And this met our second difficulty; for the law having won and laughed over the spoil, must have injured its own title by impugning our legality.

Next, with regard to the women and children, we were long in a state of perplexity. We did our very best at the farm, and so did many others to provide for them, until they should manage about their own subsistence. And after a while this trouble went, as nearly all troubles go with time. Some of the women were taken back by their parents, or their husbands, or it may be their sweethearts; and those who failed of this, went forth, some upon their own account to the New World plantations, where the fairer sex is valuable; and some to English cities; and the plainer ones to field work. And most of the children went with their mothers, or were bound apprentices; only Carver Doone’s handsome child had lost his mother and stayed with me.

This boy went about with me everywhere. He had taken as much of liking to me—first shown in his eyes by the firelight—as his father had of hatred; and I, perceiving his noble courage, scorn of lies, and high spirit, became almost as fond of Ensie as he was of me. He told us that his name was ‘Ensie,’ meant for ‘Ensor,’ I suppose, from his father’s grandfather, the old Sir Ensor Doone. And this boy appeared to be Carver’s heir, having been born in wedlock, contrary to the general manner and custom of the Doones.

However, although I loved the poor child, I could not help feeling very uneasy about the escape of his father, the savage and brutal Carver. This man was left to roam the country, homeless, foodless, and desperate, with his giant strength, and great skill in arms, and the whole world to be revenged upon. For his escape the miners, as I shall show, were answerable; but of the Counsellor’s safe departure the burden lay on myself alone. And inasmuch as there are people who consider themselves ill-used, unless one tells them everything, straitened though I am for space, I will glance at this transaction.

After the desperate charge of young Doones had been met by us, and broken, and just as Poor Kit Badcock died in the arms of the dead Charley, I happened to descry a patch of white on the grass of the meadow, like the head of a sheep after washing-day. Observing with some curiosity how carefully this white thing moved along the bars of darkness betwixt the panels of firelight, I ran up to intercept it, before it reached the little postern which we used to call Gwenny’s door. Perceiving me, the white thing stopped, and was for making back again; but I ran up at full speed; and lo, it was the flowing silvery hair of that sage the Counsellor, who was scuttling away upon all fours; but now rose and confronted me.

‘John,’ he said, ‘Sir John, you will not play falsely with your ancient friend, among these violent fellows, I look to you to protect me, John.’

‘Honoured sir, you are right,’ I replied; ‘but surely that posture was unworthy of yourself, and your many resources. It is my intention to let you go free.’

‘I knew it. I could have sworn to it. You are a noble fellow, John. I said so, from the very first; you are a noble fellow, and an ornament to any rank.’

‘But upon two conditions,’ I added, gently taking him by the arm; for instead of displaying any desire to commune with my nobility, he was edging away toward the postern; ‘the first is that you tell me truly (for now it can matter to none of you) who it was that slew my father.’

‘I will tell you truly and frankly, John; however painful to me to confess it. It was my son, Carver.’

‘I thought as much, or I felt as much all along,’ I answered; ‘but the fault was none of yours, sir; for you were not even present.’

‘If I had been there, it would not have happened. I am always opposed to violence. Therefore, let me haste away; this scene is against my nature.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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