It was all past now, and a feeling of pity rose in Mr. Bernard’s heart.
“He loved that horse, no doubt,” he said,—“and no wonder. A beautiful, wild—looking creature! Take off those things that are on him, Abel, and have them carried to Mr. Dudley Veneer’s. If he does not want them, you may keep them yourself, for all that I have to say. One thing more. I hope nobody will lift his hand against this noble creature to mutilate him in any way. After you have taken off the saddle and bridle, Abel, bury him just as he is. Under that old beech-tree will be a good place. You’ll see to it,—won’t you, Abel?”
Abel nodded assent, and Mr. Bernard returned to the Institute, threw himself in his clothes on the bed, and slept like one who is heavy with wine.
Following Mr. Bernard’s wishes, Abel at once took off the high-peaked saddle and the richly ornamented bridle from the mustang. Then, with the aid of two or three others, he removed him to the place indicated. Spades and shovels were soon procured, and before the moon had set, the wild horse of the Pampas was at rest under the turf at the wayside, in the far village among the hills of New England.
The news reaches the Dudley mansion.
Early the next morning Abel Stebbins made his appearance at Dudley Veneer’s, and requested to see the maan o’ the haouse abaout somethin’ o’ consequence. Mr. Veneer sent word that the messenger should wait below, and presently appeared in the study, where Abel was making himself at home, as is the wont of the republican citizen, when he hides the purple of empire beneath the apron of domestic service.
“Good mornin’, Squire!” said Abel, as Mr. Venner entered. “My name’s Stebbins, ‘n’ I’m stoppin’ f’r a spell ’ith of Doctor Kittredge.”
“Well, Stebbins,” said Mr. Dudley Veneer, “have you brought any special message from the Doctor?”
“Y’ ha’n’t heerd nothin’ abaout it, Squire, d’ ye mean t’ say?” said Abel,—beginning to suspect that he was the first to bring the news of last evening’s events.
“About what?” asked Mr. Veneer, with some interest.
“Dew tell, naow! Waal, that beats all! Why, that ’ere Portagee relation o’ yourn ‘z been tryin’ t’ ketch a fellah ’n a slippernoose, ‘n’ got ketched himself,—that’s all. Y’ ha’n’t heerd noth’n’ abaout it?”
“Sit down,” said Mr. Dudley Veneer, calmly, “and tell me all you have to say.”
So Abel sat down and gave him an account of the events of the last evening. It was a strange and terrible surprise to Dudley Veneer to find that his nephew, who had been an inmate of his house and the companion of his daughter, was to all intents and purposes guilty of the gravest of crimes. But the first shock was no sooner over than he began to think what effect the news would have on Elsie. He imagined that there was a kind of friendly feeling between them, and he feared some crisis would be provoked in his daughter’s mental condition by the discovery. He would wait, however, until she came from her chamber, before disturbing her with the evil tidings.