“I came,” he said, at last, and his voice was oddly flat, “for his sister’s sake. For love of her.”
Coira O’Hara dropped her eyes. But presently she looked up again with a smile. She said, “God make you happy, my friend.”
And she turned and moved away from him up among the trees. At a little distance she turned, saying:
“Wait where you are. I will fetch Arthur or send him to you. He must be told at once.”
Then she went on and was lost to sight.
Ste. Marie followed a few steps after her and halted. His face was turned by chance toward the east wall, and suddenly he gave a great cry and smothered it with his hands over his mouth. His knees bent under him, and he was weak and trembling. Then he began to run. He ran with awkward steps, for his leg was not yet entirely recovered, but he ran fast, and his heart beat within him until he thought it must burst.
He was making for that spot which was overhung by the half-dead cedar-tree.
* * * * *
BUT THE FLEECE ELECTS TO REMAIN
Ste. Marie came under the wall breathless and shaking. What he had seen there from a distance was no longer visible, but he pressed in close among the lilac shrubs and called out in an unsteady voice. He said: “Who is there? Who is it?” And after a moment he called again.
A hand appeared at the top of the high wall. The drooping screen of foliage was thrust aside, and he saw Richard Hartley’s face looking down. Ste. Marie held himself by the strong stems of the lilacs, for once more his knees had weakened under him.
“There’s no one in sight,” Hartley said. “I can see for a long way. No one can see us or hear us.” And he said: “I got your letter this morning—an hour ago. When shall we come to get you out—you and the boy? To-night?”
“To-night at two,” said Ste. Marie. He spoke in a loud whisper. “I’m to talk with Arthur here in a few minutes. We must be quick. He may come at any time. I shall try to persuade him to go home willingly, but if he refuses we must take him by force. Bring a couple of good men with you to-night, and see that they’re armed. Come in a motor and leave it just outside the wall by that small door that you passed. Have you any money in your pockets? I may want to bribe the gardener.”
Hartley searched in his pockets, and while he did so the man beneath asked:
“Is old David Stewart alive?”
“Just about,” Hartley said. “He’s very low, and he suffers a great deal, but he’s quite conscious all the time. If we can fetch the boy to him it may give him a turn for the better. Where is Captain Stewart? I had spies on his trail for some time, but he has disappeared within the past three or four days. Once I followed him in his motor-car out past here, but I lost him beyond Clamart.”