This done, Maurice expressed a doubt lest some of the villain's accomplices might attempt to take the articles from him, whereupon a faithful old servant of his father came forward, who with an emphatic expression of the importance of securing such important documents, took his young master under his cloak, and led him to a retired apartment of the house.
As he rode at full speed through the park, the villain's mind sped more rapidly than the animal he bestrode, sped from fear to hope, hope to assurance. Grant that the spy lived to tell his tale, incoherent, improbable as the tale would be, who would believe it? How easy to meet tale by tale! The man must own that he was secreted behind the tapestry, wherefore but to rob?
"A time will come," he would remark, and this idea consoled him. Of late, however, this trusting hopefulness of his, as expressed in the beautiful lines we have quoted, appears to have forsaken him. We are sorry for this. We always regarded it as one of the finest traits in his character. The stage villain's love for the heroine is sublime in its steadfastness.
"`Very good, says I, `ye don't seem to remimber that I'm the man what saw the murder, and told ye of it. By good luck, I've come in time to point him out an' this is him. An' with that I put the noose round the villain's neck and drawed it tight.
However, life was dear to him, and therefore he began struggling with the fellow; and finally getting his foot under the villain's, he unhorsed him, when both fell heavily to the ground. Meanwhile his grace's coach having driven to Clarendon House, the footmen had given an account of the daring manner in which his abduction had been effected.
And then she pressed her hands over her eyes and shuddered. "There, there," says Vickers soothingly, "don't be afraid, Poppet; he can't hurt you now." "No, ha! ha!" says Meekin, with great display of off-hand courage, "the villain's safe enough now." The colloquy in the Court went on. "Do you know the prisoners in the dock?" "Yes." "Who are they?"
"But I tell ye ye do know, an' what's more, I'm here to find out." "Then you'll find out something else!" cried Pritchen, as his hand dropped to his hip pocket. He was quick, but Pete was quicker, for almost like a flash a huge hand reached out, seized the revolver, and wrenched it from the villain's grasp.
As for Juniper, though he had drunk more cautiously, yet he did not show himself outside his cabin till the afternoon. The captain had his eye upon him, and could not help remarking to himself what a look of deadly malice and venomous baseness pervaded every feature of the villain's face. "He's up to some mischief more than common, I'll be bound," he said to himself.
"What trick of priestcraft is this?" demanded La Tour, angrily; "is it not enough, that I am held in duresse by a villain's power, but must I be denied, even the poor privilege of bearing my confinement unmolested?
It is evident that my hero possesses little insight and less firmness of character. He is not a hero; he is merely a tool. In, let us say, eight cases out of ten, his curve is already plotted. It leads downward not necessarily along the villain's path, but toward moral insignificance. And yet, I cannot end my story that way for Americans. There must be a grand moral revolt.