good sake, I am heartily glad that this charge has miscarried. I thoroughly understand it now. The fog explains the whole of it.’

‘Go back, my good fellow,’ said Colonel Harding; ‘and if the day is clear enough, you will find all your things where you left them. I know, from my own experience, what it is to be caught in an Exmoor fog.’

Uncle Reuben, by this time, was so put out, that he hardly knew what he was saying.

‘My lord, Sir Colonel, is this your justice! If I go to London myself for it, the King shall know how his commission—how a man may be robbed, and the justices prove that he ought to be hanged at back of it; that in his good shire of Somerset—’

‘Your pardon a moment, good sir,’ De Whichehalse interrupted him; ‘but I was about (having heard your case) to mention what need be an obstacle, and, I fear, would prove a fatal one, even if satisfactory proof were afforded of a felony. The mal-feasance (if any) was laid in Somerset; but we, two humble servants of His Majesty, are in commission of his peace for the county of Devon only, and therefore could never deal with it.’

‘And why, in the name of God,’ cried Uncle Reuben now carried at last fairly beyond himself, ‘why could you not say as much at first, and save me all this waste of time and worry of my temper? Gentlemen, you are all in league; all of you stick together. You think it fair sport for an honest trader, who makes no shams as you do, to be robbed and wellnigh murdered, so long as they who did it won the high birthright of felony. If a poor sheep stealer, to save his children from dying of starvation, had dared to look at a two-month lamb, he would swing on the Manor gallows, and all of you cry “Good riddance!” But now, because good birth and bad manners—’ Here poor Uncle Ben, not being so strong as before the Doones had played with him, began to foam at the mouth a little, and his tongue went into the hollow where his short grey whiskers were.

I forget how we came out of it, only I was greatly shocked at bearding of the gentry so, and mother scarce could see her way, when I told her all about it. ‘Depend upon it you were wrong, John,’ was all I could get out of her; though what had I done but listen, and touch my forelock, when called upon. ‘John, you may take my word for it, you have not done as you should have done. Your father would have been shocked to think of going to Baron de Whichehalse, and in his own house insulting him! And yet it was very brave of you John. Just like you, all over. And (as none of the men are here, dear John) I am proud of you for doing it.’

All throughout the homeward road, Uncle Ben had been very silent, feeling much displeased with himself and still more so with other people. But before he went to bed that night, he just said to me, ‘Nephew Jack, you have not behaved so badly as the rest to me. And because you have no gift of talking, I think that I may trust you. Now, mark my words, this villain job shall not have ending here. I have another card to play.’

‘You mean, sir, I suppose, that you will go to the justices of this shire, Squire Maunder, or Sir Richard Blewitt, or—’

‘Oaf, I mean nothing of the sort; they would only make a laughing-stock, as those Devonshire people did, of me. No, I will go to the King himself, or a man who is bigger than the King, and to whom I have ready access. I will not tell thee his name at present, only if thou art brought before him, never wilt thou forget it.’ That was true enough, by the bye, as I discovered afterwards, for the man he meant was Judge Jeffreys.

‘And when are you likely to see him, sir?’

‘Maybe in the spring, maybe not until summer, for I cannot go to London on purpose, but when my business takes me there. Only remember my words, Jack, and when you see the man I mean, look straight at

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