Still deep in thought Brendon tramped on; and then, where the road fell between a high bank to the windward side and a pine wood on the other, he experienced one of the greatest surprises that life had yet brought him.
At a gate, which hung parallel with the road and opened into the depth of a copse behind, there stood Robert Redmayne.
The five-barred gate alone separated them and the big man lolled over it with his arms crossed on the topmost bar. The moonlight beat full into his face, and overhead the pines uttered a harsh and sullen roar as the wind surged over them; while from far below the shout of an angry sea upon the cliffs was carried upward. The red man stood motionless, watchful. He wore the tweed clothes, cap and red waistcoat that Brendon well remembered at Foggintor; the moonlight flashed on his startled eyes and showed his great mustache and white teeth visible beneath it. There was dread upon his face and haggard misery, yet no madness.
It seemed that he kept a tryst there; but it had not been Mark Brendon that he expected. For a moment he stared as the detective stopped and confronted him. He appeared to recognize Mark, or at any rate regard him as an enemy, for instantly he turned, plunged into the woods behind him, and disappeared. In a moment he had vanished and the riot of the storm hid all sounds of his panic flight.
ROBERT REDMAYNE IS HEARD
For some moments Mark stood motionless with his eyes on the moonlit gate and the forest gloom behind it. There rhododendron and laurel made dense evergreen cover beneath the pines and offered inviolable shelter. To follow Robert Redmayne was vain and also dangerous, for in such a spot it might easily happen that the hunter would lie at the mercy of the hunted.
This sudden apparition bewildered Brendon, for it argued much beyond itself. Surely it indicated treachery and falsehood among those he had just left at “Crow’s Nest,” for it was a coincidence almost inconceivable that on this day of his chance visit, the wanted man should suddenly reappear in the neighbourhood of his brother’s house. Yet collusion seemed impossible, for Mark had given no notice to Bendigo Redmayne of his coming.
Brendon asked himself if he had suffered a hallucination, but he knew that his rational mind was not constituted to create ghosts from within. Imagination he had, but therein was a source of strength, not weakness, and no grain of superstition weakened his mental endowment. He knew also that no one had been farther from his thoughts than Robert Redmayne at the moment of his sudden appearance. No, he had seen a living man and one who certainly would not willingly have revealed himself.