He turned towards them once more.
‘My lord,’ said he, ’I pass by your harsh speeches of me and mine. It may be I spoke too rudely myself. I will dwell no longer on the past, it is irrevocable; of my broken-hearted grandchild; of her young love, which was twined too strong around her heart, for one to perish without the other; of my own head grey in your service I will never more speak—but oh! for the love that bright boy once bore me, here on my knees, I entreat you, spare this man, who once was your playmate, spare him as you would be spared yourself; for let not your proud heart deceive you, not all your array of domestics, not all your barred doors, can save you from a violent death, or the guilt of murder, if you do not stop this unrighteous prosecution—for your own sake I entreat you stop, ere it be too late. Spurn this grey head if you will into the dust, but listen and spare.’
The Earl was unmoved as marble.
The old man left with bent head and slow step. ’Lambert, you will issue a notice, offering L500 to any one who captures Horace Hunter, dead or alive—also on pain of expulsion from the property, forbid any one harboring him; send for two London officers. These country bumpkins will never find him. Enquire for a dissolute fellow, known by the name of Curly Tom—pay him well: he perhaps may track him, in short, find this man and punishment to death shall follow.’
‘It shall on you!’ said a loud voice, apparently near them.
The Earl sprang to the window, and jumped out, the agent trembling remained, not a living being was in sight—the window opened upon a smooth lawn, there was not a chance of a person escaping notice, but no one was there; he summoned the domestics; they searched—no one was found, they had seen no one. Frantic with rage, yet with an ill-defined sensation of fear, the nobleman, re-entered the mansion, and dismissing every one, locked himself in an inner chamber.
The agent waited until his master was gone; then seated himself in the chair of state, and mused. ’Let me see! L500, too much to slip from my hands. I will find this Curly Tom myself—I think I know him—and if I can but keep him sober—and promise him a good carouse when Hunter’s caught, he will entrap him—for these scoundrels all know how to find one another—L500, too much for any of these bumpkins constables, no, no, I must have it—there is danger though—I must think over it—that voice was queer, where could it come from—could any one be in the presses?’ After screwing up his courage to the task, he opened them fearfully one by one; there was nothing there but the old papers before mentioned. He stooped and stood leaning against the mantelpiece, over which was the Earl’s picture—then puzzled, but determined on his course of action, he left the room and took his way to the village. He was not far from the house, when a servant called to him. ’You have a paper on your back, Mr. Lambert,’ said he. He took his coat off; on the back, fastened with a pin, was a paper, with the single word, doomed, written upon it. The man of business was puzzled; he was not altogether a coward, but this was not a business proceeding; he said nothing, however, but methodically folded it up, placed it in his pocket book, and proceeded.