“’Tis I, Anna, dear. ’Tis Flora.” She was mindful of the sentry, but all his attention was in the busy hall.
There came a touch on the inner door-knob. “Go away!” murmured the manly voice, no longer disguised. “In God’s name! for your own sake as well as hers, go instantly!”
“No,” melodiously replied Flora, in full voice for the sentry’s ear, but with resolute pressure on the door, “no, not at all.... No, I muz’ not, cannot.”
“Then wait one moment till you hear me at work!”
She waited. Presently the trowel sounded again and its wielder, in a lowered tone, sang with it:
“Dat neveh trouble Dandy Dan
Whilst de ladies loves de ladies’ man.”
At the first note she entered with some idle speech, closed the door, darted her glance around, saw no one, heard only the work and the song and sprang to the chimney-breast. She tried the panel—it would not yield! Yet there, as if the mason’s powerful hands had within that minute reopened and reclosed it, were the wet marks of his fingers. A flash of her instinct for concealment bade her wipe them off and she had barely done so when he stepped from the screen, fresh from Israel’s water-bucket, drying his face on his hands, his hands on his face and un-turbaned locks, prison-worn from top to toe, but in Dixie’s full gray and luminous with the unsmiling joy of danger.
“It’s not there,” he loudly whispered, showing the bare dagger. “Here it is. She has the rest, scabbard and all.”
Flora clasped her hands as in ecstasy: “And is free? surely free?”
“Almost! Surely when that despatch-boat fires!” In a few rapid words Hilary told the scheme of Anna’s flight, at the same time setting the screen aside so as to show the hole in the wall nearly closed, humming his tune and ringing the trowel on the brickwork.
Flora made new show of rapture. Nor was it all mere show. Anna escaping, the treasure would escape with her, and Flora be thrown into the dungeon of penury. Yet let them both go, both rival and treasure! Love’s ransom! All speed to them since they left her Hilary Kincaid and left him at her mercy. But the plight was complex and suddenly her exultation changed to affright. “My God! Hilary Kincaid,” she panted, “you ‘ave save’ her to deztroy yo’seff! You are—”
Proudly, gaily he shook his head: “No! No! against her will I’ve sent her, to save—” He hushed. He had begun to say a city, Flora’s city. Once more a captive, he would gladly send by Flora also, could she contrive to carry it, the priceless knowledge which Anna, after all, might fail to convey. But something—it may have been that same outdone and done-for look which Greenleaf had just noted—silenced him, and the maiden resumed where she had broken off:
“My God, Hilary Kincaid, you are in denger to be hanged a spy! Thiz minute you ‘ave hide yo’ dizguise in that panel!”