“What is the plan? You mean to help old Jaspar out of the scrape, and save the girl too. How can you do it?”
“There is only one way—marry the girl!”
“Just so,” replied Vernon, with an indifference it was hard to assume.
“Here are the whole details of the plan. I have Jaspar’s consent to my marriage with the girl, but I dare not attempt to consummate the scheme in the city. She is so cursed obstinate, that it is a hard matter to manage her. I saw Jaspar last night, and we concluded to have the ceremony performed at Bellevue, as soon as possible, or that fiery son of Mars and your worthy patriarch will be down upon us, and spoil the whole.”
“Never fear them,” said Vernon. “You will not proceed for a week or two?”
“A week or so will make no difference. But I am afraid it will take more time than that to induce her to consent. The difficulty which has troubled me more than any other is to get her to Bellevue. She tells Dido that she will not go alive. She fears Jaspar more than she does me, and rightly suspects that if she yields she will have to encounter both. She has not seen me since the row at the wood-yard, and I intend to transact all business with her through De Guy.”
“She is a difficult case,” suggested Vernon, to fill up a pause in Maxwell’s speech.
“Now, it has occurred to me,” continued Maxwell, “that you could manage her like a young lamb.”
“I!” exclaimed Vernon.
“Certainly. You stand well with her, do you not?”
“Like a saint.”
“You can get up a rescue, or something of that sort, you know.”
“To be sure,” replied Vernon, thoughtfully.
“Pretend that you are going to effect her escape.”
“Capital!” said Vernon, suddenly; “I will pretend to effect her escape. But there is one difficulty—” and he suddenly checked his apparent zeal, and assumed a thoughtful air.
“Ay. I must be at Baton Rouge to-morrow night, or all my hopes up the river are lost.”
“And you will return—”
Vernon reflected, and then replied,
“In four days.”
“That will do. Don’t let it be more than four days.”
“And, Vernon, you had better write to the military lover that the lady is doing well—that Jaspar’s health is improving, &c. They won’t hurry down, then.”
“A good thought. I will write to him.”
“Here is my hand for my true constancy.”
“There is a fair
behavior in thee, captain;
I will believe thou hast a mind that suits
With this thy fair and outward character.”
“Villain!” muttered Vernon, as Maxwell left the coffee-room, “your work of iniquity is nearly done. If from the depths of my seared heart can come up one single good impulse to guide me, I will bring the guilty and the innocent to their just desert.”