"Lifted up his hands, ma'am, to the heavens, and looked--I declare it turned my blood to see him. If there's truth in mortal man, it's my firm belief--"
What the housemaid's belief was, remained unexpressed. Before she could get to her next word, a shriek of horror from the hall announced that the cook's powers of interruption were not exhausted yet.
Mistress and servant both hurried out in terror of they knew not what. There stood the cook, alone in the hall, confronting the stand on which the overcoats and hats of the men of the family were placed.
"Where's the master's traveling coat?" cried the cook, staring wildly at an unoccupied peg. "And where's his cap to match! Oh Lord, he's off in the post-chaise! and the footman's after him!"
Simpleton as she was, the woman had blundered on a very serious discovery.
Coat and cap--both made after a foreign pattern, and both strikingly remarkable in form and color to English eyes--had unquestionably disappeared. It was equally certain that they were well known to the foot man, whom the Captain had declared to be a spy, as the coat and cap which his master used in traveling. Had Mr. Bowmore discovered (since the afternoon) that he was really in danger? Had the necessities of instant flight only allowed him time enough to snatch his coat and cap out of the hall? And had the treacherous manservant seen him as he was making his escape to the post-chaise? The cook's conclusions answered all these questions in the affirmative--and, if Captain Bervie's words of warning had been correctly reported, the cook's conclusion for once was not to be despised.
Under this last trial of her fortitude, Mrs. Bowmore's feeble reserves of endurance completely gave way. The poor lady turned faint and giddy. Amelia placed her on a chair in the hall, and told the cook to open the front door, and let in the fresh air.
The cook obeyed; and instantly broke out with a second terrific scream; announcing nothing less, this time, than the appearance of Mr. Bowmore himself, alive and hearty, returning with Percy from the meeting at the Club!