“Thanks,” replied the stranger; “the welcome is most seasonable.”
“Be seated, sir; take your seat by the ingle; it is warm.”
The stranger seated himself, and seemed lost in reflection, as he gazed intently on the blazing logs. He was a robust man, with great whiskers and beard, and, to judge from his outward habiliments, he was a stout man.
“Have you travelled far?”
“I have, sir.”
“You appear to belong to the army, if I mistake not?”
“I do, sir.”
There was a pause; the stranger seemed not inclined to speak of himself much; but Mr. Bradley continued,—
“Have you come from foreign service, sir? I presume you have.”
“Yes; I have not been in this country more than six days.”
“Indeed; shall we have peace think you?”
“I do so, and I hope it may be so, for the sake of many who desire to return to their native land, and to those they love best.”
Mr. Bradley heaved a deep sigh, which was echoed softly by all present, and the stranger looked from one to another, with a hasty glance, and then turned his gaze upon the fire.
“May I ask, sir, if you have any person whom you regard in the army—any relative?”
“Alas! I have—perhaps, I ought to say I had a son. I know not, however, where he is gone.”
“Oh! a runaway; I see.”
“Oh, no; he left because there were some family differences, and now, I would, that he were once more here.”
“Oh!” said the stranger, softly, “differences and mistakes will happen now and then, when least desired.”
At this moment, an old hound who had lain beside Ellen Mowbray, she who wore the coal-black tresses, lifted his head at the difference in sound that was noticed in the stranger’s voice. He got up and slowly walked up to him, and began to smell around him, and, in another moment, he rushed at him with a cry of joy, and began to lick and caress him in the most extravagant manner. This was followed by a cry of joy in all present.
“It is Henry!” exclaimed Ellen Mowbray, rising and rushing into his arms.
It was Henry, and he threw off the several coats he had on, as well as the large beard he wore to disguise himself.
The meeting was a happy one; there was not a more joyful house than that within many miles around. Henry was restored to the arms of those who loved him, and, in a month, a wedding was celebrated between him and his cousin Ellen.
* * * * *
Sir Francis Varney glanced at his watch. It indicated but five minutes to twelve o’clock, and he sprang to his feet. Even as he did so, a loud knocking at the principal entrance to his house awakened every echo within its walls.
THE THOUSAND POUNDS.—THE STRANGER’S PRECAUTIONS.