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fool as well as myself. However, now I know you, Sir Luke, you must spur alongside, for the hawks are on the wing; and though I've much to say, I've not a second to lose.” And Dick briefly detailed the particulars of his ride, concluding with his rencontre with Barbara. “ Here's the packet," said he, “just as I got it. You must keep it till the proper moment. And here,” added he, fumbling in his pocket for another paper, “is the marriage document.
You are now your father's lawful son, let who will say you nay. Take it and welcome. If you are ever master of Miss Mowbray's hand, you will not forget Dick Turpin.”
“ I will not,” said Luke, eagerly grasping the certificate; “ but she never may be mine.”
- You have her oath ?”
“ It shall follow,” replied Sir Luke, wildly. “You are right. She is my affianced bride affianced before hell, if not before heaven. I have sealed the contract with blood with Sybil's blood and it shall be fulfilled. I have her oath - her oath — ha, ha! Though I perish in the attempt, I will wrest her from Ranulph's grasp. She shall never be his. I would stab her first. Twice have I failed in my endeavours to bear her off. I am from Rookwood even now. To-morrow night I shall renew the attack.
assist me? - To-morrow night !” interrupted Dick.
“Nay, I should say to-night. A new day has already dawned,” replied Luke. - I will
she is at Rookwood ? ” “She languishes there at present, attended by her mother and her lover. The hall is watched and guarded. Ranulph is ever on the alert. But we will storm their garrison. I have a spy within its walls a gipsy girl, faithful to my interests. From her I have learnt that there is a plot to wed Eleanor to Ranulph, and that the marriage is to take place privately to-morrow. This must be prevented.”
" It must. But why not boldly appear in person at the hall, and claim her ? ”
Why not? I am a proscribed felon. A price is set
upon my head. I am hunted through the country - driven to concealment, and dare not show myself for fear of capture. What could I do now? They would load me with fetters, bury me in a dungeon, and wed Eleanor to Ranulph. What would my rights avail ? What would her oath signify to them ? No; she must be mine by force. His she shall never be. Again, I ask you, will you aid me?”
“ I have said I will. Where is Alan Rookwood ?" 66 Concealed within the hut on Thorne Waste. You know it - it was one of
haunts.” “ I know it well,” said Dick, “ and Conkey Jem, its keeper, into the bargain- he is a knowing file. I'll join you at the hut at midnight, if all goes well. We'll bring off the wench, in spite off them all — just the thing I like. But in case of a break down on my part, suppose you take charge of my purse, in the mean time.”
Luke would have declined this offer.
“ Pshaw !” said Dick. “ Who knows what may happen? and it's not ill lined either. You 'll find an odd hundred or so, in that silken bag—it's not often your highwayman gives away a purse. Take it, man -we'll settle all to-night; and if I don't come, keep it -- it will help you to your bride. And now off with you to the hut, for you are only hindering me. Adieu ! My love to old Alan. We'll do the trick to-night. Away with you to the hut. Keep yourself snug there till midnight, and we'll ride over to Rookwood.”
“At midnight," replied Sir Luke, wheeling off, “I shall expect you."
«'Ware hawks!" hallooed Dick.
But Luke had vanished. In another instant Dick was scouring the plain as rapidly as ever. In the mean time, as Dick has casually alluded to the hawks, it may not be amiss to inquire how they had flown throughout the night, and whether they were still in chase of their quarry.
With the exception of Titus, who was completely done up at Grantham; having got," as he said, “a complete belly-full of it," - they were still on the wing, and resolved sooner or later to pounce upon their prey-pursuing the same system as heretofore, in regard to the post-horses. Major Mowbray and Paterson took the lead, but the irascible and invincible attorney was not far in their rear, his wrath having been by no
means allayed by the fatigue he had undergone. At Bawtrey they held a council of war for a few minutes, being doubtful which course he had taken. Their incertitude was relieved by a foot traveller, who had heard Dick's loud halloo on passing the boundary of Nottinghamshire, and had seen him take the lower road. They struck, therefore, into the path to Thorne, at a hazard, and were soon satisfied they were right. Furiously did they now spur on.
They reached Selby; changed horses at the inn in front of the venerable cathedral church; and learnt from the post-boy that a toil-worn horseman, on a jaded steed, had ridden through the town, about five minutes before them, and could not be more than a quarter of a mile in advance. “ His horse was so dead beat,” said the lad, “ that I'm sure he cannot have got far ; and, if you look sharp, I'll be bound you'll overtake him before he reaches Cawood Ferry."
Mr. Coates was transported. “We'll lodge him snug in York Castle before an hour, Paterson,” cried he, rubbing his hands.
“I hope so, sir,” said the chief constable — “but I begin to have some qualms.”
“Now, gentlemen,” shouted the post-boy, “come along. I'll soon bring you to him.”
The sun had just o'ertopped the “high eastern hill,” as Turpin reached the Ferry of Cawood, and his beams were reflected upon the deep, and sluggish waters of the Ouse.
Wearily had he dragged his course thither - wearily and slow. The powers of his gallant steed were spent, and he could scarcely keep her from sinking. It was now midway 'twixt the hours of five and six. Nine miles only lay before him — and that thought again revived him. He reached the water's edge, and hailed the ferry-boat, which was then on the other side of the river. At that instant a loud shout smote his ear; it was the halloo of his pursuers. Despair was in his look. He shouted to the boatman, and bade him pull fast. The man obeyed ; but he had to breast a strong stream, and had a lazy bark, and heavy sculls to contend with. He had scarcely left the shore, when another shout was raised from the pursuers. The tramp of their steeds grew louder and louder.
The boat had scarcely reached the middle of the stream. His captors were at hand. Quietly did he walk down the bank, and as cautiously enter the water.
There was a plunge, and steed and rider were swimming down the river.
Major Mowbray was at the brink of the stream. He hesitated an instant, and stemmed the tide. Seized, as it were, by a mania for equestrian distinction, Mr. Coates braved the torrent. Not so Paterson. He very coolly took out his bull-dogs, and, watching Turpin, cast up in his own mind the pros and cons of shooting him as he was crossing. " I could certainly hit him,” thought, or said, the constable ; " but what of that? A dead highwayman worth nothing — alive he weighs 3001. I wo’n't shoot him, but I'll make a pretence.” And he fired accordingly.
The shot skimmed over the water, but did not, as it was in. tended, do much mischief. It, however, occasioned a mishap, which had nearly proved fatal to our aquatic attorney. Alarmed at the report of the pistol, in the nervous agitation of the moment, Coates drew in his rein so tightly that his steed instantly sank. A moment or two afterwards he rose, shaking his ears, and floundering heavily towards the shore ; and such was the chilling effect of this sudden immersion, that Mr. Coates now thought much more of saving himself, than of capturing Turpin. Dick, meanwhile, had reached the opposite bank, and, refreshed by her bath, Bess scrambled up the sides of the stream, and speedily regained the road. “I shall do it, yet,” shouted Dick : " that stream has saved her.—Hark away, lass ! - Hark
!" Bess heard the cheering cry, and she answered to the call.
She roused all her energies ; strained every sinew; and put forth all her remaining strength. Once more, on wings of swiftness, she bore him away from his pursuers, and Major Mowbray, who had now gained the shore, and made certain of securing him, beheld him spring, like a wounded hare, from beneath his very hand. “ It cannot hold out,” said the major; “ it is but an expiring flash - that gallant steed must soon drop.”
“She be regularly booked, that's certain,” said the post-boy. -“We shall find her on the road.”
Contrary to all expectation, however, Bess held on, and set pursuit at defiance. Her pace was swift as when she started. But it was unconscious and mechanical action. It wanted the ease, the lightness, the life of her former riding. She seemed screwed up to a task which she must execute.
There was no flogging - no gory heel : but the heart was throbbing, tugging at the sides within. Her spirit spurred her onwards. Her eye was glazing ; her chest heaving ; her flank quivering ; her crest again fallen. Yet she held on. “She is dying, by God!” said Dick. “I feel it
No, she held on. Fulford is past. The towers and pinnacles of York burst upon him in all the freshness, the beauty, and the glory of a bright, clear, autumnal morn. The ancient city seemed to smile a welcome, a greeting. The noble Minster and its serene and massive pinnacles, crocketed, lantern-like, and beautiful; Saint Mary's lofty spire, All-Hallow's Tower, the massive mouldering walls of the adjacent postern, the grim castle, and Clifford's neighbouring keep-all beamed upon him, " like a bright-eyed face, that laughs out openly.”. ." It is done-it is won," cried Dick.
“ Hurrah, hurrah !” And the sunny air was cleft with his shouts.
Bess was not insensible to her master's exultation. neighed feebly in answer to his call, and reeled forwards. It was a piteous sight to see her -- to mark her staring, protruding eye-ball —her shaking flanks ;- but, while life and limb held together, she held on. Another mile is past. York is near.
“ Hurrah !" shouted Dick; but his voice was hushed. Bess tottered — fell. There was a dreadful gasp—a parting moan — a snort—her eye gazed, for an instant, upon her master, with a dying glare -- then grew glassy, rayless,