|←Chapter XXXIV. A Climax|| Haworth's by
Chapter XXXV. "I am not ready for it yet"
|Chapter XXXVI. Settling an Account→|
In expectation of something very serious happening, the constabulary re-enforced itself the day following and assumed a more imposing aspect, and was prepared to be very severe indeed upon all short-comings or symptoms of approaching disorder. But somewhat to its private disappointment, an unlooked-for quiet prevailed an almost suspicious quiet, indeed. There were rumors that a secret meeting had been held by the strikers the night before, and the result of it was that in the morning there appeared to have been a sudden dispersing, and only those remained behind who were unavoidably detained by the rather unfortunate circumstance of having before them the prospect of spending a few weeks in the comparative retirement of the county jail. These gentlemen peremptorily refused to give any definite explanation of their eccentricities of conduct of the night before and were altogether very unsatisfactory indeed, one of them even going so far, under the influence of temporary excitement, as to be guilty of the indiscretion of announcing his intention of "doin' fur" one or two enemies of his cause when his term expired, on account of which amiable statement three months were added to said term upon the spot.
It was Janey Briarley who gave Murdoch his warning upon the night of the riot. Just before he left the Works she had come into the yard, saying she had a message for Haworth, and on being told that he was away, had asked for Murdoch.
"He'll do if I canna see th' mester," she remarked.
But when she reached Murdoch's room she stepped across the threshold and shut the door cautiously.
"Con anybody hear?" she demanded, with an uneasy glance round.
"No," he answered.
"Then cut thy stick as fast as tha con an' get thee whoam an' hoid away that thing tha'rt makkin. Th' stroikers is after it. Nivver moind how I fun' out. Cut an' run. I axt fur Haworth to throw 'em off th' scent. I knowed he wurna here. Haste thee!"
Her manifest alarm convinced him that there was foundation enough for her errand, and that she had run some risk in venturing it.
"Thank you," he said. " You may have saved me a great deal. Let us go out quietly as if nothing was in hand. Come along."
And so they went, he talking aloud as they passed through the gates, and as it was already dusk he was out on the Broxton road in less than half an hour, and when he returned the mob had been to his mother's house and broken a few windows in their rage at his having escaped them, and had gone off shouting that they would go to Ffrench's.
"He'll be fun theer," some one said—possibly the cynic. "Th' young woman is a sweetheart o' his an' yo'll be loike to hear o' th' cat wheer th' cream stonds."
His mother met him on the threshold with the news of the outbreak and the direction it had taken. A few brief sentences told him all, and at the end of them he left the house at once.
"I am going there to show myself to them," he said. "They will not return here. You are safe enough now. The worst is over here, but there is no knowing what they may do there when they find themselves baffled."
It was after midnight when he came back, and then it was Christian who opened the door for him.
He came into the little dark passage with a slow, unsteady step. For a second he did not seem to see her at all. His face was white, his eyes were shining and his brow was slightly knit in lines which might have meant intense pain.
"Are you hurt?" she asked.
It was as if her voice wakened him from a trance. He looked at her for the first time.
"Hurt!" he echoed. "No—not hurt."
He went into the sitting-room and she followed him. The narrow horse-hair sofa upon which his father had lain so often stood in its old place. He threw himself full length upon it and lay looking straight before him.
"Are you—are you sure you are not hurt?" she faltered.
He echoed her words again.
"Am I sure I am not hurt?" he repeated dreamily. "Yes, I am sure of it."
And then he turned slightly toward her and she saw that the look his face wore was not one of pain, but of strange rapture.
"I am not hurt," he said quite slowly. "I am madly happy."
Then she understood. She was as ignorant of many things as she was bitterly wise in others, but she had not been blind and she understood quite clearly. She sat down upon a low seat, from which she could see him, her hands clasped on her knee.
"I knew," she said at last, "that it would come some day—I knew that it would."
"Did you?" he answered in the same dreamy way. "I did not. I did not even hope for it. I do not comprehend it even now."
"I do," she returned, "quite well."
He scarcely seemed to hear her.
"I hoped for nothing," he said. "And now—I am madly happy."
There was nothing more for her to say. She had a fancy that perhaps in the morning he would have forgotten that he had spoken. It seemed as if even yet he was hardly conscious of her presence. But before she went away she asked him a question.
"Where did you put the model?"
He gave a feverish start.
"Where?" And falling back into his previous manner—"I took it to the chapel yard. I knew they would not go there. There was space enough behind the—the head-stone and the old wall for it to stand, and the grass grew long and thick. I left it there."
"It was a safe place," she answered. "When shall you bring it back?"
He sighed impatiently.
"Not yet," he said. "Not just yet. Let it stay there a while. I am not—ready for it. Let it stay."