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    Chapter 32

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    Chapter 33
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    CHAPTER XXXII - MISCHANCES

    'What! remain to be

    Denounced--dragged, it may be, in chains.'

    WERNER.

    All the next day they sate together--they three. Mr. Hale hardly
    ever spoke but when his children asked him questions, and forced
    him, as it were, into the present. Frederick's grief was no more
    to be seen or heard; the first paroxysm had passed over, and now
    he was ashamed of having been so battered down by emotion; and
    though his sorrow for the loss of his mother was a deep real
    feeling, and would last out his life, it was never to be spoken
    of again. Margaret, not so passionate at first, was more
    suffering now. At times she cried a good deal; and her manner,
    even when speaking on indifferent things, had a mournful
    tenderness about it, which was deepened whenever her looks fell
    on Frederick, and she thought of his rapidly approaching
    departure. She was glad he was going, on her father's account,
    however much she might grieve over it on her own. The anxious
    terror in which Mr. Hale lived lest his son should be detected
    and captured, far out-weighed the pleasure he derived from his
    presence. The nervousness had increased since Mrs. Hale's death,
    probably because he dwelt upon it more exclusively. He started at
    every unusual sound; and was never comfortable unless Frederick
    sate out of the immediate view of any one entering the room.
    Towards evening he said:

    'You will go with Frederick to the station, Margaret? I shall
    want to know he is safely off. You will bring me word that he is
    clear of Milton, at any rate?'

    'Certainly,' said Margaret. 'I shall like it, if you won't be
    lonely without me, papa.'

    'No, no! I should always be fancying some one had known him, and
    that he had been stopped, unless you could tell me you had seen
    him off. And go to the Outwood station. It is quite as near, and
    not so many people about. Take a cab there. There is less risk of
    his being seen. What time is your train, Fred?'

    'Ten minutes past six; very nearly dark. So what will you do,
    Margaret?'

    'Oh, I can manage. I am getting very brave and very hard. it is a
    well-lighted road all the way home, if it should be dark. But I
    was out last week much later.'

    Margaret was thankful when the parting was over--the parting from
    the dead mother and the living father. She hurried Frederick into
    the cab, in order to shorten a scene which she saw was so
    bitterly painful to her father, who would accompany his son as he
    took his last look at his mother. Partly in consequence of this,
    and partly owing to one of the very common mistakes in the
    'Railway Guide' as to the times when trains arrive at the smaller
    stations, they found, on reaching Outwood, that they had nearly
    twenty minutes to spare. The booking-office was not open, so they
    could not even take the ticket. They accordingly went down the
    flight of steps that led to the level of the ground below the
    railway. There was a broad cinder-path diagonally crossing a
    field which lay along-side of the carriage-road, and they went
    there to walk backwards and forwards for the few minutes they had
    to spare.

    Margaret's hand lay in Frederick's arm. He took hold of it
    affectionately.

    'Margaret! I am going to consult Mr. Lennox as to the chance of
    exculpating myself, so that I may return to England whenever I
    choose, more for your sake than for the sake of any one else. I
    can't bear to think of your lonely position if anything should
    happen to my father. He looks sadly changed--terribly shaken. I
    wish you could get him to think of the Cadiz plan, for
    manyreasons. What could you do if he were taken away? You have
    nofriend near. We are curiously bare of relations.'

    Margaret could hardly keep from crying at the tender anxiety with
    which Frederick was bringing before her an event which she
    herself felt was not very improbable, so severely had the cares
    of the last few months told upon Mr. Hale. But she tried to rally
    as she said:

    'There have been such strange unexpected changes in my life
    during these last two years, that I feel more than ever that it
    is not worth while to calculate too closely what I should do if
    any future event took place. I try to think only upon the
    present.' She paused; they were standing still for a moment,
    close on the field side of the stile leading into the road; the
    setting sun fell on their faces. Frederick held her hand in his,
    and looked with wistful anxiety into her face, reading there more
    care and trouble than she would betray by words. She went on:

    'We shall write often to one another, and I will promise--for I
    see it will set your mind at ease--to tell you every worry I
    have. Papa is'--she started a little, a hardly visible start--but
    Frederick felt the sudden motion of the hand he held, and turned
    his full face to the road, along which a horseman was slowly
    riding, just passing the very stile where they stood. Margaret
    bowed; her bow was stiffly returned.

    'Who is that?' said Frederick, almost before he was out of
    hearing. Margaret was a little drooping, a little flushed, as she
    replied:

    'Mr. Thornton; you saw him before, you know.'

    'Only his back. He is an unprepossessing-looking fellow. What a
    scowl he has!'

    'Something has happened to vex him,' said Margaret,
    apologetically. 'You would not have thought him unprepossessing
    if you had seen him with mamma.'

    'I fancy it must be time to go and take my ticket. If I had known
    how dark it would be, we wouldn't have sent back the cab,
    Margaret.'

    'Oh, don't fidget about that. I can take a cab here, if I like;
    or go back by the rail-road, when I should have shops and people
    and lamps all the way from the Milton station-house. Don't think
    of me; take care of yourself. I am sick with the thought that
    Leonards may be in the same train with you. Look well into the
    carriage before you get in.'

    They went back to the station. Margaret insisted upon going into
    the full light of the flaring gas inside to take the ticket. Some
    idle-looking young men were lounging about with the
    stationmaster. Margaret thought she had seen the face of one of
    them before, and returned him a proud look of offended dignity
    for his somewhat impertinent stare of undisguised admiration. She
    went hastily to her brother, who was standing outside, and took
    hold of his arm. 'Have you got your bag? Let us walk about here
    on the platform,' said she, a little flurried at the idea of so
    soon being left alone, and her bravery oozing out rather faster
    than she liked to acknowledge even to herself. She heard a step
    following them along the flags; it stopped when they stopped,
    looking out along the line and hearing the whizz of the coming
    train. They did not speak; their hearts were too full. Another
    moment, and the train would be here; a minute more, and he would
    be gone. Margaret almost repented the urgency with which she had
    entreated him to go to London; it was throwing more chances of
    detection in his way. If he had sailed for Spain by Liverpool, he
    might have been off in two or three hours.

    Frederick turned round, right facing the lamp, where the gas
    darted up in vivid anticipation of the train. A man in the dress
    of a railway porter started forward; a bad-looking man, who
    seemed to have drunk himself into a state of brutality, although
    his senses were in perfect order.

    'By your leave, miss!' said he, pushing Margaret rudely on one
    side, and seizing Frederick by the collar.

    'Your name is Hale, I believe?'

    In an instant--how, Margaret did not see, for everything danced
    before her eyes--but by some sleight of wrestling, Frederick had
    tripped him up, and he fell from the height of three or four
    feet, which the platform was elevated above the space of soft
    ground, by the side of the railroad. There he lay.

    'Run, run!' gasped Margaret. 'The train is here. It was Leonards,
    was it? oh, run! I will carry your bag.' And she took him by the
    arm to push him along with all her feeble force. A door was
    opened in a carriage--he jumped in; and as he leant out t say,
    'God bless you, Margaret!' the train rushed past her; an she was
    left standing alone. She was so terribly sick and faint that she
    was thankful to be able to turn into the ladies' waiting-room,
    and sit down for an instant. At first she could do nothing but
    gasp for breath. It was such a hurry; such a sickening alarm;
    such a near chance. If the train had not been there at the
    moment, the man would have jumped up again and called for
    assistance to arrest him. She wondered if the man had got up: she
    tried to remember if she had seen him move; she wondered if he
    could have been seriously hurt. She ventured out; the platform
    was all alight, but still quite deserted; she went to the end,
    and looked over, somewhat fearfully. No one was there; and then
    she was glad she had made herself go, and inspect, for otherwise
    terrible thoughts would have haunted her dreams. And even as it
    was, she was so trembling and affrighted that she felt she could
    not walk home along the road, which did indeed seem lonely and
    dark, as she gazed down upon it from the blaze of the station.
    She would wait till the down train passed and take her seat in
    it. But what if Leonards recognised her as Frederick's companion!
    She peered about, before venturing into the booking-office to
    take her ticket. There were only some railway officials standing
    about; and talking loud to one another.

    'So Leonards has been drinking again!' said one, seemingly in
    authority. 'He'll need all his boasted influence to keep his
    place this time.'

    'Where is he?' asked another, while Margaret, her back towards
    them, was counting her change with trembling fingers, not daring
    to turn round until she heard the answer to this question.

    'I don't know. He came in not five minutes ago, with some long
    story or other about a fall he'd had, swearing awfully; and
    wanted to borrow some money from me to go to London by the next
    up-train. He made all sorts of tipsy promises, but I'd something
    else to do than listen to him; I told him to go about his
    business; and he went off at the front door.'

    'He's at the nearest vaults, I'll be bound,' said the first
    speaker. 'Your money would have gone there too, if you'd been
    such a fool as to lend it.'

    'Catch me! I knew better what his London meant. Why, he has never
    paid me off that five shillings'--and so they went on.

    And now all Margaret's anxiety was for the train to come. She hid
    herself once more in the ladies' waiting-room, and fancied every
    noise was Leonards' step--every loud and boisterous voice was
    his. But no one came near her until the train drew up; when she
    was civilly helped into a carriage by a porter, into whose face
    she durst not look till they were in motion, and then she saw
    that it was not Leonards'.
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