A heart-broken moan escaped her throat. She stooped and with trembling lips gently touched the young head bent in simple love and uninquiring reverence before her.
Then without a word, without a look cast either at her cruel enemy, or at the silent spectator of this terrible drama, she turned and ran rapidly out of the room, out into the dark and dismal night.
With a deep sigh of content, Mistress Lambert fell on her knees and thence upon the floor.
The old heart which had contained so much love and so much hatred, such stern self-sacrifice and such deadly revenge, had ceased to beat, now the worker’s work was done.
Master Courage Toogood had long ago given up all thought of waiting for the mistress. He had knocked repeatedly at the door of the cottage, from behind the thick panels of which he had heard loud and—he thought—angry voices, speaking words which he could not, however, quite understand.
No answer had come to his knocking and tired with the excitement of the day, fearful, too, at the thought of the lonely walk which now awaited him, he chose to believe that mayhap he had either misunderstood his master’s orders, or that Sir Marmaduke himself had been mistaken when he thought the mistress back at the cottage.
These surmises were vastly to Master Courage Toogood’s liking, whose name somewhat belied his timid personality. Swinging his lantern and striving to keep up his spirits by the aid of a lusty song, he resolutely turned his steps towards home.
The whole landscape seemed filled with eeriness: the events of the day had left their impress on this dark November night, causing the sighs of the gale to seem more spectral and weird than usual, and the dim outline of the trees with their branches turned away from the coastline, to seem like unhappy spirits with thin, gaunt arms stretched dejectedly out toward the unresponsive distance.
Master Toogood tried not to think of ghosts, nor of the many stories of pixies and goblins which are said to take a malicious pleasure in the timorousness of mankind, but of a truth he nearly uttered a cry of terror, and would have fallen on his knees in the mud, when a dark object quite undistinguishable in the gloom suddenly loomed before him.
Yet this was only the portly figure of Master Pyot, the petty constable, who seemed to be mounting guard just outside the cottage, and who was vastly amused at Toogood’s pusillanimity. He entered into converse with the young man—no doubt he, too, had been feeling somewhat lonely in the midst of this darkness, which was peopled with unseen shadows. Master Courage was ready enough to talk. He had acquired some of Master Busy’s eloquence on the subject of secret investigations, and the mystery which had gained an intensity this afternoon, through the revelations of the old Quakeress, was an all-engrossing one to all.