This sounded in their ears like an old woman’s dream, but still it was an excitement, jocular in the morning, and just, perhaps, a little fearful as night overspread the vast and desolate building, but still, not wholly unpleasant. This little flicker of credulity suddenly, however, blazed up into the full light of conviction.
Old Laurence, who was not given to dreaming, and had a cool, hard head, and an eye like a hawk, saw the same figure, just about the same hour, when the last level gleam of sunset was tinting the summits of the towers and the tops of the tall trees that surrounded them.
He had just entered the court from the great gate, when he heard all at once the hard peculiar twitter of alarm which sparrows make when a cat or a hawk invades their safety, rising all round from the thick ivy that overclimbed the wall on his left, and raising his eyes listlessly, he saw, with a sort of shock, a thin, ungainly man, standing with his legs crossed, in the recess of the window from which the light was wont to issue, leaning with his elbows on the stone mullion, and looking down with a sort of sickly sneer, his hollow yellow cheeks being deeply stained on one side with what is called a “claret-mark.”
“I have you at last, you villain!” cried Larry, in a strange rage and panic: “drop down out of that on the grass here, and give yourself up, or I’ll shoot you.”
The threat was backed with an oath, and he drew from his coat pocket the long holster pistol he was wont to carry, and covered his man cleverly.
“I give you while I count ten—one-two-three-four. If you draw back, I’ll fire, mind; five-six—you’d better be lively—seven-eight-nine—one chance more; will you come down? Then take it—ten!”
Bang went the pistol. The sinister stranger was hardly fifteen feet removed from him, and Larry was a dead shot. But this time he made a scandalous miss, for the shot knocked a little white dust from the stone wall a full yard at one side; and the fellow never shifted his negligent posture or qualified his sardonic smile during the procedure.
Larry was mortified and angry.
“You’ll not get off this time, my tulip!” he said with a grin, exchanging the smoking weapon for the loaded pistol in reserve.
“What are you pistolling, Larry?” said a familiar voice close by his elbow, and he saw his master, accompanied by a handsome young man in a cloak.
“That villain, your honour, in the window, there.”
“Why there’s nobody there, Larry,” said De Lacy, with a laugh, though that was no common indulgence with him.