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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 323 pages of information about The Castle Inn.

’Well, sir, it is only—­I was going to ask if her father lived in these parts.’

‘Her father?’

‘Yes, sir.’

Mr. Dunborough burst into rude laughter.  ‘Oh, Lord!’ he said.  ’Are we grown so proper of a sudden?  Her father, damme!’

Sir George shot a glance of disdain at him.  Then, ‘My good fellow,’ he said to the host, ‘her father has been dead these fifteen years.’

The landlord reddened, annoyed by the way Mr. Dunborough had taken him.  ‘The gentleman mistakes me, Sir George,’ he said stiffly.  ’I did not ask out of curiosity, as you, who know me, can guess; but to be plain, your honour, there are two gentlemen below stairs, just come in; and what beats me, though I did not tell them so, they are also in search of a young lady.’

‘Indeed?’ Sir George answered, looking gravely at him.  ’Probably they are from the Castle Inn at Marlborough, and are inquiring for the lady we are seeking.’

‘So I should have thought,’ the landlord answered, nodding sagely; ’but one of the gentlemen says he is her father, and the other—­’

Sir George stared.  ‘Yes?’ he said, ‘What of the other?’

‘Is Mr. Pomeroy of Bastwick,’ the host replied, lowering his voice.  ‘Doubtless your honour knows him?’

‘By name.’

‘He has naught to do with the young lady?’

‘Nothing in the world.’

’I ask because—­well, I don’t like to speak ill of the quality, or of those by whom one lives, Sir George; but he has not got the best name in the county; and there have been wild doings at Bastwick of late, and writs and bailiffs and worse.  So I did not up and tell him all I knew.’

On a sudden Dunborough spoke.  ‘He was at College, at Pembroke,’ he said.  ’Doyley knows him.  He’d know Tommy too; and we know Tommy is with the girl, and that they were both dropped Laycock way.  Hang me, if I don’t think there is something in this!’ he continued, thrusting his feet into slippers:  his boots were drying on the hearth.  ’Thomasson is rogue enough for anything!  See here, man,’ he went on, rising and flinging down his napkin; ’do you go down and draw them into the hall, so that I can hear their voices.  And I will come to the head of the stairs.  Where is Bastwick?’

‘Between here and Melksham, but a bit off the road, sir.’

‘It would not be far from Laycock?’

’No, your honour; I should think it would be within two or three miles of it.  They are both on the flat the other side of the river.’

‘Go down! go down!’ Mr. Dunborough answered.  ’And pump him, man!  Set him talking.  I believe we have run the old fox to earth.  It will be our fault if we don’t find the vixen!’

CHAPTER XXXII

CHANCE MEDLEY

By this time the arrival of a second pair of travellers hard on the heels of the first had roused the inn to full activity.  Half-dressed servants flitted this way and that through the narrow passages, setting night-caps in the chambers, or bringing up clean snuffers and snuff trays.  One was away to the buttery, to draw ale for the driver, another to the kitchen with William’s orders to the cook.  Lights began to shine in the hall and behind the diamond panes of the low-browed windows; a pleasant hum, a subdued bustle, filled the hospitable house.

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