She coquetted with the question till they came near the mouth of a dark lane, called Lovers' Walk; then, as he insisted on an answer, she hung her head bashfully, and coughed a little cough. At which preconcerted signal a huge policeman sprang out of the lane and collared Mr. Green.
On this Peggy, who was all Lie from head to heel, uttered a little scream of dismay and surprise.
"Well, you _are_ a downy one," said he. "I'll marry you all the more for thus."
The detective put his hands suddenly inside the policeman's, caught him by the bosom with his right hand by way of fulcrum; and with his left by the chin, which he forced violently back, and gave him a slight Cornish trip at the same moment; down went the policeman on the back of his head a fearful crack. Green then caught the astonished Peggy round the neck, kissed her lips violently, and fled like the wind; removed all traces of his personal identity, and up to London by the train in the character of a young swell, with a self-fitting eyeglass and a long moustache the colour of his tender mistress's eyebrow: tow.
From town he wrote to her, made her a formal offer of marriage; and gave her an address to write to "should she at any time think more kindly of him and of his sincere affection."
I suppose he specified sincere because it was no longer sincere: he hurled the offer into Musgrove Cottage by way of an apple of discord--at least so I infer from the memorandum, with which he retired at present from the cash hunt.
"Mr. Hardie has the stiff, I think: but, if so, it is planted somewhere--doesn't carry it about him; my Peggy is his mistress: nothing to be done till they split."
Victorious so far, Mr. Hardie had still one pressing anxiety: Dr. Sampson's placard: this had been renewed, and stared him everywhere in the face. Every copy of it he encountered made him shiver. If he had been a man of impulse, he would have torn it down wherever he saw it; but he knew that would not do. However, learning from Jane, who had it from old Betty, who had it from Sarah, that Mrs. and Miss Dodd would leave for London the day before the sale, and Edward the day after it, he thought he might venture in the busy intermediate time to take some liberties with it. This he did with excellent tact and judgment. Peggy and a billsticker were seen in conference, and, soon after, the huge bills of a travelling circus were pasted right over both the rival advertisements in which the name of Hardie figured. The consequence was, Edward raised no objection: he was full of the sale for one thing; but I suspect he was content to see his own false move pasted over on such easy terms.