At length they stood upon the broad gravel-walk before the Warren house. The building was profoundly dark, and none were moving near it save themselves. From one solitary turret-chamber, however, there shone a ray of light; and towards this speck of comfort in the cold, cheerless, silent scene, Mr Willet bade his pilot lead him.
The old room, said John, looking timidly upward; Mr Reubens own apartment, God be with us! I wonder his brother likes to sit there, so late at nighton this night too.
Why, where else should he sit? asked Hugh, holding the lantern to his breast, to keep the candle from the wind, while he trimmed it with his fingers. Its snug enough, ant it?
Snug! said John indignantly. You have a comfortable idea of snugness, you have, sir. Do you know what was done in that room, you ruffian?
Why, what is it the worse for that! cried Hugh, looking into Johns fat face. Does it keep out the rain, and snow, and wind, the less for that? Is it less warm or dry, because a man was killed there? Ha, ha, ha! Never believe it, master. One mans no such matter as that comes to.
Mr Willet fixed his dull eyes on his follower, and beganby a species of inspirationto think it just barely possible that he was something of a dangerous character, and that it might be advisable to get rid of him one of these days. He was too prudent to say anything, with the journey home before him; and therefore turned to the iron gate before which this brief dialogue had passed, and pulled the handle of the bell that hung beside it. The turret in which the light appeared being at one corner of the building, and only divided from the path by one of the garden- walks, upon which this gate opened, Mr Haredale threw up the window directly, and demanded who was there.
Begging pardon, sir, said John, I knew you sat up late, and made bold to come round, having a word to say to you.
Willetis it not?
Of the Maypoleat your service, sir.
Mr Haredale closed the window, and withdrew. He presently appeared at a door in the bottom of the turret, and coming across the garden-walk, unlocked the gate and let them in.
You are a late visitor, Willet. What is the matter?
Nothing to speak of, sir, said John; an idle tale, I thought you ought to know of; nothing more.
Let your man go forward with the lantern, and give me your hand. The stairs are crooked and narrow. Gently with your light, friend. You swing it like a censer.
Hugh, who had already reached the turret, held it more steadily, and ascended first, turning round from time to time to shed his light downward on the steps. Mr Haredale following next, eyed his lowering face with no great favour; and Hugh, looking down on him, returned his glances with interest, as they climbed the winding stairs.
It terminated in a little ante-room adjoining that from which they had seen the light. Mr Haredale entered first, and led the way through it into the latter chamber, where he seated himself at a writing-table from which he had risen when they had rung the bell.
Come in, he said, beckoning to old John, who remained bowing at the door. Not you, friend, he added hastily to Hugh, who entered also. Willet, why do you bring that fellow here?
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