MoboReader> Literature > Westways

   Chapter 10 No.10

Westways By S. Weir Mitchell Characters: 40098

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


On the far side of the highroad Westways slumbered. Only in the rector's small house were lights burning. The town was in absolute darkness. Westways went to bed early. A pleased sense of the responsibility of his errand went with John as he came near to where Josiah's humble two-storey house stood back from the street line, marked by the well-known striped pole of the barber, of which Josiah was professionally proud. John paused in front of the door. He knew that he must awaken no one but Josiah. After a moment's thought he went along the side of the house to the small garden behind it where Josiah grew the melons no one else could grow, and which he delighted to take to Miss Leila or Mrs. Penhallow. In the novel the heroes threw pebbles at the window to call up fair damsels. John grinned; he might break a pane, but the noise-He was needlessly cautious. Josiah had built a trellis against the back of the house for grapevines which had not prospered. John began to climb up it with care and easily got within reach of the second-storey window. He tapped sharply on the glass, but getting no reply hesitated a moment. He could hear from within the sonorous assurance of deep slumber. Somehow he must waken him. He lifted the sash and called over and over in a low voice, "Josiah!" The snoring ceased, but not the sleep. The lad was resolute and still fearful of making a noise. He climbed with care into the dark room upsetting a little table. Instantly Josiah bounded out of bed and caught him in his strong grip, as John gasped, "Josiah!"

"My God!" cried the black in alarm, "anything wrong at the house?"

"No, sit down-I've got to tell you something. Your old master, Woodburn, is coming to catch you-he will be here soon-I know he won't be here for a day or two-"

"Is that so, Master John? It's awful-I've got to run. I always knowed sometime I'd have to run." He sat down on the bed; he was appalled. "God help me!-where can I go? I've got two hundred dollars and seventy-five cents saved up in the county bank, and I've not got fifty cents in the house. I can't get the money out-I'd be afraid to go there Monday. Oh, Lord!"

He began to dress in wild haste. John tried in vain to assure him that he would be safe on Sunday and Monday, or even later, but was in fact not sure, and the man was wailing like a child in distress, thinking over his easy, upright life and his little treasure, which seemed to him lost. He asked no questions; all other emotion was lost in one over-mastering terror.

John said at last, "If I write a cheque for you, can you sign your name to it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then I will write a cheque for all of it and I'll get it out for you."

A candle was lighted and the cheque written. "Now write your name here, Josiah-so-that's right." He obeyed like a child, and John who had often collected cheques for his aunt of late, knew well enough how to word it to be paid to bearer. He put it in his pocket.

"But how will I ever get it?" said Josiah, "and where must I go? I'll get away Monday afternoon."

John was troubled, and then said, "I'll tell you. Go to the old cabin in the wood. That will be safe. I will bring you your money Monday afternoon."

The black reflected in silence and then said, "That will do-no man will take me alive, I know-my God, I know! Who set them on me? Who told? It was that drunken rascal, Peter. He told me he'd tell if I didn't get him whisky. How did he know-Oh, Lord! He set 'em on me-I'd like to kill him."

John was alarmed at the fierceness of the threat. "Oh! but you won't-promise me. I've helped you, Josiah."

"I promise, Master John. I'm a Christian man, thank the Lord. I'd like to, but I won't-I won't."

"Now, that's right," said John much relieved. "You'll go to the cabin

Monday-for sure."

"Yes-who told you to tell me?"

John, prudently cautious, refused to answer. "Now, let me out, I must go. I can't tell you how sorry I will be-" and he was tempted to add his aunt, but was wise in time. He had done his errand well, and was pleased with the success of his adventure and the flavour of peril in what he had done. He let himself into Grey Pine and went noiselessly upstairs. Then a window was closed and a waiting, anxious woman went to bed and lay long awake thinking.

John understood the unusual affection of his aunt's greeting when before breakfast she kissed him and started George Grey on his easy conversational trot. She had compromised with her political conscience and, notwithstanding, was strangely satisfied and a trifle ashamed that she had not been more distinctly courageous.

At church they had as usual a good congregation of the village folk and men from the mills, for Rivers was eminently a man's preacher and was much liked. John observed, however, that Josiah, who took care of the church, was not in his usual seat near the door. He was at home terribly alarmed and making ready for his departure on Monday. The rector missing him called after church, but his knock was not answered.

When Mr. Grey in the afternoon declared he would take a walk and mail some letters, Mrs. Ann called John into the library. "Well," she said, "did you see Josiah?"

"Yes, aunt." It was characteristic of John Penhallow even thus early in life that he was modest and direct in statement. He said nothing of his mode of reaching Josiah. "I told him of his risk. He will hide in-"

"Do not tell me where," said Ann quickly; "I do not want to know."

He wondered why she desired to hear no more. He went on-"He has money in the county bank-two hundred dollars."

"He must have been saving-poor fellow!"

"I wrote a cheque for him, to bearer. I am to draw it tomorrow and take it to him in the afternoon. Then he will be able to get away."

Here indeed was something for Ann to think about. When Josiah was missed and legal measures taken, a pursuit organized, John having drawn his money might be questioned. This would never do-never. Oddly enough she had the thought, "Who will now shave James?" She smiled and said, "I must keep you out of the case-give me the cheque. Oh, I see it is drawn to bearer. I wonder if his owner could claim it. He may-he might-if it is left there."

"That would be mean," said John.

"Yes," she said thoughtfully. "Yes-I could give him the money. Let me think about it. Of course, I could draw on my account and leave Josiah's alone. But he has a right to his own money. I will keep the cheque, John. I will draw out his money and give it to you. Good gracious, boy! you are like James Penhallow."

"That's praise for a fellow!" said John.

Ann had the courage of her race and meant at last to see this thing through at all costs. The man had made his money and should have it. She was now resolute to take her share in the perilous matter she had started; and after all she was the wife of James Penhallow of Grey Pine; who would dare to question her? As to George Grey, she dismissed him with a low laugh and wondered when that long-desired guest would elect to leave Grey Pine.

At ten on Monday Billy, for choice, drove her over to the bank at the mills. The young cashier was asked about his sick sister, and then rather surprised as he took the cheque inquired, "How will you have it, ma'am? Josiah must be getting an investment."

"One hundred in fifties and the rest-oh, fifty in fives, the rest in ones."

She drove away, and in an hour gave the notes to John in an envelope, asking no questions. He set off in the afternoon to give Josiah his money.

Meanwhile on this Monday morning a strange scene in this drama was being acted in Josiah's little shop. He was at the door watchful and thinking of his past and too doubtful future, when he saw Peter Lamb pause near by. The man, fresh from the terrors of delirium tremens, had used the gift of Grey with some prudence and was in the happy condition of slight alcoholic excitement and good-humour.

"Halloa!" cried Peter. "How are you? I'm going to the mills to see my girl-want you to shave me-got over my joke; funny, wasn't it?"

A sudden ferocious desire awoke in the good-natured barber-some long-past inheritance of African lust for the blood of an enemy.

"Don't like to kiss with a rough beard," said Peter. "I'll pay-got money-now."

"Come in," said Josiah. "Set down. I'll shut the door-it's a cold morning."

He spread the lather over the red face. "Head back a bit-that's right comfortable now, isn't it?"

"All right-go ahead."

Josiah took his razor. "Now, then," he said, as he set a big strong hand on the man's forehead, "if you move, I'll cut your throat-keep quiet-don't you move. You told I was a slave-you ruined my life-I never did you no harm-I'd kill you just as easy as that-" and he drew the blunt cold back of the razor across the hairy neck.

"My God!-I-" The man shuddered.

"Keep still-or you are a dead man."

"Oh, Lord!" groaned Lamb.

"I would kill you, but I don't want to be hanged. God will take care of you-He is sure. Some day you will do some wickedness worse than this-you just look at me."

There was for Peter fearful fascination in the black face of the man who stood looking down at him, the jaw moving, the white teeth showing, the eyes red, the face twitching with half-suppressed passion.

"Answer me now-and by God, if you lie, I will kill you. You set some one on me? Quick now!"

"I did."

"Who was it? No lies, now!"

"Mr. George Grey." Then Josiah fully realized his danger.

"Why did you?"

"You wouldn't help me to get whisky."

"Well, was that all?"

"You went and got the preacher to set Mr. Penhallow on me. He gave me the devil."

"My God, was that all? You've ruined me for a drink of whisky-you've got your revenge. I'm lost-lost. Your day will come-I'll be there. Now go and repent if you can-you've been near to death. Go!" he cried.

He seized the terrified man with one strong hand, lifted him from the chair, cast open the door and hurled him out into the street. A little crowd gathered around Lamb as he rose on one elbow, dazed.

"Drunk!" said Pole, the butcher. "Drunk again!"

Josiah shut and locked the door. Then he tied up his bundle of clothes, filled a basket with food, and went out into his garden. He cast a look back at the neatly kept home he had recently made fresh with paint. He paused to pick a chilled rosebud and set it in his button-hole-a fashion copied from his adored captain. He glanced tearfully at the glass-framed covers of the yellowing melon vines. He had made money out of his melons, and next year would have been able to send a good many to Pittsburgh. As he turned to leave the little garden in which he took such pride, he heard an old rooster's challenge in his chicken-yard, which had been another means of money-making. He went back and opened the door, leaving the fowl their liberty. When in the lane behind his house, he walked along in the rear of the houses, and making sure that he was unobserved, crossed the road and entered the thick Penhallow forest. He walked rapidly for half an hour, and leaving the wood road found his way to the cabin the first Penhallow built. It was about half after one o'clock when the fugitive lay down on the earth of the cabin with his hands clasped behind his head. He stared upward, wondering where he could go to be safe. He would have to spend some of the carefully saved money. That seemed to him of all things the most cruel. He was not trained to consecutive thinking; memories old or new flitted through his mind. Now and then he said to himself that perhaps he had had no right to run away-and perhaps this was punishment. He had fled from the comforts of an easy life, where he had been fed, clothed and trusted. Not for a moment would he have gone back-but why had he run away? What message that soaring hawk had sent to him from his swift circling sweep overhead he was not able to put in words even if he had so desired. "That wicked hawk done it!" he said aloud.

At last, hearing steps outside, he bounded to his feet, a hand on the knife in his belt. He stood still waiting, ready as a crouching tiger, resolute, a man at bay with an unsated appetite for freedom. The door opened and John entered.

"You sort of scared me, Master John."

"You are safe here, Josiah, and here is your money."

He took it without a word, except, "I reckon, Master John, you know I'm thankful. Was there any one missing me?"

"No, no one."

"I'll get away to-night. I'll go down through Lonesome Man's Swamp and take my old bateau and run down the river. You might look after my muskrat traps. I was meaning to make a purse for the little missy. Now do you just go away, and may the Lord bless you. I guess we won't ever meet no more. You'll be mighty careful, Master John?"

"But you'll write, Josiah."

"I wouldn't dare to write-I'd be takin' risks. Think I'm safe here? Oh,

Lord!"

"No one knows where you are-you'll go to-night?"

"Yes, after dark." He seemed more at ease as he said, "It was Peter Lamb set Mr. Grey on me. He must have seen me after that. I told you it was Peter."

"Yes,"-and then with the hopefulness of youth-"but you will come back,

I am sure."

"No, sir-never no more-and the captain and Miss Leila-it's awful-where can I go?"

John could not help him further. "God bless you, Master John." They parted at length at the door of the cabin which had seen no other parting as sad.

The black lay down again. Now and then he swept his sleeve across tearful eyes. Then he stowed his money under his shirt in a linen bag hung to his neck, keeping out a few dollars, and at last fell sound asleep exhausted by emotion,

Josiah's customers were few in number. Westways was too poor to be able to afford a barber more than once a week, and then it was always in mid-morning when work ceased for an hour. Sometimes the Squire on his way to the mills came to town early, but as a rule Josiah went to Grey Pine and shaved him while they talked about colts and their training. As he was rarely needed in the afternoon, Josiah often closed his shop about two o'clock and went a-fishing or set traps on the river bank. His absence on this Monday afternoon gave rise, therefore, to no surprise, but when his little shop remained closed on Tuesday, his neighbours began to wonder. Peter Lamb wandering by rather more drunken than on Monday, stood a while looking at the shut door, then went on his devious way, thinking of the fierce eyes and the curse. Next came Swallow for his daily shave. He knocked at the door and tried to enter. It was locked. He heard no answer to his louder knock. He at once suspected that his prey had escaped him, and that the large fee he had counted on was to say the least doubtful. But who could have warned the black? Had Mr. Grey been imprudent? Lamb had been the person who had led Grey, as Swallow knew from that gentleman, to suspect Josiah as a runaway; but now as he saw Peter reeling up the street, he was aware that he was in no state to be questioned. He went away disappointed and found that no one he met knew whither Josiah had gone.

At Grey Pine Mrs. Ann, uneasily conscious of her share in the matter, asked John if he had given the money to Josiah. He said yes, and that the man was safe and by this time far away. Meanwhile, the little town buzzed with unwonted excitement and politics gave place about the grocer's door at evening to animated discussion, which was even more interesting when on Wednesday there was still no news and the town lamented the need to go unshaven.

On Thursday morning Billy was sent with a led horse to meet Penhallow at Westways Crossing. Penhallow had written that he must go on to a meeting of the directors of the bank at the mills and would not be at home until dinner-time. The afternoon train brought Mr. Woodburn, who as advised by Grey went at once to Swallow's house, where Mrs. Swallow gave him a note from her husband asking that if he came he would await the lawyer's return.

"Well, Billy, glad to see you," said Penhallow, as he settled himself in the saddle. "All well at Grey Pine?"

"Yes, sir."

The Squire was in high good-humour on having made two good contracts for iron rails. "How are politics, Billy?"

"Don't know, sir."

"Anything new at Westways?"

"Yes, sir," replied Billy with emphasis.

"Well, what is it?"

"Josiah's run away."

"Run away! Why?"

"Don't know-he's gone."

Penhallow was troubled, but asked no other questions, as he was late. He might learn more at home. He rode through the town and on to the mills. There he transacted some business and went thence to the bank. The board of well-to-do farmers was already in session, and Swallow-a member-was talking.

"What is that?" said Penhallow as he entered, hearing Josiah mentioned.

Some one said, "He has been missing since Monday." "He drew out all his money that morning," said Swallow, "all of it."

"Indeed," said Penhallow. "Did he draw it-I mean in person?"

"No," said the lawyer, who was well pleased to make mischief and hated

Penhallow.

Penhallow was uneasily curious. "Who drew it?" he asked. "Josiah could hardly have known how to draw a cheque; I had once to help him write one."

"It was a cheque to bearer, I hear," said Swallow smiling. "Mrs.

Penhallow drew the money. No doubt Josiah got it before he left."

Penhallow said, "You are insolent."

"You asked a question," returned Swallow, "and I answered it."

"And with a comment I permit no man to make. You said, 'no doubt he got it.' I want an apology at once." He went around the table to where Swallow sat.

The lawyer rose, saying, "Every one will know to-day that Josiah was a runaway slave. His master will be here this evening. Whoever warned him is liable under the Fugitive-Slave Act-Mrs. Penhallow drew the money and-"

"One word more, sir, of my wife, and I will thrash you. It is clear that you know all about the matter and connect my wife with this man's escape-you have insulted her."

"Oh, Mr. Penhallow," said the old farmer who presided, "I beg of you-"

"Keep quiet," said the Squire, "this is my business."

"I did not mean to insult Mrs. Penhallow," said Swallow; "I apologize-I-"

"You miserable dog," said Penhallow, "you are both a coward and a lying, usurious plunderer of hard-working men. You may be thankful that I am a good-tempered man-but take care."

"I shall ask this board to remember what has been said of me," said

Swallow. "The law-"

"Law! The law of the cowhide is what you will get if I hear again that you have used my wife's name. Good-day, gentlemen."

He went our furious and rode homeward at speed. Before the Squire reached Grey Pine he had recovered his temper and his habitual capacity to meet the difficulties of life with judicial calmness. He had long been sure that Josiah had been a slave and had run away. But after these years, that he should have been discovered in this remote little town seemed to him singular. The man was useful to him in several ways and had won his entire respect and liking, so that he felt personal annoyance because of this valuable servant having been scared away. That Ann had been in any way concerned in aiding his escape perplexed him, as he remembered how entire was her belief in the creed of the masters of slaves who with their Northern allies had so long been the controlling legislative power of the country.

"I am glad to be at home, my dear Ann," he said, as they met on the porch. "Ah! Grey, so you are come at last. It is not too late to say how very welcome you are; and John, I believe you have grown an inch since I left."

They went in, chatting and merry. The Squire cast an amused look at the big spittoon and then at his wife, and went upstairs to dress for dinner. At the meal no one for a variety of good reasons mentioned Josiah. The tall soldier with the readiness of helpless courtesy fell into the talk of politics which Gr

ey desired. "Yes, Buchanan will carry the State, Grey, but by no large majority."

"And the general election?" asked the cousin.

"Yes, that is my fear. He will be elected."

Ann, who dreaded these discussions, had just now a reproachful political conscience. She glanced at her husband expecting him to defend his beliefs. He was silent, however, while Grey exclaimed, "Fear, sir-fear? You surely cannot mean to say-to imply that the election of a black Republican would be desirable." He laid down his fork and was about to become untimely eloquent-Rivers smiled-watching the Squire and his wife, as Penhallow said:

"Pardon me, Grey, but I cannot have my best mutton neglected."

"Oh, yes-yes-but a word-a word. Elect Fremont-and we secede. Elect

Buchanan-and the Union is safe. There, sir, you have it in a nutshell."

"Ah, my dear Grey," said Penhallow, "this is rather of the nature of a threat-never a very digestible thing-for me, at least-and I am not very convincible. We will discuss it over our wine or a cigar." He turned to his wife, "Any news of Leila, Ann?"

"Yes, I had a letter to-day," she returned, somewhat relieved. "She seems to be better satisfied."

Grey accepted the interrupting hint and fell to critical talk of the Squire's horses. After the wine Penhallow carried off his guest to the library, and avoiding politics with difficulty was unutterably bored by the little gentleman's reminiscent nothings about himself, his crops, tobacco, wines, his habits of life, what agreed with him and what did not. At last, with some final whisky, Mr. Grey went to bed.

Ann, who was waiting anxiously, eager to get through with the talk she dreaded, went at once into the library. Penhallow rising threw his cigar into the fire. She laughed, but not in her usual merry way, and cried, "Do smoke, James, I shall not mind it; I am forever disciplined to any fate. There is a spittoon in the hall-a spittoon!"

The Squire laughed joyously, and kissed her. "I can wait for my pipe; we can't have any lapse in domestic discipline." Then he added, "I hear that my good Josiah has gone away-I may as well say, run away."

"Yes-he has gone, James." She hesitated greatly troubled.

"And you helped him-a runaway slave-you-" He smiled. It had for him an oddly humorous aspect.

"I did-I did-" and the little lady began to sob like a child. "It was-was wrong-" There was nothing comic in it for Ann Penhallow.

"You angel of goodness," he cried, as he caught her in his arms and held the weeping face against his shoulder, "my brave little lady!"

"I ought not to have done it-but I did-I did-oh, James! To think that my cousin should have brought this trouble on us-But I did-oh, James!"

"Listen, my dear. If I had been here, I should have done it. See what you have saved me. Now sit down and let us have it all out, my dear, all of it."

"And you really mean that?" she wailed piteously. "You won't think I did wrong-you won't think I have made trouble for you-"

"You have not," he replied, "you have helped me. But, dear, do sit down and just merely, as in these many years, trust my love. Now quiet yourself and let us talk it over calmly."

"Yes-yes." She wiped her eyes. "Do smoke, James-I like it."

"Oh, you dear liar," he said. "And so it was Grey?"

She looked up. "Yes, George Grey; but, James, he did not know how much we liked Josiah nor how good he had been to me, and how he got hurt when he stopped Leila's pony. He was sorry-but it was too late-oh, James!-you will not-oh, you will not-"

"Will not what, dear?" Penhallow was disgusted. A guest entertained in his own house to become a detective of an escaped slave in Westways, at his very gate! "My charity, Ann, hardly covers this kind of sin against the decencies of life. But I wish to hear all of it. Now, who betrayed the man-who told Grey?"

"I am sorry to say that it was Peter Lamb who first mentioned Josiah to George Grey as a runaway. When he spoke of his lost fingers, George was led to suspect who Josiah really was. Then he saw him, and as soon as he was sure, he wrote to a Mr. Woodburn, who was Josiah's old owner."

"I suppose he recognized Josiah readily?"

"Yes, he had been a servant of George's friend, Mr. Woodburn, and George says he was a man indulgently treated and much trusted."

"I infer from what I learned to-day that George told you all this and had already seen Swallow, so that the trap was set and Mr. Woodburn was to arrive. Did George imagine you would warn my poor barber-"

"But I-I didn't-I mean-I let John hear about it-and he told Josiah."

He listened. Here was another Mrs. Ann. There was in Ann at times a bewildering childlike simplicity with remarkable intelligence-a combination to be found in some of the nobler types of womanhood. He made no remark upon her way of betraying the trust implied in George Grey's commonplace confession.

"So, then, my dear, John went and gave the man a warning?"

"Yes, I would have gone, but it was at night and I thought it better to let John see him. How he did it I did not want to know-I preferred to know nothing about it."

This last sentence so appealed to Penhallow's not very ready sense of humour that he felt it needful to control his mirth as he saw her watching earnestness. "Grey, I presume, called on that rascal Swallow, Mr. Woodburn is sent for, and meanwhile Josiah is told and wisely runs away. He will never be caught. Anything else, my dear?"

"Yes, I said to George that we would buy Josiah's freedom-what amuses you, James?" He was smiling.

"Oh, the idea of buying a man's power to go and come, when he has been his own master for years. You were right, but it seems that you failed-or, so I infer."

"Yes. He said Mr. Woodburn was still angry and always had considered Josiah wickedly ungrateful." Penhallow looked at his wife. Her sense of the comedies of life was sometimes beyond his comprehension, but now-now was she not a little bit, half consciously, of the defrauded master's opinion?

"And so, when that failed, you went to bank and drew out the poor fellow's savings?" He meant to hear the whole story. There was worse yet, and he was sure she would speak of it. But now she was her courageous self and desired to confess her share in the matter. "Of course, he had to have money, Ann."

She wanted to get through with this, the most unpleasant part of the matter. "I want to tell you," she said. "I drew out his money with a cheque John made out and Josiah signed. John took him his two hundred dollars, as he knew where Josiah would hide-I-I did not want to know."

Her large part in this perilous business began to trouble the Squire. His face had long been to her an open book, and she saw in his silence the man's annoyance. She added instantly, "I could not let John draw it-and Josiah would not-he was too scared. He had to have his money. Was I wrong-was I foolish, James?"

"No-you were right. The cheque was in John's handwriting. You were the person to draw it. I would have drawn the money for him. He had a man's right to his honest savings. It will end here-so you may be quite at ease." Of this he was not altogether certain. He understood now why she had not given him of her own money, but Ann was clearly too agitated to make it well or wise to question her methods further. "Go to bed, dear, and sleep the sleep of the just-you did the right thing." He kissed her. "Good-night."

"One moment more, James. You know, of course-you know that all my life I have believed with my brothers that slavery was wise and right. I had to believe that-to think so might exact from me and others what I never could have anticipated. I came face to face with a test of my creed, and I failed. I am glad I failed."

"My dear Ann," he said, "I am supposed to be a Christian man-I go to church, I have a creed of conduct. To-day I lost my temper and told a man I would thrash him if he dared to say a word more."

"It was at the bank, James?"

"Yes. That fellow Swallow spoke of your having drawn Josiah's money. He was insolent. You need have no anxiety about it-it is all over. I only mention it because I want you to feel that our creeds of conduct in life are not always our masters, and sometimes ought not to be. Let that comfort you a little. You know that to have been a silent looker-on at the return to slavery of a man to whom we owed so much was impossible. My wonder is that for a moment you could have hesitated. It makes me comprehend more charitably the attitude of the owners of men. Now, dear, we won't talk any more. Good-night-again-good-night."

He lighted a cigar and sat long in thought. He had meant not to speak to her of Swallow, but it had been, as he saw, of service. Then he wondered how long Mr. George Grey would remain and if he would not think it necessary to speak of Josiah. As concerned John, he would be in no hurry to talk to him of the barber; and how the lad had grown in mind and body!-a wonderful change and satisfactory.

When after breakfast Mr. Grey showed no desire to mention Josiah and prudently avoided talk about politics, Penhallow was greatly relieved. That his host did not open the question of Mr. Grey's conduct in the matter of the runaway was as satisfactory to the Maryland gentleman, whose sense of duty had created for him a situation which was increasingly disagreeable. He warmly welcomed Penhallow's invitation to look at some newly purchased horses, and expressed the most cordial approval of whatever he saw, somewhat to the amusement of Penhallow.

Penhallow left him when, declining to ride to the mills, Mr. Grey retired to the library and read the Tribune, with internal comment on its editorial columns. He laid the paper aside. Mr. Woodburn would probably have arrived in the afternoon, and would have arranged with Swallow for a consultation in which Mr. Grey would be expected to take part. It was plain that he really must talk to the Captain. He rose and went slowly down the avenue. A half-hour in Westways singularly relieved him. Swallow was not at home, and Josiah, the cause of Mr. Grey's perplexities, had certainly fled, nor did he learn that Mr. Woodburn had already arrived.

He was now shamefully eager to escape that interview with the captain, and relieved to find that there was no need to wait for the friend he had brought to Westways on a vain errand. Returning to Grey Pine, he explained to his cousin that letters from home made it necessary for him to leave on the mid-afternoon train. Never did Ann Penhallow more gratefully practise the virtue that speeds the parting guest. He was sorry to miss the captain and would have the pleasure of sending him a barrel of the best Maryland whisky; "and would you, my dear cousin, say, in your delightful way, to the good rector how much I enjoyed his conversation?"

Ann saw that the lunch was of the best and that the wagon was ready in more than ample season. As he left, she expressed all the regret she ought to have felt, and as the carriage disappeared at a turn of the avenue she sank down in a chair. Then she rang a bell. "Take away that thing," she said,-"that spittoon."

"If James Penhallow were here," she murmured, "I should ask him to say-damn! I wonder now if that man Woodburn will come, and if there will be a difficulty with James on my account." She sat long in thought, waiting to greet her husband, while Mr. Grey was left impatient at the station owing to the too hospitable desire of Ann to speed the parting guest.

When about dusk the Squire rode along the road through Westways, he came on the rector and dismounted, leaving his horse to be led home by Pole's boy. "Glad to see you, Mark. How goes it; and how did you like Mr. Grey?"

"To tell you the truth, Squire, I did not like him. I was forced into a talk about politics. We differed, as you may suppose. He was not quite pleasant. He seemed to have been so mixed up with this sad business about Josiah that I kept away at last, so that I might keep my temper. Billy drove him to the station after lunch."

"Indeed!" said Penhallow, pleased that Grey had gone. It was news to him and not unwelcome. Ann would no doubt explain. "What put Grey on the track of Josiah as a runaway? Was it a mere accidental encounter?" He desired to get some confirmatory information.

"No-I suspect not." Then he related what Josiah had told him of Peter's threats. "I may do that reprobate injustice, but-However, that is all I now know or feel justified in suspecting."

"Well, come up and dine to-day; we can talk it out after dinner."

"With pleasure," said Rivers.

Penhallow moodily walking up the street, his head bent in thought, was made aware that he was almost in collision with Swallow and a large man with a look of good-humoured amusement and the wide-open eyes and uplift of brow expressive of pleasure and surprise.

"By George, Woodburn!" said the Squire. "I heard some one of your name was here, but did not connect the name with you. I last heard of you as in a wild mix-up with the Sioux, and I wished I was with you." As Penhallow spoke the two men shook hands, Swallow meanwhile standing apart not over-pleased as through the narrowed lids of near-sight he saw that the two men must have known one another well and even intimately, for Woodburn replied, "Thought you knew I'd left the army, Jim. The last five years I've been running my wife's plantation in Maryland."

The Squire's pleasure at his encounter with an old West Point comrade for a moment caused him to forget that this was the master who had been set on Josiah's track by Grey. It was but for a moment. Then he drew up his soldierly figure and said coldly, "I am sorry that you are here on what cannot be a very agreeable errand."

"Oh!" said Woodburn cheerfully, "I came to get my old servant, Caesar. It seems to have been a fool's errand. He has slipped away. I suppose that Grey as usual talked too freely. But how the deuce does it concern you? I see that it does."

Penhallow laughed. "He was my barber."

"And mine," said Woodburn. "If you have missed him, Jim, for a few days, I have missed him for three years and more." Then both men laughed heartily at their inequality of loss.

"I cannot understand why this fellow ran away. He was a man I trusted and indulged to such an extent that my wife says I spoiled him. She says he owned me quite as much as I owned him-a darned ungrateful cuss! I came here pretty cross when I got George's letter, and now I hear of an amount of hostile feeling which rather surprised me."

"That you are surprised, Will, surprises me," said Penhallow. "The Fugitive-Slave Act will always meet with opposition at the North. It seems made to create irritation even among people who really are not actively hostile to slavery. If it became necessary to enforce it, I believe that I would obey it, because it is the law-but it is making endless trouble. May I ask what you propose to do about this present case?"

"Do-oh, nothing! I am advised to employ detectives and hunt the man down. I will not; I shall go home. It is not Mr. Swallow's advice."

"No, it is not," said the lawyer, who stood aside waiting a chance to speak. "Some one warned the man, and it is pretty generally suspected how he came to be told."

Penhallow turned to Woodburn, "Has Mr. Swallow ventured to connect me or any of my family with this matter?"

"No," said Woodburn, which was true. Swallow meant to keep in reserve Mrs. Penhallow's share in the escape until he learned how far an angry slave-owner was disposed to go. Woodburn had, however, let him understand that he was not of a mind to go further, and had paid in good-humour a bill he thought excessive. Grey had made it all seem easy, and then as Swallow now learned had gone away. He had also written to his own overseer, and thus among their neighbours a strong feeling prevailed that this was a case for prompt and easy action. The action had been prompt and had failed. Woodburn was going home to add more bitterness to the Southern sense of Northern injustice.

When Woodburn, much to Penhallow's relief, had said he was done with the case, the Squire returned, "Then, as you are through with Mr. Swallow, come home and dine with me. Where are you staying?"

"At Mr. Swallow's, but I leave by the night train."

"So soon! But come and dine. I will send for your bag and see that you get to your train."

The prospect of Swallow and his feeble, overdressed wife, and his comrade's urgency, decided Woodburn. He said, "Yes, if Mr. Swallow will excuse me."

Swallow said, "Oh, of course!" relieved to be rid of a dissatisfied client, and the two ex-soldiers went away together chatting of West Point life.

Half-way up the avenue Penhallow said, "Before we go in, a word or two-"

"What is it, Jim?"

"That fellow said nothing of Mrs. Penhallow, you are sure?"

"Yes," returned Woodburn, "not a word. I knew that you lived here, but neither of you nor of Mrs. Penhallow did he say a word in connection with this business. I meant to look you up this afternoon. Why do you speak of your wife?"

"Because-well-I could not let you join us without an honest word concerning what I was sure you would have heard from Swallow. Now if you had taken what I presume was his advice-to punish the people concerned in warning Josiah, you-indeed I-might hesitate-"

"What do you mean, Jim?" said his companion much amazed.

"I mean this: After our loose-tongued friend Grey told my wife that Josiah was in danger, she sent him word of the risk he ran, and then drew out of our bank for him his savings and enabled him to get away. Now don't say a word until I have done. Listen! This man turned up here over three years ago and was soon employed about my stables. He broke his leg in stopping a runaway and saved my wife's young niece, our adopted child, Leila Grey. There was some other kind and efficient service. That's all. Now, can you dine with me?"

"With all my heart, Jim. Damn Grey! Did he talk much?"

"Did he? No, he gabbled. But are you satisfied?"

"Yes, Jim. I am sorry I drove off your barber-and I shall hold my tongue when I get home-as far as I can."

"Then come. I have some of my father's Madeira, if Grey has left any. I shall say a word to Mrs. Penhallow. By George! I am glad to have you."

Penhallow showed Woodburn to a room, and feeling relieved and even elated, found his wife, who had tired of waiting and had gone to get ready to dine. He told her in a few words enough to set her at ease with the new guest. Then Mark Rivers came in and John Penhallow, who having heard about the stranger's errand was puzzled when he became aware of the cordial relations of his uncle and Mr. Woodburn.

The dinner was pleasant and unembarrassed. The lad whom events had singularly matured listened to gay memories of West Point and to talk of cadets whose names were to live in history or who had been distinguished in our unrighteous war with Mexico. When now and then the talk became quite calmly political, Ann listened to the good-natured debate and was longing to speak her mind. She was, however, wisely silent, and reflected half amused that she had lost the right to express herself on the question which was making politics ill-tempered but was now being discussed at her table with such well-bred courtesy. John soon ceased to follow the wandering talk, and feeling what for him had the charm of romance in the flight of Josiah sat thinking over the scene of the warning at night, the scared fugitive in the cabin, and the lonely voyage down through the darkness of the rapids of the river. Where would the man go? Would they ever see him again? They were to meet in far-away days and in hours far more perilous. Then he was caught once more by gay stories of adventures on the plains and memories of Indian battles, until the wine had been drunk and the Squire took his friend to the library for an hour.

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