“It is impossible, then, for the most skillful and far-seeing to foretell the issue?”
“Quite impossible. Will you now excuse me for a short time? I have not looked after my stock this morning.”
Mr. Mandeville left his guest around whose mouth a peculiar smile was playing as he passed out at the door. That smile had a meaning.
After a brief absence the host returned, and in some consternation announced that his best horse had been stolen during the night.
“Is it possible!” said Duffel, feigning the utmost surprise. “What villain could take advantage of the sickness of your daughter, to plan and execute such a cowardly act?”
“I am persuaded there are more than one connected with these thefts; indeed, I may say, I know there are numbers of thieves infesting the country. They are regularly banded together; and, would you believe it, that Hadley, of whom we were once speaking, is an officer in the band, as I have every reason to believe.”
“That will exactly correspond with what I told you in the interview to which you allude.”
“Have you seen him lately?”
“I have not.”
“Can he be found this morning?”
“Ah, I perceive your thoughts are running in the same direction as my own. We will inquire after him.”
The inquiries were instituted, but no Hadley was to be found; he had left the day previous, but no one could tell whither he had gone, or what had called him away. When these facts were ascertained, Mandeville and Duffel exchanged a significant glance, as much as to say: “Just as we expected!”
The horse stolen was one of great value, and Mr. Mandeville was resolved to make a desperate effort to recover him; and he was the more fixed in this determination, because the horse was intended as a gift to Eveline on her recovery, in case she did recover, and, also, because, as he believed, the detection of the culprit would expose the baseness of her lover to his daughter, and cause her to discard him at once from her thoughts.—Full of these thoughts, he offered a handsome reward for the horse, and a very large one for the apprehension of the thief. In prospect of obtaining these rewards, as well as to render a service to community, some six individuals banded themselves together with the avowed intention of ferreting out the matter, and immediately set out for that purpose.
FATHER AND DAUGHTER—DUFFEL.