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ONCE out of sight of the church, I pressed
forward briskly on my way to Knowlesbury.

The road was, for the most part, straight and
level. Whenever I looked back over it, I saw
the two spies, steadily following me. For the
greater part of the way, they kept at a safe
distance behind. But, once or twice, they quickened
their pace, as if with the purpose of overtaking
methen stoppedconsulted togetherand
fell back again to their former position. They
had some special object evidently in view; and
they seemed to be hesitating, or differing about
the best means of accomplishing it. I could
not guess exactly what their design might be;
but I felt serious doubts of reaching Knowlesbury
without some mischance on the way.

I had just entered on a lonely part of the
road, with a sharp turn at some distance ahead,
and had concluded (calculating by time) that
I must now be getting near to the town,
when I suddenly heard the steps of the men
close behind me.

Before I could look round, one of them
(the man by whom I had been followed in
London) passed rapidly on my left side, and
hustled me with his shoulder, I had been
more irritated by the manner in which he and
his companion had dogged my steps all the
way from Old Welmingham than I was
myself aware of; and I unfortunately pushed tne
fellow away smartly with my open hand. He
instantly shouted for help. His companion,
the tall man in the gamekeeper's clothes, sprang
to my right sideand the next moment the two
scoundrels held me pinioned between them in
the middle of the road.

The conviction that a trap had been laid for
me, and the vexation of knowing that I had
fallen into it, fortunately restrained me from
making my position still worse by an unavailing
struggle with two menone of whom would in
all probability have been more than a match for
me, single handed. I repressed the first natural
movement by which I had attempted to shake
them off, and looked about to see if there was
any person near to whom I could appeal.

A labourer was at work in an adjoining field,
who must have witnessed all that had passed.
I called to him to follow us to the town. He
shook his head with stolid obstinacy, and walked
away, in the direction of a cottage which stood
back from the high road. At the same time the
men who held me between them declared their
intention of charging me with an assault. I was
cool enough and wise enough, now, to make no
opposition. "Drop your hold of my arms," I
said, "and I will go with you to the town."
The man in the gamekeeper's dress roughly
refused. But the shorter man was sharp enough
to look to consequences, and not to let his
companion commit himself by unnecessary violence.
He made a sign to the other, and I walked on
between them, with my arms free.

We reached the turning in the road; and
there, close before us, were the suburbs of
Knowlesbury. One of the local policemen was
walking along the path by the roadside. The
men at once appealed to him. He replied that
the magistrate was then sitting at the town-hall;
and recommended that we should appear before
him immediately.

We went on to the town-hall. The clerk
made out a formal summons; and the charge
was preferred against me, with the customary
exaggeration and the customary perversion of
the truth, on such occasions. The magistrate
(an ill-tempered man, with a sour enjoyment in
the exercise of his own power) inquired if any
one on, or near, the road had witnessed the
assault; and, greatly to my surprise, the
complainant admitted the presence of the labourer
in the field. I was enlightened, however, as to
the object of the admission, by the magistrate's
next words. He remanded me, at once, for the
production of the witness; expressing, at the
same time, his willingness to take bail for my
reappearance, if I could produce one responsible
surety to offer it. If I had been known in the
town, he would have liberated me on my own
recognisances; but, as I was a total stranger, it
was necessary that I should find responsible bail.

The whole object of the stratagem was now
disclosed to me. It had been so managed as to
make a remand necessary in a town where I was
a perfect stranger, and where I could not hope
to get my liberty on bail. The remand merely
extended over three days, until the next sitting
of the magistrate. But, in that time, while I
was in confinement, Sir Percival might use any
means he pleased to embarrass my future
proceedingsperhaps to screen himself from detection