The prisoners, finding themselves trapped, threw themselves upon the ground and shrieked for mercy. Lord Deppingham and the others came up and, scattering well, began to fire at the mass outside the wall. The islanders were at a disadvantage. They could not locate the opposing marksmen on account of the blinding light in their faces. It was but a moment before they were scampering off into the dark wood, shrieking with rage.
The five fugitives were compelled to carry their fallen comrades and the two Greeks from the open space in front of the gates to a point where it was safe for the defenders to approach them without coming in line with a possible volley from the forest.
A small force was left to guard the gate; the remainder returned as quickly as possible to the chateau. The Greeks were unconscious, badly battered by the clubbed guns. Browne, once more the doctor, attended them and announced that they would be on their feet in a day or two—“if complications don’t set in.” One of the prisoners was dead, shot through the heart by the deadly Selim. The other had a shattered shoulder.
Immediately upon the return to the chateau, an inspection of the dungeons was made, prior to an examination of the servants in the effort to apprehend the traitor.
The three men who went down into the damp, chill regions below ground soon returned with set, pale faces. There had been no traitor!
The man whose duty it was to guard the prisoners was found lying inside the big cell, his throat cut from ear to ear, stone dead!
There was but one solution. He had been seized from within as he came to the grating in response to a call. While certain fingers choked him into silence, others held his hands and still others wrenched the keys from his sash. After that it was easy. Deppingham, Chase and Selim looked at each other in horror—and, strange as it may seem, relief.
Death was there, but, after all, Death is no traitor.
THE JOY OF TEMPTATION
The revolting details were kept from the women. They were not permitted to know of the ugly thing that sweltered in the dark corridor below their very feet. Late in the night, a small body of men, acting under orders, carried the unfortunate guard down into the valley and buried him. Only the most positive stand on the part of the white men prevented the massacre of the prisoners by the friends and fellow-servants of the murdered man. A secret trial by jury, at a later day, was promised by Lord Deppingham.
There was but little sleep in the chateau that night. The charity ball was forgotten—or if recalled at all, only in connection with the thought of what it came so near to costing its promoters.
No further disturbances occurred. A strict watch was preserved; the picturesque drawbridge was lifted and there were lights on the terrace and galleries; men slept within easy reach of their weapons. The siege had begun in earnest. Men had been slain and their blood was crying out for vengeance; the voice of justice was lost in the clamourings of rage.