Page images
PDF
EPUB

however, she suggested, might supply his place, himself to Beer-head, “ clane away on t'other side of Lyme," and prowl about the Dolphin

I fryt i Norry, “I thought you had more gumption in

ye! But never fear; I'll find the manes, and Hy is you'll only have to folly where I lade; so don't

be concarned a bit about it, for we can't go agin our nature. I'll taich and ye shall larn, and another time ye'll know how to 'scape out of a scrimmage or a little matter of trason, as well as your friend that jist made nothing at all of it, or as owld Norry Molloy that 's been all her life at the work, and yet here we are, as bowld as brass, good luck to us !” She then proceeded to state that Mick's cutter, after having already made several successful trips with

passengers, was again off the coast, and that they had expected to have a “raal gintleman " to carry over that very night, though from the information she had just learnt at the cottage, she believed the “ thief of the world, had given him up to the soldiers. Reuben,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

when they would have a

“raal gintleman ” after all ; in which case he would only have to betake

[ocr errors]

ale-house, where she would meet him at mid-
night, give him the signal of a whistle

, and accompany him to the boat. To this

arrangement he very willingly assented, taking the most minute directions how to find the public-house in question; when Norry, observing it would be safer to separate for the present, left him with many hearty valedictions of “God incrase ye, my jewel, and the blessed Virgin protect ye, and the hooly St. Patrick befriend ye in right arnest!"

Keeping his course along the Downs, where he was little likely to encounter wayfarers of any sort. Reuben set off at a brisk pace for the place of rendezvous, making a considerable de tour inland as he approached Lyme, and obtaining in his journey a distant view of Goldingham Place, upon which he gazed for some minutes with a feeling of deep regret that he had ever quitted its peaceful walls ; although the recollection of Helen Trevanian, and of the services she had so nobly rendered him, tended in some degree to reconcile him to his fate, and almost enamoured him of the misfortunes which had

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

procured him so transcendant a benefactress. Of his uncle, indeed, he could not think without many compunctious visitings, though it was a consolation to him to reflect that he had scrupulously refrained from compromising him, and that he would now in all probability be speedily enabled to relieve him from all apprehension by communicating to him his safe arrival upon the Continent. Cheered with these pleasant anticipations he briskly pursued his way, and by making a few occasional inquiries of the shepherds, arrived without molestation in the vicinity of Beer Head, and discovered the Dolphin public-house, into which he entered, relying upon his disguise, procured some refreshment, quitted it again, and laid himself down beneath a hedge to await the coming of the night, and the appearance of his friend Norry Molloy. Long before midnight, and for two hours after it, did he tramp backwards and forwards in front of the Dolphin, but without hearing the appointed signal of the whistle, or even the footfall of a single passenger, and his spirits and strength were both beginning to fail him when

he perceived glimmering lights at some distance,
which upon their nearer approach he discovered
to proceed from torches, borne by two men walk-
ing a little in advance of five or six others, who
were followed by a cart and horse.

Deeming that such a party could not be
making their way through the darkness and
across that lone country for any

honest

purpose, , and sure, at all events, that they could bode no good to himself, he peered about through the gloom for some place of temporary concealment, that might at once enable him to watch their proceedings, and remain within ear-shot of the Irishwoman's signal, should she still keep her appointment. A few yards above the public-house, at the point of the angle where the road branched off in two different directions, stood a low pollard oak, with a thick bushy top, into which he climbed, considering it well adapted for his double object. Here he watched with an intense interest the approach the torchbearers and their companions, who, if they were engaged in any lawless business, appeared to confide in their numbers, and to be

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the whole were much too well dressed to allow

133 unsolicitous of concealment, for they occasion

ally laughed and talked aloud, though he had 17 not hitherto been able to catch a word of their as conversation. His curiosity in this respect was

soon destined to be gratified, for to his equal ET posurprize and consternation, they halted imme

diately under the tree in which he was perched, drew up the cart, took from it a large iron cauldron, which they suspended by a chain from a triangle they had brought with them for the purpose, and proceeded to light a fire beneath it. So far they might have been taken

of gipsies preparing their mess, especially when one of them was seen to empty bag of salt into the huge boiler ; but their appearance in other respects utterly forbade this interpretation. There were no females in

party, two of the men wore a species of uniform, and seemed, from the orders they issued, to possess authority over the others, while the supposition of their being gipsies.

Reuben's as to their office and intentions, soonu yielded to the absorbing interest of their

for

a

gang

[ocr errors]

the

conjectures

« PreviousContinue »