As a matter of fact, they had come divided as to the truth of the report that there was a man on L’Etat—even then as to him being the man they sought. In any case, they had expected to take him unawares, and never dreamt of his being armed and on the watch for them.
Thanks to Nance, he had turned the tables on them. It was they who were taken unawares.
But if he spoke again, he said to himself, they would be ready for him, and their answers would probably take the rude form of bullets. So he lay still and waited.
There was a growling disputation in the boat. Then one spoke—
“See then, you, Gard! We will haff you yet, now we know where you are. If it takes effery man and effery boat in Sark, we will haff you, now we know where you are. You do not kill a Sark man like that and go free. Noh—pardie!”
“I have killed no man—” A gun rang out in the boat, and the shot spatted on the rocks not a yard from him.
Coming in, they knew, meant certain death for one among them, and, keen as they were to lay hands on him, no man had any wish to be that one.
The oars creaked away into the darkness, and he climbed to the ridge to make sure they made no attempt on the other side.
But discretion had prevailed. One man could not hold L’Etat from invasion at half-a-dozen points at once. They could bide their time, and take him by force of numbers.
He heard them go creaking off towards the Creux, and turned and went back along the ridge to find Nance.
HOW ONE CAME TO HIM LIKE AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN
Nance was standing by the shelter, and even in the darkness he could tell that she was shaking, in spite of her previous vigorous incitement to defence.
“You—you didn’t kill any of them?” she asked anxiously.
“No, dear. I warned them off and fired into the water to show them I was armed.”
“I was afraid. But, there were two shots.”
“One of them fired back the next time I spoke, but I was expecting it.”
“They are wicked, wicked men, and cruel.”
“They are mistaken, that’s all. But it comes to much the same thing, and I don’t see,” he said despondently, “how we are ever to prove it to them.”
“They will come again.”
“Yes, they are to come back with every man and every boat in the Island. I shall have my hands full. Are there more than these two places where they can land?”
“Not good places, and these only when the sea is right. But angry men—and ready to shoot you—oh, it is wicked—”
“We must hope the sea will keep them off, and that something may turn up to throw some light on the other matter,” he said, trying to comfort her, though, in truth, the outlook was not hopeful, and he feared himself that his time might be short.