“I will say naught against her safety,” said I. “What think you I care for any little quibbles of the truth when that be in question?”
“Well,” said Captain Tabor, “then must you and Mistress Catherine Cavendish show the goods to the maid, and say naught as to the means by which you came by them; tell her they are landed from the Golden Horn, as indeed they will be; let her think aught she chooses, that they are indeed her own, purchased for her by her sister or her lovers, if she choose to think so, and bid her display them with no ado to Madam Cavendish, if she value the safety of the others who are concerned in this. Betwixt the mystery and the fright and the sight of the trinkets, if she be aught on the pattern of any other maid, show them she will, and hold her tongue till she be out of her grandmother’s presence.”
“It can be but tried,” said I.
Then the captain sprang out on deck, and ordered a boat lowered, and presently had set me ashore, and was himself, with a half-dozen sailors, fighting way down-stream.
I found my horse on the bank where I had left him, and by him, waiting anxiously, Catherine Cavendish. She listened with deepening eyes while I told her Captain Tabor’s scheme, and when I had done looked at me with her beautiful mouth set and her face as white as a white flower on a bush beside her. “Mary shall show the goods,” said she. “Such a story will I tell her as will make her innocent of aught save bewilderment, and as for you and me, we are both of us ready to burn for a lie for the sake of her.”
I know not how Capt. Calvin Tabor managed his part to tranship those goods without discovery, but he had a shrewd head, and no doubt the captain of the Earl of Fairfax another, and by eight o’clock that May day the Golden Horn lay at her wharf discharging her cargo right lustily with such openness of zeal and shouts of encouragement and groans of labour ’twas enough to acquaint all the colony. And straightway to the great house they brought my Lady Culpeper’s fallals, and clamped them in the hall where we were all at supper. Mistress Mary sprang to her feet, and ran to them and bent over them. “What are these?” she said, all in a quiver.
“The goods which you ordered, madam,” spoke up one of the sailors, with a grin which he had copied from Captain Tabor, and pulled a forelock and ducked his head.
“The goods,” said she, speaking faintly, for hers was rather the headlong course of enthusiasm than the secret windings of diplomacy.
“Art thou gone daft, sweetheart? The goods of which you gave the list this morning, which have but now come in on the Golden Horn,” spake up Catherine, sharply. I marvelled as I heard her whether it be ease or tenderness of conscience which can appease a woman with the letter and not the substance of the truth, for I am confident that her keeping to the outward show of honesty in her life was no small comfort to Catherine Cavendish.