The Project Gutenberg eBook, Rogues' Haven, by Roy BridgesThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and mostother parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms ofthe Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you'll haveto check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.Title: Rogues' HavenAuthor: Roy BridgesRelease Date: January 7, 2019 [eBook #58638]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ROGUES' HAVEN***
This etext was transcribed by Les Bowler
“The Bubble Moon,” “The Vats ofTyre,” etc.
HODDER AND STOUGHTON
Printed in Great Britain by C.
53, Victoria Street, Liverpool,
and at London and Prescot.
At the Hall
Mrs. Mary Howe
A Journey Planned
The Journey Begun
Through the Darkness
The Green-Curtained Room
Mr. Charles Craike
Scruples of Roger Galt
Events at the Stone House
Captain Ezra Blunt
Out of the Stone House
Modesty of Mr. Galt
The Doomed House
Old Mr. Edward Craike
Creed of Mr. Charles
Compact of Tolerance
Company at dinner
Soul of a Man
My Cousin Oliver
The Web of Ivy
Insistence of Captain Blunt
Sir Gavin Masters
Suspicions of Mr. CharlesCraike
Intervention of Mr.Bradbury
The Night Watch
Will of a Man
Flight of Crows
Departure of Mr. CharlesCraike
My Uncle Comes to His Own
Last Will and Testament
But for the coach and pair carrying Mr. Bradbury to Chelton,Tony Vining and I would not have been haled before the Squire,but would have got off scot-free as any time before. Tonyand I had made the round of our snares. Tony had poked ayoung rabbit into his jacket-pocket; I was carrying a hare in mybag, and we were sneaking homewards through the dusk, when TimKerrick, ash-plant in hand, and brace of keepers at heel, steppedout of the coppice.
“What be you lads doin’ here?” Tim demanded,barring our way. “You’re after no good,I’ll warrant. What’s in your bag, JohnHowe?”
I did not stay to answer. I swung round and wasaway. Tony raced off with me; old Tim and his keepersfollowed. We led them about the coppice, but they pressedus hard, Tim roaring, “Stop, ye young varmint! Stop! It’ll be all the worse for ye. Stop, Isay!”
Dreading Tim’s ash-plant, we ran on with
Down then we plunged into the road; the keepers, not stayingto help Tim to his feet, pressed closely on us. And as weshot down into the road, destiny in a coach and pair—towit, Mr. Bradbury—encountered us. For scarcely werewe on the road, and racing on, than with a flash of yellowlamplight through the dusk, cracking of whip, and rattle ofwheels, the coach was driven round a bend in the way, blockingour path, and sending us up against the bank to saveourselves. Tony cried out,
Now in the days to be from my first meeting with Mr. Bradburythe demeanour and the characteristics of the gentleman were to bestamped so vividly upon my mind that perhaps I write of him herewith a detail beyond my perception in the dusk, for the light ofthe carriage lamps had been put out. I picture
“Ha-ha!” the gentleman exclaimed, observing Tonyand me in the grip of the keepers. “Whom have wehere? Gentlemen of the road?”—and chuckled in adry, crackling way.
“Poachers,—lads from the village, Mr. Bradbury,sir,” Tim growled, touching his hat. “Theseyoung dogs has been poachin’, and I be goin’ to dusttheir jackets, as they’ve needed dustin’ many aday. ’Twas them as frightened the hosses, an’nigh broke your honour’s neck and the lad’sthere. You’ve took no hurt, sir, I hopes andtrusts.”
“None! None!” Mr. Bradbury answered,indifferently. “But my driver?”
“Well enough, sir, thank ’ee,” the fellow
“Ay! Ay! I’ll be walking on then tothe hall,” said Mr. Bradbury, glancing at the ruinedcoach. “And I’ll leave you free, Tim Kerrick,to dust the jackets and whatsoever else of the attire of theselads as may occur to you.” He chuckled again, andpulled his flapping cloak about him.
“The road’s rough and broken with the rains, Mr.Bradbury,” said Tim. “As like as notyou’ll be tumblin’ into the ditch, or missin’your way. I’ll send one of my lads with you. Hey, you Dick, have you your lantern there?”
“Yes, I’ve it here, Mister Kerrick,” thekeeper answered.
“Light it, lad, light it, and go along with Mr.Bradbury! Joe and me can finish our business with thesevarmint.”
The keeper, relinquishing me to Tim’s custody, lit hislantern, and stood forward to attend Mr. Bradbury, who, leaningon his cane, was scrutinising Tony and me.
“Show the light on this lad here,” said Mr.Bradbury, suddenly, pointing to me. As the light flashed onme, Mr. Bradbury peered at me through his spectacles; his faceexpressed nothing of his thought; shamefaced I stood
“John Howe, sir,” I answered.
“Sir?” said Tim, touching his hat.
“Bring this lad to the Hall.”
“After I’ve basted him, sir?”
“Let the penalty be suspended. Later, maybe. Jacket or breeches then, as you will,” said Mr. Bradbury,chuckling. “Who’s the other lad?”
“Parson’s son, sir,—young Vining.”
“Bring them both before Mr. Chelton at the Hall,”Mr. Bradbury ordered. “It’s only just that theyshould suffer equally, as Mr. Chelton thinks fit; one’s asculpable as the other. Bring them both after me,Kerrick! Now, my man, go ahead with the lantern.”
Wrapped in his cloak, hat pressed down over his brows, Mr.Bradbury went up the road, leaving Tim to curse, since justiceand an overdue vengeance on our skins had been taken arbitrarilyfrom his hands.
It was dark long before Tony and I were marched up the driveto the Hall. The great house stood out a grey mass againstthe starry sky; the windows fronting us were golden with light;and light flowed from the open door and down the steps. Iheard loud laughter; the Squire had company, as he might anynight of the week. He favoured fox-hunting gentlemen of alike pattern to himself, seasoned to drink under the table anygentleman of fashion and Tory out of session who should quit theTown for the hospitality of Chelton. Hearing the voices andthe laughter, and seeing the blaze of light from the dining-room,I had little fear of the temper of Mr. Chelton, before whom Tonyand I were presently to be haled. None the less, for thethought that the Squire might think fit to parade us before hiscompany to provide sport for them, I would have begged TimKerrick to deal with us summarily; I would have endured theash-plant about me for all my seventeen years of age but that thesudden interest of Mr. Bradbury
I knew Mr. Chelton for a good-humoured gentleman. I didnot fear that, though Tony and I had been found poaching on hispreserves, the Squire would do worse than bid Tim Kerrick dressus down with his ash-plant. I did not dread committal, theAssizes and the terror of their Lordships, the Judges. Indeed, I believed that unseen I had dropped the hare out ofsight in the furze; and I took it that Tony had long since ridhimself of the rabbit from his pocket. Only when we werebefore the house did I find the chance of a word with Tony. Tim, loosing his grip then, and staring up doubtfully at thedoor, as if not knowing whether or not to conduct us before theSquire and Mr. Bradbury immediately, I poked my head forward andwhispered to Tony, “Did you get rid of thatrabbit?”
He whispered back, “No! It’s stuck in my