Alfred smiled at this sapient discourse, and said he was not the least mad, and hoped to take care of _her_ as soon as his ankle was well enough. This closed that sweet mouth of hers exceeding tight, and her face was seen no more for a while, but hid by bending earnestly over her work, only as her creamy poll turned pink, the colour of that hidden face was not hard to divine.
Then Edward asked Alfred how in the world he had escaped and got into that waggon. The thing was incredible. "Mirawculous," said Dr. Sampson in assent.
"No," said Alfred, "it looks stranger to you than it is. The moment I found my pistol was gone, I determined to run. I looked down and saw a spout with a great ornamental mouth, almost big enough to sit on; and, while I was looking greedily at it, three horses came into the yard drawing a load of hay. The waggoner was busy clearing the pavement with his wheel, and the waggon almost stopped a moment right under me. There was a lot of loose hay on the top. I let myself down, and hung by the spout a moment, and then leaped on to the loose hay. Unfortunately there were the hard trusses beneath it, and so I got my sprain. Oh, I say, didn't it hurt? However, I crept under the hay and hid myself, and saw Wolf's men come into the yard. By-and-by a few drops of rain fell, and some fellows chucked down a tarpaulin from the loft, and nearly smothered me: so I cut a few air-holes with my penknife. And there I lay, Heaven knows how long: it seemed two days. At last I saw an angel at a window I called her by the name she bears on earth: to my joy she answered, and here I am, as happy as a prince among you all, and devilish hungry."
"What a muff I was not to think of that," said Edward, and made for the larder.
"Dear doctor," said Julia, lifting a Madonna-like face with swimming eyes, "I see no change in him: he is very brave, and daring, and saucy. But so he always was. To be sure he says extravagant things, and stares one out of countenance with his eyes: well, and so he always did--ever since _I_ knew him."
"Mayn't I even _look_ my gratitude?" whined Alfred.
"Yes, but you need not stare it."
"It's your own fault, Miss Julee," said Sampson. "With you fomenting his sprain the creature's fomenting his own insensate passion. Break every bone in a puppy's body, and it's a puppy still; and it doesn't do to spoil puppies, as ye're spoiling this one. Nlist me, ye vagabin. Take yonr eyes off the lady; and look _me_ in the face--if ye can: and tell me how you came to leave us all in the lurch on your wedding morn."