“Yours, most faithfully,
“P.S. Do permit me to entreat you to come if you can. I have a thousand things to tell you, and some of them are cheering. I have not time to write more now.”
As we have said, Eveline read this letter with the wildest emotions thrilling through her heart. A tumult of joy was in her bosom—joy more exquisite than had gladdened her spirit since the hour when her young heart knew that its deep love was reciprocated. Hadley was near her—he had been falsely accused, and instead of the vile criminal he was represented, he was a loving and dutiful son, fleeing to the bedside of a sick mother! What a consolation to her heart! Without a moment’s hesitation, she resolved to see him, and turning to the gentleman, from whom she averted her face, while reading, to conceal her feelings, she said, deeply blushing as she did so:
“Mr. Hadley wishes me to see him, and directs me to place myself under your guidance. Will you be so kind as to show me the way to him?”
“With the greatest pleasure; for I know he will be but too happy to behold you. Pardon me, if, in my zeal for my friend, I should say aught that may be out of place.”
He led the way into the deeper recesses of the forest, and she followed him. All this had been done in a moment, as it were, and without time for the slightest consideration. Under other circumstances, or with a little reflection, Eveline might have acted differently.
The two had proceeded a quarter of a mile or more, when Eveline, in passing a large tree, was suddenly seized by rude hands, and ere she had time to scream, a covering was placed over her mouth, and her hands secured. In these operations her recent guide took an active part, and when they were completed, he said:
“You shall not be injured by us, fair lady, and we only regret that we are compelled, by the force of circumstances, to put you to the inconvenience of a journey on so short a notice. You must go with us; but we will deal tenderly with you so long as you are peaceable and quiet; but you must beware how you attempt to make any noise; for we will not suffer ourselves to be betrayed by such means.”
With these remarks the two kidnappers, one on each side of their captive, started off through the wilderness at as rapid a rate as their fair prisoner could move.
To attempt a description of Eveline’s feelings at this hour would be a vain task. In a moment, she was brought down from the pinnacle of hope to the depths of despair; for she saw in all this that had passed the hand of Duffel, her avowed enemy; and, indeed, as the reader has doubtless already concluded, she was in the hands of none others than Bill and Dick, who were bearing her off to the cave.