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      Supper was served up in the hall ere Calverley had returned to the castle, and he paused a few moments to consider whether he should immediately impart what he had heard, or defer the communication until the banquet were ended; but this hesitation did not arise from any delicacy he felt in disturbing the social enjoyment of the hour, but guests had arrived that morning, and Calverley, ever since the loss of his ear, had been very reluctant to appear before strangers. But the recollection of his mutilation, thus forced upon his mind, instantly decided him. The delay of a single hour might enable Holgrave to leave the forest; for who could say that it was his intention to make the place a permanent residence? He, therefore, instantly changed his riding dress for one more adapted for the occasion, and placing a black velvet cap on his head (for we have before observed it was his peculiar privilege to remain always covered), without a moment's delay he proceeded to the hall, and entering it through the upper door, stood at a little distance behind De Boteler's chair, awaiting until the baron's eye should fall upon him. De Boteler presently turning to give some order to a page, Calverley took the opportunity to approach, and, bowing, said softly, "My lord, I have heard tidings of Stephen Holgrave."

      "By the authority of the Baron de Boteler," replied Calverley, as the monk fixed his eyes sternly upon him.Reuben himself believed in the fit, and a real anxiety tortured him as he thrust his lantern into the gaping caverns of bushes. He had by his thoughtless and excessive zeal allowed Boarzell to rob him of another man. Of course, it did not follow that George was dead,[Pg 223] but unless they found him soon it was quite likely that he would not survive exposure on such a night. If so, Reuben had only himself to thank for it. He should have listened to his daughter, and either let George off his work or made him work near home. He did not pretend to himself that he loved this weakling son, or that his death would cause his fatherhood much grief, but he found himself with increasing definiteness brought up against the conviction that Boarzell was beating him, wringing its own out of him by slow, inexorable means, paying him back a hundredfold for every acre he took or furrow he planted.

      "And that dagger too, surly knave," said the smith. "How dare ye come here armed. Go to, thou art a knave!"

      He was free of them at last, galloping down the Landgate hill towards Rye Foreign."And you discovered where the secret opening led?"

      "Butas experience has taught youthey won't. You can see now what your slave-driving's brought you toyou've lost your slaves."

      "He quitted years ago, when we were little chaps. Salvation got him."In little more than half an hour, they arrived at the meadow in which stood the parish church and the abbey of Hailes. The church, a small, plain Gothic building, with a red tiled roof, stood in the centre of a burial-ground, of dimensions adapted to the paucity of inhabitants in the parish. A low stone wall enclosed it, and some old beech-trees threw their shadows upon the mounds and the grave-stones that marked where "the rude fore-fathers of the hamlet" slept.



      They had rowed about a mile down the river, when the chancellor, who was gazing with vacant eyes, but an occupied mind, upon the water, had his attentions suddenly fixed.


      Bessie was a sturdily built little person, but the weight of her was a rich delight, and if his arms strained, they strained with tenderness as well as with effort. Under them her frock crushed and gave out a fragrance of crumpled cotton, her hand was warm against his neck, and on his cheek tickled her soft hair. The shadows ran towards them from the corners of the field, slipping like ghosts over the grass, and one or two pale stars kindled before them, where the sky dropped into the woods.... An owl lifted his note of sadness, which wandered away over the fields to Ellenwhorne....