"Fie! Fie! Have I nothing more pressing to attend to than to weep over 강남풀싸롱 these old tales?" cried Audrey, as she looked round the crowded shelves of the closet. "It were more to the point to decide what I am to do with all these treasures. Are they best here, or can I carry the papers at least with me? So much hangs on what awaits me to-morrow. If they let me go free I can tell Mistress Joyce of my discovery, and she will let me have a cart to carry off my plunder! But if they clap me into jail? Good faith, I'll give them some trouble first! Who knows but I might make shift to escape on the road! For that matter, why do I sit mewed up here without making an offer to escape? This dear house is no prison that I should find no way out of it! How did distressed damsels do in the tale books? Methinks the favourite fashion was to make ropes out of the bed sheets. But I should be loath to tear up Mistress Joyce's best linen, and I am not well assured that I could climb down a rope even could I make it. That plan is naught! But I warrant some of these keys will undo the chamber door, and then it is but a small matter to slip downstairs and out of the hall door. But, good lack! if the bolts are as stiff as they used to be, the mighty creaking of them would awake the seven sleepers, and I should look a pretty fool, caught like a schoolboy breaking bounds! Yet forth I must, and will go! I may at least see if the chamber door can be fitted with a key. I suppose there are no more secret doors in this room to match this closet? After so many wonders, I am fit to believe Tom Tit Tot will unlock another panel and let me out! Stay. If this were indeed a priest's hole, surely they would have some fashion of escape if they were close pressed? I am sure grandfather has told me these chambers often led into a very maze of secret ways. Oh, you fool," she almost screamed, "to stand in the very draught of a sliding door and not see the chink! Down on your knees and thank the Lord who hath delivered you from prison as truly as He did Peter!"

It was true. In the back of the closet was a sliding panel that was actually partly open, only in the hurry and excitement of so many discoveries she had not paused to look for the origin of the draught that made her candle flicker. She pushed the panel cautiously, fearing that some dismal creak might awaken the house, but the woodwork was carefully fitted and the door slid back without a sound. Before her a corkscrew staircase wound down in the thickness of the wall. Carefully she stepped through the door, but the stair was of solid stone, and her light foot made no sound on it as she ran down. The bottom of the stair was guarded by a narrow door, locked and barred.

"Now, which of all those keys will help me here?" she wondered as she sped up again to fetch the great bunches that lay on the closet shelf.

One key after another she tried, and then came the turn of a key that hung alone on a slender silver chain. It fitted, it turned; hastily she drew back the bolts and the door swung open. A flood of moonlight poured through a screen of ivy and dazzled her eyes. Her prison was unlocked! The wind had dropped and the weather changed, the snow had ceased, everything seemed in her favour.

"My luck has turned," she laughed as she flew back up the stairs to prepare for her flight. All fatigue and bewilderment was over. She was as joyous and self-possessed as a child planning a new game.

"They must not blame Mistress Joyce for mine escape," she meditated; "nor must they set to hunting for secret passages and spy out my treasure chamber. If I unbar the shutter and leave the window open, they may amuse themselves by inventing how I found wings! Now! That was deftly done, that shutter has made never a sound! 'Tis well my pockets are new and strong. They must carry the principal of the papers. Now I must tie the money bags in my apron, and the pearls shall travel secure round my neck and tucked into my bodice."

With dancing eyes she made her preparations. Then she blew out the candles and pulled the closet door to behind her with a snap. Then she stood a moment and hesitated, and, with a hasty movement, she swept her grandfather's letter from the floor and thrust it into her bodice, and ran down the stairs as if she wished to forget what she had done.

She pushed the little door wide open and looked out. A thicket of leafless thorns helped the tangled ivy to entirely hide the secret entrance, but beyond the bushes lay a wide field of rough grass glistening white with hoar frost in the moonlight, and shut in by miniature cliffs and hills.

"Why, 'tis Tom Tit Tot's gravel pit!" she cried in delight. "How well to bring the stairs out in such a deserted corner! And, just beyond that bank, is the high road to Lynn. But this frost is unlucky; my pursuers will dog me as a hart by my tracks, and I shall betray them my treasure-chamber. What policy can I use to baffle them? Richard said I was fit for plots and stratagems! I have it!"

She slipped her cloak from her shoulders, and flung it from her over the grass as far as she could. Then, locking the door, she put the keys into her pocket, and sprang lightly from the threshold on to her cloak, leaving no sign of a footprint close to the door. The ivy screen fell back over the entrance and Audrey laughed with triumph as she picked up the cloak and shook the frost from it.

"I protest this last stratagem of mine hath crowned the record!" she laughed to herself. "No one will dream there is a door yonder, or that this trampled patch is the mark of my cloak. It looks as if some tinker's ass had made his bed here! And my steps are but those of his master's boy fetching him away! Now I can start forth with no fear of being tracked, and there goes nine on the church clock. I'll warrant the best part of the good folk of Hunstanton are abed by this, so I shall have the road to myself. But whither go I? Straight to Lynn? 'Tis a long trudge. I doubt my feet will carry me so far this night. Jack Catlin is sure to be abed and snoring by the time I reach Inglethorpe. What hinders my slipping into the stable and stealing my own horse? Richard is sure to be off long ago. He could easily drop from a window, or even walk out of the front door without Jack Constable knowing anything of it. Doubtless I shall find him at Master Marshman's, whistling for a fair wind! Had those fools kept me clapped up another twelve hours, I might have lost my travelling-companion."

The triumph of her escape and her recovered riches had raised her elastic spirits to their wildest pitch. Forgotten were her regrets, forgotten her shame-faced resentment, forgotten her vague fears of a cold and cruel world. She had, alone and unhelped, escaped from prison and recovered her fortune; she was once more queen of her own destiny. Gay, self-confident, hopeful, she danced along the hard, sandy path through the heather. The tide was out, no sound broke the silence but her own light footsteps, and soon she found she was singing aloud. She was free, she was rich, she was on her way to a land of freedom, all was delightful and rosy. Poor Richard Harrison! How she had misjudged him in her first rush of resentful surprise on reading her grandfather's letter!

"I must put a curb on this unruly temper of mine," she vowed. "Had any one been near to hear all I was ready to say in my rage, I might have lost my fine new brother. But all's well that ends well, and Westward Ho to-morrow!"

It seemed but a few minutes before her merry heart had sped her over the long miles of salt marsh and moorland, and she saw the tower of Inglethorpe church and the gables of Inglethorpe Hall rising dark against the moonlight. She passed softly in between the shattered gate pillars and crept round the house, crouching in the shadows which completely swallowed up her dark dress and wide dark hat. Then she paused in dismay. A bright light shone through the curtainless kitchen window, and sent a glaring beam across the yard and fell direct on the stable door!

"This is indeed disastrous," thought Audrey. "What possesses Jack Constable to keep such hours. Pray heaven he have not set the old house afire. I must needs peep, and see what prank he is playing."

Cautiously she stole up to the window. She heard a sound of voices, the clatter of pewter, then it was Jack Catlin who spoke—

"Well, young sir, I'm beholden to you for your company, not to speak of your ale. 'Twould have been uncommon lonesome to bide here by myself; and noo, if I weren't afraid of the bogles, I reckon I'd go to bed."

"Oh, surely you can have nought to fear from bogles," answered a voice. Could Audrey believe her ears. Could Richard be so mad as to sit hobnobbing with the very constable who was set to catch him? Yes—no question, it was his voice. "You can have naught to fear from bogles. By all they say, these Cremers have been always on the king's side, so the ghosts in their house are bound to respect the majesty of the law."

"Majesty of the law!" repeated the constable. "'Tis a fine saying! The Majesty of the law! Ay, ay, here I sit to uphold the majesty of the law. I reckon I'll goo to bed!"

"Shall I lend you a hand up the stairs, good sir?"

Richard's voice sounded dangerously demure, and then came a noise of scuffling and grunting that told the task of getting the representative of the law upstairs to be not altogether a light one.

She waited till she heard Richard return to the kitchen, and then she tapped at the window. He started and turned; she tapped again, and with eager hands he flung the casement back.

"In life or death, you are welcome!" he cried.

Audrey's laugh brought him back to common life. "I am no ghost!" she cried merrily; "but I am escaped like a bird from the snare, and I have mighty news to tell. Give me your hand, and help me in by the window, for I fear unbarring the door may awake your boon companion."

His face still white with agitation, Harrison leant out, and lifted her slight form to the window-sill.

"Truly I thought it was your spirit," he began, half apologetically; "your face was so white in the moonlight, and——"

"I am indeed no ghost, as yet," she laughed, as she slid down into the room. "Pluck up all your courage, good brother, for I have such a fearsome and wonderful budget of news to unfold, as is fit to make a fresh chapter to the 'Princess of Cleves!'"

The shamefacedness she had feared had vanished. Harrison's unexpected agitation had put all thoughts of her own feelings out of her head. Her only wish was to laugh him out of the bewilderment that still kept him gazing at her as if he feared to trust his eyes.

"I do solemnly declare to you that neither am I a ghost, nor did I ride hither on a broomstick; witness the mud upon my shoes! But my adventure is marvellous enough for all that. But before I tell it I must inquire into this strange fashion of housekeeping! What hours are these to keep, sir? Such junketings and revellings! Fie, fie! But in sad earnest, how dared you venture on such a wild prank! What blessed dulness was it that kept Jack Catlin from guessing you?"

Harrison's spirits rallied under her jests, and he laughed as he defended himself.

"Indeed, stern mistress, you forget that I am a soldier, and 'tis my profession to use stratagems to gain news of the enemy's movements. I have this night heard such a description of myself as, if scarce flattering, sets me free from all fear of being recognized. That drunken knave, Astbury, painted me very truly from his own looking-glass. But now, thanks to your wisdom in making me cut my hair short and change my clothes, a shrewder fellow than the good fool who snores overhead would not guess my true name. But to make a clear shrift, 'twas more by chance than by craft, that this all came about. When I saw you ride off, I dropped from a front window, and came round to seek for John and find what had happened, and so I stumbled on my friend the constable, who told me you were bound to Hunstanton to appear before the justice. You could not deem I should depart in full content, having got that news! So I patched up my acquaintance with master constable, and sent him over to the sexton's to get some ale, and we hobnobbed right merrily. I have all the news, they seek only for a swashbuckler somewhat like our rascal of yesterday, with curling hair, and a scarlet cloak, that's all they have to guide them! And they are well assured I shall take ship at Brancaster Staith, where all rogues and vagabonds seek to escape by the fishing-boats. And I heard further, what a tantrum the young mistress was in. 'Laws, she did give un a talking to!' I knew not, gentle sister, that you were such a virago."

"Indeed, I think I did somewhat dash them," answered Audrey, complacently; "and they will be yet more dashed to-morrow when they unlock their cage, and find their bird flown! But now, surely we should be on our road to Lynn?"

"No, no; 'tis of no use to reach Lynn before folks are up in the morning. You must rest a while here on the settle, and I will watch lest any of the ghosts should rouse our friend above from his snoring, and by-and-by I will saddle your pony, and we shall be at Lynn by daybreak. Now rest, sister; you must be wearied nigh to death! I will ask nothing of your adventures now. It suffices that you are safe, for which the Lord be praised.

"No, indeed, I must and will tell you my story, and you must see my spoil. Did you not foretell it all when you said grandfather was 'an old courtier of the queen'? Here's the end of the ballad come true—

"'Who, like a wise man, kept himself within his bounds,
And when he died gave every child a thousand pounds!'
Count that, and that, and that!" and she tossed her money bags into his hands in triumph.

Harrison gazed in astonishment when she brought out one after another of her treasures.

"It is indeed like a story of romance," he said, "or a miracle. But, alas, 'tis a pity the Perrient pearls should but come back to you when you are bound for the Plantations. Mistress Perrient should be queening it at court, instead of flying across seas to live among Indian savages!"

"Fie, fie, brother! You should not look so sad over worldly gauds! I must bid Master Marshman deal faithfully with you to-morrow for setting your heart on vanities, to make no mention of drinking strong ale with the parish constable at midnight."

"'Tis the way this fortune has come back to you, seems scarce within the bounds of nature," went on Harrison, in a graver tone; "you mind the old word Mortmain, the 'dead hand' as men called it, that still held the power over lands and goods, so that living men had to obey its will. I could sometimes persuade myself that on a certain evening, when I took General Harrison's hand in pledge of fidelity, that I had indeed given my being into his keeping; for, though I held him mistaken on many matters of religion and government, in every decision that I make, and every chance that befalls me, I do but seem to be following the beck of his hand, such power hath it, and lo! now hath the same fate befallen you, and for all that Acts of Parliament have forbidden Mortmain, a dead hand hath given wealth into your lap!"

Audrey grew suddenly scarlet. With an involuntary movement her hand flew up to her bodice, to guard the letter that lay hidden there. The dead hand had done more than he guessed. She held its last commands, and she knew w