A Perilous Secret eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 293 pages of information about A Perilous Secret.

CHAPTER XX.

CALAMITY.

The baffled conspirators saw Grace Hope bound over a stile like a deer and dash up to the mine; then there was a hurried colloquy, and some men were seen to start from the mine and run toward Hope’s cottage.  What actually took place was this:  She arrived panting, and begged to be sent down the mine at once; the deputy said, “You cannot, miss, without an order from Mr. Hope.”

“I am his daughter, sir,” said she; “he has claimed me from Mr. Bartley this day.”

At that word the man took off his hat to her.

“Let me down this instant; there’s a plot to fire the mine, and destroy my dear father.”

“A plot to fire the mine!” said the man, all aghast.  “Why, who by?  Hy! cage ready there!”

“One Burnley, but he’s bribed by a stranger.  Send me down to warn my father; but you run and seize that villain; you can not mistake him.  He wears a light suit of tweed, all one color.  He has very black eyebrows, and a face like a corpse, and a large gold ring on the little finger of his right hand.  You will find him somewhere near my father’s cottage.  Neither you nor I have a moment to lose.”

Then the deputy called three more men, and made for Hope’s cottage, while Grace went down in the cage.

Bartley fled in mortal terror to his own house, and began to pack up his things to leave the country.  Monckton withdrew to the clump of fir-trees, and from that thin shelter watched the mine, intending to levant as soon as he should see Hope come up safe and sound; but, when he saw three or four men start from the mine and run across to him, he took the alarm and sought the thicker shelter of a copse hard by.  It was a very thick cover, good for temporary concealment; but he soon found it was so narrow that he couldn’t emerge from it on either side without being seen at once, and his quick wit told him that Grace had denounced him, and probably described him accurately to the miners; he was in mortal terror, but not unprepared for this sort of danger.  The first thing he did was to whip off his entire tweed suit and turn it inside out; he had had it made on purpose; it was a thin tweed, doubled with black kerseymere, so that this change was a downright transformation.  Then he substituted a black tie for a colored one, whipped out a little mirror and his hare’s-foot, etc., browned and colored his cheek, put on an admirable gray wig, whiskers, mustache, and beard, and partly whitened his eyebrows, and hobbled feebly out of the little wood an infirm old man.  Presently he caught sight of his gold ring.  “Ah!” said he, “she is a sharp girl; perhaps she noticed that in the struggle?” He took it off and was going to put it in his pocket, but thought better of that, and chucked it into a ditch.  Then he made for the village.  The pursuers hunted about the house and, of course, didn’t find him; but presently one of them saw him crossing a meadow not far off, so they ran toward him and hailed him.

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A Perilous Secret from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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