The doubt was soon changed into a certainty. When, a few hundred yards up the hill, he met his friend, both were almost breathless. Harry was the first to gasp out:
“Has my father arrived?”
Harry threw himself down on the short grass, with an exclamation of thankfulness.
“I have run nearly every foot of the way,” he said, as soon as he got his breath a little. “I had awful difficulty in getting out. One of the constables kept in the same room with me, and followed me wherever I went. They evidently thought I might hear from my father, or try to send him a message. At last, I got desperate, and ran upstairs to that room next mine, and closed and locked the door after me. You know the ivy grows high up the wall there, and directly I got in, I threw open the casement and climbed down by it. It gave way two or three times, and I thought I was gone, but I stuck to it, and managed each time to get a fresh hold. The moment I was down, I ran along by the foot of the wall until I got round behind, made a dash into that clump of fir trees, crawled along in a ditch till I thought I was safe, and then made a run for it. I was so afraid of being followed that I have been at least three miles round, but I don’t mind, now that my father hasn’t arrived. I was in such a fright that he might come and go before I got here.”
The two lads walked slowly down the hill together. Harry had heard no more than Charlie had done, of what was going on. The messenger from his father was a young fellow, of seventeen or eighteen, with a gipsy face and appearance. How he had managed to elude the vigilance of the men on watch, Harry did not know. He, himself, had only learnt his presence when, as he passed some bushes in the garden, a sharp whisper made him stop, and a moment later a hand was thrust through the foliage. He took the little note held out, and caught sight of the lad’s face, through the leaves, as he leant forward and said:
“Go on, sir, without stopping. They may be watching you.”
Harry had thrust the note into his pocket, and sauntered on for some time. He then returned to the house, and there read the letter, with whose contents Charlie was already acquainted. Eagerly, they talked over what each had been thinking of since they had parted, early on the previous day; and discussed Charlie’s idea of an attack on Lancaster jail.
“I don’t know whether I could get as many men as you say, Charlie. I don’t think I could. If my father were in prison, as well as yours, I am sure that most of the young fellows on the estate would gladly help to rescue him, but it would be a different thing when it came to risking their lives for anyone else. Of course I don’t know, but it does not seem to me that fifty men would be of any use, at all, towards taking Lancaster Castle. It always seemed to me a tremendously strong place.”