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waye Oates. There is a strange fatality in all this. Parker, I have myself, unwittingly, been led to the only spot where in. formation was to be obtained. Every circumstance attending Sir Thomas's concealment and flight singularly attaches suspicion to myself. I wish you to proceed immediately to Preston, and to deliver into the hands of General Willis, who has been my true friend, this pocket-book, in which I have penned a few lines. For the present, I have a motive for remaining here ; and now, good Parker, make all speed, and farewell.”
As he ceased speaking, the lieutenant turned his horse's head, and dashed forward into the darkness, whilst Parker, anxious and alarmed at the manner of his superior officer, but accustomed to obedience, made the best of his way to Preston.
« Tais here Lieutenant Breck fancies hisself a knowing one," soliloquised the ostler, after the departure of the former personage.
“ He thinks that Mrs. Alice went to sea with the rest, and it wasn't for Nat Moss to set him right. Faith, he was easier satisfied than I expected him to be; and if he's only taken hisself fairly off, we shall manage cleverly."
Nat Moss was, in fact, a native of the soil, who, after passing the greater part of his life in London, had recently returned to the place of his birth, with all his early attachments strong about him. The landlady, old Nancy Moss, was related to him in some distant degree, and his position in the household was an important one; his duties being multifarious, and his ability and good-will alike unfailing. Nat was quite correct in believing that he had got rid of the unwelcome visitor with much less trouble than might reasonably have been expected ; aud determining, if possible, to keep the matter to himself for the present, he hastily re-entered the house, and was in time to secure the silence of the girl, who, indeed, seemed to have forgotten the circumstance of the arrival altogether.
A clock in the house struck six. There were sounds of foot. steps and voices from the interior of the dwelling, and old Nancy
herself bustled in and out of the kitchen with an air of unwonted importance. A few of the neighbouring farniers had dropped in, and there was a strange taciturnity among them, some conversing occasionally in whispers, and two or three sitting apart with a seeming determination to stare out the great kitchen fire. Nat Moss himself passed to and fro with an appearance of much bustle, yet mincingly, as if he feared the sound of his own footfall, and a staid, elderly serving man, dressed in plain clothes, passed in and out occasionally, gazing about him with an evidently anxious look. In a small back room, furnished only with a table of sycamore wood and a few chairs, but rendered cheerful by a bright fire, two females were seated, partaking, or rather striving to partake, of the breakfast placed before them, which consisted of milk, butter, oat-cake, and the black bread peculiar to Lancashire, called jannock. The elder of the two was about twentyfive, and had fewer pretensions to beauty than her companion, although strikingly handsome. Both were attired in riding dresses; and the hat of the younger lady, heavy with its clustering feathers, hung from her arm by the strings; while the shining tresses of her black hair, only partially confined by a silken band, swept over her neck and bosom.
“I am thankful for thy sake," said the elder lady, “that this terrible storm is overpast; for though inward trouble has made me callous to much of outward circumstance, such should not be the case with thee, heavy as thine own troubles are. God my company may not prove yet more perilous to thee than the waves and tempest from which thou wert rescued last night.”
“ Against mine own will, dear lady,” said the younger one, the tears dropping from her bowed face.
“Against thine own will! aye, it was even so. Pray God thou mayest never have to regret that which is brought about by thine own will, most wilfully adhered to. Alas, herein lies mine own bitter grief !”*
“Lady Derwentwater,” said Alice Greystock, for it was her, and she lifted up a brighter face as she spoke, "you judge yourself too severely. Had success attended us, few would have won higher honours than yourself, for who has shown more of enthusiasm in the cause ? and is it in the power of defeat to make fidelity appear a crime, or to change a noble devotion into matter of regret ?”
* The two noblemen executed for the rebellion of 1715, Derwentwater and Kenmure, were both urged on against their better judgment by the taunts of their wives. Lady Derwentwater, indignant at the Earl's neutrality, threw her fan at his feet, saying he was rather fitted to wield that than a sword. The same conduct is recorded of Lady Kenmure, only substituting a distaff for the fan.
Well, well, thou, too, art an enthusiast; but methinks I am beginning to learn, when too late, that woman's judgment is weaker than her will; and I would I had some good counseller in this strait, were it only for thy sake. If no mischance happen between this and London, I shall have one satisfaction, Alice, that of having been enabled to serve thee.” Ah, think not of me, or of any peril that may
threaten me; which at the worst can be well borne now I feel assured of my father's safety-his safety! alas! what am I thinking of, and he exposed to all that terrible fury of the winds and waves ! But I am talking as one altogether forgetful of what you, dear lady, have ventured on my account; and believe me that I am conscious of a gratitude beyond the reach of words.”
“In truth, Alice, you are much less indebted to me than to that strange woman, —she that urged me so vehemently to turn out of my way and visit you in your friendlessness, which in my own sorrow I should have overlooked; she that guided me hither; that stood upon the beach last night, and protested against the risking of your young life, for which there was no need ;—she that won thy father's thanks and mine too, sweet Alice, for keeping thee here, even as thou sayest, against thine own will.”
“I would give much to penetrate the mystery surrounding her,” said Alice. "Until yesterday I never beheld her, and to you she is equally unknown. Yet what interest she has shown in my
fate! what trouble she must have encountered to serve me! And the purse she gave me at parting, as from another; --and the parting itself, so full of solemnity, and yet of so much like fierceness ! • Time, the wonder-worker,' she said, has changed places for many of us since I last saw thee, a cradled child whose eyes were just opening to the light;'—what a rid. dle are those words !”
“Nay, nay, Alice, thou art romancing now. Doubtless the good woman is merely an ardent upholder of the cause, whose sympathies extend to all called upon to suffer in it. Or what is more probable than that she is an agent employed by those able and willing to assist them that have perilled, and in many cases lost, all in the discharge of their duty ?”
The serving man before noticed, here interrupted the conversation by announcing that everything was prepared for their departure, a summons the ladies were ready to obey. A short contest ensued with Nancy Moss, who refused to receive anything, even thanks, for the entertainment of her guests, and they parted with kind words and good wishes on both sides. On entering the kitchen, those assembled there stood up, and with rustic courtesy and deep feeling each bowed his head as
the travellers passed. “ God bless you, ladies !” “God speed you, Lady Derwentwater !"-"The Lord restore you to the old place, Mrs. Alice !”-such were the words heard on every side. The countess, strongly moved, turned for an instant, and waved her hand in mute thanks; Alice frankly held out hers, and received a grasp from the horny palms of those whose faces were familiar to her.
“Cheer up! we shall meet again, good mother !” she exclaimed to Nancy Moss, who, overcome by her feelings, now stood apart, weeping: the next instant Alice was in her saddle. Lady Derwentwater's palfry seemed impatient to be moving, and the servant was in the act of leaping upon his saddle, to which a leathern trunk was strapped, when the report of a pistol came upon all simultaneously. Lady Derwentwater was at the side of Alice in an instant.
“We have loitered here too long,” she exclaimed : “but fear not: I will remain by you,”
“It's somebody in the house,” exclaimed one of the men. " Who can it be?”
None save Nat Moss could give even a guess at the truth; and the momentary confusion of ideas which caused him to scratch his head, and to look particularly foolish, had also rendered him motionless. In the meantime, the landlady and others had rushed to the spot whence the sound proceeded, and the former presently returned, wringing her hands, and calling out “Murder," at the top of her voice.
“Not exactly murder, dame," said Frank Dalton, gently putting her aside; "it's nothing that need detain you, ladies, that have sorrow enough of your own.”
A deathly paleness sat on the faces of both, and Lady Derwentwater still held Alice's hand in her own :
“Sorrow should teach us to be merciful,” said the countess : “is it a case in which money can avail aught?"
“No, no," said one of the men who were again gathered about the door, “neither money nor anything else in this world."
“He's done it with a good will, and he's dead enough. Dang it, he was weel liked, and the old folks had no other child.” “Of whom and what do you speak ?" enquired the countess.
“ Jist let me speak,” said Nat Moss, rousing up as if out of a dream. “Do you mean to say as that Lieutenant Breck's come back and shot his self?”
Whilst others were corroborating the surmise of Nat, Lady Derwentwater perceived that Alice's white face was falling on her horse's neck, and it was some time ere the travellers could proceed.
“Cheer up, child !" said the countess, addressing Alice when they had left Lytham at some distance behind them; “this accident cannot at all events be ascribed to any fault of thine,"
“ He and his were kind to me," said the young girl, in a tone of deep feeling, "and I have repaid them with at least the semblance of deceit."
The storm had burst over Alice Greystock-she was entering into the conflict,
THE RAGING OF THE STORM.
On the ninth of December, 1715, in the early part of the day, a young girl wended her solitary way along Fleet Street. That busy thoroughfare was unusually crowded, and as the mass of human beings helped to shield her from observation, she shrank within herself, thankfully. Her dress bore no evidence of faded gentility; it was humble in material and fashion, from the wellmended gown and cloak to the coarse straw hat, and the heavy shoes, with their uncouth buckles, that evidently burdened her small feet. On her arm she bore a bundle wrapped in a clean, but worn-out handkerchief. Apart from her dress, the girl, whose age appeared to be about seventeen, was marvellously beautiful both in face and figure. The latter was slender and rather under what is called the middle height in woman, but it exhibited much of the roundness of youth, with an extraordinary share of youthful grace, and her small, ungloved hands, delicately white, betrayed somewhat of gentle nurture, if not gentle birth. The day was unusually bright for the season and the place, and the occasional flashing of a sun-beam across the girl's timidly uplifted face, caused many a careless passer-by to start, and stop, and look back--No sunny also, in spite of its saddened expression, the face seemed. Her hair, of a rich chestnut colour, too luxuriant to be confined within prescribed bounds, clustered in