The Broad Highway eBook

Jeffery Farnol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 604 pages of information about The Broad Highway.

And, while I spoke, I loosed her and turned, and strode swiftly out and away from the cottage.



I hurried on, looking neither to right nor left, seeing only the face of Charmian, now fearful and appealing, now blazing with scorn.  And coming to the brook, I sat down, and thought upon her marvellous beauty, of the firm roundness of the arms that my fingers had so lately pressed.  Anon I started up again, and plunged, knee-deep, through the brook, and strode on and on, bursting my way through bramble and briar, heedless of their petty stings, till at last I was clear of them, being now among trees.  And here, where the shadow was deepest, I came upon a lurking figure—­a figure I recognized—­a figure there was no mistaking, and which I should have known in a thousand.

A shortish, broad-shouldered man, clad in a blue coat, who stood with his back towards me, looking down into the Hollow, in the attitude of one who waits—­for what? for whom?

He was cut off from me by a solitary bush, a bramble, that seemed to have strayed from its kind and lost itself, and, running upon my toes, I cleared this bush at a bound, and, before the fellow had realized my presence, I had pinned him by the collar.

“Damn you!—­show your face!” I cried, and swung him round so fiercely that he staggered, and his hat fell off.

Then, as I saw, I clasped my head between my hands, and fell back—­staring.

A grizzled man with an honest, open face, a middle-aged man whose homely features were lighted by a pair of kindly blue eyes, just now round with astonishment.

“Lord!—­Mr. Peter!” he exclaimed.

“Adam!” I groaned.  “Oh, God forgive me, it’s Adam!”

“Lord!  Mr. Peter,” said he again, “you sure give me a turn, Sir!  But what’s the matter wi’ you, sir?  Come, Mr. Peter, never stare so wild like—­come, sir, what is it?”

“Tell me—­quick!” said I, catching his hand in mine, “you have been here many times before of late?”

“Why—­yes, Mr. Peter, but—­”

“Quick!” said I; “on one occasion she took you into the cottage yonder and showed you a book—­you looked at it over her shoulder?”

“Yes, sir—­but—­”

“What sort of book was it?”

“A old book, sir, wi’ the cover broke, and wi’ your name writ down inside of it; ’twas that way as she found out who you was—­”

“Oh, Adam!” I cried.  “Oh, Adam! now may God help me!” And, dropping his hand, I turned and ran until I reached the cottage; but it was empty, Charmian was gone.

In a fever of haste I sought her along the brook, among the bushes and trees, even along the road.  And, as I sought, night fell, and in the shadows was black despair.

I searched the Hollow from end to end, calling upon her name, but no sound reached me, save the hoot of an owl, and the far-off, dismal cry of a corncrake.

Project Gutenberg
The Broad Highway from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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