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Ah, Tim, do you recollect the way I used to brew for poor Sir Piers, with a bunch of red currants at the bottom of the glass? And then to think that, after all, I should
be left out of his funeral - it's the height of barbarity. Tim, this rum of yours is poor stuff there's no punch worth the trouble of drinking, except whisky punch. A glass of right potheen, straw-colour, peat-flavour, ten degrees over proof, would be the only thing to drown my cares. Any such thing in the cellar? There used to be an odd bottle or so, Tim - in the left bin, near the door."
"I've a notion there be," returned Timothy, "I'll try the bin your honour mentions, and if I can lay hands upon a bottle you shall have it, you may depend."
The butler departed, and Titus emulating Mr. Coates, who had already enveloped himself, like Juno at the approach of Ixion, in a cloud, proceeded to light his pipe.
Luke, meanwhile, had been left alone, without light. had much to meditate upon, and with nought to check the current of his thoughts, he pensively revolved his present situation, and future prospects. The future was gloomy enough
the present fraught with danger. And now that the fever of excitement was passed, he severely reproached himself for his precipitancy.
His mind, by degrees, assumed a more tranquil state; and, exhausted with his great previous fatigue, he threw himself upon the floor of his prison-house, and addressed himself to slumber. The noise he made induced Coates to enter the room, which he did with a pistol in each hand, followed by Titus, with a pipe and candle; but finding all safe the sentinels retired.
"One may see, with half an eye, that you 're not used to a feather bed, my friend," said Titus, as the door was locked. "By the powers! he's a tall chap, any how why his feet almost touch the door. I should say that room was a matter of six feet long, Mr. Coates."
Exactly six feet, sir."
"Well, that's a good guess. Curse that ugly rascal, Tim ; he's never brought the whisky. But I'll be even with him to-morrow. Couldn't you just see to the prisoner for ten minutes, Mr. Coates?"
"Not ten seconds. I shall report you, if you stir from your post."
Here the door was opened, and Tim entered with the whisky.
"Arrah! by my soul, Tim, and here you are at last uncork it, man, and give us a thimble-full-blob! there goes the stopper here's a glass" smacking his lips.
"whist, Tim, another drop body. Mr. Coates, try it
of more taste."
- stuff like this will never hurt a
no I thought you'd be a man
another glass must
"I must limit you to a certain quantity," replied Coates, or you will not be fit to keep guardbe the extent of your allowance."
"Another glass! and do you think I'll submit to any such iniquitous proposition?"
Beg pardon, gentlemen," said Tim; "but her ladyship desires me to tell you both, that she trusts you will keep the strictest watch upon the prisoner. I have the same message also from Sir Ranulph."
"Do you hear that?" said Coates.
"And what are they all about now, Tim?" groaned Titus.
"Just starting, sir," returned Tim; "and, indeed, I must not lose my time gossiping here, for I be wanted below. You must be pleased to take care of yourselves, gentlemen, for an hour or so, for there will be only a few women-kind left in the house. The storm 's just over, and the men are all lighting their torches. Oh, it's a grand sight!" And off set Tim. "Bad luck to myself, any how," ejaculated Titus ; this is more than I can bear - I've had enough of this watch and ward business if the prisoner stirs, shoot him, if you think proper I'll be back in an hour."
"I tell you what, Mr. Tyrconnel," said Coates, coolly, taking up the pistol from the table, "I'm a man of few words, but those few are, I hope, to the purpose, and I'd have you to know if you stir from that chair, or attempt to leave the room, dammee but I'll send a brace of bullets after you. I'm serious, I assure you." Saying which, he cocked the pistol. By way of reply to this menace, Titus deliberately filled a stiff glass of whisky and water.
"That's your last glass," said the inexorable Coates.
To return once more to Luke. He slept uneasily for some short space, and was awakened by a sound which reached his dreaming ears, and connected itself with the visions that slumber was weaving around him. It was some moments before he could distinctly remember where he was. He would not venture to sleep again, though he felt overwhelmed by drowsiness there was a fixed pain at his heart, as if circulation were suspended. Changing his posture, he raised himself upon one arm he then became aware of a scratching noise, somewhat similar to the sound he had heard in his dream, and perceived a light gleaming through a crevice in the oaken partition. His attention was immediately arrested, and placing his eye close to the chink, distinctly saw a dark lantern burning; and by its light, a man filing some implement of housebreaking. The light fell before the hard features of the man, with whose countenance Luke was familiar; and although only one person came within the scope of his view, Luke could make out, from a muttered conversation that was carried on, that he had a companion. The parties were near to him, and though speaking in a low tone, Luke's quick ear caught the following:
"What keeps Jack Palmer, I wonder?" said he of the file. "We're all ready for the fakement pops primed — and I tell you what, Rob Rust, I've made my clasp knife as sharp as a razor, and dammee if Lady Rookwood offers any resistance, I'll spoil her talking in future, I promise you."
Suppressed laughter, from Rust, followed this speech. That laugh made Luke's blood run cold within his veins.
"Harkee, Dick Wilder, you're a reg'lar out-and-outer, and stops at nothing-and curse me if I'd think any more of it than yourself. But Jack's as squeamish of bloodshed as young miss that cries at her cut finger. It's the safer plan. Say what you will, nothing but that will stop a woman's tongue."
I shall make short work with her ladyship to-night any how. Hist! here Jack comes."
A footstep crossed in the room, and, presently afterwards, exclamations of surprise, and smothered laughter were heard from the parties.
"Bravo! Jack the devil himself."
famous! That disguise would deceive
"And now, my lads," said the new-comer, "is all right?" "Right and tight."
"Then off with your stamps, and on with your list slippers —not a word. Follow me, and, for your lives, don't move a step, but as I direct you. The word must be, Sir Piers Rookwood calls.' Well overhawl the swag here, when the speak is spoken over. This crack may make us all for life; and if you'll follow my directions implicitly, we'll do the trick in style. This slum must be our rendezvous, when all's over; for hark ye, my lads, I'll not budge an inch till Luke Bradley be set free. He's an old friend, and I always stick by old friends. I'd do the same for one of you if you were in the same scrape, so damn you, no flinching; besides, I owe that spider-shank'd, snivelling split-cause, Coates, who stands sentry, a grudge, and I'll pay him off, as Paul did the Ephesians. You may crop his ears, or slit his tongue, as you would a magpie's, or any other chattering varmint; make him sign his own testament, or treat him with a touch of your Habeas Corpus Act, if you think proper, or give him a taste of blue plumb. One thing only I stipulate, that you don't hurt that fat, mutton-headed Broganeer, whatever he may say or do; he's a devilish good fellow. And now to business."
Saying which, they noiselessly departed. But carefully as the door was closed, Luke's ear could detect the sound. His blood boiled with indignation — and he experienced what all must have felt, who have been similarly situated, with the will, but not the power, to assist another a sensation almost approaching to torture. At this moment a distant scream burst upon his ears- - another he hesitated no longer. With all his force he thundered at the door.
"What do you want, rascal?" cried Coates, from without. "There are robbers in the house."
"Thank you for the information. There is one I know of already."
"Fool, they are in Lady Rookwood's room assistance."
run to her
Here Luke dashed with all his force against the door. It yielded to the blow, and he stood before the astonished attorney.
"Advance a footstep, villain," exclaimed Coates, presenting both his pistols, " and I lodge a brace of balls in your
"Listen to me," said Luke; "the robbers are in Lady Rookwood's chamber they will plunder the place of every thing — perhaps murder her. Fly to her assistance, I will accompany you assist you it is your only chance."
"My only chance-your only chance; do you take me for a green-horn? This is a poor subterfuge; could you not have vamped up something better? Get back to your own room, or I shall make no more of shooting you, than I would of snuffing that candle."
"Be advised, sir," continued Luke. "There are three of them — give me a pistol, and fear nothing."
"Give you a pistol! Ha, ha! to be its mark myself. You are an amusing rascal, I will say."
"Sir, I tell you not a moment is to be lost. Is life nothing? Lady Rookwood may be murdered."
"I tell you, once for all, it wo❜n't do.
room, or take the consequences."
Go back to your
"By the powers! but it shall do, any how," exclaimed Titus, flinging himself upon the attorney, and holding both his arms; 66 you've bullied me long enough. I'm sure the lad 's in the right."
Luke snatched the pistols from the hands of Coates.
"Very well, Mr. Tyrconnel, very well, sir," cried the attorney, boiling with wrath, and spluttering out his words. "Extremely well, sir; you are not perhaps aware, sir, what you have done; but you will repent this, sir repent, I say repent was my word, Mr. Tyrconnel." "Repent be d
-d," replied Titus. "I shall never repent
a good natured action."
"Follow me," cried Luke; "settle your disputes hereafter. Quick, or we shall be too late."
Coates bustled after him, and Titus, putting the neck of the forbidden whisky bottle to his lips, and gulping down a hasty mouthful, snatched up a rusty poker, and followed the party with more alacrity than might have been expected from so portly a personage.