"Good God!" cried Mr. Bowmore, "is it possible that a child of mine has grown up to womanhood, in ignorance of the palladium of English liberty? Oh, Charlotte! Charlotte!"
"I am very sorry, papa. If you will only tell me, I will never forget it."
Mr. Bowmore reverently uncovered his head, saluting an invisible Habeas Corpus Act. He took his daughter by the hand, with a certain parental sternness: his voice trembled with emotion as he spoke his next words:
"The Habeas Corpus Act, my child, forbids the imprisonment of an English subject, unless that imprisonment can be first justified by law. Not even the will of the reigning monarch can prevent us from appearing before the judges of the land, and summoning them to declare whether our committal to prison is legally just."
He put on his hat again. "Never forget what I have told you, Charlotte!" he said solemnly. "I would not remove my hat, sir," he continuing, turning to Percy, "in the presence of the proudest autocrat that ever sat on a throne. I uncover, in homage to the grand law which asserts the sacredness of human liberty. When Parliament has sanctioned the infamous Bill now before it, English patriots may be imprisoned, may even be hanged, on warrants privately obtained by the paid spies and informers of the men who rule us. Perhaps I weary you, sir. You are a young man; the conduct of the Ministry may not interest you."
"On the contrary," said Percy, "I have the strongest personal interest in the conduct of the Ministry."
"How? in what way?" cried Mr. Bowmore eagerly.
"My late father had a claim on government," Percy answered, "for money expended in foreign service. As his heir, I inherit the claim, which has been formally recognized by the present Ministers. My petition for a settlement will be presented by friends of mine who can advocate my interests in the House of Commons."