“It’s a trick, a mean trick,” cried Willy, tramping the floor; “your pardon is a mockery, and your indemnity a lie.”
“Take care, young man; keep your strong words for better service, and do you profit by what we say.”
“That for what you say,” cried Willy, losing all self-control and snapping his fingers before their faces. “Do your worst; and be sure of this, that nothing would prevail with me to disclose my brother’s whereabouts even if I knew it, which I do not.”
The constables laughed. “We know all about it, you see. Ha! ha! You want a touch of your brother’s temper, young master. He could hardly fizz over like this. We should have less trouble with him if he could. But he’s a vast deal cooler than that—worse luck!”
Willy’s anger was not appeased by this invidious parallel. “That’s enough,” he cried at all but the full pitch of his voice, pointing at the same time to the door.
The men smiled grimly and turned about.
“Remember, a fortnight to-day, and we’ll be with you again.”
Rotha clung to the rannel-tree rafter to support herself. Willy thrust out his arm again, trembling with excitement.
“A fortnight to-day,” repeated the constable calmly, and pulled the door after him.
SHE NEVER TOLD HER LOVE.
When the door had closed behind the constables, Willy Ray sank exhausted into a chair. The tension of excitement had been too much for his high-strung temperament, and the relapse was swift and painful.
“Pardon and indemnity!” he muttered, “a mockery and a lie—that’s what it is, as I told them. Once in their clutches, and there would be no pardon and no indemnity. I know enough for that. It’s a trick to catch us, but, thank God, we cannot be caught.”
“Yet I think Ralph ought to know; that is, if we can tell him,” said Rotha. She was still clinging to the rannel-tree over the ingle. Her face, which had been flushed, was now ashy pale, and her lips were compressed.
“He would deliver himself up. I know him too well; I cannot doubt what he would do,” said Willy.
“Still, I think he ought to know,” said Rotha. The girl was speaking in a low tone, but with every accent of resolution.
“He would be denied the pardon if he obtained the indemnity. He would be banished perhaps for years.”
“Still, I think he ought to know.” Rotha spoke calmly and slowly, but with every evidence of suppressed emotion.
“My dear Rotha,” said Willy in a peevish tone, “I understand this matter better than you think for, and I know my brother better than you can know him. There would be no pardon, I tell you. Ralph would be banished.”
“Let us not drive them to worse destruction,” said Rotha.
“And what could be worse?” said Willy, rising and walking aimlessly across the room. “They might turn us from this shelter, true; they might leave us nothing but charity or beggary, that is sure enough. Is this worse than banishment? Worse! Nothing can be worse—”