The countess had gained strength rapidly, and there were no grounds for any further uneasiness as to her health; she was now able to take daily drives with Stephanie.
"You keep up your heart, Mr. Frank. Me and some of the others have been having a talk with the coast-guards, and they will be all right. Of course, there is not one of them that does not know Mr. Julian, so they won't say more than they can help against him; and every one of them is glad to hear that he gave it to that Faulkner hot. He ain't no more a favourite with them than he is with other people, and it was not by their own will that they ran in and pulled your brother off him. If they hadn't, he would not have been sitting on the bench to-day, nor for many a week, I reckon; for he would have been pretty badly burned if he had fallen across that fire. So you may be sure that they will make it easy for Mr. Julian, and I expect you will have him back home this evening. They would never have took him at all if they had known who he was; but, of course, being dark, and he in his fishing togs, they did not see it was him."
"I do indeed see it," Julian said, "and I feel that it would be not only ungrateful but wrong for me to refuse this noble gift. But you will admit that it is natural that I should for a time be overwhelmed by it. I am not so ungracious as to refuse so magnificent a present, although I feel that it is altogether disproportionate, not to the service I was fortunate enough to render, but to my action in rendering it. Well, Mr. Linton, I can only thank you for the part you have taken in the matter. Of course, I shall write at once to the count and countess expressing my feelings as to this magnificent gift, and will send the letter to the embassy to be forwarded at the first possible opportunity. And now what is the next thing to be done, for I feel almost incapable of forming any plans at present?"
Julian nodded, threw two or three of the sheep-skins down in a corner, rolled another up for a pillow, drew a blanket over him, and for the first time looked round the cave. It was lighted only by a small hole used as a look-out; at present a blanket hung before this. There was a door similar to that by which he had entered from above leading to the lower cave. How far that lower entrance might be below them Julian had no means of knowing, but from the view he had obtained of the sea through a large loop-hole he had passed in his descent, he did not think that the cavern he was in could be less than seventy or eighty feet above the water. The sole ventilation, as far as he could see, was the current of air that found its way in through the door from below, and passed up through that above, and what could come in through the loop-hole seawards. Doubtless in warmer weather both the doors stood open, but were now closed more for warmth than for any other purpose, although he had noticed that the lower one had been bolted and locked after he had been first captured.
"Put it down in my note-book," Ney said to one of his staff. "Good-night, comrades, you have done me good. By the way, a hundred yards to your left I marked a dead horse as I came along; it may help your suppers." Then, amid a cheer from the soldiers, Ney moved on with his staff.
For the next few days Julian kept in the house, except that after nightfall he went out for a long walk. The report of the proceedings in the court had caused a great sensation in Weymouth, and the feeling was so strong against Mr. Faulkner that he was hooted in the streets when he rode into the town. The general expectation was that he would resign his position on the bench; and when at the end of a week he did not do so, a private meeting of the other magistrates was held, and it was whispered in the town that a report of the proceedings at the court had been sent to the Home Secretary, with an expression of opinion that Mr. Faulkner's brother magistrates felt that they could not sit again with him on the bench after what had taken place.