A MYSTERIOUS YOUNG MAN.
The baronet leaped to his feet, and stood face to face with his preserver. The giant trees, towering up until they seemed to pierce the sky, half shut out the moonlight, but yet Sir Everard could see that it was a slender stripling who stood before him, a slouched hat pulled far over his eyes.
“I owe you my life,” he cried, grasping the youth’s hand. “An instant later, and I would have been in eternity. How shall I ever thank you?”
“Don’t make the attempt,” replied the lad, coolly. “It was the merest chance-work in the world that sent me here to-night.”
“Don’t call it chance, my boy. It was Providence sent you to save a life.”
“Providence may have wished to save your life, and was not particular as to the means. Let us look to this fellow. I hope my shot has not killed him outright.”
They both stooped over the fallen giant. Dick Darkly lay on his face, groaning dismally, the blood pumping from his chest with every breath.
“It’s an ugly-looking hole,” said Sir Everard. “Two inches lower, and it would have gone straight through his heart. As it is, it will put a stop to his assassinating proclivities for awhile, I fancy. Lie still, you matchless scoundrel, while I try and stop this flow of blood.”
He knelt beside the groaning man and endeavored to stanch the red gushing with his handkerchief. The youth stood by, gazing calmly on.
“What do you mean to do with him?” he asked.
“Send some of my people to take him to his home, and as soon as he is sufficiently recovered to stand his trial for attempted murder—”
“For God’s sake, Sir Everard!” faintly moaned the wounded man.
“Ah, you audacious villain, you can supplicate now! If I let you off this time, my life would not be worth an hour’s purchase.”
“What did he call you?” asked the boy, with sudden, sharp anxiety in his tone. “Whose life have I saved?”
“I am Sir Everard Kingsland, of Kingsland Court,” the baronet answered. “And you are—who?”
“Sir Everard Kingsland! And I have saved your life!”
“For which Heaven be praised! It is a very pleasant world, this, and I have no desire just yet to leave it. Pray tell me the name of my preserver!”
“Never mind my name; it is of no consequence who I am. I have a long journey before me; I am very weary and footsore, and it is time I was on my way.”
“Weary and footsore?” repeated the baronet. “Nay—then all the more need we should not part. Come home with me and rest—to-night, at least. I owe you a heavy debt, and I should like to pay a little of it.”
“You owe me nothing!” His eyes gleamed under his hat and his teeth clinched as he spoke. “Nothing, Sir Everard Kingsland! Let us say good-bye. I must reach Worrel by sunrise.”