‘And the papers?’
‘If not destroyed, are in his possession.’
’Then I can obtain them, although he has had, as he thinks, all the subterranean passages stopped up, yet there remains one, by which I can penetrate to his very bed-room unseen, although a stout man could not.’ The seaman mused. ’It would be dangerous. Your uncle is a brave man, and powerful. If he awoke—and such consciences must be bad sleeping companions, you would be sacrificed.’
’I fear not—for vengeance on my mother’s murderer I would dare anything.’
’It must not be, young man. You have a sacred duty to perform, more binding far than vengeance, which is the Lord’s alone. You have to heal the sorrows of those who will be in a great measure dependent upon you to redress the wrongs of years of oppression, to be a father to the tenants of your wide domain, and your life must not be idly risked.’
‘I have it!’ said Edward, eagerly. ’You say my father was fair-haired, and I am like my mother.’
The seaman took a miniature from his vest, and handed it to him. It contained two portraits—one of a captain in the British navy, in full uniform, his head bare, and locks of fair hair falling even over his shoulders, for he had disdained the peruke then in fashion—and that of a lady, whose dark eyes and raven ringlets told that her nativity had been the sunny south.
‘Johnson is not unlike the portrait of my father, and is a slim man,’ said Edward. ’He will readily go with me. I will personate my mother. I am confident the papers are not destroyed, for I have often seen him when he little dreamed an eye was upon him, examining some papers he keeps in a small casket on his toilet, and one in particular, a document of some length, which he has often seemed to me about to tear, but always replaced.’