‘Go on!’ Mr. Thomasson cried peremptorily, and waving his lanthorn again, startled the horses; which plunged away wildly, the man tugging vainly at the reins. The tutor fancied that, as it started, he caught a faint scream from the inside of the chaise, but he set it down to fright caused by the sudden jerk; and, after he had stood long enough to assure himself that the carriage was keeping the road, he turned to retrace his steps to the house.
He was feeling for the latch of the gate—his thoughts no pleasant ones, for the devil pays scant measure—when his ear was surprised by a new sound of wheels approaching from the direction whence the chaise had come. He stood to listen, thinking he heard an echo; but in a second or two he saw lights approaching through the night precisely as the other lights had approached. Once seen they came on swiftly, and he was still standing gaping in wonder when a carriage and pair, a postboy riding and a servant sitting outside, swept by, dazzling him a moment; the next it was gone, whirled away into the darkness.
THE INN AT CHIPPENHAM
The road which passed before the gates at Bastwick was not a highway, and Mr. Thomasson stood a full minute, staring after the carriage, and wondering what chance brought a traveller that way at that hour. Presently it occurred to him that one of Mr. Pomeroy’s neighbours might have dined abroad, have sat late over the wine, and be now returning; and that so the incident might admit of the most innocent explanation. Yet it left him uneasy. Until the last hum of wheels died in the distance he stood listening and thinking. Then he turned from the gate, and with a shiver betook himself towards the house. He had done his part.
Or had he? The road was not ten paces behind him, when a cry rent the darkness, and he paused to listen. He caught the sound of hasty footsteps crossing the open ground on his right, and apparently approaching; and he raised his lanthorn in alarm. The next moment a dark form vaulted the railings that fenced the avenue on that side, sprang on the affrighted tutor, and, seizing him violently by the collar, shook him to and fro as a terrier shakes a rat.
It was Mr. Pomeroy, beside himself with rage. ’What have you done with her?’ he cried. ’You treacherous hound! Answer, or by heaven I shall choke you!’
‘Done—done with whom?’ the tutor gasped, striving to free himself. ‘Mr. Pomeroy, I am not—what does this—mean?’
‘With her? With the girl?’
‘She is—I have put her in the carriage! I swear I have! Oh!’ he shrieked, as Mr. Pomeroy, in a fresh access of passion, gripped his throat and squeezed it. ’I have put her in the carriage, I tell you! I have done everything you told me!’
‘In the carriage? What carriage? In what carriage?’
‘The one that was there.’