"Thou art a foolish lad," he said. "Yet I was young once myself, and my ways have been too dark to make me wish to darken others, or try to chill young blood. Now thine own life has got a shadow on't already that I have helped to cast" so take the brightness of it while thou mayst, and get thee gone. But for this girl, I know her for a comely lass and good-hearted, and have wondered often how she came to have him for her father. I am glad now I have not his blood on my hands; and never would had gone to take it then, for all the evil he had brought on me, but that the lives of every mother's son hung on his life. So make thy mind at ease, and get thee gone and see these streams and trees and stones thou talkest of. Yet if thou'rt shot upon the Down, or taken off to jail, blame thine own folly and not me. And I will walk with thee to Purbeck Gates tonight, and then come back and wait. But if thou art not here again by midnight tomorrow; I shall believe that thou art taken in some snare, and come out to seek thee."

I took his hand, and thanked him with what words I could that he had let me go and then got on the smock, putting some bread and meat in my pockets, as I was likely to find little to eat on my journey. It was dark before we left the cave, for there is little dusk with us, and the division between day and night sharper than in more northern parts. Elzevir took me by the hand and led me through the darkness of the workings, telling me where I should stoop, and when the way was uneven. Thus we came to the bottom of the shaft, and looking up through ferns and brambles, I could see the deep blue of the sky overhead, and a great star gazing down full at us. We climbed the steps with the soap-stone slide at one side, and then walked on briskly over the springy turf through the hillocks of the covered quarry- heaps and the ruins of the deserted cottages.

There was a heavy dew which got through my boots before we had gone half a mile, and though there was no moon, the sky was very clear, and I could see the veil of gossamers spread silvery white over the grass. Neither of us spoke, partly because it was safer not to speak, for the voice far in a still night on the Downs; and partly, I think, because the beauty of the starry heaven had taken hold upon us both, filling our hearts with thoughts too big for words. We soon reached that ruined cottage of which Elzevir had spoken, and in what had once been an oven, found the compass sale enough as Ratsey had promised. Then on again over the solitary hills, not speaking ourselves, and neither seeing light in window nor hearing dog stir, until we reached that strange defile which men call the Gates of Purbeck. Here is a natural road nicking the highest summit of the hill, with walls as sharp as if the hand of man had cut them, through which have walked for ages all the few travellers in this lonely place, shepherds and sailors, soldiers and Excise-men. And although, as I suppose, no carts have been through it for centuries, there are ruts in the chalk floor as wide and deep as if the cars of giants used it in past times.

So here Elzevir stopped, and drawing from his bosom that silver-buried pistol of which I have spoken, thrust it in my hand. "Here, take it, child," he said, "but use it not till thou art closely pressed, and then if thou must shoot, shoot low - it flings." I took it and gripped his hand, and so we parted, he going back to Purbeck, and I making along the top of the ridge at the back of Hoar Head. It must have been near three when I reached a great grass-grown mound called Culliford Tree, that marks the resting-place of some old warrior of the past. The top is planted with a clump of trees that cut the sky-line, and there I sat awhile to rest. But not for long, for looking back towards Purbeck, I could see the faint hint of dawn low on the sea-line behind St Alban's Head, and so pressed forward knowing I had a full ten miles to cover yet.

Thus I travelled on, and soon came to the first sign of man, namely a flock of lambs being fed with turnips on a summer fallow. The sun was well up now, and flushed all with a rosy glow, showing the sheep and the roots they eat white against the brown earth. Still I saw no shepherd, nor even dog, and about seven o'clock stood safe on Weatherbeach Hill that looks down over Moonfleet.

There at my feet lay the Manor woods and the old house, and lower down the white road and the straggling cottages, and farther still the Why Not? and the glassy Fleet, and beyond that the open sea. I cannot say how sad, yet sweet, the sight was: it seemed like the mirage of the desert, of which I had been told - so beautiful, but never to be reached again by me. The air was still, and the blue smoke of the morning

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