Battling over Treasure
HE summer had now advanced, when Oswald one day said
"Have you heard the news, sir?"
"Nothing very particular," replied Edward; "I know that General Cromwell is over in Ireland, and they say very successful; but I have cared little for particulars."
"They say a great deal more, sir," replied Oswald; "they say that the king is in Scotland, and that the Scotch have raised an army for him."
"Indeed!" replied Edward, "that is news indeed! The Intendant has never mentioned it to me."
"I daresay not, sir; for he knows your feelings, and would be sorry to part with you."
"I will certainly speak to him on the subject," said Edward, "at the risk of his displeasure; and join the army I will, if I find what you say is true. I should hold myself a craven to remain here while the king is fighting for his own, and not to be at his side."
"Well, sir, I think it is true, for I heard that the Parliament had sent over for General Cromwell to leave Ireland, and lead the troops against the Scotch army."
"You drive me mad, Oswald! I will go to the Intendant immediately!"
Edward, much excited by the intelligence, went into the
room where he usually sat with the Intendant. The
latter, who was at his desk, looked up, and saw how
flushed Edward was, and said very
"Edward, you are excited, I presume, from hearing the news which has arrived?"
"Yes, sir, I am very much so; and I regret very much that I should be the last to whom such important news is made known."
"It is, as you say, important news," replied the Intendant; "but if you will sit down, we will talk a little upon the subject."
Edward took a chair, and the Intendant
"I have no doubt that your present feeling is to go to Scotland, and join the army without delay?"
"Such is my intention, I candidly confess, sir. It is my duty."
"Perhaps you may be persuaded to the contrary before we part," replied the Intendant. "The first duty you owe is to your family in their present position; they depend upon you; and a false step on your part would be their ruin. How can you leave them, and leave my employ, without it being known for what purpose you are gone? It is impossible! I must myself make it known, and even then it would be very injurious to me, the very circumstance of my having one of your party in my service. I am suspected by many already, in consequence of the part I have taken against the murder of the late king, and also of the lords who have since suffered. But, Edward, I did not communicate this intelligence to you, for many reasons. I knew that it would soon come to your ears, and I thought it better that I should be more prepared to show you that you may do yourself and me harm, and can do no good to the king. I will now show you that I do put confidence in you; and if you will read these letters, they will prove to you that I am correct in what I assert."
The Intendant handed three letters to Edward, by which it was evident that all the king's friends in England were of opinion that the time was not ripe for the attempt, and that it would be only a sacrifice to stir in the matter; that the Scotch army raised was composed of those who were the greatest enemies to the king, and that the best thing that could happen for the king's interest would be that they were destroyed by Cromwell; that it was impossible for the English adherents of Charles to join them, and that the Scotch did not wish them so to do.
"You are no politician, Edward," said the Intendant smiling, as Edward laid the letters down on the table. "You must admit, that in showing you these letters I have put the utmost confidence in you?"
"You have indeed, sir; and thanking you for having so done, I hardly need add that your confidence will never be betrayed."
"That I am sure of; and I trust you will now agree with me and my friends that the best thing is to remain quiet?"
"Certainly, sir, and for the future I will be guided by you."
"That is all I require of you; and after that promise you shall hear all the news as soon as it arrives. There are thousands who are just as anxious to see the king on the throne again as you are, Edward—and you now know that I am one of them; but the time is not yet come, and we must bide our time. Depend upon it, that General Cromwell will scatter that army like chaff. He is on his march now. After what has passed between us this day, Edward, I shall talk unreservedly to you on what is going on."
"I thank you, sir, and I promise you faithfully, as I said before, not only to be guided by your advice but to be most secret in all that you may trust me with."
"I have confidence in you, Edward Armitage; and now we
will drop the subject for the present: Patience and
Clara want you to walk with them, so
Edward left the Intendant, much pleased with the interview. The Intendant kept his word, and concealed nothing from Edward. All turned out as the Intendant had foretold. The Scotch army was cut to pieces by Cromwell, and the king retreated to the Highlands; and Edward now felt satisfied that he could do no better than be guided by the Intendant in all his future undertakings.
We must now pass over some time in a few words. Edward
continued at the Intendant's, and gave great
satisfaction to Mr. Heatherstone. He passed his time
very agreeably, sometimes going out to shoot deer with
Oswald, and often supplying venison to his brother and
sisters. During the autumn, Patience very often went to
the cottage, and occasionally
The reader may recollect that Edward had proposed to
Humphrey that he should ascertain whether what the
robber had stated before his death, relative to his
having concealed his
"This bodes no good," thought Humphrey, as he went
along, every now and then looking back to ascertain if
the men had come out and seen him. "That Corbould, we
know, has vowed vengeance against Edward and all of us,
and has no doubt joined those robbers—for robbers they
must be—that he may fulfil his vow. It is fortunate
that I have made the discovery, and I will send over
immediately to the Intendant." As soon as a clump of
trees had shut out the thicket, and he had no longer
any fear of being seen by these people, Humphrey went
in the direction which the robber had mentioned, and
soon afterwards he perceived the oak scathed with
lightning, which stood by itself on a green spot of
about twenty acres. It had been a noble tree before it
had been destroyed; now it spread its long naked arms,
covering a large space of ground, but without the least
sign of vegetation or life remaining. The trunk was
many feet in diameter, and was apparently quite sound,
although the tree was dead. Humphrey left Billy to feed
on the herbage close by, and then, from the position of
the sun in the heavens, ascertained the point at which
he was to dig. First looking around him to see that he
was not overlooked, he took his spade and
The three men observing this, called out to Humphrey to
stop, or they would fire; but Humphrey's only reply was
giving a lash to Billy, which set him off at a gallop.
The men immediately fired, and the bullets whistled
past Humphrey without doing any harm. Humphrey looked
round, and finding that he had increased his distance,
pulled up the pony, and went a more moderate pace.
"You'll not catch me," thought Humphrey; "and your guns
are not loaded, so I'll tantalise you a little." He
made Billy walk, and turned round to see what the men
were about; they had arrived at where he had dug out
the box, and were standing round the hole, evidently
aware that it was no use following him. "Now," thought
Humphrey, as he went along at a faster pace, "those
fellows will wonder what I have been digging up. The
villains little think that I know where to find them,
and they have proved what they are by firing at me.
Now, what must I do? They may follow me to the cottage,
for I have no doubt that they know where we live, and
that Edward is at the Intendant's. They may come and
attack us, and I dare not leave the cottage
"Where is Pablo?"
"He has been working in the garden with Edith all the day," replied Alice.
"Well, dear, I hope they will not come
"But cannot I help you, Humphrey?" said Alice. "Surely I can do something?"
"We will see, Alice; but I think I can do without you. We have still plenty of daylight. I will take the box into your room."
Humphrey, who had only taken the box out of the cart and carried it within the threshold of the door, now took it into his sisters' bedroom, and then went out and called Pablo, who came running to him.
"Pablo," said Humphrey, "we must bring to the cottage
some of the large pieces we sawed out for rafters; for
I should not be surprised if the cottage were attacked
this night." He then told Pablo what had taken place.
"You see, Pablo, I dare not send to the Intendant
"No, not send
"Yes, that was my idea. You don't mind fighting them, Pablo?"
"No; fight hard for Missy Alice and Missy Edith," said Pablo; "fight for you too, Massa Humphrey, and fight for myself," added Pablo, laughing.
They then went for the pieces of squared timber,
brought them from the
"That will do," said Humphrey; "and now get me the small saw, Pablo, and I will cut a hole or two to fire through."
It was dark before they had finished, and then they made all fast, and went to Pablo's room for the arms, which they got ready for service, and loaded.
"Now, we are all ready, Alice, so let us have our supper," said Humphrey. "We will make a fight for it, and they shall not get in so easily as they think."
After they had had their supper, Humphrey said the prayers, and told his sisters to go to bed.
"Yes, Humphrey, we will go to bed, but we will not undress; for if they come, I must be up to help you. I can load a gun, you know, and Edith can take them to you as fast as I load them. Won't you, Edith?"
"Yes, I will bring you the guns, Humphrey, and you shall shoot them," replied Edith.
Humphrey kissed his sisters, and they went to their room. He then put a light in the chimney, that he might not have to get one in case the robbers came, and then desired Pablo to go and lie down on his bed, as he intended to do the same. Humphrey remained awake till past three o'clock in the morning; but no robbers came. Pablo was snoring loud, and at last Humphrey fell asleep himself and did not awake till broad daylight. He got up, and found Alice and Edith were already in the sitting-room, lighting the fire.
"I would not wake you, Humphrey, as you had been sitting up so long. The robbers have not made their appearance, that is clear; shall you unbar the door and window-shutters now?"
"Yes, I think we may. Here, Pablo!"
"Yes," replied Pablo, coming out half asleep; "what the matter? thief come?"
"No," replied Edith, "thief not come, but sun shine; and lazy Pablo not get up."
"Up now, Missy Edith."
"Yes, but not awake yet."
"Yes, Missy Edith, quite awake."
"Well then, help me to undo the door, Pablo."
They took down the barricades, and Humphrey opened the door cautiously, and looked out.
"They won't come now, at all events, I should think," observed Humphrey; "but there is no saying—they may be prowling about, and may think it easier to get in during daytime than at night. Go out, Pablo, and look about everywhere; take a pistol with you, and fire it off if there is any danger, and then come back as fast as you can."
Pablo took the pistol, and then Humphrey went out of
the door and looked well round in front of the cottage,
but he would not leave the door till he was assured
that no one was there. Pablo returned soon after,
saying that he had looked round everywhere, and into
"Now, Pablo, get your breakfast, while I write the letter to the Intendant," said Humphrey; "and then you must saddle Billy and go over as fast as you can with the letter. You can tell him all I have not said in it. I shall expect you back at night, and some people with you."
"I see," said Pablo, who immediately busied himself with some cold meat which Alice put before him. Pablo had finished his breakfast and brought Billy to the door before Humphrey had finished his letter. As soon as it was written and folded Pablo set off as fast as Billy could go to the other side of the forest.
Humphrey continued on the
Humphrey had said in his letter that it would be better that any force sent by the Intendant should not arrive till after dark, as the robbers might be near and perceive them, and then they might escape; he did not therefore expect them to come till some time after dark. Humphrey was reading a book—Pablo was dozing in the chimney-corner—the two girls had retired into their room and had lain down on the bed in their clothes—when the dogs both gave a low growl.
"Somebody come," said Pablo, starting up.
Again the dogs growled, and Humphrey made a sign to
Pablo to hold his tongue. A short time of anxious
silence succeeded, for it was impossible to ascertain
whether the parties were friends or enemies. The dogs
now sprang up and barked furiously at the door, and as
soon as Humphrey had silenced them, a voice was heard
outside, begging for admission to a poor benighted
traveller. This was sufficient: it could not be the
party from the Intendant's, but the robbers who wished
to induce them to open the door. Pablo put a gun into
Humphrey's hand, and took another for himself; he then
removed the light into the chimney, and on the
application from outside being repeated, Humphrey
"That he never opened the door at that hour of the night, and that it was useless their remaining."
No answer or repetition of the request was made, but, as Humphrey retreated with Pablo into the fireplace, a gun was fired into the lock of the door, which was blown off into the room, and had it not been for the barricades the door must have flown open. The robbers appeared surprised at such not being the case, and one of them inserted his arm into the hole made in the door to ascertain what might be the further obstacle to open it, when Pablo slipped past Humphrey, and gaining the door, discharged his gun under the arm which had been thrust into the hole in the door. The person, whoever it might have been, gave a loud cry, and fell at the threshold outside.
"I think that will do," said Humphrey; "we must not take more life than is necessary. I had rather that you had fired through his arm—it would have disabled him, and that would have sufficed."
"Kill much better," said Pablo. "Corbould shot through leg, come again to rob; suppose shot dead, never rob more."
The dogs now flew to the back of the cottage, evidently pointing out that the robbers were attempting that side. Humphrey put his gun through the hole in the door, and discharged it.
"Why you do that, Massa Humphrey, nobody there!"
"I know that, Pablo; but if the people are coming from the Intendant's they will see the flash and perhaps hear the report, and it will let them know what is going on."
"There is another gun loaded, Humphrey," said Alice, who with Edith had joined them without Humphrey observing it.
"Thanks, love; but you and Edith must not remain here: sit down on the hearth, and then you will be sheltered from any bullet which they may fire into the house. I have no fear of their getting in, and we shall have help directly, I have no doubt. Pablo, I shall fire through the back door; they must be there, for the dogs have their noses under it, and are so violent. Do you fire another gun, as a signal, through the hole in the front door."
Humphrey stood within four feet of the back door, and fired just above where the dogs held their noses and barked. Pablo discharged his gun as directed, and then returned to reload the guns. The dogs were now more quiet, and it appeared as if the robbers had retreated from the back door. Pablo blew out the light, which had been put more in the centre of the room, when Alice and Edith took possession of the fireplace.
"No fear, Missy Edith, I know where find everything," said Pablo, who now went and peered through the hole in the front door, to see if the robbers were coming to it again; but he could see and hear nothing for some time.
At last the attack was renewed; the dogs flew backwards
and forwards, sometimes to one door and then to
another, as if both were to be assailed: and at the
same time a crash in Alice's
"Great many robbers here."
A moment or more had passed, during which Pablo and Humphrey had both again fired their guns through the door, when, of a sudden, other sounds were heard—shots were fired outside, loud cries, and angry oaths and exclamations.
"The Intendant's people are come," said Humphrey, "I am sure of it."
Shortly afterwards Humphrey heard his name called by Edward, and he replied, and went to the door and undid the barricades.
"Get a light, Alice, dear," said Humphrey, "we are all safe now. I will open the door directly, Edward, but in the dark I cannot see the fastenings."
"Are you all safe, Humphrey?"
"Yes, all safe, Edward. Wait till Alice brings a light."
Alice soon brought one, and then the door was
unfastened. Edward stepped over the body of a man which
lay at the threshold,
"You have settled somebody there, at all events," and then caught Edith and Alice in his arms.
He was followed by Oswald and some other men, leading in the prisoners.
"Bind that fellow fast, Oswald," said Edward. "Get another light, Pablo; let us see who it is that lies outside the door."
"First see who is in my bedroom, Edward," said Alice, "for the dogs are still there."
"In your bedroom, dearest? Well, then, let us go there first."
Edward went in with Humphrey, and found a man half in the window and half out, held by the throat and apparently suffocated by the two dogs. He took the dogs off; and desiring the men to secure the robber, and ascertain whether he was alive or not, he returned to the sitting-room, and then went to examine the body outside the door.
"Corbould, as I live!" cried Oswald.
"Yes," replied Edward; "he has gone to his account. God forgive him!"
On inquiry they found that of all the robbers, to the number of ten, not one had escaped—eight they had made prisoners, Corbould, and the man whom the dogs had seized, and who was found to be quite dead, made up the number. The robbers were all bound and guarded; and then, leaving them under the charge of Oswald and five of his men, Edward and Humphrey set off with seven more to Clara's cottage, to ascertain if there were any more to be found there. They arrived by two o'clock in the morning, and on knocking several times the door was opened and they seized another man, the only one who was found in it. They then went back to the cottage with their prisoner, and by the time that they had arrived it was daylight. As soon as the party sent by the Intendant had been supplied with breakfast, Edward bade farewell to Humphrey and his sisters, that he might return and deliver up his prisoners. Pablo went with him to bring back the cart which carried the two dead bodies. This capture cleared the forest of the robbers who had so long infested it, for they never had any more attempts made from that time.
Before Edward left, Humphrey and he examined the box which had been dug up from under the oak, and which had occasioned such danger to the inmates of the cottage; for one of the men stated to Edward that they suspected that the box which they had seen Humphrey dig out contained treasure, and that without they had seen him in possession of it, they never should have attacked the cottage, although Corbould had often persuaded them so to do; but as they knew that he was only seeking revenge—and they required money to stimulate them—they had refused, as they considered that there was nothing to be obtained in the cottage worth the risk, as they knew that the inmates had firearms and would defend themselves. On examination of its contents, they found in it a sum of forty pounds in gold, a bag of silver, and some other valuables in silver spoons, candlesticks, and ornaments for women. Edward took a list of the contents, and when he returned he stated to the Intendant all that had occurred, and requested to know what should be done with the money and other articles which Humphrey had found.
"I wish you had said nothing to me about it," said the Intendant, "although I am pleased with your open and fair dealing. I cannot say anything, except that you had better let Humphrey keep it till it is claimed—which, of course, it never will be. But, Edward, Humphrey must come over here and make his deposition, as I must report the capture of these robbers and send them to trial. You had better go with the clerk and take the depositions of Pablo and your sisters, while Humphrey comes here. You can stay till his return. Their depositions are not of so much consequence as Humphrey's, as they can only speak as to the attack, but Humphrey's I must take down myself."
When Patience and Clara heard that Edward was going over, they obtained leave to go with him to see Alice and Edith, and were to be escorted back by Humphrey. This the Intendant consented to, and they had a very merry party. Humphrey remained two days at the Intendant's house, and then returned to the cottage, where Edward had taken his place during his absence.