"Is she safe? Is who safe?" said he. "He means my mistress," replied Wilson, rather brusquely; and flounced out of the hall.
"She is safe, no thanks to you," said General Rolleston. "What were you doing under her window at this time of night?" And the harsh tone in which this question was put showed Seaton he was suspected. This wounded him, and he replied doggedly, "Lucky for you all I was there."
"That is no answer to my question," said the general sternly.
"It is all the answer I shall give you."
"Then I shall hand you over to the officer without another word."
"Do, sir, do," said Seaton bitterly; but he added more gently, "you will be sorry for it when you come to your senses."
At this moment Wilson entered with a message. "If you please, sir, Miss Rolleston says the robber had no beard. Miss have never noticed Seaton's face, but his beard she have; and, oh, if you please, sir, she begged me to ask him--Was it you that fired the pistol and shot the robber?"
The delivery of this ungrammatical message, but rational query was like a ray of light streaming into a dark place. It changed the whole aspect of things. As for Seaton, he received it as if Heaven was speaking to him through Wilson. His sullen air relaxed, the water stood in his eyes, he smiled affectionately, and said in a low, tender voice, "Tell her I heard some bad characters talking about this house--that was a month ago--so ever since then I have slept in the tool-house to watch. Yes, I shot the robber with my revolver, and I marked one or two more; but they were three to one; I think I must have got a blow on the head; for I felt nothing--"