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The Black Dwarf

Chapter 12
Some one way, some another--Do you know
Where we may apprehend her?
The researches after Miss Vere were (for the sake of appearances, perhaps)
resumed on the succeeding day, with similar bad success, and the party were
returning towards Ellieslaw in the evening.
"It is singular," said Mareschal to Ratcliffe, "that four horsemen and a female
prisoner should have passed through the country without leaving the slightest
trace of their passage. One would think they had traversed the air, or sunk
through the ground."
"Men may often," answered Ratcliffe, "arrive at the knowledge of that which is,
from discovering that which is not. We have now scoured every road, path, and
track leading from the castle, in all the various points of the compass, saving only
that intricate and difficult pass which leads southward down the Westburn, and
through the morasses."
"And why have we not examined that?" said Mareschal.
"O, Mr. Vere can best answer that question," replied his companion, dryly.
"Then I will ask it instantly," said Mareschal; and, addressing Mr. Vere, "I am
informed, sir," said he, "there is a path we have not examined, leading by
Westburnflat."
"O," said Sir Frederick, laughing, "we know the owner of Westburnflat well--a wild
lad, that knows little difference between his neighbour's goods and his own; but,
withal, very honest to his principles: he would disturb nothing belonging to
Ellieslaw."
"Besides," said Mr. Vere, smiling mysteriously, "he had other tow on his distaff
last night. Have you not heard young Elliot of the Heugh-foot has had his house
burnt, and his cattle driven away, because he refused to give up his arms to
some honest men that think of starting for the king?"
The company smiled upon each other, as at hearing of an exploit which favoured
their own views.
"Yet, nevertheless," resumed Mareschal, "I think we ought to ride in this direction
also, otherwise we shall certainly be blamed for our negligence."
No reasonable objection could be offered to this proposal, and the party turned
their horses' heads towards Westburnflat.
They had not proceeded very far in that direction when the trampling of horses
was heard, and a small body of riders were perceived advancing to meet them.
"There comes Earnscliff," said Mareschal; "I know his bright bay with the star in
his front."
"And there is my daughter along with him," exclaimed Vere, furiously. "Who shall
call my suspicions false or injurious now? Gentlemen--friends--lend me the
assistance of your swords for the recovery of my child."
He unsheathed his weapon, and was imitated by Sir Frederick and several of the
party, who prepared to charge those that were advancing towards them. But the
greater part hesitated.
 
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