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CHAPTER XII.

Rise to my soule, bright Sunne of Grace, O rise!
Make mee the vigour of thy beams to proue;
Dissolue the chilling frost which on mee lies,

That makes mee lesse than looke-warm in thy loue.

I have gone wrong and erred; but ah, alas!

What can I else doe in this dungeon dark?

My foes strong are, and I a fragill glasse,—

Howres charged with cares consume my life's small sparke;
Yet, of thy goodnesse, if I grace obtaine,

My life shall be no losse, my death great gaine.

Drummond of Hawthornden.

In the course of the afternoon the different parties of peasants returned from their search, all equally weary and unsuccessful. Not the smallest trace had been obtained of the fugitive. His figure, as minutely described by Robin, was so remarkable that he could not well have escaped notice and observation, and yet they could gather no tidings of him, either in the highways or byways, at turnpikes, public houses, or lonely farms; a circumstance whence Hargrave drew the conclusion that he could not have wandered far, and must still be lurking in the immediate vicinity of Brookshaw. All were invited to take some refreshment at the Lodge, the modest larder of which being presently exhausted, as well as that of the contiguous parsonage, the guests betook themselves, nothing loath, to bread and cheese, lubricated by a copious supply of home-brewed ale. Middleton and Hargrave were not unassisted in doing the honours of this homely but hearty repast, for as there was a want of ministrants, owing to the absence of Robin and Madge, Lucy, whose beautiful and blooming looks

might indeed have qualified her to enact the part of Hebe to the gods, insisted on being cup-bearer to the rural guests. Her performance of this menial office would have somewhat abashed them, had she not discharged its duties with a laughing good humour, or jocose gravity, that soon dispelled every feeling of restraint. Besides, she had already become a general favourite with the parishioners, whom she cheered by her affability and sprightliness, while she benefited them more essentially by her charitable disposition, and her attention to their minutest wants and wishes. So far from lending herself to the cant, parade, and patronising airs of certain fashionable philanthropists, whose capricious benevolence is but a flimsy cover for vanity, her good offices were rendered as unobtrusively as possible; while, if they transpired, she disclaimed, with a real feeling of humility and an assumed air of self-ridicule, any attempt at acting the Lady Bountiful of the village. Middleton, who thought much more highly of her since her marriage than he had done before, complimented her upon the ability and success with which she discharged her new duties as a cup-bearer, when she blushed and laughed, exclaiming, "Nay, now, it is not fair to banter me, for I know that I am but an awkward girl still, for which I have the less excuse, having always had such a good opportunity of improving myself by observing dear Chritty. Oh! you have no idea how clever she is in these matters, and indeed in every thing else. She can even mix up medicines for the poor, and I have heard many of them say that she has done them much more good than the apothecary."

"I doubt it not; so charming a practitioner might drive away, methinks, every malady that flesh is heir to. Chris tiana Norberry is an angel!"

"Lud! I am glad to hear it. What, then, must I be, who am her sister?"

"You are another angel," said Middleton, smiling.

"You have had too much ale," cried Lucy, "you begin to see double. Begone, toper! not a drop more shall you quaff to-day."

Before the peasants retired, they would have made arrangements for renewing the pursuit on the following morning, but their hospitable host, apprizing them that the constables were still out with orders for the apprehension of the offender, positively forbade their intended purpose, for which, however, he renewed his thanks, and then wished

them good night in a parting cup. Lucy, declaring with an assumed air of ludicrous pomposity, that she could not any longer neglect her household duties, returned home, while Middleton and Hargrave, after talking over the occurrences of the day for some time, went forth to enjoy the refreshing coolness of the night air in the grounds at the back of the house. A few scattered lights from the opposite bank, visible at intervals through the openings of the trees, intimated that the villagers, fatigued with their exertions, were retiring to their beds; the moon, rising above the crest of the ridge, and silvering the tufted tops of the plantation, left the walks beneath in a dim obscurity, except where the thinner foliage allowed a checkered light, broken as the leaves were gently fanned by the night-breeze, to glimmer and dance upon the ground. Here and there a partial aperture allowed a ray to dart for some distance into the grove, glistening on the dewy grass, and gleaming against the polished trunks or feathery branches of the birch and ash trees, until it became absorbed by the rougher surface and denser foliage of the oaks and elms. It was one of those soft, genial, gentle nights, that impress the mind with a sense of involuntary devotion, and even seem to impart the same feeling to inanimate nature. The rustling of the leaves, and the low indistinct murmurs ascending from the ground, sounded as if the earth, before it sunk to sleep, were whispering a prayer to heaven; while it might have been thought, that the hushed impending heavens were listening graciously to the thanksgiving.

For some time the friends strolled forwards without speaking, for it seemed to both as if they were in one of Nature's sanctuaries, of which it would be almost profane to dispel the silence by the tones of a human voice. At length they reached a wilder and darker part of the grove, where the babbling of a runnel, hurrying from a pond above to the village rivulet, broke the illusion; and, as they felt their way into an alcove, for in this spot the shades of night deepened into darkness, Middleton began to discourse of the event which had engrossed his thoughts during the day.

"Hist-hark!" interposed Hargrave, after a brief interval, "I hear a noise; some one is moving among the bushes, as if stealing upon our retreat."

"Who can be lurking in the plantations at so late an hour? you must be mistaken: I hear nothing but this importunate runnel urging its way amid the stones."

"Listen! listen! there it is again!" whispered Hargrave, and his companion could now distinctly hear a rustling of the underwood, and a stealthy foot-fall among the crisp dry leaves upon the ground. Night-prowlers of any sort were so little known in the vicinity of Brookshaw, and especially in the plantations of the Lodge, that he was rather disposed to think some sheep or heifer had strayed towards them: but his friend drew a far different augury, and, putting his mouth to Middleton's ear, said in a low voice, "How singular if this should prove to be the Jewish villain who so lately attempted your life! I have already expressed my opinion, that, while we were seeking him at a distance, he was probably lying perdu in some of the contiguous woods: whoever this fellow may be, he cannot be lurking hereabouts with any good motive."

"Ha!-say you so?" cried Middleton, "then we will quickly put him to the test-any thing is better than suspense.' So saying, he sprang from the alcove, and precipitated himself among the bushes whence the sound had proceeded, scaring from his covert a man of middling stature, who rushed down one of the dark walks, with an evident terror that urged him to his utmost speed. Middleton, whose suspicions were fortified by this manifestation of guilty panic, followed instantly, and as the fugitive dashed across a moon-lit opening, was enabled to perceive that he was attired in black clothes, and wore the semblance, while he displayed the activity, of a young and vigorous man. His superior swiftness, and the increasing obscurity of the walk, soon carried him out of sight; but his pursuer tracked him for some distance by the sound of his feet, until he plunged into an umbrageous alley of turf, when this too failed him, and he followed with a blind impetuosity, utterly unguided by the ear or eye. Still animated with all the ardour of pursuit, and hurrying forward in unavailing chase from one alley to another, for he was familiar with them all, he again caught the sound of rapid footsteps, and, redoubling his speed, suddenly encountered a figure just at the point where two walks intersected each other. So violent was the shock with which he threw himself upon the presumed object of his search, that both came to the ground together, Middleton exclaiming, as he firmly grap、 pled him, "Ha, fellow! have I caught thee?"

"You have indeed," replied the well-known voice of Har grave, "but I will thank you not to throttle me, neverthe less."

“Good heavens!" ejaculated his friend, is it you?-what a bitter disappointment! How has it happened?"

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Knowing that you were unarmed, and fearing that you might be rushing into danger, I left the alcove and ran after you as fast as I could; but you presently outstripped me, and I never caught sight of you again till we met with so little ceremony at this crossing, and you were good enough to knock out of my body the modicum of breath that the rapidity of my race had left me."

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Forgive me, my dear friend," said Middleton, helping him to rise, "I hope you are not hurt; but was ever any thing so provoking? Have you seen the fugitive? Let us renew our pursuit. The rascal cannot be far off. Do you think he has quitted the plantation?"

"I have not yet recovered breath enough to answer all your questions at once; but to take them in order. I am not hurt, though somewhat shaken; it is very provoking; I have not seen the runaway; I do not think he can be far from us, and I have no objection to continue our pursuit. But as the rogue's cautious advance, and rapid flight show him to have had some evil purpose in view; as he may be armed and we are unprotected, I propose that we should renew our search without separating. If it be the Jew, as I suspect, it would not be prudent to place yourself, singly, in his power."

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'No, no, this is not our Israelite," said Middleton. cording to Robin's description, that arch-felon was old and decrepit, and attired in a long drab great-coat; whereas the fellow of whom I caught a glimpse wore a short black coat, while his uncommon swiftness proved him to be young and active."

Nay, then, if that be the case, I know not why we should trouble ourselves to pursue the knave. And yet his actions betray a guilty purpose; though not a principal in the late attempt, he may be a confederate, and I confess that I should be glad to secure him. Shall we arouse some of the villagers, and get them to surround the plantation, while we beat the bushes on the inside?"

"Not for the world. The poor fellows have already been employed all day in a fruitless search, and I will not have them again disturbed. You yourself must be fatigued, nor am I in cue for a night-chase after a fellow who runs like an antelope, and whom I am less anxious to catch, now that I am satisfied he is not the poisoner of whom we are in quest."

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