At the depth of about thirty feet they stopped, and found themselves facing a ponderous door, studded and barred with iron. Caspar took from his pocket a key about the size of a goose quill, felt about for a moment, and then with a slight movement of finger and thumb threw back a dozen ponderous bolts with a great echoing clang; the door slowly opened, and they entered a narrow vaulted passage of stone. Lord Charles took the lamp from Caspar, and led the way with Dorothy; Tom Fool came next, and Caspar followed with Dick. The lamp showed but a few feet of the walls and roof, and revealed nothing in front until they had gone about a furlong, when it shone upon what seemed the live rock ending their way. But again Caspar applied the little key somewhere, and immediately a great mass of rock slowly turned on a pivot, and permitted them to pass.
When they were all on the other side of it, lord Charles turned and held up the light. Dorothy turned also and looked: there was nothing to indicate whence they had come. Before her was the rough rock, seemingly solid, certainly slimy and green, and over its face was flowing a tiny rivulet.
‘See there,’ said lord Charles, pointing up; ’that little stream comes the way thy dog Marquis and the roundhead Heywood came and went. But I challenge anything larger than a rat to go now.’
Dorothy made no answer, and they went on again for some distance in a passage like the former, but soon arrived at the open quarry, whence Tom knew the way across the fields to the high road as well, he said, as the line of life on his own palm. Lord Charles lifted Dorothy to the saddle, said good-luck and good-bye, and stood with Caspar watching as she rode up the steep ascent, until for an instant her form stood out dark against the sky, then vanished, when they turned and re-entered the castle.
The untoothsome plum.
It was a starry night, with a threatening of moonrise, and Dorothy was anxious to reach the cottage before it grew lighter. But they must not get into the high road at any nearer point than the last practicable, for then they would be more likely to meet soldiers, and Dick’s feet to betray their approach. Over field after field, therefore, they kept on, as fast as Tom, now and then stopping to peer anxiously over the next fence or into a boundary ditch, could lead the way. At last they reached the place by the side of a bridge, where Marquis led Richard off the road, and there they scrambled up.
‘O Lord!’ cried Tom, and waked a sentry dozing on the low parapet.
‘Who goes there?’ he cried, starting up, and catching at his carbine, which leaned against the wall.
‘Oh, master!’ began Tom, in a voice of terrified appeal; but Dorothy interrupted him.
‘I am an honest woman of the neighbourhood,’ she said. ‘An’ thou wilt come home with me, I will afford thee a better bed than thou hast there, and also a better breakfast, I warrant thee, than thou had a supper.’