With the sleeve of his shirt Dick
wiped the blood from his cheek, looked down at Ockley,
and then up at Amaryllis, half-way down the stair.
“That’s four. Where’s the fifth?”
“He ran out there,” she answered.
“You frightened him.”
“Come down,” said Dick;
and when she reached the floor, she found him kneeling
by Melchard, searching his pockets.
She came close and touched him on the shoulder.
“Let’s get out of the
house now, now!” she pleaded, lowering
her voice in the presence of so much that looked like
“Pocket these,” said Dick,
handing behind him some letters and a pocket-book.
With a sharp tug he disengaged the
side-pocket wedged between Melchard’s body and
the floor, and from it took out a small parcel wrapped
in white paper. Of its two seals one had been
broken. He peered into the opened end.
“Small bottle white powder,”
“That’s it,” replied Amaryllis.
“Do let’s go please.”
“Was there anything else?” he asked.
“Oh, do come away. I’m frightened,”
said the girl, imploring.
“So’m I badly,” said
Dick, and rose to his feet.
The letters from Melchard’s
pocket were still in her hand. He took them,
and picked out a white envelope with no writing on
it. The wax seal had been broken.
He drew from it a sheet of paper, and unfolded it
“That’s the formula it must
be,” said Amaryllis.
“Let’s hook it, then,”
said Dick, buttoning the package and envelope into
his hip-pocket, and slipping the rest of Melchard’s
papers into the side pocket of his own jacket, hanging
loosely on Amaryllis.
As they crossed the hall he missed Ockley.
“My God!” he cried.
“The black bloke’s gone. Did you see
him go or hear him?”
Amaryllis shook her head.
“I thought I’d given him
a five-minute dose at least,” said Dick on the
threshold, and taking her left elbow in his hand, began
to run. “We’ve got to grease like
hell. It’s a mile and a half to my car.”
They were half-way to the pretentious
gate, and Amaryllis was already distressed by the
pace, when they heard behind them the thud of a revolver.
A twig with two leaves, cut from a branch above and
beyond them, fell into the road. Dick increased
his pace, so that Amaryllis was only kept from falling
by his firm hold of her arm.
A second shot hit the drive behind
them, spraying their backs with gravel.
“High. Low, to left jump!”
yelled Dick, swinging the girl leftward past his body
with a force so sudden that she fell on the grass at
the roadside, in the shelter of an artificial knoll
covered with shrubs; and this time Dick heard the
bullet close on his right.
He threw himself on the grass, sharing her cover.
“All right?” he asked.
Speechless for lack of breath, Amaryllis nodded, trying
“You can’t run to the
gate,” he said, rather as if speaking to himself
than to her. “Wind’s gone already,
and it’s a hundred yards without cover.
To the bank of the road’s only about twenty-five.
Breathe deep. Is my cap in that pocket still?”
Amaryllis found and gave it to him.
Dick, unrolling it, rose slowly to his knees, facing
the rhododendron bush.
“Oh, don’t!” exclaimed the girl.
“Wouldn’t, if I’d
got a stick. Listen; he’s using an Army
Webley, I think. Six shots. He’s fired
three. If I can draw the second three before
he fills up, it gives us a start while he reloads.”
On his knees, he peered through the bush.
“Still at the door,” he
said. “Breathe deep. On the third shot
we go for the embankment. I’ll get you
up it. Then over the road. There’s
timber that side as well as this.”
Again Amaryllis nodded, and Dick,
rising a little higher, disposed the cap between two
clumps of leaves, where he hoped it would seem supported
by his head.
“Real G. A. Henty stunt, ain’t
it?” he said. “But I’ve shaken
him up a bit, and it’s worth trying.”
He raised the cap slightly, let it
drop back again on the rhododendron leaves, and laid
himself full length on the ground.
“Third shot if it comes. Breathe
deep,” he repeated.
There was a pause, agonizing to the girl; and then
Three shots, thumping in rapid succession,
the last of them depositing the cap almost in her
hands. Clutching it, she scrambled to her feet,
and Dick, catching her by the arm beneath the shoulder,
forced her into a thirty yards’ sprint, in which,
while her heart beat as if it would burst, her feet
seemed to touch the ground barely half a dozen times
before the grey stones of the embankment rushed to
meet them almost in the face.
How he managed to force her to the
top and bundle her over the parapet, she could never
remember, any more than she could forget Ockley’s
next shot, which was discharged as their figures showed
against his sky-line for the two seconds which it
took them to cross the road and fling themselves recklessly
down the slope of its other side.
“Brace up,” said Dick
at the bottom. “You’ve got some guts,
anyhow; and once we’re well into that undergrowth,
your hairy friend may come after us with a Vickers
and be damned to him.”
To get to it he had to lift her over
a swampy patch in a hollow to a stony place beyond
it; whereafter they were soon as well hidden from the
road as its outline lay exposed to the search of their
But Amaryllis at first left the watching
to his, closing her own and lying still, in sheer
womanly terror of being sick. Somewhere within
was a doubt as to whether she did not already adore
him, and a pitiable anxiety that “nothing horrid”
should be associated in his mind with her person.
Dick, lying at full length, turned
his eyes every now and again from his watch on the
road to look at the girl’s face; and saw, with
anxiety as well as pity, how pale it was, and how
wasted already by hunger, fear and running and
perhaps by the drug they had given her the night before.
He must ask no further exertion of her until she was
fed and rested.
His object was to make his way as
quickly as possible to “The Coach and Horses,”
his car, and safety.
But he dared not move from this shelter,
nor even stand upright, until he knew what Ockley
intended. Already he had tasted the man’s
quality, and, with the girl on his hands, held him
in healthy fear.
“They’ve gone too far,” he reflected,
“to back out.”
Had Black Beard been playing ’possum
when he ought to have been laid out? He must,
it would seem, have been pretty fit all the time to
get away without making a sound.
Then a thought which sent fear through him like a
“If he saw or heard what we
took from that scented swine, no wonder he’s
shooting to kill. It’s God’s judgment
on me for a fool a fool that believed in
peace and policemen. Limping Dick on a gaff like
this without a gun!”
And then he saw a figure, clear against
the sky, standing on the road, at the head of the
path by which, three-quarters of an hour ago, he himself
had gone up to get his first view of “The Myrtles.”
It was Ockley; even at three hundred
yards Dick could distinguish the black beard and heavy
shoulders of the enemy, who was gazing from his high
point, not in the direction of the fugitives, but along
the moorland path to “The Coach and Horses” the
path which lay open to his eye for its whole length.
“Easy to guess the way I want
to go,” Dick calculated, “and easier to
see that I haven’t dared take it.”
Then, as Ockley turned his head towards the trees,
“and easiest of all,” he added aloud, “to
spot the only cover.”
Amaryllis opened her eyes, and he
saw that her face was less grey.
“What is it?” she asked.
“The Hairy One,” said Dick, “looking
“But he can’t see us, can he?”
“No. That’s why he knows where we
are. He’s coming down.”
“Don’t be worried, Dick,”
said Amaryllis softly. “You’ll get
the best of him again. You’ve been splendid.”
“I’ve been a fool.”
“Why?” she asked.
“To be caught without a gun. I could have
“It’s he or us.”
Her answer surprised him. There
was no fear in her face, but sympathy filled it; and
a little colour came.
“Then you will kill him,”
she said with assurance. “I’ll do
whatever you say, and we’ll beat him.”
Dick nodded. “See those
hazels?” he said. “We’ll scrounge
behind ’em to start with.”
By the time they were settled in the
new cover they could hear heavy feet in the distance,
crashing through the low tangle of undergrowth.
And Amaryllis, fear cast out by trust, and her physical
prostration for the moment counteracted by the intensity
of her interest in him, and by her curiosity to see
how next his versatility of resource would show itself,
watched Dick’s face as he listened to the feet
of his enemy. Each step, she thought, had a different
shade of meaning for him. His left ear seemed
to follow, and his eyes seemed to see each stride of
the hunter, and at last he spoke:
“He’s working along this
side of the embankment. Now he’s in the
track that cuts through this copse. We’re
close to it here see, through there, between
the beech and the young oak. Hear his feet:
stones, puddle, soft rut,” he said rhythmically.
“Caught his foot. He’s following
the path going slower walking,
and trying to look both sides at once in the undergrowth.”
A pause, and then he said, with a jerk:
“Take that coat off.”
Amaryllis obeyed, and lay still.
Beside the rutted cart-track, a few
yards from where they lay, was a pile of brushwood,
cut and stacked for fuel. From this, with a cautious
eye and ear on the bend where the track twisted out
of sight in the direction of the high road, he took
an armful of sticks and twigs and buttoned round it
the Norfolk jacket. He tore grass in great handfuls
and stuffed the ends of the sleeves, Amaryllis helping
eagerly as she seized his purpose.
He next took the Dutchwoman’s
knife from the dummy’s pocket and dragged the
rude torso to the side of the woodstack furthest from
the expected approach, pushing it out across the track,
so that, buttons downward, with left arm extended
beyond the head which was not there, the right doubled
beneath the breast, and the thrice-perforated cap,
with a bunch of grass beneath it, dropped within the
bend of the supposed left elbow, and the non-existence
of legs concealed by the wood-pile, it might well
be mistaken, by one coming down the wheel-track from
the road, for a man stricken or sleeping.
Behind them was a small, deep hollow,
where the ancient stump of some great tree had rotted.
“Get down there,” said
Dick. “Don’t stand, roll in and curl
And the last she saw of him as she
obeyed, was the back of the black head and the blue
shirt, rising erect some ten yards up the track from
the wood-pile, making themselves small behind the largest
tree-trunk in sight, and the gently swaying right
hand poising in its palm Dutch Fridji’s knife.
Then she obeyed orders, curled up
in her musty lair, and prayed.
Heavily nearer came the footsteps walking walking walking until
the girl feared she must cry out or faint. She
bit through a lump of the handkerchief he had tied
round her neck for a stomacher and then
Suddenly came a hoarse voice, foul
words uttered in furious exultation, and the feet
were running nearer nearer and
once more twice the thumping
note of the big revolver.
Oh! the end was coming. Her breast
was squeezed in, and her head bursting. Hardly
knowing what she did, she peered over the edge of the
beastly, uncovered little grave, just in time to see
the black brute, red-faced, in the cart-track; to
see the blue arm swing, and a long glitter in the
air between them; to hear a horrible sound and see
what sent her back into her hole, with hands over
eyes to shut out what was already inside.
And then Dick’s voice, and his hand helping
Standing up, she looked at him.
In his face there was no blood under the brown, but
his eyes were more content than she had seen them since
just before she opened the letter from Melchard a
hundred years ago.
Her eyes asked him the question she
could not put into words, and he nodded.
“You said I should, you know.”
“You just had to, Dick,” she answered.
He looked at her keenly.
“You’re beat,” he
said. “Food’s what you want; but ’The
Coach and Horses’ over there, where I left my
car, is the only place. We must go a bit out
of our way to keep out of sight of their damned house.”
He went to the dummy to free the coat of its stuffing.
While he bent over, Amaryllis, fascinated
yet repelled by what she could just perceive lying
in the path, crept towards it and wished
she had not.
She was turning away when her eye
was caught by a dull blue gleam from something in
the grass beyond the body lying face downward in the
deeply rutted track; and there grew in the dazed mind
of the girl an impulse to see what it might be.
Averting her eyes from the dead body,
she stepped delicately, as if fearing to wake it,
to the other side of the way, and picked up the revolver
which Ockley had dropped in his fall.
Her heart gave a great pulse of delight.
This was a thing which Dick needed, and Dick must
have everything he desired.
With an exclamation of pleasure she
turned to take it straight to him, forgetting the
fearful thing in the road; seeing it but just in time
to avoid stumbling.
At her feet was the back of the dead
man’s head, the face wedged into the wheel-rut,
with the beard pushed up between the left cheek and
the hardened edge of mud. The channel of the
rut, where she could see down into it between ear
and shoulder, seemed full of the blood which had dyed
the shirt-collar and the shoulder of the coat.
And aimed at her eyes, like an accusing
finger, there stuck out from the hairy neck the point
of Dutch Fridji’s knife.
An absurd sense of guilt, maudlin
pity for mere death, and dread of the unknown, crowding
in cruel rivalry to destroy her weakened self-control,
sent her staggering to Dick over ground which seemed
to rise and fall like the sea. For she was keeping
hold on common sense by the thought that there was
something that Dick wanted what, she had
forgotten but she had it, and he must have
He had seen her bending over Ockley,
and went to meet her.
Dimly she saw him, and stretched out
her hands, lifting the pistol.
“It’s for you,”
she said; and fainted, falling forward into his arms.