The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 4, page 3 of 8)

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Chapter 4

"To be sure," he answered, staring me in the eyes--"to be sure--Jack Chester." Hereupon the Captain giggled. "They tell me his leg yet troubles him," continued Raikes, seeing I was silent.

"'Tis nearly well," says Bentley, over his shoulder, and at the same time I noticed his great mare began to edge closer to the Captain's light roan.

"Can it be possible?" cried Raikes, in mock surprise. "On my soul, you astonish me!" At this the Captain screeched with laughter again, yet he broke off in the middle to curse instead, as his horse floundered into the ditch.

"Pink my immortal soul, sir!" says he, as he got down to pick up his hat, "but I verily believe that great beast of yours is gone suddenly mad!" And indeed, Bentley's mare was sidling and dancing in a manner that would seem to lend truth to the words.

"No," says Bentley, very solemn, "she has an objection to sudden noises--'twas your laugh frightened her belike."

The Captain muttered a curse or two, wiped the mud from his hat, and climbing back into the saddle, we proceeded upon our way.

"Speaking of Jack Chester," began Raikes, but here he was interrupted by Bentley, who had been regarding us for some time with an uneasy eye.

"Gentlemen," says he, pointing to the finger-post ahead of us, "'tis said Sir Charles d'Arcy was stopped at the cross roads yonder by a highwayman, no later than last night, and he swears the fellow was none other than the famous Jerry Abershaw himself, and he is said to be in these parts yet."

"The devil!" exclaimed the Captain, glancing about apprehensively, while I stared at Bentley in surprise, for this was the first I had heard of it. As for Sir Harry Raikes, he dismissed the subject with a careless shrug, and turned his attention to me once more.

"Speaking of Jack Chester," says he, "I begin to fear that leg of his will never mend."

"Ah?" says I, looking him in the eyes for the first time, "yes?"

"Considering the circumstances," he nodded.

"It would seem that your fears were wasted none the less, sir."

"My dear Sir Richard," he smiled, "as I was saying to some one only the other day, an injured arm--or leg for that matter, has often supplied a lack of courage before now."

As he ended, the Captain began to laugh again, but meeting my eye, stopped, for the moment I had waited for had arrived, and I reined round so suddenly as to throw Sir Harry's horse back upon its haunches.

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