* * * * *
They kissed, and it was done.
Out from the church tower in the meadows broke with clash and clangour a glad sound of Christmas bells. Out it swept over layer, pitle and fallow, over river, plantain, grove and wood. It floated down the valley of the Ell, it beat against Dead Man’s Mount (henceforth to the vulgar mind more haunted than ever), it echoed up the Castle’s Norman towers and down the oak-clad vestibule. Away over the common went the glad message of Earth’s Saviour, away high into the air, startling the rooks upon their airy courses, as though the iron notes of the World’s rejoicing would fain float to the throned feet of the World’s Everlasting King.
Peace and goodwill! Ay and happiness to the children of men while their span is, and hope for the Beyond, and heaven’s blessing on holy love and all good things that are. This is what those liquid notes seemed to say to the most happy pair who stood hand in hand in the vestibule and thought on all they had escaped and all that they had won.
* * * * *
“Well, Quaritch, if you and Ida have quite done staring at each other, which isn’t very interesting to a third party, perhaps you will not mind telling us how you happened on old Sir James de la Molle’s hoard.”
Thus adjured, Harold began his thrilling story, telling the whole history of the night in detail, and if his hearers had expected to be astonished certainly their expectations were considerably more than fulfilled.
“Upon my word,” said the Squire when he had done, “I think I am beginning to grow superstitious in my old age. Hang me if I don’t believe it was the finger of Providence itself that pointed out those letters to you. Anyway, I’m off to see the spoil. Run and get your hat, Ida, my dear, and we will all go together.”
And they went and looked at the chest full of red gold, yes, and passed down, all three of them, into those chill presences in the bowels of the Mount. Then coming thence awed and silent they sealed up the place for ever.
On the following morning such of the inhabitants of Boisingham as chanced to be about were much interested to see an ordinary farm tumbrel coming down the main street. It was being driven, or rather led, by no less a person than George himself, while behind it walked the well-known form of the old Squire, arm-in-arm with Colonel Quaritch.
They were still more interested, however, when the tumbrel drew up at the door of the bank—not Cossey’s, but the opposition bank—where, although it was Boxing Day, the manager and the clerk were apparently waiting for its arrival.
But their interest culminated when they perceived that the cart only contained a few bags, and yet that each of these bags seemed to require three or four men to lift it with any comfort.