I heard Lord Hartledon had come down." Percival Elster turned. A lad of seventeen had come bounding in at the window. It was Dr. Ashton's eldest living son, Arthur. Anne was twenty-one. A son, who would have been nineteen now, had died; and there was another, John, two years younger than Arthur. "How are you, Arthur, boy?" cried Val. "Edward hasn't come. Who told you he had?" "Mother Gum.
Ashton was a straightforward; practical man it has been already stated who went direct to the point at once in any matters of difficulty. He arrived at Hartledon a few minutes before the dinner-hour, found Mr. Elster was yet in his dressing-room, and went there to him.
Rossitur hurriedly left the room, and Fleda came in by the other entrance. "May I take you a little out of the way, Mr. Carleton?" she said, when they had passed through the Deepwater settlement. "I have a message to carry to Mrs. Elster a poor woman out here beyond the Lake. It is not a disagreeable place." "And what if it were?"
His fingers were playing with a newspaper which happened to lie on the clerk's desk; and he put the next question with a very well-assumed air of carelessness, as if it were but the passing thought of the moment. "Did he ever talk about Mr. Elster?" "Never but once. He came to my house one evening to tell me he had discovered the hiding-place of a gentleman we were looking for.
Nay, more; as Rome had sealed its condemnation of him by burning his books, he built a stack of fagots on the refuse piles outside the Elster Gate of Wittenberg, invited thither the whole university, and when the fires were kindled and the flames were high, he cast into them, one by one, the books of the canon law, the Decretals, the Clementines, the Papal Extravagants, and all that lay at the base of the religion of the hierarchy!
It was the same noble-looking man Calne had ever known, as he went down the road, throwing a greeting to one and another. Lord Hartledon was not a whit less attractive than Val Elster, who had won golden opinions from all. None would have believed that the cowardly monster Fear was for ever feasting upon his heart.
After the destruction of the bridge, some of the French whose retreat was thus cut off, jumped into the Elster in the hope of swimming across.
The Pleisse, another river of the same sort but even smaller than the Elster runs about a league and a half from the latter, which it joins under the walls of Leipzig. To the north of the town is a small stream called the Partha which winds through a narrow valley and has at every pace fords or little bridges across it.
Having triumphed over incredible obstacles, we at last succeeded in crossing the Elster on the bridge at the mill of Lindenau. I can still see the Emperor as he stationed officers along the road charged to indicate to stragglers where they might rejoin their respective commands.
As Jack sprang into the brier tangle towards him, a slim figure in the black garments of the Sisters of Mercy rose from Sir Thorald's side. He saw the white cross on her breast, he saw the white face above it and the whiter lips. It was Alixe von Elster. At the same instant the road in front was filled with French infantry, running.