“That is it,” said old Creswell with a pallid smile, and fixing his wild eyes on the Baronet. The smile subsided into a frown, and said he: “Last night I slept near Haworth Moss; and your father came to me in a dream, and said: ’My son Bale accuses Philip of having stolen a bank-note from his desk. He forgets that he himself placed it in his cabinet. Come with me.’ I was, in the spirit, in this room; and he led me to this cabinet, which he opened; and in that drawer he showed me that note. ‘Go,’ said he, ’and tell him to ask Philip Feltram’s pardon, else he will but go in weakness to return in power;’ and he said that which it is not lawful to repeat. My message is told. Now a word from myself,” he added sternly. “The dead, through my lips, has spoken, and under God’s thunder and lightning his words have found ye. Why so uppish wi’ Philip Feltram? See how ye threaped, and yet were wrong. He’s no tazzle—he’s no taggelt. Ask his pardon. Ye must change, or he will no taggelt. Go, in weakness, come in power: mark ye the words. ’Twill make a peal that will be heard in toon and desert, in the swirls o’ the mountain, through pikes and valleys, and mak’ a waaly man o’ thee.”
The old man with these words, uttered in the broad northern dialect of his common speech, strode from the room and shut the door. In another minute he was forth into the storm, pursuing what remained of his long march to Pindar’s Bield.
“Upon my soul!” said Sir Bale, recovering from his sort of stun which the sudden and strange visit had left, “that’s a cool old fellow! Come to rate me and teach me my own business in my own house!” and he rapped out a fierce oath. “Change his mind or no, here he sha’n’t stay to-night—not an hour.”
Sir Bale was in the lobby in a moment, and thundered to his servants:
“I say, put that fool out of the door—put him out by the shoulder, and never let him put his foot inside it more!”
But the old man’s yea was yea, and his nay nay. He had quite meant what he said; and, as I related, was beyond the reach of the indignity of extrusion.
Sir Bale on his return shut his door as violently as if it were in the face of the old prophet.
“Ask Feltram’s pardon, by Jove! For what? Why, any jury on earth would have hanged him on half the evidence; and I, like a fool, was going to let him off with his liberty and my hundred pound-note! Ask his pardon indeed!”
Still there were misgivings in his mind; a consciousness that he did owe explanation and apology to Feltram, and an insurmountable reluctance to undertake either. The old dislike—a contempt mingled with fear—not any fear of his malevolence, a fear only of his carelessness and folly; for, as I have said, Feltram knew many things, it was believed, of the Baronet’s Continental and Asiatic life, and had even gently remonstrated with him upon the dangers into which he was running. A simple fellow like Philip Feltram is a dangerous depository of a secret. This Baronet was proud, too; and the mere possession of his secrets by Feltram was an involuntary insult, which Sir Bale could not forgive. He wished him far away; and except for the recovery of his bank-note, which he could ill spare, he was sorry that this suspicion was cleared up.