Thus the matter was settled. Mark had already taken up his position in the chamber aloft and Bendigo looked to it that he should not be interfered with. It was Mr. Redmayne’s custom to keep the tower room locked when not himself in it, and he did so now until the night should come. He supped with Jenny and the Italian, having already provided Brendon with food in his hiding-place. It was understood that the sailor would ascend to his den about eleven o’clock, by which time Mark undertook to be safely hidden in the cupboard.
At the agreed time Doria and his master came up together, the former carrying a light. Jenny also joined them for a short while, but she stayed only ten minutes and then departed to bed. The weather had turned stormy and wet. A shouting wind from the west shook the lantern of the tower room and flung rain heavily against the glass, while Bendigo moved restlessly about and bent his brows to look out into the blackness of the night.
“The poor devil will be drowned, or break his neck climbing up from the sea in this darkness,” he declared.
Giuseppe had brought up a jug of water, a bottle of spirits, a little keg of tobacco, and two or three clay pipes, for the old sea captain never smoked till after supper and then puffed steadily until he went to bed.
He turned now and asked Doria a question.
“You’ve cast your peepers over the poor chap to-day,” he said, “and you’re a clever man and know a bit of human nature. What did you make of my brother?”
“I looked closely and listened also,” answered the servant; “and this I think—the man is very sick.”
“Not likely to break out again and cut another throat?”
“Never again. I say this. When he killed Madonna’s husband, he was mad; now he is not mad—not more mad than anybody else. He craves only one thing—peace.”
Bendigo lit his pipe and turned to his only book. It was “Moby Dick.” Herman Melville’s masterpiece had long ago become for the old sailor the one piece of literature in the world. It comprised all that interested him most in this life, and all that he needed to reconcile him to the approach of death and the thought of a future existence beyond the grave. “Moby Dick” also afforded him that ceaseless companionship with great waters which was essential to content.
“Well,” he said to Doria, “get you gone. Look round as usual to see that all’s snug aloft and below; then turn in. Leave only the light in the hall and the front door on the latch. Did you mark if he had a watch to know the hour?”
“He had no watch, but Mrs. Pendean thought upon that and lent him hers.”
Bendigo nodded and picked up a clay pipe, while Doria spoke again.
“You feel quite steady in your nerves? You would not like me to lie in readiness to come forward if you want me!”