"Do you think he has ever seen it before?" asked the detective.
"I shouldn't be at all surprised," replied the clergyman.
"I lawst Muggins, you know, at Tossorontio, and there was a man there at the time, a short man in a pea-jacket or cowt, down't you know, who had a big dawg. When Muggins disappeared, I thought the big dawg might have killed him. But now I think the man with the pea-cowt saved him from the big dawg, and that's how Muggins came to gow after him. What do you imagine that beast was after, coming up the hill towards Muggins?"
"I think he was coming to overpower you, Mr. Perrowne, and bring all our forces to your aid, while the fellow behind him slipped in and fired the house or did some similar mischief."
"I tell you, Mr. Nash, he'd have had my two barrels first, and I'm a pretty fair shot, down't you know? But, look here, it's dry work mounting guard, sow I'll have another pull at the tankard."
The Squire came in from guard mounting, somewhat fatigued. He had been on the stretch mentally and physically ever since the Captain's arrival. "You had better go to bed, grandfather, and take Thomas with you," he said to the veteran.
"Not a wink this blissid noight, Squoire," replied Mr. Terry, "the smill av the powther has put new loife into my owld carcash. The Captin can go iv he plazes."
"Avast, there! I say, messmate," growled Captain Thomas, "I don't run this mill, but my youngster's here under hatches, and I'm a goin' to keep watch on, watch off along of any other man. I don't think that o' yours is half up to the mark, Mr. Terry."
"Oi was thinkin' I was a bit wake mysilf," replied the old soldier, filling up his glass, and handing the decanter to his neighbour, who likewise improved the occasion.
"Oi'm suppawsin now, sorr," continued the veteran, addressing the dominie, "that this is yer first apparance on shintry."
"You are right, Mr. Terry, in your supposition."
"An', sorr, it's a cridit to yeez to be shtandin' an' facin' the inimy wid divel a thing in yer hand but a pishtil. Oi moind a big sthrappin' liftinant av ours was called Breasel, an' sid he was discinded from the great Breasel Breck av Oirish hishtry. Wan noight he was slapin', whin four nagurs av Injuns kim into his tint, an' picked the sword an' pishtils and the unifarm aff the bid he was on. Thin he woke up, an' him havin' sorra a thing to difind himself wid but a good Oirish tongue in his hid. But it's Tipperary the liftinant foired at the haythens, an' it moight ha' been grape an' canister, for they dhropped the plundher and run for loife, all but wan that got howlt av an anhevis drawin' plashter the liftinant had for a bile an the back av his neck, an' wasn't usin' at the toime. Someways the plashter got on to his nakid chist an' gripped him, an' he was that wake wid froight, the other nagurs had to carry him away. Afther that the Injuns called Breasel by the name of Shupay, a worrud that in their spache manes the divil—savin' yer prisence, Mishter Wilkinson."
"One time the Susan Thomas was at Belle Ewart loadin' on lumber," growled the Captain. "Sylvanus heerd as how the Mushrats, that's the folks acrost on t'other side of the bay, was a comin' over to fasten him and me down in the hold and paint the schooner. They was a goin' to paint her The Spotted Dog, than which there's no meaner kind o' fish. So, I bid Sylvanus pile a great heap of useless, green, heavy, barky slabs on top o' the good lumber; then we took the occasion of a little wind, and stood her out to anchor a little ways from the dock. Sure enough, when night come, the Mushrats came a hollerin' aand yellin'. Unfortnitly I'd left the salutin' blunderbuss here at home, and hadn't but one pike-pole aboard. 'How many boat loads of 'em is there, Sylvanus?' I says. 'Two,' says he. 'All right,' says I, 'that's one apiece. Take off your coat, and roll up your shirt sleeves, Sylvanus,' says I, 'for you're a goin' to have heavy work slab heavin'!' On they come to board us, one on each side. 'Fire out them or'nary useless slabs, Sylvanus,' says I. 'But there's a boat with a lot of men in it,' says he, a-chucklin' like an ijut. Hope I haven't given the pass word away, John? Well, I said: 'Fire out the slabs, and let the men get out o' the way.' And he began firing, and I kept my side a-goin', and the slabs fell flat and heavy and fast, knockin' six at a shot, till they cussed and swore, and hollered and yelled murder, and that was the last we two saw of the Mushrats and the paintin' of the Susan Thomas."
Subdued but hearty laughter followed these stories, and, when the Captain ended, the veteran pushed the decanter towards him, remarking: "A good shtory is a foine thing, Captin, dear, but it makes ye just a throifle dhroy." The Captain responded, and told Mr. Terry that he was neglecting himself, an omission which that gentleman proceeded to rectify. Mr. Errol, with his muffling cloud still round his neck, was asleep in an easy chair. In his sleep he dreamt, the dream ending in an audible smack of his lips, and the exclamation "Very many thanks, ma'am; the toddy's warm and comforting." When his own voice aroused him, he was astonished to witness the extreme mirth of all parties, and was hardly convinced when it was attributed to the stories of the veteran and the Captain. The Squire, though amused, was resolved to have a word with his widowed sister.
The lawyer paced up and down in the cool night, trying to combine two things which do not necessarily go together, warmth and wakefulness. Everything was so quiet, that he seemed to hear Timotheus and Sylvanus pacing about rapidly like himself, when suddenly a little spark of fire appeared at the far end of the verandah towards the stables. Cautiously, under cover of bushes he approached the spot, but saw nothing, although he smelt fire. Then he knelt down and peered under the flower laden structure. The light was there, growing. In a moment it became a flame, and, as he rushed to the spot, a lad fell into his arms. Clutching his collar with his left hand in spite of kicks and scratches, he hauled his prisoner back to the verandah, and, thrusting in his right arm beneath the floor, drew out the blazing rags and threw them on the gravel walk or on the grass until he was sure that not one remained. Some watcher at the front window had alarmed the guard-room, for out tumbled its occupants, and the lad was secured by Nash, and handed over to the Captain and Mr. Errol. Calling to Toner to keep an eye on the whole front, the detective, taking in the situation, hastened to the stables along with the lawyer, while the Squire and Mr. Perrowne went round the back way on the same errand. No guard was visible, and there was fire in two places, both happily outside sheds, one abutting on the garden fence, the other farther to the right. The Squire went for water-pails, while Nash and the veteran followed the course of the incendiaries towards the bush guarded by Rufus. But the lawyer and the parson, seizing stout poles, which were apparently Tryphena's clothes props, knocked the blazing sheds to pieces with them, and scattered the burning boards over the ground. Before the water came, the report of a rifle, a fowling piece, and of several pistol shots, rang through the air. No more signs of fire were discovered, so the water was poured upon the still burning boards, and the firemen waited for the report of the pursuers. While thus waiting, they heard a groan, and, going to the place whence it proceeded, discovered Timotheus, with a gag plaster on his mouth and an ugly wound on the back of his head, lying close to the garden fence below the fired shed. Some water on his face revived him, and at the same time moistened the plaster, but as it would not come off, Coristine cut it open with his penknife between the lips of the sufferer. Even then he could hardly articulate, yet managed to ask if all was safe and to thank his deliverers. He was helped into the house, and delivered over to the awakened and dressed Tryphena and Tryphosa, the latter behaving very badly and laughing in a most unfeeling way at the comical appearance cut by her humble swain. When Tryphena removed the plaster, and Tryphosa, returning to duty with an effort, bathed his head, the wounded sentry felt almost himself again, and guaised he must ha' looked a purty queer pictur. Soon after, Rufus staggered into the kitchen in a similar condition, and his affectionate sisters had to turn their attention to the Baby. These were all the casualties on the part of the garrison, and, overpowered though the two sentries had been, their arms had not been taken by the enemy.
The Squire went forward to see after the welfare of his father-in-law, and found Mr. Terry carrying his own rifle and the gun of Sylvanus, while the said Pilgrim helped the detective to carry a groaning mass of humanity towards the kitchen hospital.
"Oi tuk my man this toime, Squire," said Mr. Terry, gleefully; "Oi wuz marciful wid the crathur and aimed for the legs av' im. It's a foine nate little howl this swate roifle has dhrilled in his shkin, an' niver a bone shplit nor a big blood vissel tapped, glory be, say Oi!"
It appeared, on examination of the parties, that Ben Toner and Sylvanus had indulged in a prolonged talk at the point where their beats met, during which a party of six, including the two prisoners, creeping up silently through the bush, prostrated Rufus with the blow of a bludgeon on the back of the head. Then, they advanced and repeated the operation on Timotheus, after which three of them, with cotton cloths soaked in oil, fired the sheds and the verandah. But for the lawyer's discovery of the spark under the latter, the fire might have been beyond control in a few minutes, and the end of the murderous gang accomplished. The whole household was roused; indeed, save in the case of the children, it can hardly be said to have been asleep. Mrs. Carruthers descended, and, sending Tryphosa to look after her young family, helped her father to bind up the wound of the grizzled incendiary, who refused to give any account of himself. "I know him," said the detective to the Squire; "his name is Newcome and he's a bad lot." Soon the Captain and Mr. Errol brought their prisoner in. The hospital and guard-room was the winter kitchen of the house, a spacious apartment almost unused during the summer months. When the lad was brought into it, he seemed to recognize the place with his dull big grey eyes, and spoke the first words he had uttered since his capture. "Bread and meat for Monty." "Why," said Tryphena, "it's the ijut boy." "So it is," ejaculated Mrs. Carruthers, "What is your name, Monty?" With an idiotic smile on his face, but no light in those poor eyes, he answered: "Monty Rawn, and mother's in the water place." Mrs. Carruthers explained that the lad had been often in the kitchen in winter, and that she had told Tryphena to feed him well and be kind to him, so that it is no wonder he recognized the scene of his former enjoyment. "Puir laddie," said the Squire, "he's no' responsible, but the born deevil that set him on should be hanged, drawn, and quartered."
"Squire," answered Mr. Errol, "I'm aye on the side o' maircy, but to yon I say Amen."
"Come, come!" Carruthers cried hastily, regaining his natural speech; "we must take off these haverals, Sylvanus and Toner, and bring them in to guard the prisoners. They are not fit for sentry duty." Leaving the Captain and the veteran as temporary guards, he sallied forth, followed by the lawyer and the two parsons.
To the Squire's great delight, he found the dominie walking up and down the front of the house, humming "A charge to keep I have." "Mr. Wilkinson," he said, "you're a pairfec' treasure," and that so loud that the schoolmaster was sure it was heard by the occupants of the window over the porch. He marched along with redoubled pride and devotion. Mr. Perrowne took Toner's place, and the lawyer that of Sylvanus. Carruthers marched the two haverals to the kitchen, and placed the prisoners in their charge, after roundly abusing them for talking on guard. This set free the Captain and Mr. Terry, who were posted together by the outbuildings, although the veteran was very anxious to go down to the bush for the purpose of potting the Lake Settlement haythens. There being no post for the minister, he was appointed hospital chaplain and commander of the prisoners' guard. Mr. Nash, carrying Ben's gun, was investigating the strip of bush and the clump of birches down the hill for traces of the enemy. While so doing, two pistol bullets flew past his head and compelled him to seek the cover of a tree trunk. Finding he could do nothing in the imperfect light, he retired gradually towards the sentries, and aided them in their weary watch. At length, as daylight was coming in, and affording a pretext for the fair occupants of the front room, whose windows hailed the beams of the rising sun, to leave their seclusion and mingle with the wakeful ones below, the sound of wheels was heard coming along the road to the left. Hurriedly, the detective became Mr. Chisholm, and joined the dominie at the gate. There were three men in the waggon, and one of them was the Grinstun man, as cheerful as ever. What was in the waggon could not be seen, as it was covered over with buffalo robes and tarpaulin, but the detective could have sworn he saw it move, and give forth a sound not unlike a groan. Mr. Rawdon jumped down, telling a certain Jones of truculent countenance to drive on, as he guessed he'd walk the rest of the way this fine morning. The waggon drove off accordingly and at a rapid rate, while the working geologist accosted the sentinels.
"Wy, wot's hup 'ere, gents? 'Ere you hare on guard yet, and Jones there terls me 'ee 'eard shots fired has 'ee was comin' along slowly. I 'ope there hain't no gang o' city burglars bin tryin' hany o' their larks on the Squire. We don't want none o' that sort hout in rural parts."
The dominie and the detective declined to satisfy him, but the former said:—
"I thought you had pressing business at Collingwood, Mr. Rawdon?"
"So I 'ad, and stand to lose two or three 'undred dollars by missin' the mornin' train. But, wen I got quite a step on the road, all of a sudding I remembers my hoffer to Miss Do Please-us, and 'er hanswer as was to be hat the Post Hoffice before ten. So I turned back, hand, lucky for me, fell in with Jones and 'is man takin' 'ome some things from town. But, come! tell a man can't you? 'As there bin any burglary or hanythink, any haccident, anybody 'urt? I've got an hour and more to spare, if I can be of any 'elp."
"I don't think we need trouble you, Rawdon," said the false Chisholm. "Your suspicions are correct so far, that an attempt has been made to fire the Squire's house, but by whom is a mystery, for there is no man more respected in the neighbourhood."
"Respected! I should say 'ee is. Fire 'is 'ouse! O Lor'! wot a bloomin' shame! Really, I must go him, if it's honly for a hinstant to hexpress my feelins of hindignation to the Carrutherses."
The Grinstun man entered the gate, which was just what the detective did not want. However, he held it open for him, saying: "You'll find the Squire in his office talking to Nash, but I don't suppose he'll mind being interrupted for a minute. Mrs. Carruthers is in the kitchen, and you'll likely meet an old acquaintance of yours there, Mr. Perrowne of Tossorontio."
Rawdon drew back. Nash he knew: Mr. Perrowne, of Tossorontio, he did not; but the unknown to men of his stamp is often more dreaded than the known. He wouldn't intrude upon his friends just now, while everything must be upset. Playfully, he asked Favosites Wilkinsonia to remind Miss Do Please-us of that hoffer and the hanswer before ten, and straightway resumed his journey in the direction of the Lake Settlement.
"Of all the impudent blackguards that I have met in the course of my experience, that fellow takes the cake," said the detective, removing his disguise.
"What about Jones and the waggon?" asked the dominie.
"The waggon is the one I saw when patrolling. Jones and his man are two of the ruffians who were in it. Old Newcome, here, is a third. The boy—by-the-bye, what a wonderful inspiration that was of yours to give us Idiot and Boy for passwords—well, the boy must have come from some other quarter. But there's either one or two wounded men under these buffaloes and bits of canvas, for I hit one in the waggon and sent the contents of Ben's gun after another down the hill. They both squealed. Men of that kind almost always squeal when they're hit. The impudence of that fellow Rawdon! Pon't forget Miss Du Plessis' letter; that's our card now. Never in all my life have I met with such colossal cheek!"
The Squire came out and dismissed the guard. The parson and the lawyer strolled in together after Wilkinson and Nash. Coristine remarked "The sunshine is a glorious birth, as my friend Wilkinson would say."
"Yes," answered Perrowne; "it brings to memory one verse of Holy Writ: 'Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.' The words are very simple, but beautiful in their simplicity. People are apt to say there's no dogma in them, and that's why they are so acceptable to all. But that's a mistake. They contain a double dogma; for they make a dogmatic statement about light, and another about the relation of the sun to the human eye. In the Church we down't get much training in dogma, outside of the dogma of the Church, and a little in the Articles and the Catechism. Sow Mr. Enrol often flores me with his texts. But I down't bear him any malice, you know, nor any malice to dogma, so long as it's the dogma of the Holy Scriptures; because that is just like the verse I quoted, it says what is true of a thing in itself, or in its relation to man. To reject that sort of dogma is to reject the truth."
"Still," replied the lawyer, "a man in a burning desert, or who had been sunstruck, might curse the sun."
"Very true; but you know how wrong is the motto ex uno disce omnes. Believe that, and we are all scoundrels, because your Grinstun man was once under this roof."
"There are, however, many ecclesiastical dogmas professedly taken from the Bible, against which good men, and earnest seekers after truth, rebel."
"Of course! Mr. Errol says—I do wish he were a Churchman, he is such a thoughtful, clever fellow—he says prejudice, imperfect induction, a wrong application of deductive logic, and one-sided interpretation, down't you know, literal, figurative, and all that sort of thing, are causes of false dogmatic assertions."
"My friend Wilkinson, who is a long way past me in these matters, thinks the dogmatists forget that Revelation was a gradual thing, that the ages it came to were like classes in a graded school, and each class got only as much as it could understand, both mentally and morally; and as, of course, it was able to express."
"Yes; Errol says the same, but with exceptions; because the prophets said a whowle lot of things they didn't understand. But, my dear fellow, whatever is the matter with your hands and face? You're burnt, you pore sowl, and never said a word about it. Come on here, I saye; come on!"
Mr. Perrowne laid hold on the lawyer's arm, and dragged him into the hall. "Miss Marjorie!" he called; "hi! Miss Carmichael, come along here, quick, I beg of you, please." The lady invoked came running out of the breakfast room, looking very pretty in her fright. "Look here, Miss Marjorie, at our pore friend's hands and face, all got by saving you ladies from being burnt alive."
Miss Carmichael exhibited great concern, and took the patient, who insisted his wounds were nothing to make a fuss over, into the work room, setting him down, with the pressure of her two hands on his broad shoulders, in a comfortable chair between a sewing machine and a small table. Then she brought warm water, and sponged the hands, anointed the wounds with some home-made preparation, and clothed them in a pair of her uncle's kid gloves, which were so large and baggy that she had to sit down and laugh at her victim, who felt very happy and very foolish. Finally she found that Mr. Errol, whose hands were more shapely, had an old pair of gloves in his pocket. So the Squire's were taken off, and the discovery made that the hands needed more washing, soaping, and anointing. Coristine said his ring, a very handsome one, hurt him; would Miss Carmichael please take it off and keep it for him? Miss Carmichael removed the obnoxious ring, and did not know where to put it, but, in the meantime, to prevent its being lost, slipped it on to one of her own fingers, which almost paralyzed the lawyer with joy. He could have sat there forever; but the gong sounded for prayers, and he accompanied his nurse into the dining-room. There the whole household was assembled, even to the idiot Monty, with the exception of Tryphena, engaged in culinary duties, and Sylvanus, who mounted guard over the wounded Newcome. Ben Toner also was absent, having ridden off to summon Dr. Halbert. Mr. Perrowne, at the Squire's request, read the chapter for the day, and the minister offered a prayer, brief but fervent, returning thanks for the deliverance of the past night, and imploring help in every time of need, after which the entire company, Mr. Terry included, joined in the Lord's Prayer. Adjourning to the breakfast room, the events of the night were discussed over the porridge, the hot rolls and coffee and the other good things provided. Mr. Terry had been induced to desert the kitchen for once, and he and Coristine were the heroes of the hour. The lawyer put in a good word for the parson, and the Squire for Wilkinson, so that Miss Du Plessis and the other ladies were compelled to smile on both gentlemen. While the dominie blushed, the Captain settled his eye on him. "I told him when he was aboard the Susan Thomas that, with all his innercent sort of looks, he was a sly dog, with his questions about an old man's pretty niece. I knowed I'd see him in Flanders makin' up to the gals, the sly dog! Got set down right beam on to their weather ports every time, even when he wasn't told to go on watch at all, the sly dog. Wilkison is his name; it'll be Will-kiss-em some day, ha! ha! ha! the sly dog!"
The schoolmaster was dreadfully uncomfortable, and his lady teacher hardly less so. It was a blessed relief when a buggy drove up to the gate, and Mrs. Carruthers, having left her sister-in-law in charge while she went out to meet its occupants, returned shortly with the doctor and his blooming daughter, who, as a friend of the family, insisted on accompanying him to offer her services if she could be of help.
"Come, Doctor!" said the Squire, rising with the rest of the party to greet him and his companion; "the patients are in no immediate danger, so you and Miss Fanny must sit down and help us with breakfast."
Miss Fanny was nothing loath to do so, after an invigorating drive, and in the company of such a number of eligible bachelors as was rarely seen in Flanders. She had a word for Mr. Errol, for the detective, for the lawyer and the dominie, but to Wilkinson's great relief she finally pitched upon Mr. Perrowne and held him captive. Then Wilkinson improved the time with Miss Du Plessis, using as his excuse the letter or note she was to send to Rawdon declining his offer for the present, which the schoolmaster expressed his desire personally to take to the office. Breakfast over, the doctor inspected his patients, Newcome, Rufus, and Timotheus. The two latter he dismissed as all the better of a little blood letting, recommending lots of cold water applied externally. The case of the incendiary was more serious, but not likely to be fatal.
Doctor Summoned to the Select Encampment—Newcome Interviewed—Nash's Discovery—His Venture—Drop the Handkerchief—The Dominie's Indignation—The Pedestrians Detained—The Doctor Stays—A Trip to the Lakes—Conversation on the Way—The Richards—Fishing—Songs—The Barrier in the Channel—Nash's Dead Body Found—His Crazed Sister Comes to Bridesdale.
It was only eight o'clock when the elders finished their breakfast, and the children prepared to succeed them. All the party, except Mrs. Carruthers and Mrs. Carmichael, who had domestic duties before them, and Miss Du Plessis, who had her note to write, strolled out into the garden in groups. Shortly, a buckboard drove up to the gate, and its occupant, a washed out looking youth, enquired if the doctor was there, Dr. Halbert. The subject of the enquiry went forward, and found that he was wanted at the Select Encampment, for a man who had shot himself.
"I tell you frankly, my man," said the doctor, "I don't care to go to your Select Encampment; there is too much mystery about it."
"I guess the pay's all O.K.," answered the youth.
"Why do you not get Dr. Smallpiece to look after your man?"
"'Cos we don't know nuthun about him, and he's too small a piece for our boss. You best hurry up yer cakes and come on, doctor."
Re-entering the house for his instruments, the doctor confided to Carruthers his distaste for the work before him, on account of the mystery surrounding it, but said he supposed it was his duty to relieve human suffering.
"Where is it?" asked the Squire.
"All I can tell you is that it is out on the lakes beyond the Lake Settlement."
"I thocht as muckle," remarked the Squire to the detective, after the doctor was carried away on the buckboard.
"Let as go and see Newcome," said the detective; and the pair went round to the kitchen, where the wounded man lay on an improvised couch, and was waited upon by big Ben Toner, anxious for news of Serlizer. Mr. Nash began:—
"The doctor says that talking won't hurt you, Newcome."
"Dawn't spause 'twull," answered the surly fellow.
"Setting fire to buildings with intent to take life is a hanging matter, Newcome."
"Oo said t'warnt?"
"You seem prepared for your fate."
"Ma vate was aw raight to I got t'bahl i'my laig."
"I mean, you don't seem to care if you are going to be hanged."
"Oo's a gaun to hahng us an' vor wat?"
"You'll be hanged for arson with intent to kill. There are witnesses to prove you threatened to kill me at least."
Newcome started, and so did Ben.
"Yaw cahn't prove nowt."
"Yes I can. I've got your pocket book and the odd papers out of your coat pocket."
"Aw'll hae yaw oop vor stalun as well as shootun, zee iv I dawn't, yaw bloody thafe!"
"Keep a civil tongue in your head, man, or I'll send you to the lockup at once," interposed the Squire.
"Leave him to me Squire; I'll manage him," whispered Nash.
Then, turning to the injurious Newcome, he continued:
"Your daughter, Sarah Eliza, is at Rawdon's Select Encampment, where the stuff you sell is turned out. She can give some fine evidence. The Peskiwanchow crowd, the man that pretends to be called Jones, and the rest of them, were picked up by you in a waggon, I know, last night. The coal oil and fire marks are on your hands still, and this pretty rag came out of your side pocket. What is more, I don't need to ask the Squire here to commit you. I've got a warrant already, on the evidence of Henry and Stokes and Steadman. I'll serve that warrant on you now, and have you off to the county gaol, where Dr. Stapfer is bound to cut off your leg, if you don't own up quick, for I have no time to lose."
"Daw yaw thenk as Stapper ull ambitate ma laig?"
"I'm sure of it. He always does; he has a perfect mania for amputation. You know Driver?"
"Who cut off his leg for a little bruise?"
"And who cut of Sear's arm at the shoulder for a trifle of a rusty nail?"
"Stapper taw. O, aw zay, Mezder Nahsh, dawn't zend us ta naw Stappers."
"But I will, I must, if you don't confess immediately all that the Squire and I want to know. Turn Queen's evidence, and make a clean breast of it. You can't save Rawdon and his gang; we have them tight. But confess, and I'll get you out on bail, and send you home to your wife to be nursed; and, when the trials come, I'll get you off your liquor charge with a fine. Refuse to, and you go straight to Stapfer's to lose your leg, and then to the gallows."
"Aw dawn't moind chancin' t'gallas, but ma laig! Wat daw yaw wahn't ta knaw?"
At once all the people, Ben included, were ordered out of the hospital, and Coristine, much to his disgust, sent for. His hands were useless for writing, but, as he had a good memory, he could help in the examination. So Mr. Errol was called in to act as clerk, Mr. Perrowne refusing to do so, on the ground that all confessions made in the presence of a clergyman are sacred. Little by little the hardened old sinner revealed Rawdon's business, its centre and methods, his accomplices and victims. Then the whole story of the plot which culminated in the night attack was drawn from him, appearing blacker and more diabolical at every new revelation of villainy. It appeared that the Grinstun man had with him in the attack, which he conducted personally, his own six men from the so called Encampment, together with the idiot boy, and two lots of teamsters or distributors, the five from Peskiwanchow brought by Newcombe, and four from another quarter. He had thus sixteen ruffians in his force, besides himself and the boy.
"Whose boy is that?" asked the detective, eagerly. He had been looking closely at the lad more than once and listening to his voice.
"Ah beeslong ta Rowdon."
"Who is his mother?" asked Nash, with a strange light in his eye.
"Her's cawd Tilder."
"Is she Rawdon's wife? Speak, man!"
"Naw, nawt az aw niver heerd."
"What was her name before he—brought her there?"
"Aw donno, but t'lahd's cawd Mawnta Nehgull."
"O my God!" cried the detective, as he fell back in his chair, and seemed to lose all power of speech.
"Come away, Nash," said the Squire, taking one arm of the stricken man, while Mr. Errol, handing his notes to the lawyer, took the other. They led him tenderly to the office, where Carruthers forced a glass of wine upon him. Nash revived, and begged that the door might be closed and locked.
"I may never have a chance to tell this again, so I want to tell it to you two, and to you alone. My real name is Nagle, not Nash. I was born in Hamilton, where my father was a wheelwright. I got a good schooling, and went into a lawyer's office, for father wanted me to become a lawyer. But I got reading detective books, and did a few sharp things for the firm that got me into notice and brought me private detective business. So I got on till I rose to be what I am, such as it is. When my parents died they left my sister Matilda in my care. I was only twenty then, and she, eighteen, a bright, pretty girl. She kept my rooms for me, but I was away most of the time, so she became tired of it, as we had no relations and hardly any friends we cared to associate with. She insisted on leaving me and learning the millinery in Toronto; so I had to let her go. I saw her often, and frequently sent her money. She got good wages at last and dressed well, and seemed to have respectable people about her. Suddenly her letters stopped. I went to her place of business, and heard that she had left to be married to a rich man in the country; but nobody, not even her closest acquaintances among the girls, knew where, or who the man was. I advertised, neglected business to hunt up every clue, travelled all over the country looking for my lost sister, promised my dead parents never to marry till I found her. And at last, at last, O God! I have found Matilda, and you know where, a woman without name or character, the victim of the greatest scoundrel unhung, the associate of brutal criminals, the unlawful mother of an idiot boy! No! no more wine, Squire, not a drop. I want a steady head and a strong hand this morning more than any day of my life. Open the door and the windows now, please; and give me a little air."
Nash, for so he may still be called, sent Coristine away to Talfourd's for his bundle, and Miss Du Plessis, having handed the note for Rawdon to the dominie, accompanied the hero of the gloves in the Squire's buggy, so as to lose no time. Wilkinson was warned not to post the letter before his comrade's return. While waiting in the office, Mr. Errol, whose heart was deeply touched, locked the door again, saying: "John, let us kneel down and pray our Heavenly Father to comfort our friend in his great sorrow, and bless him in his present work." The Squire knelt with the minister, and the detective fell on his knees beside him, their hearts joining in the quiet but earnest supplications of the good man of religion. When they rose from their knees, Nash, almost tearfully, pressed their hands and bade God bless them.
Coristine enjoyed the society of Miss Du Plessis; nevertheless he drove fast, for the business demanded haste. The buggy returned in little over half an hour, and the bundle was handed to the detective, who took it up stairs, and, soon after, descended as a countryman, in flannel shirt, light soiled coat, and overalls. The rim of his wideawake was drawn down all round, half hiding his face disguised with a ragged beard. It could not conceal his refined, almost aristocratic, features, but such a country type is not uncommon in many parts of Canada, even accompanied with perfect boorishness. His boots were small, which also was quite Canadian, but he had rubbed the blacking off, and trusted to the dust still further to disguise them. Smiling and courteous, he bade everybody whom he could trust good-bye, and slipped a large pocket-book full of money and memoranda into the hands of the Squire. "You can keep it till I come back," he said; "if I don't, get Mr. Errol and this lawyer chap, who seems a good fellow, to help you to make it out." Then, the dominie expressed his readiness to take the note to the post office, and Miss Du Plessis, a little piqued at Coristine's apparent want of attention to her, said that, if Mr. Wilkinson had no objections, she should, above all things, like a short walk after a cramping drive. The schoolmaster was only too delighted, in spite of Mr. Perrowne's glance of jealousy, which Miss Halbert saw and noted with a tap of her dainty foot on the verandah. So, Wilkinson and his inamorata tripped along the road, and, some distance behind them, shambled Simon Larkin, the hawbuck from away back, alias Mr. Nash. The children came out to play, led by Marjorie. Perrowne was still talking to Miss Halbert, Mr. Errol was closeted with the Squire, and the Captain and the veteran, on a garden bench, were telling yarns. "Cousin Marjorie," said her juvenile namesake, "we are going to play drop the handkerchief, because we've got such a lot of nice people to play it" Miss Carmichael answered: "Oh no, Marjorie, try some other game." But Marjorie insisted. So, a ring was formed, with Marjorie as handkerchief holder, outside. The ring consisted of the Captain and little Susan Carruthers, Mr. Perrowne and Marjorie of the same family, Coristine and Miss Halbert, Mr. Terry, pipe and all, and Honoria junior, John Carruthers junior and Miss Carmichael, and baby Michael, but with whom? Marjorie suggested the two aunties and Tryphosa, but finally concluded that there had to be an odd one any way, so baby Michael took the Captain's hand and Miss Carmichael's, and the game began. Of course Marjorie dropped the handkerchief on her Eugene, and Eugene caught her and kissed her with great gusto. Then he had to drop it, and Honoria saluted him with effusion. Mr. Perrowne was her choice, and the parson, tell it not in Gath, the perfidious parson gave himself away on Miss Halbert, who captured him, blushed, and submitted. The Captain and Mr. Terry were becoming indignant and shocked. Miss Halbert had mercy on John Carruthers junior, who went wild with delight, and brought out Miss Carmichael. She, pitying the Captain, gave him the handkerchief and a long chase, but Mr. Thomas finally triumphed, and chose Susan Carruthers as his victim. Susan took grandpa, who pocketed his pipe, and, after a sounding smack, passed the handkerchief on to his grandchild Marjorie. She, true to her name, chose the lawyer, and that gentleman, emboldened by the parson's precedent, dropped the terrible symbol on the shoulder of the girl who was all the world to him. She pursued him, and he ran as he well could do, but at last he got weak and tired, and she overtook him against her will and his, and Coristine was in the seventh heaven of delight. They could take him and trample on him, and flaunt his recreancy before Wilkinson even; he didn't want to kiss any more, even the fresh young lips of the children. He wanted that one impression to stay forever.
Miss Du Plessis and the dominie were not in a hurry to get back to Bridesdale. She had received a letter from her mother, saying that Uncle Morton was coming to see her, and that she would try to induce him to accompany her to the country, as she did not wish to shorten her daughter's brief holiday by calling her home. Imparting the news to Wilkinson, a long and interesting conversation began which branched off into a variety of topics, treated seriously, at times poetically, by the kindred minds. Miss Da Plessis was quite unreserved, yet dignified, and without a trace of coquetry; nevertheless, the dominie assured himself that Mr. Perrowne had not a ghost of a chance in that quarter. She was pleased with the generous way in which he referred to his companion pedestrian, in spite of the provocation which she knew the lawyer had given his friend. The adventures of the past night, the fresh air of the morning, the rural scenery and his delightful companionship, made the schoolmaster eloquent; yet his sense of propriety and natural politeness kept him from monopolizing the conversation, so that his silent attention was even more flattering than his appeals to the lady's intelligence and culture. Outside of the English classics and current literature, her reading lay chiefly among French and Spanish authors, most of which were not unknown to the studious dominie. A few ripples of well-bred amusement were raised by his recital of his experience at the Beaver River, where he found the Voyage autour de mon Jardin, especially by his specimens of Lajeunesse French and the story of the dug-out. Of course, he did not offend a lady's ear with a word so vulgar; it was always the canoe. Too soon the pleasant morning walk was over, and they stood before the garden gate at Bridesdale, just at the moment when Coristine accidentally stumbled and was captured by the fair possessor of the handkerchief. "How good of your friend to please the children by taking part in their games," remarked Miss Du Plessis in all sincerity. "I cannot express the depth of my humiliation," replied the dominie; "it is scandalous—a violation of the rights of hospitality."
"But, see! Mr. Wilkinson, Mr. Perrowne is there; and Fanny also."
"I have nothing to do, Miss Du Plessis, judging them that are without; Mr. Coristine pertains to my inner circle, and shall know my opinion of his shameful conduct before the sun rises much higher in the heavens."
"Hi! there, shipmate," bawled the Captain, "come on and add a link to this here endless chain. I told you your real name, you sly dog! Ha, ha! Will-kiss-em, eh Marjorie? Not you, you little puss; but your cousin there, colourin' up like a piney rose."
"I relinquished such sports with my pinafores," answered the dominie, grandly.
It was very unjustifiable of Mr. Perrowne, but two things annoyed him; one being the fact that he was equally guilty with the lawyer, the other that Miss Du Plessis had deserted him for this prig of a schoolmaster. Loud enough to be heard by all, he remarked:—
"A very learned and distinguished man was once playing with some children, when he suddenly cried, 'Children, we must stop, for I see a fool coming.' What do you think of that, Captain!"
"Never said a truer word in your life," growled Mr. Thomas, and continued, "anything as calls itself a man and can't romp with the youngsters, nor give a joke and take it, had ought to be set in a high chair with a bib, let alone petticuts."
"He said pinnies, papa," Marjorie corrected.
"Pinnies or petticuts, it's all the same thing. Me and Terry here, old enough to be his fathers!"
"An' it 'ud be a grate 'anner for me, anyway, to be father to a foine, praper, illigant gintleman loike Mishter Wilkerson," put in the veteran, anxious to keep the peace. The embers, however, were smoking on both sides when little Marjorie ran up to the dominie and, taking his hand, said beseechingly: "Please don't scold the poor boys and girls, Wilks, because it was my fault—all my fault. I made them play. Now, put down your head and kiss me, and say, 'I forgive you this once, but don't you go to do it again'; just like papa says."
There was no help for it, though everybody laughed to hear the terror of the Sacheverell Street school called Wilks, and the grown-up people, girls and boys. The dominie had to repeat the formula and seal it with a kiss, when the perfidious child turned upon him very gravely, saying: "Now, sir, you can't speak, for you've done it your very own self." Thus it was that a storm was averted, and "drop the handkerchief" broke up in good nature.
"Corry," said his friend, "I'm going upstairs for my knapsack. You had better get yours, and prepare to follow our route. Colonel Morton and Miss Du Plessis are coming here, so that we, as entire strangers, ought no longer to intrude upon the hospitality of Mrs. Carruthers."
"All right, Wilks, my boy!" replied the tender-hearted lawyer, who felt as if his heart was breaking. In a few minutes the pedestrians descended ready for the road, when the Squire opened his office door and threw up his arms in amazement.
"What in aa conscience is the meanin' o' this?"
Wilkinson explained, and expressed a desire to find Mrs. Carruthers, that he might thank her for her kind hospitality.
"Here, gudewife, and as ye four Marjories, and Miss Cecile," cried Carruthers, lustily, "come ye as here, and garr thae twa wanderin' Jews bide."
Then there was a commotion, as the ladies flocked with the children into the hall, with many exclamations of astonishment and reproach, surrounding the recreant young men. Mr. Errol, the Captain, the veteran, and even Mr. Perrowne, came to learn what was the matter. When they heard the intentions of the pair, Mr. Thomas and the parson were prepared to make the most abject apologies to the dominie, who insisted that there was no necessity; on the contrary, he alone was to blame, but all that was past. Mrs. Carruthers would not hear of their going just as they were becoming so pleasantly acquainted, assured them that Bridesdale had ample accommodation, and commanded the veteran to form a company of his grandchildren and arrest the would-be deserters. Marjorie clung to her Eugene's right leg. Mr. Errol accused him of stealing away with his gloves, and finally the lawyer confided to Mrs. and Miss Carmichael that he didn't want to go a bit, was never happier in his life. Miss Du Plessis put a hand on the dominie's arm, a hand that tingled away in to his very heart, and said her uncle would be so disappointed when he arrived to find that his friends of Collingwood had not deemed him worth waiting for. Finally, the Squire took them both aside, and, speaking seriously, said he had no right selfishly to detain them, but the time was critical, poor Nash was away on a dangerous errand, and their services, already great and highly appreciated, might yet be of the greatest importance. Besides, after the fatigue and excitement of the past night, they were not fit to travel. The dominie confessed that, with all the excitement and possible danger, he had enjoyed himself amazingly, that his only motive for leaving was the fear of trespassing upon the kindness of Mrs. Carruthers, and that, if his humble services were of any value, he trusted the Squire would draw upon them to the utmost. The lawyer, hearing his companion's decision, wanted to give a wild Irish hurroo, but, checking himself, ground the Squire's right hand with his own kid-gloved afflicted member, as if he had been a long lost brother. When they next reached the hall, Miss Halbert was there taking in the situation with the other young ladies. She had already seen enough to know that neither of her fair companions was capable of properly addressing the culprits, so she made up for their deficiency, saying: "Go upstairs at once, you naughty boys, and take off these pads." The naughty boys ascended, with a strangely combined feeling of joy and smallness, and, when the knapsacks were removed, Coristine sank into a chair laughing. "O Lord, Wilks," he said, "she called them pads!"
The doctor arrived in time for dinner, and reported three wounded men instead of one. Two had pistol wounds that had evidently been attended to from the first, the other had a gunshot in the back, and must have dragged himself a long way after it, for he was almost gone with loss of blood. "That'll be the chiel' puir Nash fired at wi' Ben's gun," said Carruthers.
"Can your wife put me and Fanny up for the night, John?" asked the doctor, looking serious.
"Just delighted to do so," replied the Squire; "we have more space than we know how to fill."
"I must tell you why. These rough fellows at the Encampment are furious, and one of them, in his gratitude, warned me, on no account, to be in or near your house to-night."
"Doctor, that's another thing. I have no right to let you risk yourself and Miss Fanny in time of danger in my house."
"But we will, John. Come here, Fanny!" Telling his daughter the circumstances, the doctor asked her decision, and she at once answered: "Of course, Mr. Carruthers, we shall stay. Papa has two pistols in his gig, and, if necessary, will lend me one. I am a good shot, am I not, papa?"
"Yes, John, she has a fine eye and nerve for a mark."
At the dinner table Doctor Halbert conversed with the pedestrians about the scenery they had passed through, and recommended them, by all means, not to fail in visiting the Flanders' lakes. He informed them that they constitued a long and perplexing chain, being more like a long continuous sheet of water, narrowing every here and there into straits, affording little more than room enough for two boats to pass through, than an actual succession of lakes. To penetrate far in would be dangerous, but his guide had informed him that no visitors to the first three ran any risk of interference.
"By the bye, Miss Cecile," interrupted the Squire, "some of these lakes are your property, are they not?"
"Yes, Mr. Carruthers," the lady replied; "but they would be so no longer if a very kind friend had not paid the taxes for them."
"Hoot toot, lassie, what's the taxes on a bittock o' wild land and useless water?"
"I should like above all things to see these lakes," remarked the dominie.
"Do you know," said Mr. Perrowne, "for sow long a time as I have been in Flanders, I have never seen the lakes. One down't like to gow alowne, you know."
"I say we go this afternoon," proposed the lawyer.
"I'm with you, sir," responded the minister. "We'll drop cricket and golf, the day, Perrowne." Then in a whisper to Carruthers, "I'm anxious about poor Nash."
"Then, meenister, see that ye aa tak' your revolvers and cartridges. I can supply you and Perrowne."
Coristine proposed to botanize, but did not care to detain the expedition by continually opening his knapsack, nor to incommode himself with the burden of the strap press. He regretted that he had not brought his vasculum, when Miss Carmichael spoke up, and said that she would furnish him with one when the party was ready to start. After dinner the company lounged for half an hour on the verandah and in the garden. There the Captain made up his mind to go with the exploring party, and take charge of Richards' scow on the first lake, that being the only craft available. Ben Toner came round from the kitchen and asked the Squire if he had anything for him to do, as Sylvanus wanted to stay with old man Newcome and read the Bible to him.
"Do you know the lakes, Toner?" asked Mr. Carruthers.
"If you don't mind Squier, I'd sooner you'd call me Ben."
"Well, Ben, then?"
"Yaas, leastways I've ben at the laiuk as is nighes to han.'"
"Do you mind taking your gun, and looking out for sport with these gentlemen?"
"They isn't nawthin I'd laike bettr'en that."
So, Ben got his gun and ammunition, and the Captain was furnished with a stout walking-cane loaded in the head. The two parsons, the dominie, and the lawyer had pistols in their pockets. When ready to start, Miss Carmichael came up to Coristine carrying some mysterious object behind her back. Rapidly bringing it forward, she threw a thick green cord over the lawyer's shoulders, from which depended a browny black japanned tin candle-box. Of course, it was an accident that the cord was short, and that Coristine bent his head just as the fair damsel stood on tiptoe to adjust the improvised vasculum.
"I hope I didn't hurt you with my awkwardness, Miss Carmichael," pleaded the penitent knight of the order of the candle-box.
"Not at all, Mr. Coristine, it was my fault. I am afraid your nose suffered."
"Ha! ha!" chuckled the Captain, "young fellows can stand a lot o' that sort o' punishment. Reefs o' that kind don't do human vessels no harm."
Wilkinson was getting sick of the Captain and his aggressive vulgarity. Coristine didn't mind him; anybody belonging to Miss Carmichael was, for the present, delightful. Nevertheless, for marching purposes, he fell in with Toner, while the Captain accompanied Mr. Errol, and Wilkinson, Mr. Perrowne. They had six miles to tramp, which took them a good hour and a-half. The Captain discussed navigation in Scripture times with the minister, and decided that the Jews might have been good at punting round, but were a poor seafaring lot. The dominie and the parson were deep in the philosophy of the affections, in the course of which excursus the former quoted the words:—
Like Dian's kiss, unasked, unsought, Love gives itself, it is not bought Nor voice nor sound betrays Its deep, impassionated gaze.
It comes, the beautiful, the free, The crown of all humanity, In silence and alone. To seek the elected one.
Mr. Perrowne was struck with these verses, and, taking out his note book, begged that his companion would repeat them, as he recorded their sublime sentiment for future use. They then proceeded to eulogize Miss Du Plessis, of whom the parson formed a very high estimate, which he qualified by the statement that, were he not in holy orders, he would say Miss Fanny Halbert was more fun and ever so much jollier. Mr. Wilkinson really could not say, speaking conscientiously and without reserve, that he regarded jollity as an essential element in true womanhood. In his estimation it sank the peculiar grace and sacred dignity of the sex too nearly to a level with ordinary prosaic humanity. Mr. Perrowne concurred in a measure, but thought it was awfully nice for men of serious occupations, like the dominie and himself, to have somebody to liven them up a little; not too much, down't you know, but just enough to dispel the blues. The lawyer interrogated Toner. "Well, Ben, have you got any news of your young lady?"
"Never mind calling me doctor, Ben, because I'm not one yet. My name is Coristine."
"Then, Mr. Corsten, I heern from old man Newcome as Serlizer's out in that there Slec Camp in the laiuks. She's cookin' for twainty dollars a month, and that's tarble good wages for gals, ef so be she gets her money all right."
"Not a very nice place for a good girl to be, Ben."
"No, it ain't; log roll and timber slide the hull consarn."
"These are queer expressions you've got."
"Yaas, Mr. Corsten, I waynt and promised that there priest as looked like Mr. Nash, guaiss it must ha' bin his brother, as I wouldn't sweaur no moer. And now, it keeps my mind workin' mornin' and night, so'st to know what to spit out when I'm raiul mad and hoppen."
"It must be quite an anxiety to you, Ben."
"Anxiety? It's wearin' my life away. I've got a bit of a rest jest now on loggin' and lumberin', but them words 'll soon be used up."
"What's to hinder you repeating them, or leaving them out altogether? I hardly ever feel the need of them."
"It's the way you're broughten up, like your food. What 'ud do you for dinner, wouldn't be nigh enough for me. Same ways in speakin', they must be something to fill your talk out."
"Swearing is a poor business, Ben. Our Saviour, when He was on earth, said, Swear not at all."
"Is that in the Bible, Mr. Corsten?"
"Wall, it may be in some, but t'aint in the one Sylvanus was readin' to old man Newcome, fer that says in black and white as Jesus cussed the barrn fig tree, and I'd laike to know what's odds between cussin' and swearin'. It stands to reason and natur that He wouldn't go and tell folks not to do things He did Himself; don't it?"
"If you had read the chapters, there are two of them, that tell the story of the fig tree, you would have found that the disciples called it cursing when it was only a quiet saying: 'Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth.' You wouldn't call that cursing, would you?"
"O my, no, that ain't wuth callin' a cuss; they ain't no cuss about it. Now, fer whole souled, brimstun heeled cuss words, they's——"
"Never mind telling me any. They wouldn't do me any good, and the clergyman forward there might hear them."
"Do these clergy belong to the Church?"
"They both think they do in different ways, but, strange to say, neither of them belongs to your Church."
"Wall, I ain't got no quarrl at 'em. I guaiss all the good folks 'll get to Heaven somehow."
"Amen!" answered the lawyer, and the conversation ended.
There was no visible cart track to the lakes. If Rawdon's whiskey mill, as Ben called it, was really somewhere among them, there must of necessity have been a road tapping their shores at some point, for an extensive business employing so many men could hardly exist without a means of easy transportation. To the neighbourhood of the Lakes Settlement, however, this road was a mystery. The party halted at a log house by the side of the road proper, and Mr. Perrowne, who claimed Richards as a parishioner, asked his wife if he and his friends could have the use of her boat. Mrs. Richards gave the required permission very graciously, and the excursionists struck into the bush path which led to Lake No. 1, or Richards' Lake. The bush had once been underbrushed, perhaps a long time back by the Indians who generally made for water; but the underbrush was now replaced by a dense growth of Canadian yew, commonly called Ground Hemlock, the crimson berry of which is one of the prettiest objects in the vegetable world. It, and other shrubs and small saplings, encroached on the narrow path, and, in places, almost obliterated it. The land rose into a ridge a short distance from the water, so that it was invisible until the crest was reached. Then, a dark circular lake, seemingly altogether shut in by the elsewhere dense forest, made its appearance. There were remains of a log shelter near the shore on the left, and, between it and the somewhat muddy beach, Toner lit a fire of drift wood to drive away the flies which followed the party out of the bush. The punt was soon discovered moored to a stake, a punt with three seats flush with the gunwales, one each fore and aft, and one in the centre.
"O, I saye," cried Mr. Perrowne, "look at that lovely little island out there! See, you can hardly see it because of the black shadows. What a place to fish! and here we are without a single rod."
"Ain't no need to trouble about rods," remarked Ben; "I kin cut you half-a-dozen in two shakes of a dead lamb's taiul."
"And I've got three hooked lines," added the lawyer, producing part of his Beaver River purchase from his breast pocket. The dominie did not wish to trust himself in a doubtful craft with Coristine again, and he distrusted the Captain, save on the Susan Thomas. His former success in fishing, and his present pleasant relations with Perrowne, prompted him to join that gentleman in practising the gentle art. But what about bait? The question having been put to Toner, who returned with three springy saplings, and worms having been suggested, that veteran fisherman told Mr. Perrowne that he might as well look for a gold mine as for worms in new land. When, however, some envelopes were produced from various pockets, he proceeded to fill them with grasshoppers and locusts. He also excavated a little pond near the shore, and gathered a collection of caddice worms from the shallow border of the lake, after which he found an old bait tin in the log shelter, that he filled with water, into which he transferred the pond's inhabitants for transportation. "Ef them baiuts don't suit, they's a heap o' little frawgs in the grass of that there island," he finally remarked, before unmooring the scow. Then the dominie and Mr. Perrowne got on board with their rods, lines, and bait, and were poled and paddled by Ben over to their isle of beauty. Their lines were in the water, and a bass was on each hook, before the scow returned to the shore.
Now the Captain took command of the craft, occupying the entire stern thwart; while Ben, with his gun resting on the floor and pointing its muzzles out over the bow, held that end of the vessel. The commander would not allow the passengers who sat amidships to do any work, but said they might talk or sing if they had a mind to. Then the lawyer sang:—
The floatin' scow ob ole Virginny I've toiled for many a day, Workin' among de oyster beds, To me it was but play.
When he ended, Mr. Errol gave the company "Flow gently, Sweet Afton, amang thy green braes," and Coristine wondered much if "My Mary" that occurs in the song had any reference to a Marjorie, one who, as he said inwardly,
Shall never be thine, But mine, but mine, so I fondly swear, For ever and ever mine!
After Mr. Errol's effort, which won applause from the Captain, the lawyer waved his handkerchief as a farewell sign to the busy fishermen, for, just at that moment, the apparently land-locked shore opened, and a narrow channel between cliffs came into view. The second lake, into which they soon glided, was more beautiful than the first. A few jays and woodpeckers were flying about, and Toner was anxious to have a shot at a golden woodpecker, which he called a Highholder, and which sat unconcernedly on a limb within splendid range. Mr. Errol dissuaded him, saying he had heard that the report of a gun was carried through all the channels to the very end by the echoes, and reverberated there like the noise of thunder; after last night, they had better be as quiet as possible. To take his mind off the disappointment, Coristine asked Ben if he could sing and paddle too. He guessed he could, as paddling wasn't taking his breath away any. So Ben was pressed to sing, and at once assumed a lugubrious air, that reminded the lawyer of The Crew. The song was about a dying youth, who is asked what he will give in legacy to his mother, his sister, and various other relatives. He is liberal to all, till his lady-love's name is mentioned, and, for some unknown reason, excites his indignation. The tune was not the same as The Crew's copyright.
"What will you give your sweetheart, my comfort and my joy? What will you give your sweetheart, my darling boy?" "Oh! a gallows to hang on! Mother, make my bed soft; I've a pain in my chest; I want to lay down."
The last line was sung in a very solemn and affecting monotone. Coristine had to pretend to be deeply moved, to turn round facing the Captain, and chew first his moustache and then half of his pocket handkerchief. "Eh, Ben," said the graver minister, "I'm afraid that was no' a very Christian spirit to die in."
"No, your raiverence," replied the singer, "but ef I hadn't a knowed it was old man Newcome as took Serlizer away, I'd be cant-hooked and pike-poled ef I wouldn't ha' sung jest them words, that's ef I had a paiun in my chaist and wanted to lay down." When they reached the third lake, through a channel similar to the last, the Captain said sternly: "I'm in command of this vessel, and expect orders to be obeyed. No more singin' nor laughin' out nor loud talkin'. Doctor says it's as much as life's worth to go beyond it. You've heerd orders; now mind 'em." Everything was silent, save the soft dip of the paddles in the water; the quiet was painfully oppressive. Ugly thoughts of bad men mingled with a sense of the natural beauty of the scene. Toner in the bow silently pointed to a square artificial-looking white object at the entrance to the next channel, which was the limit of the voyage. At last the punt came up to it, and its occupants found the channel barred by a heavy grating, that passed down into the water. Above it was a notice in the usual form, indicating the prosecution of trespassers, and signed by order of the proprietor, Miss Du Plessis, with the name of John Carruthers, J.P. "The villain!" ejaculated Mr. Errol. "John has neither been here nor sent here. It's a forgery, an impudent forgery."
"Let us take it down and carry it back with us," said the lawyer.
"Na, na, my lad; we maun just wait till we come in force."
"Time to 'bout ship," growled the Captain.
"Hush!" whispered the minister, "I hear a voice, a woman's voice."
"Come on!" said the lawyer, jumping ashore; "will you come, Ben?"
"Don't ask me that, Doctor, I dassent," replied Toner, shivering with superstitious fear.
"Let me go with him," said the minister to the Captain; "we'll not be a minute away."
"Look sharp, then!" growled Mr. Thomas. "Are you loaded?"
The two explorers looked to their revolvers, and then climbed the bank, which was no easy task, as it was a mass of felled timber and dead brush; but the notes of a woman's voice led them on, and, at last, they found themselves on the shore of the fourth lake. They saw nothing, so they crouched down listening for the voice.
"Steve, Stevy dear, wake up and let us go away. Oh, why are you sleeping when every moment is precious? He will come, Stevy, I know he will, and kill you, dear!" The voice was very near. Simultaneously the intruders looked up the bank, and, at the foot of a standing hemlock, saw a woman, with gray hair hanging loose over her shoulders, who knelt by a recumbent figure. "Steve, dear brother," she continued, "do wake up! You used to be so good and sensible." Coristine crept nearer behind some bushes till he was within a very short distance of the pair. With a white, sad face, trembling in every limb, he came back as silently to the minister, and whispered: "It's poor Nash, and she calls him brother; Mr. Errol, he's murdered, he's dead." The warm-hearted Errol, who had come out to look after the detective's safety, at once became a hero.
"Bide you there, Coristine," he said, "bide there till I call you." Then he arose and went to the spot, but the woman, though he was in full view, took no notice of him. He stooped and touched her. For a moment she shrank, then looked up and saw it was not the person she dreaded. "Matilda Nagle," whispered the minister, "we must get poor Steevie away from here." Then he saw that her intellect was gone; no wonder that she was the mother of an idiot boy. "Oh, I am so glad you have come, Mr. Inglis," she cried, softly; "won't you try and wake Stevy, perhaps he will mind you better than me." The minister brushed the tears from his eyes, and strove to keep the sobs out of his voice. "I have a friend here and will call him," he said, "and we will carry Steevie away to the boat, and all go home together." So he called Coristine, and they picked the dead man up, the dead man from whose smooth, girl-like face the disguise had been torn away, and bore him painfully but tenderly over the rough fallen timber safely to the other side, the woman following. Ben shivered, as he saw the strange procession come down the hill, but, like the Captain, he uttered neither word nor cry. The bearers propped the dead man up against the middle thwart with the face towards the bow, and then set the woman down beside the Captain, who said: "Come along, my dear, and we'll see you both safely home." The old man's honest face won the poor sister's confidence, as she took her seat beside him and left her Stevy to the care of the minister and Coristine. With all their might and main paddled the Captain and Ben. Joyfully, all the company saw stretch after stretch of the lake behind them, until, at last, they passed the fishermen and landed on the shore. The minister and the lawyer laid their coats upon the boards of the log shelter, and placed their burden upon them. "Let him sleep a bit," said Mr. Errol to the mad woman; "let him sleep, and you help my friend to get a few flowers to take home with him." So Coristine took his candle-box from the floor of the punt, and, with his strange companion, gathered the skullcaps and loose-strifes and sundews that grew by the shore. She knew the flowers and where to find them, and filled the lawyer's improvised vasculum almost to overflowing with many a new specimen. He only took them to humour her, for what cared he for all the flowers that bloom when death, and such a death, was but a few yards away.
Ben Toner brought the fishers back with two good strings of fish; but, when they heard the story, they threw them into the lake. Ben was a handy man. He cut down two stout poles, and with leather wood bark constructed a litter, light but strong. On this the sleeping detective was laid, and while Mr. Errol and the Captain stumbled through the ground hemlock on either side of the now cheerful mad woman, the other four carried their ghastly load, with scalding tears streaming from every eye. "S'haylp me," said Ben to the lawyer, "ef I don't hunt the man as killed him till he dies or me." After a painful journey they reached the Richards' house, and Richards was at home. Mr. Perrowne told him all about it, and the brave fellow answered:—
"Bring it in here, passon; we've a place to put it in where it'll be safe till they send for it. I ain't scared, not I. You know my four boys in your club; they've all got guns and can use 'em, and I've got mine to boot." So, they left the body there, and persuaded the sister to come with them on their six mile walk home. It was seven o'clock before they had accomplished half the journey, and had been met by the representatives of an anxious household, the Squire and his father-in-law, the latter with rifle in hand, prepared for action. The first joy at beholding them safe and sound was damped by the news they brought. As soon as Carruthers could recover himself he spoke to the weird woman and invited her to come and rest at Bridesdale. Then he hastened on ahead to warn his wife and sister, and make arrangements for the reception of the strange visitor. When the party arrived at the house they found a large company, young and old, assembled to meet them, for, in addition to the doctor and his daughter, there was Mrs. Du Plessis with her daughter on one side, and, in all its soldierly dignity, the tall form of Colonel Morton on the other. The lawyer also noticed the ebon countenance of Mr. Maguffin peering over the palings in the direction of the stables. Matilda Nagle was hurried away to the back of the house by Mrs. Carruthers and her sister-in-law, there to find her idiot boy, to partake of necessary food provided by the compassionate Tryphena, and, for a time, altogether to forget the sad tragedy of the day. Tryphosa prepared tea for the truants in the breakfast room, and, after the formalities of introduction and reacquaintance had been gone through, Miss Carmichael poured out tea for the five, while Tryphosa did the same for Ben in the kitchen. The Captain told how Mr. Errol and the lawyer braved the terrors of the barred-in lakes, which appalled the stout heart of big Ben Toner. The two heroes hastened to put all the credit on one another's shoulders, in which, so far as one person's estimation was concerned, the minister triumphed, for, through the tears that shimmered in her eyes, Coristine could see that the presiding goddess was proud of him, and, with all his simple-heartedness, he knew that such pride has its origin in possession.
Old Man Newcome's Escape, Arrest and Conveyance Home—The Colonel's Plan of Campaign—He Takes Command—Maguffin's Capture by Messrs. Hill and Hislop—The Richards' Aid Enlisted—Squire as Colonel, and Mr. Terry, Sergeant-Major—The Skirmish—Harding Murdered—Wilkinson and Errol Improving the Time—The Young Incendiary—Mr. Hill Crushes Maguffin.
Everybody grieved for the offtaking of the detective. In the front of the house, the Squire and the minister, who knew his history, were most affected; in the back, Ben Toner was the corypheus of grief. An old man on a couch in an adjoining room heard the news, and, little thinking that his deposition and confession were safe in the Squire's possession along with many other documents, rejoiced thereat, and conceived a heroic project. At first, he thought of enlisting the idiot boy, but had to give up the idea; for the boy was happy with those whom he knew, and obstinately refused to go near the old reprobate. Sylvanus no longer watched him; he was basking in the smiles of Tryphena, and, at the same time, amusing Monty. There was a passage from the room he was in to the back of the main hallway, which led into the open air, independently of the summer kitchen. His coat was gone and his hat, both his boots were removed, and his wounded leg was bandaged, but he was a tough old criminal, and a bare back rider from a boy. He slipped off the couch, and helped himself along by the wall, thankful that his boots were off and he could move quietly. Still, simple Sylvanus, taken in by the good old man who loved to have the Bible read to him, neglected his duty. Newcome gained the hall, the porch, the open air, and, at last, could hardly believe his good luck to find himself in the stable unperceived. What a lot of horses were there with nobody to look after them! He saw one that suited him, a handsome beast he had seen in Collingwood, the travelling powers of which he knew. To that stall he went, and braced himself against the partition for a spring, after he had loosed the halter, and slipped on a bit and bridle. He backed his steed out, turned in the passage way and made for the door. Another moment and he would be free. No horse in the stable, even if saddled and bridled, would be able to overtake him, once he was on the road. But, at the door he met an obstacle in the shape of a mountain of straw, that caused the horse to back. The desperate man dug his knees into the flanks of the beast, and urged it on. Down went the straw mountain, and the luckless Timotheus beneath it, and Newcome rained a few exultant curses on him, as he forced his steed; when a well-dressed negro sprang up from nowhere, and, seizing the rein nearest him, spoke to the intelligent animal, and backed it to one side. In a moment Timotheus wriggled himself unhurt out of the litter, and, by main force, pulled the escaped prisoner down; while Mr. Maguffin remarked that "hoss thieves ain't pumculiah ter no paht of the habitatable yeth."
Newcome squirmed and fought as well as he was able, but to no avail. Timotheus was simple and he was clumsy, but he was no weakling. Maguffin led the horse back into the stable, spread his litter, and replaced the bridle on the wall. Then he came out quite unruffled, and asked Timotheus if he would like him to use his new boots on the prisoner, to which that worthy replied with a grin: "I guess I've pooty nigh parlyzed his laigs to stop his wrastlin' tricks aready." Sylvanus, in a lucid moment, remembered his charge, and found the bird had flown. He came out to look for his Bible-loving friend, dreading the Captain's wrath, and great was his relief when he found him a victim in the strong arms of his brother. "Here, Sylvanus, you hold him, so's the Square'll think t'was you as cotched him," said the unselfish Timotheus. So Sylvanus, nothing loath, seized the hypocrite, and Timotheus went for the Squire, while Maguffin looked calmly on, occasionally glancing at his heavy-soled new boots, as if regretting that there was no immediate call for their services. The Squire was angry, for he had been kind to the old sinner; but he saw that the prisoner was an element of weakness in the house. What was to hinder him escaping again, committing murder, setting the place on fire? He called up Toner. "Ben," he said, "how long would it take you to convey Newcome to his home in a farm waggon with a good team?" "Ef the teeum's smart, I guaiss an houer 'ud do," answered the prospective son-in-law of the victim. Accordingly a springless waggon was produced, some straw thrown in, and Newcome securely bound with ropes, lying flat on his back, with his own coat and a sack or two put under his head for a pillow. "Timotheus," continued Mr Carruthers, "you had better go with Ben. Take your guns, both of you, and bring them back as quick as you can." Off started the ambulance, at first gently and humanely. When out of sight of the house, Toner grinned at Timotheus, and Timotheus grinned back at Ben. "It can't be haylped, Timotheus," remarked the latter in a low tone, "we're bound to git back airly, ef they's moer guyard mountin' to be did. So here goes, Serlizer or no Serlizer." The horses were pretty fresh, and they tore along, enjoying the fun, and answering with their heels to every playful flick of the whip. The road was rough and hilly; the jolting almost threw the occupants of the box seat off the waggon that had no springs. Old man Newcome groaned, and implored Ben, for the sake of Serlizer, to go easy or leave him on the roadside to die. "Ef you don't laike my teamin'," said Toner, in a simulated huff, "I'll quit. Here, Timotheus, you had ought to know them hosses better'n me." Timotheus took the reins, and cried: "Gerlang, we ain't no time ter lose; rattle the brimstun an' merlasses old malufacture over the stones, he's ony a firebug as nobody owns." The delight of The Crew's brother in getting off this new and improved version of an ancient couplet made him reckless. He and Ben jumped into the air like shuttlecocks, and seemed to like it. "I heern say," remarked Toner, while moving momentarily skywards, "I heern tayll as this here joltin' beats all the piulls and pads as ever was made for the livyer."
"Yaas," cheerfully responded Timotheus, coming down with a sounding bump; "myuns is like what the doctor out our way said to fayther wunst. Says he, 'Saul, your livyer's tawpidd.' So's myun, Ben; it's most tarble tawpidd. Gerlang, yer lazy, good fer nawthun brutes; poor old man Newcome won't get home this blessed night, the way yer a-goin'."
The waggon reached the Newcome shanty. The old man was unbound and lifted out into his own bed. Strong as he was, he had fainted, which his charioteers were not sorry to see. "He's had an accident, Miss Newcome," said Ben to the man's wife; "but he'll soon be all right." Fortunately, the doctor had done his duty well, and the shaking had failed to loosen the bandages over the wound. The drivers got into the waggon again and drove home more gently, exchanging a few words with each other; one being: "Guaiss old man Newcome's out o' mischief fer one night."
While Bridesdale was being delivered from the presence of one unwelcome guest, the welcome ones of the front were discussing with the Squire the programme for the night. He had made out a warrant for the arrest of Rawdon, should he again have the hardihood to turn up, and otherwise proposed to repeat the guards of the night before. While the excursionists were at tea, the colonel and Mr. Terry had been walking about with an object in view; and the latter gentleman informed his son-in-law that "the cornel has a shplindid oiday in his moind." Colonel Morton was requested to favour the company with it, and proceeded to do so. "From what infohmation I have had fuhnished me by my fellow-soldieh, Mr. Tehhy, I pehsume you have pehmitted the attacking fohce to select its own basis of opehations, and have yohselves stood almost entihely on the defensive. With a small fohce, this is vehy often the only couhse to puhsue. But, as I now undehstand from reeliable infohmation brought in, the enemy's fohce of seventeen is reduced by four, while that of the gahhison is augmented by three—the doctor, myself and my sehvant. Ah, no; I fohgot you have had one sad casualty, as my niece infohms me, in the fall of Mr. Nash; which leaves the strength of the gahhison fohteen, as against thihteen of the assailants. My friend, Mr. Wilkinson, infohms me that a small detachment of five men, well ahmed, holds a foht some six miles in the dihection of the enemy. Now, gentlemen of the council of wah, can we not obtain that this friendly outpost make a divehsion in conceht with the offensive paht of our ahmy? Send a scout with instyuctions foh them to occupy the wood neah their foht, and, eitheh with blank or ball cahtyidge—as you, Genehal Cahhathers, may dihect—meet the enemy as ouah troops dyive them back, and thus pehvent them seeking the coveh of the trees against us. This being done, send a scout, mounted if possible, to guahd against attack from the left; post pistol sentinels round the buildings, and fohm the rest of the available fohce into an attacking pahty occupying the strategic point examined by Mr. Tehhy and me: I allude to the plantation to the reah of the right wing. Just as soon as the enemy comes up to occupy that position, chahge them like bulldogs and drive them as fah as possible towahds the road, and at last bring them undeh the guns of our friendly foht. That, I think, is bettah than losing heaht by watching all night long and endangehing the safety of the ladies. Such, gentlemen, is my humble counsel."
"Hark till him, now, jantlemen; pay attintion till him, all av yeez," exclaimed Mr. Terry; "fer 'tis the wurrud av a sowldjer and an offisher."
"Assume command, Colonel, if you please. We are all ready to obey orders," said the Squire. "Is that not the case, friends?"
To this the whole company answered "Yes," and Colonel Morton at once gave his commands.
The garrison was paraded on the lawn, its armament strengthened by two rifles borrowed in the neighbourhood, of which the Squire carried one and the lawyer the other. The post office had been cleared out of its complete stock of powder and shot by Carruthers, early in the morning, to the no little disgust of the Grinstun man when he went for his mail. "Volunteehs foh the foht, foh mounted patyol, foh plantation picket—three!" called out the colonel. Perrowne volunteered for the first, as likely to have most influence with the Richards. "Blank cartridge," said the Squire, as he rode away amid much waving of handkerchiefs. "Oi'm yer picket, cornel," said Mr. Terry, stepping out of the ranks with his rifle at the shoulder in true military fashion. "Ef it's a gennelman wot knows riden, sah, and kin fiah a pistol or revolvah, I respectuously dedercates my feeble servishes," volunteered Mr. Maguffin, who mounted and patrolled poor Nash's beat, with a revolver handy; while the veteran ran at a regular double to the far end of the strip of bush. "The Squiah had bettah take the field, as he knows the ground and I do not," said the colonel; "I will command the gahhison. I shall want the captain, the doctah, Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Ehhol—four. My deah sistah-in-law can shoot; and so, I believe, can Miss Halbeht, so we are seven."
"There's Wordsworth for you, Wilks, my boy," Coristine remarked, nudging his right hand man.
"Corry, my dear fellow, whatever induced you to take that gun?" answered the dominie, apprehensive for his friend's safety in the field.
"It's no gun, Wilks; it's a rifle. If I only get a sight at Grinstuns, I'll commit justifiable homicide. Then I wish the Squire would punish me by sending me down here for thirty days."
"The gahhison will take three paces to the fyont; quick, mahch!" commanded the colonel.
The four came out in pretty straggling order, and the two ladies named fell in beside them.
"Now, Squiah, I leave yoah command of five men, which Mr. Pehhowne will soon augment to six, and Mr. Tehhy to seven, in yoah hands. If I have no fuhtheh need of a mounted patyol, my sehvant will join the gahhison."
The colonel then left to post his sentries, which he did so judiciously that three were enough, namely, the doctor, the minister and the dominie. The ladies kept watch by turns on the front of the house. Soon a voice was heard at the gate calling for Colonel Morton. The colonel answered the summons in person. It was Maguffin dismounted, and behind him came two men, honest farmers apparently, one of whom led the coloured man's horse, while the other held his fowling piece at the port, ready for action in Maguffin's rear.
"Maguffin," said the colonel, sternly, "consideh youhself undeh ahhest, suh."
"I doan need ter hab ter, sah; that's jess wot I is this bressid minit."
"Good evening!" said the two farmers, amiably, and the colonel returned the salutation. "Good evening, gentlemen! but I feah you have made a mistake in ahhesting my sehvant."
"When a naygur on a fine beast gallops down on two quiet folk, and orders them to go back, disperse, and surrinder, and them coming to see after the safety of their children and friends, the only one thing to do, if you have your guns along, is to arrest the naygur."
"Do I undehstand, Maguffin, that you ordehed these wohthy people to go back, dispehse, and suhhendah without any wahhant?"
"And presinted his pistil, too," continued the tall man, who had already spoken, and who was the coloured man's guard.
"Have you no answah, Maguffin?"
"I fought, Cunnell, I was ter patterole this heah road and repawt all the folkses I see on or off'n it."
"Yes, repoht to me, as youh officeh, suh."
"Oh, I fought yoh meant to repawt em wif a revolvah, sah."
"I suppose, gentlemen, you will let my sehvant go, when I say I deplohe his foolish mistake, and apologize foh his insolence?
"To be shure, sir," replied the guard; "give the man his horse, Annerew."
Maguffin remounted, and, receiving more minute instructions from his master, returned to his patrol duty.
"We're just coming in to help the Squire, and me to look after my childer, Tryphena and Tryphosa and Baby Rufus. When the Baby didn't come back this mornin', I said to his mother, 'Persis' says I, 'I must go and see the boy.' So here I am. My name is Hill, sir, Henry Cooke Hill, and this is my neighbour, and some day, perhaps, Rufus's father-in law, Annerew Hislop"—then in an undertone—"a very dacent man, sir, though a Sesayder."
"Is that the case?" asked the colonel with eagerness, advancing towards Andrew. "Were you on ouah side, suh, in the wahah?"
"Naw, naw, surr, I'm no sodjer, but a humble maimber o' the pure gospel Secession kirk. As the fufty-fufth parryphrase says:—
With heevenly wappons I have focht The baittles o' the Lord."
"Ah yes, pahdon me my mistake. Come in, gentlemen; the Squiah will be happy to see you."
Maguffin's captors entered, were warmly greeted by their friends in hall and kitchen, partook of a hasty supper, and were ready for the engagement of the night.
Perrowne, who was a good rider, soon made his appearance, reporting that the Richards were only too glad to make the desired repulse of the evil crew from their neighbourhood, and, as members formerly of a volunteer company, understood something of military tactics. The parson also reported that he had nearly fallen in with the advancing attacking force of, he should say, twenty men; but, sighting them ahead, he advanced slowly until he saw them move solidly to his left into the fields, with the evident intention of coming at the house through the strip of bush. The villains could not be far off. "Now, Squiah," said the colonel, "hasten, suh, to join Mr. Tehhy; a few minutes make all the diffehence in case of an attack."
The Squire had now nine men under his command, including his father-in-law, for Ben and Timotheus were safely back, having passed the formidable Maguffin. The other six were Sylvanus and Rufus, Messrs. Hill, Hislop, Perrowne, and Coristine. All were armed with loaded guns and rifles; the carbine and the blunderbuss remained to guard the house. Rapidly they reached the bush which hid them from view, and rejoiced the veteran's heart with their array.
"Now, grandfather," said Carruthers, "you must get us all into shape."
"Well now, we'll make belave this is a bittillion, an' you're cornel, an' Oi'm sargint-major. It's ten shtrong we are, an' there's three roifles an' two double barrels anyhow. You git in the rare, Cornel an' Mishter Coristine an' Mishter Parrowne an' Ben Toner; the rist av yeez shtay where yeez are, till I say 'Extind!' thin, tin paces apart for the front rank, an' tin for the rare rank; but the rare alternatin' wid the front. Whin Oi say, 'Front rank!' that rank'll diliver it's foire, an' go on wid its loadin' behind a three, moind! an' so on wid the rare. By the powers, here the varmints come. Shtiddy min, lishten till me an' be quoiet—Extind!"
There were some loudly beating hearts at that moment, for the enemy was in force, and partly armed with guns of some sort. Instead of advancing across the fields, as the defenders had hoped, they descended to the creek, in order to find cover from the bushes on its bank, until they reached the piece of wood. The veteran, telling his command to preserve its formation, wheeled it to the right, and ordered perfect silence. Leaving his rifle at his post, he slipped from tree to tree like a cat, having thrown off his shoes for the purpose. When he returned, the enemy, moving almost as silently, had entered the bush, but, anticipating no sentry at that point, had sought no cover. "Shtiddy, now min," whispered the sarjint-major; "take good aim, Front Rank, Riddy!" Five guns rolled out a challenge to the invaders, and, before they had time to seek cover, came, "Rare Rank, Riddy," and his own rifle led the other four weapons of the second line. "Are yeez loaded, front an' rare?" asked the ancient warrior; and, satisfied that all were, he put himself in the front and ordered a charge to outflank the enemy and hinder them getting away among the bushes. All perceived his intentions, except, perhaps, the two Pilgrims and Toner, who, however, were borne along by the rest. Dashing through the creek, part of the force volleyed the miscreants from there, and drove them into the open, while the remaining part kept them from seeking refuge in the bush. The Squire's men had the shelter of the brook alders and willows, now, and, led by Mr. Terry, in single file, at a rate almost as rapid as that of Rawdon's retreat, faced now and again to the left to fire, and loaded as they ran. At last the shelter ceased, and all were in the open, both pursued and pursuers. "Kape it up," cried the indomitable veteran; "don't give the murtherin' blagyards a minit's resht!" Up, up the hill, they chased the said blackguards, until they reached the road. Within the skirting rail fences the Squire kept his men, faint but pursuing, and firing an occasional shot to lend the speed of terror to the miscreants' heels. In an hour from the beginning of the pursuit, the hunted Rawdonites were at the wild lands on the lakes, and prepared to enter the forest and make a stand or hide; when Carruthers cried: "Down flat on your faces every man," and five reports from in front rang through the air. The Richards were on guard, but either Perrowne had forgotten to tell them about blank cartridge, or they did not think proper to obey the order. "Come on a bit farther, lads, till we find where these villains turn in," cried the Squire. In another minute the victors combined with the Richards' party, and chased the thoroughly demoralized Rawdonites, whose guns and pouches strewed the ground, to a desolate rocky spot beside a swamp, where felled trees lay in indescribable confusion, over which the fugitives scrambled in desperate haste for home. The lawyer caught sight of a figure that he knew, far up the rocky slope, preparing to leap down from a prostrate trunk resting on three or four others, and aimed his rifle at it. The Squire threw up the weapon just in the nick of time. "It's ower gude a death for the likes o' him, Coristine. Gie him time to repent, an' let the law tak' its coarse. The cunning scoundrel! Even at the risk o' 's life he wadna let us ken whaur his waggon road is, but I've a thocht, man, that it's yonner whaur the rock rises oot o' the swamp." Then the good Squire took off his hat, and thanked God for the defeat of the evil doers.
Light though the night was, to continue the pursuit would have been the height of folly. The force was mustered and inspected by the so-called Colonel Carruthers, and the Sergeant-Major Terry. Including themselves, it was found to consist of no fewer than seventeen persons, one of whom was a woman, and the other a lad of about fifteen years of age, Matilda Nagle and her boy Monty. "I will show you where the road is," she said to the Squire; "it is hard to find, but I know it. When Stevy tried to find it, Harding and he put him to sleep, so that I couldn't wake him up. Harding is asleep now too; I put him, and Monty helped, didn't you, Monty?"