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Come Rack! Come Rope! By Robert Hugh Benson Characters: 3435

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

Marjorie was still in bed when the news was brought her by her friend.

She did not move or speak when Mistress Alice said shortly that Mr.

FitzHerbert had been taken with ten of his servants and two priests.

"You understand, my dear…. They have ridden away to Derby, all of them together. But they may come back here suddenly."

Marjorie nodded.

"Mr. Garlick and Mr. Ludlam were in the chimney-hole of the hall," whispered Mistress Alice, glancing fearfully behind her.

Marjorie lay back again on her pillows.

"And what of Mr. Alban?" she asked.

"Mr. Alban was upstairs. They missed him. He is coming here after dark, the maid says."

* * * * *

An hour after supper-time the priest came quietly upstairs to the parlour. He showed no signs of his experience, except perhaps by a certain brightness in his eyes and an extreme self-repression of manner. Marjorie was up to meet him; and had in her hands a paper. She hardly spoke a single expression of relief at his safety. She was as quiet and business-like as ever.

"You must lie here to-night," she said. "Janet hath your room ready. At one o'clock in the morning you must ride: here is a map of your journey. They may come back suddenly. At the place I have marked here with red there is a shepherd's hut; you cannot miss it if you follow the track I have marked. There will be meat and drink there. At night the shepherd will come from the westwards; he is called David, and you may trust him. You must lie there two weeks at least."

"I must have news of the other priests," he said.

Marjorie bowed her head.

"I will send a letter to you by Dick Sampson at the end of two weeks. Until that I can promise nothing. They may hav

e spies round the house by this time to-morrow, or even earlier. And I will send in that letter any news I can get from Derby."

"How shall I find my way?" asked Robin.

"Until it is light you will be on ground that you know." (She flushed slightly.) "Do you remember the hawking, that time after Christmas? It is all across that ground. When daylight comes you can follow this map." (She named one or two landmarks, pointing to them on the map.) "You must have no lantern."

They talked a few minutes longer as to the way he must go and the provision that would be ready for him. He must take no mass requisites with him. David had made that a condition. Then Robin suddenly changed the subject.

"Had my father any hand in this affair at Padley?"

"I am certain he had not."

"They will execute Mr. Garlick and Mr. Ludlam, will they not?"

She bowed her head in assent.

"The Summer Assizes open on the eighteenth," she said. "There is no doubt as to how all will go."

Robin rose.

"It is time I were in bed," he said, "if I must ride at one."

The two women knelt for his blessing.

At one o'clock Marjorie heard the horse brought round. She stepped softly to the window, knowing herself to be invisible, and peeped out.

All was as she had ordered. There was no light of any kind: she could make out but dimly in the summer darkness the two figures of horse and groom. As she looked, a third figure appeared beneath; but there was no word spoken that she could hear. This third figure mounted. She caught her breath as she heard the horse scurry a little with freshness, since every sound seemed full of peril. Then the mounted figure faded one way into the dark, and the groom another.

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