‘Bristol!’ Sir George muttered, passing his hand across his brow. ‘Bristol! But—she is not with them. We don’t know where she is.’
Mr. Fishwick was himself sick with fatigue, but he knew what to do and did it. He passed his arm through Sir George’s, and signed to the smith to lead the way to the inn. The man did so, the crowd made way for them, Mr. Dunborough and the servant followed; in less than a minute the three gentlemen stood together in the sanded tap-room at the tavern. The landlord hurried in and hung a lamp on a hook in the whitewashed wall; its glare fell strongly on their features, and for the first time that night showed the three to one another.
Even in that poor place, the light had seldom fallen on persons in a more pitiable plight. Of the three, Sir George alone stood erect, his glittering eyes and twitching nostrils belying the deadly pallor of his face. He was splashed with mud from head to foot, his coat was plastered where he had fallen, his cravat was torn and open at the throat. He still held his naked sword in his hand; apparently he had forgotten that he held it. Mr. Dunborough was in scarce better condition. White and shaken, his hand bound to his side, he had dropped at once into a chair, and sat, his free hand plunged into his breeches pocket, his head sunk on his breast. Mr. Fishwick, a pale image of himself, his knees trembling with exhaustion, leaned against the wall. The adventures of the night had let none of the travellers escape.
The landlord and his wife could be heard in the kitchen drawing ale and clattering plates, while the voices of the constable and his gossips, drawling their wonder and surmises, filled the passage. Sir George was the first to speak.
‘Bristol!’ he said dully. ‘Why Bristol?’
‘Because the villains who have escaped us here,’ the lawyer answered, ‘we shall find there. And they will know what has become of her.’
‘But shall we find them?’
‘Mr. Dunborough will find them.’
‘Ha!’ said Sir George, with a sombre glance. ‘So he will.’
Mr. Dunborough spoke with sudden fury. ‘I wish to Heaven,’ he said, ‘that I had never heard the girl’s name. How do I know where she is!’
‘You will have to know,’ Sir George muttered between his teeth.
‘Fine talk!’ Mr. Dunborough retorted, with a faint attempt at a sneer, ’when you know as well as I do that I have no more idea where the girl is or what has become of her than that snuff-box. And d—n me!’ he continued sharply, his eyes on the box, which Sir George still held in his hand, ’whose is the snuff-box, and how did she get it? That is what I want to know? And why did she leave it in the carriage? If we had found it dropped in the road now, and that kerchief round it, I could understand that! But in the carriage. Pho! I believe I am not the only one in this!’