The marquis’s request to be allowed to communicate with the king had been an unfortunate one. It increased suspicion of all kinds, rendered the various reports of the landing of the Irish army under lord Glamorgan more credible, roused the resolution to render all communication impossible, and led to the drawing of a cordon around the place that not a soul should pass unquestioned. The measure would indeed have been unavailing had the garrison been as able as formerly to make sallies; but ever since colonel Morgan received his reinforcement, the issuing troopers had been invariably met at but a few yards from home, and immediately driven in again by largely superior numbers. Still the cordon required a good many more men than the besieging party could well spare without too much weakening their positions, and they had therefore sought the aid of all the gentlemen of puritian politics in the vicinity, and of course that of Mr. Heywood. With the men his father sent, Richard himself offered his services, in the hope that, at the coming fall of the stronghold, he might have a chance of being useful to Dorothy. They had given the cordon a wide extension, in order that an issuing messenger might not perceive his danger until he was too far from the castle to regain it, and then by capturing him might acquire information. Hence it came that posts could be assigned to Richard and his men within such a distance of Redware as admitted of their being with their own people when off duty.
Hearing Upstill’s shot, and then Dick’s hoofs on the sward, Richard fortunately judged well and took the right direction. What was his astonishment and delight when, passing hurriedly through the hedge in the expectation of encountering a cavalier, he saw Dorothy mounted on Dick! What form but hers had been filling soul and brain when he was startled by the shot! And there she was before him! He felt like one who knows the moon is weaving a dream in his brain.
‘Dorothy,’ he murmured tremblingly, and his voice sounded to him like that of some one speaking far away. He drew nearer, as one might approach a beloved ghost, anxious not to scare her. He laid his hand on Dick’s neck, half fearful of finding him but a shadow.
‘Richard!’ said Dorothy, looking down on him benignant as Diana upon Endymion.
Then suddenly, at her voice and the assurance of her bodily presence, a great wave from the ocean of duty broke thunderous on the shore of his consciousness.
‘Dorothy, I am bound to question thee,’ he said: ’whence comest thou? and whither art thou bound?’
‘If I should refuse to answer thee, Richard?’ returned Dorothy with a smile.
’Then must I take thee to headquarters. And bethink thee, Dorothy, how that would cut me to the heart.’
The moon shone full upon his face, and Dorothy saw the end of a great scar that came from under his hat down on to his forehead.