“I am still a convict, sweetheart,” I said, but I fear weakly.
“Harry,” she cried out, “thou wilt not let that stand betwixt us now?”
“How can I let thee wed with a convict, if I love thee?” I said. “And know you not that this letter of my Lord Ealing’s clears me not legally?”
“That I know,” she answered frowning, “because thy brother hath consulted half the lawyers in England ere he came. I know that, my poor Harry, but what is that to us?”
“I cannot let thee wed a convict; a man with his honour stained, dear heart,” I said.
Then she fixed her blue eyes upon mine with such a look as never I saw in mortal woman. She knew at that time what sentence had been fixed upon me for my share in the tobacco riot, but I did not know, and then and there she formed such a purpose, as sure no maid, however great her love for a man, formed before.
“Wait and see what manner of woman she is who loves thee, Harry,” she said.
I lay in prison until the twenty-ninth day of May, Royal Oak Day. I know not quite how it came to pass, but none of my brother’s efforts toward my release met with any success. I heard afterward some whispers as to the cause, being that so many of high degree were concerned in the riots, and that if I, a poor devil of a convict tutor, were let off too cheaply, why then the rest of them must be let loose only at a rope’s end, and that it would never do to send me back to Drake Hill scot free, while Sir Humphrey Hyde and Major Robert Beverly and my Lord Estes, and others, were in durance, and some high in office in great danger of discovery. At all events, whatever may have been the reason, my release could not be effected, and in prison I lay for all those days, but with more comfort, since either Catherine or Mary—Mary I think it must have been—made a curtain for my window, which kept out that burning eye of the western sun, and also fashioned a gnat veil to overspread my pallet, so the flies could not get at me. I knew there were others in prison, but knew not that three of them were led forth to be hung, which might have been my fate, had I been a free man, nor knew that another was released on condition that he build a bridge over Dragon’s Swamp. This last chance, my friends had striven sorely to get for me, but had not succeeded, though they had offered large sums, my brother being willing to tax the estate heavily. Some covert will there was at work against me, and it may be I could mention it, but I like not mentioning covert wills, but only such as be downright, and exercised openly in the faces of all men. I lay there not so uncomfortably, being aware of a great delight that the tobacco was cut, whether or no, as indeed it was on many plantations, and the King cheated out of great wealth.