He rushed away, and left me alone. I tried to move, but could not; and yet I realized this—although my body was chained, my mind was still free and active. When the quarter of an hour was up, I went away, with a great weight upon my heart, wondering, yet dreading, what would happen next.
I will not try to describe my walk back to Temple Hall, or tell of the terrible sensations that I felt. Think, if you can, of my position. A young man of thirty, a slave to a deep designing villain, held fast in his power by some secret nervous or brain forces which he possessed. More than this, he had designs upon the woman I loved, while I was powerless, nay, worse than powerless, for he might make me do things which would be altogether opposed to what I believed right and true. When you realize this, you will be able to form some idea of how I felt. And yet I ’was not altogether without hope. I felt that life and love of liberty were strong in me, and I determined that, though I might be conquered, it should not be without a struggle.
Arriving at the house, I saw Simon Slowden. He evidently had a message for me, for, making a sign for me to stop, he quickly came to my side.
“Yer nag is saddled, sur,” he said.
I caught his meaning instantly. “Which way did they go, and how long have they been gone?” I asked.
“They’re gone to Drearwater Pond, yer honour. Started ’bout half-an-hour ago.”
“Any message for me?”
“The guv’nor told me, if I saw yer, to tell yer where they’d gone.”
“Who went with Mr. Temple?”
“Miss Gray and the other lady, yer honour.”
He had led out the horse by this time, and I was preparing to mount it, when I saw that he had something more to communicate.
“What is it, Simon?” I said.
He did not speak, but winked slyly at me, and then led the horse away from the stable-yard. As he did so, I saw Kaffar come away from one of the lads who was employed about the house.
“He’s a spy, yer honour, a reg’lar Judas Iscariot. T’other chap’s called Herod, pity this one isn’t called Judas. They be a bootiful couple, yer honour.” He looked around again, and then said, “That murderin’, waccinatin’ willain is gone efter ’em, Mr. Blake. He came back just after they’d gone, and went ridin’ efter ’em like greased lightnin’.”
For a minute I was stunned.
“I thought I’d better tell ’ee, yer honour, and then you’d know ’ow to act.”
I thanked Simon heartily; then, turning my horse’s head towards Drearwater Pond, I galloped away. I had not gone far before I began to question the wisdom of what I was doing. Was I right in thus openly defying the man who possessed such a terrible power? It certainly seemed foolish, and yet I could not bear the idea of his being the companion of Gertrude Forrest. Besides, it might stagger him somewhat to find that his words had not frightened me.