“I do not say, however, that, if he could curry favour with the king’s party by doing you harm, without appearing in the matter, he would hesitate for a moment.
“Even if you were arrested here, I doubt whether any great harm would befall me, for all the Scotch merchants would make common cause with me, and, although we have no political power, we have a good deal of influence one way or another, and Augustus, at this time, would not care to make fresh enemies. However, lad, I will not further dispute your decision. Were I quite alone, I would not let you leave me, so long as you stop in this city, without taking great offence; but, with a wife and two children, a man is more timid than if he had but himself to think of.”
Charlie therefore moved into the lodging, but every day he went for three or four hours to the shop, where he kept up his assumed character by aiding to keep the ledgers, and in learning from the Polish assistants the value of the various goods in the shop.
One evening, he was returning after supper to his lodging, when Stanislas met him.
“I observed three or four evil-looking rascals casting glances at the house today, and there are several rough-looking fellows hanging about the house this evening. I do not know if it means anything, but I thought I would let you know.”
“I think it must be only your fancy, Stanislas. I might be arrested by the troops, were I denounced, but I apprehend no danger from men of the class you speak of. However, if we should be interfered with, I fancy we could deal with several rascals of that sort.”
At the corner of his street, three or four men were standing. One of them moved, as he passed, and pushed rudely against him, sending his hat into the gutter. Then, as his face was exposed, the fellow exclaimed:
“It is he, death to the Swedish spy!”
They were the last words he uttered. Charlie’s sword flew from its scabbard, and, with a rapid pass, he ran the man through the body. The others drew instantly, and fell upon Charlie with fury, keeping up the shout of, “Death to the Swedish spy!” It was evidently a signal—for men darted out of doorways, and came running down the street, repeating the cry.
“Go, Stanislas!” Charlie shouted, as he defended himself against a dozen assailants. “Tell Ramsay what has happened; you can do no good here.”
A moment later, he received a tremendous blow on the back of the head, from an iron-bound cudgel, and fell senseless to the ground.
When Charlie recovered his senses, he found himself lying bound in a room lighted by a dim lamp, which sufficed only to show that the beams were blackened by smoke and age, and the walls constructed of rough stone work. There was, so far as he could see, no furniture whatever in it, and he imagined that it was an underground cellar, used perhaps, at some time or other, as a storeroom. It was some time before his brain was clear enough to understand what had happened, or how he had got into his present position. Gradually the facts came back to him, and he was able to think coherently, in spite of a splitting headache, and a dull, throbbing pain at the back of his head.