“Speak out, fellow, and say if ye intend to do as ye are ordered, for if not, over ye go with me this morning to the sitting of the justices.”
“I’m not the man to take a whipping, that I warn you,” was the response.
“Ye dare threaten, do ye?” cried the master. “Saddle Jumper and Daisy, and have ’em at the door after breakfast. One rascal shall be quickly taught what rebellion ends in.”
Fuming, the squire went to his morning meal, at which he announced his intention to ride to Brunswick and the purport of the trip.
“Oh, dadda, he—please don’t!” begged Janice.
“And why not, child?” demanded her mother.
“Because he—oh! he is n’t like most bondsmen and—”
“What did I tell thee, Lambert?” said Mrs. Meredith.
“Nonsense, Matilda,” snorted the squire. “The lass gave me her word for ’t—”
“Word!” ejaculated the wife. “What ’s a word or anything else when—Since thee ’s sent Phil off, the quicker thee comes to my mind, and gives her to the parson, the better.”
“What mean ye by objecting to this fellow being flogged, Jan?” asked the father.
Poor Janice, torn between the two difficulties, subsided, and meekly responded, “I—Well, I don’t like to have things whipped, dadda. But if Charles deserves it, of course he— he—’t is right.”
“There!” said Mr. Meredith, “ye see the lass has the sense of it.”
The subject was dropped, but after breakfast, as the crunch of the horse’s feet sounded, Janice left the spinet for a moment to look out of the window, and it was a very doleful and pitiful face she took back to her task five minutes later.
When master and man drew rein in front of the Brunswick Court-house, it was obvious to the least heedful that something unusual was astir. Although the snow lay deep in front of the building and a keen nip was in the air, the larger part of the male population of the village was gathered on the green. Despite the chill, some sat upon the steps of the building, others bestowed themselves on the stocks in front of it, and still more stood about in groups, stamping their feet or swinging their arms, clearly too chilled to assume more restful attitudes, yet not willing to desert to the more comfortable firesides within doors.
Ordering the bond-servant to hitch the two horses in the meeting-house shed and then to come to the court-room, the squire made his way between the loafers on the steps, and attempted to open the door, only to discover that the padlock was still fast in the staple.
“How now, Mr. Constable?” he exclaimed, turning, and thus for the first time becoming conscious that every eye was upon him. “What means this?”
The constable, who was one of those seated on the stocks, removed a straw from between his lips, spat at the pillory post, much as if he were shooting at a mark, and remarked, “I calkerlate yer waan’t at the meetin’, squire?”