|Chapter Title||IN THE MOONLIGHT.|
|Newspaper Title||Warwick Examiner and Times (Qld. : 1867 - 1919)|
|Trove Title||Amidst Christmas Snows|
CHAPTER II.-IN THE MOONLIGHT.
"It's a bitter night," said the landlord of the Three Jolly Hunters, as he stood fn front of the huge Are In the bar par lor, and looked round upon his guests.
The room was scrupulously clean, the floors had been fresh sanded, the brasses on the mantelpiece shone, sprigs of holiy and mistletoe adorned the room, and al together It had a most Inviting look.
Apparently the villagers of Hydon-at least the men-kind-were of that opinion, as a goodly number were seated at a com fortable distance from the Are, talking and smoking their pipes.
"There's going to be a grand ball up at the Hall to-night," remarked the vil lage carpenter.
"Tes. I suppose It's In honor of Miss Peggy's affair being settled," said the
"What! Is Bhe going to wed h|s lord ship?" asked a man with a dissipated look, who was known as Surly Tom.
"No, the general wouldn't listen to him. Miss Teggy's to marry Squire Hud
''Well, he be a beauty," said the other. "Almost as handsome aa you, Tom,"
said another fellow.
"Anyway, he's got the gold, and that's what his lordship hasn't; but It's a burning shame to spoil such a handsome couple as he and Mlse Peggy would have made," said the landlord.
"It's a pity someone doesn't leave him a fortune, then the general would let him have Miss Peggy," said a man at the fur ther end of the.fpom.
"If there's any.'truth In o)d tales, he's got plenty of treasure If he'd only seardi
tor It," said the landlord.
"What do you mean, Joe?" was heard on all hands, and all eyes werellxed on
"Well, seeing It's Christmas Eve. I don't mind telling you the story ; but it's dry work talking, so I'll stand glasses all round." he said, retrietaberlng that winter and summer they were good custo
When every man had got his whisky and water, the landlord took his pipe out of his mouth and beg^n :
"You've all Been that cross . which stands on the roadside close to the woods, and read that it «as set up In memory of James, L<ord Burwood, who was killed fighting for his king at the battle of Sherlffmulr in 1715. That's a hundred and four years ago. but Lord, how few generations It takes to link us to that llrre.
"When the unfortunate I»rd Burwood was killed, hlB estates were taken by the Crown, and the son was deprived of the
"Lady Burwood, the widow (who had some private means), went to live quietly in the South of England, and brought up her two sons In seclusion. She had always been against her husband Join ing the Stuarts' cause, her sympathies being with the reigning king, and she tried to make her sons think as she did. The elder one declared that his sympa thies were with the Stuarts, but as he waB delicate and lived a quiet, retired lire, It did not make much difference. He married a lady of good birth, but. no fortune. Hie younger son, who was his mother's favorite, entered the king's army, and fought against the Pretender, as Prince Charlie was called, In 1746. Tor his bravery and the way he espoused the king's cause he had both his father's title and estates restored to him a year after the death of his elder brothr, who died comparatively young, leaving one son, Sic fatfier of the present Lord Bur wood. When Rupert. Lord Burwood, had won back his estates, ho retired from the army and married a rich lady, but there was a bitter drop In his cup they hadn't any children-and the dash Ins soldier turned Into a bookworm. His wife died a miserable old woman, and he lived many a year after her. His present lordship, who had lost his father, suc ceeded his great uncle. Tou all re member the talk there was nine years ago when It was found that the estate was heavily mortgaged, and nut a penny of money saved, yet the old lord had. lived like a miser, and he'd had the estate over fifty years. He was ninety si* when he died. Now that fact almost took folks' breath away, but something stranger was the putting up of a cross. In memory of tils father. . whom he'd always scoffed at. I heard Say that he did It so that the world might know his father lost the estate, and he was the founder of a new line of Burwood e But my grandfather was his lordship's valet for may a long year, and he, with my mother's help, nursed him In his last Illness, and they always said that a box containing treasure had been placed In
the masonry under the cross, l^jverybody
knew as an iron bo* was buried tinder the cross, but his lordship gave It out as '.'t contained manuscripts relating to the two rebellions In favor of the Stuarts, and he said at some time they would be of great value to the nation, but my grandfather stuck to It-the bo* con tained treasure, which, of course, by right, would belong to his present lord ship."
" Hut What made him put It there?"
asked the sexton.
" Because he disliked his great nephew ; lie had always disliked his brother, and It was gall and wormwood tn him to think that he had no sons, and !il= brother's grandson would Inherit the title. In the end, however, he also left the estate ta the present lord."
'Tt'e .1 good tmt there's nowt In
It," said an old man. Then they aV called for glasses, and tales were told, and one or two of the younger men sang ns the hours sped on. but none drank more than Surly Tom, the blacksmith, and what was more, he paid for glass after glass for the village carpenter till, when they had all turned out at midnight, Surly Tom. who could carry any amount of drink, had to give his companion his
"Come ulong with me. Jack, and spend the night. Thank the LorJ we've neither of ub got wives to wonder where
"The ould mother.'' muttered Jack.
"Oh, she'll think you've gone earol slnglng over at the duke's, and got too drunk to walk home," said Surly Tom.
Jack made no objrctlon.and they walk ed on until tlity caine to a cottage adjoin ing (he blarksmilh's smithy.
opening the door Surly Ton-, led the way into the house, and raking up the lire lie Kot -some hoi water and :nlxe.l a couple of qlasscs of hot cro^.
"Now, Jack, you and me-? golt.^ to find on; svhil'F in that l»i\ .ir.d^r ._>,» cross alor.s HurwoTd road."
Jacl; tnnfced startlei!, V.'.e proposj." h.ad
evn rc;i.:fcei! hi.' l"'fi?cpeij r * I r:. I
"We'd set ir.U trouble, ' he &anj. j
Nonsense, man. Who's to know we've j
done anylhlns ? And we'll be rich men
the rest of our lives."
While he was Epeaklng, Surly Tom had collected various tools. Then lie said:
"Come on, Jack: It'll be rare sport"
" I Lure sport! I'm your man," said the other, and In another minute they were standing outside the cottage. Then Tom put his arm within his companion's, and they Ret oft along the Burwood road, whirl] was bordered on eaeh side by a thick wood of giant oaks, heechea, etc., now bare ot leaves, but looking lovely as the moon shone on their snow-covered branches. On the road the snow lay deep, and the two men made their way forward with difficulty. About half way from the village to Burwood Castle stood the marble cross, built on the roadside, aod a little way behind It was a stile leading to a path over a bridge, which crossed the brook that ran through the wood, then up the field to another wood which terminated at Hydon Hall.
Pausing In front of the cross, Surly Tom read the Inscription. Then he raised his crowbar, as the distant church clock struck two.
"The folks will be gone home from the ball, seeing It's Christmas Day to-mor row," he thought, pausing with the weapon uplifted ; then, down It came with a crash, and pieces of marble flew.
"Now, Jack, it's your turn."
"Ay, It's my turn," and Jack gave the marble a blow, which was followed by another from Surly Tom.
The cross tottered and fell backward, with the inscription upwards, and the two men stood looking at each other.
Somehow the fall ot the cross seemed to have sobered Jack, who exclaimed:
"Oh, Lord, what have I done."
"A stroke of luck, or I'm out of It," said the other. "Come, you may as well go on," and he began raising the solid piece of marble which formed the base of the structure.
After a minute's hesitation Jack help, ed him, and very soon the marble was raised, revealing a square cavity which had been neatly bricked, and In it rested a strong Iron box, about a foot long. |
"Now for It," and the blacksmith tried to smash the lock; but It was strong,1 and it was some little time before It yielded. I
Surly Tom lifted the lid, and there,' with the pale moonlight gleaming on them, lay diamonds and pearls. I
"My, what beauties!' he exlaimed. j
"Worth a king's ransom," said his ?