it knee-deep until the trees grew
dense. At that point, however, we separated and moved forwards
thenceforth with an interval between us that we might the sooner end
our search, and so doing we quickly lost sight of one another. I made
directly so far as I could guess for the bushes above which I had seen
the smoke of the pistol float, but, being come near to the spot, what
with the delusive light and the many shrubs crowding thereabouts, I
could by no means determine which was the particular one I sought.

Moreover, since I walked, as I say, knee-deep in mist, it was a very
easy and possible thing for me to pass within an inch of the body and
be never a jot the wiser unless my foot chanced to knock on it. I
walked, therefore, very slowly and in a great agony and desolation of
remorse. It seemed to me that his wraith was a presence in the garden,
and the garden its most fitting habitation. For now that I had left
the open, and was circled about with the boskage, I moved through a
world shadowy and fantastic. The shadows of the branches laced the
floor of mist in a grotesque pattern, and amongst them my shadow moved
and moved alone, swelling and dwindling as I turned this way and that
in the moonlight; and now and again invisible beneath the mist a
creeping plant would twine of a sudden about my ankle, and I would
stop with a cry half-checked upon my lips, fancying for a moment that
it was the dead man's fingers clutching me.

Moreover, as I brushed against the boughs, the raindrops would patter
from the leaves with the most melancholy sound that ever a man heard.
To me I know they sounded like the pattering feet of little children.
I remember that when the thought first struck me I groaned aloud in
the anguish of my spirit. The pattering of little children's feet, and
here was the young husband dead through me as surely as though my hand
had pulled the trigger and the young wife as surely widowed! And when
I rose and continued my search, that sound pursued me. It was as
though the children ran after me, with many steps to my one stride. I
was like the Dutch piper they tell of in story-books, who led the
little children in a long train from Hamlin town; only those children
laughed and sang and played as they went, merriment in their voices,
rosy expectation in their looks; but those who followed me that night,
followed in the saddest silence. The only noise they made was the
pattering of their feet, unborn children mutely accusing me for that
they would never see the day. Indeed, I drank my fill of punishment
that night.

How long it was that I wandered thus I do not know, but all at once a
cry rang out through the quiet. It came from some distance upon my
right and was the cry of a woman. I hurried in that direction as
quickly as the long wet grass allowed, and in a little I came to an
open space. Mrs. Herbert was kneeling in the centre with her arms in
front of her, buried in the mist. I ran towards her, but she did not
perceive me until I was within a few yards of her.

"No!" she cried suddenly, and she lifted up her arms and held them
towards me to keep me off. "Not you! Not you!" and with that she
dipped her arms again into the mist and began to croon over to herself
a little tender lullaby such as mothers will sing about a cradle. I
noticed that she moved her hands, and I fancied that I understood the
significance of the movements. For now they seemed to caress a face,
now to repose upon a breast.

"Madam," I said gently, "I know that my help must be the most
unwelcome thing to you in all the world. Yet I must offer it and you
must accept it. There is no other way;" and I bent down towards the
ground.

"No," she cried, and with all her strength she thrust my arms aside,
repulsing me. The moonlight shone in her eyes, and they glared at me
wild with hatred.

"No!"--she leaned forwards over the spot protecting it--"your touch
would stain;" and with a sudden movement she caught hold of a hand, of
mine, and peered at it as though she thought to see blood there. "No,
you must not----"

"But I must," I interrupted her, for her wits seemed all distraught,
and I could endure this evidence of her suffering no longer. "I must,"
I repeated, and in my turn I dipped my hands into the curling mist.
She gave a shrill scream, as though I had laid violent hands on her,
sprang to her feet, and made in a stumbling run beneath the trees
towards the house. I kneeled down where she had kneeled and plunged my
hands in the mist as she had done.

What they touched was a fallen tree-trunk.

I started to my feet and ran back to the house. There was no one in
the parlour. I hurried into the hall. There was no one there. I ran
down the road. At the gates I saw ahead of me in the darkness the
flutter of a dress. I raced after it; I heard a cry, which the sound
of my running provoked, and Mrs. Herbert began to run from me.

I called to her, but she only quickened her pace, and accordingly I
relaxed mine. In a little her run became a walk, and so keeping behind
her I followed her to the outskirts of Keswick and then returned to
Blackladies.

The house, however, was now lighted up, and the door closed. I
knocked, and one of the servants opened it to me. I did not speak to
him, but ran through the hall to the garden and resumed the search, I
continued it until the sky in the east grew white, and after that when
the sun had risen and the birds were singing. The mist cleared from
the ground, and at last in the clear daylight I came again to the
shrubs whither I had marched at the outset, and I saw something which
made the hope spring again in my breast The grass for some yards was
trampled and crushed as though from a struggle. I picked up a shred of
lace; it might have been torn in a struggle from a ruffle or cravat. I
dropped upon my knees and searched in the grass; in a little I came
upon a pistol--it was the pistol which I had noticed in Mr. Herbert's
lodging, and, moreover, it was discharged. It was he, then, who had
fired, but--but it was plain he had not fired it at himself. In a
feverish haste I crawled on my knees within this trampled circle. If
he had been attacked, who attacked him? I needed a clue to answer me
that question, and I found the clue. After a long while, it is true,
but nevertheless I found it. It was no more than a metal button, but I
had seen the like upon the uniforms of King George's officers.

I held it in my hands, turning it over and over. For, to my thinking,
the mines of Golconda held no jewel half so precious. It was a sign to
me that Anthony Herbert was not dead. The one pistol which had been
discharged was his own. He had been captured, and capture seemed to me
so small a thing in the revulsion of my feelings. Of the reason for
his capture I did not conjecture at all; I stood with an intense
feeling of gratefulness softening at my heart and dimming my eyes.
Then I remembered that there was one whose right to share my knowledge
and my gratitude I had already too long deferred. I started with all
speed for the house; the garden laughed in the sunshine as I ran, and
the flowers took on a richer beauty and sprinkled the air with a
sweeter perfume.

But as I neared the open space, I saw through an opening of the trees
Aron run from the parlour and down the steps in a great haste. I
shouted to him, and he lifted his head and seemed to look for the spot
whence the shout came. But he did not in any measure slacken his pace.
I shouted again, and he caught sight of me and waved his hands. I ran
on, and again he waved his hands, but with a more violent gesture. I
met him half-way across the open space of meadow.

"Quick, sir," said he, panting in a great disorder, "back--back to the
trees;" and he caught me by the flap of the coat.

I tugged the coat away.

"For God's sake, Master Lawrence, stop!"

But I was already running past him; the which he saw, and putting out
a foot tripped me up without ceremony. I sprawled full length on the
grass.

"How dare you?" I spluttered out in a rage.

"I would do as much again, sir, and more, were there the same need.
Quick, sir, to the trees;" and he stooped to help me to my feet. Then,
"It's too late," he whispered, and pressing me down by the shoulder
dropped at my side.

"Look, Master Lawrence. Look!" and he nodded towards the house.

I saw the flash of a red-coat in the little parlour, then another and
another. The room filled with soldiers.

"Keep your head low, sir! God send they do not look this way. If only
we had reached the trees!" And he stretched himself flat in the grass
and began to wriggle and crawl towards the shelter.

"They come for me?" I whispered, imitating his example.

"Yes!" he returned. "I must needs think so."

"Why?"

"I saw them marching up the drive, and Mr."--he paused over the
name--"Mr. Ashlock was with them."

"Ashlock?" I exclaimed with a start, for in the press of trouble which
these last twelve hours had brought, I had clean forgotten the man.

"Hush!" replied Aron.

"Oh, why keep up the lie?" I answered savagely. "Call him Jervas
Rookley and have done with it. He came with King George's soldiers,
did he? Aron, or Ashlock, I take it, I should call you, when next Mr.
Jervas Rookley makes up his accounts for me, he shall make them up
with his own hand, I promise you that."

The old man shook his head very sadly.

"I fear me," he agreed, "that Mr. Jervas is for something in all
this."

"For more than you know," I replied, "and indeed for more than I know
too as yet."

Of a sudden I remembered that evening when I had seen Jervas Rookley
enter through the parlour window.

"There is a secret way into the garden," I said, and then a new
thought flashed in upon me. "It was doubtless by that way the soldiers
came."

"No, sir," said Ashlock, "they came by the highroad. Else I should not
have seen them."

"True," said I, "those soldiers did, but they are not all the soldiers
in Cumberland. And this secret way--you know it?"

"I know it," he answered. "But we must reach the thicket first."

I looked backwards across my shoulder. The soldiers were spreading
over the terrace. I turned my face and strained every muscle to help
me forward. Each moment I expected to hear the clink of a sabre
against a spur, and a voice cry "Halt," or to see a shadow fall from
behind my shoulder across the grass in front. "I must not be taken," I
said to myself, yet knew full well that I might, "I must not be
taken." It was not so much the thought of my own peril that plagued
me, but rather the desire to inform Mrs. Herbert that her husband was
not dead. It pressed upon me like a sheer necessity. I must escape.

Ashlock at my side uttered a groan.

"I can go no further, Master Lawrence," he said, and lay prone in an
extremity of exhaustion, his face purple, and the veins pulsing upon
it "Were I ten years younger--but I cannot."

For answer I twined my arm about his body and dragged him forward.
Every muscle in his body was a-quiver, the sweat poured from his
forehead, and his chest heaved upon my arm as though it would crack;
and all the while the screen of grass was close about our eyes and the
sun burning upon our backs and heads. At last a shadow fell between
the sun and us. I stopped with a groan and let my forehead fall
forward on the ground. In a trice I saw myself captured, tried,
executed, and meanwhile Mrs. Herbert would sit a-weeping in Keswick
for a husband who was not dead.

"Thank God!" said Ashlock. "It is the shadow of the first tree."

I raised my head, just checking the cry of joy which sprang to my
lips. A little to the left of us a great leafy branch stretched out
towards us. We crawled forward again, past a tree-trunk, then another,
then another, and in a minute I was standing up behind a shrub, and
Ashlock was lying at my feet, his breath coming in hoarse gasps from
between his parched lips, his eyes closed, and his whole body limp and
broken.

I peered round the shrub. The soldiers were scattered over the
parterre, and then of a sudden I saw something which doubled my fears.
For right across the meadow a furrow was drawn in a wavering line as
though by the clumsiest scytheman. And it led straight to this bush.
In a very short while the soldiers must see it. I sprang to Ashlock.
It was no less than a necessity that Ashlock should escape from that
garden without incurring a suspicion. I needed a friend in the house
for one thing. For another I needed a messenger who could safely show
himself in Keswick.

Accordingly I raised Ashlock to his feet and supported him through the
thicket until we came to the labyrinth. The secret entrance to the
garden lay in the last square of the labyrinth at the corner against
the hillside, and had been constructed by Jervas Rookley during the
lifetime of his father. It consisted of no more than a number of iron
pegs driven into the interstices of the stone wall and hidden beneath
a drapery of ivy. I descended first, and Ashlock followed me closely,
so that if by any chance he slipped I might be able to lend him a
hand. As soon as we were safely at the bottom, I said--

"Now, Ashlock, your way lies down the valley, mine up the hillside.
You will get back into the house unnoticed, make sure of that! And
to-day you will ride into Keswick and take this message from me to
Mrs. Herbert."

I tore a page from the note-book which I carried in my pocket, and
hurriedly scribbled on it, "He is not dead," and added thereto my
initials. "Now good-bye. Be instant with the message! I doubt me but
it is the last order you will ever take from me," and so I turned from
him and began running up the hillside.

Ashlock called out to me--

"Sir," he cried, "I know not where I can have news of you. It will be
well that I should know."

"You can have news of me," I replied, "at my Lord Derwentwater's, but
be careful how you come there lest you imperil him;" and of a sudden
he snatched up my hand and kissed it.

"Master Lawrence," he said in a broken voice of apology, "my father
served Sir John Rookley's father."

"Therefore," I interrupted, "you must serve Sir John Rookley's son. It
is very right," and I patted him gently on the shoulder. "It is just
for that reason a man serves his King. It is the house one serves, not
the man who heads it."

"But I would you were Sir John Rookley's son."

The tenderness with which he spoke cut me like a knife.

"Nay," said I, "if there were a choice to be made, you would not be
right in choosing me."

I had barely ended the sentence before a cry rang out from the garden.
It came, however, faintly to our ears.

"Quick!" I said. "They have come upon our tracks in the grass. Quick!
That note must reach Keswick to-day, and your hand must deliver it."

With that we parted. I mounted the hillside until I came to a large
boulder, and threw myself on the ground beneath its shelter. In a
fever of impatience I watched Ashlock descend along the wall, and yet
the moment he had turned the corner and was clean out of my sight, I
wished him back again. I was, in truth, sunk to such a depth of shame
and self-contempt as made this old servant's goodwill an extraordinary
consolation. For now that I had had time to grow used to the knowledge
that Anthony Herbert was not dead, I began to see more clearly the
wickedness of my preceding conduct.

It was, then, with a very lonely feeling that I climbed to the ridge
of Green Comb. Beneath me I could see Blackladies and its garden much
as on that morning when I first rode thither over Cold-barrow Fell.
But I saw it with very different eyes. Then, proud of my entrusted
mission, I had looked upon it as an instrument of loyalty, a prop,
however fragile, of the cause I served and my father had served before
me. Now it was to me a monument of failure. Here I had failed through
and through. I had proved false to Mr. Herbert; I had been juggled
like the merest fool in my service to the King. I had but to turn, and
over against me I could see the very spot where I had forced Jervas
Rookley to make his vow of concealment upon his knees, and a little
lower down the winding path, where I had come to my knees and Jervas
Rookley had sat his horse over me. Well, I had kept faith with him, at
all events, and how had he kept faith with me? The red-coats sprinkled
in the garden below gave me the answer. Yes, I had kept faith with
him. It seemed to me a wonderful and astonishing thing, so deep was my
humiliation, but it was true. I had kept faith with him, and I hugged
the thought to my very breast. In the wreck of my hopes and pride, it
stood erect as you may see a single column standing amidst a pile of
ruins; and perhaps, I thought, since that one column stands, if he
could but bring perseverance to the work, a man might in time rebuild
the whole.

To effect anything of this sort, however, I must needs first of all
escape, and to that end I kept all the day along the hilltops, and at
the fall of the dark came down Bleaberry Fell, to the great wood that
fringes Derwentwater over against Rampsholme Island. About a mile to
the east of the wood was a fisherman's cottage with which I was
sufficiently familiar, since the fisherman had ferried me over often
enough to Lord's Island, and many another visitor to my Lord
Derwentwater besides, who came in a great hurry when the night was
fallen dark. To this cottage I crept, and tapping at the window-pane
presently the man came out and joined me.

He asked no questions, being well practised in the habit of secrecy,
but put me across to the steps and so pushed off again without a word.
I thought it best not to openly knock at the door, but crept round to
a room wherein I knew Lord Derwentwater was used to sit of an evening.
To my inexpressible relief I saw that the windows were lighted. I
knocked on the pane; the sash was thrown up.

"Who is it?" asked Lord Derwentwater.

I set my band on the sill and climbed into the room.



                              CHAPTER X.

               A TALK WITH LORD DERWENTWATER. I ESCAPE.


"Lawrence!" he exclaimed, starting back at the sight of me, and with a
cry Lady Derwentwater came forward and took my hand. In truth, I must
have cut a sufficiently pitiable figure, for my dress was all fouled
from head to foot, and my face, I have no doubt, the complement of my
dress.

"The soldiers are after me," I gasped out.

"Ah! Jervas Rookley!" cried Lord Derwentwater, with a bang of his fist
upon the table, the while his wife got me some brandy from a
sideboard. "But I warned you, Lawrence! I warned you, when I caught
sight of him in Keswick."

"I know," I answered. "But you did not warn me he was a traitor. All
this while Jervas Rookley has been my steward at Blackladies."

"Your steward!" exclaimed Lord Derwentwater; "and you did not know."

"Nay," I replied, "it was not so much that But I would not know. I
pledged my word to him." With that I drank off the brandy.

"Oh, if you had only told me this!" he cried.

"I could not," I answered "I had but conjectures, and they were not
enough to warrant me. There was but one fact in all the business which
was clearly known to me: I had pledged my word to him."

"Nay," said Lady Derwentwater, and she laid a pitying hand upon my
shoulder, "he was right, since he had given his word;" and I--why, I
groaned aloud and let my face fall forward on my arms. "Ah, poor boy!"
she exclaimed. "All this day he has been out upon the hills, and here
we stand plaguing him with questions, when we should be ransacking the
pantry. We deserve to be whipped."

She cautiously slipped out of the room.

But it was not any bodily want that troubled me so much as the
unmerited kindliness of her tone and gesture. It wrought on me,
indeed, with such a melting compulsion that had she remained within
the room, I verily believe I should have blurted out that other story,
with a "Withold your pity until it is deserved."

Lord Derwentwater locked the door behind his wife and began to walk
about the room.

"Lawrence," said he, "I am in some way to blame for this. But I did
not know the fellow was masquerading at Blackladies as your steward.
He was disinherited, you know. But do you know why?"

"Because he was a Jacobite," I replied.

"Because he was a spy," cried Lord Derwentwater. "A spy--do you
understand?--paid by the Government to worm himself into the Jacobite
councils. I know, for his father told me, and told me on his
death-bed. Sir John was a Whig, you know, but an honest one and a
gentleman, and the shock the knowledge caused him, caused his death."

"A spy!" I exclaimed. "And I might have known! I might have known it
at Commercy."

"At Commercy?" said he with a start

"I might have known it in mid-channel. It was the letter his hands
were searching for;" and noticing Lord Derwentwater's perplexity, I
related to him the whole story of Rookley's coming to Paris, the
promise I made to him there, the journey to Lorraine.

"You had speech with the King!" he exclaimed, "and Jervas Rookley
knew. You carried a letter----"

"In the King's hand, to the Duke of Ormond."

"And Jervas Rookley knew!"

"Ay, for he tried to steal it," and a great silence fell upon us both.
We looked into each other's eyes; I know I held my breath. With a
swift, stealthy movement, more significant to me than even the silence
was, he unlocked the door again and peered into the passage.

"We were speaking over-loud, Lawrence," he said, in a hushed whisper.

He was on the point of locking the door again, when Lady Derwentwater
returned, bearing a loaded tray.

"It is a bad case you are in," said Lord Derwentwater. "You had best
fall to. It must not be known you were here to-night. I would gladly
hide you."

"Nay," said I, "I have brought you near enough to danger as it is."

He waved the remark aside.

"There is no sense in such talk between friends. But Lord's Island is
no safe place for you. I am suspected; you are known for my friend.
Here will they come first to search for you."

"But to-morrow," interrupted his wife, "not to-night"

"It were best he leave to-night," replied Lord Derwentwater.

"Ah, no, James," she returned, "it would be ill-usage in any case to
dismiss so easily a friend so hard put to it, and the worst usage in
the world towards Mr. Clavering. For look, what the boy most needs is
a bed."

"And what if he were taken in it! That would be worse usage still.
Anna, we cannot risk his life for the sake of our manners."

I seconded him in his advice, for though I was dropping with fatigue,
and Lady Derwentwater's words called up I know not what sweet visions
of lavender sheets, I knew that at any moment the sheriff's messenger
might come rapping at the doors. Lady Derwentwater accordingly said no
more, but betook herself to filling my glass and heaping up my plate
with an air of such maternal tenderness as pierced me to the heart. If
she only knew, I thought--if she only knew what manner of man she
tended on! And again I was very near to blurting out my story.

"There is one thing," said I, "which I do not understand. For if
Rookley meant my ruin, why should he wait so long to accomplish it? He
had the means to hand, the day that I set foot in England."

Lord Derwentwater stopped suddenly in his walk.

"You received my letter yesterday?"

"A letter?" said I. "No! What time of the day was it sent?"

"In the afternoon."

I remembered that I had seemed to hear the hoofs of a horse upon the
drive when I was in the parlour. Lord Derwentwater slipped out of the
room. In a little he came back with a scared face.

"The letter was handed to your steward," he said. "The man I sent was
a new servant, else he would have known who the steward was."

"But what was in the letter?"

"It was a message from Harry St John, enclosed in a letter which came
to me. It said the French King was dying, and no help was to be
expected from the Regent, who would follow him. It said the rising was
to be deferred."

"Then I understand!" I exclaimed, starting to my feet "I had promised
Rookley to restore the estate when the King came to his own. So long
as there was a chance of that, he would let me go free. But when that
chance failed, he might buy back Blackladies by selling me."

"Ay," said Derwentwater, "that is Jervas Rookley from top to toe. He
would have one foot marking time with King George, and the other
stepping forward with King James."

And again he paced musingly about the room whilst I betook myself to
my supper. At last--

"I know," he said; and then turning to me, "I was thinking whither I
should send you. There is old Ralph Curwen. You will be safe with him
at Applegarth."

It seemed to me that I had heard the name before, but on what occasion
I could not at the moment remember.

"He lives in Ennerdale," continued he; "an honest Jack, but he is old,
and since his son died, has known little company beyond his books. You
will be safe with him."

"Ay, but will he be safe with me?" I objected.

"No doubt of that He has taken no part in these quarrels of ours for
many a day, and they will not look for you in Ennerdale."

He sat down and wrote a letter.

"I will send you thither," he said, "with a servant I can trust, and
as soon as may be we'll get you out of England;" and he rose, he
crossed over to a table, and unlocking a drawer took out a little
diary.

"Let me see!" he said. "To-day is St. Bartholomew's Day. It may be
that I can send you across to France. Why, what ails you?"

"It is nothing," I replied hastily.

It was, indeed, the mere mention of the date which made me sway like a
man falling and grasp at the table. To-day was St Bartholomew's Day.
Then yesterday was the Eve, the Eve of St. Bartholomew. My thoughts
went back to the preacher I had heard in Paris and to the picture of
the dead man speaking, who had seemed in my imagination to thunder out
at me, "The Eve of St. Bartholomew."

Lord Derwentwater went from the room to give his orders, and ten
minutes later I was being rowed across the lake towards Silver Hill
and watching two heads at the lighted window diminish into specks.

There was but the one man in the boat besides myself--Lord
Derwentwater's servant Tash. Accordingly, on disembarking in a little
wood on the west shores of Derwentwater, we drew the boat on to dry
ground, and striking up the hillside walked southwards along the
slopes of Catbells and Maiden Moor. But for my part I took little note
of our direction. My head nodded on my shoulders, my feet stumbled
behind my guide's in a mechanic progression. Had he led me back into
Keswick town I should have followed him. I walked in a daze of
weariness, sensible of but two things in the world: one that the fresh
smell of the grass and parsley-fern was every way as sweet as lavender
to lie in; the other that I must still walk on, since there was
something to be done that I and I alone could do.

In the morning we moved yet higher up the slopes, and so walking ever
southwards past Dale Head Tarn and Honister, came to a lofty ridge
between Grey Knotts and Brandreth about nine o'clock of the morning.
There my guide called a halt, and pulling my hat over my eyes I
plumped down on the grass and slept without more ado.



                             CHAPTER XI.

                              APPLEGARTH.


When I fell asleep the sun was just climbing above the shoulder of
Skiddaw; when I waked again, it was down very close above the Isle of
Man, so that I could see the surf flash in a line of gold as it broke
against the rocks. Tash had brought with him some cheese and a loaf of
bread; and being hard set with my long fast, I spent no great while
over grace, but fell to and moistened the food with the sweetest water
that ever I drank, fetching it from a little stream which bubbled by
through the grass a few yards away. Tash pointed me out a valley which
cleft the mountains westwards a little to our left and made a right
angle with the ridge on which we lay. At the end of the valley I saw
the corner of a lake. The valley, he told me, was called Gillerthwaite
and the lake Ennerdale Water. Mr. Curwen's house was built upon the
banks of the Water, but was invisible to us, since it lay in a kind of
bay to the north behind some projecting cliffs of a reddish stone.

"But we will wait here till nightfall," he said; and nothing loth I
turned over on my back and fell to resolving, so well as I could, the
perplexities in which I was coiled. I now saw very clearly that
Rookley's plot had not, as I had imagined, been aimed against myself,
but rather against Anthony Herbert; and my new knowledge that my
worthy cousin was a Government spy gave me some light to conjecture of
a cause. For I reflected that Herbert had come suddenly to Keswick at
the very time when rebellion was a-brewing in these parts; that he had
made Lord Derwentwater's acquaintance and had painted his lady's
portrait; that upon my coming to Blackladies, Lord Derwentwater had
put me into relations with the man; and that I too had commissioned a
portrait of him. Now Lord Derwentwater was suspected of favouring the
Stuart claims, and certainly Rookley knew that I not merely favoured
them but was working to further them. It would be, then, a natural
suspicion for Rookley to draw that we were all three implicated in the
same business, and that Herbert was merely using his skill as a
concealment of his genuine purpose. Moreover, I thought of a sudden,
there was that medal in Mr. Herbert's apartment. True, I had seen him
lock it up. But he must bring it out again to copy it, and he was not
of that orderliness which would ensure his replacing it. What if
Rookley had seen the medal in Herbert's lodging? Joined to his
suspicions, that one certain fact would change those suspicions to
convictions. Rookley would believe, and would have reason to believe,
that Herbert was a Jacobite agent. Granted that presumption, and
Rookley's conduct became clear. He was marking time with King George
and stepping forward with King James. He would lay Herbert by the
heels in the one interest and leave me untouched in the other, so long
as it was doubtful which way the wind was setting. I found an
additional reason to credit this hypothesis in this, that it was
plainly Rookley's intention to bring about Herbert's arrest secretly,
or at all events without my knowledge.

"I had thought to find you in the garden," Herbert had said; the words
came back to me in a flash. I sprang to my feet in some excitement.
Tash in a flurry asked me what it was I saw; but I moved away without
answering him, certain that I had a hold upon the key of the plot,
fearful lest I should lose it.

"I had thought to find you in the garden"--and the soldiers were in
the garden. Moreover, there was but one man who could have led Mr.
Herbert to believe that he would find us in the garden--Jervas
Rookley. And Jervas Rookley had every reason in the world to feel
assured that neither Mrs. Herbert nor myself would be discovered
there.

I had no longer a shadow of doubt. Anthony Herbert had been beguiled
to Blackladies that his arrest might be brought about with secrecy.
Only Jervas Rookley had made one mistake: he had presumed in his
victim the same cunning and concealment of which he was master
himself. Mr. Herbert had defeated the secrecy of the plan by his
outburst in his lodging; but for that outburst, the arrest would have
been effected with all the secrecy which Rookley desired.

From that point in my speculations I went forward to a resolve. I knew
Herbert to be in no way concerned with our plans and hopes. Indeed, I
doubted whether he cared a straw which King occupied the throne, so
long as he could continue in the exercise of his art. But, on the
other hand, there was the medal in his possession, and I distrusted
the impartiality of justice in a matter where passions were so
inflamed. My resolve, then, was no more than this: that if by any
means a man could, I would secure Mr. Herbert's enlargement, if only
as an act of reparation, and if it cost me my life. But to tell the
truth, my life at this moment had not the least savour of sweetness,
and to let it go seemed the easiest thing in the world.

The question, however, which weighed on me was how I should accomplish
his enlargement; for I did not know and had no means of knowing
whither he had been taken. They might have carried him to London,
there to be examined. Suppose that was true and I went down into the
valley and gave myself up? Why, I had not sufficient trust in the
authorities to be certain that Herbert would get the benefit of my
evidence. I could prove that the medal belonged to me; but should I be
allowed to tender that proof on Herbert's behalf? I might lie in
prison the while he was brought to his trial. No, before I gave myself
up I must know whither Anthony Herbert had been taken. And as far as I
could tell, there was but one man who could give me the information.
Could I force it from Jervas Rookley? I asked myself, and even in the
asking laughed. For here was the darkness coming up out of the sea and
wrapping the mountains about, and here was I hiding in the midst of
them, a hunted outlaw. Tash called to me that it was time for us to
set out, and we started down the hillside into Gillerthwaite, he
leading as before, I as before following him, but no longer in the
daze and stupor of yesternight. Rather, on the contrary, I walked with
eyes needlessly alert and with feet over-timorous and careful. For if
I got no other profit from my reflections, I had drawn from them this
one conviction, and I was sensible of it as of a sheer necessity: I
must be ready, I thought--since I knew so little, I must be ready to
seize any occasion of Mr. Herbert's enlargement, at the instant of its
discovery. So that as we scrambled down the slope with the mist
gathering around us, I came to fear a slip with an extraordinary
apprehension; where the grass steepened, I straightway imagined a
fatal precipice; and when a stone slid beneath my heel, I felt all the
blood drain from my heart and leave me shaking in a panic. The night
in consequence had completely fallen by the time we came to a
pony-track in the bed of the valley. I remember that I asked
carelessly whither it led from Ennerdale, and Tash told me that it
passed into the valley called Newlands, which runs parallel with
Derwentwater, and is only separated from the lake by that line of
hills along which we had walked during the night.

"Then," said I carelessly, "it is a path by which one may travel to
Keswick."

"Ay," he replied; and for the moment I thought no more of the matter.

Before we had come to the head of Ennerdale Water, the moon was up and
shining fitfully through a wrack of clouds. The valley, however, was
clear of mist, so that I was able to distinguish the house of
Applegarth, while I was as yet at some distance from its doors. It was
a long, plain building, which promised comfort within by its very lack
of ornamentation without, built in a single story and painted a white
colour. But it seemed to me, even in that uncertain light, to bear the
marks of neglect and decay. There was a little garden in front of the
house separated from the lake-shores by an unkempt hedge, and planted
only with a few fuchsia bushes; the walls of the house were here and
there discoloured, and once or twice as I passed up the garden-path I
stepped upon a broken tile.

A woman-servant opened the door and I asked for Mr. Curwen. She looked
me over for a second.

"And what may be your business with Mr. Curwen?"

"That I can hardly tell you," said I with a laugh.

"Ah, but you must," said she. She was a woman of some bulk, and she
stood with her arms akimbo, filling the doorway. "Is it his last few
guineas you might be wanting?" she asked with a slow sarcasm.

"Why, goodwife," I answered impatiently, "do you look for gentlemen of
the road in Ennerdale?"

"Goodwife!" she said with a toss of the head. "Goodwife to a
ninny-hammer!" and she looked me over again. Indeed, I doubt not but
we cut sufficiently disreputable figures. "Not I! And you'll just tell
me your business. There are others besides gentlemen of the road who
put their fingers into pockets which don't belong to them."

"Hold your noise, Mary Tyson!" said Tash, behind my shoulder. "Do you
know me?"

"Oh," said she with a start, "it's William Tash from----"

"That'll do," he broke in; "no need to speak names. Show the gentleman
to Mr. Curwen."

Mary Tyson stood aside from the door. I stepped into the hall.

"You'll find him in the room," she said with a curt nod towards a door
facing me.

I crossed to it and rapped on the panels, but got no answer
whatsoever. It is true I could hear a voice within, but the voice
seemed to be declaiming a speech. I rapped again.

"Oh, the dainty knuckles!" cried Mary; and pushing roughly past me she
banged upon the door with a great fist like a ham and threw it open
without further ceremony. The voice ceased from its declamation. I
entered the room. It was very dark, being panelled all about with
book-cases and the ceiling very low. A single lamp glimmered on a
table in the centre of the carpet An old gentleman rose from before a
great folio spread out upon the table.

"What is it, Mary?" he asked in a tone of gentle annoyance. "You
interrupt me."

"A visitor, he says," replied Mary, "though----"

The hostility of her eyes and a great heave of her shoulders filled up
the gap.

"A visitor!" said the old gentleman, his voice changing on the instant
to an eager politeness. "A visitor is always welcome at Applegarth at
whatever hour he comes."

I heard not so much a sigh as a snort behind me, and the door was
slammed. The old gentleman advanced a few steps towards me and then
came to a sudden stop. I was neither hurt nor surprised at his evident
disappointment and perplexity, for Mary's behaviour had shown me
pretty clearly what sort of a picture I made.

"It is not a visitor, Mr. Curwen," said I, "but a fugitive;" and I
handed to him Lord Derwentwater's letter.

"Indeed?" said he, all his suavity rekindling. "A fugitive!" and he
spoke as though to be a fugitive was a very fine and enviable thing.
"You will take a chair, Mr.----"

"Clavering," I added.

"Of Blackladies?" he inquired

"Of Blackladies," said I.

"You are very welcome, Mr. Clavering," said he, and he broke open the
seal and read the letter through, with many interruptions of "Shield
us!" and "To be sure!" and with many a glance over his spectacles at
me. He was a tall man, though his shoulders stooped as if he spent
many an evening over his folio, and I should say of sixty years and
more. He wore his own white hair, which was very long and fine, making
a silver frame to as beautiful a face, except one, as it has ever been
my lot to see. The features, it may be, were over-delicately
chiselled, the cheeks too bloodless, the eyes too large, if you looked
for a man of dominating activity. It was the face of a dreamer, no
doubt, but there would be nothing ignoble in the dreams.

"You are yet more welcome, Mr. Clavering," said he as he folded up the
letter; "shelter indeed you shall have, and such comfort as we can add
thereto, for so long as you will be pleased to stay with us. Nay,"
said he, checking me, "I know what you would say, but we are solitary
people here and the debt will be with us."

"That can hardly be," said I, "since I bring danger to you by my
presence."

"Some while ago," he replied, "I would not have denied it, though I
should have welcomed you no less. But since my fortunes have declined
and I have grown into years, I have taken little part in politics and
keep much within my doors. They will not come here, I think, to look
for you. It is a consolation for my poverty," said he with the
simplest dignity, "that I can therefore offer you a safer harbourage.
But indeed it is with you that the times have gone hard. We are not so
solitary but that now and again a scrap of news will float to us, and
we have heard of you. You were much at one time in Paris?" And his
voice of a sudden took on a pleasant eagerness.

"Yes," I replied, "though I saw little of the town."

"Ah," said he with a nod of the head, "to gain and lose Blackladies in
so short a space--it is a hard case, Mr. Clavering."

In the hurry and stress of these last two days I had given no thought
to what the loss Blackladies meant, but the meaning rushed in upon me
winged with his words.

"Ay," I answered, and my voice trembled as I spoke, so that the old
man came over to me and laid a hand upon my shoulder, "for it is the
King who loses it, and through my folly, for I might have known."

I felt his hand patting me with a helpless consolation. "So we all
say, after the event. It is a hard thing to bear, but philosophy will
help us. You must study philosophy while you are here, Mr. Clavering.
I have books"--and he glanced round the room and then came to an
abrupt pause--"I have books," he repeated in a lame fashion, "which
you may find profit in studying;" and as he spoke, the music of a song
quivered up from the next room like a bird on the wing. I understood
that "we," which had much perplexed me in his talk; I remembered where
and when I had heard of Applegarth before. You may talk, if you will,
of Cuzzoni and Faustina and the rest of the Italian women who have
filled Heidegger's pockets; doubtless they made more noise, but not
one of them, I'll be sworn, had a tenth of the sweetness and purity of
the voice which sang this song. Give to a lark a human soul and then
maybe you will hear it. For it was more than a voice that sang; it was
as though the wings of a soul beat and throbbed in the singer's
throat. I lack words to describe the effect it wrought on me. All the
shame I had been sensible of during the long hours since that pistol
rang out in the garden of Blackladies, came back to me massed within
the compass of a second, and on that shame, more and ever more. I know
that I buried my face in my hands to hide the anguish of my spirit
from Mr. Curwen; and sitting there with my fingers pressed upon my
eyes I listened. The words came clearly to my ears through the doorway
behind my chair; the voice carried my thoughts back to Paris, was the
crystal wherein I saw pitilessly plain all the dreams I had fashioned
of what I would do, had I but liberty and the power to do it; then
carried me again to England, and showed me the miserable contrast
between those airy dreams and the solid truth. I saw myself now riding
to Lorraine; now lingering in Mr. Herbert's apartment And the words of
that song pointed my remorse--how bitterly! Even now, after this
interval of thirty-five years, the humiliation and pain I endured
return to me with so poignant a force that I can hardly bring myself
to write of them. I could not indeed at all, but for this faded yellow
sheet of paper which I take up in my hands. It was given to me upon an
occasion notable within my memory, and the words of this very song are
inscribed upon it, blurred and well-nigh indecipherable, but I do not
need the writing to help me to remember them. The song was called "The
Honest Lover," and I set it down here since here it was that I first
heard it.


                        "THE HONEST LOVER."[1]

      "Would any doubting maid discover
       What's he that is a worthy lover:
       His is no fine fantastic breath,
       But lowly mien and steadfast faith.
           For he that so would move her,
                       By simple art,
                       And humble heart,
           Why, he's the honest lover.

      "His is a heart that never played
       The light-o'-love to wife or maid,
       But reverenced all womankind
       Before he found one to his mind.
           For he that so would move her
                       By simple art,
                       And humble heart,
           Why, he's the honest lover.

      "And if he quake to meet her eyes,
       Stammer and blush whene'er he tries
       His worship'd lady to address,
       Be sure she'll love him none the less,
           For he that so would move her
                       By simple art,
                       And humble heart,
           Why, he's the honest lover."


---------------------

Footnote 1: The song is written by Harold Child, Esq., to whom the
author is indebted for it.

---------------------


This was the song to which I listened as I sat--the dishonest outlaw
in the dark library of Applegarth.

"It is my daughter Dorothy," said Mr. Curwen, with a smile. "In
talking of our youngest martyr I had forgotten her;" and he took a
step towards the door. But at his first movement the youngest
martyr--Heaven save the mark!--had risen from his chair with a foolish
abruptness.

"Nay, Mr. Curwen," he cried in disorder; and then he stopped, for the
truth is, he shrank in very shame from standing face to face with the
singer of that song.

"But," and I seized the first excuse, "I have this long while been
wandering on the fells, and am in no way fitted for the company of
ladies. Your servant even would have no truck with me, and I think you
too were taken aback." I looked down at my garments as I spoke.

"My servant," he began, and he looked towards the other door through
which I had entered with a timorous air, as though he would fain see
whether or no she was listening on the far side of it, "Mary Tyson,"
he said, lowering his voice, "is a strange and unaccountable person. A
good servant, but----" and very wisely he tapped his forehead. "For
myself," he continued, his voice softening with a great wistfulness,
"it was something very different from the stains of your journey that
gave me pause. Lord Derwentwater may have told you that I had once a
son. He was much of your height and figure, and the room is dim, and
old men are fanciful."

I bowed my head, for whenever he made mention of his misfortunes, he
spoke with so brave and simple a dignity that any word of sympathy
became the merest impertinence. For a moment he stood looking down at
me and revolving some question in his mind.

"Yes," said he, and more to himself than to me, "I will speak to her
and give her the order. Why should I not?" He walked slowly halfway to
the bell and stopped, "Yes," he repeated, "I will speak to her;" and
with a word of excuse to me and a certain bracing of the shoulders, he
went out of the room.

I had no doubt that it was with Mary Tyson that he wished to speak. I
remained, half-hoping, half-afraid that the chords of the spinet would
wake to the touch again, and the voice again ring out, sprinkling its
melody through the room like so much perfume from a philtre. But there
was no recurrence of the music. I walked idly to the table, and my
eyes fell upon that great tome in which Mr. Curwen had been so
absorbed at the moment of my interruption. In wonderment I bent more
closely over it. I had expected to see some laborious monument of
philosophy gemmed with unintelligible terms. Unintelligible terms
there were, in truth, but not of the philosopher's kind. They were
curious old terms of chivalry.

I remembered how Mr. Curwen had hesitated over the mention of his
books, and I took the lamp from the table, and glanced about the
book-shelves. The books were all of a-piece with that great folio on
the table--romaunts, and histories of crusades, and suchlike matters.

I wondered whether "Don Quixote de la Mancha" had found a place
amongst them, and with an impertinent smile I began to glance along
the letterings in search of it, but very soon I stopped, and stood
staring at a couple of volumes which faced me, and bore upon their
backs the title of the "Morte D'Arthur."

I set the lamp again upon the table. The old man was right, I thought
sadly. There was in that room philosophy which it would indeed profit
me to study.

Mr. Curwen returned, rubbing his long, delicate hands one against the
other in a flush of triumph.

"I have given orders," he said, and with a gentle accent of conscious
pride he repeated the phrase--"I have given orders, Mr. Clavering. You
will sleep in my boy's room, and since you are, as I say, very like to
him in size----" But his voice trembled, and he turned away and lifted
the lamp from the table.

"I will show you the room," he said.

I followed him into the hall, up the staircase, and down a long
passage to the very end of the house.

A door stood open. Mr. Curwen led me through it The room was warmly
furnished, and hung with curtains of a dark green, while a newly-lit
fire was crackling in the hearth. A couple of candles were burning on
the mantelpiece, and Mary Tyson was arranging the bed. She took no
notice of me whatever as I entered, being busy with the bed, as I
thought.

"You can go, Mary," said Mr. Curwen, with a timid friendliness plainly
intended to appease.

Mary sniffed for an answer, and as she turned to go I saw that she had
been crying.

"She was Harry's nurse, poor woman," explained Mr. Curwen. "You must
forgive her, Mr. Clavering." And then, "He died at Malplaquet."

He crossed over to the bed, and stood looking down at it silently in a
very fixed attitude. Then he took up from it a white silk stocking. I
approached him, and saw that a suit of white satin was neatly folded
upon the white counterpane.

"It is a fortunate thing," he said, with a smile all the more sad for
its effort at cheerfulness, "that you and he are alike;" and he drew
the stocking slowly through his fingers. "He died at Malplaquet, and
Marlborough--the Marlborough of Malplaquet--spoke to him as he died."
His voice broke on the words, and laying the stocking down, he turned
towards a japan toilette with a "Even a father has no right to ask
for more than that." But Harry's shoe-buckles were laid upon the
chintz-coverlid, and he took them in his hands one after the other,
repeating, "He died at Malplaquet. I have given you this room," he
said, "for a reason. See! These two windows point down the valley, and
are set high above the ground. But this"--and he crossed over to a
smaller window set in the wall near the fireplace--"this looks on to
the hillside, and since the ground rises against the house, a man may
drop from it and come to no harm. To the left are the stables, or what
serves us for stables. We lock no doors at Applegarth, Mr. Clavering,
fearing no robbers. You will find a horse in the stables, should there
be need for you to flee."

It was some while after Mr. Curwen had left me, before I could make up
my mind to don these clothes. I might be like to what Harry Curwen was
in size and figure, but there the likeness ended, and the sharpest
contrast in the world set in. I unfolded the suit, and spread it out
upon the bed. The coat was of white velvet, the waistcoat and breeches
of white satin, and all richly laced with an embroidery of silver. A
fragrant scent of lavender, which breathed from the dress, coupled
with its freshness as of a suit worn but once or twice and so laid
aside, lent an added sadness to the thought of young Harry Curwen. I
imagined him stripping off these fine clothes in a fumbling excitement
one night, in this very room, kicking from his feet those lacquered
shoes--these with their soles and red-heels upturned now to the fire
for the guest who was so like him! I imagined him pulling on his
boots, and riding off from Applegarth with, I know not what, martial
visions in his eyes, and hardly a glance, maybe, for the old man and
the sister standing in the light of the porch, to join his troop and
perish on the plains of Flanders. Well, he had died at Malplaquet,
and the great Marlborough--not the huckstering time-server whom we
knew--the Marlborough of Malplaquet had spoken to him as he lay
a-dying, and no father had a right to look for more than that. I
picked up the stockings, and drew them through my fingers as the
father had done.

At that, however, I bethought me that the father and his daughter were
awaiting me downstairs, and so dressed in a hurry, and combing out my
peruke to such neatness as I could, I got me down into the hall.

Supper was already laid out in the dining-room, and Mr. Curwen
waiting. In a little I heard a light step upon the stair and the
rustle of a dress. Instinctively I turned my face towards the
window-curtains, my back to the door. I heard the door open, but I did
not hear it shut again.

"Mr. Clavering," said the old man.

I was forced to turn. His daughter stood in the doorway, her lips
parted, her eyes startled.

"Mr. Clavering--my daughter Dorothy."

I bowed to her. She drew in her breath, then advanced to me frankly,
and held out her hand.

"My father told me you were like," she said, "but since your back was
turned, I almost thought I saw him."

I took the hand by the finger-tips.

"He was very dear to you?"

"Very."

"Miss Curwen," said I, gravely, "I would, with all my heart, that you
had seen him, and that I had died in his place at Malplaquet."

Her face clouded for an instant, and she drew her hand quickly away,
taking my speech, no doubt, for nothing more than an awkward and
ill-timed compliment. But compliment it was not, being, indeed, the
truth and summary of my recent thoughts quickened into speech against
my will. She was of a slender figure, with a rosebud face, delicate as
her father's. Her hair was drawn simply back from a broad, white
forehead, and in colour was nut-brown, gleaming where it took the
light as though powdered with gold-dust. She was dressed in the
simplest gown of white, set off here and there with a warm ribbon. But
I took little note of her dress, beyond remarking that no other could
so well become her. From the pure oval of her face, her eyes big and
grey looked out at me, each like a quiet pool with a lanthorn lighted
somewhere in its depths, and she seemed to me her voice incarnate. She
was unlike to her father in the proportion of her height, for she was
not tall--and like to him again in a certain wilfulness which the set
of her lips betokened, and again unlike in the masterful firmness of
her rounded chin; so that she could put off and on, with the quickest
change of humours, the gravity of a woman and the sunny petulance of a
child.

"It is our homely fashion," said Mr. Curwen, "to wait upon ourselves."
And we sat down to the table.

It was a fashion, however, which the guest, much to his discomfort,
was not that night allowed to follow. For father and daughter alike
joined to show him courtesy. The daughter would have waited on me,
even as Lady Derwentwater had done, and began, like her, to fill my
glass. But this time I could not permit it.

"Madam," I cried hoarsely, "you must not Your kindness hurts me."

"Hurts you?" she asked, and from her tone I knew it was she who was
hurt.

"You do not know. If you did, your kindness would turn to the
bitterest contempt."

I spoke without thought and barely with knowledge of what I said, but
in a passion of self-reproach.

"Mr. Clavering," she replied very gently, "you are overwrought, and I
do not wonder. Else would you know that it must honour any woman to
serve any man who has so served his King."

I dropped my head into my hands. My very soul rose against this
praise.

"If I had served my King," I exclaimed in a despairing remorse, "I
should have been in France this many a week back."

"France!" repeated Mr. Curwen, suddenly looking up. "You take the
delay too much to heart. For it need be nothing more than a delay, and
a brief one besides." He spoke with some significance in his tone.
"Lord Derwentwater mentioned in his letter that he would discover a
means to set you across in France, but perhaps"--and his voice became
almost sly--"perhaps we may find a more expeditious way." He checked
himself abruptly, like one that has said too much, and shot a timid
glance towards his daughter. I noticed that her face grew a trifle
grave, but she did not explain or comment on his words, and Mr. Curwen
diverted his talk to indifferent topics. I fear me that I must have
proved the dullest auditor, for I gave little heed to what he said, my
thoughts being occupied in a quite other fashion. For since his
daughter sat over against me at the table, since each time that I
lifted my eyes, they must needs encounter hers; since each time that
she spoke, the mere sound of her voice was as a stern rebuke; I fell
from depth to depth of shame and humiliation. I was sheltering there
under the same roof with her, to all seeming an honourable refugee, in
very truth an impostor, and bound, moreover, to continue in his
imposition. The very clothes which I was wearing forced the truth upon
me. I had, indeed, but one thought wherewith to comfort me, and though
the comfort was of the coldest, I yet clung to it as my only solace.
The thought was this: that I had already determined, at whatsoever
cost to me, whether of liberty or life, to repair, so far as a man
could, the consequence of my misdoing. It was not that I took any
credit from the resolve--I was not, thank God, so far fallen as
that--but what comforted me was that I had come to the resolve up
there on the hillside between Brandreth and Grey Knotts before I had
descended into Ennerdale, before I had set foot within Applegarth;
before, in a word, I had heard Dorothy Curwen sing or looked into her
eyes. I did not explain to myself the comfort which the thought gave
me; I was merely sensible of it. "It was before," I said to myself;
and over and over again I gladly repeated the thought.

However, a word which Mr. Curwen spoke, finally aroused my attention,
for he made mention of the garden of Blackladies. I suppose that I
must by some movement have shown my distaste for the subject, and--

"You do not admire it," he said.

"It is very quaint and ingenious, no doubt," I replied, "but the
ingenuity seems misplaced there."

Miss Curwen nodded.

"It is like a fine French ribbon on a homespun  gown," said she.

I remembered on the instant something which Lord Derwentwater had said
to me concerning Dorothy Curwen.

"You know Blackladies?" I inquired, and perhaps with some anxiety.

"Very well," said she, with a smile of amusement.

"So I thought," said I.

"Yes," she continued, "my father was very familiar with Sir John
Rookley;" and her eyes rested quietly upon mine.

"A hard man, people said, Mr. Clavering," interrupted Mr. Curwen, "but
a just man and to my liking. If he was hard, God knows he had enough
in Jervas to make him so."

I glanced at the daughter. She was regarding the beams which roofed
the room, with supreme unconsciousness, but the very moment that I
looked at her she dropped her eyes to the level of mine.

"You lack something, Mr. Clavering," said she with great politeness.

"Indeed!" said my host, rising from his chair in the excess of his
hospitality.

"Indeed, sir, no; I beg of you!" I replied in confusion. And Dorothy
Curwen laughed.

"A strange man was Jervas Rookley," continued Mr. Curwen, and there
could be no doubt whatever about the sincerity of his unconsciousness.
"He came warped from his cradle. But you will have heard of him, I
doubt not, more than we know, though at one time he honoured us not
infrequently with his company. But that was before I knew of his
transgression in the matter of the wad-mines."

"Oh," said I, "I thought that that was not generally known."

"Nor is it," replied Mr. Curwen. "I had the story from Sir John's
lips. He was a very just man, and since Jervas came to visit me
frequently, he thought that I ought to know."

Again my eyes went to the daughter's face. But this time she was
already looking at me.

"I am sure, Mr. Clavering, that you need something," said she very
anxiously.

"Indeed, no!" I replied in confusion.

And she smiled with the pleasantest air of contentment in the world.

Mr. Curwen did not on this occasion rise to satisfy my imaginary
needs, but remained absorbed in thought.

"I suppose," he said dreamily, "that Jervas Rookley was a fairy's
changeling."

I started at the words; they were not spoken in jest. I looked at him;
he was seriously revolving the question in his mind.

"What do you think?" he asked of me.

His daughter bent forwards across the table with something of appeal
in her eyes.

"The theory," said I, "would most easily explain him;" and the appeal
in her eyes changed to gratitude.

This was not the only strange remark he made to me that night, for he
accompanied me up to my bedroom and closed the door carefully behind
him.

"By this time you should have been in France?" he asked, lowering his
voice.

"Yes," said I, doubtfully. For since his Most Christian Majesty was at
death's door, and all thought of a rising abandoned for the moment,
there was no longer any call for me to hurry to Lorraine with the
information I had gathered; while, on the other hand, there was the
greatest need that I should remain in England, since once out of
England I was powerless even to attempt anything towards Anthony
Herbert's liberation.

"I spoke at supper," he continued in a yet more secret voice, "of a
more expeditious way than Lord Derwentwater's." He glanced around him
and came nearer to me. "It was no idle boast," he said with a little
chuckle, "but I have a ship," and he nodded in a sort of childish
guilefulness. "I have a ship." He went tip-toeing to the door as
though already he had stayed too long. "Snug's the word," he whispered
with a finger on his lip; and in the sweetest tone of encouragement,
again, "I have a ship." And so he went gently from the room and
descended the stairs.

His manner no less than his words somewhat bewildered me. I thought
it, in truth, a very unlikely thing that he should possess a ship,
seeing that he had made no concealment of his poverty, and that if
indeed he did, his ship would be a very unlikely thing for a man to
put to sea in. But in this I made a great mistake, since his ship not
merely existed, but had a very considerable share in the issue from
those misfortunes which were so soon to befall us. At the time,
however, I was not greatly troubled with the matter one way or the
other, for while Mr. Curwen had been speaking, I had been standing at
the open window. The slope of the hillside was in front of me, a
corner of the stable-roof was just visible to my left; but most
clearly of all I saw as in a vision the picture of a woman seated in a
lonely lodging at Keswick with a crumpled paper spread before her,
whereon was scribbled one single line: "He is not dead." I shall not
be particular to account for the reason why that vision should now of
a sudden stand fixed within my sight, though I could give a very
definite opinion concerning it I will only state that it was there, so
vivid and distinct that I could read the paper she so sadly fingered;
and reading it, the one line written thereon called on me for a
supplement and explanation.

I opened the door and hurried quietly along the passage. I heard Mr.
Curwen's step in the hall below, and holding my candle in my hand
leaned over the balusters.

"Mr. Curwen," I said in a breathless whisper, "you told me of a horse
which stood ready in your stables, should my safety call for it."

"Yes," said he looking up at me.

"There is the greatest need in the world that I should make use of
your kindness this night. It is a need that imperils my safety, but my
honour is concerned, or rather, that poor remnant of my honour which I
have left to me. When I fled from Blackladies, there remained
something to be done and to be done by me, and it remains undone. Some
small part of the omission I may haply repair to-night."

He answered me, as I knew he would, with the strangeness gone from his
manner and replaced with a kindly gravity. He was the truest of
gentlemen, with all a gentleman's simple code of faith.

"Mr. Clavering," he said, "so long as you are my guest I am the
trustee of your safety. But there are things of greater value than a
man's safety, of which you have mentioned one. I shall look to seeing
you in the morning."

He asked no questions; that word "honour" was enough for him; it
stamped my purpose in his eyes with a holy seal. He came up the stairs
towards me and shook me by the hand, and so passed on to his own
chamber.



                             CHAPTER XII.

                         I RETURN TO KESWICK.


I went back to my own room, changed my dress, and carrying my boots in
one hand and my candle in the other, went softly down the stairs. By
the clock in the hall I could see that it was five minutes after ten
o'clock. I drew on my boots in the porch, saddled the horse by the
candle-light, led it past the house along a strip of grass, and when I
thought the sound of its hoofs would be no longer heard, I mounted and
rode up the pathway. The sky was cloudy but the valleys clear of mist
I could have wished for no better night for my purpose except in one
respect: I mean that now and again a silver brilliancy would be
diffused through the air, making the night vaguely luminous. And
looking up I would see a patch of cloud very thin and very bright, and
behind that cloud I knew the moon was sailing. I chose that road of
which Tash had spoken. Towards the head of Gillerthwaite the track
turned northwards over a pass they call the Scarf Gap, and thence
westwards again past Buttermere lake to Buttermere village. At the
point where the hill descends steeply from the lake, I dismounted. I
could see the scattered village beneath me. It slept without a sound,
nor was there a light to be seen in any window. But none the less I
dreaded to ride through it; its very quietude frightened me. I feared
the lively echoes which the beat of my horse's shoes would send
ringing about the silent cottages. I descended, therefore, on foot,
leading my horse cautiously by the bridle, and in a little I came to a
gateway upon the right which gave on to a field. I crossed the field
and several others which adjoined it, and finally came out again upon
the track beyond the village, where it climbs upwards to Buttermere
Hause. From the farther side of the Hause I had a clear road of six
miles down Newlands valley to Portinscale, and I spurred my horse to a
gallop. Once or twice the clouds rifted and the moon shone out full,
so that I rode in a tremor of alarm, twisting every shadow that fell
across my path from rock or tree into the shadow of a sentinel. But
the clouds closed up again and canopied me in a gracious obscurity as
I drew near to Keswick.

I tied up my horse in a thicket of trees half a mile from the town,
and slunk from house to house in the shadow. Never before or since
have I known such fear as I knew that night in Keswick, so urgent had
the necessity that I must keep free, become with me during these last
hours since I had climbed from Brandreth down to Applegarth. If the
wind drove the leaves of the trees fluttering up the roadway, I
cowered against the wall and trembled. If a dog barked from a
farmhouse in the distance, I stood with my heart fainting in my
breast, listening--listening for the rhythmic tread of soldiers; and
when I saw on the opposite side of the street, some yards above me, a
light glimmering in a window, I stopped altogether, in two minds
whether or no to turn back. I looked irresolutely up and down the
street It was so dark, so still; only that one steady light burned in
a window. The melancholy voice of a watchman, a couple of streets
away, chanted out, "Half-past twelve, and a dull, cloudy morning." The
phrase was repeated and repeated in a dwindling tone. I waited until
it had died away, and afterwards. But the light burned wakeful,
persistent, a little heart of fire in a body of darkness. I felt that
I dared not pass it. Some one watched beside that lamp, with eyes
fixed on the yellow path it traced across the road. My fears fed upon
themselves and swelled into a panic. I turned and took a step or two
down the hill, and it was precisely that movement which brought me to
my senses and revealed to me the cowardice of the action. For if I
dared not pass that lamp, still less dared I return to Applegarth with
the night's work undone. I retraced my steps very slowly until I came
opposite to the window, and then, so great was the revulsion of my
feeling that I reeled back against the wall, my heart jerking, my
whole strength gone from me. For there at the window, beside the lamp,
her face buried in her hands, was the woman I had come to seek. I
might have known, I thought! For who else should be watching at this
lone hour in Keswick if not this woman? I might have guessed from the
position of the house in the street. It was a beacon which I had seen,
this glimmering lamp, and I had taken it for no more than a wrecker's
light.

I looked about me. The street was deserted from end to end I crossed
it, and picking up a pebble flung it lightly at the window. The pebble
cracked against the pane--how loudly, to my impatient ears! Mrs.
Herbert raised her head from her hands. I sent a second pebble to
follow the first. She opened the sash, but so noisily I thought!

"Who is it?" she asked.

"Hush!" said I.

She leaned forward over the side of the window and peered into the
darkness.

"You!" she whispered in a tone of wonderment, and again with a shiver
of repulsion; "you!"

"Let me in!" said I.

She made a movement as if to close the window.

"You close the window on your hopes," I said. "Let me in!"

"You bring news of--of Anthony?" she asked, with a catch in her voice.

"The smallest budget," said I, "but a promise of more;" and as she,
undecided, still leaned on the sill, "If I am captured here to-night,
there will be no news at all."

"Captured?" she began, and breaking off hurriedly came down the stairs
and opened the door.

I followed her up into the room and drew the curtains across the
window. She stood by the table in the full light of the lamp, her
eyelids red, her eyes lustreless, her face worn; the very gloss seemed
to have faded off her hair.

"How you have suffered!" I said, and again faltered the words, "How
you have suffered!"

"And you?" she asked with a glance towards me, and nodded her head as
though answering the question. "I said that payment would be made,"
she remarked simply. "It is beginning."

"My servant brought a note to you?"

"Yes. Was it true? I did not believe that it was true." She spoke in a
dull voice. "He came yesterday night after the soldiers had been
here."

"The soldiers," I cried, lifting my voice. The sound of it warned me;
I realized that I was standing between the lamp and the window, and
that if any one should pass down the street, it was my figure which
would be seen. I crossed over to get behind the chair.

"Do you sit there!" said I, pointing to her former seat.

She obeyed me like a child.

"So the soldiers came here?"

"Twice."

"When?"

"The first time, that evening--I was not here--we were in the garden
of Blackladies. They searched the house and took his papers away."

"His papers!" said I. I looked over to that box in which the medal had
been locked. The lid was shut I crossed to it and tried it The lid
lifted, the lock was broken and the medal gone.

"The second time they came," said Mrs. Herbert, "was the afternoon of
the next day."

"That would be a few hours after I had escaped. They searched the
house again?"

"Yes. For you."

"For me?" I exclaimed; and her eyes flashed out at me.

"For whom else should they come to search, here in my lodging?"

My eyes fell from her face.

"But did they question you?" I continued. "What did they ask? For
perchance I may find help in that."

But Mrs. Herbert had relapsed into her dull insensibility.

"They questioned me without end," she answered wearily, "but I forget
the questions. It was all concerning you, not a word about Anthony,
and I forget."

"Oh, but think!" I exclaimed, and I heard the watchman crying the hour
in the distance. I stopped, listening. The cry grew louder. The man
was coming down the street. This window alone was lighted up, and once
already the soldiers had been here to search for me. I heard the
watchman's footsteps grow separate and distinct. I heard the rattle of
his lantern as it swung in his hand, and beneath the window he
stopped. I counted the seconds. In a little I found myself choking,
and realized that in the greatness of my anxiety I was holding my
breath. Then the man moved, but it seemed to me, not down the road,
but nearer to the wall of the house. A new fear burst in on me.

"You left the door below unlocked?" I whispered to Mrs. Herbert.

She nodded a reply.

What if he opened that door and came stumbling up the stairs? What if
he found the door not merely unlocked but open, and roused the house?
To be sure he would have no warrant in his pocket. But for her
sake--for the sake of that tiny chance I clung to with so despairing a
grip, that perhaps--perhaps I might restore to her her husband, no
rumour must go out that I or any man had been there this night I crept
to the door of the room and laid my hand upon the handle. What I
should do I did not think. I was trying to remember whether I had
closed the door behind me, and all my faculties were engrossed in the
effort I was still busy upon that profitless task, when I heard--with
what relief!--the watchman's footsteps sound again upon the stones,
his voice again take up its melancholy cry.

"Quick!" said I, turning again to Mrs. Herbert "Madam, help me in this
matter, if you can. Think! The officer put to you questions concerning
me?"

"Oh!" she cried, waking from her lethargy, "I cannot help you. You
must save yourself, as best you may. I do not remember what they said.
It was of you they spoke and not at all of Anthony."

"It is just for your husband's sake," I said, "that I implore you to
remember."

And she looked at me blankly.

"God!" I exclaimed, taking the thought "You believe that I journeyed
hither to you in your loneliness at this hour, to plague you with
questions for my safety's sake!" And I paused, staring at her.

"Well," she replied, in an even voice, "is the belief so strange?"

There was no sarcasm in the question, and hardly any curiosity. It was
the mere natural utterance of a natural thought. My eyes, I know, fell
from her face to the floor.

"Madam," I replied slowly, "when I set out to-night, I thought that
the cup of my humiliation was already full. You prove to me that my
thought was wrong. It remained for you very fitly to fill it to the
brim;" and again I lifted my eyes to her. "I had no purposes of my own
to serve in riding hither. I know the charge against myself to its
last letter. It is the charge against your husband brings me here.
Neither do I know whither he has been taken. Yet these two things I
must know, and I came to you on the chance that you might help me."

I saw her face change as she listened. She leaned forward on her
elbows, her chin propped upon her hands, her eyes losing their
indifference. A spark of hope kindled in the depths of them, and when
I had ended, she remained silent for a little, as though fearing to
quench that spark by the utterance of any words. At last she asked, in
almost a timid voice:

"But why--why would you know?" And she bent still further forward with
parted lips, breathless for the answer.

"Why?" I answered. "Forgive me! I should have told you that before,
but, like a fool, I put the questions first. They are foremost in my
thoughts, you see, being the means, and as yet unsolved. The end is so
clear to me, that I forgot it in looking for the road which leads to
it. I believe that Mr. Herbert has been seized, on the ground that he
shares my--treason, let us call it, for so our judges will. Of that
charge I know him innocent, and maybe can prove him so. And if I can,
be sure of this--I will."

"But how can you?" she interrupted.

"If I know the charge, if I know whither he has been taken, the place
of his trial, then it may be that I can serve him. But until I know, I
am like one striking at random in the dark. Suppose I go to meet the
sheriff and give myself up, not knowing these things, I shall be laid
by the heels and no good done. They may have taken him to London. He
may be in prison for months. Meanwhile I should be tried--and they
would not need Mr. Herbert's evidence to secure a verdict against me."

"You would give yourself up?" she asked.

"But I must know the place, I must know the charge. It would avail
your husband little without that knowledge. They would keep me in
prison cozening me with excuses, however urgently I might plead for
him. It is enough that a man should be suspected of favouring King
James. To such they dispense convictions; they make no pother about
justice."

"But," said she, "it would mean your life."

"Have you not said yourself that payment must be made?"

"Yes, but by us," she said, stretching out a hand eagerly. "Not by you
alone."

"Madam," said I, "you will have your share in it, for you will have to
wait--to wait here with such patience as you can command, ignorant of
the issue until the issue is reached. God knows but I think you have
the harder part of it."

We stood for a little looking into each other's eyes sealing our
compact.

"Now," I continued, "think! Was any word said which we could shape
into a clue? Was any name mentioned? Was your husband's name linked
with mine? Oh, think, and quickly!"

She sat with her face covered by her hands while I stood anxiously
before her.

"I do not remember," she said, drawing her hands apart and shaking
them in a helpless gesture. "It all happened so long ago."

"It happened only yesterday," I urged.

"I know, I know," she said with the utmost weariness. All that light
of hope had died from her eyes as quickly as it had brightened them.
"But I measure by a calendar of pain. It is so long ago, I do not
remember. I do not even remember how I returned here."

There was no hint plainly to be gained from her, and I had stayed too
long, as it was. I took up my hat.

"You will stay here?" I asked. "I do not say that you will hear from
me soon, but I must needs know where you are."

"I will stay here," she replied. She almost stretched out her hand and
drew it in again. "Goodbye."

I went to the door. She followed me with the lamp and held it over the
balusters of the landing.

"Nay," said I, "there is no need for that."

"The staircase," said she, "is very dark." As I came out from the
houses at the bottom of the hill I heard again the watchman's voice
behind me bawling out the hour. It was half-past one, and a cloudy
morning, it may be, but the clouds were lighter in the north, as I
remarked with some anxiety. I was still riding along Newlands valley
when the morning began to break. As I reached the summit of Buttermere
Hause I looked backwards over my shoulder. The sky in the north-east
was a fiery glow, saffron, orange, and red were mingled there, and
right across the medley of colours lay black, angry strips of cloud.
The blaze of a fire, it seemed to me, seen through prison bars. It was
daylight when I passed by Buttermere, sunlight as I rode down
Gillerthwaite. The sweet stillness of the morning renewed my blood.
The bracken bloomed upon the hillsides, here a rusty brown, there in
the shadow a blackish purple, and then again gold where the sunlight
kissed it Below me, by the water's side, I could see the blue tiles of
Applegarth. And as I looked about me the fever of my thoughts died,
they took a new and unfamiliar quietude from the stable quietude of
the hills. I felt as if something of their patience, something of
their strength was entering into me. My memories went back again to
the Superior's study in the College at Paris; and in my heart of
hearts I knew that the Superior was wrong. The mountains have their
message, I think, for whoso will lend an ear to them, and that morning
they seemed to speak to me with an unanimous voice. I can repair, I
thought, this wrong. It was then more to me than a thought. It seemed,
indeed, an assured and simple truth, assured and simple like those
peaks in the clear air, and, like them, pointing skywards, and the
Superior's theory no more substantial than a cloud which may gather
upon the peaks and hide them for a little from the eyes.

I rode down, therefore, in a calmer spirit than I had known for some
long time. The difficulties which beset my path did not for the moment
trouble me. That my journey that night had in no way lightened them I
did not consider. I felt that the occasion of which I was in search
would of a surety come, only I must be ready to grasp it.

I had passed no one on the road. I had seen, indeed, no sign of life
at all beyond the sudden rush of a flock of sheep, as though in an
unaccountable panic, up the hillside of the Pillar mountain, while I
was as yet in the narrow path of Gillerthwaite. I had reason,
therefore, to think that I had escaped all notice, and leading the
horse back to the stable with the same precautions I had used on
setting out, I let myself in at the door and got quietly to bed.



                            CHAPTER XIII.

                           DOROTHY CURWEN.


I was at the breakfast-table, you may be sure, that morning no later
than my host and his daughter. Mr. Curwen greeted me with an evident
relief, but neither then nor afterwards did he ever refer to the
journey I had taken during the night. On the contrary, his talk was
all of Paris and France, plying me with many questions concerning the
French generals, the Duc de Vendôme, Maréchal Villars, the Duc de
Noailles, and the rest which I was at some loss to answer. Often and
often would he return to that subject with something of a boyish zest
and enthusiasm. He had never been in France, he informed me, yet would
tell me many stories concerning the Court and the magnificence of
Versailles and the great hunting-parties at Meudon when Monsieur was
alive, with so much detail that but for a certain extravagance, as of
one whose curiosity, through much feeding upon itself, has grown
fantastic, I could not but have believed that he had himself been
present at their enactment. And then he would light his pipe and look
across this quiet Ennerdale water to the rugged slopes beyond, with a
sigh, and so get him back to his romances. He was no less curious
concerning Lorraine and the little Court at Bar-le-Duc; and when I
told him that I had myself had speech with the King, his enthusiasm
rose to excitement.

"Oh!" he cried, starting up, "you have seen him? you have heard his
voice speaking to you, as you hear mine now?" and all at once I
acquired a new honour in his eyes. "Mr. Clavering, you have something
to compensate you for your outlawry."

"Yes," I replied, "he spoke to me and with the sweetest kindliness."

"And the King was hopeful--was positive in his hopes?"

"Very."

"That is right," he continued, walking about the room and smiling to
himself. "That is right So a strong man should be."

"And so weak men are," said I rather sadly, for I recalled all that
Lord Bolingbroke had told me.

"Mr. Clavering," said the old gentleman, suddenly pausing in his walk,
"you are the last man who should say that. You have lost all that a
man holds dear, and are you not hopeful?"

I bowed my head to the rebuke. It was, indeed, well-timed and just,
though for a very different reason than that which had inspired Mr.
Curwen to utter it.

"I was so," said I humbly, "so lately as this morning. Nay," and I
rose to my feet, "I am so still. Besides," I continued, reverting to
the King, "he has Lord Bolingbroke to help him, and I set great store
on that."

"Bolingbroke!" cried Mr. Curwen, and seldom have I seen a man's face
change so suddenly. A flame of anger kindled in his eyes and blazed
across his face, shrivelling all the gentleness which made its home
there. "Bolingbroke!" he cried wildly--"a knave! a debauched,
villainous knave! God help the man, be he king or serf, that takes his
counsel! Look you, Mr. Clavering, a very dishonest, treacherous
knave;" and he wagged his head at me. I was astonished at the
outburst, since the Jacobites were wont to look with some deference
towards Lord Bolingbroke.

"He is my kinsman," I said meekly, "and a very good friend to me;" and
while Mr. Curwen was still humming and hawing in some confusion, his
daughter came into the room, and gazing at his troubled face with some
anxiety, put an end to the talk.

This was by no means, however, the last I was to hear of the matter,
and in truth Lord Bolingbroke, through merely arousing Mr. Curwen's
indignation, was to prove a much better friend to me than ever I had
looked for. For when we were again alone together:

"I regret the words I spoke to you," he said a little stiffly and with
considerable effort in the apology. "I did not know Lord Bolingbroke
was your kinsman;" and then in a rush of sincerity: "But far more than
the words, I regret your relationship with the man."

I began to make such defence of my kinsman as I could, pointing to his
industry, and declaring how his services had always been thwarted by
his colleagues while he was in power.

"And what of the Catalans?" he asked.

Now, I knew very little about the Catalans.

"Well, what of the Catalans?" I asked doubtfully.

"Why, this," he returned. "We instigated them to war; we made them our
allies against Philip of Spain by the promise of restoring them their
ancient liberties. They fought with us, spilled their blood on the
strength of that promise, and then Lord Bolingbroke patches up his
peace of Utrecht, and not a word in it from end to end about their
liberties. They continue the war alone, and he finds nothing better to
do than to sneer at their obstinacy. They still continue, and he is
ready to send an English fleet to help in their destruction."

His voice increased in vehemence with every word he spoke, so that I
feared each moment another outburst against my kinsman. It may be that
he feared it too, for he checked himself with some abruptness, and it
was his daughter who revived the subject later on during that same
day.

It was after dinner. I had taken a book with me, and climbed up to the
orchard behind the house. But little I read in the book. The sun had
set behind the hills, but the brightness of that morning lingered on
my thoughts. I was, as Mr. Curwen had said, hopeful, though with no
great reason, and being besides weary with the fatigue I had
undergone, fell into a restful state between sleep and waking. With
half-closed eyes I saw Dorothy Curwen come from the back of the house,
and talk for a little with Mary Tyson. Then she mounted towards the
orchard. I watched her, marked the lightness of her step, the supple
carriage of her figure, the delicate poise of her head, and then rose
from the grass and went forward to meet her.

"Mr. Clavering," she began very decidedly, and paused in some
difficulty. Then she stamped her foot with a little imperious
movement. "You talk too much of France and Paris and the great world
to my father. You will not do so any more."

She spoke with the prettiest air of command imaginable the while she
looked up at me, and it was the air I smiled at, not the command.

"No!" she said, "I mean it. You will not do so any more;" and she
coloured a little and spoke with a yet stronger emphasis.

"Madam," said I with a bow, "since you wish it----"

"I do wish it, Mr. Clavering," she interrupted me.

"I did not think----" I began.

"No," says she, "you are young and imprudent. I have noticed that
already." And with great stateliness and dignity she walked for ten
yards down the hillside. Then she began to hum a tune, and laughed as
though mightily pleased with herself and her stately walk changed to a
dance. A few yards further on, she sat down in the bracken with her
back towards me and began plucking at the grasses. I remained where
she had left me, quite content to watch from that distance the coils
of hair nestling about her head, and to hearken to the rippling music
of her song. But after a little she turned her head with a glance
across her shoulder towards me, and so back again very quickly. I went
down to her.

"The lecture is not ended?" said I, gravely.

She gave a start and looked at me, as though my presence there was the
last thing she expected, or indeed wished for. Then in an instant her
whole manner changed.

"I will tell you the truth of it," she said. "Something you will
perhaps have guessed already, the rest you would discover did not I
tell you."

I sat down by her side, and she continued, choosing her words.

"My father is not altogether--strong, and these stories do no good."
Then she stopped. "It is more difficult to tell you than I thought."

"There is no need," said I, "that you should say another word."

"Thank you," said she very gratefully; and for a little we were
silent.

"Has he spoken to you of a ship?" she asked slowly; and I started.
"Ah! he thinks it is a secret from us. But we know, for he sold the
land not so long ago wherewith to buy it He is the noblest man in the
world," she continued hurriedly. "The thought of any one suffering
touches him to the quick; the thought of oppression kindles him to
anger, and he will do his part, and more than his part, in relieving
the one and fighting against the other. So that unless Mary and I did
what we could, he would not possess to-day so much as a farthing."

"I understand," said I, "Mary's welcome to me yesterday."

She looked at me with a smile.

"Yes," said she, "but your looks warranted her. The ship was to be
fitted out to help the Catalans. It lies at Whitehaven now. He was
there but a few days ago."

"He spoke of it to me," said I, "with some hint that he might put me
across to France."

"But you will not go?" she said, turning to me quickly. "Any day the
country may rise and every arm will be needed--I mean every young
arm."

I shook my head.

"The French King is dying, maybe is dead, and without his help will
the country rise? Besides, so long as I stay here, I endanger you."

I spoke reluctantly enough, for though I had no intention whatever to
seek a refuge in France, I felt that if once Mr. Curwen definitely
promised to send me thither, I could not remain at Applegarth at
however small a risk to him and his. I must needs accept the offer
and--betake me again to the hillside, in which case there was little
probability that I should be able to effect anything towards Anthony
Herbert's enlargement before I was captured myself.

"There is no danger to us," she said. "For, some while since, we
persuaded my father to take no active share in the plans. There will
be no danger," and she stopped for a second, "if you will put out your
candle when next you leave it in the stables."

"My candle?" I stammered, taken aback by her words. "I left it
burning?"

"Last night," said she.

"I beg your pardon."

"There is very great reason that you should," she said with a laugh.
"For I must needs hurry on my clothes and put it out. As I said, you
are very imprudent, Mr. Clavering;" and with that she tripped down to
the house, leaving me not so much concerned with what she had hinted
about her father, as with my own immediate need to secure the
knowledge I was after quickly, and avert by my departure the smallest
risk from Applegarth.

I was on that account the more relieved when, late upon the third
night afterwards, Tash knocked at the door, and brought me a letter
from Lord Derwentwater. I opened it eagerly, and read it through. It
told me much which is common knowledge now, as that the Earl of Mar
had summoned his friends in Scotland to meet him at Aboyne on the
27th, upon the pretext of a great hunting-party; that the mug-house
riots in London were daily increasing in number and violence; but that
with the French King, so near to his dissolution, and the precautions
of the English Government in bringing over Dutch troops, and thronging
the Channel with its ships, Lord Bolingbroke was all for delay. "But
God knows," he added, "whether delay is any possible, and I fear for
the event. We have many of the nobles on our side--but the body of our
countrymen? It will be like a game of chess in which one side plays
without pawns. We have Bishops and Knights and Castles, but no pawns."

There was more of the same kind, and I glanced through it hurriedly,
until I came to that of which I was more particularly in search.

"The sheriff came with his posse to Lord's Island in the morning, so
that it was well you left during the night. He is still after you. I
passed his messenger yesterday near Braithwaite, so it behoves you to
be wary. I do not think, however, he has winded you as yet, and as
soon as I can discover an occasion I will have you sent over the
water. But being myself under the cloud of their suspicions, I have to
step very deliberately. Your cousin, Jervas Rookley, lives openly
under his own name at Blackladies, and receives visits from the Whig
attorney; and since he can only be staying there with the sufferance
of the Government, you may be certain what I told you is true. By the
way, Mr. Anthony Herbert, the painter, disappeared on the same day or
thereabouts that you did. It is rumoured that he has been arrested,
but nothing certain is known. But if the rumour is true I greatly fear
that he owes his arrest to his acquaintanceship with you and myself. I
suspect Mr. Rookley's finger in the pie. Since he was playing false
with the Government concerning you, he would most likely be anxious to
give them an earnest of loyalty in some other matter. But I do not
know."

So far I read and clapped the letter down with a bang. For here was
the fellow to my own suspicion.

I sat down and finished the letter. There was but another line to it.

"I got my information about Rookley from an oldish man who came
secretly here from Blackladies. He seemed in some doubt as to which of
yourself or your cousin he should call master, but he was very
insistent that I should let you know of his coming. I had, indeed,
some difficulty in comprehending him, for now he wished me to style
him 'Aron' to you and now 'Ashlock.' Altogether I thought it wiser to
give him no news as to your whereabouts. This, however, is certain,
from what he said to me--there is a watch set about Blackladies on the
chance that you might return."

This last sentence troubled me exceedingly. For it had been growing in
my mind that there was but one person who could tell me fully what I
needed to know, and that person Mr. Jervas Rookley; and a vague
purpose was gradually taking shape within me that I would once more
make use of Mr. Curwen's stables, and riding one night round by
Newlands valley and Keswick, seek to take Mr. Rookley by surprise, and
wrest the truth from him. That project the letter seemed to strike
dead. Accordingly I took the occasion to write to Lord Derwentwater,
and implored him, if by any means he could, to inform himself more
particularly of Anthony Herbert's arrest, and whither he had been
taken. "For upon these two points," said I, "hangs not my safety, but
my soul's salvation;" and so hurried Tash off before the poor man was
halfway through his supper, and waited impatiently for an answer.

Now, during this period of waiting, since each time that I found
myself alone with Mr. Curwen, his talk would wander back inquisitively
to the French Court, discovering there a lustre which no doubt it had,
and a chivalry which it no less certainly lacked, I began of a set
purpose to avoid him; and avoiding him, was thrown the more into the
company of Miss Dorothy. Moreover, the frankness with which she had
hinted to me the weakness of her father, brought about a closer
intimacy between us as of friend and friend rather than as of hostess
and guest. It was as though Mary Tyson and she were continually
building up out of their love a fence around the father, and she had
joined me in the work.

Many a time, when I was on the hillside behind the house I would be
startled by the sight of a horse and the flash of a red-coat upon the
horse's back, only to find my heart drumming yet the faster when I
perceived that it was Miss Dorothy Curwen in her red cramoisie
riding-habit. Maybe I would be standing no great distance from the
house, and she would see me and come up the grass while I went down
towards her, her hair straying about her ears and forehead in the
sweetest disorder, and her cheeks wind-whipped to the rosiest pink. On
the wet days, which were by no means infrequent, she would sit at her
spinet and sing such old songs as that I had listened to on the first
night of my coming. If the evenings were fine, we would sometimes row
out upon Ennerdale water, in a crazy battered boat, so that I was more
often baling out the leakage in a tin pannikin than pulling at the
oars. And on afternoons, when the sunlight fell through the leaves
like great spots of a gold rain we would climb up to the orchard, and
I would spread an old cloak for her upon the grass, and we would sit
amongst the crabbed trunks of trees. But at all times--in the dusk,
when she sang and the rain whipped the panes; at night, when we rowed
across the moonlit lake as across a silver mirror, in the hush of a
world asleep--at all times a feverish impatience would seize on me for
an answer to my letter, and a shadow would darken across our talk, so
that thereafter I sat mum and glooming and heard little that was said
to me. It was not, indeed, the shadow of the gallows, but rather of
the fear lest while I lingered here at Applegarth, chance might thwart
me of the gallows. For the girl's presence was to me as a perpetual
accusation.

Upon one such occasion, when we were together in the orchard, she
looked at me once or twice curiously.

"For one so imprudent," said she, a trifle petulantly, "you are
extraordinary solemn."

"There are creatures," said I, with a weariful shake of the head, "who
are by nature solemn."

"True," says she, placidly, "but even they hoot at night;" and she
looked across the valley with extreme unconsciousness. But I noticed
that her mouth dimpled at the corners as if she was very pleased.

"I know," said I, remorsefully, "that I make the dullest of
companions."

She nodded her head in cordial agreement

"Perhaps you cannot help it," says she, with great sympathy.

"The truth is," I exclaimed sharply, "I have overmuch to make me
solemn."

"No doubt," and the sympathy deepened in her voice, "and I am sure
every one must pity you. There was a king once who never smiled again.
I am sure every one pitied him too."

"He only lost a son," I replied foolishly, meaning thereby that honour
was a thing of more worth.

"And you an estate," says she. "It is indeed very true," and she
clasped her hands and shook her head.

"Madam," I returned with some dignity, "you put words into my mouth
that I had no thought of using. It was not of a mere estate that I was
speaking."

"No?" says she reflectively. "Could it be a heart, then? Dear! dear!
this is very tragical."

"No," I said very quickly; and on the instant fell to stammering "No,
no."

"The word gains little force from repetition. In fact, I have heard
that two noes make a yes."

"Madam," said I stiffly, getting to my feet, "you persist in
misunderstanding me;" and I moved a step or two apart from her.

"I do not know," she said demurely, "that you use any great effort to
prevent the mistake."

That I felt to be true. I wondered for a moment whether she had not a
right to know, and I turned back to her. She was sitting with her head
cocked on one side and glancing whimsically towards me from the tail
of her eye. The glance became, on the instant, the blankest of
uninterested looks. I plumped down again on the grass.

"That evening," I began, "when I left the candle burning in the
stables, I rode into Keswick. There was something I should have done
before I came hither," and I stumbled over the words.

She took me up immediately with a haughty indifference, and her chin
very high in the air.

"Nay, I have no desire to pry into your secrets--not the least in the
world."

"Oh," said I, "I fancied you were curious."

"Curious?" she exclaimed, with a flash of her eyes. "Curious, indeed!
And why should I be curious about your concerns, if you please?" And
she spoke the word again with a laugh of scorn, "Curious!"

Said I, "The word gains no force from repetition."

Dorothy Curwen gasped with indignation.

"A very witty and polite rejoinder, upon my word," she said slowly,
and began to repeat that remark too, but broke off at the second word.

For a little we were silent. Then she plucked a reed of grass and bit
it pensively.

"No!" she said indifferently, "since my father has lived quietly at
Applegarth, I have lost my interest in politics."

"It was no question of politics at all!" I exclaimed, and--

"Oh!" she exclaimed, swinging round to me with all her indifference
gone.

"No," I went on, but reluctantly, for I was no longer sure that I
ought to tell her, and quibbled accordingly. "There was some one in
Keswick for whom I had news which would not wait."

"News of your escape?" she interposed, with a certain constraint in
her voice.

"Partly that," I replied, and continued, "and from whom I most
heartily desired news."

She sat for a moment with her face averted and very still.

"And what is she like?" she asked of a sudden.

The question startled me so that I jumped and stared at her
open-mouthed. But by the time I had fashioned an answer, she had no
longer any need for it For "No! No!" she exclaimed. "I have no wish to
hear;" and she fell unaccountably to talking of Jervas Rookley, at
first in something of a flurry, and afterwards in a tone as though she
found great comfort in the thought of him. "He is not so black as he
is painted," was the burden of her speech, and she played many
variations on the tune.

Now, I had in my pocket a certain letter from Lord Derwentwater, which
was a clear disproof of her words, and, to speak the truth, her manner
stung me. For whatever part of my misfortunes I did not owe to myself,
that I owed to Mr. Jervas Rookley.

"And I never could bring myself to believe that story of the
wad-mines," she said. "Never! Ah, poor man! What will he be doing now?
It is a thought which often troubles me, Mr. Clavering. Doubtless he
is somewhere tossed upon the sea. It is a very noble life, a sailor's.
There is no nobler, is there?" and she asked the question as if she
had no doubt whatever but that I should agree with her.

"I know nothing of that," I replied in some heat, "but as for the
wad-mines I know that story to be true, for I have seen the shaft."

She shook her head at me with an air of disappointment. It seemed she
thought I was slandering the man after slipping into his shoes. I
whipped the letter out of my pocket and thrust it before her.

"There, Madam, there!" I exclaimed. "The thought of Mr. Rookley need
no longer trouble you. I am glad, indeed, to have the opportunity of
disposing of your trouble. It will be the one moment's satisfaction
the man has given me. He is nowhere tossed upon the sea, in that
noblest of all lives, as you will be able to perceive for yourself, if
you will glance through this letter, but, on the contrary, sitting
quietly in an armchair in whatever room at Blackladies pleases him
best."

"I am not so short of sight," she observed sedately, "that I need the
paper to be rubbed against my nose."

She took it and read it through once and a second time. I told her the
story of my dealings with Mr. Rookley, from the moment of his coming
to me at the Jesuit College in Paris, to the morning when I fled from
Blackladies, and so much of his dealings with me as I was familiar
with. It was, in fact, much the same story that I had told to my Lord
and Lady Derwentwater, and contained little mention of Mr. Herbert,
except the fact that he was painting my portrait, and no mention
whatsoever of Mr. Herbert's wife. For I found that the whole account
of my proceedings since I had come to England, fell very naturally
into two halves, each of which to all seeming was in itself complete.
She heard me out to the end, and then in low, penitent voice, for
which it seemed to me there was no occasion--

"I knew nothing of this," she said, "or I would never so much as have
uttered Mr. Rookley's name. I could not know. You will bear me out in
this; I could not know." And she turned to me with the sweetest appeal
in her grey eyes and a hand timidly outstretched.

"Indeed," said I, earnestly, "I will. You could not know, and I can
well believe Mr. Jervas Rookley's conduct was very different to
you." With that I took her hand, and again took it gingerly by the
finger-tips. Thereupon she snatched it away, and got quickly to her
feet.

"And for whom----" she began, and stopped, while she very deliberately
fastened a button of her glove which was already buttoned.

"For whom--what?" said I.

"It is no matter," she said carelessly, and then, "For whom was the
picture intended?" and as though she was half-ashamed of the question,
she ran lightly down the hillside without waiting for an answer.

"For no one," I cried out after her. "It was intended to hang in the
great hall of Blackladies." But she descended into the house, and I--I
passed through the orchard and up the hillside behind it, and over the
crest of the fell, until ridge upon ridge opened out beneath the
overarching sky, and the valleys between them became so many furrows
drawn by a giant's plough. And coming into that great space and
solitude where no tree waved, no living thing moved, no human sound
was heard, I dropped upon the ground, pressing a throbbing face down
among the cool bracken, and twining my fingers about the roots of
ferns. It was the blackest hour that had ever till then befallen me;
mercifully I could not know that it was but a foretaste of others yet
blacker which were to follow. Something very new and strange was
stirring within me; I loved her. The truth was out that afternoon. I
think it was her questioning which taught it me. For it brought Mrs.
Herbert into my thoughts, and so I learned this truth by the bitterest
of all comparisons. I saw the two faces side by side, and then the one
vanished and the other remained. Here, I thought, was my life just
beginning to take some soul of meaning; here was its usual drab
a-flush with that rosy light, as of all the sunrises and all the
sunsets which had ever brightened across the world--and I must give it
up, and through my own fault. There was the hardest part of the
business--through my own fault! The knowledge stung and ached at my
heart intolerably. There was nothing heroical in the reparation which
I purposed; here was no laying down of one's life at the feet of one's
mistress, with a blithe heart and even a gratitude for the occasion,
such as I had read of in Mr. Curwen's romances--and how easy that
seemed to me at this moment!--it was the mere necessary payment for a
sordid act of shame.

It was drawing towards night when I rose to my feet and came down the
mountain-side to Applegarth, and, as the outcome of my torturing
reflections, one conviction, fixed very clearly in my mind before, had
gained an added impulsion. I must needs hasten on this reparation. It
was not, I am certain, the fear that delay in the fulfilment would
weaken my purpose, which any longer spurred me; but of those two faces
which had made my comparison: one, as I say, had vanished from my
thoughts, the other now occupied them altogether, and it seemed to me
that if by any chance I missed the opportunity of atonement, I should
be doing the owner of that face an irreparable wrong.

Miss Dorothy Curwen came late from her room to supper, and the moment
she entered the parlour where Mr. Curwen and I were waiting, it
appeared that something had gone amiss with her, and that we were in
consequence to suffer. Her face was pale and tired, her eyes hostile,
and asperity was figured in the tight curve of her lips. From the
crown of her head to the toe-tips, she was panoplied in aggression, so
that the very ribands seemed to bristle on her dress.

It was plain, too, that she did but wait her opportunity. Mr. Curwen
provided it by a question as to her looks, and a suggestion that her
health was disordered.

"No wonder," says she, and "Not a doubt of it." She snatched the
occasion with both hands as it were, and said, I think, more than she
intended. "I am much troubled by an owl that keeps me from my proper
sleep."

"An owl?" asked Mr. Curwen, with an innocent sympathy.

"An owl?" I asked in a sudden heat.

Her eyes met mine, very cold and blank.

"O-w-l," she answered, spelling the word deliberately.

I could not think what had caused this sudden change in her.

"But, my dear," said Mr. Curwen in perplexity, "are you certain you
have made no mistake?"

"Oh no, sir, there will be no mistake," says I, indignantly, or ever
she could open her lips. But, indeed, I do not know whether in any
case she would have opened them or not. For her face was like a mask.

"But I did not know there was an owl at Applegarth," says he.

"He is a new-comer," says I; "but you may take my word for it, there
is an owl at Applegarth--a tedious, solemn owl."

Miss Dorothy nodded her head quietly at each epithet, and her action
much increased my anger.

"Then you have heard it, Mr. Clavering," says Mr. Curwen; and "Indeed
I have," I cried in a greater heat than ever, for I noticed a certain
contentment begin to steal over the girl's face at each fresh evidence
of my rage. "Indeed I have--under the eaves at my bedroom window."

"But, my dear Mr. Clavering," expostulated Mr. Curwen, "what sort of
an owl is it?"

"A very uncommon owl," said I.

"Oh dear no, not at all," said Miss Curwen, stonily, with a lift of
her eyebrows.

"Well, we will have him out to-morrow," says the father.

"No, sir, to-night," says I, "this very night"

Dorothy gave a start and looked at me with a trace of anxiety.

"Yes," I repeated significantly, wagging my head in a fury,
"to-night--no later."

"Oh, but I like owls," cried she of a sudden. "That can hardly be," I
insisted, looking hard at her, "since they keep you awake o' nights."

At that she coloured and dropped her eyes from my face.

"Perhaps I exaggerated," she said weakly, and sat smoothing the
table-cloth on each side of her with her fingers. She glanced up at
me. I was still looking at her. She glanced from me to her father. He
was waiting for her answer, utterly at a loss.

"But I like owls," she said again in a queer little, high-pitched,
plaintive voice; and somehow I began to laugh, and in a moment she was
laughing too. "You make too much of the trouble," said she.

"We will have him out to-morrow," said Mr. Curwen; and again she
laughed, but with something of mischief, so that though for that night
there the matter dropped, I suspected she had devised some plan by
which I was to suffer a penalty for her present discomfiture. And that
suspicion I found to be true no later than the next morning.

For while we were yet at breakfast, Mr. Curwen returned to the
subject, and was for sending out Mary Tyson to fetch in one of the
shepherds in order to oust the bird.

"Yes, indeed," cries Dorothy, with a delighted little clap of the
hands and a quick meaning glance at Mary Tyson.

The shepherds were all on the hillside; not one of them was within
reach, said Mary, with suspicious promptitude.

"But we have a ladder," said Dorothy, speaking at me, and her eyes
sparkling and dancing.

I made as though I had not heard the suggestion.

"Then I will myself hunt him out," said Mr. Curwen, with a ready
eagerness to make proof of his activity.

"Father, that cannot be," says she. "It would put us to shame. Rather
I will take it in hand;" and again she looked at me.

There was no escape.

"It is a duty which naturally falls to me," said I, not with the best
grace in the world.

"Nay," said she, "we cannot admit of duties in our guests. It must be
a pleasure to you before we allow you to undertake it."

"Then it will be a pleasure," I agreed lamely.

"We will endeavour to make it one," she replied, with a malicious nod
of the head.

I tried, you may be sure, to defer this chase for an owl which I knew
did not exist, and hoped by talking very volubly upon other topics to
drive the thought of it from their minds, and to that end lingered
over my breakfast, even after the rest had for some while finished.
But the moment we did rise from the table: "There is no time like
present," hinted Dorothy, plainly; and Mr. Curwen warmly seconding
her--for he began to show something of excitement, like a child when
some new distraction is offered to it--I fetched the ladder from an
outhouse and reared it against the wall of Applegarth, at a spot she
pointed out close to my window. Accordingly I mounted, the while Mr.
Curwen and his daughter remained at the foot--he quite elated, she
very sedate and serious. But no sooner had I reached the topmost
rungs, than Dorothy discovers the nest a good twenty feet away; and I
must needs descend, like the merest fool, shift the ladder, and mount
again. And when once more I was at the top, she discovers it at a
third place, and so on through the morning. I know not how many times
I ran up and down that accursed ladder, but my knees ached until I
thought they would break. Once or twice I stopped, as if I would have
no more of it, whereupon she covered me with the tenderest apologies
and regrets.

"But it is a farce," said I, laughing in spite of myself.

"Of course you are very tired," said she, reproachfully. "It is a
shame that I should put you to so much trouble;" and she pops her foot
upon the lowest rung of the ladder. So there was no other course, but
up I must go again, until at last she was satisfied, and I beaten with
fatigue.

"It is a strange thing," said Mr. Curwen, scratching his forehead,
"that we cannot discover it."

"I fancy Mr. Clavering was right," says she, with a bubble of delight,
"and it is a very uncommon owl."

And I was allowed to carry the ladder back to the outhouse.



                             CHAPTER XIV.

                          I DROP THE CLOAK.


The lesson, however, was lost on me, or rather, to speak by the book,
had the very reverse effect to that it aimed at For my solemnity was
increased thereby. I reflected that Dorothy would never have played
this trick upon an enemy, or even upon an unconsidered acquaintance,
but only upon one whom she thought of as a friend. And there was the
trouble. I held her in that reverence that it irked me intolerably to
masquerade to her, though the masquerading was to my present advantage
in her esteem. I had, of course, no thought that ever I could win her,
since I saw myself hourly either doomed to the gallows, or, if I
failed of that, to a more disgraceful existence. But I was fain that
she should know me through and through for no better than I was; and
so I wore her friendship as a stolen cloak.

Now, a thief, if the cloak galls him, may restore it. That I could not
do without telling her the whole story; and the story I could not
tell, since it was not I alone whose honour was concerned in it, but a
woman with me. Or the thief may drop the cloak by the roadside without
a word, and get him into the night. Over that alternative I pondered a
long, dreary while.

But while I was yet tossed amidst these perplexities, news came to
hand which quite turned the current of my thoughts. It was the 18th
day of September, and Mr. Curwen, I remember, had left Applegarth
early that morning on horseback, and, though it was now past
nightfall, had not yet returned; the which was causing both his
daughter and myself no small uneasiness at the very time when Tash
rapped upon the door. He brought me a letter. I mind me that I stood
in the hall staring in front of me, holding the open letter in my
hand. It seemed that I saw the lock fall from a door, and the door
opening on an unimagined dawn.

"What is it?" cried Dorothy, and for a second she laid a gentle hand
upon my arm.

"It is," I exclaimed, drawing in a breath, "it is that the Earl of
Mar--the duke, God bless him! for now one may give him his proper
title--has raised King James's standard at Kirkmichael in Braemar."

Dorothy gave a cry of delight, and I joined in with it. For if the
duke did but descend into England, if England did but rise to welcome
him--why, there would be the briefest imprisonment for those lying
under charge, whether true or false, of conspiring for King James.

Through the open doorway sounded the tramp of a horse.

"My father!" said Dorothy.

I crammed the letter into my pocket without a glance at its
conclusion, and ran down the pathway to the gate. As I opened the gate
Mr. Curwen rode up to it.

"I am glad to have this chance of speaking to you alone," said he, as
he dismounted. "I have been to-day to Whitehaven. My ship, the
_Swallow_, is fitting out I have given orders that the work should be
hurried, and the crew shipped with the least delay. The Swallow will
sail the first moment possible, and lie off Ravenglass until you come.
It is an arduous journey from here to Ravenglass, but safe."

A farm-servant came up and led away the horse.

"The _Swallow_ should be at Ravenglass in six weeks from to-day," he
continued.

"But, sir," said I in a whisper, though I felt an impulse to cry the
news out, "there will be no need, I trust, for the _Swallow_. There is
the grandest news to tell you;" and I informed him of the contents of
my letter.

Mr. Curwen said never a word to me, but dropped upon his knees in the
pathway.

"God save the King!" he cried in a quavering voice, and the fervour of
it startled me. His hands were clasped and lifted up before him, and
by the starlight I saw that there were tears upon his cheek. Then he
stood up again and mopped his face with his handkerchief, leaning
against the palings of the garden fence. "Mr. Clavering, I could add
with a full heart, 'Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace,' but
that there is work even for an arm as old and feeble as mine." At that
he stopped, and asked, in a very different tone of trepidation, "Does
Mary Tyson know?"

"Miss Dorothy does."

"Ah, of course, of course," he said with resignation, "It is all one;"
and he walked slowly up the path. At the door he turned to me, and set
a hand on my shoulder. "There is work, Mr. Clavering, for the feeblest
arm?" he asked wistfully.

Now, all my instincts urged me to say "Yes," but, on the other hand, I
remembered certain orders which had been given to me in a very decided
voice, so that I stood silent. With a sorrowful shake of the head, Mr.
Curwen passed through the door.

"Maybe you are right," said he, disconsolately; and then, "But the
question is worth proving"--this bracing his shoulders and making a
cut in the air with an imaginary sabre. However, Mary Tyson bustled
forward to help him off with his great-coat, and scolded all the
boldness out of him in the space of a minute, drawing such a picture
of the anxiety into which his early outgoing and late home-coming had
thrown the household, as melted him to humility.

"It was to do me a service," said I, interposing myself.

"And the more shame to you," says she, bluntly; "white hairs must wait
on young legs!" and off she flung to the kitchen.

It was not until the following morning that Dorothy made allusion to
his absence.

"I went on business to Whitehaven," he replied with a prodigious wink
at me, which twisted the whole side of his face--his daughter could
not but have observed it--"though the business might have waited;" and
he added hurriedly, "However, I bring a message for you, my dear, for
I chanced to meet old Mr. Aislabie in the street, and he sent his love
to Miss Cherry-cheeks."

"Cherry-cheeks!" cried she, indignantly, "Cherry-cheeks! How dare he?
Is it a bumpkin, a fat country milk-maid he takes me for?"

"My dear," said Mr. Curwen, with the gentlest spice of raillery, "you
certainly deserve the charming title now."

She said no more concerning the journey to Whitehaven, being much
occupied with her indignation. Once or twice I heard her mutter,
"Cherry-cheeks!" to herself, but with a tone as though her tongue was
too delicate for the gross epithet, and, as if to disprove its
suitability, she sailed in to dinner that day with her hair all piled
and builded on the top of her head under a little cap of lace, and a
great hoop petticoat of silk, and the funniest little shoes of green
and gold brocade with wonderful big paste buckles and the highest
heels that ever I saw. Nor was that the whole of her protest. For
though, as a rule, she was of a healthy, sensible appetite, now she
would only toy with her meat, protesting that she could not eat a bit.

"I have no doubt," says I, "but what you are troubled with the
vapours," and got a haughty glance of contempt for my pains. And after
dinner what does she do but sit in great state in the drawing-room,
with her little feet daintily crossed upon a velvet cushion, fanning
herself languidly, and talking of French gowns, as the latest
Newsletter represented them, and the staleness of matrimony, and
such-like fashionable matters.

"But no doubt," says she with a shrug of the shoulders, and a pretty
voice of insolence, "Mr. Clavering will marry;" she paused for a
second. "And what will the wife be like?"

I was taken aback by the question, and from looking on her face, I
looked to the ground or rather to the velvet cushion by which I
happened to be sitting. It was for that reason, that not knowing
clearly what I should say, I answered absently--

"She must have a foot."

"I suppose so," she replied, "and why not two?"

"Yes!" I continued slowly, "she must certainly have a foot."

"And maybe a head with eyes and a mouth to it," says she; "or does not
your modesty ask so much?"

"I wonder you can walk on them at all," said I.

The heels were popped on the instant demurely under the hoop
petticoat.

"Owl," she said in a very soft, low, reflective voice, addressing the
word in a sort of general way to the four walls of the room.

"Miss Cherry-cheeks," said I, in as near the same tone as I could
manage.

She rose immediately, the very figure of stateliness and dignity, swam
out of the room, without so much as a word or a nod, and, I must
suppose, went hungry to bed; for we saw no more of her that night.

For the next few days, as may be guessed, we lived in a great
excitement and stress of expectation at Applegarth. Mr. Curwen would
get him to his horse early of the morning, now rather encouraged
thereto than dissuaded, and ride hither and thither about the country
side, the while his daughter and I bided impatiently for his return. I
cannot say, however, that the information which he gleaned was a
comfort to compensate us for the impatience of our waiting. From
Scotland, indeed, the news was good. We heard that the Earl of Mar was
gathering his forces at the market-town of Moulin, and that the sixty
men who proclaimed King James at Kirkmichael were now swelled to a
thousand. But of England--or rather of those parts of it which lay
about us--it was ever the same disheartening story that he carried
back, a story of messengers buzzing backwards and forwards, betwixt a
poor handful of landlords, and, for the rest, of men going quietly
about their daily work. Once or twice, indeed, he returned uplifted
with a rumour that the towns of Lancashire were only waiting for the
Scottish army to march into England, before they mounted the White
Cockade; on another occasion he satisfied us with a fairy-tale that
the insurgents had but to appear before the walls, and Newcastle would
forthwith open its gates; and at such times the old panels of the
parlour would ring with laughter, as doubtless they had rung in the
old days after Atherton Moor, and I would sit with a heart unworthily
lightened by a thought that I might escape the payment which was due.
But for the most part I had ever in my mind Lord Derwentwater's word
about the pawns, and those yet earlier forebodings of my kinsman
Bolingbroke. It seemed to me, indeed, that in this very rising of the
Earl of Mar's, I had a proof of the accuracy of his forecasts. For he
had sent word that the rebellion would be deferred, and here were the
orders reversed behind his back. Moreover, we heard that the French
King had died upon September 1st, and that I counted the most
disheartening of calamities.

In this way, then, a week went by. On the evening of the eighth day,
being the 25th September, I was leaning my elbows on the gate of the
little garden, when I heard a heavy step behind me on the gravel. I
turned, and there was Mary Tyson. It seemed to me that she was barring
the path.

"Good-evening, Mary," said I, as pleasantly as possible.

"I am wishing for the day," said she, "when I can say the same to you,
Mr. Clavering."

"And why?" said I, in astonishment. "It is no doing of mine that Mr.
Curwen rides loose about the country-side."

"It is not of the father I am thinking," she interrupted; and I felt
as though she had struck me.

"What do you mean?" I asked shortly.

"I know," she said, "this is no way for a rough old serving-body to
speak to the likes of you. But see, sir," and her voice took on a
curiously gentle and pleading tone, "I remember when she couldn't
clinch her fist round one of my fingers. It's milk of mine, too, that
has fed her, and it's honey to my heart to think she owes some of her
sunshine to it I've seen her here at Applegarth grow from baby to
child, and from child to woman. Yes, woman, woman," she repeated;
"perhaps you forget that."

"No, indeed," said I, perplexed as to what she would be at; "it was
the first thought I had of her."

"Then the more blame to you," she cried, and speech rushed out of her
in a passion. "What is it that you're seeking of her--you that's
hunted, with a price on your head? What is it? what is it?" And she
stretched out her great arms on either side of her as though to make a
barrier against myself. "Ah, if I were sure it would bring no harm on
her, you should have the soldiers on your heels to-morrow. Many and
many's the time I've been tempted to it when I've spied you in the
orchard or on the lake. I have been sore tempted to it--sore tempted!
What is it you want of her? It's the brother's clothes you are
wearing, but is it the brother's heart beneath them?"

"Good God, woman!" I cried, dumfounded by her words.

She stood in the dusk before me, her grotesque figure dignified out of
all knowledge by the greatness of her love for Dorothy. The very
audacity of her words was a convincing evidence of that, and at the
sight of her the anger died out of my heart. If she accused me
unjustly, why, it was to protect Dorothy, and that made amends for
all. Nay, I could almost thank her for the accusation, and I answered
very humbly--

"I am like to get little good in my life, but may I get less when that
is done if ever I had a thought which could disparage her."

"And how will I be sure of that?" asked Mary Tyson.

"Because I love her," said I.

An older man would have made, and a more experienced woman would have
preferred, perhaps, a different answer; but I suppose she gauged it by
the depth of her own affection. It struck root in a responsive soil.

"Ay, and how could you help it!" she cried, with a little note of
triumph in her voice. But the voice in an instant deadened with
anxiety. "You will have told her?"

"Not a syllable," says I. "I am, as you say, a man with a price on his
head. I may be mated with an axe, but it is the only mate that I can
come by."

She drew a deep breath of relief, and hearing it I laughed, but with
no merriment at my heart She took a step forward on the instant.

"Well, and I am sorry," said she, "for you are not so ill-looking a
lad in the brother's clothes." It was a whimsical reason, but given in
a voice of some tenderness. "Not so ill-looking," she repeated, and at
that her alarm reawakened. "But there's a danger in that!" she cries.
"Miss Dorothy has lived here alone, with but a rare visitor once or
twice in the twelvemonths. Maybe you speak to her in the same voice
you use to me."

"Nay," I interposed, and this time my laugh rang sound enough. "Miss
Curwen treats me with friendliness--a jesting friendliness, which is
the very preclusion of love."

She bent forward a little, peering at me.

"Well, it may be," said she, "though I would never trust a boy's
judgment on anything, let alone a woman."

Dorothy's voice called her from the house. She looked over her
shoulder, and went on, lowering her tone--

"Look," said she, "at these boulders here," and she pointed to the
darkening hillside. "They are landmarks to our shepherds in the mist
But when the snow lies deep in winter, they will cross them and never
know until they come to something else that tells them. It's so with
us. We cross from this friendliness into love, thinking there are
landmarks to guide us; but the landmarks may be hid, and we do not
know until something else tells us we have crossed. And with some,"
and she nodded back towards the house, "there will be no retracing of
the steps. Suppose you left your image with her. A treasure she will
think it. It will prove a curse. You say you care for her?"

I saw what she was coming to, and nodded in assent.

"There is the one way to show it--not to her. No, not to her. That is
the hardest thing I know, but the truest proof, that you will be
content, for your love's sake, to let her think ill of you."

Dorothy's voice sounded yet louder. She came out into the porch. Mary
Tyson hurried towards her, and receiving some order, disappeared into
the house. Dorothy came slowly down the path towards me.

"You were very busy with Mary Tyson," said she.

"She was talking to me of the landmarks," said I.

"But one cannot see them," said she, looking towards the hillside.

I stood silent by her side. It was not that Mary Tyson's words had so
greatly impressed me. I believed, indeed, that she spoke out of an
overmastering jealousy for the girl's welfare. But I asked myself,
since she had said so much, knowing so little of me, what would she
have said had she known the truth? The temptation to set the sheriff
on my path would long ago, I was certain, have become an accomplished
act Nor could I have blamed her. I was brought back to my old thought
that I was wearing this girl's friendship as a thief may wear a stolen
cloak.

"There is something I ought to tell you," said I suddenly, and came to
a no less sudden stop, the moment that the sound of the words told me
whither I was going. "But at this time," I continued in the lamest of
conclusions, "I have no right to tell it you," and so babbled a word
or two more.

She gave a little quiet laugh, and instead of answering me, began to
hum over to herself that melody of "The Honest Lover." In the midst of
a bar she broke off. I heard her breath come and go quickly. She
turned and ran into the house.

That night, at all events, I acted upon an impulse of which I have
never doubted the rectitude. Since I could not restore to her the
stolen cloak, I took that other course, and dropped it by the wayside.
I wrote a brief note of thanks to Mr. Curwen, and when the house was
quiet, I crept from my room along the passage, and dropping out of
that window which my host had shown me on the night of my coming to
Applegarth, betook me under the star-shine across the fells.



                             CHAPTER XV.

                        I REVISIT BLACKLADIES.


That night I lay in the bracken on the hillside looking down into
Ennerdale. Far below I could see one light burning in an upper window
at the eastern side of Applegarth. It burned in Dorothy's chamber, and
its yellow homeliness tugged at my heart as I lay there, the lonesome
darkness about me, the shrill cry of the wind in my ears. The light
burned very late that night. The clouds were gradually drawn like a
curtain beneath the stars, and still it burned, and it was the
blurring of the rain which at the last hid it from my sight.

For the next three days I hid amongst the hills betwixt Borrowdale and
Applegarth. I was now fallen upon the last days of September, and the
weather very shrewd with black drenching storms of rain which would
sweep up the valleys with extraordinary suddenness, impenetrable as a
screen, blotting out the world. The wind, too, blew from the north,
bitter and cold, moaning up and down the faces of cliffs, whistling
through the grasses, with a sound inimitably desolate, and twisting to
a very whirlpool in the gaps between the mountain-peaks. To make my
case the harder, I had come away in that haste, and oblivion of all
but the necessity of my departure, that I had made little provision in
my dress to defend me against the lashing of the wind and rain. I had
picked up a hat and a long cloak, it is true, but for the rest, I wore
no stouter covering than that suit of white which Mary Tyson had laid
out for me so reluctantly. It was an unfit garb for my present life,
and one that was to prove a considerable danger to me. But it was the
cold discomfort of it which vexed me now. I had occasion enough to
reflect on the folly of my precipitation, as I lay crouched in some
draughty cave of boulders, watching the livelong day the clouds lower
and lift, the battalions of the rain trample across the fells, and
seeking to warm myself with the thought of that army in Scotland
marching to the English borders. At nightfall I would creep down
into Borrowdale, procure food from one of my old tenants who was
well-disposed to me, and so get me back again to some jutting corner
whence I could look down Gillerthwaite to Applegarth. But I looked in
vain for the lights of the house. On the night of my departure, I saw
them, but never afterwards, even when the air was of the clearest, so
that I knew not what to think, and was almost persuaded to return to
the house, that I might ascertain the cause of their disappearance.

So for four days and nights, whilst an old thought shaped to a
resolve. For in the pocket of my coat, I had carried away not merely
the button I had discovered in the garden at Blackladies--that never
left my person--but the letter Tash had brought to me from Lord
Derwentwater. I had been interrupted in the reading of it by Mr.
Curwen's return, and so crammed it into my pocket with some part of it
unread. However, I gave very careful heed to it now.

"My own affairs," it ran on, "have come to so desperate a pass that I
dare not poke my nose into the matter of Herbert's disappearance; I
live, indeed, myself, in hourly expectation of arrest. Your servant
came again to me from Blackladies the other day, and told me a watch
was no longer kept upon the house."

And since I had no knowledge that England was stirring in support of
the rebellion, I determined to hazard an interview with my cousin, and
so late on the fifth night climbed into the garden of Blackladies and
let myself into the house as I had once seen Jervas Rookley do. I
stood for a little in the parlour, feeling the darkness throb heavily
about me with all the memories of that fatal night which had compassed
my undoing.

Then I crossed towards the hall, but, my cloak flapping and dragging
noisily at a chair as I passed, I loosed it from my shoulders and left
it there. No lamp was burning in the hall, and since the curtains were
drawn close over the lower windows, only the faintest of twilights
penetrating through the upper panes made a doubtful glimmering beneath
the roof; so that one seemed to be standing in a deep well.

The dining-room lay to my right on the further side of the hall. I
made towards it, and of a sudden came sharply to a halt, my heart
fairly quivering within me. For it seemed to me that the figure of a
man had suddenly sprung out of the darkness and was advancing to me,
but so close that the next step would bring our heads knocking against
each other. And he had made no sound. As I stopped, the figure
stopped. For a moment I stood watching it, holding my breath, then I
clapped my hand to my sword, and the next moment I could have laughed
at my alarm. For the figure copied my gesture. It was, moreover,
dressed in clothes of a white colour from top to toe, and it was for
that reason I saw its movements so distinctly. But I was likewise
dressed in white. The one difference, in fact, between us which I
noted was a certain black sheen in which it stood framed. I reached
out a hand; it slid upon the polished surface of a great mirror.

The dining-room, I knew, opened at the side of this mirror, and I
groped cautiously for the handle of the door, but before I found it my
hand knocked against the key. With equal caution I opened the door to
the width of an inch or so. A steady light shone upon the side of the
wall, and through the opening there came the sound of a man snoring. I
put my head into the room; and there to my inexpressible relief was
Jervas Rookley. He was dressed in a suit of black satin, stretched to
his full length upon a chair in front of a blazing fire, his head
thrown back, his periwig on the floor, his cravat loosened, his shoes
unbuckled off his feet.

I closed the door behind me; then opened it again and pocketed the key
against which my hand had struck. The truth is that now that I was
come into the man's presence, which I had before considered the most
difficult part of the business, I now, on the contrary, saw very
clearly that it was the easiest. I had not merely to come into his
presence; I had to win out of it afterwards; and moreover I had
somehow or other to twist from him the information about Mr. Herbert's
whereabouts, for which I had adventured the visit.

I stepped on tiptoe across the carpet and seated myself in a chair
facing him at the corner of the fireplace. Then I sought to arrange
and order the questions I should put to him. But in truth I found the
task well-nigh beyond my powers. It was all very well to tell myself
that I was here on behalf of my remnant honour to secure the
enlargement of Mr. Herbert. But the man was face to face with me; the
firelight played upon his honest face and outstretched limbs; and I
felt hatred spring up in me and kindle through my veins like fire. Up
till now, so engrossed had I been by the turmoil of my own more
personal troubles, I had given little serious thought to Jervas
Rookley: I had taken his treachery almost callously as an accepted
thing, and the depths of my indignation had only been stirred against
myself. Now, however, every piece of trickery he had used on me
crowded in upon my recollections. I might cry out within myself,
"Anthony Herbert! Anthony Herbert!" Anthony Herbert was none the less
pushed to the backward of my mind. That honest face was upturned to
the light, and my thoughts swarmed about it I scanned it most
carefully. It was more than common flushed and swollen, for which I
was at no loss to account, since a bottle of French brandy stood on a
little table at his elbow, three parts empty, and a carafe of water
three parts full. I reached over for the bottle, and rinsing out his
glass, helped myself, bethinking me that after my exposure of the
three last days, its invigoration might prove of use to me.

But as I sat there and drank the brandy and watched Jervas Rookley's
face, my fingers ever strayed to the hilt of my sword; I moved the
weapon gently backwards and forwards so as to satisfy my ears with the
pleasant jingle of the hanger; I half drew the blade from the sheath
and rubbed my thumb along the edge until the blood came; and then I
sat looking at the blood, and from the blood to Jervas Rookley, until
at last an overmastering desire grew hot about my heart It was no
longer the edge or the point of the sword which I desired to employ. I
wanted to smash in that broad, honest face with the big pommel, and I
feared the moment of his awakening lest I should yield to the
temptation.

Fortunately, his first movement was one that diverted my thoughts. For
as he opened his eyes he stretched out his hands to the brandy bottle.
It was near to my elbow, however, on the mantelpiece, and I refilled
my own glass. It was, I think, the sound of the liquor tinkling into
the glass more than the words I spoke to him which made Rookley open
his eyes. He blinked at me for a moment.

"You?" said he, but blankly with the stupor of his sleep still heavy
upon him.

"Yes!" said I, drinking the brandy.

He followed the glass to my lips and woke to the possession of some
part of his senses.

"I had expected you before," says he, and sits clicking his tongue
against the roof of his mouth and swallowing, as though his throat was
parched.

"So I believe," I returned. "You had even gone so far as to prepare
for me a fitting welcome."

He was by this time wide awake. He picked up his peruke, clapped it on
his head, and stood up in his stocking feet.

"Your servants, sir," says he with inimitable assurance, "will always
honour their master with a fitting welcome, so long as I am steward,
on whatever misfortunes he may have declined."

"I meant," said I, "a welcome not so much fitting my mastership as
that honesty of yours, Mr. Rookley, which my Lord Derwentwater tells
me is all on the outside."

I bent forward, keeping my eyes upon his face. But not a muscle jerked
in it.

"Ah!" said he, in an indifferent voice. "Did Lord Derwentwater tell
you that? Well, I had never a great respect for his discernment;" and
he stood looking into the fire. Then he glanced at me and uttered a
quiet little laugh.

"So you knew," said he, easily, "I had it in my mind, but I could not
be certain."

"I have known it----" I cried, exasperated out of all control by his
cool audacity; and with a wave of the hand he interrupted me.

"You will excuse me," he said politely; and then, "There is no longer
any reason why I should stand, is there?" and he resumed his seat and
slipped his feet into his shoes. "Now," said he, "if you will pass the
bottle."

"No," I roared in a fury.

"Well, well," he returned, "since there seems some doubt which of us
is host and which guest, I will not press the request. You were saying
that you have known it----?"

"Since one evening when you showed me a private entrance into
Blackladies," I cried; and bending forward to press upon him the
knowledge that he had thereby foiled himself, I added in some triumph,
"I have great reason to thank you for that, Mr. Jervas Rookley."

He leaned forward too, so that our heads were close together.

"And for more than that," said he. "Believe me, dear Mr. Clavering,
that is by no means all you have to thank me for;" and he very
affectionately patted my knee.

"And that is very true," says I, as I drew my knee away. "For I have
to thank you for the fourth part of a bottle of brandy, but I cannot
just bring to mind any other occasion of gratitude."

"Oh, gratitude!" says he, with a reproachful shake of the hand. "Fie,
Mr. Clavering! Between gentleman and cousins the word stinks--it
positively stinks. Whatever little service I have done for you, calls
for no such big-sounding name."

His voice, his looks, his gestures were such as a man notes only in a
friend, and a friend that is perplexed by some unaccountable
suspicion.

"But you spoke of honesty," he continued, throwing a knee across the
other and spreading out his hands. "It is very true I played a trick
on you in coming to Paris as your servant But it is a trick which my
betters had used before me. Your Duke of Ormond got him into France
with the help of a lackey's livery. And your redoubtable Mar----"

At that name I started.

"It is indeed so," he said earnestly. "The Earl of Mar, I have it on
the best authority, worked his passage as a collier into Scotland."

It was not, however, that I was concerned at all as to how the Earl of
Mar had escaped unremarked from London. But it suddenly occurred to
me, as an explanation of Rookley's friendly demeanour, that the
insurrection might be sweeping southwards on a higher tide of success
than I had been disposed to credit. If that was the case, Mr. Jervas
Rookley would of a certainty be anxious still to keep friends with me.

"So you see, Mr. Clavering," he went on, "I have all the precedents
that a man could need to justify me."

"Well," said I, "it is not the trick itself which troubles me so much
as your design in executing it."

"Design?" says he, taking me up in a tone of wonderment "You are very
suspicious, Mr. Clavering. But I do not wonder at it, knowing in what
school you were brought up;" and rising from his chair he took a pipe
from the mantel-shelf and commenced to fill it with tobacco, "The
suspicion, however, is unjust."

He bent down and plucked a splinter of burning wood out of the fire.
"You do not smoke, I believe, but most like you do now, and at all
events you will have grown used to the smell."

I started forward and stared at him. He lighted his pipe with great
deliberation.

"Yes," said he nodding his head at me, "the suspicion is unjust." He
tossed the splinter into the fire and sat down again.

"And how is little Dorothy Curwen?" he asked, with a lazy,
contemptuous smile.

I sprang out of my seat, stung by the contempt rather than the
surprise his words were like to arouse in me. And this, I think, he
perceived, for he laughed to himself. Whereupon I felt my face flush;
and that too he noted, and laughed again.

"Then you knew," I exclaimed, recovering myself--"you knew where I
was sheltered!"

"A gentleman riding down Gillerthwaite at three o'clock of the morning
is a sufficiently rare a sight to attract attention. I believe that,
luckily, the shepherd who saw you only gossiped to a tenant of
Blackladies."

I remembered the flock of sheep which I had seen scared up the
hillside across the valley. But it was on my return from Keswick that
I had been remarked--no later than a day after Rookley had striven to
encompass my arrest.

"The news," said I, very slowly, "came to you in a roundabout fashion,
and took, I suppose, some time in the coming. I infer, therefore, that
it came to your ears after the Earl of Mar had risen in Scotland."

I was leaning upon the mantel-piece, looking down into his face, on
which the fire shone with a full light; and just for a moment his face
changed, the slightest thing in the world, but enough to assure me
that my conjecture was right.

"There are inferences, my good cousin," he said sharply, "which it is
not over-prudent for a man so delicately circumstanced as yourself to
draw."

There was a note of disappointment in his tone, as though he would
fain have hoodwinked me still into the belief that he stood my friend.
And it suddenly occurred to me that there was a new danger in this
knowledge of his--a danger which threatened not so much me as the
people who had sheltered me. I resumed accordingly in a more amicable
tone:

"It was not, however, of my whereabouts that I came hither to speak to
you, but of the whereabouts of Mr. Herbert."

"Mr. Herbert?" says he, playing surprise. "What should I know of Mr.
Herbert? Now, if I was to ask you the whereabouts of Mrs. Herbert,
there would be some sense in the question, eh?" and he chuckled
cunningly and poked a forefinger into my ribs. I struck the hand
aside.

"What, indeed, should you know of Mr. Herbert," I cried--"you that
plotted his arrest!"

"Arrest?" he interrupted, yet more dumfounded. "Plot?"

"That is the word," said I--"plot! a simple word enough, though with a
damned dirty underhand meaning."

"Ah," he returned, with a sneer, "you take that interest in the
husband, it appears, which I imagined you to have reserved for his
wife. But as for plots and arrests--why, I know no more of what you
mean than does the Khan of Crim Tartary."

"Then," said I, "will you tell me why you paid a visit to Mr. Herbert
the night before he was arrested? And why you told him that if he came
to Blackladies on the afternoon of the next day he would find Mrs.
Herbert and myself in the garden?"

It was something of a chance shot, for I had no more than suspicion to
warrant me, but it sped straight to its mark. Rookley started back in
his chair, huddling his body together. Then he drew himself erect,
with a certain defiance.

"But zounds, man!" he exclaimed, like one exasperated with perplexity,
"what maggot's in your brains? Why should I send Herbert--devil take
the fellow!--to find you in the garden when I knew you would not be
there?"

"And I can answer that question with another," said I. "Who were in
the garden at the time Mr. Herbert was to discover us?"

"The gardeners, I suppose," said he, thrusting his wig aside to
scratch his head.

"It is a queer kind of gardener that wears buttons of this sort," said
I; and I pulled the button from my pocket, and held it before his eyes
in the palm of my hand.

He bent forward, examined the button, and again looked at me
inquiringly.

"I picked it up," I explained, "on a little plot of trampled grass in
the Wilderness on the next morning."

Rookley burst into a laugh and slapped his thighs.

"Lord! Mr. Clavering," he cried, and rising from his chair he walked
briskly about the room, "your button is something too small to carry
so weighty an accusation."

"Nay," I answered, smiling in my turn, "the button, though small, is
metal solid enough. It depends upon how closely it is sewn to the
cloth of my argument It is true that I picked up the button on the
morning that the soldiers came for me, but I was in the house on the
afternoon before, and I saw----"

Jervas Rookley stopped in his walk, and his laughter ceased with the
sound of his steps.

"You were in the house?" His mouth so worked that he pronounced the
words awry. "You were in the house?"

"In the little parlour which gives on to the terrace."

Had I possessed any doubt before as to his complicity, the doubt would
have vanished now. He reeled for a moment as if he had been struck,
and the blood mottled in his cheeks.

"The house-door may be left open for one man, but two men may enter
it," said I.

"You saw?" He took a step round the table and leaned across the corner
of it. "What did you see?"

I took up a lighted candle from the table.

"I will show you," said I, and walked to the door.

He followed me, at first with uncertain steps. The steps grew firm
behind my back.

They seemed to me significant of a growing purpose--so in the hall I
stopped.

"We are good cousins, you and I," said I, holding the candle so that
the flame lighted his face.

"Without a doubt," says he, readily. "You begin to see that you have
mistaken me."

"I was thinking rather," said I, "that being good cousins, we might
walk arm-in-arm."

"I should count it an honour," said he, with a bow.

"And it will certainly be a relief to me," said I. And accordingly I
took his arm.

We crossed the hall into the parlour. The window stood open, as I had
left it, with the curtains half drawn. Rookley busily pushed them back
while I set the candle down. The sky had cleared during the last half
hour, and the moon, which was in its fourth quarter, hung like a globe
above the garden.

"I met Mr. Herbert in the hall," said I, "just outside this room. We
had some talk--of a kind you can imagine. He went down the steps with
his sword drawn. There he dropped his cloak, there he slashed at the
bushes. Between those two trees he passed out of sight. I stepped out
into the terrace to follow him, but before I had reached the flight of
steps, I heard a pistol crack and saw a little cloud of smoke hang
above the bushes there. I found the button the next morning at the
very spot, and near the button, the pistol. It was Mr. Herbert's
pistol. That," said I, "is my part of the story. But perhaps if we go
back to the warmer room you will give me your part. For I take it that
you were not in the house, else you would have heard my voice, but
rather in the garden. You made a great mistake in not looking towards
the terrace, my cousin." And again I took his arm, and we walked back.

I was, indeed, rather anxious to discover the whereabouts of Rookley
during that afternoon, since so far I had been able to keep Mrs.
Herbert's name entirely out of the narrative. If Jervas Rookley had
been in the garden during the afternoon, and had only returned to the
house in time to intercept Lord Derwentwater's letter concerning the
French King's health, and had thereupon ridden off to apply for a
warrant against me, why, there was just a chance that I might save
Mrs. Herbert from figuring in the business at all.

Rookley said nothing until we were got back into the dining-room, but
walked thoughtfully, his arm in mine. I noticed that he was carrying
in his left hand the cord by which the curtains in the little parlour
were fastened. He stood swinging it to and fro mechanically.

"Your suspicions," said he, "discompose me. They discompose me very
much. I gave you credit for more generosity;" and lifting up the
brandy bottle, he held it with trembling hands betwixt himself and the
candle.

"I am afraid that it is empty," said I.

"If you will pardon me," said he, "I will even fetch another."

He laid the cord upon the table, advanced to the door and opened it
wide. I saw him slide his hand across the lock.

"The key is in my pocket," I said.

He looked at me with a sorrowful shake of the head.

"Your suspicions discompose me very much," and he came back for a
candle. I noticed too that he carelessly picked up the cord again.

"I think," said I, "that I will help you to fetch that bottle;" and I
went with him into the hall.

There was something new in the man's bearing which began to alarm me.
He still used the same tone of aggrieved affection, but with an
indefinable difference which was none the less very apparent to me.
His effort seemed no longer to aim at misleading me, but rather to
sustain the pretence that he was aiming to mislead me. It seemed to me
that since he had become aware of what I knew concerning his treachery
he had devised some new plan, and kept his old tone to hinder me from
suspecting it. I noticed, too, a certain deliberateness in the
indifference of his walk, a certain intention in the discomposure.

In the hall he stopped, and setting down the candle upon a cabinet,
turned to face me.

"Why did you come with me?" he asked gently.

"I did not know but what you might call your servants, and, as you put
it, I am delicately circumstanced."

He raised his hands in a gesture of pity.

"See what suspicion leads a man to! My servants hold you in so much
respect that if I harboured designs against your safety, to call my
servants would be to ruin me."

I was inclined to believe that what he said was in a measure true, for
I remembered the interview which I had had with Ashlock in the
steward's office, and the subsequent consideration which had been
shown me.

Then, "Look!" I cried of a sudden, pointing my arm. Right in front of
me on that vacant space of the wall amongst the pictures hung the
portrait of Jervas Rookley.

Rookley started ever so little and then stood eyeing me keenly, the
while he swung round and round in a little circle the tassel of the
curtain cord.

"You prate to me of suspicions," I cried, "there's the proof of their
justice. This estate of Blackladies I held on one condition--that you
should receive no benefit from it. We jogged side by side, you and I,
cousins with hearts cousinly mated in the same endeavour! You still
profess it! Then explain to me: how comes it the Whigs leave you
alone, you stripped of your inheritance because of the very principles
which outlawed me? Explain that, and I'll still believe you. Prove
that you live here without the Government's connivance, I'll forget
the rest of my suspicions. I'll count you my loyal friend. Only show
me this: how comes it that I make my bed upon the bracken, and you
lord it at Blackladies? Your presence the common talk, your picture
staring from the walls?" and in my rage I plucked my sword from the
sheath, and slashed his portrait across the face, lengthwise and
breadthwise, in a cross.

The tassel stopped swinging. His shoulders hunched ever so little, his
head came forward, the eyes shone out bright like beads, and his face
tightened to that expression of foxy cunning I had noted before in mid
Channel between Dover and Dunkirk.

"It is a gallant swordsman," he said, with a sneer, "and a prudent
too."

"He looks to the original," I cried, "to give him the occasion of
imprudence;" and I faced him.

"There is a better way," said he, with the quietest laugh, and he
sprang back suddenly to the cabinet on which the candle stood. "We
will make a present of a Michaelmas goose to King George."

I saw his hand for an instant poised above the flame, red with the
light of it; I saw his figure black from head to foot, and at his
elbow another figure white from head to foot, the reflection of myself
in the mirror by his side; and then his palm squashed down upon the
wick.

The hall fell to darkness just as I made the first step towards him. I
halted on the instant. He could see me, I could not see him! He had
thrown off the mask; he had proclaimed himself my enemy, and he knew
where I had been sheltered. It was that thought which slipped into my
mind as the darkness cloaked about me, and made me curse the folly of
my intrusion here. I had hazarded not merely myself, but Dorothy and
her father. He could see me, I could not see him, and the outcome of
this adventure struck at Dorothy.

I stepped backwards as lightly as I could, until the edge of a
picture-frame rubbed against my shoulder-blades, and so stood gripping
my sword-hilt, straining my ears. Across the hall I seemed to hear
Rookley breathing, but it was the only sound I heard. There was no
shuffle of a foot; he had not moved.

Above me the twilight glimmered beneath the roof; about me the chamber
was black as the inside of a nailed coffin. If I could only reach the
windows and tear the curtains back! But half the length of the hall
intercepted me, and to reach them I must needs take my back from the
wall. That I dared not do, and I stood listening helplessly to the
sound of Rookley's breathing. In that pitch-dark hall it seemed to
shift from quarter to quarter. At one moment I could have sworn I
heard his breath, soft as a sigh, a foot's length from me; I could
almost have sworn I felt it on my neck; and in a panic I whirled my
sword from side to side, but it touched nothing within the half circle
of its reach. My fears indeed so grew upon me, that I was in two minds
whether or no to shout and bring the servants about me. It would at
all events end the suspense. But I dared not do it. Tervas Rookley
distrusted them. But how much more cause had I! I could not risk the
safety of Applegarth upon their doubtful loyalty. And then a sharp
sound broke in upon the silence. It set my heart fluttering and
fainting within me by reason of its abruptness, so that for a moment I
was dazed and could not come at the reason of it. It was a clattering
sound, and, so far as I could gather, it came from the spot where I
had last seen Jervas Rookley standing. It was like--nay, it was the
sound of a shoe dropped upon the boards. I know not why, but the sound
steadied, though it appalled me. It spoke of a doubled danger and
cried for a doubled vigilance. Rookley could not only see my white
figure; he could move to it noiselessly, for he was slipping off his
shoes.

I listened for the creak of a board, for the light padding sound of
stockinged feet, for the rustle of his coat; and while I listened, I
moved my sword gently in front of me, but my sword touched nothing and
my ears heard nothing. Yet he must be coming--stealthily stepping
across the hall---I felt him coming. But from what quarter would he
come? During those seconds of waiting the question became a torture.

And then a momentary hope shot through me. When he put the candle out
his sword was in the scabbard. He had not drawn it, since I had
listened so strenuously that I must have heard. However carefully he
drew it, a chain would clink; or if not that, the scabbard might knock
against his leg; or if not that, there would be a little whirr, a sort
of whisper as the blade slid upwards out of the sheath.

There was still a chance, then. At that point of the darkness from
which the sound should come I would strike--strike the moment I heard
it, with all my strength, down towards the floor. I tightened my
fingers about my sword-hilt and waited. But it was a very different
noise which struck upon my hearing, a noise that a man may make in the
dragging of a heavy sack. I drew myself up close to the wall, setting
my feet together, pressing my heels against the panels. The sound
filled me with such terror as I think never before or since I have
known the like of. For I could not explain it to myself. I only knew
that it was dangerous. It seemed to me to come from somewhere about
midway of the room, and I held my breath that I might judge the better
on its repetition. After a moment it was repeated, but nearer, and by
its proximity it sounded so much the more dangerous. I sprang towards
it. A sobbing cry leapt from my lips, and I lunged at a venture into
the darkness. But again my sword touched nothing, and with the force
of that unresisted thrust I stumbled forward for a step or two. My cry
changed into a veritable scream. I felt the fingers of a hand gently
steal about each of my ankles and then tighten on them like iron
fetters. I understood; halfway across the room Rookley had lowered
himself full-length upon the floor and was crawling towards me. I
raised my sword to strike, but even as I raised it he jerked my feet
from beneath me, and I fell face forwards with a crash right across
his body. My sword flew out of my hand and went rolling and clattering
into the darkness. My forehead struck against the boards, and for a
moment I lay half stunned. It was only for a moment, but when that
moment had passed, Jervas Rookley was upon me, above me, his arms
twined about mine and drawing them behind me, his knees pressed with
all his might into the small of my back.

"We will truss the goose before we send it to King George," said he.



                             CHAPTER XVI.

                       ASHLOCK GIVES THE NEWS.


Then I remembered the curtain cord. I felt that Rookley was trying to
pass it from one hand to the other beneath my arms; I could hear the
tassel bobbing and jerking on the floor, and I summoned all my
strength to draw my arms apart For if he prevailed, here was the end
of all my fine resolve to secure Mr. Herbert's enlargement!

I had flattered myself with that prospective atonement, as though it
was a worthy action already counted to my credit. I saw this in a
flash now, now that I was failing again, and the perception was like
an agony in my bones. It seemed to me that a woman's face rose out of
the darkness before me, mournful with reproach, and the face was not
the wife's who waited in Keswick, but Dorothy's. She looked at me from
beneath a hood half thrown back from the head and across her shoulder,
as though she had passed me, even as I had seen in my fancies a
woman's face look at me, when I had watched the procession of my hours
to come in the Rector's Library at the Jesuit College.

Meanwhile Rookley's knee so closely pressed me to the floor that my
struggles did but exhaust myself, and delay the event. I was no match
for him in bodily strength, and he held me, moreover, at that
disadvantage wherein a weak man might well have triumphed over a
strong.

I could get no purchase either with hand or foot, and lay like a fish
flapping helplessly on the deck of a boat, the while he pressed my
arms closer and closer together.

It is not to be imagined that this unequal contest lasted any great
while. The thoughts which I have described raced through my mind while
my cry seemed still to be echoing about the walls, and as though in
answer to that cry, a latch clicked as I felt the cord tighten about
my elbows.

The sound came from somewhere on the opposite side of the hall, and I
do not think that Rookley heard it, for now and again he laughed in a
low, satisfied fashion as though engrossed in the pleasure of his
task. I heard a shuffling of feet, and a light brightened in the
passage which led to the steward's office. A great hope sprang up
within me. There was one servant in the house whom I could trust.

"Ashlock!" I shouted at the top of my voice.

The footsteps quickened to a run.

"Damn you!" muttered Rookley, and he let go the cord. He had raised
his hand to strike, but I did not give him time for the blow. With a
final effort I gathered up my knees beneath me and raised myself on my
fore-arms. Rookley's balance was disturbed already. He put out a hand
to the floor. I got the sole of my foot upon the boards, jerked him
off my back, and rolled over upon him with my fingers at his throat.
Ashlock ran towards us with a lighted lamp in his hand. I let go my
hold and got to my feet. Rookley did the same.

"You came in the nick of time," said Rookley, "My good cousin would
have murdered me;" and he arranged his cravat.

"That's a lie," said I, with a breath between each word.

"It was Mr. Clavering's cry I heard," said Ashlock.

And while he spoke a commotion arose in the upper part of the house.
Doors opened and shut, there was a hurry of footsteps along the
passages, and voice called to voice in alarm. My cry had roused the
household, and I saw Jervas Rookley smile. I crossed the hall and
picked up my sword. As I returned with it, I saw here and there a
white face popped over the balusters of the staircase.

"I have fought with you in your way," said I. "It is your turn to
fight with me in mine."

Rookley crossed his arms.

"To fight with a hunted traitor!" said he. "Indeed, my cousin, you ask
too much of me; I would not rob the gallows of so choice a morsel.
Burtham, Wilson, Blacket!" and he lazily called up the stairs to the
servants clustered there. "This is your work. Ashlock, do you carry
the news to the sheriff."

I glanced at Ashlock; he did not stir. On the staircase I heard a
conflict of muttering voices, but as yet no one had descended. So a
full minute passed, while my life and more than my life hung in the
balance.

I kept my eyes on Rookley, debating in my mind what I should do, if
his servants obeyed him. Every nerve in my body tingled with the
desire to drive at him with my sword point; but he stood, quietly
smiling, his arms folded, his legs crossed. I could not touch him;
being unarmed he was best armed of all, and doubtless he knew it.

"Well!" he asked, as with some impatience. "Are my servants leagued
against their master to betray his King?"

One man descended a couple of steps, and then Ashlock spoke.

"Sir," he said, "it is not for poor men like us to talk of kings.
Kings are for you, masters are for us. And as it seems there are two
kings for you to choose between, so there are two masters for the
likes of us. And for my part," he raised his voice, and with his voice
his face, towards the stairs--"for my part, I stand here;" and he
crossed over to me and stood by my side.

I can see the old man now as he held up the lamp in his tremulous hand
and the light fell upon his wrinkled face. I can hear his voice
ringing out bold and confident. It was Ashlock who saved me that
night. I saw the servants draw back at his words, and the mutter of
voices recommenced.

"Very well," cried Rookley, starting forward. "Choose him for your
master, then, and see what comes of it!" He shook his fist towards the
servants in his passion. "One and all you pack to-morrow. Your master,
I tell you, is the master of Blackladies."

"They have no master, then," I cried, for it seemed that at his words
they again pressed forward. "For you have less right here than I."

Rookley turned and took a step or two towards me, his eyes blazing,
his face white. But he spoke in a low voice, nodding his head between
the words:

"They shall pay for this at Applegarth."

It was my turn to start forward.

"Dorothy Curwen shall pay for this--little Dorothy Curwen!"--with a
venomous sneer. "Your friend, eh? But mine too. Ah, my good cousin, it
seems your fortune always to come second."

At that I did what I had so much longed to do when I first saw him
asleep. He was within two feet of me; I held my drawn sword in my
hand. I made no answer to him in speech, but the instant the words
were past his lips, I took my sword by the blade, raised it above my
head, and brought the hilt crashing down upon his face. He spun round
upon his heels and pitched sideways at my feet.

"Now, Ashlock," said I, "get me a horse."

"But there's no such thing, sir, at Blackladies," he replied. "They
were seized this many a week back."

"How travels this?" and I pointed to Jervas Rookley.

"He travels no further than between the dining-room and the cellar."

And I crossed into the little parlour and picked up my cloak and hat
Then I returned to the hall. Burtham had raised Jervas Rookley's head
upon his knee, and Wilson was coming from the kitchen with a bason of
water and a towel. They looked at me doubtfully but said no word. I
went to the hall door, unfastened the bolts, and started at a run down
the drive. I had not, however, advanced many yards, when a cry from
behind brought me to a halt; and in a little, old Ashlock joined me.

"I did but go for my hat, sir," he said, reproachfully. "A bald pate
and an old man--they are two things that go ill with a night wind."

He was walking by my side as he spoke, and the words touched me to an
extreme tenderness. He was venturing himself, without a question, into
unknown perils, and for my sake. I could hear his steps dragging on
the gravel, and I stopped.

"It must not be," I said. "God knows I would be blithe and glad to
have a friend to bear me company, and it is a true friend you have
been to me." I laid a hand upon his shoulder "But it is into dangers
and hardships I shall be dragging you, and that I have no right to do
without I can give you strength to win through them, and that strength
I cannot give. These last days, the rain and hail have beat upon me by
day, and the night wind has whistled through my bones in the dark. My
roof-tree has been a jutting rock, my bed the sopping bracken, and so
it will be still. It needs all my youth to bear it, it will mean death
and a quick death to you. You must go back."

"Master Lawrence," he replied, catching at my arm, "Master Lawrence, I
cannot go back!" and there was something like a sob in his voice.

"Had we horses," I continued, "I would gladly take you. But even this
morning there is work for me to do that cries for all my speed."

Ashlock persisted, however, pleading that I should name a place where
he could join me. Two things were plain to me: one that he had
resolved to throw his lot in with me; the other that I must cross the
fells to Applegarth without the hamper of his companionship. For
Jervas Rookley, I felt sure, would seize the first moment of
consciousness to exact his retribution. At last a plan occurred to me.

"You have crossed to Lord's Island already," I said. "Go to Lord
Derwentwater again. Tell him all you have heard to-night, and make
this request in my name: that he will keep you until I send word where
you can join me."

"But Lord Derwentwater has fled," Ashlock exclaimed. "He fled north to
Mr. Lambert, and thence goes to his own seat at Dilston, in
Northumberland."

"He has fled! How know you this?"

"I was at Lord's Island this two days since, sir, seeking news of you.
The warrant was out for him even then. He meets Mr. Forster at
Greenrig, on the 6th of October. He told me he had sent to your
hiding-place and bidden you join him there."

"At Greenrig with Mr. Forster? Then the country's risen." I could have
gone down on my knees as I had seen my cousin do. "If only God wills,
the rising will succeed;" and I cried out my prayer, from a feeling
even deeper than that I cherished for the King. "Listen, Ashlock! The
morning is breaking. Do you meet me by noon betwixt Honister Crag and
Ennerdale Lake. There is a path; hide within sight of it;" and without
waiting to hear more from him I set out at a run across Borrowdale. It
was daylight before I had crossed the valley, and the sun was up.

But I cared little now whether or no I was seen and known. Since
Jervas Rookley knew I had lain hidden those first weeks at
Applegarth--why, it mattered little now who else discovered the fact.
But indeed, Jervas Rookley was not the only one who knew.

For when I reached Applegarth, I found the house deserted. I banged at
the door, and for my pains heard the echo ring chill and solitary
through an empty house. I looked about me; not a living being could be
seen. Backwards and forwards I paced in front of those blind windows
and the unyielding door. I ran to the back of the house, thinking I
might find an entrance there. But the same silence, the same deadly
indifference were the only response I got. I know not what wild fears,
what horrible surmises passed through my mind! It was because the
house had sheltered me, I cried to myself, that desolation made its
home there. I dropped on the grass and the tears burst from my eyes.
For I remembered how Dorothy had sung within the chambers, how her
little feet had danced so lightly down the stairs.

Ashlock was already waiting me when I retraced my steps to the
Honister Crag, and, indeed, I was long behind the time.

"To Greenrig," I said. Towards evening, however, Ashlock's strength
gave out, and coming to the house of a farmer, I procured a lodging.
In truth, I was well-nigh exhausted myself. The next day, however,
Ashlock was in no condition to accompany me, and leaving a little
money which I had with me for his maintenance, I went forward on my
way alone.

Sleeping now in a cottage, now in the fields, and little enough in
either case, using such means of conveyance as chance offered me upon
the road, I came early in the morning of the sixth to Greenrig in
Northumberland, and while wandering hither and thither, in search of
the place of meeting, and yet not daring to inquire for it, I came
upon a cavalcade. It was Lord Derwentwater at the head of his
servants, all armed and mounted. I ran forward to meet him.

"What is it, lad?" he asked, reining in his horse. I do not wonder
that he had no knowledge of me. For my clothes hung about me in
tatters. No dirtier ragamuffin ever tramped a country road.

"How is it they did not seize your horses?" I asked, with my wits
wandering.

Lord Derwentwater laughed heartily.

"There is a saying of Oliver Cromwell's," he replied, "that he could
gain his end in any place with an ass-load of gold. But who are you
that put the question?" and he bent over his horse's neck.

I caught at the reins to save myself from falling.

"I am Lawrence Clavering," I said; "you bade me meet you here." And
with that I swooned away.



                            CHAPTER XVII.

                        THE MARCH TO PRESTON.


It was more from the exhaustion of hunger than any other cause that I
fainted, and being come to myself, I was given food and thereafter
accommodated with a horse; so that without any great delay the
calvacade proceeded to its rendezvous. We fell in with Mr. Forster at
the top of a hill, which they call the Waterfalls, and swelled his
numbers to a considerable degree, there being altogether gathered at
this spot, now that we were come, near upon sixty horse, gentlemen and
their attendants, and all armed. After a short council it was decided
that we should march northwards and meet Brigadier Macintosh at Kelso.
Besides, argued Mr. Forster, there was great reason to believe, that
if we did but appear before the walls, Newcastle would open its gates
to us; in the which case we should not only add largely to our forces
but secure that of which we stood most in need--I mean ordnance and
ammunition. "For," said he, "Sir William Blackett, whose interest is
very considerable in the town, has armed and enlisted in troops all
the colliers and keelmen and miners in his pay, and does but wait for
us to set them in motion."

Accordingly, in the height of confidence and good spirits, the little
band set out towards Plainfield on the river Coquett, though for my
part I could but ponder in the greatest distress upon the deserted
aspect of Applegarth. Nor was Lord Derwentwater in any way able to
relieve my fears, seeing that he had himself been seeking refuge from
one place to another. I was driven therefore to persuade myself, as
the best hope which offered, that Mr. Curwen and his daughter had
embarked in the _Swallow_ and were now come safely to France. Yet,
somehow, the while I persuaded myself, my heart sank with the thought
of the distance that was between us.

We came that night to Rothbury, and sleeping there, marched the next
morning to Warkworth, where, the day being Saturday, the 7th of
October, Mr. Forster resolved to lie until the Monday. It was in the
parish church of Warkworth that Mr. Buxton, our chaplain, first prayed
publicly for King James III., substituting that name for King George,
and it was in Warkworth too that King James was first of all in
England proclaimed King of Great Britain. I remember standing in the
market-place listening to the huzzaing of our forces and watching the
hats go up in the air, with how heavy a heart! So that many chided me
for the dull face I wore. But I was picturing to myself the delight
with which Dorothy would have viewed the scene. I could see her eye
sparkle, her little hand clench upon her whip; I could hear her voice
making a harmony of these discordant shouts.

On Monday we rode out of Warkworth, and being joined by many gentlemen
at Alnwick and other places, and in particular by seventy Scots Horse
at Felton Bridge, marched into Morpeth, three hundred strong, all
mounted. For we would entertain no foot, since we had not sufficient
arms even for those we had mounted, and moreover were in a great haste
to surprise Newcastle. To this end we hurried to Hexham, where we were
joined by some more Scots Horse, and drew out from there on to a moor
about three miles distant It was there that we sustained our first
disappointment. For intelligence was brought to us from Newcastle that
the magistrates having got wind of our designs, had gathered the
train-bands and militia within the walls, and that the gates were so
far from opening to receive us that they had been walled up and
fortified with stone and lime to such a degree of strength that
without cannon it was useless to attempt them.

Accordingly we marched chapfallen back to Hexham and lay there until
the 18th, with no very definite idea of what we should do next
However, on the 18th a man came running into the town crying that
General Carpenter with Churchill's Dragoons and Hotham's foot, and I
know not what other regiments, had on this very day arrived at
Newcastle from London, and without an instant's delay had set about
preparing to attack us. The news, you may be sure, threw us into a
pretty commotion, and the colour of our hopes quite faded. Messengers
sped backwards and forwards between General Forster and Lord
Derwentwater and Captain Shaftoe; councils were held, broken up,
reformed again; the whole camp hummed and sputtered like a boiling
kettle. I passed that day in the greatest despair, for if this rising
failed, every way was I undone. It was not merely that I should lose
my life, but I should lose it without securing that for which I had
designed it--I mean Mr. Herbert's liberation. In the midst of this
flurry and confusion, however, Mr. Burnett of Carlips rode into
Hexham, with a message that Viscount Kenmure, and the Earls of
Nithsdale, Carnwath, and Wintoun had entered England from the western
parts of Scotland and were even now at Rothbury. Mr. Forster returned
an express that we would advance to them the next morning; the which
we did, greatly enheartened by the pat chance of their arrival, and
being joined together with them marched in a body to Wooler on the
following day and rested the Friday in that village.

We crossed the Tweed and entered Kelso on the 22nd of October, and
about an hour after our entry the Highlanders, with their outlandish
bagpipes playing the strangest skirling melodies, were led in by old
Mackintosh from the Scots side. The joy we all had at the sight of
them may be easily imagined, and indeed the expression of it by some
of the baser followers was so extravagant that a man can hardly
describe it with any dignity. But I think we all halloo'd them as our
saviours, and so even persuaded our ears to find pleasure in the
rasping of their pipes.

The next day being Sunday, Lord Kenmure ordered that Divine Service
should be held in the great Kirk of Kelso, at which Papists and
Protestants, Highlanders and Englishmen attended very reverently
together; and I believe this was the first time that the rubric of the
Church of England was ever read on this side of the Forth in Scotland.
Mr. Patten, I remember, who after turned his coat to save his life,
preached from a text of Deuteronomy, "The right of the first-born is
his." And very eloquent, I am told, his sermon was, though I heard
little of it, being occupied rather with the gathering of men about
me, and wondering whether at the long last we had the tips of our
fingers upon this much-contested crown. For the Highlanders, though
poorly armed and clad, had the hardiest look of any men that ever I
saw. My great question, indeed, was whether amongst their nobles they
had one who could lead. For on our side, except for Captains Nicholas
Wogan, and Shaftoe, we had few who were versed in military arts, and
Mr. Forster betrayed to my thinking more of the incompetency of the
born Parliament-man than the resourceful instinct of the born
strategist; in which opinion, I may say, I was fully warranted
afterwards by that fatal omission in regard to Kibble Bridge.

On the Monday morning the Highlanders were drawn up in the churchyard
and marched thence to the market-place, in all the bravery of flags
flying, and drums beating, and pipes playing. There they were formed
into a circle, and within that circle another circle of the Gentlemen
Volunteers, whereof through the bounty of Lord Derwentwater, in
supplying me with money and arms, I was now become one; and within
that circle stood the noblemen. Thereupon a trumpet sounded, and
silence being obtained, the Earl of Dumferling proclaimed King James,
and read thereafter the famous manifesto which the Earl of Mar sent
from his camp at Perth by the hand of Mr. Robert Douglas.

We continued, then, in Kelso until the following Thursday, the 27th of
October, our force being now augmented, what with footmen and horse,
to the number of fourteen hundred. The delay, however, gave General
Carpenter time to approach us from Newcastle, and he on this same
Thursday came to Wooler and lay there the night, intending to draw out
to Kelso and give us battle on the following day. No sooner was the
intelligence received than Lord Kenmure calls a council of war, and
here at once it was seen that our present union was very much upon the
surface. For whereas Earl Wintoun was all for marching into the west
of Scotland, others were for passing the Tweed and attacking General
Carpenter. For, said they, "in the first place, his troops must needs
be fatigued, and in the second they do not count more than five
hundred men all told, whereof the regiments of Dragoons are newly
raised and have seen no service."

Now, either of these proposals would in all probability have tended to
our advantage, but when a multitude of counsels conflict, it is ever
upon some weak compromise that men fall at last; and so it came about
that we marched away to Jedburgh, intending thence to cross the
mountains into England. Here it was that our troubles with the
Highlanders began. For they would not be persuaded to cross the
borders, saying that once they were in England they would be taken and
sold as slaves, a piece of ignorance wherein it was supposed Lord
Wintoun had tutored them. Consequently our plans were changed again,
and instead of crossing into North Tynedale, we turned aside to
Hawick, the Highlanders protesting that they would not keep with us
for the distance of an inch upon English soil.

From Hawick we marched to Langholme, a little market-town belonging to
the Duchess of Buccleugh; and there we made another very great
mistake. For here the Earl of Wintoun strongly advised that we should
make ourselves masters of Dumfries, and to that end, indeed, a
detachment of cavalry was sent forward in the night to Ecclefechan.
And no doubt the advice was just and the plan easy of accomplishment.
Dumfries, he urged, was unfortified either by walls or trainbands; it
stood upon a navigable river whereby we might have succours from
France; it opened a passage to Glasgow; and the possession of so
wealthy a town would give us great credit with the country gentlemen
thereabouts, and so be the means of enlarging the command. All these
arguments he advanced, as Lord Derwentwater, who was present at the
council, informed me, with singular moderation of tone, but finding
that they made no sort of headway with the English party:

"It is sheer folly and madness," he burst out. "You are so eager to
reap your doubtful crops in Lancashire, that you will not stoop to the
corn that lies cut at your feet. I tell you, there are many stands of
arms stored in the Tolbooth and a great quantity of gunpowder in the
Tron Steeple, which you can have for the mere taking. But you will
not, no, you will not. Good God, sirs, your King's at stake, and if
you understand not that, your lives;" and so he bounced out of the
room.

The truth is we of the English party were so buoyed up by the
expresses we received from Lancashire that nothing would content us
but we must march hot-foot into England. And though, of course, I had
no part or share in the decision of our course, I was none the less
glad that our side prevailed, nay, more glad than the rest, since I
had an added motive. For so long as we remained in Scotland there
would be no disturbance of administration in England. Examinations
would be conducted, assizes would be held, and for all I knew, Mr.
Herbert might be condemned and hanged while we were yet marching and
countermarching upon the borders. The thought of that possibility was
like a sword above my head; I raged against my ignorance of the place
of Mr. Herbert's detention. Had I but known it, I think that in this
hesitation of our leaders I would have foregone those chances of
escape which the rebellion promised, and ridden off at night to
deliver myself to the authorities. For it was no longer of my
dishonour, if I failed to bring the matter to a happy event, at least
for Anthony Herbert and his wife, that I thought. But the prospect of
failure struck at something deeper within me. It seemed in truth to
reach out sullying hands towards Dorothy. I held it in some queer way
as a debt to her, due in payment for my knowledge of her, that I
should fulfil this duty to its last letter. So whenever these councils
were in the holding, I would pace up and down before the General's
quarters, as a man will before the house in which his mistress lies
sick; and when the counsellors came forth, you may be sure I was at
Lord Derwentwater's elbow on the instant, and the first to hear the
decision agreed upon.

From Langholme, then, we crossed into England. It is no part of my
story to describe our march to Preston, and I need only make mention
of one incident during its continuance which had an intimate effect
upon my own particular fortunes.

This incident occurred when we were some ten miles out of Penrith. The
whole army was drawn up upon a hill and lying upon its arms to rest
the men. I was standing by the side of young Mr. Chorley, with my eyes
towards Appleby, when Mr. Richard Stokoe, who acted as quartermaster
to Lord Derwentwater's troop, suddenly cried out behind me--

"Lord save us! Who is this old put of a fellow?"

"He mounts the white cockade," said young Mr. Chorley, turning and
shading his eyes with his hand.

"And moves a living arsenal," said the other with a laugh.

"Yet hardly so dangerous as his companion, I should think."

"Very like. We'll set her in front of the troops, and so march to
London with never a shot fired. But, Clavering!" he cried of a sudden.
"What ails the man?"

But Clavering was galloping down the hillside by this time, and did
not draw rein to answer him. For the old put of a fellow and his
companion were no other than Mr. Curwen and his daughter. A living
arsenal was in truth no bad description of the old gentleman; for he
carried a couple of old muskets slung across his shoulders, a pair of
big pistols were stuck in his belt, another pair protruded from the
holsters, a long straight sword slapped and rattled against his leg,
while a woodman's axe was slung across his body.

When I was a hundred yards from the pair I slackened my horse's speed:
when the hundred yards had narrowed to fifty, I stopped altogether.
For I remembered my unceremonious departure from Applegarth, and was
troubled to think with what mien they would accost me. I need,
however, have harboured no fears upon that score. For Mr. Curwen cried
out:

"I wagered Dorothy the sun to a guinea-piece that we should find you
here."

"I did not take the wager," cries Dorothy, as she drew rein; she added
demurely, "But only because he could not have paid had he lost."

They were followed at a little distance by some half a dozen shepherds
and labourers mounted on ponies, which, to say the least, had long
since passed their climacteric, and armed with any makeshift of a
weapon which had happened to come handy. The troop drew up in a line,
and Mr. Curwen surveyed them with some pride.

"They lack a banner," said he, regretfully. "I would have had Dorothy
embroider one of silk for Roger Purdy, in the smock there, to
carry--straighten your shoulders, Roger!--a white rose opening, on a
ground of sky-blue, but----"

"But Dorothy had some slight sense of humour," says she, "and so would
not."

"Then," said I, with a glance of perplexity towards the girl, "you
are, indeed, come to join us?" For I could not but wonder that she who
had so resolutely removed her father from the excitement of the
preceding intrigues, should now second his participation in the
greater excitement of the actual conflict.

"Indeed," he cries, "I am; and Dorothy has come so far to wish us a
God-speed, but will return again with Dawson there. What did I tell
you, Mr. Clavering? There is a work for the weakest arm. But you are
surprised!"

"I am surprised," I answered, "that Mary Tyson is not here as well."

"Ah," said he, "do you know, Mr. Clavering, I fear me I have done some
injustice to Mary Tyson. I thought her a poor witless body." Dorothy
made a movement, and he hurriedly interposed, "The best of servants,
but," and he glanced again defiantly at his daughter, "a poor witless
body outside the household service. But since the messenger came with
the constables to Applegarth, she has shown great good sense, except
in the matter of simples. For, indeed, my pockets are packed with
them."

"The constables came to Applegarth!" I exclaimed, bethinking me of
Jervas Rookley's threat. "And when was that?"

Miss Curwen, I noticed, was looking at me with a singular intentness
as I uttered the exclamation, and gave a little nod of comprehension
as I asked the question. It was as though my asking it assured her of
something which she had suspected.

"When?" echoed Mr. Curwen, with a smile. "Why, the morning you left
us. You were right in your surmise, and I take it very kindly that you
delayed so long as to scribble your gratitude, though that delay was
an added danger."

"Oh, I was right?" said I, though still not very clear as to what it
was that I had surmised correctly; and again Miss Curwen nodded.

"Yes!" said he, "but, indeed, it was early for travellers. But we were
waiting for you at the breakfast-table when we first heard the
sheriff's horses. I was not sure that you would hear them at the back
of the house."

"But one of the windows looked down the road," said I, understanding
why he had seen no discourtesy in my precipitate departure. I could
not in any case give the real reason which had prompted me to that,
and since here was one offered to me, why, I thought it best to fall
in with it--"the window about which I hunted so long for the owl," I
added, turning to Miss Curwen, For her manner of a minute ago warned
me that she put no great faith in her father's explanation of my
conduct, and I was desirous to test the point.

"You hunted vainly," said she, "because the owl flitted one night,"
and so left me in doubt.

"That is true," continued Mr. Curwen to me. "I did not think of the
window, and indeed was somewhat puzzled by the quickness of your
escape. For I sent Mary Tyson to warn you the while I barricaded the
door and held a parley with the sheriff from the window. She came back
to tell me you were gone."

"Would she had come back quicker!" exclaimed Dorothy with a shudder.

"Why?" I cried at the sight of her distress. "Was there--was
there--any hurt done? Oh no, not to you. I could never forgive
myself."

"No, not to us," replied Mr. Curwen. "Dorothy takes the matter too
much to heart. Had she fired of a purpose she would have been right,
or very little to blame. For I am old-fashioned enough to consider a
guest sacred as an altar-vessel. But since she fired by mistake----"

"Miss Curwen fired!" I said.

"And shot the sheriff from behind my shoulder," continued Mr. Curwen.

"Father!" she entreated, covering her face with her hands.

"Nay, child," said he, reassuringly. "There was no great harm done. A
few weeks with his arm in a sling."

"But I saw the blood redden through his sleeve!" cried she, drawing
her hands down from her face and clasping them together. And as though
to rid herself of the topic she jogged her bridle and rode forward.

I turned my horse and followed with Mr. Curwen, the while he gave me
more precise account of what had happened.

"The sheriff took an absurd and threatening tone when he found the
door barred, which suited me very ill. So I bade Dorothy load my
pistols while I parleyed with the man. He threatened me in I know not
how many Latin words and in a tone of great injury, whereupon,
perceiving that, since he spoke a learned tongue and wore the look of
a gentleman, it would be no derogation, I threw down my glove as a
gage and challenged him to take it up."

I shot a glance at Mr. Curwen, but he spoke in a simple, ordinary
voice.

"Instead of doing that," he continued, "he disappointed me greatly by
a violent flow of abuse, which was cut short on the instant by
Dorothy's pistol. She was standing behind me, who stood on a chair,
and fired beneath my arm. 'Oh, the poor dear!' she cried, 'I have hurt
him,' and plumped down in a faint. It was indeed the luckiest accident
in the world, for the constables, seeing their chief wounded, were
sufficiently scared to stay no longer than gave them time to pick him
up."

"But all this occurred a month ago!" I exclaimed, "Surely the
sheriff's men returned."

"In the evening; but they found no one at Applegarth. Dorothy and I
with Mary Tyson were on our way to Carlisle. The other servants I sent
to their homes. We have good friends at Carlisle, Mr. Clavering," he
said, with one of his prodigiously cunning winks, "very good, safe
friends. We said good-bye to them when your army had passed Carlisle,
and so returned home."

"And Miss Curwen?" I asked. "What of her, since you come with us?"

"She will be safe at home now," said he, "and Mary Tyson is there to
bear her company."

"She will be safe, no doubt," said I, "so long as we keep the upper
hand."

We were by this time come to the top of the hill, and Dorothy was
already talking to Lord Derwentwater.

"So," says he, coming forward and taking Mr. Curwen by the hand, "here
are the four of us proscribed."

"We will wear our warrants for an order at St. James's Palace," cries
Dorothy; and at that moment the trumpet sounded.

A brief leave-take between Dorothy and her father, and we were
marching down the hill, Mr. Curwen joined to the Gentlemen Volunteers,
his six henchmen enrolled in Lord Derwentwater's troop.

Dorothy remained behind upon the hilltop with the servant who was to
convey her home, and though we marched away with our backs towards
her, I none the less gathered, as we went, some very distinct
impressions of her appearance. Nor can it be said that they were the
outcome of my recollections. For when I first saw her riding towards
the hill, I was only conscious that it was she riding towards me, and
very wonderful it seemed. And afterwards, when I heard her voice, I
was only conscious that it was she who was talking, and very wonderful
that seemed too. But I did not remark the particulars of her
appearance. Now as we were marching away, I gained very distinct
impressions, as for instance of: item a little cocked hat like a
man's, only jauntier; item a green riding-coat; item a red waistcoat,
etc. The truth is, my head was turned backwards all the time, and we
had not advanced more than a couple of hundred yards before my horse
was turned in the same direction. For I let myself fall to the rear
until I was on the edge of the troops, and then faced about and fairly
galloped back to her.

She was looking with great intentness in the direction precisely
opposite to that from which I came; and as I halted by her side:

"Oh!" said she, turning in the most perfect surprise, "I did not think
that it would be you. I expected it would be my father."

"I gathered that," I replied, "from your indifference."

She answered nothing, but industriously stroked the mane of her horse.

"Now say 'owl,'" I added.

She began to laugh, then checked herself and looked at me with the
chilliest stare.

"And if I did say 'owl,'" she asked in a puzzled simplicity, "would it
rain?"

I began to wish that I had not spoken.

"Well?" she insisted, "what if I did say 'owl'?"

"I should say 'Robin Redbreast,'" I replied weakly.

"And a very delicate piece of wit, to be sure, Mr. Clavering," says
she with her chin in the air. "You have learnt the soldier's
forwardness of tongue. Let me pray you have learnt his----" And then,
thinking, I suppose, from my demeanour that I was sufficiently
abashed, she broke off of a sudden. "I would that I were a man," she
cried, "and could swing a sword!"

She looked towards the little army which defiled between the fields,
with the sun glinting upon musket and scabbard, and brought her
clenched fist down upon the pommel of her saddle.

"Nay," said I, "you have done better than swing a sword. You have shot
a sheriff, though it was by accident."

She looked at me with a certain timidity.

"You do not blame me for that?"

"Blame you. And why?"

"I do not know. But you might think it--bloodthirsty," she said, with
a quaver in her voice, betwixt a laugh and a cry.

"How could I, when you swooned the instant afterwards?"

"My father told you that!" she exclaimed gratefully; and then: "But he
did not tell you the truth of the matter. He said I fired by accident.
But I did not; I meant to fire;" and she spoke as though she was
assuring me of something incredible. "Now what will you say?" she
asked anxiously.

"Why," said I foolishly, "since it was done to save your guest----"

"Oh dear, no," she interrupted coolly, and the anxiety changed to
wonder in her eyes. "Indeed, Mr. Clavering, you must not blame
yourself that it was on your account I fired." She spoke with the
greatest sympathy. "You have no reason in the world to reproach
yourself. It was because of my father. He threw down his glove from
the window and challenged the sheriff to mortal combat, with whatever
weapons he chose, and the sheriff called him--mad. It was that angered
me. I think, in truth, that I was mad. And since the pistol was loaded
and pointed at the man, I--I pulled the trigger." Then she turned to
me impulsively, "You will have a care of my father--the greatest care.
Oh, promise me that!"

"Of a truth, I will," I replied fervently.

"Thank you," said she, and the old friendliness returned to her face.
"We could not keep him. From the day that he heard of the rising in
Northumberland, he has been in a fever. And he meant to go without our
knowing. You are familiar with his secrecies;" she gave a little
pathetical laugh. "He was ever scouring his pistols and guns in the
corner when he thought we should not see him. He meant to go. I feared
that he would slip from the house one night, like----" She caught
herself up sharply, with half a glance at me. "So it seemed best to
encourage him to go openly. Besides," she added slowly, bending her
head a little over her horse's back--she seemed to be carefully
examining the snaffle--"I thought it not unlikely that we should find
you here."

"Ah, you had that thought in your mind?" I cried, feeling my heart
pulse within me. "Indeed, it turns my promise to a sacred obligation.
What one man can do to keep your father safe, believe it, shall be
done by me." I was looking towards the receding army as I spoke, and a
new thought struck me. "You would have let me go," I exclaimed in
reproach, "without a hint of your request, had I not come back to
you?"

She coloured for an instant, but instead of answering the question--

"I knew you would come----" she began, and broke off suddenly. "Yes,
why did you come back?" she asked in a voice of indifferent curiosity.

"I had not said good-bye to you. You gave me no chance, and it hurt me
to part from you that way."

"But I thought that was your custom," she replied, with some touch of
resentment underneath the carelessness. "It would not have been the
first time. You were careful not to leave a light burning in the
stables the last night you quitted Applegarth."

"I saw that you knew."

"Yes," said she, hurriedly. "I heard your foot upon the gravel."

"But I said good-bye to the candle in your window all that night,
until the morning broke from a shoulder of High Stile. I had to go.
There were reasons."

She interrupted me again in a great hurry, and with so complete a
change of manner that I wondered for a moment whether Mary Tyson had
related to her the conversation at the gate of the garden.

"I have no wish to hear them," she said with a certain pride.

"Nor I to tell you of them," I returned, and doubtless I spoke in a
humble and despondent voice.

"I do not know the secret," she said gently; "but if I can help you at
all----" she relapsed into gentleness. "Why, you are helping me, and I
would gladly pay you in the same coin."

"Nay," said I, shaking my head, "no one can help me. It is my own
fault, and I must redeem it by myself. It was a little thing in the
beginning, only I did not face it. It grew into a trouble, still I did
not face it Now the trouble has grown into a disaster, and I must face
it."

She sat her horse in silence for a moment.

"I have known for a long while that there was some trouble upon you.
But are you sure"--she turned her face frankly to me--"are you sure I
cannot help? Because I am a woman, after all?" she said with a
whimsical smile.

"Miss Curwen," said I, "if this was a case wherein any woman could
fitly help me, believe me, I would come to you first in all this
world. But----" I hesitated, feeling it in truth very difficult to say
what yet remained. But I had already said too much. I had said too
much when I told her I had watched the light in her window, and the
consciousness of that compelled me to go on. "But the business is too
sordid. I would have no woman meddle in it, least of all you. The
trouble is the outcome of my own wilful folly, and my one prayer is
that I draw the consequence of it solely upon my head." I gathered up
the reins and prepared to ride away.

"Well," said she, in a voice that trembled ever so little, "we may at
least shake hands;" and she held out her hand to me. "And observe, Mr.
Clavering," she continued with a smile, "I say _hands_," laying some
emphasis upon the word.

I could not take it.

"I have not even the right," I said, "to touch you by the finger-tips.
But," and I drew in a breath, "if ever I regain that right----"

"You will," she interrupted, her voice ringing, her face flushing, her
eyes bright and sparkling. "I am sure of that. You will."

The confidence, however misplaced, was none the less very sweet to me,
and I felt it lift my heart for a moment. But then--

"Even if that comes true," I replied, "there will still be a barrier
which will prevent you and me from shaking hands, and that barrier
will be a prison-door."

She started at the word, as though with some comprehension; and since
I had no heart to explain to her more concerning the pit into which I
had fallen, I raised my hat and rode down the hill. It seemed to me
that the prison-door was even then shutting between us in the open
air. For these last days I had lost my hopes that in this rising we
should succeed. The chessboard was spread open, and the chessmen
ranged upon the board. We had no pawns, and only novices to direct the
game. There was General Wills in front of us, and General Carpenter
behind us; and, moreover, one question dinning in our ears, at every
village where we halted, at every town where we encamped, "Where is
the King?" With the King in the midst of us, who knows but what the
country might have risen? But, alas! the King was not as yet even in
Scotland, and since he delayed, what wonder that our lukewarm friends
in England tarried too?

All this flashed through my mind as I rode down the hillside, and the
reflection brought with it another thought I turned in my saddle. I
could just see Miss Curwen disappearing on the further side of the
hill, and again I rode up to the top and descended with a shout
towards her.

"Should we fail," I cried hurriedly--"should the usurper hold his
own----"

"And you think he will, I know," she answered. "You told me so a
minute ago, when you spoke of the prison-door."

Her words fairly took my breath away. I stared at her, dumbfoundered.
Did she know my story, then?

"But if we fail, what then?" And her question brought me back to her
own necessities.

"Why, there will be a great danger for you at Applegarth."

She turned to me very solemnly.

"If we fail," she said, "keep that word you pledged to me. I shall
treasure the pledge, knowing you will not break it, Guard my father!"

"But it is of you that I am thinking."

"Of me?" she said; "why, if needs be, I suppose I--I can shoot another
sheriff;" and with a plaintive little laugh she set the spur to her
horse.

I rode across the hill, and, once upon the flat, galloped after our
regiments. The expression of her confidence was as a renewal of my
blood. It sang in my ears sweet, like a tune dimly remembered, and
heard again across a waste of years. "I would fulfil that double
trust," I cried with a leaping heart, and then in more humility fell
to a prayer that so I might be permitted.

For it was a double trust I felt. It was not merely that I was pledged
to the safeguarding of her father, but it seemed to me that I was no
less firmly pledged to bring about that other and more difficult
result. I must regain the right to hold her hand in mine, even though
I might win no advantage from the right.



                            CHAPTER XVIII.

                      AT PRESTON AND AFTERWARDS.


The siege of Preston forms no part of this story, and fortunately so
for me, since I saw and understood of its brief and fatal enactment no
more than was done under my own nose. Why General Wills and his
dragoons were allowed to pass the Ribble Bridge and the narrow lane
which leads to it without so much impediment as a single shot might
cause; why Mr. Forster made no attempt to break out down the
Fishergate Street into the marshes beyond the town when General
Carpenter closed in upon our rear; by what persuasions the Highlanders
were finally induced to lay down their arms--these are questions for
historians to dispute and find answer to, if they can. For my part, I
fought at Macintosh's barrier a little below the church, where the
first attack was made, with one eye upon Preston's regiment of foot in
front and the other upon Mr. Curwen at my side; and what with the
enemy and my friend, my hands were full.

The attack was made about eleven of the forenoon. I remember very
distinctly the extraordinary hush that fell upon us when our friends
from the windows of the houses above us signalled that the troops were
approaching. In front stretched the empty street, so still, so bare in
the sunlight, and taking on of a sudden an appalling significance.
Half an hour before, messengers had ridden hither and thither with
resounding hoofs, patrols tramped upon the footway, citizens peeped
timorous from casement and door. We had glanced down it as we looked
to our weapons with a matter-of-fact word: "This way they will come."
Now it seemed to wait in a conscious expectation, the responsible
agent of destiny. France, Scotland, England, every country in Europe
had a stake to be played for in this street, and it was as though it
had been new-swept and garnished for the game. I know that every
cobble throughout its length seemed to gleam in the sunlight distinct
and separate from its fellows. And then, whilst we stood silent behind
the barrier, while from the windows the Highlanders bent forward
craning their necks, grasping their muskets, the deadly silence was
broken by the ringing tramp of a single horse, and from a passage at
the side betwixt two houses in the middle distance, an officer rode
out into the open causeway with his drawn sword in his hand. For a
moment, every man of us, I think, held his breath. The officer looked
up the street to the barrier and again down the street and at the
windows to see how our men were posted. Then a shout went up, loud,
unanimous, like a single voice; with a single movement every musket
was raised to the shoulder, and in a second the air whistled with
bullets and flashed in a hundred tiny flames. But it seemed the
officer bore a charmed life. No bullet struck him then, and cantering
back within the shelter of the passage, he presently led out and
ranged his men. The men were Preston's regiment; the officer, their
Lieutenant-colonel, the Lord Forrester, and with their appearance the
battle was begun in earnest. I have hinted that I had some difficulty
in restraining Mr. Curwen's ardour, and Lord Forrester gives me an
instance pat to the point. For during that moment's silence, when the
colonel stood alone in the street, Mr. Curwen climbs unsteadily to the
top of the barrier, and with his white hair blowing from his
shoulders, his dreamy eyes ablaze with I know not what fancies of
antique chivalry, calls upon the colonel to settle then and there with
him in single combat the succession to the Crown. Or, rather begins to
call, I should say, for the moment at which he began to speak was
precisely that moment at which I saw the muskets go up to the
shoulders, and leaping after him I pulled him unceremoniously down.

And here we found the value of our cannon. For we had two pieces at
our barricade, and though they failed at first, it was owing to a
sailor who professing skill and experience was entrusted with the
management of them, and who aiming at Preston's regiment in the
street, with great ingenuity brought down a chimney from the tops of
the houses. The truth is the man was full with ale, but having got rid
of him, we fared better, and firing securely from behind the barrier,
did so much execution as made our adversaries draw off.

That night we remained at the barrier firing platoons whenever a light
appeared in those houses which we knew to be occupied by our
opponents, and getting such sleep as we could to fit us for the
morrow.

The next morning, however, we heard that General Carpenter by forced
marches had come upon our rear so that the town was invested about,
and there was no way for us except by the gates of death. And at the
same time many rumours of a capitulation were spread abroad which
drove the Highlandmen into a frenzy. All the morning then we remained
in the greatest uncertainty, but about three of the afternoon Colonel
Cotton rode up the street with a dragoon and a drum beating a chamade
before him, and then we knew that these rumours were indeed the truth.
He alighted at the Mitre, whither we presently saw Lord Kenmure, Mr.
Forster, and Lord Widdrington making haste to join him; and in a
little came a messenger to us seeking Lord Derwentwater. He was at the
moment digging in a trench to deepen it, with his waistcoat off; and
slipping on his clothes:

"Curse the fellow!" he cried, and so turned to me, "Lawrence! never
trust a Tory! If you outlive this misfortune never speak to one! They
are damned rogues in disguise. Here's Lord Widdrington, good tender
man that cannot travel without his soup in a bottle! Curse the fellow!
All yesterday, while you and I, and the rest of my good friends here,
were pleading the cause with the only music our enemies will dance to,
what was my Lord Widdrington doing, but sitting in an alehouse,
licking his bottle of soup? The gout he blames! Well, well, the gout
is a very opportune complaint;" and so striking his hands together to
remove the mud from them, off he goes to the Mitre.

It was some little while before he returned to me, during which I
bethought me not so much of the pass into which I had fallen, as the
means by which I might extricate myself. For extricate myself I must.
There was Mr. Herbert in the first place. Here was the end of our
insurrection, and I thrown back upon my first plan of delivering
myself to the authorities; and in the second, I must needs get Mr.
Curwen to some spot in which he could lie safely, until such time as
the matter had blown over; and furthermore, to these two duties was
yet added a third and new obligation. Yet, I think it was this last
which enheartened me to confront the other two, for there was
something very sweet in the mere notion of it, which leavened all my
distress.

In about two hours came Lord Derwentwater back, and drawing me aside:

"It is not a capitulation," he said, "but a mere surrender. Forster is
given till seven of the morning to reconcile his troops to it.
Meanwhile, I go with Colonel Cotton as a hostage." He pulled out his
purse as he spoke, and rummaging in his pockets, added to it such
coins as he had loose about him.

"We will divide them," said he. "Nay, they will be of more service to
you than to me. I was quartered with an apothecary--you know the
house--a man very discreet and loyal. Doubtless he will do for you
what he can if you add my recommendation to your request. It may be
that you can escape, since you are hampered with no companions and are
little known."

"Nay," I replied, "I have Mr. Curwen to safeguard, if by any means I
can. He gave me shelter and every kindness when I was at my wits'
ends. Besides----" And then I came to a stop and felt myself flushing
hot, but hoped the grime of the gunpowder would hide my confusion.

"Well?" he asked shrewdly--"Besides?"

"Besides," I stammered, "I promised his daughter."

"Ah!" said he, "I told you it would be Dorothy Curwen;" and with that
he shook me by the hand. But at the touch I realized of a sudden all
the love and friendliness which he had shown to me from my first
coming into Cumberland. I had a picture before my eyes of the house on
Lord's Island--my Lord and his Lady in the cosy parlour; the children
in their cots above. I looked into his face; it was bravely smiling.
The chill November evening was crowding upon us as we stood there in
the street; the lights began to shine in the windows; close to us a
soldier was cursing Mr. Forster; beyond the barrier, down the street,
one of Will's dragoons was roaring out a song; and before the Mitre
door under the lamp Colonel Cotton was sitting on his horse. I could
say nothing to Lord Derwentwater but what would point his misfortunes,
and so--

"My lord," I cried simply, "God send that you and I may meet again."

"God send no answer to that wish, Lawrence," he replied solemnly.

He walked lightly to the Mitre door, as lightly as a man to his
wedding. He mounted his horse; his face shone clear for a moment
beneath the lamp, and that was the last glimpse I had of it. He rode
down the street with Colonel Cotton; I made my way in all haste to the
apothecary with whom he had lodged.

I had some talk with the apothecary, of which the purport will appear
hereafter, and returned for Mr. Curwen, whom I found immediately, and
my servant Ashlock, whom I did not find until late in the evening. For
he had been employed in carrying gunpowder from barrier to barrier, so
that I knew of no fixed spot where I could lay my hands on him.
However, as I say, I found him at the last, and when General Wills
marched into Preston Market-place at seven o'clock of the Monday
morning, Mr. Lawrence Clavering, with a blue apron about his waist,
was taking down the shutters from the apothecary's shop, while Mr.
Curwen, much broken by fatigue and disappointment, lay abed in an
attic of the house, with Ashlock to tend on him.

All that day, which was Monday the 14th of November, I lived in a
jumping anxiety. For the shop from morn to night was beset with people
seeking remedies for the wounded. These people, however, for the most
part, belonged to General Wills' force; and luckily the citizens of
the town had so much to distract them in the spectacle of the troops
and of the prisoners--now ranged in the market-place, now marched off
and locked up in the church--and in their own joy at escaping from the
siege with so little damage, that they forgot those trivial ailments
which bring them to the apothecary's. So the new journeyman, pounding
drugs in a corner as far from the window as he could creep, escaped
notice for that day and lay down to sleep beneath the counter with a
mind a thought easier than his aching arm.

In something less than a minute, it seemed to me, I felt a tug at my
coat. I started up with a cry, and looking to see the red coat of a
soldier, beheld the homely brown of my friend the apothecary. His hat
was on his head, the door of the shop stood open, and the full
daylight poured into it.

"Thomas," he said, with a whimsical glance through his spectacles, "I
cannot do with an idle apprentice. I must cancel your indentures."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Willy nilly I must keep you for to-day, since I have a little journey
to take and I cannot leave the shop untended. But to-morrow, Thomas,
you must go." With that he grew more particular, and informed me that
General Carpenter intended to lead his troops to Wigan no later than
this very morning, since they could not be housed in Preston, and
were, moreover, in sore need of rest from the rapidity of their march.

"General Wills," he continued, "is left to guard the prisoners, and
that doubtless he can do--but he cannot watch the streets as well."

Thereupon he gave me some directions as to what answers I should give
to his customers, and went off upon his errand. And as a result of
this errand, on the Wednesday evening the apothecary took a walk. He
walked down the Fishergate Street, and every now and again, when a
watchman or an officer going his rounds approached, he knocked twice
upon the pavement with a heavy cane he carried, and maybe loitered for
a little until the officer had passed. There were three men following
him, whereof one I can affirm kept his hand beneath his great-coat
tightly clasped about the butt of a loaded pistol; and whenever that
double knock sounded, the three men dived into the first alley that
presented. The apothecary's walk led across the marsh to the river's
bank. The marsh itself might be deemed an unlikely spot for a
comfortable citizen to take the air in when the night mist was smoking
up from it to a November moon. But the rest of his peregrination was
more extraordinary still. For he chose that point of the bank at which
the river shallows and makes a ford, and without hesitation waded
across. On the opposite side he waited for the three who followed to
come up with him; which they did with a little delay, since two of
them were old and the footing not the steadiest in the world. Half a
mile along the bank the apothecary went forward and whistled. A boat
slipped out from a clump of alders and the fugitives stepped on
board. There was a hurried whisper of thanks from the boat, a bluff
pooh-poohing of them from the bank, and the boatman pushed off. We
kept down the stream for some two hours, and disembarking again, after
once more re-crossing the river, struck slantwise over the fields, and
so towards morning came to a fisherman's cottage set amongst the
sand-hills by the sea. It was here that my apothecary was wont to come
upon his holidays and spend the time fishing; and he could have hit
upon no refuge better suited to my purpose.

My first thought, however, when the boatman admitted us into his
cottage, was for Mr. Curwen. It was now some hours since he had waded
through the ford, and what with his wet limbs and the weary tramp
across the fields, I was afraid lest he might fall into some dangerous
fever. I was the more inclined to credit this fear from a perception
that he was more troubled and downcast than I had seen him even after
our submission and defeat. Accordingly, I asked the boatman to lend
him some woollen stockings and other dry garments, which the man very
readily did, and set before us thereafter a meal.

Mr. Curwen, however, eat little or nothing, but sat shaking his head,
as though the world had crumbled about his ears. I made an effort
therefore to rally him into the recovery of his good spirits, though
with the heaviest heart. "All was not lost," I said, "for here were we
with whole skins, in a secure retreat, while, on the other hand, the
Earl of Mar might be winning who knows what victories in Scotland."

"It is not of the King," he replied regretfully, "nor of myself that I
was thinking. It was of my daughter. I fear me, Mr. Clavering, I have
given too much thought to a cause in which I was of the smallest use,
and too little to Dorothy, with whom my duty lay."

He spoke in a breaking voice and with a gleam of tears in his
lack-lustre eyes.

"Mr. Curwen," said I, changing my note on the instant, "on the Sunday
afternoon at the barricade I bethought me with all humility of the
path which I must take through this tangle of our misfortunes; I saw
very clearly that there were three duties enjoined on me. The first
was, to help you to security, if by any means I could. Nay," I said,
as he raised a hand in deprecation, "it was a promise I made to your
daughter, and, believe me, it is one of the few comforts left to me in
what remains of life that I see some prospect of carrying that promise
to a successful issue. The second duty was, to bring your daughter
Dorothy," and it was my voice now which broke upon the word, "safely
to you. That I have promised to myself, but I hold it no less sacred
than the first."

He reached out a hand to me across the table.

"And the third?" he asked timidly.

"It is the payment of a debt," I replied--"a debt incurred by me to be
repaid by me, and I put it last, not because it is of less incumbency
than the other two, but because it ends my life, and with my life such
poor service as I can do my friends."

"It ends your life!" he exclaimed.

"So I do hope," I replied, and since I meant the words, I can but
trust there was no boastfulness in the expression, "for it is my life
alone that can now set the tally straight God knows, my trouble lies
not in the payment, but in the means of payment. For there are matters
which I do not know, and it may be that I shall waste my life."

This I said, thinking of my ignorance as to where Mr. Herbert lay
imprisoned. I had a plan in my head, it is true, which offered me some
chance of accomplishing this duty, but it only offered me a chance.
Mrs. Herbert had promised me that she would remain in the lodging at
Keswick, and during the interval since I had last set eyes on her, she
might well have received news of her husband's whereabouts. But would
she keep the promise--she had every reason in the world to distrust
me--would she keep the promise I had so urgently besought of her?

"Mr. Clavering," said my friend, "I told you just now I was afeared I
had thought too much of the King and too little of my Dorothy, but
these words of yours put even that better thought to the blush. You
have been at my elbow all the last days protecting me; you have
brought about my escape; you are planning how to save my daughter;
and all this while you have seen--you, young in the sap of your
strength--you have seen the limits of your life near to you, as that
barrier by the church was near to us at Preston. And not a word of it
have you spoken, while we have bemoaned ourselves and made no secret
of our misery. Not a word have you spoken, not a hint has your face
betrayed."

"Mr. Curwen, I beg of you," I replied quickly, for the praise jarred
on me, as well it might. "A man does not speak what it shames him even
to think of. But to my plan."

I drew from my pocket a sheet of paper and a pencil, with which I had
provided myself before I quitted the apothecary's shop.

"Your sloop the _Swallow_ should be lying now off the mouth of the Esk
by Ravenglass."

Mr. Curwen started at my abrupt remark. Was it merely that, amidst the
turmoil and hurry of the last weeks, he had clean forgotten his design
to set me over into France? Or was it that he had countermanded his
order since that night when I had fled from Applegarth?

"It should be cruising thereabouts to pick me up," I said, feeling my
heart drumming against my breast. I did not dare to put the question
in its naked directness. "It should have reached Ravenglass by now."
Mr. Curwen sat staring at me. "The ship--the ship I mean! Oh, answer
me!" I cried. "Answer me!"

"Yes!" he said slowly. "The _Swallow_ should be now at Ravenglass.
That is true." He seemed to be assuring himself of the fact and
speculating on its import.

"You sent no message to prevent it sailing, after I left you?"

"None!" said he.

I drew a breath of relief.

"But we are now at the fifteenth of November. How long did you bid the
captain wait?"

Mr. Curwen seemed of a sudden to grasp my design, though, as he showed
me in a moment, he had got no more than an inkling of it.

"Until you hailed him," he replied, rising from his chair in some
excitement "He was to wait for you. That was the top and bottom of his
orders. There was no time fixed for your coming."

"Then," said I, in an excitement not a whit less than his, "the
_Swallow_ will be waiting now up the coast?"

In the little room we could hear the surf booming upon the sand. I
flung open the window. The sound swelled of a sudden, as though the
music of a spinet should magically deepen to an organ-harmony.

"Your _Swallow_," I exclaimed, "lifts and falls upon the very waves
which we hear breaking on the sands."

Mr. Curwen stepped over to my side. The sandhills stretched before us,
white under the moon, and with a whisper from the grasses which
crowned them. I found a cheering comfort in their very desolation.
Beyond the sandhills, the sea leaped and called, tossing to and fro a
hundred jewelled arms. I felt my heart leaping with the waves,
answering their call, and the fresh brine went stinging through my
veins.

"Northwards," I cried, reaching out an arm, "round the point there, up
the coast, beyond Morcambe Bay the _Swallow_ waits for us. It is no
great distance, Mr. Curwen. God save Lord Bolingbroke, who betrayed
the Catalans!" I heard my voice ring with an exultation I had not
known for many a day. I strained my eyes northwards along the sea. It
seemed to my heated fancies, that the barrier of the shores fell back.
My vision leaped over cape and bay, and where the Esk poured into the
sea by Muncaster Fell I seemed to see the _Swallow_, its black mast
tapering across the moon; I seemed to hear the grinding of its cable
as it strained against the anchor.

Then very quickly Mr. Curwen spoke at my side.

"There is my daughter. In this great hope of ours, are we not
forgetting her?"

"Nay," I replied, "it is of your daughter I am thinking. You trust
your captain, you say? You trust your captain will be waiting now? If
so, he will be waiting a fortnight's time; he waits until I come." I
drew Mr. Curwen back to the table.

"Look you, Mr. Curwen, I marched with Mr. Forster from the outset of
the rising. We crossed from the Cheviots into England on the 1st of
November; we proclaimed King James in Preston Market-square upon the
10th. Nine days enclosed our march, and we marched in force. There
were other necessities beyond that of speed to order our advance.
There was food to be requisitioned, towns to be chosen for a camp
wherein our troops could quarter. At Penrith, at Appleby, we drew up
for battle. All this meant delay. Some of us rode, no doubt, but our
pace was the pace of those who walked. And, mark, nine days enclosed
our march. A man alone and free to choose his path would shear two
days from that nine, maybe three. I cannot choose my path, there will
be hindrances. I must travel for the chief part by night. But I have
not so far to go. Grant me nine days, then! It is the sixteenth--nay,
the seventeenth. On the twenty-sixth I should be knocking at the door
of Applegarth."

"Nay," said he, "you will be captured. You have risked enough for us,
more than enough. Mr. Clavering, I cannot permit that you should go."

"Yet," said I, with a smile, "you will find that easier than to
prevent me. You told me of a safe route between Applegarth and
Ravenglass," I continued. "How long will it take a woman to traverse
it?"

"I called it safe," he answered doubtfully, making dots upon the paper
with the point of his pencil, "because it stretched along the
watersheds. But that was in September. Now it may be there will be
snow."

The winter indeed had fallen early that year. Yes, the snow might be
deep on the hills. I had a picture before my eyes of Dorothy
struggling through it.

"Then we will add another day," I answered, and strove to make the
answer light. "Given that other day, how long shall we take from
Applegarth to Ravenglass?"

"Three days," said he, "or thereabouts."

"Nine days and three, twelve together. Your daughter, Mr. Curwen,
shall be on board the _Swallow_ by the twenty-ninth. Meanwhile I think
you can lie safely here with Ashlock. From Ravenglass the sloop shall
sail directly here, and, taking you up, make straight for France. So
sketch me here the way from Applegarth!"

Mr. Curwen drew a rough outline on the paper while I bent over him.

"You will mount to the top of Gillerthwaite," he said, "then bear to
the right betwixt Great Gable and the pillar. Descend the grass into
Mosedale. Here is Wastdale Church; strike westwards thence to the
great gap between Scafell and the Screes. This is Burnmoor--five miles
of it, and there is no water; after you pass Burnmoor tarn until you
have come down to Eskdale. Cross Eskdale towards the sea. The long
ridge here is Muncaster Fell. Keep along the slope of it, and God send
you see the _Swallow!_"

He gave me the paper. I folded it carefully and thrust it into my
pocket. Then I took up my hat and held out my hand to him. He took it,
and still clasping it came to the door with me, and out into the open.

"Mr. Clavering," he said, "when you first came to Applegarth I told
you that I had lost a son. Tonight I seem to have found another, and
it would be a great joy to me if, when the _Swallow_ puts in here, I
could see that second son upon its deck."

I stood for a moment looking at him, his words so tempted me! The
difficulties of the adventure which lay before me became trivial in my
eyes as the crossing of a muddy road. My fancy, bridging all between,
jumped to the moment when the _Swallow_ should loose its sails with
Dorothy on board. I saw myself in imagination standing by her side,
watching the Cumberland Hills lessen and dwindle, the while we
streamed down the coast towards the sandbanks here.

"Then you shall see me," I longed to cry. But the thought of another
woman weeping by a lonely lamp in Keswick crept into my heart, and
thereafter the thought of a man lying somewhere kennelled in a prison.



                             CHAPTER XIX.

                           APPLEGARTH AGAIN.


I travelled along the beach until I reached the southern cape of
Morecambe Bay, and only now and again swerved inland when I espied
ahead of me the smoke and houses of a village. This I did more for
safety's sake than for any comfort or celerity in the act of walking.
Indeed, the sand, which, being loose and dry, slipped and yielded with
every step I took, did, I think, double the labour and tedium of my
journey. But on the other hand, the country by the sea-coast was flat,
so that I could distinguish the figures of people and the direction of
their walk at a long distance--a doubtful advantage, you may say, and
one that cut both ways. And so it would have been but for the grassy
sand-hills which embossed the wide stretch of shore. It was an easy
thing to drop into the grass at the first sight of a stranger and
crawl down into the hollows betwixt the hillocks; and had such
an one pursued me, he would have had the most unprofitable game of
hide-and-seek that ever a man engaged in. I had other reasons besides
for keeping near the sea. For since I travelled chiefly by night
and in the late and early quarters of the day, I had need of a
resting-place when the day was full. Now so long as I kept to the
coast I had ever one ready to my hand amongst these lonely and
desolate sandhills, where I was easily able to scoop out a bed, and so
lie snug from the wind. For another thing, I had thus the noise of the
sea continually in my ears. I did not know in truth what great store I
set on that, until a little short of Lancaster I turned my back on it.
The sea sang to me by day and by night, lulling me like a cradle-song
when I lay cushioned among the sand-hills, inspiriting as the drums of
an army when I walked through the night. It was not merely that it
told me of the _Swallow_ swinging upon its tides, and of the great
hopes I drew therefrom, but it spoke too with voices of its own, and
whether the voices whispered or turbulently laughed, it was always the
same perplexing mystery they hinted of. They seemed to signify a
message they could not articulate, and it came upon me sometimes, as I
sat tired by the shore, that I would fain sit there and listen until I
had plucked out the kernel of its meaning. I used to fancy that once a
man could penetrate to that and hold it surely, there would be little
more he needed to know, but he would carry it with him, as a magic
crystal wherein he could see strangely illuminated and made plain, the
eternal mysteries which girded him about.

From Morecambe Bay I turned inland towards the borders of Yorkshire,
and passing to the east of Kirby Lonsdale, that I might avoid the line
of Forster's march, curved round again towards Grasmere. Here I began
to redouble my precautions, seeing that I was come into a country
where my face and recent history might be known. For since I had left
the coast I had voyaged in no great fear of detection, taking a lift
in a carrier's cart when one chanced to pass my way, and now and again
hiring a horse for a stage. The apothecary at Preston, in addition to
his other benefactions, had provided me with an inconspicuous suit of
clothes, and as I had money in my pockets wherewith to pay my way, I
was able to press on unremarked, or at least counted no more than a
merchant's clerk travelling upon his master's business.

From Grasmere, I mounted by the old path across Cold Barrow Fell,
which had first led me to Blackladies, and keeping along the ridge
crept down into Keswick late upon the seventh day. There was no light
in Mrs. Herbert's lodging as I slipped down the street, and for a
second I was seized with a recurrence of my fear that she had left the
town. It was only for a second, however. For that conviction which I
had first tasted when I rode down Gillerthwaite in the early morning,
had been growing stronger and stronger within me, more especially of
late. I was possessed by some instinctive foreknowledge that the
occasion for which I looked would come; that somehow, somewhere I
should be enabled to bring forward my testimony to the clearing of Mr.
Herbert from the imputation of disloyalty. It was a thought that more
and more I repeated to myself, and each time with a stouter
confidence. It may be that these more immediate tasks to which I had
set my hand--I mean the rescue of Mr. Curwen and his daughter from the
consequence of participation in the rebellion--hindered me from
looking very closely into the difficulties of the third and last. It
may be, too, that this conviction was in some queer way the particular
message which the sea had for me--that I had received the message
unconsciously while pondering what it might be. I do not know; I only
know that when I repeated it to myself, it sounded like nothing so
much as the booming of waves upon a beach.

I slept that night under a familiar boulder on the hillside above
Applegarth, and in the early morning I came down to the house, and
without much ceremony roused the household. Mary Tyson poked her head
out of a window.

"Miss Dorothy?" I cried

"She is asleep."

"Wake her up and let me in!"

So I was in time. Mary Tyson came down and opened the door; and in a
little, as I waited in the hall, I heard Dorothy's footsteps on the
stairs.

"You have escaped!" she cried; "and my father--you bring bad news of
him?"

"No; I thank God for it, I bring good news."

And the blood came into her cheeks with a rush.

I told her briefly how we had escaped from Preston. She listened to
the story with shining eyes.

"And all this you have done for--for us?" she said with a singular
note of pride in her voice.

"It is little," I replied, "even if what's left to do crowns it
successfully. But if in that we go astray, why, it is less than
nothing." Thereupon I told her of the plan which I had formed with
regard to the _Swallow_, and of the journey which she and I must take.
She listened to me now, however, with an occupied air, and interrupted
me before I had come to a close.

"It is you who have done this?" she repeated in the same tone which
she had used before.

"I did but keep my promise. It was made to you," I answered simply.

"I am your debtor for all my life."

"No," I cried. "It is the other way about."

"I do not feel the debt," she said very softly, and then raising a
face all rosy: "Ah, but I let you stand here!" she exclaimed. "You
shall tell me more of your plan while we breakfast, for I am not sure
that I gave a careful ear to it;" and taking me by the arm she led me
towards the dining-room. "You have come from Preston in all this
haste. My poor child!" She spoke in a quite natural tone of pity, and
I doubt not but what my appearance gave a reasonable complexion to her
pity. It was the motherliness, however, which tickled me.

"What is it you laugh at?" she asked suddenly, her voice changing at
once to an imperious dignity.

"I was thinking," said I, "that your head, Miss Curwen, only reaches
to my chin."

"If God made me a dwarf," said she, with a freezing stateliness, "it
is very courteous of you to reproach me with it--the most delicate
courtesy, upon my word."

She was in truth ever very sensitive as to her height, and anxious to
appear taller than she was; for which anxiety there was no reason
whatever, since she was just of the right stature, and an inch more or
less would have been the spoiling of her; which opinion I most
unfortunately expressed to her, and so made matters worse. For said
she--

"Your condescension, Mr. Clavering, is very amiable and consoling;"
and with that she left me alone in the room, until such a time as
breakfast should be ready. I went out, however, in search of Mary
Tyson, and finding her, explained my design, and asked her to put
together in a bundle the least quantity of clothes which would suffice
for Dorothy until she reached France. Mary fell in with the plan
immediately, and began to regret her age and bulk that would hinder
her from keeping pace with us. But I cut short her discourse, and
bidding her hasten on the breakfast, made shift with a basin of water
and a towel to hurriedly repair the disarray of my toilet.

For now every instant of delay began to drag upon my spirits. Once
upon the hillside, it would be strange, I thought, if we did not
contrive to come undetected to Ravenglass. We had to cross two
valleys, it is true, but they were both rugged and bleak, with but few
dwellings scattered about them, and those only of the poorer sort,
inhabited by men cut off from the world by the barrier of the hills,
who from very ignorance could not, if they would, meddle in their
neighbours' affairs. The one danger of the journey that I foresaw lay,
as I have said, in the great fall of snow.

But here within the walls of the house it was altogether different.
Danger seemed impending about me. Every moment I looked to hear the
beat of hoofs upon the road, and a knocking on the door. It was, I
assured myself, the most unlikely thing that on this one day the
officers should come for Dorothy Curwen, but the assurance brought me
little comfort I tasted in anticipation all the remorse which I should
feel if the girl should be taken at the very moment of deliverance.

I was the more glad, therefore, when, on coming into the garden, I
found Dorothy already dressed for the journey, in a furred waistcoat
and a hood quilted and lined with a rose-coloured taffety.

"That is wise," said I, "for I fear me, Miss Curwen, we shall have it
cold before we get to our journey's end."

She said never a word, but stood looking at me, and if glances could
make one cold, I should have been shivering then.

"But let me be quick," I continued. "Is it known that you are at
Applegarth? Have you ridden far abroad?" And in my anxiety I went over
to the window and gazed down the road. Neither did she answer my
questions, but, standing by the fireplace, in an even, deliberate
voice she began to read me a lecture upon my manners.

"Miss Curwen!" I cried; "do you understand? Every moment you stay
here, every word you speak, imperils your liberty."

She waited patiently until I had done, and continued her lecture at
the point where I had interrupted her, as though I had not so much as
spoken at all.

"This is the purest wilfulness!" I interrupted again, being indeed at
my wits' end to know how I should stop her. I think that I showed too
much anxiety, with my bobbings at the window, and exclamations, and
that, seeing my alarm, she prolonged her speech out of sheer
perversity to punish me the more. At last, however, she came to an
end, and we set ourselves to the breakfast in silence. However, I was
too hot with indignation to keep that silence wisely.

"The most ill-timed talk that ever I heard," I muttered.

She laid her knife and fork on the instant, and quietly recommenced. I
rose from the table in a rage, and by a lucky chance hit upon the one
argument that would close her lips.

"You forget," said I, "that your father's safety depends on your
escape. If you and I are taken here, how shall he get free?" And in a
very few minutes after that I took up the bundle Mary Tyson had made
ready, and we crossed the threshold of Applegarth and made our way up
Gillerthwaite.

It was still early in the morning, but I pushed on with perhaps
greater urgency than suited my companion, since I was anxious that we
should lie that night in Eskdale. Dorothy, indeed, walked more slowly
than was usual with her, and there seemed to me to be an uncertainty
in her gait, at which I was the more surprised, since the wind blew
from the east, and we, who were moving eastwards, were completely
sheltered from it by the cliffs of Great Gable, towering at the head
of the valley. The steeper the ascent became, the greater grew the
uncertainty of movement, so that I began to feel anxious lest some
sickness should have laid hold upon her. I thought it best, however,
to say nothing of my suspicion, but contented myself with glancing at
her stealthily now and again. There was no hint of sickness
discoverable upon her face, only she pursed her lips something
sullenly, as though she was persisting in what she knew to be wrong;
and once I thought that her eyes caught one of my troubled glances,
and she coloured like one ashamed. At last, just as we had topped the
summit of the pass, and were beginning to descend the broad, grassy
cliffs between that mountain and the Pillar, she spoke, and it was the
first time she had opened her lips since we had left Applegarth.

"It is an apology you need, I suppose," said she, with a singular
aggressiveness, and my anxiety increased. For since I could not see
that I had given her any occasion to take that tone, I was inclined to
set it down to some bodily suffering.

"An apology?" I asked, with an effort at a careless laugh. "And what
makes you fancy I need that?"

"It is so," she insisted, "else you would not be glowering at me in
this ill-humour."

"Nay," I answered seriously, "I am in no ill-humour."

"You are," she interrupted almost viciously. "You are in the worst
ill-humour in the world. Well, I do apologize. I should not have kept
you waiting at Applegarth."

And I do not think that I ever heard an apology tendered with a worse
grace.

"And now that I have begged your pardon," she continued, "I will carry
my own bundle, thank you;" and she held out her hand for it.

"No indeed, and that you will not do," said I, hotly, "if you beg
pardon from now to Doomsday."

"It is perfectly plain," said she, "that you mean to pick a quarrel
with me."

Now, that I took to be the most unjust statement that she could make.
And--

"Who began it?" I asked. "Who began the quarrel?"

"It is a question," she replied, with the utmost contempt, "that
children ask in a nursery;" and very haughtily she marched in front of
me down the hillside.

We had not gone more than a few yards before I stopped, only half
stifling the cry which rose to my lips. I plumped down on the grass
and fumbled in my pockets. Dorothy paused in her walk, turned, and
came back to me.

"What is it?" she cried, and, I must suppose, noting my face, her tone
changed in an instant "Lawrence, what is it? What is the paper?"

The paper was that on which Mr. Curwen had sketched the line of our
journey. We were come to the curve in our descent into Mosedale from
which that line was visible, as plainly marked on the face of the
country as on the paper which I held in my hand. On the ridge of the
horizon I could see the long back of Muncaster Fell, but it was not
that which troubled me. We could keep on the western flank of
Muncaster Fell. It was that gap between Scafell and the Screes which
leads on to Burnmoor! I looked east and west. This gap that I see, I
said to myself, is not the gap which Mr. Curwen meant; there will be
another--there will be another! But all the time I knew most surely
that this was the gap, and that over it stretched our path. Slantwise
across Wastdale, and bearing to the right, Mr. Curwen had said. Well,
Wastdale lay at my feet, its fields marked off by their stone walls,
like the squares on a chess-board. Yes, that indeed was our way. Why,
I could see Burnmoor tarn, of which he had made particular mention,
and--and it lay like a pool of ink upon a sheet of white paper. There
was the trouble! The wind had blown from the southeast this many a
day, and with the wind, the snow; so that while in Gillerthwaite, in
Ennerdale, in Newlands, through which I had come to Applegarth, I had
seen the snow only upon the hilltops, and had not been troubled with
it at all; there on Burnmoor it was massed from end to end. And
Burnmoor was five miles across. I looked at Dorothy. Could she
traverse it--she that was ailing? Five miles of snow, and the wind
sweeping across those five miles like a wave! For there was no doubt
but we should have the wind. If I looked upwards towards Scafell, I
could see, as it were, the puff of a cannon's smoke rising up into the
air. That was the wind whirling the snow. If I looked downwards into
Wastdale, I could see the yew-trees by the church tossing their boughs
wildly this way and that. I could hear it rushing and seething in
Mosedale bottom. I looked at Dorothy, and my anxiety grew to alarm.

"What is it troubles you?" she said again.

Well, somehow or another this line had to be traversed. I should serve
no end by increasing her suffering with an anticipation of the evils
before us.

"Nothing," I answered, thrusting the paper back into my pocket "I was
wondering whether or no I had mistaken our road." And I rose to my
feet.

I could perceive from her face that she knew I was concealing some
obstacle from her. She turned abruptly from me, and led the way
without a word I followed, noticing, with an ever-increasing dismay,
how more and more she wavered as the descent grew steeper. And then
all at once I caught sight of something which set me laughing--loudly,
extravagantly, as a man will at the sudden coming of a great relief.
Dorothy stopped and regarded me, not so much in perplexity, as in the
haughtiest displeasure.

"Good lack!" I cried; "nay, don't stare at me. I cannot but laugh. For
I believe it was the beginning of a fever troubled you, and now I know
it to be a pair of heels."

She flushed very red and turned herself to face me, so that I could no
longer see more than the tips of her toes.

"I know too the cause of your anger against me. It was a mere
consciousness that you should not be wearing them."

"Oh, what a wiseacre!" says Dorothy, confiding her opinion to the
rocks about her. "What a wonderful perceptive wiseacre! how Miss
Curwen is honoured with his acquaintance!" All this in a tone of quiet
sarcasm, which would have been more effectual had she not stamped her
foot upon the ground. For on stamping, the heel slipped upon a loose
stone, and had I not been near enough to catch her, the next instant
she would have been lying full-length on the ground.

She gave something of a cry as I caught her, and sitting down, panted
for a little. We both contemplated the heels. Then I drew out the
paper again from my pocket.

"It was this I was considering;" and I handed it to her. "Mr. Curwen
sketched it for me, and it is the way we have to go."

I pointed out the gap and the snow upon Burnmoor. She followed the
direction of my gaze with a shiver, and again, but this time with
equal melancholy, we fell to contemplating the heels.

"I put them on," she explained, with a touch of penitence, "before you
said that about my father."

"But you could have changed them afterwards," I rejoined foolishly;
and for my pains saw the penitence harden into exasperation.

"Besides, I cannot walk at all without heels," says she, briskly
making a catch at her assurance.

"You cannot walk with them, I know, that's a sure thing," I persisted.

She turned to me very quietly--

"In spite of this great knowledge of yours, Mr. Clavering, of which,
during the last minute, I have heard so much," she began deliberately,
"there is one lesson you have yet to learn and practise. I have
remarked the deficiency not only on this but on many occasions. You
lack that instinct of tact and discretion which would inform you of
the precise moment when you have said enough----"

How much longer she would have continued in this strain I do not know.
For I sprang to my feet.

"If it is to be another lecture," I cried, "I accept the conclusion
before it is reached. I can guess at it. Heels are your only wear, and
the taller the better. Sailors should be enjoined by law to wear them,
and they alone preserve the rope-dancer from a sure and inevitable
death."

"A wiseacre first," says she, ticking off my qualities upon her
fingers, "and now a humorist! Well there! a salad bowl of all the
estimable virtues estimably jumbled. And meanwhile," she asked
innocently, "are we not wasting time?"

I well-nigh gasped at her audacity; for who was to blame, if not she
with the heels? However, this time I was sufficiently wise to keep
silence, leaving it to experience to reprove her, as it most surely
would. In which conviction I was right, for more than once she tripped
on the grass as we descended; halfway down she reluctantly allowed me
to assist her with a hand, and as we two moved along the side of
Mosedale Beck at the entrance into Wastdale, she wrenched her ankle.
The pain of the wrench luckily was not severe, and lasted no great
while. She was in truth more startled than hurt, for we were treading
the narrowest steep path, and at the side the rocks fell clear for
about twenty feet to the torrent.

Thereupon she gave in and allowed me to go forward to a farmhouse
lying at no great distance in Wastdale, and procure for her
foot-gear of a more suitable kind. And comical enough it looked when
she put it on, but I dared not laugh or so much as give hint of a
smile, since I saw that her eyes were on the alert to catch me; for
the worthy housewife hearing a story that I made up about a young girl
who was travelling in a great haste across Ennerdale to visit a father
who lay sick beyond there, which story was altogether a lie, though
every word of it was truth, made me a present of a pair of her own
boots and would take no money for them.

These Dorothy put on. I slipped those she had been wearing into the
pockets of my great-coat, and making a hurried meal off some
provisions which Mary Tyson had added to the bundle, we again set out.

I was now still more inclined to push forward at our topmost speed,
for it was well past midday, and the tokens of foul weather which I
had noted in the morning had become yet more distinct. The clearness
had gone from the day, the clouds, woolly and grey, sulked upon the
mountain-tops and crept down the sides; the wind had suddenly fallen;
there was a certain heaviness in the air, as of the expectation of a
storm. We went forward into the valley. When we were halfway to the
church, a puff of wind, keen and shrewd, blew for an instant in our
faces, and then another and another. But that last breath did not die
like the rest; it blew continuously, and gathered violence as it blew.

The yew-trees in the churchyard resumed their tossing; we were so near
that I could hear the creaking of their boughs. I looked anxiously
towards the gap through which we were to pass to Eskdale. It was still
clear of the mist, but where a shrub grew, or a tree reached out a
branch on the slope beneath the gap, I saw the wind evident as a
beating rain; and even as I looked, the gap filled--filled in a
second--not with these slow, licking mists, but with a column of
tempest that drove exultant, triumphing, and now and again in the
midst of it I perceived a whirling gleam of white like foam of the
sea.

I looked forwards to the church, backwards to the house. The church
was the nearer. I took Dorothy by the elbow.

"Run!" I cried.

"I cannot," she replied, lagging behind.

I pressed her forward.

"You must."

"These shoes----" she began.

"Devil take the shoes!" cried I; and thereupon, with a perversity
which even I would not have attributed to her, she slipped a foot out
of a shoe, and stepped deliberately into a puddle.

"There," says she, defiant but shivering, "I told you they were too
wide."

"You did it of a set purpose," said I. I looked towards the gap: it
was no longer visible. The storm was tearing across the valley. I
picked up Miss Dorothy Curwen in my arms, and ran with her towards the
church. I got to the stone wall of the churchyard; a little wicket
gave admittance, but the wicket was latched.

"Let me down!" says Dorothy.

"No!" says I, and I pushed against the wicket with my knee. It
yielded; a few flakes of snow beat upon my face; I ran through the
opening.

The churchyard, like the church, was the tiniest in the world; the
walls about it reached breast high, and within the walls the yews were
planted close in a square: so that standing within this square, it
seemed to me that the storm had lulled. I carried Dorothy to that side
of the church which was sheltered from the wind. I tried the door of
the church, but it was locked. I set Dorothy down under the wall,
slipped off my great-coat, and wrapped it warm about her.

"Look!" said I, shortly.

Just past the angle of the church the snow swirled forwards--down in
the valley here it was rather sleet than snow--lashing the fields
through which I had run.

"Where are you going?" said Dorothy, as perhaps with some ostentation
I buttoned my coat across my breast.

"To pick up your shoe," said I; and I walked out through the wicket.

"I never met a man of so wicked a perversity," said she from behind
me.



                             CHAPTER XX.

                  A CONVERSATION IN WASTDALE CHURCH.


When I returned with the shoe, I found Dorothy sitting huddled against
the church wall in a very doleful attitude.

"Oh!" she cried remorsefully, as she took the shoe from me, "you are
drenched through and through, and it is I that am to blame."

"It matters nothing at all," I replied. "I have been out upon the tops
of these ridges, and of nights. It would be strange if I were not
inured to a little cold."

"You will take your coat, however."

I had the greatest difficulty in persuading her to keep it; for since
I was drenched already, the coat would not dry me, but I should wet
the coat. This was the argument I employed to her, though I had
another, and a more convincing, to satisfy myself--I mean the sight of
her wrapped up in it. It was a big, rough, heavy frieze coat and made
a nest for her; she had drawn the collar of it close about her ears,
and her face, rosy with warmth and the whipping of the wind as we came
across the fields, peeped from the coat, like a moss-rose at the
budding.

We sat for a while in silence--for the whistling of the storm was
grown so loud, that we had need to shout, and even then the wind
snatched up the words out of hearing almost before they had passed our
lips.

In front of us the tempest roistered about the valley, twisting the
sleet and snow this way and that, shrieking about the bases of the
hills, whistling along the invisible ridges; now and again, however,
there came a momentary lull, and during one of these intervals the
clouds broke upon our left and disclosed the peak of Great Gable.
Rising in that way, from the mists that still hid its flanks, the peak
seemed so high that you thought it must be slung in mid-air; it stood
out black against the grey clouds, barren, impregnable. Dorothy
shuddered at the aspect of it.

"You were out upon those heights," she shouted into my ear, "night and
day, after you left Applegarth?"

"Yes!" I nodded. Doubtless I should have pointed out that I did not
make my bed upon the pinnacles, and that there was all the difference
in the world betwixt rain and snow. But, to tell the truth, her
anxiety on my account was of that sweetness to me that I could not
lightly bring myself to dispense with it. I was debating the matter in
my mind, when a tile, loosened by the wind, slid from the roof of the
church and smashed upon the ground, a couple of feet from Dorothy. It
turned the current of my thoughts effectually. The door of the church
I knew to be locked; I crept round to the east end of the building.
There was a great window with the panes set in lead, which reached
from the roof to within three feet of the ground. And in that window a
second window was made by the lowest of these leaded panes. Inserting
my knife, I was able to force up the latch which fastened this second
window, and found that, with some squeezing and compression, a body
might crawl through the opening. I went back to Dorothy. "It will be
safer in the church," said I. I climbed through the window by the side
of the altar, and turned to help Dorothy in after me. But as I was in
the act of helping her, I heard a clatter on the ground without. She
was halfway through the window at the moment, and slipped back with a
laugh.

"This time," said she, as she appeared again, and set her hands upon
the sill--"this time I did not drop it on purpose." And I helped her
in.

The church was barely furnished with perhaps a dozen of rough deal
pews, and had not even a vestry, so that the parson's surplice lay
neatly folded upon a chair in the chancel. Into one of the pews we
entered, and since Dorothy was warm within my coat, I took and wrapped
the surplice about my shoulders. So we sat side by side, silent, in
the gloom of the church, the whitewashed walls glimmering about us,
the sleet whipping the windows and tearing at the door. Somehow the
sound of the storm had now become very pleasant to me, since it seemed
to shut us off, as upon an island, more securely from the world.

It is strange how a man may walk again and again along a quite
familiar path with companions who have grown familiar in his thoughts,
and then on some one day, in a twinkling, and for no reason that he
can afterwards discern, let him think never so hard, the companions
with whom he has fared will lose their familiarity, will become, as it
were, transfigured, and the spot to which he has come will take on a
magical aspect and a magical light He seems to have come thither for
the first time on that day; and let him con over the landmarks to
prove the fancy wrong, the fancy will none the less abide with him,
solid as truth. He recognizes the spot as in some way intimately
concerned with him; it seems to have been waiting for him, and for the
conjunction of this one particular hour with him. And the picture
which he has of it, thus suddenly revealed, becomes henceforth part
and parcel of his being, imperishably treasured within the heart of
recollection. So, at all events, it was with me.

A picture of this valley in which we were, of this church in which we
sat, sprang up before my eyes, and I viewed it with a curious
detachment. It was as though I stood upon the rim of the mountains and
looked down into the hollow. I saw the desolate hills ringing it
about, made yet more desolate by the blurring snow. I saw the little
white church set within its stunted, beaten yews, apart in the
mid-centre of the valley. It was, too, as though I saw, by some
strange clairvoyancy, through the walls, and beheld the two fugitives
securely sheltered, side by side, in the dusk of the pew. And the
picture has remained clamped in my memory ever since, so that I have
but to close my eyes, and not merely do I see it vividly as I did
then, but I experience again that vague sense of a voice crying
somewhere out of Nature's heart, "This spot has been waiting for you
twain, and for this one hour."

It was a movement which Dorothy made, brought me to myself. For she
suddenly clasped her hands together with a shudder.

"You are cold?" I cried.

"No," she replied in a low voice. "I was thinking of that peak we saw
and the horror of it by night," and her voice trembled for an instant,
"and of your watching from the darkness the lights of Applegarth. We
were comfortably in our beds; and it rained that night I remember the
patter of the rain against the windows."

"Nay," said I, "there was little harm done. I am no snow-man to be
washed away by a capful of rain."

She turned to me very quickly.

"Tell me," she said, in a voice no less quick. "The evening that you
went from us--you were talking for a long while at the gate with Mary
Tyson, you will remember. I interrupted your talk."

"Yes! I remember," I answered, staring straight in front of me.

"Well," she continued, "I have often wondered," her voice sank
yet lower, "whether that going of yours was not a flight--flight
from--from us at Applegarth. For, after all, it was something Mary
Tyson said to you that made you go."

I turned towards her with a start.

"You know what Mary Tyson said?"

She looked at me in silence, her eyes shining out of the dusk. Then
she lowered her head.

"I guessed it," she said in a whisper. "I guessed it then, for I know
Mary's care for me. And the next morning when we sent her to warn you
that the sheriff was at the door, I read it in her face. I mean," said
she, recovering herself hastily, "I read your departure in her face,
and I knew it was what she had said to you had driven you out, and not
your own necessities."

She paused; I did not answer.

"The knowledge has troubled me sorely," she said, "for you were our
guest."

"It made but the one night's difference," I urged, "for on the morrow
came the officers."

"Ah! but that was the accident," she answered shrewdly. "They might
not have come--they might never have come--and still you would have
fled. I have said this much to you," she went on with a change of
tone, "because I would have you look on me just as a friend, who
trusts you, who has great cause to trust and thank you, and who would
count it a very real happiness if she could, in any small way, repay
you. I told you when we met on your march that I knew there was some
great trouble."

"And the answer I gave to you then, I must give now. I am bound to
face that trouble by myself. It was my sin brought it about."

"Ah! but one never knows whence help may come," she replied; and the
gentle earnestness with which she spoke so tempted me to unbosom
myself, that instinctively I drew away from her. "You think it is just
a woman's curiosity which prompts me," she cried, mistaking my
movement. "Ah! no. Acquit me of that fault! I am not sure, but it may
be that I can help you."

Did she know? I wondered. My thoughts went back to that last meeting
near Penrith. I had spoken then of a prison-door which must close
between us twain, and she had made an answer which seemed to hint a
suspicion of the truth.

"And even if I cannot, the mere telling sometimes helps," she
continued, "so long as one tells it to a friend. I mean"--and here she
began to speak very slowly, choosing her words, and with a certain
difficulty in the utterance--"I mean I was afraid that something Mary
might have said checks you. There are things one does not confide to
an acquaintance, or, again, to one whom you think to look upon you as
ever so much nearer than an acquaintance. But to a friend, yes! A
friend is a halfway house between, where one can take one's ease;" and
she drew a breath, like one that has come to the end of a dangerous
task.

As for me, I sat listening to that word "friend." The walls seemed to
retain it, and whisper it again to me after she had ceased, and in the
changing tones which she had used. For now Dorothy had spoken it with
an earnest insistence, as though anxious--almost over-anxious--I
should just accept the phrase as the true definition of what she felt
towards me; and now her voice had faltered and stumbled at the word.
It may have been a lack of modesty--I cannot tell--but I think it
would have been the falsest modesty in the world had I affected to
neglect the manner of the speech, while considering the matter of it.
But be it as it may, the one thought which rose in my mind, engrossing
me, distinct, horrible in distinctness, was this: What if that word
"friend" cloaked and concealed another--another which, but for those
few weeks at Blackladies, I might--who knows!--perhaps have persuaded
her to speak? Why then, if that was true, here was I implicating, in
distress, the one woman who was chiefest in the front of my thoughts.

How that sin of mine reached out, making me a ban and a curse, bearing
its evil fruit in unimaginable ways! And in the agony of my heart I
cried--

"Would to God I had never come to Applegarth!"

The cry rang fierce and sharp through the little church. Silence
succeeded it, and then--

"That is not very kind," said Dorothy, with a tremulous reproach, "It
pains me."

"Ah! don't mistake," I went on. "For myself, I could not hope to make
you understand what my visit there has meant to me. I came to
Applegarth on an evening. The day I had passed waiting upon the
hillside, and while I was waiting there, I made a resolve to repair,
under God's will, a great wrong. Well, when I first saw you, I had but
one thought--a thought of very sincere gladness that I had come to
that resolve or ever I had had speech with you. And during the weeks
that followed, this resolve drew strength and vigour from your
companionship. That vigour and that strength it keeps, so that my one
fear now is, lest chance may bar me from the performance. That is your
doing. For until I came to Applegarth, all my life behind me was
littered with broken pledges."

She laid her hand for an instant upon my sleeve.

"But what return have I made to you," I continued, "except a pitiful
hypocrisy? I came to Applegarth an outlaw--yes, my one fault my
loyalty! So you believed; so I let you believe. I wore your brother's
clothes, and he died at Malplaquet. There was hypocrisy in the wearing
of them!" And I turned suddenly towards her. "There was a picture I
once saw--the picture of a dead man speaking. Even then it seemed to
me an image of myself."

"A dead man speaking!" interrupted Dorothy, with a start.

"Yes!" said I, and I told her of the picture which Lord Bolingbroke
had shown to me at the monastery of the Chartreux in Paris, and of the
thought which I had drawn from it.

"A dead man speaking," she repeated, in a voice which seemed hushed
with awe; "how strange!"

The storm had ceased to beat the window; the dusk was deepening to
darkness; the silence was about us like a garment I sat wondering at
Dorothy's tone, wondering whether I should say what yet remained to
say. But I had made use before of secrecy and deception. It would be
best I should simply speak the truth.

"A dead man speaking," again said Dorothy.

"I had warning enough, you see," said I, "and I recognized the
warning. The picture seized upon my thoughts. I knew it for an
allegory, but made no profit of my knowledge. And so the allegory
turns fact."

"What do you mean?" she asked, catching her breath.

"Oh, don't speak until I have done!" I cried "I find it hard enough to
tell you as it is while you sit silent. But the sound of your voice
cheats me of my strength, sets the duty beyond my reach. For it is a
duty." I paused for a moment to recover the mastery of my senses. "I
spoke to you once of a prison-door which would close between you and
me. But that was not the whole of the truth. That prison-door will
close, but it will open again; I shall come out from it, but upon a
hurdle."

"Oh no!" cried Dorothy in such a voice of pain as I pray God I may
never hear the like of again. I felt it rive my heart. She swayed
forward; her forehead would have struck the rail of the pew in front.
I put my arm around her shoulders and drew her towards me. I felt her
face pressed against my bosom, her fingers twining tightly upon my
coat.

"Yes, yes, it is true," I went on. "The allegory turns fact. Even in
Paris, those months agone, I came to look upon myself as the figure in
the picture, as the dead man speaking, meaning thereby the hypocrite
detected. But now the words take on a literal meaning. It is a dead
man who is speaking to you--no more than that--in very truth a dead
man. You must believe it; and believe this too, that since my cup of
life this long while back has over-brimmed with shame, and since it
was I who filled it why, I could go very lightly to my death, but for
the fear lest it should cause my little friend to suffer pain."

She disengaged herself gently from my clasp.

"I cannot take that fear away from you," she said in a broken whisper.

"And indeed I would not lose it," I replied. "In my heart of hearts I
know that I would not lose it."

"What is it, then, you mean to do?" she asked.

"To travel with my friend as far as Ravenglass, to set her safe on
board the _Swallow_, and then--somewhere there is a man in prison
whose place is mine."

"You do not know where?" she exclaimed suddenly.

"No," said I, "but----"

She interrupted me with a cry.

"Look!" she said hurriedly, and pointed to a little window close
beneath the roof. Through that window the moonlight was creeping like
a finger down the wall, across the floor. "The storm has cleared; we
can go."

She rose abruptly from her seat, and moved out into the chancel
Something--was it the hurry of her movement, the tension of her
voice?--made me spring towards her. I remembered that, when I spoke to
her on the hillside near Penrith, it had seemed to me then that she
had some inkling of the truth.

"You know!" I exclaimed--"you know where the prisoner is?"

"No," she cried, and her voice rose almost to a scream belying the
word she spoke.

How she came by her knowledge I did not consider. She knew! I had no
room for any other thought.

"Oh, you do know!" I implored, and dropping on my knee I seized the
hem of her dress to detain her. I felt the dress drag from me; I held
it the more firmly. "You do not know--oh, tell me! A man innocent of
all wrongdoing, lies in prison--the charge, treason. Think you they
will weigh his innocence after this rebellion? The fetters he wears
are mine, his punishment is mine, and I must claim it. There's no
other way but this plain and simple one. I must needs claim it. Oh
think, ever since I have known you, the necessity that I should do
this thing has grown on me, day by day, as each day I saw you. I have
felt that I owed it to you that I should succeed. Do not you prevent
me!"

She stood stock still; I could hear the quick coming and going of her
breath, but in the uncertain twilight I could not read her face; and
she did not speak.

"Listen!" I continued "If you do not tell me, it will make no
difference. I shall still give myself up. But to the other it may make
all the difference in the world. For it may be that I shall fail to
save him."

Still she kept silence. So, seeing no other way, I stood up before her
and told her the story from end to end, beginning with that day when I
first rode over Coldbarrow Fell to Blackladies in company with Jervas
Rookley, down to the morning when I fled from the garden where the
soldiers searched for me.

I saw her head droop as she listened, and bow into her hands; yet I
had to go on and finish it.

"But," said she, "you were not all to blame. The woman----"

"Nay," said I, "it can serve no purpose to portion out the blame; for,
portion it as you will, you cannot shred away my share."

"Mr. Herbert," she objected again, "would have been taken in your
garden, whether you had returned or no that afternoon."

"But my fault was the instrument used to ruin him. He was taken while
he followed me. He was taken, too, because of me. For had I not ridden
so often into Keswick, he would never have been suspected."

"It was his jealousy that trapped him, and Jervas Rookley provoked the
jealousy."

"But I furnished him with the means."

The arguments were all old and hackneyed to me. I had debated them
before, so that I had the answers ready. There was, besides, one final
argument, and without waiting for her to speak again, I used it.

"And what of the wife waiting in Keswick?"

She turned away with a little swift movement, and again stood silent
Then she said--

"Yes! I too will face it bravely. Mr. Herbert lies in Carlisle Castle,
waiting his trial. You know, after the message came to Applegarth, my
father and I fled to Carlisle; we took refuge with friends--Whigs, but
of my mother's family, and for her sake they gave us shelter. They
knew the Governor of the Castle. He told them of a prisoner newly
brought thither upon a warrant--a Mr. Herbert, who solaced himself
night and day with the painting of the strangest picture ever known.
You showed to me a letter at Applegarth, wherein a painter was
mentioned and named, and I knew you had some trouble to distress you.
I grew curious to see the prisoner; no one suspected I was in
Carlisle, and so my friends consented to take me. I saw him. It is
true I had no speech with him, but I saw the picture. It was a
portrait of yourself, I thought, but I could not be sure. I was sure
before you told me. I was sure when you spoke to me of that picture
you had seen in Paris. For this portrait, too, that Mr. Herbert
painted, was a portrait of yourself, as a dead man speaking."

I noticed that as she spoke her voice gained confidence and strength,
and at the close it rang without a trace of fear or reluctance.

"Thank you," said I, simply. "Thank you with all my heart."

"Yes!" she replied, "it was right that I should tell you. You will go
to Carlisle?"

"In truth I will;" and as she moved into a line with the window, the
moonlight made a silver glory about her face. I saw with a great joy
that her eyes, her lips were smiling. It seemed to me, indeed, that
both our hearts were lighter. There was this one thing to do, and now
here was the means revealed by which it might be done.

We climbed out of the window, and since it was too late for the
continuance of our journey, we sought lodging for the night at that
farmhouse which I had already visited. I remember walking across the
fields in the star-shine and the moonlight, wondering at this
vicarious revenge Herbert had taken on my picture, and at the strange
destiny which had made this girl, so dear to me, the instrument of my
atonement. And as we waited at the door, I said to her:

"I owed you much before to-night; but to-night you have doubled the
debt."

"And I am proud to hear you say it," she replied.

From the farmer I borrowed a change of clothes, and coming down the
stairs again, found Dorothy, to her evident satisfaction, in her own
shoes, which she had taken from the pocket of my great-coat. We sat
for a long while after our supper over the fire in the kitchen,
talking of the days at Applegarth and laughing over that owl-hunt.
Only twice was any reference made to our conversation in the church.
For once I said:

"Do you remember when I came down to Applegarth, you were singing a
song? It was called, 'The Honest Lover,' and I would fain have the
words of it." And thereupon she wrote out the song upon a sheet of
paper and gave it to me.

And again, when Dorothy had lit her candle, she stood for an instant
by the door.

"That resolve you spoke of?" she said. "You had come to it on the day
that you first reached Applegarth. It was the resolve to free Mr.
Herbert at any cost?"

"Yes," said I.

"And it was that you were so glad you had determined on when you first
saw me?"

"Yes," said I again.

"Well," said she, "it is the sweetest compliment that was ever paid to
a woman."

The next morning we started betimes in the same cheerfulness of
spirits, and making light of that dreaded snow as we crossed Burnmoor,
descended into Eskdale about nine of the forenoon, and so reached
Ravenglass before it was dusk. There, to my inexpressible delight, I
saw the _Swallow_ riding on an anchor a little way out. We crept down
to the beach, and waited there until it was dark. Then I lighted a
lantern which I had brought from the farmhouse for the very purpose,
and lifting it up, swung it to and fro. In a little there was an
answering flash from the sloop, and a little after that I heard the
sound of oars in the water, and fell to wondering what sort of parting
we should make, and, perhaps, in a measure, to dreading it. But the
parting was of the simplest kind.

"It is good-bye, then," said Dorothy, "and we will shake hands, if you
please."

This time I took her hand fairly within my palm, and held it clasped
whilst it clasped mine.

"I am thanking God," said I, "for the truest friend that ever man
had."

"Yes!" said she, nodding her head, "that is very prettily said, and no
more than the truth."

"Ah!" said I, "you ever enjoyed a very proper notion of yourself;" and
with that the boat grounded upon the beach, and, after all, we two
parted with a laugh. I heard the song of the seamen at the windlass,
coming across the water with an airy faintness, and then I set my face
to the hillside.



                             CHAPTER XXI.

              I TRAVEL TO CARLISLE AND MEET AN ATTORNEY.


It was a lonely business whereto I now was set, but in truth it is
lonelier in the recollection than it was in the actual happening. As I
sit over my fire here on a winter's night, I begin at times to wonder
how I went through with it. I remember the incessant moaning of the
sea,--for I followed my old plan, only with a greater precaution, and
kept along the coast until I was nigh upon Whitehaven--and discover a
loneliness in the thought that it was carrying Dorothy from me to
France; I find, too, an overwhelming desolation in the knowledge that
she and I had spoken the last good-bye, and a melancholy atop of that
in the cheerfulness of our parting. But these notions are but the moss
that gathers upon recollections. The sea brought no loneliness home to
me,--rather it crooned of Dorothy's safety, nor was I conscious then
of any desolation in the knowledge that my eyes would not again
rejoice in the sight of her, for that very parting raised me out of my
slough more nearly to her level; and as for the cheerfulness--why,
just in that way would I have had her part from me. I believe, indeed,
that I was more sensible of her presence on that journey from
Ravenglass to Carlisle than ever I had been, even when her voice was
in my ears or the knocking of her shoes upon the stones.

Moreover, there were two very immediate questions which pressed upon
me, and saved me from much unprofitable rumination about myself.
Dorothy had spoken of Anthony Herbert "waiting his trial," when she
herself was in Carlisle, and that was over a month ago. Was he still
waiting, or was the trial over? I had no means of resolving that
question, and many a night I lay awake in some barn or outhouse,
blowing on my frozen fingers to keep them warm, and casting up the
probabilities. I was thus in a perpetual fever lest, after all, my
intentions should be thwarted by a too late arrival. And to make the
matter worse, I was compelled to practise every precaution, lest I
should be recognized. Of which there was, to my thinking, no small
danger, for in the first place my flight from Blackladies had made, as
I knew, some noise in these parts, and moreover I had ridden openly on
the march to Preston.

So here was my second question: Could I reach Carlisle a free man? for
that I deemed to be an altogether necessary and integral part of my
design. Once a captive, I was foredoomed already upon my own account,
and any plea that I might urge on behalf of Anthony Herbert would win
the less credit, since it would be made at no cost whatever to me who
made it. If, however, I could come undetected there, and so give
myself up, why, the voluntary relinquishment of life might haply be
taken as a guarantee and surety for my word. Consequently I was
reduced to a thousand shifts to avoid attention; I went miles about to
come upon a solitary inn, and more often than not, when I reached it,
my heart would fail me, and I would take to my heels in a panic, or at
best gulp down the hastiest meal, and pulling my coat about my ears,
front the cold night again. It was then a good twelve days after the
_Swallow_ had lifted anchor and sailed down the coast, that I crept
one dusky evening through the Botcher Gate into Carlisle; and what
with the fear of capture and the fevers of delay, the endless fatigue
to which during these many weeks I had been exposed and the
inclemencies of the season, you may be sure I was in a sufficiently
pitiable condition. I repaired at once to the market-place, and
picking out the most insignificant tavern, learnt therein, over a
glass of brandy from my host, that I was as much as a week in advance
of my time. The news was an indescribable relief to me; and going out,
I hired a mean lodging in a little street near the Horse Market, where
I would lie that night, and determine on my course. For since I had
yet a week, I thought that I might dispose of some portion of that
time to the best advantage, by discovering the particulars of the
charge which Anthony Herbert would have to meet. In which task I
did not anticipate a very great difficulty, inferring, from what
Dorothy had told me, that, what with the speculation his picture had
given rise to, I should find his case a matter of common gossip.
Accordingly, in the morning I bought at a dealer's a suit of clothes
which would befit an apprentice, and tying my own hair in a cheap
ribbon, which I was able to do, since I had discarded a peruke for
convenience' sake after I left Blackladies, and changing my boots for
a pair of shoes, I walked across the town towards the castle, in the
hope that, either amongst the loiterers at the gates, or in the meadow
by the river, I might discover something to my purpose.

In this Fortune favoured me, for though I learned little or nothing
upon the first day, about three o'clock of the afternoon upon the
second, while I stood in the open space betwixt the castle and the
town, a little brisk gentleman came stepping from the gate-house and
glanced at every one he passed with a great air of penetration, as who
should say, "My friend, you have no secrets from me." He shot the same
glance at me, though with more indifference, as though from habit he
would practise it upon any who came in his way, be they mere
apprentices. It was he, however, who was the one to be discomposed.
For up went his eyebrows on the instant and his mouth gaped. He did
not, however, stop, but rather quickened his pace and passed me. A few
yards away he stopped to exchange a word with an acquaintance, but I
noticed that he cast now and again a furtive glance towards me. My
curiosity was fairly aroused, and being reluctant to lose any occasion
that might serve me, I drew nearer and loitered in his vicinity until
such time as the conversation should have ended.

Dismissing his acquaintance, he turned of a sudden.

"It is a disappointing place--Carlisle," he began abruptly; "the grass
grows in the streets, which, I take it, are the dirtiest outside
Bagdad, and the houses, what with their laths and clay and thatch, are
as little reputable to the eye."

I knew not what in the world to make of this strange beginning, and so
stared at the man in perplexity.

"You will have been sorely disappointed," he suggested, "for I am told
that, on the contrary, the streets of Preston are very clean and
spacious, and the houses built with some taste."

"It seems you know me," said I, starting forward.

"It has almost that air," he replied with a spice of mockery; "I have
known more effectual disguises than an apron and a pair of brass
buckles. But, indeed, had you dirtied your face, as you unwisely
omitted to do, I should have known you none the less."

He stood with his head cocked on one side, enjoying my mystification.

"I have no doubt, sir, of your discernment and penetration," said I,
thinking to humour him; "but since I cannot call to mind that you and
I have ever met----"

He came a step nearer to me, and with a roundabout glance, to see that
no listener was within earshot:

"There is a pretty unmistakable likeness of you yonder"--he jerked his
head towards the castle--"though maybe the expression wants repose;
moreover, I could not hear that you were taken prisoner, and so was
inclined to expect you here."

"Then who in the world are you?" I exclaimed.

"Mr. Nicholas Doyle," said he, "and a lawyer of too much repute to be
seen publicly hobnobbing with a rascally apprentice without questions
asked. So if you please, you will just walk behind me until I come to
my house, and when I go in at the front door you will slink round to
the back."

These directions I followed, and was shown up the stairs to the first
floor, whereupon Mr. Doyle locked the door and drew a screen before
the keyhole.

"Now, Mr.--Mr. Whitemen, shall we say?--for though your face is little
known, your name has been heard here--I may offer you a chair;" which
he did, drawing it politely to the fire, and therewith offered me his
snuff-box, but "without prejudice to his politics," as he said. For
"none of your scatterbrained, romantical flim-flam for me," said he.
"An honest Whig, my dear sir. By the way," and his eyes twinkled
slyly, "I trust you did not find my staircase very dark?"

I was not in the humour to take any great pleasure in his witticism,
as may be imagined, and I replied simply--

"You know the whole story, then?"

"Part the husband told me," said he, nodding his head, "part the wife.
I pieced it together."

"The wife!" I exclaimed. "Then Mrs. Herbert is here--at Carlisle?"

"Doubtless," he returned; "where else?"

"I did not know," said I.

It was Mr. Doyle's turn to look surprised.

"But," said he, "she left word for you at Keswick. It was for that
reason I told you I was not greatly surprised to come upon you."

"Nay," said I, "I have not been to Keswick. I learnt Anthony Herbert
was here--well, from other sources. But," and I started forward
eagerly in my chair, "Herbert must then have sent for her;" and I
spoke joyfully enough, for of late, and in particular since I had
known where Herbert lay, I had begun to reflect that, after all, his
enlargement, could that be brought about, did not altogether patch up
the trouble.

"No," answered Mr. Doyle; "Herbert only talked of her. I sent for
her."

"I may thank you for that," said I. "They are reconciled?"

"It is a delicate point," said he, "how far. My client, it appears,
was persuaded by that worthy gentleman, Jervas Rookley, that--well,
that there were more solid grounds for his jealousy than actually
existed. It is true Rookley has shown something of his hand, but not
all of it. We are in the dark as to his motives, and Mr.
Herbert--well, doubtless you have some notion of the whimsies of a man
in love. Now he is in the depths of abasement, now he is very haughty
on the summits of pride. A man in love! My dear sir, a man in love is
very like a leg of mutton on my roasting-jack in the kitchen. First he
spins this way, then he spins that, and always he is in the extremity
of heat whichever way he spins. He is like the mutton, too, in his
lack of sense, and in the losing of the fat; and very often, when he
is roasted through and through, my lady serves him up for the
delectation of her friends. Believe me, Mr. Clavering"--he checked
himself, but the name was out of his mouth--"when next you figure on
the jack, you will do well to bear in mind my simile. A leg of mutton,
my dear sir."

Now, I had good reason to find his simile uncommonly distasteful, the
more because I had a like reason for knowing it to be unjust; and,
perhaps with more heat than was needed, I answered--

"For my part, I have no objection----"

"To a man in love!" said he, taking me up. "Nor I, indeed. On the
contrary, I hold him in the greatest esteem, not so much, perhaps, for
his falling in love, as for his consequent falling out of it, whereby
comes much profitable litigation."

"Well," said I, anxious to put an end to his discourse, "your advice,
Mr. Doyle, may be the best in the world; but you offer it to a man who
will never find occasion for pursuing it." And at that his face became
grave. "Let us get to the root of the matter. You tell me Jervas
Rookley has shown his hand. In what way?"

"Why, he is to be the chief witness for the crown. It was he who laid
the information against Herbert. And, you will observe, he is a strong
witness. For what object had he in view, if he did not believe the
information? What had he to gain?"

"I will not say that he did not believe it," I returned; "I will not
say that he does not believe it. But I know very well what he has to
gain, and that is, the estate of Blackladies."

And I told the lawyer of the double game which Rookley had played.

"One way or another, whichever king sat the throne, he was to recover
the estate," I continued. "If the Hanoverian won, why, I was to be
exchanged for it; but since he thinks I have slipped through his
fingers, he will be eager to make Herbert my substitute."

"Yes," said the lawyer, thoughtfully; "but there will be only your
bare word for this."

"But I shall have sacrificed my life to speak it," I said anxiously.
For this very point had greatly troubled me.

"No doubt that will carry weight," he assented, "but enough--I do not
know. It will, however, serve to bring about that reconciliation which
seems so to weigh with you. Look! There is a copy of the indictment;"
and running over to a bureau, he brought it back and thrust it into my
hands.

I read it through carefully, from the beginning to the end.

"You will see," said he, "that no direct act is alleged beyond the
possession of that medal."

"That is mine," said I.

"Can you prove it?" said he. "It was found in Mr. Herbert's
apartments."

I thought for a moment, and with a cry sprang to my feet:

"Indeed I can," I cried; "I can prove it" And I told him how.

"Good!" he exclaimed, in a voice which topped my own; and then--

"Hush!" he whispered, in the greatest reproach; "you should have more
discretion, you should indeed." And very cautiously he unlocked the
door, and then flung it violently open. The landing, however, was
clear.

"You see, Mr. Whitemen, there is much we have to fight against apart
from the charges. There is the apparent honesty of Mr. Rookley, and
moreover there is this rebellion which calls for examples, and you may
add to our difficulties a Cumberland jury. You will remember that we
marched out against you at Penrith, four thousand strong. That will
teach you the temper of the county."

"I do not remember," I replied, "that your four thousand stayed to
exchange opinions with us."

Nicholas Doyle laughed good-naturedly.

"It is a hit, I will not deny," said he. "But what if they hold to the
plan, and decline to exchange opinions when they are in the jury-box,
eh, my friend? what then? So you see there are dangers. With your help
we may just save my client, but it will be by no more than the skin of
his teeth. Without you we may as well submit to a sentence at the
outset But," and he spoke with a voice of the deepest gravity, "all
this, which makes your evidence of the greatest value to us, renders
it fatal to you. I do not mince words; I set the truth frankly before
you. Your evidence may serve Mr. Herbert's turn,--but there is no more
than a chance of that--it will most certainly send you to an
ignominious death. Every word you will speak will be a plea of guilty.
And mark you, there is but one punishment for treason. It will be no
stepping on to a scaffold, and reading a few protestations, and
kneeling down at the block, as though you just condescended to leave
the world. No, you will be drawn through the streets, trussed hand and
foot, on a hurdle. Then they will hang you--for a bit, but not until
you are dead. Then they will light a fire and take a knife to you--and
it will seem, I fear me, a weary while before the end is reached!"

"Good God!" I interrupted him, and snatched up my hat "Do you wish me
to leave your client precisely to that same fate?"

"Where are you going?" he asked in an incredulous tone, noticing my
movement.

"To Carlisle Castle," said I.

"I thought as much," said he, and took me by the arm. "I doubt if I
should have said so much to you, had I not felt certain it would not
weigh with you. But you are young, Mr. Clavering, very young; and
though I must count you a traitor, and deserving all this punishment,
I could not send you to that fate without you had counted up the
cost."

"That is kindly said," I replied, and offered him my hand, which he
shook very cordially. "But less than a fortnight ago I stood upon the
sea-shore with never a soul in view and a ship's boat on the beach and
a ship spreading its sails to set me over into France. I am not like
to be turned aside now."

He looked at me with a certain shrewdness in his eyes.

"This is a reparation which you purpose? A man of the world would tell
you there was no necessity for it."

"But you do not say that?" I returned.

"I say," and he paused for a second--"I say damn women!" he cried, and
brought his fist down upon the table.

"Even in that amiable sentiment I cannot agree with you," I answered
with a laugh. "And so I will make a call upon the Governor of the
castle."

But again he caught me by the arm.

"That would be the ruin of both of you. The Crown presses for an
example to be made. And Jervas Rookley, I think, from what you
yourself have said, will move heaven and earth to keep you out of
court. If you go now to the castle, there is little likelihood of your
giving evidence for Mr. Herbert; he must produce you at the trial, and
not a moment before."

Thereupon he recommended to me to lie quietly in my lodging during the
week, and come not out except to see him now and again of a night At
his bidding, indeed, I repaired to his house on the following evening,
and found a tailor there waiting for me. "For," said Mr. Doyle, "we
must make the most of our advantages, though my heart aches at
dressing you up for the slaughter. But it will make a difference
whether a lad in an apron and brass buckles gives himself up, or a
proper young gentleman, with an air of means and dignity. Your word
will gain credit with the jury. Lord! what a sight we shall have in
the spectacle of Jervas Rookley's face. By the way," and he turned
towards me with a certain customary abruptness, "Jervas Rookley's face
has something changed since I set eyes on it before."

"Indeed," said I, indifferently; "and in what way?"

"It is marred by a scar."

"A scar!" I cried, with considerable satisfaction. "On the right side?
It should stretch from the cheek bone to the chin."

"It does," answered Mr. Doyle, dryly. "I wonder how he came by it?"

"Yes, I wonder," said I, reflectively, and chancing to look at each
other, our eyes met, and we laughed.

"I think it very wise," said he, "that you did not surrender yourself
to the Governor of Carlisle Castle."

This week passed monotonously enough for me, cooped up in my little
apartment. But I had a great hope to cheer me through its passage.
For, I had come so near to the attainment of my one end, and in the
face of so many difficulties, that I could not but believe that
Providence had so willed it, and having willed so much, would will
that final issue which should crown the work; moreover, two days
before the trial, Mr. Doyle brought me news which enheartened me
inexpressibly. It was a message of thanks from Anthony Herbert, and to
that message was added another from the wife, which showed me that the
reconciliation had become an actual fact.

On the eve of the trial I slept at the house of Mr. Doyle. Indeed,
from his window I heard the trumpeters, and saw the judge's carriage
go by; and so dressing myself the next morning in my new suit, with
Mr. Doyle fluttering about me like a lady's maid, I made my way
quickly to the Guildhall.



                            CHAPTER XXII.

                             REPARATION.


The Guildhall stands northwards of the cross in the market-place, and
I remember that I paused when halfway up the steps betwixt the
pavement and the portico, and turned me about for a second to glance
down upon that open space, and men coming and going about it as they
willed in the warm sunlight. Mean houses enclosed it, shambles
disfigured it; but I noticed no more than its width and spaciousness.
How wide and free it seemed! And of a sudden my thoughts flashed me
away beyond these houses, and beyond the gates. The market-place
vanished before my eyes like a mirage. I was once more marching
from Kelso to Preston, across the moors with the merlins crying
overhead,--between the hedges,--under the open sky; and it seemed to
me so swift was the passage of my memories, that I traversed in that
brief interval all the distance of our march.

But many of the townsfolk were mounting to the court, and one that
passed jogged against me with his elbow, and so waked me. I raised my
head. Well, here was the court-house, within sat the judge; and though
the sunlight beat upon my face, the shadow of the building had already
reached about my feet.

The little court was nigh upon full, and I pushed into a corner
beneath the gallery, where I was like to escape notice, and yet
command a view of what was done. There I stood for the space of ten
minutes or so, watching the townsfolk enter by twos and threes in a
trickling stream, thronging the floor, blocking the doorways; and I
know not why, but gradually a great depression, a dull melancholy,
overstole my spirits. It was just for this moment that I had lived for
many a week back, I assured myself; my days had been one prayer for
its coming, my nights one haunting fear lest it should not come. Yet
the assurance, repeat it as I might, had little meaning at the outset,
and less and less at each repetition. My blood would not be whipped; I
felt inert, in some queer way disappointed. I was like one quit of a
fever, but in the despondency of exhaustion. I saw the prisoner set in
the dock. I noticed the purple hollows about his eyes, the thin,
flushed cheeks, the nervous gripping of his fingers on the rail. But
the spectacle waked no pity in me, though I was conscious I should
feel pity; aroused no shame, though I knew I should be tingling with
shame. And when Anthony Herbert sent his gaze piercing anxiously this
way and that into the throng, I wondered for a moment who it was for
whom he searched. I saw Jervas Rookley seated at a table; he turned
his head so that the bruised scar upon his face was visible from
cheekbone to chin--and I, for all I felt towards him, might have been
looking at the face of an inanimate statue. I saw the judge take his
seat, his robes catching the sunlight and glowing against the black
panels of the wall, like some monstrous scarlet flower. I was as one
who contemplates a moving scene through a spy-glass, knowing it to be
very far away. The actual aspect of the court became dreamlike to me,
and when the clerk of the Crown cried out "Anthony Herbert, hold up
thy hand!" it seemed to me that the curtain was but now rung up upon a
puppet-show.

In this listless spirit I listened while the indictment was read. It
set forth that "Anthony Herbert, as a false traitor, not weighing the
duty of his allegiance, did with other false traitors conspire,
compass, and imagine the death of his Majesty, the subversion of the
Government, and to introduce the Romish religion; and for the
effecting thereof, the said Anthony Herbert did conspire to levy war
upon the kingdom and bring in the Pretender."

Thereupon the indictment being read, the jury was empannelled, which
took no short time, for of a sudden Herbert, doubtless primed for the
work by Nicholas Doyle, challenges one of them--John Martin, I
remember, the man was named.

"Are you a freeholder of forty shillings a year?" he asked; and the
judge taking him up, he was allowed counsel to argue the point, which
was done at great length and with much talk of a couple of statutes,
one dating from Henry V., the other from Queen Mary. It seemed that
they contradicted one another, but I do not know. I only know that the
sunlight, pouring through a high window on the east side, shifted like
the spoke of a slow-revolving wheel, and was already withdrawing up
the wall beneath the window when Jervas Rookley was called to give his
evidence.

To this evidence I lent a careful ear, and could not but perceive that
though there was little fact in the recital, yet innuendo so fitted
with innuendo that it might well have weight with a jury already
inclined to believe. But even this observation I was conscious of
making rather as a matter of general interest than as one in which I
was so intimately concerned. Rookley told of Herbert's coming to
Keswick, how immediately he made Lord Derwentwater's acquaintance and
was entrusted with the painting of Lady Derwentwater's portrait--a
work which carried him daily to the house on Lord's Island. Then he
proceeded to tell of his own journey to Paris, and how he found me a
novice in a Jesuit College. The journey to Bar-le-Duc he omitted, but
said that I had given him advice to wait for me in Paris and so had
ridden off for close upon a week. The journey, said he, aroused his
suspicions; on my return I had openly professed to him my adherence to
the Stuarts, and had informed him that I had travelled to Commercy and
had seen the Pretender. He went on to describe his discovery that I
carried a letter and his failure to possess himself of it.

"Then you knew Mr. Clavering was a Jacobite so long ago as that!"
interrupted Anthony Herbert. "How comes it you waited so long before
you moved for his arrest, unless you had a finger in the Jacobite pie
yourself?"

"The witness need answer nothing that would incriminate himself,"
interrupted the judge, quickly. "Besides, your turn will come. Let the
King's Counsel finish!"

"There is no reason why I should shrink from answering it," said
Jervas, readily. "There was some plot on foot, so much I knew. But
what the plot was I knew not nor ever did; and had I laid the
information against Lawrence Clavering then, I should myself have
closed the avenues of knowledge."

"And what have you to say to that?" asked the judge of Herbert. "You
will need more discretion if you are to save your neck." And he wagged
his head at the prisoner.

"My Lord," answered Herbert, in a heat, "I shall not want for
discretion so long as I do not go begging for justice."

I could see Mr. Doyle in the body of the court, nodding and frowning
at his client in a great fluster. But it was already too late for his
signs to have their effect.

"Justice!" roared the judge, turning to the jury. "Sirs, the fellow
cries for justice as though it were a stranger to a jury of
Englishmen. Nay, but justice he shall have, full measure. I am here to
see to that;" and he sat glowering at the unfortunate prisoner.

For myself the outburst was no more than I expected, and I listened to
it as to an oft-told tale.

Jervas took up his story again. It may have been the heat, it may have
been sheer weakness, but though I saw his face flush from expression
to expression, the sound of his voice seemed to me no more than a dull
droning, duller with every word; and yet every word I heard and
clearly understood.

He told of my coming to Blackladies, of Lord Derwentwater's suggestion
to me concerning Herbert, of my daily visits to the painter's
apartment, of my subsequent journeys about the country-side, and the
inquiries I made as to troops and munitions.

Even to me hearing the story, it almost appeared that Herbert was
inextricably linked in the business, with such ingenuity was it told.
The faces of the jury already condemned the prisoner, people nudged
one another about me as each detail was added, and Herbert himself
seemed to lose hope at the sight of the tangle in which he was coiled.

"I am for nothing in all this," he cried, but now in a very wail.

"And this too I doubt not is for nothing," said Mr. Cowper, the
counsel, with a mocking irony, as he held up the medal which King
James had given to me at Commercy. He turned to Rookley--

"You have seen this before?"

"In the prisoner's lodging at Keswick."

"Will you describe it?"

I bent forward. Rookley began to speak again. He described the head of
King James struck upon the one side, the British islands upon the
other, and made mention of the two mottoes: "Cujus est?" and
"Reddite!"

Rookley paused, and there was a buzz of voices from the gallery, from
the doorways, from the floor of the court. The medal was passed up to
the judge. He turned it over in his hands, and had it carried to the
jurymen. I saw their heads with many a wise wagging come together over
it I leaned yet farther forward, looking at Rookley. For the first
time that day I felt a pulse of excitement. Had Rookley chanced to
glance my way, he must have seen me, so openly did I crane my head
over my neighbour's shoulders. But he stood with downcast eyes in the
meekest humility--the very figure and image of unconscious merit. Had
he more to say about that medal? Every second I fancied I saw his
mouth open and frame the words I dreaded. The murmurs of the throng
increased; I could have shouted "Silence! Silence!" I feared that he
would speak and I miss the words; I feared that the very noise about
him would remind him, would suggest to him, would disclose to him,
anyhow would unlock his lips. But he had no further details to give,
and it seemed to me that already the fresh air fanned at Herbert's
face.

"You saw the medal in the prisoner's lodging?" resumed the counsel.
"When?"

"More than once," replied Rookley, and took up his tale again, and
again my excitement died away. I remarked with some curiosity that he
made no mention whatever of Mrs. Herbert from first to last, and I
remembered how I had noticed before that the story fell into two
halves, whereof each seemed complete without the other. He spoke, it
is true, of a pretext by which he had lured Herbert to Blackladies,
but did not define the pretext, nor did the counsel examine him as to
it; while I felt sure that Anthony Herbert would be the last to start
that game.

"Now," said the judge, turning to the prisoner, "it is your turn, if
you have any questions to ask of the witness."

Herbert gathered up his papers.

"You saw this medal in my lodging?"

"Yes!"

"Do you know the purpose for which I had it there?"

Rookley straightened his shoulders, and facing Herbert, said very
deliberately--

"I suppose it was a token which would pass you as trustworthy amongst
the Jacobites."

"Did you never see it before you saw it in my lodging?"

"Never! My lord, I swear it upon my oath--never. The prisoner has
no doubt some cock-and-bull story, but that is the truth. Upon my
oath--never."

"The prisoner has no cock-and-bull story," answered Herbert, leaning
fiercely over the dock, "but only what he will prove with witnessess."
And so he turned from the subject.

It seemed to me that Rookley turned a trifle pale and for the first
time lost his assurance. He glanced anxiously round the court; I drew
closer into my corner. He knew that story of his about the medal to be
false; he must needs have expected Herbert would press him closely
concerning it. But he did not--he did not. There was reason for alarm.
I saw the alarm gather on Rookley's face.

"You were at great pains to effect my arrest secretly," continued
Herbert "And why was that?"

"I would not alarm Lawrence Clavering and his friends," he replied,
"until I had a riper knowledge of their plots."

"But you laid the information against me with Mr. Fuller the
magistrate on August 21st, and against Mr. Clavering on the 23rd; what
was it made you change your mind between those dates?"

"But this is nothing to the purpose," said the judge, testily.

"I pray you, my Lord," said Herbert, with a certain dignity, "all this
goes to the witness' credit; I am here for my life. I am allowed no
counsel to defend me. I pray you let me go on with my questions!" And
he turned again to Rookley. "Did you intercept a letter from Lord
Derwentwater to Mr. Clavering on the afternoon of the 23rd?"

"A letter?" asked Rookley, with the air of a man hearing the matter
mentioned for the first time.

"A letter," continued Herbert, "wherein Lord Derwentwater wrote that
the French King was dying, and that Lord Bolingbroke counselled all
thought of a rising should be deferred. And did you not thereupon,
that same day, lay the information against Mr. Clavering?"

"But to what end is this?" interrupted the judge. "Clavering is not
here. Were he here I should know how to deal with him. But the
indictment is not drawn against Clavering. It is drawn against you,
and you had best look to it."

"My lord, it is all of a piece," replied Herbert

"I was an innocent, an unconscious instrument of Rookley's hatred of
Mr. Clavering."

Thereupon he proceeded to question Rookley as to the reason why he had
been disinherited, and if it was true that he had robbed his father
and ever proved a troublesome and disloyal son. To these inquiries he
got nothing but evasions for replies; but I observed that the witness'
anxiety increased, as I could understand. For doubtless he little
expected to have these facts arrayed against him, and began to wonder
whence Herbert's knowledge came.

The Court rose at the conclusion of his evidence for a short space, so
that when it returned, the sunlight was pouring on to the floor of the
room through the western window.

Other witnesses were called, amongst them one or two Whig gentlemen
who spoke to seeing Lady Derwentwater's portrait.

"You infer from that that I am a traitor?" said Herbert to the first.

"I thought it a strange thing an artist should come so far as to
Keswick," he replied.

"But, my lord, is it a crime for a man to come to Keswick?" cried
Herbert "I came thither for the landscapes."

"And therefore painted portraits!" sneered the judge.

"Nay, but a man must live," answered Herbert.

I noticed that Blackett, my servant from Blackladies, was summoned to
give evidence as to messages which I had despatched him with to
Herbert. But I cannot say that I paid great heed to what he said. For
that spoke of sunlight moved upwards from the floor towards the roof,
changing as it moved from gold to red, and my weariness gained on me.
I felt my limbs grow heavy beneath me and my head nodding, and the
words which were spoken came to me muffled and drowsy, as if through a
woollen curtain. At last Herbert was enjoined to make his defence. The
sunlight streamed in a level blaze through the windows at the height
of the gallery.

"My lord and gentlemen," he began, "I have nothing but innocence to
plead. I cannot take the jury or the Court with oratory, but I declare
in the presence of Almighty God that what is sworn against me is all a
fiction. For rebelling against the established Government or attacking
that precious life of his Majesty King George--I never had such a
thought. You have heard a great many innuendoes and suspicions but
very little fact, and I cannot be condemned upon suspicions. Moreover,
I shall call a witness to prove to you that Jervas Rookley had the
best of reasons for fitting those suspicions together. It is
Blackladies that he covets, the estate from which his father
disinherited him, and he seeks to regain it as a reward for his zeal
by pursuing me to my death, though it cost him perjury. There is but
one fact alleged against me, my Lord, in all this, that I had
possession of the medal. But it never belonged to me, and that Jervas
Rookley knows. I shall call a witness to prove to you that it belonged
to Mr. Clavering, and to explain why it was discovered in my room."

"Well, call your witness!" said the Judge.

"I do, my Lord," said Anthony Herbert. "I call Lawrence Clavering."
There was a quick movement all through the court like a ripple upon
still water, and then, absolute silence--the silence of a night
frost-bound and empty. There floated into my mind a recollection of
the street beyond the barricade at Preston. The sunlight blazed ruddy
upon motionless figures. Had a woman fainted, it seemed you might.
have heard her breathing. Then quick and sharp rang out a laugh. I
knew the voice; I understood the relief in it. It flashed upon me of a
sudden that here was I failing again, and this time irretrievably. I
shook off the weariness which hung upon my limbs, the mist which was
wrapped about my senses; I pushed aside the man who stood in front of
me.

"I call Lawrence Clavering," repeated Herbert, the certitude of his
tone weakening to a tremor.

From somewhere in the gallery I heard a sob, half-stifled--a sob as
though a heart was breaking, and I knew too the voice which uttered
that.

"Here!" I shouted, and thrust against the shoulders in front of me. A
lane was carved as though by magic, and I advanced to the table.

"My lord, he is a rebel and a papist," said Rookley, starting up, his
face livid, his eyes starting from their sockets.

"Doubtless I shall answer for both those crimes," said I, "in the
law's good time. I am here this day to prevent a wrong."

Thereupon I was sworn and bidden to take my stand in the witness-box,
which I did, being so placed that my back was towards the windows and
the setting sun.

"My lord, the witness laughs," said Mr. Cowper; "I pray your lordship
warn him that he swear truly."

But the witness was not laughing with any levity for the task to which
his hand was set, and composed his face upon the instant. The gallery
ran round the three sides of the hall; the sunlight, as I say, poured
in from behind me and beat upon the gallery in front. I was looking to
that part of it over against me from which I had heard a sob; and a
face looked out from the rosy glow of the sunlight and smiled at me.
It was at that face--the face of Dorothy Curwen that I smiled back.
For my heart was lifted within me, exultant, rejoicing. I did not
think then of the danger she ran, though the thought pressed heavily
enough upon me afterwards; I did not even consider by what means she
had come here. She _was_ here. And this time I had not failed.

My musings, however, were interrupted by the judge, who warned me very
outrageously that since nothing now could save my body, so I need not
trust the saints would save my soul, if they caught me prevaricating
from the truth.

"My lord," I replied humbly, "I was at Preston, and escaped. I could
have fled out of England and got me safe to France; I am not like to
have thrown away my life that I might tell a lie."

I shall not be particular to recount all the questions which Herbert
put to me. He put many, and I answered them truthfully. I saw the
judge's face cloud and grow sterner and sterner, for every word I
spoke was a link to fetter me the more closely to my death; but the
face up there in the gallery grew brighter and brighter; or so at
least I imagined. It was to the gallery I looked for my judge, and
there I saw myself acquitted.

"You have seen this medal?" asked Herbert.

"It belongs to me," said I.

"Belongs to you?" said the judge.

"It was given to me at Commercy by him whom I must ever regard as my
King."

"How came it, then, in the prisoner's lodging?"

"I took it there myself that it might be painted in my picture."

"We shall need proof of all this," said the judge; "and prithee,
friend," said he, with a biting irony, "consider the oath thou hast
taken!"

"Proof there is, my lord," I cried, "and a sure proof--the picture
itself."

Thereupon the portrait was exhibited. And since the court-house was
now falling to darkness, a couple of candles were brought and set in
front of it that it might be the better seen. It was the horridest
picture that ever was seen; and the glare of the candles made it start
out from the gloom like a thing alive. It was not, however, at the
face I looked for any great while.

"There, my lord," I cried in excitement "On the breast! There the
medal hangs."

And to his good fortune Anthony Herbert had painted that medal with
all his minute elaboration. From where I stood I could distinguish the
head of King James, and when the picture was held close one could read
the motto, "Cujus est?"

I looked up to the gallery while the judge and the jury were
inspecting the picture. The last rays of the sun glowed tenderly about
Dorothy's face and died off it whilst I looked.

"But the face!" exclaimed Mr. Cowper. "My lord, this is no simple
portrait. We are not at the bottom of the matter."

"The face I have painted since I was in prison," replied Herbert; and
explained in some confusion, "I blamed Mr. Clavering for my arrest."

"Then," said the judge, "we shall need proof that the medal was not
painted in when you were in prison too."

But that proof he had, and subsequently produced in the person of his
landlord and the landlord's wife with whom he had lodged at Keswick.

Meanwhile he continued his questioning of me.

"You have heard Jervas Rookley describe the medal?"

"Yes."

"Is it the true description?"

"But incomplete," I answered, "for there are marks upon the medal.
Upon one side is the face, but there are scratches upon that face,
when it fell one day upon the stones. The forehead is indented, there
is a mark lengthening the curve of the mouth, there is a scratch where
the cravat meets the neck beneath the ear."

"How came these scratches?" asked Herbert.

"I dropped the medal out of my fob," said I, "when I was thrown from
my horse on Coldbarrow Fell, the first time I came to Blackladies, and
Jervas Rookley picked it up and gave it back to me."

There was a murmur amongst the spectators.

"It is not true," said Rookley, but in a voice so shaken that it
belied the words.

The judge took the medal and examined it.

"I cannot see," he said. "Bring more candles."

The candles were brought; the judge examined the medal, and handed it
to the counsel.

"My lord, the jury would like to see it," and the voice was that of
the foreman.

How eagerly I watched their faces while they clustered once more about
it!

"The marks are there," said the foreman, "as the witness has described
them."

"I should know," said I. "I tried to rub them of so often."

"And Jervas Rookley picked it up?" asked Herbert.

"He held it so long, turning it over in his hand, that I had to ask
him thrice before ever I could get it back."

I spoke with all the earnestness I had, and it seemed to me that the
jury belied my words. But I could not tell, and I waited, while the
judge summed up and the jury were away considering their verdict, in a
fever of anxiety. How long they were! how slowly they filed into the
court! I looked up to the gallery: a row of white faces bent on the
rail, all gazing towards the jury-box, save one, and that one gazed at
me as I sat by the table in the court I was indeed still returning
that gaze when the verdict was announced, and I think it was Herbert's
hand grasping mine which first informed me what the verdict was.

That night I slept in Carlisle prison, but as I came out upon the
steps of the court-house between my guards, I saw, by the light of the
lamp swinging above the door, Herbert and his wife standing side by
side; and a few yards further, the sergeant who led the way turned his
lanthorn on one side and showed me the little figure of a girl and a
face which peeped from out a taffety hood.



                            CHAPTER XXIII.

                              THE LAST.


For, standing in the roadway there, she seemed to me the forlornest
figure that ever a man set eyes upon. There was something more than a
drooping sadness in the attitude, something strangely like remorse, as
though unaccountably she blamed herself. But I was not so curious to
unravel her thoughts at this moment, as I was fearful of the risk she
ran. She had sat alone in the court-house; no one had so much as
spoken to her, and she stood alone in the streets of Carlisle. The
knowledge of her danger rushed in upon me, and I had but one hope to
lighten it. I remembered that she had spoken to me of a Whiggish
relative who had given her shelter, and I trusted that she would find
a refuge with him.

And so it indeed proved. For I had not lain more than three days in
the castle before this very gentleman was admitted to see me, and
after a prosy exhortation on the nature of my crimes, he proceeded:

"I have thought it my duty to say this much to you, but I come at the
instance of a poor misguided friend of yours, who is anxious you
should have no fears for her safety." The worthy gentleman scratched
his forehead in some perplexity. "I cannot repeat to you all that this
friend said. A woman in tears--a man in delirium, they both say a
great deal which is not to be repeated. But her messages were of the
friendliest--of the friendliest. For the rest the _Swallow_ lies off
the mouth of the Eden, with your friend's father on board. It appears
that the ship sailed up the coast from a spot you maybe know of better
than I do. Our friend returns to it to-night, and it sails forthwith
to France." At the door he stopped, and scratched his head again. Then
he rapped for the turnkey to let him out.

"The messages were of the friendliest," he repeated, and as the door
was opened at that moment, assumed a judicial severity, and so marched
pompously out.

Left to myself, I fell straightway into a temper of amazing
contradictions. For whereas I had before been moved by the thought of
Dorothy's danger, now I was troubled that she should be in such haste
to use her liberty.

"This very night must she go?" I asked of myself indignantly. "Well,
there is no reason why she should stay. She will be safe in France,"
and so came perilously near to weeping over myself, who must remain
behind in prison. But to that thought succeeded another, which drove
the first clean from my head. Dorothy in tears! There was matter in
that notion for an indictment against the universe; and the indictment
I drew, and supported it with such arguments as I felt sure must
enforce conviction. From that pursuit I came very naturally to a
speculation, in the nature of those friendliest messages. I construed
them by the dictionary of her looks, as she had sat in the gallery of
the court-house. It was a task of which I did not tire, but drew great
comfort from it, and found it very improving.

The next day, however, I was taken out of the castle and sent forward
under an escort, to join my co-rebels who were being marched by easy
stages to London. I caught them up at St. Albans, and coming to Barnet
we had our hands tied, and halters thrown about our horses' necks, and
so were carried through the streets of London to Newgate gaol. Such a
concourse of people came to view us as I have never seen the like of.
The town was dressed for a holiday; and what with the banging of
drums, the hurrahing for King George, and the damning of the
"Pretender," the air so rang with noise, that it was as much as you
could to hear your neighbour speak. One sturdy Whig, I remember,
planted himself in our way, and with many jeers and imprecations
lifted up a jackdaw tricked out with white roses, which he carried on
a warming-pan, and so paced backwards and in front of us, until a
soldier cracked him on the chest with the butt of his firelock, and
toppled the fellow into the gutter.

In Newgate, there I remained a weary while, though this period was
made as light for us as well could be. We had the liberty of the
Press yard, and were allowed to receive visitors and to visit one
another--no inconsiderable privilege, one may think, if one counts up
the number imprisoned there. There it came about that I saw much of
Charles Ratcliffe, Lord Derwentwater's brother; and though he was not
of his brother's amiable and endearing disposition, grew to some
intimacy with him. He thought me, indeed, a great fool for running my
head into the noose at Carlisle for a beggarly painter, and never
scrupled to tell me so; but I think it was just that action which
inclined his friendship my way. There were other consolations came to
me, and one of them was lighted with a glimmering of hope; for one day
came Sir William Wyndham to see me, and informed me that Lord
Bolingbroke was very active in my behalf, urging upon his friends in
England to make representations for my release, or, if that failed, to
concert measures for my evasion. I set no great reliance upon either
alternative, but Sir William Wyndham came again in March of the year
1716, after the rebellion had closed in Scotland, and Lord Bolingbroke
had been dismissed from the service of King James.

"Mr. Secretary Stanhope encourages your kinsman," said he, "in the
hope that he may be pardoned. In which event something might be done
for you. Meanwhile, I have a message to deliver to you from him. 'Tell
Lawrence,' he says, 'that here in Paris I am much plagued and pestered
by a young friend of his, who tells me that unless I unlock Newgate, I
do not deserve to be related to him. I am greatly humiliated by so
much scolding, but will do what I can.'"

It was not very much, however, that he could do; and on the 8th of May
I was arraigned with Charles Ratcliffe at the Exchequer Bar at
Westminster, and tried there on the 18th, and taken back again a few
days later to receive sentence.

"But we shall not be hanged," said Ratcliffe. "You will see."

Indeed, he ever had the greatest confidence that he would escape. I
recollect that on the occasion when we were being carried from Newgate
to receive sentence at Westminster, our coach was stopped in Fleet
Street to make way for King George, who was setting out upon his first
visit to Herrenhausen since he had come to the English throne. We
stopped opposite a distiller's, and Ratcliffe, leaning from the
window, very coolly called for half a pint of aniseed, and drank it
off.

"There is some merit in the Dutchman, after all," he said with a
laugh, "for I was in great need of that."

The events, however, justified his confidence. Never shall I forget
the weeks which followed our condemnation--the intrigues with our
friends outside, the timorous bribing of the gaolers within. One day
the plan would be settled, the moment for its execution appointed, and
the next thing maybe we saw was the countenance of a new gaoler, and
so the attempt must needs be deferred and the trouble begin again. Or
at another time news would be brought to us that we should receive the
clemency of the Crown and only suffer transportation to the colonies;
or, again, that we were to be granted a free pardon; or, again, that
the sentence was to be carried out within a week. So that now we
kicked our heels upon the pinnacles of hope, now we sank into a bog of
despair, and either way we shivered with fever--all of us except
Charles Ratcliffe.

It was with his usual serenity that when at last all arrangements had
been made, he invited those of us who were in the plot to a grand
entertainment in a room called the Castle, in the upper part of the
prison.

"There are thirteen of us besides myself," said he, as soon as the
supper was served and we were left alone. "The rest must shift for
themselves. Mr. Clavering, do you help me with this file, and do you,
gentlemen, be sufficiently ill-mannered to make as much clatter with
the dishes and your talk as will drown the sound of it."

Whereupon he drew a file from his pocket, and I crossed over with him
to a little door in the corner of the room; and while the others
talked and clattered, I went to work with my file upon the screws of
the plate which held the lock to the door. When I was tired and my
fingers bleeding, Ratcliffe took my place, and after him another,
until at last the plate came away.

"Now," said Ratcliffe, "the passage leads to the debtors' side. We
have been to solace our good friend Mr. Tiverton, who has been most
unkindly committed by his creditors. Mr. Tiverton--pray do not forget
the name, gentlemen! For even the most obliging gaoler might cavil if
we forgot the name."

We followed him quickly along the passage, across the yard to the
porter's lodge.

"Poor man!" says Ratcliffe, "it is very barbarous and inhuman that a
man of genius should go to prison for lack of money."

"For my part, sir," says the gaoler, throwing open the wicket, "I pity
his tradesmen."

"But some men are born to be gulled," says Ratcliffe, with his tongue
in his cheek. "And here's five guineas for you," and he stepped into
the street.

We followed him quickly enough, and once there scattered without so
much as a single word of farewell. Each man had his own plant, no
doubt. For myself, I knew that a certain sloop was waiting for me on
the Thames, and I hurried down to the water's edge below London
Bridge. A boat was waiting by the steps.

"Lawrence," cried a voice which sent my heart leaping.

"Hush!" I whispered, and jumped into the stern.

Dorothy made room for me beside her.

"Push off," she said; and in a moment we were floating down the river,
in and out between the ships.

"Give me the tiller," said I.

"No," said Dorothy; "it was my doing that you were brought into peril.
Let me steer you out of it."

The number of ships diminished. Before they were about us like the
trees of a forest, now they were the trees of an alley down which we
passed; and ever the alley broadened and the trees grew scarce.

"I saw you that night at Carlisle," she began, "when you were taken to
the castle;" and at that she broke off suddenly and her voice
stiffened.

"My kinsman came to you at Carlisle. What did he say?"

"He said that he was charged with the friendliest messages from you."

"Is that all?"

Now, there was something more, but I thought it wise to make no
mention of it.

"He did not repeat the messages," was all I said, and she sat up as
though her pride was relieved, and for a little we were silent. A ship
was anchored some way ahead of us, and a lanthorn swung on its poop.

"Is it the _Swallow?_" I asked.

"Yes," said she; and then, "before I left Carlisle I saw her."

For a moment I wondered of whom she was talking.

"I saw her and her husband."

Then I understood.

"She is very plain," said Dorothy in a whisper.

"Oh no," said I, "indeed she is not. You do her an injustice."

"But she is," repeated Dorothy, "she is."

It would have been better had I left the matter thus, but I was
foolish enough to seriously argue the point with her, and so hot
became the argument that we overshot the ship.

"That is your fault," said Dorothy, as she turned the boat

We rowed to the ship's side, a ladder was hoisted over, and a lanthorn
held. By the light of it I could see Mr. Curwen, and behind him my
servant Ashlock. I rose to give a hand to Dorothy, but she sat in the
stern without so much as a pretence of movement.

"Come, Dorothy," said Mr. Curwen.

Dorothy looked steadily at me.

"She is very plain," she said, and then looked away across the river,
humming a tune.

I was in a quandary as to what I should do. For I knew that she was
not plain; but also I knew that Dorothy would not move until I had
said she was. So I stood then holding on to the ladder while the boat
rose and sank beneath my feet. I have been told since that there was
really only one expedient which would have served my turn, and that
was to tumble incontinently into the water and make as much pretence
of drowning as I could. Only it never occurred to me, and so I weakly
gave in.

Dorothy stepped on board. The boat was hoisted, the anchor raised, and
in the smallest space of time the foam was bubbling from the bows.
Overhead the stars shone steady in the sky and danced in the water
beneath us, and so we sailed to France.

"Dorothy," said I, "there is a word which has been much used between
us--friends."

"Yes!" said she in a low voice, "it is a good word."

And so it was many months afterwards before I came to her again in
Paris and pleaded that there was a better.

"I would you thought with me," I stammered out.

Dorothy, with the sweetest laugh that ever my ears hearkened to, began
to sing over to herself a verse of "The Honest Lover."

"Dear heart," she said, "I called you an owl, but it should have been
a bat."

Jervas Rookley I never came across again. But I know that he did not
win Blackladies, though whether a suspicion of his treachery is
accountable or the avarice of the Hanoverians, I cannot tell. I have
heard, too, that at one time he was the master of a ship trading in
the South Seas; but of this, again, I have no sure knowledge.



                               THE END.





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