“Yes, it does look so, Harry; but perhaps, on examining it closely, one would find that it is not so strong as it looks, by a long way. It seems to me there must be some way or other of getting father out, and, if there seems even the least bit of a chance, I shall try it.”
“And you may be sure I will stand by you, Charlie, whatever it is,” Harry said heartily. “We have been just like brothers, and, of course, brothers ought to stick to each other like anything. If they don’t, what is the use of being brothers? I daresay we shall know more, when we hear what my father has to say; and then we may see our way better.”
“Thank you, Harry. I knew you would stick by me. Of course, I don’t want to do any mad sort of thing. There is no hurry, anyhow, and, as you say, when we know more about it, we may be able to hit upon some sort of plan.”
It was not until eight o’clock that Mr. Jervoise arrived. He looked grievously tired and worn out, but he spoke cheerfully as he came in.
“I have had a busy two days of it, boys, as you may guess. I have no particularly good news to tell you, but, on the other hand, I have no bad news. I was in time to warn all our friends, and when the soldiers came for them in the morning, it was only to find that their nests were empty.
“They have been searching the houses of all Sir Marmaduke’s tenants, Charlie, and questioning man, woman, and child as to whether they have seen you.
“Ah! Here is supper, and I am nearly famished. However, I can go on talking while I eat. I should have been here sooner, but I have been waiting for the return of the messenger I sent to Lancaster.
“Yesterday morning there was an examination of your father, Charlie, or rather, an examination of the testimony against him. First the two letters that were discovered were put in. Without having got them word for word, my informer was able to give me the substance of them. Both were unsigned, and professed to have been written in France. The first is dated three months back. It alludes to a conversation that somebody is supposed to have had with Sir Marmaduke, and states that the agent who had visited him, and who is spoken of as Mr. H, had assured them that your father was perfectly ready to join, in any well-conceived design for putting a stop to the sufferings that afflicted the country, through the wars into which the foreign intruder had plunged it, even though the plan entailed the removal of the usurper. The writer assured Sir Marmaduke of the satisfaction that such an agreement on his part had caused at Saint Germains, and had heightened the high esteem in which Sir Marmaduke was held, for his long fidelity to the cause of his majesty. It then went on to state that a plan had been already formed, and that several gentlemen in the south were deeply pledged to carry it out, but that it was thought specially advisable that some from the north should