An Unwilling Maid eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about An Unwilling Maid.

“I will explain all to your satisfaction,” interrupted Betty.  “Meantime, listen, and be thankful;” and as she held up a warning hand, they heard through the stillness of the night the watchman’s distant cry float down the frosty air:—­

“Half past three o’clock—­and all’s—­well!”

CHAPTER XV

LOVE OR LOYALTY

“Do you mean to tell me that you, Clarissa’s sister, had anything to do with the escape of a Whig spy?”

“Even so,” said Betty calmly, though her face was pale and her brilliant eyes burning with excitement.

“Damnation!” retorted Gulian angrily.  “Even your mistaken ideas of patriotism could hardly carry a well-behaved maiden so far.”

“Gulian! how dare you!”

“What am I to conclude?” with a scornful wave of his hand; “your story is somewhat disjointed.  Kitty is taken ill; you suddenly decide to carry her off in my sleigh without farewell of any kind to your hostess, without paying your sister or me the respect to ask permission.  Then you state that a man—­confound the beggar’s impudence!—­sprang into the sleigh, and you were foolish enough to fetch him out of the danger of pursuit, all because of loyalty to the cause of so-called freedom.  I cannot understand—­Stay!  Captain Yorke was on the steps as I came out, hearing the shouts; did he witness this extraordinary occurrence?”

“I told you the fugitive had concealed himself in the bottom of the sleigh before I entered it,” said Betty, terror seizing her lest a chance word should implicate Geoffrey in the matter.  “Would you have me turn a helpless man loose among your Hessians?  I have too vivid recollection of Nathan Hale’s fate to contribute another victim to English mercy.”

The taunt stung Verplanck, for, like many of the more liberal Tories, he had deeply deplored the tragic ending of the gallant Hale, although forced to regard it as one of the stern necessities of war.  He bit his lip as he answered:—­

“Thank you, Betty; I am glad Clarissa does not regard me as quite so bloodthirsty as you evidently deem me.”  Then, eying her keenly, as if struck by a sudden thought, “Did you know the man, or was it all pure patriotism?”

“Yes,” returned Betty, filled with indignation at the sneer, and facing him with all her native courage; “yes, I know him well.”

“Know him?” echoed the bewildered Gulian, “are you mad or am I dreaming?”

“Neither, I trust.  The Whig spy, as you are pleased to call him, was my brother, Oliver Wolcott.  Thank God that he has made good his escape, and congratulate yourself, Gulian, that you aided, even remotely, in it.”

“Betty, Betty, if this be true, I trust Clarissa does not know.”

“Never fear,” with a choking sob; “I shall not tell her.  She suffers enough, poor soul, with her husband upon one side and her people upon the other of this most cruel war.”

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An Unwilling Maid from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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