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Rogues' Haven

Rogues' Haven
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Author: Bridges Roy
Title: Rogues' Haven
Release Date: 2019-01-07
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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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***

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Book cover

Rogues’ Haven

BY
ROY BRIDGES

Author of
The Bubble Moon,” “The Vats ofTyre,” etc.

 

HODDER AND STOUGHTON
LIMITED        LONDON

 

p. 6To my friend
M. A. MINOGUE.

 

Printed in Great Britain by C. Tinling & Co., Ltd.,
                    53, Victoria Street, Liverpool,
                    and at London and Prescot.

 

p.7Contents

CHAPTER

 

PAGE

I.

Mr. Bradbury

9

II.

At the Hall

15

III.

Mrs. Mary Howe

29

IV.

A Journey Planned

39

V.

The Journey Begun

45

VI.

Through the Darkness

53

VII.

The Riders

59

VIII.

The Green-Curtained Room

65

IX.

Mr. Charles Craike

75

X.

Scruples of Roger Galt

83

XI.

Events at the Stone House

89

XII.

Captain Ezra Blunt

97

XIII.

Out of the Stone House

105

XIV.

Modesty of Mr. Galt

111

XV.

The Doomed House

119

XVI.

Old Mr. Edward Craike

129

XVII.

Creed of Mr. Charles

139

XVIII.

Compact of Tolerance

147

XIX.

Company at dinner

155

XX.

Soul of a Man

161

XXI.

My Cousin Oliver

169

XXII.

The Web of Ivy

177

XXIII.

Dying Fires

185

p. 8XXIV.

The Wood

191

XXV.

Insistence of Captain Blunt

201

XXVI.

Sir Gavin Masters

207

XXVII.

Suspicions of Mr. CharlesCraike

213

XXVIII.

Spilt Wine

219

XXIX.

Intervention of Mr.Bradbury

225

XXX.

Not Yet

233

XXXI.

The Night Watch

239

XXXII.

Will of a Man

251

XXXIII.

Carrion Crows

259

XXXIV.

Flight of Crows

269

XXXV.

Departure of Mr. CharlesCraike

279

XXXVI.

Dawn

291

XXXVII.

My Uncle Comes to His Own

299

XXXVIII.

Last Will and Testament

305

p.9Chapter IMr. Bradbury

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 p. 10allspeed.  The hare in the bag hung heavily on me; when we wereout in the furze, I let the bag slip from me, and ran moreswiftly.  I had need, for Tony was now well ahead, and Timand the keepers were hot at my heels; I could hear Tim’ssnorting as much for anger as the rigour of the chase. Furze tore my breeches and stockings; as we took the bank abovethe road, a bramble almost led to my undoing; it caught the tailof my jacket, and for the moment held me.  Tim chargedforward with a yell of triumph; it was premature, for, kickinghis toe against a root, he tumbled forward on his nose; on theevidence of his curses he pitched headlong into thebramble.  I tore myself away from the thorn, and dashed upthe bank after Tony.

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, p. 11for the horses almost trod him down;instantly the pair took fright, and swerved to left.  Awheel descending into a deep rut, the coach toppled over; a horsefell, and the driver was lost in a swirl of dust, confusion ofstruggling, plunging horses and smashing vehicle.  On thisdisaster we might have sped away; no more than my curiosity, ormaybe, desire to give a hand to the driver, held me there leaningagainst the bank and for the moment staring.  But then Idarted back with Tony, and caught at the bridle of the plunginghorse; by then the driver was the master of its fellow. Scarcely had we prevailed, than old Tim, cursing still, was uponus, roaring to his keepers, “Hold the young varmints! Don’t let ’em get away!”  Promptly thekeepers had Tony and me as securely as we held the horse; Tim wasstanding glowering at us, ash-plant quivering in his right hand,when out of the wrecked coach stepped Mr. Bradbury.

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 p. 12him as akeen-faced gentleman,—then of sixty years of age,—aslean and stooping slightly; his black cloak lined with white silkblowing out from his shoulders; his long white hands striving nowto secure it at his breast, and now to hold his hat upon hishead.  He would be wearing his coat of fine black cloth,black, flapped waistcoat, black silken breeches and black silkenstockings, shining silver-buckled shoes, linen of superfinequality and whiteness,—I recall the glint of white jewelson his fingers.  His hair was snow-white, and bound with ablack ribbon; his spectacles were as two owl-like eyes.

“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 p. 13said, busyinghimself with the traces of the fallen horse.  “Nothanks to these young rascals.”

“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 p. 14beforehim.  “What’s your name, boy?” Mr.Bradbury demanded, sharply.

“John Howe, sir,” I answered.

“Howe!—H’m—Kerrick!”

“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.

p.15Chapter IIAt the Hall

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 p. 16had excited my naturalcuriosity.  I pictured Mr. Bradbury standing by us,chuckling to himself, and his piercing look, while the lanternlight was playing across my face; and I recalled his queer, sharptone when he ordered me to be brought on to the Hall.  Whatshould the gentleman want with me?  Squire’s familylawyer, Tim told me, gruffly, in answer to my eagerquestion.  How we should fare with Mr. Chelton was of lessconcern.

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 p.17pocket;” but he could add nothing, for Tim grippedme instantly, and shook me, with the observation: “Notalkin’!  If it’s the rabbit you’rethinkin’ of, it’s in his pocket yet, for I’vefelt it there.  And I saw you drop the bag with, belike,another

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