“None o’ your cursed jaw!” said the fellow, in a louder and deeper growl, approaching Falconer with a threatening mien.
“Well, I can’t help it,” said Falconer, as if to himself.
“Sutherland, look after the count.”
“That I will,” said Hugh, confidently.
Falconer turned on the carman, who was just on the point of closing with him, preferring that mode of fighting; and saying only: “Defend yourself,” retreated a step. The man was good at his fists too, and, having failed in his first attempt, made the best use of them he could. But he had no chance with Falconer, whose coolness equalled his skill.
Meantime, the Bohemian had been watching his chance; and although the contest certainly did not last longer than one minute, found opportunity, in the middle of it, to wrench himself free from Hugh, trip him up, and dart off. The crowd gave way before him. He vanished so suddenly and completely, that it was evident he must have studied the neighbourhood from the retreat side of the question. With rat-like instinct, he had consulted the holes and corners in anticipation of the necessity of applying to them. Hugh got up, and, directed, or possibly misdirected by the bystanders, sped away in pursuit; but he could hear or see nothing of the fugitive.
At the end of the minute, the carman lay in the road.
“Look after him, somebody,” said Falconer.
“No fear of him, sir; he’s used to it,” answered one of the bystanders, with the respect which Falconer’s prowess claimed.
Falconer walked after Hugh, who soon returned, looking excessively mortified, and feeling very small indeed.
“Never mind, Sutherland,” said he. “The fellow is up to a trick or two; but we shall catch him yet. If it hadn’t been for that big fool there — but he’s punished enough.”
“But what can we do next? He will not come here again.”
“Very likely not. Still he may not give up his attempts upon Miss Cameron. I almost wonder, seeing she is so impressible, that she can give no account of his whereabouts. But I presume clairvoyance depends on the presence of other qualifications as well. I should like to mesmerize her myself, and see whether she could not help us then.”
“Well, why not, if you have the power?”
“Because I have made up my mind not to superinduce any condition of whose laws I am so very partially informed. Besides, I consider it a condition of disease in which, as by sleeplessness for instance, the senses of the soul, if you will allow the expression, are, for its present state, rendered unnaturally acute. To induce such a condition, I dare not exercise a power which itself I do not understand.”
For though that ever virtuous was she,
She was increased in such excellence,
Of thewes good, yset in high bounte,
And so discreet and fair of eloquence,
So benign, and so digne of reverence,
And couthe so the poeple’s hert embrace,
That each her loveth that looketh in her face.