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ting how much he had himself aided in bringing about the evils of which he complained ; neither in his first rage was he visited by any feeling of compunction for the part he had acted towards one who had every reason to expect very different treatment at his hands. Sir Thomas, indeed, although their political and religious creeds differed so widely, would have staked his life on the probity and sterling worth of the old hosier : and to do the latter justice, he had accepted the trust reposed in him, unwillingly indeed, yet with the full intention of acting honourably; for to the Greystocks he was bound by many ties, if not of gratitude, of old service and attachment. He had been steward to the late baronet, and his wife had passed her youth in the service of the family, being so great a favourite that, at the birth of Alice, her presence was considered indispensable; and on the sudden and unexpected death of Lady Greystock, she yielded to the earnest solicitations of Sir Thomas and Mrs. Dorothy, and became nurse to the motherless child. Laithwaye was at this time a sturdy boy, well able to find his way from Preston to Darren ; and a welcome visitor he became at the hall, especially after the lapse of a few years, when his ever ready invention, his vivacity and intelligence, and unvarying good humour, made him a great favourite with Mrs. Alice.
It is one of the wise dispensations of Providence, that we rarely commit wrong without feeling dissatisfied with ourselves, espe. cially if the fault be one to which we have not been previously addicted; for none of us like to stand as culprits even at the bar of our own conscience, and in every such case light cometh out of darkness, revealing to us more clearly the actual presence of an Omnipotent God. Much of Ephraim's stormy wrath arose out of this internal conviction of his own unworthiness, but, as will happen with blind mortals, his rage took the direction of any object save the right one: and both Sir Thomas and Laithwaye had calculated too far on the prudence or the natural affections of Ephraim, in believing, as they did, that he would not act the part of informer against them. I'he explanation given by Snufflegrace, in accounting for his prolonged absence at a time when he was expected, and which amounted to the fact of his having been sent on a fool's errand, and unlawfully detained by persons whose identity he was not able to make out, acted like oil on the fire of Ephraim's wrath; for in this, too, he recognised the handy work of his scapegrace son. 'I see it all! I see it all !” he exclaimed, tearing with both hands at either side of his rusty brown wig; “ that wretch Laithwaye has done this! I must have speech of General Willis immediately ;-will you go with me?”
Snufilegrace readily assented, and as the two sallied forth, Ephraim gave his companion an exaggerated account of the
attack made upon him by his son and Sir Thomas, unscrupulously proclaiming himself to have been robbed of the money they had taken with them. It was by this time past eleven o' clock at night, and they experienced more difficulty than they had anticipated in finding the personage they were in quest of, so that it was not until after one o'clock on the following morning, that Ephraim was enabled to repeat his story to General Willis. The revelation thus made with regard to Sir Thomas Greystock, only confirmed the reports already in circulation, that he was lurking somewhere in the neighbourhood; but this certain knowledge, united to the fact of bis having for a companion so well known a personage as Laithwaye Oates, quickened the activity of those who were already concerting measures for his capture. Whilst Ephraim, therefore, returned to his quiet home, there to awaken in due time to a full sense of his own delinquencies; to marvel at the imperfectibility of man, and at the readiness with which he had himself yielded to evil when tempted by opportunity ; General Willis lost no time in sending off the intelligence he had received to Lieutenant Breck, with orders to dispatch parties of men to the adjacent coast, for which, in all probability, Sir Thomas, on gaining possession of the money of which old Oates represented himself
to have been robbed, would make. This intelligence and the order connected with it did not reach Darren Court until four o'clock in the morning, and the first act of Lieutenant Breck was to seek an interview with Mrs. Alice; not to make her acquainted with the object of his mission, but to account for his absence at a time when he had promised to superintend the funeral of Mrs. Dorothy. Great was the consternation, not only of the Lieutenant, but of the whole household, when it was discovered that Alice was missing. Years afterwards, when the events of the time had become a by. gone tale, those who on that morning gazed in the face of Arthur Breck, shuddered whilst speaking of the expression it wore—the fierce conflict with fierce passions, visible as through a glass in the livid countenance of a corpse. The few links in the chain of circumstances attending Alice's disappearance were readily joined together—the surmised departure from Preston of Sir Thomas and Laithwaye Oates, the subsequent arrival of the latter at Darren Court. None could doubt but that both were the companions of her flight. Hastily mustering his men, he divided them into three parties, with one of which he sallied forth himself in the darkness, shaping his course towards the seaside farm, where, it being the last house on the estate in that direction, he resolved to institute strict inquiries. John Forrest and his men were all abroad when the calvacade halted before the door; and from the housekeeper, Kitty, little information was to be obtained, except
that Laithwaye Oates had been there the previous night. On searching the stables, however, Kitty admitted that a horse and a mare belonging to her master, and which were there to the best of her knowledge on the previous night, were missing, and not to be accounted for. Whilst making these enquiries, one of the labouring men entered the house, but from his loutish stupidity, and actual ignorance of the matter, nothing could be elicited, except that he believed his master had gone down to Preston, Lieutenant Breck proceeded on his way towards the coast. The tempestuous weather that marked the preceding day and night had somewhat subsided, but the cold was intense, and the snow lay deep upon the ground. In less than half an hour the dragoons reached Lytham: the few scattered dwellings lay hushed in repose ; the darkness above and about them was only relieved by the white covering of the ground, and the deep silence was unbroken, save by the noise they themselves made in their advance, and by the hoarse murmur of the yet turbulent waters. Along the beach and in the Pool of Lytham, no craft of any description was visible; and quitting his men, with orders to be on the watch until his return, the Lieutenant advanced alone to where a light gave token that the inmates of a solitary dwelling, about half a mile inland, were astir. The village alehouse to which he approached was an ancient building, with three gables in front, the middle of which contained the kitchen whence the light proceeded. In addition to the large fire blazing on the hearth, a dirty oil lamp was suspended from the low roof, which it blackened and cracked, whilst emitting a noisome vapour only to be endured by those accustomed to inhale it. The kitchen was empty, but in a few minutes a stout servant girl made her appearance.
“Bring me a mug of ale," said the lieutenant, seating him. self on a settle.
"A gill o' yell ?" asked the girl, only just comprehending him, and wishful to ascertain the exact quantity.
“Yes, that will do. Have you any company in the house ?"
“Na," answered the girl, with the vacant stare of one who did not understand a word of what he had said; and perceiving that she could only converse in the broad Lancashire dialect, he resorted to the readier method of speaking in signs, and beckoning her to the door, he pointed out his horse, giving her to understand that he wished it to be taken to the stable. The girl nodded, and after brief absence returned, accompanied by a short, stumpy man, with a rough head of coarse red hair. Casting a sleepy, if not sullen, glance at the new comer, the man passed to a corner of the kitchen, and presently returned with a horn lanthorn in which was a lighted candle, and taking the horse by the
bridle, led him round to the back of the house, closely followed by the lieutenant. The motive of the latter was apparent in the anxious scrutiny which he bestowed upon the outer buildings among which they passed. The stable to which his horse was led was a long, low-roofed shed, very primitively divided into compartments, four of which were already occupied.
“He only wants a feed," said the lieutenant, in reference to his own animal, “ for we must away presently. Allow me to hold your lanthorn."
“Thankee,” replied the man, with a cunning leer out of the corners of his small grey eyes, and in a tone whose cockney polish startled the lieutenant, thankee, it ’ill do jist as well here, and as he spoke he suspended it by a hook attached to one of the beams.
“ This is a noble animal,” remarked the lieutenant, patting the neck of a handsome palfrey, at the same time narrowly scrutinising the side saddle and other accoutrements lying near, and on which he discerned the crest of the Earl of Derwentwater.
“ He's well enough for looks,” replied the man, carelessly, “but it isn't for them he's prized just now. "He's tough and fast, which is something better than handsome, considering the task he has afore him."
“ And what may that be, friend, if you are at liberty to answer the question ?”
“Well, I expect I am; I don't see why I shouldn't; but I can tell you nothing you'd care to hear; and nothing isn't the price at which I've been selling my knowledge for the last fortnight."
“Ah, I see ; there's money; and if you help me to the information I seek, your reward shall be tenfold ; trifle with me, and be assured I can punish as well as reward.”
“Well for that matter I don't doubt your word,” replied the man; “ I've found them quite as ready at foul play as fair promises, on both sides. But for a lone man like me, that don't care for one party more than another, it's rayther hard to be pestered with questions; and I didn't say I'd any information you'd care to hear.”
"That as it may be," said the lieutenant; " will you honestly answer my questions?"
Honesty has led many followers into trouble, and it behoves every one to steer clear of that; but I think the birds
seek are flown.”
“How flown, and where ?”
“Not so easy to answer that there question," answered the man, shaking his rough head. Eager, and yet dreading to be sat
isfied, Lieutenant Breck drew forth a piece of gold, and held it out with a shaking hand.
“You see, master," said the other, taking the money, “ I am a humble imitator of our great folks, up at London yonder, who have, all on em as could, made the best bargain for theirselves. I fancy the sort of thing that brought these rebels into trouble is fast getting out of date; it's to be every man for hisself, and God to take care of the rest, for the future. But to come to business, I saw last night, by accident, what I expect few were meant to see--a craft putting out in the middle of the worst storm that's been known on this coast for years. If them you seek be the same as went on board, you may make yourself easy on their account; for if ever that same craft makes land again, it'll be in the shape of a wreck. The skipper hisself swore it was madness to put off to sea, but he'd given his promise, and so said he'd go at all risks.”
“Do you know any thing of the skipper or of his vessel, or of them he took on board ?"
Nothin, nothin ; you see I'm a new comer to these here parts, and them that knowed wouldn't let me into the secret." “ But you saw the parties, and can describe them ?”
Well, I'd jist a sight of 'em : there was a stout, red-faced gentleman; and a younger one with a very white face: and there was a young man that I've seen afore in these parts, but I don't know his name."
“Were there no females, then?”
“Yes, two; one old enough and ugly enough to face any thing, and a young one that, pretty dear, showed as stout a heart as any on em.”
" And when do you say they set sail ?”
"Thank you ; that is enough. And this palfry belongs to the Earl of Derwentwater: how came it here?”
“Why, a servant brought it, and this one, late last night, and he's to go on with em, this morning. I suppose he's on some message up to London. I don't know what brings him this way, and it doesn't do to trouble oneself with every body's business in these times."
The lieutenant appeared to be satisfied with this answer, for he asked no further questions, but hurriedly prepared to depart, and in a few minutes was on the way to rejoin his party. On arriving at the spot he had quitted, he called aside a serjeant of the company, and addressed him with a disordered air
“We are too late, I find, Parker. I have learned that a vessel sailed early this morning, having on board Sir Thomas Greystock and his daughter, Talbot of Brockholes, and Laith