The Hidden Hand (Chapter 16)

 
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Chapter 16 : Page 1 of 7

Who passes by this road so late? 
Companion of the Majolaine! 
Who passes by this road so late? 
Say! oh, say? 

--Old French Song.

Of a naturally strong constitution and adventurous disposition, and inured from infancy to danger, Capitola possessed a high degree of courage, self-control and presence of mind.

At the touch of that ruthless hand, at the sound of that gibing voice, all her faculties instantly collected and concentrated themselves upon the emergency. As by a flash of lightning she saw every feature of her imminent danger--the loneliness of the woods, the lateness of the hour, the recklessness of her fearful companion and her own weakness. In another instant her resolution was taken and her course determined. So, when the stranger repeated his mocking question: "Whither away so fast, pretty one?" she answered with animation: "Oh, I am going home, and so glad to have company; for, indeed, I was dreadfully afraid of riding alone through these woods to-night."

"Afraid, pretty one--of what?"

"Oh, of ghosts and witches, wild beasts, runaway negroes, and--Black Donald."

"Then you are not afraid of me?"

"Lors, no, indeed! I guess I ain't! Why should I be afraid of a respectable-looking gentleman like you, sir?"

"And so you are going home? Where is your home, pretty one?"

"On the other side of the river. But you need not keep on calling me 'pretty one;' it must be as tiresome to you to repeat it as it is to me to hear it."

 
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