CLEONICÉ TO THE RESCUE
 WHEN Cleonicé got back to the Mansion-house she found
her father and the Corsican still engaged in the
discussion of the problem before them, and still far
from any reasonable solution of it. She had been
struck, as indeed was every one, with the energy and
common sense which were obvious characteristics of the
captain, and she determined to enlist him as her ally.
Her scheme was as yet but dimly outlined in her mind,
but she felt that it was one which it would be prudent
to keep to herself. The first thing to be done was to
have a confidential conversation with her new ally.
This could be easily managed under cover of the
hospitality which it was only common politeness to
offer to a guest.
"Don't you think, father," she said, "that your friend
would like some little refreshment? It is past noon,
and I am sure that something to eat and drink would be
"By all means," said Archias. "It was very
 remiss of me not to think of it before. My daughter,"
he went on, turning to the Corsican, "will take you to
the steward's room."
"Many thanks," said the Corsican, who had an intuition
that the girl had something of importance to
communicate. A touch of eagerness in her manner had
suggested the idea, and he had caught it with the
rapidity which made him so invaluable an assistant
where promptitude of action was required. Cleonicé,
however, was too hospitable to broach the subject that
was uppermost in her mind till she had seen him seated
at his meal, and indeed fairly well advanced towards
"You see no way," she said, "of helping the young man?"
"No," he said, "I do not."
"Well then," she went on, "if you don't mind taking a
hint from a woman, I think I do see a way."
My dear lady," replied the man, "I not only don't mind
taking such a hint, but I shall be delighted. I am
quite sure that when the ladies condescend to trouble
themselves about any matter whatever, they have a
readier wit and a finer sense of what can and what
cannot be done than we men can ever pretend to."
"Thanks for your compliment," said Cleonicé
 with a smile, "but mind what I say is in confidence;
you must tell no one, least of all my father and
mother. And I look to you for help."
"Whatever you may tell me will be an absolute secret,"
said the captain.
"Listen then," replied the girl with a prettily
imperious air which sat very well upon her. "I have a
scheme for getting Eubulus back, and back in time to
run the race, and that neither by force nor by
"Go on, madam, I am all attention."
"My foster-mother lives in the village close to the
robber's headquarters: I mean her to do the thing for
me, her or her husband."
"But," said the captain, "how will you communicate
"I shall go myself."
The girl had been thinking hard all the time, and had
come to the conclusion that this was the only thing to
be done. Even if she could find a messenger, he could
not do such an errand. Only a practical appeal could
avail. It would try this woman's love to the utmost,
for it was a dangerous service; only a personal appeal,
backed up by all the influence that she could bring to
bear upon the heart of her foster-mother could possibly
succeed. The Corsican was fairly
 taken aback. He was, a man of audacious expedients,
but this staggered him.
"You, dear lady, you?" he stammered out.
"Yes," answered the girl, "I—I myself, and I look to
you to help me. Mind, I have your promise. You will
keep the secret, and you will do what you can to back
"I am not one to go back from my word," said the man,
"but I must confess that I don't like it. The risk is
"Never mind about the risk—that is my look-out. I
shall, of course, disguise myself as a boy. But that I
have done for a joke before, and now the cause is
serious enough in all conscience. I have thought out
the whole plan. I have a little horse of my own that is
kept in my father's stables; I shall ride that. There
will be no difficulty about getting it. By good luck
the man who looks after the horses does anything I tell
him without asking a question. Will you come with me? I
don't mean the whole way; the last bit, when I get near
the end of my journey, I must be alone. But will you go
with me as far as I think fit? If so, I will find a
horse for you too. I must own that I should like to
have your company as far as it is possible."
"Of course, my dear lady, I will come."
The captain had begun to recover from his
 surprise, and saw that the best thing he could do was
to help this determined young woman as much as he
could. After all, though it looked like a wild scheme,
it was not wholly without promise. Then a thought
flashed across his mind. Why not get Rufus to come
also? A grim smile passed over his face as the idea
"Yes, I will come," he repeated, "and if you agree, I
will bring some one else with me who may be very
useful. To tell you the truth, my friend was a robber
himself not very long ago. But he is as true as steel.
I was able to help him when he wanted help very much,
and he is never likely to forget it. He is a stout man
of his hands, if there ever was one, and, besides that,
his old experiences may come in useful."