The mist was still quite thick enough to circumscribe his view and to hide the general features of the landscape; and well was it, perhaps, for Sir Bale that his boyhood had familiarised him with the landmarks on the mountain-side.
He had made nearly four miles on his solitary homeward way, when, passing under a ledge of rock which bears the name of the Cat’s Skaitch, he saw the same figure in the short cloak standing within some thirty or forty yards of him—the thin curtain of mist, through which the moonlight touched it, giving to it an airy and unsubstantial character.
Sir Bale came to a standstill. The man in the short cloak nodded and drew back, and was concealed by the angle of the rock.
Sir Bale was now irritated, as men are after a start, and shouting to the stranger to halt, he ‘slapped’ after him, as the northern phrase goes, at his best pace. But again he was gone, and nowhere could he see him, the mist favouring his evasion.
Looking down the fells that overhang Mardykes Hall, the mountain-side dips gradually into a glen, which, as it descends, becomes precipitous and wooded. A footpath through this ravine conducts the wayfarer to the level ground that borders the lake; and by this dark pass Sir Bale Mardykes strode, in comparatively clear air, along the rocky path dappled with moonlight.
As he emerged upon the lower ground he again encountered the same figure. It approached. It was Philip Feltram.
A New Philip Feltram
The Baronet had not seen Feltram since his strange escape from death. His last interview with him had been stern and threatening; Sir Bale dealing with appearances in the spirit of an incensed judge, Philip Feltram lamenting in the submission of a helpless despair.
Feltram was full in the moonlight now, standing erect, and smiling cynically on the Baronet.
There was that in the bearing and countenance of Feltram that disconcerted him more than the surprise of the sudden meeting.
He had determined to meet Feltram in a friendly way, whenever that not very comfortable interview became inevitable. But he was confused by the suddenness of Feltram’s appearance; and the tone, cold and stern, in which he had last spoken to him came first, and he spoke in it after a brief silence.
“I fancied, Mr. Feltram, you were in your bed; I little expected to find you here. I think the Doctor gave very particular directions, and said that you were to remain perfectly quiet.”
“But I know more than the Doctor,” replied Feltram, still smiling unpleasantly.
“I think, sir, you would have been better in your bed,” said Sir Bale loftily.
“Come, come, come, come!” exclaimed Philip Feltram contemptuously.
[Illustration: It was the figure of a slight tall man, with his arm extended, as if pointing to a remote object.]