Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.



Cover Image

RGL e-Book Cover©

Ex Libris

Serialised in:
The Brisbane Courier, Queensland, Australia, 16 Aug-26 Sep 1932
(this version)
The Advertiser, Adelaide, South Australia, 1932
Maitland Daily Mercury, New South Wales, Australia, 1936
Goulburn Evening Penny Post, New South Wales, Australia, 1936

First book edition: T.A. & E. Pemberton, Manchester, 1946

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020©
Version Date: 2020-06-10
Produced by Keith Emmett and Roy Glashan

All content added by RGL is proprietary and protected by copyright.

Click here for more books by this author

When Jim Silver, holidaying in Devon, is caught in a thunderstorm and asks for shelter at a lonely house, Romance has beckoned. But for the storm he would have passed the house, probably without seeing it, and gone on to his lodgings to return, later, to the comparatively uneventful life of a bank clerk. The girl who answers his knock is no country-bred maiden obviously, and the incidents of the next few hours change his whole outlook on life. Owing to his pluck and resource at a fire, he reaches home to find to his dismay that he is regarded as a hero. He is called to the bedside of his godfather, who is dying, and he becomes the heir of a man of whom he knows little or nothing. Then follows an exciting period, and he has to face many stirring adventures before the girl becomes his bride. It is an absorbing story.



THE roar or the flood warned Jim Silver what to expect, but when he reached the bank the reality was worse than the roar. The stepping stones, by which he had crossed the ford a few hours earlier, were covered a foot deep by an amber-coloured flood, and the Barle was rising every moment.

For a moment the idea flashed across Jim's mind of stripping and trying to swim across, but the long foam streaks on the surface and the speed at which dead branches and broken timbers swirled by warned him that any such attempt would be equivalent to suicide.

"And no bridge for five miles," groaned Jim, "and—and more rain coming." The words were hardly out of his mouth before the surface of the flooded river was starred by the splash of heavy drops, and a mutter of thunder rolled hoarsely from behind the tall beacon to the north.

An unaccustomed frown crosses Jim's lean, brown face. He had been tramping all day, and was tired and hungry. He had been keenly looking forward to dry clothes and hot tea at his comfortable lodgings in old Mrs. Dunning's house at Flittercombe, a distance of barely two miles as this by-road went, but now the only way to get there was by walking 12 miles round by Thimble Bridge.

"Well, it's no use grousing," he said to himself, and turning back up the track made for the main road, which ran eastwards parallel with the river. As he neared it he heard the honk of a klaxon. "A car—a lift," he exclaimed as he started to run.

A biggish-covered car was coming from the west. So far as Jim could see, there was only one person in it, the driver. Jim reached the road just as the car came opposite. He shouted and waved, and the driver, a large, florid-faced man with a heavy yellow moustache, turned his head. But that was all. Without paying any further attention he drove straight on.

Jim was about as angry as he had ever been in his life. "He saw me and deliberately left me. Gad, I'll have a few words to say to that kind gentleman if I ever meet him again." But the few words were not going to be said at present, for already the car was out of sight. And now came a blue glare of lightning, and with the thunder the rain began in earnest.

Jim had a light waterproof, but it had been through one storm already, and very soon the drenching downpour began to leak through, and he felt cold, damp patches on his shoulders. His legs were already wet to the knees, and his shoes squelched at every step.

"Twelve miles in this!" he muttered disconsolately, then a third flash showed up a house standing on the hillside a little above the road. An old-fashioned farmhouse built of grey granite, but a red glow that was certainly from a fire shone through one of the narrow downstairs windows. Jim pulled up short. Rather a shy man, he did not quite like invading a strange house, yet the thought of warmth and shelter were baits beyond resisting. He opened the gate, walked up through a drenched garden, and knocked at the heavy door.

A farmers wife, or perhaps a farmer's daughter, that was what Jim expected, but the girl who opened to Jim was obviously neither. The first thing that struck Jim was that she had the clearest blue eyes he had ever seen in any woman's face; the next, that her complexion was absolutely perfect; the third that her hair was true gold—not flaxen, not auburn, but the exact colour of newly-minted gold. And the combined effect of these three discoveries was to render him absolutely mute.

"Yes?" said the girl gently.

"I—I beg your pardon," Jim stammered. "I—I thought this was a farm."

"It is a farm. Little Doward it is called," she answered, and her voice was just as delicious as the rest of her.

"B-but I mean I thought a f-farmer lived here. You see I was going to ask for shelter."

"Then why not ask for shelter? You couldn't think I should refuse it to any fellow being in a storm like this." She smiled, and her smile completed Jim's confusion. Another flash, brighter and nearer than the last, lit the sky, and the thunder shook the hills. "Come in!" she added quickly, and Jim walked straight into a large, low-ceilinged room, lit by a pleasant log fire.

"I'm not fit to come in," said Jim ruefully, looking down at his wet foot-marks on the flagged floor.

"Shed your coat!" she said, briskly. "Then come through into the kitchen, and I will find you some dry socks and slippers. I think my brother's will fit you."

"You are too kind," said Jim gratefully as he obeyed. A tall, angular, capable-looking woman was busy in the kitchen.

"This gentleman has been caught in the rain, Mrs. Raft," said the girl. "I am going to find him some socks and shoes. Then he will stay to tea while his are dried."

"Very good, Miss Cynthia," replied the maid, and Cynthia hurried off to be down in a minute with socks and slippers into which Jim changed quickly. When he had washed his hands in a bowl of warm water provided by Mrs. Raft he returned to the sitting- room, where his hostess ordered him to sit close to the fire.

"You're tired," she said with quick sympathy as he dropped thankfully into a basket chair.

"I should have been but for you," Jim replied. "It was that first storm," he explained. "It brought a spate down the Barle and I couldn't cross. I'm staying at Flittercombe."

"And you will have to go all the way round by Thimble Bridge?" she asked.

"I shan't mind that, once I'm rested," he declared.

"And have had some tea," she added, as Mrs. Raft brought in a tray and set the table. None of your ordinary five o'clocks, with thin bread and butter and a Madeira cake out of a tin. There were scones, rich and flaky, hot out of the oven, a big pat of golden Devonshire butter, a bowl of cream, and a lordly dish of strawberry jam. There were also rock buns and a great fragrant home-made cake full of peel and plums, such a cake as Jim had not seen for years.

Outside the lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and the rain drummed on the roof, but Jim cared for none of these things, for he was enjoying the nicest tea in the pleasantest company he ever remembered. He soon forgot his shyness. It was impossible to be shy with this girl, and presently he was telling her all about himself, about his work in the Admiralty Bank at Plymouth, and his holidays spent tramping or fishing on Dartmoor and Exmoor.

"I don't know Dartmoor," said the girl, "but I am very fond of Exmoor. This is the second time I have rented Little Doward. I have brought my brother Noel. He is not well." A shadow passed across her face.

"I'm sorry," said Jim quickly. "Is—is it serious?"

"Very," she answered gravely, but she did not explain the nature of the illness. The stairs ran up out of the living-room, and suddenly a sharp, querulous voice came from above:

"Cyn! Cyn! I want you." With a word of apology, Cynthia hurried away, leaving Jim to toast himself by the fire and gaze through the window at the steady downpour.

"He's not too ill to shout," he said thoughtfully to himself, "or to be in a nasty bad temper. Funny how a girl like that can have such a brother." In about five minutes Cynthia came down again and Jim rose from his chair.

"Time I was going, Miss Carrow," he said. He had learned her name from Mrs. Raft. Cynthia glanced through the window.

"Impossible," she said with decision. "The weather is worse than ever. You must wait a while longer."

"I'm afraid it's no use waiting. It's set in for the night."

"In that case you had better stay here, Mr. Silver. We have a spare room." Jim was so overcome that for a second time he was struck dumb. Cynthia smiled roguishly. "If you can put up with my company?" she added.

"I—I can't imagine anything I should enjoy more," Jim said, and he was so intensely earnest that a faint flush rose to Cynthia's cheeks.

"Then that's settled," said Cynthia as she seated herself in the chair opposite, "but you needn't think the favour is all on one side. I've had a very dull day, and a little masculine society is a pleasant change. Jim looked up.

"Then please think what it means to me, Miss Carrow. A bank clerk on two hundred pounds a year does not have much opportunity of mixing with ladies."

"And what do you do in your spare time?" Cynthia asked with interest.

"I read a good deal, in summer I swim, and in winter I do a bit of boxing."

"No dances?"

"Very seldom," said Jim with a smile. "You see, I know hardly any body in Plymouth, and in any case, I don't like accepting invitations when I can't do anything in return."

"You are too conscientious," smiled Cynthia. "Young bachelors in your position are not expected to entertain. I know plenty of people in Plymouth who are only too glad of a personable young man who will dance. There are too many girls in these days and too few dancing men." The two became so deep in talk that they were both surprised when Mrs. Raft came in and lit lamps and began to set the table for supper. Cynthia took Jim up to the spare room, where he found hot water, hair brushes, pyjamas, all he could want for the night.

"I've been raiding Noel's possessions," Cynthia told him. "When you are ready you will find your way down."

Supper was simple yet perfect. A roast chicken with home-cured ham and green peas, a junket, stewed pears and cream. A cup of coffee and a glass of good port to top up with. Then the two settled down over the fire with cigarettes. Outside the rain still streamed down, but neither noticed it. They had so much to talk about. Twice Cynthia was called upstairs by her brother, but each time she came down again. It was past eleven before she said good-night.

Tired with his long day in the open, Jim was soon asleep. And then all of a sudden he was awake. For a long moment he lay wondering why for it was still pitch dark. Suddenly he sat up and sniffed. Smoke—yes, there was no doubt about it. He listened. A faint crackling sound came to his ears.

In a flash he was out of bed and lighted a candle. Waiting only to thrust his feet into a pair of slippers, he flung open the door. The landing was thick with smoke which was pouring out from under the door of the room opposite.

"Fire!" Jim shouted as he dashed across the landing.


A BLAST of heat met him as he opened the opposite door. The room was a fog of smoke through which red tongues of fire curled and twisted ominously. The draught fanned them and as they rose and glowed, their light showed Jim a man on the bed. The bedclothes were alight, and it was evident there was not a moment to waste.

Dropping his candle, Jim plunged straight into the room. Three strides brought him to the bed, and, seizing the smouldering blankets, he tore them off, jerked up the motionless figure, and, slinging it over his shoulder, staggered back to the door.

Blinded by the smoke, coughing and half-suffocated, he stumbled, but someone caught him and steadied him with unexpected strength.

"Is he—is he alive?" asked Cynthia quickly.

"I think so," Jim managed to answer, but his voice was almost gone. Cynthia dashed into her own room and came back with a glass of water.

"Drink this. Then we will get him downstairs." The cold water was just what Jim's choked throat needed.

"I'm all right now. I can carry him down."

"Wait. Your pyjamas are afire." Cynthia beat the smouldering stuff from Jim's sleeve with her bare hands and Jim, collecting himself, carried Noel down into the kitchen. Cynthia's brother was no lightweight, but Jim, slim as he looked, had plenty of strength. Mrs. Raft was already there, wearing a thick dressing gown over her night garments. She had kept her head, and was busy getting flour and lard to dress burns.

"Lay him here on the floor," she said. "I'll see to him. You'll have to try and put the fire out, Mr. Silver. There's buckets by the pump."

"I'll help," said Cynthia as she began to work the pump handle. With two full buckets Jim ran back upstairs but even in the short time he had been away the fire had gained terribly. The flames were eating into the floor, and Noel's room was a furnace on which the two buckets made hardly any impression. As he turned he found Cynthia with another bucket and a jug.

"It's no use, Miss Carrow," he told her. He had to shout to be heard above the snap and crackle of burning wood. "Nothing short of a fire engine would make any difference."

"There's no fire engine within seven miles. Do you mean we can't save the house?"

"I'm sure of it. These old timbers burn like tinder. The only thing is to save what we can. If you have any jewellery—"

"I'll get it." In spite of the danger Cynthia was perfectly cool and collected, and she ran straight into her own room to come out in a very brief space with a suit-case stuffed with things, and a dressing bag.

"Be quick." Jim warned her. "The floor won't last much longer, and once it goes—"

"Then you come, too, but bring the blankets from my bed. We shall have to spend the rest of the night in the stable."

"What a girl!" was Jim's thought as he hastily obeyed. He got the blankets from her room and from his too and stumbled down with them through the smoke into the kitchen. He had hardly reached it before there came a dull roar as a great beam, burned through, crashed into the living room beneath.

"Time we got out," said Jim. "I'll carry Noel." Noel's eyes were open, but he was still in a queer, dull state and helpless as a log. One arm was wrapped in bandages and most of his hair had been scorched off, but otherwise he did not seem to have been badly burned.

Mrs. Raft had lighted a lantern, and carrying that and the blankets, led the way to the stable, which was about thirty yards behind the house. Jim followed with Noel, then Cynthia with her two cases. The stable was a dusty old place, long disused, but at any rate dry and weather proof.

"I'll get some hay down from the loft," Cynthia said.

"And I'll go back to the house and find some food," Jim added.

"Be careful," begged Cynthia.

"The kitchen is still safe enough," Jim told her as he hurried off. The fire was gaining with fearful speed. Flames were leaping through the windows casting a ruddy glow on the surroundings, the sitting-room burned with a steady roar, but the kitchen and larder, though full of smoke, were still intact.

Jim quickly collected bread and butter, tea, sugar, some cups and a kettle and a few other odds and ends. He dumped them an into a big dish pan and was looking for milk when there was a crash that made the whole place tremble. The door between the sitting-room and kitchen burst open and Jim picked up his pan and bolted just in time to escape the blast of flame which licked through. Cynthia's face was white and stained as Jim came plunging back into the stable.

"You said it was safe," she reproached him.

"And so it was," declared Jim. "And I have the things. How is your brother?"

"Safe thanks to you." She shivered. "What should we have done if you had not been here?"

"You'd have got him out all right," Jim answered cheerfully. He realised that she was suffering from reaction after the strain, and that she must not be allowed to think of what might have happened. "See here, there's a fireplace of sorts in the old harness room. And wood in the yard. What about making a pot of tea?"

"That's a good idea, sir," said Mrs. Raft briskly. "If you get the wood I'll see to it." Jim got the wood, and Mrs. Raft soon had a fire burning, on which she set the kettle. There was no need for light, for by this time the farmhouse was blazing to heaven. The roof fell in with a rumble like a small earthquake and a volcano of sparks rose rocket-like against the dark sky.

"That ought to fetch up the neighbors if you have any," Jim said.

"There is none except those in the three cottages in the Hollow." Cynthia told him. "And it would take nothing short of an earthquake to rouse those folk before daylight. Oh, here is our tea. How splendid of you to think of it, Mr. Silver!"

"And how splendid of Mrs. Raft to make it," said Jim, and was rewarded by a smile from that rather stern-faced lady. "What about your brother?" he asked. "Will he have some?"

"I'll try," said Cynthia, but Noel pushed the cup away. "I want my medicine," he said in his sharp, querulous voice.

Jim looked at the young man and noticed that his face was dead white, while his eyes, blue as his sister's, had a queer, glassy look. His appearance touched some queer chord of memory in Jim's mind, but for the moment he could not tell what.


"THERE is no medicine, Noel," Cynthia answered soothingly. "Drink some tea. It will do you good."

"I hate tea. You know I hate it. I must have my medicine."

"It is burned. Noel. You will have to wait till morning."

"Burned. Why didn't you save it? I see," he added hastily, "you got your own things out."

"You forget, Noel." Cynthia spoke with a patience which astonished Jim. "It was your room that caught fire and if Mr. Silver had not been as quick and plucky as he was, you would have been burned as well as your medicines."

"How long have I to wait?" demanded Noel harshly. "Why can't someone go to the doctor and fetch me my stuff?"

"The doctor is seven miles away. It is still dark and raining hard. You must be patient. Noel."

"Patient!" Noel's voice was almost a scream. "And suffering like I am. You must do something, Cynthia. Go over to Harmer's and borrow his car. It's only two miles."

"I will not borrow Mr. Harmer's car. You know that, Noel." Cynthia spoke as quietly as ever, but Jim noticed the ring of determination in her voice.

"Just your beastly selfishness," snapped Noel. "You'd rather let me suffer than ask a favor of a man you don't like."

By this time Jim was fairly boiling. He broke in quickly.

"I will go for the doctor, Miss Carrow."

"You most certainly will not, Mr. Silver. You have done enough for us already tonight, and Noel is not so ill that he cannot wait until morning."

"I can't wait! I won't wait!" cried Noel fiercely. "Don't mind what she says, Silver. You go!"

Cynthia spoke.

"Noel, be reasonable. Try to remember that Mr. Silver has already saved your life tonight, to say nothing of mine and Mrs. Raft's. It is only two hours to daylight. Then the milkman will come, and we can send him to Barracombe. Meantime, drink a little tea and try to sleep."

It was no use. Noel refused to be pacified.

"You want me to die so that you can have my money," he snarled. "All right, but I'll take jolly good care you don't get it!" This was a bit too much for Jim. He got up and stood over Noel.

"Shut your mouth, you ungrateful young cub!" he ordered in a voice that almost frightened himself. It frightened Noel, who subsided, muttering. Jim turned and glanced nervously at Cynthia, but she showed no sign of annoyance. Indeed, he thought she looked relieved. As for Mrs. Raft, it was quite plain to Jim that she thoroughly approved.

"You lie down, Miss Cynthia," said the woman. "I'll watch Mr. Noel. And it wouldn't do you no harm to take a rest, Mr. Silver. There's plenty of nice soft hay."

Cynthia obeyed meekly. She rolled herself in a blanket and lay down, and Jim, after a little hesitation, did the same.

But he could not sleep. All the time he was conscious that Noel Carrow was watching him, and he had the unpleasant knowledge that the brother of this wonderful girl hated him bitterly. There was no mistaking the nasty glare in the boy's glassy eyes. The question that bothered Jim most was what was the matter with Noel. Was he really ill, or was it all imagination? Cynthia had said he was ill, yet the fellow had energy enough to make himself horribly unpleasant.

Quite suddenly the solution came to Jim. Noel was a drunkard. He remembered now that there had been a faint smell of spirits about him. Yes, that accounted for his pallor, his glassy eyes. It accounted, too, for the fire. What was more, it accounted for his fierce desire for 'medicine.' No doubt the doctor was giving him some drug which would soothe his shattered nerves and at the some time wean him from alcohol.

Cynthia's brother a drunkard! The thought made Jim sick, yet his chief feeling was of profound pity for the girl.

The stable was growing lighter. It was not the fire, for by this time the farm was a mere heap of smouldering ruins. Dawn was breaking, and the rain at last had stopped. He glanced at Cynthia, and was thankful to see that she slept. A sound came to his ears. It was the purr of a motor approaching from the east. He heard it stop below the farm, and climbed out of his hay. The dawn air was chill, and he drew a blanket round him and went to the door. Cynthia was still asleep. Mrs. Raft dozed, but Jim was acutely conscious of Noel's eyes fixed or him. He could actually feel the wave of hatred emanating from the boy.

Steps came across the yard, and Jim saw a big man wearing a thick overcoat and a brown felt hat. He caught sight of Jim and quickened his pace.

"Where's Carrow?" he demanded. "Don't tell me he's burned!" Jim stiffened. He greatly disliked the newcomer's voice and manner, and he had recognised him as the red-faced, yellow- moustached man who had refused him a lift on the previous evening.

"Mr Carrow is quite safe," he answered in a distinctly chilly voice. "And so is Miss Carrow."

"Harmer—is that you, Harmer?" cried Noel.

"That's me, Noel," replied the big man loudly as he pushed past Jim into the stable. "Gosh, when my man told me Doward was burning I was properly scared. I jumped into the old bus and came along in a hurry."

"I'm jolly glad you came," Noel said. "I'm fed up with this hole, and all my medicines went up in the fire."

"Rotten luck, old man, but never mind. I'll take you round to my place and fix you up all right." Cynthia stepped between Harmer and Noel. In spite of the fact that she had only a dressing gown over her pyjamas and that her lovely golden hair was rough and tumbled, Jim thought she looked like a princess.

"Thank you, Mr. Harmer," she said, and her voice was like ice. "But Noel is not going with you."

Harmer swung round.

"Nonsense, Miss Cynthia. He can't stay here. No more can you. I'll take you both to my place in the car."

"No," said Cynthia, flatly. "Nothing would induce me to go to your house, Mr. Harmer."

"You can stay here if you want to, Cynthia," snapped Noel, "but I'm going." He scrambled to his feet. Cynthia came a step nearer.

"You are not going, Noel. And you know the reason as well as Mr. Harmer does."

"You try and stop me," sneered Noel. "Give me an arm, Harmer." Cynthia turned and looked at Jim. That was all Jim had been waiting for. He stepped in briskly.

"Stay where you are, Carrow. And you will kindly leave, Mr. Harmer."

Harmer swung on him.

"Oh, will I?" he asked in a very ugly tone. "Are you going to make me?"


"I MIGHT try," Jim answered. He spoke slowly and very quietly, but if Harmer had known Jim he would have been aware that this was a danger signal. Jim's voice always dropped a tone when his feelings were deeply stirred, and quite apart from Cynthia's dislike of their visitor, the mere sight of this large, insolent, red-faced man filled him with an extraordinary aversion.

Harmer's thick upper lip curled.

"Try, and see what happens," he sneered. With a quick movement Jim flung off the dressing gown, and stood up slim and straight in Noel's blue silk pyjamas, but Cynthia intervened.

"Don't, Mr. Silver. Don't try it," she begged. "He—he is terribly strong."

"I'm sure I don't want to try anything," Jim answered. "And I won't if he will go."

"I'm not going without Noel," retorted Harmer, "and Miss Cynthia's right. If you try to stop me, you'll get hurt. Come on, Noel." He stepped towards Noel, but before he could reach him Jim was between them.

"Asking for it, are you?" snarled the big man aiming a terrific blow at Jim's head. It was just what Jim had been expecting. He ducked lightly to one side, and sent his left to Harmer's jaw. Harmer went back and Jim followed with a right that was too high. Next moment Harmer had his arms round Jim's waist and lifting him clean off his feet flung him to the floor.

But Jim had not spent long hours in the Cosmopolitan gymnasium without learning how lo fall. He came down on his right thigh and hand bounced up like a ball and was ready again. Harmer scowled. In spite of his extra weight and big muscles, this was not going to be so easy as he had thought.

"Better take your coat off," Jim advised mildly.

"It's your skin's coming off, not my coat," Harmer boasted as he jumped forward and drove in a right which would certainly have made his threat good if Jim had not nimbly side-stepped. Harmer crowded in and Jim was so busy blocking and side-stepping that, before he knew it, he was driven back into the angle of the two walls and corner. He drove in a left with all his strength, but could not quite place it; then Harmer clinched again.

Jim was not happy. The fellow weighed at least two stone more than he, and once he got him down Jim knew it would spell finish. He did the only thing possible—got his forearm under Harmer's chin, and put forth all his strength to break his hold. For some seconds the two swayed together, panting. Harmer panted more than Jim. Strong as he was, he was fat and out of condition, whereas Jim was fit as any man could be. After a terrific struggle Jim tore loose, but Harmer was not to be denied, and Jim only just managed to block a right swing that landed with paralysing force on his left arm. Before he could get clear he caught another blow in the ribs that made him gasp.

There was an ugly grin on Harmer's face. He thought it was finished. He got a nasty shock when Jim slipped away and landed a heavy punch over the heart. He grunted and made a fresh attempt to corner Jim, but Jim was wiser now, and sprang lightly out of danger.

"Fight, can't you?" growled Harmer as he swung round and drove a straight left at Jim's chest. It was short, and Jim countered hard on the jaw, then, as Harmer went back, landed another over the heart. Harmer's red face turned purple, and Jim felt a throb of triumph. One more of those and the trick was done.

But Harmer knew it, too, and tried once more to clinch. Jim pushed him off, and as Harmer charged, again, gripping with his great hands, uppercut him with his left. Harmer's head jerked up, and in a flash Jim saw his chance, and timed him with a right delivered with the whole weight of his body behind it. Harmer's arms flew up, and he went backwards to the cement floor with a crash that shook the old building. As Jim stood over him to make sure he was really out, he found Mrs. Raft beside him.

"That was well done, Mr. Silver," she said. "I'll help you carry him out to his car." Between them they picked up the great lump and carried him down to the road. He was still insensible when they lifted him into his car, and Jim was a little uneasy, but Mrs. Raft had no pity.

"Don't you worry, sir. He'll come round presently, and take himself home. And don't waste no pity on him. If you'd killed him it wouldn't be no more than he deserves—not after what he's done to Mr. Noel," she added darkly. Jim longed to ask what she meant, yet had an inward feeling that Cynthia would not like him to question her servant, so said nothing. Mrs. Raft stopped and looked him over.

"You've a nasty cut over your eye, sir. If you'll come to the pump in the yard I'll bathe it for you." Indeed, Jim badly needed attention, for there was a lot of blood on his face, and his pyjama coat had not a button left. Mrs. Raft bathed away the blood, she produced safety pins and made him tidy, and fetched his dressing gown from the stable.

If Jim had hoped for some measure of approval from Cynthia he was doomed to disappointment, for he found her badly upset.

"Has he gone?" she asked anxiously.

"He's in his car," replied Jim. "I've no doubt he will start home as soon as he feels like it." He paused, but Cynthia did not speak. "I'm sorry you had to witness that unpleasant scene," Jim continued, "but I don't quite see how I could help it."

"You could not help it," said Cynthia quickly. "Please don't think I am blaming you, Mr. Silver. But I wish—I do wish it had not happened." Jim would hardly have been human if he had not felt disappointed. He was also perplexed. He glanced at Noel, who seemed to have collapsed again, and was lying in the hay with his eyes closed.

"I thought you wanted to get rid of him," he said in a slightly aggrieved tone.

"I did. Indeed, I did, but—" she hesitated, then went on with a rush, "I had better tell you the truth, Mr. Silver. I am afraid of the man." Jim's eyes widened. To him, Cynthia Carrow seemed the last girl to be afraid of any man, yet there was no doubt that she was speaking the truth. There must be more behind this than he knew of, and he waited to hear. But whether Cynthia would have told him or not, he never knew, for at that moment Mrs. Raft, who had been at the pump filling the kettle, came into the stable.

"Dr. Brandon, Miss Cynthia."

Cynthia turned to meet a big, brown-faced young man, who had followed Mrs. Raft. "Oh, but I am glad to see you, Bill, though how you managed to get here so soon I cannot imagine."

"Simple enough, Cynthia. I was called out early to see old Abraham Husk in the hollow, and his wife told me she'd seen a blaze and feared it was the farm. So as soon as I could get away I drove straight up here. It seems to have been a pretty complete job, and I'm only too thankful that you and Noel are safe."

"We should all have been burned in our beds if it hadn't been for Mr. Silver," said Cynthia.

"Silver!" repeated Brandon, and turned. "You, Jim!" he exclaimed, grasping Jim's hand. "Why, I'd no idea you knew Miss Carrow."

"I didn't—until last night," replied Jim with a laugh. "Any more than I knew that you lived here, Bill. Fact is, I got caught in the storm and couldn't cross the Barle, and Miss Carrow took pity on me and put me up for the night."

"And you paid your friend by saving her life. 'Pon my Sam, it's a regular romance."

"It came jolly near being a tragedy," cut in Jim, turning rather red. "Carrow is pretty bad, Bill, and your first job is too look him over."

"He doesn't look very bright," agreed Brandon as he stooped over the boy.

"All his medicines were lost in the fire." Cynthia explained, and Brandon with his finger on Noel's pulse, nodded.

"We must get him out of this," he said briskly. "You'd better all come back to my place. Luckily I have the car. It will be a crush, but I dare say you won't mind." He turned to Jim. "Help me carry Noel to the car."

"He's a light weight compared with Harmer," Brandon whispered to Jim as they carried Noel across the yard.

"What do you know about Harmer?" Jim asked quickly.

"I met him driving away. I saw his face. I've also seen yours. Two and two make four, don't they?"

Jim laughed. "I suppose a doctor has to use his eyes. Yes, we had a bit of a set-to. I'm sorry, but I couldn't help it. He wanted to take Carrow with him."

"Sorry!" snorted Brandon. "Man, I was never so pleased in my life. I only wish you'd killed the swine."

"Harmer don't seem popular in these parts," said Jim.

"Popular!" Brandon glanced round at Cynthia, who was following with Mrs. Raft. "Can't say any more now, Jim, but I'll tell you later." They all packed into the roomy old car, and Brandon drove them to his place, Foxenholt, a nice old house which he had modernised.


WILLIAM GAGE BRANDON had begun life as a naval doctor, but having married a girl with a good deal of money had retired from the service. Not being the sort of man to slack, he had bought a practice at Charleigh, on the edge of Exmoor, and was doing very well. He banked at the Admiralty Bank in Plymouth, and that was where he had first met Jim. Their acquaintance had been cemented at the Cosmopolitan, where they had had many a bout with six ounce gloves.

Mrs. Brandon, a dark, slim, pretty woman, was not at all dismayed at the sudden invasion of her home, and at once set to work to find clothes for Cynthia and Mrs. Raft, while Brandon fitted out Jim. Noel he put to bed, giving him a dose of bromide.

"He's not as bad as he thinks he is," he said to Jim. "A few hours' sleep is all he wants. Now come down and have some food." No one could have wished to sit down to a better breakfast, and Jim was hungry enough to enjoy the good things set before him. But Cynthia spoilt it all, for she sat silent, eating little, so troubled that Jim longed to comfort her.

His difficulty was that he did not know what was worrying her. It seemed hardly likely that his thrashing of Harmer could have upset her so completely, and he wondered if it was the loss of her possessions in the fire.

Yet Cynthia Carrow did not strike him as the sort of girl to lament over that kind of thing. He made up his mind to have a talk with her after breakfast and try to get to the bottom of the mystery, but again he was disappointed, for as soon as the meal was over she pleaded a headache and Mrs. Brandon insisted that she must lie down. Jim's heart sank. He had to be back at work next morning.

* * * * *

"THERE's no hurry, Jim," said Brandon, when Jim explained to him that this was the end of his holiday. "I have to go to Exeter this afternoon. I'll drive round by your lodgings, and you can pick up your kit and catch the four-thirty or the evening express as you like. Meantime, the best thing you can do is to get a bit of shut-eye before lunch. You want to make up for that white night."

Jim felt happier as he thanked his friend. He would see Cynthia at lunch, and perhaps get to the bottom of the mystery. For the present he was quite tired enough to enjoy the prospect of a few hours' sleep. He had not escaped scot free in his encounter with Harmer. Stretched on a comfortable bed in a darkened bedroom he was soon asleep, and did not move until Brandon himself came in to say that lunch was ready. Jim washed his hands and brushed his hair and hurried down, but when he entered the dining-room there was no sign of Cynthia.

"Poor dear!" said his hostess. "She's still sound asleep, and I wouldn't wake her."

Jim bit his lip.

"Then I'm afraid I shan't see her again, Mrs. Brandon. Your husband is taking me with him to Exeter after lunch."

"That's too bad," sympathised Mrs. Brandon. "And she will be so sorry to miss you. You are rather a hero in her eyes, Mr. Silver."

Jim laughed, but it was a poor effort.

"You'll have to say good-bye for me, Mrs. Brandon. You will tell her how sorry I was not to see her again."

"Indeed, I will; but perhaps she will be down before you leave." Jim thought not. He was convinced that Cynthia was intentionally avoiding him and it hurt. It hurt all the more because he could not understand the reason. She had been so friendly and sweet until the arrival of the unpleasant Harmer. Again he wondered what the mystery was.

At a quarter to two, Bill Brandon brought the car round, and Jim took leave of his kind hostess. He also said good-bye to Mrs. Raft. That rather stern lady was most cordial.

"I'm sorry you're going so soon, sir," she said. "And I'm thanking you again for all you've done for us."

"You're staying with Miss Carrow?" Jim questioned.

"I was her nurse, sir. It's not likely I'd leave her."

"I'm glad of that," said Jim heartily, as he shook hands. He was in the car, and Brandon was actually starting when the sound of an upper window opening made Jim look up. His heart gave a jump as he saw Cynthia leaning out.

She was wearing a white dressing gown, and the sun caught her hair, making it glow like an aureole.

"Good-bye, Mr. Silver. Please forgive me for over-sleeping. And thank you again for all you have done." Jim longed for another word, but the car was moving.

"Good-bye," he called, and for the life of him could not think of any thing else to say. Then it was too late, for the car swung round the angle of the drive, and Cynthia, still waving from the window, was lost to sight.

"Never mind, Jim." said Brandon. "You'll see her again."

"That's not likely," returned Jim with a bitterness so unusual that Bill Brandon's eyes widened a little.

"So that's how the land lies," he said to himself. "Poor old Jim! I'm afraid he's chucking his cap at a star." The narrowness of the lane made careful driving necessary, and he waited until they were on the high road before he spoke.

"A pretty girl, isn't she, Jim?" he remarked casually.

"Pretty! She's lovely. I never saw anyone to hold a candle to her. Bill, what's wrong with that brother of hers?"

Bill pursed his lips.

"He's rotten," he said briefly.

"How can that be when he's her brother?"

"He's only her half-brother. Cynthia's mother was a charming woman. My mother knew her well. She died when Cynthia was only a year old, and her father, Colonel Carrow married again. His second wife was Argentine, all right in her way, but not a patch on Cynthia's mother. She had this son Noel, and spoilt him shockingly.

"He was delicate as a child, and she wouldn't let him go to school. He had governesses and tutors, but, since they were never allowed to discipline him, none of them did any good. And there was money—too much of it.

"The Colonel died three years ago, leaving Cynthia in charge of his widow and the boy, and the wife only survived him a few months. Before she died she made Cynthia promise to look after Noel." He frowned. "It would be a rotten job for a man. It's too much for any girl."

"He drinks?" Jim questioned.

"Call him a confirmed drunkard and you won't be far out. It wouldn't matter so much if he hadn't all this money. But he comes in for something like twenty thousand a year, and every crook in Christendom is buzzing round like a wasp on a honey comb."

Jim whistled softly.

"Harmer's one of them," he suggested.

"Harmer's one of them," repeated Brandon. "A bad egg, if ever I saw one, and if he gets hold of the boy—God help him!"

"But why should he? Can't Cynthia carry Noel off out of reach of Harmer?"

"That's just what she's been trying to do. It's the reason why she came to Little Doward. But Harmer followed and took a house as close as he could."

"I wish I'd known all this yesterday Bill," said Jim.

Brandon laughed.

"If you had, you'd probably be on your way to Exeter gaol instead of the railway station."

"Yes, I think I should have killed him," said Jim with a cold deliberation which startled Brandon. Brandon had always looked upon Jim Silver as a pleasant-mannered, clean living boy. Now he was realising that there were deeps in this young man that he had not yet plumbed.

"Don't worry too much," he said kindly. "Olive and I will do all we can for Cynthia. So long as she is with us she is safe from Harmer."

"You're a good chap, Bill," said Jim, and relapsed into a silence which Brandon did not break. The car sped down the lovely Exeter valley through the pleasant sunny afternoon and Jim, deep in thought was surprised when Exeter Castle and the tower of the cathedral rose on the horizon.

They reached St. David's barely five minutes before the four- thirty was due, and Jim had just time to get his ticket before the express pulled in.

"You must come and see us again before the summer is over, Jim," said Brandon cordially.

Jim shook his head.

"No chance. I've had my holiday for this year Bill. I only get a fortnight."

"Then I'll come and see you." The rain was moving. "Good-bye, Jim. I'll let you know about—everything."

Jim lived in two rooms in Leigham Street. Though somewhat shabby, they were clean and comfortable, and Mrs. Rowe, his landlady, was a tidy body. So far, Jim had been quite content with his work, his life and his surroundings, yet that evening, as he sat down to his solitary supper, he had a queer feeling that everything was strange It seemed to him that he had been away for years instead of a mere fortnight. All sorts of queer feelings were working within him like yeast. He ate little and slept badly, and was actually glad to find himself back at work next morning, and too busy to spend any more time in thinking.

He had a long, hard day, and next evening when he left the bank went down to the gymnasium and put in an hour's stiff exercise, with the result that he slept like a log, woke late next morning, and had to hurry with his dressing and breakfast. The first person he met at the bank was Mr. Hickey, the manager.

Mr. Hickey was rather a stiff and starchy person, and rarely wasted much civility on juniors. So Jim was distinctly surprised when the manager greeted him with a smile.

"So I see you have been distinguishing yourself, Silver," he said genially.

Jim stared.

"What do you mean, sir?"

"Come now! Modesty is all very well, but surely you might have told us something of your adventures without leaving us to find them out from the papers."

"The papers!" exclaimed Jim.

"Do you mean you have not seen them?"

"No, sir, I overslept myself and had not a minute to look at a paper."

"They are full of you," said the other, smiling again. "One has even got your picture. Here is a copy. I congratulate you on your pluck and presence of mind, Silver." He nodded and went into his office.

At any other time Jim would have been delighted at kind words from the manager, but now his only feeling was one of dismay. He hastily opened the paper, and the very first thing he saw was a double-leaded headline—


Beneath was his photograph and a highly-colored, but, on the whole, correct account of the fire at Little Doward. It was not until he had read to the end that he realised that Mrs. Raft had been interviewed by a reporter.

"Good Lord!—what will Cynthia say?" he groaned. One of the cashiers slapped him on the shoulder.

"Good for you, Silver!" he said, cheerfully. "You're shedding lustre on us all. Lunch with me and tell me all about it."

That was only the beginning. All day clerks and clients alike congratulated him, and two reporters called to interview him. He was only too glad to escape and get home, but then it was only to find Mrs. Rowe bursting with excitement. Jim went to bed, the most depressed man in Plymouth.

Next morning two letters lay beside his plate. One was from Brandon.

"I expect you are upset about that precious story in the papers," he wrote. "Don't worry. Cynthia understands that it was no fault of yours. I'm thinking of getting Noel into a nursing home in Ilfracombe. It's a place where they know how to treat cases of his kind. Come and see me just when you can.—Yours ever, Bill."

Jim sighed with relief and opened the second letter, which was addressed in a very shaky hand, one that he had never seen before. Inside was a cheque for ten pounds and a sheet of note paper headed Crag Head, Callacombe. The letter ran as follows:

Dear Jim Silver,

I wish to see you, and shall take it kindly if you will come at once, since the doctor tells me that I have not much longer to live. I understand you are a bank clerk, and, since your pay is probably small, I enclose a sum sufficient for travelling expenses.

Yours faithfully,

James Torson.

"James Torson," muttered Jim. "Dad's first cousin, and, by Jove, I believe he is my godfather." He sprang up and ran to the door.

"Mrs. Rowe, pack a suitcase for me, please. I have to catch the ten o'clock at North Road."


"YOU'M Muster Silver?" The man who was waiting in the porch for Jim was solid and square, and in a suit of well worn brown tweed looked more like a gamekeeper than a house servant. He spoke, too, in the broadest of broad Devon: "Come in, sir. I be proper glad to see 'ee. The master be barely living."

"As bad as that?" asked Jim anxiously.

"'Tis a wonder heve lasted this long. 'Twas only the thought of seeing 'ee as kept him. Don't 'ee wait to pay driver. I'll see to that, sir. You come along with me."

Stairs ran up from the square stone-flagged hall, but the man did not take Jim up them. He led the way to a door opening off the hall on the right—that is the western—side. The two windows were wide to the sea and a blaze of sunshine flooded the large square room, and showed Jim a plain iron bed on which lay a huge, gaunt old man.

His face was grey, his eyes were closed, he was perfectly motionless, and for a moment Jim thought he was dead. But the eyes opened. They were pale blue, still bright and clear, and as the head turned slightly on the pillow they fixed on Jim's face.

"You are Jim Silver?" he asked in a deep, hoarse voice.

"I am Jim Silver, sir."

"It was good of you to come at once. I am glad you were in time. Please go and stand at the foot of the bed, so that I can see you without turning my head."

Jim did as he was asked, and the strange old man gazed at him in silence. Oddly enough, Jim did not feel awkward under the close scrutiny of those still, keen eyes. There was nothing unfriendly in their gaze.

"You are a bank clerk," said Mr. Torson, abruptly.


"Like it?"

"There are worse jobs," said Jim with a smile.

"What do you do in your spare time?"

"Play squash, and tennis, and I box."

"Have you ever fished?"

"All I could," Jim told him, "but I've never had much leisure."

"Do you shoot?"

"With a rifle at a target. I've not had the chance for anything else." Mr. Torson made a queer sound in his throat. It might nave been approval or disapproval, but Jim rather thought it was the former. There was silence a moment, then another question.

"Are you married?"

"Good Lord, no!" A faint smile crossed the old mans face.

"Not even thinking of it?"

"No—no, sir."

"That's the first time you haven't told me the truth. Well, I don't blame you. But I hope she's a gentlewoman."

"That's the only word to describe her, sir," said Jim gravely. "But I've as much chance of marrying her as I should of pulling the moon out of the sky."

Again the smile, but the old mans face had gone greyer.

"Can I get you anything, sir?" Jim asked anxiously.

"That bottle. A tablespoonful," was the hoarse reply. The stuff was strong and the dying man revived.

"I'm your godfather, Jim," he said. "Hasn't it ever occurred to you that I have neglected you?"

"I can't say it has, sir. Fact is, I never thought of it."

"No"—slowly—"you wouldn't." He paused again, "If I leave you this place, will you live in it?" Jim stood perfectly still. Sheer amazement left him paralysed.

"What's the matter?" came the hoarse voice from the bed—"struck dumb?"

"That's about the size of it," Jim answered with an effort. "But of course you don't mean it, sir."

"Dying men don't joke, Jim. And I am very near the end. Answer me. Will you live here?"

"I've never seen any place where I'd sooner live. Why—why it would be like heaven."

"You won't be rich," the old man warned him. "But there's enough. And you must give your word to live here."

Jim glanced out at the sparkling sea; he listened a moment to the croon of the surges breaking against the crag foot.

"I should never want to leave it," he said simply, and Mr. Torsons face relaxed.

"I believe you, Jim. And my only regret is that I did not have you here long ago. Go to the door and call Chowne."

The rugged serving man was waiting in the hall. He hurried in moving very softly for all his clumsy bulk.

"Chowne," said his master. "Get the will. The key is under my pillow."

Chowne took the key, opened a flat, steel box which stood on the dressing table, and fetched out a thick envelope. He took it across to the bed with pen and ink.

"You'll have to give me another dose, Jim," said Mr. Torson, and Jim did so. "Read it through," was the next order. "See that it is all in order." With an odd feeling that it was all a dream from which he must presently wake, Jim read the document.

"I, James Torson, of Crag Head . . . give and bequeath to James Silver, of 407 Leigham Street, Plymouth, all that ... of which I die possessed."

"I have not inserted the stipulation," said the old man. "I leave that to your honor, Jim."

"I've promised, sir," said Jim gravely.

"And you will promise something else, which is to keep Jethro Chowne and his wife so long as they wish to stay with you." Jim glanced at Jethro and the serving man nodded.

"That, too, sir!" said Jim.

"Good! Now, Chowne, fetch your wife."

Mrs. Chowne, a stout, pleasant faced woman was waiting, and came in at once.

"Lift me, Chowne," ordered Mr. Torson. Jethro's big hands were wonderfully gentle as he raised his master to a sitting position. He gave him the pen, and, with a great effort, Torson signed his name. Then he fell back.

"Witness it, Chowne. That's right. Now you, Mrs. Chowne." When both had laboriously penned their signatures, the dying man spoke again.

"Jim, I have not put their names in my will, for that would invalidate their signatures as witnesses. But they have served me long and faithfully, and I desire you to see that each receives the sum of fifty pounds." His lips went blue, and he lay panting. Jim thought it was the end, but he was wrong. After a few minutes Torson's breathing became easier, and he was able to speak again.

"Go out and look about," he said with a faint smile, "and leave me to rest a while. Chowne shall call you in later." Mrs. Chowne followed Jim out of the room.

"Tea's ready, sir," she said. "I've laid it here in the hall."

Jim thanked her and sat down. Like everything about the place, the tea was plain, but substantial. Homemade bread, home-made butter, both as good as appetite could desire. A dish of damson jam, a plum cake, large, rich and solid. The tea, hot and strong, was in a green Barumware pot, but the yellow cream was served in a beautiful old silver jug which Jim, a lover of old silver, at once recognised as being of the date of the first George. As he poured cream into his tea he suddenly realised that this jug, like everything else around him, was his own, and a curious tingle of excitement ran through his whole body.

He ate a good tea, for he had had nothing since his hurried breakfast; then, without even waiting to find his hat, went out. The house, built of reddish stone, had no pretence at architectural beauty, yet the variegated ivy which covered it to the eaves saved it from looking too bare. It stood upon a wide terrace cut in a broad spur of rock, which dropped from the cliffs behind and faced due south. To the right, the west, was the sea, the blue waves sparkling in the sun, but to the left lay a small and almost completely land-locked haven, the surface of which was so calm that all its surroundings were reflected as in a looking glass.

The steep slopes rising behind the house were covered with gorse and wild growth, amid which Jim saw the bobbing white seats of numberless rabbits. Two other things he noticed with intense pleasure. One, that a small trout stream entered the head of the haven; the other, that there was a well-built boathouse on the inner side of the spur, amply large enough to accommodate a couple of launches.

Jim perched himself on a rock overlooking the sea and filled and lit his pipe. The minutes slipped by unheeded as he smoked and thought. His thoughts had gone back to Cynthia, and he got a fresh shock as he realised that, here again, everything was changed. He had been quite honest when he had told Torson that he had as much chance of getting her as of dragging the moon from the sky, but now—

"I don't believe she dislikes me," he said half aloud, and just then a large drop of rain struck his face and roused him unromantically from his day-dream to find that a storm had blown up from the south-west and that the hills in that direction were shrouded in a mist of rain. As he jumped up and ran for the house he saw Chowne beckoning in the porch.


"HE wants to see 'ee, sir," said Chowne.

"Is he worse?"

"I don't think he'm no worse, but it worse, but it bain't possible as he can live long. His heart is clean wore out, so the doctor did say."

The old man greeted him with a faint smile.

"Had a look round, Jim?"

"I've been sitting on a rock at the end of the Point, and trying to take it all in." He laughed. "I can't do it, sir."

"I'm glad. I don't like people who take everything for granted. But you will very soon slip into it, and wherever I am I shall like to feel that my old home is in the hands of a man who is fond of it."

"You won't need to worry about that, sir," said Jim earnestly. "I've always dreamed of some day being able to retire to a little cottage or an old farm up on the moors, but this—well it's a long sight ahead of anything I ever dared to dream." A look of sadness crossed the dying man's face.

"I wish I had known," he said. "I wish I had known long ago. But time is short, Jim, and I have much to say. In the first place, as to my papers. They are in the safe in the study. The key is here, under my pillow. Chowne will show you the safe. To the best of my belief, everything is in order. Take the key and put in on your pocket." Jim did so.

"The room is growing very dark," complained Mr. Torson, "or is it that my eyes are failing?"

"Your eyes are all right, sir. It's very thick outside, and raining hard. I think I'd better close the windows." He did go and came back to the bedside.

"Have you any questions to ask, Jim?" enquired the old man. Jim hesitated.

"Don't be afraid of offending me. Ask anything you like."

"Well, sir, the point that puzzles me is, of course, why you suddenly decided to make me your heir. After all, I'm only the son of your cousin. It seems odd that you had no one nearer than me."

"I expected that question and am glad you were honest enough to ask it." He stopped short, drawing in his breath with a sharp hiss, and Jim saw that his eyes, wide and staring were fixed upon the nearest window. The storm was at its height and the rain driving so thickly that everything outside was hidden in a curtain of grey mist. But pressed against the pane was a face, a dead-white face with a thin, beaked nose and eyes which shone like polished jet. It was the cruellest, the most evil face that Jim had ever seen, and though he had but a glimpse of it— for it was gone in a flash—the sight sent cold shivers coursing down his spine.

"Fowler—Shade Fowler," said the old man thickly. "Get him Jim." Jim did not waste an instant. Flinging open the window, he vaulted out over the sill. The rain, driven by a strong wind, blew full in his face so that he could see nothing beyond a narrow radius.

He stopped, and there, in the border under the wall, spotted the prints of a pair of long, narrow shoes. But when the man had moved from the window, he had stepped back upon the turf and left no marks. A moment's reflection told Jim that the chances were he had gone inland, for it was quite certain that no boat could live on the sea in this gale, and even on the haven the wind was too much for a row boat. Jim turned inland and ran hard past the house, and past the outbuildings.

A path led up the steep slope, zig-zagging among the gorse and bushes. Here Jim found the marks again. There was no mistaking those long narrow prints, and he sprinted for all he was worth. It was raining as hard as ever and he was already soaked to the skin, but he did not give a thought to that. All his energies were fixed upon catching the intruder. Up and up he went until, all of a sudden, he found himself on level ground. He had reached the top of the cliff and in front was open moor.

Open, yes, but visibility, as the wireless reports go, was poor, and barring a couple of disconsolate looking sheep, there was not a living thing in sight. Nor was there any path. He hunted again for tracks, but the close-cropped turf yielded no signs of any kind, and Jim came to the unpleasant conclusion that further search was useless. He did not know the country, and it was impossible to guess in which direction Fowler had gone. There was nothing for it but to go back and tell Mr. Torson of his failure.

"The very first thing he has asked me to do, and I've messed it up," he said bitterly as he made his disconsolate way down the slippery hillside. Jim hated to fail in anything he had undertaken, and was not given to making excuses for any such failure. As fate had it he was not to have to confess this failure. Chowne met him at the door, and the man's face told its own story. Jim did not need the solemn words—"He'm gone, sir," to know that he would never hear from his cousin's lips why he had been made his heir.


JIM had changed, he had dined, and sat smoking in the hall. He had decided to wait until next day before opening the safe, and at present his thoughts dwelt on the strange and unpleasant visitor whom he had vainly attempted to bring to book. Chowne came in with whisky and soda on a salver. Uncouth as he looked, the man was an excellent servant and waited well.

"Will 'ee be wanting anything else, sir?" he asked in his soft Devon drawl.

"Yes, Chowne. I want a talk with you. Sit down a moment." If Chowne was surprised he gave no sign, but quietly took a chair.

"That man," said Jim abruptly. "Shade Fowler, Mr. Torson called him—who is he?"

Chowne shook his head.

"That be more'n I can say, sir."

"Do you mean you don't know, or that you won't tell?"

"You be my master, sir, now old master be gone. I'd tell 'ee anything I knowed, but it be true what I say. I don't know who this man be."

"Sorry, Chowne. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, but its clear that Mr. Torson knew the man, so I thought he must have been here before, and that you would have seen him."

"I never seed anyone here like that one you told of," Chowne answered.

"All right. But as I know his name I'll find out about him sooner or later. And I mean to find out, too, what he was doing here. I don't like people who peer in at windows. Have you ever had burglars here?"

"Nothing o' that sort, sir. We be a long ways off the main road, and I reckon I could take care of 'em if any did come."

Jim glanced at Chowne's powerful frame, and smiled.

"I rather think you could. Now there are one or two other things I'd like to ask. Where did Mr. Torson bank?"

"At Callacombe, sir. Dixie's Bank."

"And do you know who his lawyer is?"

"No, sir. The master didn't hold with them folk. But I reckon you'll find it all in the safe."

"No doubt I shall. Now about the property—how much land is there?"

"Her's just over five hundred acres, sir, but most on it's moor. There be one farm—Hare's Den they calls it. George French rents it."

"Is the shooting pretty good?"

Chowne's face brightened.

"You won't get no pheasants, sir, but for rough shooting this ground ain't to be beat. There's snipe in plenty and rabbits more'n we can kill, and, the cock, they comes in thick and early. There's a right few coveys of partridge, too, on the tilled land."

"And what about the fishing?"

"Plenty of trout in the Reed Brook, sir, and a fair run o' sea trout in June month. You be a fisherman, sir?"

"Mad on it," Jim told him, and saw at once that he went up several pegs in the other's estimation. The tall old grandfather clock wheezed and began to strike ten.

"Time for bed," said Jim. "Thank you, Chowne. Then I take it you and Mrs. Chowne will stay?"

"We'd ha' stayed with 'ee for the old master's sake, sir, because he did wish us to. But now if I may make so bold as to say it, we'll stay with 'ee for your own sake. I reckon you'm a proper sportsman and the right man to own Crag Head."

"Thank you, Chowne. And with you to help me I hope to carry on here like a sportsman. Shall we shake hands on it?" If Jim had tried for a year he could not have said or done anything better calculated to please the sturdy Devonshire man.

"We're in luck. Mary," said Chowne to his wife when he reached the kitchen. "The young gent be a proper sportsman, and you knows I can't say no better'n that."

"I likes him too," returned Mary Chowne. "Said to me, he did, that he'd never ate a better cake than the one he had for tea. You be sure, Jethro, as a young man as can like a good cake don't drink. He bain't like Mr. Harvey," she added firmly.

Jim went to bed in a big airy room which was an amazing and delightful contrast to his poky little bedroom on the top floor in Leigham street. The bed was as perfect as the room, the cool linen sheets being faintly perfumed with lavender. The rain had ceased, and the night was very still, the only sound being the gentle sough of the small waves at the foot of the Crag. Jim, tired in mind rather than in muscle, was soon asleep, and did not stir until eight o'clock, when Chowne came in with tea and shaving water.

"A fine morning. Sir," was his greeting.

"A good job, too. I'm going to be busy today. Is there a car, Chowne?"

"No, sir. The master wouldn't drive in one of they things. But there be a good horse in the stable."

"Then you'll better drive me to Callacombe after breakfast. There'll be the funeral arrangements to see to. Also I shall have to send a wire to Plymouth."

"I'll be ready by ten, sir," Chowne answered. The sun shone gloriously and as he tubbed and dressed Jim's spirits rose. While he felt deep gratitude to the dead man he could not pretend that he had sense of loss. He came down hungry, and was in the middle of an excellent breakfast when he heard a ring.

"The doctor?" he asked as Chowne came in. Chowne looked uncomfortable.

"No, sir, it be Mr. Harvey."

"Who's he?"

Chowne's eyes widened.

"The old master's nephew, Mr. Harvey Lunt. Him as has lived here. I thought 'ee knowed, sir."

"It's the first I've heard of him," Jim answered. Though he spoke quietly enough the news had given him an ugly shock. "Does he want to see me?"

"Aye, he'm asking for you."

"I'll come," said Jim briefly as he laid down his napkin, and went out into the hall. A man was standing on the rug in front of the fireplace. Jim judged him to be about his own age, but he was shorter than Jim and squarer. He had brown hair and eyes, very good features, and was well set up. Yet to Jim's mind his looks were spoilt by a curiously hard, reckless expression.

"So you're Silver," said the visitor, stepping forward, and, rather to Jim's surprise, offering his hand. "I'm Lunt, but I expect you know all about me."

"I don't," replied Jim quietly. "I heard your name for the first time less than a minute ago."

Harvey Lunt's eyebrows rose.

"So Uncle James had departed this life before you arrived?"

"No, he lived for some hours after I got here, but he did not speak of you."

Harvey laughed.

"A bit rough then, my springing my self on you in this fashion. I am the old man's nephew, and have lived with him ever since I left school."

"Then—" began Jim, and stopped.

"Then why aren't you here still? you were going to ask. Say it. Don't be afraid of hurting my feelings."

"It was on the tip of my tongue," Jim allowed.

"Of course it was. Well, if you want the truth, I was his heir up to a week ago. Then he and I quarrelled and he kicked me out. At least, he told me to go. After that I suppose he began to search for you." Jim was silent. He did not know what to say. Harvey Lust laughed again.

"Don't worry, Silver, I don't bear you any malice. I've a little place of my own and enough to live on. All I want from you is permission to keep my launch, the Grey Ghost, in your boathouse." Jim pulled himself together.

"That, of course," he said. "And—"

"No, don't say I'm taking it like a sportsman. I'm quite happy. Now go and finish your breakfast. You may expect me at the funeral." He was gone before Jim could even reach the door to open it. He jumped into a car that stood at the door and with just one quick wave of his hand shot away down the drive. Jim found Chowne in the hall.

"He's gone," said the latter with evident relief.

"Yes, all he wanted was leave to keep his boat here."

"You didn't go to give it, sir?"

"Of course I did."

Chowne's look of dismay startled Jim badly.


"DO you mean I ought not to have done it, Chowne," Jim asked quickly, "that I shouldn't have given him leave to keep his boat here? Speak out freely," he added as Chowne hesitated.

"Mr. Harvey don't seem to belong here no longer, sir, not after old master did send him packing like he did.

"Then you don't think he was badly treated, Chowne?"

"No, sir," returned Chowne emphatically, "There weren't never a juster man lived than old master, and you be sure he had good reason before he turned Mr. Harvey away."

Jim frowned.

"Seems to me I've made a blunder. But it's done and can't be helped." He paused. "Mr. Harvey was very nice to me about my succeeding to the place, Chowne. Said he didn't bear me any malice."

"He'm clever," was all that Chowne said.

"I take, it you don't like him, Chowne."

"Nivver did like him, sir, and nivver would neither."

"Well, that's flat anyhow, and I shall be guided accordingly. Now see here, Chowne. Before I go into Callacombe I have to look into the safe. It's in the study, isn't it?"

"Aye, sir. I'll show 'ee." It was the first time Jim had seen the study. He found it large and airy like all the rooms at Crag Head. The furniture was old-fashioned but good, a big flat-topped writing table, comfortable leather chairs, racks for guns and rods and a glass-fronted book-case with a really fine collection of books on sport. Some coloured sporting prints adorned the walls. Jim had not time to look at them but spotted two as works of the famous Aiken.

The safe, an old-fashioned iron affair, stood in a corner and was opened without difficulty. The shelves were piled with letters and papers neatly docketted in bundles. Jim glanced at the clock. It was already a quarter to ten.

"We must put off our trip till eleven, Chowne. It will take me all of an hour to find what I want here."

"That be all right, sir. I'll leave 'ee to it," said Chowne and went off. Left alone, Jim took everything out of the safe, laid the bundles on the desk, and set to work. His bank training enabled him to go through the documents much more rapidly than most men, and one bundle after another was quickly opened, glanced at, and laid aside.

Jim began to frown. Here was no list of securities, no pass book, nothing to give him the information he wanted. There were piles of receipts and business letters connected with the estate, but must of the contents of the safe might just as well have been put in the fire so far as any value was concerned. All he could find that was worth keeping was a pocketbook with thirty-seven pounds in notes. He looked in the safe again, but there was certainly not a secret drawer or anything of that sort. It was nothing but a big iron box. Yet Mr. Torson had distinctly said that the papers dealing with his securities were in the safe, and his mind had seemed clear when he made that statement. Jim was badly puzzled, and not a little worried.

There was the sound of a car coming up the drive, and Mrs. Chowne announced Dr. Somerford. Jim met him in the hall, a stout, genial man, who seemed to know all about Jim.

"I'm glad he lasted to see you, Mr. Silver," he said. "He told me of his intention of making you his heir. Don't think me heartless that I did not come again last night. I had called just before you came, and in any case I could not have done anything. Your cousin's heart was worn out, and no doctor in the world could have mended it. I came now to give the certificate, for I take it you will be making the funeral arrangements to-day."

Jim thanked him and told him he was just off to Callacombe. The certificate was soon written, and the doctor took his leave. Then Jim had just time to bundle all the papers back into the safe before Chowne brought round a dogcart with a sturdy bay cob in the shafts.

"Not much in the safe, Chowne," said Jim as he drove away. "No passbook or any word about securities."

"That be funny, sir," replied the man in a puzzled tone. "The master did keep everything in that there safe." Then his face cleared a little. "Maybe they got 'em at the bank. Mr. Vint, he'll know for sure." Jim hoped he would. Though the journey seemed slow to one who, like Jim, had hardly ever driven behind a horse, he enjoyed it. Washed with the night's rain, the moor was lovely, and every little brook ran full with an amber flood. High white clouds floated before a gentle sou'westerly wind.

Callacombe was a small place and quiet except on a market day. There was not another customer in the bank when Jim walked in and asked for the manager. Mr. Vint, a quiet-looking, spectacled man of fifty, took him into the office. He was interested to learn that Jim was his old client's successor, but when he heard that Jim was in the same profession as himself, he became really friendly.

So Jim spoke freely and told him the whole business, even to the ugly face that had appeared at the window and cut short his last talk with Mr. Torson. Vint looked grave.

"I never heard of this man, Fowler, Mr. Silver, and I have no notion why Mr. Torson turned his nephew out of his house. One thing, however, I can tell you, which is that Mr. Torson must have had good reason for what he did. I knew him a good few years, and though he was reserved and never talked much to anyone, yet I can assure you he was a very just man and one who never acted on impulse. Whatever Lunt did, it must have been something pretty bad for his uncle to disinherit him so completely."

"I'm glad to hear you talk like this," said Jim frankly. "It relieves my mind, for I couldn't help feeling, in a way, guilty."

"You needn't," Vint assured him, "and personally I am very glad that you and not Lunt have the place. Lunt might have promised to stay there, but I don't believe he ever would. He was always running away to Plymouth or London." He paused a moment to offer Jim a cigarette, then went on:

"To turn to business, I am surprised to hear what you say about the safe, for Mr. Torson certainly did not keep his securities here."

"Did he have a London bank?" asked Jim.

"Not that I know of. As I say, he was a reserved, rather secretive man who never talked about his business affairs."

"But he must have made payments into your bank since he kept his account here.

"He did, and of course we have copies of his pass books for years past which I can show you."

"Then at any rate you can tell me of his investments."

"I can, but unfortunately that won't help you much. Mr. Torson had a curious preference for bearer bonds, and most, if not all, of his income came from securities of that sort. His chief holding was in the New York Atlantic Trust, from which he drew about £600 a year. His other holdings were also American trusts. His total income was about £900 a year—that is so far as I know."

Nine hundred pounds a year! For a moment Jim's heart beat a little faster. This was better than he had expected, but next moment his spirits dropped with a bump. For if the bonds had disappeared he had no income at all.

Vint noticed Jim's dejection.

"I should not worry too much, Mr. Silver. It is quite possible that the bonds are locked up in a desk or strong-box in some other part of the house. And in any case you have enough to carry on with. There is two hundred pounds on deposit and a cash balance of £177/3/4. I don't suppose that you will find many bills outstanding, for Mr. Torson was very prompt in settling all his dues."

"You are very cheering, Mr. Vint," said Jim. "The odds are, you are right and the securities are somewhere else than in the safe. They must be, for I'm sure they can't have been stolen. Chowne would have seen to that."

"Indeed he would. A man in a million is Chowne, and you're lucky, to have him."

"I must go and see the undertaker, Mr. Vint. I hope you come out to Crag Head one of these days."

"I will that," the manager promised, as he went with Jim to the door.

The funeral arrangements were simple. Chowne knew all about them, and Jim got home for a late lunch, after which he wrote a letter to Mr. Hickey explaining matters and sending in his resignation. He also wrote to Brandon telling him of his inheritance. There was no one else to tell, for Jim was in the rather forlorn position of having no near relatives. The last, his mother, had died five years ago. His last letter was to a solicitor friend in Plymouth, to ask him to see about probate.

The letters done, Jim began a thorough search for the missing securities. Every drawer of the desk was opened, and its contents sorted out, and he also went through a writing table in the sitting-room, and everything in Mr. Torson's own room. The search was not completed until nearly ten that night, and the result was absolutely nil. Unless the bonds were in some secret hiding place—and Chowne vowed that nothing of the sort existed—they were not in the house.


AS he had promised, Harvey Lunt came to the funeral. So did Mr. Vint and several neighbours. Mr. Torson had had few friends, yet he seemed to have been liked by everyone in this sparsely-settled country. After the service Jim entertained them soberly but well, and presently all left except Harvey.

Harvey, if anyone, ought to know where those bonds were kept, and when the coast was clear, Jim asked him. But Harvey shook his head.

"My dear fellow, I know absolutely nothing about Uncle James's affairs. I never did. I lived here, and he allowed me one hundred and fifty pounds a year, but he never said a word to me of business matters. Indeed, I never knew what his income was, or where it came from. He was mum as an oyster, but," he added more gravely, "he was good to me."

Jim opened his mouth to speak, but checked. Harvey laughed.

"Out with it, Jim! You're wondering why we quarrelled."

"I am," said Jim. Harvey's face hardened slightly, then he laughed again.

"Some day perhaps I'll tell you—but not now. See here, you're looking a bit hipped. What do you say to a run in my launch? She's a slipper."

"I'd love it," replied Jim, "but I can't go to-day. It's late, and I have a lot to do."

"Then to-morrow. I'll turn up about ten. Any special place would you like to go?"

"What about Ilfracombe?" suggested Jim, for it had suddenly flashed upon him that Cynthia would be there with her brother.

"Right!" said the other cheerfully, and took himself off. Jim was very thoughtful as he ate his solitary dinner. The matter of the missing bonds weighed heavily on his mind. Presently he rang for Chowne and told him exactly the state of affairs.

"It's quite clear the bonds are not in the house, Chowne. Do you think it is possible they have been stolen? I'm thinking of Shade Fowler. He looked ugly enough for anything."

Chowne shook his head.

"There ain't been no thieves in this house, sir," he answered, doggedly. "Mary and me sleeps in, as you knows, and she be a proper light sleeper. She were always listening for old master's bell, for since he got bad he couldn't do naught to help himself, You take it from me, sir, there ain't been no burglars in this house."

"Yet someone has taken those bonds, Chowne—that is unless they're hidden in some place you or I don't know of."

"There ain't no place of that kind as I knows on," Chowne told him. Jim sighed.

"Well, see here, Chowne, with my own savings and the balance in the bank I have about six hundred pounds—enough, say, to carry on for a year, but at the end of that time if I can't find the bonds I shall have to let the house and go back to work. There's nothing else for it."

"You don't be needing to spend all that money in a year, sir," said Chowne quickly. "The missus and me, us got our savings. Us wouldn't want you to pay us nothing until you gets what's rightly yours." Jim did not say much. He really could not, but once more he vowed to himself that, whatever happened, he would hang on to his house and these two loyal folk.

Next day was bright and rather cool with an easterly breeze. So the sea under lee of the tall cliffs was pleasantly calm and the Grey Ghost made a good passage down the coast.

Jim was surprised at the size and power of her.

"You could go across to Ireland in her," he suggested.

"I've been," Harvey told him. "I wouldn't mind crossing the Atlantic in her for that matter." Harvey handled her like a master and they were at Ilfracombe before 12. Jim insisted on standing lunch and afterwards told his cousin he wanted to call on some friends.

"Suits me," said Harvey. "I'll meet you here at six if that'll do."

Jim had Cynthia's address from Brandon. She had taken a small house called Appledore in Drake-road. He walked up from the front and getting directions from a large policeman, soon found the road. Since the houses had no numbers Jim walked slowly, looking at the names on each gate.

A man came out of a gate, a big, heavy-set follow, and Jim pulled up and stared. Though he could not see his face, there was no mistaking those thick shoulders and peculiar slouching walk.

"Harmer," he said to himself, frowning. And the frown deepened as he reached the gate and found the name on it to be Appledore.

"The swine! What's he doing here?" growled Jim, and as if in answer to his question the door opened and there stood Cynthia. She wore a very pretty pale blue, figured chiffon frock and nothing could have better suited her fair skin and the shining gold of her hair. Framed in the doorway she made such a picture that Jim could only stare. She was the first to speak.

"Mr. Silver!" she exclaimed, and Jim's heart leaped for there was pleasure as well as surprise in her voice. She came forward quickly.

"What brings you here? I thought Plymouth was where you lived and worked."

"I'm not working," replied Jim, recovering himself. "I am now a gentleman of leisure. Didn't Bill tell you?"

"I haven't seen him since we came here. Come in and tell me yourself. I can see by your face you have real news."

"But you were going out."

"To see Noel. That can wait. Come in, I insist." She took him into a small but pretty sitting-room, made him sit down, and herself lighted a cigarette for him.

"Now tell me all about it. Has a fairy godmother turned up?"

"You're very nearly right, only it was a godfather, not a godmother." And Jim went on to tell her of his sudden summons to Crag Head and of his inheritance.

"Crag Head!" she cried. "I know it. A lovely place. Oh, Mr. Silver, I am glad." She was so frankly pleased that Jim was in the seventh heaven. "But what brought you here?" she continued.

"Did you really have to ask that question?" Jim answered, and was rewarded by seeing a faint flush rise in Cynthia's cheeks.

"So you came to tell me," she said. "That was nice of you. You don't forget your friends in your prosperity."

"I haven't so many that I can afford to lose them," Jim said.

"Nor I, either," she answered, and this time it was Jim who got red. He asked about Noel. Cynthia said he was better, but still in the nursing home.

"And there he will stay for the present," she added firmly. Jim wanted badly to ask about Harmer, but did not like to, and Cynthia turned the talk back to Crag Head, so that for the moment Jim forgot about the unpleasant visitor.

Time flew by, and before Jim knew it, a small clock on the bookcase struck four.

"You'll stay for tea, Mr. Silver?" said Cynthia.

"Mayn't I ask you to tea," Jim ventured, "Let me take you out. Do!"

Cynthia laughed.

"It is Mrs. Raft's afternoon out, so the pleasure will be mine. It will save me boiling the kettle. Where shall we go?"

"You know better than I."

"Then I vote for the Criterion. They have the most fascinating cakes. And the music is quite good."

Jim forgot his troubles as he walked with Cynthia through the town. He could not help noticing how people stared at Cynthia, or realising how other men were envying him. What he did not realise was that his own tall, well-set-up figure and clean-cut face attracted as much attention from the women as Cynthia's fair beauty did from the men. Cynthia herself was quite conscious of this, and liked him the better for his modesty.

They got a table to themselves, and the cakes and music did not disappoint them. Like Jim, Cynthia seemed to have put all unpleasant things out of her mind, and laughed and talked gaily. Again Jim forgot the clock, and got a sharp start when a hand dropped on his shoulder, and he turned to see Harvey Lunt standing beside him.

"Forgive me butting in, Jim, but you haven't forgotten, we leave at six."

"It's nowhere near that," returned Jim sharply.

"It's a quarter past five," said Harvey.

Jim smothered his annoyance and remembered his manners.

"Miss Carrow, may I introduce my cousin Harvey Lunt."

Cynthia bowed.

"He is taking me home in his launch," Jim continued.

"It's the tide," apologised Harvey. "Otherwise, I'd be only too glad to wait. I feel a beast to break up a tea party."

"You need not feel anything of the sort, Mr. Lunt," said Cynthia. "I ought to have left half an hour ago for I have a call to make." She rose. "Thank you for a lovely tea, Mr. Silver. Let me know in good time when you are coming again."

"But I may see you home?" begged Jim.

"I am not going home. I have to see Noel. You can call me a taxi and leave me with a clear conscience." There was nothing for it but to obey, but as Jim put her in the taxi Cynthia gave him a firm hand clasp.

"I really have enjoyed my afternoon," she said. "And I am looking forward to seeing Crag Head. Goodbye."

Jim trod on air as he walked with Harvey to the pier, and Harvey's thin lips curled slightly as he watched him. They were nearly there before Harvey spoke.

"That's a very beautiful girl, Jim."

"Cynthia—Miss Carrow. You're right. And as charming as she looks."

Harvey nodded. "I wish you luck, Jim."

"T—Thanks," stammered Jim, "That's decent of you, Harvey." Nothing more was said until they were in the launch and running out to sea. The wind had dropped completely and a thick haze hid the horizon. Harvey frowned a little.

"I hope it isn't going to turn to fog. This coast is no joke in thick weather." As if in answer, the hoarse blast of a fog horn came through the haze, but the steamer herself was not visible.

"It isn't far. That's one blessing," said Harvey as he drove the launch swiftly across the smooth grey sea.

"And it's not getting any worse either," Jim added. Harvey nodded but did not speak. His eyes were fixed upon a vessel that loomed up ahead and a little to leeward. She looked like a trawler and was steaming leisurely southwards. Harvey edged slightly towards her and suddenly signals began to fly from her mast head.

"That craft is speaking to us, Jim," said Harvey. "I'll run alongside and see what they want." A few minutes later the launch came alongside the trawler. A rope was flung and made fast and Harvey went up the side.

"Shan't be long," he said over his shoulder to Jim. "Sit tight, Grey Ghost will tow safely." Jim sat gazing up at the rusty side of the trawler whose screw was turning just fast enough to give her steerage way. Knowing little of the sea, it did not occur to him as anything out of the common that a trawler should speak to a launch. He only left a vague wonder what they wanted with Harvey.

For some five minutes he sat quietly waiting, then Harvey who had gone below, appeared again on deck, and with him another man. Jim stiffened and stared, hardly able to believe his eyes. Though the second man now wore a rough blue jersey and duck trousers, badly stained with tar, Jim recognised him instantly. That this, dead-white face, sharp nose and jet-black, beady eyes could never be mistaken.

"Shade Fowler!" he muttered in amazement. "And Harvey talking to him. Now what the deuce does this mean?"


JIM saw Fowler nod, then turn and go back down the hatch. Either he had not seen Jim at all, or he had spotted him and was trusting that Jim, had not seen him. A deck-hand laid hold of the tow rope of the launch and dragged her alongside, and Harvey, slipped lightly over the low rail and dropped to the launch's deck.

"All set," he said easily as he came aft to the cockpit, and started up the engine. He glanced at Jim and saw in a moment that something was wrong.

"What's up?" he asked quietly.

"That man," said Jim, "that one you were talking to. Who is he?" A look of surprise crossed Harvey's face.

"No one you've ever seen before."

"You're wrong. I have seen him," Jim answered curtly. Harvey's lips tightened and for an instant his eyes went hard.

"The day I came to Crag Head, he came peering into the window of Cousin James's room. I went after him, but it was raining in sheets, and I lost him."

Harvey pursed his lips.

"Did Uncle James tell you who he was?"

"He told me his name, and he told me to catch him. And if I had—" Jim's face hardened. "I'd have run him in."

"It's just as well you didn't catch him," said Harvey slowly. "Fowler's a pretty tough customer in a scrap."

"So am I, if it comes to that," replied Jim quietly, and again Harvey's eyebrows lifted slightly.

"You'd nothing against him," he said.

"Nothing against him! That's not true. He was sneaking round the house, and I should have been perfectly justified in running him in as a burglar. His looks alone are enough to damn him."

Harvey laughed. "He's not a beauty, I'll admit, Jim. But you're making a mountain out of a molehill. He was merely looking for me."

"Then why the devil didn't he come to the front door and ask for you, instead of slinking round the house and peering into windows?"

"That, too, is easily explained. Uncle James had forbidden him the house."

"He didn't do that for nothing," snapped Jim.

Harvey shrugged.

"Not from his point of view." He paused. "It looks to me as if I shall have to explain," he said at last.

"I'd be glad if you would," Jim answered curtly.

"Well don't get shirty, Jim, for there's nothing so very dreadful to confess. The fact is that Fowler and I are in business together. He's agent for a Dutch firm. He brings over brandy and tobacco, and I get it ashore and dispose of it."

Jim stared.

"You're a smuggler!"

"I plead guilty. Now you know why Uncle James turned me down."

Jim was silent, but his thoughts were busy. So this was the solution of the my story. Yes, an upright man like Mr. Torson would no doubt have disapproved of smuggling. Yet it did seem rather drastic to have turned Harvey down altogether, for, after all, smuggling, though an offence against the law, is not generally regarded as a crime. Harvey was watching Jim. He seemed to be reading his thoughts.

"If you do the same, Jim, I can't blame you. I can't expect you to see things from my point of view."

"How do you mean?" Jim asked.

"Good Lord, man, surely it's plain enough. Here was I cooped up in Crag Head. No society—not a darned thing to do but shoot and fish, both of which bore me stiff. Then I ran into Fowler. At first I disliked him. As you say, his face is certainly not his fortune. Then he began to tell me things and I got interested.

"He suggested that I should come in with him. I asked what he thought I had to offer, and he told me that I could be very useful in distributing the smuggled stuff. Also that the cove was an ideal place to keep a launch. And when he told me of the profits to be made my last scruples went overboard. There, you have the whole story in a nutshell, and as I say, if you follow Uncle James's example and tell me to go to blazes, there'll be no ill-feeling."

Jim shook his head.

"I don't feel that way, Harvey. And I don't think I blame you. Smuggling doesn't appeal to me, but I can't see there's anything specially wrong about it, and I think I can realise the excitement. No, I'm hanged if I turn you down."

"And you'll keep your mouth shut about what I've told you."

"Naturally. There's only one condition. I'm not going to have you keep smuggled stuff at Crag Head or use it as a centre for distribution."

Harvey laughed.

"That, of course. But I may keep my boat there?"

"Yes, certainly."

"That's very decent of you, Jim. And here's the cove." He swung the launch, and next minute they were through the channel and in the calm water of the cove. Jim asked him to stay to dinner, but he refused.

"Chowne hates me," he said. "No I'll go home." He paused. "Jim, these bonds you told me about. You can't find them?"

"Not a sign."

"Bit embarrassing, eh? Can you carry on?"

"For a bit."

"If you're in trouble call on me. Blood's thicker than water."

"That's good of you, Harvey," said Jim warmly. "But it'll be all right. I'll find those bonds before I'm a lot older."

"I hope you will," said Harvey. "Good night."

Jim meant to find those bonds, and next day started a fresh search. In spite of what Chowne had said, he could not help believing that there was a hiding place, for he knew that many an old Devonshire farmer keeps his stocking under the hearthstone. He even went down into the cellar, a dark, damp place cut in the solid rock of the crag.

He spent two whole days on the job, but found nothing. The next day he felt he must get out and so went fishing. He had a lovely basket of trout out of the brook and came back rather tired, very hungry, and amazingly cheerful.

The day following was wet, and Jim got all the letters out of the safe and started to read them through in the hope of finding some reference to the money. Some of the letters were quite interesting, but none was helpful. Next day he began on the contents of the writing table, but Harvey turned up with a suggestion that they should go sea fishing, and Jim could not refuse. They went out to the Wrestlers, a reef nine miles from shore, and had a large fine take of pollack and a couple of large dog-fish.

Every day Jim spent at Crag Head he loved it better and better. The air was splendid, Mrs. Chowne was a first-class cook, and Jim grew brown and hard and uncommonly fit. The life suited him to perfection. With Cynthia to share it, the place would be a paradise, but how could he possibly ask any girl to share a house that he had no money to keep? The lost bonds obsessed him, and he spent every spare hour in searching.

In the meantime he lived as cheaply as possible, and this was not difficult, for there were quantities of rabbits, any amount of fresh eggs, and three cows which provided more milk, butter, and cream than the small household could use. Besides these supplies Jim could always catch fish. There were hardly any bills except for groceries, flour, and tobacco, and if he had had the money to pay the Chowne's wages he could have carried on almost indefinitely.

On a morning of bright sun and strong wind Jim was busy in the garden when he heard a car coming up the drive. It was Brandon's two-seater, and he hurried to meet him.

"Bill, how splendid!" he cried.

"Splendid's a good word," said Brandon with a chuckle. "I never saw you look so fit. Being a landed proprietor, seems to agree with you."

"I love it," said Jim frankly. "The trouble is that the land is the only thing I am proprietor of."

Brandon gave him a quick look as Jim opened the door for him.

"I thought the old lad left you a pretty good wad," he remarked.

"He did, but I can't find it. Sit down and I'll get you some cider. Then I'll tell you all about it." Brandon's silence was proof of his interest. He did not say a word until Jim had finished his story.

"But it's plain as the nose on your face, Jim," he said at last. "This fellow, Fowler, is the thief—he or one of his gang."

"That's what I've thought all along, but Chowne won't have it. He is certain there have been no burglars in the house, and Chowne is pretty reliable. Besides, the safe hasn't been broken open. If anyone got at it they had a key."

"Let's see it," said Brandon, and Jim took him into the study.

"Why, it's nothing but an iron box," he said. "It would be simple as pie to get a key that would open it."

"Not so easy as you think," replied Jim. "Look at the key. It's an unusual shape." Brandon examined it.

"Yes, but if anyone had got hold of it long enough to take a wax mould, it would be easy to make a duplicate."

"Fowler could never have done that. The key was always in Mr. Torson's pocket or under his pillow."

"Then it looks as if he had an accomplice." He thought a moment. "What about Lunt?"

"He's the person I suspected until I came to know him. Now that I know him I've definitely counted him out. Why, he's even offered to lend me money."

Brandon grunted.

"You ought to know. Now see here, Jim, is there no way of getting these securities duplicated? You have records of the holdings. Won't the companies replace them when they hear what has happened?"

Jim shook his head.

"Not in the case of bonds to bearer. They are like bank notes. You can't get the interest until you have cut and sent in the coupons which are attached to the bonds."

"I see," said Brandon. "But, Jim, if that's the case won't the thief be collecting the interest?"

"Exactly what I'm hoping. If he does I've got him. The companies have been notified of the disappearance of the bonds and will, of course, let me know the name and address of anyone who sends up coupons."

Brandon frowned.

"But the thief must have known that."

"Unless he was a very ignorant sort of Bill Sykes, of course, he must have known it. That's what makes me doubt they were stolen. And yet, I've searched the whole house, even to the cellar."

"Take me round," said Brandon. "Sometimes a stranger sees more than the owner. In any case, I'd like to see the house."

Jim jumped up.

"I'd love to show it you, Bill. I say, you'll stop for lunch?"

"I'm stopping for the day," laughed Brandon. "I thought I owed myself a holiday."

"What about your patients?"

"They're a singularly healthy lot, but Collier over at Paradine will take on if anyone really needs him."

"That's fine," declared Jim as he rang for Mrs. Chowne to tell her about lunch. Afterwards he took Brandon all round, ending up by leading him down the steep rock steps into the cellar.

"This must have cost a bit," said Brandon as he noticed the light of the lantern which Jim carried reflected on walls of solid rock. "And I say, what's that noise?"

"The sea breaking on the crag. It's blowing pretty hard."

Brandon stood listening.

"It sounds as if it were right underneath," he said. "Listen to that queer, sucking noise." Jim stood silent, listening. The sound was certainly strange, for each boom was followed by a loud hissing and whistling like air escaping under pressure from a cavity.

"I never heard that before, Bill," he said at last. "But then, I've never been down here when it was blowing. It strikes me I'd better have a look round when it's a bit quieter."

"I should," Brandon answered. "I'll lay odds there's a sea cave below this cellar. That's one hiding place you haven't searched yet."


JIM sat frowning over a letter which he had just opened. His excellent breakfast cooled, unheeded.

The letter was from Bent, his lawyer friend in Plymouth, and it contained the unpleasant news that the revenue authorities demanded between seven and eight hundred pounds legacy duty on the house and lands of Crag Head.

"And I'm afraid," Bent wrote, "that you will have to pay it within three months. I have put before them the fact that the securities are missing, but they refuse to make any allowance on this account. There are two alternatives: one to raise money on mortgage, the other to sell outright a portion of the property."

Jim frowned. "I won't sell. I swear I won't sell. I'll find those bonds." He got up and walked to the window. It was the morning after Brandon's visit, and a very lovely morning too, but, though the wind had dropped, it was still too rough to explore the landward side of the Crag.

"But the inner side will be all right. I'll start there. It's a slim chance, but better than none at all."

Jim was conscious of a slight thrill of excitement as he sculled the dinghy along the base of the Crag. As he looked up at it he realised that there was more than one day's work before him. The length of the great tongue of rock was fully three hundred yards, while in height it varied from fifty feet where it broke from the cliff to thirty at the Point.

The rock was limestone fissured and channelled by centuries of weather into every kind of fantastic shape, and what made Jim's task more difficult was that above high-water mark it was covered with gorse, mountain ash, brambles and all kinds of growth. He rowed the length and spotted several crevices which looked like mouths of caves. One was almost opposite the house, so he decided to try this first, and, having managed to land, scrambled up.

He was disappointed. The hole was only a cleft some six feet deep. Jim climbed a little higher and found himself on a ledge. Something grated under his foot and he picked up a rusty piece of iron which had evidently been the heel-plate of a man's boot. Again came the queer little creeping thrill of excitement, and he began to work along the ledge.

He noticed that, though much overgrown and broken away in places, it looked as if it had been used as a path. A mass of brambles barred his way. He pushed them aside, getting badly scratched in the process, and found himself looking straight into the mouth of a passage that went inwards as far as he could see.

Now really excited, he plunged in. The passage drove straight into the heart of the Crag, and though the entrance was low, there was head-room inside. Before he had gone a dozen steps he was in darkness, and he pulled out his torch, and switched it on. There was a flash, that was all. The bulb had gone.

"Damn!" said Jim very emphatically, and, scrambling out, yelled for Chowne. Presently a surprised face peered over the edge above.

"Whatever be 'ee doing, master?" demanded Chowne.

"I've found a cave, but my torch has gone out. Bring some candles, and a rope, and be quick."

"He be mazed," growled Chowne to himself, but all the same he obeyed and presently came scrambling slowly down the bluff. It was steep, but not really difficult. Jim showed him the tunnel.

"Did you ever see that before, Chowne?"

"Be it likely, master. I bain't no rabbit. What do 'ee reckon to find in there?"

"I'm looking for the bonds."

There was an expression of pity rather that scorn on Chowne's rugged face as he looked at his employer.

"Do 'ee see old master a-crawling into a place like thiccy?"

"No," snapped Jim, "but it may lead to some place with another and easier entrance."

"I wish 'ee'd found that un first," said Chowne, but all the same he lighted a candle and followed Jim in. The tunnel sloped upwards, and barring a few rocks that had fallen from the roof, was easy going. Jim spotted a small white object, and picked it up.

"Look!" he said, showing Chowne the bowl of an old clay pipe. "There's proof that someone has been in here before us."

"But it weren't old master. He nivver smoked them sort of pipes."

"Of course it wasn't. That pipe's a hundred years old or more. It's proof that this place was used by smugglers."

Chowne's face went curiously blank, and Jim had a sudden suspicion that he knew more about things than he had ever admitted.

The passage widened and grew higher, and Jim noticed that the air was quite fresh.

"I'll lay that there's a cave at the end of this," he said. "I wonder if we're anywhere near under the house."

Chowne shook his head.

"We bain't that far," he declared. He pulled up short. "By gum, look at them icicles!" The passage had suddenly opened into a good-sized rock chamber, the roof of which looked as if hung with icicles reflecting the light of the candles.

"They're stalactites," Jim told him. "Made by drips from the roof."

"They be mighty pretty, whatever may they be made," said Chowne. "Do 'ee reckon to find them papers here, master?"

"I don't believe anyone has been in here for at least a century," Jim answered, as he glanced around. "What I'm looking for is another passage which might lead to the sea-cave under the house."

"There be another passage right enough," Chowne said, as he held the candle high and pointed to an opening in the far wall.

"That's good," said Jim as he made straight for the hole. "And it goes in the right direction, too. Come on, Chowne. I believe we're on the track. See how it dips."

"You be careful," Chowne warned, as Jim hurried ahead. "Looks to me like an old mine adit, and if you falls down a winze it'll take more'n a doctor to mend 'ee."

Jim slowed at once. Chowne might be right. The cave was natural, but this passage looked as if it had been cut by hand. And his long tramps on Cornish and Devon moors had made Jim sufficiently familiar with tin mines to know all about a "winze." A winze is a shaft cut to join two different levels of a mine. It sometimes opens in the middle of a gallery, and there is no warning at all until one walks into a black pit, and pitches down 20, 30, or 40 feet on to hard rock below.

The passage fell steeply, and drops of moisture oozed from the roof, and trickled down the walls. The floor became greasy, and Jim noticed that the air was heavy and stagnant. Another few yards and he knew the reason. A mass of earth and rock completely blocked the tunnel.

"Of all the rotten luck!" grumbled Jim, and was stepping forward to see whether the rocks could be moved when Chowne caught him by the arm.

"Don't 'ee do it master. Touch them there rocks and like as not the whole roof'll drop down and bury us both."

It was true, Jim felt it was true, but it was very reluctantly that he clambered back up the slope to the cave.

Reaching it, he began searching for another passage out. Limestone, he knew, is full of cracks and caves. Chowne was looking about with interest. Though he had lived here for years he had never even suspected the existence of this cave.

"I reckon you was right, sir," he said presently. "There bain't nobody used this here cave for a many years. This here old box—it's like one my old granfer used to show me when I were a boy." Turning sharply, Jim saw Chowne examining an old chest. It was made of hand-sawn oak and clamped with bands of hand-forged iron, so eaten with rust that most of it had fallen away.

"That's a jolly sight more than a hundred years old," said Jim. "Three hundred is what I'd put it at. I wonder if there's anything in it." The lid was fastened with an old-fashioned padlock, but the hinges were so rusty that a couple of blows with a stone burst it open. Chowne fished inside and lifted out a metal bowl, black as soot and wrapped in mouldering remains of what might once have been cloth or velvet.

"Nought but old tin," he remarked with scorn, and was about to throw it down when Jim took it quickly from his hand, and began to examine it by the light of the candle.

"Tin!" he said sharply. "It's silver." Chowne wondered at the blaze of excitement in Jim's eyes.

"But it be all spoiled," he said. "It couldn't be worth much."

"Only about five times its weight in gold," replied Jim. "It's Elizabethan if I'm not very much mistaken. Is there more?"

"There be some kind of plate, but they do look worse'n the bowl."

"Silver platters, and the same date as the bowl. Six of them," Jim added gleefully. "Chowne, we're in luck. This little lot will fetch four or five hundred pounds."

Chowne shook his head. "You'm eddicated. You'd ought to know, but me, I wouldn't have took the trouble to carry 'em home."

"I'm going to carry them home and tomorrow I'm going to carry them to London, Chowne." It was lunch time when they got back, and Jim was too excited to eat. He had a glass of cider, then took his prizes into the study and started to clean them. As the grime of ages came away they were revealed as exquisite specimens of Elizabethan silverware.

There was a knock, and Chowne came in.

"Mr. Lunt to see 'ee, sir," he said grimly. Chowne did not like Harvey and made no attempt to conceal his dislike. Jim hurried out to meet his cousin.

"Hulloa, old man," Harvey greeted him genially. "What about a run to my car? It's a topping day."

"Can't do it. Too busy. I've had a bit of luck, Harvey." Quickly he told the story of his find and Harvey listened with interest.

"That's fine," he said. "Silver of that date is worth a pot of money. It'll carry you on till you find the bonds."

"That's what I'm hoping. Come and see it." He led his cousin into the study, then stopped and stood staring as if he could not believe his eyes. Except for the cleaning material the table was bare.


JIM did not waste a moment. In three strides he reached the wide-open window, vaulted out, and ran round the corner of the house. Since he had been out of the study not more than three or four minutes it was certain that the thief could not have gone far. Jim fully expected to see him on the cliff path.

There was no one there. He swung round in the other direction, but the Point was equally bare. Some one came hurrying up behind him. It was Mrs. Chowne. Her plump face was crimson with exertion, and she was panting for breath.

"The man went over the rock, sir, I were upstairs. I seed him from the window."

"Which way?" Jim asked, and she pointed down towards the end of the Crag.

"All right. Tell Chowne." He was off like a shot, and Jim could run faster than most men. His first surge of anger at the theft of the plate had passed, and he was able to think clearly.

The thief, whoever he was, must have been hiding somewhere near the house, probably in that big clump of laurels opposite the study window. The moment he had seen Jim leave the room he had nipped in and snatched up the plate. The chances were that he had a boat hidden among the rocks off the end of the Point, and was reckoning to get across the cove and into the thick gorse on the far side before he could be caught.

All this flashed through Jim's mind as he ran for the Point, and before he reached it he saw that he was right. A man was pulling away from the end of the Point in a small boat. But he was not heading across the cove; he was rowing out to sea.

The boathouse was built on the inner side of the Point about fifty yards from its end, and a path ran down to it. Jim had left the dinghy tied alongside the landing, but when he reached it the first thing he saw was that the sculls were missing. The was no need to ask who had taken them. That was obvious, but it was one more proof that the theft had been carefully planned, for the sculls must have been lifted before the plate was taken. Certainly the man had not had time to visit the boathouse since leaving the house. Jim's last hope was the launch, and he ran back up the path, shouting to Harvey. He met him half-way up.

"The launch," panted Harvey, who was not in such good training as Jim. "I'm most frightfully sorry, old man, but she's not in running order. I've been decarbonising, and the engine's all to bits."

"Then it's good-bye to my silver," said Jim with a sort of fierce bitterness. He was almost sick with disappointment. Chowne rushed up.

"There be a chance yet, Master Jim," he said hoarsely. "Here be your rifle." Jim's eyes brightened as he took the weapon. It was a high velocity .22 bore sighted up to three hundred yards.

"Good man!" he said, warmly.

"But you're not going to shoot the fellow?" gasped Harvey horrified. Jim did not answer. He was already hurrying to the Point. Though there was no wind to speak of, there was still a fairly heavy swell running, the remains of the gale of the previous day. Also the tide was on the flood. The result was that the dinghy was still hardly more than a hundred yards from the extreme end of the Crag.

Jim dropped on a flat rock, took careful aim, and with the whip-like crack of the rifle white splinters leaped from the stern of the boat. The rower started convulsively, then set to pulling harder than before. Jim hailed him.

"That's only a warning," he shouted. "Turn back if you don't want to die." For a moment the thief seemed to hesitate, then perhaps trusting to the distance and the roughness of the water he drove his sculls in afresh.

Jim fired again. For a man who had won many a sweepstake on the Plymouth ranges this shooting was child's play. As the boat rose on a wave the second bullet tore through her hull between wind and water.

"You missed 'un again," groaned Chowne.

"Don't be a fool," snapped Jim. "I'm not trying to kill the fellow. Go and find some sculls. There's an old pair up at the house. We'll need them if we're to save the plate." Chowne hurried off, and Jim, waiting only until the boat rose again, sent another bullet smashing through her below the water line. The marks were not visible where the bullets struck, but he knew very well that where they emerged they were making holes big enough to put a thumb through.

The fourth bullet did the trick. Yelling to Jim to stop firing, the man turned and pulled desperately for the shore.

"Come right into the Point," Jim ordered.

"I'll never get there," the man answered hoarsely. "You've knocked the bottom out of her."

"He's right," said Harvey in a queer, strained voice. "He's sinking." He was behind Jim, standing very still and watching the boat with a half frightened look in his eyes.

Jim glanced round.

"Don't worry," he said coolly. "Here's Chowne with the sculls. Go and help him with the dinghy." Harvey hurried away, and Jim watched the boat. The man was pulling harder than ever, but making very heavy weather of it, and small wonder, for as Jim could see, his craft was already a quarter full of water.

"Hurry, Chowne! Hurry!" Jim shouted, but there was no sign of the dinghy. "He'll be too late," he said to himself, and dropping the rifle went scrambling quickly down the rough rocks towards the sea. Flinging off his coat and shoes, he jumped into the water and swam hard for the sinking boat.

The man was still rowing, but the water was nearly up to his knees. Just as Jim reached her a big slow swell broke over the gunwale of the boat, swamping her completely, and the thief yelled with terror as he felt her sinking away beneath him.

"Can't swim a stroke," growled Jim, and grabbed the boat's side just in time to prevent her turning turtle and spilling all her contents into 15 feet of water.

"Hang on to your side of her," Jim ordered. "Don't try to climb in, you fool." Then as the fellow went on struggling: "Keep still, confound you, or I'll break your neck," he said with such savage emphasis that the fellow was frightened into obeying. Treading water, Jim looked into the boat and saw a bag in the stern. He snatched it, and holding it in one hand balanced the boat with the other and turned to look for the dinghy, which at that very moment came into sight round the Point.

"You've been long enough," said Jim, drily, as Chowne rowed up.

"T'wern't my fault," protested Chowne. "Mr. Harvey, he were in such a hurry getting in he nigh swamped her. Half-full she were, and us had to bale her afore us could start."

"I'm awfully sorry, Jim," said Harvey. "I suppose I got a bit rattled."

"It's all right," said Jim. "Take this bag, Chowne. No, don't bother about me. Get this fellow into the boat if you can. But be careful, or he'll upset you."

"If her does her'll drown," growled Chowne. "You balance the boat, master, while I pulls un in." Jim did so, and Chowne hauled the thief into the dinghy, where he sat shivering and sullen while Chowne pulled back. Jim, unwilling to let the plate out of his reach again, held on to the stern and was towed in. And so all four arrived back at the boathouse. Jim scrambled out and took the bag.

"Better tie that chap, Chowne," he said.

"Her won't get away from me," said Chowne, looking at the thief with anything but a friendly eye. The thief himself was a stocky individual with a broad face, snub nose, thin lips, and little greenish eyes which shifted uneasily from one to the other.

"What are you going to do with him, Jim?" asked Harvey.

"Lock him up till I can send for the police," replied Jim briefly.

"Do you think that's wise?"

"What do you mean?"

"Just this. If you run him in it'll mean a police court case."

"Of course."

"Yes, but wait. Then the whole story will have to come out. The magistrates may say this find of yours is treasure trove. There'll be an inquest on it. The less you say about what you've found the better."

Jim whistled softly.

"I hadn't thought of that. But surely the stuff is mine, as it was found on my place."

Harvey shook his head.

"That's not the law, Jim. Unless you can definitely prove that it was family property it's treasure trove. And even if you could prove it to be Torson property you would have to pay duty on it."

Jim frowned.

"Then what do you advise, Harvey?"

"That you boot this fellow out with a warning that next time he shows up he'll get a bullet through him."

"I suppose you're right. Yes, you certainly are right." He swung on the thief.

"What's your name?"

"Simpson, mister."

"How did you come to know anything about this plate?"

"I been after it myself this long time," replied the other. "My great uncle was a smuggler hisself; he told me as there was treasure hid in a cave in this here rock, and I been here a score o' times by night a-looking for it. To-day I seed you a-searching from top the cliff opposite, and watched you a-bringing it out. Drove me fair mad, it did, and that's why I tried ter take it."

"Her's lying, master," said Chowne suddenly, and was rewarded by a venomous glance from Simpson.

Jim shrugged.

"Quite likely, Chowne. Still, you heard what Mr. Lunt said. Take the fellow across to the far side in the dinghy and turn him loose." He turned to Simpson.

"You've seen me shoot," he said, and saw the man scowl and shiver. "Next time I shan't be so merciful. Now get out."


"CHOWNE," said Jim, "I've been in the cave again, and down the passage."

"Then you'm foolish, master," retorted Chowne.

"No, I was very careful, but I wanted to have a good look. I'm pretty well convinced that there's another cave beyond, and that it's the sea-cave which is under our cellar."

"You rackoning to find more of them old plates there?" Chowne asked.

"That's quite possible, but it's the bonds I'm after. I want you to tell me where I can find a man who understands mining and can be trusted to keep his mouth shut."

"You won't find none better'n this un as stands afore 'ee, Master Jim."

"You mean you'd help me? I thought you were afraid of the roof."

"So I be, but us can timber un. Then her'll be safe."

"And you'll help me?"

"Surely I'll help 'ee. You couldn't trust they Cornish jacks to keep their mouths close."

"Good man!" said Jim smiling. "Then let's get to it."

"Wait a bit, sir," said Chowne. "That there fall'll take a mort of work afore we gets through. Don't 'ee rackon there's some easier way in?"

"From the sea, you mean?"

"Surely. For if the chap as stole them papers did hide 'em in the cave her didn't go in through that there fall."

"You're right," said Jim thoughtfully. "We'll have a look along the sea-side of the Crag before we try the digging."

"You'll need to wait for a low tide and a still day," Chowne told him. "There be too much sea to-day to take dinghy round there."

Jim frowned. He hated delay.

"Post be in," Chowne remarked. "There be a letter for you from Dr. Brandon."

"The deuce there is! Why didn't you say so before?" Chowne smiled as his master bolted for the hall.

"Her'll be looking for news of the young lady," he remarked to himself as he retired to the kitchen.

"Dear Jim," Brandon wrote, "Cynthia and Noel are with us. Cynthia told me last week that, even in the home at Ilfracombe she couldn't keep Noel from Harmer and his crowd. So I suggested they'd better come and stay with us. Here, at any rate, that overfed beast won't dare to show his nose. You'll like to see Cynthia again. Come over to-morrow (Wednesday) and lunch. Olive and I will be glad to see you.

Yours ever, Bill.

P.S.—Jolly glad to hear of your find. I fancy the cash will come in handy. But I wish to Heaven you could get on the trail of those bonds."

Jim's first feeling was one of sheer delight at the idea of seeing Cynthia again, his next one of anger that Harmer should continue to pester her.

"Pity I didn't break his internal neck when I had the chance," he said angrily. "If I ever get my hands on him again he won't get off so easily." He glanced at the clock. It was past 10, for the post came late to Crag Head. He rang for Chowne, and told him to put the horse in. Fourteen miles over hilly roads would take the better part of two hours.

Chowne did not mind. He was always game for a day out, and Mrs. Chowne could be trusted to take excellent care of the house. She had her dog, an elderly Airedale called Skilly, to keep her company. Brandon met Jim at the door and took him into his own den for a glass of sherry. Cynthia and his wife, he told him, had walked to the village, but would be back for lunch. Noel was not down yet.

"Still as bad as ever?" asked Jim and Brandon's face darkened.

"Worse. He's the most pestilent young cub. How Cynthia stands it, beats me."

"And you, Bill?"

"It's my business. Besides, he's afraid of me. He can't have even an aspirin unless I prescribe it."

"It's good of you, Bill. But it can't go on for ever."

"That's true. And what the outcome will be Heaven only knows." He paused. "You're fond of Cynthia, Jim?"

"I love her," said Jim quietly. Brandon looked at his friend.

"If you could only find those bonds, Jim!"

"If I could, I should ask her to marry me."

Brandon nodded.

"And I think she'd have you, Jim. But there would always be Noel."

"I know, but I shouldn't shirk that, Bill. And in a place like Crag Head he couldn't come to much harm."

"No," said Brandon thoughtfully, then before he could say more the door opened and Noel himself came in. Jim thought he looked better than when he had last seen him at little Doward, but his face was still dead-white, and he was frowning.

"I've had a filthy night, Brandon," he complained. "Couldn't sleep a wink. You must give me something."

"All right," replied Brandon, coolly. "You'll get your dose before lunch. But you know Silver, don't you?"

"Ah, how d'ye do?" said Noel carelessly, but he did not offer to shake hands, and Jim could plainly see that the boy regarded him with dislike. An awkward pause was broken by voices in the hall as Mrs. Brandon and Cynthia came in. Cynthia welcomed Jim with a bright smile.

"I've been hearing of your adventure," she said. "Treasure in a cave. It's perfectly thrilling. I must see that cave, Mr. Silver."

"Why don't you call him Jim, Cynthia?" suggested Mrs. Brandon. "Surely you know him well enough for that. Bill and I have almost forgotten he has any other name."

"Please do," said Jim, and Cynthia laughed.

"At Brandon's do as the Brandons do. Is that the idea? All right—Jim." Noel scowled, but no one paid any attention, and lunch was a very cheery meal.

Afterwards Brandon had to go off on his rounds, and took Noel with him; Mrs. Brandon vowed that she had chrysanthemums to tie up, and Jim and Cynthia were left together.

Cynthia lay in a long chair on the veranda, and Jim sat opposite and watched her and thought how utterly adorable she looked. And sometimes they talked and sometimes they sat still. And when two people can sit in silence and yet be happy and content they have come to know one another very well. The wheels of a car crunched on the gravel.

"Bill back," Jim said, but Cynthia looked out through the meshes of the clematis which wreathed the veranda.

"No," she answered, "It's your cousin."

Jim sat up.

"Harvey? What's he doing here?"

"Calling," replied Cynthia demurely.

"But how did he know you were here?"

"I expect I told him. I saw quite a lot of him in Ilfracombe." Jim bit his lip, but caught the twinkle in her eyes, and, instead of getting cross, laughed. And just then Harvey arrived at the door. If Harvey was surprised to see Jim, he did not show it. He was most friendly. Yet Jim, watching him, saw that Harvey was immensely attracted by Cynthia. Cynthia, for her part, showed no favour, and talking to Harvey as much as she did to Jim.

One thing Jim noticed. Noel, when he came in, shook hands cordially with Harvey, and Jim realised that Harvey had been clever enough to get on the right side of the spoilt young cub. To Jim, Noel was as nearly rude as he dared. Not quite rude, for he was a little afraid of Jim's lean length, and he vividly remembered how Jim had smashed down and beaten the hugely powerful Harmer.

They all had tea together in the garden, and about 6 Harvey got up to take his leave.

"Let me lift you back, Jim," he said. "Do I want a yarn with you. Chowne can bring your trap." He was so evidently in earnest that Jim accepted, and presently they drove away together. Harvey's powerful two-seater made light of the hills, but for the first half of the journey he drove in silence.

"Well?" said Jim at last. "What's the big news?" Harvey dropped to second on a steep rise.

"That's the question I was going to ask you. Have you heard anything of those bonds?"

"Nothing," Jim answered.

"If it's not a rude question, how much did you get for the silver?"

"Eight hundred and fifty pounds."

"About enough to pay the duties on the place, eh?"

"Just about."

"And what afterwards?" said Harvey.

"What are you driving at?" Jim asked bluntly.

"Obvious, isn't it? I want you to come in with me. No, listen before you refuse. I'm not going to ask you to come out with me in Grey Ghost, or even to distribute the stuff to my customers ashore. All I want is the use of your boat-house and your cellar to land and store my stuff. I'll pay you three hundred pounds a year for that privilege, and you needn't lift a finger. Even If I'm caught and run in there's no reason why you should be incriminated. A blind eye and a deaf ear are all I ask." Jim hesitated, but only for a moment.

"Sorry, Harvey, but I can't do it."

"Why not?"

"Because it wouldn't be playing the game. I can't say I've any special scruples against doing down a rapacious government, but Cousin James left the place away from you simply because he objected to your method of making money. Though he didn't say it in so many words, it's quite evident he trusted me to keep clear of smuggling. I have to keep faith with the old man." Harvey bit his lip.

"I suppose I have to respect your scruples, though I should not have them myself. There's an alternative. Sell me the whole place, lock, stock, and barrel. You won't find me niggardly about the price." This time Jim did not hesitate at all.

"No, Harvey. I'd rather live there alone like a hermit than lose it." Again Harvey shrugged.

"You're an obstinate beggar," he said with a rather bitter laugh, "I only hope you won't live to regret your decision." He hardly spoke again until he had landed Jim at his own door, and he refused to stay for supper.

That night Jim did not sleep well. He began to wonder if he had been wise in turning down Harvey. Three hundred pounds a year and practically no risk. With that money he might start breeding polo ponies or a trout hatchery. He had the necessary land and water. His thoughts ran in circles which ended up with Cynthia. He was now sure that she liked him, but to Jim's simple, direct mind it was impossible to ask any girl to marry him unless he could afford to keep her.

Next morning, finding it impossible to settle to work, he took his rod and went up the river. But the sun was bright, the water clear, and the best fish were not rising. Tiring of catching finger-lings and putting them back, he returned to lunch. Chowne was oddly silent as he served the simple meal, and at last Jim asked him outright if anything was worrying him.

"Bain't to say worry, sir, but I found summat as I'd like to show 'ee."

"Found something?"

"Yes, sir, but you finish, if you please, afore I says any more."

"You're obstinate as an old mule," grumbled Jim. "All right. Give me the cheese."

"And there be a cup of coffee, too," said Chowne, and would not let Jim move until he had drunk it. Then at last he conducted him solemnly down to the boathouse, where the dinghy lay ready. Jim knew Chowne too well to ask questions, but his pulses began to beat faster than usual as Chowne pulled out of the cove and up around the seaward side of the Point. Almost opposite the house he turned the bow inwards.

"But there's nothing here," said Jim, looking up at a sheer rock face, which he had passed a dozen times before.

"More'n you think, maybe," replied Chowne, darkly. The sea was smooth, the tide low, and Chowne pulled straight in towards the cliff. Then just as Jim was about to cry a warning about smashing the dinghy's bows on the rock Chowne switched her round a sharp projecting spur, and hidden in the inner angle of this spur was a hole big enough to row into.

"Well, I'll be hanged!" said Jim. "And I've passed this all these times and never seen it."

"You ain't passed it so often as I, Master Jim. It were just luck I run on it."

"Luck! You must have been looking pretty close, Chowne," said Jim as the boat passed into the mouth of the high, narrow passage. "The amazing thing is that any one ever found it, for that spur curtains it completely from the sea."

"They found it right enough, and they been using it," Chowne answered as he brought the boat to rest at the foot of a flight of steps which led upwards into the cliff. Jim Jumped out and ran up them, switching on his torch as he did so. The seaweed that clung to the rock proved that at high tide the steps and the whole entrance were under water.

"The sea cave," he breathed, and next moment found himself in the entrance of a level floored rock-chamber larger than his own cellar.

The light of his torch fell upon cases stacked against the wall. Square wooden boxes carefully nailed, and kegs or small barrels carefully wrapped in oilskin. There were scores of them. The air was heavy with combined scent of tobacco and spirits.

"Smuggled stuff!" said Jim sharply.

"But whose?"

"I wouldn't think 'ee needed to ask that," said Chowne drily.

"What do you mean?" Jim demanded.

"I mean as it's Mr. Harvey's," replied Chowne.

"But he told me he'd taken everything away."

"Promise be one thing, performance be another, Master Jim, and so you'd have learned if you'd knowed Mr. Harvey so long as I have."


JIM turned his light on Chowne.

"You mean to tell me that my cousin has been lying to me all this time?" he asked. Chowne faced him doggedly.

"Tain't for me to speak wrong of gentlefolk, Master Jim, but I've knowed him a sight longer than 'ee have."

Jim drew a long breath.

"If this stuff is his then there's no doubt about it," he said heavily. "But—but it's a blow, Chowne. I was beginning to like Mr. Harvey."

"He be likeable when he wants to be, sir," said Chowne, "but, if you asks what I thinks, he'm rotten right through."

Jim swept his light back upon the piles of cases and kegs stacked against the walls of the cave. His face hardened.

"No wonder he wanted me to come in with him. It's a marvellous hiding place. And the stuff here must be worth a lot of money." He stiffened. "Chowne, do you think it was he who stole those bonds?"

"That's more'n I can say, sir, but he had more chance to do it than any one else."

"Then they might be here. We must search, Chowne."

"Aye, us had best look," agreed Chowne and the search began. It took a long time, but had no result. There was not a scrap of paper anywhere, and all the cases were carefully fastened up Then just as they were giving up Chowne stooped and picked up something which lay in a little hollow close to the wall. It was a handkerchief so soiled that all its original whiteness was gone, yet made of linen of good quality. He handed it to Jim.

"See them letters, sir," he remarked. The initials in the corner were "H.L."

"That puts the lid on it," said Jim briefly. "Come on, Chowne." When they got outside it seemed oddly dark. Though not yet sunset, a great cloud had crept up out of the west and covered the sky. There was not a breath of wind and the air felt hot and sticky.

"Storm be brewing," said Chowne briefly. Then they pulled back round the point to the boathouse, put the dinghy under cover, and walked up to the house.

"Missus shall get 'ee a cup o' tea, sir," said Chowne, and went off to the kitchen. Jim dropped into a chair and sat gazing out of the window at the threatening sky, but his thoughts were not on the weather. They were centred on Harvey Lunt, and a dull anger seethed within him. Harvey had given his word that he would clear out all his smuggled stuff from the Crag, but he had done nothing of the sort. It seemed clear to Jim that he had had no intention of doing so, out had been merely waiting until he could get control of the place. Yet it was true, as Jim had said to Chowne, that he had come to like Harvey, and it disgusted as well as angered him to feel that he had been so fooled.

"It's come to a show down," he said at last. "I must see him. And the sooner the better." As he got up Chowne came in with the tray.

"You bain't going out, Master Jim?"

"Yes, and at once," said Jim.

"You'll have a cup o' tea first," said Chowne firmly.

"I haven't time."

"Five minutes one way or another don't make such a sight of difference," Chowne urged. "Besides, like as not, 'ee won't find him at home."

Jim frowned, then laughed.

"There doesn't seem much of my business you don't know, Chowne. But have it your own way, I'll drink a cup of tea, then I must go." The tea was excellent, fresh brewed, with fresh boiled water, the cream was thick and yellow. Jim drank two cups and ate a butter split. Later that evening he was to be glad he had done so. Then he started, but at the door found Chowne with his waterproof and stick.

"You'd be better to wait till morning, Master Jim," he observed. "I doubt that there coat'll keep 'ee dry in what's coming."

"Don't be gloomy," retorted Jim, smiling in spite of himself. "And tell Mrs. Chowne not to bother about dinner. Just leave some cold food in the dining-room." Then he strode off into the gathering gloom.

Travellers talk of the terror of a tropical storm breaking over the African veldt, but Jim thought to himself that he had never seen anything more awe-inspiring than the vast masses of purple cumulus cloud which were banking up over the western sea. The sea itself looked almost black, and the great, bare moors that sloped upwards from the cliffs seemed magnified by the livid light.

"Gosh, it'll be a snorter when it does come," said Jim to himself as he strode along the narrow cliff path.

Harvey's house, Greystone, was about two miles from Crag Head. It lay bare on the cliff tops, a long drive connecting it with a lane which led eventually into the main road. Though small, it was solid and well built, and, as Jim knew, remarkably well fitted inside.

But Harvey had about as much idea of gardening as a cockatoo, and had never spent a penny on the grounds. So the flower beds planted by the former tenant had long ago disappeared under the drive of the salt sea winds, while laurels and rhododendrons had taken charge and formed regular thickets around the house. Between the house and the sea a double row of beeches had been planted as a wind break. With their storm-twisted trunks and heads bent far over towards the east they had a singularly forlorn appearance.

The cliff path led in behind these beeches, and here the ground was a little higher than that on which the house stood. A five-foot stone wall surrounded the compound, and in this wall was a gate opening on a path leading to the back door. Opposite the gate, steps led down the cliff to a small semi-circle of beach where you could bathe if the tide was not too high or the sea too rough.

Jim's intentions had been to go straight in by this back way, round to the front of the house, ring, and ask for Harvey, but just as he came opposite the first of the beech trees a sound of voices brought him to a quick stop. In the utter hush which precedes a big electric storm sounds travel amazingly, and Jim realised that the speakers—two of them—were coming up the path from the south and were still at least a couple of hundred yards away. Evidently Harvey had visitors, and as Jim wished to see him alone he slipped in behind the largest of the beech trunks and waited.

Though dusk, it was still by no means dark, and presently Jim saw two men approaching the back gate. That odd thrill which he always felt in a time of excitement or danger sent a slight shiver through him as he recognised the great bulk of his old antagonist, Harmer. At first he thought that the other was Harvey, but as they came nearer he saw that this man was taller and thinner than his cousin.

"Shade Fowler," he muttered under his breath. "Here's a pretty pair. Now I wonder what devilment's hatching?" Fowler Jim knew to be in with Harvey, but not Harmer. Harvey had never mentioned him. And it was Harmer whom Cynthia feared. The plot seemed to be thickening, and Jim suddenly decided to learn more of it. If he could only see the meeting between his cousin and Harmer he might pick up a lot of useful information.

He did not anticipate much difficulty, for the surroundings seemed made for eavesdropping. The rhododendrons could have given cover for a small army, and it would be easy to reach the house unseen. He watched Harmer and Shade pass through the gate, then he, himself, climbed the wall and, bending double, dodged from clump to clump until he reached thick cover within twenty yards of the north side of the house. The two men passed him and went round to the front door, which Shade opened with a latch-key. They both went in.

"Looks as if Harvey was out," said Jim to himself. "I don't believe there's any one in the house. There are no lights." Harvey, he knew, had a man who looked after the car and valeted him, and a woman who came in during the day to do the housework. She would have left by this time, and the man would probably be with Harvey.

Presently a light shone out from a front window. The ground in front of the house was bare, and Jim dared not cross it, so went round by the back and up through the bushes on the south side. Harmer and Fowler were in the dining-room, and by the light of a lamp Jim could see Harmer at the sideboard with a whisky decanter in his great hand.

There were two windows, one opening on the veranda, which ran along the front of the house, the other on the south. But this south window was closed, and though Jim could see the two men quite plainly, he could not hear through the glass. He saw that he would have to take the risk of getting upon the veranda.

The cloud was thickening, and though the sun had only just set, it was growing very dark. Yet the storm was slow in breaking and the air so utterly quiet that Jim could distinctly hear the small waves breaking at the foot of the cliff. Beyond this there was no sound at all.

Moving cautiously as a cat, Jim climbed the end of the veranda and crept on hands and knees to the window. It was open top and bottom, and raising his head very cautiously he peered over the sill. Harmer had taken the one armchair in the room and lay back in it, a fat cigar between his thick lips and his drink on the floor beside him; he had his back to the window.

Fowler sat at the table. He was smoking a long, thin stogy, which looked as black and vicious as himself. It was the first time Jim had seen him in a good light, and the man's face actually made him shiver. The dead-white skin, the sharp nose, the beady, cruel eyes seemed to him the very embodiment of evil.

One glimpse was enough, then Jim ducked back. He had plenty of pluck, but it was only now that he realised the risk he was running. Either of these men would kill him with as little compunction as they would crush a fly, but with a great deal more relish. With him out of the way Harvey was next heir to Crag Head, and now that he had seen the game Jim fully realised the value of the place to them. Harmer spoke:—

"Hot as Hades!" he grumbled. "What the blazes has come to Harvey?"

"He's at Brandon's. He's dotty about that Carrow girl," replied Fowler with a sneer in his voice.

"It wouldn't be a bad notion if he married her," said Harmer slowly.

"He won't," said Fowler drily. "Not so long as Silver is alive."

"That cub!" snapped Harmer. Then he laughed evilly. "If I were an insurance agent I'd think twice before granting him a policy, Shade." Fowler's chuckle was worse than Harmer's threat, but the shiver which ran through Jim was not one of fear but of fury.

"We'll have to do something pretty soon," Fowler said. "The fellow's got more guts than you'd credit to a bank clerk. And finding that plate has given him a fresh lease."

"That fool Vidal messed it," snarled Harmer. "Why the devil didn't he wait until night before trying for the stuff?"

"No use crying over split milk," said Fowler coolly. "Anyhow, it only paid the death duties."

"But there was some balance at the bank," replied the other. "Silver may carry on for a year or more."

"He won't," said Fowler briefly, and this time Jim felt a prickle of real fear. He heard a match strike as Fowler lit a fresh stogy, then Harmer spoke again.

"What's Harvey done with those bonds?" Before Fowler could answer a blaze of lightning split the blackness, followed by a bellow of thunder. Then the whole sky was filled with the roar of the approaching tempest.


THE sound was so tremendous it drowned all else. Next instant the first blast of the great wind sweeping in from the sea struck the house. Jim heard a crack loud as a cannon shot as one of the beeches snapped like a carrot. The lamp flame jumped as the back-blast stirred the stagnant atmosphere of the room.

"Shut that window," he heard Harmer shout from within, and since there was not time to get away he dropped flat on his face on the veranda in an effort to avoid being seen. The darkness was intense, and he would have been safe enough, but while Fowler tugged at the stiff sash a second flash filled the night with its white blaze.

"Who's that?" came Fowler's voice sharp and hard. "Harmer, there's some one outside." Up went the window again, and Jim had cause to bless the damp that had swollen the wood, for it gave him time to gain his feet and hurl himself off the veranda. Shade was mighty quick, too, for a pistol cracked, but Jim, expecting something of the sort, had whirled to the right and was running close under the wall of the house. Head down, he drove into a rush of wind so furious it felt solid as a water flood. Again the pistol barked, but Jim knew that Shade could not see him, and was not greatly alarmed. Crack, crack, crack! Fowler was raking the rhododendrons with his automatic, and Jim actually chuckled as he swung round the back of the house and stood an instant under cover of a tall clump of laurels to recover his breath.

The bright white glare of a powerful electric torch out the gloom, and Jim realised that both men were searching for him. A spirit of recklessness seized him, and instead of making away against the wind towards the cliff path he ran on round to the north side of the house, up which he sprinted until he came to the same tall thicket of rhododendrons which had hidden his approach.

Plunging into this he gained its centre and hid. Again the whole world glowed in a bath of electric fire, and the momentary blaze showed Jim the huge figure of Harmer plunging like an elephant through the shrubbery opposite the south end of the veranda. As the crashing darkness shut down the light of the torch which Harmer carried was the only thing visible.

The first violence of the wind had passed and Jim knew that the rain was coming. All the rain in the world was rushing upon him off the Atlantic. Suddenly he remembered Chowne's remark about the inadequacy of his raincoat, and once more he almost laughed. All the same, it was not going to be any joke sticking out here in the open under the deluge that would break in a moment. It would be equally bad, if not worse, to try to find his way home in the storm. Indeed, that cliff path would be abominably dangerous in weather like this.

A crazy idea flashed through his mind. Why not the house? It was the very last place where they would think of looking for him, and surely there were plenty of hiding places.

A huge warm drop splashed in his face, but still he paused. His idea was to wait until the next flash had come and gone, then make his bolt. He had not long to wait. Within five seconds a many-tentacled flash twisted across the firmament, and the instant it was gone Jim bolted for the house. As he came opposite the window he could still see Harmer's torch among the shrubs to the south, but if there was one thing more sure than another it was that Harmer could not see him.

The only danger was of his being spotted through the south window, for the lamplight was bright in the dining-room. But there was no need to run that risk, for the front door was not locked. Jim opened it, slipped in, and closed it behind him just as the rain broke in earnest. He found himself in a small hall with the dining-room on the left and the sitting-room to the right. Stairs went up from the back of the hall, and a passage ran past them on the left leading to the back regions.

Jim's first impulse was to go straight through to the back, for the back door would give him a useful bolt-hole. Then he remembered that Harvey was expected, and that he would be sure to want supper. Probably all three would have supper together, and Harvey's man would be busy getting it. No, the kitchen would certainly be most unsafe.

The only alternative was to try the top floor. There must be one or more unused bedrooms with cupboards in which he could lie "doggo," and Jim ran lightly up. Though he knew the ground floor of Greystone, he had never before been upstairs. Arrived at the top, he found himself on a broad landing with two bedroom doors on either side. He tried the first door on the left, and as he opened it a flash of lightning showed him that this was Harvey's own room. There were his boots against the wall, and above the dressing-table a large photograph of Crag Head.

Jim closed the door and tried the next. It was locked. What was worse, so were the other two.

There was nothing for it but to go downstairs again and make for the back of the house. If he could not find a hiding place in the house there might be sheltered in the garage outside.

It was too late, for as he reached the top of the stairs the front door burst open and in stumbled Harmer, torch in hand, and fairly streaming with water. Shade Fowler was behind him.

Jim did the only thing possible—bolted back into Harvey's bedroom, and holding the door just ajar stood quiet. His idea was to wait until Harmer and Fowler were back in the dining- room, then slip softly down and make his escape. Below, Harmer was shaking himself like a great dog.

"Rain! My God!—it's a water spout. I'm soaked to the skin," he bellowed. "Curse that fellow, whoever he was!"

"No need to make such a song about it," came Fowler's thin, sarcastic voice. "I'm at least as wet as you. We must have a fire."

"Fire—what's the good of that?" snorted Harmer. "Me for some dry clothes. I'm going up to Harvey's room to find some." Jim's heart seemed to stop beating, and for a moment something like panic seized him. But only for a moment, then his head cleared, and he was desperately striving to see how he could escape from the trap into which he had walked.

His first idea was to make a dash downstairs, catch his enemies by surprise, knock one or both down, and get out the front way. If he could reach them before Fowler reached his automatic there was every chance of success, but the pistol weighted the odds against him. Another thing, even if he got out he had given himself away. The men below were bound to recognise him. Harvey would be warned, and if Harvey had the bonds he would have every chance of getting away with them before Jim could stop him.

The second choice was to stay in the bedroom and hide.

He glanced swiftly round. There was no wardrobe, merely a hanging cupboard, and that was of no use, for these men were looking for clothes. The only other hiding place was under the bed. The bed was covered with one of those brightly-coloured Italian blankets the edges of which hung down almost to the floor, and the bed itself was in a corner. Jim heard steps on the stairs; he waited no longer, but, dropping down on hands and knees, crawled under the bed. Next moment his two enemies were in the room.

"You'll have a job to find anything to fit you, Harmer," said Fowler with his usual sneer.

"Curse you! Aren't you ever tired of twitting me about my size?" snapped the big man, who was clearly in a most evil temper. "Anyhow, I could break you in two if I tried." Fowler gave his evil chuckle.

"Why didn't you break Silver then when you had the chance?"

"The swine's a boxer—almost a pro," snarled Harmer. Fowler seemed to be thinking as he stripped.

"D'ye know, Harmer, I've a notion that Silver was our visitor to-night."

"You never saw his face."

"No, but he was a long, active sort of chap."

"It's not likely," growled Harmer. "He'd know better than to visit this place after nightfall."

"Your head's as thick as your body, Harmer. Harvey and he are like brothers."

"What—with Harvey after his girl?"

"Harvey's clever. He's kept on the right side of Silver all through. It's a pity you haven't some of his brains."

"Shut your mouth," thundered Harmer. "I'm tired of your dirty sneers. At any rate, I've been the one to keep in with Noel Carrow." As he spoke he sat down on the bed, which creaked under his enormous weight, and began pulling on a pair of Harvey's pyjama trousers.

"You may keep in with him. You haven't got much out of him yet," retorted Fowler, who was already dressed in some of Harvey's clothes.

"Wait till he's twenty-one. Wait till he gets his money," boasted Harmer. "Then we'll all be in clover." Fowler laughed nastily.

"We shall see," he said. "Meantime, I'm going down for a drink." He left the room, and a moment later Harmer, having got his great body into Harvey's silk dressing gown, followed.

Jim breathed a sigh of relief as he heard the stairs creak under Harmer's heavy footsteps. He was safe for the moment. He began to feel that he had bitten off enough risks for one night, and that the sooner he got out of this place the better. His interview with Harvey could wait until next day.

Tiptoeing out of the room, he glanced down the stairs. To his great relief the dining-room door was closed. With the rain still thundering on the roof he could get safely out of the front door and be away, with no one the wiser, for whatever Fowler suspected it was certain from, what he had said that he knew nothing. Jim's foot was on the top stair when a klaxon hooted and the headlights of a car showed through the fanlight above the front door.

Harvey was back, and once more escape was cut off.


HARVEY'S arrival was a nasty shock to Jim. Just five minutes later and it would have been all right, but now he was nicely caught. He stepped back into the bedroom and stood just inside the door, where he could see without being seen. He thought swiftly.

After all, it might still be all right. Harvey would go into the dining-room for a drink, his man would drive the car round to the garage, and the coast ought to be clear long enough for him to make his escape. Harmer and Fowler had, of course, also heard the car. They came out into the hall as Harvey entered.

"Hullo, Harvey!" cried Harmer jovially. "So you got caught. A snorter, wasn't it?" There was nothing jovial in Harvey's reply.

"What are you doing in my silk pyjamas?" he asked coldly.

"My dear chap, I got wet in your service and had to have a change."

"Then I wish you'd taken the cotton instead of the silk. Those cost three guineas a suit, and they'll never be fit to wear again." Jim was surprised at the tone Harvey took with this big man, who could have killed him with a blow. His opinion of his cousin was altering rapidly.

"Come in and have a drink," said Fowler. "You look a bit moist."

"Moist! I'm wet through!" snapped Harvey. "The hood was about as much use as a paper parasol. I shall have to change—if you've left me anything to change into."

"We were chasing a burglar," put in Harmer. "That's how we got so wet."

"A burglar!" Harvey's voice was sharp. "What d'ye mean?"

"A chap who was lurking under the window," Harmer explained. "Shade saw him when he went to shut it. The fellow ran like a rabbit, and though Shade potted at him he got away."

"Who was he?" demanded Harvey, turning to Fowler. Fowler shrugged.

"I had a sort of notion it might be that cousin of yours, but I never saw his face. I couldn't see much, anyhow, for it's black as pitch outside."

"Silver!" said Harvey, and Jim could tell by his tone that he was much disturbed. "What in sin would he be doing here?"

"That's what I said," put in Harmer. "Can't imagine any reason for his coming round here at this hour, specially with a storm like this brewing."

"If he'd found something," said Harvey slowly, "that would have brought him."

"The cave, you mean?" said Fowler briefly.


"It's not likely," said Fowler.

"Yet he found the old cave," retorted Harvey.

"But that's blocked off from ours. It would take a week to get through. And the odds are all against his ever hitting on the sea gate."

"I don't know. He has the devil's own luck. I'm getting a bit scared, Shade. It's time we did something, drastic."

"That's what I've been telling you. If I'd had my way he'd never have reached Craig Head in the first place."

"It's no use crying over spilt milk," said Harvey. "I'm free to own I was wrong, but I didn't want any police business. Once suspicion is roused we should never feel safe."

"There wouldn't have been any police interference if you'd left it to me," said Fowler, and quietly as he spoke Jim shivered a little.

"We must talk it over," said Harvey coolly. "Now I'm going to have one drink and then change. Merrick will get some supper for us." They all went into the dining-room, and for a moment Jim's spirits rose. The car had gone, and if he could once get outside he could trust his legs to carry him out of danger.

Unfortunately for him, Harmer, who went in last, left the door wide open. With the light streaming out into the hall it was out of the question to get by. Jim stepped over to the window, opened it and looked out. The drop was a long one, but he might have risked that only for the fact that the bedroom window was exactly above one of the dining-room windows, and that since the blinds had not been drawn there was a pool of light outside.

Next moment he heard steps in the hall, and had only just time to close the window and slip back into his old hiding-place beneath the bed before Harvey entered the room. The drink had done him no good, for he was still in a most evil temper. His chief grievance seemed to be the fact that Harmer had helped himself to his best silk pyjamas, and the language he used about the fat man was an eye-opener to Jim. Harvey hauled off his wet shoes and flung them into a corner.

"Where the devil are my slippers?" Jim heard him mutter, then, to his horror, saw that these were under the bed. If Harvey started burrowing for them it was all up, and Jim was forced to take the risk of pushing them gently out from under the hanging blanket. He heard Harvey utter a surprised gasp.

"Must be seeing things. I'll take my oath they weren't there a minute ago; that whisky's too strong," he grumbled. Then, to Jim's intense relief, he pulled on the slippers and went down.

Once more Jim had a breathing space, and he came out from his cramped quarters and took up his old position by the door. But Merrick was up and down through the hall, bring plates and dishes into the dining-room, so it was out of the question to risk the front door. Nothing for it but patience. Presently, perhaps, Merrick would settle down to his own supper, and the coast might be clear.

Not a bit of it. Merrick, after taking supper into the dining- room, turned for the stairs, and Jim had barely time to crawl under the bed before the man was in the room collecting the wet clothes. He was in as bad temper as his master, and Jim heard him muttering angrily about having all this work to do late at night.

"Mean as hell, too, them blokes. I'll lay I won't get a bob out o' either of 'em." Jim had a very bad five minutes while the man worked in the room, but luckily for him Merrick was too cross or too busy to think of turning down the bedclothes, and at last went away. Once more Jim emerged.

By this time the storm had passed, but it was still raining steadily and heavily. The drum on the roof made a good deal of sound, and Jim hoped fervently that he would now at long last be able to make his escape. The dining-room door was closed, and there was no one about.

He was actually at the head of the stairs when arrested by the trill of an electric bell. Next moment, Merrick emerged from the back regions, and went into the dining-room. Jim heard Harvey order him to bring another bottle of whisky and some soda.

"And Mr. Harmer and Mr. Fowler will stay the night," Harvey added. "Get their rooms ready." Merrick went back to the kitchen swearing under his breath, but his oaths were not as fervent as Jim's. With Merrick up and down his last chance of escape was cut off. He began to feel positively desperate.

Sure enough, as soon as Merrick had taken the whisky into the dining-room he came upstairs, and, for a fourth time. Jim had to seek his cramped hiding place under the bed. He heard Merrick unlock the two bed-room doors opposite, and for the next half- hour the man was busy making up beds, filling jugs with water, and generally getting things ready. At last he went down to his long-delayed supper, but now there were other sounds below.

Harvey was speaking.

"Don't know how you fellows feel, but I'm tired as a dog, and we have to be up early to-morrow. The Harvester will be in at Logan Cove."

"Right you are," replied Harmer in his big voice. "I'm quite ready to turn in. What about you. Shade?"

"I'm not going to stay down here by myself," returned Fowler, with his usual sneer. "If you're so keen to sleep I'll go up too." Steps sounded on the stairs. Then Harvey entered the room, closed the door, and sat down on the bed.

"Hang the fools!" he grumbled. "Next thing, Merrick will be giving me notice. I only wish I could cut loose from the lot of them. I will, too, as soon as I get the chance. But Shade's useful. He'll have to deal with Jim Silver. Once Silver is out of the way and I come into my own—" He stopped with a low chuckle, a chuckle which Jim felt boded ill for his two associates as well as for himself. Jim had already realised that Harvey Lunt was the brains of this smuggling gang, but now he was beginning to understand that his cousin was also the most dangerous of the lot.

Harvey did not take long to get to bed, nor did he waste time in reading. As soon as he was between the sheets he blew out the candle, and within five minutes his peaceful breathing proved that he allowed no scruples of conscience to interfere between himself and a good night's rest.

Jim lay still. Even though Harvey was asleep it was highly unlikely that the same could be said of Fowler. There was nothing for it but to wait. The waiting was terribly trying. Jim kept getting cramp, yet if he moved at all it had to be done with the utmost care and very slowly. It was evident that Merrick or whoever had the duty of clearing the room, did the work very badly, for the floor was covered with dust which got into Jim's nostrils and made him want to sneeze. He had to pinch his nose hard to stop it.

At last the house was quiet. Merrick had gone out to his own quarters in the garage. Even the rain had stopped and a moon breaking through the clouds made the dark room faintly luminous. Jim decided that it was a case of now or never, and, rolling over softly, crawled out of his stuffy refuge. He heard Harvey stir, and stopped and froze. The room was so still he could hear the beating of his own heart.

He waited a full minute, then as Harvey was quiet again rose softly to his feet. A board creaked beneath his weight.

"Who's there?" came Harvey's voice, and Jim froze again. Suddenly Harvey sat up.

"That you, Shade?" Jim realised that he had to act quickly. He flung himself at Harvey and caught him by the throat just in time to stifle his shout. Harvey struggled furiously, reaching desperately for a pistol which lay on his bedside table, but he was at a hopeless disadvantage, and Jim showed no mercy. He forced his cousin's head back upon the pillow.

"Keep still or I'll choke you," he said, and though his voice was the merest whisper the other clearly realised that he meant it, and lay still. Jim knelt on him and slightly relaxed his hold.

"Make a sound, and I'll finish you," he stated with a calmness that surprised himself even more than it did Harvey.

"You're darn nearly done that already," muttered Harvey hoarsely. "What's the matter, Jim?"

"Matter is I've found you out, my friend."

"What have you found?" There was fear in Harvey's voice.

"That you stole my bonds." A ghost of a chuckle came from Harvey's lips. Jim had a curious sense that Harvey was relieved of almost some intolerable fear.

"Smart of you," he answered. "Then you want them back."

"I'm going to have them," Jim said coldly.

"All right. Let me up, and I'll get them for you." It was Jim's turn to laugh.

"Think I'd trust you? I may be a fool, Harvey, but I'm not quite fool enough for that!"


HARVEY remained cool.

"I did think you were a fool, Jim. Now I'm paying for my mistake. Unfortunately, you can't get the bonds without my help, so you will have to trust me to some extent; I suggest that you should take that pistol and cover me while I get up and find your property."

Jim reached over with his left hand and slipped the pistol into his pocket.

"I'll have that anyhow, but you know very well I can't use it without waking the rest of your gang. I take it the bonds are in your safe downstairs. My intention is to tie and gag you, take your keys and recover my property, then go home."

"Not a bad plan, only you can't do it. The safe is hidden and you couldn't find it in a week. You'll have to trust me, Jim, and though I don't suppose you will take my word, yet I'll swear I won't try to double-cross you and that I'll give you the bonds and let you go without making any trouble. If you don't believe me tie me, take the keys, and I'll bet you the bonds you're back here in an hour without 'em." Though Jim could not see Harvey's face, somehow his tone carried conviction. He did not hesitate longer.

"All right," he said briefly. "You can get up, but I'm warning you not to play the fool."

"I should be a fool if I did," replied Harvey with a grin as he got out of bed and thrust his feet into the same slippers that had given Jim such a bad minute a few hours earlier. He slipped on a dressing-gown, took a torch, and led the way downstairs. Jim, with one hand gripping the pistol butt, followed.

Every nerve was keyed to the utmost. Jim no more trusted Harvey than he trusted a tiger cat, but he was aware that Harvey knew this, and since he was a stronger man than Harvey he believed that his cousin would feel it well not to try anything. If he did Jim had every intention of knocking him out.

Quite coolly Harvey made his way to a small room at the back of the hall. He called it his study, and it was, in fact, a sort of office. Jim had been in it before, but certainly had never seen anything there in the nature of a safe. Jim stood behind Harvey as he quietly opened the door, followed him in, and closed the door behind them. Not for an Instant did he take his eyes off his cousin.

"You don't trust me much, do you!" said Harvey with a half smile.

"No," said Jim curtly, and Harvey merely shrugged his shoulders and went to the fireplace, where he stooped and lifted the fender. The hearth beneath was of dark coloured tiles; one of these Harvey pressed, and it turned on a pivot, leaving a small opening. Into this Harvey thrust his hand and took out a metal object shaped something like a key.

"Might, just as well have been a pistol, only it isn't," he remarked with a faint sneer, "but you wouldn't have found it in a month of Sundays. Now watch." Standing up he pressed the key into a tiny hole hidden in the carving of the mantelpiece. Quite noiselessly the whole panel above the mantel, which was set with a good-sized mirror, swung back, revealing the front of a steel safe.

"The last place any one would look for a safe," said Harvey. "They'd think this was the chimney." With a second key he opened the safe, which was full of papers, and drew out a thick roll tied with tape. "That's your little lot," he remarked handing them to Jim. "Better have a look and see they're all there."

"You'll open them," ordered Jim, and Harvey, shrugging again, laid them on the table, and obeyed. He opened them one by one, and Jim standing over him, saw that they were all there.

"Coupons and all," said Harvey with his faint smile. "I haven't cut any."

"You were not fool enough for that," said Jim drily.

"Knowing you were a banker, I wasn't," retorted the other. "Are you satisfied?"

"Roll them up again and tie them," Jim directed and Harvey did so. Jim took them and thrust them into the pocket of his raincoat. But he did not relax his vigilance for a single second.

"Before you go," said Harvey, "will you tell me how you got on to this?"

"I found your cave."

Harvey pursed his lips.

"I'd have betted on it. What are you going to do?"

"A bit of thinking," said Jim grimly.

"Very wise. Do you mind keeping still about the business until we've had a talk?"

"Thanks, I'm not doing any more talking to-night."

"I'm not asking you. Fowler sleeps lightly, and the sooner you get out the better. I'll come down in the morning to the Crag." Jim frowned. He half suspected a trap. Harvey understood, and there was a mocking light in his eyes.

"Don't worry. I'll come alone, and Chowne can stand guard outside the door. But it will be better for you as well as me to get this thing cleared up."

"All right," said Jim. "Only I'm not making any promises."

"I don't want any except silence for a few hours," said Harvey with a touch of impatience.

"You can have that," Jim told him "Now let me out."

"You'd best go out the back way," Harvey said. "Fowler might hear the bolts of the front door, and I daresay you'll realise that he's the last person I want to know anything about this night's doings."

"Any way, so long as I get out," said Jim. "You go first." Walking very softly they passed through the door into a passage leading past the kitchen and Harvey opened the back door which fastened with a spring lock. Now that the rain had ceased the moon was dimly visible through a haze of soft cloud.

"You'll be all right now," whispered Harvey.

"I'm not so sure. Fowler might have a try for me through a window.

"You'll stand outside, Harvey, until I'm behind those bushes."

"Just as you like," said Harvey with his sarcastic smile. He did so, and Jim, pistol in hand, backed away until he reached the clump of shrubs. Once behind that he knew he was out of sight of the house, and taking to his heels ran hard for the cliff path. There was always the risk that Harvey might get out his car and chase him, but the distance by road was all of five miles, while by the cliff path it was barely two.

For more than a mile Jim kept the path, then left it for the moor and approached Crag Head by a round-about route. There was no sign of any pursuit, and he came safely to his own door. As he entered the hall the old grandfather clock struck twelve. Jim stared at it in amazement. "I thought it was more like four," he said, and indeed it was hard to believe that he had been away for less than six hours.

An excellent cold supper awaited him, but before he sat down to it Jim mixed himself a stiff whisky and soda and drank it down. He felt he needed it. He went to bed with the bonds under his pillow, and in spite of all his excitement—perhaps because of it—his healthy young body dropped almost immediately into sleep.

He was still sound asleep when Chowne came in with his morning tea. Chowne laid down the tray, pulled up the blinds, and let in the light of a brilliant sunshiny morning. Then as Jim's eyes still remained closed he remarked loudly:

"It be full eight o'clock, Master Jim."

"Hang you, Chowne," grumbled Jim. "Can't you let me sleep?"

"I'll let 'ee sleep if 'ee tells me what's under pillow, Master Jim."

"The bonds, you old ass. Go away," growled Jim, and heard Chowne chuckle as he left the room. Sleepy as he was, Jim could not withstand the lure of the sunshine, and presently he had his towel and was on his way to the bathing place. He was whistling as he came back. He felt extraordinary happy. At last his troubles were at an end. Now he was free to go and see Cynthia. He ate his excellent breakfast with excellent appetite, and told Chowne to have the cob ready by eleven.

"You be going to bank, Master Jim?" suggested Chowne.

"Of course I am. No more safes for me. And I'm going to buy a car, Chowne, and probably you'll have to drive it. Put that in your pipe, and see how you like it."

"Here be something you won't like so much, Master Jim. It be Mr. Harvey," was the answer, and sure enough here was Harvey's car at the door, and Jim noticed that Merrick was with him.

"All right, Chowne. I'll let him in," said Jim. Harvey was smartly dressed, as pleasant and smiling as if the whole of the events of the previous night had passed clean out of his memory.

"Good-morning," he said gaily. "I've come to take my launch. I dare say you'll be glad to see the last of it?"

"I shall," answered Jim quietly.

"As for my stuff in the cave, that will take a little longer to shift. I can't do it in daylight, Jim."

Jim's eyebrows lifted slightly.

"You seem very sure about it."

"Were you thinking of informing the Customs people?" Harvey asked.

"I had it in my head," allowed Jim.

"I wouldn't," drawled Harvey.

"I won't if you'll take the stuff away at once."

"I can't take it at once. Neither the moon nor the tide is right at present."

"It may be a month before we can clear that cave."

"I'm not going to stand for that," said Jim curtly.

Harvey shrugged.

"I'm sorry; but I'm afraid you'll have to. As I tell you, we can't move it till the tide is right, and it will take several nights to clear the lot."

Jim's face hardened.

"Do you think you are in a position to talk like that, Harvey?"

"I certainly do. And if you're wise, Jim, you'll keep your mouth shut.

"Why so?" Jim asked curtly.

"I'll tell you. You go to the police and tell them about this cache. What do you think will happen?"

"The stuff will be seized, and you and your lot will have to clear out, or else be arrested."

"Don't you believe it. The cave is on your land, and you're known to have been out with me in the Ghost. Even your faithful Chowne would have to bear witness to that. You'd get run in with the rest of us. If you've any sense at all you'll keep your mouth shut, and let us shift the stuff at our leisure."


JIM'S eyes hardened, but Harvey faced him coolly.

"Think it over, Jim, and you'll realise I'm right. Of course, you can make trouble for us. I'm not denying it, but you'll find that a deal of the mud you stir up will stick to you. That won't do you any good with your neighbours. Do as I ask and the stuff will be cleared quietly, and you'll hear no more of us."

"If I thought that was true it would be an inducement," Jim said drily.

"It will be true so far as I'm concerned, for we shall shift our scene of operations to quite another part of the coast—"

"Which won't suit you half so well as this."

"Of course it won't, but that can't be helped."

"It could, if you removed me," said Jim.

There was a queer flicker in Harvey's eyes. Quite what it meant Jim could not be sure.

"So you think we'd murder you?"

"I heard Fowler planning that very thing," observed Jim coolly.

Harvey sighed.

"You ought to have been one of us, Jim. You and I together could have done big things."

"But as I have no intention of joining you your only alternative is to finish me. I'd like to warn you that murdering me won't help you, Harvey. I've made a will, and whatever happens you'll never own Crag Head."

"Brains as well as brawn. I wish I'd met you earlier, Jim. Well, it can't be helped, and anyhow I've got wits enough to know when I'm licked. Now what about the cave?"

"I'll give you a month, Harvey. If there's a stick of stuff there then I'll go to the police."

"A month will do," said Harvey. "All right. Good-bye, Jim." He swung away with his usual alert quickness, and was in his car and away all in one breath.

"A queer devil," muttered Jim as he watched him.

"And a dangerous one, you be sure." said Chowne, who had come in from the back regions. "Shall I bring horse round, Master Jim?"

"The sooner the better," said Jim. "And, Chowne, it wouldn't be a bad idea to take the gun."

"I got her," said Chowne without a smile.

The gun was not needed, and they reached Callacombe safely and drove straight to the bank. Mr. Vint's mild eyes widened as Jim handed over the packet of bonds.

"You found them," he exclaimed.

"I found them," said Jim, but something in his tone prevented the other from asking any questions. Mr. Vint ran through them.

"All correct," he said. "And these Madison and Milwaukee—have you been keeping an eye on the money market lately?"

"Hardly looked at a paper for a month," said Jim.

"Well, they've had a nice little boom. They've declared a bonus. There ought to be pretty nearly £200 coming to you."

Jim's eyes shone.

"Just what I wanted. I want to buy a car. I think I shall go straight to Exeter to-day."

"A car," repeated the other. "Would you consider a second-hand one?"

"If it wasn't more than a year old and in good order I'd almost sooner have it than a new one."

"Then you need not go so far as Exeter. One of our clients, Mr. Macey, is leaving for Chili, and he told me only yesterday he wanted to sell his car. It's a six-cylinder, and, I think in very good order."

"Where does he live?"

"At the Holt. That's up Meripit Road, only a mile out."

"I'll go at once," vowed Jim. "You'll honour my cheque?"

"For anything up to a thousand," smiled Mr. Vint. "And I congratulate you on recovering your bonds, Mr Silver." Jim thanked him and hurried off.

Macey was a hard-bitten mining engineer who had made money and settled down, only to tire of the country and take a new job. The car was in beautiful order, and had cost £460 only 10 months earlier. Macey asked £300, and Jim paid him £250, and drove away in it, leaving Chowne to make his own way home.

The car ran like a dream, and Jim was home before he knew It. His first idea was to take it and show it to Mrs. Chowne, but the thought of her praise did not satisfy him. Down went his foot on the accelerator, and he was away up over the hills in the direction of Brandon's place.

Less than half an hour later Jim topped Marham Moor and looked across a wide valley to Foxenholt with its smooth lawns dipping towards Bowater Brook. Swiftly and silently the car swooped down the long slope until it reached the single-arched stone bridge which spanned the little river.

Running water always fascinated Jim and he pulled up on the roadside, got out and leaned over the old, grey lichen-clad stone wall to watch the trout lying motionless in the clear depths beneath. A flash downstream caught his eye. It was the sun reflected from the varnish of a rod. Next moment a girl came into view and Jim's heart-beats quickened as he saw Cynthia Carrow making her way along the narrow fishing-path. In a rough red- brown tweed coat and skirt, with hat to match and small wicker creel slung on her back, she made a picture to stir the blood of any man.

Jim's first impulse was to shout a greeting, but he checked it as he saw her stoop, move cautiously forward and scan the surface of the pool below her. Back flashed her rod and the line flickered through the sunlit air. Two false casts she made, then her fly dropped light as thistledown in a small eddy under the far bank.

From the height at which he stood Jim actually saw the fish rise and snatch the fly. Instantly the line tightened and a lusty trout was boring fighting in the amber depths.

Jim ran across the bridge, vaulted the wall, dropped down to the path below, and was at Cynthia's side in time to slip her folding landing net from the strap which held it and neatly scoop the trout from the water.

"Half a pound, Cynthia, and a beauty. But you deserved him for that cast of yours." He took the fly from the trout's lip, killed it with one sharp, merciful rap and dropped it into her creel. Cynthia's blue eves were shining as she turned to him.

"And how did you happen to arrive at this opportune moment?" she asked.

"Drove over," he answered briefly. "Come and see my car."

"Your car!" she repeated, but followed him to the road. Her eyes widened as she saw the powerful machine.

"Jim," she said quickly. "You've found the bonds." It was Jim's turn to stare.

"What do you mean, Cynthia? I never told you—"

"You wouldn't," broke in Cynthia with a touch of scorn.

"Then how do you know? Did Bill—?"

"Don't blame Bill. He told Olive, and I got it out of her. Are you cross with me, Jim?"

"Cross! Good Lord, I think it's simply wonderful of you to take so much interest in—in my doings."

"Don't be silly, Jim, Of course I take interest in the doings of my friends. Now, tell me, where did you find the bonds?"

"Oh—Dr—" Jim might have expected this question, but he didn't, and he had no answer ready. "They—they were in a safe," he stammered.

"In your safe. But surely you'd searched that already?"

"N—not in my safe," Jim answered lamely.

"Then whose?"

"I—I can't tell you, Cynthia." Cynthia pursed her pretty lips.

"You mean you won't." Jim braced himself.

"I don't mean that at all," he said earnestly. "If I'd tell any one I'd tell you; but I can't tell any one."

"Not even Bill?" suggested Cynthia. Jim reddened, for Bill Brandon had been the one person he had meant to wise of Harvey's performances. But he was too honest to lie.

"You're right. I was going to tell Bill." Cynthia's lips tightened a little. Jim went on desperately. "See here, Cynthia, I've a real reason for not telling you, but if Bill thinks it right for you to know you shall know."

"You're very mysterious." Cynthia was quite evidently offended. "Well, drive on up to the house and tell Bill. I'm going on fishing."

"Please let me come with you, Cynthia," Jim begged humbly. "It's a terrible long time since I saw you last."

Cynthia hesitated,

"If you put it that way I suppose I can't refuse," she said, "but I'm not pleased with you, Jim." She crossed over to the east side of the bridge, and Jim followed. Jim's experience of women was small, but he had the sense to keep his mouth shut and confine himself to being merely useful.

Cynthia began casting again, and Jim was quite happy watching her. She was so complete, so competent, and withal so dainty and graceful. Jim, himself a good fisherman, took the keenest joy in the way she handled her eight-foot split cane.

The fishing was not easy, for the stream was heavily bushed, and any tyro would have been hung up a dozen times, but not Cynthia, Over and over again she shot her single fly right in under overhanging trees, dropping it deftly into small eddies under the far bank. Three times trout rose and were hooked, but in each case they were too small to keep and were carefully released and dropped back into the stream. At last Cynthia spoke.

"Take the rod, Jim." He shook his head.

"No, I'd rather watch you. I couldn't do any better. I doubt if I could do as well." His praise was so genuine that Cynthia's face softened.

"I believe you really mean it, Jim."

"You may be quite sure I mean it. Fishing's my game, and I wouldn't praise even you if you didn't deserve it."

She laughed.

"You're a dreadfully honest person, Jim." She looked at her wrist-watch. "Half-past twelve, and I told Olive I'd be in for lunch. But I want one more fish. I think there is just time to go to The Whirly Hole. There's a big fellow there if I could only get him."

"You'll never have a better chance," said Jim. "The water is perfect after last night's flood." The Whirly Hole was a quarter- mile upstream, and the river made a sharp turn to the north. The whole force of the current struck a monstrous boulder at the turn, with the result that it swung in a great circle, forming a whirlpool.

"Isn't it lovely?" said Cynthia softly as she stood on the flat, peaty bank and looked down into the great swirling bowl. Lovely it was. The river was still very full, but the water had fined down to the colour of strong tea, and the sun, shining down into the spinning depths, filled them with streaks of gold and amber light. On the surface long lines of pale bubbles and froth swung in endless and ever-changing circles. Jim pointed to a spot where the far bank had broken down, leaving a little bay or backwater in which the water eddied softly.

"That's where he'll be lying. It's a long cast with your little rod, but you can go close to the edge, for he'll be lying with his head upstream and won't see you."

"I'm sure you are right," said Cynthia as she went forward. She began to cast, at each flick of her wrist pulling more and more line off the reel. Jim stood a little way off, watching admiringly.

There was a slight crunching sound as the rotten bank, undercut by the flood, gave way beneath Cynthia's feet. She tried to spring back, but was too late. With a low rumble a mass of earth, weighing, perhaps, half a ton, fell outwards into the pool, carrying Cynthia with it. She and it together vanished into the yellow depths.


IN spite of his terror Jim did not lose his head. Instead of plunging straight in he waited long enough to fling off his coat and shoes. Far down in the centre of the great golden whirl he caught a glimpse of something dark and dived towards it.

The moment he was under the fierce current seized and swung him, He could not swim against it, but he knew its chief force was the surface, and he drove himself deeper in the hope of escape. The bank fall had clouded the water, but, with eyes open, he was still able to see tho dark object out ahead. He knew it was Cynthia, and fought with all his strength to reach her.

His outstreached hand closed on cloth. It was her skirt. He shifted his grip, caught her by the arm, and struck upwards with all his might. For a moment the current seemed to drive them deeper, then all of a sudden they were shot to the surface.

Jim glanced anxiously at Cynthia. She had been under so long he fully expected to find her insensible. Nothing of the sort. Her eyes were open, and she even managed to smile faintly. Jim looked round. They were now a little below the centre of the pool, but still in the grip of the huge eddy which was swinging them steadily round toward the far bank.

Alone Jim might have fought his way out of the grip of the whirlpool, but he knew he could not possibly drag Cynthia with him. Cynthia understood.

"Let it take us round, Jim. At the lower end we may be able to get out of it."

"Can you stand it?" Jim asked anxiously. "It's horribly cold."

"I'm game for a lot still," Cynthia answered with a brave smile. Slowly, yet with resistless force, the spinning pool swung them in a great circle. Jim was content just to tread water and keep their heads up. He was saving his strength for the big fight.

The swing took them quite close to the far bank, but it overhung so greatly that, even if he could have reached it, there was no chance of a hand-hold. Then the current pulled them away again, and as the edge of the whirl came near to the main current an undertow seized them and dragged them down again.

"Don't struggle," Jim had just time to say as they were drawn beneath the foam-covered surface, and he thrilled with pride at Cynthia's steady obedience.

Down—down! It felt as if they were going to the very bottom. The water roared in Jim's ears, and the pain in his chest was almost unbearable. Then just as it seemed that his lungs would burst, up they were shot.

Six feet to the right Jim saw the full rush of the current, but already the relentless circle of the whirlpool was turning him and Cynthia away from it. He knew that Cynthia at least could never stand being pulled down a third time, and, weary as he was, struck out desperately. For a full minute it was even chances whether he would make it, but he fought with a fury that could not be denied. Somehow he dragged Cynthia out of the deadly suck of The Whirly Hole, and next instant he and she together were flying down the swift stickle.

After that It was easy, for twenty yards further the water shallowed to the lip of the pool so that he was able to get his feet down and wade ashore, carrying Cynthia. He just managed to reach the bank and dropped on the sun-warmed grass, so done that he could not move or even speak.

But this did not last long. Jim's fit, well-trained body soon recovered from the strain; he got his breath back and sat up. Stark terror seized him as he saw that Cynthia lay still, with her eyes closed.

"Cynthia! Cynthia!" he cried. "Oh, my dear, you're not dead." He leaned over and kissed her. Her lips were warm, she was still breathing, then her eyes flickered open, and she looked up into Jim's face.

"You kissed me, Jim," she said, and Jim went crimson with confusion.

"I—I'm sorry," he stammered.

"You needn't be," said Cynthia, and suddenly flinging her arms around his neck drew his head down and kissed him on the lips.

"Cynthia!" was all Jim could say as for a moment these two, soaking wet, half-drowned as they were, clung to one another in such happiness as comes to few people at all, and to none more than once in a lifetime.

Cynthia drew herself gently away; her cheeks were warmly flushed, and her lovely blue eyes shone like stars.

"We shall be dreadfully late for lunch," she laughed. "Help me up, Jim, and let us see what that car of yours can do."

The car whisked them up the hill in a very brief space of time, and the first person they saw was Noel lying at full length in a long chair on the veranda. He frowned.

"What on earth have you been doing, Cynthia?" he asked in his sharp, petulant voice. "You look like a drowned rat."

"That's just what I feel like," replied Cynthia, "And drowned I should have been if Jim hadn't pulled me out." Noel's frown deepened to a scowl.

"You're always doing silly things. I wish you'd think of me sometimes."

Jim boiled.

"Your sister has been to the bottom of The Whirly Hole, Carrow, and it's a bit of a miracle she's alive. Suppose you think of her sometimes instead of yourself."

"I don't want you to tell me what I ought or ought not to think," retorted Noel furiously, but Jim paid him no further attention. He swept Cynthia into the house. Olive Brandon came to meet them.

"My dears, what have you been doing?"

"Swimming," grinned Jim. "Do you think Bill could lend me some togs?"

"Of course. Come up. But you know your way to his room. Help yourself, Jim."

Dressed in a suit of Brandon's flannels, Jim found his way downstairs just as the luncheon gong sounded. Olive Brandon came hurrying after him, and caught him by both hands.

"First fire, then flood," she said, and though she tried to laugh her lips were quivering. "Jim, I'm going to kiss you," which she did on both cheeks, to the great scandal of the elderly parlour-maid who was just opening the dining-room door. Cynthia watched from the top of the stairs, and a very tender little smile curled her lips. She and Olive Brandon were very dear friends, and to Olive she had confessed more than she would have to any other woman.

Luncheon was a very cheerful meal. True, Noel sat silent and sulky, but since none of the others paid him the slightest attention his scowls were wasted. Afterwards Olive was shown the car and was warm in her admiration of it.

"Bill will be in for tea, Jim," she said. "And he'll never forgive you if you don't stay. I have to go out. You and Cynthia can amuse one another. I'll take Noel with me."

"Isn't she a dear?" said Cynthia as they watched their hostess drive off.

"She's the second nicest girl in the world," Jim asserted and looked at Cynthia. But Cynthia only laughed, and turned back to the veranda.

"Get some cushions, Jim. I'm a little limp still."

"I should think you were," responded Jim as he made a nest of cushions in a long chair and settled Cynthia among them. Then he drew up a second chair for himself.

"Cynthia," he said, and quietly possessed himself of her hand. "Cynthia, when will you marry me?" She did not draw her hand away, but he felt it stiffen slightly in his.

"I can't marry you, Jim," she answered.

Jim sat up.

"You mean there's some one else," he said sharply.

"There is no one else, Jim. I like you better than any man I have ever met."

"But not enough to marry me."

"Yes, enough to marry you—if it were possible for me to marry anybody."

"My dear, what do you mean? I'm not a pauper any longer. I have nine hundred pounds a year and a house that you have owned you liked."

"It isn't a question of money, Jim, I have a thousand a year of my own, and it is quite true that I love Crag Head."

"Then what on earth—" began Jim, but she checked him with a gesture.

"Listen, Jim, I have felt for a long time past that I owed you an explanation—well, I couldn't give it to you until I knew how you felt." Her lips quivered and she seemed to be searching for words.

"Don't say a word unless you feel like it," Jim begged earnestly. "So long as we can be friends it will be all right."

She took his hand in both hers.

"Jim, I think you are the only really unselfish man I ever met, and I prize your friendship more than I can tell you. That makes it all the harder to say what I have to say. The reason I can't marry you is Noel. Hasn't Bill told you about him?"

"Bill told me he drinks, but, of course, I knew that without being told."

"Is that all you know?" Jim frowned.

"Why, what else is there to know?" he asked in a puzzled voice. Cynthia looked up at him, and it hurt him to see the pain in her eyes.

"It isn't drink, Jim. It's drugs."

"Drugs," repeated Jim, horrified.

"Yes. Noel is a confirmed drug-taker." Jim braced himself.

"It doesn't seem to me that drugs are much worse than drink, and both can be cured," he said stoutly.

"I have spent two years in trying to cure him, but the task is beyond me," said Cynthia sadly. "If we were poor people Noel would be shut up in one of these places where they do cure drug- takers. But Noel is coming in for a great deal of money, and this gang who know how rich he will be are determined to get him and his money in their own hands. Three times I have put him in a home, but each time they have managed to smuggle cocaine to him. The whole business is perfectly hopeless."

Jim considered a little.

"And so you are to give up the whole of your life and happiness for his sake?" he asked.

"I can't help it, Jim, dear. I gave my sacred promise to Dad that I would look after Noel. I can't break it." In spite of herself her words ended in a sob, and Jim caught her in his arms.

"I'll help you," he said firmly. "Between us we will cure him."


CYNTHIA drew herself gently away,

"It's like you to say that, Jim, and I know you'd do your best to help us, but you don't know what you are promising. It may be possible to cure a drug-taker, but you have no idea of the difficulties. Cocaine destroys all moral sense. It turns a person into a liar and a thief. It also makes him horribly cunning. Though I or Mrs. Raft watch Noel night and day, yet somehow he gets hold of the horrible stuff."

"He can't get it unless some one supplies it," said Jim. "I suppose he has to buy it."

"He does not buy it. That's just it. This gang supply the cocaine free in the hope that, when Noel is twenty-one, he will be such a slave to the drug that they will be able to do as they like with him."

"Brutes!" growled Jim. "Cynthia," he asked sharply, "is Harmer one of them?"

"Of course. He is my worst enemy." Jim drew a quick breath.

"Then—then Harvey—" Cynthia's eyes widened.

"Jim, you don't mean that your cousin is one of them?" she asked in a horrified voice.

"I—I don't know, I hope not, but—" he stopped again in evident distress. Cynthia fixed her eyes on his face.

"Jim, was it Harvey who stole your bonds?"


"And it was his safe you got them out of?"

Jim nodded.

"So that's what you wouldn't tell me this morning."

"It seemed so beastly. You see, you knew him, Cynthia—and—and he is my cousin."

Cynthia nodded.

"I quite understand. But now, Jim, I think you had better tell me all about it."

"I suppose I had," said Jim slowly.

"Yes, it's right you should know. Only first I want you to understand that Harvey didn't steal the bonds for the sake of the money."

"He wanted to drive you out of Crag Head," said Cynthia shrewdly.

"How did you know that?" asked Jim in amazement.

"I'm not a fool, my dear Jim, and I'm quite capable of putting two and two together."

"I think you are wonderful," said Jim fervently. Cynthia smiled.

"I'll be just as pleased If you'll do the addition for me, Jim. In other words, I want the whole story, please." So Jim told her, and she listened in a silence broken only by an occasional shiver. When he had finished she nodded.

"Jim, I'm very proud of you," she said. "There aren't many men who would have had the pluck to do what you did at Greystone."

"It wasn't pluck at all," returned Jim. "It was just a wild impulse. And once I was in the house the rest of it was forced on me."

She laughed again.

"We'll let it go at that. Anyhow, you have got back your money, and quite single-handed you have defeated the whole gang." She stopped and thought a little, then went on: "Of course you are right about Harvey. He is not only one of them, but their leader."

"You mean that he is smuggling cocaine, Cynthia?" Jim broke in.

"Not a doubt about it. The spirits and tobacco are only a blind. They pay well enough, but it is the drugs from which the gang make most of their money. Now at last I know the source from which Noel gets his poison."

Jim had gone rather white.

"This thing has got to be stopped. My promise to Harvey doesn't stand any longer. I must go to the police at once." He started to get up, but Cynthia laid a hand on his arm.

"Don't be in too much of a hurry. See Bill first, and talk it over with him. Bill has a lot of good sound sense."

"But it makes my blood boil, Cynthia. The idea that my cousin could do a thing like this!"

"Some men will do anything for money, Jim. And do you know I have felt all along that Harvey Lunt is a man without any moral sense."

Jim's eyes widened.

"I—I thought you rather liked him, Cynthia."

"He is bright and amusing, but I could not have trusted him. Yet I never suspected him of anything like this."

Jim considered.

"I'll do as you say, Cynthia. I'll have a talk with Bill. But I'm not going to spare Harvey, even if he is my cousin. It makes me sick to think a man like that could ruin boys like Noel just for the sake of money."

Cynthia saw how deeply he was stirred, and did her best to soothe him.

"You said you would help me with Noel, Jim. Have you any idea of how we can get him away from this gang?"

"There won't be any gang by the time I've finished with them," returned Jim grimly.

"But there will be others. There are always drug peddlers."

Jim looked up.

"My idea was this, Cynthia. I want you and Noel and Mrs. Raft to come to Crag Head and stay there. As you know, it's about the most isolated place in Devonshire. There's only one way in from the land side and Chowne keeps tab on every one who comes to the house. If we had Noel there he'd be cut off from any chance of getting this beastly stuff. And Bill would come over and see him now and then." He paused. "I think I could make you comfortable, Cynthia. Mrs. Chowne is quite a good cook." She laid her hand on his.

"I should be perfectly happy, Jim. The question is how long you would put up with Noel."

"Of course I'd put up with him," said Jim quickly, Cynthia shook her head.

"You don't know him, Jim. You haven't seen him at anything like his worst. He is simply impossible. Even Olive, sweet as she is, has come near to losing her temper."

"If he gets too troublesome, I shall have to treat him like a bad child and lock him up," smiled Jim. Cynthia did not smile.

"If you did he would probably stick a knife into you. He is dangerous at times, Jim."

"And you have to put up with that sort of thing. My dear, it's quite time you had a man to help you."

"I have Bill, Jim, He can handle Noel better than any one else can. And Noel has a queer sort of respect for him."

"Then I must learn from Bill," said Jim firmly. "I'm pretty good at keeping my temper, Cynthia."

"I know you are," said Cynthia gently, "but I'm quite sure you have never been tried as Noel will try you."

"All I can say is that I'll do my best, Cynthia. Do say you will come."

"I'd love to," said Cynthia frankly, "but I won't say 'yes' until I have consulted Bill."

"I'll accept his verdict whichever way it goes. Hulloa, here he is." Next minute Brandon's car was at the door and Bill was greeting Jim. He looked at the pair with a quizzical smile.

"You're as solemn as two owls. What's the matter, eh?"

"We have something to be solemn about, Bill, and we both want your advice," said Jim. "See here, I'll sheer off and let Cynthia have first go. Then you shall hear my side of it." He got up. "Cynthia, I'll go down and see if I can find your rod." She caught his arm.

"You're not going near that pool again," she said firmly.

"I'll promise not to go into it anyhow. Word of honour, Cynthia."

"I don't trust you."

"Oh, let him go, for goodness' sake," put in Brandon with a laugh. "I'm simply bursting with curiosity."

"Not the river, Jim," insisted Cynthia. "Just walk round the garden and smoke a cigarette and come back in five minutes." Jim glanced at his wristwatch.

"I'll time you, and I'll bet five minutes won't be enough," he said as he walked off. Sure enough, at the end of five minutes the two were still talking hard, so Jim made another round. As he came back the second time Brandon met him.

"Congratulations, Jim," he said briefly, but the glow on his face meant more than the words. Jim reddened.

"Then she's told you, Bill?"

"Not much, but enough, old man."

"Has she told you she won't marry me?"

"You mean on Noel's account? Yes, I understood that, but don't worry too much on that account. You and she between you ought to make something of the boy."

"Then you approve of my idea?" asked Jim eagerly.

"I think it's excellent. Of course, you're both going to have the devil's own job, but Cynthia has told you that."

"I'd do more than that for her, Bill," said Jim simply.

"Then get to it, and I wish you all the luck in the world."

"Wait," said Jim, "I have quite a bit to tell you."

"All right. We'll walk up, and down. Steady till I put a pipe on." He lit the pipe, then as they walked up and down in the soft evening sunshine Jim told Brandon all that he had already told Cynthia.

"So you see, Bill," he ended, "there's no longer any question of letting Harvey off. I must tell him that I mean to go straight to the police."

"Why should you tell him?"

"Because I promised him he could have a month to clear that cave."

Brandon frowned.

"A fellow like that doesn't deserve such consideration, Jim. He and all his like ought to be in quod. Gad, if I was their judge I'd sock 'em a life sentence, and if you'd seen what I've seen you'd do the same."

"I agree, Bill," said Jim. "But even to a fellow like that I don't like to break my promise."

"My dear Jim, you have the tenderest conscience of any man I know, but my advice is not to be in too big a hurry. We want this gang under lock and key, if you warn them they'll simply skip the country."

Jim hesitated. "I don't know what to do, Bill," he said at last. Brandon slowly filled his pipe.

"There's another point," he said presently. "There may be no dope in the cave, and in that case the only penalty Harvey and his lot will incur is a fine. A big one, but, of course, they'll pay it and start their dirty business all over again from some other base. If I were you I'd search the cave before I did anything else."

"And if I don't find dope?"

"Then sit tight. Let Harvey clear his stuff out, but keep an eye on him, and especially on Harmer and Fowler. The first evidence we find we'll have them for importing drugs, and then they'll all get it in the neck."

"I expect you're right," said Jim slowly. "Then I'll be shifting."

"What's your hurry? It's too late to do anything to-day. Stop and dine with us. I dare say you and Cynthia have a few more things to say to one another," he added with a chuckle. He paused, "But not a word to Noel, Jim. He mustn't know of this idea of yours for taking him to Craig Head until the very day he goes."


JIM finished fastening up a great bale of tobacco. Though the sea cave was cool he was hot, dirty, and tired, for he and Chowne had been working all day examining the contents of the cave.

"There's nothing in that one, Chowne," he said in a voice which held a touch of relief, "And that's the last of the tobacco. I don't believe we're going to find anything."

"It don't look like it, and yet I bain't satisfied yet," returned the stuggy serving man.

"But that's the last of the tobacco," objected Jim. "There's nothing but gin and brandy bottles left. Oh, and scent, but surely it can't be hidden in those cases."

Chowne lifted a bottle and held it against his light. He shook his head. "Don't seem to me as there could be none o' that there poison stuff in this. Yet I'll be bound as it's somewhere here."

"Why do you say that?"

"Don't it stand to reason, so to speak, Master Jim? You knows as they're bringing in the stuff, and where else would they be putting it if it wasn't in this here cave?"

"I'm not so sure that they'd store it here. Most likely they took it straight off their boat into Mr. Harvey's house."

"Maybe you're right, Master Jim, but I do rackon us had better look through all these here cases just to make ourselves sure."

Jim groaned.

"I'm fed up with the job. Still, you're right, Chowne. We must finish it."

Case upon case they opened. Bottles of French brandy, quantities of liqueurs—Kümmel, Benedictine, Curaçoa. All good quality stuff. Jim tested the cases themselves, thinking that perhaps they had double bottoms. He shook out straw and packing material, but not a trace did he see of that deadly white powder which its addicts usually term "snow." Every case had to be carefully nailed up again and put back in its proper position, for Jim had no wish that Harvey should suspect what he had been doing.

Then came a case of Dutch schnapps, put up in those squat brown earthenware bottles which look so extremely Dutch. This case was as innocent as the rest and Jim sighed with relief as he saw that there were only five more to examine.

"Proper neat little bottles," said Chowne as he stacked them back, and then one slipped from his fingers and fell with a crash on the rock floor.

"Dang my clumsy bones," cried Chowne in dismay. "Now they'll surely find what us has been doing." He stooped to pick up the pieces, but suddenly Jim pushed him aside.

"Wait!" he said sharply. "Good Lord, look at this."

The bottle had broken in two in the oddest way. The neck and top half in one part and the lower end and base forming the other. If they had been cut with a diamond the two halves could hardly have been more regular.

But that was not the queerest part of it, for the bottom half was divided from the top by a partition. In other words the bottle was double, the top half being filled with the spirit. Without a moment's hesitation Jim smashed the lower half. It was filled with soft, white crystals. He wetted the tip of his forefinger, touched the crystals, and put it to his tongue.

Chowne gazed at him wide-eyed.

"Be that this here poison?" he demanded.

"That's it," said Jim grimly. "That's cocaine."

"It were surely a clever way to hide it," said Chowne slowly. "What be going to do, Master Jim?"

"I'll tell you exactly what I'm going to do," replied Jim in a voice that surprised Chowne so hard and cold it was, "I am taking these bottles out of the cave, loading them into the car, and driving straight to Exeter Castle. And I am not warning my cousin. Mr. Brandon was right. Men guilty of a crime like this deserve no consideration."

"I rackon you'm right, Master Jim," Chowne said simply. "And most like old master would have said the same. I'll carry 'em to the boat, sir. You rest a bit and take a smoke. It be a long drive you has before you."

"No, I'll help," said Jim. "I'm in a hurry. We'll put all these schnapps bottles into the boat. Just see if there are any more in the other four cases."

There were not, and it did not take long to load the one case into the boat and take it round to the boathouse. Then Jim hurried to the house to get a bath and a change. Meantime Mrs. Chowne prepared a meal, a sort of high tea, and about half-past six all was ready for Jim's start.

"Would 'ee like me to come with 'ee, Master Jim?" Chowne asked. "Missus'll be all right with the dog."

"No, I'd rather you remained here and took care of things, Chowne. I shall stay the night at the Clarence in Exeter, and be back sometime to-morrow. I expect I shall bring one of the revenue men with me. You'd best keep an eye on the cave. Not that they're likely to try clearing it to-night, for the tide will be too high."

"Us'll watch," Chowne assured him. "And you be careful, Master Jim. 'Tis a bit foggy like."

"I'll be careful," Jim promised as he got into the car and drove away. The day had been fine, but during the last hour the weather had changed. A haze of low, grey cloud covered the sky, and already the top of the beacon wore a night-cap of mist. Jim thought it quite likely that it would begin to rain at nightfall, but hoped to be in Exeter by that time.

It was a long climb up over the moor, and the road was none too good, but the car was running well and Jim carried on at a good speed. Then came his first bit of ill-luck. Near the top of the second big hill, where the road curved along the ridge of the big blunt tor known as Bascombe's Beam, he heard a hiss of escaping air, and found he had a puncture in the off back wheel. He had picked up a huge wire nail which had gone right through both casing and tube. This nail seemed an odd thing to find on the road, and Jim was much annoyed. However, he got out, jacked the car up, took off the damaged wheel, and put on the spare.

He examined the other wheels, and it was lucky he did so, for one of the front tyres had a similar nail sticking in it, though fortunately this had gone in sideways and done no serious harm.

"Nice job if I got a second puncture," grumbled Jim, and when he reached Callacombe he stopped at the garage and had a fresh tyre fitted on the spare, leaving the other to be repaired. This, of course, meant fresh delay, and it was nearly eight when he left the little town. As he breasted the long hill leading west across the moor he was annoyed to see that the mist had already dropped on the heights, and before he had gone two miles his windscreen was blurred by a thin drizzle. He switched on the wiper and carried on, but soon it was so thick that he was forced to cut down his speed to twenty.

The worst of these moor roads is that they are quite open. There is no wall or hedge to give the driver direction in thick weather. Yet it is most dangerous to run off the load, for hidden among the heather are great blocks of granite, any one of which will hopelessly wreck a car which hits it.

Driving under such conditions is a heavy strain, especially when time is an object, and Jim was most anxious to cross the moor and reach the low country before he had to put on his lights. It was lonely, too, up here on the heights, and though Jim loved the great open moors he remembered the cargo he had in the back and began to feel a little nervous. He half wished that he had brought Chowne with him.

At last the ground began to fall, and Jim breathed a sigh of relief as he realised that he had reached the top of Hendon Rise, and that another three miles of winding road would bring him down into the in-country.

Hendon is pretty steep and the road goes in big S-shaped curves all across its face. At the second curve the road runs for about sixty yards through a cut with a high bank on the left and a sharp drop on the right. This right-hand side of the road has no parapet, but is marked with upright stones set about twenty feet apart and whitewashed.

The fog was thick as ever when Jim came to this cutting and the daylight nearly gone. Yet he had not switched on his lights, because he knew the glare would make things worse for him. Anyhow there was no traffic. For the past three miles the only living thing he had seen were a couple of shaggy, half-wild moor ponies and a few rabbits.

He was travelling at not more than fifteen miles an hour when his near front wheel bumped into a big stone lying in the road. The car did not upset, but the shock turned her sharply sideways. Instinctively Jim put out the clutch and forced his foot down on the brake pedal, but before he could stop her the off wheel was off the road.

He felt the car topple slowly over and flung himself clear of the steering wheel. He could not get out, because the hood was up. There was a crash, he felt a stunning blow on the head, sparks flashed before his eyes, and he dropped away into black depths of unconsciousness.

The effect of a bad blow on the head is always to dull the memory, and when Jim struggled slowly back to a sense of his surroundings it was a long time before he could remember what had happened. All he knew was that he was lying on his back in pitch darkness with queer creaking noises around him, that his head was aching horribly, and that his mouth and throat were parched as brown paper. Yet he felt so utterly limp and weak that he had no desire to move.

"The car," he muttered at last. "It—it went over. And the stuff!" He tried to sit up, but the effort made his head spin and he dropped back with a groan. Yet the movement cleared his head a little, and he began to realise that whatever he lay on was rising and falling beneath him.

"I'm in an ambulance," was his first thought, then the unmistakable splash of parted waves reached his ears, and he knew the truth. He was at sea.


ONCE more Jim tried to move, but the ache in his head sickened him. He decided it was best to lie still. After all there was nothing to be gained by getting up if, as seemed certain, he was actually at sea. So long as he lay still his head did not hurt so much, but thirst tortured him.

From the sound and the feel of the ship beneath him she was steaming slowly over a fairly calm sea. Evidently it was night, but whether it was the same night of his car smash or the next he could not tell. He felt he had been unconscious for a long time.

Presently he heard the door open, a light shone through the darkness illuminating the tiny cabin, and there was Harvey Lunt standing beside his bunk with a small lamp in his hand. He was dressed in a pair of blue dungaree trousers and a thick, dark blue jersey, but his face was as carefully shaved as usual, his hair smooth, his hands white. There was an odd expression in his eyes as he stood looking down on his cousin. To Jim it almost seemed to have a touch of pity in it.

"Feeling a bit sorry for yourself, eh, Jim?" he remarked.

"Give me some water," Jim said hoarsely. Harvey turned to a shelf on which was a water bottle and glass in a fixed stand. He poured out some water and gave the glass to Jim, who drained it to the last drop.

"More?" Harvey asked. "No. You'd better wait for some coffee. That will do you more good." He paused. "You broke your word, Jim," he said briefly.

"Of course I did, and under the same circumstances I'd do it again."

Harvey shrugged.

"Then you can't wonder I took steps to protect myself."

"You mean you put that stone on the road?"

"Of course. Though in point of fact I did not mean to upset the car. But we had to prevent your reaching Exeter. You were watched the whole time."

"So will you be watched. You may finish me, Harvey, but that won't help you." A faint smile curled Harvey's lips.

"Don't be melodramatic, Jim. We have no intention of finishing you, or, indeed, of doing you any harm beyond what you have suffered already. When the cave is cleared you will be put ashore, but by that time everything will have been moved and there will be no evidence against us. I wish I could make you understand that it is no use butting against us."

"You mean I am to leave you to go on poisoning and destroying people without lifting a finger to help them."

"I mean that you'll have to learn to mind your own business and let others attend to theirs," replied Harvey curtly. "But you're in no state to argue I'll send you in some coffee and then I'd advise you to take a good sleep." He turned and went out, closing the door behind him. Five minutes later a white-jacketed steward came in with a pot of coffee on a tray. The tray had a cloth on it and the coffee smelt excellent.

"Mr. Lunt said to ask if you'd like anything to eat, sir," said the man as he laid the tray on a stand beside the bunk.

"Not now, thank you," said Jim, and with a "Very good, sir," the steward went out. The coffee was as good as it smelt; there was fresh, hot milk and lump sugar. It could hardly have been better served on a liner. Jim drank it all, and it did him an immense deal of good. After it he felt able to get out and wash in the fixed basin. Then he lay back on his hard but not uncomfortable bunk, and dropped off into a deep and dreamless sleep.

It was broad daylight when he woke and the sun shone through a small, curtained porthole. He got up feeling much better and steadier, drew the curtain and looked out across a wide stretch of sparkling sea. A hump of land rose in the distance, and he recognised it as Lundy Island. The ship was a trawler, no doubt the same he had seen on a previous occasion, and she was steaming very slowly in a southerly direction. That was all Jim could ascertain.

Again he bathed his head in cold water. There was still a bump over his right ear, but it was less painful. Some one must have heard him moving, for presently the steward came in with a tray. Bacon and eggs, bread and butter and marmalade, and a pot of strong tea.

"Is there anything else you'd like, sir?" the man asked civilly, but Jim assured him he had all he wanted. Since there was no sense in starving himself he made an excellent breakfast and afterwards felt equal to a pipe. His clothes were in the cabin, though he had found himself dressed in a suit of pyjamas. After a while the steward appeared again.

"Mr. Lunt says will you please keep to your cabin, sir; but he sent down these magazines, and if you'll ring for anything you want I will get it for you." Jim had the sense to know that he could do no good disobeying Harvey's orders, so settled down to make the best of his imprisonment.

All day they cruised down the coast in beautiful weather. Meals were brought to Jim at regular intervals and he was allowed to use a bathroom close to his cabin. It was the first time he had ever heard of a trawler being fitted with a bathroom, but this was evidently no ordinary trawler, and though outside she looked exactly like any other fishing vessel Jim gained an idea that her engines were a long way more powerful than those usually possessed by her class. Harvey did not come near him, and he saw nobody except the steward.

Having plenty of time to think, he wondered a good deal what Chowne was doing. Chowne, of course, would not have expected him back at Crag Head until next day, but then he would no doubt let Brandon know that his master was missing. Brandon would telephone to Exeter, find that Jim had not got there, and then would make a move. Jim's one hope was that Brandon would reach Crag Head before the cave was cleared.

He blamed himself bitterly that he had not taken Chowne with him to Exeter, yet even if he had done so that might not have saved him. Harvey had told him that he was being watched all the time, and this was probably true. As the long day dragged on he grew more and more worried, yet what could he do? for even if he could have slipped overboard the distance was too great to swim ashore. The light breeze dropped and at tea-time a thin haze narrowed the horizon. Jim spent most of his time at his porthole, but there was little to see. About half-past seven the steward brought him some dinner. Quite a good meal, and after it came coffee and cigarettes.

Jim was fond of coffee. In his bank clerk days good coffee had been his one extravagance, and he had always made it himself. He sipped this and did not like it. There was an odd bitter taste.

"Too much chicory," he said to himself, and then a queer suspicion shot through his mind. He tasted it again, and this time spat it out.

"Doped!" he whispered, and thought hard. Then he got up and quickly poured the contents of the cup out of the porthole. When the steward came back Jim was lying flat on his back on his bunk, apparently very sound asleep.

"Properly off!" he heard the man say to himself as he gathered up the tray and left the room.

Jim lay still. A little later some one else came in. It was Harvey. He looked hard at Jim for a few seconds.

"All right!" he said in a satisfied tone to some one outside the door; then they both went away.

Jim was thinking hard. It came to him that the trawler was going into port—possibly some secret haven of which they wished to keep him in ignorance. Anyhow, his cue was to sit tight and wait his chance.

Presently he dared to get up and look out. Sure enough, the vessel was nearing land. He could see cliffs looming vaguely through the mist. But it was not until night had fallen that the trawler began to creep into a harbour.

No one came near Jim's cabin. He realised that no one would, for the dose he was supposed to have taken would be calculated to keep him under till morning. He looked out again and saw lights ahead. Then he spotted buoys marking a channel. This was no secret harbour, but a real port. Probably they were going in for fresh food or water, or perhaps to put Harvey ashore.

Jim's excitement grew, but it was only now and then that he ventured to look out. The engines slowed, he heard the anchor chain rattle out and the engines stopped altogether, and the ship lay steady in a tide stream. Again Jim looked out, and this time saw a wharf not more than fifty yards away.

A boat was being lowered. He saw it push off. Three men were in it, two rowing and one steering. As they came into the light of a gas lamp on the quay he saw that the steersman was Harvey. He watched them land, then softly tried the door of his cabin. It was not locked and he slipped out into the narrow little passage which ran aft from the small saloon.

There was no one in the saloon but there was certain to be a look-out on deck. Jim was never afraid of taking chances, and in his present mood was game enough for anything. He went back into his cabin, took off his shoes, slung them by their laces round his neck, then went swiftly, but softly through the saloon up the companion. Poking his head up he saw a man in the bows. He was leaning against the rail and had a pipe in his mouth.

Jim's first idea was to make a bolt and jump over the rail; his second and better, to come quietly on deck and stroll aft. He argued that the man believed him to be dead asleep, and would, therefore, take him for some member of the crew. Quite calmly he carried out his plan. The watchman glanced at him but paid no further attention, and Jim walked slowly to the stern.

The trawler lay in a river, and Jim was almost sure that the town was Appledore. He looked over and saw that the tide was running in strongly. It would probably carry him up some distance, yet he had no fear but that he could force his way across it and gain the shore. Deliberately he stepped over the rail, let himself down, and dropped with hardly a splash into the water.

Instantly the tide had him and whisked him away upstream. He did not try to swim; merely trod water and let the current carry him. It was not cold, and he felt he could carry on with ease. It had all been so simple that a chuckle escaped him, but he laughed too soon. There came a shout from the trawler.

"Man overboard! Hi, Royce—Jenkins, watch out."

For the moment Jim had forgotten Harvey's boat. Now he saw it come quickly out from the wharf, the two men pulling hard.


JIM lay still and floated with only his nose and eyes above the surface. Two things were in his favour, the darkness and the very smooth water. If these fellows in the boat had no light the chances were they would not see him.

They started to pull back to the trawler, but the look-out man yelled to them and they turned upstream The tide was carrying Jim swiftly past the wharf, and he was a good hundred yards away before the boat turned after him. He looked at the wharf and debated in his mind whether he could make it across the stream. But even if he could reach it he could not climb it, and the men would see him the moment he began to swim. No, his best chance was to carry on and trust to escaping their notice.

The worst of it was there was another lamp-post just beyond him, which threw a broad beam of light across the water. He knew he could not cross that unseen, so, before he reached it, he emptied his lungs and went under. It was not until they felt as if they would burst that he rose again. Some freak of the current had carried him close in under the wharf so that he was in the shadow.

He heard a splash of oars and there was the boat actually passing him, and not more than 30 yards away. He took a long breath and dived again. When he came up a second time the boat was almost out of sight, but he himself was badly winded and very tired. His wet clothes were dragging him down. He was still close under the wharf, but there was no way up its smooth stone face.

A dark shadow loomed to the left. It was a small yacht riding in the stream. Jim struck out for it. For a nasty moment it seemed as if the tide would whirl him past it, but putting out his last ounce of energy he reached it and caught its low side, and scrambled aboard.

A stout young man in pyjamas stuck a tousled head out of the hatch.

"What the blazes—" he began, but Jim checked him.

"That boat. They're after me."

"What's the trouble?" inquired the other. "Escaped from Dartmoor?" Jim tried to laugh, then went suddenly giddy and collapsed. A moment later he came to himself to find that the stout youth had lugged him into the cabin and was dosing him with whisky.

"I'm taking chances on you," he said. "You don't look like a convict. But why the blazes you want to go swimming at this hour of the night beats me."

"I was kidnapped," Jim told him. "Here, steady with that whisky, or I shan't be able to explain—"

"Kidnapped!" The stout youth's blue eyes gleamed in the candlelight. "Gosh, what was it—Bolshies?" He paused. "You're shivering. Slip off those wet togs and wrap yourself in a blanket. Then tell me."

"Not Bolshies," said Jim. "Smugglers. And every minute counts. I have to get to my own place, Crag Head, up near Callacombe, if I'm to stop their game. And it's a pretty bad game, let me tell you."

"Crag Head," repeated the other. "Why I know the place as well as I know my hand. Do you mean you own it?"

"I do." Jim suddenly resolved to trust his host. "There's a cave full of smuggled stuff in the Crag. I found it, so they kidnapped me in order to clear the stuff before any one could interfere."

"Gosh, I didn't know things like that happened nowadays." He raised his hand. "Hush! That boat's coming back." Oars splashed, there was a bump alongside.

"Any one aboard?" came a hoarse voice. The fat young man put his head out.

"Yes? What's the matter?" he growled.

"Chap fallen overboard from our trawler. Seen anything of him?

"Seen anything. How the Hades should I seen anything of him or any one else when I've been asleep in my bunk?"

Jim almost laughed. The voice was so exactly that of some one irritated by being roused from sound sleep.

"Shirty, ain't you?" growled the trawler man.

"Sorry," said the fat boy. "I'm always that way when I'm waked suddenly. Can I help you?"

"Might watch out a bit," said the other, mollified, "but I reckon the poor devil's gone under."

"Bad job. Yes, I'll look out," was the reply, then the boat passed on.

"You did that darned well," said Jim as the other dropped back into the cabin. "So long as they think I'm drowned that's all to the good. Now I'm going to ask you a big favour. Lend me some dry things and put me ashore."

"I'll do that, but how are you going to get home?"

"Hire a car."

"You'll have a job. It's past midnight, and everything in this village is shut tight as a drum."

"I could walk to Barnstaple and get a car there."

"I see you doing it," retorted the fat boy. "You're all in. See here, I've an idea. We'll wait an hour or so until things have quieted down, then I'll up-anchor and run you round. I've a kicker, and we'll be at your place before daylight."

"You'd do that for me?"

"Bet your life I would. A bit of excitement like this don't often come the way of yours truly."

"You might add the signature," said Jim. "My name is Silver."

"Colin Rand I am. Rotten name Colin. I wish it was Tom or Jim."

"Mine's Jim," was the laughing answer as its owner put out his hand. Jim was surprised at the grip he got in return. Rand's fat seemed mostly muscle.

After that things moved. First Rand lit his oil stove and brewed hot coffee, then he got out a suit for Jim, but first made him have a good rub down with a rough towel. Next he looked to his engine, and afterwards slipped out on deck and had a glance at the trawler.

"All quiet," he reported. "They've given you up as lost, and are probably frightfully bucked. We can start any time now. With this mist they'll never notice us."

Any one more efficient than this single-handed yachtsman Jim had never met, and with it all he was wonderfully quiet. The anchor came up almost without a sound, and with the little engine turning gently the stout little Seamew's bows began to breast the tide. Rand kept her over towards the right bank, and they gave the trawler a pretty wide berth. Though they watched her carefully they saw no sign of movement aboard, but for all that Jim breathed more freely when her riding lights faded from sight and the Seamew began to breast the slow swell of the open sea.

Outside, the mist was thick, but that did not matter to Colin Rand. He had not boasted when he said he knew this coast like the palm of his own hand. With her engine running full out, the Seamew made a good eight knots, and it was still an hour before daylight when she rounded the Sheer, the big headland just south of Crag Head.

"Think they'll be on the job?" he asked of Jim in an eager whisper.

"Yes, unless they've finished," replied Jim.

Rand nodded.

"Odds are they haven't, but we've got to see. We daren't take the yacht much further, for they'd hear the engine. Are you game to take a chance?"

"Seems to me that's the question I ought to be asking you."

"Rats! See here, Silver. My notion is to anchor here, take the dinghy, and do a bit of scouting."

"Right," said Jim. "That suits me." Rand dropped the anchor, letting the chain down very softly. In a few minutes the Seamew was swinging safely to its hold. Then Rand pulled up the dinghy, which had been towing astern. It was a mere cockleshell eight feet long, but held two people comfortably in calm water. Rand went below and came back with a ten bore wild-fowling gun.

"Buckshot cartridges," he chuckled. "Blow a hole in a battleship pretty nearly." Before starting he muffled the rowlocks with some old rags, then they pulled away.

There were no lights in the window of Crag Head House, all was dark and uncannily still. The only sound was the slow heave of the sea along the base of the Crag. The mist lung low over the oil-calm water, and the dinghy moved like a phantom over the quite swells. Jim in the stern strained his eyes towards the sea cave. Presently he held up his hand.

"They're there. I see a craft lying off the cave."

"Is it the launch?"

"I think so."

"Then, by gum, we have 'em all ends up," whispered Rand gleefully.


"Easy. We sneak up, collar the launch, and maroon 'em."

"Suppose they're in her?"

"Odds are they aren't. They'll be using all hands to shift the stuff. Anyhow it's good enough to try."

"Quite good enough," Jim echoed and Rand began to pull again. It was wonderful how he handled that dinghy. There was not a sound as she crept along close under the cliff foot. Now Jim could see the launch. She was the Grey Ghost, and ghost-like she looked as she lay almost motionless behind the rock curtain.

Jim lifted his hand and Rand stopped rowing. Two men had come out of the cave, and dim as the light was Jim could see they were carrying heavy loads. These they slung into the launch, then went back and Jim leaned forward.

"One man in the launch stowing the stuff," he whispered. "Get me up close and I'll handle him." Rand nodded and began to pull again. The dinghy crept up under the launch's stern. Jim could hear the man in her puffing as he stowed the heavy bales. He rose, caught the launch's gunwale, and scrambled lightly aboard.

He was almost on the man before the latter heard him. Jim saw him stiffen and jumped. At all costs he must silence him before he gave the alarm. With both hands he caught the fellow by the throat, and the two went down together on top of the bales.

The smuggler was big and powerful, he struggled furiously, but Jim clung desperately. They bounced and rolled together in the darkness like two fighting dogs. The man caught Jim's wrists and tried to force his hands apart, at the same time driving with his knees at Jim's stomach A bale broke beneath them, and the shock broke Jim's hold.

Instantly the man let out a bellow which echoed all along the cliff face. In sheer desperation Jim drew back his right fist and hit the man a half arm blow on the jaw. He felt him relax, but at the same time heard a shout from the cave.

"What's up, Jake?" Then the sound of running feet. He heard some one spring on to the deck of the launch, and he realized that the surprise attack had failed.


JIM'S opponent was out, and Jim sprang to his feet. As he did so a muscular arm swung across his chest and bowled him over. A pistol spat viciously twice and Jim had the impression the shots came very close over him, then with a crash like a young cannon Rand's scatter-gun roared. There followed a howl of fright or pain or both, and Colin's voice in Jim's ear.

"That tickled 'em, but lie still. They may shoot again."

"They'll board us."

"They won't. I've cut the painter." He chuckled as the launch, caught by the tide which was now ebbing strongly, began to drift out to sea. "Is there any way up the cliffs?" he asked.

"None," said Jim,

"Then they're marooned. Gosh, what fun! Now all we have to do is fetch the police."

"That's all, thanks to you," said Jim very gratefully.

"Me! I haven't had so much fun since I was a kid," returned Colin. "We're out of range now. I'm going to start up the engine Better tie up that blighter you knocked out. I've been sitting on his head ever since, and he's pretty limp."

"I'll attend to him," said Jim, and did so while Rand started the engine and ran back towards the Seamew.

"I'll take her in tow and we'd better run into your haven, Silver," he said. "Then you can go ashore and spend the rest of the night in your own bed."

"You'll come, too," said Jim.

"No. I'll sleep aboard. Safer! But I'll come round for breakfast. Then we'll fetch the bobbies and see what our catch amounts to. Strikes me there's quite a few dollars' worth aboard this launch."

Under Rand's able management both craft were soon safe in the haven, then Rand took Jim ashore in the dinghy and he hurried to the house. It was hardly a minute before Chowne answered his knocking, and it did Jim good to see the real joy on the face of the stocky Devon man.

"So you'm home, Master Jim. Lord! But we been scared—missus an' me. Us didn't know where ee'd gone."

"Was the car found?" asked Jim.

"No sign of her, sir. That's what tarrified us worse'n all."

"Does Mr. Brandon know?"

"Of course he knows. I were over to Foxenholt yesterday and told him. He reckoned as they smugglers had took 'ee to Greystone, and him and me went there in his car, but there weren't no one there at all. Then he drove off to Exeter to see Chief Constable. He be coming back here in the morning."

"That's good, but, Chowne, why didn't you watch the cave?"

"I watched un last night, but no one come, and to-night I were there till nigh on 1 o'clock. Then I come, back for a sup of summat hot, and darned if I didn't fall asleep in my chair. I be tarrible sorry."

"Poor old chap!" said Jim quickly. "I don't blame you a morsel. But you'll be pleased to hear that we've caught the lot, carried off their launch, and that they're boxed there until we fetch them."

"That be fine!" declared Chowne, delighted. "Then likely it was you a-shooting. Missus said a gun did go a while back."

"I'll tell you all about it," said Jim, and did so. It was daylight before he had finished. Chowne spoke.

"Master Jim, you been up all night You lay down for a bit. I'll watch for Mr. Rand." He insisted, and Jim went upstairs. His head was hardly on the pillow before he was asleep, and when he woke Bill Brandon was standing by the bed.

"Rested, old man?" he smiled. Jim leaped up.

"Good Lord!—what time is it?"

"Just after 10, but don't worry. The job's done."

"What do you mean?"

"We've collected the prisoners—four of them—and the police have taken them to Exeter. No," as Jim started to speak, "not Fowler or Harmer. The rest of the gang will have to clear out of the country. Oh, it was good work, Jim. You and that stout fellow Rand can shake hands with yourselves over last night's doings."

"Don't forget yourself, Bill," said Jim. "I'm no end grateful for all the trouble you've taken. Where's Rand?"

"Downstairs, eating the biggest breakfast I ever saw a man eat. He'd Just finished his fifth egg as I came up."

"And Cynthia?" Jim asked eagerly.

"Very worried about you, but I've sent her a wire by the sergeant of police. All the same, you'd better come over and see her."

"I've no car," said Jim.

"I'll drive you over. But your car has been found. It was hidden in an old cattle shed about a mile from the spot where they ditched you. It isn't much damaged, and I've arranged for Stephens of Callacombe to fetch it and put it right."

"You think of everything," said Jim, gratefully. "All right. I'll have a tub and some grub, then I'm your man. I say, Bill, Cynthia can come here now with Noel?"

"Certainly, if you're prepared to handle Noel."

"I'll do my best," said Jim, as he began to strip off Rand's clothes.

"It's a big contract," said Brandon, gravely. "He's a bad case, and you'll have no end of trouble. But I'll help you all I can, and if we can cure him between us we shall have earned some good marks." He went down, and fifteen minutes later Jim, shaved and spruce, followed. Rand jumped up to meet him. The stout youngster was beaming.

"I say, Silver, your cook's the best ever. I never ate a better breakfast in all my days."

"Well, I hope it won't be the last you eat here, Rand," said Jim warmly. "And I trust you'll use my harbour and house as if they were your own. You don't yet know how much you've done for us."

"Brandon's told me," replied the other, grinning broadly. "I wish you all the luck in the world, Silver. And thanks awfully. This harbour of yours will be a perfect godsend. You'll probably find me a devil of a nuisance."

"I'll tell you when I do," laughed Jim as he helped himself to bacon and eggs. An hour later he was at Foxenholt. Cynthia saw the car coming and ran out.

"Oh, Jim, I was so glad of the telegram," were her first words, and Jim, regardless of Bill or of watching eyes from windows, caught her in his arms and kissed her. When he let her go her cheeks were a little flushed.

"You're coming on, Jim," she laughed. "Presently I shall begin to be frightened of you. But come in. I'm crazy to hear all about your adventures." Jim had never spent a happier day than that one. Noel had a cold, and was in his room, so Jim and Cynthia had nothing to trouble them, and Olive Brandon, with her usual tact and kindness, kept out of the way and let them do just as they pleased. When, late that evening, Brandon drove Jim home Jim was able to tell him that everything was settled and Cynthia and Noel and Mrs. Raft were coming to Crag Head in ten days' time.

The next few days Jim spent in breathless preparations for his visitors. He got in decorators and had Cynthia's room repapered and painted, he bought a quantity of new rugs and carpets, the whole house was spring cleaned, and Chowne worked valiantly in the garden, getting the lawn and flower beds into lovely order. When at last the great day came Crag Head had never looked so spruce. The weather was kind, and it was a lovely sunny afternoon when they arrived. Cynthia brought Noel in her own two-seater; and Mrs. Raft followed in a hired car with the luggage.

"The place looks wonderful, Jim," was Cynthia's first remark as she got out; then she turned to Mrs. Chowne, who was waiting in the porch, and shook hands with her.

"It does you credit, Mrs. Chowne, but Mr. Silver has told me how much he owes to you and Chowne," Mrs. Chowne reddened with pleasure, and from that minute on was Cynthia's devoted slave. Jim, meantime, was greeting Noel, and trying to be as cordial as possible.

"I'm so glad you've come, Noel. We'll do our best to make you comfortable."

Noel raised his eyebrows.

"Who gave you leave to call me Noel," he demanded unpleasantly.

Jim laughed.

"I'll call you Mr. Carrow if you like, but it will sound a bit odd when I am your brother-in-law."

"So that's your game, is it? But a bank clerk naturally looks for money."

Jim had an almost irresistible desire to take this impossible youth by the scruff of his neck, put him across his knee, and smack his soundly, but, remembering Brandon's advice, restrained himself.

"I'm afraid you're a little behind the times, Carrow. Thanks to my late cousin, I am fairly well off. Don't you think you had better come in and have some tea?"

"I'll come in because I suppose I've got to, but I won't have any tea. I warn you, Silver, I don't like you. I didn't want to come here, and I'm not going to pretend to be friendly."

"All right. Now we know where we are. Stay in the car if you want to. When you are ready to get out, my man shall show you your room." Without another word or look he turned away, leaving Noel sitting in the car, with a face like a thundercloud, but if the truth were told feeling very much of a fool Cynthia met Jim In the hall.

"You mustn't mind him too much, Jim," she whispered. "He's in one of his worst moods. It was all Bill could do to make him come at all."

"I don't mind a bit, Cynthia. You know you warned me. He'll settle down after a while. Tea's ready, and I'm sure you want it after your drive." He led the way into the big sitting-room, which was fragrant with roses and pinks. Cynthia looked round.

"What a delightful room! And, Jim, what a tea—cream and jam and scones, and three sorts of cake. I'm afraid you're a very extravagant person."

"Ah, but this is a special occasion," said Jim. "Now, you pour out." He helped her to scones, and sat and watched her.

"This is what I've been longing for ever since I came to Crag Head," he told her, "but I hardly thought I should ever see it." Cynthia smiled at him, but before she could answer Noel entered the room.

"I've come for a cup of tea," he said, and his tone was quite pleasant. Then he turned to Jim. "Sorry I was rude just now. Fact is, I was a bit upset. Cynthia never told me of your invitation till this morning."

"That's all right," said Jim cheerfully. "We'll try to make you comfortable." Noel drank his tea and chatted in quite friendly fashion, and afterwards Jim took him to his room. He came down to find Cynthia in the garden.

"Quite a change," he said with a laugh. "Why, he's good as gold." Cynthia did not laugh; on the contrary her face was very grave.

"I don't like these sudden changes," she told him.

"Why not?"

"They mean one of two things, Jim. Either he has got hold of some of the horrid stuff and taken a dose, or else he is planning mischief."

"He can't have got hold of dope," protested Jim. "He's been under your eye ever since he left Foxenholt."

"Then," said Cynthia, "It's the other thing. Oh, Jim"—her voice faltered—"Sometimes I don't know how to bear it." Jim glanced round. There was no one in sight. He put his arm round her and drew her to him.

"You're not going to bear it alone any longer," he said gently. "In future I mean to take my share."

"You'll try, Jim," she answered. "I know you'll try, but you don't know yet what it means."


"HE be more sensible than I did think," said Chowne to Jim next morning. "Talked to me about fishing, he did. Said he'd like to try it."

"Fishing," Jim's tone was doubtful. "It's about the last thing he's ever taken any interest in. Still, it would be a great thing if he would try it."

"He be down there now. I got un a line and some bait. He'm catching little pollock off the Point." Jim found Cynthia and told her. She was even more doubtful than he, but the sight of Noel actually fishing reassured her.

At lunch Noel was positively genial. He had got quite a lot of small fish, and was full of the achievements. Jim offered to take him out in the boat and he accepted. He talked a lot about tackle and wrote off to Plymouth for a regular supply. Brandon came next day, and was as surprised as the others.

"If he'll stick to it it may be the saving of him, but don't trust him, Jim. He's cunning as a bagful of monkeys. Watch him. What I'm afraid of is that some fellow may come along in a boat and pass him the stuff."

"Who could?" Jim asked. "Harvey and the rest of the gang have cleared out."

"You don't know they've cleared. They're not going to chuck it so easily. It's Noel's money they're after. Remember that once he's twenty-one he gets the lot and we have no more control over him or it."

Jim frowned.

"We've got to save him from those swine. All right, Bill, he shall be watched all the time, and I'll do my darnedest to keep him straight."

"I know you will," said Brandon. "You're doing fine, Jim. And you're helping Cynthia a whole lot." He left and Jim spent the rest of the day watching Noel. He was beginning to find the truth of what Cynthia and Bill Brandon had told him. This was a whole- time-job. It was only very rarely that he had a few minutes alone with Cynthia. Even at night one of them had to be on guard, for if he could get nothing else Noel was not above raiding the cellaret for whisky.

Two mornings later a big parcel came for Noel. The label showed it to be from Harden's, the Plymouth tackle makers. Noel was not yet down, and Jim had taken the package from the postman.

"I suppose it's all right," Jim said to Cynthia who had just arrived in the breakfast room, looking wonderfully pretty and dainty in a plain tweed coat and skirt. "It has Harden's label," he added. Cynthia shook her head.

"We must look at it, Jim. Bill said that every bit of his post must be examined, and I have always done it."

"Then we'd better take it into the study," suggested Jim. "He's taken to getting up early."

"I'll take it and open it. You wait here for him in case he comes down to breakfast." She went off across the hall and Jim began to open his own letters.

Suddenly he heard a sound outside, a half-suppressed cry. He dashed out to see Noel with one hand grasping his sister's throat and with the other trying to wrench the parcel from her hold. Noel's face was convulsed with fury, his queer, dark eyes shone like polished jet. In three strides Jim reached them, caught Noel by the scruff of his neck, and swung him away.

"You infernal young blackguard, I've a mind to thrash you within an inch of your life," he said in a voice that shook with anger.

With unexpected strength Noel wrenched himself free, and turning, struck Jim in the face. Jim caught him by the wrists and held him, then, spinning him round, got him round the waist, lifted him and carried him, kicking and screaming, up to his own room, where he dropped him on his bed. Noel collapsed and lay quiet, but if ever hate glowed in human eyes it was in his as he stared up at Jim.

"I'll kill you for that," he hissed. Jim laughed.

"You can try killing me all you like," he said, "but if I ever catch you laying hands on your sister again I'll take you to the end of the Point and chuck you into the sea," then he turned, and, locking the door behind him, went quickly downstairs. Cynthia met him. She was white, but calm.

"We must leave," she began, but Jim took her by both hands.

"Don't talk nonsense, my dearest. I'm sorry I was cross, but I've got my temper back now quite nicely. Come and have breakfast."

"But this parcel, Jim."

"It'll keep. Noel's locked in, so he can't get at it. Now come and have your coffee." Cynthia looked at him oddly.

"You're stronger than I thought, Jim." A ghost of a smile crossed her face. "I don't mean muscles," she added, and went with him into the dining-room.

Afterwards they examined the parcel, It held fishing gear, but a box marked "leads" was full of the fatal white powder.

"Clever devils, aren't they?" said Jim. "But we've snookered them this time, Cynthia, and we'll continue to do so."

"I almost believe we shall," Cynthia answered, then suddenly she turned and threw her arms round Jim's neck and kissed him.

"You do help," she said softly.

Yet this was only the beginning, for Noel, savage at his disappointment, threw off all pretence at friendliness or decency, and set himself to make all possible trouble. He said horrible things to his sister, and more than once Jim found her in tears, but to Jim he refused to sneak at all.

His behaviour was simply abominable. He would drop a burning cigarette end on the carpet and burn a great hole, or he would deliberately upset a cup of tea over a clean tablecloth. He tried to bribe Chowne, and, finding this a failure, took every opportunity to sneer at him. But he got no change out of the stolid Devon man, who treated him with a cool indifference which made Noel rage.

Other attempts were made to send in dope. Chowne saw a gipsy, who pretended to be selling baskets and brooms, in the act of leaving a parcel under a stone near the house. It was full of cocaine. He seized the man and they locked him up while Jim went for the police.

Jim and Chowne and Colin Rand had to go to Exeter to give evidence against the smugglers caught in the cave, but Bill Brandon stayed at Crag Head while he was away and for those two days all went well.

Time and again Jim found his patience wearing thin. He felt that the only place for this young drug maniac was in an asylum, yet dared not suggest it to Cynthia. As for Cynthia, she saw how severely he was tried.

"You ought to let us go. You ought never to have had us here," she told him. But Jim laid a hand on her shoulder.

"If you can stick it, I can. Go out fishing. I'll stand guard while you're away." She tried to make him go instead, but he insisted. So, presently, she took her rod and he watched her walking away around the Haven to the mouth of the little river.

Noel was sitting in the garden, pretending to read, but his eyes glowed queerly as he watched Jim, who was tying up chrysanthemums. He had been without cocaine for nearly three weeks, and Brandon was cutting down the drug he gave him as compensation. In consequence Noel's nerves were fiddle-strings, and he was more troublesome than ever. The afternoon wore on. Tea-time came, and no sign of Cynthia. Noel sulkily refused tea, and Jim had his in the garden where he could watch him.

Six struck and still no sign of Cynthia. A boy came hurrying up the drive on a bicycle. He saw Jim, jumped off and ran to him.

"The lady, sir. She told me to come. She's had a fall and can't walk."

Jim went white.

"The lady, Miss Carrow, you mean?"

"Yes, sir—the lady as is staying here."

"Where is she?"

"Up by Pixies Parlour. I were fetching in the cows when I seed her, and she called to me to tell you."

"Is she badly hurt?"

"No, sir. Sprained her ankle," she said.

Jim put his hand in his pocket and gave the lad half a crown, then he shouted for Chowne, but Chowne had gone with the horse to Callacombe He told Mrs. Chowne what had happened.

"Keep an eye on Mr. Noel," he said in a low voice. Then he ran off.

Pixies Parlour was a circle of old stones some two miles upstream, but Jim covered the distance in less than twenty minutes. He was intensely relieved to see Cynthia seated on a stone by the brook side. She had taken off her shoe and stocking and was dangling her bare foot in the water. She smiled up at Jim.

"Sorry to be so stupid. I was landing a fish when I slipped and ricked my ankle. It's not really bad." Jim lifted the foot and felt it gently.

"Quite bad enough, but I'm thankful you didn't try to walk on it." He stopped and kissed the high arched in-step and Cynthia mocked him gently.

"A kiss to make it well."

"I can do better than that," declared Jim as he produced a bandage from his pocket and bound it firmly around the injured joint.

"That's splendid," said Cynthia as she pressed the foot against the ground. "Why, I could walk on it."

"With my help perhaps you may," said Jim. "But if it hurts you must stop. Chowne will meet us with the cob. He was at Callacombe, or I'd have brought the horse with me." Cynthia got her stocking and shoe on again, then leaning on Jim's arm, started back. They went slowly along the fishing path, but had not gone more than half a mile before Chowne, riding the cob, met them. So Cynthia was lifted into the saddle, and a little after seven they were back. Noel met them at the door.

"Hulloa, old thing, been breaking yourself up?" he asked chaffingly. Cynthia started and looked hard at him His eyes were bright, his cheeks slightly flushed.

"It's nothing much, Noel," she said quietly, but Jim saw she had gone very pale. He lifted her off and carried her upstairs. It was not until they reached the upper landing that she spoke.

"He's been at it again," she said in a low voice. "Oh, Jim, all our work undone!"

"I saw it," said Jim grimly. "Cynthia, I wish to God he was some one else's brother."

"But he isn't," Cynthia answered with an unusual touch of bitterness in her voice. "You shouldn't have left him, Jim."

"How could I help it?" Jim's tone was almost sharp. "Was I to leave you on a rock all night? Mrs. Chowne and Mrs. Raft were here to watch him."

"I'd have stayed there all night rather than this," said Cynthia sadly. "Go down and see if you can find out where it came from." Jim searched, but could find nothing. At dinner Noel was as cheerful as possible. It was almost impossible to realise he was the same man as the sulky oaf who had been glooming round the house for days past.

During dinner Chowne searched Noel's room, but reported afterwards that there was no trace of cocaine anywhere. Next morning Noel was heavy and dull, but by lunch had recovered. Quite clearly he had given himself another shot of the drug.

"If only it wasn't so bad for him one could almost wish to keep him under it," Jim said to Cynthia.

"You must not say that, you must not even think it," returned Cynthia sharply. "Have you found it yet?"

"Not a trace," replied Jim.

Next day was the same. That morning Jim had to drive to Callacombe. When he got back Cynthia met him in the hall. She was very pale and her face set in lines Jim had never seen.

"Come into the study," she said. "I must speak to you." Wondering, he followed her. She closed the door, turned and looked at him.

"Oh, Jim," she said, and the pain in her voice hurt him like a blow.

"What's the matter?" he demanded. "Why do you look at me like that?"

"You know as well as I, even if you won't say. But I never thought you would sink so low, Jim."

Jim lost patience. "For goodness' sake tell me what you mean, Cynthia. What are you accusing me off?"

"Of giving my brother cocaine. It is no use denying it. I have the proof."


BILL had come straight over the moment he had heard of the trouble, but was too late to do anything, for Cynthia and Noel had already left and gone back to their old quarters at Ilfracombe. Now he and Jim sat together in Jim's study, and Bill was casting about desperately for some way of helping his friend.

"Let me see her," Bill begged. "I'm sure I can make her understand." Jim raised a hand.

"Don't, Bill," he begged. "I—I can't stand it. If you'd seen or heard her you'd know it was final."

Bill exploded.

"Damn that young swine, Noel! It's all his fault! Well, he can go to the devil his own way now. I won't raise a finger to help him."

"Don't say that, Bill. For Cynthia's sake you must carry on, and do your best for him. Please do."

"You mean you care that much," said Bill slowly.

"I love her," said Jim simply. "I don't think anything makes any difference when you really love a person."

Bill flung himself back in his chair with an angry gesture.

"If any woman treated me like that I'd wipe her out of my heart and mind. Oh, all right—" as he saw the look of agony in Jim's honest eyes, "I'll say no more. See here, come home with me, Jim, and stay a few days. You can't stick here alone."

Jim's lips tightened.

"Not just yet, thank you, Bill. I'll come a little later, when I've straightened up a bit. And don't worry about me. Luckily I have plenty to do on the place. Give my love to Olive." Bill saw he could do no more; he got up heavily.

"All right, old chap. All I'll ask is that you'll come as soon as you can. And—and good luck!" Jim saw him off, then went and got a spade and set to digging in the garden. Chowne, busy about his own tasks, watched him turning over the hard, shaly soil hour after hour. Chowne's heart was very sore, but he had too much sense to interfere.

"Her'll sweat it out of 'un," he said to his wife at dinner time, "but it be a proper bad job, missus." Mrs. Chowne's eyes were red.

"'Tis terrible," she said. "I never did think Miss Cynthia would treat Master Jim that way."

"Bain't her doing," growled Chowne. "'Tis that young twoad of a brother of hers."

"'Tis bad business any way you looks at it, Jethro," sighed the good woman. She was right, for only Jim knew what he was going through. His was one of those simple, single-minded natures which gives everything and suffers horribly when the loved one casts away the gift. What hurt him worse than all was the feeling that Cynthia believed him to be a liar.

A weaker man might have despaired, but Jim was not weak, and by dint of fierce physical exercise managed to keep going. He never went to bed at night until drugged by sheer fatigue. He never left the place, he saw nothing of his neighbours, and had no word of Cynthia. Weeks passed, then one morning Chowne came to him.

"Cock be in, Master Jim. Couldn't 'ee take a day shooting?" Jim looked out at the moor, mellow in the late summer sunshine, and something began to stir within him. He was sick of digging. Chowne watched him.

"You'd find 'em up to Braky furze," he suggested.

Jim nodded.

"Yes, they should be there. All right, I'll have a try."

"Gun be ready," Chowne told him. Jim smiled.

"You've been planning this, Chowne."

"'Tis time 'ee got off the place a bit, Master Jim," said Chowne, gruffly. Five minutes later Jim was walking up the hill with his gun over his shoulder, some bread and cheese in his pocket, and his game bag over his back.

The great stretches of the moor were purpling with heather, and the keen scent of thyme rose in the warm, dry air as his feet crushed the fragrant plants.

To his right the sea lay flat as a pond and blue as the sky above it, to his left in a hollow was a small plantation towards which he made his way.

Though the bottom had fallen out of Jim's own particular world, he had to acknowledge that what remained was very good. A small covey of black game rose with a whirr. Instinctively he flung up his gun, and, as one bird fell, Jim felt a little thrill to which he had long been a stranger. He picked it up and went on.

There were woodcock in the plantation, but cock with their twisty flight are perhaps the hardest of all birds to kill. Jim fired three shots in vain. He crossed a high ridge, and came down towards Braky furze.

This was the best piece of cover on his land, a tangled mass of gorse, thorn, mountain ash, and bramble, covering about five acres. A light breeze had risen from the east. It was a long time since the last rain, and as he crossed the low ground near the brook Jim noticed how dry it was.

Rabbits were running in every direction, but Jim left them alone. It was cock he was after, and he did not want to frighten them.

In the brake it was hot, for the thick growth cut off the breeze. Jim did not worry about the heat; he walked softly, with his eyes wide for birds. Suddenly a soft brown shadow darted across in front. Jim's gun spoke and the bird collapsed in mid- air and fell into the very centre of a great clump of old, thick gorse. Quickly laying down his gun, Jim plunged into retrieve the first cock he had ever shot. The gorse was thick as a hedge and horribly prickly, and Jim could see no signs of his bird.

"I ought to have had a dog," he said to himself as he groped among the dry, stiff stems.

A faint crackling sound came to his ears, and he paused and listened. It sounded as if some one was pushing his way into the covert, but Jim thought it was probably just a moor pony, and paid no further attention.

Yet the sound continued, it grew louder, and suddenly, a pungent whiff of smoke reached Jim's nostrils. He struggled out of the clump and looked round. The air was grey with drifting smoke, and he realised that the covert was afire.

His first feelings was of furious anger that any one should dare to set fire to his lovely covert, and picking up his gun he hurried out to catch the offender. The fire had been set to windward and the smoke was rising in clouds; Jim ran across it towards the south. He was met by a fresh gust of hot smoke, and found that the south side also was afire and that he could not possibly get through.

He turned west. The smoke grew thicker each moment. He was blinded and almost choked. In spite of the fact that he was running down wind the heat increased, and all of a sudden a great red glow rose in front of him. Now at last he knew. The covert had been fired on all sides, and he was trapped in the centre of a ring of flames.

"And I'd like to bet it's Shade Fowler," he said aloud. He was badly scared, yet cool enough to reason. Jim Silver was never one to lose his head. He glanced at his gun.

"At any rate I shan't burn alive," he remarked. Yet he had no intention of finishing things until he was forced to, and he swiftly cast about for any way out. There was, he knew a small open space near the centre of the brake.

The question was to find it, for the smoke was a fog, and he could not see ten paces. Yet the fire was coming down at fearful speed from the east with a devastating roar and crackle. Crimson sparks winked through the smoke, burned his clothes, and scorched his face. The heat seemed to sear his lungs. He was at his last gasp when he stumbled into the opening.

His heart sank. The opening was only a few yards across, and the bushes around it thick and high. The space was so small it would be a furnace when the fire reached it.

"So this is the finish," said Jim to himself. He was young, he was fit and well, and in spite of the loss of Cynthia the love of life was strong within him. He took a last look round, and then it was that he saw the hole. At first he thought it was a badger's earth, but as he flung himself down in an effort to wriggle into it he saw timbers within, and realised that it was an old mine adit.

Tearing away the earth with his hands he forced his way down into it and found himself lying on a bed of damp mould.

With a flash and a roar the fire reached the glade, a blast of heat struck into the opening, and Jim covered his mouth and nostrils with his handkerchief, and lay panting for breath.

* * * * *

THE fire passed and by degrees the air cleared a little, yet it was many minutes before Jim dared peer out. The whole of Braky furze was a smoking desolation. By this time Jim's throat and mouth were like leather; his one thought was for water, and as soon as he dared he crept out of his refuge.

Smoke still covered the ground like a fog, and through it he made his way down towards the little brook at the bottom. As he went he wondered whether Chowne had noticed the smoke. But in any case Chowne could hardly have reached the spot yet unless he had taken the horse.

One thing was certain. Some one had tried to murder him, and had chosen a particularly brutal way of doing it. Again he thought of that evil-faced fellow, Shade Fowler, and instinctively his fists tightened.

Something moved. It was a mere shadow half-seen through the thick fog of smoke. Jim dropped behind a rock and waited. A puff of wind lifted the smother, and he saw a man moving cautiously along the lower edge of the burnt ground. It was not Fowler—it was Harvey Lunt.


HARVEY! Jim could hardly believe his eyes, yet there was no doubt. Nor was there any doubt about the look on his cousin's face—half fear, half cruel anticipation. He was waiting to make sure that Jim was finished. Nearer he came, and nearer. Jim waited until he was within a dozen paces, then rose and faced him.

Jim, of course, had no idea of his own appearance. His face and hands were black as a negro's, his clothes were singed and dirty. He had lost his hat, and his hair was crisped with fire. Looming out of the grey smoke he could have looked like nothing human.

Harvey went sheet-white, his eyes widened with a stare of horror, then with a strangled scream he turned and ran, and Jim, without word or sound, raced after him.

Mad with terror, Harvey ran blindly down the hill. Jim with fury in his heart, came hard at his heels. Harvey reached the brook which here ran in a deep channel between steep banks. The width was perhaps a dozen feet, an easy jump, but Harvey, in his mad haste, stumbled, pitched forward, crashed against the opposite bank, and fell with a heavy splash into the narrow channel below.

The water was no more than three feet deep, yet by the time Jim had climbed down and dragged him out Harvey was limp as a dead man, and at first Jim believed he was actually dead.

"Master Jim! What be matter?" Jim looked up to see Chowne on the cob.

It took but a moment to explain, then they loaded Harvey on to the cob and carried him back to Crag Head. He was breathing, but still insensible, and Jim sent Chowne to Callacombe for the doctor. Then he went up to wash and change, while Mrs. Chowne stayed with Harvey.

"He's coming round, sir," said Mrs. Chowne, when Jim returned. "Now I'll make a pot of tea, for surely you do need it."

Jim stood looking down at his cousin. His first anger had passed, and he was wondering what to do. He certainly did not want to hand his cousin over to the police on a charge of attempted murder, yet, on the other hand, he could not well turn him loose to have another shot.

He heard a growl. It was Skilly, the Chownes' dog, and he turned to see who was coming. That turn saved his life, for he was just in time to dodge a blow from a vicious-looking life- preserver with which Shade Fowler struck at his head. Shade had slipped in unseen through the open French window.

The blow, though it missed Jim's head, landed on his shoulder, partially paralysing his right arm, but quick as thought he lashed out with his left. His fist caught Shade between the eyes and sent him reeling all across the room to fall heavily across a chair by the fireplace. Almost before he could recover his balance Jim had to face a fresh attack. Harmer had followed Shade, and there was murder in his little pig eyes as he came straight at Jim.

Jim sprang away, but was hampered by a table, and Harmer following him drove a ponderous fist at his head. Jim managed to duck, but did not entirely escape the blow, which grazed the side of his head. It was no good trying to get away again. Jim jumped in and jabbed the big man over the heart.

With a savage oath Harmer tried his old tactics of closing, but Jim was too wary. He sprang past.

With the tail of his eye he saw Shade moving. In a moment it would be two to one again, and there was no help. Before Chowne returned these two between them would finish him. They were out for revenge and reckless of consequence. No doubt they had the boat ready for escape.

All this flashed through his mind in the fraction of a second and drove him desperate. He whirled on Harmer, managed to avoid a second savage swing, and put all his weight into a fierce effort to knock him out.

His blow landed high, and his fist, instead of catching Harmer on the jaw, struck him in the mouth, splitting his lips, yet by its very force sending him reeling backwards.

From the far side of the room came the vicious crack of an automatic. Jim felt a blow on the left shoulder which spun him round and dropped him on the floor behind the table. But as he fell so did Harmer. His huge bulk crashed upon a chair, breaking the legs so that he and it went down together on the carpet. The bullet, ricochetting off Jim's collar-bone, had struck Harmer between the eyes, killing him instantly.

Jim could not see Shade Fowler for the table hid him, but he heard him coming across the room. The man was more hurt than Jim had thought, for he was dragging himself like a great snake across the floor. Yet Jim knew that Shade meant to finish him and that he himself was helpless to prevent it. With his right arm still helpless from Shade's first blow, and the left quite out of action, he could not even get up. All he could do was to wriggle towards a couch by the wall, but that, he knew, was only deferring the evil moment. Suddenly he was conscious that some one was moving in the room, and a wild hope came that it was Chowne. But he could not see, and he dared not cry out for fear of betraying his exact position to Fowler.

Again the whip-like crack of the automatic made the whole room ring. A wild laugh, the sound of a crunching blow, a deep groan. Harvey Lunt came staggering into Jim's sight.

"It's all right, Jim," he said in a queer, cracked voice as he waved a poker which he grasped in his right hand. "Shade won't do any more shooting. I've saved the hangman a job."

"You've killed him?" gasped Jim.

"He's dead as Harmer," replied Harvey recklessly, "and good riddance, say I." He stopped and stood, holding to the table. His face was white but his eyes were burning. "You much hurt?"

"Shoulder," said Jim briefly. "Can't get up."

"And I can't help you," shrugged Harvey. "It's all I can do to stand up."

"Call Mrs. Chowne," Jim bade him, but there was no need, for the plucky woman, hearing Jim's voice, was already in the room. She lifted Jim and he was able to walk to the couch, then quickly she got water, disinfectant, and bandages and set to work.

"Just stop the bleeding," said Jim. "The doctor will be here very soon, and he'll fix it up properly. And then I want to talk to Mr. Harvey, Mrs. Chowne." She finished and went away and Jim looked at Harvey.

"First you try to kill me, then you save my life, Harvey," he said.

Harvey shrugged.

"You needn't be grateful, Jim. Shade would have finished me after he'd done you in."


"To stop me from blowing the gaff. He always hated me, anyhow."

"And you, Harvey?" questioned Jim. Harvey shrugged again. "I've tried pretty hard to hate you, Jim. I suppose you know you've ruined me. This morning I meant to do you in, but now—well, I don't feel that way any more. See here, I'll write enough to convince Cynthia that you were not to blame in the matter of that dope; then, if you want to, you can let me get aboard the Ghost. She's in the harbour, and—"

"Cynthia," Jim broke in, his voice hard and sharp. "You mean it was you who gave Noel the cocaine?"

"You might have guessed it," replied the other with a short laugh. "That boy, the one who brought the news of Cynthia's fall. He planted it in your cigarette box. He also planted a receipt from a chemist with your signature, to it."

Jim's face hardened.

"Of all the foul tricks—" he began, but Harvey cut him short.

"Don't waste time slanging me. Better let me write while I'm in the mood. Besides, Chowne may be back any minute."

"You're right," said Jim more calmly, and called Mrs. Chowne to fetch pen and ink. For a minute or two Harvey scribbled rapidly, then handed the sheet to Jim.

"That do?" he asked.

Jim's feelings as he read the confession were beyond description. He could only nod.

"Better get Mrs. Chowne to witness it," said Harvey, and she signed her name. Harvey got up stiffly.

"I'm going," he said. "I don't believe you want to stop me, but anyhow you couldn't if you did. So that'll put you clear with the police." Without another word he went out of the room and stumbled away across the lawn in the direction of the boat-house. Mrs. Chowne watched him. "He have got his boat," she told Jim. "And I do hope, Master Jim, as we won't see him here again," she added soberly.

Jim did not answer, and she turned quickly to see that his eyes were closed, and that the colour had all drained from his face.

"Fainted," she said as she got up quickly. "And no wonder after all he been through." To her great relief there came the sound of a motor engine, and here was Dr. Somerford in his car. He came in quickly, then as his eyes fell on the two dead men and Jim, who looked as dead as the other two, he stopped short, and a look of horror came upon his usually placid face.

"They'm dead, doctor," said Mrs. Chowne, indicating the men on the floor. "But Mr. Silver, he'm only wounded. You attend to him, if you please." Without delay he set to work on Jim. Presently he looked up.

"A nasty wound, Mrs. Chowne. It's well you tied it up, but even so he has lost a deal of blood. As soon as Chowne comes back we must get him to bed. Then I will fetch the police."

Under an opiate Jim slept quietly all night, to wake stiff, sore, and shaky, yet very much better. The first person his eyes rested on was Brandon, who sat by his bedside, watching him.

"Bill!" Jim exclaimed. "How did you get here?"

"By car, old son. What did you think?"

"I don't know what I thought," replied Jim with a smile. "I might have known you'd turn up. You always pull me out of every hole I fall into."

"Strikes me that, this time, you did most of the pulling your own self," said Bill drily. "You seem to have finished off Fowler and Harmer, anyhow."

"I didn't even do that, Bill. Fowler shot Harmer, then Harvey finished Fowler."

Bill whistled softly. "And Harvey?"

"I let him go. I couldn't have stopped him anyhow. I say, Bill—" Jim's face glowed suddenly—"It was Harvey planted that stuff which Noel got. He signed a confession before he left."

"I know. Mrs. Chowne gave it to me and I read it."

"I'm glad. And Bill—" he faltered a little—"I—I'd like Cynthia to see it."

"I have seen it." To Jim's amazement Cynthia herself came in through the half-open bedroom door, ran across and dropped on her knees beside his bed. "I have seen it, though I never deserved to see it. Oh, Jim, can you ever forgive me?"

Jim could not speak. Intense happiness sometimes has that effect. All he could do was to stretch out his sound arm, catch Cynthia and draw her to him. Bill faded away, the door closed softly behind him, and the two were left together. A long time afterwards, when at last they got back to sense, Cynthia spoke.

"Jim, I'm going to stay and nurse you. May I?"

"But Noel, Cynthia. I shan't be much use to help you with him."

"Noel," repeated Cynthia. "You mean you didn't know?" He looked at her and saw she was in black.

"I've heard nothing, dearest. Yesterday was the first time I have been off the place since you left. He—he is dead?"

"Yes, six weeks ago. He was always catching cold and this one turned to pneumonia. Bill did what he could, but Noel only lasted five days. I can't be sorry, Jim." He caught her hand in his and they were silent for awhile.

"Then now you will marry me?" said Jim at last.

She bent and kissed him. "As soon as ever you like, Jim dear."


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.