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- Capitola The Madcap - 61/61 -

Black Donald then threw himself into a seat at the head of the table, poured out a mug of ale, and invited his band to pledge him. They gathered around the table, filled their mugs, pledged him standing, and then resumed their seats to listen to the last words of their chief.

Black Donald commenced and related the manner of his delverance by Capitola; and then, taking from his bosom a bag of gold, he poured it upon the table and divided it two into equal portions, one of which he handed to "Headlong Hal," saying:

"There, Hal, take that and divide it among your companions, and scatter to distant parts of the country, where you may yet have a chance of earning an honest livelihood! As for me, I shall have to quit the country altogether, and it will take nearly half this sum to enable me to do it. Now I have not a minute more to give you! So once more pledge your captain and away!"

The men filled their mugs, rose to their feet, and pledged their leader in a parting toast and then:

"Good luck to you all!" exclaimed Black Donald, waving his hat thrice above his head with a valedictory hurrah. And the next moment he was gone!

That night, if any watchman had been on guard near the stables of Hurricane Hall, he might have seen a tall man mounted upon Capitola's pony, ride up in hot haste, dismount and pick the stable lock, take Gyp by the bridle and lead him in, and presently return leading out Fleetfoot, Old Hurricane's racer, upon which he mounted and rode away.

The next morning, while Capitola was dressing; her groom rapped at the door and, in great dismay, begged that he might speak to Miss Cap one minute.

"Well, what is it, Jem?" said Capitola.

"Oh, Miss Cap, you'll kill me! I done been got up long afore day and gone to Tip-Top arter Gyp, but somebody done been stole him away afore I got there!"

"Thank heaven!" cried Capitola, to little Jem's unspeakable amazement. For to Capitola the absence of her horse meant just the escape of Black Donald!

The next minute Cap sighed and said:

"Poor Gyp! I shall never see you again!"

That was all she knew of the future!

That morning while they were all at breakfast a groom from the stables came in with a little canvas bag in his hand, which he laid, with a bow, before his master.

Major Warfield took it up; it was full of gold, and upon its side was written, in red chalk:

"Three hundred dollars, to pay for Fleetfoot.--Black Donald, Reformed Robber."

While Old Hurricane was reading this inscription, the groom said that Fleetfoot was missing from his stall, and that Miss Cap's pony, that was supposed to have been stolen, was found in his place, with this bag of gold tied around his neck!

"It is Black Donald--he has escaped!" cried Old Hurricane, about to fling himself into a rage, when his furious eyes encountered the gentle gaze of Marah, that fell like oil on the waves of his rising passion.

"Let him go! I'll not storm on my silver wedding day," said Major Warfield.

As for Cap, her eyes danced with delight--the only little clouds upon her bright sky were removed. Black Donald had escaped, to commence a better life, and Gyp was restored!

That evening a magnificent old-fashioned wedding came off at Hurricane Hall.

The double ceremony was performed by the bishop of the diocese (then on a visit to the neighborhood) in the great salon of Hurricane Hall, in the presence of as large and splendid an assembly as could be gathered together from that remote neighborhood.

The two brides, of course, were lovely in white satin, Honiton lace, pearls and orange flowers. "Equally," of course, the bridegrooms were handsome and elegant, proud and happy.

To this old-fashioned wedding succeeded a round of dinners and evening parties, given by the wedding guests. And when all these old-time customs had been observed for the satisfaction of old friends, the bridal party went upon the new-fashioned tour, for their own delight. They spent a year in traveling over the eastern continent, and then returned home to settle upon their patrimonial estates.

Major Warfield and Marah lived at Hurricane Hall and as his heart is satisfied and at rest, his temper is gradually improving. As the lion shall be led by the little child, Old Hurricane is led by the gentlest woman that ever loved or suffered, and she is leading him in his old age to the Saviour's feet.

Clara and Traverse live at Willow Heights, which has been repaired, enlarged and improved, and where Traverse has already an extensive practice, and where both endeavor to emulate the enlightened goodness of the sainted Doctor Day.

Cap and Herbert, with Mrs. Le Noir, live at the Hidden House, which has been turned by wealth and taste into a dwelling of light and beauty. As the bravest are always the gentlest, so the most high- spirited are always the most forgiving. And thus the weak or wicked old Dorcas Knight finds still a home under the roof of Mrs. Le Noir. Her only retribution being the very mild one of having her relations changed in the fact that her temporary prisoner is now her mistress and sovereign lady.

I wish I could say "they all lived happy ever after." But the truth is I have reason to suppose that even Clara had sometimes occasion to administer to Doctor Rocke dignified curtain lectures, which no doubt did him good. And I know for a positive fact that our Cap sometimes gives her "dear, darling, sweet Herbert," the benefit of the sharp edge of her tongue, which, of course, he deserves.

But notwithstanding all this, I am happy to say that all enjoy a fair amount of human felicity.

Capitola The Madcap - 61/61

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