But if the effect upon him was great, what must it have been upon those whom it took completely unawares? For a moment or two they seemed completely paralysed, and then they frightened the boy, for the shout of terror that rose from so many throats at once was positively alarming.
This jest of Dick’s was final, for, before three minutes had elapsed, the churchyard was clear of all human occupants save himself and the boy, who had played his part so well in the coffin.
“Get out,” said Dick, “it’s all right—we’ve done ’em at last; and now you may depend upon it they won’t be in a hurry to come here again. You keep your own counsel, or else somebody will serve you out for this. I don’t think you’re altogether averse to a bit of fun, and if you keep yourself quiet, you’ll have the satisfaction of hearing what’s said about this affair in every pot-house in the village, and no mistake.”
THE PREPARATIONS FOR LEAVING BANNERWORTH HALL, AND THE MYSTERIOUS CONDUCT OF THE ADMIRAL AND MR. CHILLINGWORTH.
It seemed now, that, by the concurrence of all parties, Bannerworth Hall was to be abandoned; and, notwithstanding Henry was loth—as he had, indeed, from the first shown himself—to leave the ancient abode of his race, yet, as not only Flora, but the admiral and his friend Mr. Chillingworth seemed to be of opinion that it would be a prudent course to adopt, he felt that it would not become him to oppose the measure.
He, however, now made his consent to depend wholly upon the full and free acquiescence of every member of the family.
“If,” he said, “there be any among us who will say to me ’Continue to keep open the house in which we have passed so many happy hours, and let the ancient home of our race still afford a shelter to us,’ I shall feel myself bound to do so; but if both my mother and my brother agree to a departure from it, and that its hearth shall be left cold and desolate, be it so. I will not stand in the way of any unanimous wish or arrangement.”
“We may consider that, then, as settled,” said the admiral, “for I have spoken to your brother, and he is of our opinion. Therefore, my boy, we may all be off as soon as we can conveniently get under weigh.”
“But my mother?
“Oh, there, I don’t know. You must speak to her yourself. I never, if I can help it, interfere with the women folks.”
“If she consent, then I am willing.”
“Will you ask her?”
“I will not ask her to leave, because I know, then, what answer she would at once give; but she shall hear the proposition, and I will leave her to decide upon it, unbiased in her judgment by any stated opinion of mine upon the matter.”
“Good. That’ll do; and the proper way to put it, too. There’s no mistake about that, I can tell you.”
Henry, although he went through the ceremony of consulting his mother, had no sort of doubt before he did so that she was sufficiently aware of the feelings and wishes of Flora to be prepared to yield a ready assent to the proposition of leaving the Hall.