Then all was bustle, and scuffle, and confusion, every one tearing away to the hustings, which had been fixed in a convenient spot, the town-hall, not affording the accommodation necessary for a poll. Candidates, and proposers and seconders, and gentlemen, and officers, and mob, hustling and jostling each other. Mr. Carlyle was linked arm-in-arm with Sir John Dobede; Sir John’s arm was within Lord Mount Severn’s—but, as to order, it was impossible to observe any. To gain the place they had to pass the house of Miss Carlyle. Young Vane, who was in the thick of the crowd, of course, cast his eyes up to its lined windows, took off his hat and waved it. “Carlyle and honor forever!” shouted he.
The ladies laughed and nodded, and shook their handkerchiefs, and displayed their scarlet and purple colors. The crowd took up the shout, till the very air echoed with it. “Carlyle and honor forever!” Barbara’s tears were falling; but she smiled through them at one pair of loving eyes, which sought out hers.
“A galaxy of beauty!” whispered Mr. Drake in the ear of Sir Francis. “How the women rally round him! I tell you what, Levison, you and the government were stupid to go on with the contest, and I said so days ago. You have no more chance against Carlyle than that bit of straw has against the wind. You ought to have withdrawn in time.”
“Like a coward?” angrily returned Sir Francis. “No, I’ll go on with it to the last, though I do get beaten.”
“How lovely his wife is,” observed Mr. Drake, his admiring eyes cast up at Barbara. “I say, Levison, was the first one as charming?”
Sir Francis looked perfectly savage; the allusion did not please him. But, ere another word could be spoken, some one in the garb of a policeman, who had wound his way through the crowd, laid his hand upon the baronet.
“Sir Francis Levison, you are my prisoner.”
Nothing worse than debt occurred at that moment to the mind of Sir Francis. But that was quite enough, and he turned purple with rage.
“Your hands off, vermin! How dare you?”
A quick movement, a slight click, a hustle from the wondering crowd more immediately around, and the handcuffs were on. Utter amazement alone prevented Mr. Drake from knocking down the policeman. A dozen vituperating tongues assailed him.
“I’m sorry to do it in this public place and manner,” spoke the officer, partly to Sir Francis, partly to the gentlemen around, “but I couldn’t come across you last night, do as I would. And the warrant has been in my hands since five o’clock yesterday afternoon. Sir Francis Levison, I arrest you for the wilful murder of George Hallijohn.”
The crowd fell back; the crowd was paralyzed with consternation; the word was passed from one extreme to the other, and back and across again, and the excitement grew high. The ladies looking from Miss Carlyle’s windows saw what had happened, though they could not divine the cause. Some of them turned pale at sight of the handcuffs, and Mary Pinner, an excitable girl, fell into a screaming fit.