“Ah! home let him speed, for the
spoiler is nigh!
Why flames the far summit? Why shoot to the blast
Those embers, like stars from the firmament cast?”
As Arundel left the hostelry, whither he had returned after his snap-chance, he observed the figure of a man, whom he had seen several times during the day, standing at a distance in the street. Unless his suspicions had been excited, he would probably have paid no attention to the circumstance; but, in the present condition of his mind, he could not avoid connecting the man’s frequent appearance with himself. It seemed, indeed, as if his motions were watched, though why, he knew not. In order to satisfy himself whether it were so, he stopped when he reached the edge of the forest, and, concealing himself, waited for the purpose of ascertaining whether he were followed; but, after remaining some time without seeing any person, he concluded that he must be mistaken, and more leisurely resumed his walk.
The day had been one of exceeding warmth, which circumstance, in connection with the excitement he had passed through, produced an exhaustion that indisposed the young man to exertion. In consequence of this, it was at a slow pace he proceeded, imagining any haste unnecessary, and esteeming it a matter of indifference at what hour he reached his destination. Hence it happened that the evening was considerably advanced before he had passed over half the distance which he had to go. He had advanced as far as the spot where he encountered the panther, and was thinking of his peril then, and of Sassacus, when he suddenly found himself surrounded by a number of armed men, one of whom demanded his piece. Arundel instantly recognised in the man who spoke, and appeared to be the leader, the Assistant Spikeman; and, suspecting mischief wherever he was concerned, and indignant at being stopped, refused to deliver up the gun. The refusal was useless, for it was forthwith wrested violently from his hands, after a struggle, in which he gave and received some unimportant hurts.
“What means this outrage, Master Spikeman,” demanded Arundel, “on one in the king’s peace, and quietly about his own business?”