“How did he get away to-day?”
“We were all out, sir—went over to Mr. Carr’s place to borrow his horses. The colonel took a message, sir. [Here the fellow grinned again.] I don’t know what it was. Well, when we’d got the horses, we rode round outside the town, and came into the road between here and the colonel’s. Ten horses we got, and we went there to give the ten men who were patrolling the road the fresh horses. We heard from them that no one had come along. When we got home, he’d been gone two hours!”
“How did he manage it?”
“A woman, sir,” said my warrior, with supreme disgust. “Gave her a kiss and ten dollars to undo the front door, and then he was off! He daren’t go to the stables to get a horse, so he was forced to limp away on his game leg. A plucky one he is, too,” he concluded.
“Poor old Johnny!” said I. “You didn’t go after him?”
“No time, sir. Couldn’t tire the horses. Besides, when he’d once got home, he’s got a dozen men there, and they’d have kept us all night. Well, sir, I must be off. Any answer for the colonel? He’ll be outside the Golden House by eleven, sir, and Mr. Carr won’t get in if he comes after that.”
“Tell him to rely on me,” I answered. But for all that I didn’t mean to shoot Johnny on sight. So, much perturbed in spirit, I set off to the barracks, wondering when Johnny would get to Whittingham, and whether he would fall into the colonel’s hands outside the Golden House. It struck me as unpleasantly probable that he might come and spoil the harmony of my evening; if he came there first, the conspiracy would probably lose my aid at an early moment! What would happen to me I didn’t know. But, as I took off my coat in the lobby, I bent down as if to tie a shoestring, and had one more look at my revolver.
A SUPPER PARTY.