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out of it. I owe you something handsome for your well-intentioned
“What have the ravings of an insensible man to do with niy
" They have a good deal to do with it, I fancy," answered the
do not mean to liberate us?” asked the baronet.
"O, yes; you may ask it, and I shall answer you with great
“Would you like to be a rich man?” asked Sir Edward, in-
“ Can you doubt it?" replied Ned, looking at him steadily.
let us free."
“Five hundred-a thousand five thousand !” said the baronet.
wish. Name your own sum,” rejoined the
Why? I am rich. Why could not I pay you?”
“You thought me as base as yourself, or
“You were once, I believe,” said Sir Edward. He threw out this taunt in the imprudence of his rage; but Ned only turned shortly on his heel, and whistled a tune.
“ Folks may mend," he said, coming back, and keeping his temper-"that is, some folks. Others won't; and you are one of them, and I doubt not that precious scamp, Dogwood, is another. But I can't talk to you all night. I shall place you in the coal-house beside your chum, and he will entertain you till morning with his pleasant ruminations.”
“Stop, fellow!" thundered Sir Edward, as the gamekeeper was about to take him in his arms. “I would speak to--to the lady you took into the house."
“O, you wish to try to bribe her, do you? It's no use. She, I take it, will scorn the offer, as I do."
No; you mistake. I have an important secret in my possession regarding her, which she would give much to know. "Let me, at least, have an interview with her. I pledge you my word that she shall not he harmed.”
“ Your word!" echoed Ned, sarcastically. “Much confidence I would place in that. In this case, your bond is better; and a very good bond I have taken of you—nay, two of them; one on the arms, and another on the legs. These, I reckon, are first-rate security for your good behaviour. But, however, I will tell the lady; and if she consents to see you in the morning, I ~" "Fool! would you keep me here till morning?” interrupted the
“I tell you, I must see her instantly. If she knew that you refused me this, she would scarcely thank you."
Ned scratched his head, and mused. He thought it possible that the baronet might here he speaking truth, and that, at all events, there could be no harm in telling the girl of his wish. “ I will acquaint her," he said, turning away.
be kind enough to remain where you are till my return?”
Sir Erward ground his teeth with rage; but he was impotent to revenge, and therefore he kept silent: while the burly, goodhumoured, and, at the moment, self-satisfied gamekeeper disappeared within the doorway. Left to himself and silence, with the moon beaming down upon him, and the soft night air floating around him, he groaned in very anguish of spirit. His position was the most startling and dangerous possible. To be given thus, ignominiously bound hand and foot, charged with the heaviest crimes, into the hands of one whom he well knew would grant him do favour, but who would rather move with relentless hand the engine of the law to crush him, was to his proud, bitter soul doubly galling; and, in the vehemence of his rage, he tugged, or rather writhed, within the cords that bound him. Vain effort! Ned was not one to do such work slightly; so, with an oath, he gave up
the attempt to burst his bonds, and lay chafing and panting on the ground.
NED strode into the cottage, and tapped lightly at the inner door. Elizabeth rose softly from her position by the couch, and slipped out.
"Is the lady sleeping?” inquired Ned, in a whisper.
"O, then, it would be cruel to disturb her. He must just be forced to wait till morning."
"Come in, Mr Oakham,” said Diamond, who heard the words.
"I guess his object. Where can I see him?" she continued, rising half up. ;
"Surely, miss, you won't trust to anything that he says ?” remarked Ned, looking at her anxiously.
"I know pretty well what it is beforehand, and know exactly how far I can trust,” remarked Diamond, smiling faintly. “Yet I must see him; and by-and-by you will likely know why."
“Then I bad better bring him into the next room?"
"If you please.” And the request was accompanied with a sweet, winning smile, which set Ned off with alacrity.
His wife slipped ben to the kitchen, and Ned did the same, after bringing in the still bound baronet, and setting him on a chair.
Diamond, all the time she lay upon the couch, had been prepare ing herself for this interview, for she expected it; and though she trembled a little, yet was she, on the whole, firm, calm, and collected, for she remembered all that was at stake.
She entered the room, and stood by a chair at a respectful distance from the abashed and mortified Sir Edward, who felt now that all his plans had failed, and that he must do his best to gain her silence. His only hope of this lay in the anxiety he knew she felt to be informed who her parents were. For this knowledge he deemed she would pay forbearance as a price. He, at least, was prepared to impartit for this, to him, vital consideration; and it was with such an object in his mind that he sought the interview. They remained silent for some moments, Diamond looking timidly
to the ground, and Sir Edward striving to accommodate himself to his altered position.
“We meet in circumstances somewhat changed from those of our last conversation," said the baronet, with gloomy, constrained frank
“Well, I confess I have lost the game. I played for an important stake. My plans have failed, and it only remains that we come to some kind of terms."
- You talk of terms, sir,” said Diamond, looking up. “1 am not aware that I am bound to accord any terms. You are taken in the commission of a great wrong; your power is entirely gone; you cannot help yourself in any way: how, then, can you speak of terms?” 6. That
my power is gone, I bitterly feel,” observed Sir Edward, glancing at the cords which bound bis arms; " but you may recollect that I am still in a position to render you an important service, There is a certain valuable piece of information which I can impart.”
* You mean in respect to my parents ?” said Diamond, composedly.
“ That is just what I mean," was the laconic response, accompanied with a somewhat confident smile.
“But what if your position, in that respect, is not so powerful as you imagine ?” said Diamond, looking him quietly yet broadly in the face.
* Would you not like very much to know who your parents are, and to be restored to them ?" asked the other, a little surprised.
“I certainly should; but what if I already know who they “ That is impossible,” said Sir Edward.
“Not quite," rejoined the girl. “Shall I convince you of this by naming them?»
“Mr and Mrs Gray," was the deliberate reply.
Sir Edward bounded as if he had been shot, and his countenance Alushed with terrible rage.
“How have you discovered this?" he roared, and sat glaring at her with fiery, furious eyes.
Last night, I overheard a conversation between you and Dog. wood. Hearing voices in the next room, and considering that I had a right to know what was said, I went to the wall
, and listened. By accident, I came upon the secret spring, and so discovered the outlet, for the panel opened. I then distinctly heard all.”
« Confusion! and did you hear anything more than concerned yourself? Did you
“ I did," answered Diamond, significantly, “I heard enough to let me know there was a mystery, and guess at its nature. But my
idea of it is very vague;' and I have no wish that it should be more distinct."
Sir Edward's bound hands twitched convulsively, and he sat the very picture of horror. He was in her power a thousand times more deeply than he dreamed, and now cursed himself for adopting a plan which had been fraught with such dire disaster. Diamond noticed the dreadful storm that swept through his heart; and even though he had wronged her so cruelly, she pitied him, and hastened to speak.
“I have no desire whatever to bring you to justice," she said. "I leave the past to conscience, and earnestly trust repentance and a better heart will be the issue. This much, then, I grant, so far as I have the power; but a third party must be consulted ere an absolute promise can be given. This generous-hearted gamekeeper, who rescued me to-night, may not be disposed to give up his right to punish the assault which was committed upon him."
Possibly be might, if you used your influence with him," said the baronet, whose hopes now brightened.
"That I promise to do,” added Diamond; and, should be consent, will screen you as far as I have said, on condition that you give me the full particulars regarding my separation from my parents in infancy, and provide me with the proofs of identification which you must possess.
agree to this. Of course, you need no guarantee for its fulfilment. You have the power at any time to compel the performance of my share of the contract."
“That I know," said the girl. “ But I trust you have marked the extent to which my promise goes. I pledge myself not to bring the law of the land upon you; but I do not promise to keep the occurrences of the last six days a secret from my near friends. Indeed, in justice to myself, it is absolutely necessary that I inform several --my parents, for instance, and my Edinburgh friends."
" That is surely not necessary,” said Sir Edward, his brows lowering again. “Pardon me, sir," said Diamond, firmly. “ It is necessary; and,
my own safety and the vindication of my character, I insist upon doing it. This is my unalterable determination."
“But you will answer for the faithfulness of these friends ? You engage that they shall not divulge the secret?”.
“There I do not pledge myself, for I have not the power," answered Diamond. "But if my request has any weight with him, it shall be made."
With this the baronet was fain to be content; and Diamond, passing through the room, went to seek Ned in the kitchen, who