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going all the while further away from home and help takes all the pith out of me."

Edmund set his teeth and looked round, as if he would force his eyes to pierce the gloom and find their way. It was quite dark now, save for a faint light from the snow that just showed them each other and a yard or two of the trackless waste in which they stood. Faint as the light was, it was even more deceptive, for everywhere the ground seemed to rise round them like a cup, and had done so as they moved on for the last half hour over the low undulations of the


"Is there any chance of our being heard if I were to shout?" asked Edmund at last.

"If we are near the road; there are houses scattered along it every half mile or so," answered Cosmo, in a tone that he would not suffer to be despairing but could not make hopeful; and Edmund raised his voice and shouted at its utmost stretch.

"I have a dog-whistle on my chain; that might carry further," suggested his brother, and fumbling at the swivel with numbed aching fingers, at last got it free.

Three times the shrill appeal rang out over those waste spaces. Then they both listened, wondering whether, if they had been driving along the road that night and had heard the distant echo of a whistle sounding faintly through the snow and the wind, they would have thought it worth while to stop and investigate the cause, and thought not, and would not say so to each other.

"I heard a dog bark," said Edmund in a breathless undertone; and Cosmo, who had fancied he heard it too, but was not sure enough to say so, pressed his shoulder and did not speak.

Again Edmund whistled, and the bark sounded again, nearer this time.

They waited, straining their eyes to see the gleam of a lantern, or the figure of a man struggling towards them. They saw neither, only after a very short time a small dark object bounding over the snow. A moment more, and it rushed up to them, springing upon Cosmo with a joyful bark and bespattering him with snow.

"I believe the dog is alone," cried Edmund, in bitter disappointment.

"Who cares!" answered Cosmo almost gaily, with difficulty repressing the wild caresses. "Don't you see it's old Moloch? And he's worth more than a man and horse any day! Why, my dog, some one has been making a St. Bernard rescue-party of you and tied a scent-bottle round your neck!"

"A bottle-quiet, Moloch, let me get it off! Is there brandy in it by good luck! Yes! Now you drink that, every drop. But what other good his coming is to do us I don't know."

"Tie your handkerchief to his collar so that he mayn't leave us behind, and you'll soon see. He knows the way home well enough. But I wish I knew how he tracked us here."

They were moving on now with renewed hope and vigour, Moloch tug ging at his leash as if he meant to tow them home to Herne's Edge by his unaided exertions. Still they had no energy to spare for talking, though after a moment Cosmo's wonder found words. "Some one must have let him loose, and he has gone all the way down to Pennithorne and followed me on. How did anybody up at home know of any reason for letting him loose? He might have got out by accident, but then-give me that scent-bottle again, Edmund." It was too dark to see it plainly, but his fingers felt it over with a recognising touch, and he started. "That's manifestly impossible," he said in an argumentative

tone, rather to himself than to Edmund. "She wasn't at Pennithorne, and how could she be at the Edge? We are all bewitched to-night, that's all?" But he put the tiny flask into his own pocket instead of returning it; and Edmund felt the new spring with which he set himself to face the weary way that they had yet to travel.


"There's one thing I've got to say,' said Edmund, as they reached the wall that for them just now meant the boundary of the world of living men, and leaned against it a moment before Cosmo could find strength to climb over it into the road beyond.

"What is that?"

"I come back to life and the world on my own terms, which are my father's. I shall say to him 'I am no more worthy to be called thy son' without expecting or wishing that he should answer according to precedent. If you call me brother, that is enough. I have no place at Herne's Edge, no claim on the estate, now or in the future."

Cosmo had thought he knew every tone of Edmund's voice, but this was new to him. "We need not discuss the matter now at any rate," he said. ekeing out the words with a pressure of the shoulder on which he leaned.

"Neither now nor ever! Andone thing more. I gave you to understand just now that I had not the courage or the resolution to make away with myself, and God knows I need not make myself out a poorer creature than I am. I meant to do it; I should have done it before you came; but


'Well-" said Cosmo with a shudder, as he paused.

"I hardly know how to say it. It was Geoffrey Pierce's voice that stopped me, and yet I did not even think I heard it. Only I remembered it, so vividly that it seemed as though he were speaking close beside me.


'I have always stood by you, and I always will,' he said. If you give up the game you are false to me.' I don't know whether I ever heard him say that; but I am as sure that he was thinking it just then as that I stand here alive who would be dead

but for him—and you. Look there! I see a light moving yonder, down the road."


"GONE to Herne's Edge?" echoed Mrs. Heron sharply. "Impossible! I mean, I did not expect Mr. Edmund Heron to-day. Did they take the pony-carriage?"

"No, ma'am," answered the man, and hesitated as if there were more behind.

"Mr. Cosmo would never be so mad as to think of walking so far! What time was it when they left?"



"Mr. Cosmo,-about four o'clock. I did not see Mr. Edmund go, but I think it was some little time before." 'They were not together, then? Which way did they go? ?" "I don't know about Mr. Edmund ; but to tell the truth I watched Mr. Cosmo from the window up stairs, and he turned up by Goodwin's Farm."

"Across the moors!" Mrs. Heron turned away and began to pace the hall, heedless of the man's eyes fixed upon her in respectful scrutiny, or of the wide startled looks from those dark eyes of Althea's, as the girl stood in her thick travelling-wraps beside the fire, suddenly startled out of the not unpleasant embarrassment of this home-coming.

But after a moment Althea went to her, moved by the contagion of a fear she could not understand. "What is it?" she asked, laying a hand upon the elder woman's arm. "What are you afraid of?"

"I cannot tell you! So late and

dark as it is, is that not enough? How are they to find their way ? I would give all I am worth to know they were both safe at the Edge. I would give half I am worth simply to be there myself and know the truth."

"Could we not go there, at once, you and I?”

There was such intensity in Mrs. Heron's half-whispered words that it never occurred to her hearer to question their reason. There seemed nothing to do but to yield to her eagerness, even to share it. But the practical suggestion restored her a little to calmness. "It is dark

already," she said. "And Simpson will say the horses cannot possibly do it after all that distance this afternoon."

"There is the pony-carriage," suggested Althea, hardly knowing what were the possibilities of the case. But Mrs. Heron shook her head, and turning away, began to pace the hall again, then went to the door and opened it and looked out into the night. "I cannot bear it!" she went on, after a moment or two, coming back. "It cannot be as I fear, but I shall die unless I know soon that it is not. I will make Simpson take me in the pony-carriage ; but not you, my child, after your long journey."

"Please let me ! I am not tired. Please let me come."

At the urgency of her tone Mrs. Heron turned suddenly and looked her in the face; then caught her by the wrist, and spoke in a hurried undertone. Are you so afraid too? You know Edmund as well as I do. Tell me you may whisper it-what are you afraid of?"


"Not what you are thinking; oh, never that! I was always hard upon Edmund, but I always knew he loved Cosmo."

Mrs. Heron looked at her keenly, and took another turn up and down the hall. Some people cannot bear to be contradicted, even when their own thought is a horrible fear. "If your mind is so easy you had better stay quietly at home," she said coldly at last. But my mind is not easy. The world outside seems so big and so strange to-night, it frightens me. If we were only outside in it with them I should not be so much afraid, even if we could do nothing more. Let us go!"


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they thought and feared, while the Squire stared at her as if he thought she too was dreaming. But the mere fact of their presence there, at such an hour and on such a night, proved to him that their anxiety at any rate was real enough.

"Across the moors?" he questioned sharply, beginning at last to realise the story. "And what time did he leave Pennithorne ? Four o'clock ? They might have been here hours ago!" He started to his feet, and sat down again, biting his lip and frowning desperately. "And I like a fool must twist my ankle this morning till I can't stand upon it! They ought to have been here an hour since; unless they had lost their way,- -or


Mrs. Heron came hastily forward. "I am going! I can look for them,' she said. "I went that way across the moors once."

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"Sit down, Janet! This is not woman's work; we should have to send men out to look for you next. If they don't come soon I will have every man out that can do any good; but you could do nothing."

She sat down again silently. Even at that moment she remembered that

it was twenty years since he had called her Janet, or spoken to her with the natural authority of a husband instead of the punctilious observance due to a stranger.

head against the window-pane and looking out into the night, noting how now and then a snow-flake flitted by near enough to the window to gleam white against the blackness beyond, and listening to the sigh of the wind. Listening intently she stood, though the sound she longed for she did not hope to hear as yet. Just then a dog barked in the courtyard to the right of the house answering a distant bark from the farmhouse below in the valley. "Is that Moloch? Will they take him with them?" she asked herself. The short bark was still heard at intervals, as if the dog felt something unusual in the air. Then Althea began to think of the stories she had heard from Moloch's master of his surpassing intelligence, and to wonder whether it was only her own ignorance that made her think that he might be of some use, and made her long with so much impatience to be doing something.

Mr. Heron had perhaps been influenced by his lifelong habit of opposing his wife's suggestion, or had not expected her to yield so readily. He began to calculate times and distances, and to prove conclusively that after all the young men could not have arrived much sooner. Neither took much heed of Althea, who listened with her heart in her eyes, and, when Mr. Heron had talked himself silent without response, stole softly out into the fire-lit hall.


"It can do no harm, at all events," she said at last as if reasoning with herself. At least he can only go down to Pennithorne; and Mrs. Heron to-night would welcome a toad or a snake that was his."

Then another thought came to Althea, that she more than suspected was silly, and that therefore she would tell to no one, but did not abandon. In her pocket was the scent-flask that Cosmo had given her, almost his only present except the ring that had never seemed really her own. To get it filled with brandy by the old housekeeper, with whom she had made friends long before, was the work of a few moments; the next she was out in the courtyard alone with Moloch, fastening the little bottle to his collar and telling him what he was to do. She could almost have believed him a kind of goblin, who understood every word she spoke; and indeed there was

There she stood, pressing her fore- something preoccupied about his friend

ly greeting of her, as though he knew very well that there was important business toward. As soon as she unfastened his chain he made one bound as if to test his freedom, and then galloped steadily forward into the snow and the darkness, as if he had had but one desire for many hours past and now saw his way to gratifying it. Then Althea, feeling a little ashamed of herself, slipped back into the library, to watch once more that tense unconfessed anxiety that seemed to make her own so much harder to bear.

After about three quarters of an hour more of fitful talk and watchful silence Mr. Heron rang the bell, and gave his orders in brisk short sentences that would not admit any cause for fear; while his wife looked as though his doing what she had so longed for him to do had in itself confirmed her worst terrors.

The little bustle of the men's start died away, and once more the old house was deadly still,- -as still as the occupants of the library who spoke no word and hardly moved a finger. Althea was watching the other two, suffering for and with them; but for her own part she was not despairing, only anxious. Having despaired once, not long ago, and found her fears not realised, her courageous young spirit declined to be depressed again by anything short of absolute certainty. And she was sure that Mr. Heron was not despondent, though listening in keen suspense and chafing against his own helplessness. But it would have been less trying for the others if his nature had not been to watch and to chafe in such absolute silence. As for Mrs. Heron, the way in which she was taking this was quite contrary to her nature,—at least to any manifestation of it that Althea had ever seen. Whether she was afraid of her husband, or trying to emulate his stoicism,

or merely frozen into despair, there was nothing at first to show; but Althea perceived presently that her mood was above and beyond any of the three.

Something startled them out of their quiescence presently, a mere false alarm, a slamming of a door or gate for which the wind alone was responsible. Then Mrs. Heron, having risen and gone to the window, only to look out upon blank darkness and silence, came back with all her forced calm broken down. "Richard!" she cried sharply, holding out her hands to him imploringly, as she stood in the middle of the floor. "On your honour, do you think we shall ever see them again alive?"

"On my honour, yes,-please God!" he answered solemnly. "After all, they are both men and strong ones, and one of them at least knows these moors as well as the house he was born in."

Did the Squire too remember that he heard his own name from his wife's lips for the first time for nearly twenty years? Did the interchange shake and move him as for the moment it had moved her? If so, he did not show it. He motioned to her in his stately way to take the chair which he could not rise to give her; but she ignored the gesture and only moved a little nearer, standing before him as before a judge.

"I have a confession to make," she said. "I make it now, when perhaps the worst has happened already, because I never in my life spoke the truth till circumstances compelled me,—and they usually compel too late. No, child, you need not go. The more that hear me the better; the whole world might hear me, if only by shaming myself I might hope to bring them back." Mr. Heron drew in his lips and looked at her thoughtfully. Plainly he did not

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