“If you may! dear Wilton,” said Lady Laura, casting herself upon his bosom, “if you could see my poor father now with all his pride subdued, you would not ask if you may.”
“But we must lose no time, dear Laura,” replied Wilton. “You shall go on to Beaufort House with all speed. But where are your servants? I saw none in the hall.”
“Oh, I have none with me,” replied Lady Laura; “there was but one with the carriage: the others were left with orders to follow quickly to town; and I am sure in the agitation of the moment neither my father nor I thought of servants at all.”
“Nay, dear Laura,” replied Wilton, “my own servant shall go with you then; for after having once lost my treasure and found it again, I will not trust you with two strange chairmen such a distance, and alone.”
This arrangement was soon made; and with a mind comforted and relieved, even from this short interview with him she loved, Lady Laura left him, and took her way to her solitary home.
Wilton was sincerely pained and grieved for the Duke; and the moment that he had seen Laura safely on her way towards Beaufort House, he hastened to seek the Earl of Byerdale, supposing that he had returned to his own dwelling, which was near at hand. He was still at Whitehall, however, and thither Wilton accordingly went. He was admitted immediately to the Earl’s presence, and found him with a number of written letters before him, folded up and ready for the departure of the courier. Not knowing that there was anything in the mere addresses of the letters that was not intended for him to see, Wilton suffered his eye to rest upon them for a moment. The Earl hastily gathered them together, but not before Wilton had remarked that one of them was addressed to the Earl of Sunbury; and the very haste with which the statesman removed them from his sight naturally gave rise to a suspicion of something being wrong, though Wilton could form no definite idea of what was the motive for this concealment.
“Have you heard that the Duke is arrested, Wilton?” was the Earl’s first question, before Wilton himself could speak.
“Yes, my lord,” replied Wilton. “I have heard, and was somewhat surprised, as your lordship did not speak to me on the subject in the morning.”
“I knew nothing about it,” replied the Earl, “except that I thought it likely. It was his grace of Shrewsbury’s doing, and I do not doubt that he was very right, for one cannot punish mean offenders and let high ones pass.”
“Certainly not, my lord,” replied Wilton; “but from what I know of the Duke, I should think that he was the last man on earth to do any treasonable act. I have come to ask your lordship’s permission to visit him in the Tower, and to obtain an order to that effect, hoping, too, that you may tell me the particulars of the charge against him, for he is now very anxious to see me.”