“But he—Mr. Archfield?”
“His father is already taking measures to send to all the ports to stop him on his way till the trial is over. Thus there will be no actual danger, though it is a sore disappointment, and these wicked attempts of Charnock and Barclay put us in bad odour, so that it may be less easy to procure a pardon than it once would have been. So, my dear child, I do not think you need be in terror for his life, even if you are obliged to speak out plainly.”
And then the good old man knelt with Anne to pray for pardon, direction, and firmness, and protection for Charles. She made an entreaty after they rose that her uncle would take her away—her presence must be so painful to their kind hosts. He agreed with her, and made the proposition, but Sir Philip would not hear of it. Perhaps he was afraid of any change bringing suspicion of the facts, and he might have his fears of Anne being questioned into dangerous admissions, besides which, he hoped to keep his poor old wife in ignorance to the last. So Anne was to remain at Fareham, and after that one day’s seclusion she gathered strength to be with the family as usual. Poor old Sir Philip treated her with a studied but icy courtesy which cut her to the heart; but Lady Archfield’s hopes of seeing her son were almost worse, together with her regrets at her husband’s dejection at the situation of his nephew and the family disgrace. As to little Philip, his curious inquiries about Cousin Sedley being in jail for murdering Penny Grim had to be summarily hushed by the assurance that such things were not to be spoken about. But why did Nana cry when he talked of papa’s coming home?
All the neighbourhood was invited to the funeral in Havant Churchyard, the burial-place of the Oakshotts. Major Oakshott himself wrote to Dr. Woodford, as having been one of the kindest friends of his poor son, adding that he could not ask Sir Philip Archfield, although he knew him to be no partner in the guilt of his unhappy nephew, who so fully exemplified that Divine justice may be slow, but is sure.
Dr. Woodford decided on accepting the invitation, not only for Peregrine’s sake, but to see how the land lay. Scarcely anything remarkable, however, occurred, except that it was painful to perceive the lightness of the coffin. A funeral sermon was previously preached by a young Nonconformist minister in his own chapel, on the text, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed;” and then the burial took place, watched by a huge crowd of people. But just as the procession was starting from the chapel for the churchyard, over the wall there came a strange peal of wild laughter.
“Oh, would not the unquiet spirit be at rest till it was avenged?” thought Anne when she was told of it.
CHAPTER XXIX: THE ASSIZE COURT
“O terror! what hath she perceived? O joy, What doth she look on? whom hath she perceived?”