'Father Buonaventure,' said Alan,--'a Catholic priest, as I apprehend, whom I saw at the Misses Arthuret's house, called Fairladies.'
'Misses Arthuret!--Fairladies!--A Catholic priest!--Father Buonaventure!' said Redgauntlet, repeating the words of Alan with astonishment.--'Is it possible that human rashness can reach such a point of infatuation? Tell me the truth, I conjure you, sir. I have the deepest interest to know whether this is more than an idle legend, picked up from hearsay about the country. You are a lawyer, and know the risk incurred by the Catholic clergy, whom the discharge of their duty sends to these bloody shores.'
'I am a lawyer, certainly,' said Fairford; 'but my holding such a respectable condition in life warrants that I am neither an informer nor a spy. Here is sufficient evidence that I have seen Father Buonaventure.'
He put Buonaventure's letter into Redgauntlet's hand, and watched his looks closely while he read it. 'Double-dyed infatuation!' he muttered, with looks in which sorrow, displeasure, and anxiety were mingled. '"Save me from the indiscretion of my friends," says the Spaniard; "I can save myself from the hostility of my enemies."'
He then read the letter attentively, and for two or three minutes was lost in thought, while some purpose of importance seemed to have gathered and sit brooding upon his countenance. He held up his finger towards his satellite, Cristal Nixon, who replied to his signal with a prompt nod; and with one or two of the attendants approached Fairford in such a manner as to make him apprehensive they were about to lay hold of him.
At this moment a noise was heard from withinside of the house, and presently rushed forth Peter Peebles, pursued by Nanty Ewart with his drawn hanger, and the worthy Quaker, who was endeavouring to prevent mischief to others, at some risk of bringing it on himself.
A wilder and yet a more absurd figure can hardly be imagined, than that of Poor Peter clattering along as fast as his huge boots would permit him, and resembling nothing so much as a flying scarecrow; while the thin emaciated form of Nanty Ewart, with the hue of death on his cheek, and the fire of vengeance glancing from his eye, formed a ghastly contrast with the ridiculous object of his pursuit.
Redgauntlet threw himself between them. 'What extravagant folly is this?' he said. 'Put up your weapon, captain. Is this a time to indulge in drunken brawls, or is such a miserable object as that a fitting antagonist for a man of courage?'