"Nathan, or Jael, it is all one, so that it is Dence. You'll take that young gentleman home with you, and send him to bed. He'll want nursing: for he got some ugly blows, and took them like a gentleman. The young gentleman has a fancy for forging things--the Lord knows what. He shall not forge things in a church, and defile the tombs of his own forefathers; but" (with a groan) "he can forge in your yard. All the snobs in Hillsborough sha'n't hinder him, if that is his cursed hobby. Gentlemen are not to be dictated to by snobs. Arm three men every night with guns; load the guns with ball, not small shot, as I did; and if those ruffians molest him again, kill them, and then come to me and complain of them. But, mind you kill them first--complain afterward. And now take half-a-dozen of these men with you, to carry him to the farm, if he needs it. THERE, EDITH!"
And still he never moved his eyes from the picture, and the words seemed to drop out of him.
Henry stood bewildered, and, ere he could say anything that might revive the dormant irritation of Mr. Raby against him, female tact interposed. Grace clasped her hands to him, with tears in her eyes; and as for Jael Dence, she assumed the authority with which she had been invested and hurried him bodily away; and the sword-dancers all gathered round him, and they carried him in triumphant procession, with the fiddler playing, and George whistling, the favorite tune of "Raby come home again," while every sturdy foot beat the hard and ringing road in admirable keeping with that spirit-stirring march.
When he was gone, Grace crept up to Mr. Raby, who still stood before the picture, and eyed it and thought of his youth. She took his arm wondrous softly with her two hands, rested her sweet head against his shoulder, and gazed at it along with him.
When she had nestled to him some time in this delicate attitude, she turned her eyes up to him, and murmured, "how good, how noble you are: and how I love you." Then, all in a moment, she curled round his neck, and kissed him with a tender violence, that took him quite by surprise.
As for Mr. Coventry, he had been reduced to a nullity, and escaped attention all this time: he sat in gloomy silence, and watched with chilled and foreboding heart the strange turn events had taken, and were taking; events which he, and no other man, had set rolling.
Frederick Coventry, being still unacquainted with the contents of Grace's letter, was now almost desperate. Grace Carden, inaccessible to an unknown workman, would she be inaccessible to a workman whom Mr. Raby, proud as he was, had publicly recognized as his nephew? This was not to be expected. But something was to be expected, viz., that in a few days the door would be closed with scorn in the face of Frederick Coventry, the miserable traitor, who had broken his solemn pledge, and betrayed his benefactor to those who had all but assassinated him. Little would be sure to suspect him, and the prisoner, when he came to be examined, would furnish some clew.
A cold perspiration bedewed his very back, when he recollected that the chief constable would be present at Cole's examination, and supply the link, even if there should be one missing. He had serious thoughts of leaving the country at once.