Run to Earth, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Chapter 33

“Treason has Done His Worst.”

Black Milsom, otherwise Mr. Maunders, kept a close watch on Raynham Castle, through the agency of his friend, James Harwood, whose visits he encouraged by the most liberal treatment, and for whom he was always ready to brew a steaming jorum of punch.

Mr. Maunders showed a great deal of curiosity concerning the details of life within the castle, and was particularly fond of leading Harwood to talk about the excessive care taken of the baby-heiress, and the precautions observed by Lady Eversleigh’s orders. One day, when he had led the conversation in the accustomed direction, he said:

“One would think they were afraid somebody would try to steal the child.”

“So you would, Mr. Maunders. But you see every situation in life has its trials, and a child can’t be a great heiress for nothing. One day, when I was sitting in the rumble of the open carriage, I heard Captain Copplestone let drop in his conversation with Mrs. Morden as how the child has enemies — bitter enemies, he said, as might try to do her harm, if she wern’t looked after sharp.”

“I’ve known you a good long time now, Mr. Harwood, and you’ve partaken of many a glass of rum-punch in my parlour,” said Black Milsom, otherwise Mr. Maunders, of the “Cat and Fiddle “; “and in all that time you’ve never once offered to introduce me to one of your fellow~servants, or asked me to take so much as a cup of tea in your servants’-hall.”

“Begging your pardon, Mr. Maunders,” said the groom, in an insinuating tone; “as to askin’ a friend to take a cup of tea, or a little bit of supper, without leave from Mrs. Smithson, the housekeeper, is more than my place is worth.”

“But you might get leave I should think, eh, James Harwood?” returned Milsom; “especially if your friend happened to be a respectable householder, and able to offer a comfortable glass to any of your fellow-servants.”

“I’m sure if I had thought as you’d accept a invitation to the servants’-‘all, I’d have asked leave before now,” replied James Harwood; “but I’m sure I thought as you wouldn’t demean yourself to take your glass of ale, or your cup of tea, any-wheres below the housekeeper’s room — and she’s a rare starched one is Mrs. Smithson.”

“I’m not proud,” said Mr. Milsom. “I like a convivial evening, whether it’s in the housekeeper’s room or the servants’-hall.”

“Then I’ll ask leave to-night,” answered James Harwood.

He sent a little scrawl to Milsom next day, by the hands of a stable~boy, inviting that gentleman to a social rubber and a friendly supper in the servants’-hall that evening at seven o’clock.

To spend a few hours inside Raynham Castle was the privilege which Black Milsom most desired, and a triumphant grin broke out upon his face, as he deciphered James Harwood’s clumsy scrawl.

“How easy it’s done,” he muttered to himself; “how easy it’s done, if a man has only the patience to wait.”

The servants’-hall was a pleasant place to live in, but if Mrs. Smithson, the housekeeper, was liberal in her ideas she was also strict, and on some points especially severe; and the chief of these was the precision with which she required the doors of the castle to be locked for the night at half-past ten o’clock.

On more than one occasion, lately, Mrs. Smithson had a suspicion that there was one offender against this rule. The offender in question was Matthew Brook, the head-coachman, a jovial, burly Briton, with convivial habits and a taste for politics, who preferred enjoying his pipe and glass and political discussion in the parlour of the “Hen and Chickens” public-house to spending his evenings in the servants’-hall at Raynham Castle.

He was rarely home before ten; sometimes not until half-past ten; and one never-to-be-forgotten night, Mrs. Smithson had heard him, with her own ears, enter the doors of the castle at the unholy hour of twenty minutes to eleven!

There was one appalling fact of which Mrs. Smithson was entirely ignorant. And that was the fact that Matthew Brook had entered the castle by a little half-glass door on several occasions, half an hour or more after the great oaken door leading into the servants’-hall had been bolted and barred with all due solemnity before the approving eyes of the housekeeper herself.

The little door in question opened into a small ground-floor bed-room, in which one of the footmen slept; and nothing was more easy than for this man to shelter the nightly misdoings of his fellow-servant by letting him slip quietly through his bedroom, unknown to any member of the household.

James Harwood, the groom was a confirmed gossip; and, of course, he had not failed to inform his friend, Mr. Maunders, otherwise Black Milsom, of Matthew Brook’s little delinquencies. Mr. Maunders listened to the account with interest, as he did to everything relating to affairs in the household of which Harwood was a member.

It was some little time after this conversation that Mr. Milsom was invited to sup at the castle.

Several friendly rubbers were played by Mrs. Trimmer, the cook; Matthew Brook, the coachman; James Harwood, and Thomas Milsom, known to the company as Mr. Maunders. Honest Matthew and he were partners; and it was to be observed, by any one who had taken the trouble to watch the party, that Milsom paid more attention to his partner than to his cards, whereby he lost the opportunity of distinguishing himself as a good whist-player.

The whist-party broke up while the cloth was being laid on a large table for supper, and the men adjourned to the noble old stone quadrangle, on which the servant’s-hall abutted. James Harwood, Brook, Milsom, and two of the footmen strolled up and down, smoking under a cold starlit sky. The apartments occupied by the family were all on the garden front, and the smoking of tobacco in the quadrangle was not forbidden.

Milsom, who had until this time devoted his attention exclusively to the coachman, now contrived to place himself next to James Harwood, as the party paced to and fro before the servants’ quarters.

“Which is the little door Brook slips in at when he’s past his time?” he asked, carelessly, of Harwood, taking care, however, to drop his voice to a whisper.

“We’re just coming to it,” answered the groom; “that little glass door on my right hand. Steph’s a good-natured fellow, and always leaves his door unfastened when old Mat is out late. The room he sleeps in was once a lobby, and opens into the passage; so it comes very convenient to Brook. Everybody likes old Mat Brook, you see; and there isn’t one amongst us would peach if he got into trouble.”

“And a jolly old chap he is as ever lived,” answered Black Milsom, who seemed to have taken a wonderful fancy to the convivial coachman.

“You come down to my place whenever you like, Mr. Brook,” he said, presently, putting his arm through that of the coachman, in a very friendly manner. “You shall be free and welcome to everything I’ve got in my house. And I know how to brew a decent jorum of punch when I give my mind to it, don’t I, Jim?”

Mr. James Harwood protested that no one else could brew such punch as that concocted by the landlord of the “Cat and Fiddle.”

The supper was a very cheery banquet; ponderous slices of underdone roast beef disappeared as if by magic, and the consumption of pickles, from a physiological or sanitary point of view, positively appalling. After the beef and pickles came a Titanic cheese and a small stack of celery; while the brown beer pitcher went so often to the barrel that it is a matter of wonder that it escaped unbroken.

At a quarter past ten Mr. Maunders bade his new acquaintance good night; but before departing he begged, as a great favour, to be permitted one peep at the grand oak hall.

“You shall see it,” cried good-natured Matthew Brook. “It’s a sight worth coming many a mile to see. Step this way.”

He led the way along a dark passage to a door that opened into the great entrance-hall. It was indeed a noble chamber. Black Milsom stood for some moments contemplating it in silence, with a reverential stare.

“And which may be the back staircase, leading to the little lady’s rooms?” he asked, presently.

“That door opens on to the foot of it,” replied the coachman. “Captain Coppletone sleeps in the room you come to first, on the first floor; and the little missy’s rooms are inside his’n.”

Gertrude Eversleigh, the heiress of Raynham, was one of those lovely and caressing children who win the hearts of all around them, and in whose presence there is a charm as sweet as that which lurks in the beauty of a flower or the song of a bird. Her mother idolized her, as we know, even though she could resign herself to a separation from this loved child, sacrificing affection to the all-absorbing purpose of her life. Before leaving Raynham Castle, Honoria had summoned the one only friend upon whom she could rely — Captain Copplestone — the man whose testimony alone had saved her from the hideous suspicion of murder — the man who had boldly declared his belief in her innocence.

She wrote to him, telling him that she had need of his friendship for the only child of his dead friend, Sir Oswald; and he came promptly in answer to her summons, pleased at the idea of seeing the child of his old comrade.

He had read the announcement of the child’s birth in the newspapers, and had rejoiced to find that Providence had sent a consolation to the widow in her hour of desolation.

“She is like her father,” he said, softly, after he had taken the child in his arms, and pressed his shaggy moustache to her pure young brow.” Yes, the child is like my old comrade, Oswald Eversleigh. She has your beauty, too, Lady Eversleigh, your dark eyes — those wonderful eyes, which my friend loved to praise.”

“I wish to heaven that he had never seen them!” exclaimed Honoria; “they brought him only evil fortune — anguish — untimely death.”

“Come, come!” cried the captain, cheerily; “this won’t do. If the workings of two villains brought about a breach between you and my poor friend, and resulted in his untimely end, the sin rests on their guilty heads, not on yours.”

“And the sin shall not go unpunished even upon this earth!” exclaimed Honoria, with intensity of feeling. “I only live for one purpose, Captain Copplestone, and that is to strip the masks from the faces of the two hypocrites and traitors, who, between them, compassed my disgrace and my husband’s death; and I implore you to aid me in the carrying out of my purpose.”

“How can I do that?” cried the captain. “When I begged you to let me challenge that scoundrel, Carrington, and fight him — in spite of our cowardly modern fashion, which has exploded duelling — you implored me not to hazard my life. I was your only friend, you told me, and if my life were sacrificed you would be helpless and friendless. I gave way in order to satisfy you, though I should have liked to send a bullet through that French scoundrel’s plotting brains.”

“And I thank you for your goodness,” answered Lady Eversleigh. “It is not by the bullet of a brave soldier that Victor Carrington should die. I will pursue the two villains silently, stealthily, as they pursued me; and when the hour of my triumph comes, it shall be a real triumph, not a defeat like that which ended their scheming. But if I stoop to wear a mask, I ask no such service from you, Captain Copplestone. I ask you only to take up your abode in this house, and to protect my child while I am away from home.”

“You are really going to leave home?”

“For a considerable time.”

“And you will tell me nothing about the nature of your schemes?”

“Nothing. I shall do no wrong; though I am about to deal with men so base that the common laws of honour can scarcely apply to any dealings with them.”

“And your mind is set upon this strange scheme?”

“My mind is fixed. Nothing on earth can alter my resolution — not even my love for this child.”

Captain Copplestone saw that her determination was not to be reasoned away, and he made no further attempt to shake her resolve. He promised that, during her absence from the castle, he would guard Sir Oswald’s daughter, and cherish her as tenderly as if she had been his own child.

It was by the captain’s advice that Mrs. Morden was engaged to act as governess to the young heiress during her mother’s absence. She was the widow of one of his brother-officers — a highly accomplished woman, and a woman of conscientious feelings and high principle.

“Never had any creature more need of your protection than my child has,” said Honoria. “This young life and mine are the sole obstacles that stand between Sir Reginald Eversleigh and fortune. You know what baseness and treachery he and his ally are capable of committing. You cannot, therefore, wonder if I imagine all kinds of dangers for my darling.”

“No,” replied the captain; “I can only wonder that you consent to leave her.”

“Ah, you do not understand. Can you not see that, so long as those two men exist, their crimes undiscovered, their real nature unsuspected in the world in which they live, there is perpetual danger for my child? The task which I have set myself is the task of watching these two men; and I will do it without flinching. When the hour of retribution approaches, I may need your aid; but till then let me do my work alone, and in secret.”

This was the utmost that Lady Eversleigh told Captain Copplestone respecting the motive of her absence from the castle. She placed her child in his care, trusting in him, under Providence, for the guardianship of that innocent life; and then she tore herself away.

Nothing could exceed the care which the veteran soldier bestowed upon his youthful charge.

It may be imagined, therefore, that nothing short of absolute necessity would have induced him to leave the neighbourhood of Raynham during the absence of Lady Eversleigh.

Unhappily this necessity arose. Within a fortnight after the night on which Black Milsom had been invited to supper in the servants’-hall, Captain Copplestone quitted Raynham Castle for an indefinite period, for the first time since Lady Eversleigh’s departure.

He was seated at breakfast in the pretty sitting-room in the south wing, which he occupied in common with the heiress and her governess, when a letter was brought to him by one of the castle servants.

“Ben Simmons has just brought this up from the ‘Hen and Chickens,’ sir,” said the man. “It came by the mail-coach that passes through Raynham at six o’clock in the morning.”

Captain Copplestone gazed at the superscription of the letter with considerable surprise. The handwriting was that of Lady Eversleigh, and the letter was marked Immediate and important.

In those days there was no electric telegraph; and a letter conveyed thus had pretty much the same effect upon the captain’s mind that a telegram would now-a-days exercise. It was something special — out of the common rule. He tore open the missive hastily. It contained only a few lines in Honoria’s hand; but the hand was uncertain, and the letter scrawled and blotted, as if written in extreme haste and agitation of mind.

Come to me at once, I entreat. I have immediate need of your help. Pray come, my dear friend. I shall not detain you long. Let the child remain in the castle during your absence. She will be safe with Mrs. Morden.

Clarendon Hotel, London.”

This, and the date, was all.

Captain Copplestone sat for some moments staring at this document with a look of unmitigated perplexity.

“I can’t make it out,” he muttered to himself.

Presently he said aloud to Mrs. Morden —

“What a pity it is you women all write so much alike that it’s uncommonly difficult to swear to your writing. I’m perplexed by this letter. I can’t quite understand being summoned away from my pet. I think you know Lady Eversleigh’s hand?”

“Yes,” answered the lady; “I received two letters from her before coming here. I could scarcely be mistaken in her handwriting.”

“You think not? Very well, then, please tell me if that is her hand,” said the captain showing Mrs. Morden the address of the missive he had just received.

“I should say decidedly, yes, that is her hand.”

“Humph!” muttered the captain; “she said something about wanting me when the hour of retribution drew near. Perhaps she has succeeded in her schemes more rapidly than she expected, and the time is come.”

The little girl had just quitted the room with her nurse, to be dressed for her morning run in the gardens. Mrs. Morden and the captain were alone.

“Lady Eversleigh asks me to go up to London,” he said, at last; “and I suppose I must do what she wishes. But, upon my word, I’ve watched over little Gertrude so closely, and I’ve grown so foolishly fond of her, that I don’t like the idea of leaving her, even for twenty-four hours, though, of course, I know I leave her in the best possible care.”

“What danger can approach her here?”

“Ah; what danger, indeed!” returned the captain, thoughtfully. “Within these walls she must be secure.”

“The child shall not leave the castle, nor shall she quit my sight during your absence,” said Mrs. Morden. “But I hope you will not stay away long.”

“Rely upon it that I shall not remain away an hour longer than necessary,” answered the captain.

An hour afterwards he departed from Raynham in a post-chaise.

He left without having taken any farewell of Gertrude Eversleigh. He could not trust himself to see her.

This grim, weather-beaten old soldier had surrendered his heart entirely to the child of his dead friend. He travelled Londonwards as fast as continual relays of post-horses could convey him; and on the morning after he had received the letter from Lady Eversleigh, a post~chaise covered with the dust of the roads, rattled up to the Clarendon Hotel, and the traveller sprang out, after a sleepless night of impatience and anxiety.

“Show me to Lady Eversleigh’s rooms at once,” he said to one of the servants in the hall.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” said the man; “what name did you say?”

“Lady Eversleigh — Eversleigh — a widow-lady, staying in this house.”

“There must be some mistake, sir. There is no one of that name at present staying in the hotel,” answered the man.

The housekeeper had emerged from a little sitting-room, and had overheard this conversation.

“No, sir,” she said, “we have no one here of that name.”

Captain Copplestone’s dark face grew deadly pale.

“A trap!” he muttered to himself; “a snare! That letter was a forgery!”

And without a word to the people of the house, he darted back to the street, sprang into the chaise, crying to the postillions,

“Don’t lose a minute in getting a change of horses. I am going back to Yorkshire.”

The intimacy with the household of Raynham Castle, begun by Mr. Maunders at the supper in the servants’-hall, strengthened as time went by, and there was no member of the castle household for whom Mr. Maunders entertained so warm a friendship as that which he felt for Matthew Brook, the coachman. Matthew began to divide his custom between the rival taverns of Raynham, spending an evening occasionally at the “Cat and Fiddle,” and appearing to enjoy himself very much at that Inferior hostelry.

About a fortnight had elapsed after the comfortable supper-party at the castle, when Mr. Milsom took it into his head to make a formal return for the hospitalities he had received on that occasion.

It happened that the evening chosen for this humble but comfortable entertainment was the evening after Captain Copplestone’s departure from the castle.

The supper was well cooked, and neatly placed on the table. A foaming tankard of ale flanked the large dish of hissing steaks; and the gentlemen from the castle set to work with a good will to do justice to Mr. Maunders’s entertainment.

When the table had been cleared of all except a bowl of punch and a tray of glasses, it is scarcely a matter for wonder if the quartette had grown rather noisy, with a tendency to become still louder in its mirth with every glass of Mr. Milsom’s excellent compound.

They were enjoying themselves as much as it is in the power of human nature to enjoy itself; they had proposed all manner of toasts, and had drunk them with cheers, and the mirth was at its loudest when the clock of the village church boomed out solemnly upon the stillness of night, and tolled the hour of ten.

The three men staggered hastily to their feet.

“We must be off, Maunders, old fellow,” said the coachman, with a certain thickness of utterance.

“Right you are, Mat,” answered Stephen. “You’ve had quite enough of that ’ere liquor, and so have we all. Good night, Mr. Maunders, and thank you kindly for a jolly evening. Come, Jim. Come, Mat, old boy — off we go!”

“No, no,” cried Mr. Maunders, the hospitable; “I’m not a-going to let Matthew Brook leave my house at ten o’clock when he can stay as long as he likes. You and he beat me at whist, but I mean to be even with him at cribbage. We’ll have a friendly hand and a friendly glass, and I’ll see him as far as the gates afterwards. You’ll let him in, Plumpton, come when he will, I know. If he can stay over his time at the other house, he can stay over his time with me. Come, Brook, you won’t say no, will you, to a friend?” asked Milsom.

Matthew Brook looked at Mr. Milsom, and at his fellow-servants, in a stupid half-drunken manner, and rubbed his big head thoughtfully with his big hand.

“I’m blest if I know what to do,” he said; “I’ve promised Stephen I wouldn’t stay out after time again — and —”

“Not as a rule, perhaps,” answered Mr. Milsom; “but once in a way can’t make any difference, I’m sure, and Stephen Plumpton is the last to be ill-natured.”

“That I am,” replied the good-tempered footman. “Stay, if you like to stay, Mat. I’ll leave my door unfastened, and welcome.”

On this, the two other men took a friendly leave of their host and departed, walking through the village street with legs that were not by any means too steady.

There was a triumphant grin upon Mr. Milsom’s face as he shut the door on these two departing guests.

“Good night, and a good riddance to you,” he muttered; “and now for Matthew Brook. You’ll sleep sound enough to-night, Stephen Plumpton, I’ll warrant. So sound that if Old Nick himself went through your room you’d scarcely be much wiser.”

He went back to the little parlour in which he had left his guest, the coachman. As he went, he slipped his forefinger and thumb into his waistcoat pocket, where they closed upon a tiny phial. It contained a pennyworth of laudanum, which he had purchased a week or so before from the Raynham chemist, as a remedy for the toothache.

Here he found Matthew Brook seated with his arms folded on the table, and his eyes fixed on the cribbage-board with that stolid, unseeing gaze peculiar to drunkenness.

“He’s pretty far gone, as it is,” Mr. Milsom thought to himself, as he looked at his guest; “it won’t take much to send him further. Take another glass of punch before we begin, eh, Brook?” he asked, in that tone of jolly good-fellowship which had made him so agreeable to the castle servants.

“So I will,” cried Matthew; “‘nother glass — punish the punch — eh — old boy? We’ll punish glass —‘nother punch — hand cribbage — glorious evenin’— uproarious — happy — glorious — God save —‘nother glass.”

While Mr. Brook attempted to shuffle the cards, dropping them half under the table during the process, Black Milsom moved the bowl and glasses to a table behind the coachman’s back.

Here he filled a glass for Mr. Brook, which the coachman emptied at a draught; but after having done so he made a wry face, and looked reproachfully at his host.

“What the deuce was that you gave me?” he asked, with some indignation.

“What should it be but rum-punch?” answered Milsom; “the same as you’ve been drinking all the evening.”

“I’ll be hanged if it is,” answered Mr. Brook; “you’ve been playing off some of your publican’s tricks upon me, Mr. Maunders, pouring the dregs of some stale porter into the bowl, or something of that kind. Don’t you do it again. I’m a ‘ver goo’-temper’ chap, ber th’ man tha’ takes — hic — libert’ with — hic — once don’t take — hic — libert’ with m’ twice. So, don’t y’ do that ‘gen!”

This was said with tipsy solemnity; and then Mr. Brook made another effort to shuffle the cards, and stooped a great many times to pick up some of those he had dropped, but seemed never to succeed in picking up all of them.

“I’ll tell you what it is, Maunders,” he said, at last; “I’m getting an old man; my sight isn’t what it used to be. I’m bless’ if — can tell a king from — queen.”

Before he could complete the shuffling of the cards to his own satisfaction, Mr. Brook’s eyelids began to droop over his watery eyes, and all at once his head fell forward on the table, amongst the scattered cards, his hair flopping against a fallen candlestick and smoking tallow candle.

Mr. Milsom’s air of jolly good-fellowship disappeared: he sprang up suddenly, went to his friend, and shook him, rather roughly for such friendship.

Matthew snored a little louder, but slept on.

“He’s fast as a rock,” muttered Black Milsom; “but I must wait till it’s likely Stephen Plumpton will be as sound asleep as this one.”

Mr. Milsom went to his kitchen and ordered his only servant — a sturdy young native of the village — to go off to bed at once.

“I’ve got a friend in the parlour: but I’ll see him out myself when he goes,” said Mr. Milsom. “You pack off to bed as soon as you’ve put out the lights in the bar, and shut the back-door.”

Mr. Milsom then returned to the apartment where his sleeping guest reposed.

The coachman’s capacious overcoat hung on a chair near where its owner slept.

Mr. Milsom deliberately put on this coat, and the hat which Mr. Brook had worn with it. There was a thick woollen scarf of the coachman’s lying on the floor near the chair, and this Black Milsom also put on, twisting it several times round his neck, so as to completely muffle the lower part of his face.

He was of about the same height as Matthew, and the thick coat gave him bulk.

Thus attired he might, in an uncertain light, have been very easily mistaken for the man whose clothes he wore.

Mr. Milsom gave one last scrutinizing look at the sleeping coachman, and then extinguished the candle.

The fire he had allowed to die out while he sat smoking: the room was, therefore, now in perfect darkness.

He paused by the door to look about him. All was alike still and lonely. The village street could have been no more silent and empty if the two rows of houses had been so many vaults in a cemetery.

Black Milsom walked rapidly up the village street, and entered the gardens of the castle by a little iron gate, of which Matthew Brook, the reprobate and offender, had a key. This key Black Milsom had often heard of, and knew that it was always carried by Brook in a small breast-pocket of his overcoat.

From the garden he made his way quickly, silently, to the quadrangle on which Stephen Plumpton’s bed-chamber opened.

Here all was dark and silent.

Milsom went straight to the little half-glass door which served both as door and window for the small sleeping-chamber of Stephen Plumpton.

He opened this door with a cautious hand, and stepped softly into the room. Stephen lay with his head half covered with the bed-clothes, and his loud snoring resounded through the chamber.

“The rum-punch has done the trick for you, my friend,” Mr. Milsom said to himself.

He crossed the room with slow and stealthy footsteps, opened the door communicating with the rest of the house, and went along the passage leading to the hall.

With cautious steps he groped his way to the door opening on the secondary staircase, and ascended the thickly carpeted staircase within.

Here a lamp was left dimly burning all night, and this lamp showed him another cloth-covered door at the top of the first flight of stairs.

Black Milsom tried this door, and found it also unfastened.

This door, which Black Milsom opened, communicated with the little passage that had been made across the room usually tenanted by Captain Copplestone. Within this room there was a still smaller chamber — little more, indeed, than a spacious closet — in which slept the faithful old servant, Solomon Grundy.

Both the doors were open, and Black Milsom heard the heavy breathing of the old man — the breathing of a sound sleeper.

Beyond the short passage was the door opening into the sitting-room used by the young heiress of Raynham.

Black Milsom had only to push it open. The intruder crept softly across the room, drew aside a curtain, and opened the massive oak door which divided the sitting-room from the bed-room.

Mr. Milsom had taken care to make himself familiar with the smallest details of the castle household, and he had even heard of Mrs. Morden’s habit of sleeping within closely drawn curtains, from his general informant, James Harwood, the groom, who had received his information from one of the housemaids, in that temple of gossip — the servants’ hall.

Gertrude Eversleigh slept in a white-curtained cot, by the side of Mrs. Morden’s bed.

Black Milsom lifted the coverlet, threw it over the face of the sleeping child, and with one strong hand lifted her from her cot, her face still shrouded by the thick down coverlet, which must effectually prevent her cries. With the other hand he snatched up a blanket, and threw it round the struggling form, and then, bundled in coverlet and blanket, he carried the little girl away.

Only when his feet were on the turf, and the castle stood up black behind him, did he withdraw the coverlet from the mouth of the half~suffocated child.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31