Rogers George Leicester and Archibald Plinlimmon's mother were first cousins. There were three Leicesters to begin with, as you might say Sir Charles, who was head of the family and is living yet, though close on eighty, and two younger brothers, Archibald and Randall, both dead. Sir Charles was a bachelor, and for years his brothers lived with him in a sort of dependence.
This puzzled us, and I am not sure that we took any trouble to discriminate Miss Plinlimmon's share in these compositions from that of their signatories. Manners makyth man"; and to this day I associate General Paoli with an apostrophe "O Corsica!
Stimcoe's absent-mindedness two minutes later, when, the sheets having been duly inspected, we descended to the parlour again; for, happening to reach the doorway some paces ahead of the two ladies, I surprised him in the act of drinking down Miss Plinlimmon's sherry.
The handwriting was indeed Miss Plinlimmon's, although it ran across the paper in an agitated scrawl most unlike her usual neat Italian penmanship. "My dearest Harry, "You must come home to me at once, and by the first coach. I cannot tell you what has happened save this that you must not look to see your father alive.
"You shall see," I promised; and as the two soldiers picked me up and laid me along a plank, I made signs that they were to carry me as I directed. He nodded, and fell into pace beside my litter. The body of Whitmore lay along the foot of the wall where it had fallen. But when we drew near, it was not at the body that I stared, putting out a hand and gripping Archibald Plinlimmon's arm.
It was good to be at home, yet the end of the holidays and the return to Stimcoe's cast no anticipatory gloom on my spirits. To tell the truth, I had a sneaking affection for Stimcoe's; and to Miss Plinlimmon's cross-examination upon its internal economies I opposed a careless manly assurance as hardly fraudulent as Mr. Stimcoe's brazen doorplate or his lady's front-window curtains.
O my country, bleeding and inanimate!" etc., and with Miss Plinlimmon's foot-note: "N.B. The author of these affecting lines, himself a blameless patriot, actually stood godfather to the babe who has since become the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte. Oh, irony! What had been the feelings of the good Paoli, could he have foreseen this eventuality, as he promised and vowed beside the font!
"You may take her my leave," said he, with a sudden flush on his face, "and my apologies for having neglected to request the honour of her company. The fact is," he added, with a hard glance at me, "Miss Plinlimmon's sense of discipline is so rare a thing that I am always forgetting to do justice to it.
They never came back to see us; and I remember that we were curiously shy of speaking about them, once gone. From Miss Plinlimmon's window above the eaves I could look over the front wall on to an edge of roadway, a straight dock like a canal crowded with shipping and a fort which fired a gun in the early morning and again at sunset.
If Whitmore had known enough to hang him, Whitmore wouldn't have gone in awe of him. And what Whitmore don't know, Whitmore can't tell." All this while the prisoner had kept absolute silence; had stood motionless, except that his eyes turned from one speaker to another, and now and then seemed to seek Archibald Plinlimmon's who, however, refused to return the look.