THE task of tracing the lost girl was at first easy
enough. She and the stranger, who, it now seemed, had
been sent to entrap her, had been seen proceeding in
the direction mentioned in the message. The
neighbourhood of the villa was mostly cultivated
ground, and there had been people at work in the fields
who had noticed the girl's well-known figure. Beyond
this belt of cultivated country, which might have been
about a mile broad, there was only one road which it
was possible for her to have taken. Following this, and
reaching the hamlet at the further end of which, as we
have seen, the abduction had taken place, they still
found themselves on the right track. A child had seen
two people, one of them, she said, a pretty lady, pass
by on the morning of the day before. The lady had
smiled, and said a few words to her in her own
language, and had given her a sweetmeat. Further on the
traces of what they were looking for became still more
 evident. There were marks of struggle on the ground,
for Carna, as we have seen, had not suffered herself to
be taken without resistance; a button was found on the
ground, which the peddler at once identified as one of
his own selling. And a little off the path, the tree
was found to which the dog had been tied, with the
fragment of string still attached to it. Curiously
enough, no traces of the great dog could be found.
Nor did the next step in the pursuit delay them long.
There were, it is true, three paths through the forest,
which closed in the hamlet on every side except that by
which the party had approached it. Carna's pet dog at
once decided for the searchers which of the three they
should follow. He discovered the scent very quickly,
ran at the top of his speed along the path thus
distinguished from the others for about a hundred
yards, and then, coming back, implored the party, so to
speak, by his gestures, that they should come with him.
It was evident that the path had been traversed by a
party of considerable size, whose tracks, the marks of
a horse's hoofs among them, were still fresh in the
ground, soft as it was with the winter rains. The dog
was evidently satisfied that they were right, for he
ran quietly on, now and then giving a very soft little
whine. It wanted still an hour or so of sunset when the
party emerged out of the forest upon the shore.
 Here it might have seemed at first all trace was lost.
The tide had flowed and ebbed twice since the girl had
been there, and had swept away all marks of footsteps.
The dog too was no longer a guide. The poor little
creature's distress indeed was pitiful, as he ran to
and fro upon the shore with a plaintive whine.
The Count asked his companions for their opinions.
"Have they taken to the wood again, do you think? or
have they crossed the water? they may have gone a mile
or more along the shore and then entered the forest. In
that case it seems hopeless to recover the track."
"It is my opinion," said the peddler, "that they have
crossed to the mainland; but it is only an opinion, and
I have little or nothing to urge for it."
Other members of the party had different views; and, on
the whole, opinion was adverse to the peddler's view;
and the Count was about to order a search in the
direction of the wood further along the shore, when the
attention of the party was arrested by a shout from the
The discussion had been carried on in a language which
he had still some difficulty in understanding, and he
had been pacing backwards and forwards along the shore,
seemingly lost in thought, but really watching
everything with that keen attention to all outward
objects which is one of the characteristics
 of uncivilized man. It was thus that something caught
his eye. He plunged his hand into one of the little
rock-pools upon the shore, and drew it out. It was a
small gold trinket, which the girl had dropped in the
forlorn hope that it might be found. Its weight, for it
was an almost solid piece of metal, had kept it in the
place where it fell, and as the night and day had been
uniformly calm, there had been no sufficient movement
of the water to disturb it. With a cry of delight the
Saxon held it up, and the Count recognized it at once.
"Ah!" said the peddler, I knew the fellow would be of
use to us. If the Lady Carna is anywhere on the earth
he would find her. This proves, my lord, that they have
crossed the sea. They would certainly have not come
down so far from the shore as this."
This seemed too probable to admit of any doubt.
Happily it had occurred to the Count that it would be
well to have some kind of vessel at his command, and he
had ordered a pinnace to start from the haven as soon
as it could be got ready, and to coast along the shore
of the island, watching for any signal that might be
given. The land party had outstripped the ship, which,
indeed, had not started till somewhat later. Still, it
might be expected very soon. Meanwhile there was an
opportunity for discussing the aspect which the affair
After various opinions had been given, the Count
 turned to the peddler. "And what do you think of the
"I have a notion," the man replied, "but it may be only
a fancy—still I seem to myself to have a notion of what
their purpose is."
"Do you mean," pursued the Count, as the other paused,
and seemed almost unwilling to speak, "do you mean that
they think of holding her as a kind of hostage against
me? Do they fancy that I shall not be able to act
against them, and shall hinder my colleagues from
acting, as long as she is in their power? or will they
keep her as something to make terms about if they
The other was still silent for a few minutes, and
seemed to be collecting his thoughts. At last he said:
"My lord, what I am going to tell you may seem as
foolish as a dream. I should have gone on saying
nothing about it, as I have said nothing about it
hitherto, if things had not happened which makes it a
crime for me to be silent any longer. You find it
difficult to believe that a rebellion is possible among
a nation which you have always looked upon as
thoroughly subdued. But what will you say if I tell you
that this rebellion has been preparing for generations,
and that the Druids have been, and are, at the bottom
of it. "
"Druids!" cried the Count, "I did not know
 that there were any Druids. I thought that the last of
them had disappeared years ago."
"Not so," replied the peddler; "the people who rule
do not know what is going on about them. Now I have
been among this people the greater part of my life. I
have seen them, not as they show themselves to you, but
as they are. You think that they are Christians—not
very good Christians, perhaps, but still not worse than
other people—and believing the Creeds, if they believe
anything. Now I know for a certainty that many of them
are no more Christians now than their fathers were
three hundred and fifty years ago. I have seen
sometimes, when no one knew that I saw, what they
really worshipped. I have pieced together many little
things. I have heard hints dropped unawares, and I know
that there is a secret society, which has existed ever
since the island was conquered, which has for its
object the bringing back of the old faith. I could
name—if things turn out as I expect they will, I will
name—men whom you believe to be quiet, respectable
citizens, but who are the heads of a conspiracy
reaching all over Britain, against Rome and the
Christian Church. You never see them except in the
tunic and the cap, but they can wear on occasion the
Druid's robe and crown."
"But tell me," said the Count, with a certain
impatience, "what has this got to do with my
 "This, my lord," answered the other, "that if the
Druids are making the great effort for which they have
been preparing for no one knows how many years, they
will begin it with all the solemnity that is
possible—in a word, with the great sacrifice. This, I
suppose, has not been practised for many generations,
but it has not been forgotten. To speak plainly, I
believe that the Lady Carna has been carried off for
The Count staggered back as if he had been struck.
"Impossible!" he cried. "Such things cannot be in
Britain: and why should they fix upon her?"
"For two reasons," said the peddler. "She is of royal
race. You very likely do not know or care about such
things. All Britons to you will be much about the same;
but they do not forget it. Yes, though her father was
nothing more than a sailor, she is descended from
Cassibelan. And then she is a Christian. These are the
two reasons why they have chosen her—this is what they
honour her for, and this is what they hate her for."
"But where," cried the Count, "where is this monstrous
thing to be done?"
"That," replied the other, "I think I know. It can
hardly be done anywhere but at the Great Temple, the
Choir Gawr, as they call it themselves."
"And where is this Great Temple?"
 "About forty miles inland, in a nearly northerly
direction. I have seen the place once, and I can find
my way to it, I believe; but, to make sure, I will find
"At the full moon, I should say."
"And how much does it want to the full moon now?"
"It will be full moon to-morrow night."
"We have to cross then to the mainland—and the galley
is not in sight—to find a guide, and to travel forty
miles, and all before to-morrow night. Well, it must be
done. To think of these wretches murdering my dear
"Do not fear, my lord; we shall do it," said the
peddler; but added, in a low voice, "if nothing
At that moment the galley came in sight. "That is
right," cried the Count; "anyhow, we begin well; no
time will be lost in getting across."