“Charlie,” Sir Marmaduke said on the following morning, at breakfast, “it is quite possible that that villain who acted as spy, and that other villain who employed him—I need not mention names—may swear an information against me, and I may be arrested, on the charge of being concerned in a plot. I am not much afraid of it, if they do. The most they could say is that I was prepared to take up arms, if his majesty crossed from France; but, as there are thousands and thousands of men ready to do the same, they may fine me, perhaps, but I should say that is all. However, what I want to say to you is, keep out of the way, if they come. I shall make light of the affair, while you, being pretty hot tempered, might say things that would irritate them, while they could be of no assistance to me. Therefore, I would rather that you were kept out of it, altogether. I shall want you here. In my absence, there must be somebody to look after things.
“Mind that rascal John Dormay does not put his foot inside the house, while I am away. That fellow is playing some deep game, though I don’t quite know what it is. I suppose he wants to win the goodwill of the authorities, by showing his activity and zeal; and, of course, he will imagine that no one has any idea that he has been in communication with this spy. We have got a hold over him, and, when I come back, I will have it out with him. He is not popular now, and, if it were known that he had been working against me, his wife’s kinsman, behind my back, my friends about here would make the country too hot to hold him.”
“Yes, father; but please do not let him guess that we have learnt it from Ciceley. You see, that is the only way we know about it.”
“Yes, you are right there. I will be careful that he shall not know the little maid has anything to do with it. But we will think of that, afterwards; maybe nothing will come of it, after all. But, if anything does, mind, my orders are that you keep away from the house, while they are in it. When you come back, Banks will tell you what has happened.
“You had better take your horse, and go for a ride now. Not over there, Charlie. I know, if you happened to meet that fellow, he would read in your face that you knew the part he had been playing, and, should nothing come of the business, I don’t want him to know that, at present. The fellow can henceforth do us no harm, for we shall be on our guard against eavesdroppers; and, for the sake of cousin Celia and the child, I do not want an open breach. I do not see the man often, myself, and I will take good care I don’t put myself in the way of meeting him, for the present, at any rate. Don’t ride over there today.”
“Very well, father. I will ride over and see Harry Jervoise. I promised him that I would come over one day this week.”
It was a ten-mile ride, and, as he entered the courtyard of Mr. Jervoise’s fine old mansion, he leapt off his horse, and threw the reins over a post. A servant came out.