“The dawn is breaking over yonder hills,” Geoffrey rushed on, “and before the sun rises I must be as many miles away as my feet can carry me. Farewell, farewell!—may God bless and keep you always. Go back straightway into the mansion; I shall not stir step until I see you safe.” And through her brimming tears Betty realized that his kisses were falling on her hands, as without a word she turned and fled toward the open door. But when she reached it some new-born impulse tearing madly at her heart made her pause, and looking back she saw Geoffrey lift something from the grass at his feet which he waved toward her as he sped down the path, and raising her hand to her gown she knew that he had carried with him her breast-knot of rose-colored ribbon.
A LOYAL TRAITOR
Betty stumbled blindly over the threshold, and with shaking fingers secured the outer bolt of the buttery door. Her head was whirling, and she dared not stop there even to think over this extraordinary adventure, for Moppet was doubtless waiting breathlessly for her return; and at the recollection Betty’s nerves grew steadier, and she bethought herself that a glass of milk would be needed by the child and that she must take it to her. So she filled the smallest dipper, not wishing to go back into the china pantry for fear of noise, and, with the milk in hand, concluded it was wiser to seek the main staircase in the hall, rather than wake Reuben by drawing his attention to the exit on the garret stairway. And fortunate it was for Betty that she had so determined; for as she set her foot upon the first step of the stairs, she beheld Oliver leaning over the upper balustrade, gazing gravely down upon her.
“Good-morning,” said Betty readily, in a cheerful undertone, as she reached his side; “you are up betimes, Oliver.”
“Where have you been?” asked her brother.
“To the buttery,” said Betty; “this is milk for Moppet. The child is wakeful, and needs it.”
“Why did you not send Reuben?” asked Oliver, who was always kind and attentive to his sisters.
“Reuben?” echoed Betty. “Did you not set him as guard to your prisoner?” and then, her heart smiting her for the gibe, “Miss Bidwell lets no one meddle with her milk pans, and I knew best which were last night’s milk,” and she went up the hall with a naughty little throb of mingled mischief and triumph, as she thought how she had outwitted him, while the unsuspecting Oliver seated himself near the north chamber door.
Moppet, sitting up in bed, welcomed her sister with open arms, and drank the milk thirstily, as Betty told her that all was safe, and that Captain Yorke was now well on his way.
“I’m as glad as can be,” said Moppet, who was troubled with no conscientious scruples whatsoever, and was now beginning to enjoy herself intensely at sharing a mystery with Betty; “I told him you were gone, after the big clock struck three, and oh, Betty, he kissed my hand through the hole in the chimney.”