“That means little,” said Janice.
“And what say ye to his meeting her in New York, for that is the purpose of her letter to him?”
“How know you that?” cried Janice.
“Because she writ on the outside that the commander at Paulus Hook had been sent orders to pass him to New York.”
“That proves no wrong on his part,” answered the girl, her head proudly erect. “Nor will I believe any of him.” And without further words she went from the room. But though she went to bed, she tossed restless and wakeful till the sun rose.
The concealment of the master of Greenwood proved easy affair, for it was now the harvest season and the neighbouring farmers were far too engaged by their own interests to have thought of anything else, while the four miles was distance sufficient to deter the villagers from keeping an eye on the daily household life. For their own comfort, a place of concealment was arranged for the squire in the garret behind the big loom; but thus assured of a retreat, he spent his time on the second floor, his only precautions being to avoid the windows in daylight hours and to keep Clarion at hand to give warning of any interloper.
In the next few days Mrs. Meredith twice reverted to the subject of their midnight discussion, but each time only to find her husband unyieldingly persistent that Janice was pledged to Philemon, and that if this bar did not exist, he would never countenance Brereton’s suit. As for the girl, she shunned all allusion to the matter, taking refuge in a proud silence.
In September an unexpected event brought the difficulty to a crisis. One evening, after the work of the day was over, as they sat in Mrs. Meredith’s room, waiting for the dusk to deepen enough for beds to become welcome, a creak of the stairs set all three to listening, and brought Clarion to his feet. Though no repetition of the sound followed, the dog, after a moment’s attention, dashed out of the room and was heard springing and jumping about, with yelps betokening joyful recognition of some one. Reassured by this, yet wishing to know more, Janice hurried into the hall. Coming from the half-light, it was too dark for her to distinguish anything, so she was forced to grope her way to the stairs; but other eyes were keener, and Janice, without warning, was encompassed by a man’s arms, which drew her to him that his lips might press an eager kiss upon hers.
“Who is it?” whispered the pilferer, after the theft.
“Oh, Colonel Brereton!” exclaimed the girl, in an undertone; “I knew at once, but—”
“Forgive me if I frightened you, sweetheart,” begged the officer, softly. “I could not resist the impulse to surprise you, and so tied my horse down the road a bit, that I might steal in upon you unaware.”
“But what brings you?” questioned the girl, anxiously.