Amboyne took more interest in the traces of the combat. "Ah!" said he, "this is where he threw the hot coals in their faces--he has told me all about it. And look at this pool of blood on the floor! Here he felled one of them with his shovel. What is this? traces of blood leading up to this chest!"
He opened the chest, and found plain proofs inside that the wounded man had hid himself in it for some time. He pointed this out to Raby; and gave it as his opinion that the man's confederates had come back for him, and carried him away. "These fellows are very true to one another. I have often admired them for that."
Raby examined the blood-stained interior of the chest, and could not help agreeing with the sagacious doctor.
"Yes," said he, sadly; "if we had been sharp, we might have caught the blackguard. But I was in a hurry to leave the scene of sacrilege. Look here; the tomb of a good knight defiled into an oven, and the pews mutilated--and all for the base uses of trade." And in this strain he continued for a long time so eloquently that, at last, he roused Grace Carden's ire.
"Mr. Raby," said she, firmly, "please add to those base uses one more. One dismal night, two poor creatures, a man and a woman, lost their way in the snow; and, after many a hard struggle, the cold and the snow overpowered them, and death was upon them. But, just at her last gasp, the girl saw a light, and heard the tinkling of a hammer. She tottered toward it; and it was a church. She just managed to strike the door with her benumbed hands, and then fell insensible. When she came to herself, gentle hands had laid her before two glorious fires in that cold tomb there. Then the same gentle hands gave her food and wine, and words of comfort, and did everything for her that brave men do for poor weak suffering women. Yes, sir, it was my life he saved, and Mr. Coventry's too; and I can't bear to hear a word against him, especially while I stand looking at his poor forge, and his grates, that you abuse; but I adore them, and bless them; and so would you, if they had saved your life, as they did mine. You don't love me one bit; and it is very cruel."
Raby stood astonished and silent. At last he said, in a very altered tone, quite mild and deprecating, "Why did you not tell me this before?"
"Because he made us promise not. Would you have had me betray my benefactor?"
"No. You are a brave girl, an honest girl. I love you more than a bit, and, for your sake, I forgive him the whole thing. I will never call it sacrilege again, since its effect was to save an angel's life. Come, now, you have shown a proper spirit, and stood up for the absent, and brought me to submission by your impetuosity, so don't spoil it all by crying."