“Let’s see it.” He opened it and examined it critically.
“Eighteen carat—it’s only a Geneva, though. What can you expect for a
“And you shall have fifty pounds when I get back to my friends. Do let me pass, good Mr. Stevens, for my guardian may return at any moment.”
“See here, miss,” Stevens said solemnly; “dooty is dooty, and if every hair of your ‘ead was tagged wi’ a jewel, and you offered to make me your barber, I wouldn’t let you through that gate. As to this ‘ere watch, if so be as you would like to write a line to your friends, I’ll post it for you at Bedsworth in exchange for it, though it be only a Geneva.”
“You good, kind man!” cried Kate, all excitement and delight. “I have a pencil in my pocket. What shall I do for paper?” She looked eagerly round and spied a small piece which lay among the brushwood. With a cry of joy she picked it out. It was very coarse and very dirty, but she managed to scrawl a few lines upon it, describing her situation and asking for aid. “I will write the address upon the back,” she said. “When you get to Bedsworth you must buy an envelope and ask the post-office people to copy the address on to it.”
“I bargained to post it for the Geneva,” he said. “I didn’t bargain to buy envelopes and copy addresses. That’s a nice pencil-case of yourn. Now I’ll make a clean job of it if you’ll throw that in.”
Kate handed it over without a murmur. At last a small ray of light seemed to be finding its way through the darkness which had so long surrounded her. Stevens put the watch and pencil-case in his pocket, and took the little scrap of paper on which so much depended. As Kate handed it to him she saw over his shoulder that coming up the lane was a small pony-carriage, in which sat a buxom lady and a very small page. The sleek little brown pony which drew it ambled along at a methodical pace which showed that it was entirely master of the situation, while the whole turnout had an indescribable air of comfort and good nature. Poor Kate had been so separated from her kind that the sight of people who, if not friendly, were at least not hostile to her, sent a thrill of pleasure into her heart. There was something wholesome and prosaic too about this homely equipage, which was inexpressibly soothing to a mind so worn by successive terrors.
“Here’s some one a-comin’,” cried Stevens. “Clear out from here—it’s the governor’s orders.”
“Oh, do let me stay and say one word to the lady!” Stevens seized his great stick savagely. “Clear out!” he cried in a hoarse, angry voice, and made a step towards her as if he would strike her. She shrank away from him, and then, a sudden thought seizing her, she turned and ran through the woods as fast as her feeble strength would allow. The instant that she was out of sight, Stevens very deliberately and carefully tore up the little slip of paper with which she had entrusted him, and scattered the pieces to the wind.