“I can’t run any further, Eric,” said Wildney. “What shall we do? don’t leave me, for heaven’s sake.”
“Not I, Charlie. We must hide the minute we get t’other side of this hedge.”
They scrambled over the gate, and plunged into the thickest part of a plantation close by, lying down on the ground behind some bushes, and keeping as still as they could, taking care to cover over their white collars.
The pursuer reached the gate, and no longer hearing footsteps in front of him, he paused. He went a little distance up the hedge on both sides and held up his light, but did not detect the cowering boys, and at last giving up the search in despair, went slowly home. They heard him plodding back over the field, and it was not until the sound of his footsteps had died away, that Eric cautiously broke cover, and looked over the hedge. He saw the man’s light gradually getting more distant, and said, “All right now, Charlie. We must make the best of our way home.”
“Are you sure he’s gone?” said Wildney, who had not yet recovered from his fright.
“Quite; come along. I only hope Pietrie and Graham ain’t caught.”
They got back about half-past four, and climbed in unheard and undetected through the window pane. They then stole up stairs with beating hearts, and sat in Eric’s room to wait for the other two. To their great relief they heard them enter the lavatory about ten minutes after.
“Were you twigged?” asked Wildney eagerly.
“No,” said Graham; “precious near it though. Old Gordon and some men were after us, but at last we doubled rather neatly, and escaped them. It’s all serene, and we shan’t be caught.”
“Well, we’d best to bed now,” said Eric; “and, to my thinking, we should be wise to keep a quiet tongue in our heads about this affair.”
“Yes, we had better tell no one.” They agreed, and went off to bed again. So, next morning, they all four got up quite as if nothing had happened, and made no allusion to the preceding night, although, they could not help chuckling inwardly a little when the Gordonites came to morning school, brimful of a story about their house having been attacked in the night by thieves, who, after bagging some pigeons, had been chevied by Gordon and the servants. Wildney professed immense interest in the incident, and asked many questions, which showed that there was not a shadow of suspicion in any one’s mind as to the real culprits.
Carter, the school servant, didn’t seem to have noticed that the lavatory door was unlocked, and Mr. Harley never alluded again to his disturbance in the night. So the theft of the pigeons remained undiscovered, and remains so till this day. If any old Roslyn boy reads this veracious history, he will doubtless be astounded to hear that the burglars on that memorable night were Brio, Pietrie, Graham, and Wildney.