Then he laughed. “The gowks! I won all those Indian bonds of them last night, but left them in a parcel addressed to them as a legacy.”
Anne took the required pledge, and ventured to ask, “Shall I say anything for you to your father?”
“My poor old father! Let him know that I neither would nor could disturb Robert in his inheritance, attainted traitor as the laws esteem me. For the rest, mayhap I shall write to him if the good angel you talk of will help me.”
“Oh do! I am sure he would rejoice to forgive. He is much softened.”
“Now, we must hush, and go warily. I see sheep, and if there is a shepherd, I want him not to see us, or point our way. It is well these Isle of Wight folk are not early risers.”
“Follow Light, and do the Right—for man can half-control his doom— Till you find the deathless Angel seated in the vacant tomb.
Forward, let the stormy moment fly and mingle with the Past. I that loathed, have come to love him. Love will conquer at the last.”
On they had gone in silence for the most part, avoiding villages, but as the morning advanced and they came into more inhabited places, they were not able entirely to avoid meeting labourers going out to work, who stared at Hans’s black face with curiosity. The sun was already high when they reached a cross-road whence the massive towers of Carisbrooke were seen above the hedges, and another turn led to Parkhurst. They paused a moment, and Anne was beginning to entreat her escort to leave her to proceed alone, when the sound of horses’ feet galloping was heard behind them. Peregrine looked back.
“Ah!” he said. “Ride on as fast as you can towards the castle. You will be all right. I will keep them back. Go, I say.”
And as some figures were seen at the end of the road, he pricked the pony with the point of his sword so effectually that it bolted forward, quite beyond Anne’s power of checking it, and in a second or two its speed was quickened by shouts and shots behind. Anne felt, but scarcely understood at the moment, a sharp pang and thrill in her left arm, as the steed whirled her round the corner of the lane and full into the midst of a party of gentlemen on horseback coming down from the castle.
“Help! help!” she cried. “Down there.”