“Where shall I write to you, Lennard,” demanded the other, “in case that anything should happen to turn up to your advantage?”
“Oh! to the Crown, to the Crown, at St. Germains,” replied the elder; “and if it be for anything to my advantage, write as quickly as possible, good cousin.—Come, Wilton, my boy; come, here’s the boat! Thank God we have not much baggage to embark.—Now, my man,” he continued, speaking to one of the fishermen who had leaped out into the water, “lift the boy in, and the portmanteau, and then off to yonder brig, with all the sail you can put on.”
Thus saying, he sprang into the boat, received the boy in his arms, and waved his hand to his cousin, while the fishermen pushed off from the shore.
The one who was left behind folded his arms upon his chest, and gazed after the boat as she bounded over the water. His brow was slightly clouded, and a peculiar sort of smile hung upon his lip; but after thus pausing for a minute or two, he turned upon his heel, walked up a narrow path to the top of the cliff, and mounting a horse which was held for him by a servant, at a distance of about a hundred yards from the edge, he rode away, whistling as he went, not like Cimon, for want of thought, but from the very intensity of thought.
The horseman of whom we have spoken in the last chapter rode slowly on about two hundred yards farther, and there the servant advanced and opened a gate, by means of which the path they were then upon communicated with a small road between two high banks leading down to the sea-side. The moment that the gentleman rode forward through the gate, his eyes fell upon a figure coming up apparently from the sea-shore. It was that of a woman, seemingly well advanced in life, and dressed in the garb of the lower orders: there was nothing particular in her appearance, except that in her gait and figure she was more decrepit than from her countenance might have been expected. The tears were streaming rapidly down her face, however; and though she suddenly paused on perceiving the stranger, she could not command those tears from flowing on, though she turned away her head to conceal them.
The stranger slightly pulled in his horse’s rein, looked at her again, and then gazed thoughtfully down the road towards the sea, as if calculating what the woman could have been doing there, and whether she could have seen the departure of his two late companions.
The servant who was behind him seemed to read his master’s thoughts; for being close to him shutting the gate, he said in a low tone, “That’s the old woman with whom the young gentleman lodged; for I saw her when the Colonel went there this morning to fetch him away.”
The moment the man had spoken, his master pushed forward his horse again, and riding up to the woman, accosted her at once.
“Ah, my good woman,” he said, “you are grieving after your poor little boy; but do not be cast down, he will be taken good care of.”