The Sea-Hawk HTML version
Master Lionel was absent most of the following day from Penarrow, upon a pretext of
making certain purchases in Truro. It would be half-past seven when he returned; and as
he entered he met Sir Oliver in the hall.
"I have a message for you from Godolphin Court," he announced, and saw his brother
stiffen and his face change colour. "A boy met me at the gates and bade me tell you that
Mistress Rosamund desires a word with you forthwith."
Sir Oliver's heart almost stopped, then went off at a gallop. She asked for him! She had
softened perhaps from her yesterday's relentlessness. She would consent at last to see
"Be thou blessed for these good tidings!" he answered on a note of high excitement. "I go
at once." And on the instant he departed. Such was his eagerness, indeed, that under the
hot spur of it he did not even stay to fetch that parchment which was to be his
unanswerable advocate. The omission was momentous.
Master Lionel said no word as his brother swept out. He shrank back a little into the
shadows. He was white to the lips and felt as he would stifle. As the door closed he
moved suddenly. He sprang to follow Sir Oliver. Conscience cried out to him that he
could not do this thing. But Fear was swift to answer that outcry. Unless he permitted
what was planned to take its course, his life might pay the penalty.
He turned, and lurched into the dining-room upon legs that trembled.
He found the table set for supper as on that other night when he had staggered in with a
wound in his side to be cared for and sheltered by Sir Oliver. He did not approach the
table; he crossed to the fire, and sat down there holding out his hands to the blaze. He was
very cold and could not still his trembling. His very teeth chattered.
Nicholas came in to know if he would sup. He answered unsteadily that despite the
lateness of the hour he would await Sir Oliver's return.
"Is Sir Oliver abroad?" quoth the servant in surprise.
"He went out a moment since, I know not whither," replied Lionel. "But since he has not
supped he is not like to be long absent."
Upon that he dismissed the servant, and sat huddled there, a prey to mental tortures which
were not to be repressed. His mind would turn upon naught but the steadfast, unwavering
affection of which Sir Oliver ever had been prodigal towards him. In this very matter of
Peter Godolphin's death, what sacrifices had not Sir Oliver made to shield him? From so
much love and self-sacrifice in the past he inclined to argue now that not even in extreme
peril would his brother betray him. And then that bad streak of fear which made a villain