“You understand?” he ended.
“I understand,” answered Simon, sulkily. “I am to find this priest, who should be waiting at the place you name, and to bring him here by nightfall to-morrow, which is a rough job for a Christian man in such weather as this.”
“The pay, friend Simon, remember the pay.”
“Oh! yes, it all sounds well enough, but I should like something on account.”
“You shall have it—is not such a labourer worthy of his hire?” replied his employer with enthusiasm, and producing from his pocket the purse which Lysbeth had given Adrian, with a smile of peculiar satisfaction, for really the thing had a comic side, he counted a handsome sum into the hand of this emissary of Venus.
Simon looked at the money, concluded, after some reflection, that it would scarcely do to stand out for more at present, pouched it, and having wrapped himself in a thick frieze coat, opened the door and vanished into the falling snow.
THE BRIDEGROOM AND THE BRIDE
The day passed, and through every hour of it the snow fell incessantly. Night came, and it was still falling in large, soft flakes that floated to the earth gently as thistledown, for now there was no wind. Adrian met his father at meals only; the rest of the day he preferred to spend out of doors in the snow, or hanging about the old sheds at the back of the mill, rather than endure the society of this terrible man; this man of mocking words and iron purpose, who was forcing him into the commission of a great crime.
It was at breakfast on the following morning that Ramiro inquired of Black Mag whether the Jufvrouw Brant had sufficiently recovered from the fatigues of her journey to honour them with her presence. The woman replied that she absolutely refused to leave her room, or even to speak more than was necessary.
“Then,” said Ramiro, “as it is important that I should have a few words with her, be so good as to tell the young lady, with my homage, that I will do myself the honour of waiting on her in the course of the forenoon.”
Meg departed on her errand, and Adrian looked up suspiciously.
“Calm yourself, young friend,” said his father, “although the interview will be private, you have really no cause for jealousy. At present, remember, I am but the second string in the bow-case, the understudy who has learnt the part, a humble position, but one which may prove useful.”
At all of which gibes Adrian winced. But he did not reply, for by now he had learned that he was no match for his father’s bitter wit.
Elsa received the message as she received everything else, in silence.