If Henry Stuart’s rush may be compared to the flight of an arrow from a bow, not less appropriately may Gascoyne’s bound be likened to the leap of the bolt from a cross-bow: The two men sprang over the low fences that surrounded the cottage, leaped the rivulet that brawled down its steep course behind it, and coursed up the hill like mountain hares.
The last that Widow Stuart saw of them, as she gazed eagerly from the doorway of the hut, was, when Gascoyne’s figure was clearly defined against the sky as he leaped over a great chasm in the lava high up the mountain-side. Henry followed almost instantly, and then both were hidden from view in the chaos of rocks and gorges that rose above the upper line of vegetation.
It was a long and a severe chase that Henry had undertaken, and ably did his fleet foot sustain the credit which he had already gained. But Gascoyne’s foot was fleeter. Over every species of ground did the sandal-wood trader lead the youth that morning. It seemed, in fact, as if a spirit of mischief had taken possession of Gascoyne; for his usually grave face was lighted up with a mingled expression of glee and ferocity. It changed, too, and wore a sad expression at times, even when the man seemed to be running for his life.
At last, after running until he had caused Henry to show symptoms of fatigue, Gascoyne turned suddenly round, and shouting “Good-by, Henry, my lad!” went straight up the mountain, and disappeared over the dividing ridge on the summit.
Henry did not give in. The insult implied in the words renewed his strength. He tightened his belt as he ran, and rushed up the mountain almost as fast as Gascoyne had done; but when he leaped upon the ridge, the fugitive had vanished!
That he had secreted himself in one of the numerous gorges or caves with which the place abounded was quite clear; but it was equally clear that no one could track him out in such a place unless he were possessed of a dog’s nose. The youth did indeed attempt it; but, being convinced that he was only searching for what could not by any possibility be found, he soon gave it up, and returned, disconsolate and crestfallen, to the cottage.
MYSTERIOUS CONSULTATIONS AND PLANS—GASCOYNE ASTONISHES HIS FRIENDS, AND MAKES AN UNEXPECTED CONFESSION.
“A pretty morning’s work I have made of it, mother,” said Henry, as he flung himself into a chair in the cottage parlor, on his return from the weary and fruitless chase which has just been recorded.
The widow was pale and haggard; but she could not help smiling as she observed the look of extreme disappointment which rested on the countenance of her son.
“True, Henry,” she replied, busying herself in preparing breakfast, “you have not been very successful; but you made a noble effort.”
“Pshaw! a noble effort, indeed! Why, the man has foiled me in the two things in which I prided myself most,—wrestling and running. I never saw such a greyhound in my life.”