Elzevir slung himself into the bucket. ‘You can handle the break,’ he said to me; ‘let me down quick into the well.’ I took the break-lever, lowering him as quickly as I durst, till I heard the bucket touch water at the bottom, and then stood by and listened. All was still, and yet I started once, and could not help looking round over my shoulder, for it seemed as if I was not alone in the well-house; and though I could see no one, yet I had a fancy of a tall black-bearded man, with coppery face, chasing another round and round the well-mouth. Both vanished from my fancy just as the pursuer had his hand on the pursued; but Mr. Glennie’s story came back again to my mind, how that Colonel Mohune’s conscience was always unquiet because of a servant he had put away, and I guessed now that the turnkey was not the first man these walls had seen go headlong down the well.
Elzevir had been in the well so long that I began to fear something had happened to him, when he shouted to me to bring him up. So I fixed the clutch, and set the donkey going in the tread-wheel; and the patient drudge started on his round, recking nothing whether it was a bucket of water he brought up, or a live man, or a dead man, while I looked over the parapet, and waited with a cramping suspense to see whether Elzevir would be alone, or have something with him. But when the bucket came in sight there was only Elzevir in it, so I knew the turnkey had never come to the top of the water again, and, indeed, there was but little chance he should after that first knock. Elzevir said nothing to me, till I spoke: ’Let us fling the jewel down the well after him, Master Block; it was evilly come by, and will bring a curse with it.’
He hesitated for a moment while I half-hoped yet half-feared he was going to do as I asked, but then said:
’No, no; thou art not fit to keep so precious a thing. Give it me. It is thy treasure, and I will never touch penny of it; but fling it down the well thou shalt not; for this man has lost his life for it, and we have risked ours for it—ay, and may lose them for it too, perhaps.’
So I gave him the jewel.
All that glisters is not gold—Shakespeare
There was the turnkey’s belt lying on the floor, with the keys and manacles fixed to it, just as it had failed and come off him at the fatal moment. Elzevir picked it up, tried the keys till he found the right one, and unlocked the door of the well-house.
‘There are other locks to open before we get out,’ I said.
‘Ay,’ he answered, ’but it is more than our life is worth to be seen with these keys, so send them down the well, after their master.’