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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJohn Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 6. Pearson's Visit To Squire Harwood...
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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 6. Pearson's Visit To Squire Harwood... Post by :egdcltd Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :2828

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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 6. Pearson's Visit To Squire Harwood...

Chapter 6. Pearson's Visit To Squire Harwood--Plan To Entrap Jack


On the day Jack had paid his visit to Harwood Grange, while the Squire was walking up and down the terrace, enjoying the cool of the evening, he saw a horseman riding along the avenue towards him. He was a strongly-built, active-looking man, with somewhat coarse features and a bold expression of countenance. He dismounted as he approached Mr Harwood, and presented a letter which he drew from his bosom.

"That will tell you who I am," said the horseman, as the Squire opened the epistle and glanced at its contents.

"Ah, yes!" he said, looking up at the stranger, "we have met before. I remember you now. Come along here, down this walk; we shall be out of ear-shot. Well, what success have you had?"

"Not so much as I should have expected," answered the stranger. "There's no spirit in the young men now-a-days; they all seem to be finding employment either at home, or at sea, or in the plantations, and there are few worth having, or who can be trusted at all events, who seem disposed to draw a sword for King James."

"I am afraid you are right," answered the Squire. "Most of those I have spoken to seem perfectly contented with this Dutch William we have got over us, and do not show any wish to have back their rightful king. But still we must not despair, Master Pearson."

"I am the last man to do that either," answered the stranger; "and if we cannot find them on this side of the border, there will be no lack on the other. It will not cost much labour to arouse the Highlanders, while some of the best soldiers in the country, though they refuse to join us, will stand neutral, not for love of the Stuarts, just the contrary, but because William did not treat King James as Cromwell and his party treated his father."

"What say you, Master Pearson? Do you think you could arouse the people in the fen-country? You might raise and drill an army in those wilds without the Government knowing any thing about the matter."

"If the people had any spirit, it could be done," said Master Pearson; "but they are too dull and stupid, I fear, to be aroused by any motive, and I suspect they care little what king sits on the throne."

"I am afraid, then, we must be content with small beginnings," said the Squire. "A good time will come if we wait for it; and if William dies, though I would have no hand in hastening his death, there would be no doubt that the people would be glad enough to get King James back again."

"As to that, his life is as good as James's," observed Pearson; "and if we have not a strong party in readiness to take advantage of any thing that may occur, I fear the Puritan Nonconformists generally will still be too powerful in the country to allow the return of a Catholic sovereign. We must go on recruiting, Squire, and work away among gentles and simples till we have increased the strength of our party, and then will be the time to strike a blow, which may set things to rights again."

"Perhaps it may be so," observed the Squire musingly; "but we must be cautious, Master Pearson; too many honest men have lost their heads for want of that quality, and I have no desire to lose mine or my estate either, which a plot of this sort, if discovered, would seriously imperil. Mind, all I say is, that we must be cautious, and wait patiently till we can gain strength; and by-the-bye there is a young man I wish to win over, a fine, spirited lad, and I'm sure if we can gain him he will prove valuable to the cause. Should you fall in with him, Master Pearson, I must commend him to your care. We have pressed him here pretty hard, and though he seemed stubborn, I think if right arguments coming from another source were to be used, he might yet be gained over. He is the younger son of Mr Jasper Deane of Nottingham. You are very likely in your rambles to come across him."

"I have done so already," answered Master Pearson, "and formed the same opinion of the youth as you have expressed. I hoped, indeed, to have gained him over by this time; but though he promised to meet me again, I missed him. Having, however, now received your further recommendation, I will be on the watch for him, and I dare say I shall come across him before long."

"Do so, good Master Pearson. I wish we could find a few hundreds such as he is, and the king would not long be kept out of his own. And now come into the house: we will send your horse round to the stable, and probably you and he will not be the worse for some refreshment."

"As to that, Squire, I have not ridden far to-day, but I know not how many leagues I may have to cover before to-morrow morning, and I make it a rule to keep my horse and myself in readiness for a gallop north or south, as I find necessary."

"Well, come in, Master Pearson; you can rest here as long as you like. My people are faithful, so that even if they suspected any thing, you need have no fear of their betraying you."

At a summons from the Squire the groom appeared, and was about to take Master Pearson's horse round to the stable, when he interposed.

"Stay," he said; "my beast is a sorry-looking jade, but I have a regard for the animal, and always make a rule of seeing her fed; so you will excuse me, Squire, while I go round, and I will join you presently. Take care of her heels, lad," he added, as the groom led the mare into the stable: "she has a trick of kicking, if she is not handled as she is accustomed to, for I always look after her myself. I will not unsaddle her, but just loosen the girths. There, that will do. There's as much corn there as she will require, and a few handfuls of hay will serve her for supper besides. You understand me now? You will be wise not to come into the stall unless I am here."

As he spoke, he crossed the groom's hand with a piece of silver, and having removed from the holsters a brace of pistols, which he deposited in the ample pockets of his riding-coat, he left the stable.

"You will keep an eye on the stables, and let me know if any one comes near them in my absence," he said, in a tone which made the groom feel that he was not a man to be trifled with.

With an unconstrained, independent air, Master Pearson entered the house, where the Squire stood ready to receive him. Alethea came into the supper-room for a few moments, but not liking the manner or appearance of their guest, asked leave of her father to withdraw, guessing indeed that the Squire would not require her presence during the meal.

About the hour at which the family generally retired to rest, Master Pearson rose from his seat, declaring it was time for him to take his departure.

"I must be twenty miles from hence before midnight," he observed, laughing. "I make it a rule if possible to put about that distance between the place where I am last seen, and the spot I sleep at, on most nights of the week. It is seldom I should thus fail to prove an _alibi if necessary, while it would be difficult for any one, however sharp, to catch me."

The Squire accompanied his guest to the stable, where Master Pearson carefully examined his horse's hoofs, as well as the girths of his saddle, threw himself into it, and shaking hands with his host, started off at a quick trot down the avenue.

"A hard life he must have of it," thought the Squire, who was beginning to be fonder of his ease than of physical exertion. "I hope that he is trustworthy, for he has my life, and that of a good many other worthy gentlemen, in his power."

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