That the Jacobite cause could fail to triumph was a contingency to which Charlie did not give even a thought. He had been taught that it was a just and holy cause. All his school friends, as well as the gentlemen who visited his father, were firm adherents of it, and he believed that the same sentiments must everywhere prevail. There was, then, nothing but the troops of William to reckon with, and these could hardly oppose a rising of the English people, backed by aid from France.
It was not until after dark that the messenger returned.
“Master Harry bade me tell you, sir, that a gipsy boy he had never seen before has brought him a little note from his father. He will not return at present, but, if Mr. Harry can manage to slip away unnoticed in the afternoon, tomorrow, he is to come here. He is not to come direct, but to make a circuit, lest he should be watched and followed, and it may be that the master will meet him here.”
Charlie was very glad to hear this. Harry could, of course, give him little news of what was going on outside the house, but Mr. Jervoise might be able to tell him something about his father, especially as he had said he had means of learning what went on in Lancaster jail.
He was longing to be doing something. It seemed intolerable to him that he should be wandering aimlessly among the hills, while his father was lying in Lancaster, with a charge affecting his life hanging over him. What he could do he knew not, but anything would be better than doing nothing. Mr. Jervoise had seemed to think that it was out of the question to attempt a rescue from Lancaster; but surely, if he could get together forty or fifty determined fellows, a sudden assault upon the place might be successful.
Then he set to work reckoning up the grooms, the younger tenants, and the sons of the older ones, and jotted down the names of twenty-seven who he thought might join in the attempt.
“If Harry could get twenty-three from his people, that would make it up to the number,” he said. “Of course, I don’t know what the difficulties to be encountered may be. I have ridden there with my father, and I know that the castle is a strong one, but I did not notice it very particularly. The first thing to do will be to go and examine it closely. No doubt ladders will be required, but we could make rope ladders, and take them into the town in a cart, hidden under faggots, or something of that sort.
“I do hope Mr. Jervoise will come tomorrow. It is horrible waiting here in suspense.”
The next morning, the hours seemed endless. Half a dozen times he went restlessly in and out, walking a little distance up the hill rising from the valley, and returning again, with the vain idea that Mr. Jervoise might have arrived.
Still more slowly did the time appear to go, after dinner. He was getting into a fever of impatience and anxiety, when, about five o’clock, he saw a figure coming down the hillside from the right. It was too far away to recognize with certainty, but, by the rapid pace at which he descended the hill, he had little doubt that it was Harry, and he at once started, at the top of his speed, to meet him.