“I thought it was in some old house in Hertfordshire,” said Miss Howard, more readily, “but I am not sure; for it was last Sunday, which she spent with her mamma. She came back and made it a great secret that she had seen the girl that had taken in Sir Amyas Belamour, who was contracted to herself, to marry him and his uncle both at once in disguise, and then had set the house a-fire. Belle had got some one to let her see the girl, and then she went on about her being not pretty.”
“What did she say about sending her beyond seas?”
“Oh! that Miss Crawford made up. She told me that they were going to find a husband for her such as a low creature like that deserved. And she protests she is to be married to Sir Amyas very soon, and come back here while he makes the grand tour. I hope she won’t. She will have more spiteful ways than ever.”
This was all that Betty could extract. She saw Miss Crawford alone, but her tiding melted into the vaguest second-hand hearsay. The inquiry had only produced a fresh anxiety.
And to the castle gate approached
in quiet wise,
Whereat soft knocking, entrance he desired.
“Nephew, is Delavie House inhabited?” inquired Mr. Belamour, as the baffled seekers sat together that evening.
“No, sir,” replied Sir Amyas. “My Lady will only lease it to persons of quality, on such high terms that she cannot obtain them for a house in so antiquated a neighbourhood. Oh, you do not think it possible that my dearest life can be in captivity so near us! An old house! On my soul, so it must be; I will go thither instantly.”
“And be taken for a Mohock! No, no, sit down, rash youth, and tell me who keeps the house.”
One Madge, an old woman as sour as vinegar, who snarled at me like a toothless cur when I once went there to find an old fowling-piece of my father’s.”
“Then you ar the last person who should show yourself there, since there are sure to be strict charges against admitting you, and you would only put the garrison on the alert. You had better let the reconnoitring party consist of Jumbo and myself.”
The ensuing day was Sunday. Something was said of St. Paul’s, then in bloom of youth and the wonder of England; but Betty declared that she could not run about to see fine churches till her mind was at ease about her poor sister. Might she only go to the nearest and quietest church? So she, with her father and Eugene, repaired to St. Clement Danes, where their landlord possessed a solid oak pew, and they heard a sermon on the wickedness and presumption of inoculating for the small-pox.