“As I am a gentleman, you do me more honour than I deserve.”

“Justice, Rashleigh—only justice—and it is only justice which I expect at your hands.”

“You are a tyrant, Diana,” he answered, with a sort of sigh—“a capricious tyrant, and rule your friends with a rod of iron. Still, however, it shall be as you desire. But you ought not to be here—you know you ought not—you must return with me.”

Then turning from Diana, who seemed to stand undecided, he came up to me in the most friendly manner, and said, “Do not doubt my interest in what regards you, Mr. Osbaldistone. If I leave you just at this moment, it is only to act for your advantage. But you must use your influence with your cousin to return; her presence cannot serve you, and must prejudice herself.”

“I assure you, sir,” I replied, “you cannot be more convinced of this than I; I have urged Miss Vernon’s return as anxiously as she would permit me to do.”

“I have thought on it,” said Miss Vernon, after a pause, “and I will not go till I see you safe out of the hands of the Philistines. Cousin Rashleigh, I daresay, means well; but he and I know each other well.—Rashleigh, I will not go;—I know,” she added, in a more soothing tone, “my being here will give you more motive for speed and exertion.”

“Stay then, rash, obstinate girl,” said Rashleigh; “you know but too well to whom you trust;” and hastening out of the hall, we heard his horse’s feet a minute afterwards in rapid motion.

“Thank Heaven, he is gone!” said Diana. “And now, let us seek out the Justice.”

“Had we not better call a servant?”

“Oh, by no means; I know the way to his den—we must burst on him suddenly—follow me.”

I did follow her accordingly, as she tripped up a few gloomy steps, traversed a twilight passage, and entered a sort of anteroom, hung round with old maps, architectural elevations, and genealogical trees. A pair of folding-doors opened from this into Mr. Inglewood’s sitting apartment, from which was heard the fag-end of an old ditty, chanted by a voice which had been in its day fit for a jolly bottle-song.

“Oh, in Skipton-in-Craven,
Is never a haven,
    But many a day foul weather;
And he that would say
A pretty girl nay,
    I wish for his cravat a tether.”—

“Hey day!” said Miss Vernon, “the genial Justice must have dined already—I did not think it had been so late.”

It was even so. Mr. Inglewood’s appetite having been sharpened by his official investigations, he had ante-dated his meridian repast, having dined at twelve instead of one o’clock, then the general dining hour in England. The various occurrences of the morning occasioned our arriving some time after this hour, to the Justice the most important of the four-and-twenty, and he had not neglected the interval.

“Stay you here,” said Diana; “I know the house, and I will call a servant; your sudden appearance might startle the old gentleman even to choking;” and she escaped from me, leaving me uncertain whether I ought to advance or retreat. It was impossible for me not to hear some part of what passed within the dinner apartment, and particularly several apologies for declining to sing, expressed in a dejected croaking voice, the tones of which, I conceived, were not entirely new to me.

“Not sing, sir? by our Lady! but you must—What! you have cracked my silver-mounted cocoa-nut of sack, and tell me that you cannot sing!—Sir, sack will make a cat sing, and speak too; so up with a merry stave, or trundle yourself out of my doors—Do you think you are to take up all my valuable time with your d—d declarations, and then tell me you cannot sing?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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