As soon as the door was closed, Ketchum leaned back in his chair and indulged in a low sarcastic laugh. “The old sinner,” he said, aloud; “he is a cute one; sharp as a pin, but needles are sharper. What a knack he has of whipping the devil round the stump! To look at that man you would suppose he was too good for preaching. And he flatters himself he is imposing on me! He must get up earlier for that. It is my opinion his only chance when his turn comes will be in cheating his Satanic Majesty. Well, practice makes perfect, and he has enough of it. I do declare,” he added, after a pause, as if scruples of conscience were arising in his mind, “I am almost sorry I undertook this business. But all trades must live.”
Consoling himself with this reflection, Ketchum started to hunt up the grand juror. He found no difficulty in inducing him to make complaint to Justice Miller, having first satisfied him that an offence had been committed which the law compelled him to notice officially.
Squire Miller, however, seemed disposed, at first, to take a different view of the subject. He said he had known Holden a good many years, and never heard harm of him except that he was a little flighty sometimes; but if the grand juror insisted, of course he would issue the warrant.
The minister of the law must have been inexorable, for the complaint was made, and the warrant signed in due form and delivered to Basset to be executed.
hither to me, master Elbow, come hither,
master constable. How long have you been in this place of
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
We have seen that when the constable left the shop he felt some anxiety about the proper course to be pursued. On the one hand were his duty and avarice, on the other his fears. After some meditation he finally effected a compromise between them, by adopting the resolution to wait until the formidable Holden should make his appearance again in the village, where, he thought he would be less likely, in open day, and surrounded by others, to resist, or, if he did, the assistance of the bystanders might be commanded.
Two or three days passed in this manner, none, excepting the five persons above-mentioned, having any knowledge of the issuing of the warrant. The excitement had died away, and the little community supposed no notice would be taken of the occurrence, and, for the most part, were disposed that none should be. Meanwhile, Basset, like a spider in the centre of his web, watched for his victim, ready to pounce upon him, as soon as the propitious moment should arrive. It is curious how the desire to capture Holden increased with delay. At first, and in the prospect of immediate danger, the business was far from being relished, but as time slipped along, and his mind became familiarized to its contemplation, it began to assume something of even a tempting character. He began to fancy that if he could secure the Recluse, he should achieve for himself a reputation for courage, which he was far, at present, from possessing. Yet, still he desired to discharge his commission in the most prudent manner.