"I don't know, Frank, I have never thought much about it. I don't think I should choose anywhere near Weymouth, and I would rather go to a flatter country, and a better wooded one. If I bought land, I should like to have land that I could cultivate myself, so as to give me an interest in it, and I should like, after a time, to be on the bench, which would give one a good deal of occupation. I suppose I shall marry some day, and so would prefer to be within reach of a town. I should think, from what you say, the country round Canterbury must be pretty. There is a garrison there, Dover is within reach, and it is a good deal more handy for getting up to town than it is from here. However, as you say, there is plenty of time for me to think about that."
"I thought so; I was there. It was the very day I got to Weymouth. Well, what the deuce are you doing here? You are the chap who has followed me all the way up the hill?"
"So you see, Count," he concluded, "the kindness that I had shown your child has already been repaid to me many fold. Not only did she save my life from the peasants, but I have no doubt that her pretty talk, and the occupation she offered to my thoughts, and her warmth as she nestled close to me at night, were the means of my retaining my strength to a far greater degree than was the case with most of my comrades, and enabled me to survive when so many dropped dead from cold and exhaustion."
"I left in a hurry because I could not help it. Going across the hills I came quite accidentally upon one of the smugglers' hiding-places, and was seized before I had time to say a word. There was a little discussion among themselves as to what they would do with me, and I should have had my throat cut if an Englishman among them had not known that I was friends with most of the fishermen there, and had been present once or twice when a cargo was run. So they finally made up their minds to bring me over here, and as they feared I might, if I returned, peach as to their hiding-place, they trumped up this story about me, and handed me over to the French to take care of."
"It was simple enough, Julian. I was certain that you had not committed the murder, and it was therefore clear that someone else must have done so. Then came the question, first, how Faulkner had come to charge you as he had done, and, second, how and why you had disappeared. The only conceivable explanation that I could find was that you must have run into the wood, caught sight of the murderer, and followed him up. Directly we found your footprints on the snow overlapping his it made that a certainty. We had only then to go into the wood and pick up the whole story bit by bit. For a time I certainly thought that you had been killed by the friends of the man that you had followed, and you may imagine what a relief it was to us when your letter came.
"I do not think there was any risk in it. As I told you, I have practised shooting very quickly, and felt sure that I should get first shot, and knew that there was no chance of my missing. The man was a dangerous fellow, and has fought many duels, but he will not now fight any more; and he will, I should think, leave the service. Well, I must not stay any longer, for I go by the twelve o'clock coach, and have to write a letter to Sir Robert Wilson before I start."
"I don't want any promise about it," the poacher replied. "I have made up my mind to leave Weymouth, for, after having been in jail two years, I shall always have the constables as well as the revenue men keeping their eye on me, so I had intended all along to take to the lugger again, and live on board her as I did before, and I only stayed here until I could settle accounts with Faulkner. I have no doubt that they will suspect me of this business. There are plenty of men who know that I had sworn to be even with him, and my disappearance is sure to be put down to that. Now, in the next place, will you promise not to try to escape, because if you do, I will get them to take these ropes off you? I dare say you have been thinking that if you could get free you would make a run for the mouth of the cave and dive in, for it is about high water now."
"You shall see presently," he said. "It would be very cold if you were to put your head outside. The best thing that you can do is to try to get to sleep."
Here was underclothing of every kind, sufficient for a life-time; morning suits, riding suits, dress suits, visiting suits, in bewildering variety. In one wardrobe were three superb overcoats, lined with the most costly furs, half a dozen fur caps of various patterns, four huge fur rugs, high boots lined with fur, a dozen pairs of fur gloves for walking and driving; and arranged along the wall were ten pairs of boots of different kinds, fur-lined slippers, and dress boots. He examined them all with something like consternation.