For an instant Brereton hesitated, then bent his head; and the woman, with a cry of joy, threw her arms about his neck, and kissed him not once, but five or six times, and would have continued but for his removing her hands and stepping backward.
“Come, sir,”, said Loring, irritably, “if the whole army is not to have wind of this, follow me. Daybreak is not far away, and you should be in the saddle.”
The aide once more went to Janice, and would have again taken her hand; but the girl shrank away, and turned her back upon him.
“One farewell,” pleaded Jack.
“You have had it,” replied Janice, without turning.
“Ay. Be off with you,” seconded Howe, and without a word Brereton followed Loring from the room.
As the front door banged, and ere any one had spoken, the thunder of a cannon sounded loud and clear, and at short intervals other booms succeeded, as if the first was echoing repeatedly. But the trained ear of the general was not deceived.
“’T is the water battery saluting,” he said, rising. “So Sir Henry Clinton has evidently arrived. Come, gentlemen, ’t is only courteous that we meet him at the landing.”
In the movement that ensued, Janice slipped into the hallway, and in a moment she was scurrying along the street, so busy with her thoughts that she forgot the satin slippers which had hitherto been so carefully saved from the pavements. She had not gone a square when the sound of footsteps behind her made the girl quicken her pace; but instantly the pursuer accelerated his, and, really alarmed, Janice broke into a run which ended only as she darted up the steps of her home, where she seized the knocker and banged wildly. Before any one had been roused within, the man stood beside her, and with his first word the fugitive recognised Lord Clowes.
“I meant not to frighten ye,” he said; “but ye should not have come away alone, for there are pretty desperate knaves stealing about, and had ye encountered the patrol, ye would have been taken to the provost-marshal for carrying no lantern.”
Relieved to know who it was, but too breathless to make reply, Janice leaned against the lintel until a sleepy soldier gave them entrance. There was a further delay while Lord Clowes ignited a dip from the lamp and lighted her to the stairway. Here he handed it to her, but retaining his own hold, so as to prevent her departing, he said—
“I lost my temper at hearing that young scamp make such ardent love, and so I spoke harshly to ye. Canst not make allowance for a lover’s jealousy?”
“Please let me have the light.”
[Illustration: “Where is that paper?”]
“Whether ye pardon me or no, of one thing I am sure,” went on Clowes, still holding the candle, “ye are not so love-sick of this rogue as to overlook his seeking the aid of his discarded mistress in his suit of ye. I noted your look as she kissed him.”