“Let me go—let me go, I say.”
“Another word.” Rotha stepped into the doorway. Willy threw her hastily aside and hurried out.
Under the rude old Town Hall at Carlisle there was a shop which was kept by a dealer in second-hand books. The floor within was paved, and the place was lighted at night by two lamps, which swung from the beams of the ceilings. At one end a line of shelves served to separate from the more public part of the shop a little closet of a room, having a fire, and containing in the way of furniture a table, two or three chairs, and a stuffed settle.
In this closet, within a week of the events just narrated, a man of sinister aspect, whom we have met more than once already in other scenes, sat before a fire.
“Not come down yet, Pengelly?” said, this man to the bookseller, a tottering creature in a long gown and velvet skull cap.
“Will he ever come? It’s all a fool’s errand, too, I’ll swear it is.”
Then twisting his shoulders as though shivering, he added,—
“Bitter cold, this shop of yours.”
“Warmer than Doomsdale, eh?” replied the bookseller with a grin as he busied himself dusting his shelves.
The other chuckled. He took a stick that lay on the hearth and broke the fire into a sharp blaze. The exercise was an agreeable one. It was accompanied by agreeable reflections, too.
“I hear a foot on the stair.” A man entered the shop.
“No use, none,” said the new-comer. “It’s wasted labor talking to Master Wilfrey.”
The tone was one of vexation.
“Did ye tell him what I heard about Justice Hide and his carryings on at Newcastle?”
“Ey, and I told ’im he’d never bring it off with Hide on the bench.”
“And what did the chiel say to it?”
“‘Tut,’ he said, says he, ‘Millet is wi’ ’im on the circuit, and he’ll see the law’s safe on treason.’”
“So he will not touch the other indictment?”
“‘It’s no use,’ says he, ‘the man’s sure to fall for treason,’ he says, ’and it’s all botherment trying to force me to indict ’im for murder.’”
“Force him! Ha! ha! that’s good, that is; force him, eh?”
The speaker renewed his attentions to the fire.
“He’ll be beaten,” he added,—“he’ll be beaten, will Master Wilfrey. With Hide oh the bench there’ll be no conviction for treason. And then the capital charge will go to the wall, and Ray will get away scot free.”
“It baffles me yet aboot Ray, his giving himself up.”
“Shaf, man! Will ye never see through the trick? It was to stand for treason and claim the pardon, or be fined, or take a year in Doomsdale, and escape the gallows. He’s a cunning taistrel. He’ll do aught to save his life.”