“There is the money,” she whispered. “Go as quickly as you can. They are looking for you—there are orders out to arrest you.”
Goddard seized her fingers and took the money. She would have withdrawn her hand but he held it firmly.
“Who told you that they were after me?” he asked in a fierce whisper.
“Mr. Juxon—let me go.”
“Mr. Juxon!” The convict uttered a rough oath. “Your friend Mr. Juxon, eh? He is after me, is he? Tell him—”
“Hush, hush!” she whispered. “He has no idea you are here—”
“I should think not,” muttered Walter. “He would not be sneaking in here on the sly to see you if he knew I were about!”
“What do you mean?” asked Mary. “Oh, Walter, let me go—you hurt me so!” He held her fingers as in a vice.
“Hurt you! I wish I could strangle you and him too! Ha, you thought I was not looking this afternoon when he came! He went to the corner of the road with the parson, and when the parson was out of sight he came back! I saw you!”
“You saw nothing!” answered his wife desperately. “How can you say so! If you knew how kind he has been, what a loyal gentleman he is, you would not dare to say such things.”
“You used to say I was a loyal gentleman, Mary,” retorted the convict. “I daresay he is of the same stamp as I. Look here, Mary, if I catch this loyal gentleman coming here any more I will cut his throat—so look out!”
“You do not mean to say you are going to remain here any longer, in danger of your life?” said Mary in great alarm.
“Well—a man can only hang once. Give me some more of that bread and cheese, Mary. It was exceedingly good.”
“Then let me go,” said his wife, trembling with horror at the threat she had just heard.
“Oh yes. I will let you go. But I will just hold the window open in case you don’t come back soon enough. Look sharp!”
There was no need to hurry the unfortunate woman. In less than three minutes she returned, bringing a “quartern” loaf and a large piece of cheese. She thrust them out upon the window-sill and withdrew her hand before he could catch it. But he held the window open.
“Now go!” she said. “I cannot do more for you—for God’s sake go!”
“You seem very anxious to see the last of me,” he whispered. “I daresay if I am hanged you will get a ticket to see me turned off. Yes—we mention those things rather freely up in town. Don’t be alarmed. I will come back to-morrow night—you had better listen. If you had shown a little more heart, I would have been satisfied, but you are so stony that I think I would like another fifty pounds to-morrow night. Those notes are so deliciously crisp—”
“Listen, Walter!” said Mary. “Unless you promise to go I will raise an alarm at once. I can face shame again well enough. I will have you—hush! For God’s sake—hush! There is somebody coming!”