Roy Glashan's Library
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Serialised under syndication in several Australian newspapers, e.g.,

The Beverley Times, West Australia, 12 Sep-5 Dec 1947 (this version)
The Northam Advertiser, West Australia, 5 Sep 1947 ff
The Advocate, Burnie, Tasmania, 27 Jan 1948 ff

First e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2021
Version Date: 2021-08-29

Produced by Keith Emmett and Roy Glashan

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CRISPIN LLOYD: A young fellow of sterling character who learns a secret of his father's life and brings courage and shrewdness to his fight for justice.

JOHN LLOYD: His father, a retired sheep-farmer, with an unhappy chapter in his past, and who holds the secret of some hidden treasure.

DANIEL BURT: A hard taskmaster, a mean, cunning fellow, but a good farmer was what John Lloyd had found him.

RUFUS COWELL: The crooked son of AARON COWELL, the crooked cattle-dealer who had conspired with Daniel Burt against Lloyd. Unscrupulous hatred of the Lloyds, the Cowells, father and son, have in common.

ADRIAN HART: Secretary to ship-owner CARNWARTH, who desires to marry his employer's daughter, and has no scruples as to the means to that end.

ALISON DANE: The pretty step-daughter of Daniel Burt. Without knowing her relationship to his father's old enemy, Crispin Lloyd comes to her aid in an emergency. It brings him trouble from Rufus Cowell, but the enduring friendship of the girl.

IRENE CARNWARTH: Daughter of the ship-owner. Before the story opens, engaged to Crispin. She is attractive and clever, but heartlessly ambitious.

"Darset, Summerset, Carnwall, Wales.
May envy the likes of we."



YOUNG Crispin Lloyd had achieved his heart's desire when Irene Carnwarth had accepted his offer of marriage. She was pretty and a young woman of many talents; she was also socially ambitious. Her father was a prosperous Cardiff shipowner, and it appeared an excellent match that she should have been wooed by a fine, athletic young fellow such as Crispin Lloyd; the son of a retired sheep farmer who was obviously comfortably circumstanced; and a young man who had all the arts of gallantry combined with a strong character.

Their engagement came, however, as a bitter blow to Adrian Hart, who was the confidential secretary to Carnwarth, and who had regarded his own chances of winning his employer's daughter as being particularly rosy. He it was who forthwith made an excuse for a talk with Irene, and had shocked and distressed her by the revelation of a humiliating secret in the Lloyd family history. When later, amid tears, the girl had repeated the story to her accepted lover, he had stoutly denied it. He did so without knowledge; it was the natural promptings of loyalty to his father to whom he was devoted. But the young man was sad at heart. He lost no time in talking it over with his parent.

"Dad," said Crispin Lloyd, "you never told me you'd been in prison."

John Lloyd lowered the evening paper he had been reading and looked up at his big son.

"It isn't the sort of thing one boasts about," he answered drily.

"Then it's true," said Crispin, and, though he spoke quietly, his father sensed that he was badly hurt.

"So Adrian Hart has been talking," he remarked. Crispin stiffened.

"How did you know It was Hart?"

"Because he is the only man in this town who could know, because he hates you like poison, and finally because he's the sort who won't stop at any trick to get the better of a rival." Crispin drew a quick breath.

"Seems to me, dad, you know him as well as I do."

"At least as well. Perhaps better, But sit down, lad. I can't talk to you while you tower over me like that."

Crispin dropped into the big leather chair on the opposite side of the fireplace. Though it was a mild spring night and the windows were open a small wood fire was burning. For a few moments the low crackle of the flames and the hum of distant traffic were the only sounds in the big, comfortable room. The frown on John Lloyd's strong brown face showed that his thoughts were not pleasant ones. He seemed to be arranging his ideas. At last he spoke.

"Crispin, you have always believed yourself a Welshman?"

"Of course, dad."

"You are not. I am a Devonshire man and my father's name was Kerswake. He was a farmer. He had Allacot, one of the tenements on Dartmoor. Sheep and ponies. My mother died when I was born and my father was drowned when I was 10. He was trying to save sheep in a big flood. His brother took over the farm and made a mess of it. In the end he went bankrupt and there was nothing left.

"I was 16, a big, strong lad. I went to work for a man named Daniel Burt, who owned a large farm called Skardon, near Teignmouth. Burt was a taskmaster, a mean fellow, but a good farmer, and I learned a lot under him. At 22 I was his bailiff." He paused. Crispin, hands on knees, was leaning forward, listening eagerly. The elder man continued.

"One Saturday afternoon I was out rabbiting, alone. A ferret laid up. The burrow was in the side of a mound. It was a tumulus, though at the time I did not realise that fact. I started to dig out the ferret and came upon a large flat stone. In a cavity beneath it was a great collar of tarnished metal and a sort of coronet set with green stones. It was not till I got them out into the daylight I realised they were solid gold."

"A torque," Crispin put in—"Ancient British."

"Yes," said his father, "I did know that, but what struck me at the moment was not their age but their value. My wages were forty shillings a week. The gold in these ornaments was worth several hundred pounds." Once more he paused.

"What did you do?" Crispin asked.

"Hid the things in a gorse bush and sat down and lit a pipe. You see, Crispin, I knew Burt. Once he laid his hands on the stuff it was goodbye so far as I was concerned. Not a penny would come my way. Yet I had found the gold and meant to have a share."

"You could have hidden it and said nothing about it," Crispin said. The other looked up.

"Would you?"

"Honestly, I'm not sure, dad. I've never been hard up as you were then." He paused.—"Come to that," he added, "the gold wasn't Burt's or yours. It was treasure trove."

"Just so. It was Crown property, but the finder of treasure trove or the owner of the land on which it is found is entitled to a share of the proceeds. If my share was only a hundred pounds that meant a lot to me. But after a bit I picked up the stuff, put it in my game bag, took it away and hid it safely. Then I went to Burt and told him." Crispin whistled softly.

"Yes," said the other with the ghost of a smile, "there was the devil's own row. He abused me up and down and ordered me to hand over everything. I told him that, before I did so, I wanted a written agreement for a half share of whatever he got out of it.

"He wouldn't hear of it and threatened me with everything you can think of. His threats cut no ice. I stuck to my guns. Of course, I expected the sack. I didn't get it. Things quieted down and I carried on with my work.

"One of my jobs was to sell cattle and sheep at Newton market. One evening, when I paid over the cash I had received for six bullocks, Burt turned on me and accused me of embezzling £12 out of the proceeds. He declared I had sold the beasts for £28 a head and paid them only £26. The bullocks had been sold to a man called Cowell. I told him pretty hotly to see Cowell's receipt before he accused me of being a thief. He promptly produced the receipt and it showed a price of £28. He said he had suspected me of playing the same game for some time past and had spoken to Cowell about it. Cowell had come to him straight from the market.

"I suppose he thought he could force you to make terms," said Crispin. His father nodded.

"Of course, but I wasn't having any. I was a young fool, Crispin. I thought my reputation was too good to be smirched by such a cunning plot. I was mistaken. I was charged and remanded in custody and tried at the Sessions. In those days they didn't put a first offender on probation. I was sentenced to six months' hard labor and sent to Exeter gaol." He stopped and sat staring into the fire. Crispin got up and laid a hand on his father's shoulder.

"Poor old dad!" he said.

John Kerswake smiled up at him.

"It was bad, son, but it didn't last long. I'd only served six weeks when I had the luck to save a warder from another prisoner who had gone for him with a hammer. So they let me out. I had no home to go to. I wanted to get away from Devonshire. I made tracks for Wales and there I had the luck to fall in with your mother, Ellen Lloyd, a grand woman, Crispin! Her husband had just died but she was handling his big farm like a man. She gave me work as a shepherd."

"You'd told her?" put in Crispin.

"Everything. She was the first woman I'd ever met to whom I could talk freely and you can't imagine the joy of it. You see I'd never had a mother." Crispin nodded. He couldn't trust himself to speak. His father smiled again.

"You know the rest, son. I married Ellen Lloyd and it was then I changed my name. I had 18 as happy years as any man ever had before she passed. Then the Caraton Corporation bought Llanarmon as part of their watershed and there was no need for me to work any more."

"And you came here to Cardiff to educate me, and have been hating the lonely life ever since," Crispin said.

"Nonsense, boy! I've had my golf and found friends. I've done very well. The only thing I regret is that I didn't tell you all this long ago. I'm afraid there is trouble between you and Irene Carnwarth." Crispin's face went suddenly hard.

"She's turned me down."

"I'm terribly sorry, Crispin."

"I'm not," Crispin answered harshly. "I'm not," Crispin answered harshly. "I'll own it hit me hard at first but walking home, I had time to think it over. And the more I thought the angrier I grew. A girl who will turn a man down for something his father is supposed to have done 30 years ago isn't worth worrying about. If you ask me I've had a lucky escape."

"Irene is a very pretty girl, Crispin."

"And a very clever one," Crispin added, "but there's a hard streak in her and she's heartlessly ambitious."

"She won't realize her ambitions if she marries Adrian."

"She'll never do that. But who is he, dad? How did be come to know."

"He is the son of the principal warder whose life I saved."

"The devil he is."

There was a knock at the door. The maid came in.

"Mr. Carnwarth to see you, sir," she said to Mr. Lloyd.

Crispin Jumped up.

"Dad, he's come to talk about Irene. Tell him it's finished— absolutely finished. You'll make that clear?"

"I will, Crispin. You slip off." Crispin nodded and went out by the other door.

Father and son did not meet again until breakfast next morning. Crispin came in a little late.

"Sorry, dad, but I overslept. I went for a devil of a walk last night and tired myself out. Did Mr. Carnwarth stay long?"

"I didn't give him the chance," responded his father. He spoke quietly but his eyes were twinkling. Crispin sighed with relief.

"It's all O.K. then?"

"Perfectly. We parted good friends, but I don't think we shall see much of one another in the future."

"Why see anything?" asked Crispin sharply. "Why not leave here at once?"

"Leave here?" repeated his father in amazement.

"Yes, I've been thinking it over and that's the conclusion I've come to. Let's get down to Devonshire and look into this business—clear it up if we can. Anyhow we can get the gold."

"It's certainly an idea," said the other slowly.

"It's the only thing to do," Crispin declared emphatically, "I've known all along you were bored here in this town. Let's buy a farm. Between us we can make a good thing of it. No one is likely to recognise you. Is this chap, Burt, still alive?"

"I believe so."

"Then we'll make him wish he wasn't," Crispin said with a laugh. "After breakfast I'll go and get a list of farms for sale in South Devon. Then we'll get busy."


THEY got busy—so busy that barely a month later they moved into their new property which possessed the pleasant name at Roseworthy.

"It might have been made for us, dad," Crispin declared delightedly as he stood on the verandah that first sunny morning and looked out. "Just the right sort of house, a fine garden, good land, good air and a glorious view."

He wasn't far out. Roseworthy was only a small property, little more than sixty acres, but every acre was good and had been well farmed. The house stood on the great slope above the Teign valley and looked down on the broad tidal estuary of that river. Teignmouth was round the corner, out of sight, but Newton Abbot was visible away to the right. A glimpse of blue sea showed to the south-east, while to the opposite direction Dartmoor rose like a wall against the sky.

The house was unusual. The man who planned it had spent most of his life in South Africa. It was long, low, and solidly built of red sandstone, and had a broad stoep or verandah running its whole length. This had a flagged floor and a wall at each end which cut off the wind. Facing southwest, it was a regular sun trap. A great mass of laurel and rhododendron acted as wind-break against the south-east, while the hill behind the house protected it from the north.

In front was a gravelled sweep and a lawn dotted with shrubs which sloped to a tiny brook. The drive ran past the house to a garage, beyond which were the farm buildings. The kitchen garden was down the hill on the far side of the brook and had a great cob wall round it. Beyond that again was a very good orchard, mostly apples but with a few very tall old pear trees.

John Lloyd came out of the big living room which opened straight on to the stoep. He wore a coat of rough grey home-spun with breeches and gaiters, and looked very fit and very cheerful.

"Glad you're pleased, Crispin," he said. "We certainly might have done worse. But are you going to be happy here? There's no club nearer than Teignmouth, and you'll probably have to go to Torquay for a theatre.

"A farmer doesn't want clubs or theatres," broke in Crispin with a smile, "and if we do need a little change we have the car. We're less than 20 miles from Exeter and only 30 from Plymouth." John Lloyd laid a hand on his son's shoulder.

"There are worse jobs than farming, Crispin. It will make me very happy if you take to it. But if you don't"—he paused—"if you don't, if you get bored, I'm trusting you to tell me."

"I'll tell you, dad. I premise you that. Now let's go and set up those hen houses that came yesterday. To-morrow I'm going to Newton Market to buy chicks. I don't know much about crops, but I have learnt a bit about livestock and poultry."

By night the chicken houses were all ready, and next morning Crispin drove to Newton Abbot. He parked his car in the Square among at least two hundred others. There were also many lorries and buses. The two big market building were packed. At the stalls they sold everything from poultry, eggs, vegetables and Devonshire cream to saffron buns and cakes of all descriptions.

One end of one building was given up to the sale of live chickens, and Crispin moved along the row of cages, inspecting fowls of every kind. Behind him he heard a voice.

"They'm too much for 'ee, Miss. Reckon you best take one at a time." Crispin turned to see a tail, slim girl lifting two big baskets full of young chicks. She was laughing.

"Oh, I'll manage, Mr. Prout," she told the old salesman. "I'm very strong." Crispin raised his hat.

"I'm going back to my car. May I carry the hampers for you," he asked courteously. The girl gave him a quick look. Just a flash of a look, but it made him feel that she had taken him in from his old tweed cap to his serviceable boots and gaiters.

"Thank you," she said, and her voice charmed Crispin as much as her looks.

A man pushed in between them. He was about Crispin's age and height. He had reddish hair, pale blue eyes, a sharp nose, a small red moustache, and was smartly got up in a suit of smooth brown cloth, a green tie and a fancy pullover.

"I'll take them," he said curtly to Crispin. "Miss Dana won't need your help." Crispin was annoyed, but, like his father, he never raised his voice when he was angry.

"That is for Miss Dane to say," he answered quietly.

"You needn't trouble, Rufus," said the girl coldly. "This gentleman is helping me." She handed the hampers to Crispin and, without wasting a glance on the scowling Rufus, led the way to the door.

"A nice lot of chicks," Crispin said as they got into the open. "I'm looking for some myself."

"You're not a farmer?" the girl questioned quickly.

"I hope to be," Crispin answered modestly. "I started yesterday."

"Are you the new tenant of Roseworthy?" she asked.

"We are—dad and I. But how in the world did you know?" She laughed.

"Farmers always know when land near them changes hands." She broke off. "Here is my car." She pointed as she spoke to a rather elderly machine which had a trailer behind. "If you will put the hammers into the trailer I will go straight home. I want to get these chicks into the brooder as soon as possible."

He did so and she got into the driving seat. All her movements were quick and graceful, and Crispin realised that she was a remarkably pretty girl. Her hair was brown with glints of gold, her eyes were a very deep rich blue, she had a lovely skin and a full, generous mouth. But her chief charm was her expression. Crispin could swear that she had a perfect temper and a real sense of humor.

She started the engine and drew out cleverly from among the densely packed cars. Then she stopped and put her head out of the window.

"Thank you so much," she said. "If you want chicks go to Mr. Prout. He is most reliable. And—" she hesitated a moment. "If I may give you a word of advice. Keep clear of Rufus Cowell. He isn't a nice man to quarrel with."

She let in the clutch and slipped away, quite unaware of the shock she had given Crispin.

"Cowell," he repeated, "Cowell! He must be the son of that rascal who helped to send dad to prison."


THERE was no sign of Rufus Cowell when Crispin got back into the market. Prout was cordial. Clearly Miss Dane was a favorite of his, so the old chap approved of anyone who did her a good turn. But he told Crispin frankly that she had token the pick of his bunch of young chickens, and suggested that Crispin should come out to his place at the end of the week, when he would have plenty more.

"They are hatching every day now. I can let ee have a hundred if ee needs them."

Crispin agreed, then strolled round and made a few purchases. He liked the soft voices of the people and their courtesy. He felt curiously at home among them. Carrying his parcels he went back to his car. He found it locked. Someone had backed a small red sports car into the narrow space in front of his machine. He looked round for the owner, but could not see him, so got into the car, which was an open one, and, finding that the key had not been removed, started the engine.

Suddenly he saw Cowell in front.

"What's the big idea?" the red-headed man asked insolently.

"Just that I'm thinking of getting home to lunch," Crispin answered.

"In my car?"

"That's kind of you but not necessary. Actually I prefer my own." Cowell's eyes glittered nastily.

"Then you'll get out of mine, and mighty quick," he ordered harshly.

"Just what I'm going to do as soon as I've moved it far enough to clear my own," Crispin told him as he let in the clutch.

Cowell had to jump aside as the car moved forward. Crispin sent it out into the road and turned it to the left. As he got out Cowell caught him round the waist.

If Rufus Cowell had known that he was tackling one of the best forwards in a crack Welsh fifteen he might have been wary. Crispin didn't give him any time to think. He flung himself backwards. This being the very last thing Cowell expected, he fell heavily with Crispin on top of him. Crispin's twelve stone knocked all the breath out of Rufus's body, and Crispin, springing up, turned and looked down on the other with a derisive smile.

Cowell was white with rage as he came to his feet. He came at Crispin, hitting out savagely. Crispin stepped swiftly to one side thrust out his left leg and Rufus sprawled. There had been a shower earlier, and the pavement was covered with a thin layer of greasy mud. When he got up a second time Rufus's hands, as well as his clothes, were in a sweet mess.

Suddenly a man stepped between the two. A burly fellow in A.A. uniform.

"Get into your car, Mr. Cowell, and drive off," he advised "If you don't I shall call a police officer."

"He was in my car," Rufus protested.

"Moving it," replied the other. "And quite right, too. You'd no business to park yours the way you did."

Rufus glared at them both. His greenish eyes were full of malignance and his upper lip twitched in an odd, uncomfortable way. Crispin realised that the man was dangerous.

"Go on, sir," said the A.A. man firmly. A small crowd had already collected and Cowell could see that they had no sympathy for him. He got into his car.

"I'm going," he said in a voice that grated. "But we shall meet again, Mr. Lloyd." The red car shot away and the crowd dispersed. Crispin turned to the A.A. man.

"Thanks," he said, and slipped half-a-crown into his hand "You saved an unpleasant row."

"Saved Mr. Cowell a beating, I'm thinking," replied the other with a glance at Crispin's powerful shoulders. "He's got a nasty temper. I'd keep clear of him, sir, if you'll take my advice."

"I have every intention of doing so," Crispin assured the other, then he got into his car and drove away. He was thinking not of Cowell but the girl. She was very attractive and had plenty of character. He wondered who she was.

"There's nothing dull about this place, dad," he said to his father when he met him at lunch. John Lloyd looked thoughtfully at his big son.

"Tell me," he said, and Crispin gave an account of the mornings doings. The other nodded.

"Red-headed, you say. Then he's Aaron Cowell's son. His father was sandy—is, I should say, for he is still going strong."

"You mean that fellow who helped old Burt to do you down."

"The same. Funny you should run against him the very first day here. Still more of a coincidence that you should meet Alison Dane."

"You know who she is?"

"I do. She is the daughter of Daniel Burt's second wife."

"Burt's step-daughter?"

"But no relation whatever. Her father was a Brixham smack-owner."

Crispin was silent a while, digesting this news. "But, dad," he said presently, "how do you know all this?"

"From that man I've just hired—Joe Chowne. He bubbles with news like a Dartmoor spring." Crispin finished his lunch in silence, filled a pipe and lit it.

"Burt's alive," he said, "and Cowell's alive. Dad, it looks to me as if we were going to have an interesting time. What about the gold? Do you suppose Burt has searched for it?"

"Searching wouldn't do him much good. He wouldn't find the hiding place in a thousand years." Crispin was silent. His father smiled.

"I knew you wouldn't ask, Crispin. But I think I'd better tell you. If anything happened to me—in other words if I had an accident and got killed—no one would ever again set eyes on that wonderful old stuff. And it's much too good to be lost."

"You could write out directions and leave them in your bank," Crispin suggested.

"I could but I won't. I'm telling you, Crispin." He finished his biscuit and cheese and got up. "Come into the other room and I'll explain."

In the big living room he went to his desk, sat down and took a road map of the district and a pencil.

"Here's the estuary of the Teign," he said. "The coast between that and Torquay is all cliffs, partly sandstone, partly limestone. You see this dot here. It's a rock called the Clipstone. Just opposite is a very small cove dry only at low tide. You can't get to it from the land, the cliffs are too steep. It is only at low tide and in calm weather that you can land there at all.

"When you do land it seems to be just another of the dozens of similar coves which you'll find right away to Berry Head, and beyond. It's a little deeper than some and a little narrower. But if you walk up to the head you'll see an opening to your left. Ages ago part of the cliff has spilt away, leaving a little canyon not more than twenty feet wide but very deep. About thirty feet up on the inner side is a little cave. That's where I hid the stuff."

"What beats me is how in the name of all that's wonderful you ever found such a place," was Crispin's remark.

"As a matter of fact I'd known of it for years," said his father. "As a young man I used to go fishing on Saturday afternoons. One hot May afternoon I couldn't catch any fish so pulled into this little cove. I saw a jackdaw come out and thought there might be young ones. In those days I could always get sixpence from a dealer in Newton for a young jackdaw. So I climbed up and found the cave. And when I found the gold I naturally remembered the hiding place." Crispin, who was standing behind his father, picked up a calendar and glanced at it.

"Tide's low between eleven and twelve tomorrow morning," he said. "Suppose you and I go and collect the gold." The other considered a moment, then nodded.

"All right. If it's fine we'll go."

At this moment the telephone bell rang and Crispin stepped across the room and picked up the receiver. He listened a while, then turned.

"It's Dick Kynaston, dad. He has a week's leave and wants to come down tomorrow."

"Tell him we shall be very glad to see him," said Mr. Lloyd cordially. "But mention that we shan't be in till about teatime."


"NOTHING the matter with the day, dad," Crispin said as he stopped rowing a moment and looked round at the faintly ruffled expanse of sea intensely blue under a cloudless sky.

"Nor with the rock," added his father. "There's the Clipstone. Pull in behind it."

The boats keel grated on shingle. Crispin, who wore shorts and sand-shoes, stepped out and pulled her up and the two men stood on the beach and looked up at the towering cliffs.

"Topping spot," Crispin remarked.

"You're right. Even Cornwall can't beat this coast for beauty. There you get magnificent crags but nothing like these masses of ivy, gorse and all sorts of vegetation. But steady on! We must make sure no one is watching us before we go into the cleft." Crispin turned and looked out to sea.

"There's nothing except some fishing boats up Babbacombe way. Oh, and one sailing dinghy heading towards Teignmouth. See—the one with the red sail."

"That won't come much nearer. There's no wind at all under the cliff. All right. We can get to work."

He led the way up the slightly sloping beach. As he had told Crispin, the mouth of the cleft was invisible from the sea. It was so deep and so narrow that the sun did not reach the bottom and when they stepped into it, the air struck cool and damp. To make it still darker, a mountain ash had found footing in a cleft on the right. It was quite a big tree.

Mr. Lloyd pushed past under the low spreading branches and stopped short.

"What's the matter, dad?" Crispin asked.

"Matter is there's been a fall of cliff. The whole place is blocked."

"Not the cave?" exclaimed Crispin.

"I don't think so. This has come from the top. There's the scar quite plain. Wait a minute. I'll climb up a little way, then I can see better."

"Let me do the climbing," said Crispin, but his father was already scrambling up. It looked easy, for though the side of the landslide was steep, the blocks of red sandstone made a kind of rough staircase to the top of the pile. Any able-bodied person could get up; and Crispin's father was only fifty and as fit as any man of his age could be.

He stopped about a dozen feet up.

"Its all right, Crispin. I can see the mouth of the cave. The only trouble is that the fall has cut the ledge that I climbed by when I was last here. Still I think I can reach it."

"Wait till I come up," said Crispin. "Two are better than one." As he started up he heard a crunching sound. The boulder on which his father was standing was slipping. Mr. Lloyd tried to jump backwards. Crispin was in time to catch him and save him from falling all the way down, but the mischief was done. The rock had rolled right over his left leg.

Crispin was a very strong young man, and that was as well, for otherwise he could never have carried his father down that pile of rocks. But he did it and took him out of the cleft on to the beach before he laid him gently down.

"Hurt much?" he asked.

"Not a lot. Leg's numb, But a bone's gone, Crispin. I heard it snap."

Very carefully Crispin roiled up the leg of his father's grey flannel trousers and examined the leg. He nodded.

"Shin bone is cracked, but the small bone is all right, as far as I can tell. We'll have to put some sort of splint on the leg before I get you into the boat."

"All right. Cut a branch off the tree. We can tie it up with a couple of handkerchiefs."

"The deuce of it is I haven't a knife. Have you one about you?"

"Only a little penknife. A fine pair of Boy Scouts, aren't we?" he added with a rueful smile.

"Perhaps I can find a bit of drift wood," said Crispin. "Wait a moment, I'll put my coat under your head and make you comfortable."

He did so and started a search for anything that would do for a splint but there wasn't a scrap of wood on the beach. No wonder for the tide came well up to the cliffs, He looked in the boat but there was no boat hook—nothing but the one pair of oars. In desperation he tried to wrench a branch off the mountain ash but found it beyond even his strength to get anything thick enough or long enough. He went back to his father.

"I shall have to pull back as far as Labrador and get a splint," said Crispin. "I dare not move you again without tying the leg up. If the bone came through the skin there'd be bad trouble."

"All right, old chap, but don't be too long. The thing is beginning to hurt."

"And we haven't even a drop of whisky," said Crispin who was feeling very unhappy.

"But I have; or rather brandy. I always keep a flask in the boat," came a voice behind him. Crispin turned and stared dumbly at the girl of the market Alison Dane. Before he could get out a word she was running back towards the water's edge where the red-sailed dinghy that Crispin had seen earlier, was beached. She was soon back with a little silver flask in her hand. She knelt beside Mr. Lloyd, poured out brandy and, raising the patient's head with her left arm, put the cup to his lips. Colour came back into his face. He smiled.

"That's just about saved my life, Miss Dane," he said gratefully. She glanced at the leg.

"Broken?" she asked.

"Yes, the shin bone. And Crispin won't move me till it's tied up. The trouble is he can't find anything which will act as a splint."

"I have a small boat hook. That will do, I think." Crispin recovered his wits.

"I'll fetch it," he said and went off.

"It was lucky for us you came to our rescue, Miss Dane," John Lloyd said.

"It was just luck. I was running back to Teignmouth when the wind changed and I had to tack. Then I saw your son carrying you and knew something was wrong. So I came straight in." Crispin came up with the boat hook and she took it from him. "You'd best let me do this," she said. "I have my first aid certificate."

With handkerchiefs and her own scarf she did the work neatly and quickly. She spoke to Crispin.

"We had better put him in my boat. I have an outboard motor and can get him back more quickly than you could, rowing. I will help to carry him. Yes, I insist. I am quite strong."

She was not boasting. Crispin, himself a bit of an expert on physical fitness, was amazed at the ease with which she helped to carry his helpless father. She had cushions in her boat and made the patient quite comfortable. Next minute she went away at a speed which left Crispin far behind.

When he reached Teignmouth he found that Miss Dane had already secured a doctor and an ambulance, and that the doctor had gone with his patient to Roseworthy, to set the leg.

"It's not a bad break," she assured Crispin. "Doctor Vane says he will be up in three weeks."

"I can't thank you enough for all you've done," Crispin declared warmly.

"Then don't try," she answered with a laugh. Her laugh was as delightful as her voice but, before he could think of the right thing to say, she was back in her boat. "I must tidy up and moor her. You go after your father," she said.

Crispin found his father safe in bed. The leg was already set and the doctor had left word that he was sending a nurse.

"That's an uncommonly competent young woman," John Lloyd said to his son.

"All of that," Crispin agreed. "How are you feeling?"

"Quite comfortable. I got off cheaply." He paused then spoke again. "We didn't get the gold, Crispin."

"I'll get it tomorrow," Crispin said. "Dick and I will go. Tide will be right in the morning."

"The sooner the better. If Alison Dane happened to mention where she found us old Burt might smell a rat." Crispin frowned.

"I hadn't thought of that. You're right, dad. We'll take a motor boat and be there the minute the tide serves."

Derek Kynaston—always called Dick—drove up just after five. He was a lean, sun-tanned young man with keen grey eyes, a beaky nose and a wide humorous mouth. He and Crispin had known one another since, as a boy of twelve, Crispin had pulled Derek out of the flooded Towy at considerable risk to himself. Dick was the one person to whom Crispin had confided his father's story, and the only one to know of their move to Devon.

"Jolly place you've got," said Dick looking round. "How's everything?"

"Good in parts," Crispin told him.

"You ungrateful beggar! Which are the bad ones?"

Crispin told him and Dick looked grave.

"I'd better push on and put up at the pub. You won't want me with your father laid up and a nurse in the house."

"Don't be an ass!" Crispin retorted. "A broken leg isn't infectious. And anyhow you're going to work for your keep. First thing tomorrow we have to fetch that gold. Now come in and have some tea. Afterwards I'll take you round the place."

Later that evening Crispin telephoned to Mott at Shaldon for a motor boat and after breakfast next morning he and Dick drove down to Shaldon which lies on the smith side of the Teign estuary, left the car parked, and found the boat ready.

It was again a fine, sunny day but with more breeze than on the previous morning. They cruised about until the beaches began to bare, then, after making sure that no other boat was close, ran in. They landed without difficulty and went straight into the cleft. Dick, being the lighter of the two, went first up the land slide; Crispin followed and they climbed to the top. They had brought a rope but did not need it. With a little help from Dick, Crispin was able to reach the ledge and swing himself up. Dick saw him disappear into the cave.

Some minutes passed before Crispin came out. His face had a puzzled expression.

"It's not there, Dick. No, it's no use your coming up. I've searched every corner and the gold has gone!"


RUFUS COWELL slackened his furious pace as he neared home. Splitting the air at fifty miles an hour had taken the first edge of his fury but had not in the least abated his resolve to get even with the man who had humiliated him.

Rufus was intensely vain. Being the only son of a comparatively wealthy man, he had been able to hunt and shoot and do many things beyond the means of the other farmers' sons of his acquaintance So he had come to be cock of the walk in his own little circle, but not a popular leader. Now he knew that the story of his beating would spread like a prairie fire among all his acquaintances, and the knowledge drove him half crazy. He swore to himself again and again that this fellow Lloyd should suffer for it.

Jealousy added to his rage. Long ago he had made up his mind to marry Alison Dane and so far he had had no rival. Now he realised that he had a most dangerous one—one who must be eliminated at any cost.

Grest, the house which Aaron Cowell had bought some ten years earlier, was a square, pretentious, Victorian building standing some way back from the road. Rufus did not drive up to the front. He garaged his car and went round to a side door. He meant to slip upstairs and change but luck was against him. He met his father in the passage.

Aaron Cowell, whom John Lloyd remembered as a gaunt, foxy-faced fellow, was now fat, sleek and prosperous but still had the same small, sharp eyes and long inquisitive nose. He pulled up short and stared at his son.

"You've had a motor accident," he questioned.

"No. I had a fall in the mud in the Market Square. I'll change and be down in five minutes."

As he ran upstairs he was aware that his father had turned and was looking at him, and knew that he must have noticed that there was mud on his back as well as on his knees. Little escaped the old man's keen eyes. Rufus cursed under his breath but made haste to change. If there was one thing Aaron Cowell hated it was to be kept waiting for his meals. And he still had the habit, inherited from his forefathers, of making his dinner at midday.

He was already at the table, carving a leg of pork, when Rufus came in. He said nothing, but Rufus was well aware that he was waiting to be talked to. Rufus was to no hurry to tell the old man the story of what had happened at Newton, but knew that it must reach his cars from other sources, so decided to make the best of a bad job.

"I had a tussle with a fellow called Lloyd in the market," he said.

"And got the worst of it seemingly," remarked the other drily.

"He caught me when I wasn't looking," Rufus snapped. "He had the cheek to move my car. When I asked him what he meant by it he jumped out on top of me. He weighs about twelve stone. As I got up he hit me. Then the A.A. man interfered and, as I didn't want a row, I came home." Aaron Cowell scowled.

"I've warned you time and again not to let your temper run away with you, Rufus. Now the story'll be all over the place. Nice for me, now I'm an Alderman and expecting to be a J.P.!" Rufus bit his lip. He had hoped for sympathy but he certainly wasn't getting it.

"This fellow, Lloyd," his father went on. "Is he the chap that's bought Roseworthy?"

"His son," replied Rufus curtly.

"Then the odds are you've queered my pitch. I was reckoning to sell them cattle." He laid down his knife and fork and gazed sternly at his son. "You'll have to square this up some way, Rufus."

"Not likely!" retorted Rufus.

If was the first time he had ever openly defied his father and the older man glared. But he at any rate rarely allowed his temper to get the better of him, and now realized that this quarrel was more serious than he had imagined. Rufus went on.

"He's after Alison. Made up to her. Carried her parcels. Think I'm going to stand for that?" His father scratched his nose with his forefinger, a trick he had when surprised or puzzled.

"So that's the way of it," he said thoughtfully. "All the more reason for you to go slow. That girl ain't the sort to be rushed off her feet, and you don't stand to gain anything by keeping up this fuss."

"I hate the fellow," growled Rufus.

"You won't gain anything by having another row with him," his father insisted. Rufus did not answer but his face was sullen. The old man helped himself to apple tart and sprinkled sugar lavishly. Presently Rufus spoke again.

"Dad. I'm mad about that girl, and I know you'd like me to marry her. Can't you put the screw on her through old Burt?" The other shook his head.

"No good, Rufus. She has her own money which came to her from her father. Burt ain't got any influence with her at all. If you want to marry her you've got to court her." He broke off. "What about those cattle? Will French sell?"

"I never saw him. I was looking for him when I ran into Lloyd. But I'll drive over to Monkswell tomorrow morning and see the beasts. You can trust me not to pay too much." The old man sniffed.

"The trouble with you is you won't pay enough. All right. You go early and you'll catch him before he starts for Totnes market."

Rufus was very bit as keen on the main chance as his father and these beasts of French's were worth buying. He was down to breakfast early next morning. His father came in a few minutes later and talked of the bullocks. He went out with Rufus to the car.

"Coming back, you'll pass Roseworthy," he said, "Take my advice you'll call in and see these Lloyds and make your peace." A sullen look crossed Rufus's face.

"It's up to Lloyd to do the apologizing."

"I reckoned you'd say that but you're wrong. It pays to keep the right side of folk. The more you hate 'em, the less they ought to know it."

Rufus turned and looked at his father. "What about Daniel Burt? You don't imagine he thinks you like him!"

"We're good friends," said the other smoothly. "He knows who's top dog." Rufus laughed.

"It wouldn't be any good my trying that sort of thing with young Lloyd. He's not the sort to be humbugged. All the same I'll lie low till I get my chance at him."

He drove off, found French still at home and after hard bargaining, got the cattle at his own price. Then he drove back by Teignmouth. He meant to get a drink at the Bull before returning home.

As he came past Roseworthy he saw an ambulance coming from the direction of Teignmouth. It turned in through the Roseworthy gates. Rufus pulled up and watched. He saw Dr. Vane get out. Joe Chowne was called and they two and the ambulance driver lifted out a man and carried him into the house.

Rufus parked his car in a gateway, got out and waited. Presently Chowne came out and went back to his work in the garden. Rufus leaned over the hedge.

"Has your boss had an accident," he asked.

Chowne was full of it, He was aching to talk and, inside three minutes Rufus had the whole story, as far as Chowne knew it. Rufus was full of sympathy and made Chowne his friend by giving him a shilling to buy beer. Then he went back to his car and, without any delay drove straight to Teignmouth. The whole business intrigued him immensely, especially Alison's share in it. He meant to see her, if possible, and get more details.

On the way he met Crispin coming home in his car but, if Crispin recognized Rufus, he did not show it, and within a very few minutes Rufus reached the quay. He was just too late to catch Alison. He saw her red-sailed dinghy off the mouth of the river, heading round the point towards Labrador.


RUFUS swore under his breath and turned back towards the spot where he had parked his car. Then a new idea entered his mind. It occurred to him that Alison might be sufficiently inquisitive to visit this cove where the accident had taken place. She might be as interested as he himself was, to find the reason why the Lloyds had landed at this particular spot. He went across to Mott's boathouse and asked if he could have an outboard skiff.

The man in charge said he had one but the tank was empty. Rufus told him he would take it and asked him to fill the tank as quickly as possible.

Having lived all his life close to the sea. Rufus could handle a boat as well as most amateurs but by this time a breeze had replaced the calm of the early morning and he had to go carefully if he did not want to get soaked with spray. By the time he had crossed the mouth of the river Alison's dinghy was out of sight around the next point of land.

Keeping close in, he rounded the Point, and sighted the dinghy half a mile away near the Clipstone. Her course, if she had been running for Brixham, would have been outside the rock. He got a thrill when he saw her turn straight in towards the land. He throttled down and crept along under the cliffs.

It seemed to him a long time before Alison again came into sight. Now she bore straight out past the Clipstone and, shaking out a reef, made away for Hope's Nose. Rufus waited until she was far enough for there to be no risk of her recognising him, then pushed his boat as fast as he dared for the cove she had left.

Disappointment was in store for him. The tide had risen so far that there were only a few yards of shingle left bare under the cliffs and a small surf was breaking. Obviously it was out of the question to land. Still he had attained his object. He knew now where the accident had happened and to-morrow was another day. He turned his boat and ran back to Teignmouth.

All the way, as he drove home, he was considering what best to do, He was convinced that the Lloyds had had some special reason for visiting this rather inaccessible cove. Men of the age of the elder Lloyd did not climb cliffs for nothing. There must have been some object and Rufus meant to know what it was. He thought of consulting his father but decided it was better not to do so— at least for the present. He would wait until he had made a private search and that he decided to do the following morning.

In the afternoon he drove over to Skardon. He meant to make his peace with Alison. Though he would not apologise to Crispin Lloyd he didn't mind humbling himself to Alison. So far as his selfish nature allowed, he was in love with Daniel Burt's stepdaughter.

The old farmhouse was so little changed that John Lloyd would have recognised every slate and timber. The only thing that had changed was the garden. Alison's mother had insisted on some flower beds and a lawn and, after her death, Alison herself had tended these. On this bright spring day tulips, wallflowers and forget-me-nots made bright patches of colour in front of the long, rambling building.

Alison was working among her flowers when Rufus drove up. She was kneeling by a bed, weeding with a hand fork. As she rose Rufus was struck by the perfect grace of her movement but his sharp eyes did not fail to notice that there was no welcoming smile on her lips.

"Good afternoon, Rufus. Father is down in the Long Meadow," she said quietly.

"I didn't come to call on him," replied Rufus quickly. "I came to see you, Alison. I want to apologise for losing my temper at the market."

"It wasn't with me you got angry," she answered in the same even voice. "It was with Mr. Lloyd. Have you apologised to him?" Rufus hit his lip. His rage boiled up again, but he managed to control it.

"I was jealous. Alison." He beautiful eyes widened slightly.

"Jealous—because a stranger offered me a small courtesy?"

"Jealous," Rufus repeated doggedly. "I'm so fond of you I can't bear to see another man making up to you." Alison laughed.

"A nice husband you'd make," she said with a touch of scorn. "But as I have told you more than once, Rufus. I have no intention of marrying you, so the sooner you get that idea out of your head, the better." Rufus's pale eyes glittered.

"I'll never get it out of my head. I'm mad for you. No other man shall have you while I'm alive." Alison's lip curled.

"What do you propose to do—challenge him to a duel or shoot him from behind a hedge?"

Sarcasm was a weapon against which Rufus had no defence. He glared at her, too angry to speak. Alison stooped, picked up her trowel and walked away to the house. Rufus flung himself into his car. The gravel spurted as he spun it round. It was something of a miracle that he reached home in safety.

His father was out and Rufus was glad. He went into the snuggery, poured himself a drink, lit a cigarette and sat down. By degrees he cooled off. He had lost his temper again and realised that he had done himself no good in Alison's eyes. When he thought of her scornful words he ground his teeth and felt he almost hated her. But that did not make him any the less keen to marry her. Alison's beauty maddened him. He swore again to himself that he would have her by fair means or foul. As for Crispin Lloyd, Rufus would have murdered him without a qualm if he had thought he could do so safely.

But Rufus Cowell was no fool. On the contrary, he had plenty of brains. He had no intention of running against the law. He made up his mind that in future he would try to keep his temper under control and use his wits to crush his rival. By supper time he was calm again and able to discuss business matters with his father over the substantial meal.

At ten next morning he drove off to Teignmouth, parked his car and hired the same outboard that he had used the previous day. To avoid any suspicion of his real purpose he got Mott to give him some fishing tackle and bait, then ran out round the Point in the direction of the Clipstone. The tide being an hour later today, he felt that he had plenty of time. The sea was perfectly calm. It was not until he was opposite the Clipstone that he saw that someone had got ahead of him. There was already a boat pulled up on the beach.

Voices reached his ears from the left, he came to the mouth of the cleft and stood there, sheltered from sight of those within by the thick foliage of the mountain ash. He crept onwards until he could see a man standing high on the pile of fallen rocks. This was Dick Kynaston but Rufus had never before seen him, so did not know who he was. Then he spotted Crispin high on a ledge above and heard him say:

"It's not there, Dick. No it's no use your coming up. I've searched every corner and the gold has gone."

Gold! So that was what they were after. Rufus had never heard of John Kerslake's find. That was one thing his father had never mentioned to him and it had all happened before he was born. But the mere mention of gold was enough to send the blood pulsing through his veins.

Crispin was coming down. Rufus turned and left the cleft. His impulse was to get away as quickly as possible. The last thing he wanted was to be seen by the two treasure hunters. His glance fell on their boat and he grinned.

"Plenty of time," he said to himself as he opened up the little engine. With one quick twist he pulled out the float of the carburettor, thrust it into his pocket and closed down the cover. Then he took the oars and put them in his own boat. Half a minute later he was afloat and pulling quietly round a jut of cliff into the next cove.

It was not until he felt sure he was out of earshot that he shipped his oars and started up his motor. But he did not return the way he had come. He drove the boat in a southerly direction. He would land at Babbacombe, leave the boat there and take the bus back to Teignmouth where he had left his car. He chuckled again. He felt he had done a good morning's work.


CRISPIN scrambled back off the ledge and joined Dick on the top of the slide.

"You're sure the treasure's gone?" Dick asked. "It couldn't have slipped down into some cleft?"

"There's no cleft, not a crack in the floor or walls or roof. Someone's taken it."

"Then it's your Miss Dane. No one else could have found the place."

"Nonsense!" said Crispin sharply. "If you knew Alison Dane you'd be as sure as I am that she'd never have done such a thing."

"We know she was here yesterday. What was to hinder her from putting in at the cove on her way back to Brixham?"

"Nothing. But even if she had done so and found the stuff she'd never have taken it." Dick shrugged He realised that it was no use trying to convince Crispin.

"All right!" he said. "Since we can't do anything more here let's get back." He led the way down to the boat, than pulled up short.

"Someone's bagged our oars."

"Our oars gone! That's rum. But who the deuce has been here?"

"That girl. Can't be anyone else. There was no boat in sight when we landed I made jolly sure of that. And I'll lay she's done in our engine." He whipped off the cover. "I said so. Carburettor float gone. Now are you still backing your lady, Crispin?"

"Every time," Crispin asserted. "This was a man's job. See here!" He pointed to a footprint on a small patch of sand among the shingle. "Tell me that's a girl's shoe?" Dick looked at it.

"No, by gad! That's a man's foot. A number eight. I'd say, and not a sand shoe. That's the mark of a leather sole. He can't have gone far."

"He's out of sight, anyhow," said Crispin grimly. Dick looked round. His face brightened, and he pointed to the cliff on the outer side of the crack.

"I can climb that and, if I can get to the top, I'll spot the blighter." Before Crispin could answer he had made a dash at the rock and was scrambling up.

It was steep but much broken and fissured and bushes grew in the crevices, Dick went up with astonishing speed yet, when he reached the top, Crispin was not far behind.

"There he is!" Dick exclaimed pointing to a small outboard which was not much more than a quarter of a mile away and close under the cliff.

"I see him," Crispin panted. "Dick, I believe it's that fellow Cowell, but I can't be quite certain." Dick whipped a small case from his pocket from which he took a pair of binoculars.

"My bird-watching glasses," he said as he focussed them. "Have a look. You know him, I don't." Crispin put the glasses to his eyes and gazed for a moment. He lowered them.

"I was right. It's Rufus Cowell. But why the devil did he come here?" he paused. "I've got it," he went on sharply. "I passed him on the road yesterday morning as I was following dad home. He must have got wind of the accident—probably saw the ambulance. Then he went to Mott's and made enquiries and decided to watch us." Dick nodded.

"I shouldn't wonder if that's the size of it. But how are we going to get home?"

"That will be all right. Motor boats run from Shaldon to Babbacombe carrying trippers. One will be along after a while and we can hall it. They'll give us a tow."

"I believe I hear one now," Dick said. And the words were hardly out of his mouth before the boat came into sight travelling towards the mouth of the Teign.

The two went down the cliff more quickly than they had climbed up, jumped into their disabled boat and pushed her off. They stood up and waved handkerchiefs and a few minutes later the motor boat ran alongside. Crispin explained to the skipper that their engine had given out and offered five shillings for a tow-in.

This was accepted and soon they were alongside Shaldon pier. Here they borrowed a pair of oars and pulled round to Teignmouth.

"What are you going to do about this fellow Cowell?" Dick asked. "You can't let him get away with a trick like this."

"You bet I won't," said Crispin. Then he suddenly pointed.

"There's his car—that red M.G. He's left his boat up at Babbacombe and will be coming back by bus. If we wait a bit we have him."

"On toast," agreed Dick with a chuckle. "All right. Give me a cigarette and we'll wait under the wall here."

The wall cut off the chilly spring breeze and the sun warmed them comfortably as they sat and smoked. They did not talk much. Crispin was watching the whole time for the arrival of Rufus. They had not long to wait. Dick had just finished his cigarette when Crispin shot to his feet and went straight across to the red car. He was waiting beside it when Rufus arrived.

To meet Crispin was the last thing Rufus had expected. He was, of course, under the impression that he and his friends were still marooned in the cove opposite the Clipstone. Crispin's first words gave him a real shock.

"I'll trouble you for that float, Cowell."

Rufus could not imagine how Crispin had come to know that he was the offender but clearly it was no use denying it. He took the missing float out of his pocket and handed it over.

"Now," said Crispin grimly. "Is there any reason why I shouldn't knock your head off."

"Several," Rufus answered. "The first is that, if you try anything of the sort the story of your treasure hunt will be in the local paper tomorrow. I hear that a reporter has been at Roseworthy already."

"And how will you figure in this story?" Crispin demanded.

"As a man smart enough to watch suspected characters," was the cunning retort.

"Yes, you're smart, Cowell, I'll admit you have a card up your sleeve. You've saved your bacon for the time being, but I have a feeling that one of these days you'll get it in the neck."

"From a great bullock like you?" asked Rufus with a sneer.

"Yes—from me, my foxy friend. So watch your step."

He stood for a moment with his eyes fixed on the other's face and smiled slightly at the baffled fury in Rufus's eyes. Then he turned away. He told Dick what Rufus had said and Dick nodded thoughtfully.

"Yes, you were right, Crispin. The last thing you want is publicity. If the story was published there'd be a mob of treasure hunters all along the coast and all sorts of enquiries. Adrian Hart would hear of it and might get into touch with Cowell. Then the fat would be in the fire." He paused, then went on. "I wonder if young Cowell has any idea what the gold is. I mean has his father told him the original story?" Crispin shook his head.

"Not likely, Dick. It's not the sort of thing a man would tell his son. Not even a man like Aaron Cowell."

"I expect you're right," Dick agreed, "but that leaves us still up against the problem. Who took the gold from the cave?"


RUFUS drove home at a slower pace than usual. His head was full of the gold. He had no notion whatever of its nature but there was no doubt in his mind that something of considerable value had been hidden in that cave and he longed to lay hands on it.

Rufus had a small share in his father's business, which brought him in about two hundred a year and he lived at home. But he was always in debt. Even a few hundreds would be extremely welcome. He racked his brain for some way of getting hold of this treasure.

The Lloyds had failed to find it. That was certain. There was no doubt about the surprise and disappointment in Crispin's voice when he had made sure it was not in the cave. Rufus's thoughts turned to Alison and, the more he considered the matter, the more certain he felt sure that she had taken the gold away on the previous day. Knowing Alison as he did, her act surprised him. She had money of her own and she was not the sort to play a trick like this. It was all very mysterious yet she was the only person who could have visited the cave during the interval. It was out of the question for anyone to have landed in the cove during the night. Alison must have had the gold in her boat when he had seen her making away for Brixham.

Again he considered consulting his father but again decided against it. He had reached home and was garaging his car when an idea came to him. On Saturday afternoons Alison usually visited an old aunt in Brixham and, if the day was fine, her step-father would take his gun and go down to a bit of rough land at the lower end of the farm, to look for a rabbit. The only other inhabitant of the house was Eliza Minch, the elderly cock-housekeeper. She, Rufus knew, would take the opportunity to walk down to the Almshouses to have a chat with her old cousin, Mrs. Clegg.

It was an opportunity made to order. All he had to do was to hide nearby and wait till the coast was clear, then walk in and search. True, the front and back door would be locked but a child could open any one of half-a-dozen of old fashioned windows. The gold must he fairly bulky and it ought to be easy to find, especially since Rufus knew the house.

So as soon as the Saturday mid-day meal was over Rufus got out his car and drove to Skardon. Half a mile from the home he ran the car off the road into a car track and backed it in among some bushes. Then he walked across country until he reached the top of the little hill behind Skardon. Here was plenty of cover and he found a hiding place in a patch of gorse and set to wait.

Very soon he saw Alison driving away in her old car, but for a long time there was no sign of her stepfather. Rufus had begun to fear that he had one of his attacks of rheumatism and was too lame to go out when he caught sight of Daniel, gun on shoulder, strolling past the bottom of the slope, not a hundred yards away. He had evidently come out of the back door which was hidden from Rufus's eyes by a clump of laurel.

He went slowly away and Rufus watched him till he was out of sight. When Rufus turned there was Eliza Minch in the act of passing through the front gate. She was wearing her second best hat and carried an umbrella so it was clear that she was not coming back at once.

As soon as she had disappeared round the bend of the road Rufus came to his feet. He was pleased that everything had worked out just as he had foreseen, but at the same time felt decidedly nervous. He had done many shady things in his twenty-seven years, but this was the first time he had tried burglary.

The holly hedge of the garden gave him perfect cover from the road. He stood a moment listening but the old house was quiet as a grave. He went straight through into the front and upstairs. The first room he tackled was Alison's. He searched it methodically, being careful to put everything back exactly as he had found it. This took him nearly half an hour and at the end of this time he was certain that nothing in the shape of gold was hidden there.

Next, he tried the spare room but here again search was vain. Obviously the stuff could not be in Burt's room or the maid's, so he tried two cupboards on the landing. One held linen, the other china but no gold, and Rufus now angry and worried, went back to the ground floor.

Search was easy for nothing was locked except Burt's old roll-top desk, but there wasn't a trace of treasure or anything connected with it.

At last Rufus gave up. If Alison had the stuff she had not hidden it in the house, but there were still out-buildings which might be worth searching. Rufus got out by the same window through which he had entered and was in the act of settling it exactly as he had found it when he heard a slight sound behind him. He whirled round to find himself facing his father.

Aaron Cowell stared at his son.

"What the devil are you doing?" he demanded. Rufus was rattled and showed it but tried to make light of the question.

"I might ask you the same thing," he retorted.

"Nonsense! I came to see Burt, but you—you've just come out of that window. Alison's away. I don't believe there's anyone in the house. I want to know what you're up to."

Rufus realised that it was no use hedging. On the spur of the moment he decided that the only thing was to tell the truth.

"Yes. I've been in the house looking for something. But it's a long story. Come round to the summer house and I'll tell you."

Alison had a little summer house at the edge of the lawn. The two men went there and sat down and Rufus gave his father the full story of the accident to Crispin's father. Alison's help, his own suspicions and of the events of the previous day.

"I actually heard what young Lloyd said," he ended, "I mean when he found the cave was empty. He spoke of gold. Now I ask you. Who could have taken it but Alison?"

Aaron Cowell who had been listening intently, drew a long breath.

"It's the torque," he said harshly, "the torque, after all these years."

"Torque?" repeated Rufus, puzzled. As has been said before he had never heard the old story. And though he had been fairly well educated his reading was mainly confined to the sporting pages of the daily press, so the word "torque" meant nothing to him.

"An old British gold collar," his father explained. "It was found thirty years ago by a young fellow called Kerswake who worked for Burt. He dug it up on Burt's land and told him about it but refused to give it up unless Burt agreed to give him half the proceeds. He and Burt had a row about it but Kerswake had hidden the thing and refused to give it up. Burt didn't sack him. I suppose he thought he'd persuade him to hand the gold over.

"A few weeks later Burt caught Kerswake swindling him over the sale of some bullocks and prosecuted him. Kerswake got six months for that job and, after he was released, cleared out. He was supposed to have gone to Canada. Anyhow, he's never been heard of since."

"Then what makes you think that this is the gold he found?" Rufus demanded.

"Because, if it had been anything else, Alison would never have taken it," Aaron replied astutely. Rufus considered a moment. He nodded.

"You mean that old Burt has told her and she thinks the stuff really belongs to him?"

"He's told her his side of the story," said Aaron, "but she knows him so well it's likely she has her doubts. If you ask me, she's hidden the gold and is lying low until she can find out the truth." Rufus nodded again.

"That's about the size of it, and that's why it's not in the house. I wonder where the devil she's put it."

"In the bank, likely as not."

"Then there's no getting hold of it," Rufus growled.

"It's not yours, anyhow," his father reminded him sharply, "And you were a fool to come messing round the place, looking for it. Suppose Burt had caught you instead of me?"

"Well, he didn't, but he'll be here soon. Can't you tackle him?"

"I'm going to," said Aaron. "You clear out, Rufus. I'll do the talking." Rufus hesitated. His father smiled grimly.

"Don't worry! You'll get a share. But get out now and go home. I want you out of sight before Daniel turns up."

Rufus had no choice. He got up and went away.

Half an hour later Daniel Burt walked round the corner of the house. He looked old and broken. His shoulders sagged and he limped slightly. Aaron got up and went to meet him. Burt pulled up and gazed at his visitor.

"What do you want?" he asked with a frown.

"Just called in to have a little chat, Burt," said Aaron smoothly.

"If it's money you want you'd better go home. I haven't any," Daniel answered bluntly.

"Not even gold?" Aaron suggested. Burt's stare was blank:

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"I'm talking about the gold torque that Kerswake hid years ago and that Alison has found. Hasn't she told you about it?"

"Not a word. And I don't believe she's found anything of the sort."

"I have proof that she has," Aaron stated, "And you've got to get the stuff from her." Burt stiffened.

"As I've told you. I've heard nothing from her. Anyhow I have no influence with Alison. I'm not going to interfere." Aaron came a step closer.

"It's a bit late for you to take that tone, Burt. Listen to me. You get that gold from Alison and hand it over. If you don't—" He paused significantly.

"If I don't what will happen?" Daniel asked.

"You'll go to prison. A nice thing for a man of your age." A flash of defiance showed in Daniel's sunken eyes.

"What about you?" he retorted. "If I've been crooked you've been worse." He paused then went on in a firmer voice. "You've bled me for years. I'm tired of it. You can do what you please but you don't get any more out of me." He straightened to his full height.

"Now get out of my place, Aaron Cowell. If you show your nose here again it's lead you'll get, not gold."


JOHN LLOYD, out of action on account of his injury and confined to his room, heard from his son the whole story of the fruitless trip to the cove where he had hidden his treasure. He chuckled at the outwitting of Rufus Cowell, but could not conceal his uneasiness at the turn events had taken.

"Dick is right," he said, "Alison Dane has taken the gold. It's no use your frowning, Crispin. From what you tell me, it can't be anyone else."

"She's not the sort of girl to do a thing like that," Crispin protested "You know her. You can't think she'd steal. Do you think she's handed it over to Rufus?"

"You think she's handed it over to him?"

"I don't think for a minute that she'd touch a penny that wasn't her own," said the older man who sat comfortably propped with pillows in his bed. "I think she went back to the cove out of sheer curiosity to find out what we had been about. Finding the gold, she recognised it as the stuff I found all those years ago."

"How could she?" Crispin cut in. "She wasn't born then."

"True, but no doubt Burt had told her his version of the story, and she doesn't know who we are and probably doesn't think we have any more right to it than her step-father."

"You think she's given it to him?"

"I don't. Being the sort of girl she is, she certainly knows that old Burt is not too straight. If you ask me she has hidden the stuff somewhere, and is waiting on events. Anyhow, you may be sure the Cowells won't get it."

Crispin looked relieved. He had great faith in his father's judgment and, thinking things over, began to feel sure that he was right. He nodded.

"No, she won't let them have it," he answered. "She doesn't love that red-haired blighter. I think we'll have to copy Alison's example—wait until she knows us a bit better. And I'm going to know her better before I'm much older."

Early on Monday, Crispin drove to Prout's poultry farm, which was just outside Kingskerswell. He was busy bargaining with the old man in the yard when he heard a light step behind him and turned to meet Alison.

"What a bit of luck Miss Dane!" he exclaimed. "You've the expert, and you are going to tell me just what I ought to buy."

Alison smiled.

"How do you know I shan't pick all the best for myself and let you have the duds?"

"There baint any duds in my stock. You know that, Miss Alison." Prout declared indignantly.

"All right, Mr Prout," laughed Alison. "I'm only chaffing. Besides, I have all I want for the present. What are you buying, Mr. Lloyd?"

"Rhode Island Reds. I'm told they do well down here."

"Strong birds and good layers," put in Prout.

"Mr. Prout is right," Alison agreed. "And you don't need my advice, Mr. Lloyd. You can safely take Mr. Prout's."

"Then I'll have a hundred to start," Crispin said. He turned to Alison. "Miss Dane, what I really want is advice on feeding and handling the birds. I know a bit about stock farming but precious little about poultry. Will you let me give you a cup of coffee at Malet's and we can have a chat?" Alison smiled again.

"Morning coffee is a bait I can't resist—especially at Malet's. But what about the chicks?"

"I'll come back for them. Have them ready for me in an hour, will you Mr. Prout."

Prout agreed. He liked this cheery new customer and was secretly pleased that he and Alison Dane were such good friends. He admired Alison and heartily disliked Rufus Cowell.

Crispin felt very pleased with himself as he drove along the broad, finely graded road to Newton Abbot. He had been wondering ever since Friday how to see Alison again and get a talk with her. He and his father agreed that he could not call at Skardon and it was highly unlikely that old Burt would come to see his new neighbours.

Had Crispin known it, Alison was equally pleased for she, too, had been anxious to interview this new acquaintance. Actually their meeting this morning had not been a chance one. Alison, passing, had seen Crispin's car outside Prout's place and had deliberately pulled up and gone in.

Maud Malet had a reputation which extended far beyond Newton Abbot. People come from Torquay to buy her cakes and pastry. There are several tea rooms behind the shop and, though the two first were full, there were plenty of vacant tables in the back one. The two found a comfortable corner and Crispin ordered coffee with cream and some of the rock buns and pastries for which the place had a name. Alison turned to her companion.

"So you didn't take my advice last market day, Mr. Lloyd?"

"I took as much of it as I could," Crispin answered. "Your red-haired friend would intervene." Alison frowned.

"Don't call him my friend," she said, and her voice was almost sharp.

"Sorry—I mean glad. I'd hate to think you had a friend like that." The attendant brought the coffee and cakes and Crispin asked her to bring some Devonshire cream. Alison's delicate eyebrows rose.

"Cream with cakes?" she questioned. "You might be a Devonshire man."

"I hope to be," Crispin told her. "I've never been in Devon till this month but I love it."

"And I've hardly ever been out of it, yet I love it, too."

Crispin looked at her.

"You're not the Devon type?"

"What is the Devon type?" she retorted.

"Big, fair, apple-checked, milkmaidy." She shrugged.

"Might have been once but there are not many left. My people came originally from Norway."

"That accounts for your love of the sea. I've never seen a girl handle a boat better."

"Then you've lived by the sea," Alison said shrewdly.

"For a time. I was at Cardiff University."

"You're not Welsh?"

"I was born and brought up on a Welsh sheep farm." She shook her head.

"Then you're more off type than I." Crispin laughed.

"I suppose you share the common idea that Welshmen are small, dark Celts. I'll admit there are quite a lot like that, but what about the Welsh boxers and Rugger players?"

"I don't believe they're Welsh—or you either," Alison declared with a pout which Crispin thought adorable. "Are you a Rugger man, Mr. Lloyd?"

"I'm keen. I played for Cardiff but I've never been capped for Wales."

"You must miss all that down here."

"I need not—Devon's a good Rugger county you know," said Crispin stoutly. "But I play other games besides football— tennis, for instance."

"Tennis. That's my game," Alison told him. "You must join the Club."

"Nothing I'd like better. Will you put me up?"

"I'll introduce you to our secretary. He will do all that's necessary." She stiffened suddenly and put her lips near his ear.

"We must he careful. Bert Spinner is just behind us listening with both ears."

"Who is Bert Spinner?" Crispin questioned in an equally low voice.

"Pal of Rufus Cowell," she answered. "I think we will move, Mr. Lloyd. I have finished my coffee."

Crispin summoned the waitress and got the bill. As he took his hat from the peg he had a good look at Bert Spinner. He frowned. "He's just like a white ferret," was the thought that crossed his mind and barring that Spinner's eyes were pale blue instead of pink, Crispin wasn't far wrong. The man was so fair that his hair was almost white, his forehead retreated, his jaw stuck out and his prominent teeth showed between thin lips. But he was well dressed and evidently had a good opinion of himself. He rose and bowed to Alison as she came by but Alison passed with only the slightest of nods.

"Not a beauty, is he?" Crispin remarked as they left the shop.

"He's a horror," said Alison curtly and all the way back to Kingskerswell was very silent. When she left him at Prout's and drove away in her own car Crispin thought ruefully that he hadn't got an inch further in probing the mystery of the vanished gold. Then he cheered up.

"She's a jolly nice girl," he said to himself as he packed the crate of chicks into the back of his car. "And I shall see her again at the tennis club."


ELIZA MINCH met Alison at the door. Her bleak face grimmer than usual.

"The master is not at all well," she said harshly.

"He wasn't very well yesterday," Alison answered. "I suggested his staying in bed today, but he wouldn't hear of it."

"He's been sitting over the fire all the morning. I lit one for him in the small room. You'll have to stay in this afternoon and keep an eye on him. I'm all behind with my work."

"Very well, Eliza," said Alison.

She gave a small sigh as she went up to her room to take off her hat. It was odd that she had never been able to make friends with Eliza. The woman had been at Skardon for nearly thirty years. Of a jealous nature, she had bitterly resented her master's marriage with the widowed Mrs. Dane, and had done much to make Alison's childhood unhappy. Even now, after all these years, she still showed her dislike for Alison. Yet she was a capital cook, a careful housekeeper, and seemed to be devoted to old Burt. More than once she had sat up with him all night when he had one of his rheumatic attacks.

Alison found her stepfather in the small room which opened off the big living mom. Though it was a warm spring day he was hunched over the fire. He looked so old and unhappy that Alison felt bitterly sorry for him. She was not particularly fond of him. She had long ago realised his mean and grasping nature. Yet he had never been unkind to her, and in his way, she believed, was fond of her. He looked up as she came in.

"You been out?" he asked dully.

"I drove to Kingskerswell to get some groceries. You're not looking well. Are you in pain?"

"I'm pretty nigh always in pain, but it's not pain now. It's worry." He paused, then spoke again. "I'm pretty near the end of my tether, Alison. They're talking of calling up the mortgage on Skardon." Alison looked grave.

"I didn't know It was as bad as that. Is there nothing I can do to help?" He shook his head.

"Your capital is tied up, and any way I wouldn't want to take it from you."

"How much do you need?" Alison asked. "I have a balance at the bank—about a hundred. I think." Burt shook his head.

"Nothing less than four hundred would be any good to me."

"I wish I could give it you," said Alison. Burt sat up; he looked his stepdaughter full in the face.

"May be you could, Alison." Alison's eyes widened. She gazed at the old man in surprise. He went on. "What about the gold you found in that sea cave?"

The shock of the question was so great to Alison that she could find no words to reply. She stood perfectly still with her eyes fixed on Burt.

"Then you did find it," the other went on eagerly "You know the story for I told it to you years ago. The gold was found on my land. It's mine." Alison recovered.

"Yes, I did find those old ornaments," she confessed, "but what about the man who first found them—Kerswake? Surely he is entitled to a share."

"Kerswake. He was a bad fellow. Swindled me and went to gaol. He cleared out, and the odds are he's dead years ago. The stuff's mine, I tell you, girl, and the money from it will just about save Skardon."

Some girls would have given in at once, but not Alison.

"I am not satisfied. I must think it over. When I have made up my mind I'll tell you." Without giving the old man a chance to speak again, Alison left the room.

In the hall she glanced at the grandfather clock, It was barely twelve. She had an hour before the midday meal. Without waiting to put on a hat she went out into the garden and sat in the summer-house.

So far Alison's life had been almost without incident. Her only great trouble had been the death of her mother. Now she found herself forced to make a big decision, and it was hard. She knew that her stepfather was in a bad way, not only in health but financially. He was probably right in saying that the value of this gold would do much to help him out of his troubles, and if his story was true he certainly had a claim to this treasure.

On the other hand she had to think of the Lloyds. From what she had seen of them they were not the sort to take anything to which they had no right. Crispin must have known beforehand of the hiding place for he had gone straight to it. So it appeared certain that he must know Kerswake and had he knowledge direct from him. Kerswake, it seemed to her, being the finder of the gold, had a claim to some part of it. She wished intensely that she could learn something about this mysterious man who had disappeared so long ago.

The summer-house faced towards the road. A tall old man passed, walking slowly. Allison came lightly to her feet.

"It's George Lusty! If anyone can tell me he can."

She hurried out of the gate and caught Lusty as he turned down the lane to his cottage. He stopped. He looked at her admiringly.

"It be a fine day, Miss Alison, but you do make her brighter. Alison smiled.

"You always say pretty things, George."

"But you do deserve them, missie." he insisted. "Baint a prettier young lady this side Exeter. I'll be bound."

"You're very flattering. George, but I haven't come to get compliments. I want to ask you something."

"Will 'ee come in the house, missie. Us'll be pleased to have a tell with 'ee."

She went with him into the cottage. Old George was a bachelor, but the place was as clean and tidy as Alison's own room. A peat fire smouldered on the hearth, an ancient clock ticked loudly on the mantel and a goldfinch preened itself in a cage hung by the window.

"George," said Alison as she took the chair he gave her, "do you remember a man named Kerswake who worked for the master many years ago?"

"I mind him well. A fine upstanding young chap. Pleasant spoken and a good worker."

"But didn't he get into trouble of some sort?" A shadow crossed George's fine old face.

"That be true, missie. They said he took some money as he shouldn't have took. It were Aaron Cowell as brought it up against him. They tried 'un at Exeter and sent 'un to prison for six months."

"Aaron Cowell, was it?" said Alison slowly. "Tell me, George, did you think Kerswake was guilty?" George shook his head.

"John Kerswake weren't the sort to play crooked, missie. Us all thought there was something funny about the business."

"What happened to Kerswake afterwards? Do you know?"

"He didn't stay in prison very long. He saved the life of a warder when another prisoner tried to kill 'un. He weren't there more than six weeks. But what he did after I can't tell 'ee. He never came back here."

Alison's face was grave as she walked back to Skardon.

"So it was Aaron Cowell. I might have known it," she said to herself. "Then the chances are that Kerswake was wrongly convicted. There is only one thing to do. I must see Crispin Lloyd and tell him everything. I feel sure that I can trust him. But first I must get the gold and put it in the Bank. Then—" she smiled to herself—"No one can accuse me of stealing it."

Alison ate her luncheon alone, for her stepfather would not leave the fire. All the afternoon the was busy in the house and garden. It was not until darkness fell that she slipped off on her errand.

She had hidden the gold in an empty house about half a mile from Skardon. Fammers, as it was called, was a safe hiding place because it had the reputation of being haunted. Its owner and builder, an eccentric artist named Boyle, had shot himself in the living-room and since then, the place had remained empty. Not one of the village folk would go near it after dark.

There was no moon, but the sky was clear and stars gave Alison light on her way. Fammers lay in a hollow with a wood behind it. It was a brick built house about eighty years old, too large to be called a cottage, and was still sound, though most of the glass had gone from windows. The fenced garden was now a thicket of elder bushes and nettles. It had a very desolate appearance, but Alison was not afraid of ghosts, and she walked quickly down the lane leading to the garden gate.

At the gate she stopped A light showed faintly through the window of the living-room. Alison's heart beat more quickly than usual as she left the gate and walked cautiously up the fence on the outer side. Presently she was near enough to see through the broken windows.

Inside the room a man sat on an upturned packing ease, but he had his back to her. A second man stood by the window with his face turned towards Alison.

This latter man Alison had never seen before, but one glance was enough to make her very sure that she would not want to see him again.


ALISON was not the sort of girl to give way to panic. She realised at once that, although she could see the stranger's face plainly by the light inside the room, she herself, hidden among the bushes in the darkness, must be invisible to him. He was handsome in a coarse way, yet there was something repellent about him.

When Alison had first seen the light in the window she had taken it for granted that a tramp had taken refuge in the house for the night. It was very certain that none of the local people would have entered it, even in broad daylight. But this stranger was no tramp. He wore a decent suit of blue serge with a double-breasted jacket and on his head was a sailor's cap stuck rakishly askew. Alison turned her attention to the other, smaller man who was sitting on the upturned packing case. He had his back to her and seemed to be writing on a pad or a book which he held on his knee. A small electric lamp gave light for his task. About him there was something familiar. Suddenly he raised his head and half turned in the direction of the big man. Alison got a second shock. It was Bert Spinner!

If there was any person of her acquaintance whom Alison disliked more than Rufus Cowell it was Bert Spinner. She really knew very little about him except that he had an office at Brixham and called himself a marine agent, whatever that might be. Her dislike for him was instinctive and resembled the horror which some people regard a spider or a snake.

The sight of him at Fammers filled her with a feeling that was near to terror. What reason could there be for his presence in this dreary old, haunted, place unless he had come to search for the gold? Yet that was absurd. How could Spinner possibly know where she had hidden the torque? She felt certain that no one had watched her that night when she had put it away. And even if she had been seen going to the place, she could not imagine how any eyes could have watched her while she had hidden the gold. Stepping back a little so that she was quite concealed among the thick hazel, she stood very still and waited.

"Have you finished, Bert?" the big man asked in a deep, resonant voice.

"Not yet," said Spinner curtly.

"I wish you'd hurry. I'm fed up."

Alison was puzzled. She could not imagine what Spinner was about. If he had found the gold, surely he would leave at once; if he had not he would be searching for it. Actually he was sitting still and making notes.

Presently he got up.

"I'm going into the back room, Moat," he said, and picked up the lamp. Moat followed him and still Alison waited.

A long time passed but there was no sign of the men. The light moved from one room to another and, finally disappeared. But the men did not come out.

It grew late. Alison was afraid that she would be missed. The last thing she wanted was awkward questions from her stepfather or from Eliza. She decided that she had better go home and wait till the next evening to recover the gold. Whatever Spinner and Moat were doing, it did not seem to her that they were searching for the torque and even it they were, she hardly thought that they would find it.

She slipped away very quietly. A thin film of cloud had drifted up out of the south-west and hidden the stars. It was very dark under the trees and Alison had to pick her way with care. There was not a breath of wind and the stillness was uncanny.

Her skirt caught in the hooked thorns of a bramble. She stooped to release it and, as she did so a dry stick cracked behind her. In the silence the small sound seemed almost as loud as a pistol shot. Alison's heart gave a thump that she could hear plainly, she straightened her long, lithe body and stood like a statue, hardly breathing, listening with all her power of hearing. The noise was not repeated, nor was there any other sound at all.

"Some wild thing," she said to herself and presently moved onwards silent as any ghost.

It was just ten when she reached Skardon. The lamp in the living room had been turned low and the house was as quiet as the wood. Evidently her stepfather and gone to bed. Alison put out the lamp, took a candle and went through into the kitchen. That room, too, was empty. Eliza had gone up. Alison went into the larder, got herself a glass of milk, then climbed the stairs to her room.

She was firmly resolved that she would put the whole thing out of her mind and go to sleep, but it proved impossible. For hours she lay, wondering what unpleasant Spinner and his companion were doing at Fammers, and, when she did at last doze off, her dreams were haunted by the face of that tall, dark, evil-looking man whose name was Moat.

She woke, tired, but a cold bath braced her, and she was her bright self when she came down in the morning. Eliza, grim as ever, told her that the master was staying in bed for breakfast.

"You'll have to get your own," she added.

This did not worry Alison. Indeed it pleased her for she was not anxious to see her stepfather until she had secured the gold and put it safely in the bank.

She spent a busy day attending to her chickens, and in the garden. It was late dusk when she set out for Fammers. There had been a breeze in the afternoon but that had died out and the wood was as spectrally still as on the previous night. Alison approached with the utmost caution but now there was no light, nor any sign of life about the dreary house. Even so, she waited for a long time among the elder bushes before she ventured to creep through a gap in the broken fence and approach the place. Again she paused under a laurel close by the wall and listened. The only sound was the high-pitched note of a bat hawking over the deserted garden and, satisfied at last, Alison got through a window into the home.

She had brought a small torch and, switching it on, noticed used matches and ash from a pipe on the dusty floor of the sitting room. She went through into the kitchen, a big square room with a rusty range set in a deep recess. Once more she stood listening until she was certain that there was no one near, then went into the recess and opened the iron door of the old-fashioned brick oven. The space inside was about a yard in diameter and a flue went up from it into the kitchen chimney.

She shone her light into this flue and reached up. Her hand came back empty. The package in which she had wrapped the torque and the other ornaments was no longer there!


THE discovery that the gold had gone shook Alison badly. She had convinced herself that Spinner was not looking for it when she had seen him and Moat in the house on the previous evening and it was hard to believe that she had been wrong.

One thing was certain. It was no use searching further, so the sooner she was out of the house the better. She slipped away as silently as she had come but, once under cover of the trees, dropped on a log and tried to collect her thoughts.

What puzzled her more than anything was how her hiding place had been discovered for, even if a searcher had opened the door of the oven, he would not have seen anything. She had pushed the parcel well up into the curve of the flue and wedged it there.

There was no getting out of it. She must have been watched when she first visited the house and, the more she considered the matter, the more certain it seemed that Rufus Cowell had been the watcher.

But if that was the case, why had he sent Bert Spinner to recover the gold? It would have been quite simple to come himself, and surely it would have been better to keep the business secret from anyone else. Bert Spinner would claim a share in the spoil and she knew Rufus well enough to be very sure he would hate sharing.

The next question was what she herself was to do in the matter. She wished most heartily that she had never meddled with the gold but it was too late for useful repentance. She decided that she must tell both her stepfather and Crispin.. She didn't mind so much about old Burt but simply hated the idea of confessing to Crispin. She had begun to realize that she had a high opinion of Crispin Lloyd and that she wanted him to have an equally good opinion of herself. Now she felt she was going to forfeit it. Whatever Crispin said, he must feel that she had interfered in a business that did not really concern her.

At last she got up and went home. Again she had a bad night, but that did not weaken her resolve to tell her step-father what had happened. She waited till he had had his breakfast then found him alone in the small room and told him all about it. He shook his grey head.

"Pity you didn't keep the gold here, lass. Now Rufus has got it we'll never see or hear of it again."

"You think he has got it?"

"Who else? He must have seen you go to the cave and followed you home."

"But why send Spinner after it?" The old man shrugged.

"Them two are thick as thieves." He frowned. "Thieves is the right word. I couldn't tell you what those Cowells have stolen off me."

Alison's heart sank. All along she had suspected Aaron Cowell of blackmailing Burt, but this was the first time Burt had confessed it.

"I'm terribly sorry it's happened," she said.

"I don't know as I blame you," he said unexpectedly. "Likely you did what you thought was right. But now I reckon you'll have to find a home for yourself. Skardon is finished."

Alison paused, trying to think of something to say to comfort the old man. But he was lying back in his chair, his big head sunk between his shoulders, his eyes half-closed. She went out quietly to her car. Even if Skardon were doomed she had her eggs to sell in Newton Market. Besides, it was in Newton that she hoped to see Crispin.

While Alison was preparing to start, Rufus Cowell had already reached Newton. He went into the Bull, and there found Bert Spinner. They were supposed to be friends. They were useful, one to the other, in the way of business, but actually both were too grasping and selfish to know the real meaning of the word friend.

The pair had a drink together, and Rufus looked round to see that no one could overhear.

"Can you find me a couple of good farm hands, Rufus?" he asked. Rufus's eyebrows went up.

"Farm hands?" he repeated.

"I mean it," Spinner said in a low tone. "I've bought Fammers."

"Ghost included?" Rufus asked drily.

"Ghost be blowed! That place will suit me down to the ground, and I have all the land down the Cleave as far as the beach." Rufus nodded.

"I see your idea, but the land's poor stuff."

"I know it—but I got it dirt cheap. Now I'll have to farm it, but I don't know a thing about farming. Will it make a pasture?"

"If you put enough on it. But I'll tell you a better and cheaper trick. Plant it with trees—spruce or larch, with beech as nurses. They'll give you a Government grant of so much an acre to help with the initial expenses, and once it's planted, one man can look after the lot."

"That's a notion," exclaimed Spinner eagerly. He chuckled. "A Government grant! That snakes me laugh. And if it's afforested that gives me a chance to fence the whole of the land."

"You'll have to wire-net it all or the rabbits will ruin the whole show."

"Wire-netting and barbed wire. I get you, Rufus. I'll start at once. Have another drink."

"One more," Rufus agreed, and then while they were having it Crispin Lloyd came in. He was looking for a cattle dealer whom he wanted to see, but the man was not there and Crispin went straight out. If he had seen Rufus he did not give any sign he had done so.

"Your hated rival," said Bert with a malicious grin. "He and Alison Dane were in town on Monday. I saw them at Malet's having coffee together. They were talking sixteen to the dozen." Rage made Rufus's eyes glitter but he controlled it. His cunning came to his rescue.

"That's a chap you'd better watch, Bert," he answered. "Lloyd, I mean. I've a notion he's a Government man." It gave him malicious pleasure to see the startled look that crossed the other's ferret-like face.

"Government man," Spinner repeated. "They're farmers. They've bought Roseworthy."

"The old man has bought the place. Young Lloyd is no farmer."

"What makes you think he's a Government man?"

"I was out fishing off Teignmouth last Thursday and saw him and another chap who's staying at Roseworthy. They'd got an outboard and were poking along under the cliffs. I saw them land in the cove opposite the Clipstone. They explored that pretty thoroughly, then went on further. A couple of days later I spotted them at the same game." Spinner's lip curled.

"Does the silly fool think I keep my stuff in caves, like story book smugglers?" Rufus shrugged.

"I may be wrong of course. The fellow may be interested in the rocks or photography, and have nothing to do with the Government. Still I thought I'd warn you in case there was anything in it."

"I'll watch him," said spinner venomously. "And if he is trying anything, God help him!"

Rufus chuckled inwardly. He had made a fresh enemy for Crispin Lloyd and a dangerous one. He glared at his wrist-watch.

"Nearly eleven. I must push over to the market. Got to see about some steers." He went out quickly and walked round to the market. The big covered space was crowded as usual, and full of the muffled din of hundreds of people talking, arguing, bargaining. He stood by the door, looking round and almost at once saw Alison.

Rufus paused. He badly wanted to talk to her, but did not care for the risk of being snubbed in public. Next moment Crispin Lloyd appeared making straight for Alison. She turned, and the smile that crossed her lips filled Rufus with jealous fury. The two talked for a moment then moved together towards the door.

"Going to Malet's," Rufus muttered under his breath. On the impulse of the moment he too made for the door.

"They'll be talking about that gold," he said to himself shrewdly. "And so wrapped in one another they'll never notice me. I might hear something worth while."


THE streets were crowded; Newton Abbot is always full on a market day. In any case Crispin and Alison were so taken up with one another that they were not in the least likely to look round, and Rufus had no difficulty in following them himself unseen. As he had expected, they went to Malet's. It was early and the place was not so full as it would be in another hour, yet there were already plenty of people.

Rufus waited until Crispin and Alison were settled, then managed to slip in and get a seat at a table fairly close to them, but hidden from them by a hat and coat stand. He ordered coffee and set to listen. His ears were sharp, but they spoke in low voices and the hum of conversation made it the harder to hear. He caught the word "gold" and his pulses quickened. He was right. Alison was speaking to Crispin of the treasure.

"Not in the house," he heard her say. "I took it"—At that moment a woman close by him pushed back her chair and rose. The critical sentence was drowned, and Rufus cursed bitterly under his breath.

"Spinner was there and another man." These were the next words that Rufus heard plainly. "His name was Moat. A sailor I should think. A horrid man—" An attendant brought the coffee that Rufus had ordered and was puzzled at the savage glare her customer gave her. When she had gone Crispin was speaking.

"What did you do?" he asked.

"I waited a long time," Alison answered, "but they didn't come out and at last I had to leave it and go home. I went again the next night—"

This time it was Alison who stopped speaking. The attendant had brought a plate of cakes to her table. When she spoke again it was a mere whisper. Strain his ears as he might, Rufus could not catch another word of what she was saying. He gave it up and leaned back.

"So she hid the stuff at Fammers," he said under his breath "And went to get it and ran into Bert and Moat. And when she went again did she get it or had it gone? I wish I knew."

But he was not going to get his answer from the two at the other table. They were preparing to move so Rufus, leaving his untouched coffee, picked up his bill and slipped away. The last thing he wanted was to be seen by the pair upon whom he had been spying.

He went back to the market and presently found Spinner.

"What about having a look at Fammers, Bert?" he asked. "It's years since I've been there. I might be able to give you some tips.

"I'm going over this evening," Spinner told him, "but I shan't be there much before seven."

"That's all right," Rufus answered casually. "There'll be light enough to look around and see about the fencing. Don't forget the Government grant." Spinner chuckled.

"You can take your oath I won't. I'll write to the Forestry people as soon as I know how much I can plant."

"I can tell you that. All right, I'll be there about seven. So long."

It was barely six when Rufus arrived at Fammers. He parked his car out of sight among the trees and made his way on foot through the thick brush to the back of the house. It was true that he had not been there for some time but he knew the place well enough and had no difficulty in getting in.

For nearly an hour he searched the house. He even tried the old oven, but found no sign of what he was after. When Spinner arrived Rufus was sitting on a log by the fence, smoking a cigarette.

The two walked round the property and Rufus exerted himself to give Spinner all the information he could think of as to planting They went down as far as the sea where there was a tiny cove and Spinner pointed out that there was deep water right up to the beach. Rufus nodded.

"Suit you fine," he remarked.

"You bet," grinned the other. "And there's something else here that suits me. Come back to the house and I'll show you." They walked back, and Spinner showed Rufus something that the latter had not known of, in the shape of a large and deep cellar under the house, the entrance to which was cleverly hidden by a clump of laurels.

"That wasn't made for nothing, Rufus," Spinner said. "If you ask me, that chap Royle who killed himself was running stuff from abroad. But the fool was too fond of his own brandy."

"I expect you're right," said Rufus slowly, as his eyes scanned every corner of the big dim place. But it was empty and it did not seem to him that there was any hiding place in the well built walls. In any case if Bert had got the stuff, it was not likely that he would have left it in this deserted place.

It was nearly dark when the two left the cellar and started back to the front of the house. Rufus pulled up short.

"Someone's there," he said to Spinner in a quick whisper. "Someone's in the house. I can hear voices."

"I hear them," Spinner answered. "Who the devil is it?"

"Lloyd, it's young Lloyd, Spinner."

"Well, of all the cheek!" exclaimed Spinner moving sharply forward. Rufus checked him.

"Steady, Bert! Alison is with him."

"Alison! Then she brought him. She's always messing round here."

He broke away and hurried towards the porch. As he reached it Crispin and Alison stepped out. Alison recognised Spinner, and there was still light enough for Bert Spinner to set the look of repulsion on her face. It made him furiously angry.

"What do you think you're doing here?" he demanded of Crispin.

"We were looking for the ghost," Crispin answered mildly. "Have you any objection."

"If there's any ghost here it's mine." Spinner retorted. "This house and land are mine, and no one is allowed here without my permission."

"So you own the ghost, Mr. Spinner?" said Crispin. "That's an interesting point—the ownership of a ghost. But I need hardly say that we were trespassing unaware. Not even Miss Dane knew that you had bought the place. May I ask if you mean to live here?"

"I'm not here to answer questions," Spinner barked. "I'm telling you that you are trespassing, and the sooner you make yourselves scarce the better."

"Not too polite is he?" said Crispin to Alison. He looked down at Spinner rather as if he were a small ill-tempered dog. "Very well, Mr. Spinner, as you suggest, we will make ourselves scarce." He took Alison by the arm and they went straight out of the place through the broken fence.

Rufus came up. He had kept discreetly in the background until Alison was out of sight.

"What was Lloyd doing here?" Spinner demanded.

"Said he was looking for the ghost, didn't he?" replied Rufus.

"Ghost. He doesn't believe in ghosts any more than I do."

"Probably he knew you had bought the place and was snooping round."

"Then he is a Customs man."

"It looks like it," Rufus answered cautiously, "but we'd better be sure. Anyhow, he's seen nothing suspicious."

"Because there isn't anything suspicious. But I don't like it. I want to know all about him. How are we going to find out?"

"Might try Bellamy, the Estate Agent. He sold them Roseworthy." Spinner frowned.

"I doubt if we'll get anything out of him. Still we might try."

"I'm going to," said Rufus flatly. "I'll go up to Exeter in the morning and see him." Spinner looked at Rufus. He chuckled harshly.

"You don't like him any better than I do. But no wonder! Its Alison." His coarse laugh made Rufus furiously angry. He had just sense left to restrain himself. He could not afford to quarrel with Spinner, who was useful to him in a dozen ways.

"You can leave Miss Dane's name out of it Bert," he said harshly. "Good night."

Without another word, he strode off to his car. As he drove home it was not of Alison he was thinking, but of the gold. Had Spinner got it, or was it Moat? Or had Alison found it on her second visit to Fammers and given it to Crispin Lloyd? He needed that gold! and meant to have it.


SPINNER was right. Bellamy, though perfectly polite, was giving nothing away and Rufus Cowell left the Exeter Estate Office in a state of smouldering fury. He was in desperate need of money, but that was nothing compared with the rabid jealousy which consumed him.

He had long ago made up his mind to marry Alison and had never felt the slightest doubt that she would accept him when he was ready to propose. Her preference for Crispin had sharpened his feelings for her to a dangerous point, but the worst of it all was the blow to his self-esteem.

He went to the Clarence and lunched and, while he ate, tried to calm himself and consider what next step he could take. In a flash it came to him. His father had told him that Kerswake had been sent to Exeter gaol for swindling Daniel Burt over a cattle sale. Here was a good line. He finished his luncheon quickly and made for the Castle.

Rufus could be polite when he chose and his plausible story that he wanted to employ a young man, who claimed to be the son of an ex-prisoner named John Kerswake brought him to the prison with a note of introduction to the Chief Warder.

"It's a long time ago," said the latter doubtfully. "But if you will wait a bit I will look up some records." He went off but was back in a surprisingly short time.

"Kerswake. I got him at once," he said. "He has special mention. Seems he saved the life of one of our officers when the officer was attacked by another prisoner. He had a King's Pardon and was released. But I am afraid we have no knowledge of where he went afterwards or what he did."

Rufus's face fell.

"It's good to hear he was such a fine fellow," he answered smoothly, "but it doesn't help me to find out whether this young man is really his son. Could you tell me the name of the officer he saved?"

"His name was Hart. Principal Warder Hamilton Hart, and he is still living in Exeter. Here is his address. It's quite close to St. David's."

"That's fine," Rufus declared. "I'll go and see him at once." The other nodded.

"I can't guarantee he will know anything about this man, Kerswake," he said. Thirty years is a lot of time. Still I wish you luck.

Rufus thanked him warmly and walked off. It was no distance to St. David's and he found the house without trouble. A neat little place with a scrap of well kept garden in front. He rang and the door was opened by an erect grey-haired man who looked like an old soldier.

"Mr. Hart?" Rufus enquired. The old chap cupped his hand to his ear.

"I'm a bit deaf, sir," he said. "My son will talk to you. Adrian!" he called.

A lanky young man came out of a room into the passage. He had black hair and dark, sulky eyes.

"Yes," he said looking at Rufus.

"My name is Cowell," Rufus said, smoothly. "I was told at the prison that Mr. Hart lived here. I am making inquiries about a man named Kerswake."

"Kerswake," repeated Adrian Hart staring suspiciously at Rufus. "What do you want to know about him?" Instinctively Rufus felt that this young man did know something.

"May I come in," he asked. "Then I will explain." Young Hart stood aside and beckoned him in. The old man followed but it was clear to Rufus that he was almost stone deaf.

The sitting room was small but well furnished.

"Sit down," said Adrian curtly. "Now what's this about Kerswake?"

Rufus refused to take offence. He was thinking quickly. Something told him that young Hart not only knew about Kerswake but did not like him. He resolved to alter his story.

"Kerswake was once in Exeter gaol," he said quietly. "I believe that he saved your father's life when he was attacked by another prisoner. I am anxious to trace him, to find out whether he is alive or dead." Adrian frowned.

"He's alive but you'll have to tell me something more about it before I give you any information."

"I can tell you this much," he said. "It was my father who prosecuted Kerswake. The fellow swindled him and his partner over a cattle deal. Now a man named Lloyd, who claims to be Kerswake's heir, has been worrying us. I want to find out whether the fellow is genuine or not."

"Claims to be Kerswake's heir," Adrian repeated suspiciously. "That sounds crazy to me."

"He hasn't said so in so many words," Rufus told him "but he is claiming property which he says belongs to John Kerswake."

Adrian was still suspicious but he was very sore. He had lost a good position as secretary to the Cardiff shipowner, whose daughter had refused him. Irene Carnwarth had not been too polite about it either. He was now at a loose end and nursing fancied grievances. He had always hated Crispin, and it seemed to him that this stranger was no fonder of him.

"What's this Lloyd look like?" he demanded. Rufus described Crispin and Adrian listened.

"If you knew the connection between him and John Kerswake could you spoil his game?" he inquired.

"That's my idea anyway," replied Rufus. His answer turned the scale.

"Then I'll tell you," said Adrian. "He's John Kerswake's son!"

Rufus's eyes widened. Adrian went on. "John Kerswake went to Wales when he was released. He married a rich widow named Mrs. Lloyd. Crispin Lloyd was their only child. He, Kerswake changed his name and when his wife died sold out to the Caraton Corporation, retired and lived in Cardiff. That's where I met them. They left a few months ago but I didn't know where they'd gone. If there's any other way I can help you just let me know."

Rufus was staggered. This was better than anything that he could have imagined. But he quickly recovered.

"What you've told me will do the trick," he said gleefully. "People in our part don't care to associate with ex-convicts. We've got them all ends up."

"That's fine," said Adrian viciously. "If there's one man I ever hated it's Crispin Lloyd. Keep me posted and I'll do anything I can to help you."


THE ruse by which Rufus Cowell had sought to get hold of information which he could use against his rival and for the total discomfiture of the Lloyds had succeeded beyond his wildest hopes. Not only so, but it had brought him a new ally in Adrian Hart. There was no doubt whatever that Hart harboured a grudge against Crispin, and could be relied upon to help in any plan for making that young man eat humble pie.

Consequently Rufus was vastly pleased with himself. He was impatient to disclose his information to Alison Dane: it only showed how little really he knew of her character that he should feel so sure that simply on his word his revelation would make her turn the cold shoulder to Crispin Lloyd. He had to curb his natural impetuosity; he realised that a little patience and tact must be exercised. It was at the tennis club that he found Alison.

She would have avoided him but he stood full in her path so that she could not pass without actually touching him. She stood still, her glorious blue eyes regarding him with an expression that made him inwardly writhe.

She wore a short skirt of white drill, her beautiful arms were bare; her fair hair, confined by a blue bandeau, caught the bright spring sunlight and reflected it in threads of gold; drawn to her full height, she looked superb. Any man might be forgiven for delighting in her.

Rufus spoke almost humbly.

"Alison, please let me talk to you. I have something to say."

"Say it and get it over," was the unpromising reply. Rufus bit his lip and kept his temper under control.

"I want to tell you that I think I can persuade my father not to foreclose on Skardon."

"Is that a bribe?" Alison asked.

"Don't put it that way. I only want to be friends."

She looked at him.

"You'd have to change a good deal, Rufus, before I could call you a friend."

"You were friendly enough until young Lloyd put you against me." Alison's eyes glinted.

"That is simply not true. You quarrelled with him for no reason at all, and I warned him against you. With good cause, too," she added significantly.

All Rufus's good resolution went west. His ugly temper flared.

"At any rate I'm not the son of an ex-convict," he snarled. If Alison was startled—and she was—she did not show it.

"Meaning what?" she questioned in a suspiciously quiet voice.

"Meaning that your new friend is son of a man who went to prison for swindling his employer."

Alison was very angry, but the only sign of her feelings was a slight colour under the clear skin of her cheeks, and an added brightness in her eyes.

"And what about your father, Rufus? He ought to be in prison this minute. He would be if my stepfather had the pluck to prosecute him."

Rufus was staggered. He had not the faintest notion that Alison had any knowledge of his father's transactions with Daniel Burt.

"What tale has Burt been pitching your?" he demanded.

"He has told me enough to make me certain that your father has been blackmailing him for years and that this is the reason why he is now so near ruin."

"He's crazy," snapped Rufus.

"Oh, no. Merely desperate. And that is your father's fault." She drew herself to her full height. "And let me tell you, Rufus Cowell, if your father does foreclose on Skardon I shall make it my business to see that the truth comes out. You can tell him so from me." She paused a moment but Rufus had nothing to say. "Now," she went on. "If you have quite finished slandering your neighbours perhaps you will allow me to pass."

She brushed by him and was gone, leaving Rufus for once speechless. His bomb had turned into a squib. What was worst he had wasted all his carefully acquired knowledge.

Not wasted it, perhaps. He still felt sure that a word in the right quarters and people would soon begin to fight shy of the Lloyds. He would see to that. But he mustn't be in a hurry. The information must leak out quietly. Meantime he must get home and talk to his father.

Biting his lips to keep down the rage that boiled within him he went out of the Club grounds to find his car, but before he reached it he heard a voice.

"Mr. Cowell, a word with you, if you please." He turned to see a spare, sharp-featured man coming up behind. With his well cut breeches and smart tweed jacket, he looked like a sporting farmer. He was actually Blackett the local bookmaker.

"I was expecting you yesterday," Blackett said. "You promised to pay at least a part or your debt, but you did not come. You now owe me fifty-two pounds. I want my money."

"Then you'll have to want," Rufus retorted, "I haven't fifty-two shillings at present. And you can't sue me for a gambling debt." An ugly gleam showed in Blackett's slate-coloured eyes but his voice was not raised as he replied.

"That is true. But there are several things I can do, Mr. Cowell. I can speak to your father and I can inform the management at the dog track. I can make things decidedly uncomfortable for you and I shall certainly do so." Rufus realised that once more his temper had betrayed him.

"Curse it all, Blackett!" he exclaimed, "why must you come and tackle me just when I'm almost out of my mind with worry? Of course I shall pay you. I always have in the past. I fully expected to have the money and a good deal more a couple of days ago. But my creditor has failed me and I'm stony. Give me another fortnight and charge me interest if you want to."

Blackett was silent. It was true he had had a good deal of money out of Rufus in the past but always with trouble to get it. He disliked Rufus intensely and would be glad to see the last of him as a client. On the other hand he did not want to lose fifty pounds odd.

"Very well," he said at last. "Four weeks from today. But if you don't pay up then you will know what to expect."

"I'll pay," Rufus snapped and turned to his car.

As he turned a man paused, also on his way to the car park. Rufus recognised him as Crispin's friend. Dick Kynaston, and knew that he must have overheard a part at least of the altercation with Blackett, but apparently he did not even see Rufus, which was one more stab to the latter's wounded vanity.

If Rufus had hoped for, or expected sympathy from his father he was sadly mistaken.

"You mean to say you told Alison that Lloyd was Kerswake," the latter exclaimed angrily when Rufus had finished his story.

"I told her that young Lloyd was son of an ex-convict. That was all."

"Enough, too!" growled the elder man. "If you get a bit of useful information you must blurt it out and waste it. Now Alison will warn him and, like as not, there'll be a suit for libel."

"But it's true!" cried Rufus in dismay.

"Only half true. John Kerswake went to prison. That's true enough. But he never was a convict and he got a King's Pardon. If the Lloyds sue they'll likely get five hundred or even a thousand damages. And you'll pay, Rufus, or go to quod."

For a second time in the course of an afternoon Rufus Cowell was so staggered that he could find nothing to say.


DICK KYNASTON drove back to Roseworthy for tea and found Crispin just from the farm. With his father laid up, Crispin had little time for tennis. After tea the two sat on the step, smoking. As usual, their talk turned upon the missing gold. Crispin had already told Dick of his visit with Alison to Fammers and their encounter with Bert Spinner and Moat.

"It's a pity she meddled with the gold," said Dick.

"She thought herself justified," Crispin answered quickly.

"I know that, but the fact remains that it's gone. Listen, Crispin. Did you tell Alison that you were Crispin Kerswake?"

"I couldn't until I had asked dad. I told her that Kerswake was a relative and had left the stuff to us." He paused and frowned. "I wish I knew what had become of it. Alison is awfully upset at its disappearance. What do you think?"

"At first I was betting on Rufus. Now I know better. As I left the tennis club and went round to the car park there were Rufus and Blackett having a fine row. Blackett was dunning him and Rufus was in a flaming rage."

"You listened?"

"You bet I listened and got what our American friends call an 'earful.' At first Rufus swore he wouldn't pay. Blackett threatened to post him at the Stadium and Rufus sang small. He said he had been expecting a lot of money 'from a creditor' but had been disappointed. In the end Blackett gave him a month to pay." Crispin leaned forward eagerly.

"That must mean that Rufus expected to get the gold and missed it somehow Then it is Spinner who had it, or this mysterious interloper, Moat."

"It looks like it," Dick agreed. Crispin frowned again.

"Yet they couldn't have known of its existence," he argued.

"They could have stumbled on it. They had plenty of time, seeing that Spinner owns the house."

"That's another puzzle," Crispin said. "Why did Spinner buy Fammers? He's no farmer and the land is no earthly use. All sand and gravel."

"Prout says he is going to plant it with trees."

"Prout gives you a lot of information."

"He's not the only one," said Dick with a grin. "I've been earning my keep, talking to all and sundry. And 'they du talk, these Devonsheer folk.'" Crispin chuckled.

"Talk to you, you old humbug. I can't get it out of them like you do."

"You're busy and I'm loafing. But honestly, Crispin, I'm keen to recover that gold. As much for Alison's sake as yours. I know just how she feels about it." Crispin shrugged.

"I'm afraid it's pretty hopeless, If Spinner or Moat have it we'll never hear of it again."

"I'm not so sure. You can't sell ancient British ornaments so easily."

"They'd hammer it up and let it go for its weight in bullion."

"Moat might but not Spinner. Spinner is educated and knows its worth ten times as much in its original form." He got up. "Can I borrow your bike. I want some exercise before supper."

"Take it, old son, but watch out! Brakes are not too good."

Dick pushed off. His idea was to go to Skardon, see Alison and talk to her about the gold, but on his way through Newton he saw something which changed his plans. Spinner and Moat getting out of a car and going into the Bull. He decided that the chance was too good to waste and that he would have a look at Fammers.

It was dusk when he reached the place, a quiet gray evening— so quiet that he could hear the small waves splashing on the beach below.

There was plenty of light to find his way into the house; he got in by a window at the back, of which Crispin had told him, and the first thing he did was to visit the kitchen and examine the brick oven. He was amused to find that it was being used as a cupboard. In it were two bottles of whisky, a siphon of soda and some glasses. Being careful not to move these, he felt in the flue and made certain that there was no hollow or crevice into which the parcel of gold ornaments might have fallen.

Dick then went all round the lower rooms but they were empty except for a few old packing cases, so he climbed the stairs and explored the upper part of the house. The rooms were bare and desolate, the plaster cracking from the walls and the whole atmosphere of the place seemed to him to be uncomfortable. Though Dick Kynaston had never troubled his head about such matters no doubt he was slightly psychic. He turned to come down and was at the head of the stairs, when he heard steps below, then a voice.

"Get the drinks, Bert. This place gives me the willies."

A light shone at the foot of the stairs, and Dick cursed under his breath. This was Moat, and, with him, Spinner. Dick was trapped. He tip-toed into the nearest room and stood behind the open door.

He heard Spinner go into the kitchen and return. There was a clink of glasses and a sound of voices, but the men spoke in such low tones that, strain his ears as he might, he could not distinguish a single word of what they were saying.

Minutes dragged by, and the cloudy evening turned to darkness, and still the whispers went on and on. Dick grew more and more annoyed. Already he was late for supper. He moved softly across to the window, but it was closed and he dared not risk opening it, for the ancient sash would certainly creak. There was nothing for it but to wait until the men had gone. One good thing—they did not show any sign of coming upstairs.

The last of the daylight had disappeared when at length he heard them move. Dick sighed with relief as he heard them pass out through the front door, but he stayed where he was. He would have to wait until they were off the premises before he followed.

He heard the purr of a self-starter and started downstairs. It was very dark, but he dared not use his flash. He groped his way to the window by which he had entered, opened it, and slipped out over the sill. The cool night air was delightful after the stuffy atmosphere of the upstairs room, and he took a long deep breath. Then before he had moved a single step, two men flung themselves upon him.

The surprise was complete. Down he went flat on his back. A heavy man was kneeling on his chest.

"Shine the light, Bert: Let's see who the blighter is!"

A torchlight flashed in his face almost blinding him.

"Who the devil is he?" growled Moat.

"Lloyd's friend, Kynaston," Spinner answered.

"Then Rufus was right. He's a Government man."


DICK KYNASTON did not understand what was meant by calling him "a Government man," But meantime Moat was tying him up with the swift skill of a sailor, and Spinner stood over him, looking down at him malevolently.

Moat finished the job and stood up.

"He knows too much," he said, frowning. "What are we going to do with him, Bert?" Spinner's small hard mouth tightened cruelly.

"Yes, he knows too much. He'll have to go abroad." Moat nodded.

"But we ain't sailing till Saturday. What'll we do with him meanwhile?"

"Put him down below. He'll be safe enough even if they do search the place But the odds are no one knows where he's gone."

"What about young Lloyd? He was here the other night."

"He'll never find him," Spinner snapped. "Help me shift him."

Dick was not enjoying the situation at all. It dawned on him that these fellows must be smugglers, and thought he was a Customs officer. They were going to ship him off abroad and would probably be very careful he didn't come back. They might even dump him overboard on the way across. He was in a bad hole and saw no way out of it.

He thought of Crispin sitting at home and wondering why he was not back for supper, and wished most heartily that he had told him of his destination.

"I can carry him," said Moat. "Help me get him on my back." He stooped and lifted Dick. Spinner was bending down to help when Dick heard a slight sound.

"Look out!" yelled Spinner, and they were the last words he said before a solid flat landed on his jaw and sent him flat on the floor.

Moat dropped Dick who fell to the boards with a thump that knocked the breath out of him. There was a crash, a clatter of broken glass. The lamp went flying and the room was plunged into complete darkness. Someone made a rush, fell over Dick and came down on hands and knees. Then the door slammed and silence succeeded the din.

"Dick! Where are you?" It was Crispin's voice.

"Here, on the floor Gad! you weigh something!"

"Lucky for you, old son," Crispin said. "I hope I haven't killed Spinner." He flashed a torch. "Hulloa! he's gone!"

"Moat's carried him off. No, it's no use chivvying them, Crispin. They have a car outside." Dick got shakily to his feet. "You came in the nick of time, old man. They were going to ship me off. They think I'm a Customs officer." Crispin grunted and blew on his bruised knuckles.

"What were you doing here, you old ass?" he demanded.

"Just having a look round, but how did you find me?"

"I knew you were doing the detective act, and guessed you'd come here. When you didn't turn up for supper I took the car and came along."

"I'm a rotten detective," said Dick disgustedly, "but it beats me how they spotted me. I was lying doggo upstairs and waited till I heard them leaving. But they were waiting and jumped me."

"You left some trace below here. I'll lay you looked in the oven."

"I did and it had whisky in it."

"Then you can bet your life they'd put a bit of stamp paper on the door," said Crispin at they went out to his car. They lashed the bicycle on the carrier and drove off.

"Caught like a kid," grumbled Dick who was sore about the whole business. Crispin laughed.

"Don't worry. If you didn't find the gold you got some useful information."

"How do you mean?"

"I mean they're up to something illegal or they wouldn't be so scared. I'm certain it's smuggling. That's why Spinner has bought Fammers. It's ideal for his purpose—right on the sea."

"What do we do about it?" Dick asked.

"Nothing—yet. We've no proof. But it'll keep 'em in a stew." Crispin added with a laugh. Dick looked solemn.

"I'm not happy about that. They're a dangerous couple and wouldn't stick at much Crispin, you'd better not go wandering around at night, alone. I'm jolly sure that Spinner won't easily forgive that knock-out you gave him. A man like that can do things that wouldn't occur to you or me." He was so serious that Crispin was impressed.

"All right, Dick," he said. "I'll watch my step." As he spoke he turned the car into the drive. "And now for supper. If you're as hungry as I you'll need some."

After supper Crispin sat a while with his father. Mr. Lloyd's leg was mending nicely and would soon be in plaster. Crispin told him of the events of the evening and was rather surprised when his father echoed Dick's warning. He promised to be careful, then asked outright if his father had any objection to his telling Alison the whole truth about the finding of the gold ornaments and the unpleasant consequences. Mr. Lloyd considered a moment, then spoke.

"You can tell Alison. I believe her to be absolutely trustworthy." He paused then went on. "Crispin, you admire that girl."

"More than that, dad," replied Crispin quietly. "I'm very deeply in love with her." The other nodded.

"Then all I'll say it 'Good luck.' If I don't misjudge her, my trouble will not turn her from you. But it's only right for you to tell her the whole story." Crispin was silent for a little and his voice was not quite steady when at last he spoke.

"I've often thanked God I had such a father. I do it again now." Then he turned and left the room.


THE first thing Crispin thought of as he woke next morning was that he was going to see Alison. Dick looked at him as he came in to breakfast.

"No need to ask where you're going," he remarked drily but Crispin only laughed and turned to his letters. He read one and looked up.

"Here's an invitation for a day's fishing. Chap called Curtis has sent me a complimentary ticket for a day on the Strane, says, if I like it, perhaps I'll join the Club."

"You'd better go, Crispin," Dick said. "I know you're keen."

"Wish I could but there's too much to do now dad's laid up. I couldn't take a whole day."

"Nonsense! I'll take charge. Chowne and I will manage fine."

"Think you could?" Crispin was hesitating.

"You bet I can. I mean it, Crispin. What day's the ticket for?"

"Friday next."

"Then you jolly well go. You can tell me exactly what to do and, if I'm in any bother, I'll go to your father."

"You're a brick, Dick," said Crispin with real gratitude. "I haven't had a day's fishing this season and I'll enjoy every minute of it." He began on his bacon and sausages. Not even the prospect of his call on Alison spoilt his healthy appetite.

"I shouldn't say too much about last night," Dick remarked presently. "Miss Dane doesn't scare easily but she might be nervous if she thought those two were after you." Crispin nodded.

"No need to mention it. I've got dad's leave to tell her the whole story of the gold." He rose from his chair.

"Best of luck, Crispin," said Dick with a twinkle in his eyes. Crispin got rather red.

"This is just a business interview," he protested.

"Quite so," said Dick drily. "Off you go."

When Crispin arrived at Skardon he was relieved to see Alison in the garden. Relieved because this saved him from calling at the house and perhaps running into old Burt whom so far he had not met.

Alison looked up as he came in at the gate and Crispin saw a look of surprise cross her face. But next moment a smile of welcome lighted her brilliant eyes. She wore a short tweed skirt, woollen stockings, and serviceable brogues. The sleeves of her pale blue blouse were rolled up showing her beautifully-moulded arms. Her head was bare and the spring sunlight, dappled by the new green of the trees overhead played on her fair hair, bringing out those golden gleams which Crispin admired so greatly. She was so lovely that Crispin could only gaze.

"What's the matter, Crispin?" she asked as she pulled off her loose gardening glove to shake hands.

"If you don't know you ought to," replied Crispin. "Just looking at you makes me forget everything else." Colour rose to her clear cheeks but she laughed.

"You didn't drive over at this hour just to talk nonsense, Crispin, You have something to tell me."

"You are right. I have." He glanced round. "But I can't talk here right in front of the house." Alison raised her eyebrows.

"Important as all that, is it?" she chaffed. "Come to the summer-house." She led the way to a little thatched arbour sheltered by a clump of evergreens. "Will this do?" she asked.

"Famously." He paused and Alison glancing at him saw that his expression was serious. She sat silent.

"Alison," he said presently, "I have a confession to make and it's not easy. You remember our talk the other day? I told you then that the John Kerslake who dug up the gold ornaments on this farm was a relative and had left us the gold. That was only half the truth. John Kerslake is—my father."

He paused and looked at his companion. To his astonishment she showed no sign of surprise.

"I knew that," she answered.

"You knew it—what—guessed it."

"No. Rufus Cowell told me."

"Rufus! How the devil—?" Alison raised her hand.

"He went up to Exeter and spent a whole day there. I think he must have found out then." Crispin drew a quick breath.

"You are right. He must have got hold of Adrian Hart."

"Who is Adrian Hart?"

"Son of the warder whose life my father saved."

"Yet he gave you away to Rufus," exclaimed Alison.

"He hates me. Listen, Alison, I'll tell you the whole story."

He told it and told it well. He made no bones about letting Alison know of his short engagement to Irene Carnwarth and was secretly relieved that she listened calmly but with evident interest.

"Then Miss Carnwarth didn't accept this Adrian Hart?" she interrupted.

"He's the last man she would marry. She has social ambitions."

"I wonder if she isn't sorry she turned you down," Alison remarked looking speculatively at Crispin. Crispin reddened and Alison laughed.

"I don't think you have social ambitions, Crispin."

"None at all. I'd like to be a good farmer and perhaps some day get on the County Council." She nodded approvingly.

"Those are good ambitions, I'm sure you will realise them." Crispin looked at her. Never had he seen any girl so lovely, so utterly desirable. And his feeling for her was not physical only. He knew that her mind was as fine as her body. Even when age had robbed her of her outward charms that lovely soul would remain.

He pulled himself up short.

"I like to hear you say that, Alison. But there's no getting out of it. I am son of a man who has been in prison for a serious offence. The fact that he was never guilty of that offence doesn't count."

"It does with me," said Alison softly.

"Alison!" Crispin's voice was suddenly harsh, "Don't tempt me." She smiled at him.

"Perhaps I want to. After all, Crispin, I owe you something for losing your gold."

"Alison—you care?"

"Do you think I should say what I have said if I didn't?" she answered gently.

If she had meant to say anything more she hadn't the chance, for Crispin's arms were round her and his lips on hers.

A long minute passed before she freed herself gently. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes shining. With an instinctive gesture she smoothed her ruffled hair.

"So that's what it's like?" she said as if to herself. She looked up at Crispin. "You see I haven't had your experience, my dear," she told him with a smile that robbed the words of their sting. Crispin flushed.

"It's the same with me, Alison," he assured her earnestly. "I know now that I was never in love with Irene. She was very smart, very good-looking and in her way clever. But even then I used to wonder if we should be happy if we married."

"I'm not smart," said Alison thoughtfully, "and I don't think I'm clever except with flowers and such things. Do you think you will be able to put up with me, Crispin."

"You are yourself," Crispin answered. "There is no one like you. I am the proudest man alive today and I shall he proud of you always, so long as we live—and afterwards."

He saw tears in her eyes and kissed them away.

The two were so utterly taken up with one another that neither of them saw a lean woman in a print dress crossing the lawn towards them. She saw them in one another's arms and a sour smile parted the thin lips of Eliza Minch.

"So that's the way of it," she said to herself. "I wonder what Rufus Cowell will say when he comes to hear."

She turned and went silently back to the house.


ELIZA MINCH had no love for Rufus Cowell. The man was of the sort who may achieve a certain popularity with his equals but who do not think it worth while to cultivate those whom they consider their inferiors. Eliza had never had a civil word from him so she experienced a certain grim satisfaction as she sat down to write a letter which should inform him of the engagement between Crispin and Alison.

The letter was short, it was written in carefully printed characters and it was not signed. Eliza walked all the way to the village to post it and, though the day was hot and her feet sore, she did not grudge these discomforts. The one thing she did regret was that she could not be present when the letter was received.

Rufus had it at breakfast next morning and the effects were all that Eliza could have hoped for. He flung it down with an oath that made his father stiffen.

"Another dun, I suppose," the elder Cowell remarked sarcastically.

"Read it!" retorted Rufus, flinging it across.

The old man read it and scowled.

"Anonymous," he said. "But probably true."

"It's that old Eliza Minch," suggested Rufus. His father looked at the letter again. He nodded.

"She ought to know. I told you how it would be Rufus. I told you to go warily, to pay attention to the girl and to keep that temper of yours under control. But not you. Now you've lost her."

He spoke bitterly. It had always been his intention that his son should marry Alison Dane. Her looks and breed were beyond those of any other girl in the country-side, and there was her money, too. In every way she was a most desirable daughter-in-law.

Rufus glared.

"Don't be too sure. Anyhow Lloyd won't have her." His father looked hard at him.

"How are you going to stop him?" he asked.

Rufus opened his lips to speak, then checked himself.

"She'll never marry the son of a man who has been convicted of swindling," he answered lamely.

"But you've told her that already, and it hasn't stopped her getting engaged to him."

"You'd better mind your step, Rufus. If you try anything outside the law I'll disown you. And if you make any scandal which stops my getting what I'm after you needn't expect another penny from me." Rufus pulled himself together and managed a laugh.

"I'm too fond of my own skin to do anything silly. Tell me, what are you doing about the mortgage on Skardon? The other frowned. He had not forgotten old Burt's defiance.

"I'm foreclosing," he answered curtly.

"How soon?"

"At once. But what I shall do with that run-down land I don't know."

"I will take it over. If you'll stock it I'll live there and farm it." Cowell grinned sourly.

"Are you thinking that'll make Alison love you?"

"Never mind that. Will you let me have the place?"

"I'll see," replied the other and brushing the crumbs from his waistcoat, he got up and left the room.

Next morning Daniel Burt received a lawyer's letter to say that, since the interest on the mortgage remained unpaid Mr. Cowell intended to foreclose. Alison was away. Her aunt in Brixham was not well, and Alison had gone to her for the night. Eliza was in the room and saw the leaden hue that came upon the old man's face.

"What's the matter, Mr Burt?" she asked quickly. "Bad news?"

"As bad as can be," was the answer. "Cowell's turning me out."

Eliza came closer. Daniel Burt was not an attractive man, especially in his old age. Yet Alison's mother had liked him and so did Eliza Minch. Possibly he was the only person for whom Eliza had any real affection.

"Tell me, Mr Burt," she said in a curiously gentle voice.

The old man told her. He told her everything—how Aaron Cowell had suggested the plot against John Kerswake on the promise that he would share the proceeds of the sale of the Treasure Trove and how, ever since then, he had blackmailed him, until now he had the whip hand. Eliza listened keenly.

"But I don't understand, Mr. Burt," she said at last. "Aaron Cowell was the guilty one. He'd have got into trouble same as you if the story had come out." Burt shook his grey bead.

"He was too clever for me. He took care there should be no proof against himself. Not a word of writing—no witness. If it came out it's I would go to prison."

Eliza was silent. She was conscience-stricken for she believed that her unsigned letter to Rufus had precipitated this disaster.

"We shall have to go," Burt said. "At least I'll have to go. They might keep you on as care-taker."

"What—me! Work for Aaron Cowell! I'd sooner starve." She paused, then spoke again. "How much money do you need to pay the interest?"

"There's nearly four hundred owing in interest, to say nothing of the principal."

"You could stay on here if you paid the interest."

"For a year anyhow and I'm thinking that would see me out. I haven't a long time to live."

"Don't talk like that. You're only sixty-four. You'll stay here, Mr. Burt, and outlive that there Aaron Cowell."

Burt stared at her. It was in his mind that she was going to offer him her savings but, before he could find words, she was out of the room.

In less than two minutes she was back carrying one of those small cheap imitation leather attaché cases. She laid it on the table beside him, opened it and took out a small, heavy parcel. She peeled away the paper and the morning sunlight falling through the tall window behind them showed a great collar of dull yellow metal and two bracelets of similar metal set with glimmering green stones.

Burt stared as if he could not believe his eyes.

"The torque," he got out at last. "The same Kerswake found. Can't be anything else."

"That's what it is," replied Eliza firmly. "And all yours to do as you like with. Looks to me there's gold enough there to pay off that interest and a bit more." Burt still gazed at the massive ornaments.

"They're worth a deal of money," he said slowly, then looked up at Eliza. "How did you get 'em?" he asked sharply.

"That was easy," Eliza said. "Alison found them, I don't know how or where but I saw her bring in a parcel which she seemed to set store by for she locked it up in her writing table drawer. That same evening after supper I saw her leaving the house and she was carrying something in a bag, and it was heavy. So I followed.

"She walked over to that old haunted place, Fammers. I watched her go inside, she went into the kitchen and put the parcel inside the old brick oven. I could see plainly for she was using a torch. After she'd gone I slipped in and had a look. She'd hid it in the flue. The minute I opened it I knew what it was for I was here when Kerswake found it.

"So I thinks to myself, this don't belong to Alison and I'll take charge of it—and there it is," she ended abruptly. Burt looked up at her.

"It's worth a lot of money," he repeated. "I wonder you didn't keep it, Eliza," She tossed her head.

"Maybe I would if you hadn't have needed it. But you take it, Mr. Burt, and sell it and pay off that Cowell."

"I'll do it," said Burt with sudden decision. "I know a man in Plymouth who'll give me value for it. I'll go to-day by the twelve o'clock train from Newton. Go down to the post office Eliza, and telephone for a taxi."

"You ain't going alone!" Eliza exclaimed.

"I certainty am. And if anyone asks say that I've gone to Plymouth to see a lawyer."


WHEN Eliza got back to the house her employer was ready and waiting. Eliza stared. The old man who for days had been humped in his armchair, looking like death, was now dressed in his Sunday best. He had shaved, his boots were well shined he seemed to be three inches taller and ten years younger.

"I'd hardly know you," Eliza got out.

"There's others won't know me when I've got this money Eliza." He lowered his voice. "When Alison comes back tell her I had a letter from Hawkins in Plymouth, asking me to come and see him about a loan. I'll be back for supper. Here's the taxi. I'll get along."

He got along with the result that he reached Newton twenty minutes before train time. The morning was warm and Burt, who had been too excited to eat much breakfast, decided that a glass of beer and a sandwich would not be amiss. He went into the refreshment room and there in a corner sat Rufus talking to French, the Monkswell cattle-dealer.

Rufus saw Burt out of the tail of his eye and got a shock. Not much of the news of the neighbourhood escaped him and he heard that Alison's stepfather had become a complete invalid. What then was he doing here in his best clothes and carrying an attaché case? He must be going to Plymouth but what for?

In a flash he decided to discover the reason. His natural cunning came to his rescue, and he sat tight. Burt, who was now at the counter, had not seen him and was not likely to for he was short-sighted and the long room was full of people.

Rufus finished his drink, made an excuse to French and slipped out on to the platform where he bought a ticket and then took up a position in a corner beyond the news stand.

The train came in on time and Rufus watched Burt into a third class compartment in the front portion. He himself got into a compartment a little way back and presently the train moved westward toward Plymouth.

Rufus had no newspaper. He did not want one. He had not a glance for the great, splendid Dartmoor tors rolling up to the right; all his thoughts were for Daniel Burt and that satchel he carried. He had noticed that the old man had never let it out of his grasp for a moment. Even when he was drinking his beer and eating his sandwich he had not laid it down. There was something very valuable in it.

Rufus's brain was quick and the very first thing that had come into his mind was that this case held the gold.

Alison had found the torque. Of that he was certain. He remembered her first visit to Fammers, of which Spinner had spoken, and he himself had been there when she and Crispin came again. It was easy to put two and two together. Alison had hidden the gold at Fammers but her stepfather had watched her and found it. All this business of pretending to be an invalid had been put on just to avoid suspicion.

Burt had been lying low, waiting his chance to sell the stuff. Now that he had had definite notice of foreclosure he was off to Plymouth to get what he could for the ornaments.

The train roared through Ivybridge. Plymouth was only a few miles away. With every mile Rufus grew more and more determined to get hold of the gold. It meant everything to him. If Blackett failed to get his money at the end of the month he would certainly carry out his threats and Rufus would be not only disgraced but ruined.

The question which racked his brain was how to get the case away from Burt. Rufus was not cut out for the snatch-and-grab act. Besides he must manage so that no suspicion attached to him. If old Burt caught even a glimpse of him that would he fatal.

He was still without any kind of a plan when the train slowed into North Road Station. He was now alone for the last two passengers in his compartment had got out at Ivybridge. He watched breathlessly to see if Burt got out.

He did not; he was going on to Millbay, the town terminus, Thankful for even five minutes respite, Rufus dropped back into his seat.

Millbay is low-roofed and rather dark. An excursion train had just come in from Cornwall and the platform was crowded. The roof was being painted and scaffolding increased the jam. Rufus saw Burt get out and followed him.

The old man walked slowly. He was more feeble than Rufus had thought. Rufus was close behind him when Burt stumbled over a suitcase lying on the platform.

Rufus, desperate seized the chance. He deliberately bumped into Burt. Burt lost his balance and fell heavily. As he fell he dropped the case.

In a flash Rufus stooped and grabbed it. Next moment he was lost in the crowd.


CRISPIN LLOYD, although deep in the joys of an accepted lover and thrilled by the brave manner in which Alison Dane had taken his full story of the unhappy chapter in his father's past, had not forgotten that invitation to a day's fishing on the River Strane. It promised a quiet, contemplative day in which he could inwardly gloat over his new happiness, and think out the means by which he should vindicate his father, outwit the Burts and Cowells, and prove to Alison that her faith in him was not misplaced.

So that when the morning of his day of fishing arrived Crispin was eager for the promised sports; yet so much in love and the thoughts of love that whether it was "fisherman's weather" or not did not trouble him at all. It was his friend whose first impulse was to look out of the bedroom window, and bring his mind back to earth, or rather to angling prospects.

"Crispin, I'll lay you two to one in half-crowns you don't get a dozen takeable trout to-day." Crispin, who was packing rod, landing net, creel and other gear into the back of his car, looked up at the cloudless sky.

"Sky's bright and I expect the water's bright, too. Still I'll take you, Then I'll feel I have to stick to it." He got into the car. "So long. Be back about eight."

He drove off and presently climbing through steep, winding, high-banked lanes where quantities of dog roses glowed pink in the early sunlight. He left his car at the little hotel at Tamerford, put his rod together and walked down to the river.

The Strane is small, but carries a good head of water. It winds along the bottom of a valley, broad at first, but narrowing until it becomes a wall sided gorge through which the river tumbles in roaring falls and deep black pools down from the High Moor.

There had been no rain for some days and, as Crispin had expected, the river was low; but there was a pale straw colour in the deeper pools and here and there a trout was rising.

Crispin prepared to enjoy himself. He was feeling amazingly fit and intensely happy. Ever since Alison had promised herself to him, life had been a different thing. To-day she had rung him up to wish him luck in his day's fishing, and even a young man as deeply in love as Crispin can enjoy a day's trout fishing. That is, if he is a fisherman, as Crispin was.

Crispin walked into a shallow and began casting across the pool above. A fish rose but came short. He waited a little, tried again and hooked a merry little six ouncer.

It was not easy fishing. The breeze was tricky, sometimes right down stream, but the difficulties made it all the more enjoyable. Sometimes he tried half a dozen pools in succession without a rise, yet by midday he had seven takeable trout and it looked as if his bet was safe.

By this time it had turned hot and the breeze had died out. Crispin found a shady spot and, seating himself on a mossy boulder opened up his packet of lunch and enjoyed tongue sandwiches and a big slice of home-made cake. He washed this down with a tot of whisky from his flask, diluted with water from the brook, and lit a pipe. He was just tired enough to enjoy a rest.

When he began to fish again there was no wind at all and he changed his cast of two wet files for a small dry fly. But the rise seemed to be over and the air felt almost sultry.

Some men would have called it a day and gone home, but not Crispin. There was the possibility of an evening rise and he meant to have the full dozen and Dick's five-bob. The sunlight dimmed and suddenly there was a splash of rain. Crispin found shelter under an overhanging bank and watched the big drops thrash the bubbling pool.

He was delighted for after the shower there would surely be a rise. While he sheltered he took off the dry fly and restored the leash of wet flies. The cloud swept past, the air was clear again and cooler. A light breeze sprang up. In the very next pool he hooked a strong half-pounder and netted it neatly, and a few hundred yards further up took his ninth trout.

No doubt now about the basket. He was wading up a broad stickle towards a most enticing pool with a deep eddy under the far bank when a voice came front above.

"Can 'ee give us a hand, master? I got a pony stugged in the mire, and her'll be dead if her bain't got out pretty soon."

The speaker was a sturdily built moor farmer. He had a squarish, weather-beaten face and clear blue eyes. His boots and gaiters were covered with black mire and his arms from which the sleeves were rolled back, were equally black. Crispin did not hesitate. He climbed up the bank to where the man stood.

"I don't know much about your Devonshire mires," he said, "but I'll do anything I can. Is it far?"

"Bain't far," answered the man, pointing, "but it be a terrible bad place." He paused a moment, then added: "I be sorry to spoil your sport."

"Don't think of it," said Crispin quickly as he struck the spear of his rod into the ground and shed his creel.

The farmer led the way up stream and on the way told Crispin that his name was Mead and his place was Clatworthy Farm. They came to a hollow under the hill and here was a patch of bog, a mere pocket not more than 10 paces across. In it lay a moor pony stugged to its belly, helpless, exhausted, gazing up with terrified eyes.

"My son be sway to Taverton," Mead told Crispin, "and this be a two-man job. I been up to the house and got a rope but her be too heavy for me to shift.

"Tell me what to do and I'll do it," said Crispin.

Mead explained that the first job was to cut bundles of heather on which they could walk out to the pony. He had brought a hook and Crispin had a sheath knife. Luckily there was plenty of heather, yet it took a long time to get enough to give a foothold and, even then, the job of getting the rope round the poor little beast's body was a hard and dirty one.

Hardest of all was the struggle to hoist the pony out and, if both men had not been more than ordinarily strong, they would never have done it.

When at last the pony was safe on firm ground, Crispin was so done he dropped to the ground and lay, breathing hard. Mead was deeply grateful.

"Come up to the house, Mister Lloyd, and missus'll give 'ee a pot of tea. Do 'ee a pile o' good." Crispin looked at the sun, which was getting low.

"I have to get three more trout," he told Mead, "and be home by eight."

"I'll show 'ee where to get 'em," Mead answered. "And I'll lend 'ee a pony to ride back to Tamerford." Crispin laughed and picked himself up.

"Then I'm your man," he said. "Let's go."


MR. MEAD was a capital cook and Crispin won her heart by declaring that he had never tasted anything to touch her tough cakes, Devonshire cream and whortleberry jam. Actually he had rarely enjoyed a meal more than this tea at Clatworthy eaten in the ancient low-ceiling kitchen.

The Meads were real old fashioned Moor folk, shy as a rule with strangers but the best of friends when they take to a visitor. Crispin found himself telling them all about Roseworthy, and he even confided to Mrs Mead that he was engaged to Alison Dane. Mrs Mead, who had met Alison in the market and, like everyone else, loved her, was delighted.

"You two will surely make a handsome couple," she declared so warmly that Crispin got quite red. Then suddenly he jumped up.

"Mr Mead, I have three trout to catch and it's six o'clock."

"Don't 'ee worry I'll show 'ee where the big uns be," Mead answered as he got up and put on his hat. Crispin shook hands with Mrs Mead and told her he was coming back someday for another tea.

"You come in any time you'm a mind to," was her answer and Crispin knew she meant every word. He picked up his rod and followed Mead.

Mead took him up stream and Crispin found himself on the rim of a forty-foot cliff with the river roaring below.

"What's the good of this?" he asked sharply. "I can't get down there?"

"Don't 'ee fret," Mead answered equably, "I'll show 'ee the way down." He went on and presently they came to a great split in the cliff, a gorge running at right angles to the main cliff.

The sides of this were steep, but Mead started down and Crispin found no difficulty in following. In a few minutes they were standing at the edge of a great black pool quite fifty yards long where the water bubbled and swirled under the drive of the heavy stickle at the top. And all along the near side ran a ledge of rock, narrow yet wide enough for any active person to find footing.

"Man alive, I never saw a more perfect pool in my life!" cried Crispin.

"I thought her'd please 'ee," said Mead. "There bain't many has fished it and I tell 'ee there's trout there half as long as my arm. Now I got to go back for the milking but, when you've done, you come to the house and there'll be a pony ready for 'ee."

Left alone, Crispin got to work at once and at his second cast was into a fish which took the line whirring off his reel. The light rod bent almost double and Crispin was thrilled to the marrow as he realized that he had hooked a fish that probably weighed as much as the whole nine he had already in his creel.

It leaped and the pale light glistened on a great silvery creature a foot and a half in length. It was a peal, sea trout, weighing well over three pounds. For fully fifteen minutes Crispin fought the fury until at last its strength was exhausted and he was able to slip his net under it and lift it out on to the ledge. He killed it and was stooping over it, admiring it's beautiful shape and colour when something—he never knew whether it was a slight sound or an actual presentiment of danger—made him look up.

He had a glimpse of a great dark mass falling directly upon him and instinctively leaped sideways. There was a crash like a bursting shell, something hit him on the side of the head and down he went, half in the water, half out.

Almost at the same time that Crispin dropped on the ledge, stunned and unconscious, Alison Dane drove up to the front door of Roseworthy. Dick saw her and hurried out.

"Is Crispin back?" she asked quickly and Dick saw that she was troubled.

"Not yet. We expect him about eight. What's the matter, Alison?"

"My step-father went to Plymouth by the twelve train. He ordered a taxi to meet him at Newton Station at five. He hasn't turned up."

"He went to Plymouth!" Dick exclaimed. "I'd no idea he was fit to travel."

"He was not. He would never have gone if I had been at home. I'm very troubled, Dick, and Eliza is frantic."

"Do you know why he went?"

"I do. Eliza has told me. She gave him the gold ornaments and he went to sell them so as to pay Cowell." Dick whittled softly.

"So Eliza had had them all this time and now someone has seen your father with them and robbed him. I'll lay it was Rufus," he added.

"That's what I think. Rufus was in Newton this morning. I inquired on my way through."

"Did you ring up Plymouth?"

"No. Both boxes at the station were occupied so I came straight on."

"Then I'll do it at once. Come in and sit down. Let me give you a glass of sherry."

"Ring first, please," Alison begged "The poor old man may be hurt or even dead."

Dick got busy at once. He rang up the Plymouth police, he described Burt and asked if there was any news of him.

There was a long delay then at last a sergeant spoke.

"Mr Burt is in the Millbay Hospital. He had a fall in Millbay Station just after the arrival of the 1:10 train. The hospital authorities discovered his identity from his pocket book and tried to ring up his home but apparently his house is not on the telephone. They have therefore communicated with the Newton Abbot police who promised to send word to Mr Burt's house at Skardon."

"Is he badly hurt?" Dick asked.

"You must ring up the hospital, please. I will give you the number." Dick got the hospital but again there was delay before the matron could come to the phone.

"He is not badly hurt," she told Dick, "but he has had a severe shock and is in a very weak state. He was unconscious for some hours. It will be well for any relative to come to him as soon as possible."

"Tell me, please," Dick asked, "whether he had any suitcase or bag with him."

"Nothing of that sort, but he has been asking about a small case which he was carrying. Its loss seems to have upset him very greatly." Dick thanked her.

"Miss Dane, Mr Burt's stepdaughter is here," he said. "She will come over first thing in the morning." He hung up.

"Alison, you must stay the night here and Crispin will drive you over in the morning." Alison was looking at the clock.

"It's nearly nine, Dick. What has become of Crispin?"


IT is a nasty business coming round after being knocked out. It took Crispin several ugly moments before he realized where he was or what had happened. Then he hauled himself up out of the water and stood on the ledge.

His head was still spinning and, feeling it gingerly, he found a large lump just above his left ear. He realized what had happened. A huge boulder had fallen from the top of the cliff and missed him by a matter of a few feet only. A piece broken from it had hit him and knocked him out. "Fallen"—He looked up.

"That never fell," he said to himself—"not by itself. It was pushed!"

He began to realize that someone had deliberately tried to murder him and his thoughts at once flew to Rufus. He wondered if the fellow was still up at the top there, watching.

Crispin's head was clearing, he was not badly hurt, he had his fish and his rod. The best thing was to get back to Clatworthy and start home. Clouds had again covered the sky and it was going to be a wet night.

Being still giddy Crispin moved cautiously along the ledge. Then all of a sudden he realized that the ledge wasn't there. A large part of it was gone, broken away by the fall of the big rock. The gap was too wide to jump and—another thing Crispin realized with a shock—the river was rising fast. There must have been some thing like a cloud burst on the High Moor.

The water rose steadily. It was creeping over the ledge. It would not be long, half an hour at most, before he was swept off. And there was no swimming to safety through those roaring stickles and heavy falls. Crispin was scared. Who wouldn't have been?

"Hey there! Be that you, Master Lloyd?" No angel's voice could have been more welcome to Crispin than the deep bellow of Farmer Mead.

"I'm stuck," he shouted back. "Rock fell. Ledge broken. Get a rope. Quickly please! The water's rising."

"Hold on; won't be five minutes," came the reply.

Actually it was ten minutes before Mead returned the longest ten minutes Crispin had ever known. The water was nearly up to his knees when Mead shouted again and a rope came dangling down.

"Tie un round 'ee," was the order. "My son, Frank, be with me. Us'll pull 'ee up."

It took doing but Frank was a burly youth of twenty-two, strong as an ox, and between them they got Crispin up. The very first thing Mead said was:

"That rock, her didn't fall by herself."

"I'm sure of that," Crispin agreed grimly "And I think I know who did it. Listen, Mr Mead! The fellow believes I'm done for and I want him to go on thinking it. Here's my idea. I take your pony and ride home in the dark. I leave my car at Tamerford. Then for a day or two I lie low. I think this will give me a better chance of finding out whether or not I'm on the right track."

"You be right, Mr Lloyd. And I hopes as 'ee catches 'um. Now Missus'll wash that cut for 'ee, then 'ee'll have some supper and Frank'll saddle the nag."

It was raining steadily when Crispin started for home, but Mead had made him take a big oilskin; his clothes had been dried and a good meal with two cups of strong tea had given him back his strength. The Moor pony was fresh and ambled steadily down the tough cart track, and Crispin was glad of the darkness which hid him so completely.

It was just on ten when he arrived at Roseworthy. He was out of the saddle before the door opened and Dick hurried out.

"You, Crispin! Thank goodness, you're back. Alison and I have been properly scared."


"Yes, she's here. Things have been happening. She'll tell you. Let me take that beast of yours. I suppose the car's bust."

"Car's all right, Dick. But you're right about things having happened. I've a yarn to spin as well as you."

As Crispin stepped into the house there was Alison. Her cheeks paled as she saw the bandage round his head.

"You're hurt, Crispin."

"Nothing to make a song about, dearest. Really a trifle. I'm so wet and dirty I can't kiss you. I'll run up and change, then I want to hear what's been happening. Dick says there have been doings."

Once in his room, Crispin changed in record time. Coming down he found Alison in the dining-room; she had just brought in some hot soup. She looked at him anxiously.

"Was it the car?" she asked.

"I think it was Rufus," Crispin answered, "But first tell me what brings you here—I've had supper," he added.

"You'll take this soup first," said Alison firmly. Crispin chuckled.

"You're starting right, my dear," he said, and sat down meekly. Dick came in and, while Crispin absorbed his soup, Alison told him of her stepfather's visit to Plymouth and of the robbery of the gold.

"We're almost certain it was Rufus," she ended. "We know he went to Plymouth by the noon train." Crispin looked thoughtful.

"In that case it's somebody else I have to thank for trying to murder me," he remarked. Alison paled again.

"Tried to murder you!" she repeated.

"It's all right, darling. He didn't succeed—as you can see for yourself. I'll tell you all about it."

The absolute silence of his two listeners showed how deeply interested they were in his story. When he reached the point of coming to himself, half in the water, half out. Alison shivered.

"If you'd fallen the other way," she said in a very low voice.

"But I didn't dearest. And Mead and his son came along with a rope and hauled me up the bank. They really are good people. They gave me supper and tied up my head and lent me a horse."

"But why didn't you leave the horse at the inn at Tamerford?" Dick asked. "And come on in your car!"

"Because I want my murderer to think I'm dead," Crispin answered.

"Then if he saw me alive he might get such a shock he'd give himself away." He paused, "But if it wasn't Rufus?" he added lamely.

"It was Spinner," Alison said quickly. "He or Moat." Crispin whistled softly.

"Spinner—yes. I did give him a crack on the jaw. I believe you have the right of it, Alison."

"Alison is right," Dick cut in. "It's not only the smack on the jaw, Crispin. Spinner and Moat both think that we are Government Agents and going to interfere with their smuggling." He paused, then went on, "Question is, what do we do next? It seems to me this business of the gold is most urgent. Rufus has got it. Can we get it back from him?"

"Not a hope," said Crispin. "He'll sell it at once to pay his debts."

"He can't sell it here," Dick declared. "True, there might be someone in Plymouth who'd buy it, but the risks are too great. He'll have to go to London."

"He's probably on his way there already," Crispin said.

"That would turn suspicion on him at once and he knows it. I'm almost sure he won't go to London," Alison shrewdly suggested.

"Then what will he do?" Crispin asked.

"I think," Alison answered, "that he will get someone else to sell it for him. And it seems to me the natural person would be Spinner." The two men looked at one another. Dick brought his fist down on the table with a thump.

"She's right, Crispin, Trust a woman's intuition. She's right."


CRISPIN and Alison were to go to Plymouth in Dick's car, starting very early and keeping off the main road. They were to see Burt, find out what he knew and, if he was fit enough, bring him home. Dick would take Crispin's bicycle and go to Grest where he would hide out and watch the house. If Rufus came out Dick would try to follow him and, if possible, send word to Roseworthy, as to where he had gone.

Crispin and Alison would get back as soon as possible from Plymouth, and Crispin would be ready to help Dick if help was wanted. It was decided not to inform the police, but Dick was to post a man in Newton Station to see if Rufus took a train. This man, who was a cousin of Joe Chowne, would ring up Roseworthy if he saw Rufus.

Rufus was no early riser so Dick waited until the others had left before starting. Even so, it was barely nine o'clock when he found himself lying behind a hedge in a small coppice on rising ground above Grest. He had food in his pocket and tobacco, and was prepared to wait all day, if need be.

Actually he had barely an hour to wait. Then he saw Rufus come out and go to the garage. Dick was close enough to make certain that Rufus was not carrying anything. The gold of course, might be in the car but that was not likely. Rufus got out his car but turned south-west in the direction of Paignton.

"Alison was right," Dick said to himself as he pedalled in pursuit. "He's going to Fammers."

But ride as hard as he might, Dick soon lost sight of the speedy sports car. That, however, did not trouble him greatly for he was convinced that Fammers was Rufus's objective so he made straight for the old house.

Mindful of the trouble he had got into on his last visit, Dick was cautious. No Red Indian could have crept up more quietly than he. But his trouble was in vain. There was no one to be seen about the place and the fact that a covey of young partridges was feeding in what had formerly been the garden made him certain that the house was empty.

He retreated a little, sat on a log and smoked a cigarette. Rufus had come in this direction; it wasn't likely he had gone to Skardon, so what was his destination? Then Dick remembered that Spinner had an office in Brixham. That was it. That was where Rufus had gone. Dick mounted his machine again, pedalled down the lane, reached the spot where it entered the main road, stopped and waited.

An hour dragged by. Dick grew nervous. It was possible that Rufus had seen Spinner and already returned. In which case Dick had lost track of him. On the other hand Rufus and Spinner might be celebrating their bargain in one of the Brixham pubs. Dick decided to wait.

Much traffic passed then, at last Dick heard the roar of an open exhaust and here came the red car booming up the long slope. Dick had just a glimpse of Rufus as he passed but that glimpse was enough for him to see the eager look on the man's face.

"He's seen Spinner," said Dick to himself and, after a moment's thought, jumped on to his bicycle and rode rapidly down to Brixham. His intention was to ring up Roseworthy and tell either Crispin or his father what he had so far seen. He went into the Post Office and dialed the Roseworthy number. Almost at once Crispin answered.

"I'm just back, Dick. I came alone. Alison is bringing her stepfather back in an ambulance. He's very shaky but so crazy to get home that Alison thought best to let him come. They should be at Skardon about five o'clock."

"Burt couldn't tell us much. He stumbled in the station and someone bumped into him and knocked him down. The fall stunned him but he knows that the case was wrenched out of his hand as he fell and is convinced it was Rufus. I made enquiries at Millbay and the ticket collector remembers a red-haired man. Now tell me what you've done."

Dick told him. He went on.

"Like you, I'm fairly sure that Rufus is our man and that he came here to Brixham to see Spinner. Now I think he's gone back to fetch the gold. Trouble is that we can't tell where he will meet Spinner and hand the stuff over. It might be here at Spinner's office or it might be at Fammers."

"Fammers, Dick—Fammers every time. Rufus wont risk bringing the stuff into Brixham. Mind you, he'll know he is suspected and he may think that the police have been informed."

"I believe you're right, Crispin. Then our job will be to watch Fammers."

"That's it but there's no hurry. I feel sure Rufus won't bring the gold till after dark."

"All right. I'll get some lunch here in Brixham, then go back to Fammers and lie doggo. You might come along later."

"I'll be along in your car. Take care of yourself Dick. Don't let those blighters get their hands on you."

Dick didn't know Brixham so wheeled his bicycle down the street, looking for some suitable place to lunch. At a small bright looking little place called "The Lobster Pot" he got exactly what he wanted and, after an excellent meal paid his score and rode away, feeling much refreshed and very cheerful. He could see no flaw in the reasoning of Alison, Crispin and himself.

He might not have felt so confident had he known that he had passed right under the window of Spinner's office which was on the first floor, and that Spinner had at once spotted him. Spinner watched him out of sight and turned to Moat who was lounging in the one easy chair the room possessed.

"That chap, Kynaston, has just gone past," he remarked in his odd, harsh, high-pitched voice. "What's brought him to Brixham?"

"Looking for his pal, I reckon," Moat answered with a lazy sneer.

"I'm not sure," Spinner said slowly. "He might be going to sniff around Fammers. I reckon we'll take a look."

"He can't do no harm now the other one's finished."

"Best be on the safe side," replied Spinner. "Put your hat on. I'm going round to get the car."


DICK called at Skardon on his way to Fammers and told Eliza to expect her master back at tea-time. Eliza, unusually humble, thanked him and declared she would have all ready. Dick, wondering at the odd affection this soured spinster displayed for old Burt, rode on towards Fammers. He hid his bicycle, found what he considered a safe hiding place from which he could watch the house, made himself comfortable, and prepared to wait.

It would be a long wait. He didn't expect anything to happen before dark. The afternoon was warm and still. Dick had taken a deal of exercise and a good luncheon. He began to feel drowsy. He fought the feeling but, in spite of himself, his eyes closed.

He dreamed that a bee came buzzing over. It settled on him and grew to a huge size. It was suffocating him and he woke, struggling, to find a man kneeling on his chest.

"Keep quiet, curse you!" said Moat harshly "Keep quiet if you don't want to be hurt."

Close by stood Spinner, an automatic in his hand, an ugly grin showing his rabbit-like teeth. Resistance on Dick's part was obviously impossible.

"What's the big idea?" he asked.

Spinner chuckled sourly.

"You'll find out before you're much older," he answered. "Hold him, Moat, while I tie his hands."

Moat rolled Dick over, his wrists were tied behind his back and he was conducted to the house. They drove him upstairs, tied his ankles and left him helpless on the bare floor of the empty room.

Dick cursed himself for a fool. He didn't know how these men had got on his track but in any case he had had no right to sleep. Now he was for it and, what made matters worse, presently Crispin would come to look for him and there was no way of warning him. For a time his bitter thoughts made him forget his physical discomfort but presently he began to get cramp in his arms. He rolled over on his face and was half suffocated by the thick dust on the dirty floor.

Spinner and Moat seemed to have gone out again for there was no sound of voices below. Dick rolled as far as the window and propped his back against the wall. But the sill was above his head and he could not rise to his feet. His idea had been to break a pane and use the broken glass to cut the cord around his wrists, but every effort was useless. When at last he gave up in despair he was dripping with sweat and terribly thirsty.

He couldn't see his wristwatch, but the shadows were lengthening. By this time Crispin would probably be starting from Roseworthy. Since he could do nothing else Dick decided to listen for his approach and shout a warning.

The sun was down before any sound reached Dick's ears. He gathered his breath and shouted for all he was worth. He felt despairingly that it was no use, yet kept on until his voice cracked. From below came a sound of scuffling steps, the back door banged open. More shuffling, steps on the stairs, the door of his room flew back and Crispin, tied like himself, was thrust in by Moat and Spinner.

Spinner's face was sinister as he walked over to Dick. He kicked him savagely in the ribs.

"Open your mouth again and it's the last time you'll do it," he snarled. Dick couldn't speak. There was no breath in his body. Crispin spoke.

"I'll break your neck for that, Spinner."

"That's just what's going to happen to you. And before morning," chuckled Spinner as he turned and followed Moat out of the room.

"Did he hurt you much, Dick?" Crispin asked anxiously.

"Not half as much as I deserve," Dick answered hoarsely. Between painful gasps he told Crispin how he had slept at his post and had been caught.

"I tried to warn you," he ended, "but I don't suppose you heard."

"I heard but it was too late. They'd already got me. I walked up from Skardon and they were waiting for me at the end of the lane. They'd put a wire across. It tripped me and I hadn't a chance. Dick, it must have been Spinner who tried to finish me up in the Cleave yesterday. How did they know I was alive? How came they to set that trap for me?"

"It beats me," Dick answered. "Anyhow it doesn't much matter. We're in a tight place, Crispin."

"I know it. Spinner's jaw is still swollen from that smack I gave him and he's a revengeful little beast. Is there any hope of getting loose?"

"I've been trying that for hours," Dick told him. "But they're sailors and their knots don't slip."

"Then it looks as if we're finished. What do you think they'll do with us?"

"The sea is handy," said Dick briefly. He stiffened. "Here's someone else coming," he whispered.

Both listened intently. The door below had opened. They heard Spinner's voice.

"That you, Rufus? We were waiting for you. Got the stuff?"

"I have it," Rufus answered, "Like to see it?"

"You bet. Open it up."

There was a short pause, then Spinner spoke again. "It's all you said, Rufus. Ought to fetch a fair price in the right market."

"How much?" Rufus asked eagerly.

"Six or seven hundred, I'd say."

"Give me four hundred and you can have the rest," said Rufus. Spinner seemed to hesitate and Rufus went on. "You don't run any risk. All you get above the four hundred is clear profit."

"It isn't so easy as that. We have to get it through the Dutch Customs." Rufus laughed.

"A lot you care for Customs. Give me the four hundred and you take the gold."

"I'll give you three."

"Say three fifty and it's a go."

"All right. I'll make you out a cheque. I have my book. Sit down and have a drink. Moat, fetch the whisky."

They heard Moat go into the kitchen; they heard him come back and there was a clink of bottles and glasses.

"Here's luck!" came Moat's big voice. The three drank and talked.

"Heard anything of Lloyd?" Rufus asked presently. "I'm told his car was found up at Tamerford this morning."

"They say he was drowned, out fishing." Moat remarked with a cruel chuckle.

"That's good news," said Rufus viciously, and Moat laughed again.

The voices below became lower and the listeners above could not hear what was said. Another half hour dragged by.

There was a sudden thump. Then Spinner's voice.

"It's worked. That's another one out. Help me carry him upstairs. Then we'll fix the car."

A minute later the door of the upper room was opened, and Crispin and Dick realised what had been happening, for Rufus was flung in. There was no need to tie him. He was insensible.

The door slammed again.

"Doped," said Dick to Crispin. "And it's plain what they mean to do."


"Put the three of us in his car and run us down a hill. Is there a steep one near?"

"There is," Crispin answered. "The lane running down to the Valley of Stones. It's about one in three and rocks at the bottom."


SPINNER and Moat went out of the house. By this time it was nearly dark. The sky was clouded, it was very still. Crispin made a new and desperate effort to free his hands, but it was useless. He relapsed and lay quiet.

From somewhere outside came Moat's angry voice.

"Curse it! A flat! We'll have to change the wheel."

"Get to it, and don't make such a noise," came Spinner's answer.

"Ten minutes respite," Dick said to Crispin. "Isn't there a thing we can do?"

"Not until they come for us. Dick, they can't carry me down the stairs. They'll probably untie my legs."

"But Spinner will keep his gun on us."

"I don't care. I'll kick one or other downstairs, if I die for it." Dick shrugged.

"I'm with you. As well die one way as another."

"Hush! They're coming back. That's the door."

Silence again. Both men were straining their ears. Someone had come in the back way, then the stairs creaked under cautious footsteps. Crispin's heart was thumping. If he had had a chance he would sell his life dearly.


For a moment Crispin fancied he was dreaming. The voice was Alison's. It was Dick who answered.

"We're here, Alison."

The door of the room opened and Alison stepped in. Her face was white but her lips were firm.

"Cut us loose," Dick whispered sharply. "Quickly, Alison. They may be back any minute. There's a knife in my right-hand coat pocket."

Alison was across the room in a flash and almost before Dick had finished speaking had the knife and was cutting the cords, Dick tried to rise, only to fall back with a groan.

Alison cut the rope from Crispin's wrists and ankles and he staggered up.

"I'm all right," he declared. "I've only had a couple of hours of it: Dick's had five or more. Help me rub him, Alison."

"I think we have time yet," Alison said with a calmness which, even at that moment struck Crispin as amazing.

"I let most of the air out of the spare tyre and they will have to pump that up."

"You did it, Alison?" exclaimed Crispin.

"What else could I do?" She asked. With capable hands, she massaged Dick's twisted muscles. "I crept up outside half an hour ago and listened under the window. I heard what they meant to do."

"You're a wonder," said Crispin with heartfelt admiration.

"I'm better," Dick said suddenly. "I can stand. What are we going to do—hook it?"

"I'm not," said Crispin flatly. "I told Spinner I'd break his neck. This is my chance."

"But the brute has a gun," Dick objected.

"He'll never have a chance to use it," Crispin answered. "Alison, dear, will you move into the room opposite. This one is going to be a rough house."

"You've no weapon Crispin," Alison argued anxiously.

"I have my fists—and my feet. Don't worry."

"They're coming," Dick whispered from the window.

"Then I stay here," said Alison firmly. Crispin frowned but it was too late for her to move. He took up his position against the wall close to the door, with Alison behind him. Dick stood at the other side. Heavy steps sounded on the floor below. Someone stumbled.

"It's dark," growled Spinner. "Switch on your torch." The two men came up the stairs; Crispin saw their light under the ill-fitting door. He tensed.

The handle turned, the door opened, Spinner stepped in. Dark as it was, his sharp eyes spotted instantly that the prisoners were not where he left them.

"Look out, Moat," he cried, at the same time pulling his pistol.

Before he could get clear, Crispin had him. Crispin swung him up as if he had been a child and flung him at Moat, who was close behind.

The crash of the double fall shook the whole house, then, before the two dazed men could disentangle themselves, Crispin and Dick were on them.

"Get Spinner's gun," Crispin ordered. Dick seized Spinner and, as he did so, Moat came to his knees. He got no further for Crispin hit him on the jaw with all his force. Moat went flat, quivered and lay still.

Small as he was, Spinner fought like a wild cat, but Dick smote him on the nose. Spinner staggered back, went clean over the edge of the stairs and rolled to the bottom, where he lay like a wet sack.

"You've taken the bread out of my mouth, Dick," Crispin complained and ran down after the man.

"He's not dead," he said after a brief examination, "but his right arm is broken. We'd better pack them both in Spinner's car and take them to the police station. Rufus we'll leave here. He won't come round for a long time yet."

A couple of hours later Crispin and Dick were eating a late and much-needed supper at Skardon. Alison was looking after them.

"Have you told Mr. Burt, Alison?" Crispin asked.

"I've told him everything," Alison answered "And it's done him good. He actually laughed when he heard of Spinner and Moat drugging Rufus."

"Have you told him about—ourselves?" Alison shook her head.

"Not yet. But I think he knows."

"Is he fit to see me, dearest?"

"I think so. Shall I ask him?"

"Do. I have some news for him."

Old Burt was in bed but was sitting up propped by pillows and looking far more alive than he had for a long time past.

"Is it true, what Alison says?" he asked eagerly.

"All true, Mr. Burt. And we have the gold back."

"Where's Rufus?"

"At Fammers He'll hardly come round before morning. Question is what to do about him. Will you prosecute?"

"No use. I got no proof he took the gold off me."

"We found it in his possession," Crispin reminded him. Burt looked uneasy.

"You are thinking that the whole story would come out?" Crispin said bluntly.

"How much do you know about it?" Burt asked.

"Everything. I am John Kerslake's son."

"John Kerslake's son! I might have known it. You're like him!" Crispin went on.

"Mr. Burt, you treated my father badly but Cowell was the worst offender. Cowell has been blackmailing you and threatens to turn you out if you don't pay him £400 at once. Is that right?" Burt nodded.

"Alison and I are engaged," said Crispin. "We don't want scandal. My father wished me to tell you that he will put up the £400 so that you may stay at Skardon. All he wants in return is a statement signed by you declaring his innocence. But this will not he used until after your death. Do you agree?"

"I'd be a fool if I didn't," Burt answered with unexpected frankness. "Only thing troubles me, Aaron Cowell gets off Scot free."

"You're wrung," Crispin answered quickly. "Rufus has to give evidence at the trial of Spinner and Moat. He will come out of it without a rag of reputation. He's up to his eyes in debt and can't pay. Blackett has it in for him. The fellow is done for. Aaron will have to send Rufus out of the country, and what chance will he have then of being made J.P.?"

Burt's dull eyes brightened.

"You're surely right. I hadn't thought of all that." He paused. "And I'll stay on here," he continued, with evident satisfaction. Again be considered.

"Kerslake, do you reckon your dad would come and see me. I'd like to tell him to his face that I'm sorry."

"Of course he'll come," said Crispin warmly, "Now it's late and I'll say good-night. But I'll bring him over to-morrow. He can get about on crutches."

Alison was waiting at the foot of the stairs.

"You've seen him, Crispin. Was he reasonable?"

"Perfectly, dearest, and I've promised to bring dad to see your step-father to-morrow," Alison's lovely eyes lit up.

"That's splendid," she exclaimed.

Crispin took her in his arms.

"And every bit of it your doing, my darling."


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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