He turned aside to hide the workings of his face.
“How dare you speak to me like this?” cried Daisy. “You don’t know me, Tom, or you would not. I’ll go, I will not be so insulted, and by one who pretended so much.” Then, moved by the young fellow’s grief, she laid her hand upon his arm. “Tom,” she said, softly, “you’ll be sorry for this when you know all.”
“Don’t touch me,” cried Tom, passionately, as he shook her off. “I can’t bide it, Daisy. I loved you once, but you threw me over for that bit of a butterfly of a thing.”
“Oh, this is too much, and at such a time,” cried Daisy. “Here, Jane, Jane. Let me go by.”
“No,” said Tom, catching her wrist, as she made for the interior of the house. “You shall not go to join him again. I’ll tak’ thee home to thy father.”
“Not yet, Tom, not yet. I’m not going to him. Here, Jane, Jane, quick. Where is Mr Richard?” she cried, as the maid came back.
“Dal thee!” cried Tom, as he threw her arm savagely away. “This before me!”
The girl looked at her and shook her head.
“Where is Mrs Glaire or Miss Pelly?”
“Out,” said the girl, “at Mr Purley’s.”
“And Mr Richard?” cried Daisy imploringly. “Quick: it is for his good,” while Tom, who heard her words, stood gnawing his lips with jealous rage.
“I don’t know,” said the girl. “He’s gone away.”
“Oh, this is dreadful,” said Daisy, looking bewildered. “Tom, will you not help me? I have been home, and cannot find father or mother. I come here and I cannot find Mr Richard.”
“Howd your tongue, lass, or you’ll make me mad,” cried Tom. “But Daisy, my bairn, listen,” he cried, softening down. “You know I loved you. Come wi’ me, and I’ll find you a home somewheers. You shall never see me again, but I shall know that I’ve saved you from him.”
“Tom, where is my father?” cried Daisy, indignantly.
“Listen to me, Daisy, ’fore it is too late,” pleaded the young man. “Let me tak’ you away.”
“Will you tell me where my poor father is?” cried Daisy again. “If you can’t believe in me, I will listen to this shameful talk no more.”
“Shameful talk!” said Tom, bitterly.
“Where is my father?”
“Drove mad by his child,” cried Tom, speaking now in tones of sorrow. “Gone by this time wi’ a lot more to blow up the wucks.”
“I won’t believe it yet,” cried Daisy. “It can’t be true. My dear father would never do the like.”
“It’s true enew,” said Tom, “and I should ha’ been theer trying once more to stop him, only I see you, and, like a fool, tried to save thee again.”
“Tom,” cried Daisy, who was giddy with dread and excitement, “tell me that this is some terrible mistake.”
“Yes,” he said, bitterly; “and I made it.”
“What shall I do?” gasped Daisy. “Oh, at last, Mrs Glaire – Mrs Glaire, what have you done?”
“You here!” cried Mrs Glaire, who now entered with Eve from the doctor’s, the latter turning pale, and sinking into a chair.
“Yes, yes,” gasped Daisy, sinking on her knees, and clinging to Mrs Glaire’s skirts; “I came – I was obliged to come back.
“Yes,” cried Mrs Glaire, angrily; “you came, false, cruel girl. You came back to ruin all our hopes of happiness here – to undo all which I have striven so hard to do.”
“But, Mrs Glaire, dear Mrs Glaire, I have tried so hard,” sobbed Daisy, grovelling on the floor, but still clinging to Mrs Glaire’s dress that she tried to drag away. “You don’t know what I’ve suffered away in that cold, bitter town, wi’out a word from home, wi’out knowing what they thowt o’ me, for I kep’ my word. I never wrote once, though I was breaking my heart to write.”
“But you came back – and now,” cried Mrs Glaire.
“Yes, yes, I heard – danger – so horrible, I was obliged,” panted the girl.
“You heard that?” said Mrs Glaire.
“Yes, yes,” cried Daisy; “and I came to try and save him fro’ it.”
“Of course,” cried Mrs Glaire. “Where is your promise?”
“Aunt, aunt,” sobbed Eve, “she is fainting. Pray spare her.”
“Spare her!” cried Mrs Glaire. “Why should I? Has she spared us? Go, girl, go; your presence pollutes this place.”
“No, no,” cried Daisy. “You mistake me – indeed you do, Mrs Glaire. I did not come back for what you think.”
“Then why did you come?”
“I cannot – dare not tell you; but where, where is Mr Richard?”
Tom Podmore turned aside, and moved towards the door.
“How dare you ask me,” cried Mrs Glaire, “after the promise you made?”
“Don’t ask me that,” wailed Daisy, struggling to her feet, and wringing her hands wildly. “I can’t find father. I must see Mr Richard. Harry said he hadn’t left the town. Is he here?”
“No, girl,” said Mrs Glaire, turning away, “he is not here.”
“Where is he, then? Oh, Mrs Glaire!” cried the girl, “for your own sake tell me. On my knees I beg of you to tell me. It is life and death. I came to save. Miss Eve!” she cried, turning on her knees to her. “You love him; tell me where he is. I know – yes, I know,” she cried, eagerly; “he must be at the works.”
Eve started and turned away her head, to bury her face in her hands.
“Yes,” cried Daisy, excitedly. “He must be there.”
She turned hurriedly to go, when Tom Podmore caught at her cloak.
“Stop!” he cried excitedly. “You canno’ go theer.”
Daisy turned upon him angrily, and tore off her cloak, leaving it in his hands as she dashed off through the dark with the young man in pursuit.
“Undone!” moaned Mrs Glaire. “Undone. Oh, Eve, my poor stricken darling, and after all I have tried!”
“But, aunt, he will not see her. Richard will not – ”
“A false, treacherous girl!” moaned Mrs Glaire. “Eve, my darling, for your sake, for her sake – thank Heaven, here is Dick! Oh, my boy, my darling!”
She threw her arms round him exultingly, as if to hold him, and save him from danger, whilst he threw off the heavy coat in which he was muffled.
“Phew! I’m nearly suffocated,” he cried. “There, that will do, mother. Ah! Eve.”
“But why did you leave the works, my boy?” cried Mrs Glaire.
“Sick of it,” cried Richard, hastily. “I’ll stay there no more. I’ll open to-morrow. Curse the place, it’s horrible of a night, and I’ve finished all the wine. What’s the matter with Eve?”
“But,” cried Mrs Glaire, evading the question, and speaking excitedly, “you must not stay, Richard; you must leave again to-night – now, at once.”
“Where for?” said Richard, grimly.
“London – France – anywhere,” exclaimed Mrs Glaire, piteously.
“Nova Scotia, or the North Pole,” said Richard, savagely. “Damn it, mother, I won’t hide from the curs any more. Here have I been for days in that wretched hole.”
“But there’s mischief brewing, Dick, my boy, I am sure there is. You must leave at once.”
“Let it brew,” he cried. “But who was that left the house as I came in?”
Mrs Glaire did not answer, only looked appealingly to Eve.
“I said who was that came out of the house as I came along – some woman?”
Still there was no answer, and the young man looked eagerly round the hall, to take a step aside, and pounced upon a handkerchief that had been dropped on the mat.
“Whose is this?” he cried, taking it to the light, and holding it out, first to inspect one corner and then another. “Daisy!” he cried, joyously. “Has Daisy been here? Do you hear? Speak, some of you. It was; it must have been. I might have known her in the dark.”
“You coward – you villain!” cried Mrs Glaire, in a low, hissing whisper. “Is there to be no end to your deceit? Stop. One moment. Let me tell you what I know. You planned to meet that girl to-night, and you left your hiding-place on purpose.”
“Then it was Daisy!” cried Richard.
“Yes, it was Daisy. You were a little too late. You must have good spies, Richard, my son, clever people, to keep you informed, and you learned that your poor cheated cousin and I were gone out for the evening.”
“What the deuce do you mean?” cried Richard, stamping impatiently.
“Mean?” cried his mother. “I mean that I took Daisy away, kept her in Sheffield, that she might be saved from a life of shame – saved – oh, God! that I should have to say it – from my son.”
“You—you got Daisy away?” half shrieked Richard.
“Yes, I – I,” said Mrs Glaire, “to save you – to make you an honest man, and that you might keep your word to your poor injured cousin. I did all this to the destruction of the happiness of the most faithful servant that ever served our house, and to break his poor wife’s heart. I did all this sin, Richard, for you – for my boy; but you have beaten me; I am defeated. It has been a hard fight, but it was not to be. There, she has been found out by your emissary, that Big Harry.”
“Hang me if I know what you are talking about,” cried Richard.
“Bah! fool, throw off your disguise,” cried Mrs Glaire. “If you will be a villain be a bold one, and not a mean, despicable, paltry, cowardly liar. There, go; she has come. Your spies managed well, but they could not foresee that the poor foolish girl would miss you – that you would be a few minutes too late, nor that we should return home early because I was unwell.”
“Here, I’m not going to stop and hear this mad folly,” cried Richard, with his hand upon the door.
“No; go!” cried Mrs Glaire; “but I curse you.”
“Aunt!” shrieked Eve, clinging to her.
“Stand aside, Eve,” cried Mrs Glaire, who was white with passion. “Go – go, Richard. It was Daisy Banks who left here. She came to seek you, and she has gone to find you at the works. Go, my son, go; the road is easy and broad, and if it ends in ruin and death – ”
“Death!” cried Richard, recoiling.
“Yes, death, for there is mischief abroad.”
“Bah! I’ll hear no more of your mad drivel,” cried the young man savagely. “I’ve heard too much;” and, flinging open the door, he rushed out.
“Aunt, aunt, what have you done?” cried Eve, piteously.
“Broken my poor weary heart,” was the reply, as the stricken woman sank, half-fainting, on the floor.
As Daisy Banks ran from the house, wild almost with horror and affright, she made straight for the works, feeling that she might yet be in time to warn Richard Glaire of his peril, if she could not stay her father from the terrible deed he was about to commit.
On encountering Big Harry in the great town, that worthy had, on recovering from his surprise at the meeting, told her all – of the plot formed, and that her father, maddened against Richard Glaire for getting her away, was the man who had joined the Brotherhood, and had undertaken to lay the powder for the destruction of the works.
Yielding to her prayers, the great, honest fellow had agreed to accompany her back; and not a moment had been lost, but on reaching her home her mother was absent, and Joe Banks had been away all day.
Then came the visit to the House, and her leaving for the works.
“Wheer next, lass?” said Harry, coming out of the shadow where he had been waiting, but Daisy brushed by him and was gone.
“See theer now,” he muttered. “What, owd Tommy, is that thou?” he cried, as his old friend and fellow-workman, who had in the darkness missed Daisy, ran up.
“Did’st see Daisy Banks?” he cried.
“Yes, I see her. She’s gone down street like a flash o’ lightning.”
“No, no; she must have gone to the works,” cried Tom.
“Then she’s gone all round town to get to ’em,” said Harry.
“Come and see first,” cried Tom, and the two men ran towards the gates.
“What time weer it to be, lad?” whispered Harry.
“I don’t know,” said Tom hoarsely; “they’ve kept that to their sens.”
“But owd Joe Banks is going to do it, isn’t he?”
“Yes, yes; but come along quick.”
They reached the gate, but there was no sign of Daisy Banks; all was closed, and to all appearance the place had not been opened for days.
“Theer, I telled ye so,” growled Harry; “she didn’t come this waya at all. She’s gone home.”
“How long would it take us to go?” whispered Tom, who now began to think it possible that Daisy had gone in search of her father.
“Get down theer i’ less than ten minutes, lad, back waya,” replied Harry; “come along.”
Tom tried the gates once more, and then looked down the side alley, but all was still.
“If she has been here, she can’t have stayed,” he said to himself. “Here, quick, Harry, come on, and we may find Joe Banks, too.”
“And if we do, what then?” growled the hammerman.
“We must stop him – hold him – tie his hands – owt to stay him fro’ doing this job.”
“I’m wi’ ye, lad,” said Harry, “he’ll say thanky efterward. If I get a good grip o’ him he wean’t want no bands.”
The two men started off at a race, and as they disappeared Daisy crept out of the opposite door-way, where she had been crouching down, and then tried the gates.
All fast, and she dare not ring the big bell, but stood listening for a moment or two, and then ran swiftly along the wall, and down the side alley to the door that admitted to the counting-house – the alley where her interview with Richard Glaire had been interrupted by the coming of Tom Podmore.
She reached the door and tried the handle, giving it a push, when, to her great joy, she found it yield, and strung up to the pitch of doing anything by her intense excitement, she stepped into the dark entry, the door swinging to behind her, and she heard it catch.
Then for a few minutes she stood still, holding her hand to her heart, which was beating furiously. At last, feeling that she must act, she felt her way along the wall to the counting-house door, looking in to find all still and dark, and then she cried in a low voice, “Father – Mr Richard – are you here?”
No response, and she went to the door leading into the yard, to find it wide open and all without in the great place perfectly still and dark, while the great heaps of old metal and curiously-shaped moulds and patterns could just be made out in the gloom.
A strange feeling of fear oppressed her, but she fought it back bravely, and went on, avoiding the rough masses in the path, and going straight to the chief door of the great works.
The place was perfectly familiar to her, for she had as a child often brought her father’s dinner, and been taken to see the engines, furnaces, and large lathes, with the other weird-looking pieces of machinery, which in those days had to her young eyes a menacing aspect, and seemed as if ready to seize and destroy the little body that crept so cautiously along.
Entering the place then bravely, she went on through the darkness, with outstretched hands, calling softly again and again the name of Richard Glaire or her father. Several times, in spite of her precautions, she struck herself violently against pieces of metal that lay about, or came in contact with machinery or brickwork; but she forgot the pain in the eagerness of her pursuit till she had convinced herself that no one could be on the basement floor.
Then seeking the steps, she proceeded to the floor above, calling in a low whisper from time to time as she went on between the benches, and past the little window that looked down on the alley, which had afforded Sim Slee a means of entry when the bands were destroyed.
No one on this floor; and with a shiver, begotten of cold and dread, she proceeded to the steps leading to the next floor, which she searched in turn, ending by going to the third – a repetition of those below.
“There is no one here,” she said to herself at last; “unless he is asleep.”
She shuddered at this; and now, with the chilly feeling growing stronger each moment, she made her way amongst the benches and wood-work of this place, which was the pattern shop, and reached the top of the stairs, where she paused; and then, not satisfied, feeling that this was the most likely place for a man to be in hiding, she went over this upper floor again.
As she searched, the clock at the church struck eleven, and its tones sent a thrill through her, they sounded so solemn; but directly after, with the tears falling fast, as the old clock bell brought up happy recollections of the past, she began to descend; but was not half-way down before she heard footsteps, and her name pronounced in an eager whisper —
“Daisy – Daisy!”
She stopped short, trembling with dread. It was Richard Glaire, the man who had had such influence over her, and whom she had told herself that she loved so well. But this feeling of fear that she suffered now could not be love; she knew that well: and during her late seclusion she had learned to look upon the young man’s actions in a new light. His mother’s words to her had taken root, and she knew now that his intentions towards her had only been to make her the plaything of the hour of his fleeting liking; and the girl’s face flushed, and her teeth were set, as once again she asked herself why had she been so weak and vain as to believe this man.
“Daisy – Daisy – Daisy Banks, are you here?” came in a loud whisper; and still she did not move, but her heart fluttered, and her breath was drawn painfully.
No: she did not care for him now, she felt. It was a dream – a silly love dream, and she had awakened a wiser, stronger girl than she was before.
“Stronger!” she thought; “and yet I stand here afraid to speak, afraid to move, when I have come to save him perhaps from a horrible death. I will speak:”
She stopped again, for a terrible thought oppressed her. She must not betray her father. He might even now be coming to the place, if it was true that he was to blow up the works – he might even now be here, and the explosion – Oh, it was too horrible; she dared not speak even now: she dared not stay. She was not so brave as she thought, and she must fly from the place, or try to meet her father. Not Richard Glaire; she could not – dare not meet him again; for she feared him still, even though she told herself that she was strong. A strange feeling of faintness came over her, all seemed to swim round – and had she not clutched at the handrail, her feelings would have been too much for her, and she would have fallen headlong to the foot of the steep flight.
As it was, she uttered a faint cry, and it betrayed her presence.
“I knew you were here,” cried Richard Glaire, hurriedly ascending the stairs; “why, Daisy, my little bird, at last – at last. Where have you been?”
“Then you are safe yet,” she gasped, as he caught her in his arms, though she repulsed him.
“Safe; yes, my little beauty. I found you had been at the house, and they said you were here – come to look for me. Why, Daisy, this meeting makes up for all my misery since you have been gone.”
Daisy wrenched herself from his arms, exclaiming passionately —
“I came to save you and others, Mr Glaire, and you act like this. Quick, get away from this place. Your life is in danger.”
“I have heard that tale, my dear,” he said, “till I am tired of it.”
“I tell you,” cried Daisy, as he tried to clasp her again, and she struggled with him; “I tell you there is a plot against you, and that you must go. This place is not safe. You have not a moment to lose.”
“Why,” said Richard, holding her in spite of her struggles; “did you not come to see me and comfort me for being in hiding here?”
“No, no,” cried Daisy, trying to free herself; “I came to warn you. Oh, sir, this is cowardly.”
“Come, Daisy, my little one, why are you struggling? You used not.”
“No,” cried the girl, angrily; “not when I was a silly child and believed you.”
“Come, that’s unkind,” said Richard, laughing. “Where have you been, eh? But there, I know.”
“I tell you, Mr Richard, you are in danger.”
“Pooh! what danger? We’re safe enough here, Daisy, and no one will interrupt us.”
“I cannot answer questions,” said Daisy.
“Oh, pray, pray let us go. I came to save you.”
“Then you do love me still, Daisy?”
“No, no; indeed no, sir, I hate you; but I would not see you hurt.”
“Look here, Daisy,” cried Richard. “I hate mystery. Did you come here alone?”
“Yes, yes – to save you.”
“Thank you, my dear; but now, please, tell me why? No mystery, please, or I shall think this is some trick, and that you have been sent by the men on strike.”
“Indeed, no, Mr Richard,” cried Daisy, who, in her horror, caught at his arm, and tried to drag him away. “Mr Richard, sir, you told me you loved me; and in those days I was foolish enough to believe you, to the neglect of a good, true man, who wanted to make me his wife.”
“Poor idiot!” cried Richard, who was getting out of temper at being so kept at a distance.
“No; but a good, true man,” cried Daisy, indignantly. “I’ve wakened up from the silly dream you taught me to believe, and now I come to warn you of a great danger, and you scoff at it.”
“What’s the danger, little one?”
“I cannot – dare not tell you.”
“Then it isn’t true. It’s an excuse of yours. The old game, Daisy: all promises and love in your letters – all coyness and distance when we meet; but you are not going to fool me any more, my darling. I don’t believe a word of your plot, for no one knows I am here except those who would not betray me.”
“What shall I do?” cried Daisy, clasping her hands in agony. “Even now it may be too late.”
“What shall you do, you silly little thing!” cried Richard, whose promises were all forgotten, and he clasped Daisy more tightly; “why, behave like a sensible girl. Why, Daisy, I have not kissed you for weeks, and so must make up for lost time.”