Mr Willet reflected for a few moments, and then muttered, as it were mechanically: ‘Let us sing to the praise and glory of—’

‘Yes, to be sure,’ cried the little man, hastily; ‘that’s it— that’s me, Johnny. You’re all right now, an’t you? Say you’re all right, Johnny.’

‘All right?’ pondered Mr Willet, as if that were a matter entirely between himself and his conscience. ‘All right? Ah!’

‘They haven’t been misusing you with sticks, or pokers, or any other blunt instruments—have they, Johnny?’ asked Solomon, with a very anxious glance at Mr Willet’s head. ‘They didn’t beat you, did they?’

John knitted his brow; looked downwards, as if he were mentally engaged in some arithmetical calculation; then upwards, as if the total would not come at his call; then at Solomon Daisy, from his eyebrow to his shoe- buckle; then very slowly round the bar. And then a great, round, leaden-looking, and not at all transparent tear, came rolling out of each eye, and he said, as he shook his head, ‘If they’d only had the goodness to murder me, I’d have thanked ’em kindly.’

‘No, no, no, don’t say that, Johnny,’ whimpered his little friend. ‘It’s very, very bad, but not quite so bad as that. No, no!’

‘Look’ee here, sir!’ cried John, turning his rueful eyes on Mr Haredale, who had dropped on one knee, and was hastily beginning to untie his bonds. ‘Look’ee here, sir! The very Maypole—the old dumb Maypole—stares in at the winder, as if it said, “John Willet, John Willet, let’s go and pitch ourselves in the nighest pool of water as is deep enough to hold us; for our day is over!”’

‘Don’t, Johnny, don’t,’ cried his friend: no less affected with this mournful effort of Mr Willet’s imagination, than by the sepulchral tone in which he had spoken of the Maypole. ‘Please don’t, Johnny!’

‘Your loss is great, and your misfortune a heavy one,’ said Mr Haredale, looking restlessly towards the door: ‘and this is not a time to comfort you. If it were, I am in no condition to do so. Before I leave you, tell me one thing, and try to tell me plainly, I implore you. Have you seen, or heard of Emma?’

‘No!’ said Mr Willet.

‘Nor any one but these bloodhounds?’


‘They rode away, I trust in Heaven, before these dreadful scenes began,’ said Mr Haredale, who, between his agitation, his eagerness to mount his horse again, and the dexterity with which the cords were tied, had scarcely yet undone one knot. ‘A knife, Daisy!’

‘You didn’t,’ said John, looking about, as though he had lost his pocket-handkerchief, or some such slight article—’either of you gentlemen—see a—a coffin anywheres, did you?’

‘Willet!’ cried Mr Haredale. Solomon dropped the knife, and instantly becoming limp from head to foot, exclaimed ‘Good gracious!’

‘—Because,’ said John, not at all regarding them, ‘a dead man called a little time ago, on his way yonder. I could have told you what name was on the plate, if he had brought his coffin with him, and left it behind. If he didn’t, it don’t signify.’

His landlord, who had listened to these words with breathless attention, started that moment to his feet; and, without a word, drew Solomon Daisy to the door, mounted his horse, took him up behind again, and flew rather than galloped towards the pile of ruins, which that day’s sun had shone upon, a stately house. Mr

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