“Rackbird! Rackbird! Police!”
Startled out of her senses, Edna stepped back, while Banker turned in fury toward the negro, and clapped his hand to his hip pocket. But Cheditafa’s cries had been heard, and down the broad avenue Banker saw two gendarmes running toward him. It would not do to wait here and meet them.
“You devil!” he cried, turning to Cheditafa, “I’ll have your blood before you know it. As for you, madam, you have broken your word! I’ll be even with you!” And, with this, he dashed away.
When the gendarmes reached the spot, they waited to ask no questions, but immediately pursued the flying Banker. Cheditafa was about to join in the chase, but Edna stopped him.
“Come to the carriage—quick!” she said. “I do not wish to stay here and talk to those policemen.” Hurrying out of the Gardens, she drove away.
The ex-Rackbird was a very hard man to catch. He had had so much experience in avoiding arrest that his skill in that direction was generally more than equal to the skill, in the opposite direction, of the ordinary detective. A good many people and two other gendarmes joined in the chase after the man in the slouch-hat, who had disappeared like a mouse or a hare around some shrubbery. It was not long before the pursuers were joined by a man in a white cap, who asked several questions as to what they were running after, but he did not seem to take a sustained interest in the matter, and soon dropped out and went about his business. He did not take his slouch-hat out of his pocket, for he thought it would be better to continue to wear his white cap for a time.
When the police were obliged to give up the pursuit, they went back to the Gardens to talk to the lady and her servant who, in such strange words, had called to them, but they were not there.
Edna went home faint, trembling, and her head in a whirl. When she had heard Cheditafa shout “Rackbird,” the thought flashed into her mind that the captain had been captured in the caves by some of these brigands who had not been destroyed, that this was the cause of his silence, and that he had written to her for help. But she considered that the letter could not be meant for her, for under no circumstance would he have written to her as Madame Raminez—a name of which she had never heard. This thought gave her a little comfort, but not much. As soon as she reached the hotel, she had a private talk with Cheditafa, and what the negro told her reassured her greatly.
He did not make a very consecutive tale, but he omitted nothing. He told her of his meeting with the Rackbird in front of the Bon Marche, and he related every word of their short conversation. He accounted for this Rackbird’s existence by saying that he had not been at the camp when the water came down. In answer to a question from Edna, he said that the captain of the band was named Raminez, and that he had known him by that name when he first saw him in Panama, though in the Rackbirds’ camp he was called nothing but “the captain.”