Carruthers looked, and saw that the woman's right hand and that of the idiot boy were alike stained with blood. All his own men were safe and sound, not a scratch on any one of them. The veteran's rapid tactics had given the enemy hardly an opportunity to return the fire, and had destroyed their aim from the very beginning. All honour to the sergeant-major! All had behaved well. Father Hill and his friend Hislop felt like boys; and while the Sesayder took a fatherly interest in Rufus, the parent of Tryphena and Tryphosa was pleased with the bearing of the Pilgrims. Ben Toner's conscience was a little troubled about his treatment of old man Newcome, but he also had a feeling that he was getting nearer to Serlizer. The veteran and Mr. Perrowne were filled with mutual admiration; and Coristine felt that that night's work had brought to his suit, as an ordinary year's acquaintance could not have done, the vote and influence of the Squire. The victors gathered up the spoils of the vanquished, and, by a unanimous vote, handed them over to the grateful Richards, whom Carruthers and Perrowne warmly thanked for their timely aid. "It's about time, Squire, we crushed them fellows out," said father Richards, to which the Squire replied: "If you and your sons are ready, we'll do it to-morrow as soon as the inquest is over."
"Boys," asked Richards, "are you fit for a man hunt to-morrer?"
"Fitter'n a fiddle," answered the boys; "then we can go fishin' where we durn please."
They bade their allies good bye, carrying their spoil with them, and twelve persons set out for a six-mile tramp home.
"Yeez can march at aise, march aisy, boys," ordered the veteran; and the party broke up into groups. The woman clung to the Squire, and the boy to Sylvanus, who had made whittled trifles to amuse him. Mr. Hill cultivated Timotheus, and formed a high opinion of him. Rufus, of course, addicted himself to his future father-in-law, the Sesayder. Mr. Terry thought it his duty to hold out high hopes to Ben in regard to the rescue of Serlizer; and Perrowne and the lawyer journeyed along like brothers. There was a light in the post office, and the post-mistress at the door asked if the doctor had gone home yet, for two wounded men had sought shelter with her, and told her that one named Harding was lying down the hill near by. The Squire promised to bring the doctor to the wounded, and asked his father-in-law and Coristine, as if they were his nearest friends, to go down and see if they could find the wounded Harding. They went down and found him, but he was dead, with two of the Bridesdale kitchen-knives planted in his heart. In part, at least, the murder of Nash was avenged. They picked the slain assassin up and carried him to the road, where the post office stood, and deposited the body in an outbuilding to await the verdict of the morning.
Meanwhile, the dominie was happy; his rival, the parson, his tormentor, the lawyer, were away, and even that well-meaning Goth, the tired Captain, was asleep in the guard-room, opposite a half-empty glass of the beverage in which he indulged so rarely, but which he must have good. The doctor's lively daughter had left Mrs. Du Plessis to guard the front of the house, and was talking to her father on his beat, and he had a suspicion that Mrs. Carmichael was wrapping that cloud again round the minister's neck. When the battle commenced below, the colonel was everywhere, directing Maguffin, inspecting the posts, guarding on all sides against the possibility of the enemy's attack being a mere feint. All unknown to the rest of the company, Miss Carmichael was up in the glass-enclosed observatory at the top of the house, without a light, watching the movements of the hostile ranks beyond the bush, and inwardly praying for the success of the righteous cause and for the safety of those she loved. Of course her uncle John was among them, and the simple-hearted old grandfather of her young cousins, and even, in a way, Mr. Perrowne, who had behaved bravely, but there was a tall, unclerical form, which Mr. Terry and the Squire had difficulty in keeping up with, that her eye followed more closely. Every report of the lawyer's rifle seemed to press a warm spot on her maiden cheek, and then make the quick blood suffuse her face, as she thought of the morning and Mr. Wilkinson. That gentleman was happy on guard at the top of the hill meadow, for a tall female figure, muffled up slightly as a preventive to chill from the night dews, came down the path towards his post, eager for news from the seat of war.
"Be careful, Miss Du Plessis, I beg of you!" implored the dominie; "heavy firing is going on not far off, and a stray bullet might easily find its way hither. Permit me to conduct you to a place of safety." So he led her with grave courtesy within the gate, and placed her on a garden seat in front of two trees large of bole, and interceptive of possible missiles. Of course, his own safety was a matter of no moment; he went out of the gate and to the utmost limit of his watch to gain, by eye and ear, tidings of the progress of the skirmish, which he returned every minute or two to report to the anxious young lady. Thus it was that, when the colonel came to inspect the posts, he found two sentinels at each, pertaining to different sexes. Returning to his sister-in-law on the verandah, he explained to that lady the peculiar difficulty of his position.
"You see, my deah sistah, that this is altogetheh contyahy to militahy discipline, and I ought to ordeh all undeh ahhest, but, were I to do so, madam, where would my sentinels come from?" Miss Du Plessis perceived the difficulty, as she handled the colonel's silver-mounted revolver, with an air of old practice; and proceeded to ask what her brother-in-law knew of the young gentleman who was furnishing Cecile with information of the fight. Thereupon the colonel launched out into a panegyric of the dominie's noble qualities, imputing to him all that Coristine had done on his behalf, and a chivalrous Southern exaggeration of the school-master's learning and expressions of sympathy. "Marjorie appears to think more highly of the other pedestrian," remarked Mrs. Du Plessis, to which Colonel Morton replied that Mr. Coristine was indeed a handsome and excellent young man, but lacked the correct bearing and dignified courtesy of his friend, and, he should judge, was much his inferior in point of education. When the tide of battle rolled away to the right, altogether out of sight and almost out of hearing, the double sentries were still at their posts, no doubt conversing with all propriety, but of what, they only individually knew. Even Miss Halbert did not confide to others the substance of a favourable criticism on Mr. Perrowne to which she treated her worthy father.
It was between one and two in the morning when the victorious army returned, and was received with open arms, literally in the case of the Squire and the veteran, and of Mr. Hill and Rufus in the kitchen, metaphorically in that of the remaining combatants. Mr. Carruthers released the doctor, and took him to visit the wounded at the post office. The minister and the dominie were also relieved, and Mr. Hill and the Sesayder, at their own request, put in their vacant places; while Maguffin dismounted, and, being armed with a gun and set in the doctor's post, constituted a guardian trio with his late captors. Of course, the warriors and past sentries had to eat and drink in guard room and kitchen, the latter apartment being more hilarious than it would have been had the seniors on duty formed part of its company. There was no old Bourbon for the colonel, but he managed to find a fair substitute for it, and informed Coristine, in answer to that gentleman's enquiry, how he happened to arrive so speedily at Bridesdale.
"It was Satuhday, suh, when my sehvant and I ahhived in Tohonto, and I met my deah sisteh in-law. At once, I sent Maguffin back by rail with the hohses to Collingwood, giving them Sunday to recoveh from the effects of the jouhney, tyavel by rail being vehy hahd on hohses. This mohning, or, ratheh I should say yestehday mohning, Madame Du Plessis and I went to Collingwood by rail, where my sehvant had secuhed her two places in the mail caht, and I had the honouh of escohting her to this pleasant place, and of beholding my chahming niece for the fihst time. I was indeed vehy fohtunate in ahhiving when I did, to be able to contribute a little to the secuhity of Bridesdale."
"You are doubtless aware, Colonel, that our enemies of to-night are in unlawful possession of Miss Du Plessis' property?"
"Suh, you astonish me. As her natuhal guahdian, I cannot, though in a foheign land, allow that foh a day, suh."
"We think, at least Squire Carruthers thinks, of attacking them in force, after the double inquest to-morrow."
"Then, Mr. Cohistine, I shall claim the privilege of joining yoah fohce as a volunteeh. I wish the ground were fit foh cavalhy manoeuvehs, suh."
"We may need a few mounted men, as we hope to discover a masked road."
"That is vehy intehesting, suh. Will you kindly explain to me the chahacteh of the ground?"
The lawyer told all that he knew of the region, from hearsay and from personal experience. The supposed masked road, the actual rocky ascent covered with felled timber, an abatis, as the colonel called it, the access by water, and the portcullis at the narrows, were objects of great interest to the old soldier. He enquired as to the extent of the means of transportation, the probable numbers of the available force, and other particulars; and, when the weary Squire returned and bade all good people go to rest, if they could not sleep, in view of past wakefulness and the morrow's work, he begged, as a perfectly fresh man, to be excused and left in command of the guard, adding: "I shall study out a thyeefold convehging attack on the enemy's position, by wateh and by land, with cavalhy, infantry and mahines." The guard-room company joined in a laugh at the military joke, after which they dispersed, with the exception of the Captain, whom it was a pity to disturb, and Carruthers, who lay down upon a sofa, while the colonel went out to inspect his posts.
The pedestrians occupied a large, double-bedded room at the right corner of the house, above the verandah. The dominie was sleeping peacefully, but the lawyer had not even removed his clothes, with the exception of his boots, if they may be so called, as he lay down upon his bed to rest, with a window half open in front of him. Precisely at the moment when, the night before, he had discovered the incipient conflagration, there came to his nostrils the smell of unctuous fire. Pocketing his loaded revolver, he stepped out of the window on to the sloping verandah roof, off which, in spite of his efforts, he slid heavily to the ground. At once he was seized with no gentle hands by at least three persons, who turned out to be Mr. Hill, the colonel, and Maguffin. "Catch that boy," he cried, as soon as they perceived their mistake, referring to a juvenile figure that he had seen slipping back towards the meadow. Sentry Hislop would probably have caught him, but there was no necessity. The idiot boy was in the arms of his wakeful mother, who, thinking he was going to Rawdon's quarters, as he probably was, intercepted him, saying: "Not back there, Monty, no, no, never again!" So deeply had his unnatural father, with brutal threats, impressed the lesson of incendiarism upon the lad that, all mechanically, he had repeated the attempt of the previous night. Fortunately for Coristine's hands, there was a garden rake at hand to draw out from under the verandah two kitchen towels, well steeped in coal oil, the fierce flame from which had already charred three or four planks of the floor. Two pails of water relieved all apprehensions; but the Squire awoke Sylvanus and ordered him to take Monty into his room, and, with his companions, be responsible for his safe keeping. Then, turning to the lawyer, and laying a friendly hand on his shoulder, he said: "If ye canna sleep, ye had better come in and tak' the Captain's chair; he's awa til 's bed, puir man." So Coristine entered the porch, and, as he did so, heard a voice above say: "No, Cecile, it is not your hero; it is mine again." "What are thae lassies gabbin' aboot at this time o' nicht?" said the Squire, harder of hearing. "Gang awa to the land o' Nod, and dinna spoil your beauty sleep, young leddies." The apostrophized damsels laughed lightly, whispered a few more confidences, and then relapsed into silence. John Carruthers had a high opinion of his niece, and said some very nice things about her, but, so far short did they fall of the lawyer's standard of appreciation, that he regarded them almost as desecrations. Still, it was very pleasant to be on such friendly terms with the Squire of the neighbourhood, the master of hospitable Bridesdale; and Miss Carmichael's uncle. "A splendid honest fellow," he said to himself, "as good every bit as Wilks' foreign aristocracy!" From time to time the colonel looked in upon the pair, and remarked that the contents of the Squire's decanter pleased him as well as Bourbon or Monongahela.
When daylight came, the weary sentries were dismissed to the kitchen, where, under Tryphena's direction, the insane woman took much pleasure in providing for their creature comforts. The restraints upon Mr. Maguffin's eloquence being removed, it flowed in a grandiloquent stream. "Lave the cratur to me, Annerew," whispered Mr. Hill; "lave the nagur to me, and if I don't flummix and flabbergast his consayted voccabuelary, I was never a taycher." Then, turning to the coloured gentleman, he remarked in an incidental sort of way: "Were you ever in the company of deipnosophists before, Mr. Magoffin, deipnosophists mind! enjoyin' a gastromical repast?"
Mr. Maguffin's eyes expanded, and his jaw dropped.
"Yoh's got the devantidge ob yoh 'umble sarvant, Mistah Hill."
"It's not possible that a gentleman of your larnin' is ignorant of such simple, aisy polysyllables as them?"
"I'se afeard yoh's got me this time, sah."
"It stands to raison that there's limits to everybody's voccabuelary, onless it's a great scholard like Mr. Wilkinson; but I thought, perhaps, it was for a school taycher you would be settin' up?"
"Oh my! no, Mistah Hill, my edurecation was passimoniously insurficient. Most all my bettah class language I'se acquied fom clugymen ob de Baktis pussuasion."
"And they never tayched ye deipnosophist nor gastromical?"
"No, sah, they didn't, I'se humblerated ter confess."
The old schoolmaster looked at Mr. Hislop with a serious expression of mingled incredulity and commiseration, saying: "Such ignerance, Annerew, such ignerance!"; and somehow Mr. Maguffin did not see his way to gathering up the broken threads of conversation.
Timotheus was despatched by the Squire to summon a brother J.P., and the township constable, in order that immediate action against known criminal parties might be taken, as well as to notify the farmers adjacent that they were expected to sit in a coroner's jury. Having made all necessary legal arrangements, the Squire returned to the colonel, who, from a memorandum before him, sketched the plan of campaign. He proposed to put the five Richards as marines under the command of the Captain to break down the grating between the third and fourth lakes, and push on to attack the enemy from that side. He wanted four mounted men armed with revolvers, and with stout sticks in lieu of swords, fearless horsemen whom he could lead through swamp or over obstacles to hold the masked road. The remaining body under the Squire, he thought, might follow the track of the fugitives of the night, and constitute the main besieging force. As to those who should perform the respective duties, apart from the persons named, the Squire suggested waiting till the inquests—which would bring some additions to the local population—were over. He hoped much from his fellow justice of the peace, Mr. Walker. Tom Rigby, an old pensioner, and the township constable, would probably have his hands full looking after the prisoners. Fortunately, the post office store of ammunition was not yet exhausted, to say nothing of that contained in various flasks and shot belts, and in the shape of cartridges. The colonel, apropos of warlike weapons, bemoaned the absence of bayonets, and warmly advocated a proposition of the lawyer's, that each combatant should carry, slung over the shoulder or in such way as not to interfere with the handling of his gun, a strong stick like those proposed by the commander-in-chief for his cavalry. Toner and Rufus were immediately roused from their slumbers, and sent to cut the requisite bludgeons, and drill them with holes to pass a cord through. Shortly after they had departed on their errand, the household awoke to life and activity, and, through casually opened doors, there came the gratifying odours of breakfast in preparation.
Mr. Bangs Accredits Himself—Silences Squire Walker—Constable Rigby in the Kitchen—The Inquests—Arrests, and Mr. Newberry—The Beaver River Contingent—Mr. Bangs and the Squire Consult—The Army Prepares—Wilkinson's Heroics—Mr. Bigglethorpe on Fishing.
When Timotheus returned, he was not alone; a slightly built man of medium stature, and rather flashily attired, rode beside him. The Squire strode to the gate, to learn that the younger Pilgrim had accomplished his various missions successfully, and to be presented by him, in his usual clumsy way, to Mr. Bengs, a friend of Mr. Nash as was. "Yore men is right, Squire; my neme is Bengs, Hickey Bengs, end pore Nesh sent for me to kem end help ferret out a geng of dem excise slopers, end here I find my pore friend merdered. I tell you, Squire, it's too dem bed, O, too dem bed!"
The Squire felt he must be cautious these times, but that did not hinder him being hospitable. "Come in, Mr. Bengs, and breakfast with us. My man will put your horse up. I have Nash's papers in my possession from his own hand, and, if I find they confirm your story, we will all be glad to take you into our confidence. You, of all men, understand the necessity for caution, and will, I hope, not take my precaution amiss."
"O Lud, no, Squire; yo're pretty shore to find letters frem me ameng pore Nesh's papers, or some memorenda about me. H.B., you know, Hickey Bengs."
Timotheus led the new detective's horse away, and the gentleman himself entered the house and office with the Squire. "Coristine," said the latter, familiarly addressing the lawyer, "would you mind looking up Errol quietly and sending him here?"
Of course he didn't mind, and soon returned with the minister. Both noticed that the Squire had two loaded pistols on the table before him, the stranger being on the other side. "You can remain, Coristine. I must introduce you, and the Reverend Mr. Errol, my fellow trustee in the matter of these papers, to Mr. Bengs. Mr. Coristine is in the law, Mr. Bengs."
The dapper gentleman with the red tie and large scarf pin bowed amiably to the two witnesses of the interview, and Mr. Carruthers, with the minister by his side, proceeded to examine the papers. "Here it is," he said, after a few minutes of painful silence, "but what in aa the warld's the meanin' o't? B.R.—B.T.—R.C.P. The date is Saturday night."
"I think I know," interrupted the lawyer. "How will this do: Beaver River, Ben Toner, Roman Catholic Priest?"
"The very thing! Well, here's Sabbath. Prom. cum S.W.L.C. sup. eq."
Coristine had written the words down to study them. At last he said: "It's a mixture of French, Latin, and English abbreviations; Promenade or walk with Schoolmaster Wilkinson, Lawyer Coristine on the horse."
"Eh, man!" ejaculated the pleased Squire; "I'll hae to turn lawyer mysel'. Now, here's later doon, the same day—B.D.—S.C.—P.O. scripsi H.B. ven. inst. Come, my prophetic friend."
Triumphantly, the lawyer rolled out: "Bride's Dale, Squire Carruthers, Post Office. I have written H.B. to come instanter."
"Have you his letter, Mr. Bengs?" the Squire asked, and at once it was produced with the Flanders post mark on it, written on the Bridesdale paper, and in Nash's peculiar way. Still Mr. Carruthers doubted. How could he be sure that the letter had fallen into the right hands, or that this smooth-spoken swell was not a cunning agent of Rawdon's?
"John," said the minister, stooping, and lifting something off the carpet, "here's a bit of paper you've dropped out of the pocket-book, or perhaps out of that bookie you're reading from."
The Squire eyed the paper, and then, stretching his arm over the table, shook the detective warmly by the hand. "It was very foolish of me, Mr. Bangs, not to have seen that at first. It gives notice of your arrival, and describes you perfectly. There's a bit of Latin, Mr. Errol, you might ask our friend. It seems to be a sort of watchword with a countersign."
The minister took the paper and read, "quod quaeris?" whereupon the detective smiled, and answered promptly, "molares ebrii."
"What in aa the warld's yon, Coristine?" enquired the Squire.
"Mr. Errol asked Mr. Bangs, 'What are you looking for?' and he answered, 'For full grindstones.'"
"When a man is ebrius, John," continued the minister, "he's no' just sober. Weel, weel, the catechis is over, and ye can tak' puir Nash's frien' into our plans. Thank Providence, there's the breakfast gong."
The ladies were astonished to see the new arrival enter the dining-room, the breakfast-room table being too small, with his three inquisitors. He was quite polite, however, though a little stiltedly so, as if not to the manner born. Mr. Terry insisted on vacating his seat in Mr. Bangs favour. He said: "There's a foine Oirishman from the narth by the name av Hill Oi wud be plazed to have some conversation wid, so yeez 'll jist koindly ekshcuse me all," and left for the kitchen. There were sixteen people at the table, so when Squire Walker turned up, Marjorie, who had been brought in to equalize the sides, had to yield her place to him, and follow the veteran to the lower sphere, in one apartment of which the children, under Tryphosa's rule, had a separate table. To this Mr. Terry invited his countryman, the old schoolmaster, who, in spite of his recent deipnosophistic repast with Mr. Maguffin, was ready for something warm. He confidentially whispered to Mr. Terry that no doubt nagurs had sowls and were human, but he wasn't pudden' fond of their society. In the dining-room, Mr. Bangs and Squire Walker, in the centre of the table, were in exile, for Wilkinson and the Captain flanked the former, and Coristine and Mr. Perrowne the latter. Mrs. Du Plessis sat between Carruthers and Mr. Thomas; Miss Halbert between the minister and Mr. Perrowne; Miss Du Plessis between the dominie and the doctor; and Miss Carmichael between Coristine and the colonel. Mrs. Carruthers, who occupied one end of the table, had the colonel on her right, and her sister-in-law, who took the other end, was supported in the same way by the host. Squire Walker, a portly man, but not too heavy for exercise, with a baldish head and large reddish whiskers, sporting a velveteen shooting coat, high shirt collar, and large blue silk scarf with white spots, was a man of much intelligence and a good talker. His conversation compelled attention, and, like the glittering eye of the ancient mariner, held, now Mr. Perrowne and now the lawyer from much pleasanter ones with their respective ladies. He seemed to take a fiendish pleasure in capturing Wilkinson from Miss Du Plessis, and the Captain from her mother, and even sent his conversational shafts far off to the Squire and the doctor, and to the presiding matrons. Mr. Errol and the colonel were happily sheltered from him. Perhaps the new detective perceived the state of unrest and terrible suspense in which many of the company were on account of Squire Walker's vagaries, and chivalrously sought to deliver them. Eyeing keenly the autocrat of the breakfast table, he remarked, "I'm afraid you heve fergotten me, Squire?"
"Don't think I ever had the pleasure of your acquaintance, sir."
"Oh, perdon me, you hed though. Two years ago, a large, stout, heavy bearded men kem to yore ohffice, with a yeng Cuban who could herdly speak a word of Inglish, asking you to commit him fer smeggling cigars—"
"Haw! haw! haw!" laughed Mr. Walker, "and you were the bearded man were you, eh?"
"Do please favour us with the whole story, Mr. Bangs," asked the hostess.
"Go on, Bangs," added its victim, "I don't mind, haw! haw!"
"The Squire asked the big revenue detective how he knew the cigars were smeggled, and he said that nobody could pay the duty and sell these cigars for seven dollars a hendred. The Squire asked to see the cigars, and while the pore yeng Cuban with the bleck mousteche stood twirling his sombrero and looking guilty, he took one, smilt it, and then smouked it. He said to the big detective, 'I won't let you hev a warrent for that pore foreigner on any sech evidence, for I ken bey the very same cigar at Beamish's for five dollars.' The detective said, 'Are you shore the cigar is the same?' when the Squire pulled a drawer open end brought out a box of the identical erticles. Then, the big men thenked him, hended him a revenue card, end took the pore Cuban away. Next day Beamish's was raided, end Nesh and I kem in for quite a rewerd."
"Then the detective was Nash?" asked Mr Walker.
"Yes, Nesh, with a big men's clowthes on, padded out."
"And what were you in the matter?"
"Oh, I wes the pore yeng Cuban thet could herdly speak Inglish."
"I don't think he can yet," whispered Miss Carmichael to Coristine, who thought it an immense joke.
"So you made Squire Walker an informer against his will, Mr. Bangs," said Carruthers.
"Yes; but it was complimentary, too. We knew if there were any good cigars in the village, the Squire's wes the best place to look for them."
"You should have had me up for having smuggled goods in my possession," said the complimented talker.
"No, no, Squire; you see you were the next thing to Queen's evidence, and they always go scotfree."
"A receiver and Queen's evidence! and the miserable little Cuban! Haw! haw! haw!"
That is the story of how Squire Walker was silenced.
After breakfast there were prayers, as usual, conducted by the two clergymen, and when they were over, the three J.P.'s, Doctor Halbert being one, assembled for consultation in the office. Tom Rigby, the constable, reported himself to the magistrate's court, and thereafter adjourned to the kitchen, there to hold converse with his brother veteran, Mr. Terry. Tom was tall, and as straight as if he had swallowed a ramrod. He gave the military salute with great precision and regularity. He was a widower, and a frequent visitor in the Bridesdale servants' quarters, whence it was commonly reported that he had an eye on Tryphena. Sylvanus had heard of this, with the effect that he lost no opportunity of running down the trade of a soldier, and comparing it most unfavourably with the free, rollicking life of the heaving sea. To hear Sylvanus speak, one would imagine that the Susan Thomas was annually in the habit of circumnavigating the globe. The children's breakfast was over, and they were all out in the garden picking certain permitted flowers, and presenting them to their favourites among the guests; but Mr. Terry had still remained, conversing with Mr. Hill, whose book-larnin' was so voluminous that he made slow progress with his breakfast, having had his cold tea thrice removed by his eldest daughter and replaced with hot. When Rigby entered and saluted, the veteran rose and returned the salute. "Good morning, Sergeant Terry! was it company colour sergeant or on the staff you were, sir?"
"Lasht noight, Carporal Rigby, Oi was sargint-major for the firsht toime in my loife. I wuz promawted loike."
"That would be in the volunteer service, Sergeant-major."
"Yiss; but we had a rale cornel in command that's been through the Amerikin war, they till me."
"Sergeant-major, there are no American soldiers."
"Shure, an' Oi'm thinkin', corporal," said the veteran, feeling a metaphorical thrid on the tail av his coat. "Oi'm thinkin' there's some pretty foine foightin's been done in Ameriky; Oi've sane it, carporal, wid my own two eyes."
"A dog can fight, Sergeant-major, and cats are tantamount to the same thing; but where, I say, is the soldierly bearing, the discipline, the spree-doo-cor, as they say in France? Sergeant-major, you know and I know that a man cannot be a tailor today and a soldier to-morrow, and an agent for pictorial family bibles the day after."
"I dunno, for you see you're a conshtable an' Oi'm a hid missenger in a governmint ahffice in the city."
"A soldier, Sergeant-major, can always serve the country, is, even as a soldier, a government officer; that is a very different thing, Sergeant-major."
"The cornel here was tillin' me there was min in his rigiment that was merchints an' lawyers an' clerks, an' shtudints, as good sowldjers as iver foired a carrboine or drawed a shabre on the inimy."
"That was a case, Sergeant-major, of mob meeting mob. Did these men ever charge as our cavalry charged at Balaclava; did they ever stand, Sergeant-major, as we, myself included, stood at Inkerman? Never, Sergeant-major, never! They might have made soldiers, if taken young; but, as they were, they were no more soldiers than Sylvanus Pilgrim here."
"You shet up yer tater-trap, Consterble Rigby, an' don't go fer to abuse better men nor you aint," angrily interrupted the subject of the corporal's unflattering comparison. Then, seeing the veteran, hopeless of convincing his opponent, retire to the garden to join the children, Sylvanus waxed bold. "A soldier, Trypheeny, a common soldier! Ef I owned a dawg, a yaller dawg, I wouldn't go and make the pore beast a soldier. Old pipeclay and parade, tattoo and barricks and punishment drill, likes ter come around here braggin' up his lazy, slavish life. Why don't he git a dawg collar and a chain at wonst and git tied up ter his kennel. Ef you want a man, Trypheeny, get one as knows
A life on the ocean wave And a home on the rollin' deep,
none o' your stiff starched, nigger driven, cat o' nine tails, ornery common soldiers."
Tryphena snickered a little, but the constable went on with his breakfast, not deigning to waste a syllable on such unmilitary trash as Sylvanus, with whom it was impossible to reason, and to come to blows with whom might imperil his dignity. Some day, perhaps, Pilgrim might be his prisoner; then, the majesty of the law would be vindicated.
A messenger came and summoned the constable to accompany the coroner, Dr. Halbert, to Richards, and bring the body of the murdered detective to the post office. On such an occasion, the pensioner's dignity would not allow him to drive the waggon, so Rufus had to be pressed into the service. Squire Walker, as the presiding magistrate, in view of Carruthers personal connection with the death of the subject of the jury's verdict, appointed the detective temporary clerk of the court that should sit after the inquests were over. Fearing that few of the settlers warned would turn out as jurors, through fear of the Select Encampment people, the master of Bridesdale chose a sufficient number of men for the purpose from the present sojourners at his house. These, some time after the doctor's departure, sauntered leisurely towards the most public place in the neighbourhood. Arrived at the post office, they found a large unfinished room in an adjoining building prepared for the court. This building had been begun as a boarding house, but, when almost completed, the conviction suddenly came to the post office people that there were no boarders to be had, all the transients of any financial value being given free quarters in the hospitable mansion of the Squire. Hence the house was never finished. The roof, however, was on, and the main room floored, so that it had been utilized for church and Sunday school purposes, for an Orange Lodge, for temperance and magic lantern itinerant lectures, and for local hops. Now, with the dead body of Harding laid out upon an improvised table of rough boards on trestles, it assumed the most solemn aspect it had ever exhibited. Three oldish men were there, whom people called Johnson, Newberry, and Pawkins; they were all the summoned jurors who had responded. Soon, from the other side, the waggon came in sight, and when it came forward, the remains of Nagle, alias Nash, were lifted reverently out and into the hall, where they were placed beside those of one of his murderers. The elder Richards accompanied the doctor, in order to give his testimony. The mad woman and her son were also there, in charge of Sylvanus and Ben Toner. Just as the party prepared to constitute the coroner's court, a stumpy figure on a high stepping horse came riding along. He was well disguised, but several persons recognized him. "Seize him," cried Squire Carruthers. "It's Grinstuns," said the lawyer. "Stop him!" shouted Bangs. But, Rawdon, having seen what he wanted, wheeled his horse and galloped away. There was neither saddled horse to pursue him, nor rifle to bring him down. "All the better," remarked Mr. Walker to his brother J.P.'s; "had he seen mounted men and fire-arms among us, he'd have smelt a rat. As it is, he thinks we are on the defensive and moving slowly." It was evident, from what people heard of the presiding magistrate's conversation, that the court had decided in favour of measures offensive.
It was easy to get twelve good men and true for the first inquest. In addition to Johnson, Newberry, and Pawkins, there were the constable and Mr. Terry, Messrs. Hill and Hislop, Sylvanus, Timotheus, and Rufus, with Mr. Bangs and Maguffin. The colonel was an alien, and Carruthers did not care to sit on the jury. Dr. Halbert presided, flanked by his fellow justices, and Wilkinson, though a minor witness, was made clerk. Several persons identified the slain Nagle or Nash, and gave evidence as to his relations with Rawdon's gang. Ben Toner's information and Newcome's attested confession were noted. Mr. Errol and Coristine, backed by the Captain and Ben, told how the body was found. Wilkinson and Perrowne related their share in conveying the corpse to Richards' house, and Richards confirmed their story. The coroner himself, having examined the body, affirmed that the deceased came to his death by a fracture of the skull, inflicted by a heavy blow from some blunt instrument from behind, followed by a pistol shot in front through the temple. Two persons, evidently, were concerned in the murder. Who were they? Matilda Nagle was sworn. She repudiated the name of Rawdon. She testified that a man called Harding brought her a note from her long lost brother Steven, asking her to meet him at the barred gate in the narrows at a certain hour late on Monday morning. She went, but Rawdon would not let her go beyond the barred gate, so she called Stevy over. He came to the foot of a tree, where Rawdon told her she must stay; and then she saw Harding run up behind him and hit him over the head with an iron bar, and he fell down and went to sleep. Did Rawdon shoot him? She shivered, and didn't know, nor could any cross examination extract this evidence from her. Harding knocked him down with the iron bar, and he went to sleep, and she couldn't wake him. Then she went to the corpse and cried: "Oh, Stevy, Stevy, wake up, do wake up quick, for he'll come again." The court and jury were deeply affected. Old Mr. Newberry, the foreman of the jury, brought in the verdict to the effect that the deceased was murdered by a blow from an iron bar administered by one Harding, producing fracture of the skull, and by a pistol shot in the left temple by some unknown person. Thus the first inquest came to an end. The second inquest would have been a matter of difficulty, on account of the large number of people supposed to be implicated in Harding's death, had not Ben Toner, who had been called out of court, returned with three good men and true, namely Mr. Bigglethorpe, M. Lajeunesse, and a certain Barney Sullivan. These three parties, moved by the entreaties of Widow Toner, had set out early in the morning to look up the missing Ben; and were so delighted with their success, and so tired with their walk, that they were willing to sit on anything, even a coroner's jury. Accordingly, a new jury was empanelled, consisting of Messrs. Johnson, Newberry, and Pawkins, Bigglethorpe, Lajeunesse and Sullivan, Errol, Wilkinson and Richards, with the Captain, Mr. Bangs, and Squire Walker. The latter was chosen foreman. The coroner himself acted as clerk. Ben Toner had seen the deceased in company with one Newcome, and had heard him addressed as Harding. The coroner testified to having examined the body, which exhibited no shot wound of any kind, but the forehead was badly bruised, evidently by a stone, as gritty particles were to be seen adhering to it, and two table knives were still resting in the neighbourhood of the heart. The jury examined the corpse, and, led by the foreman under guard of the constable, went out across the road and over the fence into the field where Mr. Terry and Coristine found the dead Harding lying. The place was well marked by the beaten down grass, blood stains on a large boulder and on the ground, and by the finding of a loaded revolver. Carefully examining the spot, the detective pointed out, at last, the very root, not more than three quarters of an inch thick, which formed a loop on the surface of the ground, in which the unfortunate man's foot had caught, precipitating him upon the stone. Every member of the jury having examined it, Mr. Bangs took out his knife and cut it away in order to prevent similar accidents in future. The coroner did not think the blow sufficient to kill the man, though it must have rendered him insensible. The killing was done by means of the knives. These were identified by the Squire and Timotheus as belonging to the Bridesdale kitchen. There was neither time nor necessity for prolonging the examination. Matilda Nagle and her son Monty, with much satisfaction, confessed that they had followed the Bridesdale force and had seen the man fall, that she had turned him over on his back and struck him to the heart with the knife she carried, which she left there, because she had no further need for it. Her son had followed her example. The jury retired, or rather the court retired from the jury, and, when Squire Walker called the coroner in again, he read the second verdict, to the effect that the deceased Harding, while in a state of insensibility owing to a fall, had been murdered by one Matilda Nagle with a table knife, and that her son, commonly known as Monty, was accessory to the deed. The double inquest was over, and the bodies were transferred to coarse wooden shells, that of Nagle being claimed by his fellow detective, and Harding's being left for a time unburied in case some claimant should appear.
The magistrates, and Mr. Bangs as clerk, now sat in close session for a little over half an hour, inasmuch as they had already come to certain conclusions in the office at Bridesdale. One result of their conference was the arrest of the madwoman and her son, much to the regret of the Squire, Mr. Errol, and many more. Rigby was ordered to treat them kindly, and convey them, with a written order signed by the three justices, to the nearest town, there to hand them over to the police authorities to be forwarded to their appropriate lunatic asylum. Old Mr. Newberry, whom the case had very much affected, volunteered to accompany the criminals, as he had to go to town at any rate, and offered to drive them and the constable there, and take his wife as company for the insane Matilda. Accordingly, he brought round the waggon in which he had driven up, and took the constable and his prisoners away towards his own house, which was on the road to their destination. The Squire and his battalion were much relieved to find that they were not responsible for Harding's death, although the fact reflected on their aim as sharpshooters. The two wounded men were informed that a magistrates' court was sitting, but evinced no anxiety to lodge a complaint against any person or persons in connection with their injuries. The coroner paid Messrs. Johnson and Pawkins their fee as jurymen, and, with the Squire's permission, invited them to dine at Bridesdale; but they declined the invitation with thanks, and returned, in company, to the bosom of their families. The lawyer, filled with military zeal as a recruiting officer, seeing that the new Beaver River contingent was armed, asked Carruthers if he had room for them.
"The mair the merrier," answered the Squire, and bade him invite them. So Coristine invited the three to dinner, and to help in the support of the justices in the afternoon. Barney Sullivan said he wasn't going to leave Ben. Mr. Bigglethorpe, as a fisherman, had always wanted to see these lakes, and, if it would help the cause of good fishing, he was ready to lend a hand to drive out poachers and pot-hunters. Pierre doubted how Madame would take his absence; of course there was Bawtiste, but, well yes, for the sake of the poor dead M'syae Nash and Meestare Veelkeenson, he would stay. Que dommage, Meestare Bulky was not there, a man so intelligent, so clever, so subtle of mind! Mr. Bigglethorpe was introduced to the drawing-room, but Pierre, though invited, would not enter its sacred precincts. He accompanied Barney to the kitchen, and was introduced by Ben to the assembled company. His politeness carried the servants' quarters by storm, and wreathed the faces of Tryphena and Tryphosa in perpetual smiles. Mr. Hill and the Sesayder succumbed to his genial influence, and even the disheartened Maguffin, though deploring his poor English and lack of standing colour, confessed to Rufus that "his ways was kind o' takin'."
"Squire Carruthers," said the detective, as they re-entered the office, "there is wen thing you failed to have den at the inquest."
"What is that, Mr. Bangs?"
"To search the bedy of the men, Herding; bet I attended to thet, and found pore Nesh's letter to his sister. Pore Nesh mest hev lost his head for wence, since he trested thet dem villain. I seppowse there's no such thing as a kemera ebout here?"
"No; what did you want a camera for?"
"To phowtogreph this Herding; there's a mystery about him. Nesh trested him, and he terned out a dem traitor. Nesh mest hev known him before; he would never trest a stranger so. Is there no wey of taking his likeness?"
"There's a young lady staying here, you saw her at breakfast, Miss Du Plessis, who's very clever with brush and pencil, but it's no' a very pleasant task for a woman."
"No, but in the interests of jestice it might be well to risk offending her. If you will reintroduce me more formally, I will esk the lady myself."
Mr. Bangs was escorted to the garden, where the lady in question was actually sketching Marjory and the young Carruthers in a variety of attitudes. To the Squire's great astonishment, she professed her readiness to comply with the detective's desire in the afternoon, if somebody could be left to accompany her to the post office adjunct.
"How long will it take, Miss Du Plessis?" he asked. "A few minutes," she answered, "a quarter of an hour at most."
"Then, if you will allow me, I shell be heppy to be your escort, and indicate the features that should be emphasized for purposes of recognition. As I ride, I ken easily overtake the perty." This being agreed to, Mr. Bangs asked Carruthers to let him look over Nash's last memoranda, as they might be useful, and any recently acquired papers. Among the latter, taken from Newcome, was a paper of inestimable value in the form of a chart, indicating, undoubtedly, the way to the abode of Serlizer and the Select Encampment generally. In the memoranda of Nash's note-book the detective found a late entry F. al. H. inf. sub pot. prom, monst. via R., and drew the Squire's attention to it. "Look here, Squire, et our dog Letin again; F. perheps Foster alias H, Herding, informer, under my power (that's through some crime entered in this book), premises to show the way to Rawdon's. This premise was made last Tuesday, at Derham, a whole week ago."
"Why is Harding called an informer?"
"Because he belengs to an infamous cless raised up by our iniquitous kestoms administration. These informers get no selery, bet are rewerded with a share of the spoil they bring to the depertment. Semtimes they accuse honest men, and ectually hev been known to get them convicted falsely. Semtimes they take bribes from the greatest scoundrels, and protect them in their villainy. Nesh thought he hed this fellew safe by the law of fear; bet fear and envy and the dread of losing Rawdon's bribes, combined in his treacherous heart to make a merderer of him."
"But Nash couldn't have written that letter last week. He knew nothing of his sister's whereabouts till yesterday morning."
"Exectly; see here is the nowte, a sheet out of this very book fowlded ep. End it says: 'Meet me at wence, not later than noon, outside the barred chennel. You say he followed Rawdon from the powst office; then, at sem point behind Rawdon, this Herding must hev terned ep, end, O dem the brute if he is dead! hev cheated the cleverest fellow in the service."
"But why should he have killed him? Why not leave that to Rawdon?"
"Rawdon's kenning and deep. When he knew it wes Nesh, he got a fright himself end then frightened Herding into doing it. I'll bet you whet you like, thet revolver found with his body is the kelibre of the bellet wound in pore Nash's head. I'll look when I go ep this efternoon. His trick was to lay it all on Herding; I shouldn't wender if he towld thet med woman to kill him. It's jest like him, dem the brute!"
In order that due preparations, in the shape of accoutrements, might be made, and after dinner delay avoided, the Squire and the colonel assembled the forces. Including the absent Richards family, the upholders and vindicators of the law numbered twenty-six. The Captain had already signified to Richards senior his willingness to take command of the scow and its complement of five men, armed with guns, and with axes for cutting away the barrier at the narrows. There was much romance about this side of the campaign, so that volunteers could have been got for marine service to any extent; but the means of transportation were limited, and even that able-bodied seaman Sylvanus had to be enrolled among the landsmen. Happily Tom Rigby was not there to see him descend once more to the level of military life. The colonel, rejoicing in Newcome's chart of the marked road, called for cavalry volunteers. Squire Walker, Mr. Bangs and Maguffin, having their horses with them, naturally responded. It then came to a toss-up between Mr. Perrowne and Coristine; the parson won, and the disappointed lawyer was relegated to the flat feet. As the doctor had been major in a volunteer regiment, the Squire ceded the command of the infantry to him. It was proposed to have at least one man behind as a home guard, but nobody was prepared to volunteer for this service, Messrs. Errol, Wilkinson, and Lajeunesse, who were severally proposed, expressing their sense of the honour, their high regard for the ladies, and anxiety for their well-being, but emphatically declining to be absent from the common post of duty and danger. Miss Halbert voiced the opinion of the fair sex that, being eight in number, including the maids, they were quite able to defend themselves. Nevertheless, the Squire inwardly determined to send old Styles, the post office factotum, back with Miss Du Plessis. The main attacking force of infantry consisted of Doctor Halbert, in command, sergeants Carruthers and Terry and their two squads, the first comprising privates Errol, Wilkinson, Coristine, Bigglethorpe, Lajeunesse, and Hill; the second, privates Hislop, Toner, Sullivan, Hill junior, and the two Pilgrims. Then, arms were inspected, and the twenty bludgeons dealt out, five for the cavalry, and fifteen for the infantry. Most of these had attachments of stout common string, but those of the three commanders, the Squire, the two clergymen, and the two pedestrians, were secured with red window cord, a mark of preference which rejoiced the hearts of three of them, namely, the younger men. With doubtful hands the dominie received his gun, and the minister more boldly grasped a similar weapon. At the request of the colonel the cavalry were served with a hasty luncheon, and thereafter set forward, with the exception of the detective, Miss Du Plessis' escort, to patrol the road and open communication with the Richards for the purpose of intercepting the enemy's possible scouts. Two waggons were ordered to take the infantry to the lake settlement, so that they might be fresh for the work before them.
In his martial accoutrements, the dominie's soul was stirred within him. He repeated to his bosom friend pieces from Koerner's Leyer und Schwert, but as the lawyer's acquaintance with the Teutonic tongues was limited, including sauer kraut, lager bier, nix kum araus, donner-wetter, and similar choice expressions, he failed to make an impression. Nobody in the house knew German, unless it were Tryphena and Tryphosa, who had picked up a little from their mother, and, of course, he could hardly lie in wait to get off his warlike quotations on them. Ha! he remembered Wordsworth, and rolled forth:—
"Vanguard of liberty, ye men of Kent!
* * * * *
They from their fields can see the countenance Of your fierce war, may ken the glittering lance, And hear you shouting forth your brave intent."
Still failing to awake a responsive echo in the heart that once beat in poetic unison with his own, he turned to Mrs. Du Plessis, and, alluding to the departed colonel, recited in her native tongue:—
"Honor al Caudillo, Honor al primero, Que el patriota acero Oso fulminar. La Patria afligida Oyo' sus acentos, Y vio' sus tormentos, En gozo tornar."
"That is very pretty, Mr. Wilkinson, and I thank you much for recalling the pleasant memories of my early speech. Is there not an English translation of these words?"
"There is, Mrs. Du Plessis, by Sir John Bowring, It is:—
Hail, hail to the Chieftain, All honour to him Who first in the gleam Of that light bared the sword! The drooping land heard him, Forgetting her fears; And smiled through her tears, As she hung on his word."
The dominie had thought only to give expression to the poetic fervour called forth by the circumstances, but accomplished a good deal more, the establishment of a common ground between himself and the nearest relative of a very charming and cultivated young lady. The said young lady came up to join in the conversation, and request Mr. Wilkinson to repeat all that he knew of the battle hymn. The lawyer was secretly of the opinion that his friend was making an ass of himself, and that, if he were to try that poetry quoting business on Miss Carmichael, he would soon discover that such was the case. Yet, if the Du Plessis liked that sort of thing, he had no right to interfere. He remembered that he had once been just such an ass himself, and wondered how he could have so far strayed from the path of common sense. It was worse than Tryphosa and Timotheus sitting down to sing with a hymn-book between them.
"What are you doing out in the garden all by yourself, Eugene?" asked a small voice. He looked down and saw Marjorie fingering the barrel of his rifle. "Don't you know," she continued, "that all the people have gone in to dinner?"
"Did the gong sound, Marjorie?"
"To be sure it did. Tell me, what were you thinking about not to hear it?"
"I was thinking about a dear little girl called Marjorie," answered the prevaricating lawyer, picking the child up and bestowing a hearty salute upon her lips.
"You're a very good boy now, Eugene; you get a clean shave every day. Do you go to Collingwood for it in the night time, when I am in bed?"
"No, Marjorie; I get the cat to lick my face," the untruthful man replied.
"What? our pussy Felina that spits at Muggy?"
"The very same."
"Then I'll ask Tryphosa's father if he would like to have the loan of Felina. Don't you think she would do him good."
Coristine laughed, as he thought of Mr. Hill's stubbly countenance, and carried "the darlin'" into the house.
At the dinner table he found himself punished for his day-dreaming. Bangs was on one side of Miss Carmichael, and Bigglethorpe on the other, and he was out in the cold, between the latter gentleman and the minister. Mr. Bigglethorpe resumed the subject of fishing, and interrogated his right hand neighbour as to his success at the River. He laughed over the so-called mullets, and expressed a fisherman's contempt for them as devourers of valuable spawn, relating also the fact that, in the spring, when they swarm up into shallow parts of the stream, the farmers shovel them out with large wooden scoops, and feed them to the pigs or fertilize the land with them. Finding he had more than one auditor, the fishing store-keeper questioned the Squire about the contents of his brook, and, learning that dace, chubs, and crayfish were its only occupants, promised to send Mrs. Carruthers a basket of trout when the season came round. In order to give a classical turn to the conversation, the dominie mentioned the name of Isaac Walton and referred to his poor opinion of the chub in the river Lea. "I know the Lea like a book," said Mr. Bigglethorpe, "and a dirty, muddy ditch it has got to be since old Isaac's time. When I was a schoolboy I went there fishing one afternoon with some companions, and caught not a single fish, hardly got a nibble. We were going home disappointed, when we saw a man at the reservoir above the river, near the Lea bridge, with some eels in a basket. They were queer looking eels, but we bought them for sixpence, and one of our fellows, called Wickens, put them in his fishing can; then we maide for home. Before we could get there we had to cross a pretty rough part of the Kingsland road. It was pretty dark, but, of course, the shops were all lit up and we sawr a lot of boys, common cads, coming our wy. Just in front of a public house they called out 'Boots, Boots! fish, fish!' and out caime a stout lad of about eighteen to lead the gang. Three of us clubbed our rods over them, briking the top joints, of course, but Wickens wouldn't fall in with us. So Boots ran after him, followed by a crowd. When Wickens sawr he couldn't escype, he opened his can, took out an eel and slapped it over Boots' fyce. The beggar just yelled, 'O, Lawr, water snykes!' and he ran, and Wickens after the crowd like mad, slashing 'em with the water snykes. O dear, O dear, I shall never forget those snykes to my dying dy."
"Are there any water snakes in our rivers in Canada?" enquired Mrs. Du Plessis.
"Oh yes, ma'am," answered the fisherman, "I imagine those lykes we are going to visit this afternoon are pretty full of snykes. Mr. Bulky, whose nyme is known to Mr. Coristine, I'm sure, wears long waterproof boots for wyding in the Beaver River—"
"But, Mr. Bigglethorpe," asked the fair questioner, "how can one ride in a river?"
"Excuse me, ma'am, I did not say riding, I said wyding, walking in the water. Mr. Bulky was wyding, one morning, with rod in hand, when, all of a sudden, he felt something on his leg. Looking down, he sawr a big black water-snyke coiled round his boot, and jabbing awy at his leg. It hung on to him like a boa-constrictor, and squeezed his leg so tight that it gyve him a bad attack of gout. He had to get on shore and sawr it in two with his knife before the snyke would leave go. Fortunately, the brutes are not venomous, but that beggar's teeth scratched Mr. Bulky's boots up pretty badly, I must sy."
When they rose from the table, Miss Carmichael went up to the lawyer and said: "Please forgive me for punishing myself between Mr. Bangs and Mr. Bigglethorpe. I sigh for good English." The lawyer answered, all unwittingly, of course, in his worst brogue: "Miss Carrmoikle, it's my frind Wilks I'll be aafther gitten' to shtarrt a noight school to tayche me to shpake Inglish in aal its purity." To this there could be but one response: "Go away, you shameful, shameless, bad man!" It pleased the lawyer better than a more elegant and complimentary remark.
Walk to the P.O.—Harding's Portrait—The Encampment Besieged—Wilkinson Wounded—Serlizer and Other Prisoners—No Underground Passage Found—Bangs and Guard Remain—The Constable's New Prisoners—Wilkinson a Hero—The Constable and Maguffin—Cards.
There was no room for twenty persons in two waggons, yet twenty proposed to go, seventeen to the seat of war, and three to the post-office. As those three were the young ladies of the house, all the warriors offered to surrender their seats to them. They refused to accept any surrender, preferring to walk, whereupon Messrs. Errol, Wilkinson and Coristine thought an after-dinner walk the height of luxury. Mr. Bangs saw he was not wanted as a fellow pedestrian, and mounted his horse instead of having him trot behind a waggon. The vehicles, or at least one of them, received instructions to wait at the post-office for the three members of squad No. 1. The walk was strictly proper, Mr. Errol taking Miss Carmichael, the dominie Miss Halbert, and the lawyer Miss Du Plessis. "What a goose you are, Mr. Wilkinson," said his fair companion. "What a goose you are to leave Cecile, whose footsteps you fairly worship, and to come and walk with a girl for whose society you don't care a penny."
"I should care more for Miss Halbert's society if she did not say such unjustifiable things."
"Cecile," called the young lady, "I want to change escorts with you; I like pleasant society."
The dominie felt as if a big school-girl had declined to receive a reprimand from the principal, and coloured with vexation, but Miss Du Plessis calmly turned and said: "If Mr. Wilkinson is tired of you already, Fanny, I suppose I must send Mr. Coristine to comfort you," whereat Mr. Errol and his companion exchanged a smile.
"Did the villain shoot Wordsworth at you, Miss Halbert, or was it Hans Breitmann in the original, or a Spanish cantinella, or some such rubbish? If I was Miss Du Plessis I'd wear a signboard over my ears, 'No poetical rubbish shot here;' perhaps that might fix him."
"Cecile is sentimental: she dotes on poetry."
"Pardon me for saying I don't believe it. I offered to recite my original poem on the Grinstun man to her, and she didn't seem to want to hear it."
"How ungrateful and unsympathetic! You will favour me with it, will you not?"
"With the greatest pleasure in the world. You know it's awful balderdash, but here goes."
The original poem was recited with appropriate gestures, intended to imitate the walk of the hero of the piece and his various features. The people in front turned their heads to look at the performance and take in the words. Not to laugh was almost an impossibility, but the dominie succeeded in doing the impossible, and frowned heavily. He felt that his unworthy friend was bringing disgrace upon the causes of poetry and pedestrianism. When her laughter subsided, Miss Halbert said: "There is one thing I want to ask you seriously, Mr. Coristine." "Name it," he answered, "even to the half of my fortune." "It is to look after papa, and see that he does not expose himself too much to danger. I asked Mr. Perrowne too, but he is with the horsemen, you know." This last was said with a peculiarly arch smile, which convinced the lawyer that Perrowne was in deeper than was generally suspected. The first thought that followed in Coristine's mind was what awful cheek he had been guilty of in following Perrowne's precedent in drop the handkerchief. He managed, however, to assure the lady that he would do his best to watch over the safety of her father and Squire Carruthers, the latter words being spoken loud enough for Miss Carmichael to hear. When the post-office was reached Mr. Bangs dismounted, was ready to receive the ladies; and the three escorts, shaking hands warmly with each of their fair companions, entered the remaining waggon and drove away, the buts of their firearms rattling on the floor, and the suspended bludgeons playfully flogging their shoulders.
It was ghastly work propping up the dead murderer's shoulders in the shell, and placing a rest for his head. The jaw had been tied up, but the eyes would not close; yet, staring though the face was, it was not a repulsive one. The ordinary observer could not read what Bangs saw there, greed and hypocrisy, envy, treachery, murder. While Miss Du Plessis went on calmly sketching, the other girls turned their heads away. No one cared to break the stillness by a word. The detective went out and secured the services of Styles to accompany the ladies home, and remain at Bridesdale till the armed band returned. Then he went over to the shell in which the body of his brother detective lay, and, nobody looking at him, allowed himself the luxury of a few tears, a silent tribute to the man he honoured. When the sketch was completed, he warmly thanked the artist, and told her that he never would have dreamt of proposing such a task, but for his desire to do justice to his dead friend, whom an informer named Flower had greatly injured in the department. The department had faith in his cleverness all along, but suspicions had been cast upon his honesty, which embittered his days, along with troubles that were then only known to himself.
Bangs was not a detective, but a man of warm, brotherly heart, as he told the tale of the outwardly always cheerful, but inwardly sore-hearted, Nash, cut off in the midst of his years and usefulness. Then old Styles appeared, and, with a salute, the detective mounted and rode away to join the forces in front, while the ladies journeyed homeward. Mr. Bangs soliloquized as he rode rapidly on. "Boys read detective stories, and think our life an enviable one. They dowte on the schemes, the plots and counterplots, the risks, the triumphs, and look beyond to fame and rewerd, but they know nothing of the miserable envies and jealousies, the sespicions, the checks and counterchecks, and the demnable policy of the depertment, encouraging these irresponsible informers, dem 'em, to break up all legitimate business and merder honest men. O Nesh, my pore dead friend, yo're avenged in a wey, bet who's going to avenge yore pore sister, and even this devil of a Flower or Herding, whose death lies at the door of that greater devil of a Rawdon?"
The expedition was waiting for him at Richards', the colonel in command. The scow had departed in charge of the captain, who had orders to do nothing to the barrier till he heard a signal shot; then he was to respond with the unmistakable blunderbuss, and batter down the obstruction. Squire Walker, Mr. Perrowne, and Maguffin had patrolled, without meeting even a passing team or wayfarer; but the colonel judged it best to get off the road without delay. Accordingly the waggons were left in Richards' shed, and the infantry doubled forward after the colonel and Bangs. When the rocky ascent was reached, over which the fugitives of the night before had clambered, a halt was called, and the colonel gave Dr. Halbert instructions. Just where the rock rose out of the swamp, Sergeant Terry's squad entered, and easily wheeled round large trunks of trees resting on stone pivots, revealing a good waggon-track, the masked road. This the cavalry occupied, looking to the priming of their pistols, and bringing their clubs into handy positions. The Squire's squad scaled the height near the road, and Mr. Terry's took ground farther to the right. The doctor led the way in front of and between the two sections. The cavalry moved slowly, keeping pace with the climbers. Soon the crest was reached, and the main body began to descend gradually, when the dominie slipped and his piece went off, the trigger having caught in his red window cord, startling the echoes. Then came the diffusive boom and crackle of the blunderbuss, and the doctor, inwardly anathematizing Wilkinson, hurried his men on. They heard axes at work, as if trees were being felled; it was the Captain and the Richards at the barrier. No enemy appeared on the rocks, but pistol shots warned them that there was collision on the road, and the doctor called the second squad to wheel towards it. The dominie, on the left of the first, saw what was going on below. Revolvers were emptied and clubs brought into requisition. He could not load his old muzzle-loading piece to save his life, but he knew single stick. Two men were tackling the brave old colonel, while a third lay wounded at his horse's feet. The dominie sped down to the road like a chamois, and threw himself upon the man on the colonel's right, the dissipated farmer. He heard a shot, felt a sharp pain in his left arm, but with his right hit the holder of the pistol a skull cracker over the head, then fainted and fell to the ground. His luckless muzzle-loader was never found. The colonel had floored his antagonist on the left, and turned to behold the dominie's pale face. Leaving the command to the doctor, he dismounted and put a little old Bourbon out of a pocket flask into his lips, and then proceeded to bandage the wound. Wilkinson had saved his life; he was a hero, a grand, cultivated, sympathetic, chivalrous man, whom the colonel loved as his own son. When he came to, were not the very first words he uttered enquiries for Colonel Morton's own safety? Maguffin, having felled his man, held his master's horse.
Squire Walker, Mr. Perrowne, and Bangs galloped on, the latter eager to seize Rawdon. They and the infantry squads came almost simultaneously upon the select encampment, which was simply a large stone-mason's yard, full of grindstones in every state of preparation, and bordered by half-a-dozen frame buildings, one of which, more pretentious than the others, was evidently the dwelling-place of the head of the concern. Two simple-looking men in mason's aprons stood in the doorway of another, having retired thither when they heard the sound of firing. This was evidently the boarding-house of the workmen, and an object of interest to Ben Toner, who, with his friends Sullivan and Timotheus, pushed past the two stonecutters, immediately thereafter arrested by Sergeant Terry, and invaded the structure. Soon Ben reappeared upon the scene, accompanied by a young woman whose proportions were little, if at all, short of his own, and calling aloud to all the company, as if he had accomplished the main object of the expedition, "It's all raight, boys, I've got Serlizer!" Behind the happy pair came an old woman, gray, wrinkled, and with features that bore unmistakable traces of sorrow and suffering. "Hev they ben good to you, Serlizer?" asked Mr. Toner, after he had in the most public and unblushing manner saluted his long lost sweetheart. The large woman raised her bared arms from the elbow significantly, and replied, with a trace of her father's gruffness, "I didn't arst 'em; 'sides I allers had old Marm Flowers to keep 'em off." The expedition was demoralized. The colonel and his servant were with the dominie on the road. Ben, with Timotheus and Sullivan, was rejoicing in Serlizer; while Mr. Hislop and Rufus were guarding the captured stone-cutters. Sylvanus, not to be outdone by his companions of the second squad, attached himself, partly as a protector, partly as a prisoner's guard, to Mrs. Flower, the keeper of the boarding-house. Sergeant Terry, without a command, followed what remained of the first squad in its search for Rawdon. The first person he came upon, in his way down to the water, was Monsieur Lajeunesse, who could run no farther, and, perspiring at every pore, sat upon a log, mopping his face with a handkerchief.
"A such coorse 'ave I not med, Meestare Terray, sinsa zat I vas a too ptee garsong." Mr. Terry understood, owing to large experience of foreigners, and could not permit the opportunity of making a philological remark to pass, "D'ye know, Mishter Lashness, that Frinch an' the rale ould Oirish is as loike as two pays? Now, there's garsan is as Oirish a worrud for a young bhoy as ye'll find in Connaught. But juty is juty, moy dare sorr, so, as they say in the arrmy, 'Fag a bealach,' lave the way." The sergeant's next discovery was the doctor, borne in the arms of the lawyer and the dismounted parson. He had sprained his ancle in the rapid descent to which his zeal had impelled him, and had thus been compelled to leave the Squire in command. Mr. Hill had been left behind on the left of the encampment with the horses of the three dismounted cavaliers, Squire Walker, Mr. Perrowne, and the detective, so that Sergeant Carruthers, now acting colonel, had with him a mere corporal's guard, consisting of Messrs. Errol and Bigglethorpe.
The junction of the land forces with those operating on the water was effected in good order, the latter being intact under command of the captain, but the former exhibiting, by their terribly reduced numbers, the dreadful fatality of war. Squire Walker and Mr. Bangs alone represented the cavalry; Carruthers and his corporal's guard, the first squad, and the veteran all alone, the second squad of the infantry. Even this remnant had its deserter, for, during the conversation between the Squire and the Captain, private Bigglethorpe stole away, and when next seen was standing far out upon a dead hemlock that had fallen into the lake, fishing with great contentment, and a measure of success, for bass. The numbers of the force were soon augmented by the appearance of the doctor and his bearers. The disabled physician was accommodated with a seat on the bottom of the scow, two of the Richards boys being displaced in his favour. The Captain reported a prize in the shape of a handsome varnished skiff, which he found drawn up on some skids or rollers at the foot of a great mass of rock, that seemed as if cut all about in regular form, in readiness for quarrying. The finding of the boat just opposite it, the worn appearance of the ground, the absence of moss or any other growth on the severed edges of the square mass of limestone, led the detective to ask if there was any report of a subterraneous passage in connection with this mysterious region. The doctor, whom his former guide had taken by water, and insisted on blindfolding at a certain point, was sure that he had walked some distance on rock, and, although the lamp-lit room, in which he had seen his patients, was lined with wood, and had blinds on apparent windows, he doubted much that it was built in the open air. Then, Coristine remembered how the dissipated farmer had coupled Rawdon's geology with trap rock, as well as with galena, quartz and beryl. Knives were produced and thrust into the seams at the top and on the two sides, as far as the blades would go, but along the bottom there was no horizontal incision answering to that above; it was perpendicular towards the earth, and of no great depth.
It was decided, in the meanwhile, to leave the Captain with Richards senior, his youngest son, and Mr. Bigglethorpe, who declined to leave his sport, as a guard on the skiff and the adjoining mysterious stone. The rest of the party returned to the encampment, to consult with the colonel and learn the reason of his absence. Pierre Lajeunesse was found where Mr. Terry had left him, and gladly accepted an arm up the hill. Arrived at the stone-yard, the Squire and Coristine learnt with concern of the dominie's wound, but were rejoiced to find it was nothing more serious, and that his was the only casualty, besides the doctor's. Squire Walker and Mr. Bangs accompanied the colonel, whom Coristine relieved in attendance upon the dominie, and Maguffin, to look for the felled accomplices of Rawdon, but, of the four who certainly were knocked insensible by the clubs, not one was to be found, nor was there any sign that the pistols of the cavalry had taken effect on the other three. The whole seven had escaped. Meanwhile Rawdon's house and all the other buildings had been searched by Carruthers, without a single incriminating thing, save a half empty keg of peculiar white spirits, being brought to light. The stables contained many horses; and strong waggons, such as those seen by the pedestrians at the Beaver River, were in the sheds. The stone-cutters and the women professed to know nothing, and, save in the case of the woman called Flower, Bangs was of opinion that they spoke the truth. All the men could tell was that Rawdon paid them good wages, so that they were able to live without work all winter; that six other men worked for him elsewhere and came to the boarding-house for their meals, but did not sleep there; that one of them had got hurt in the back, and was away in the hospital, and that two teamsters had left shortly before the intruders arrived, along with the remaining five. They had also seen Rawdon ride in that morning, but did not know where he had gone. Did they know of any underground vaults or trap doors, or any buildings apart from those in the encampment? No, they had seen none; but, three years ago, before they returned to work in the spring, there must have been quarrymen about, for enormous quantities of stone were lying ready for them, which they had not taken out. Mrs. Flower declined to answer any questions, but did not scruple to ask if the Squire and others had seen anything of a man called Harding. When she learned the man's fate, as she sat in a low chair, she rocked it to and fro and groaned, but shed no tear nor uttered an articulate syllable.
Bangs would not give up the search, nor would he leave the place. There was food enough in the boarding-house, and he would remain, even if he had to stay alone. Squire Walker had to be home for an engagement early in the morning; the two clergymen had to prepare for Wednesday evening's duty, and had pastoral work before them; the colonel could not leave the man who had saved his life. The doctor and the dominie were incapacitated; Ben Toner was worse than useless over Serlizer; Pierre dreaded his beloved Angelique's ire if he remained away over night; and Sullivan's folks might be kinder anxious about him. Messrs. Hill and Hislop also thought they had better be going. Thus the army melted away. Everybody insisted on the Squire going home, and getting a good night's rest. When, with difficulty, persuaded to do so, he offered to leave Timotheus as his substitute, if that worthy were willing. Timotheus consented, whereupon Sylvanus and Rufus volunteered, it being understood that Ben Toner and Maguffin would do their work about the kitchen and stables, while Serlizer helped the Bridesdale maids. Two other volunteers were Mr. Terry and the lawyer; and two of the Richards offered to watch with Mr. Bigglethorpe on the lake shore. Thereupon, the three members of that gallant family withdrew to the lake, and, while one boarded the scow and helped his father and younger brother, under the Captain's directions, to paddle home, the others hailed the fisherman and asked if he was going to remain. "I'm here for the night, boys," replied the man of the rod. "I'll turn up that skiff against the wind and dew, light a fire by the water, and, early in the morning, have the loveliest bass fishing I've had for many a day. Oh yes, I'm here. D'ye see my gun lying about anywhere?" Mr. Bigglethorpe's gun was found, and deposited in the skiff. While this was going on below, Ben Toner harnessed up a team, hitched them to a waggon, for which he found seats by depriving other waggons of their boxes, and prepared to take the wounded dominie, his affectionate friend, the colonel, with Serlizer and the woman Flower, to Bridesdale. The last named person insisted upon going at once to see the dead body of Harding. The two stone-cutters also asked to be allowed to accompany the two props of the encampment boarding house. Mr. Hill rode the colonel's horse, and the Squire, that of the detective. Along the once masked, but now unmasked, road, the procession of waggon, horsemen, and footmen, passed, waving a farewell to the allies of Mr. Bangs who held the fort. It should be added that Sylvanus accompanied them as far as the Richards' place, to obtain the Captain's permission for his volunteering, and to bring the borrowed waggon back.
At Richards' the waggons were brought out. One was devoted to the two injured men, the dominie and the doctor, with their attendants, the colonel and the Captain, and Barney Sullivan as driver. The other was driven by Ben, with Serlizer beside him. It also contained the woman Flower, Mr. Errol, Mr. Lajeunesse, and Mr. Hislop. The cavalry, consisting of Squire Walker in command, Mr. Perrowne, Carruthers, Hill, and Maguffin, trotted forward, and the infantry and prisoners, comprising Tom Rigby, who turned up at the Lake Settlement, and the two masons, followed in the rear. The constable was angry; he had lost his prisoners of the morning. Having arrived at Mr. Newberry's hospitable house, and being asked to take some refreshments, which, esteeming the objects of his care to be simple souls, he had no hesitation in doing, he was amazed, on his return to the waggon, to find his captives gone. At once he started in pursuit, but, up to the time of his arrival at the Lake Settlement, he had seen no trace of the fugitives. Accordingly, the corporal made the present life of the two stone cutters a burden. He searched them for concealed weapons, and confiscated the innocent pocket knives with which they shred their plug tobacco; he forbade them to smoke; and, finally, tied the left hand of the one to the right of the other to prevent their running away, of which they disclaimed any intention. The cavalry came first to the gate of Bridesdale, and reported the casualties, Perrowne proudly relating that he and Coristine, who was "now end of a good fellow," had carried the doctor to the scow, which he called "the bowt." Ben Toner's waggon came next, having dropped Mrs. Flower at the post office, where, a little later, the constable landed his prisoners. Her companion Serlizer sought the kitchen with Ben, while Mr. Errol joined his brother divine; but Messrs. Hislop and Lajeunesse, with Mr. Hill, waited only for Sylvanus' appearance to take their homeward journey. At last the ambulance waggon drove slowly up, and tender hands lifted out the disabled and the wounded. Miss Halbert and Miss Carmichael relieved the Captain of his patient, who managed to hop cheerfully into the house, with an arm on each of their shoulders. The Squire and the colonel helped the dominie along, and up to a special single room which was to be his hospital, and which Mrs. and Miss Du Plessis and Mrs. Carruthers were prepared to enter as nurses, so soon as his bearers had put him to bed. Then the doctor came up with his instruments, cut off the colonel's improvised bandage and the shirt sleeve, bathed the wound, found and extracted the bullet, and tied all up tight. The meek dominie bore it all with patience, and apologized to his surgeon for giving him so much trouble while he himself was suffering. The three ladies brought the wounded hero all manner of good things that sick people are supposed to like or to be allowed to eat and drink, and Wilkinson was in a dolce far niente elysium. Little Marjorie, having knocked timidly at the door, came in with some square gaudily-covered books under her arm, and asked if Mr. Wilks would like her to read to him. She offered the victim his choice of "Puss in Boots," "Mother Goose," and "Nursery Rhymes"; but Miss Du Plessis, who, at the sufferer's request, was looking up in Wordsworth that cheerful theme, The Churchyard in "The Excursion," interposed, saying, some other day, when Mr. Wilkinson had grown stronger, he might perhaps be able to make a selection from her juvenile library. Marjorie told her cousin that she was sure, if it had been her Eugene who was sick, he would have liked her to stay and read to him. She had told Eugene to marry Cecile, but she would never do so any more; she would give him all to cousin Marjorie.
The three squires sat in council, and agreed to dismiss the nominal captives on condition of their promising to appear when wanted as witnesses. This Serlizer at once agreed to. Mr. Walker rode to the post office and exacted the promise from Mrs. Flower and the masons, thus depriving the constable of his prey. He was compelled to untie their hands, and restore the confiscated pocket knives. The masons were invited to supper at Bridesdale, as was the woman; but the men proposed to go on to the River, as they had money to pay their way; and Mrs. Flower, who would not leave Harding's body, was given in charge to the post mistress. The supper tables in hall and kitchen were very different from those of the previous night. In the latter, Ben Toner, the constable, and Maguffin had each a lady to talk to. Their superiors missed the company of the lawyer, the detective, and Mr. Bigglethorpe, to say nothing of Mr. Terry. The doctor was stretched out upon a sofa in the office, where his daughter waited on him, assisted by Perrowne, who had to carry the other articles of food while she preceded him with the tea. Miss Du Plessis, similarly helped by the colonel, attended to the wants of the dominie. Consequently, the steady members of the supper circle were the three matrons and Miss Carmichael, with Squires Walker and Carruthers, Mr. Errol, and the Captain. All agreed that Wilkinson had done a very fine thing, and Mrs. Du Plessis was warm in his praise. "The only men that stuck to me," said the Squire, "were Mr. Errol and Bigglethorpe, and even Bigglethorpe went off fishing as soon as he came to the water, so that I may say Mr. Errol was my only faithful adherent." The ladies all looked with much approbation on the blushing minister, and Mrs. Carmichael showed her approval by immediately refilling his cup. Squire Walker whispered in his ear: "Fine woman, Mr. Errol, fine woman, that Mrs. Carmichael! Is she a widow, sir?" Mr. Errol did not like this whispering at table, especially on such a subject, but he replied affirmatively in as brief a way as possible, and went on with his repast. The Captain said that his mill was clean run out of gear with all these starboard and port watches and tacks to every point of the compass; and, when conversation lagged, Carruthers fairly nodded over his plate. Nevertheless, after supper, the occupants of the kitchen were called in and prayers were held, in which Mr. Errol offered petitions for the bereaved, the suffering, and the criminal, and committed the watchers at the post of danger and duty to the care of their Heavenly Father, to all of which Mr. Perrowne responded with a hearty Amen. Then, the parsons insisted on going home to their boarding houses, and Squire Walker mounted his horse for home. Anxiously, Mrs. Carruthers asked her husband if he anticipated danger where her father was, and Miss Carmichael asked the Captain the same question, without mentioning anyone, but having Coristine in view. Both endeavoured to reassure the minds of the half tearful women, after which they carried the doctor upstairs, and all went to bed. Fearing that the idiot boy might repeat his double attempt to fire the verandah, Mr. Perrowne had told Muggins to lie there and watch it, and there the faithful dog lay the whole night through, to the satisfaction of the inmates of Bridesdale, although happily nothing happened to test his quality as a watch dog.
In the kitchen, Mr. Maguffin considered himself, next to Tryphena and Tryphosa, the representative of the family, as the deputy of Timotheus and the servant of the colonel. Ben Toner was his ally in war, but had no local standing, and the pensioner was simply an intruder. Yet, with cool effrontery, the corporal sat in the place of honour beside Tryphena, and regaled her with narratives of warfare, to which she had listened many times already. Ben and Serlizer were still full of one another's society. He had comforted her heart, if it needed any comforting, over the condition of her father, whom he and Timotheus had treated so cavalierly, and urged her not to go home any more, but to come and help the old woman. With a bad example before her at home, and very far from improving ones at the Select Encampment, Serlizer was yet, though not too cultivated, an honest steady girl, and was pleased to learn that Ben had really turned over a new leaf. She gave her sweetheart to understand that she had kept her own money, not being such a fool as to let the old man get his hands on it, and that it was safe in the bundle she had brought from the boarding-house, whereupon Ben said she had better put that bundle away in a safe place, for you couldn't tell what kind of characters might be about. Mr. Maguffin heard these words, and, taking them to himself, waxed indignant.
"Ef yoh'se diloodin' ter this pressum comperny, Mistah Tonah, I wants ter say I takes the sponsability ob these young ladies on my shouldahs, sah, the shouldahs ob Mortimah Magrudah Maguffin, sah. Foh what remains ober ob the mascline paht ob it, I ain't no call foh ter spress mysef. It kin speak foh itsef."
The corporal glowered, and smote the table with his fist.
"Pardon my indignation, Miss Hill! This creature, with no military or other standing that I know of, calls me, a retired non-commissioned officer of the British army, it. In India, where I served, I called such things chakar and banda, the very dust beneath my feet, Miss Tryphena; and it was as much as their life was worth to call me less than sahib. And, now that I have retired on a pension, with my medals and clasps, and am an officer of the law, a black man, a kali, presumes to it me. I have known a kali chakar killed, yes killed, for less. 'Corporal,' said the commanding officer to me, 'Corporal Rigby,' said he, many a time, 'order one of your men to call up that black dog of mine!' I assure you he did, Miss Hill."
"I doan' take no erbuse ner nigger talk in this yere house, where I'm takin' Timothis' place, an' where my bawss is mighty high ercount, no, not fom consterbles nor no nuther white tresh. I didn't go foh ter call Mistah Rigby it, Miss Tryphosy, I swan ter grashus I didn't. I spressed the pinion as all the comperny as isn't ladies is it and so it is it."
"Ef you go a ittin' of me Maguffin," struck in Ben, "I'm buzz sawed and shingled of I don't hit you back fer what you're ma guvin us." Then he opened up his mouth and laughed, and Serlizer laughed, and the Hill girls. Even Maguffin displayed his ivories, and remarked: "Mistah Tonah, foh a gennelman what ain't trabbled none, yoh'se mighty smaht."
"Oh, Serlizer," said Ben, "we don't go traavellin' much; we ain't like the rollin' stones as don't gaythyer no mawss."
"When the cunnel and me was ridin' ter Tronter, laast Sat'day," continued Mr. Maguffin, "the cunnel he began egspashuatin' on the things he see. 'That there mawss' says he, 'at Hogg's Holler, minds me ob two coloured men was habin' a counterbessy on they bawsses. Says one of the gennelmen, "My bawss," (the cunnel says massa, but that's a name I doan' take to) "my bawss says he ain't like yoh bawss, trabellin' around all the time and gatherin' no mawss." "No," said the other coloured gennelman, "but my bawss gathers what yoh bawss want mighty bad, and that's a heap ob polish."'"
"For polish," remarked Constable Rigby, turning to Tryphena, "for polish, Miss Hill, commend me to an English army officer."
"My bawss," said Maguffin, "is an officer and a gennelman, and yoh cayn't beat him foh polish nohow."
"There are no officers and no soldiers in America," replied the pensioner.
"Oh, Mr. Rigby," interrupted Tryphosa, "I remember reading in my history that the American soldiers beat the British army many times in the Revolutionary War."
"Flim-flam. Miss Tryphosa Hill, garbled reports! The British army never has been beaten, never can be beaten. I belonged to the British army, Miss Hill, I beg pardon, Miss Tryphosa, and know what I assert from experience."
"Le'ss stop this jaw and have a game o' keerds," suggested Serlizer.
Ben seconded his lady love's proposal, and thought a game of euchre would pass away the time. The constable said euchre was no game. There was only one game at cards, and that was whist. The man or woman who could not play whist was uneducated. Sarah Eliza professed a preference for High, Low, Jack, and the Game; any saphead could play that. She wasn't a saphead herself, but there might be some about. Maguffin regretted that in the Baktis pussuasion cards were not allowed; and the Hill girls had distinctly promised their mother to play no games of chance. As, however, none of the parties owned a pack of cards, nor knew where to find one, further controversy on the subject was useless. Tryphosa, looking intelligent, left the room, and speedily returned with a little cardboard box in her hand, labelled Countries, Cities, Mountains, and Rivers, with which Timotheus had once presented her. She said it was an improving game, and that all could play it. The shuffling and dealing, of course, presented an almost unavoidable chance element, but, apart from that, the game was a matter of science, of geographical knowledge. Now the Hill girls were educated, as Mr. Rigby said; and he, having travelled far as a soldier, was not deficient in geographical lore; but what about the other three?
"Oh!" ejaculated Miss Newcome, "at them there keerds, I guess we jist are sapheads. Ain't that so, Ben?"
Ben said "I guaiss"; and Mr. Maguffin added: "joggrify, entermoligy, swinetax, and paucity was teached me, but I done clar forgit how they run, it's so long sence."
It was, therefore, agreed to play a triangular game, the pair having the most books to be winners, and have the right to shuffle and deal for the following trial of skill. The contending pairs were the pensioner and Serlizer, Ben and Tryphosa, Maguffin and Tryphena, partners were allowed to help each other. While the British Islands, Turkey, Russia, and India were being played, Rigby and Miss Newcome were triumphant, but when it came to any other part of the world, especially to America, with the exception of Canada, where Serlizer scored her one victory, that pair was helpless. Maguffin acquired a book by his own unaided wisdom, that of the Southern United States; otherwise Tryphena inspired him. Ben had an unavailing contest with Miss Newcome over Canada, and saw her make up the book and slam it on the table with mingled feelings of pride in her, and mortification for his own want of success. But, as he said, Tryphosa was "a daisy and parlyzed the hull gang." Laurel after laurel she took from the brow of the travelled pensioner; she swooped down upon Tryphena and Maguffin, and robbed them of books wholesale, till Mr. Toner remarked that she had "quayte a libery"; in her hands the strapping Serlizer was helpless as a child. Magnanimously, she allowed Ben to shuffle and Serlizer to cut, then Ben again to deal.