Ringan whistled. “Are you sure that’s wise? There’ll be little use for braw clothes and fine manners in the hills.”
“All the same there’ll be a use for Mr. Grey. When will you join us?”
“I’ve a bit of business to do hereaways, but I’ll catch you up. Look for me at Aird’s store on Thursday morning.”
I GATHER THE CLANS.
I was at the Governor’s house next day before he had breakfasted. He greeted me laughingly.
“Has the champion come to cry forfeit?” he asked. “It is a long, sore road to the hills, Mr. Garvald.”
“I’ve come to make confession,” I said, and I plunged into my story of the work of the last months.
He heard me with lowering brows, “Who the devil made you Governor of this dominion, sir? You have been levying troops without His Majesty’s permission. Your offence is no less than high treason. I’ve a pretty mind to send you to the guard-house.”
“I implore you to hear me patiently,” I cried. Then I told him what I had learned in the Carolinas and at the outland farms. “You yourself told me it was hopeless to look for a guinea from the Council. I was but carrying out your desires. Can you blame me if I’ve toiled for the public weal and neglected my own fortunes?”
He was scarcely appeased. “You’re a damnable kind of busybody, sir, the breed of fellow that plunges states into revolutions. Why, in Heaven’s name, did you not consult me?”
“Because it was wiser not to,” I said stoutly. “Half my recruits are old soldiers of Bacon. If the trouble blows past, they go back to their steadings and nothing more is heard of it. If trouble comes, who are such natural defenders of the dominion as the frontier dwellers? All I have done is to give them the sinews of war. But if Governor Nicholson had taken up the business, and it were known that he had leaned on old rebels, what would the Council say? What would have been the view of my lord Howard and the wiseacres in London?”
He said nothing, but knit his brows. My words were too much in tune with his declared opinions for him to gainsay them.
“It comes to this, then,” he said at length. “You have raised a body of men who are waiting marching orders. What next, Mr. Garvald?”
“The next thing is to march. After what befell on the Rapidan, we cannot sit still.”
He started. “I have heard nothing of it.”
Then I told him the horrid tale. He got to his feet and strode up and down the room, with his dark face working.
“God’s mercy, what a calamity! I knew the folk. They came here with letters from his Grace of Shrewsbury. Are you certain your news is true?”
“Alas! there is no doubt. Stafford county is in a ferment, and the next post from the York will bring you word.”
“Then, by God, it is for me to move. No Council or Assembly will dare gainsay me. I can order a levy by virtue of His Majesty’s commission.”