There was a movement of feet now heard, but Cluny waited no longer. The angry utterances had reached his ear, and knowing that his mission was accomplished he thought only now of escape before detection might take place. He had noticed when he entered the room that the windows were, as was usually the case with rooms on the lower floors, barred; but he saw also that the bars were wide enough apart for a lad of his slimness to crawl through. The banqueting room was raised three steps above the hall, and the room that he was in was upon the same level; the window was four feet from the floor, and would therefore be probably seven or eight above the ground without, which would account for its not being more closely barred. He speedily climbed up to it and thrust himself through the bars, but not without immense difficulty and great destruction to his feminine garments.
“Poor Janet!” Cluny laughed to himself as he dropped from the window to the ground. “Whatever would she say were she to see the state of her kirtle and petticoats!”
The moon was young, but the light was sufficient to enable Cluny to see where he was. The window opened into a lane which ran down by the side of the governor’s house, and he was soon in the principal street. Already most of the citizens were within their houses. A few, provided with lanterns, were picking their way along the uneven pavement. Cluny knew that it was impossible for him to leave the town that night; he would have given anything for a rope by which he might lower himself from the walls, but there was no possibility of his obtaining one. The appearance of a young girl wandering in the streets alone at night would at once have attracted attention and remarks. So Cluny withdrew into a dark archway, and then sat down until the general silence told him that all had retired to rest. Then he made his way along the street until he neared the gateway, and there lying down by the wall he went to sleep.
When the gate was opened in the morning Cluny waited until a few persons had passed in and out and then approached it. “Hallo! lass,” the sergeant of the guard, who was standing there, said. “You are a pretty figure with your torn clothes! Why, what has happened to you?”
“If you please, sir,” Cluny said timidly, “I was selling my eggs to the governor’s cook, and he kept me waiting, and I did not know that it was so late, and when I got to the gates they were shut, and I had nowhere to go; and then, please sir, as I was wandering about a rough soldier seized me and wanted to kiss me, and of course I would not let him, and in the struggle he tore my clothes dreadfully; and some burghers, who heard me scream, came up and the man left me, and one of the burghers let me sleep in his kitchen, and I don’t know what mother will say to my clothes;” and Cluny lifted the hem of his petticoat to his eyes.
“It is a shame, lass,” the sergeant said good temperedly; “an I had been there I would have broke the fellow’s sconce for him; but another time, lass, you should not overstay the hour; it is not good for young girls to be roaming at night in a town full of soldiers. There, I hope your mother won’t beat you, for, after all, it was the fault of the governor’s cook rather than yours.”