When London Burned by G. A. Henty
Chapter VI. A Narrow Escape
The Eliza, for this Cyril, after leaving Ipswich, learnt was her name, unloaded the rest of her cargo at Aldborough, and then sailed across to Rotterdam. The skipper fulfilled his promise by taking Cyril to the house of one of the men with whom he did business, and arranging with him to board the boy until word came that he could safely return to England. The man was a diamond-cutter, and to him packets of jewellery and gems that could not be disposed of in England had often been brought over by the captain. The latter had nothing to do with the pecuniary arrangements, which were made direct by Marner, and he had only to hand over the packets and take back sums of money to England.
"You understand," the captain said to Cyril, "that I have not said a word touching the matter for which you are here. I have only told him that it had been thought it was as well you should be out of England for a time. Of course, he understood that you were wanted for an affair in which you had taken part; but it matters not what he thinks. I have paid him for a month's board for you, and here are three pounds, which will be enough to pay for your passage back if I myself should not return. If you do not hear from me, or see the Eliza, within four weeks, there is no reason why you should not take passage back. The trial will be over by that time, and as the members of the gang have done their part in preventing you from appearing, I see not why they should have further grudge against you."
"I cannot thank you too much for your kindness, captain. I trust that when I get back you will call at Captain Dowsett's store in Tower Street, so that I may see you and again thank you; I know that the Captain himself will welcome you heartily when I tell him how kindly you have treated me. He will be almost as glad as I shall myself to see you. I suppose you could not take him a message or letter from me now?"
"I think not, lad. It would never do for him to be able to say at the trial that he had learnt you had been kidnapped. They might write over here to the Dutch authorities about you. There is one thing further. From what I heard when I landed yesterday, it seems that there is likely to be war between Holland and England."
"I heard a talk of it in London," Cyril said, "but I do not rightly understand the cause, nor did I inquire much about the matter."
"It is something about the colonies, and our taxing their goods, but I don't rightly understand the quarrel, except that the Dutch think, now that Blake is gone and our ships for the most part laid up, they may be able to take their revenge for the lickings we have given them. Should there be war, as you say you speak French as well as English, I should think you had best make your way to Dunkirk as a young Frenchman, and from there you would find no difficulty in crossing to England."
"I know Dunkirk well, captain, having indeed lived there all my life. I should have no difficulty in travelling through Holland as a French boy."
"If there is a war," the captain said, "I shall, of course, come here no more; but it may be that you will see me at Dunkirk. French brandy sells as well as Dutch Schiedam, and if I cannot get the one I may perhaps get the other; and there is less danger in coming to Dunkirk and making across to Harwich than there is in landing from Calais or Nantes on the south coast, where the revenue men are much more on the alert than they are at Harwich."
"Are you not afraid of getting your boat captured? You said it was your own."
"Not much, lad. I bring over a regular cargo, and the kegs are stowed away under the floor of the cabin, and I run them at Pin-mill--that is the place we anchored the night before we got to Ipswich. I have been overhauled a good many times, but the cargo always looks right, and after searching it for a bit, they conclude it is all regular. You see, I don't bring over a great quantity--fifteen or twenty kegs is as much as I can stow away--and it is a long way safer being content with a small profit than trying to make a big one."
Cyril parted with regret from the captain, whose departure had been hastened by a report that war might be declared at any moment, in which case the Eliza might have been detained for a considerable time. He had, therefore, been working almost night and day to get in his cargo, and Cyril had remained on board until the last moment. He had seen the diamond dealer but once, and hoped that he should not meet him often, for he felt certain that awkward questions would be asked him. This man was in the habit of having dealings with Marner, and had doubtless understood from the captain that he was in some way connected with his gang; and were he to find out the truth he would view him with the reverse of a friendly eye. He had told him that he was to take his meals with his clerk, and Cyril hoped, therefore, that he should seldom see him.
He wandered about the wharf until it became dark. Then he went in and took supper with the clerk. As the latter spoke Dutch only, there was no possibility of conversation. Cyril was thinking of going up to his bed when there was a ring at the bell. The clerk went to answer it, leaving the door open as he went out, and Cyril heard a voice ask, in English, if Herr Schweindorf was in. The clerk said something in Dutch.
"The fool does not understand English, Robert," the man said.
"Tell him," he said, in a louder voice, to the clerk, "that two persons from England--England, you understand--who have only just arrived, want to see him on particular business. There, don't be blocking up the door; just go and tell your master what I told you."
He pushed his way into the passage, and the clerk, seeing that there was nothing else to do, went upstairs.
A minute later he came down again, and made a sign for them to follow him. As they went up Cyril stole out and looked after them. The fact that they had come from England, and that one of them was named Robert, and that they had business with this man, who was in connection with Marner, had excited his suspicions, but he felt a shiver of fear run through him as he recognised the figures of Robert Ashford and the man who was called Black Dick. He remembered the expression of hatred with which they had regarded him in the Court, and felt that his danger would be great indeed did they hear that he was in Rotterdam. A moment's thought convinced him that they would almost certainly learn this at once from his host. The letter would naturally mention that the captain had left a lad in his charge who was, as he believed, connected with them. They would denounce him as an enemy instead of a friend. The diamond merchant would expel him from his house, terrified at the thought that he possessed information as to his dealings with this band in England; and once beyond the door he would, in this strange town, be at the mercy of his enemies. Cyril's first impulse was to run back into the room, seize his cap, and fly. He waited, however, until the clerk came down again; then he put his cap carelessly on his head.
"I am going for a walk," he said, waving his hand vaguely.
The man nodded, went with him to the door, and Cyril heard him put up the bar after he had gone out. He walked quietly away, for there was no fear of immediate pursuit.
Black Dick had probably brought over some more jewels to dispose of, and that business would be transacted, before there would be any talk of other matters. It might be a quarter of an hour before they heard that he was an inmate of the house; then, when they went downstairs with the dealer, they would hear that he had gone out for a walk and would await his return, so that he had two or three hours at least before there would be any search.
It was early yet. Some of the boats might be discharging by torchlight. At any rate, he might hear of a ship starting in the morning. He went down to the wharf. There was plenty of bustle here; boats were landing fish, and larger craft were discharging or taking in cargo; but his inability to speak Dutch prevented his asking questions. He crossed to the other side of the road. The houses here were principally stores or drinking taverns. In the window of one was stuck up, "English and French Spoken Here." He went inside, walked up to the bar, and called for a glass of beer in English.
"You speak English, landlord?" he asked, as the mug was placed before him.
The latter nodded.
"I want to take passage either to England or to France," he said. "I came out here but a few days ago, and I hear that there is going to be trouble between the two countries. It will therefore be of no use my going on to Amsterdam. I wish to get back again, for I am told that if I delay I may be too late. I cannot speak Dutch, and therefore cannot inquire if any boat will be sailing in the morning for England or Dunkirk. I have acquaintances in Dunkirk, and speak French, so it makes no difference to me whether I go there or to England."
"My boy speaks French," the landlord said, "and if you like he can go along the port with you. Of course, you will give him something for his trouble?"
"Willingly," Cyril said, "and be much obliged to you into the bargain."
The landlord left the bar and returned in a minute with a boy twelve years old.
"He does not speak French very well," he said, "but I dare say it will be enough for your purpose. I have told him that you want to take ship to England, or that, if you cannot find one, to Dunkirk. If that will not do, Ostend might suit you. They speak French there, and there are boats always going between there and England."
"That would do; though I should prefer the other."
"There would be no difficulty at any other time in getting a boat for England, but I don't know whether you will do so now. They have been clearing off for some days, and I doubt if you will find an English ship in port now, though of course there may be those who have been delayed for their cargo."
Cyril went out with the boy, and after making many inquiries learnt that there was but one English vessel still in port. However, Cyril told his guide that he would prefer one for Dunkirk if they could find one, for if war were declared before the boat sailed, she might be detained. After some search they found a coasting scow that would sail in the morning.
"They will touch at two or three places," the boy said to Cyril, after a talk with the captain; "but if you are not in a hurry, he will take you and land you at Dunkirk for a pound--that is, if he finds food; if you find food he will take you for eight shillings. He will start at daybreak."
"Tell him that I agree to his price. I don't want the trouble of getting food. As he will be going so early, I will come on board at once. I will get my bundle, and will be back in half an hour."
He went with the boy to one of the sailors' shops near, bought a rough coat and a thick blanket, had them wrapped up into a parcel, and then, after paying the boy, went on board.
As he expected, he found there were no beds or accommodation for passengers, so he stretched himself on a locker in the cabin, covered himself with his blanket, and put the coat under his head for a pillow. His real reason for choosing this craft in preference to the English ship was that he thought it probable that, when he did not return to the house, it would at once be suspected that he had recognised the visitors, and was not going to return at all. In that case, they might suspect that he would try to take passage to England, and would, the first thing in the morning, make a search for him on board any English vessels that might be in the port.
It would be easy then for them to get him ashore, for the diamond merchant might accuse him of theft, and so get him handed over to him. Rather than run that risk, he would have started on foot had he not been able to find a native craft sailing early in the morning. Failing Dunkirk and Ostend, he would have taken a passage to any other Dutch port, and run his chance of getting a ship from there. The great point was to get away from Rotterdam.
The four men forming the crew of the scow returned late, and by their loud talk Cyril, who kept his eyes closed, judged that they were in liquor. In a short time they climbed up into their berths, and all was quiet. At daybreak they were called up by the captain. Cyril lay quiet until, by the rippling of the water against the side, he knew that the craft was under way. He waited a few minutes, and then went up on deck. The scow, clumsy as she looked, was running along fast before a brisk wind, and in an hour Rotterdam lay far behind them.
The voyage was a pleasant one. They touched at Dordrecht, at Steenbergen on the mainland, and Flushing, staying a few hours in each place to take in or discharge cargo. After this, they made out from the Islands, and ran along the coast, putting into Ostend and Nieuport, and, four days after starting, entered the port of Dunkirk.
Cyril did not go ashore at any of the places at which they stopped. It was possible that war might have been declared with England, and as it might be noticed that he was a foreigner he would in that case be questioned and arrested. As soon, therefore, as they neared a quay, he went down to the cabin and slept until they got under way again. The food was rough, but wholesome; it consisted entirely of fish and black bread; but the sea air gave him a good appetite, and he was in high spirits at the thought that he had escaped from danger and was on his way back again. At Dunkirk he was under the French flag, and half an hour after landing had engaged a passage to London on a brig that was to sail on the following day. The voyage was a stormy one, and he rejoiced in the possession of his great-coat, which he had only bought in order that he might have a packet to bring on board the scow, and so avoid exciting any suspicion or question as to his being entirely unprovided with luggage.
It was three days before the brig dropped anchor in the Pool. As soon as she did so, Cyril hailed a waterman, and spent almost his last remaining coin in being taken to shore. He was glad that it was late in the afternoon and so dark that his attire would not be noticed. His clothes had suffered considerably from his capture and confinement on board the Eliza, and his great-coat was of a rough appearance that was very much out of character in the streets of London. He had, however, but a short distance to traverse before he reached the door of the house. He rang at the bell, and the door was opened by John Wilkes.
"What is it?" the latter asked. "The shop is shut for the night, and I ain't going to open for anyone. At half-past seven in the morning you can get what you want, but not before."
"Don't you know me, John?" Cyril laughed. The old sailor stepped back as if struck with a blow.
"Eh, what?" he exclaimed. "Is it you, Cyril? Why, we had all thought you dead! I did not know you in this dim light and in that big coat you have got on. Come upstairs, master. Captain Dave and the ladies will be glad indeed to see you. They have been mourning for you sadly, I can tell you."
Cyril took off his wrap and hung it on a peg, and then followed John upstairs.
"There, Captain Dave," the sailor said, as he opened the door of the sitting-room. "There is a sight for sore eyes!--a sight you never thought you would look on again."
For a moment Captain Dave, his wife, and daughter stared at Cyril as if scarce believing their eyes. Then the Captain sprang to his feet.
"It's the lad, sure enough. Why, Cyril," he went on, seizing him by the hand, and shaking it violently, "we had never thought to see you alive again; we made sure that those pirates had knocked you on the head, and that you were food for fishes by this time. There has been no comforting my good wife; and as to Nellie, if it had been a brother she had lost, she could not have taken it more hardly."
"They did knock me on the head, and very hard too, Captain Dave. If my skull hadn't been quite so thick, I should, as you say, have been food for fishes before now, for that is what they meant me for, and there is no thanks to them that I am here at present. I am sorry that you have all been made so uncomfortable about me."
"We should have been an ungrateful lot indeed if we had not, considering that in the first place you saved us from being ruined by those pirates, and that it was, as we thought, owing to the services you had done us that you had come to your end."
"But where have you been, Master Cyril?" Nellie broke in. "What has happened to you? We have been picturing all sorts of horrors, mother and I. That evil had befallen you we were sure, for we knew that you would not go away of a sudden, in this fashion, without so much as saying goodbye. We feared all the more when, two days afterwards, the wretches were so bold as to attack the constables, and to rescue Robert Ashford and another from their hands. Men who would do this in broad daylight would surely hesitate at nothing."
"Let him eat his supper without asking further questions, Nellie," her father said. "It is ill asking one with victuals before him to begin a tale that may, for aught I know, last an hour. Let him have his food, lass, and then I will light my pipe, and John Wilkes shall light his here instead of going out for it, and we will have the yarn in peace and comfort. It spoils a good story to hurry it through. Cyril is here, alive and well; let that content you for a few minutes."
"If I must, I must," Nellie said, with a little pout. "But you should remember, father, that, while you have been all your life having adventures of some sort, this is the very first that I have had; for though Cyril is the one to whom it befell, it is all a parcel with the robbery of the house and the capture of the thieves."
"When does the trial come off, Captain Dave?"
"It came off yesterday. Marner is to be hung at the end of the week. He declared that he was but in the lane by accident when two lads opened the gate. He and the man with him, seeing that they were laden with goods, would have seized them, when they themselves were attacked and beaten down. But this ingenuity did not save him. Tom Frost had been admitted as King's evidence, and testified that Marner had been several times at the gate with the fellow that escaped, to receive the stolen goods. Moreover, there were many articles among those found at his place that I was able to swear to, besides the proceeds of over a score of burglaries. The two men taken in his house will have fifteen years in gaol. The women got off scot-free; there was no proof that they had taken part in the robberies, though there is little doubt they knew all about them."
"But how did they prove the men were concerned?"
"They got all the people whose property had been found there, and four of these, on seeing the men in the yard at Newgate, were able to swear to them as having been among those who came into their rooms and frightened them well-nigh to death. It was just a question whether they should be hung or not, and there was some wonder that the Judge let them escape the gallows."
"And what has become of Tom?"
"They kept Tom in the prison till last night. I saw him yesterday, and I am sure the boy is mighty sorry for having been concerned in the matter, being, as I truly believe, terrified into it. I had written down to an old friend of mine who has set up in the same way as myself at Plymouth. Of course I told him all the circumstances, but assured him, that according to my belief, the boy was not so much to blame, and that I was sure the lesson he had had, would last him for life; so I asked him to give Tom another chance, and if he did so, to keep the knowledge of this affair from everyone. I got his answer yesterday morning, telling me to send him down to him; he would give him a fair trial, and if he wasn't altogether satisfied with him, would then get him a berth as ship's boy. So, last night after dark, he was taken down by John Wilkes, and put on board a coaster bound for Plymouth. I would have taken him back here, but after your disappearance I feared that his life would not be safe; for although they had plenty of other cases they could have proved against Marner, Tom's evidence brought this business home to him."
Captain Dave would not allow Cyril to begin his story until the table had been cleared and he and John Wilkes had lighted their pipes. Then Cyril told his adventure, the earlier part of which elicited many exclamations of pity from Dame Dowsett and Mistress Nellie, and some angry ejaculations from the Captain when he heard that Black Dick and Robert Ashford had got safely off to Holland.
"By St. Anthony, lad," he broke out, when the story was finished, "you had a narrow escape from those villains at Rotterdam. Had it chanced that you were out at the time they came, I would not have given a groat for your life. By all accounts, that fellow Black Dick is a desperate villain. They say that they had got hold of evidence enough against him to hang a dozen men, and it seems that there is little doubt that he was concerned in several cases, where, not content with robbing, the villain had murdered the inmates of lonely houses round London. He had good cause for hating you. It was through you that he had been captured, and had lost his share in all that plunder at Marner's. Well, I trust the villain will never venture to show his face in London again; but there is never any saying. I should like to meet that captain who behaved so well to you, and I will meet him too, and shake him by the hand and tell him that any gear he may want for that ketch of his, he is free to come in here to help himself. There is another thing to be thought of. I must go round in the morning to the Guildhall and notify the authorities that you have come back. There has been a great hue and cry for you. They have searched the thieves' dens of London from attic to cellar; there have been boats out looking for your body; and on the day after you were missing they overhauled all the ships in the port. Of course the search has died out now, but I must go and tell them, and you will have to give them the story of the affair."
"I shan't say a word that will give them a clue that will help them to lay hands on the captain. He saved my life, and no one could have been kinder than he was. I would rather go away for a time altogether, for I don't see how I am to tell the story without injuring him."
"No; it is awkward, lad. I see that, even if you would not give them the name of the craft, they might find out what vessels went into Ipswich on that morning, and also the names of those that sailed from Rotterdam on the day she left."
"It seems to me, Captain, that the only way will be for me to say the exact truth, namely, that I gave my word to the captain that I would say naught of the matter. I could tell how I was struck down, and how I did not recover consciousness until I found myself in a boat, and was lifted on board a vessel and put down into the hold, and was there kept until morning. I could say that when I was let out I found we were far down the river, that the captain expressed great regret when he found that I had been hurt so badly, that he did everything in his power for me, and that after I had been some days on board the ship he offered to land me in Holland, and to give me money to pay my fare back here if I would give him my word of honour not to divulge his name or the name of the ship, or that of the port at which he landed me. Of course, they can imprison me for a time if I refuse to tell, but I would rather stay in gaol for a year than say aught that might set them upon the track of Captain Madden. It was not until the day he left me in Holland that I knew his name, for of course the men always called him captain, and so did I."
"That is the only way I can see out of it, lad. I don't think they will imprison you after the service you have done in enabling them to break up this gang, bring the head of it to justice, and recover a large amount of property."
So indeed, on their going to the Guildhall next morning, it turned out. The sitting Alderman threatened Cyril with committal to prison unless he gave a full account of all that had happened to him, but Captain Dowsett spoke up for him, and said boldly that instead of punishment he deserved honour for the great service he had done to justice, and that, moreover, if he were punished for refusing to keep the promise of secrecy he had made, there was little chance in the future of desperate men sparing the lives of those who fell into their hands. They would assuredly murder them in self-defence if they knew that the law would force them to break any promise of silence they might have made. The Magistrate, after a consultation with the Chief Constable, finally came round to this view, and permitted Cyril to leave the Court, after praising him warmly for the vigilance he had shown in the protection of his employer's interests. He regretted that he had not been able to furnish them with the name of a man who had certainly been, to some extent, an accomplice of those who had assaulted him, but this was not, however, so much to be regretted, since the man had done all in his power to atone for his actions.
"There is no further information you can give us, Master Cyril?"
"Only this, your worship: that on the day before I left Holland, I caught sight of the two persons who had escaped from the constables. They had just landed."
"I am sorry to hear it," the Alderman said. "I had hoped that they were still in hiding somewhere in the City, and that the constables might yet be able to lay hands on them. However, I expect they will be back again erelong. Your ill-doer is sure to return here sooner or later, either with the hope of further gain, or because he cannot keep away from his old haunts and companions. If they fall into the hands of the City Constables, I will warrant they won't escape again."
He nodded to Cyril, who understood that his business was over and left the Court with Captain Dave.
"I am not so anxious as the Alderman seemed to be that Black Dick and Robert Ashford should return to London, Captain Dave."
"No; I can understand that, Cyril. And even now that you know they are abroad, it would be well to take every precaution, for the others whose business has been sorely interrupted by the capture of that villain Marner may again try to do you harm. No doubt other receivers will fill his place in time, but the loss of a ready market must incommode them much. Plate they can melt down themselves, and I reckon they would have but little difficulty in finding knaves ready to purchase the products of the melting-pot; but it is only a man with premises specially prepared for it who will buy goods of all kinds, however bulky, without asking questions about them."
Cyril was now in high favour with Mistress Nellie, and whenever he was not engaged when she went out he was invited to escort her.
One day he went with her to hear a famous preacher hold forth at St. Paul's. Only a portion of the cathedral was used for religious services; the rest was utilised as a sort of public promenade, and here people of all classes met--gallants of the Court, citizens, their wives and daughters, idlers and loungers, thieves and mendicants.
As Nellie walked forward to join the throng gathered near the pulpit, Cyril noticed a young man in a Court suit, standing among a group who were talking and laughing much louder than was seemly, take off his plumed hat, and make a deep bow, to which she replied by a slight inclination of the head, and passed on with somewhat heightened colour.
Cyril waited until the service was over, when, as he left the cathedral with her, he asked,--
"Who was that ruffler in gay clothes, who bowed so deeply to you, Mistress Nellie?--that is, if there is no indiscretion in my asking."
"I met him in a throng while you were away," she said, with an attempt at carelessness which he at once detected. "There was a great press, and I well-nigh fainted, but he very courteously came to my assistance, and brought me safely out of the crowd."
"And doubtless you have seen him since, Mistress?"
Nellie tossed her head.
"I don't see what right you have to question me, Master Cyril?"
"No right at all," Cyril replied good-temperedly, "save that I am an inmate of your father's house, and have received great kindness from him, and I doubt if he would be pleased if he knew that you bowed to a person unknown to him and unknown, I presume, to yourself, save that he has rendered you a passing service."
"He is a gentleman of the Court, I would have you know," she said angrily.
"I do not know that that is any great recommendation if the tales one hears about the Court are true," Cyril replied calmly. "I cannot say I admire either his companions or his manners, and if he is a gentleman he should know that if he wishes to speak to an honest citizen's daughter it were only right that he should first address himself to her father."
"Heigh ho!" Nellie exclaimed, with her face flushed with indignation. "Who made you my censor, I should like to know? I will thank you to attend to your own affairs, and to leave mine alone."
"The affairs of Captain Dave's daughter are mine so long as I am abroad with her," Cyril said firmly. "I am sorry to displease you, but I am only doing what I feel to be my duty. Methinks that, were John Wilkes here in charge of you, he would say the same, only probably he would express his opinion as to yonder gallant more strongly than I do;" he nodded in the direction of the man, who had followed them out of the cathedral, and was now walking on the other side of the street and evidently trying to attract Nellie's attention.
Nellie bit her lips. She was about to answer him passionately, but restrained herself with a great effort.
"You are mistaken in the gentleman, Cyril," she said, after a pause; "he is of a good family, and heir to a fine estate."
"Oh, he has told you as much as that, has he? Well, Mistress Nellie, it may be as he says, but surely it is for your father to inquire into that, when the gentleman comes forward in due course and presents himself as a suitor. Fine feathers do not always make fine birds, and a man may ruffle it at King Charles's Court without ten guineas to shake in his purse."
At this moment the young man crossed the street, and, bowing deeply to Nellie, was about to address her when Cyril said gravely,--
"Sir, I am not acquainted with your name, nor do I know more about you save that you are a stranger to this lady's family. That being so, and as she is at present under my escort, I must ask you to abstain from addressing her."
"You insolent young varlet!" the man said furiously. "Had I a cane instead of a sword I would chastise you for your insolence."
"That is as it may be," Cyril said quietly. "That sort of thing may do down at Whitehall, but if you attempt to make trouble here in Cheapside you will very speedily find yourself in the hands of the watch."
"For Heaven's sake, sir," Nellie said anxiously, as several passers-by paused to see what was the matter, "do not cause trouble. For my sake, if not for your own, pray leave me."
"I obey you, Mistress," the man said again, lifting his hat and bowing deeply. "I regret that the officiousness of this blundering varlet should have mistaken my intentions, which were but to salute you courteously."
So saying, he replaced his hat, and, with a threatening scowl at Cyril, pushed his way roughly through those standing round, and walked rapidly away.
Nellie was very pale, and trembled from head to foot.
"Take me home, Cyril," she murmured.
He offered her his arm, and he made his way along the street, while his face flushed with anger at some jeering remarks he heard from one or two of those who looked on at the scene. It was not long before Nellie's anger gained the upper hand of her fears.
"A pretty position you have placed me in, with your interference!"
"You mean, I suppose, Mistress Nellie, a pretty position that man placed you in, by his insolence. What would Captain Dave say if he heard that his daughter had been accosted by a Court gallant in the streets?"
"Are you going to tell him?" she asked, removing her hand sharply from his arm.
"I have no doubt I ought to do so, and if you will take my advice you will tell him yourself as soon as you reach home, for it may be that among those standing round was someone who is acquainted with both you and your father; and you know as well as I do what Captain Dave would say if it came to his ears in such fashion."
Nellie walked for some time in silence. Her anger rose still higher against Cyril at the position in which his interference had placed her, but she could not help seeing that his advice was sound. She had indeed met this man several times, and had listened without chiding to his protestations of admiration and love. Nellie was ambitious. She had been allowed to have her own way by her mother, whose sole companion she had been during her father's absence at sea. She knew that she was remarkably pretty, and saw no reason why she, like many another citizen's daughter, should not make a good match. She had readily given the man her promise to say nothing at home until he gave her leave to do so, and she had been weak, enough to take all that he said for gospel. Now she felt that, at any rate, she must smooth matters over and put it so that as few questions as possible should be asked. After a long pause, then, she said,--
"Perhaps you are right, Cyril. I will myself tell my father and mother. I can assure you that I had no idea I should meet him to-day."
This Cyril could readily believe, for certainly she would not have asked him to accompany her if she had known. However, he only replied gravely,--
"I am glad to hear that you will tell them, Mistress Nellie, and trust that you will take them entirely into your confidence."
This Nellie had no idea of doing; but she said no further word until they reached home.