“To give my real name, sir,” replied the other, “I do. But I have no objection to give it to you yourself in private.”
“Leave us, Arnold,” said the King; and Lord Albemarle immediately quitted the presence.
The day which we have just seen terminate at Kensington we must now conduct to a close in another quarter, where events very nearly as much affecting the peace and safety of this realm, and far more affecting the peace of various personages mentioned in this history than the events which took place at the palace, were going on at the same time. It was a bright, clear, frosty day, with everything sparkling in the sunshine, the last dry leaves of the preceding year still lingering in many places on the branches of the trees, and clothing the form of nature in the russet livery of decay.
Wilton Brown was up long before daylight, and ready to set out by the first streak of dawn in the east. Not having seen the Duke on the preceding night—as that nobleman, worn with anxiety and grief, had fallen ill and retired to seek repose—he sat down and wrote him a note, while waiting for the Messenger, informing him that he had obtained information concerning Lady Laura’s situation, and doubted not to be enabled to set her free in the course of the following day. The Messenger was somewhat later up than himself, and Wilton sent twice to hasten his movements. When he did appear, he had to be informed of the young gentleman’s purposes, and of the information he had obtained the night before; and this information Wilton could of course communicate only in part. When told in this mysterious manner, however, and warned that there might be some danger in the enterprise which they were about to undertake, he seemed to hesitate, as if he did not at all approve of the affair. As soon as Wilton remarked this, he said, in a stern tone, “Now, Mr. Arden, are you or are you not willing to go through this business with me? If you are not, let me know at once, that I may send for another messenger who has more determination and spirit.”
“That you wont easily find,” replied the Messenger, a good deal hurt. “It was not at any danger that I hesitated at all, for I never have in my life, and I wont begin now, when I dare say there is not half so much danger as in things that I do every day.—Did not I apprehend Tom Lambton, who fired two pistols at my head? No, no, it is not danger; but what I thought was, that the Earl very likely might not like any of these bargains about not taking up the folks that we find there, and all that. However, as he told me to obey your orders in everything, I suppose that must be sufficient.”
“It must, indeed,” answered Wilton; “for I have no time to stop for explanations or anything else; and if you hesitate, I must instantly send for another messenger.”
“Oh, I shall not hesitate, sir,” replied the Messenger; “but you must take all the burden of the business on yourself. I shall do exactly as you order me, neither more nor less; so that if there comes blame anywhere, it must rest at your door.”