She backed to the wall, her eyes upon the clock; but he still held her wrists and tightened his grip upon them.
"Understand me," he said gently, "the house is empty, you know that, and the pitiful vulgarity of screams would be heard by no one.
The good Hannah is in her cottage by her own fireside, the other side of the church.
I am stronger than you would suppose.
A poor white ferret looks frail enough and misleads you, doesn't he? — but your uncle knew my strength.
I don't want to hurt you, Mary Yellan, or spoil that trace of beauty you possess, for the sake of quiet; but I shall have to do that if you withstand me.
Come, where is that spirit of adventure which you have made your own?
Where is your courage, and your gallantry?"
She saw by the clock that he must have overstepped already his margin of time and had little in reserve.
He concealed his impatience well, but it was there, in the flicker of his eye and the tightening of his lips.
It was half past eight, and by now Jem would have spoken with the blacksmith at Warleggan.
Twelve miles lay between them perhaps, but no more.
And Jem was not the fool that Mary herself had been.
She thought rapidly, weighing the chances of failure and success.
If she went now with Francis Davey she would be a drag upon him, and a brake on his speed: that was inevitable, and he must have gambled upon it.
The chase would follow hard upon his heels, and her presence would betray him in the end. Should she refuse to go, why then there would be a knife in her heart at best, for he would not encumber himself with a wounded companion, for all his flattery.
Gallant he had called her, and possessed with the spirit of adventure.
Well, he should see what distance her courage took her, and that she could gamble with her life as well as he.
If he were insane — and this she believed him to be — why, then his insanity would bring about his destruction; if he were not mad, she would be that same stumbling block she had been to him from the beginning, with her girl's wits matched against his brains.
She had the right upon her side, and faith in God, and he was an outcast in a hell of his own creation.
She smiled then and looked into his eyes, having made her decision.
"I'll come with you, Mr. Davey," she said, "but you'll find me a thorn in the flesh and a stone in your path. You will regret it in the end."
"Come as enemy or friend, that does not matter to me," he told her. "You shall be the millstone round my neck, and I'll like you the better for it.
You'll soon cast your mannerisms aside, and all your poor trappings of civilization that you sucked into your system as a child.
I'll teach you to live, Mary Yellan, as men and women have not lived for four thousand years or more."
"You'll find me no companion in your road, Mr. Davey."
Who spoke of roads?
We go by the moors and the hills, and tread granite and heather as the Druids did before us."
She could have laughed in his face, but he turned to the door and held it open for her, and she bowed to him, mocking, as she went into the passage.
She was filled with the wild spirit of adventure, and she had no fear of him, and no fear of the night.
Nothing mattered now, because the man she loved was free and had no stain of blood upon him.
She could love him without shame, and cry it aloud had she the mind; she knew what he had done for her, and that he would come to her again.
In fancy she heard him ride upon the road in their pursuit, and she heard his challenge and his triumphant cry.
She followed Francis Davey to the stable where the horses were saddled, and this was a sight for which she was ill prepared.
"Do you not mean to take the trap?" she said.
"Are you not great enough encumbrance already, without further baggage?" he replied. "No, Mary, we must travel light and free.
You can ride; every woman born on a farm can ride; and I shall hold your rein.
Speed I cannot promise you, alas, for the cob has been worked today and will begrudge us more; as for the grey, he is lame, as you know, and will make poor mileage for us.
Ah, Restless, this departure is half your fault, did you but know it; when you cast your nail in the heather you betrayed your master.
You must carry a woman on your back as penance."
The night was dark, with a raw dampness in the air and a chill wind.
The sky was overcast with low-flying cloud, and the moon was blotted out. There would be no light upon the way, and the horses would travel unseen.
It seemed as though the first cast were against Mary, and the night itself favoured the vicar of Altarnun.
She climbed into the saddle, wondering whether a shout and a wild cry for help would rouse the sleeping village, but even as the thought flashed through her mind she felt his hand upon her foot, placing it in the stirrup, and, looking down upon him, she saw the gleam of steel beneath his cape, and he lifted his head and smiled.
"That were a fool's trick, Mary," he said. "They go to bed early in Altarnun, and by the time they were astir and rubbing their eyes I should be away on the moor yonder, and you — you would be lying on your face, with the long wet grass for pillow, and your youth and beauty spoilt.
Come now; if your hands and feet are cold, the ride will warm them, and Restless will carry you well."
She said nothing, but took the reins in her hands.
She had gone too far now in her game of chance and must play it to the finish.
He mounted the bay cob, with the grey attached to him by a leading rein, and they set out upon their fantastic journey like two pilgrims.