Speechless and shamed, the girl hung her head.
“Let go that bridle, ye whelp!” blustered Evatt, throwing back the flap of his holster and pulling out a heavy horse pistol.
As he made the motion, the bondsman dropped the rein and seized the hand that held the weapon. For a moment there was a sharp struggle, in which the third man, who sprang from the shadow, joined. Nor did Evatt cease resistance until three men more came running up, when, overborne by numbers, he was dragged from his horse and held to the ground. In the whole contest both sides had maintained an almost absolute silence, as if each had reasons for not waking the villagers.
“Stuff a sod of grass in his mouth to keep him quiet,” ordered Charles, panting, “and tie him hand and foot.” Taking a lantern from one of the men, he walked back to the speechless and frightened girl and held the light to her face. “’T is not possible you—you—oh! I’ll never believe it of you.”
With pride and mortification struggling for mastery, Janice replied: “What you think matters not to me.”
“You were eloping with this man?”
Though the groom’s thoughts were of no moment to the girl, she replied: “To escape marrying Philemon Hennion.”
“What things women are!” he exclaimed contemptuously. “You deserve no better than to be his doll common, but—”
“We were to be married,” cried Janice.
“In the reign of Queen Dick!”
“This very day on the ‘Asia’ frigate.”
“A likely tale,” jeered the man. “Bring that fellow down to the boat,” he called, and catching hold of the bridle, he started walking.
“Whither are you taking me?” inquired Janice, in fright.
“The parson is down by the river, helping transfer the powder, and I’m going to leave you with him to take back to Greenwood.”
“Oh, Charles,” besought the girl, “you’ll not be so cruel! I’d sooner die than—than—Think what mommy— and dadda—and the whole village—I did n’t want to go with him—but—Please, oh, please! You’ll not disgrace me? I’ll promise never to go off with him—indeed—”
“Of that I’ll be bound,” sneered the servant, with a harsh laugh, “for I’m going to take him with me to Cambridge.”
For a moment Janice was silent, then cried: “If you only knew how I hate you.”
The man laughed bitterly. “I do—from the way I hate— ay, and despise you!”
Another moment brought them to the edge of a wharf, where a number of men were busying themselves in stowing barrels on board a small sloop. “Hold this horse,” ordered the servant, while he joined one of the toilers and drew him apart in consultation.
“Powder aboard, cap’n,” presently called some one.
“Take that man and stow him below decks along with it,” ordered Charles. “Good-by, parson. I hope to send good news from Cambridge of this night’s work. Boys, take Bagby out of the stocks before daylight, and tell him if the Invincibles want their powder to follow us, and they shall have fifty rounds of it a man, with plenty of fighting to boot. All aboard that are for the front!”