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TOE ILLUSTRATED BEE.
July 5, 1903. occupied chiefly by firmed men, und re sembled military headquarters more than an Inn. "Tou will, perhaps, wish to nee to your horses yourself," suggested the officer to Armstrong. "Yea, after I am assured that the lady Is-" "Have no anxiety on that score. I will pluco her In the guardianship of the hos tess, and will wait here for you." The assurance had all the deflniteness of a command, and Armstrong, without further parley, led away his own horse . and hers, followed by old John. "Come this way, madamc," Bald the offi cer to Frances. He escorted her up a stairway, and at the top turned to her and said In a low voice: "General Cromwell's commands were that you were to be brought to him as soon as you arrived." "Very well. I am ready." He knocked at the door and a gruff voice from within told him to enter. He opened the door and went in, followed by his pris oner. "I have brought the woman, general. The man is under guard below." Saying this and receiving no reply, the officer laid the pass on the table and withdrew, clos ing the door behind him. Cromwell stood at the window looking down on the street below; dark dotted with moving lights. His broad back was toward Ms visitor, and he did not turn round even when he addressed her. On a chair rested Ms polished breastplate and steel cap, otherwise he was accoutred as he had been when she saw him on the road. His Voice was hoarse. "Who are you, wench, and what are you to this man, that you range the land braz enly together under a pass written for neither of you?" With some difficulty the girl found her voice"' after two or three Ineffectual at tempts to speak, and said: "I am Frances Wentworth, sister to Lieu tenant Wentworth of General Cromwell's army." The generals ponderous head turned slowly and he bent his sullen eye upon her. She wondered Armstrong hud not seen the brutal power of that countenance even by candle light. "Why is your brother not in your place?" "My brother was sorely wounded the morning he set out and now lies between life and death in our home." "How came he wounded?" "Ho met Lord Rudby, who attacked him. My brother would not defend himself and so was thrust through the body. Arm strong brought him to our houe and the doctor says he cannot be moved for a .month at least." "Why was I not informed of this?" "I did not know where to find you." "You, wench, surely did not know where to find me, but your brother knew that a message to his nearest superior would find me." "My brother, I have told you, was dan gerously wounded and had but one thing in tils mind." "What was that? Ixird Kudby's daugh ter most like." The rich color mounted in the cheeks of Frances, but she answered slowly: "It was to have done with the task you had set upon him." "He committed it to your hands then?" "He did." "What was the task I set him?" "It was to steal from Armstrong tho king's commission and to deliver the result of that theft to General Cromwell, the receiver." "Wench, your tongue is over sharp; a grievous fault. I pray you amend it." The shaggy brows of Cromwell drew down over eyes that shot forth dull fire. He turned completely around, seemed about to speak, but did not. The flume of his glance died out and lie advance to the table, picked up the pass, examining it critically, back and front. Then he banded it to her, saying slowly: "If your brother had your brain without your tongue he would advance faster than he does." "Am I, then, to go on with this ad venture?" "Yes. You will reach Oxford tomorrow. The king will delay and snuftle and susp.xt until our Boot is in a line fume of im patience. For three days more 1 Khali be In Northampton. After that for a week I shall be at Broughton castle, some few miles west of Banbury. If you should be delayed longer in Oxford I shall let you know where I am by means of De Courcy, who" "De Courcy!" exclaimed the girl. "He is a devil's man, txxly and soul." "We who are doing the Ixrd's work must use the tools the Lord has placed In our hands." said Cromwell. "You must con trive to have Armstrong stop in Banbury Arms. The innkeeper will ask you for your pass, and when he soes it he will place you in adjoining rooms, which are fitted for your purpose. There Is a communicating door, bolted on your side. What follows will depend on your skill and quietness. "Make It your business to know where he keeps the king's letter, and when it is once In your possession, speed at once to Broughton castle and deliver it Into my hands. I will exchange It for a full purdon and a esptaln's commission for your brother, and if you have further to ask of me my car will be Inclined toward you." "I shall have nothing to ask except that this Scot he allowed to pass unscathed to his home." Cromwell gazed Intently at her for a mo ment. He replied slowly, "If 1 were willing to harm the Scot the case would be much simpler than It Is. Remember this: If I am compelled to take this man through force of arms, to surround him with a troop and publicly wrench his burden from him, I must us publicly hang him, to warn the next Scot who would make an essay on Oxford. If you succeed, you save not only your brother's life, but this man's as well. Now go." She walked to the head of tho stair and looked down where Armstrong was pacing to and fro, waiting for her. "What time do we set out tomorrow?" she asked. "When ever you please," he answered. "My hosts here appear to have grown weary of me and hold me not, so they In form me." "Very well, then. I shall be ready when you are. Good night." In all his life he never forgot that picture of the girl at the stairhead looking down -upon him. There was a pathetic droop in her attitude, which usually was so firm and erect. Childlike and forlorn she seemed, and pity swept his heart. "Good night!" he cried. Impulsively hold ing out his hand toward her. She did not touch it. He almost Imagined that she shrank from It. Rut as she turned away he had one lingering look from her over her shoulder. A smile lingered on her lips, and It was sad and weary, but sweet. "Good night," she whispered. It was with a gay heart that William Armstrong fared forth with his companion from Northampton next morning, and ho sang ballads when they rode out Into the open country. Had It not been for her mission the world would have seemed as blight to the girl, for the high spirits of the young man were Infectious. But as It was, Bhe rode silent and thoughtful all day, till they reached Banbury, where they lay over night. Tho next morning, leaving Old John be hind with Cromwell's pass, they started on the last stage of their Journey toward Ox ford. "Tha f.tst thing to decide," said Arm strong before they hud been riding long, "is to decide on what guise you are to enter Oxford In. People will be curious and we cannot pass as brother and sister, because your hair Is black as the raven's wing and mine is like the yellow corn." For the first time that day the girl laughed aloud and lifted her eyes to the locks that so well became him. Armstrong also laughed. "I have thought out the way to circum vent it," he said. ' If they ask who the lady is, I Bhall tell them she is my be trothed." "No, no, no!" gasped the girl. He rode close to her side and tried to take her hand, but she withheld It from him. "You say no, because you will not act a 'lie and I honor you for your truth. You are robed in truth, my beloved, as an angel is-" "Oh, cease, cease, I beg of you." "Frances, this is what Is In my heart anj If my lips could worthily fulfil their pro moting I would put It Into such words as never woman listened to before. Hut lack ing eloquence I 'can only say, my lady, 1 love you!" "And I can only say I am sorry If this be so." "It Is because I am untitled, while you are the daughter of the man who was the proudest peer In Khgland." "Titles have naught to do with It." "Frances, no lover truly entitled to bear that dear name thinks himself worthy of her on whom his heart is set and I do not plead my own worthiness when I sue for your favor." "1 can never marry you." "You love another?" "1 do not." The young man laughed Joyously, Hut the girl's face was white. She nerved her self to say what she felt she must. "Sir," she said, "you laugh. My heart Is heavy enough. 1 admit you please me well. Hut there Is an obstacle between us. Sir, I am not worthy of your love or that of any honest man. If you knew what it costs mo to say this, you would let these words be the last we speak In this painful debate." "Ixird save you, child of sweet Inno cence," cried Armstrong; "your eyes are limpid wells of honesty. You could not harbor a deceitful thought if you tried. I would trust my life, my honor, my very soul to your keeping." "O, God of mercy, why do you torture me?" Bobbed the girl, bending to her horse's inane. "My dearest lass," began Armstrong, but never finished the sentence. CHAPTER XVI. Challenge. "Halt!" came a sharp command. Arm strong looked up as one coming out of a dream. They were at the outposts of Ox ford. After a short parley an officer In faded finery was called, and, u learning of their errand. Invited Armstrong to follow hltn to the lord great ehimherlaln. They had not long been In the streets before their escort cried: "A propitious meeting. Indeed, sir. Here conies the lord great chamber lain himself." Armstrong noted the approach of a mnn with a countenance so rema.kable that It might have been taken as a typical of war. From brow to chin was drawn a long red sear, while another ran transversely across the forehead just over the eyes, so that th -re flamed from his face an angry crosH Unit gave a most sinister expression to n visage which, lacking these t Imp-healed wounds, would h:iv bicn handsome. The chamberlain stopped abruptly In his ad vance, his gaze riveted upon the girl, and there came Into his eyes a look of such malignity that Armstrong Instantly turned his glance upon his traveling companion. The girl's cheeks had gone deathly white, and she swayed blindly In her saddle, peri lously near to falling. The young man sprang from his horse and caught her just In time. Bitterly he blamed himself for this unexpected collapse, cursing his per sistence on the road, when he had plainly seen that some strong emotion tormented her. This mental perturbation, combined with the physical strain she had under gone during their long Journey, fully ac counted for the prostration of the moment at the end. "My poor lass," he said, regretfully, "I am to blame. I am a thoughtless, selfish hound to have so sorely troubled you with my Insistence." "It Is not that," she whispered faintly, leaning heavily on him with the pathetic helplessness of a tired child, a dependence which sent a thrill of pity und love for her tingling to his finger ends. "Take me In, take me In quickly. I am 111." Now, the lord great chamberlain, all smiles and courtesy, stepped forward and said with authority to the Innkeeper: "The chief rooms In the house for the, lady. Turn out whoever occupies them,' whatever their quality." Tho landlord called his wife, and Frances whs given Into her cure. The officer Introduced tho traveler to the high official: "My lord chamberlain, this gentleman says ho has come from the Scottish no bles with a message for his majesty, sir. Monsieur de Courcy, lord great chamber lain to the king." Frenchman and Scot bowed to each other, the grace of the gesture being almost en tirely In favor of the former, despite his marred face. "Sir." said Armstrong to the officer. "I thank you for your guidance, and you, my lord," to de Courcy, "for your kind and prompt command with respect to the lady. She has had a long and tiring Journey through a dangerous country, under con tinual fear of arrest, and so It is not to be wondered that a woman should succumb to the strain at last." "I am William Armstrong," he continued, "somewhat known on the Border, a Scot tish gentleman, and a loyal subject to his majesty, the king." "Then you are very welcome In Oxford, and I am sure his majesty wishes there were more like you In the environs thereof and the regions lieyond. It Is now too late to see the king today, and probably you are not loath to meet n night's rest after a hard day's riding. I will arrange a meet ing for you with his majesty us soon us possible." "Thank you. If I may hint that every day is of value, you will, perhaps, urge upon the king the danger of delay." "I shall not fall to do so. Goodnight." For tho first time In his life Armstrong left his horse to the care of others and en tered the Inn to Inquire after the welfare of the lady who absorbed his thoughts. She sent word that she was quite recov ered, but would see no one until the mor row. With this he was fain to be content, and he wandered about the town In tho gathering dusk, hoping to do her a service by discovering the whereabouts of Lord Rudby's son, to whom he supposed she car ried some message from her brother. He learned that this young man, who was a captain in the king's army, had been sent, It was supposed, to London, but nothing had been heard of him for a month or more, and whether ho was a prisoner or not none could say. This intelligence depressed Armstrong, who feared that the girl had taken her long Journey for nothing, and that the failure to find the one she sought might entail serious consequences tipon her brother and herself, for each In turn had manifested great concern touching the mis sion she had undertaken. Next morning his first visitor was the lord chamberlain, who expressed deep re gret that the king was Indisposed and could not see any emmlsury from the Scots that day. The high official spoke feelingly of the disappointment the monarch had been called upon to endure through the un merited success of his rebellious subjects, and this statement seemed to Armstrong only what was to be expected. During the day Armstrong was privileged in securing one brief Interview with Fran ces. The landlord had placed two rooms at her disposal, and In the scantily furnished parlor the young man had called upon her. The Improvement she hud affirmed the evening before was scarcely Uine out by fcer appearance, for she waa wan and dia- 11 rlrlted. so much no that when Armstrong announced the disappearance of Captain Rudby the tidings did not seem to depress her more than was nlrcoily the case. All during tho day sho had pondered on some way of escape from the web of con spiracy In which he and she were Inter woven, but In vain. She wished him with her, for his strong presence calmed her; yet wished him far away that he might escape the tolls In which she was to hold him to save her brother's life. Here was a mutability In deed for the daughter of iinpcrlus Straf ford ! On the third day of his stay In Oxford De Courcy still bewailed the indisposition of the king, and, to puss the time away, suggested that Armstrong stroll around the fortifications. Shortly after they s:-t out De Courcy In troduced him to an officer who was to Iks his guide, and excused himself because of tho king's Illness. As soon as the two were out of sight De Courcy hastened to the Inn and knocked at Frances Wentworth's door. Tho girl, who expected a different caller, bade him enter and as soon as he was In the room he locked It and put the key in his pocket. She retreated to the other room, hut re appeared In a moment with a Jeweled dag ger in her hand. The Frenchman smiled and waved his white hands gracefully. "May I sit down," he asked suavely, "and If I put this table between us will you feel bettor?" "You will be safer so long as It remains) between us," answered she angrily. He laughed Ironically. "You are entirely In my power. Your man, the nwkwnrd Scot, I shall have hanged out of hand aa a spy. I myself will plead for your own life and they will agree. Will you make terms with me?" That will I not," she said In a tinging voice. "You prefer the dungeon?" "You dare not put me there." "Why?" "Your master will not permit it." "My dear." stid the Frenchman, smiling Indolently, "let me put a quiet -us forever on your mad Idea that help is to be ex pected from the king. Do you know what the king thinks of you?" "He does not think of me nt all. lie has forgotten me." "Pardon, them you are mistaken. He thinks you went to Whltlmll the day of your father's death to assassinate him. He believis that 1 Imperilled my life to save him. The scars of your claws, howevtr repulsive they may be to others, are to him a constant reminder that I imperilled my life to save his. Need I say more?" "No! Hut you need puy better heed to what 1 say." "What did you say?" "I said that jour master would not permit you to Injure me." "Hut I have shown you that the king" "I am not speaking of the king. I am speaking of your master, Oliver Crom well!" Klthcr the red cross on his face became redder or the sudden pajlor of his other features made it appear so. He moistened his lips and gazed at her with fear creep ing Into his eyes. "What do you expect to gain by making so f.Kiird a statment?" he asked at last "Cromwell told me In Northampton that If I met difficulty in Oxford you, his spy, would assist me." "Good GkI!" "Aye, good God! You see now that your peril is greater than mine. I have but to smite at this window, crying 'I um the daughter of I.rd Strafford, help me, for here am I. caged with a French spy who has sold king and comrades for Crom well's gold.' " "In God's name, woman, do not speak so loud. I did but Jest when I spoke of molesting you." "I am In no jesting mood." 'You need not tell me that. Tell mo what you wish and I shall further your designs." "I refuse to make terms with you. Rut I will give you my commands. You will take Armstrong to the king and cease to block bis way. You will see that we remain unmolested in Oxford and leuve Its walls freely when we chooso. Go!" (TO KB CONTINl'KD) Proverbs of a lJrahmin The first step toward being wise Is to know that thou art Ignorant. As a veil addeth to beauty, so are a man'a virtues set off by the shade which his modesty casteth upon them. This instant is thine; the next is In tha womb of futurity, and thou knowest not what It may bring forth. As the ostrich when pursued hldeth his head, but forgettetli his body, so the feuia of a coward expose him to da iger. The heurt of the envious man is gall arid bitterness. The Bucceas of hi i..ii:bor breakcth his rest. Consider and forget not thine own weak ness, so shalt thou pardon the failings in others. Indulge not thyself in the passion of anger; It Is whetting a sword to wound thine own breaat. Mix kindness with reproof and reasoa with authority. Four Track News.