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As serialised in The Western Mail, Perth, WA, commencing 30 May 1935

Published in other Australian newspapers, including:

The Northern Herald (Cairns);
The Age (Melbourne);
The Singleton Argus (NSW);
The Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld);
The Molong Express & Western District Advertiser (NSW);
The Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW).

No record of prior publication in book form

First edition in book form: Roy Glashan's Library, 2018©
Version Date: 2018-08-08

Produced by Terry Walker and Roy Glashan

Only the original raw text of this book is in the public domain.
All content added by RGL is proprietary and protected by copyright.

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THE British author Thomas Charles Bridges, who wrote as "T.C. Bridges," "Tom Bridges" and "Christopher Beck," was born in Bagnères de Bigorre, France, on 22 August 1868. The son of a clergyman, he was educated at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, England.

In 1886 Bridges went to Florida to work on an orange plantation. After eight financially unprofitable years he returned to England in 1894, almost penniless, and decided to try his hand at writing.

His first two articles on fishing in Florida appeared in The Field. The earliest work documented in the course of research for this bibliography was an article titled "Kill or Cure" that appeared in The Penny Pictorial Magazine on 15 July 1899.

Bridges wrote free-lance contributions for many periodicals, eventually joining the staff of Answers, a weekly published by the Amalgamated Press, London, as a sub-editor. He worked for this magazine for some four years, at the end of which he resigned to concentrate on free-lance writing.

Bridges' works were often syndicated for publication in other countries, notably in Australia. Several of his stories and serials are available in the digital newspaper archive of the National Library of Australia.

In the early 1900's, Bridges and his wife (whom he married in 1899) went to live in Dartmoor, Cornwall, only two miles from the notorious prison at Princeton. Many of the stories that he wrote there featured prisons and their inmates, one example being the Sexton Blake thriller Ten Years' Penal Servitude (1911).

Bridges, whose hobbies included fishing, golf and gardening, published his autobiography From Florida to Fleet Street in 1928.

He spent his last years in Torquay, Devonshire, where, after a long and successful writing career, he died on 26 May 1944.

Bridges, a prolific writer, sold articles and stories (the latter mostly for a juvenile readership) to numerous British newspapers and magazines. He penned his first boys' story in 1902, and Gilbert Floyd, the editor of Boys Realm, commissioned him to write a serial for that paper. The result was Paddy Leary's Schooldays, a story about the adventures of an Australian boy at an English public school. It's popularity inspired him to write two long sequels and several short stories about the same characters.

Among other things, Bridges wrote Sexton Blake stories for The Union Jack (Amalgamated Press, London) and contributed to the Boys' Own Paper, The Scout, and The Children's Newspaper until the late 1930's. Several of the books in his huge opus were published posthumously.

A number of his works are "lost civilisation" novels.

In Martin Crusoe: A Boy's Adventure on Wizard Island (1920) he describes a land populated by descendants of the survivors of Atlantis

Men of the Mist (1922) is a lost race tale set in a region of Alaska where prehistoric creatures have survived.

The People of the Chasm (1923), which Bridges wrote as Christopher Beck, features monstrous insects, giant apes and Norsemen living in a a temperate zone near the North Pole.

The City of No Escape (1925) is set in a lost world inhabited by robot-like beings.

In the vintage science fiction novel The Death Star (1940), which he dedicated "To Jules Verne, first of science fiction writers," Bridges describes an Earth largely devastated and depopulated by a terrible disturbance in the solar system. The story relates the adventures of seven men adrift in a marvellous airship of the future. There is a battle to death between two scientists, one seeking to build up a new and better world on the ruins of the old, the other a fiend fighting to set up a system which would destroy finally what life was left on Earth.


OUTSIDE Hampstead Tube Station Peter Hastings stood a moment looking up at the sky. Just as he had expected, the clouds hung heavy over the Heath and, as he watched, a flicker of sheet lightning contended with the electric lights which were beginning to gleam out below. It was past nine o'clock on a sultry July evening.

Peter walked slowly up the hill. He wore a blue serge suit, his brown shoes were old but well-polished and his soft grey-felt hat was just like a hundred others. If anyone had taken the trouble to watch him they would have taken him for a city clerk enjoying a quiet stroll to get what little fresh air was moving on this wickedly hot night.

Peter turned to the right and came presently into a region of big houses, each standing in its own walled garden. These roads were not so well lighted as the street he had left and the lightning which flickered along the ragged edges of the storm clouds overhead showed plainer than before. Peter reached a tall wall built of mellow, old bricks. The drive gates stood open and in the dim light he saw the drive bordered by thick rhododendrons, and behind them two rows of clipped yews. His clean-cut face hardened, and after one glance round to make sure that no one was in sight he stepped through the gate and instantly vanished into the shrubbery. As he stood, hidden beneath the thick shadow of the yews he found that his knees were trembling slightly.

"Natural, I suppose," he said grimly. "I've heard of burglars dying of heart failure. I don't know that I blame 'em."

For long minutes he stood watching the house. The tall, straight Georgian front was in darkness. Not a light showed from any of the high, many-paned windows. In this yew-shadowed garden all was quiet. The only sound was a faint rumble of traffic from distant streets. Peter took a pair of old gloves from his pocket and drew them on, then went softly towards the house. The front was open, with a broad flower-bed between the wall and the gravel sweep, but to the right the solemn yews grew close to the house to which they gave their name. Yew Court it was called and the name suited the dim old place.

Not a sound came from the house as Peter approached a window, but that was as he had expected. Judith Vidal, the owner, was leaving for Cranham, her place in Herefordshire, next day, and had sent most of the servants on ahead. According to Peter's information, there should be no one in the house but Mrs. Forrest, the deaf old housekeeper. Daisy Newton, Judith's maid, had, he knew, gone out to keep tryst with her young man.

Peter slipped a long, flexible blade between the sashes and worked away. At last came a click. In the intense silence the small noise sounded loud as a pistol shot and with a quick breath Peter drew back into the shadow. Nothing happened, no dangerous light sprang into being and presently Peter came forward again, pushed open the window and clambered in over the sill.

Curtains hung across the window, and as he stood behind them he was still breathing faster than usual and was unpleasantly conscious that his forehead was damp with sweat. He shook his head angrily. The job was fool-proof. Then pushing aside the curtains he stepped out into the room.

It was dark but that did not matter. This had been his father's study in those happy days which now seemed so long ago, and he knew every foot of it. Even the faint, musty scent from the old oak panelled walls was familiar. He took from his pocket a tiny electric torch, no bigger than a fountain pen, and switched it on. The thin pencil of light fell upon an unfamiliar carpet and on furniture he had never before seen, yet the room itself was the same. How well he remembered that queer beast, half bird, half dragon, carved on the marble mantel opposite! For a moment he stood quite still, memories crowding on him, then with an impatient movement of the head he shook himself free of the spell, and crossed softly to the door.

Switching off his torch, he cautiously turned the handle. The door opened quietly enough, but a board groaned beneath him as he stepped into the dark hall, and again he felt a nasty quiver run through him. It did not last. Those stones—he had to have them, and it was easy now. They were in the smoking-room to the right, and next moment he had opened that door, passed through and closed it behind him.

Again he switched on the torch and a thin, white beam circled the tall, handsome room. Yes, there was the book case on the north wall, just as it hat always been, the same tarnished gilt on the covers of the old volumes. Only they were not real books but just camouflage and the small keyhole of the safe was between Pohlman on Chess and Hawker's Instructions to Sportsmen.

Peter drew the key from his pocket. Curious that he should have kept it all these years, but it was just the fact that he had done so which made his burglary possible. In fact, it was this which had made him first think of the way of getting even with those who had robbed him.

A tight-lipped smile crossed his face Judith Vidal's emeralds would do something to set him on his feet again, though he felt that no amount of money could make up for the miseries he had endure during the past six months.

The key was actually in the lock, he was on the point of turning it when the silence of the old house was cracked by a scream. The scream of a woman in deadly pain or terror.


QUEER how all the best in a man reacts to the cry of a woman in trouble! The next thing Peter knew he was out of the library and racing up t stairs. The scream had come from t drawing- room on the first floor. He burst into the big room to see a girl struggling in the arms of a man.

The girl was Judith Vidal. The tall slim figure, the marvellous hair black with just a tinge of red bronze, the exquisite, creamy complexion, and the long, rather narrow eyes with beautifully arched brows and long lashes—though Peter had never spoken to her, there was no mistaking the woman who had already been painted by three of the most famous artists of the day, and whose photograph had appeared in a hundred different papers.

The man, Peter had never seen before, but in his way he was almost as striking as the girl. Taller than Peter—and he was five foot ten--the stranger's narrow waist and broad shoulders spoke of great physical strength, while his long face with its arched nose, high cheek-bones and dark, piercing eyes only needed a pointed beard to make him exactly like one of those Spanish grandees whose portraits hang in the National Gallery.

As the door crashed open the man released the girl and turned to meet the intruder.

"Who are you? What are you doing here?" he demanded harshly. His very dark eyes glowed with anger and a muscle in his forehead twitched dangerously. All Peter's nervousness had left him. He was of the type that are coolest in a tight place.

"Question's a bit superfluous, isn't it?" he remarked with a glance at Judith, and as he looked at her he became aware that she was gazing at him with a most extraordinary expression in her wonderful eyes. She might almost, he thought, have been looking at a ghost. The tall men came straight at him.

"Get out!" he ordered savagely.

"Am I to get out, Miss Vidal?" Peter asked easily. Judith recovered herself.

"No! No!" she cried. "It is Mr. Lanyon who must go, not you."

Lanyon! Peter knew who he was now—Paul Lanyon had been Adam Vidal's secretary. A bad hat if half he had heard was true. But there was no time to think of that for Lanyon's fist was driving straight at Peter's head.

Peter ducked and closed, flinging his arms round Lanyon's body. He did this deliberately, for he had realised instantly that Lanyon had a much longer reach than he, and that he was a boxer. Peter himself could use his fists as well as the next man, but most of his fighting had been of the rough and tumble order. He back-heeled Lanyon and the two went to the floor together with a crash that shook the whole room. But the pile of the Eastern rug on which they fell was deep and soft. Neither took much harm and next instant they were fighting like wild cats.

Lanyon got his right arm free and drove a short blow into Peter's jaw which jarred all his teeth into one great ache, but Peter retaliated with a smash which made a sad mess of Lanyon's elegant nose. Mad with pain, Lanyon brought up his knee and tried to drive it into Peter's groin, but Peter was too wily to be caught by such a trick, and, rolling over, sprang to his feet. Lanyon came up, too. If he had kept his head and boxed, the advantage was all his, but he was clean crazy, and instead of using his fists took a running kick at Peter.

A man who had spent six weeks in the fo'c'sle of a tramp steamer knows all about that sort of dirty fighting. In a flash Peter had hold of Lanyon's right leg and lifted with all his might. Lanyon's whole body rose in the air and he came down on the back of his head. This time it was not a rug that received him but the polished parquet floor. The sound was like that of a mallet striking wood, and Lanyon lay very still. Peter stood over him. He was breathing hard and blood was dripping from his split lip.

"H—have you killed him?" came Judith's voice at his elbow.

"Killed him? No. He's only knocked out." Judith looked down at the man on the floor and it gave Peter a shock to see how she hated him. Then suddenly she turned to Peter.

"Will he be long like this?" she demanded.

Peter shrugged.

"Ten minutes perhaps. He got a tidy bump."

"That will be time enough." Judith was all eagerness. "You must tie him up, please and—and gag him."

Peter stared.

"What for?" he blurted out.

"Oh, don't wait. He might come round. It—it's terribly important. Please—please do it at once." She ran to the window and came back with two thick cords from the curtains. Peter still hesitated.

"I don't want to hurt him," Judith went on, swiftly, "but he has something of mine which I must get back. Please—please don't wait."

"Sounds like good goods," said Peter to himself, "and, anyhow, I'm in no position to refuse." He took the cords, and made a good job of it. He finished by gagging Lanyon with the man's own silk handkerchief. Judith stood watching.

"You are sure he is safe?" she asked, anxiously, as Peter rose from the floor.

"Safe as a pig in a net," Peter told her.

"Then come with me, and I'll tell you." She led the way out of the big drawing room and across into a smaller room opposite. By the luxurious furnishing, it was her own boudoir. The first thing she did was to glance at the gilt, French clock on the mantel.

"Only eleven," she said, and Peter noticed that she had recovered from her panic, and was quite cool and steady. "There is plenty of time. First, I will see to that Up of yours. It is badly cut." She got water and a sponge, made Peter sit in an arm-chair, then cleaned the cut and strapped it up with a small strip of plaster. Her long, slim fingers were cool and capable, and, as she worked, a delicate and unusual scent filled Peter's nostrils.

"Now tell me your name," she commanded. It flashed across Peter's mind that he would be wise to use an alias; yet somehow he could not do it.

"My name is Peter Hastings," he said, and reddened slightly as he spoke.

"I always wondered what it was," she said with a little smile which made her lovely face even more beautiful than before.

"How could you wonder?" asked Peter, bluntly. "You never saw me before."

"Oh, but I have—at that dance at Singapore."

"But I never saw you," returned Peter, more puzzled than ever. He had been to more than one dance at Singapore, but he certainly had never seen Judith Vidal at any of them.

"I know," said Judith, softly. "I was late, and you were just leaving."

Peter let it go at that.

"About Lanyon. You were going to tell me," he said; and her whole face changed and hardened.

"Yes, but, before I tell you, I want to know if you will help me."

"Help you," said Peter. "How do you know I am a fit person to help you?"

Judith looked at him. She noticed how shiny were the elbows and knees of his well-cut blue serge suit; how threadbare his collar; she saw that his shirt was of common grey flannel, and that his well- polished shoes were cracking across the toes. His face, too, was thinner than it should have been. She laid a hand on his arm.

"You have helped me once tonight," she said. "You fought for me. You saved me. No one is more fit to help me than you." Her vibrant voice sent an odd thrill through Peter. He looked her full in the face.

"You haven't asked me how I came to be in your house this evening."

Her eyes did not fall.

"That does not matter. I trust you Peter."

"Then you shouldn't," he answered, harshly. "I came here to steal. I'm nothing but a burglar."

Judith showed no sign of dismay.

"You are not a burglar. You have never stolen before. And if you came to steal tonight, you had some good reason."

"Oh, I had reason," said Peter, sharply; but Judith held up her hand.

"Never mind that now. You can tell me later. Will you steal for me? Will you help me to get back from Paul Lanyon the papers he has stolen from me?"

Peter whistled softly.

"So that's his game—blackmail?" Again Judith's beautiful face hardened.

"Listen to me, Mr. Hastings. My father was very good to me; yet since his death I have come to know that some of his ways of making money were not too scrupulous. Paul Lanyon, who was his secretary, stole certain letters which, if published, would blacken my father's memory. For nearly a year past, ever since my father's death, Lanyon has been trying to persuade me into marrying him; and when I told him frankly that I would not dream of doing so, he turned ugly.

"Tonight I was going out to dinner, but he telephoned me that he had something to show me, so I waited for him. The important thing was one of these letters. He told me in so many words that, if I would not promise to marry him, he meant to sell this and a number of other letters for publication. I grew angry—indeed, I lost my temper, completely, and told him exactly what I thought of him. Then he seized me—" she paused with a shudder. "I hardly dare think what might have happened if you had not come to my help. It was rather a brave thing for a burglar to do," she ended softly.

Peter got red again. This girl knew exactly how to play on his feelings. Besides, so the thought struck him, she was not responsible for her father's sins, and he owed her something for the sportsmanlike way in which she had taken his confession.

"All right," he said briefly. "I'll help." Then he paused uncomfortably. "Only I think you'll have to give me some food first. I haven't eaten since yesterday. Sorry," he added grimly as he saw the look of shocked surprise on Judith's face, "I—" But she would not let him explain.

"Come with me," she ordered, and quickly led the way downstairs.

Supper had been laid in the dining room. There was cold consommé, chicken salad, a game pie, trifles and jellies, food of a kind that Peter had not even set eyes on for months past Judith helped him herself, but before he began to eat made him drink a glass of sherry. There was something curiously dream-like to Peter in sitting in this luxurious room, being waited on by this lovely girl, while with every mouthful he felt fresh strength come back to his starved body. Twenty minutes later when he rose from the table, he felt a new man.

"I'm ready now," he told Judith. "But you will have to tell me where I am to go and what I have to get."

"I'm coming with you," said Judith "Will you find Lanyon's keys while get out the car?"


THE threatened storm had broken a Judith drove the car down the Hampstead-road. Rain was falling in torrents and the streaming streets were almost deserted. Judith turned to Peter.

"He didn't like your taking his keys?" she said.

"If you'd seen his face," replied Pete grimly, and Judith nodded.

"I know," was all she said, but Pete noticed that she shivered slightly.

"Where does he live?" he asked.

"He has a flat in Penton-street, off Victoria-street."

"Do you know the place?"

"Yes, I have been there to tea."

"Then you have some idea where the letters are hidden."

"Not much," she confessed.

"We ought to have brought him with us," said Peter, but she shook her head. "Out of the question. How could I have got him past the porter?"

"Made out he was tight," said Peter. "No!" Judith's voice was emphatic. "You don't realise how dangerous man he is, Mr. Hastings. Somehow he would have beaten us."

"Oh, I realise that all right. He's nasty piece of goods."

Judith shuddered again.

"He's a horror. Oh, how lucky it was for me that you came when you did!"

"I came after your emeralds," Peter reminded her in a dry voice.

Judith's eyes flashed.

"I don't care what you came after, an you are welcome to my emeralds or anything else I have got. If you get back those letters for me I shall be in your debt all my life."

She turned the car to the left, and presently they were running down Portland Place. Here there was more traffic, but the rain was still coming down in torrents and all who could had remained under shelter. Judith drove with great skill and in another five minutes they were out of the swirl of taxis and buses and ha turned into a quiet back street in Westminster.

Judith pulled up in front of a tall flat fronted building, and Peter opened the door and jumped out. She had found light waterproof for him before starting and she herself had a long wrap over he evening dress. The hall porter, who was sitting reading behind his little desk came forward.

"Will you take us up to Mr. Lanyon' flat?" Judith asked him.

"He's out, miss."

"I know," said Judith brightly. "He is staying the night at Hampstead am we have come for his things. He gave us his keys."

"Very good, miss," replied the unsuspecting porter, and led the way to the lift. He took them to the second floor.

"It's Number 7, miss," he said. "I must go down again, but will you ring—when you are ready?"

Peter unlocked the door and stood aside for Judith to enter. The flat was small, just sitting-room, bedroom and bathroom but it was luxuriously appointed. Furniture, rugs, pictures—all were good of their kind. A large American roll-top desk stood against the wall, and Judith at once made for this, but Peter checked her.

"Isn't there a safe? There's a key here which looks like a safe- key. He'd never keep letters like those in a desk."

"I never saw a safe," Judith said. Peter made a hasty search and, presently found the safe in the bedroom. It was let into the wall and hidden by a small bookshelf. He opened it without trouble to see two shelves filled with neatly docketed bundles of paper. Judith flung herself on her knees in front of the open safe and began to turn over the papers swiftly. Presently a little cry of delight escaped her.

"Here they are." She held up a bundle of perhaps a dozen letters market "A.V."

"Look through them, then burn them at once," Peter advised her. "But first be sure that those are all. Meantime, I had better pack a suitcase. We must have that for the porter's sake."

He found a suitcase, stuffed a few things into it, and by the time he had finished, so had Judith.

"There are no more," she told him "But how are we going to burn these? The fires are electric."

"In the basin," Peter answered as he lifted out the water jug and struck a match. One by one, the letters were crumpled and burned. The last was just flaring into grey ash when the electric bell tingled sharply.

"Who is it?" asked Judith, going rather white. Peter leaped for the safe, and closed and locked it. He beckoned Judith, to return to the sitting-room, picked up the suit-case, and followed her, closing the bedroom door behind him. Then he opened the outer door.

The man who stood in the hall was a stranger. He was a swarthy man, who wore a dark mackintosh and a soft, black felt hat. He stared at Peter with hard brown eyes.

"Where's Mr. Lanyon?" he inquired.

"He's away for the night," Peter answered.

"Who are you?" the other asked, harshly.

"I might ask you the same question," said Peter, returning the swarthy man's stare.

"And I'd tell you I'm Mr. Lanyon's man, and I want to know what you're doing in his rooms this hour of the night."

"Oh, you're his man, are you?" said Peter, in quite a different tone. "My name is Hastings, and this is Miss Vidal, Mr. Lanyon is not very well, and is staying the night at Hampstead. He asked us to fetch his things." He held out the suitcase. "Here they are," he added, with a smile. There was no answering smile on the other's face.

"Ill, is he? He was all right when he left here. What's the matter with him?"

Peter kept his temper.

"I really don't know. Nothing worse, I think, than a bilious attack. Would you like to come with us and see him?"

The dark-faced man hesitated.

"I suppose it's all right," he said, at last. "No. I ain't coming all that way."

"Good-night, then," said Peter, calmly, and stood aside for Judith to pass.

Once out in the passage he hurried her to the lift. Luckily, it came at once; but they were hardly down before they heard steps rattling on the stairs above.

"Give the porter half a crown," Peter whispered to Judith, and Judith, who had kept her head admirably, found the money for the man who took the suit-case and carried it to the car.

"Hi! Stop them!" came a shout, but Judith was already pressing the starter, and the car, still warm, shot away up the street.

"Nasty-looking chap," said Peter.

"Horrid," agreed Judith, with a shiver. "But you were splendid, Mr. Hastings. The calm way you talked to him! It was wonderful."

Peter moved uneasily. He hated praise of this kind.

"What do you mean to do with Lanyon?" he asked.

"Get rid of him as quickly as possible. Thanks to you he can do no more harm."

"Don't be too sure of that," said Peter. "He's not going to take this lying down."

An uneasy look crossed Judith's face.

"Perhaps you are right," she answered slowly. "But don't talk now. Wait till we get home."

The rain had stopped by the time they reached Yew Court, and in the garden the warm air was rich with the scent of wet earth. Judith drove the car into the garage and let herself and Peter in with her latch-key.

"Your maid—" asked Peter. "Is she about?"

"Daisy. I told her to go to bed," Judith answered.

Peter kept silence. He did not wish to give the girl away, but he sincerely hoped she was in bed. He certainly did not want her to see Lanyon leaving the house at this hour.

He and Judith went straight up to the drawing-room. Lanyon lay on the floor just where they had left him. His dark eyes burned with a sullen fire that made Peter think of a trapped wolf. Peter stood over the prisoner.

"Lanyon, if I untie you, will you go quietly?"

Fury was in Lanyon's face as he glared up at the door, but Peter kept very calm.

"It's no use looking like that, Lanyon," he said. "We've drawn your teeth. If you're going to raise a row you'll stay here till morning. If you are ready to go quietly move your head." Lanyon nodded, and Peter at once took off the gag and cut him loose.

Lanyon came to his feet slowly, and Peter saw he was too stiff and cramped to be dangerous. But he was not in the least prepared for what was to follow. Holding with one hand to the back of a chair Lanyon turned to Judith.

"I suppose you know who this man is," he said in a voice that was the more dangerous because it was so carefully restrained.

"I know he is my very good and kind friend," Judith answered promptly. Lanyon smiled, and his smile was worse than his scowl.

"Yes, but do you know that he is an escaped convict, known to be a thief and suspected of murder?" Still with that ugly smile on his face, he turned and left the room. A moment later the front door clanged.


JUDITH stood quite still, gazing at Peter.

She had slipped off her wrap and the light from the electric bowl overhead shimmered on the gold and yellow of her evening frock, and brought out the reddish gleam in her wonderful hair. She was by far the most beautiful woman that Peter had ever seen.

"He was lying," she said at last, and the sentence was a statement, not a question.

"Why do you say that?" Peter asked. "I have told you already I came here to steal."

"Because I am a woman. Because I have intuition. Because I know."

Peter was touched. It was a very long time since anyone had expressed such faith in him.

"Yes," he said. "He was lying. I have never been in prison, and certainly I have never been suspected of murder..." He paused, frowning. "Yet Lanyon believed what he said. He did not know he was lying."

"You don't know him as I do," said Judith scornfully. "He hates you. He would say anything to blacken you in my eyes." The French clock on the mantelpiece began to chime. Peter glanced at it.

"Half-past twelve," he said. "Time I was going, Miss Vidal."

"Going!" Judith's voice was almost sharp. "Don't talk nonsense. You have told me nothing yet. Come down to the dining-room, and I will make you some coffee."

Peter hesitated.

"It's very late," he said, but Judith laughed.

"You funny, old-fashioned thing! I do believe you are thinking of my reputation."

"I am," said Peter bluntly.

"And all the time you have been posing as a desperate character. Oh, Peter, you're a sad humbug."

Peter shrugged.

"I suppose I'm a bit behind the times. I've been out of England ever since I was eighteen. I know nothing of London ways."

"That's evident," said Judith, but she was not laughing now. "I don't like you any the worse for being so scrupulous," she went on frankly, "but indeed you need not worry. There are two other women in the house besides myself, and Mrs. Forrest is terribly respectable. In any case you can't leave now. I must hear your story. Come." She led the way to the dining-room, turned on the lights and set to making coffee with a spirit lamp.

Peter lay back in a big, leather chair, and watched her. He was very tired. For the past month he had been almost starving. The excitements of the evening and the excellent meal he had eaten had made him utterly drowsy. Judith realised this, and refrained from talking until the coffee was ready. She served it in cups of lovely old white and gold Swansea china and Peter thought it the best coffee he had ever tasted. At any rate, it roused him wonderfully.

Judith seated herself opposite him. "Feeling better?" she asked softly.

"Not so sleepy, at any rate," Peter admitted with a smile.

"Then will you tell me why you came here tonight."

"I've told you." Peter's voice was suddenly hard. "I came to steal your emeralds."

"You've told me that, but you haven't told me why. And I'm sure you had a reason."

"Oh, I had a reason. I was trying to get my own back."

"Then you thought you had suffered at my hands," said Judith shrewdly.

"At your father's," Peter corrected, and she nodded.

"I can believe that. I have told, you already that I know my father's business methods were not too scrupulous. I should like you to tell me."

Peter sat up stiffly.

"I'll tell you. It was out East. I'm a mining engineer. Rather more than a year ago I found a big deposit of alluvial tin at a place called Semlah. The land belonged to a chief named Kelang and I paid him almost every penny I had for an option. Then I went to Singapore to raise capital to form a company. But a spy had been on my track. I was doped and held prisoner until the option had expired. When I was released it was too late. A man disguised to represent me visited Kelang, paid him the agreed price and I found that the whole property had passed into the hands of the firm of Vidal."

He paused, then went on again quickly: "I could do nothing. The chief had been bribed, and when I visited him denounced me as an impostor. The Vidal interests saw to it that I got no work in the country. In the end I was forced to work my way home in the stokehold of a tramp steamer. I meant to appeal directly to your father, but found that he was dead. Since then—" he stopped with a shrug—"well, I don't think the sort of life I've been living would interest or amuse you."

"Why didn't you come to me?" Judith exclaimed. "If my father was dead surely you could have appealed to me."

Peter was silent.

"You mean you would not ask justice from a woman. You would rather steal from her."

"I was a fool," said Peter bitterly as he rose from his chair. "Good-bye, Miss Vidal. You have been very kind to me."

Judith sprang up and caught him by the arm.

"You silly boy. Now you're angry with me."

"Indeed—indeed I'm not," Peter protested. "I came to steal. You have forgiven me and fed me and been kind to me. Now I must go."

Judith, still holding his arm, looked at him.

"Peter, I didn't think you were a coward," she said.

"I don't know what you mean," returned Peter shortly.

"I mean that it's cowardly of you to desert me and leave me to the tender mercies of Paul Lanyon."

Peter's eyes widened.

"But he can't hurt you now. He's got no hold over you any longer."

Judith shook her head. "You don't know him," she replied. "By hook or by crook he means to have me—and my money. He will never leave me alone."

She paused, and then:

"But you are right. It would not be fair to drag you into my troubles. You, too, would be in danger—worse danger than I. He would almost certainly try to kill you."

"Kill me. He'd better try,' said Peter sharply.

"I couldn't bear that," said Judith, and to his surprise and dismay Peter saw tears in her eyes.

"What do you want me to do?" he asked in a puzzled voice.

Judith hesitated.

"No," she said at last, "it would be too much to ask you."

"Don't be silly." Peter spoke quite sharply. "If there is anything I can do you've only to tell me. I mean it," he added. Judith turned her head away to conceal the glow of triumph that shone in her eyes. But there was nothing of this in her voice as she spoke.

"I'm all alone, Peter," she said slowly. "In spite of my money—or perhaps because of it—there isn't a soul I can trust. I want someone to manage my affairs, especially someone to act as my agent at Cranham. I was wondering if I dared ask you to do this for me."

Peter simply stared. When you have been practically starving for months, when no one will give you a better job than stoking a furnace, it does come as a bit of a shock for a beautiful girl to implore you as a favour to take a post that almost any man would jump at.

Judith watched him covertly. She knew very well what was passing in his mind, but gave no sign that she knew. At last Peter found words.

"You must be crazy," he said. "A man who's just tried to burgle your house and you want to make him your trusted agent!"

"I do," said Judith firmly. "I'd rather trust you than any man I ever met. What's more. I know I am right."

Peter drew a long breath. To live in the country, to ride, to shoot, perhaps to hunt, to have a home of his own, to say nothing of good food and decent clothes. It was heaven, and every instinct urged him to jump at such a chance. But it would not be fair. This girl was full of gratitude for the small service he had rendered, and was trying to do him a good turn. But he was not fit for the work. He could not possibly accept.

"It's dear and sweet of you," he said. "But you must know as well as I do that I'm not fit for a job like this. I know nothing of land agency. I'm a mining engineer."

"And the most paying part of my property is my quarry," Judith said with a smile. "Just the thing you would understand."

"But there'd be more than that," said Peter.

"Nothing that a man with your training could not pick up in a month. My I bailiff does the actual bookkeeping. Of course there is a good deal to do," she added cunningly. "You'd have to keep an eye on all my tenants, and I want the fishing and shooting brought up to date. I am planting new woods, too."

Peter still hesitated.

"Try it," begged Judith in her most honeyed tones. "Try it for three months. If you don't like it you can leave. But the mere feeling that I have you at hand to help me against Lanyon will be worth a great deal to me."

Peter flung out his hand with a sudden violent gesture.

"I'll come," he said curtly. Again Judith lowered her eyelids to hide her delight.

"I'm glad," she said. "You must sleep here and drive down with me tomorrow. Come up and I will show you your room."


A FAINT clink of china roused Peter next morning. An elderly woman in a black dress was placing a tray on the table by his bedside.

"Good morning, sir," she said as she saw Peter's eyes open. "Miss Vidal wished me to say that breakfast would be at nine and to apologise to you that there is no man to brush your clothes."

Peter laughed. He could not help it. "I've brushed my own clothes all my life, Mrs. Forrest. I expect I can manage it this morning."

He spoke loudly, knowing the house-keeper was deaf and the old thing nodded and smiled. She took to Peter at once. Most people did, especially servants.

"You will find shaving things and brushes on the table, sir," she said. "If there is anything else you want please ring."

"I shall do fine," Peter assured her, and as she went out he sat up and poured himself a cup of tea. There was no hurry. It was only eight, and he lay back against his soft pillow, sipped his delicious China tea and almost wondered whether he was awake or dreaming. This spacious, airy room, with the sun shining in at wide open windows, this luxurious bed with snowy sheets and silk duvet. And only yesterday he had waked on a dirty pallet in a reeking South London doss-house.

He finished his tea, got up and went into the bathroom. Here was another luxury which he had lacked for weeks past. He soaked himself in hot water and rejoiced in the cold shower. It was only when he came to dress that his spirits fell a little. In the strong morning light the ancient blue serge looked terribly shabby, and his grey flannel shirt was far from clean. His socks, too, were in holes. Yet these were the only clothes he had in the world.

Nine was just striking as he came into the breakfast-room. The table was laid, and on a hot plate were grilled kidneys, eggs and bacon, and coffee. Crisp toast, pats of golden butter as well as fruit were on the table. But there was no sign of Judith. Then he noticed a fat envelope lying on his plate, addressed to himself in a bold hand. He opened it, and found a thick wad of Treasury notes and a letter.

"Dear Mr. Hastings," he read, "I am tired, so am staying in bed until 11. There will be no need to start before twelve. You will want some country clothes, so I am taking the liberty of advancing you a month's salary. Will you get what you need and be ready, if possible, by 12? Very sincerely yours, Judith Vidal."

For a moment Peter flushed. Then, as he realised the tact and forethought that had prompted Judith, his face softened.

"Sweet of her," he murmured and set to the serious work of breakfast. By half-past nine he was in the Tube and ten o'clock found him in the shop of Messrs. Maurice Bros.

What Maurice Bros. cannot do in the way of ready-made garments has yet to be discovered, and Peter had the added advantage of a friend at court. One of the head men came from Leominster, Peter's old home town.

Within an hour Peter had tried on and bought a flannel suit, a suit of plus fours, a pair of riding breeches, a dress suit, together with hats, shoes, shirts, socks, handkerchiefs and under-garments. Two neat suit-cases completed his purchases, and while his things were being packed he changed into the flannel suit.

Leaving the suit cases, he hurried into another shop, where he got his hair cut and bought a sponge, nail, and tooth brushes, new shaving tackle and a few other odds and ends. He carried these back to Maurice's where they, too, were packed for him, and it was just twenty to twelve when he stepped into a taxi and started back for Hampstead.

The car was waiting in front of the house and Judith, wearing a frock of pale green linen, which suited her admirably, was waiting in the hall.

"Well, you have been quick," was her greeting; then she stopped and gazed at Peter with widening eyes.

"What have you done to yourself? I should hardly have known you," she exclaimed. Peter got rather red.

"Thanks to you, I'm decently dressed for the first time in two years," he answered.

"Decently!" repeated Judith. "It's a wonder how you find that Lovat flannel, and how in the world did you get fitted for it, all in a couple of hours?"

"A friend at Court," said Peter with grin. "But the suit's off a peg. Luckily I'm stock size."

Judith nodded her beautiful head.

"It's exactly right," she said as she touched his sleeve with her long slender fingers. "Collar, tie, and all. It proves that you have taste, Peter. I'm very pleased with you."

"I'm glad you like it," said Peter simply. "Shall we start?"

"I'm quite ready," she said. "Put your suit-cases in behind, with Daisy. You can sit in front with me."

"You'll drive?" Peter questioned.

"Yes, but I can turn her over to you later."

Judith took the Aylesbury road and thence by Bicester to Banbury, where they stopped at an old-fashioned hotel and had a late lunch. Then Peter took the wheel and from Banbury they went on to Stratford- on-Avon. The country was green and lovely after the heavy rain of the previous night, and with every mile Peter's spirits rose. He was leaving behind him all the horrors of the past six months and going back into his own county.

Worcester came in sight with its stately cathedral, they crossed the broad Severn, and went on due west down the valley of the Teme. Judith pointed to a by-road leading north and three miles up it they came to the drive gates of Cranham. Peter drew a long breath as the front of the house came into view.

"You like it?" asked Judith softly.

"It's perfect," said Peter with emphasis, and really he was not far wrong. Cranham was Elizabethan. It lay against a hill-side facing south-west, and its gabled front was criss-crossed with ancient, black, oaken beams. Below, the garden dropped in terraces to a trout stream; behind, the steep slope was thickly wooded. In the warm light of a perfect summer evening the place was a fairyland of beauty. Judith's butler waited to receive them.

"This is Mr. Hastings, Blandy," Judith said. "I wired you he was coming."

"His room is ready, madam. Tea is served in the hall."

"Come in, Peter," said Judith. "You'll have to stay here for a day or two until your house is ready. Think you can stand it?"

"I'll try," Peter answered gruffly. There was an odd choke in his throat. So few kindnesses had come his way for a long time past.

Judith understood. She poured out tea for him, and did not talk any more for a time. Afterwards she showed him the garden and they walked down to the snug little agent's house.

THAT NIGHT PETER went to bed in a low roofed, rafted room, with the scent of mignonette rising from the garden below and the low murmur of the trout stream in his ears. He lay awake for a long time, going over in his mind the events of the past twenty-four hours.

"I wonder why she's so good to me," he said at last. And not finding any answer to his puzzle he turned on his side and was almost instantly asleep.

Next morning Judith introduced Peter to her bailiff, George Timmins, a sturdy, old-fashioned fellow with a weather-beaten face and side whiskers, and Peter went off with him to make a round of the place. What interested him most was the quarry, a big cut in the north side of the hill on which the house was built.

"Why, it's Dhu-Stone!" Peter exclaimed as he saw the bare wall of dull, bluish rock. "Same as the Clee Hill."

"It's very like it, Mr. Hastings," Timmins agreed. "Good stuff for road making. We've a lot of orders. Trouble is to get the right men to work it. We have some chaps but they're a troublesome lot. They get huffed at nothing at all, and two of 'em quit only yesterday."

"We'll settle that," declared Peter. "I know where I can get men. But this is a big thing, Mr. Timmins. By the look of it the whole hill is iron-stone. What profit did you make last year?"

"About £800 clear."

"We can treble that," Peter declared. Judith was delighted at Peter's news. "I was getting positively hard up," she said with a laugh. "A couple of thousand a year more will be a Godsend. I knew you'd bring me luck, Peter."

Delighted at the idea of doing something in return for Judith's kindness. Peter threw himself into the work of developing the quarry, and the first thing he did was to get in touch with the big firm under whom he had been trained as a mining engineer. They readily promised to send him down half a dozen good men, and as soon as these arrived, Peter set to work to open out the quarry.

The place had been run in an old-fashioned way. There was nothing but a cart track into the bottom. The first thing was to make a road fit for motor lorries. To do this it was necessary to blast away a projecting spur of rock, and Peter set the men to work to drill holes for explosive. The men soon saw he knew his job, and within twenty- four hours he was on good terms with them all.

All except one. This was a man called Morson. Morson worked well enough and was not uncivil, yet Peter, who knew men, had a feeling that there was something queer about him. Several times he noticed Morson watching him with an odd expression in his greenish eyes. Peter said nothing, but resolved to keep his own eyes open.

It took a whole week to prepare for the big blast. More than 300 pounds of blasting powder had to be stowed away in drill-holes deep under the foot of the huge mass of rock. The powder and fuse were kept in a. small magazine on the hill-side some distance above the quarry. Peter himself kept the key. It was on a Tuesday evening that the drilling was finished. Next day the drills would be packed, the fuses fixed and at four o'clock on Wednesday afternoon the blast was due.

On that Tuesday evening Peter felt oddly restless. Judith noticed it but said nothing, for she knew how anxious he was about the success of the blast. About half-past nine he excused himself, but, instead of going to bed, changed and went out. It was a perfect summer night, warm and still. No moon, but the sky was sown with stars, and in any case Peter knew every inch of the way to the quarry, and did not need to use the flash-light he carried.

The path over the hill passed close to the magazine, and as he topped the rise Peter suddenly caught a gleam of light through the trees. And the light was at the magazine.

Every nerve in his body tingling, Peter crept forward. Something was wrong, but how wrong he had no idea until he gained a bush about twenty paces from the magazine and saw a man in the act of picking the padlock. He was working by the gleam of a tiny flashlight, but the light was enough to show his face. He was Morson.

Some men in Peter's place would have rushed forward, but Peter stayed where he was. He intended to find out what Morson was after. He did not think it was just theft. A few bags of powder were hardly worth stealing. It was something worse.

Oddly enough, his thoughts flashed back to Paul Lanyon and the savage threat he had seen in the man's dark face. He wondered if Morson was Lanyon's creature.

There was a click. Morson had mastered the lock. He opened the door and went in. Peter came out of his shelter and crept closer. Morson was busy, bud not with the powder. He had taken the thick coils of black fuse from the case in which it was packed and was substituting other coils which he took from a bag he carried.

A chill of horror ran through Peter's veins, to be succeeded almost instantly by a fit of cold rage. Dashing forward, he seized Morson by the collar.

"Give me that fuse!" he ordered.

Without a word Morson handed it over. Peter turned his flash on it. The coil looked like ordinary fuse, but Peter noticed that the black came off on his hand. He wet a finger and rubbed the fuse. A scarlet thread showed in the cover. It was quick-firing fuse. Substituted for slow, it would mean certain death of the man who lighted it. And that would be Peter himself.

"Who put you up to this, Morson?" he demanded. Instead of answering, Morson's right arm swung up. A sandbag, which he had drawn from his pocket, thudded across Peter's head and Peter dropped as if he had been shot.


MORSON stood over Peter.

"Give me that fuse!' says he. He's got it and something else besides—something he wasn't looking for." He gave an ugly chuckle. "Well, it's saved a lot of bother, his shoving his nose in here tonight. All the same I don't rightly know what to do with his body." He looked round the dark little place with its heavy, stone roof and rough rock floor and a queer eager gleam came into his greenish eyes. He laughed again.

"Well, if I ain't a fool! Here it is all ready made."

He stooped and pulled out a bag of powder. Taking a knife from his pocket he cut a slit in the end of the bag and a few coarse, brown grains fell on the floor. He picked up a coil of fuse—not one of those he had brought but one of the slow burning stuff, and from it cut a length of about 20 feet. One end of this he inserted in the bag deep in the powder, the rest he stretched across the floor. Then he took a match box from his pocket.

But he did not strike a match—not yet at any rate for first he turned his flash-light on Peter's face. Peter's eyes were closed; he was breathing but he lay very still on his back, with his arm flung out.

"Out for another half-hour," said Morson. "He'll never know what struck him," he added with a sneer.

He took a match from the box, struck it, touched the end of the fuse and as it began to hiss and sputter softly Morson switched off his torch, dropped his sandbag and went hastily out of the magazine, closing the door behind him. He stopped long enough to fasten the door on the outside by thrusting the padlock through the staple, then he faded away into the thick of the woods.

They talk of murderers returning to the scene of their crime. If there was one thing that Morson had no intention of doing that was to return to the magazine. Why should he? Peter's end would be audible over several square miles of Herefordshire and wherever he was Morson would hear it and be certain that all was conveniently finished.

He chuckled evilly as he made his way back towards Joe Watkins's cottage where he had his lodgings. This was the perfect crime for, even if they found enough of Peter to identify his body, there would be no other traces. The verdict would be nothing but "Death by Misadventure." Peter had visited the magazine, he had somehow ignited the powder. Perhaps a careless cigarette. In any case there could be no clue to connect Morson with his end. He and Peter had not even had a cross word.

Four or five minutes later Morson was down in the valley a quarter of a mile from the magazine. He stopped under a big tree and waited for the explosion. It was due. He was quite close to the cottage and his idea was that, as the Watkins ran out, alarmed by the explosion, he would slip in the back way and reach his room. Afterwards he could follow them to the scene of the explosion.

In the warm silence of the summer night Morson could hear his own heart thumping. Seconds dragged by as he stood still as a statue, waiting for the great flash on the hill top. That would come first, then the deep roar of the exploding powder.

A minute passed, still no explosion. Morson took out his heavy silver watch, and held it to his ear. Tick-tick-tick. He counted sixty of them. A scowl replaced the look of smug satisfaction on his hard face; he fidgeted from one foot to the other.

"Why the dickens don't she go?" he muttered anxiously.

Another minute dragged by, and Morson became convinced that something was wrong. The fuse must have been faulty. It was not in the least likely that anyone could have come to Peter's rescue. Yet the very thought of such a contingency sent a chill of terror through Morson's body. If Peter were rescued alive it was all up with the man who had tried to murder him.

He had to see, he had to go back, and in all his unpleasant life Morson had never yet done anything he hated worse than making that return journey. He was sweating profusely by the time he arrived opposite the magazine. In the starlight the squat building stood just as he had left it. He waited and listened for a long time but nothing moved. The silence was broken only by the distant hooting of a wood owl. From his long experience with explosives Morson was aware how at times a blast is delayed by some failure in the fuse, and he had no wish to share Peter's fate. He was in a state of horrible suspense, and kept wiping away with the back of his hand the cold drops that formed on his forehead.

At last he could stand the delay no longer, and leaving the bush in which he had been hidden, he stole across to the door of the magazine. It was just as he had left it. The ring of the padlock still hung in the staple. Certainly Peter had not got out. Morson drew a breath of deep relief. It was the fuse that had failed. All he had to do was go in again and find a new coil. It was hardly likely that this second coil would fail. Modern fuse is made with great care and precision.

He slipped the padlock out of the staple, turned the latch, opened the door and stepped inside. Next instant the roof fell on his head. That at least was his impression, but after that he had no impressions at all for quite a long time.

A SPLASH of cold water in his face brought Morson round, but for the moment his memory was gone, and all he was conscious of was a stunning ache in the top of his head. Another dash of ice-cold water made him gasp, and he opened his eyes to stare up unbelievingly into the face of his victim. There was a smile on that face which Morson did not like at all. Quite honestly he would rather have seen a scowl.

"Don't believe your head's as hard as mine, Morson," remarked Peter conversationally. "I certainly didn't hit you any harder than you hit me, and it was the same weapon, yet I've had the devil of a time to get you round. But perhaps I made a better shot than you did. A sand-bag is best applied to the back of the neck, not the top of the skull. Do you feel like talking?"

Whether he felt like it or not, Morson remained silent. He was very badly scared.

"I'm going to repeat the question I asked you some quarter of an hour ago, Morson," Peter continued. "I want to know who put you up to this idea of murdering me, for I'm quite sure you didn't try it for your own amusement."

Still Morson did not answer. And he could not move because, while he was still insensible, Peter had tied his hands firmly behind his back with his own handkerchief.

"Stubborn, eh?" remarked Peter. "Well, you must have heard the old proverb about sauce for the goose." He took a match box from his pocket, struck a match and held it close to the end of the pinched out fuse. "I hate to waste all this powder," Peter went on, "but after all powder is cheap and it's worth more than its cost to get rid of a reptile like you." Morson gave a sudden, frantic yell.

"Don't do it. For God's sake, stop!"

"You can shout as much as you like," said Peter. "No one will hear you. But if there's one thing more certain than another it is that I'll leave you here just as you left me unless you answer my question." The match went out. Peter dropped it and put his heel on it, but he took a second match from the box.

"All right. I'll talk," gasped Morson in a quaking tone. "It was Lanyon as made me do it."

"Made you or paid you?"

"He were giving me a hundred quid," said Morson sulkily.

"Is that all? Dash it, man, I thought I was worth more than that. But your information is just what I wanted, and when you give it in court I shall do my best to get you off with something less than a life sentence." Morson's face went the colour of putty. There was such abject terror in his eyes as made Peter feel rather sick.

"I'll never live to speak in court, mister. Lanyon'll kill me first."

"I can assure you he will do nothing of the sort," Peter answered. "You'll be far too well looked after."

Morson shook his head. "You don't know Lanyon," he croaked.

"Oh, but I do. I've had the pleasure of thrashing him and even of robbing him."

Morson shivered. "Then you're as good as dead," he said.

"Somehow I think the boot is on the other foot, and that Lanyon will be the one to die," Peter said, softly. "Now, I am going to take you down to the police station. Your hands will remain tied, and you will walk in front of me. I shall carry this sandbag, and you may feel quite certain I shall use it, if occasion arises."

Morson went out, and Peter followed. Though Peter had spoken so coolly, and acted so briskly, it was just about all he could do to follow Morson. That blow with the sand-bag had hurt him cruelly, and his head was one ache, but the worst of it was the waves of dizziness which kept sweeping over him. He would have given a lot to be able to drop down and lie still—even for five minutes. Instead, he had to march behind this man along the wood path, over the hill, and so down to Cranham, the better part of a mile away.

The late moon had risen, and was throwing its slanting light across the woods, but the light was behind Peter, and his shadow black in front. He failed I to see a long, twisted root which curved across the path. He caught his foot and fell.

Like a flash, Morson turned and kicked at him savagely. If Morson's nailed boot had struck him on the head, the force of the kick would probably have killed Peter. But Peter's arms were flung out to save him in his fall, and in the half light, and his furious hurry, Morson missed his target. The edge of the sole of his boot cut Peter's cheek, but the main force of the impact came upon the muscles of his shoulder. Next instant, Morson was away, running as hard as his bound hands allowed.

Sheer rage brought Peter to his feet. His left arm hung useless, but, in spite of this, he made after Morson. It wasn't running. Peter's gait was a staggering shamble, yet the mere fact that, for the second time that evening, he had failed to out his adversary, filled Morson with blind panic, and be went straight up the slope at a pace that left Peter far behind.

Now, it is all very well to run uphill with your hands tied behind your back, but a very different matter to run down a slope under similar conditions. Peter knew this, and kept doggedly on. By the time he reached the brow of the hill, Morson was out of sight down the winding path, but Peter could hear his heavy boots pounding in the distance, and he stuck to the chase. The path, as he knew well, led straight back to Cranham, and, once near the house, he could shout for help.

Morson knew this, too, and anticipated the danger. He waited till he reached the valley; then quickly stepped off the path into the thick hazels to the right He was not going to fail this time. The path here ran along the very edge of the steep bank above the brook, and one good kick would send Peter over the edge to drop 20 feet into the stony bed.


ONE thing Morson had not counted on—indeed, he did not know of it. That was Peter's sense of hearing, which was good. Nor did he know that Peter had spent much of his time in the East in the hunting of big game, a pursuit which trains all the senses, especially the ears and eyes. Peter, though quite one hundred yards behind, was at once sensible that Morson had stopped running, and he needed no one to tell him exactly what had happened. He realised Morson's plan as plainly as if he had been told it in so many words, and knew exactly when the fellow had stopped.

In spite of his pain and giddiness, a grim smile curved his lips. But he did not pause even for a moment—he kept on steadily. The moonlight was brighter here, for one side of the path was open to the brook, and as he neared the bush behind which he knew Morson was hidden, Peter distinctly saw a branch quiver slightly. He still had the sand-bag clutched in his right hand, and as he neared the bush he suddenly swung in behind it.

This move must have seemed like black magic to Morson. The wretched man lost his head and plunged forward on to the path. The ground was rough and stony. He tripped, and, unable to save himself owing to his bound hands, shot forward headlong over the bank. One horrid scream, then a heavy thud, and after that complete silence.

Peter went slowly forward to the top of the bank, and holding on to a tree branch, looked over. Morson lay huddled on the stones below. His head was twisted to one side, and he was quite still.

"I don't think he'll do much more kicking," said Peter, very slowly; "or me, either," he added, and was just able to go back one step before he, too, dropped and lay as still as Morson.

"PETER—Peter—speak to me!" Judith's voice seemed to come from a great way off, yet it reached Peter's consciousness. But to save him he could not give any sign that he had heard.

"They've killed him!" moaned Judith, and Peter felt her lips on his cheek. Then, somehow, he did manage to get his eyes open, though the lids still felt heavy as lead.

"I'm all right," he remarked, rather ungraciously. Judith gave a little scream of joy.

"Oh, Peter, I thought you were dead."

"It's the other chap who's dead. He's there—over the bank, in the stream. Neck broken, I think."

"Lanyon—you mean Lanyon?"

"No such luck! One of his creatures—a man called Morson."

"Sent here by Lanyon?" Judith's voice was breathless.

"Yes; I got that out of him—and I hoped to get more. Now he'll never talk again. But we must send for the police. The body must be got out of the brook, and there'll have to be an inquest." He tried to get up, but the moment he raised his head from Judith's lap the same sick giddiness came over him, and he dropped back.

"Keep quiet," Judith ordered. "You are more hurt than you think."

"But you can't stay here all night," Peter remonstrated. "And I'm bleeding all over that pretty frock of yours. And—and you're sitting on the damp ground."

Judith laughed—a low, soft laugh.

"You dear, silly fellow. As if it mattered about my frock. If you only knew how happy I am to find you alive. Oh, when I first saw you lying here and thought you were dead!" Her laugh changed to a sob and again she bent her head and kissed him.

Peter was horribly embarrassed. He was not one of these modern young men who think little more of a kiss than a hand-shake. Besides- -these kisses—they were different somehow.

"Don't you like me to kiss you, Peter?" Judith asked, softly.

"It's—it's perfectly sweet of you," replied Peter, "but what would anyone say if they saw us like—like this?"

Judith smiled again.

"I think they'd be more sympathetic than you, Peter. But you are right. We can't stay here—at least you can't. I must go back to the house for help."

"No need. I can walk—with a little help. It's only my head. The beggar sand-bagged me."

"Peter, you can't, you mustn't. Let me go and fetch Blandy and James."

"I've walked all the way from the magazine," Peter told her. "And now we're only a few hundred yards from the house. Much better let me get back and wash this blood off my face before we call the servants."

"He made a fresh effort, and this time managed to sit up. Judith was very unhappy about him, but Peter insisted, and presently got to his feet. Judith put an arm round him.

"Lean on me," she begged. "Don't be afraid. I'm very strong." She spoke no more than the truth, and Peter was surprised at the ease with which she helped him along the rough path. Peter himself was far fitter than a week earlier. Good food and fresh air had made all the difference, and he had survived a blow which might have killed a weaker man.

All the same, he was mightily thankful when they did reach the house, and the whisky and soda which Judith herself brought him was more welcome than anything he had tasted for a long tune.

Late as it was, Blandy was up. It seemed that he, as well as Judith, had heard Morson's scream as he toppled into the brook. Judith told him to telephone for the police, and a doctor, and then to fetch warm water and bandages. She herself bathed Peter's face, and, kneeling beside him, carefully cleaned the cut which ran all across his cheek. She was very troubled about it.

"I'm afraid it will leave a horrid scar," she mourned.

"It won't be the first," Peter told her, with a smile. He did not feel a bit like smiling, for his head ached savagely; but he felt he had to try to keep cheerful. Judith was inclined to be tragic, and Peter had not forgotten those kisses.

"But I shall hate to see your face all scarred," she answered.

"Then I must keep out of your sight," grinned Peter.

"You are cruel," Judith cried. "Don't you know that I love you, Peter?"

Peter's cheeks went brick red. He had never had such a shock in his life, and for the life of him he did not know what to say. He was fond of Judith, and extremely grateful to her, but he was certainly not in love with her. She was not in any way the sort of woman he had thought of as a wife.

A glare of headlights shone through the open window, and the wheels of a car crunched on the gravel of the sweep in front of the house. Judith rose quickly from her knees.

"The doctor," she said, swiftly; but Peter saw the look of keen disappointment, almost anger, in her eyes. He himself had never felt a greater sense of relief. Next moment Blandy opened the door.

"Dr. Powell, madam," he said. Powell, a tubby, genial, little man, wasted no time in getting to work. Of the cut he made little. It was Peter's skull he examined with care. He drew in his lips with a little sucking sound.

"You can thank your stars for a very sound skull, young man. You've had a blow that would have killed one with a thinner headpiece. As it is, you have slight concussion, and what you've done since the blow hasn't helped matters. We must get you to bed at once, and you'll have to stay fiat on your back for the next few days. I'll send up a nurse, Miss Vidal."

"Oh, Lord! I don't want a nurse," protested Peter.

"But you're going to have one, my lad," said Powell. "When I say flat on your back I mean it. Please call your butler, Miss Vidal, and another man if you have one. Mr. Hastings must not walk any more tonight. I'll stay and put him to bed. In any case, I shall have to wait for the police. I understand there's a dead man in the brook."

Peter made no further protest. In any case, he was just about all in, and Judith had not helped matters by her sudden declaration. He submitted to being carried upstairs and put to bed. Powell was kindness itself.

"You're not to worry about anything," he told him. "Do as I say, and you'll be perfectly fit inside a week, but if you play the fool you may have serious trouble. Headaches for the rest of your life, for Instance. I'm going to give you a sedative, and a night's sleep will do you a lot of good." Peter swallowed the nasty-tasting dose without a murmur, but his last thoughts as he sank into a drugged sleep were not of Morson or his adventures of the past few hours; they were of Judith and of those passionate kisses.

WHEN he woke next morning a pleasant-faced, middle-aged nurse was beside his bed. She washed him, she brought him breakfast, but she kept him flat on his back. Not that Peter minded much, for he was aching all over, and more tired than he had ever felt before. The nurse—her name was Evans—told him that the police had taken away Morson's body. He was quite dead.

Just as Peter had thought, the man's neck was broken. The inquest would be next day, but it would be only formal, and the full Inquiry would be postponed until Peter was able to give evidence.

On the second day Peter felt much better, on the third he was anxious to get up, but Powell was adamant, and it was not until Saturday that Peter was allowed even to sit up. On Monday Powell visited him and told him he might get up that evening, and drive over to Bromyard for the inquest.

Judith had been to see Peter every day but only for short visits. Tonight they were to dine together, and secretly Peter felt very uneasy. Peter was a modest sort of chap, and Judith scared him stiff by her avowal. He hated the idea of turning her down, but marrying her was equally out of the question. As he dressed that evening he was considering the fact that he would probably have to chuck his job, and that idea appalled him. He loved the work, and was very sure that he would never again get anything that suited him so well. The idea of finding himself penniless again in London filled him with dread.

At dinner Judith was her most brilliant self. She wore an amber frock that suited her to perfection, and Peter noticed that the emerald necklace was round her neck. She ordered Blandy to open champagne, and drank to Peter's recovery. When dinner was over Judith led the way into the garden. It was a heavenly night, and the air thick with the scent of flowers.

"The papers are full of you, Peter," she told him. "I've had reporters here every day, yearning to interview you. What annoyed them most was that I had no photograph to give them." The look of dismay on Peter's face made her laugh.

"Never mind. You'll be the centre of a battery of cameras tomorrow." Then as she saw he was really annoyed she turned serious. "You mustn't mind, Peter. A business like this can't be kept dark, and we're all very proud of you. Besides, in a way, it's all to the good. Lanyon will be reading all this and wondering how much information you got out of the wretched Morson before his end. He'll get a real scare, and perhaps after this he may leave us alone."

Peter shook his head.

"He may lie low for a bit, but I'm beginning to see he's not the sort to give up very easily."

Judith turned white.

"And it's I who have brought you into all this trouble, Peter," she exclaimed. "Already I have nearly got you killed, and now, as you say, you will be in fresh danger from that horrible man."

"Danger?" repeated Peter. "Don't forget I was in danger of starvation when you took pity on me. I can stick a good deal of danger for a job like this one you've given me."

"That's sweet of you," Judith's voice had dropped a tone and was deep and vibrant. "But, Peter, I could give you much more than that. I would give you myself if you would let me."

Peter stiffened.

"Good Lord, now I've put my foot in it!" was his thought. Aloud he said slowly.

"Do you mean you want me to marry you, Judith?"

"Haven't I said so?" she answered softly. They were close to a garden seat which was under a big copper beech and out of sight of the house.

"Sit down here," Peter said. "We have to talk this out."

Judith sat down.

"Aren't you a little cold-blooded, Peter?" she asked.

"I don't know whether I am or not," Peter said, "but this is a pretty big thing. First, I want to tell you that you've paid me a most tremendous compliment, and next I have to show you my side of it all." He paused, trying to find words.

Judith sat quite still beside him. That faint elusive scent she used was in his nostrils, and the moon shining full on her face gave it an added loveliness. She was an extraordinarily beautiful woman, and most men would have given all they had to be in Peter's place. He cursed himself inwardly for feeling as he did, or rather for not feeling what he felt he ought to feel.

"Do you mind if I speak plainly?" he asked.

"I want you to. It's just your honesty that makes me love you."

Peter bit his lip. This was going to be worse even than he had thought.

"Then I've got to tell you that I'm not in love with you." He stopped and glanced sideways at Judith, but she made no sign.

From a clump of laurel opposite came a snapping sound. It was rather like the crack of a toy whip. Something hissed past Peter's shoulder. From Judith came a faint cry as she toppled over sideways.


WITH a shout of rage Peter leaped from the seat and charged straight for the hidden gunman. The man fired a second time, but Peter's rush must have rattled him or perhaps the moonlight was deceptive. Then he bolted. Peter heard the soft thump of rubber-soled shoes as their owner raced away into the thickets, but he never caught a glimpse of the man. The sound died away in the distance and Peter, realising that pursuit was useless, ran back to Judith.

"Did you see him?" The voice gave Peter an extraordinary shock. He had fully believed that Judith was dead. He had distinctly heard the bullet strike and seen her drop back without a sound. Yet here she was sitting up and seeming little the worse. He pulled up short and stared at her stupidly.

"You're safe?" he gasped. "Not hurt?" She smiled at him. His evident anxiety seemed to please her.

"I was lucky," she said and held up a little gold cigarette case. It was a flattened wreck. "It was in my bag," she went on, "and I had the bag over my arm. The bullet struck the case right in the middle and banged it against my side. I must have got a lovely bruise," she added with a smile.

"You're wonderful!" Peter exclaimed. He had never admired her more. The warmth in his voice made her glow. She stretched out her arms to him and Peter took her hands in his. She drew him towards her.

"I'm not wonderful at all, Peter," she said very softly. "Just a very lonely girl with only one friend in the World and I don't think he cares for me very much."

"Don't be foolish," said Peter sharply. He was still trying to hold on to himself, but his control was slipping. "Of course I care for you. There's no one I like better."

"Is that true, Peter?" Her voice was deep as an organ note. "You tell me there is no one else—no other woman in your life?"

"No," said Peter flatly. "I've met girls I liked. What man hasn't? But I've never been in love. I'm not now," he added with a sort of desperation. Judith held him at arm's length.

"I know it," she said with a touch of bitterness. "And I love you the better because you tell me. If you only knew how many men have pretended to love me—some because of my looks, but most because of my money. And now the one man whom I love cares for neither. Can't you care a little, Peter?"

A surge of pity weakened Peter.

"What I like best about you is your pluck and your kindness, Judith. I never met a girl I admired more."

"And yet you won't marry me, Peter?" Peter made a last effort.

"Judith, I'm penniless. I'm simply your paid servant. What would your friends say?"

"Friends!" Judith's voice was bitter again. "I have no friends, and not a relation nearer than a second cousin. If that's your only argument, I don't think much of it, Peter. And if you think you would be dependent on me you are very much mistaken. I should settle £50,000 on you."

Peter stiffened.

"I don't want your money. I wouldn't take it," he said curtly.

"No, I suppose not." Judith's voice was very gentle. "Very well, Peter, I have said more than any woman ought to say, and—" Suddenly she covered her face with her hands and a sob shook her.

It was too much for any man. Peter dropped to his knees, and his arm went round her.

"Don't, Judith! don't cry. I'm a selfish beast, and I'll do anything you like to make you happy."

"You mean that, Peter? Oh, do you really mean it?"

"Of course, I mean it," said Peter stoutly. "And if you think it's good enough surely I ought to be content. I'm a very lucky man." She clung to him and he kissed her. Yet all the time some small voice within seemed to be warning him that he was wrong, and that he should never have yielded. Presently Judith lifted her head from his shoulder.

"It's fate," she said. "From the moment I first saw you in Singapore, Peter, I knew you were my man." She paused a moment, then laughed. "Peter, we are behaving most disgracefully. We ought to be in the house, telephoning for the police."

Peter shrugged.

"The man's miles away by now, Judith. That bullet was meant for me, not you."

"I know. I wonder if it was Lanyon himself."

"Not likely. Lanyon would have mad a better job of it than that fellow. H missed me clean the second time."

"It was splendid of you to go after him like that, Peter."

"I thought he'd killed you," said Pete simply.

"That would have saved you a lot of bother, Peter," said Judith.

"Don't talk nonsense," Peter snapped "I can never be grateful enough that tiny little cigarette case saved you."

"Saved me for you. Yes, I shall always keep it, Peter." She paused again. "Then you think it is no good calling the police?"

"Not a bit. I'm taking the reckoning into my own hands, Judith."

"You'll be careful," she exclaimed in sudden alarm.

"Oh, I'll be careful. I'm not going to throw away my chances by letting Lanyon bush-whack me."

"Bush-whack—what's that mean?"

"What he tried to do. Shooting out of a bush. They call it 'dry- gulching' in the West."

"We'd best go in," said Judith, getting up. "Lanyon might have another of his men waiting for us."

THAT NIGHT Peter lay awake for hours thinking—thinking. He kept on telling himself that he was the luckiest man in England. A fortnight ago he had been little better than an Embankment tramp; now he was engaged to one of the richest and most lovely women in England with every prospect of as full and interesting a life as anyone could dream of. He would have the work he liked best, sport, travel, an assured position. He could go into politics or become a power in the county. There was not a living soul who wouldn't say "Lucky devil!"

It was no good. He did not love Judith, and in the very soul of him knew he never would love her. Like, admire, yes; but love—no. And although Peter had never studied the ethics of such a case, he knew, deep down, that it was all wrong. Without putting it in so many words, he was aware that he had the capacity for falling in love. Suppose he met the right girl later. Resolutely he put the thought aside. Rightly or wrongly he had given his word to Judith, and he made up his mind that, whatever happened, he would keep it and do his best to make her happy.

The inquest was fixed for 11 next morning, and Peter was, of course, the principal witness. Judith was right. The story of the attempt to murder him had created big interest, and Bromyard was full of reporters. Peter was snapped a dozen times, and Judith even more frequently.

Peter told his story as simply as possible, yet the silence in the crowded room proved the intense interest taken in his narrow escape, and there was a shiver as he described how he had come to his senses just in time to pinch out the burning fuse before it reached the powder. The story of how Morson had tried to ambush him was received with the same flattering interest.

Then Mr. Childe, the Coroner, began to question Peter as to the motive of Morson's attack. Peter and Judith had already discussed the matter, and decided that there should be no mention of Lanyon. If Morson had lived it would have been a different matter, but, as it was, it seemed useless to drag in Lanyon's name. It would only lead to a regular investigation by Scotland Yard, and then, if Lanyon were arrested, to the discovery of queer practices on the part of Judith's father. And, in any case, there was no proof against Lanyon, who was certainly far too cunning to have left any trace of his connexion with Morson.

So Peter was forced to protest ignorance of the motive of Morson's attack. This did not matter so much as he had feared it might, for the police had dug up Morson's record, and discovered that he was a thoroughly bad hat He had served two terms of imprisonment, one for robbery with violence.

The Coroner said that he concluded the man's object was to steal powder and fuse from the magazine, and ended his little speech by offering warm congratulations to Peter on his "pluck and presence of mind." There was a murmur of applause in the court, and Peter, who could never control his boyhood habit of blushing, grew very red. The verdict was "death by misadventure," and Peter slipped away from the reporters, who were anxious to interview him, and drove back with Judith to Cranham.

Next day the papers were full of the story. Judith openly exulted in the tributes to Peter, but Peter hated the publicity, and was amazed and annoyed at the number of strangers who wrote to congratulate him on ridding the world of a scoundrel. He refused to be considered as an invalid any longer, and threw himself into the work at the quarry.

His post on Thursday was bigger than that of Wednesday, and Judith coming down to breakfast found him scowling at the pile of letters.

"Pens and ink ought to be rationed," he growled. "I've a good mind to chuck the whole lot into the waste-paper basket, unopened."

"I wouldn't do that," said Judith. "Some of them might be from friends or relations."

"I've hardly any more relations than you, Judith. One uncle whom I've never seen since I was a small boy, and, as for friends, the only one I really care about, Bill Norman, is still in the Malay. At least I suppose he is. I haven't heard from him for more than a year."

"He might be home by this time and have written to you," said Judith. "Anyhow, I wouldn't tear up letters unread."

"Well, I'll leave the rest till I've helped you," he declared. "What are you going to have?" He helped her to scrambled egg and she poured out his coffee.

"Regular Darby and Joan already, aren't we, Peter?" laughed Judith, and Peter laughed too. But his laugh did not ring quite true, for once more it came to him that he ought to enjoy the prospect of a life-time's breakfasts vis-à-vis with Judith a great deal more than was actually the case. Judith became busy with her post, and Peter ripped open letter after letter with the handle of a tea-spoon, glanced swiftly at the contents, and flung them contemptuously aside.

Presently Judith, looking up from her own correspondence, saw Peter reading a letter, reading it right through, and, by the look on his face, realised that it was something of real importance. She was too wise to interrupt. She waited till Peter dropped the letter.

"You were right, Judith," he said, and there was suppressed excitement in his voice and eyes. "Someone worth-while has found my address. My uncle is dead and—and seemingly I'm his heir."


"HIS heir!" Judith's voice was almost sharp. "Was he—was he rich?"

"He had a big place in Perthshire—Glenfarne it's called."

"Glenfarne—near Pittendrum. It's a very big moor indeed. You don't mean that you have come into that?"

"It seems so. My uncle never married. His lawyers tell me I'm the heir. They want me to come up at once."

Judith bit her lip. This news of Peter's was the very last she had expected, and it did not please her at all. She hated the idea of Peter going away for an indefinite time just after she had his promise to marry her. Nor did she enjoy the idea of his becoming a rich man in his own right. Judith was far too shrewd not to realise, quite clearly the state of Peter's feelings, and she had specially wanted him to herself for the present. Yet her hesitation lasted only a couple of seconds.

"You must go, Peter. Ring for Blandy and ask him to pack for you. Meantime I'll look out the trains from Worcester."

Peter looked at her gratefully.

"You are the kindest girl, Judith." Then he frowned. "I hate to leave just when I'm so busy here."

"The sooner you go the sooner you'll be back," said Judith with a smile. "And perhaps you'll miss me a little when you're up North."

"Of course I shall miss you." Peter came across and kissed her. Judith's eyes shone. It was the first time that Peter had given her a spontaneous kiss. She gave him a quick embrace and jumped up.

"I'll go and look up the trains. You'll go up by Birmingham and catch the first train at Crewe. That will land you in Perth in time for dinner."

"It's all so easy when you have money," said Peter to himself when, an hour later, he was seated alone in a first-class compartment pulling out of Shrub Hill station. His thoughts went back to that horrible journey home from the East when he had toiled in the sweating stokehold of a tramp steamer. Yet his ideas were very mixed, and the one that was uppermost was a queer regret that his uncle had not chosen to pass out of this world a month or so earlier than he actually had. Next he cursed himself for an ungrateful beast.

"Judith is a dear," he said half aloud. "She's a great deal fonder of me than I deserve." The train ran into Crewe before he had even opened his newspaper, and a porter was lifting out his suitcase. Once in the express Peter read resolutely and refused to think, and soon after seven found himself at Perth.

He drove to his hotel and dined. Afterwards he went to a cinema and saw an excellent film. Sharp at ten next morning he was on the steps of the office of Mr. Macallister.

Angus Macallister was a tall, grizzled man of sixty, who received Peter with a rather stiff politeness. But no one could be stiff with Peter very, long, and soon they were chatting easily.

"Your uncle died three months ago," the lawyer told him, "but I could not find your address. I cabled to Singapore, but could get no information."

"That's not wonderful," said Peter. "Even the Consul doesn't keep tab on stokers." The lawyer gazed at Peter's well-kept hands and excellent tweeds.

"You were a stoker?" he exclaimed in astonishment.

"It was the only way I could get home," Peter explained. "I was utterly and completely broke."

The old fellow smiled.

"No one would think it, to look at you now, Mr. Hastings."

"I've been lucky," said Peter frankly. "I got the post of agent to Miss Vidal at Cranham."

"Where, it seems, you have been having exciting experiences," remarked Macallister. "It was, of course, through the newspaper report that I discovered your whereabouts. I must congratulate you. Glenfarne is a very fine property."

"I've heard so," Peter told him. "But all the same I can't quite see why my uncle left it to me. It's true he was my mother's brother, but they two never had much to do with one another, and, so far as I know, he only saw me once."

"In point of fact, Mr. Lachlan did not leave the property to you, Mr. Hastings. He made no will. It comes to you as next heir."

Peter frowned.

"That's a bit awkward, isn't it?" he said. "You'd have thought he had friends or servants who'd have had legacies."

The other nodded.

"You are right, Mr. Hastings," he replied. "It is awkward. Mr. Lachlan had an adopted daughter and though I'm not thinking he'd have left the place to her, he should have made provision for her in his will."

Peter's face fell.

"An adopted daughter? Lord, what a mix-up! But, of course, we must settle that, Mr. Macallister. You'll tell me what's right, and I'll do it."

The old lawyer smiled, and it was a very kindly smile.

"I was wondering how to put it to you, Mr. Hastings, and I'm glad you have taken the words from my mouth. But I thought, when first I set eyes on you, that you would do the right thing—and you can afford to," he added with a nod. "Mr. Lachlan was not a spender, and even when the death duties are settled, there'll be no lack of money. But you will like to see the place. Miss Grant has asked me to say that she is expecting us. My car is ready."

The car was fast and comfortable. They drove to the hotel and Peter picked up his suit case. Then they went out across the bridge over the wide Tay. Although he had Scottish blood in his veins, this was Peter's first visit to Scotland, but instinctively he loved the country. They drove north through Dunkeld and at Pittendrum turned left along a country road and so up into wild hills. The road dipped into a glen and Macallister pointed.

"Yon's Glenfarne, Mr. Hastings."

Peter had expected a regular lodge. Instead he saw a two-storeyed house with a long, white front standing on a broad plateau some fifty feet above a foaming burn. Behind were outbuildings and a walled garden and behind these again rose a great rock face in the clefts of which birch trees grew. Above was moor purple with heather.

Peter drew a long breath.

"Perfect!" he said softly. "Just perfect."

Macallister smiled.

"Aye, it's a bonny spot," he agreed, and Peter looked at him in surprise, for the old lawyer had suddenly shed his precise English and was talking broad Scottish. They crossed a bridge over the Farne and drove up the curving drive, and the first thing Peter saw was the girl who stood on the flight of stone steps leading up to the front door.

Peter never forgot his first sight of Christine Grant. She was no tall willowy beauty like Judith Vidal. Rather a small girl Christine was, with fair hair, straight, blue eyes and the exquisitely clear skin which is the mark of perfect health. She wore a perfectly plain coat and skirt of blue-grey tweed.

"Mr. Hastings, let me present you to Miss Grant," said the old lawyer, formal again. Christine gave Peter a small firm hand and smiled at him, and Peter thought how sweet it was of her to smile at a man whom surely she must look upon as a usurper.

"I'm very glad to see you, Mr. Hastings," she said cordially. "I'd almost begun to think you were a myth."

"Surely you wished I was," said Peter. Christine's clear eyes widened. "Why do you say that?"

"For every reason. You are my uncle's adopted daughter. Glenfarne ought to be yours, not mine."

Christine shook her head.

"No, Mr. Hastings. Daddy Neil always said that Glenfarne must remain in the family. He never meant me to have it. So please don't feel reproachful." She paused and looked at him thoughtfully. "There's something Scottish in you. I think you will love Glenfarne as I do, and I'm glad."

"I love it already," said Peter quickly, and Christine nodded approvingly.

"You'll love it still more when you've seen it," she declared. "I'll take you round after lunch. There's the gong now. I hope you're hungry."

She led them through a small hall hung with all kinds of trophies into the dining-room, a large, plain, but airy room. The whole place was a complete contrast to Cranham. Here was no luxury, but simple comfort and a delightfully home-like atmosphere.

The luncheon was plain but excellent; Cockyleekie soup, a game pie, and late strawberries with cream. Christine made the coffee herself and gave the men each a glass of that purely Scottish liqueur, Athol Brose, which is a cunning concoction of cream, honey and whisky. They sat a while and smoked, and Macallister wanted to talk business, but Christine laughingly refused.

"Since you are staying the night there'll be plenty of time for that this evening, Mr. Macallister. I want to take Mr. Hastings for a walk across the moor and show him some of the beauties of Glenfarne. You know you like a nap after lunch, and we'll be back for tea."

Glenfarne Lodge stood one thousand feet above sea level, but the hills behind ran up another two thousand. Christine led up through a steep gorge to the high ground, and the pace she set surprised Peter.

"You must have pity on me," he laughed. "I've been a week in bed."

She checked at once.

"How stupid of me!" she cried. "I'd forgotten how near that wretched man came to killing you. Tell me about it."

It was very easy to tell her. Peter had never met a more sympathetic listener. By the time they reached the blunt summit of Carn Dubh they were laughing and chaffing one another like two children.

"Now stop!" Christine ordered. "Stop and shut your eyes." Peter obeyed, and she took him by the hand and led him forward a few steps.

"You can look now," she said.

Peter opened his eyes to find himself on the verge of a great cliff which dropped sheer into the water of a large loch. Two miles away, on the far side, a sunny hill-side was covered with Scotch pines, while to the right was a curving glen through which the Fame ran out. To the left a magnificent mountain towered purple against the sky. Out in the centre of the loch was a small island rising to a rocky pinnacle. Peter gasped at the sheer beauty of the scene, and Christine watched him with a pleased little smile.

"Is this ours?" he asked breathlessly.

"Yours," Christine corrected, and suddenly Peter felt a queer little pang. It was Judith with whom he had to share this beauty—not Christine. Then his attention was attracted by the rings of rising fish below.

"Good fishing?" he asked eagerly.

"The best in Perthshire. You're keen?"

"Mad," declared Peter, his eyes shining.

"Me, too. We'll go tomorrow," said Christine happily. "Now we must get back. I want to show you something else on the way."

They climbed down into the glen and followed the river. Presently Peter heard a dull roar in the distance.

"Falls?" he questioned.

"Finglas we call it—the 'White Water'. It will be fine today. The burn is full."

There had been rain in the hills and the burn was nearly bank high. The roar grew louder, it became a deep boom filling the sunlit air.

"You see that bridge," said Christine. "Your uncle built it where it is so as to get a good view of the fall."

The bridge was a simple form of suspension. Wire ropes slung from heavy wooden posts supported a narrow wooden footway with a hand rail on either side. Christine led the way on to it and Peter followed.

Beneath, the clear brown water raced in a smooth swirl flecked with foam and less than ten paces beyond plunged over a rim of granite into a narrow black abyss. The whole stream shot over in a solid spout, the top golden in the sunlight, the bottom black as ink in the deep shadow of the gorge. From the depths rose a cloud of white spray and a never-ending thunder of sound.

"And this is mine," was Peter's thought as he leaned on the rail and gazed down into the boiling pit.

Christine did not speak. She seemed to understand exactly what Peter was thinking and feeling.

Both had their backs to the still rising flood, neither saw the danger that was approaching. It was a great alder trunk torn by the flood from the bank of the river and now bearing resistlessly down upon the bridge. Their first warning was when its projecting roots crashed into the footway and swung it violently forward.

Under the tremendous pressure one of the cable wires snapped with a loud twang. The whole footway swung forward towards the edge of the thundering fall.


PETER acted instinctively. His left arm he flung round Christine, with his right hand he reached up and grasped the nearest cable. He knew that it alone could not stand the strain and he was right, for, almost as he gripped it, there came a second twang and it, too, parted. There was just one bit of luck for Peter and Christine—that it was from the far support that the cable was torn away.

In a flash the whole footway was loose and swinging down towards the Up of the thundering fall. As it swung it dropped and Peter had just time to twist his right leg around the wire before he and Christine were in the water, being dragged inexorably towards the fall. He caught a glimpse of the great log that had done the damage, swinging past. Next instant it was over the brink and gone.

Even with his double hold on the cable Peter could hardly have held Christine against the remorseless wrench of the flood, but Christine had not lost her head. The moment she felt herself going she, too, had taken a grip on the rough wire with both hands. Together they swung sideways and were flung against the right-hand bank with a force that half stunned them.

There were trees farther down the gorge. There were none here. There was not a root, not even a clump of heather to give hand-hold. All that lay between them and the lip of the cataract was a rounded rock projecting a yard or so from the bank. With a horrid numb despair he realised that there was no way of saving Christine.

So long as his muscles could withstand the strain, he and she might cling to the cable, but the end seemed certain. Sooner or later their strength would be exhausted and they would be swept helplessly over that dreadful verge.

Then he heard Christine's voice high and clear above the deep- toned thunder of the fall.

"Climb up the rope. I can hold on till you're up." He looked at her and saw that she, like him, had managed to get a leg around the cable. Her small face was set in firm lines and there was no panic in the clear blue eyes lifted to his.

"You're sure?" he asked.

"Certain," she answered with such brave confidence that fresh courage surged through Peter's veins.

He began to climb. The wire was rusty with long exposure and cut his palms, yet at the same time this gave him a better grip and up he went foot by foot. The strain at first was terrific, but once he was clear of the tug of the flood it came easier. Christine's weight below kept the cable anchored against the side and presently Peter was able to get one foot on the top of the bank. He flung himself over on to firm ground, bent down, gripped the cable again with both hands and with a strength of which he had hardly thought himself capable lifted Christine to safety. Christine looked up at him.

"You are strong, Peter," she said simply.

"And you—you are the pluckiest girl I ever knew," he answered. Christine glanced down at the swift water. She shuddered slightly.

"I was frightened, I was horribly frightened," she confessed.

"Then all the more credit to you for keeping your head as you did," declared Peter warmly. "I could never have got you out if you had clung to me."

"That's enough if compliments," said Christine with a small smile. She paused and the smile changed to a puzzled frown. "I wonder where that tree came from," she went on.

"Prom the bank, I suppose."

Christine still frowned.

"It's odd that such a thing should never have happened before. We've had much bigger floods than this. We had one only three weeks ago. You'd think if there was a tree to come down, it would have come then."

Peter looked serious

"You—you don't think it was done on purpose?"

Christine shook her head.

"I simply can't imagine anyone doing such a horrible thing," she answered; "and, in any case, it would be very difficult to do." She gave herself a little shake. "I'm wet and cold and hungry. Let's go home to tea."

Nothing makes for intimacy like sharing a common danger, and by the time the two reached the lodge Peter simply could not believe that he had known Christine Grant for only half a day. Peter had read often enough of twin souls and affinities and been inclined to jeer. He was not jeering now. He was running into a whole lot of new emotions. He was exquisitely happy and rather scared.

The first thing Christine did was to attend to Peter's cut hands. She washed the cuts with disinfectant and carefully bandaged the wounds, and Peter watching her deft fingers at work could hardly resist the temptation to pick them up and press them to his lips.

He pulled himself up with a jerk. This would never do. He was engaged to Judith. He had no business to think of any other girl.

Which was all very well and very praiseworthy, yet by nightfall Peter was deeper than ever in the toils. He was forced to realise that Christine was his ideal and that he was head over heels in love with her. The worst of it—or was it the best?—he knew that Christine was beginning to like him. As for dear old Macallister, he was almost purring. He saw how these two young folk were attracted one to another, and from his point of view what could be more perfect than that they should marry and share Glenfarne between them?

Poor Peter! He had never spent a worse night in his life. Some men, in his place, would have coolly decided to break off their previous engagement, but not Peter. His was a very simple and straightforward nature. He had given his word to Judith, and it never occurred to him to break it. He lay and tossed miserably in his very comfortable bed and the one conclusion to which he came was that he must go away at once.

He decided he would get on the telephone immediately after breakfast to Timmins and then tell Christine that he was called back to Herefordshire on business. A cold bath did something to brace him and he came down to a day of glorious sunshine to find Christine, looking bright as the morning, waiting for him in the hall.

"It's a perfect fishing day, Peter," she said eagerly. "I've sent Donald up to get the boat and the rods ready. And Mrs. Malcolm is putting up luncheon."

All Peter's stern resolutions melted like mist under the morning sun. To refuse Christine—to tell her he couldn't come would be like hurting a child. Besides, what harm could one day do? Who could grudge him a few hours of happiness? Tomorrow he would leave and probably never see her again.

"I'm ready when you are," he answered.

"Then come to breakfast. It's quite ready."

She slipped an arm through his and led him into the dining-room, and old Macallister on his way down the stairs saw them and smiled again.

Christine had ponies ready to take them up to the loch. She was bubbling with pleasure and excitement. She loved fishing, riding, gardening—all the things that Peter found best in life, and she looked her best on a horse. They reached the boat-house to find the keeper waiting for them.

"Are they rising, Donald?" was Christine's first eager question.

"Aye, mem, they're rising fine." He pointed to a broad ring under the sheltered bank. "Yon's a big one. Will I come with ye. Miss Christine?"

"Yes, you can row us this morning. Donald. In the afternoon we'll manage the boat ourselves, for I know you have to go to Blairgowrie."

The rods were ready. There was nothing to do but tie the well- clamped casts to the lines, and in less than five minutes they were afloat. A soft westerly breeze rippled the broad loch, and the fish were rising like mad.

At his second cast, Peter hooked a beauty, which tore the line from his reel and leaped madly. It was years since Peter had handled a trout rod, but fishing is like swimming. One never forgets. He kept his point well up, and brought the big trout steadily up to the boat. Donald slipped the net under it, and lifted it in.

"No' the first trout ye have taken, sir," he remarked; and Peter tingled at the praise.

"What a beauty!" cried Christine in delight. "Over a pound, and the golden sort. That one will be pink-fleshed."

If the weather had been made to order, it could not have been more perfect. The fish were rising everywhere, and more than once Christine and Peter were both fighting a strong trout at the same time. By lunch they had just over three dozen, and Peter had been broken by a monster that he had never seen.

"Gin ye do as well this afternoon, ye will be breaking the record for the loch," said Donald, cheerfully, as he grounded the boat on a shingle beach near the spot where the burn ran out. "I'll be taking these doon with me to the lodge, Miss Christine. Will I send up Alec in the evening?"

"No need, Donald," Christine said. "We have tea with us as well as lunch, and we can leave the baskets in the boat-house. You'll need Alec for the cows, as you'll be away."

"Verra good, mem," said Donald, and, after lifting the lunch basket and collecting the trout, went striding away down the glen.

"A good chap," said Peter.

"Never a better," Christine declared. "You'll keep him, Peter?"

"So long as he'll stay," said Peter, with emphasis.

Christine was busy setting out the lunch. Tongue sandwiches, jam pasties, shortbread, buttered biscuits with cheese paste, a bottle of white wine, and a thermos of hot coffee.

"I hope you're hungry," said Christine. She looked up brightly, but something she saw in Peter's eyes made her drop hers again, while a faint colour stained her clear cheeks.

Peter suppressed a groan as he dropped one the rug beside her. This was harder than he had thought.

"I ought to have gone this morning," he said to himself. Christine saw his troubled face.

"What's the matter, Peter?" she asked, softly.

"Just a twinge," lied Peter bravely.

"You've been doing too much," said Christine, anxiously. "You look so fit I keep forgetting how badly that man must have hurt you. And yesterday was a dreadful strain for you."

"I'm fit as possible," Peter assured her.

"My left hand is the only thing that bothers me, and that's a lot better. I'm enjoying every minute," he went on earnestly. "I've never had such a perfect day in all my life." There was no doubting that he spoke the truth.

Christine smiled happily.

"Then eat your luncheon," she urged; "and afterwards I'm going to row."


THE light breeze held, the sun still shone, and the fish continued to rise. Christine would row to the cop of a beat, then ship the sculls, and let the boat drift while they both cast. Sometimes they talked; sometimes they were silent. The two had already reached that stage of intimacy when speech no longer mattered. The score mounted steadily, and by tea time they had another two dozen fine trout.

They were close to the island, and Christine suggested that they should land on it for tea. "Afterwards we can fish our way home," she said.

"Fine!" agreed Peter. "I wanted to have a look at the island. Has it a name?"

"Everything has a name in Scotland. It is called Stuaic, which means 'rocky island.' There's a queer old ruin among the trees. It's said to be the cell of a hermit who lived there hundreds of years ago."

"I wonder if he fished," said Peter as the boat touched the bank. He jumped out and helped Christine, then put the tea basket and rug ashore. Next, he tied the boat to a rock and picking up the basket followed Christine up the steep bank. They found a grassy slope surrounded by trees and laid out the things. Christine lit a spirit lamp and Peter filled the kettle from the lake.

Peter laughed and joked. He was determined to avoid sentiment. He was going to enjoy this day to the end, but his one idea was not to hurt Christine. He told her stories of various amusing adventures in the East, but was careful not to say a word of anything that had happened since he came home. After tea they climbed up towards the centre of the island, and Christine showed him the hermit's cell. It was nothing but four bare walls of rough stone with a small part of the roof left over one end.

"All right in summer," said Peter, "but how did the poor blighter manage in winter? There isn't even a fireplace."

"He couldn't have lived here in winter," Christine answered. "It isn't only the cold; he'd have starved. I've seen the loch frozen for weeks on end, but the ice is never safe. And where would he have got food? The lodge wasn't built in those days, and the nearest house was Costello, up at the head of the loch, seven miles away."

"Costello—whose place is that?"

"It belongs to the Mackays, but a Captain Norman has leased it."

"Norman!" Peter said quickly. "Do you know his first name?"

"William, I believe. He's a tall, lean, grey-eyed man of about thirty, who looks as if he had knocked about a good deal. He flies a lot. Why, Peter, I believe you know him."

"Know him!" cried Peter. "Bill Norman is my best—almost my only— pal. But fancy finding him here! Last time we met he was almost as broke as I. Oh, I must see Bill before I go."

"So you shall. I will drive you up there tomorrow."

"I will have to go back tomorrow," said Peter, curtly. "The look of dismay on Christine's face cut him to the heart.

"Go back tomorrow! I thought you would stay at least a week."

"You forget," said Peter, in a softer tone. "I have my work. I am Miss Vidal's agent. There's a great deal to do at Cranham, and I can't leave her in the lurch."

"But you'll be giving that up now," said Christine.

"I can't do so yet. It wouldn't be fair to Miss Vidal. She gave me the post when I was broke and almost starving. You understand, don't you, Christine?"

"Yes; and I think you are quite right," said Christine frankly. She considered. "I tell you what. We could go straight home, and you could telephone Captain Norman and get him to come over tonight to dinner."

"That's an idea," said Peter. "You're sure you don't mind, Christine?"

"Of course, I don't mind," Christine replied quickly, and Peter already knew her well enough to be sure that she did mind. They went back to the spot where they had had tea, repacked the basket, and Peter carried it down to the shore. He pulled up short.

"Why, where's the boat?" he exclaimed. Christine sprang lightly out or the rocks which fringed the Island shore. She pointed.

"There it is, Peter," and Peter scrambling out beside her, saw the boat drifting already a good three hundred yards from the island. Instantly he began to peel off his coat.

"What are you going to do?" Christine asked him.

"Swim after it."

"How far can you swim?"

"I've done half a mile."

"Not in water as cold as this."

"But the boat isn't half a mile away; it isn't a quarter."

Christine shook her head.

"Look at the pace it's travelling, Peter It's moving now before the wind as fast as any man could swim. It would be ashore on the far bank before you could reach it, and that is nearly two miles away."

"But what can we do?" asked Peter in dismay. "We can't get back without it."

"We must stay here," Christine answered quietly. "They'll miss us at the lodge and send Alec to look for us. We may be late for dinner, but that will be the worst of it. Anyhow we shan't starve," she added philosophically. "There's plenty of bread and butter and cake left in the tea-basket."

"It's splendid, the way you take it," Peter declared. "All the same it's my fault. I tied the boat." He frowned. "I can't imagine how it got loose. I certainly didn't tie a granny knot. I made two half-hitches."

"I saw you tie the knots," Christine answered quietly. "That boat couldn't have got loose by itself."

Peter stared at her.

"But there's no one else on the loch," he objected.

"There is. I saw a boat far up the loch just before we pulled in for tea. I didn't think anything of it, for Costello has fishing rights." Peter felt a sudden shock of dismay. Surely Lanyon had not followed him up here! And yet—he remembered their narrow escape of the previously day and Christine's puzzlement at the time. Christine saw his troubled look, but, of course, without knowing its cause.

"It's just a silly practical joke, Peter. Don't worry. We may as well sit down and make ourselves comfortable. We can't expect Alec for several hours yet."

Peter was looking at the sky. To the west, above the tall peak of Slieve Kyle, a long curl of grey mist was beginning to stream out like smoke from a fire.

"I hope he won't be too long," he said. "There's wind coming."

"I knew that," said Christine. "I hoped you wouldn't see it. Still, it may not come for some hours yet." She led the way back to the place where they had tea, and perched herself on a big smooth stone.

"Tell me more about yourself, Peter. I want to know what you did when you came home. You said you were broke when Miss Vidal gave you the job of agent."

It was just what Peter did not want to talk about, yet somehow he could not refuse her. He told how he had lost his claim while he lay ill with fever. The only thing he was careful not to mention was the name of the firm that had robbed him. He told how he had worked his way home and how he had nearly starved in London. Christine listened with breathless interest.

"Oh, if Daddy Neil and I had only known," she exclaimed. "After all, he was your uncle, Peter. Why—why didn't you write to him?"

Peter flushed a little.

"It's hard to explain," he said. "I—I always hated cadging and, after all, I hardly knew him or he me."

At this moment a big drop of rain smacked against his cheek. He sprang up.

"We must get to shelter," he exclaimed. "It's going to pour."

He grabbed the basket and the rug, and he and she together ran for the hermit's cell. Before they reached it the rain was coming down in earnest and, what was worse, a great wind was beginning to roar among the tree tops. Peter packed Christine into the driest corner of the ruin and stood beside her.

"If I'd had any sense I'd have been fixing this place up instead of yarning," he said with a touch of bitterness.

Christine laughed.

"It's my fault more than yours. I made you talk." Then she turned serious. "Peter, this is a real storm, and Alec can't get to us in a gale like this."

"How long will it last?" Peter asked quickly. "You know the weather in these parts."

"It may last all night."

"All night!"

"I'm so sorry, Peter," Christine said. "It's all my fault for landing on this wretched island. And you not well!"

"You didn't suppose. I was thinking of myself!" Peter exclaimed in so shocked a voice that Christine laughed.

"You needn't worry about me, Peter. I'm very strong."

"Have you ever spent a night in the open without fire?"

"No, but I've camped out."

"This is a very different thing from camping out," Peter said. "If the rain goes on, we shall both be soaked before morning. And it will be very cold."

"I don't mind," she told him frankly. "We're out of the wind. Well Just have to make the best of it. Sit down Peter. I can't talk to you If you stand over me like that."

Peter sat down. The wind had risen to a thundering gale, and the rain lashed the stone wall behind them. Already it was dripping through the broken roof.

"Put the rug round you," said Peter, as he picked it up.

"You must share it," Christine declared.

"I shall be all right."

"Nonsense! Do as I tell you. Do you think I'm going to let you get pneumonia? Besides, there's plenty for both." She herself arranged the rug over Peter's shoulders, and he thrilled as he felt her firm hands touch the nape of his neck.

"Wasn't it lucky we didn't leave it in the boat?" she went on. "And we have the basket. Shall I make some tea, Peter?"

"I think we'd better wait," Peter said, "We shall need it in the morning."

"You're not hungry?"

"Not a bit. I had such a good tea." A gust roared across the island. There was a loud crack as a limb, torn from a tree, fell to the ground. In the dimming light the surface of the loch showed like lead streaked with long lines of white.

"No boat could live here tonight," Christine said. "But it's too fierce to last."

"Your people will be anxious, Christine, especially if they find the boat."

"Not Donald. He'll feel sure we are on the island."

"You take it all so calmly, Christine," Peter said, admiringly. "Most girls would be scared."

"There's nothing to be scared about," Christine replied. "It won't be very comfortable, but, after all, the night is not long, and it isn't as if I were alone. Then I might be scared," she added, with a little laugh.

"I'm glad I'm with you," Peter said. He tried to speak in quite an ordinary tone, but his voice shook a little. Christine looked up at him.

"And I'm glad, too," she answered, happily. She snuggled up a little closer, and Peter felt the warmth of her slim body against his. It was too much. A groan escaped him.

"What's the matter?" Christine exclaimed. "Oh, Peter, you're in pain. What a selfish little pig I am!"

"You're not," cried Peter, fiercely. "Don't say that. I'm all right." Christine gazed at him. There was still light enough to see the serious look in her clear blue eyes.

"You can't be all right, or you wouldn't have groaned like that. I think you'd better tell me, Peter." Peter bit his lip. He was fighting the fierce temptation to seize her in his arms and cover her face with kisses. The cruel part of it was that he knew she would not mind. Christine felt him quiver, but she did not flinch or drop her eyes.

"I meant to go this morning. I ought to have gone," he muttered.

"And I kept you," said Christine. "Peter, I'm beginning to understand. I think you owe it to me to tell me. Is it—is it Miss Vidal?"


PETER had a queer feeling that he ought to be surprised at Christine's amazing intuition and that yet he wasn't. The fact was that he and Christine, though they had known one another for little more than a day, were already in such perfect accord that they could almost read one another's thoughts.

"Yes," he said heavily. "It is Judith. I am engaged to her."

"It was she who proposed to you." This was not a question but a statement.

"Y-yes," Peter answered reluctantly. "Oh, Christine," he burst out. "If I had only met you first—but now—"

"Tell me," said Christine gently. "I want you to tell me everything."

"I must. It's only fair. B-but it isn't exactly easy."

So while the gale roared above them and the ram gusts hissed against the ancient stones he told her the whole story, I beginning with the robbery of his claim by his double, going on to his mad attempt to burgle Yew Court and so to his encounter with Lanyon and his various adventures at Cranham, ending in his engagement to Judith.

It took a long time and before he had finished darkness had fallen. The gale still thundered and it had turned very cold, but the rain had ceased and a few stars were visible between the broken, flying cloud wrack. Christine never said a word during the whole recital, yet Peter felt her intense interest enveloping him like a living thing. And it was that which made him talk as he had never talked before.

He finished at last and the silence was broken only by the steady roar of the wind overhead and the creaking and chafing of the twisting branches. Peter spoke again.

"I was a fool, Christine," he said with savage bitterness. "I knew better all the time. I was a weak fool."

"You were nothing of the sort," Christine's voice was clear and unhurried. "In your place I don't see how you could have acted differently. Indeed, Peter, I'm not blaming you at all."

"You don't blame me?" Peter spoke in a tone of utter amazement.

"Indeed I don't. You couldn't help yourself." She paused and gave a sad little laugh. "In any case I can't talk after the way I've thrown myself at your head."

"You haven't. I fell in love with you the very moment I saw you yesterday, standing on the steps. I knew at once you were the one girl in the world. Whatever happens, I shall always think so. But I didn't want to hurt you, Christine. I had it all planned out. This morning I was going to telephone Timmins and make an excuse to go straight back. Then when you told me you had all ready for the fishing, I thought I'd have one day with you—one that I could remember all the rest of my life. And now—now—"

"And now it's happened," said Christine softly. "And I'm not sorry. It would have hurt me much more if you had gone away without a word."

"But I shall have to go tomorrow, Christine," Peter said in a voice that was harsh with repressed emotion. "I'm bound to Judith."

Christine looked up at him. It was too dark to see more than the faint oval of her face but Peter knew the steadfastness of her blue eyes.

"Listen, Peter. If Judith insists, you must marry her. But I don't believe that it is you she is in love with. You told me that you don't remember seeing her at this dance at Singapore."

"No, I certainly didn't see her. But I don't know what you mean, Christine."

"Have you forgotten this double of yours, the man who swindled you over your claim? I believe it is he whom Judith Vidal saw at the dance and that it is only your likeness to him which has made her want to marry you."

Peter drew a long breath. This was a point of view that had never occurred to him.

"But the fellow was just a swindler who dressed himself up to look like me."

"He must have been amazingly like you to deceive this native chief," Christine said. "I think you have a double somewhere, Peter. Have you any cousins?"

"None. I had a brother but he died when we were both quite small."

"It's very puzzling," said Christine, "but I still stick to my belief. If Judith is such a striking girl you could hardly have helped noticing her at that dance."

"That's just what I've thought a dozen times. Oh, Christine, I wonder if you're right." He paused, then went on:

"But even if you are, it isn't likely we'll ever see this double of mine again.

"He's out East."

"Lanyon might know something of him," said Christine shrewdly.

"If he did he wouldn't tell," replied Peter.

"No—not unless we could make him. You say Lanyon is mad about Miss Vidal?"

"Yes, he's in love with her, but it's her money he's maddest about."

"You'll have to be careful about him," said Christine gravely. "I'm inclined to think that he is still tracking you."

Peter shrugged.

"I hardly care, Christine," he declared. "If I can't have you I don't care much whether I live or die. Tomorrow I must go back to Cranham. But before I go I want to make over Glenfarne to you. It wouldn't appeal to Judith. She'd hate it. You love it and it would be some consolation to feel you had it."

"No!" Christine's tone was, firm. "I can't take it, Peter. Daddy Neil wished it to go to you. But I will stay here and take care of it for you. I have a little money of my own and I shall do very well."

"You'll have to take some of Uncle Neil's money, Christine. Macallister and I settled that before I ever saw you."

"You can do as you like about that, Peter, but you must keep Glenfarne. Somehow I feel that sooner or later you will come to live here."

"Not without you," said Peter fiercely.

"I couldn't."

Christine sighed.

"But I have to live here without you, Peter. I'm tired. Put your arm round me. I'm going to sleep a little."

She laid her head against his shoulder and in five minutes was sleeping like a child. And Peter, with his back against the rough stones of the wall, sat very still and listened to her quiet breathing, and wished that this night might last for ever. But, he, too, was young and healthy, and very weary. So after an hour or so he, too, dozed, to wake with the grey dawn light in his eyes. The wind was still strong, but the sky had cleared, and the greyness was already shot with gold. In a few minutes the sun would rise.

Very gently he moved Christine out of the crook of his stiffened arm, and making as little noise as possible opened the tea basket. He filled the kettle from the spring close by the ruin, and lit the lamp. The kettle was just boiling when Christine's eyes opened.

"Tea, Peter," she said with a delightful smile. She got up. "Oh, but I'm stiff," she went on, making a little face. "Wait one minute," she begged. "I must go and wash at the spring."

She was back very shortly, and Peter marvelled at the freshness of her. After a night like this Judith would have been a wreck, but Christine's complexion owed nothing to art, and Peter thought she looked lovely, and told her so.

"It's more than I feel, Peter," she said with her delightful laugh. "But a cup of tea will revive me."

They had hardly finished their tea before Peter heard a familiar sound in the distance.

"A motor boat," he cried, jumping up. "I'll go down and hail them, Christine."

Sure enough, a small outboard motor boat with two men in it was driving swiftly through the waves. It was coming from the east end of the loch. Peter stood on a rock and waved, and they saw him and came towards the island. Within less than five minutes it had reached the shore, and Donald, the keeper, sprang out.

"Miss Christine—is she right, sir?" were his first words.

"Quite all right, Donald," Peter assured him. "Here she is to tell you so." A very tall, lean man raised himself from the stern of the boat and stepped out.

"Hulloa, Peter," he drawled. "So you've been tying granny knots?"

"Bill, you old sinner, it's fine to see you again," Peter answered, clasping his friend's hand. "All the same, it's a bit of a shock to find you turned into a Highland laird."

"Same to you, Peter, but I'm no laird. I came into a bit when my father died, and took a lease of Costello. Been trying to hear of you for months. What have you been doing with yourself?" There was not the slightest sign of emotion on Bill Norman's leathery face, yet Peter knew that he was as pleased as himself at this meeting.

"Story's too long to tell you now," Peter said, swiftly. "And here's Christine. We must get her home as soon as possible. It's been pretty rough on her—a night like we've had."

"She don't show much sign of it," drawled Bill as he shook hands with Christine. "How did the boat get away from you?"

"That's what we've got to find out," said Peter. "Christine can tell you I didn't tie a granny knot."

Bill's sleepy eyes widened.

"Someone borrowed my skiff yesterday afternoon. We'll have to find out about this." He turned to Christine. "Get in Miss Grant. Donald has the ponies at the foot of the loch."

"And you'll come to breakfast with us, Captain Norman," said Christine. "Please, Peter wants to talk to you, and he has to go south this evening."

"I'll come," said Bill simply.

"I got the boat safe, Miss Christine," said Donald, as they drove down the loch. "Troot and all."

"I'm sorry you had all this bother, Donald," Christine answered. "But you know now it wasn't our fault."

"I ken that, mem. I'll be looking for the mon that played yon trick on ye." His lips tightened as he spoke, and Peter thought that he would hate to be that man when Donald laid his powerful hands upon him.

They were home in less than an hour. Peter shaved and changed mechanically, for his mind was so full of the events of the past few hours that he had no, attention to give to anything else.

At nine they sat down to an excellent breakfast. Old Macallister did most of the talking, but afterwards Peter took Bill aside and told him his story. Bill Norman was not the sort for half confidences, and Peter kept nothing back.

Bill lay back in his chair, a foul old pipe between his strong, white teeth, his eyes half shut. One who did not know him as well as Peter did might have thought he was hardly listening. Even when Peter had finished it was nearly a minute before Bill showed signs of life. Then at last he took his pipe out of his mouth and fixed his grey eyes on Peter.

"I've met Paul Lanyon," he remarked. "A nasty piece of work." He thought a while. "Don't seem I can do a lot for you. Peter."

"You can keep an eye on Christine, Bill—help her with the place and so on."

"She don't need it," said Bill briefly. "She could handle any moor in Scotland."

"I'm sure she can, but I'll feel better if I know you're here sometimes."

"I'll be around." There was silence again, then Bill reached over and laid a big brown hand on Peter's shoulder.

"I'm damn sorry, old son," he remarked.

Peter said nothing. He wasn't expected to. He lit a second cigarette, and for a while the two sat side by side smoking. At last Bill got up.

"Must shove off," he said. "When are you coming back?"

"God knows," said Peter.

"Keep your tail up," Bill advised. "Things happen." He knocked his pipe out. "So long."

"Can't I drive you back?" said Peter.

"No. I'll walk up to the loch. The boat's waiting."


PETER went down by the night train, and reached Cranham in time for an early breakfast. Before he had finished Judith swept into the room. He got up quickly to meet her, and was surprised, almost shocked, at her expression.

Judith's beautiful face was set like a mask, and her eyes narrowed with anger. Peter knew she had a temper, but this was the first time he had seen her in one.

If Peter had known women he would have paid no attention, but he didn't and he blundered.

"Why, what's the matter, Judith?" he blurted out.

"Pretending innocence, are you?" said Judith in a voice so unlike her usual honeyed tones that Peter could hardly believe his ears. "I suppose you imagine that, because I was not at Glenfarne, I have heard nothing of your doings."

Her words gave Peter an ugly shock, for he realised at once that this was Lanyon's work. They also made him angry.

"So you've been reading anonymous letters—and believing them," he remarked coldly. It was a shot in the dark, but it certainly hit the mark, for Judith coloured hotly. But she would not give way.

"There's no smoke without fire," she answered.

"Seeing that I am equally ignorant of the fire and the smoke perhaps you will explain," Peter said. His firm attitude seemed to disconcert Judith, but she was still very angry.

"Are you going to deny it all, Peter? I suppose you'll tell me that yon never met Miss Christine Grant or spent a night alone with her on an island."

Peter had hold of himself again.

"So far from denying it I was only waiting till I saw you to tell you the story of our adventures," he answered coolly. "But if you've heard it from someone else, and if you prefer to believe his version, I have nothing to say."

Judith bit her lip and the hot colour died from her cheeks.

"Of course I want to know, Peter," she said in a much subdued voice. "I—I have been dreadfully upset."

"By an anonymous letter from Lanyon," said Peter scornfully.

She started.

"Lanyon? How do you know? Did you see him?"

"I didn't see him. He was much too cunning for that. Still, if you care to listen I think you'll agree with me that it couldn't have been anyone else."

"Tell me," she asked breathlessly.

"Then sit down," said Peter. "I can't talk with you standing over me like that."

Judith sat down quite meekly and Peter gave her a brief account of his visit to Glenfarne. He told her of the log crashing into the footbridge and saw her face whiten as he described his desperate struggle to save himself and Christine. The only other part of the story which he described in detail was the stealing of the boat from the island.

"We were rescued by my old friend, Captain Norman," Peter ended. "If you would like corroboration of what I've told you I've no doubt he will give it." Peter looked up and, to his dismay, saw tears in Judith's eyes.

"Oh, Peter, don't talk like that," she begged. "I've been half mad ever since I got this letter. It came first thing this morning and it said that you had fallen in love with Miss Grant and had purposely set the boat adrift so as to spend the night with her on the island."

Peter's face hardened again.

"A nice opinion you must have of me, to believe a story like that!" he remarked in his most chilly tone.

Judith looked up.

"I love you, Peter, and I know you don't love me. You can't blame me for being jealous."

"But I do. I have promised to marry you, and so long as that promise stands I'm certainly not going to make love to any other woman."

"But you might fall in love," urged Judith.

"Hadn't you better wait till I do so?" asked Peter. It was not a very wise remark, but Judith was too crushed to resent it.

"I'm sorry, Peter," she said simply. "I promised you I won't pay attention to any more of these unsigned letters. Kiss me, my dear, and tell me you'll marry me soon."

So Peter kissed her, and was inwardly grateful that the business had passed off as well as it had. Then he turned to his letters, of which a pile was awaiting him. He had already realised that his job was no sinecure. Judith's property was extensive and needed a deal of managing. It consoled him to think that he was earning his salary.

The most important letter was one from Judith's lawyers in London, Messrs. Garth and Graham. They wrote that certain remittances had failed to come in from Judith's Eastern property, and that they were not satisfied with the state of things. They suggested it would be well if Mr. Hastings could visit them and talk things over. Peter showed this letter to Judith, and she reluctantly agreed that he had better go up next day. So Peter made an appointment by telephone with the lawyer, then went off to the quarry. He had a very busy day, for he had not only many things to settle connected with the estate, but also to prepare for moving into the agent's house. Judith wanted him to say on at Cranham, but this he flatly refused to do, and Judith realised that he must, of course, move before their engagement was announced.

Next day Peter drove up to town in Judith's two-seater, booked a room at Wynter's Hotel, and by twelve was in the lawyer's offices in Bedford Row. Here he found that matters were worse than he had anticipated, and that the lawyers suspected crooked practices in the Singapore office.

"If you can spare the time, Mr. Hastings," said Mr. Garth, "I suggest you had better stay in town for at least a week. There's a good deal to do, and conferences will be essential."

So, after lunch, Peter got on the phone to Judith and told her what Mr. Garth had said. He had been prepared for protests, and was rather surprised when Judith agreed without any demur.

"I'm going to be away for a few days myself, Peter," she told him, "so stay in London as long as you like."

"Wonder where she's going," said Peter to himself, as he left the telephone cabinet. "And I wonder, too, what the deuce I shall do with myself," he added, disconsolately. "I hate London."

Peter had no club and no friends, so London provided few attractions. That afternoon he went to the Oval and watched cricket, and in the evening visited a theatre. But it is dull work going about London alone, and Peter was quite glad to find much work awaiting him next day.

On his fourth day In London he got a letter from Bill Norman. It was brief, like all Bill's communications, but it held essential news.

"Saw Miss Vidal in Pittendrum, yesterday. She's staying at the Palace Hotel. What's brought her up to these parts?"

Peter frowned heavily. He had little doubt as to what had taken Judith north. She had not got over her jealousy as completely as she professed. She wanted to see Christine.

Peter answered Bill's letter promptly, and begged him to keep his eyes open. He told him of his suspicions, and asked Bill to keep him informed. But when he wrote, later, to Judith, addressing the letter to Cranham, he was careful not to say a word to her of what he had heard from Bill. Peter's next letter was from Christine.

"Bill asked me to write," he read, "because there's rather a lot to tell you and he hates writing. He and I went to the Sheep Dog Trials at Pittendrum to-day. They were held in the Town Meadow which lies below the town on the edge of the Rummel. Bill had told me that Miss Vidal was staying in Pittendrum, and sure enough there she was at the Trials. She was very plainly dressed and was not in the Stand, but there was no mistaking her. She's lovely, Peter.

"After lunch Bill and I strolled round to have a look at some of the dogs and then we walked across to the river. We found it was rising very fast. There had been a storm up in the hills and a big flood was coming down. As we watched, a regular wave came splashing up the bank and almost before we could get out of the way the water was pouring over the grass. We simply had to run. Then we heard a scream and both stopped. The ground near the river is very broken and partly covered with bushes. The scream came from behind one of these clumps, and Bill turned and ran back. I followed. We were both over our ankles in water when we got to the clump, and behind it was a woman flat on her face in the water.

"It was Miss Vidal. She must have been following us, though why, I can't imagine, and when the flood wave washed over the bank she ran. But she put her foot in a rabbit hole and had a bad fall. Bill picked her up. You know how strong he is and he carried her to our car and we drove her back to the Palace and left her with her maid. She has a sprained ankle but the worst of it is a very nasty cut on her left cheek, which I am afraid will leave a scar."

There was more, but this was the important part of the letter and it gave Peter much food for thought. That Judith had gone to the Trials for the express purpose of getting a look at Christine he had no doubt whatever, but he could not quite make out why she had followed Christine and Bill down to the river. Well, her jealousy had certainly brought its own penalty for Judith was desperately proud of her looks and a scar on the face would be an absolute disaster from her point of view.

Peter realised that the accident would defer the date of the wedding and caught himself sighing with relief at this thought; then feeling suddenly self-reproachful sat himself down to write Judith as nice a letter as he knew how. After that he wrote to Christine, but in this he absolutely avoided any sentiment and filled his letter with all the bits of news he could think of.

He was busy most, of the day about Judith's affairs and came back to dine at his hotel. Afterwards he was sitting in the lounge, smoking, very bored and wondering how on earth to pass the hours before bedtime, when a man stepped in front of his chair and hailed him by name. Peter started.

"Why, it's Gresham!" he exclaimed. "Four years since I last saw you. Have a drink."

Gresham, a tubby, round-faced fellow, accepted at once and the two sat and exchanged reminiscences. Presently Gresham suggested a visit to "The Merry Men."

"What, that rum little club where we first met?" said Peter. "Is it still going?"

"Rather. Going strong, and they still play poker."

"I'm game," said Peter. "We'll use my car. It's outside."

"The Merry Men" was a night-club of the better sort and bad quarters in a side street north of Oxford-street. Most of the members were colonials, a pretty hard-bitten lot. Peter who had been a temporary member during a previous visit to England, was admitted without trouble, and he, Gresham and two other men settled down to a game of poker.

Possibly because Peter did not really care whether he won or lost the luck ran his way and by half-past eleven he was some £30 to the good. Then came a jackpot for which he put up and bought cards but, finding he had not improved his original pair of tens, threw his hand in, leaving the other three to fight it out.

Just then someone passed close by the table at which Peter was sitting, on his way to the door, and Peter, glancing idly up, saw a face so like his own that he might almost have been gazing at his own reflection in a looking-glass.


THE thrill that ran through Peter's veins was almost painful. There flashed back into his brain the memory of Christine's words. She had been convinced that he had a double. Since it was hardly likely that he had two, this, then, must be the man.

Peter acted instantly. He pushed his pile of chips over to Gresham.

"I have to go. I have to see that man who is just leaving. Pay for me, Gresham. If I can I'll come back."

No one made any objection. Peter's face and voice warned them that the matter was urgent. Next moment Peter had left the table and was following his double. The man was out of sight when Peter closed the door behind him, but Peter felt sure he had gone to the cloak-room. He followed quickly, and, sure enough, the double was being helped into his coat by an attendant. Peter quickly handed in his ticket, got his own coat, and hat, and was in the entrance hall in time to see the man going down the steps.

A number of cars were parked outside. Peter's double got into one which was standing just in front of Peter's and drove off. Peter was just too late to catch him, so, jumping into his own car, he followed the other.

At this hour there was no great amount of traffic, and Peter had no difficulty in keeping the other car in view. But since he was aware that it was faster than his own he did not try to catch it. The driver went straight east past Liverpool-street and out in the direction of Chingford. Thence he drove through Loughton and took the Epping-road. The night was clear, and a late moon had risen.

It was the first time Peter had driven through Epping Forest, and he was surprised at the beauty of the woodland road and at the sight of fallow deer dashing across in the moonlight. The car in front kept on steadily past High Beech, then suddenly turned to the right off the main road. Peter checked a little before following, and his double was half a mile ahead when he turned after it. But he could still see the glow of his headlights, and had no difficulty in following.

Suddenly the lights disappeared, and Peter, reaching the spot where they had vanished, found himself opposite a long and rather ruinous brick wall about eight feet high. This wall was broken by a gateway leading into a grass-grown drive, Double iron gates, rusty for lack of paint, stood wide. Peter did not hesitate, but drove straight in.

The drive curving to the right led up to a medium sized house, built in the worst traditions of the Victorian era. It had a tall, flat front with narrow windows and steep steps up to a front door that was flush with the wall of the house. This was as square as a box, had a flat roof, and was covered with stucco now badly discoloured and peeling off in places. A perfect thicket of great laurel bushes surrounded the house. It did not look as if a pruning knife had been used on them in ten years. Anything more ugly, gloomy, ill-kept and depressing in the way of buildings Peter had never seen.

Not that he had much attention to spare for the house. His eyes were fixed on the car he had been following, which stood on the weedy gravel sweep, and on its driver, who had got out and was facing Peter's car. Peter pulled up, got out, and walked up to his double. The moon shone full on the latter's face, and the likeness struck Peter again with a queer sense of unreality.

"Who are you and what do you want with me?" asked the other curtly.

"My name is Hastings, Peter Hastings. I want a short talk with you."

For a second or two the other was silent. His eyes were fixed on Peter's face, and there was a queer glint in them, "I'm Dirk Warden. You'd better come in," he said, and Peter noticed that even his voice was of the same pitch as his own. Warden walked to the door, unlocked it with a latch-key, and stood aside for Peter to enter.

The hall was nothing but a passage, dusty and ill-furnished. An oil lamp, turned low, was on a stand. Warden lifted it, turned it up, and opened a door to the left, which led into a small, square room with a dining-table in the middle. A dull fire smouldered In the grate and a kettle stood on the hob.

"Sit down, Mr. Hastings," said Warden, indicating a horse-hair covered arm-chair. "Cigarette?"

He took out a case and offered it; then, while Peter lit up, he opened a cupboard under the sideboard, and took out a whisky decanter and syphon, which he placed on the table. He took a chair opposite Peter.

"I take it the likeness interested you," he said; and now his tone was much less abrupt.

"You're right," said Peter, frankly. "You'll admit it's remarkable."

Warden shrugged.

"They say everyone has a double, but, among all the millions in the world, one doesn't often meet it."

"I never met mine until tonight, but I've heard of him," replied Peter. "Mr. Warden, were you ever in the East?"

"India, do you mean?"

"Singapore," said Peter.

Warden shook his head. "I've never been farther east than Switzerland," he said, and bent over and stirred the fire.

"Do you like hot grog or whisky and soda?" he asked, hospitably. "After a late drive home, I prefer a hot drink."

"Soda for me," said Peter, and Warden pushed the decanter across. Peter helped himself to a drink, and nearly filled the glass with soda.

"Why do you want to know whether I was in Singapore?" Warden asked, with some show of interest.

"Because I had some business dealings with a double there, though I never met him."

"Sounds a bit mysterious," said Warden, with a smile that made him more than ever like Peter. "But, surely to goodness you and I can't have a triplet?"

"I don't know," said Peter, slowly, as be picked up his glass and drank. "Tell me, Mr. Warden, did you ever have dealings with the firm of Vidal?"

"Vidal," Warden frowned slightly. "I know the name. Isn't there a society beauty, a Miss Vidal?"

"Yes, but I'm talking of the firm."

"Never heard of the firm. I'm a sugar broker—and a very broke one," he added, with a laugh. "That's why I live out here in this forsaken hole. My uncle left me this house, and, since I can't sell or let it, I'm forced to live in it."

It was just at this moment that Peter had the odd illusion that the man opposite him was slowly receding, chair and all. He furtively rubbed his eyes, but now Warden was coming back and growing bigger. Also his voice had become a queer meaningless babble of words, of which Peter, though he strained every nerve to listen, could make nothing. Then Peter's own head began to grow larger. It felt so heavy he was forced to lie back in his chair.

"Sleepy,"' he muttered, apologetically, and was vaguely horrified to find how thick his voice was. His last conscious impression was that Warden was laughing.

Peter woke to the consciousness of a bad headache. His mouth and throat felt dry as dust, and, for the life of him, he could not think where he was or how he got there. He opened his eyes with difficulty, and gazed up at a very grimy ceiling.

He found that he was lying on a bed, that his boots were off, also his coat, and that a quilt had been thrown over him. The bedroom was small, and had only one window, through which the sun was shining. It was poorly furnished, yet the bed itself was clean and tidy.

Peter's one desire was for a drink, and, looking round, he saw a water-bottle and tumbler on a table by his bed. He managed to sit up, though the movement made his head throb most painfully, poured out a glass of water and drank every drop. This did him a power of good, and helped him to collect his scattered senses. He lay back, and began to think. By degrees he remembered the events of the previous night, his drive down from London, his interview with Warden, and the whisky.

"Doped!" he said. A spasm of anger made him quiver, but it also sent a fresh pang through his aching head. He bit his lip.

"No use getting riled," he muttered, and promptly came the response.

"Not a bit." The door was open, and there stood Warden, a sardonic smile on his face. Peter restrained a frantic impulse to jump out of bed and wipe off that grin with his fist. A foolish impulse because, in the first place, Warden could easily withdraw and slam the door before Peter could reach him, and in the second Peter himself was still half stupid from the effects of the drug. Instead, Peter took a grip of himself.

"Bit of a liar, aren't you, Warden?" he remarked sarcastically.

Warden shrugged.

"The end justifies the means. Fact is, you've become a nuisance, Hastings, poking your nose into the Vidal affairs. I trapped you here for the purpose of keeping you quiet. You'll have to possess your soul in patience for a week or so until I've cleared up and cleared out." Peter looked at the other and saw the hard set of his face. He realised that this was the same man who had swindled him out of his concession, and that it was not the faintest use appealing to his better feelings, if he had any. So he kept silence.

"I don't want to be rough on you, Hastings," Warden went on. "If you'll give me your parole to stay inside this house until I say you can leave, I'll take it."

"And you think I'd keep it?"

"I do."

Peter gave a short laugh.

"You can go to hell," he said, but Warden took no offence.

"I'm not going to hell—merely to London. But I'd like to warn you that I have an exceedingly efficient servitor. His name is Bates. He's an ex-pug and one of the strongest men I ever knew. You're a bit of scrapper and so am I, but he could take on the two of us at once and beat the stuffing out of us. I shall leave you in his charge with perfect confidence. He'd kill you rather than let you escape."

He nodded, closing the door behind him, and Peter heard the key snick in the lock. Peter lay back and closed his eyes. His first job was to get his strength back. After all there was no great hurry. Tomorrow he would see what could be done with the redoubtable Bates. Also with Master Warden—Warden was the man he was after, and Peter vowed to himself that somehow he


BILL Norman came striding up the steep drive of Glenfarne Lodge and saw Christine sitting on a cushion at the top of the steps. She was busy tying a cast and, with the sunlight turning her fair hair into a sort of golden halo, looked extremely attractive. She waved to her visitor.

"What's the news, Bill?" she called in a clear, ringing voice.

"Not so good," Bill said. "I've just come from Pittendrum. Maid says Miss Vidal's in a bad way."

"Bad way?" repeated Christine, with a puzzled look on her small face. "Surely a sprained ankle isn't dangerous." Bill subsided on the step alongside her.

"Not her ankle," he answered briefly

"It's her face—"

"Not likely. Anderson's a darn good doctor. It's the scar that's worrying her Very down, the girl said."

Christine pursed her pretty lips.

"I see. Afraid of her looks. I wonder if we ought to let Peter know."

"I'll phone if you like. I suppose he's still at Wynter's."

"I expect so. He said he'd be in town till the end of the week and perhaps longer."

Bill nodded; he never wasted words Next moment his long legs took him through the hall and into the little office at the end. It was fully a quarter of an hour before he came back, and then Christine saw something like a frown on his leathery face.

"You didn't get him?" she asked.

"No." Bill paused and his frown deepened.

"You tried Cranham?"

"Yes. He's not there either."

The bright colour faded from Christine's cheeks.

"Then it did happen," he said slowly. "What's that?" Bill asked gruffly.

"The night before last I'd gone to bed and was half asleep when suddenly I felt something was wrong."

"Fey?" said Bill.

"Yes, I have had the same feeling before. I feared it was Peter."

Bill did not laugh as some men might have done. He, like Peter, had a Scottish mother, and knew something of these curious premonitions or warnings.

"That swine, Lanyon, I suppose," he growled.

"They haven't killed him," said Christine in a low voice. "I should know if they had."

"Got him tied up somewhere?" Bill suggested.

"That's what I think."

"Then I'll be seeing about it," said the big man, and shot to his feet with startling speed. He glanced at his wristwatch.

"Drive me home, Christine. Plane's all ready. I can be in London before dark."

"You'll take me, Bill?"

He looked at her a moment.

"All right. Get your kit. I'll bring the car round."

Bill's plane was a machine of the latest pattern, and Bill himself was a first-class pilot.

"We're in luck," he said to Christine, as he helped her into the seat behind him "Wind's north-west. We'll set in for dinner all right."

Ten minutes later they were high above the mountains, driving south at well over one hundred miles an hour.

Bill came down at York for petrol and a cup of tea. They reached Croydon just before seven, and they drove straight to town. Bill planted Christine at an apartment house in Bayswater, which was kept by his father's old butler, a man named Burns, and his stout, jolly wife, who had formerly been cook in the family.

"I'm going on to Wynter's," he told her. "Be back soon and tell you all about it." But it was past nine before Bill returned, and then he was frankly puzzled.

"Peter left Wynter's," he said, "the night before last after dinner with a chap called Gresham, who was staying at the hotel. The two went off in Peter's car. Gresham came back alone some time after midnight in a taxi He left early next morning. About ten this morning Peter turned up in his car. He asked for his bill and paid it, then collected his luggage and drove off. He didn't say a word, and Miss Cooper, the desk clerk, thought this a bit odd because he always wished her good morning and usually stopped to talk for a minute or two. She's been there for years, and knew him quite well. I questioned Miss Cooper pretty closely, and she admitted that Peter seemed a little strange in his manner. The funniest thing about it was that he didn't seem quite sure of the way to his room."

Christine broke in sharply. "It wasn't Peter at all, Bill," and for once Bill Norman looked surprised.

"What d'ye mean, Christine?"

"Don't you see," she exclaimed breathlessly, "it was his double."

Bill pursed his lips in a soundless whistle.

"By gum, I wouldn't wonder if you were right."

"I'm sure I'm right. Don't you see what's happened? I don't know whether Gresham was in it or not, but somewhere somehow Peter fell in with this double, the same man who robbed him in the Malay. He or they have trapped Peter and are holding him."

"But what for?" Bill demanded.

"Something to do with Miss Vidal's affairs. Peter told me that she was being robbed. That's what he went to town about."

Bill's weather-beaten face took on a very grim look.

"Looks to me as if you'd hit the right nail on the head, Christine. Anyway I'm going to work on your idea. I'm going back this minute to see if I can find I where Peter went with Gresham."

"Can I come?" begged Christine.

"No. You can't go knocking about London at this hour. You'd be more of a hindrance than a help. Get to bed. There'll likely be plenty for you to do tomorrow."

In spite of her anxiety, Christine could not help smiling at Bill's downrightness. Yet she knew he was right.

"You'll phone if you hear anything," was all she said.

"Not tonight, but I'll be round here early tomorrow." Then he was gone.

Tired as she was, Christine slept badly that night. All the time she was aware that Peter was in trouble yet, strive as she might, that was all she could get. When at last she slept, she dreamt of wandering in a dark wood. Peter was somewhere in the wood, but she could not find him. She woke up, feeling as if she had been beaten, and was grateful indeed for the cup of hot tea which plump Mrs. Burns brought her.

True to his promise, Bill arrived before nine o'clock. In spite of all he had done during the past twenty-four hours, he showed no sign of fatigue.

"You were perfectly right, Christine," he said, abruptly, as he dropped into a chair on the other side of the breakfast table. "I got hold of a waiter who'd seen Peter and Gresham meet, and brought them drinks. He heard Gresham speak of 'The Merry Men.'

"I know the place, a club where chaps from the East go to play a spot of poker. I packed off there at once, found the proprietor, a man called Dale, and had a yarn with him. He's seen Peter and Peter's double, and been pretty much amazed at the likeness. He hadn't seen Peter leave, but I interviewed the man in the cloak-room, and he'd seen Peter follow the other chap out. The porter, too, had spotted them. He says that Peter's double drove off East, and that Peter followed. That's all I've got so far, but it's something to chew on."

"You've done wonders, Bill," said Christine warmly. "As you say, we have something to go on with."

"Not a lot," said Bill warningly. "This double of Peter's may have taken him anywhere in half a dozen counties, or he may have hidden him right here, in London. How are we going to find a chap who may be in a cellar or an attic in any one of a million or so of houses?"

"It's no use looking for Peter. It's the double we have to find," Christine said: but Bill shook his head.

"That merchant isn't going to take risks," he answered. "I don't see him driving round London or visiting the Vidal offices."

"But I know where he will drive," said Christine confidently.

Bill stared at her. "I'm listening," he growled.

"Cranham," said Christine. Bill's eyes narrowed.

"Cranham?" he repeated, doubtfully.

"Of course. He'd know Judith was away, and he'd go there to overhaul Peter's papers."

Bill nodded slowly.

"Darned if I don't believe you've hit the bull's eye again, Christine. I'll be off there at once."

Christine raised a hand.

"No, Bill. After all, it's only a guess on my part, and there's always the chance that he may do a bluff, and go and call at the Vidal office, or at Garth and Graham's. Let me drive down to Cranham and find out. You stay in town and visit Vidal's, and the lawyers. In any case, they ought both to be warned."

Bill considered a moment.

"You've a rum way of being right on the target, Christine. But why drive down? Why not phone?"

"And suppose the double is at Cranham, and answers the call?" said Christine.

Bill gave a grim chuckle. "He'd get a shock."

"And so should we, for, of course, he would realise that we were after him. I think you will have to agree that my plan is best, Bill."

"Suppose he is there," said Bill, shrewdly. "Suppose you run into him? He might turn nasty."

Christine smiled.

"I think you can trust me to fool him, Bill. Every woman can play a part when she has to."

"I'd trust you before any other girl I know," said Bill, and Christine looked at him with surprise.

"That's the first compliment you've ever paid me, Bill. Thank you."

"Not a compliment at all," rumbled Bill. "Don't believe in 'em. Now I'd better go and find you a bus."

Christine was hardly ready before Bill returned with a small saloon.

"Tank's full, there's plenty of oil, and the tyres are nearly new. Sure you can handle her in this traffic, or would you like me to take her out as far as Barnet?"

"I can manage," Christine assured him, "and, Bill, give me a phone number where I can get you if I need you."

Bill scribbled a number on a card, and handed it to her.

"Got money?" he asked, and Christine nodded.

"Plenty. Good-bye, Bill." Bill took a step forward and stuck his head through the window.

"Keep your eyes open, Christine," he said in a deep whisper. "It isn't this double I'm worrying so much about. Lanyon may be on the job. If he is—if you get wind of him, lie low and send for me. Promise."

"I promise," said Christine quietly; then she glided away. Bill watched her out of sight. He drew a deep breath.

"Some fellows have all the luck," he growled. Then he strode away to the nearest tube station on his way to the city.

The day was fine, the car pulled well, and, if Christine had been less anxious, she would have enjoyed every minute of the journey. She knew her way to Worcester, for she had done a good deal of touring with old Mr. Lachlan. Once clear of London, she allowed the speedometer to reach 40: and this was about her average speed, except when passing through the towns. She reached Worcester a few minutes after one, stopped there for a quick lunch, and for fresh petrol; then drove on, and reached Cranham at twenty past two. Blandy answered her ring.

"Mr. Hastings, miss. Yes, he's been here this morning. But he had to go straight back to London."

"How long ago did he leave?" Christine asked, in a voice which she strove to keep steady. Blandy glanced at the tall grandfather clock in the hall.

"Hardly more than a quarter of an hour, miss. I wonder you didn't meet him."

"I wonder, too. What car was he driving?"

"His own, miss." Christine bit her lip. All the time she had been looking for the car described to Bill as being driven by Peter's double: yet, if she had only thought of it, she might have known that he would have used Peter's car.' And now she suddenly remembered that she had passed a car like Peter's just before turning up the by- road.

Blandy was speaking again.

"Can we offer you some luncheon, miss? If you'll forgive me saying it, we know how kind you've been to Miss Vidal."

"That's very good of you," said Christine, cordially, "but I will not wait. I have to see Mr. Hastings on some very important business, and must follow him back to town." She got into the car, turned it, and drove away. The by-road was too narrow and winding for speed, but, once round the corner, Christine put her foot down and the speedometer was quivering on fifty most of the way back to Worcester. She reckoned that Peter's double had got twelve to fifteen miles' start, but she knew her car was faster than his.

Worcester was difficult to cross and the narrow street near the Cathedral was badly blocked. Christine bad to crawl and was quivering with impatience when at last she got through. Up the hill beyond she flew like a scared cat, but as she reached the top she checked the car. It occurred to her that there were two ways back to London, one by Evesham, the other by Stratford. If she took the wrong road she was done.

Suddenly she remembered the A.A. patrol box a little way down the Stratford road opposite the turn to Stoulton, and sent the car flying on again. Yes, the uniformed man had noticed a car like the one she described pass about a quarter of an hour before, driving in the direction of Stratford. Thanking him warmly she sped on once more.

The Stratford road is a fine one and as a rule without much traffic. Christine drove as she had never driven before. She covered the next fifteen miles in twenty minutes, and two miles outside Stratford sighted Peter's car. With a sigh of relief she slowed down and followed through Shakespeare's town, cut over the Avon bridge and so on to the Banbury road.

Peter's double was jogging along at a modest thirty, and Christine, anxious not to excite his suspicion, kept about half a mile behind. So they went through Banbury and Bicester.

The best of the day was ever now. It was clouding up and Christine hoped it would not rain just yet. It would make things so difficult. Perhaps her attention was fixed too much on the weather, for she did not see the little old woman who suddenly stepped off the footpath till too late. There was a faint scream and as Christine flung on the brakes with such force that the car skidded there lay what looked like a tumbled bundle of clothes in the dust of the road.


FOR a moment Christine's heart almost stopped beating. Her knees shook so that she could hardly stand as she stepped out of the car. But Christine, slim and small as she was, had the right stuff in her, and that first moment's weakness soon passed. Quickly she knelt beside the old woman, and felt her heart. It was beating normally, and a surge of relief ran through Christine's veins. At any rate, the poor old thing was not dead.

She was a nice old woman, beautifully clean and very neatly dressed. Christine, who had had ambulance training, examined her quickly, but could find no serious injury. Certainly no bones were broken. She had a small cut on the left side of her head, and her left hand was cut.

Christine looked round, but there was no one in sight. There was, however, a cottage quite close by, and Christine determined to go there in search of help. Just as she was rising to go, she saw the old lady moved slightly; then her eyes opened, and she looked up at Christine with a dazed expression. Christine stooped again.

"Are you much hurt?" she asked, softly.

"I don't think I am, miss." The voice was not at all that of a peasant. "My head hurts," she added.

"It's cut a little, and so is your hand," Christine told her. "If I lifted you into the car, could I take you home?"

"There's no need for that, miss. That's my house just across the road. I think, if you would help me up, I could walk there."

Christine lifted her carefully. Her weight was nothing. Then she held her with an arm around her.

"Can you walk?" Christine asked anxiously. "I could carry you."

The old lady smiled uncertainly.

"Bless you miss," she said, "I'm not so bad as that. I can walk well enough if I may lean on your shoulder."

It was only a few yards to the door of the cottage. As they came slowly up to it, the door opened, and a youngish woman came out. She was lame, and walked with a stick.

"Oh, Aunt, dear, whatever has happened?" she exclaimed, in dismay.

"A little accident, Julia, but don't fuss. It's nothing serious," replied the old lady, pluckily. "I'll just lie down for a while."

The lame girl opened the door into a tiny but well-furnished sitting-room, and Christine helped the old lady on to the sofa, and asked the niece to fetch hot water. She quickly cleared the cuts and bandaged them.

"And now I'll go and fetch the doctor," she said.

"Bless you, I don't need any doctor," said the patient, smiling quite brightly. "A cup of tea, and I shall be quite myself again. After all, the car only just touched me, and it was my own fault, stepping off the footpath, without looking. Will you stay and take a cup of tea, miss? You've been very kind."

"Kind!" echoed Christine. "Why, I couldn't have done less."

"There's many would have driven straight on, miss," said the old lady, quietly.

"There are some people who ought never to be trusted with a car. I know that," said Christine. "But if you really do not feel you need a doctor, I will go on. I am hurrying back to London on important business. Here is my name." She took a card from her bag. "May I have yours."

"Anne Burney is my name, Miss Grant."

"Then, as soon as I can, I will come and see you again," said Christine. She took out some treasury notes. "I should not like you to be put to any expense."

The other held up her hand.

"No, Miss Grant," she said, firmly. "There's no need for that, if you please. But I should take it very kindly if you could come and see me when you are this, way."

"You may be sure I will," said Christine. She shook hands with her patient and beckoned Julia to come out with her.

"Your aunt refused to take money from me, Julia, but I want you to let me know if you have the doctor or are put to any expense. Will you let me know at this address?"

Julia promised and Christine went back to the car, got in and went on.

But now her spirits were at a very low ebb. The accident had cost her nearly half an hour. By this time Peter's double must have gained a lead of at least fifteen miles. The worst of it was she was coming to roads where the traffic would be heavy and delays frequent. It was almost hopeless to dream of seeing the car again. All this drive for nothing, and what could she say to Bill when she met him again?

Then Peter—what of Peter? The feeling that he was in danger was stronger than ever and now, by her own fault, she had lost the chance of rescuing him.

Some girls in Christine's place would have given up the hopeless chase—but not Christine. So long as the faintest gleam of hope remained she would carry on. She pushed her car up to fifty again, but in a very few minutes had to slow into the narrow streets of the old-fashioned town of Aylesbury. It was market day and the square was full of stalls and packed with traffic.

Christine chafed as she was forced to crawl in low gear through a maze of cars, carts and lorries. The only consolation was that the other driver, too, must have been similarly checked.

Christine was creeping through Market Square when she happened to look round, and there was a man coming out of the door. It was all she could do to keep from crying out, for at first she believed it was Peter himself. Next instant she knew, of course, that this was the double, but the likeness was so astonishing that it gave her a real shock. The shock was quickly followed by a feeling of intense relief. Quite clearly the man had stopped for tea and was now going back to get his car.

Christine could not possibly turn in this jam of traffic. Yet she felt so certain that the double would take the London road that she did not hesitate in driving on. Once out of the square she pulled in close to the kerb and stopped the car. Then she got out her cigarette case. Christine smoked little, and never when driving. The cigarette was just an excuse for stopping.

Minutes passed and Christine grew more and more anxious. It was, of course, quite possible that Peter's double had taken the road towards Rickmansworth. On the other hand it seemed more likely that he was being delayed, getting his car out of the park through the traffic. She kept looking back through the rear window, and at last, just when she had almost given up hope, she saw him.

Christine felt fairly sure that Peter's double had never seen her, but, of course, she could not be quite sure for, if he was in with Lanyon, he might at least have heard of her. So, as he came by, she stooped as though picking up something. Next moment the other car slid past and with a sigh of relief Christine straightened up.

She let him get a quarter of a mile start before she followed, and so far as was possible kept about that distance behind. The glory of the morning was gone, the sky was covered with grey cloud, and it was fairly clear that it was working up for a wet night. But there was still more than two hours of daylight and Christine hoped that she would be able to run her quarry to earth before the light failed.

Christine followed steadily through Tring and Berkhampsted, and she was beginning to feel sure the driver was making for London when, at Boxmoor, he turned east. Reaching Watling Street he kept to it as far as St. Albans, then turned east again towards Potters Bar. These were roads Christine did not know, and she had her work cut out to keep the car in sight, yet not to let its occupant see she was trailing it. Traffic, too, was very bad in places. Through Chestnut she followed and Waltham, then as they climbed the hill to the east and Christine saw Epping Forest in front she felt a curious thrill.

The dark wood of which she had dreamed three nights earlier—this was it. And all of a sudden she felt convinced that she was quite near to Peter's I prison. She had driven nearly two hundred and fifty miles with only one short break, and in spite of her strong healthy body she was tired, yet now fatigue fell away from her and was replaced by burning excitement.

Another five minutes and the car in front was running up the side road with tall trees almost meeting overhead. Now Christine was sure she was nearing the end of her journey, yet there never was more need for caution than at this moment. Above all, the double must not suspect that she was following. She pulled up at the corner and waited.

Sure enough he turned to the left out of the road. This might, of course, be a second by-road, yet Christine felt convinced that it was the entrance gate of a house. As soon as he was out of sight she drove quietly up the road. She came to the broken brick wall and stopped again. She listened but could hear nothing. Once more she started up her engine and drove off the road in among the trees.

Leaving it there, she walked along the wall until she reached the drive gate. Here she listened again. A door clanged in the distance. It sounded like the door of a garage, then, after a pause, she heard another door open and close. After that silence.

The sun was down now and a thin drizzle beginning to fall. The thick pall of cloud that covered the sky made the evening darker than usual. Christine slipped in through the gates and walked up the unkempt grass fringe of the drive. The thick bushes were just beginning to drip with the slow, ceaseless fall of rain, but there was no wind. Every minute the dusk deepened.

Suddenly she found herself on the edge of the moss-grown gravel sweep and in front of her the tall, ugly house reared itself dimly into the gloom. The curtains were drawn, but a little light leaked through from the room on the right of the front door.

Christine stood very still. That this was the place where Peter was imprisoned she had no doubt at all, but the next question was how to get him out. She was tired, she was hungry. She was alone and had no weapon. Every sense of prudence counselled her to return to the car, drive back to Waltham and telephone Bill. He could get out here in less than an hour.

Yet an inner and not easily explained sense warned her that delay was dangerous. She had a definite conviction that Peter was in imminent danger and that even an hour's delay might be fatal. It took but a moment to make up her mind. Stepping softly over the uncut grass surrounding the lawn, she made her way round to the eastern end of the house.


THE untrimmed laurels had spread their branches up to the top of the first-storey windows and beneath them it was almost dark. Christine picked her way close under the wall. There had been a path there once, but now the gravel was completely hidden by a carpet of leaf mould. She came to the back of the house and found a square space brick-paved, with a row of dilapidated out-buildings at the back.

Here was more light than in front for there were two uncurtained windows an the ground floor. Christine crept up to the nearest and looked through into a small, square kitchen lit by a paraffin lamp hanging from the ceiling. On the left fire glowed in a rusty range. In the centre of the room was a table covered with dirty dishes. There was a sink under the window and a pump. The whole place was so filthy it sent a shiver of repulsion through Christine.

Worse than the room itself was its presiding genius, a squat man, who seemed to Christine almost as broad as he was long. He lay back in a dingy, old, horse-hair covered arm-chair; his mouth was half- open, showing yellow, jagged teeth, but his eyes were closed; and even here, on the other side of the closed window, Christine could hear his snores. The evidence of the empty beer bottles on the table at his elbow was not necessary to show that he was deep in drunken sleep.

Peter's Guardian! Christine shivered again, but the sight, instead of frightening her, only increased her determination to rescue Peter as soon as possible.

The back door, she saw, opened directly into the kitchen. She went forward and tried the handle. It was not locked. Christine paused and drew a quick breath. The idea of passing that drunken horror made her almost sick; yet it had to be done. The handle turned easily enough, but the hinges creaked as the door opened, and Christine's heart was in her mouth as the sleeping man stirred. But it was evident that it would take much more than a creaking hinge to rouse him, and Christine passed him swiftly and gained the far door.

Here she found herself in a passage which led straight through to the front, but it was blocked half-way by a swing door covered with tattered, green baize. There was no light here except what came through from the kitchen, and, once the door was closed, Christine was left in complete darkness. It made her shiver to think what would happen if anyone came through that swing door from the front. But it was equally scaring to leave the kitchen door open, with the sight of that dreadful drunken figure snoring just behind her. Then she noticed a door to the left in the passage wall. She tried this, and found it gave into a pantry, into which the last remains of daylight leaked through an incredibly grimy window.

Here, at any rate, was a refuge of a sort, so Christine softly closed the kitchen door, and, leaving the pantry door ajar, tiptoed to the baize door. Pushing this a crack open, she could see light which came from a lamp on the table close by the front door. To her left was the door of the lighted room which she had seen from the front, to her immediate right was a flight of steep stairs, with a landing half-way up. Farther on was the door of another room, in point of fact the dining-room in which Peter had been hocussed with drugged whisky. Christine gave barely a glance to these details, for what at once seized her attention was a sound of voices in the lighted room to her left.

One of the speakers, no doubt, was the man she had been trailing all day over half England, but who was the other? Was it Peter himself? It did not seem likely that this was the case, for surely his gaoler would hardly trust Peter on the ground floor—unless indeed he was very firmly tied up. Yet, if it were not Peter, it must be some accomplice of Peter's double, and Christine's brave heart nearly failed her at the prospect of having two of the gang against her. For a moment she had an intense desire to turn tail, slip out the way she had come, hurry back to the car, make for the nearest telephone, and call up Bill. She would have given all she possessed to have beside her the big silent man on whom she had come to rely so greatly during the past few days.

It was at this moment that the low mutter of talk within the lighted room rose suddenly to a pitch so loud and angry that spoken words reached Christine's ears.

"Damn it, Lanyon, you don't want to murder the man?"

All her fears forgotten, or, rather, flooded out by sheer horror, Christine hurried forward and stood with her ear against the panel of the door. A second voice spoke—spoke with a cruel, cold deliberation that was a thousand times worse than any passion.

"It is foolish to shout like that, Warden. You might almost be heard on the road. I repeat that this fellow Hastings is a danger to both of us, and that it is impossible to release him."

"And so you're calmly proposing to murder him?" retorted Warden.

"Murder is a nasty word," replied Lanyon, and Christine, though she had never seen his face, could picture the icy smile on It. "Let us say 'remove.' As you very well know, Hastings is the one man who can upset our plans, the only one who knows enough to do so and has the pluck to fight us. Even 'if we kept him here for a month—for three months—the moment he was free he would be on our tails. We are none of us safe until he is out of the way."

"And do you think we should be any safer if we killed him?" Warden's voice was bitter. "What do you suppose his friend, Norman, would be doing—or the police? Just remember we're not in the Malay."

"I'm under no false impressions about Norman or the police or the fact that this is England," replied Lanyon in the same deliberate tone that he had used before. "And I admit that there are always risks in getting rid of one's enemies. Yet here the risk is reduced to a minimum. No one but you and myself and Bates knows that Hastings is here, and it's about the last place anyone would look for him. But that isn't our main safeguard. That lies in your likeness to him and the ease with which you have impersonated him. You have told me yourself that the cutler at Cranham had no suspicion that you were anyone else but Peter Hastings. Why, even your handwriting is the same.

"In a day or two, when you have cleaned up and cashed those cheques, you will be on your way to the East. Before you leave you send a note to Miss Vidal, saying that you have fallen in love with Miss Christine Grant, and that you feel you must break your engagement. So you are going to the Malay on a big game shooting expedition, and won't be back in England for a year. It's all as natural as can be, and long before any suspicion is aroused—even supposing there ever was any—Peter Hasting's body will have ceased to exist."

Christine, leaning against the door, could almost have vowed that she heard Warden shudder.

"In any case," Lanyon went on, "You're not implicated, Warden. You can leave the whole business to me. I shan't even tell you what I mean to do with the body." He gave a low laugh, and for the first time in her life Christine understood what is meant by the phrase, "the blood freezing in your veins." All the natural warmth seemed to go out of her body, and she had to use every ounce of her will-power to fight the horrible feeling of weakness that came over her.

"Well," continued Lanyon. "Do you agree?"

To Christine it seemed that he spoke as coolly as if it had been no more than a chicken whose fate was in 'he balance, and his tone made her so intensely angry that the blood raced again in her veins. Then Warden spoke, and so plainly that Christine could hear every world almost as well as if she was in the room.

"I may be all kinds of a swine, Lanyon, but I never killed another man in cold blood, and I'm not going to start now. Is that plain enough for you?"

"Too plain, Warden." Lanyon's voice was suddenly harsh. "Too plain for your own good. I have already made up my mind that Hastings is to die, and I am certainly not going to allow you to upset my plans. Stand out of my way." There came a queer gasp from Warden, a sound between extreme surprise and anger.

"What—you'd threaten me! Put that pistol away, you fool."

"You'd better stand out of my way, Warden." Lanyon's tone was deadly. "If you don't—"

By the sound Warden sprang at Lanyon. Christine heard a quick shuffle of feet on the carpet, then immediately came the loud bang of a pistol shot followed by a crash so heavy that the whole floor shook, and Christine felt the vibration in the hall outside. There was a deathly silence which lasted for perhaps ten seconds, then Lanyon's voice.

"The damned fool! He asked for it. Perhaps it's just as well. I could never have trusted him to keep his mouth shut." Again a pause, then: "Now for the other." Lanyon ended with a snarl.

He was going after Peter, he was going to murder him as he had already murdered Warden. Sheer desperation gave Christine fresh strength and wit to deal with the emergency. If she stood where she was in the hall this brute would shoot her down. Of that she was certain. It would make little difference to Lanyon whether he had three bodies to dispose of or only two.

Quick as a flash Christine darted across the hall into the room opposite. She had barely closed the door behind her before she heard the other door open and Lanyon come out. His steps turned down the passage towards the staircase. He did not hurry.

Christine realised two things—first, that Peter was imprisoned somewhere up at the top of the house; secondly, that she, and she alone, stood between this murderer and his victim. Warden was dead, Bates was dead drunk, there was no help anywhere within reach. Whatever was to be done to prevent Lanyon shooting down Peter in cold blood had to be done by herself.

On the face of it, the case was hopeless, for what could an unarmed girl do against a ruthless brute carrying a loaded pistol and ready to use it? In the very soul of her, Christine felt it was hopeless, yet this feeling, instead of leaving her paralysed by terror, actually braced her. She loved Peter. If he had to die, she would die, too—but not before she had made her best effort to save him.

There was no time to look for a weapon, such as a poker. In any case the room was pitch dark. Christine slipped out into the hall just in time to see Lanyon's tall figure disappearing around the angle of the staircase. He had not taken the small lamp which still burned smokily on the hat-stand. Either there was a light upstairs or Lanyon was carrying a torch.

Suddenly Christine saw her weapon. There was a walking-stick in the stand on which the lamp stood—a stout ash stick with a crooked handle. Christine picked it out with a perfectly steady hand, then in a flash she slipped off her shoes and soundlessly hurried after Lanyon.


CHRISTINE was so quick that she reached the foot of the stairs before Lanyon was half-way up the first flight. She saw now that there was a light in the upper passage which faintly illuminated the wall above the landing. But the lower flight was in thick shadow.

Christine instantly perceived that her only chance was to catch Lanyon before he got round the angle of the stairs. She did not hesitate an instant but darted up the first few steps.

Lanyon heard her. At least he must have heard something for he stopped and started to turn. Before he could do so Christine had the crook of the stick around his left leg just above the knee and jerked with all her might.

Lanyon made a grab for the banisters on his right, but he failed to reach them and Christine saw him toppling backwards right on top of her. She just managed to jump aside and squeeze herself against the banister, but even then his body grazed hers in its fall. He came down on his shoulders and the back of his head with a terrible crash and slid backwards, bumping on each step till he reached the passage floor below. The pistol, slipping out of his hand, rattled against the opposite wall.

Christine stood with her back against the banisters, looking down. She was breathing rather quickly and her face was very white, yet otherwise she was perfectly steady. The light from the hall lamp showed Lanyon lying still, yet for several seconds Christine did not move. He might be foxing and she was taking no risks. But there was no shamming about it. Lanyon's eyes were closed and he was still as death.

Christine ran down into the passage and the first thing she did was to snatch up Lanyon's revolver. Christine knew firearms. She examined the weapon and found it fully loaded except for the one bullet she had heard fired. For a moment she stooped over Lanyon. His head was cut and blood was making a little pool on the floor-cloth. Yet Christine, usually one of the most tender-hearted of women, merely looked at him a moment, then went up the passage to get her shoes. With these on her feet, she hurried up the stairs.

There were four rooms on the first floor of which two were furnished. One, by its filthy state, appeared to belong to Bates; the other was probably Warden's. But there was no sign of Peter, and she went up another flight to the top floor.

"Peter!" she called softly and almost at once came the reply.

"Christine!" Peter answered in a tone of incredulous joy. Christine opened the door of the room from which the voice came and there was Peter. The light of a single candle showed him lying on a bed to which he was tied with a thick cord which was attached to a broad leather belt around his waist. The belt was padlocked. His arms, too, were tied to his sides with an ingenious system of knots so arranged that he could use his hands but could not lift them above his head. His ankles were fastened together with a rope which left about six inches slack between them.

The result was that he could get off the bed and hobble to the length of his rope, but could not reach the door or the window. He looked very white and his face was covered with a thick bristle of beard, showing that he had not shaved for several days. Above his left eye was a great ugly blue and black bruise.

"Oh, Peter!" gasped Christine and sprang across to him.

"Oh, my dear!" he cried and tried vainly to stretch out his bound arms.

"A knife—where is there a knife, Peter?"

"Not here, Christine. They took jolly good care of that."

"There'll be one in the dining-room, I'll get it."

She was gone like a flash. She had to pass Lanyon again, but he had not moved. Which, perhaps, was lucky for him, for, in her present state of mind, Christine might very well have used his own pistol against him. The sight of Peter tied like a beast had stirred her as nothing else had done, not even the murder of Warden.

She got a knife, an ordinary table knife, ran upstairs almost as fast as she had come down and set to work to cut Peter loose. The knife was miserably blunt, the rope was new and hard. It meant desperate sawing to get it through and all the time Christine was terrified lest Bates might rouse out of his drunken sleep and come upstairs. At last she got Peter's arms free, then he himself took the knife and made short work of the cord around his legs.

"But how did you get here, Christine?" he asked eagerly.

"Too long to tell you now," Christine answered. "We must get away."

"But Warden—how did you get past him?" urged Peter as he sawed through the last cord—the one that held him to the bed. "That shot. I heard a shot."

"It was Lanyon shooting Warden."

Peter stared at Christine as if he could not believe his ears.

"Lanyon here!" was all he could find to say.

"He was here when I got here—in the front room, talking to Warden. I listened. They quarrelled. Lanyon wanted to kill you. Warden wouldn't let him. So Lanyon shot him."

"And where's Lanyon now?"

"I caught him on the stairs and tripped him with a stick. He's lying stunned."

"You did that, Christine!" Peter's eyes were fixed on Christine with a look of absolute worship.

"I had to. Oh, don't talk about it, Peter. It was awful."

"My poor darling! But you're the bravest girl God ever made."

"I'm not. I was scared almost to death when I saw him start upstairs with the pistol in his hand. And Bates!"

Christine was shivering now, and Peter quickly put his arm round her. For a moment the two clung together, then Christine drew gently away.

"We mustn't wait. Lanyon may come round."

"I almost hope he does," said Peter, and picked up the pistol which Christine had laid on the bed. "Nothing would give me more pleasure than blowing out his brains. But I suppose we've got to keep him for the hangman."

Christine had taken one step towards the door when from below came a sharp clap of sound.

"The front door," she exclaimed. "Oh. it must be Bates. Quickly, Peter."

"Don't worry about Bates. I'd almost as soon shoot him as Lanyon." He stepped in front of Christine. "I'll go down, Christine. You stay here."

"No, I'm coming with you," insisted Christine. "Oh, what's that?" she cried sharply. "Peter, it's smoke."

Peter did not answer. He was already racing down the stairs, up which rose a cloud of thick, ill-smelling smoke. Christine fled after him. On the ground floor the smoke was suffocating, and Christine, coming close behind Peter, saw an ugly, red glow in the front passage.

"Bates has set the house afire," she exclaimed.

"It isn't Bates. It's Lanyon," Peter answered quickly. "He's gone. Wait a moment. It isn't bad yet. I can put it out. Where's the tap? I want water."

"In the kitchen, but be careful. Bates is there—at least he was. He was drunk."

"Where's the kitchen? I don't know the house."

Christine led the way. With Peter beside her she was no longer afraid of Bates.

Bates was still in his chair, snoring stertorously. Peter found two buckets and filled them at the pump. Christine brought the lamp. They ran to the front, to find that the hall lamp had been flung down and broken, and that the blazing oil had caught the floor-cloth, making a horrible smoke. But the oil had already nearly burnt out, and the two buckets quenched most of the flames. Then Peter hurried into the dining room, tore down a heavy wind-curtain and with it beat out the smouldering remains of the fire.

"Nice little plot," he said grimly. "If we'd been a few minutes later and the woodwork had caught the whole house would have gone up and, with it, the body of the wretched Warden."

"But where's Lanyon?" Christine asked.

"Gone. I heard a car. He's miles away by now." He paused a moment. "Better wait in the dining-room while I look at Warden's body."

"No. So long as Bates is in the house I'm staying with you, Peter," Christine said firmly.

"Bates—he won't move for hours," Peter told her. "Still, it's as you wish."

They went across the scorched hall passage into the sitting-room where, by the light of the lamp, they saw Warden lying flat on his back on the carpet. A dark stain surrounded his head, and his hair, fair as Peter's, was matted with blood. It was not a pretty sight and, in spite of herself, Christine shuddered.

"Shot through the head," said Peter softly. "Poor devil!" As he spoke he knelt beside the body and examined it. After, a moment he looked up.

"He's not dead. His heart is beating."

"Not dead!" repeated Christine incredulously. "Let me see. I've had the full ambulance course, Peter. I know something about wounds."

With gentle fingers she touched the wound on Warden's head. It was plain to Peter that she knew exactly what she was about.

"No, he's not dead, Peter," she said presently. "And he's not going to die. See! The bullet has only grazed his skull and I'm almost sure the bone is not broken."

"He's bled a lot," said Peter.

"Yes, but the bleeding has stopped. Peter, we can't leave him like this. After all, he did his best to save you. We must get a doctor at once. Is there a telephone?"

"Yes—in the dining room. And a directory. I saw them the evening I came."

"Then go and phone. I'll stay here. But leave both doors open. Oh, and Peter, call up Bill Norman. Here is his number."

"Bill—splendid! Then he's in Town."

"He flew me down from Scotland. He's in London, watching for Warden."

Peter went quickly across into the dining-room while Christine did her best to make Warden a little more comfortable by lifting his head and putting a soft cushion beneath it. The bullet had struck him above the left ear and ploughed a furrow all along the side of his skull. He was still quite insensible, but his breathing was good and Christine felt certain that he was not dangerously hurt. It was nearly a quarter of an hour before Peter returned, and he was carrying a tumbler half-full of a pale yellow fluid.

"Whisky and water, Christine, I know you don't like whisky, but it will do you good."

Christine took it, sipped it, made a face, then swallowed it.

"Bill's coming," said Peter.

"And a doctor?" Christine asked.

"Yes. Chap called Sankey." Peter glanced down at Warden's motionless body. "Christine, what are we going to say to the doctor?" he asked uncomfortably. "There's no mistaking this for anything but a gunshot wound. Suppose the doctor insists on sending for the police, everything comes out."

Christine looked thoughtful.

"Then it will have to," she said. "After all, why should we shield Lanyon? The sooner he's in prison the better for all of us."

Peter shrugged.

"It isn't Lanyon I'm thinking of. It's you and Bill and Judith— and myself."

"Judith," Christine repeated doubtfully. "Yes, we have to think of her—and of you, Peter." She gave a sad little laugh. "It can't be helped. We must just carry on."

She glanced up at Peter. "Suppose you go up to Mr. Warden's room and have a shave," she suggested. "Your present appearance would not inspire any doctor with confidence."

Peter nodded.

"First, I'll tie up Bates," he said. "Then you'll feel happier, Christine."


PETER used the ropes with which he himself had been tied to secure Bates. And when he had finished Bates and his big chair were practically one. Then he hurried upstairs again and got Warden's razor.

He had to shave in cold water, yet even so he made a fair job of it. He also had a rapid and much needed wash, and had just changed his dirty collar for a clean one of Warden's when he saw the headlights of a car at the drive gate. He ran down. Christine was waiting for him.

"What are we to say to the doctor?" she asked breathlessly.

"Simply say we don't know anything about it. We are friends of Warden. Drove out here to see him. Found him lying shot."

Christine had only time to nod agreement before there came a ring at the bell. Peter opened the door to a brisk young man with a small, fair moustache and pleasant blue eyes. He carried a black bag.

"Dr. Sankey?" said Peter.


"My name is Hastings. This is Miss Grant. We came here tonight on our way back to town to see our friend, Mr. Warden, and found him lying on the floor of the sitting-room. He has been shot in the head, but is not dead nor, so Miss Grant thinks, fatally injured. Will you come and see?"

Dr. Sankey gave them both a quick glance which seemed to satisfy him; then he followed Peter into the sitting-room. He dropped on his knees beside Warden and began to examine him. Peter saw that he evidently knew his job. In about two minutes he had finished.

"Miss Grant is right," he said. "The bullet has only grazed the skull. There is, of course, considerable concussion and it will probably be some time before Mr. Warden is able to talk and tell us what has happened. We must get him to bed and I will dress the wound. After that it will be only a matter of keeping him quiet for a few days."

"His room is on the first floor. Shall I help you to carry him up, Doctor?" said Peter. "Or would it better to put him on the sofa here?"

"We can carry him up—it won't hurt him."

They took him up, undressed him, and put him to bed, and Sankey attended to the wound.

"Someone ought to be with him," said Sankey. "Are there any servants?"

"Warden has only a man. He is in the kitchen, tied up. He is very drunk."

Sankey frowned.

"A queer business, Mr. Hastings."

"Very queer," said Peter, drily, "Incidentally, the house was afire when we got here. At least a lamp had been upset and the oil was burning. Luckily, the flames hadn't got hold, and we put it out without much trouble."

"You didn't meet anybody as you came up?"


"I shall, of course, have to inform the police, Mr. Hastings."

"Of course, but I don't see what they can do until Warden comes round and is able to tell who his assailant was."

"He will probably come round before morning. I think you and Miss Grant must remain here for the present. It's awkward, but it can't be helped."

"Of course, we must," said Peter, readily. Sankey stood looking at Peter. He seemed to be struggling with some recollection.

"I know you," he said suddenly. "You're the Mr. Hastings who was attacked the other day at Cranham."

Peter shrugged.

"I plead guilty," he replied. "That's the awful part of having one's picture in the daily papers."

Sankey still seemed puzzled.

"But this Mr. Warden," he said. "He is amazingly like you. No one could help noticing the resemblance."

"That's how we came to know one another," Peter told him; "but we are not related in any way."

"These likenesses are very strange," Sankey said. "You probably have a common ancestor." He paused, then went on: "I must be getting back. I will send a nurse as soon as possible. I must see our superintendent of police, too."

He turned to go, but Peter stopped him.

"Your fee, Doctor? Poor Warden may not be able to attend to that sort of thing for some time to come."

"A guinea, Mr. Hastings. I think that will meet the case. But I shall, of course, come again tomorrow."

"You will find me here, but as soon as the nurse comes, Miss Grant must go home."

The other nodded. Peter saw him to the door and he drove away.

Peter found Christine busy in the dining-room. She had lit the fire, which was welcome, for it was still raining. Also she had got out some food and laid a cold supper on the table. A kettle was on the hob.

Somehow she had changed the whole atmosphere of the gloomy room.

"Splendid!" said Peter warmly. "I'm simply starved, Christine. Had nothing since lunch time and not much then. Bates got drunk quite early in the afternoon."

"The beast!" Christine exclaimed. She was looking at his eye.

"Was it he who hit you, Peter?"

"That was yesterday. I managed to get loose. We had a peach of a scrap but he was too strong for me."

"Sit here and have some of this tongue," Christine said. "And tell me what happened—how Warden got you here and everything."

"I'm still more keen to know how you got on my track, Christine."

"No, you first, Peter. I'll tell you afterwards." So Peter told how he had spotted Warden at "The Merry Men," followed him down, and been doped and tied.

"Warden himself wasn't so bad, Christine. All he wanted was to keep me here until he had 'cleaned up,' as he called it. Even Bates was possible until he got drunk. Then he was sheer brute."

"Well, I was right about your having a real double," said Christine. "Warden is the man who swindled you in the Malay."

"Yes, he's admitted that. Small wonder the native chief was deceived. We're practically doubles."

"And it was Warden whom Miss Vidal saw at that dance," Christine went on.

"I expect it was," Peter answered, "but now you've heard my story, Christine, and I'm burning to know how you managed to track me."

"I'll tell you but, first, I must go and have a look at Warden. The kettle is nearly boiling. Will you make the tea while I'm gone?"

Peter made the tea, and had just put the pot down by the fire when there came a loud crash from the kitchen. He ran there to find Bates had roused and, in a frantic effort to get loose, had upset himself and the chair to which he was tied on the flagged floor. He was still in a half-dazed state and at first thought that Peter was Warden.

"Some swine's tied me up while I was asleep," he growled. "Let me loose, Mr. Warden."

Peter stood over him.

"I was the swine who tied you up," he said crisply. "As for your master he's shot in the head."

Bates stared—one might better say glared—up at Peter.

"Blimy, if it ain't 'Astings!" he gasped at last, and Peter saw his expression change to one of absolute dismay.

"Yes, it's Hastings. I told you I should get my own back, Bates."

"Then you shot my boss." He turned suddenly ferocious. "You'll hang for that."

"No, Bates, I didn't shoot him. You're just as likely to be accused of it as I am."

"Me shoot Mr. Warden! Me shoot my boss, the best friend I ever 'ad! You're loony!"

Bates was so angry that he became quite sober. Peter looked at him a moment. There was not a doubt the man's anger was genuine. He was really devoted to Warden.

"A good mark for both of them," was Peter's thought. Aloud he said:—"I'm glad to say Mr. Warden is not dead. We've had the doctor here, who says he will recover. We have put him to bed and a nurse is coming from Waltham."

"A nurse—a woman!" Bates looked so horrified that Peter nearly laughed. "We don't want no women 'ere," Bates declared fiercely. "I'll look after the boss."

"And get drunk again and let him die," said Peter.

Bates was furiously indignant.

"I only got drunk becos' I knew as he was away fer the day. You don't catch me drinking so long as the boss is bad."

Peter saw he meant it, every word.

"The nurse is coming, anyhow," he said. "The question is what to do with you."

"Let me loose and I'll fix things up a bit."

"And start by knocking me over the head," said Peter drily.

Bates looked at him.

"I won't touch you, Mr. 'Astings, so long as the boss is bad," he declared, and Peter laughed.

"I'm not really afraid of you, Bates," he said, "and I don't want you to be tied up when the police arrive."

Bates gave a gasp of horror.

"The cops!" he cried. "What do you want with them?"

"I don't want them. But the doctor's sending them. He's bound to in a case like this. They've got to find out who shot Mr. Warden."

"I'll find that out. And when I finds him I'll take him to pieces with my 'ands," remarked Bates.

Peter nodded.

"I shan't prevent you," he promised. "All right, Bates, I'm taking your word you'll behave and I'm turning you loose." As he spoke he picked up a big kitchen knife and cut the ropes.

Bates climbed to his feet, went across to the sink, drew a bucket of cold water and stuck his head in it. While he wiped himself dry with a very unclean towel, Peter gave him a few directions, then Bates set to work to get rid of the beer bottles and other mess. Peter went to find Christine who was upstairs with Warden. She met him at the door of the room.

"He's come round," she told him. "I've told him about things, and he is not going to mention Lanyon to the police."

"Did you put him up to that, Christine?" Peter asked.

Christine closed the bedroom door.

"No, but I quite agree," she said frankly.

Peter nodded.

"So do I. If we put the police on Lanyon and if they caught him he'd spill everything and the publicity—well, it would be pretty beastly."

"I wasn't thinking of that so much as I was of Warden," Christine told him.

"Warden?" Peter repeated

"Yes. He stood up for you, Peter. Lanyon shot him because he refused to let Lanyon murder you. I don't want Warden to go to prison, as he will if Lanyon is arrested and informs about him."

Peter whistled softly.

"That was a point of view I hadn't thought of, but of course you're right. All the same we must be careful what we say to the police."

"There's a car coming now," said Christine quickly. "I expect it's the nurse."

"I'll go and see," replied Peter and ran down.

It wasn't the nurse; it was Bill Norman who must have broken all records on his journey down. His keen eyes lit at sight of Peter, but his voice was the usual quiet drawl as he spoke.

"Been mixing it again," he remarked with a glance at Peter's black eye.

"Never mind that," said Peter. "I've got to put you wise before the police arrive. They may be here any minute. Warden isn't dead. He isn't going to die. Lanyon made a bad shot this time. Warden's come round and he's not going to mention Lanyon. He'll simply say that he was attacked by a burglar."

Bill pursed his lips.

"Bit risky telling lies to the police."

"We've got to," Peter answered urgently. "If we tell them of Lanyon everything comes out and that will be rotten for Christine. Incidentally, Warden will go to quod, and we don't want that, for he was shot in trying to save me."

Bill stood frowning, evidently thinking hard; then he nodded.

"I get you. I don't like it, Peter, yet I see your point of view. It would be rotten for Christine. But if you must lie, for any sake be sure all tell the same lie. Remember, the police will question each of you separately. I think I'd better see Warden myself, and find out exactly what he is going to say."

"There's no time," Peter answered. "Here they come."

A car crunched up to the front door and a glare of headlights shone through the curtains. Here were the police, and Peter, feeling anything but happy, went to open the door for them.


THE sergeant who stepped in out of the streaming rain was tall and stiff. There was a second arrival, a neat-looking little woman in a long, blue nurse's cloak.

"Dr. Sankey informs me that there has been an attempted murder in this house," said the sergeant, whose name was Chilcott. "Are you Mr. Hastings?"

"I am," said Peter. "Come in, sergeant. I'm glad you have brought the nurse." He turned to Bill who had followed him into the hall. "This is Captain Norman, sergeant. He can be telling you the details while I take the nurse upstairs."

The sergeant made no objection so Peter took the nurse up to Warden's room Which Christine had already managed to tidy. Christine shook hands with the nurse, and talked to her for a few moments. Then she followed Peter out of the room.

"The sergeant's here," Peter whispered. "Bill says he'll want to question us all separately, and our stories have got to match. Am I supposed to have come here with you?"

Christine looked startled.

"I thought we told the doctor we had."

"Yes, but suppose they ask where we came from?"

"We'd simply been for a drive together—say to Aylesbury."

"But you were at Cranham," objected Peter.

"I met you at Aylesbury," said Christine, "and picked you up."

"But I'm supposed to have been to Cranham, too."

Christine began to look worried.

"We must chance it, Christine," Peter went on quickly. "Stick to the story that you picked me up at Aylesbury. I'll phone Blandy tomorrow and tell him not to mention that he saw me at Cranham. A good fellow, Blandy, and he can keep his mouth shut. Besides, the question may not come up at all. Now I'll go down."

He went down to find the sergeant and Bill seated over the fire in the dining room, and talking hard. Evidently they were on good terms.

"How's Warden?" Bill asked.

"Better. He's come round. But I don't think he's fit to talk much yet. Have you told the sergeant what happened?"

"I told him what I know. That ain't much. He's depending on you, and Miss Grant for the story."

"I'd be glad to hear, sir," said the sergeant.

Peter launched out. He said little about the arrival of himself and Christine; he simply told the sergeant that they had found Warden lying shot, and Bates tied up in the kitchen.

"So we telephoned for the doctor and I also telephoned Captain Norman because he was expecting to meet us in London on our return. We did what we could for Mr. Warden. I released Bates and that's about all I can tell you."

"Has Mr. Warden told you how he was attacked?" Chilcott asked.

"Not yet, but he may have said something to Miss Grant."

"It looks to me as if Bates will be the valuable witness," Chilcott said.

Peter shook his head.

"Bates, I'm sorry to say, was drunk," he replied. "He tells me he went to sleep in a chair in the kitchen and woke to find himself tied up like a mummy. He struggled and the chair fell over. I heard the crash and went and cut him loose."

Chilcott frowned.

"Bates must have been pretty badly soused if he never even felt them tying him up," he remarked. "You don't think he could be the guilty party, Mr. Hastings?"

"You can put that out of your head, sergeant. He's devoted to his master. Besides, he was properly tied up, and the knots were round at his back where he couldn't have tied them himself."

At this moment the door opened and Christine came in.

All three men rose. In some miraculous way Christine had managed to smarten herself up and to look as neat and fresh as if she had just come out of her own bedroom, and Peter saw the look of admiration in the sergeant's eyes as she came forward. Small as she was, Christine had a wonderful degree of natural dignity. If she had been in rags no one could have mistaken her for anything but a gentlewoman.

"This is Miss Grant, Sergeant Chilcott," Peter said. "Christine, the sergeant wants to know if Mr. Warden has told you anything about the attack on him."

"He has told me something," Christine answered. "He was in the sitting room opposite, reading, when the door opened, but thinking it was his servant Bates, he paid no attention. Suddenly he heard someone order him to put his hands up and he saw a man beside him with a handkerchief tied over the lower part of his face. The man had a pistol in his hand. Instead of obeying, Mr Warden sprang up and jumped at the man. There was a flash, and that is all he remembers."

The sergeant looked puzzled. "Was the house robbed?"

"No, I don't think there was much worth taking. But Warden's money was taken. It was in his pocket book."

"How much, Miss Grant?"

"He doesn't quite know. He thinks ten or twelve pounds."

"And nothing else?"

"Not that he knows of, but, of course, no search has yet been made."

"Did he say what the man looked like?"

"No. He is still too dazed to say much Now he is asleep."

"A funny business," said the sergeant slowly, "but, of course, there are queer folk wandering about the Forest, especially this time of year. I'll see the man Bates, if you please. Where is he?"

"In the kitchen," said Peter. "Shall I ring for him?"

"No, Mr. Hastings; I'll go through." Peter showed him the way and came back. "You told Bates what to say?" Bill whispered and Peter nodded.

In a few minutes Chilcott was back.

"Bates was drunk right enough," he said drily. "What is the man, Mr. Hastings? He looks like a bruiser."

"I believe he was a pug and that Mr. Warden pulled him out of some trouble," Peter answered. "But I don't know the details."

Chilcott took out a notebook.

"I can't do anything more here tonight, Mr. Hastings," the sergeant said. "The doctor will tell me when I can question Mr. Warden. Before I go I will take your names and addresses if you please. You will be needed as witnesses if we make an arrest."

Peter gave Cranham as his address, and Christine, Glenfarne.

"Will you be going back to London tonight?" was the sergeant's final question.

"We hadn't considered the question." Peter told him.

"I shall stay," said Christine. "The nurse will need help, and I don't think Bates can do much in the way of cooking or nursing."

"Then we'll all stay," Bill said briefly, and the sergeant nodded and took his leave.

After the car drove away Bill came back into the dining-room, sat down and began leisurely to fill his pipe.

"Trust a woman to tell a good story," he remarked. "You did fine, Christine."

Christine frowned.

"I hate telling lies, Bill, but when I do I make a good job of it. Now I must go and see about beds and food. This is a dreadful house."

"Pretty bad," agreed Bill. "Don't bother about me. I'll doss on the couch in the other room." And Christine went off.

"She's a marvel," said Bill. "Who'd think she's driven two hundred and fifty miles today?"

"And finished by throwing Lanyon down the stairs," said Peter, his eyes shining. "Lanyon was coming up to finish me, Bill."

Bill nodded. "Pity the blighter didn't break his neck," he grunted.

"That will be a job for me," said Peter. "You watch out, young fellah," said Bill drily. "Soon as Lanyon finds Warden's still alive he's going to make a lot more trouble."

"But he won't know. Odds are he's cleared out of England altogether."

"Don't you believe it. I know Lanyon's sort. He'll disguise himself, and lie low a bit until he sees which way the cat's jumped. Just as soon as he finds the police aren't after him he'll be on the job again."

"Don't quite see what he can do. I'm on to his little games with Vidal and Co. He won't get much more out of them."

Bill took his pipe out of his mouth.

"I don't know what he'll do, Peter," he said, and for once he spoke very clearly, and without any of his usual drawl. "But take it from me, he'll do something—and it won't be nice."

"Oh, don't croak," returned Peter. "Have a drink, then let's help Christine to fix up things. Bates is about as much use as a sick headache."

To their surprise they found Bates busy with a scrubbing brush, soap, and hot water, cleaning the kitchen. What was more, he was doing it quite willingly.

"Another of Christine's conquests," said Bill with a grin.

Christine herself was busy upstairs, but came down to ask Peter to fetch her car. Bill went with him, and they brought it up, and housed it as best they could. Christine had managed to get three bedrooms habitable, and an hour later they had all gone up. Christine had offered to take the nurse's place at four in the morning, but the nurse who, like the rest, had fallen under Christine's spell, refused, and Christine, dead tired, slept right through until Bates thumped on her door at eight next morning.

The rain belt passed in the night, and the sun shone into the gloomy dining room when the four met for breakfast. Bates had achieved a large dish of bacon and fried eggs, there was even toast, and Christine herself had made the tea. "How's Warden?" Peter asked.

"Doing well, nurse says," Christine answered. "I'm relieving her after breakfast."

"How long are you staying?" Bill asked bluntly.

"Until he is fit to be moved," replied Christine, an answer which made both men stare at her. But they did not argue. They knew Christine too well for that.

"I must go to town," said Peter reluctantly.

"Of course you must," said Christine. "You'll have to find out whether Warden has been impersonating you. You can also call for my suit-case, and you can do some shopping. I simply must have sheets and towels, and we need a quantity of stores. Warden and Bates seem to have lived on bacon and eggs and tinned beef. I'll give you a list. You can leave it at the stores on your way in and pick up the parcels as you come out."

Peter laughed.

"At your service, madam." He turned to Bill. "What about you?"

"Staying right here," replied Bill briefly, and Peter felt relieved. Somehow there was always the haunting fear of Lanyon at the back of his mind and now the revenge of that unpleasant person would be directed against Christine as well as himself.

Twenty minutes later he drove off, fully intending to get his work done and return as soon as possible. He grudged losing an hour of Christine's company, and was ready to be grateful even to Warden for being the cause of seeing her again.

Bill, hands in pockets and pipe in mouth, watched him go, then turned to Christine.

"What's the idea?" he asked in his quiet drawl. A little smile flickered across Christine's face.

"Wait and see," she answered demurely, and turned and went indoors. Bill watched her.

"I'll lay she's got something up her sleeve," he remarked to himself and went out to see to the cars.


CHRISTINE came to lunch with her hat on.

"Bill," she said, "I want to run over and see that nice old woman I knocked down yesterday. If I go at once I'll be back by tea."

"Want me to come along?" Bill asked. "No need. And I'll feel happier if you stick to the ship."

Bill nodded.

"Car's all right," he said. "Been over her this morning."

Christine thanked him and the moment lunch was over drove off. She quite enjoyed the drive. It was a joy to get away from that gloomy house among the' laurels, and for the moment she was relieved of anxiety about Peter. She reached her destination soon after three and Julia, the lame girl, greeted her with a smile.

"Aunt's going well, miss," she said. "I kept her in bed for breakfast, but she's up now. She'll be glad to see you."

Anne Burney was glad to see Christine. Her pink, wrinkled face was lit with a beaming smile.

"I do call it kind of you, Miss Grant, to drive all this way to see me, but there, I knew you were one of the real gentry. There's not many of them left nowadays," she added with a sigh.

"I think you've lived with nice families, Anne," said. Christine smiling back at the old lady.

"Indeed I have. I've been a nanny all my life ever since I was 16, and only three places in nearly 50 years. My last mistress, Mrs. Honiton, gave me a pension, miss, and with that and the old-age pension I'm able to spend my last years in peace and comfort. That's her photograph," pointing to a picture in a silver frame.

"A sweet face," said Christine. "And are these her children?"

"Yes, miss. That's Mr. Richard. He's a captain in the Army now, and Miss Inez, she's married and living in India." The little room was full of photographs and Christine moved round, looking at them. She stopped opposite a picture of a small, curly-headed boy, which stood on the mantel and gazed at it.

"Who is this?" she asked and her usually soft voice was almost sharp. Anne Burney looked up, a little startled.

"That—why that's Peter Hastings, the little boy I nursed before I went to Mrs. Honiton. My second place—why, what's the matter, miss?"

Christine had turned with the photograph in her hand, and her eyes were bright with excitement.

"This is rather wonderful, Anne!" she cried. "Mr. Hastings is a very great friend of mine."

Anne Burney's face lit up.

"You don't mean it!" she exclaimed. "Indeed it's wonderful. The dearest little boy he was, and I've wondered a hundred times whether he was alive and what had become of him."

"He's very much alive, Anne. He is the owner of Glenfarne, a big moor in Perthshire."

Anne Burney grew more excited. "Glenfarne!" she repeated. "Why, that was Mr. Lachlan's place, his mother's brother. And Mr. Peter's come in for it. To think you know him so well!"

"Mr. Lachlan adopted me, Anne, when I was quite a child. I have lived at Glenfarne almost all my life. Tell me about Peter when he was small."

Anne looked up quickly. A question seemed to be on her lips but she did not ask it. Instead she answered Christine's question.

"He was a fine little lad, miss, very strong and high-spirited, and never had anything the matter with him. I had full charge of him for more than three years after his mother left."

"After his mother left," Christine repeated quickly. "Tell me, Anne, did she run away? I always suspected she did, but Mr. Lachlan would never talk about it. He merely told me she was dead, and I didn't like to ask questions. I know nothing about it, and Peter, himself, has never told me."

"Yes, miss," Anne's voice was grave, "she ran away. A sad business it was. Mr. Hastings, Mr. Peter's father was a mining engineer and his business took him all over the world. Sometimes he'd be in the East and twice he went to America. It wasn't quite fair on Mrs Hastings—leaving her by herself for perhaps six months at a time, for she was a very beautiful lady and fond of fur and amusement. Mr. Hastings was well off, and they had a fine house at Hampstead. Yew Court it was called."

"Yew Court," broke in Christine "That's Miss Vidal's now. But go on Anne."

"It was the time Mr. Hastings went to Mexico that Captain Warden began to call at Yew Lodge."

She broke off. "Why whatever's the matter, Miss Grant? You're quite pale?"

"Go on," said Christine breathlessly, and Anne obeyed.

"A very handsome man was Captain Warden, and rich, but I never liked him. He came more and more often and was always taking Mrs. Hastings to dances or the theatre. I was worried, but what could I say? Sometimes I've blamed myself that I didn't write to Mr. Hastings."

She paused again.

"Arid they ran away?" Christine asked in the same breathless tone.

"Yes, they ran away. Quite suddenly and just when no one was expecting it except, perhaps, me. And the worst of it was that Mrs. Hastings took away her younger boy, Derek."

"Dirk—Dirk Warden!" Christine exclaimed.

Anne stared at her.

"Yes, she always called him Dirk," she agreed; "but how did you know, miss? They've both been dead years."

"Mrs. Hastings died. Dirk is still alive."

Anne's eyes widened. She shook her head.

"Captain Warden took them to some Eastern parts," she said, "and they both died of cholera, miss. Mr. Hastings told me himself, and I remember how I cried. I was very fond of little Master Derek."

"Tell me, Anne," said Christine, "were the two boys very much alike?"

Anne nodded.

"Like as two peas, miss," she smiled. "They might have been twins. A curious thing, too, there was exactly a year between them. Master Peter was born January 13, and Master Derek January 13, a year later.

"It all fits," said Christine, softly. "Anne, I can assure you I am right. Derek is still alive. I saw him only this morning. Derek calls himself Warden, and the two do not know they are brothers."

Anne could hardly contain herself.

"But I could tell them!" the old nurse exclaimed. "I'd know them in a minute. Oh, Miss Grant, can't I go to see them?"

"I will bring them to see you—I promise. It can't be Just yet, for Mr. Derek has had an accident, and will be laid up for a few days, and Mr. Peter is very busy."

She got up.

"Anne, I must go straight back," she said. "What you have told me may make a tremendous difference in several people's lives, but for the present we must keep it entirely to ourselves. I can trust you not to say a word, even to your niece."

"Indeed you can, miss, but I shall be all in a twitter till I see my dear boys again."

"You shall see them—I've promised," said Christine firmly. "But not quite yet. However, if I can't come again very soon, I will write to you. Good-bye."

She bent and kissed the soft old cheek, and Anne coloured with pleasure.

"Good-bye, my dear, and God bless you," she said. "And may you find the right man and be happy all your days."

There were tears in Christine's eyes as she got back into her car, but she brushed them away and drove swiftly back towards Waltham. Her mind was full of what Anne Burney had told her.

"I think I knew it all the time," she said to herself. "The likeness is too perfect to be accidental." She paused, "Oh, I wonder if it will work," she murmured presently, and after that was silent.

She and Peter arrived back almost at the same minute. Christine told him where she had been, and then they were busy unloading the parcels with which Peter's car was packed.

Christine went up to see the nurse, who told her that the doctor was quite satisfied with Mr. Warden. He was to be kept quiet for three days, but after that ought to be able to sit up.

At tea Christine was quite gay. Peter was delighted, yet at the same time puzzled. He was sure there was something behind Christine's mood, but naturally could not guess what it was.

He himself had plenty to tell. He had seen Garth and Graham and, with their help, got to the bottom of the frauds which had been attempted against the Vidal Company.

"Of course, we are certain that Lanyon was behind them," he said, "but the beggar has been too cute for us to get any proof against him."

He turned to Christine.

"I've brought out stores for a month," he said. "How long are you going to stay, Christine?"

"Until Warden is fit to be moved. Then, Peter, with your permission, I mean to take him up to Glenfarne."

Peter's eyes widened. "What for?"

"To get him fit again," said Christine simply. "Do you mind?"

Peter laughed.

"Of course I don't mind. And anyhow, Glenfarne is yours to do as you like with. What about you, Bill?"

Bill took his pipe out of his mouth.

"Staying here," he said briefly. "Pity to waste all that good grub. Besides, I rather like the forest."

It was wonderful how that oddly assorted party settled down in Warden's ugly, uncomfortable house. It was all Christine's doing. Bates became her devoted slave, and his kitchen a model of cleanliness. He liked Peter, too.

"Wonnerful scrapper 'e is, Miss Christine," he confided to her. "Got a punch like the kick of a mule. Mr. Warden ain't bad, but Mr. 'Astings could put 'im out."

Warden mended fast, and on the following Friday was able to see Sergeant Chilcott. Christine had told him what to say, and he said it, and Chilcott went off to search vainly for an imaginary burglar. Of Lanyon they heard nothing at all Bill ascertained that he was not at his flat.

Peter was desperately happy and desperately miserable by turns. Every minute he spent with Christine was sheer joy, but at nights he lay awake, wondering how he could bear the inevitable separation. He wrote to Judith, but, of course, said nothing of what had happened, and Bill posted the letter for him in London.

In a week Warden was fit to be moved, and Christine took him north by train. Bill said he would fly back, and suggested to Peter that he might come with him and stay at Costello a few days. Peter accepted gladly. At any rate he would be near Christine. He tried to excuse himself by declaring that he had to see Judith.

One thing none of them had foreseen, not even Christine. Pittendrum is a small place, and arrivals and departures of local folk, especially notable folk, like Christine, are quickly noticed. As it happened, Judith's maid, Daisy Newton, was in the town, shopping for her mistress, when Christine drove past on her way home from the station, and Daisy saw her. Of course, she saw Derek, too, and very naturally took him for Peter. She at once hurried back to the hotel, full of this choice bit of scandal, to retail to her mistress.

Afterwards she wished she hadn't, for Judith went into such a passion as terrified the girl nearly out of her wits. Judith refused her dinner, and for a long time sat white and shaking. By degrees she pulled herself together, and curtly told Daisy to order the car for two o'clock the following afternoon.

"And if you wish to stay with me, Daisy," she said in a flat, cold voice, "do not say a word to anyone of what you have seen."


JUDITH arrived at Glenfarne just after three. Inwardly she was still boiling, outwardly she was very calm. She was beautifully dressed, and Daisy had managed to conceal the scar that still showed on her cheek. It was not really a bad or disfiguring mark, but Judith was intensely sensitive about it.

Mrs. Malcolm opened the door. She had seen Judith drive up and had purposely taken the place of the maid who would have ordinarily answered the bell.

"Is Miss Grant at home?" Judith asked.

"I'm sorry, madam. They are all out on the moor."

Somehow it had never occurred to Judith that Christine would be out, and she felt almost as if she had had a slap in the face. Yet all she could do was to conceal her disappointment, give Mrs. Malcolm her card and tum away with a discreet expression of regret.

The drawing-room at Glenfarne had a large bow window and, as Judith went down the broad, stone steps, she saw a man lying on a couch in that room, with a book in his hand. He had his head towards the window, but Judith could just catch a glimpse of his face. He was Dirk, but, of course, Judith believed he was Peter.

She stopped and half turned. But the door was already closed. It was impossible to go back and ring again. She stepped into her car and in a voice she hardly knew for her own told her chauffeur to drive home.

As the car went down the steep drive Judith sat bolt upright, positively rigid with rage. So Christine had not only got Peter at Glenfarne, but intended to keep his visit dark. She had actually instructed her servants to lie about his presence.

Judith Vidal was a woman with tremendous capacity for love and hate. Now all her hate was turned upon Christine. She did not blame Peter. She chose to think that the whole fault was Christine's and her mind was filled with a wild passion for revenge upon her rival. Whet, she got back to the hotel she flung herself down in a deep chair in her private sitting-room and for more than an hour sat racking her brains for some way of getting even with Christine. She found none and the only result was that her head began to throb so badly that at last she rang for a cup of tea. Then feeling a longing for fresh air, she went out into the hotel gardens.

The Palace Hotel at Pittendrum is famous for its gardens and its grounds. By this time Judith knew them well and made her way to a little wood on the upper edge where the wind blows off the heather of the open moor beyond. The evening air was deliciously cool and Judith, exhausted by the violence of her emotions, seated herself on the grass, with her back against a tree, and gazed out across the distant hills.

Lulled by the gentle murmur of the breeze in the branches overhead, Judith was half dozing when footsteps roused her. She opened her eyes to see a young man walking slowly past, a little way down the slope. His eyes were on the ground, his expression very anxious. It seemed to Judith that he was searching for something among the bushes covering the slope. She recognised him as a visitor who had arrived at the hotel only the previous day. She had been struck by his remarkable good looks, also by the fact that he was alone.

It was not until he was quite close to Judith that the young man saw her. Then he pulled up short and lifted his cap in rather an embarrassed fashion.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Vidal," he said. "I didn't mean to disturb you."

Judith was struck again by his remarkable looks. That combination of blue eyes with black eyebrows and hair was distinctly unusual. His features were good, too, and he had as perfect a set of teeth as Judith had ever seen. He was not a big man but looked fit and strong.

"You're not disturbing me," Judith answered. "What's the matter? Have you lost something?"

"I have." He tried to smile but it was not a success. "My pocket- book. I was up this way before tea and just now. When I wanted to buy some stamps at the office, I found it was gone."

Judith was interested.

"But it's not the sort of thing you'd drop very easily. Where did you carry it?"

"In my hip pocket." He paused again "Fact is—you'll probably laugh at me. I was jumping to and fro over these bushes. I'm a physical instructor and have to keep fit. I probably jerked it out."

Judith pursed her lips.

"You may have." She got up. "I'll help you search."

"That's very kind of you," said the young man gratefully. He set to searching again and he searched very thoroughly. Judith helped, but there was no sign of the missing pocket-book.

"It looks as if someone else had picked it up," said Judith.

"I'm afraid so," said the young man, and his tone was so rueful that Judith felt sorry for him.

"Is it a serious loss?" she asked.

"It is, rather," he confessed. "You see there was my driving licence, my insurance ticket, my A.A. card, and all sorts of things like that in the case."

A rich woman like Judith, a woman whose wealth is a matter of common knowledge, becomes accustomed to all kinds of tricks to part her from her money. It had occurred to her vaguely that this might be one of them and she was secretly relieved to find that it was not so.

"Money, too, I suppose?" she ventured. "Yes, about ten pounds, but that doesn't matter so much as the other things."

"You had better tell them at the office," said Judith, "and it might be as well to go to the police."

"I shall do that. Thank you for helping me, Miss Vidal."

"I will walk back with you," said Judith. She was tired of her own thoughts and company, and this young fellow seemed a pleasanter companion than the run of stout, wealthy business men who were the chief patrons of the Palace.

She was right. He talked well and had good manners. She learned that his name was Guy Scrafford, that he was games master in a school in Glasgow, and I that he came to Pittendrum for the golf.

"I can only afford a week here," he said. "The rest of my holiday I spend in the wilds."

"What do you mean by the wilds?" Judith asked.

"Just what I say. I own a house called Cuilrain on the edge of the Scairbh. It's about the loneliest spot in Scotland though it's less than forty miles from here. The house is just a little better than a ruin, but there's quite good fishing. I camp there, sometimes by myself, sometimes with a pal."

Judith was interested, and Scrafford went on to describe his queer property.

"Cuilrain is supposed to be an old smuggler's house. My father bought it years ago and left it to me. Incidentally, it's about the only thing he did leave me," he added with a laugh.

"And this Scairbh you speak of?" Judith questioned.

"It's an estuary, not a sea loch, but a great expanse of sand two miles wide. At low tide it's all bare except for a small river that runs through a narrow channel in the centre, but at full flood it's quite covered. Spring tides are a sight. The sea comes sweeping in faster than any man can run. You have to be pretty careful, but, of course, I know it well."

"It sounds pretty bleak," Judith suggested.

"Oh, it's lonely enough. There isn't another house within miles and I have to go twelve miles to Tobar for provisions."

"Have you a car?"

"Yes, but it's not much use there. I usually travel by boat or pony. But there's plenty of rough shooting and a burn where I get all the trout I want. Very jolly in good weather."

"But not in wet," said Judith with a slight shiver.

"It is a bit dree then," admitted Scrafford. "Sort of place where you wouldn't maroon your pet enemy if the weather was really bad."

Judith gave him a quick glance, but he did not seem to notice, and went on talking about his lost house on the Scairbh.

Judith slept badly that night. Most of the long dark hours she lay awake, and whenever she dozed off she kept on dreaming, not of Christine or of Peter, but of the desolate house of young Scrafford. Always she seemed to see it with a background of dark, sullen cloud and with a roar of waters, as the tide galloped up over the wide, yellow sands.

It was just as the first grey of dawn was leaking in between her bedroom curtains that Scrafford's words about marooning his worst enemy came back to her as clearly as if he was speaking them in her ear.

The idea flashed upon her. "What a place for Christine if only I could get her there! Once she was out of the way Peter would come back to me."

A fortnight earlier if anyone had suggested to Judith Vidal that she would deliberately plan to capture a rival she would have told the speaker he must be mad. Now, however, she was no longer normal. Because of her bitter anger against Christine and the misery she had suffered through her scared face, she was off her balance, and quite unable to reason sensibly.

The more she thought of this idea the more it appealed to her. This young Scrafford was badly off. Supposing she offered to rent Cuilrain from him, then, surely, it would not be hard to find someone who would act as gaoler—some efficient, elderly couple not troubled with too many scruples. Of course, Peter would be upset at first, but, once away from Christine's fascination, he would soon come back to his old allegiance. Then she would hurry on the wedding, and afterwards Christine could be released. All the time she was dressing she brooded over her plan so that Daisy was driven to wonder what made her mistress so silent.

Coming down to breakfast, Judith saw Scrafford at the desk apparently paying his bill.

"You're not leaving, Mr. Scrafford?" she asked quickly.

"I am," he told her, then added in a low voice. "You see my pocket-book hasn't turned up."

"I'm sorry," said Judith in an equally low tone. "Are you in a hurry, Mr. Scrafford?"

"No. I have my old bus outside, and an hour or so doesn't make much odds."

"Then I should like a little talk with you." She led the way to a quiet corner of one of the sitting-rooms.

"Would you care to let this place of yours for a few weeks, Mr. Scrafford?" she asked abruptly.

"Let it," Scrafford repeated in a tone of amazement. "Who on earth would take it?"

"I was thinking of doing so." His eyes widened.

"But you'd never go there, Miss Vidal You wouldn't stick it for twenty-four hours. You haven't a notion what it's like."

"All the same, I should like to rent it."

He looked at her shrewdly.

"Not thinking of a pet enemy, are you, Miss Vidal?"

In spite of herself, Judith reddened slightly. Before she could find an answer he went on: "I think you'd better tell me, Miss Vidal. I'm really quite trustworthy. I don't mind telling you also that I am very hard up."

Judith turned her head and looked him full in the eyes.

"I realise that you are hard up; I have no proof that you are trustworthy."

Scrafford returned her gaze boldly.

"Not much use offering you testimonials, I'm afraid."

"None at all," said Judith. "Are you married?"

"Good lord—no!"

Judith sat silent for a few moments. She must have an accomplice— that was certain. And a man of good appearance and apparently good birth was preferable to the shady sort of people she would get through some second-rate private detective office. Scrafford was young, hard-up and quite evidently ready to take risks. It seemed to her that she might as well trust him as another. At last she spoke.

"The reason I asked if you were married is that I must have a woman as well as a man."

"I can get a reliable woman if you are ready to pay for her, Miss Vidal."

"That, of course," replied Judith, quickly. "Tell me, Mr. Scrafford, what scruples have you?"

"I don't steal, and I certainly won't murder. For the rest—well, to be frank, it's merely a question of money."

"Then," said Judith. "I think you had better listen to me."

Half an hour later Judith went into the dining-room to a very late breakfast, while Scrafford betook himself to the telephone cabinet, and was very careful to close the door behind him and make sure that no one was listening. He rang up a number in Glasgow, got it almost at once, and began to talk.

"It's all right, Lanyon. I laid the bait, the lady swallowed it, hook and all. Yes, it's the girl she wants taken to Cuilrain. What— money? She'll put up £200. That's plenty. When are you coming down?"

"At once," came the answer. "Meet me at that little quarryman's inn at the head of Lake Rummel first thing tomorrow. Yes, you've done well, Scrafford. Don't worry. You'll get your share."

He rang off, and Scrafford came out of the telephone box. Perhaps it was just as well that Judith could not see his face just then. If she had, she might have decided to call the whole thing off.


DIRK WARDEN wandered up the hill above Glenfarne. Steep as the slope was, it did not seem to trouble him. The coat of tan which he had acquired during the past few days increased his resemblance to Peter, his eyes were bright and clear, he looked and felt better than for years.

Not only that, but in some subtle way his whole expression had changed. It was contented, almost happy. For a fact, he had never enjoyed anything in his remembrance so much as these days in the friendly, sunny Highland lodge with Christine Grant as his hostess.

Nearing the top of the hill he seated himself on a clump of heather, with his back against a rock. The breeze was cool but the sun hot and bees droned among the heather. This was the first tune Dirk had ever been in Scotland, yet, just as something in Peter had responded to the indescribable charm of the vast open spaces, so his brother's Scottish blood took joy in the romantic surroundings.

He lit a cigarette and smoked it leisurely. He finished it and carefully extinguished the glowing butt, for already he had learned to be careful in such matters when the heather was dry as it was. He glanced at his wrist watch and saw that it was past six.

"Nearly time for her to be back," he remarked aloud, and getting to his feet, looked down into the valley of the Fame beneath him. Christine had gone fishing and Dirk had offered to come and row for her, but she had pronounced that he was not yet fit for it and, since her word was Dirk's law, he had been content to say that he would come to meet her. So he had eaten a solitary tea, then walked up the hill to his present eyrie.

From the spot where he stood Dirk could see the valley of the Fame up to the bend below the loch. The loch itself he could not see without climbing to the crest of the hill. Christine was not yet in sight, but he felt sure she would not be long now. He turned to look back at the lodge which was so far below that it looked like a toy house set in a toy garden with little Noah's Ark trees around it. The air was so clear he could even see Fergus, the gardener, busy digging potatoes.

Then something else attracted his attention. Off to the east, nearly two miles away, and separated from the spot where he stood by a wide and deep gully, a wisp of grey smoke rose against the evening blue. He started and at the foot of the smoke saw a scarlet gleam.

"Good God!" he gasped, "the heather's afire."

Dirk knew the danger. There had been no rain since the big storm, the moor was very dry, especially on the high ground and once a fire got hold there was no saying how far it might spread or what damage it might do.

Dirk's first impulse was to run and do his best to put it out. He actually started, then stopped. Two men were already on their way— Donald and one of the gillies. They were going up the hill on the far side of the gorge and going at a great pace. Much as Dirk would like to have helped them, he knew he could not get there in time to do any good, for he would have to go almost down to the lodge to round the lower end of the big gully. Then he saw that Fergus had spotted the smoke and that he, too, had gone off with his spade over his shoulder. Johnny, the boot-boy, joined him. That made four fire- fighters, and there would be more, for Archie McIntyre, the shepherd, and Sandy, his son, would be coming from the other side. Feeling easier in his mind, Dirk turned to look down the valley, and see if Christine was coming.

She was, but there were two men with her, one on each side. What was more, they had her between them and were holding her, one by each arm. Dirk stared, hardly able to believe his eyes. Dirk had good eyes, almost as good as Peter's, and in spite of the distance it came to him that the look of one of those men was familiar.

"Lanyon! By God, it's Lanyon!"

It was a cry of fury. Like almost everyone else who came into contact with Christine, Dirk adored her. He wasn't in love with her but he thought her the finest, sweetest girl he had ever met. The idea of Christine Grant, prisoner in the hands of that murderous brute, Lanyon, drove him frantic. Instinctively he started forward but had only gone a few steps before he stopped.

Christine with her two captors had reached the footbridge above the fall, which had been rebuilt since the flood. The men were hurrying her across it and beyond, Dirk saw three ponies in charge of a third man. Within a very few minutes they would have Christine on one of these beasts and would be off across the hill opposite. Where Lanyon meant to take Christine, Dirk could not guess, but it was entirely clear that he himself was the only person who could possibly find out.

Dirk saw the whole plot now. The heather had been fired on the far side of the Moor on purpose to draw away all the Glenfarne men. It was no use going back to the lodge for help, for there were only women there. He thought for an instant of Bill Norman and Peter, but they were at Costello seven miles away by road. No hope from that quarter. Whatever was to be done he himself had to do it, and he racked his brains for any way of following Christine's kidnappers.

Quite obviously it was no use following afoot. Even a man like Bill Norman could not follow ponies afoot, and Dirk's first thought was to go back as quickly as he could and get out Christine's two seater. But that would take nearly half an hour, and by that time Lanyon would have a long start. Besides, it looked as if the kidnappers were travelling by hill paths over which a car could not follow.

All these various thoughts and objections raced through Dirk's head in a matter of seconds, and the three below had not reached the ponies before Dirk had his big idea. Donald's cottage was only just round the bend of the valley to the north, less than half the distance to the lodge, and Donald, like most keepers, owned a motor bicycle. It was big and powerful and, though not new, in excellent order. Only that morning Donald had been showing it to Dirk.

Dirk himself was something of an expert. He had ridden much in the East over all sorts of roads and jungle tracks. He believed he could ride this machine anywhere a pony could go, and the idea had hardly come to him before he was on his way.

No one would have dreamed that Dirk was an invalid to see him go down that hillside, yet, in spite of his hurry, he had sense enough to go by way of a gully which hid him from Lanyon's eyes.

He hoped to find Maggie, Donald's sister, at the cottage, but to his dismay she was not in the house. As he looked round for a scrap of paper and a pencil to write a message she came in from the milking, and he quickly told her what had happened. She went quite white, but Highland women are of stern stuff, and she pulled herself together at once.

"They went west, sir?" she asked swiftly.

"Yes—with ponies."

She thought a moment, then:

"Aye, over the hill and on to the Tulla road. Most like they'll have a car there. Ye must go over the hill, Mr. Warden. Ye must go down the main road and tak the first turn to the left up the glen, through the white gate. Aye, tak Donald's machine. Myself, I'll fetch Donald as quick as I can." She turned to the door, then paused. "Will ye be taking a gun, sir? Here's Donald's—or the rifle he uses on the hill?"

Dirk shook his head.

"Too heavy, Maggie," he said, "and too clumsy." He ran to the shed and wheeled out the motor bike. He glanced at the tank and was grateful to find it nearly full. One kick and it started, then he was flying down the rough cart track towards the main road.

"Gude sakes, how he rides!" muttered Maggie, then without a moment's delay she was running towards the lodge.

Dirk reached the white gate in a matter of five minutes, opened it and started up the Tulla road. His heart sank at the state of it, for it was little better than the cart track down from Donald's cottage. Deep ruts, loose stones—it looked as if it had not been mended since it was first made. But then his spirits rose again. If it was bad for him it would be worse for a car—always supposing Lanyon had a car. He felt sure that Maggie must be right and that Lanyon had a car in waiting. The man could not hope to get Christine away out of reach on pony back.

The worst of it was he hadn't the faintest notion where this road led, nor of the geography of the country beyond. He was climbing all the way, and there were big hills in the distance as well as on both sides. He kept glancing to the left, expecting to see the ponies coming down the slope.

Suddenly he did see them, but they were a long way ahead—quite a mile. He saw something else, too—a car on the road.

Forgetting how helpless was his case, unarmed against two powerful men, he spurted. Next instant his front wheel hit a large stone. He felt himself shooting through the air. There was a crash—then blackness.


DIRK woke to find himself flat on his face on the grass by the roadside. His head rang like a gong and at first he hadn't an idea where he was or what had happened. It was the sight of the bicycle lying against the grassy slope just below him that brought back memory, and he rolled over and sat up.

His right hand felt funny and he saw it was all over blood. There was a nasty cut on the palm. There was blood on his face, too, from a cut over the right eye. His right knee was badly bruised, but seemingly there was nothing broken, for he found he could stand.

"Might be worse," he muttered as he twisted his handkerchief round his cut hand. Then he turned to the bicycle. That, too, seemed to have come off lightly. The front mudguard was bent but was luckily still free of the wheel, and the engine seemed none the worse.

The car he had seen, standing on the road, was now out of sight. The ponies, too, were gone. Dirk realised that he must have been out for at least three or four minutes. That didn't worry him so much as his own shakiness. He was very giddy and blood was still dripping from the cut over his eyes.

But Dirk had in him much of the same good stuff that was in Peter. He knew that he was the only person on Lanyon's trail and the only one likely to be on it for some time to come. No help could be expected for a long time, so whatever was to be done he had to do it.

He got in the saddle and started on again. It was no use trying to hurry. For one thing he was too shaky to ride fast and for another he could not risk another tumble. The thing was to plug along quietly and trust to being able to find which way Lanyon had gone.

The road kept curving away to the west. It was just a track cut in the side of the hill. There was no room anywhere for two cars to pass and in many places the drop to the left was so steep that anything going over the edge would be smashed to pieces. The evening air was cool and clear, by degrees the cut on Dirk's head ceased bleeding, his giddiness passed, and he began to feel better.

He rounded a great curve and suddenly caught sight of Lanyon's car. It was all of three miles ahead, a mere dot against the hill- side up which it seemed to crawl like a fly up a wall. Dirk slacked at once. He did not want Lanyon to suspect that anyone was after him.

A few yards farther on with a mountain ash hanging over the road, Dirk stepped behind it and waited until Lanyon's car reached the peak of the hill and vanished.

A tiny burn came trickling down and ran in a rough culvert under the road. Dirk knelt down and drank and splashed some of the icy cold water over his aching head. This freshened him and he went on at a quicker pace.

When he reached the top of the steep hill he saw the ear again. Now it was only about two miles ahead, but a good five hundred feet below. As he watched he saw it swing to the right into a road which intersected the one on which he was travelling.

This road, when he reached it, proved to be better than the one he had been riding over, so he quickened his pace, and his speedometer flickered at thirty or over as he rattled up a long slope. At its head he again sighted Lanyon's car which was still keeping about the same lead. Dirk realised that he could easily overtake it and now began to wish that he had accepted Maggie's offer of Donald's gun. Unarmed as he was, it would be nothing better than suicide to tackle Lanyon. The man who had shot him once would certainly not hesitate to do so a second time.

He looked round in the hope of seeing some house where he might find help, but there was none. He was now in the heart of the hills, and the only dwelling in sight was a shepherd's bothy perched far up the mountain to the left. No smoke rose from the chimney, and, even if Dirk could have reached it, the odds were that there was no one there. Again it came to him that all he could do was to keep Lanyon in sight, if possible, discover his destination, then return for help.

This trailing was no easy job, for Dirk dared not ride nearer to the chase than two miles. Even at that distance he was desperately afraid lest Lanyon's ears might catch the sharp bark of the exhaust which sounded startlingly loud in the quiet evening air.

The lonely road wound endlessly up hill and down. Once Dirk met another motor cyclist who seemed to be a tourist, and he passed two elderly road men on their way home. Those were the only human beings he saw in the next twenty miles. Then he came in sight of a big lodge, but it stood half a mile or more off the road, and he decided it was no use going there for help, because, by the time he had found the owner and explained things, Lanyon would probably be out of reach.

As it happened, it was lucky he did not stop, for, about a mile farther on, there were crossroads, and Lanyon, instead of keeping straight on, turned to the right. Once again Dirk found himself on a shocking surface and the bumping did his aching head no good.

He reckoned he had covered more than thirty miles, and he had not the faintest notion where he was or where Lanyon was heading. And now the sun was getting very low and he began to wonder what would happen when darkness fell. True, he would be able to follow the lights of Lanyon's car, but he would also have to turn out his own headlight, which would, of course, show Lanyon that someone was after him.

He came to another hill, the longest and steepest he had yet encountered. The road wound up mile after mile, and the surface was simply brutal. Twice he came to a regular washout and had to get off and push the bike across. He wondered how the car had tackled these places. He was almost done when at last he reached the top of the pass; then to his amazement he saw that the horizon was bounded by water and realised that this was the sea. To the north was more water gleaming red under the last rays of the setting sun. Dirk thought at first it was a loch, but presently saw it was an inlet from the sea. Miles of country were spread out like a map beneath him and there was the car, far below, creeping like a toy along the narrow grey road.

Dirk got off and waited. He dared not start down the hill until Lanyon had got a long start, for the pass that twisted downwards was all open. Yet now he felt a little more easy in his mind, for the road ran in the direction of the inlet, and, so far as he could see, there was no other road. Nor did there seem to be any way of crossing the inlet. It began to seem as if Lanyon's destination was somewhere in the angle between the sea and the inlet, and Dirk thought this the more likely because of the utter desolation of this corner of Scotland. Certainly the fellow could find no better hiding place.

The car vanished into a small wood in the distance and Dirk started down the pass. The curves were so bad he had to go slowly, and by the time he reached the wood it was dusk and he could no longer see the car. But since there was only one road he kept steadily on.

The road became a mere cart track, the light grew very treacherous, but Dirk dared not switch on his headlights, and had to crawl. Once or twice he stopped, hoping to hear the other car, but there was no sound of the engine, no lights to guide him. This was flattish country, sandy soil, heather both sides of the road, and many clumps of wind-stunted trees. The air smelt salt, and the evening breeze was beginning to blow.

Dirk went on and on. The light grew more and more dim, and the track worse and worse. He kept bumping over tree roots. He would have given a lot to turn on his lights, but did not dare. He came to another little wood. The track—it was no longer a road—led through it. Dirk came round a curve and almost bumped into the back of the car.

The shock was so great he nearly fell off his machine, but next moment he realised that the car was empty and deserted. He switched off his own engine, wheeled his machine in among the trees and hid it, then crept quietly back and made certain that there was no one near the car. He went on afoot, walking slowly and treading carefully. The ground was wet and boggy, too wet to drive over. That, he saw, was why Lanyon had left the car.

After groping onwards for about five minutes he came suddenly out of the wood on to open ground, and here he got a second shock. Straight ahead the outlines of two lighted windows showed against the gloom, and with a little glow of triumph Dirk realised that he had succeeded. There was no doubt whatever in his mind that he had found Lanyon's hiding place.

The glow faded quickly as Dirk began to consider his position. Lanyon and his companion were certainly armed, while he himself had not even a stick. For all he knew, there were more men in the house. Alone, he could hardly hope to rescue Christine. There was only one thing to do—go back for help.

Dirk's very soul shrank from the idea of all those miles of rutted, stony road which he would now have to cover in the dark. He was feeling horribly shaky, and wondered if he would ever be able to manage the journey. Yet there was no alternative, so he turned and walked back into the wood, crossed the swampy patch, and found his bicycle. He began to wheel it back towards the track, and noticed that it seemed to go heavily. A horrid thought struck him, and he stopped, leaned it against a tree, and began to examine it.

It was as he had suspected. The back tyre was absolutely flat. There was nothing for it but to take off the tyre, take out the tube and patch it.

By this time it was pitch dark. He must have light for the job, but he dared not turn on his headlight, for fear the glow would be seen from the house. He hunted about, and at last found an open space surrounded by bushes, where he thought he would be safe. He wheeled the machine into it, turned on the light, and found the repair outfit. But where was the pump? The clips were empty.

With a horrid shock he realised that he must have lost it in his fall. At any rate, it was gone, and with it all chance of making a repair.

For a moment he stood in a sort of dull despair; then, like a flash, a new idea came. He switched off the headlight, and hurried back to the car. He got in and felt for the switch. It was locked and the key gone.


DAISY NEWTON had had a difficult day. Nothing she could do pleased her mistress. Daisy, of course, knew something of Judith's troubles, and was aware that she was angry because Peter Hastings had not been to see her. What neither she nor Judith knew was that Peter had caught a bad cold, and that Bill had put him to bed and was keeping him there.

But this day was the worst yet. Judith could not eat or sleep or rest. She was waiting for news that the attempt to kidnap Christine had been successful, and the waiting became positive torture. At one minute she was gloating over the idea that Christine was prisoner in that lonely place; the next she was calling herself an idiot—and worse—for having ever meddled with such a business. Afraid that other guests might notice her agitation, Judith kept her room most of the day, alleging she had a headache; but in the evening, after dinner, she went out to the secluded spot under the trees. It was there that Scrafford found her.

"Well?" she asked breathlessly.

"It's all right," Scrafford answered easily. "All fixed—all finished."

"They got her?"

"Easy as pie. One chap started a fire up on the moor, and, while all the keepers and gillies went galloping off there, Lanyon and Cadmore—"

"Lanyon!" Judith broke in harshly. "What are you talking about? You're not telling me that Paul Lanyon is in this business?"

Guy Scrafford changed colour. He realised that he had put his foot in it. He hadn't meant to mention Lanyon, yet at the same time he had no idea of Judith's real feelings about this man; Lanyon had never told Scrafford of the episode at Yew Court. But, then, Lanyon himself, clever as he was, had no notion how bitterly Judith had resented his attempt to embrace her.

"I had to have help," Scrafford told her.

"Help—yes. But if I had dreamed you were going to employ Lanyon you would never have had a penny from me."

Scrafford bit his lip.

"I'm sorry, Miss Vidal. Of course, if I'd known of your objection to Lanyon I would have got someone else. But it's done now, and Miss Grant is safe at Cuilrain, and no one the wiser."

Judith sat silent, frowning. At last she looked up.

"Mr. Scrafford, you will take me to Cuilrain tomorrow," she stated.

Dismay showed in Scrafford's eyes. This was the last thing he wanted, and he had the idea that Lanyon wanted it even less than he.

"You don't know what you're asking, Miss Vidal," he protested. "It's no place for you, and the road is simply impossible."

"That's nonsense! If Lanyon's car got there, mine can. I shall be ready to start at nine tomorrow morning, and you must come with me."

"But the risk—think of the risk, Miss Vidal. By tomorrow they will have informed the police. The hunt will be up. Any car going in that direction may be held up and questioned."

"Never mind the questions—I can answer them," said Judith, firmly. "My mind is made up, and you will please remember, Mr. Scrafford, that I am finding the money."

Scrafford scowled.

"It's madness!" he insisted, but Judith paid no attention.

"Nine' tomorrow morning," she repeated, and, getting up, walked back to the hotel.

Scrafford had to take her, for he knew that if he failed to obey her orders, Judith would close the purse strings, and he and Lanyon were at present equally hard up. At the same time he knew that Lanyon would be furious, and he was afraid of Lanyon. He was also very nervous about meeting the police. Altogether he was in a sweet temper when, at nine the next morning, he took the wheel of Judith's car.

They drove out past Glenfarne, which looked as peaceful as usual. In point o fact, all the men were scattered far over the hills, vainly trying to find their mistress. But not one had any real idea of where to look. Scrafford was careful not to take the Tulla road. There was another ten miles farther west, which led into the by-roads he had to reach. He took a vicious pleasure in the way the car bumped and jolted over the rough track but Judith paid no attention to the discomfort. She sat silent, wrapped in he own thoughts; and present Scrafford fearing for the springs, was forced to slow up.

It was just after twelve when they came to the top of the high pass above the great flats in which lay Cuilrain. As they went slowly down the steep, Scrafford began to feel a little happier. So far they had not run into any searchers, and now they were pretty well beyond the likely radius of search. They reached the wood to find the way blocked by Lanyon's car. Scrafford told Judith that they had to walk the rest of the way; and she got on and picked her way across the boggy ground. Clear of the wood, she stopped short.

"Is that the house?" she asked abruptly.

"That's it," said Scrafford. "I tole you it was pretty lonely."

Judith shuddered.

The building stood, grim and desolate on a bare slope running up from a marshy burn, and behind it was a row of ruinous outbuildings, also smothered in nettles There was not a tree or a bush anywhere near to relieve the hideous bareness of the place.

To the north of the house the ground sloped to a desolate expanse of yellow sand, through the centre of which curved a small river. The tide was just turning in, and from the distance came a confused sound of breaking waves and a harsh screaming of gulls.

"You tell me you have lived here?" said Judith.

Scrafford tried to meet the scorn in her eyes but failed. "Take me in," she ordered; "I wish to see Miss Grant."

They crossed the burn by a plank and Scrafford rapped at the door. Judith noticed that it was a peculiar rap, no doubt an agreed signal. After a short pause the door was opened by a middle-sized man with the worst squint Judith had ever seen. He had a thick, flat nose, and, to add to his beauty, all his lower front teeth were missing.

"Where's Mr. Lanyon, Cooney?" Scrafford asked.

Cooney looked doubtfully at Judith.

"Outside somewheres," he answered in a thick lisp.

"This is Miss Vidal," said Scrafford. "She's come to see Miss Grant."

Cooney frowned doubtfully.

"Better wait fer the boss," he advised.

"No." For once Scrafford was definite. "She must see her at once. I'll be responsible."

Cooney grunted, and, turning back through the bare, dirty passage, led the way upstairs.

Judith shuddered again. Bare boards creaked under her feet, great stains of damp made ugly patterns on the wall. On the upper landing Cooney thumped on the door, and "Come in," came the answer in a clear and perfectly composed voice.

Judith waved the men aside and stepped into a room which was certainly cleaner than the rest of the house, but just as bare. A cheap cot, a table, a chair—these were all the furniture. Judith closed the door and found herself facing Christine.

"How do you do, Miss Vidal," said Christine in just the tone she might have used if she had been welcoming Judith to Glenfarne. But— and Judith noticed this—Christine did not offer to shake hands.

It took a good deal to embarrass the imperious Judith, but for once she felt at a loss. She did not know what to say or do.

Christine took charge.

"Take the chair. Miss Vidal," she invited. "I'll sit on the bed. As you see, accommodation is limited."

Judith did not sit down. She stood opposite Christine. She was nearly a head taller, yet the physical advantage did not help her. Christine's composure was not assumed; it was real, and Judith suddenly felt she was losing hers.

"Why did you do it?" she burst out.

"Do what?" Christine asked gently.

"Don't pretend you don't understand," Judith retorted. "Why did you take Peter away from me?"

Christine took no offence.

"But that is just what I did not do, Miss Vidal."

Judith flamed.

"What—you dare say that when you have had him with you at Glenfarne and would not even allow him to come and see me!"

"You are mistaken," Christine's voice was level as ever. "Peter has been staying at Costello with Captain Norman, and the only reason he has not been to see you is that he has been in bed with a chill."

Judith came a step forward. She was white with anger.

"Why do you lie to me? I saw him with my own eyes lying on the sofa in your drawing-room the day I called last week."

"But that was not Peter Hastings; that was Dirk Warden," Christine answered.

Judith glared at the smaller girl.

"What is the use of telling me a tale like that? Do you think I don't know the man I am engaged to?"

"Others besides you have made the same mistake," said Christine, still unruffled. "The two are so alike they might be twins.'"

"I suppose you will tell me it is this Warden who owns Glenfarne?" sneered Judith.

"No, Glenfarne belongs to Peter Hastings. He left me to manage it because he was busy with your affairs."

Christine's unshaken composure began to have its effect on Judith.

"Do you really expect me to believe this preposterous story?" she exclaimed in a sort of despair.

"You will find it perfectly true when you see the two together. Tell me, Miss Vidal, did not Peter ever speak to you of his double in Malay?"

"The man who swindled him?"

"Yes, that was Dirk Warden. He is at Glenfarne now and Peter at Costello. You have only to see them together to realise that they are doubles."

"I want to see. I want to believe you, Miss Grant," cried Judith impulsively. "Come, let us go back. My car is in the wood over there."

Without a word Christine picked up her hat and put it on and followed Judith out of the room and down the stairs. Cooney met them.

"'Ere, where are you going?" he asked roughly.

Judith turned on him in a fury.

"Be silent. This is my house and Miss Grant is my guest."

Cooney was silent. A man of his type had no chance at all with Judith.

As Judith and Christine left the house Lanyon and Cadmore came round the south corner, dragging between them a third man who seemed the worse for wear. Judith stopped short. An expression of horror came upon her face.

"It's Peter," she cried, and sprang forward. "What are you doing with Mr. Hastings?" she demanded. "Let him go at once."


IT took a good deal to surprise Paul Lanyon, yet the shock of seeing Judith in this place staggered, him for a moment. But he recovered quickly, and with his unoccupied hand, lifted his hat.

"Good morning, Miss Vidal," he said ironically. "This is an unexpected pleasure."

Judith hardly glanced at him. Her eyes were on Dirk, and filled with a strange mixture of pity and anger.

"Let Mr. Hastings go at once," she repeated.

Lanyon smiled.

"This is not Mr. Hastings, Miss Vidal This gentleman's name is Warden—Dirk Warden. If you don't believe me, Miss Grant will no doubt confirm what I say."

Judith gazed at Dirk as if she could not believe her eyes. Poor Dirk! He had spent the night in a shed behind Cuilrain; he was unshaven, unwashed, and had had nothing to eat or drink since tea the day before. It was Cadmore going out to fetch peat from the shed who had spotted him, and come back to tell Lanyon, and Lanyon had wasted no time in collecting him.

"Yes, he is Mr. Warden," said Christine to Judith. "I told you of the resemblance, Miss Vidal."

"It—it's incredible," said Judith, under her breath; then, recovering herself "I don't care who he is, Mr. Lanyon, I will thank you to let him go at once."

Lanyon shook his head.

"I couldn't do that, Miss Vidal. This man is a criminal who has been robbing you and the Vidal Company for a long time past."

"And what about you?" remarked Dirk, with a smile on his dry lips. "Does the pot call the kettle black?" For a moment a vicious look showed in Lanyon's dark eyes; then he laughed.

"The evidence of a thief doesn't cut much ice," he sneered.

Judith spoke again.

"I have ordered you to let this man loose, Mr. Lanyon. Do so at once."

Lanyon looked at her.

"Sorry to seem disobliging, Miss Vidal," he said, "but it can't be done. We are holding him until he can be handed over to the police."

"Police," said Dirk. "You'd run a mile if you saw one."

Lanyon's temper cracked.

"Shut your mouth," he snarled, and, with his open hand, struck Dirk across the lips.

In a flash Dirk broke loose and swung his left at Lanyon's jaw. If Dirk had been fit, that would have been a knock-out blow. As it was, it sent Lanyon staggering on his heels for a yard or more, and he only just saved himself from falling. With a growl, Cadmore flung himself on Dirk, and, catching him off his balance, knocked him down and fell on him. The two rolled among the nettles, but Dirk was underneath, and Cadmore pummelled him fiercely.

"Oh, will no one help him?" cried Judith; but Christine, springing forward, caught Cadmore by the collar and pulled him back with all her strength.

Lanyon recovered.

"That'll do, Cadmore," he said, harshly. "This comedy is finished. Help me shepherd these ladies inside."

Judith faced him.

"What do you mean, Mr. Lanyon?" she demanded. "We are not going inside that filthy place again. We are going home."

Lanyon laughed, and it was a sound to make one shiver.

"No, miss Vidal, you are not going home. I'm boss here, and I'm keeping you all here for the present."

"For ransom, I suppose," Judith answered, scornfully. "Money, I know, is the only thing you care about."

Lanyon stepped closer to her, and the hot glare in his eyes was hideous.

"You know better than that," he said, significantly.

Judith's eyes fell, but only for a moment.

"You!" she said, but the utter scorn in her voice bit through even Lanyon's conceit.

"Wait until I have Peter Hastings in my hands," he retorted. "There'll be no one to interfere with us here. I think, Judith, that, before I have finished with Hastings, you will be glad to accept any terms I offer."

Judith drew herself to her full height. "Peter Hastings thrashed you once and I watched it. One of these days I shall see him do it again. And this time I hope he will kill you."

Lanyon went quite white. For the moment he could not speak. Christine laid a hand on Judith's arm.

"You are only making him worse," she said in a whisper. But Lanyon had got his voice back.

"Go into the house, both of you," he snarled. "If you don't I shall use force."

Judith still hesitated but Christine took her by the arm.

"We had better go," she said. "It will be wiser."

Judith wondered at her. Christine was not afraid; she was not angry; nothing seemed to upset her wonderful self-control. The two girls walked back to the door, and behind them came Lanyon and Cadmore dragging Dirk. Dirk had been so badly beaten that he was almost insensible. The two men had practically to carry him.

"Go on up to your room, Miss Grant," Lanyon ordered roughly, "and take Miss Vidal with you."

Instead, Christine stopped in the passage.

"First, I am going to attend to Mr. Warden," she said.

"Bring him in here," she continued, as she walked into the living- room which was on the right. Once more Christine had her way and Dirk was laid on a broken-springed, horse-hair sofa in the unclean room.

Christine spoke to Cadmore.

"I shall need some hot water and some clean rag if you can find it," she said. Cadmore glanced at Lanyon for his consent and Lanyon nodded.

Cadmore went, and just then Scrafford came through from the back of the house. Lanyon saw him and stepped out again into the passage, closing the door behind him. But the door was not thick enough to prevent the girls from hearing what was said.

"I always knew you were a fool, Scrafford," Lanyon addressed him in a tone of biting scorn. "But I hardly thought you were fool enough to bring Miss Vidal here."

"She said she must come," replied Scrafford. "And she's paying, isn't she?"

"She's paying and she'll pay. And so will you, you poor fool," said Lanyon bitterly.

The two went into the opposite room and the girls heard no more.

Cadmore came back with hot water but said, sulkily, he could find no rag. Judith took a couple of clean handkerchiefs from her bag and offered them to Christine.

"It's food and drink he wants as much as anything," Christine said in her calm voice. "Can you make a cup of tea, Cadmore, and bring a little bread and butter or bread and milk."

The surly fellow grunted, yet went of without making any further objection and Christine set to work to cleanse the nasty cuts on Dirk's face and hand.

"How did you get here?" she asked gently.

"On Donald's motor bike," Dirk answered. "I saw them taking you away." He spoke to Christine, but his eyes were on Judith, and Judith was looking down at him with the strangest expression.

"But why didn't Donald come?" Christine asked.

"The heather was afire. All the men went to put it out."

Christine nodded.

"Then none of them know where we are."

"If I hadn't been a fool I'd have left some clues along the road," Dirk said bitterly.

"How could you have thought of it! You did splendidly, Mr. Warden. But it would have been wiser to go back for help."

"I couldn't. I had a puncture and no pump, so I lay up in the shed. If Cadmore hadn't found me I meant to wait till night and try to get you out."

"Then no one knows where we are?" Judith asked.

"I'm afraid not," Christine answered. "Unless, indeed, Lanyon has sent word to Peter Hastings."

Judith stared.

"But why should he do that?"

"He is trying to trap him," Christine explained. "He hates him."

"I know," said Judith in a low voice. "I know he hates him. But if Peter came he wouldn't come alone."

Christine shook her head.

"You may be certain that Lanyon will make sure he does."

Judith bit her lip.

"And it's all my fault," she said with bitter self-reproach. "I agreed with Scrafford to kidnap you, Miss Grant."

Christine smiled up at her.

"I don't think I blame you, Miss Vidal. You felt you had reason."

"You're a perfect dear," cried Judith impulsively and stretched out her hands to the other. Christine took them and the two girls, so different yet, each in her separate way, so charming, kissed one another.

Dirk Warden spoke.

"Miss Vidal, I've seen you before," he declared, and Judith turned to him.

"Seen me before—where?"

"In Singapore. At a dance at the club."

Judith gazed at him with a curiously strained expression.

"So it was you," she said slowly, and just then the door opened and Lanyon came in. There was an ugly sneer on his long, narrow face.

"If you've quite finished your hospital work I shall be obliged if you ladies will go upstairs," he said.

Judith turned swiftly.

"Mr. Lanyon, I'll give you a thousand pounds and my promise of silence if you will take Miss Grant, Mr. Warden and myself to my car and let us go."

Lanyon laughed.

"About one-tenth of your yearly income, Miss Vidal. Hardly a worthy ransom for yourself—let alone the other two."

"I'll give you five thousand," said Judith. Lanyon laughed again.

"I'm going to have it all, Judith—and you with it."

"The man's mad," said Dirk scornfully.

Lanyon came towards the couch.

"Mad, eh, Warden," he snarled. "I'd keep my mouth shut if I were you. Or shall I tell Miss Vidal who kidnapped Hastings—and how—and why."

Dirk flinched but Christine spoke.

"We know all about that, Mr. Lanyon," she told him in her clear, calm voice. "And since we have forgiven Mr. Warden for his share in the business there is nothing more to be said about it."

A look of baffled fury came upon Lanyon's face. Christine had the knack of always defeating him.

"You're very clever, Miss Grant," he sneered, "but you'd better remember that you are all three my prisoners and absolutely in my hands to do as I like with. None of you will leave here until Miss Vidal has promised to marry me. I'll give you a year if need be, and I'll defy anyone in Scotland to find you."

Before anyone could reply to this threat Cadmore came quickly into the room.

"I want you, Mr. Lanyon," he said; and something ominous in his voice and manner made Lanyon turn quickly and hurry out after him. The three left behind exchanged glances.

"I'll bet someone's after them," said Dirk, eagerly. Christine held up her hand for silence. For a moment she listened intently; then a little smile curved her lips.

"You're right, Mr. Warden. Can't you hear the plane?" Sure enough a droning sound made itself heard above the splash of the incoming tide. Judith ran to the window and thrust it open.

"Yes," she cried joyfully. "It's a plane."


"IT must be Bill—Bill and Peter," said Christine, swiftly.

"But they can't know we're here," said Dirk, and tried to struggle up, but fell back from sheer weakness.

"I'll signal him!"

As she spoke Christine scrambled up on the sill and sprang down outside. Before the other two realised her purpose, she had vanished among the tall nettles.

"Oh, she's brave!" murmured Judith, clasping her hands in heartfelt admiration. Lanyon came plunging into the room. There was rage and fear on his face.

"Get upstairs, Miss Grant. You, too, Judith."

Then he realised that Christine was gone. He saw the open window, and, with an ugly oath, turned and ran out of the front door.

"Oh, he'll kill her," cried Judith in terror.

Somehow Dirk managed to get to his feet and stagger towards the window.

"He has to catch her first," he said. "You don't know how she can run. See, she's got a long start. She's reached the bridge."

Running like a boy, with a free, open stride, Christine had gained the plank bridge over the burn. She ran across it; then deliberately stopped, and, with a great effort, lifted the plank and flung it down into the water. Then she sped on across the open ground beyond.

"They've seen her," screamed Judith. "See! The plane's coming down!"

"But Lanyon's after her," gasped Dirk. "Oh, if I could only help!"

"I'll help," Judith exclaimed, and, before Dirk could say anything, was out of the window and running hard after Lanyon.

Lanyon did not see her. All his attention was concentrated on Christine. But now Dirk saw Cadmore plunge out of the house and make after Judith.

Lanyon came to the burn. He gathered himself and jumped. Dirk, clinging to the window sill, held his breath as he watched. Lanyon reached the far side, but the bank was loose and treacherous. It gave under his feet. Dirk saw him fling up his arms in a frantic effort to keep his balance, but the crumbling peat broke away, and Dirk gave a yell of joy as he saw the man's long body drop backwards, to land with a loud splash in the dark water below.

Lanyon was up again in a moment, and scrambling out; but Dirk saw that his clothes were coated with black, slimy peat mire, which clung like glue and slowed him badly.

Christine, meantime, had gained more than a hundred yards, and was speeding towards the spot to which the plane, with engine cut out, was already dropping. Lanyon saw that he could not overtake her in time. He stopped, and, to Dirk's horror, pulled a pistol and began firing. But Dirk breathed more easily when he saw it was not Christine Lanyon fired at, but the plane.

Six shots in succession rang out, but, apparently, none took effect. Not even a Buffalo Bill could be certain of hitting a plane moving at fifty miles an hour, at a distance of well over a hundred yards.

Dirk saw the wheels of the plane touch ground; then her pilot swung her and drove straight at Lanyon. Lanyon saw it was hopeless. He flung down his pistol, and ran for a clump of stunted bush, gaining it just ahead of the plane, and Bill Norman was forced to swing again to save his machine from being wrecked in the tough, tangled stuff. By the time he had brought it to rest. Lanyon was out of the bush and running towards the Scairbh.

The moment the plane came to rest, both the men were out, and Peter ran straight to Christine. Bill Norman turned to chase Lanyon, but, seeing Judith running, with Cadmore after her, went to Judith's help.

Bill crossed the burn with one tremendous jump, and cut in between Judith and Lanyon's unpleasant helper. Cadmore, who had been so intent on running down Judith that he seemed not to have realised what was happening the far side of the burn, saw Bill's tall figure, and pulled up short. His hand went to his hip pocket.

Dirk, watching, felt a thrill of horror. He need not have troubled. Bill never hesitated. He was on top of Cadmore before the man could draw his pistol and, with one terrific blow, sent him crashing to the ground. The man's body twitched and he lay still. Bill stooped, pulled the pistol from Cadmore's pocket and without an instant's pause went in chase of Lanyon. Lanyon was already well out on the broad, yellow sands. He was running like a mad thing.

Just then Scrafford burst from the house and raced after Bill, shouting at the top of his voice. Bill heard and turned. Scrafford reached him, but the distance was too great for Dirk to hear what they said. Then, to Dirk's extreme surprise, the two men stood, side by side, watching Lanyon. And Judith, recovering from her desperate race, came and stood with them.

Still Lanyon ran. Dirk, utterly puzzled, leaned far out of the window, the all of a sudden he understood. The tide. A long line of white was sweeping up across the sands. It was coming with startling speed. "Faster than man could run."

Dirk remembered hearing someone describe the tide rush at Mont St. Michel in that way, and this was the same. Yet Lanyon raced onwards, and Dirk realised that he was unconscious of his danger. Everyone was watching now, for Peter and Christine had joined Bill an Judith. They all stood very still, not speaking.

Dirk licked his dry lips. This was horrible, yet no one could help.

Suddenly Lanyon perceived his danger. He stopped, stared a moment a the line of foam, looked back, shook his fist with a savage gesture at the watchers, then started again to try and make for the far side. Running with wonderful speed, he gained the little river in the centre of the Scairbh, plunged in and started to wade across. Mud clogged his steps and slowed him and just as he reached the far bank the tidal wave caught him. For a few seconds Dirk saw his head, a black spot amid the snow bubbles, then it was gone.

The others came back to the house, and Christine was the first to enter the room.

"You saw?" she asked gravely, and Dirk shivered.

"It was horrible."

"The world's a bit cleaner," said Bill grimly.

Judith came to Dirk. "You ought to be lying down," she said.

"About all I'm good for," said Dirk bitterly. "I felt half crazy when I saw that brute chasing you, Miss Vidal."

"You did jolly well, Warden," put in Peter warmly. "I've been hearing how you trailed Lanyon on the bike. And you only just out of bed."

"But how did you find us, Hastings?" Dirk asked. "You came just at the right moment."

"We spotted Judith's car," said Peter briefly. "Every car that went this way was being watched."

Judith flushed.

"I've told Miss Grant how sorry I am. Now I have to apologise to the rest of you. Oh, I've been a crazy fool!"

Peter looking at her liked Judith better at that moment than he had ever done, but he did not speak. An awkward silence was broken by Christine.

"I have something to confess, too," she said in her clear, sweet voice. "A good deal of this is my fault for, if I had explained to Miss Vidal that Dirk here was really Derek Hastings, she would never have done what she did."

Utter silence followed Christine's words. Everyone was staring at Peter and Derek and they two stared at one another.

"Brothers," said Peter at last. "But Derek died."

"He couldn't have," said Christine with a little smile, "for there he is. I had it from your old nurse, Anne Burney."

Peter's face glowed; he stepped across to Derek.

"We ought to have known it, both of us, oughtn't we, Derek?"

Derek's lips trembled, he could not speak, but he thrust out his hand and Peter gripped it. Tears were in Judith's fine eyes as she looked from Peter to Derek and back again. It was Bill Norman who brought them back to common sense.

"Scrafford, is there such a thing as a bottle of beer in this benighted place? I'm dying for a drink."

"And tea, Mr. Scrafford?" said Christine. "Poor Derek is starving."

"There's beer all right," said Scrafford. "As for the tea—"

"I'll get the tea," said Christine.

"I'll help," said Judith tactfully.

"And I'll see to Master Cadmore," remarked Bill as he strode off, leaving Peter and Derek alone together.

What the brothers said to one another only they know, but when Christine and Judith brought in a tray with a large pot of tea and a quantity of bread and butter the two were evidently the best of friends. Then Bill came in and drank two bottles of beer.

"See here." he said, "I'll take Derek Hastings back in the plane, and put him down at Glenfarne. Peter, you drive the rest of 'em home in Miss Vidal's car."

"What have you done with Cadmore and the other chap?" Peter asked.

"Put the fear of God in him and left him to walk home," said Bill with a chuckle.

Half an hour later they had all left the lonely house on the Scairbh. None of them ever wanted to see it again.

CHRISTINE was doing the flowers in the drawing-room at Glenfarne when Peter walked in on her. Eight days had passed since the wiping out of Paul Lanyon but this was the first time that Christine had seen Peter since then. A bad accident in the quarry at Cranham had sent him hurrying South and he was only just back.

Christine gave him both hands and he stood looking down at her with dumb longing in his eyes. It was a hot day and she was wearing a pale blue linen frock, her soft hair curled delightfully over her well shaped head, her eyes were blue as the Scottish harebell.

She smiled at him.

"Had a good journey, Peter?"

"Journey," he repeated listlessly. "Yes, thanks, it was all right."

"Got the quarry business finished?"

"That's done," he answered.

"You're not very talkative, Peter," she said lightly.

He dropped her hands.

"Do you expect me to be?" he asked and his voice was almost harsh.

"Well, I thought you might have some news for me after all this time."

"News? Don't you realise I've come to say goodbye?"

"But you're not going back at once. You'll stay and have some lunch."

"No. I—I can't stay. I must go."

"Oh, well, you'll have a drink, anyhow," said Christine, calmly.

Peter's lips tightened.

"I won't have a drink," he answered, "I tell you I must go."

Christine shrugged her firm little shoulders.

"Then I'd better get on with my flowers," she remarked.

Peter flung away angrily.

"So that's all you care!" he said, bitterly, and started for the door.

"Don't be in such a hurry, Peter," Christine advised gently. "There's a letter you ought to see before you go."

He stopped, and she crossed to her little Chippendale writing table, picked up a letter and handed it to him, "From Judith," she remarked. This is what Peter read:

My dear Christine,

Derek and I were married this morning. I think it was a shame to keep Peter in the dark all this time, but, if he forgives you, I'm sure he will forgive me. Give him my love, and much to your dear self, from your sister-in-law-to-be,

Judith Hastings.

Peter looked up from the letter, and the expression on his face frightened Christine.

"Peter!" she said, "don't look at me like that. I—I'm sorry, but I thought it would be a surprise."

Suddenly Peter reached her. He seemed to cross the intervening space in one stride. His arms went round her with a force that left her breathless.

"Look at you, darling! I'm never going to let you out of my sight for the rest of your life—and mine." There was a moment's silence; then a very small voice from Christine.

"Isn't that a little drastic, Peter? But—but perhaps I deserve it."


Roy Glashan's Library.
Non sibi sed omnibus
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