“And you have not got him?” asked another disappointedly.
“Never even seen him.”
“Either he’s gone or he’s under cover, though, ma fe, I don’t know where he’d find it on L’Etat,” and Nance’s heart beat hopefully. “However, John Drillot and Peter Vaudin are stopping the night in case he is still there and ventures out of his hole,” and her heart sank again, and kicked rebelliously that a man should be hunted thus, like a rabbit.
She spent a night of misery, wondering what was happening on L’Etat, and was at her post above Breniere as soon as it was light.
She saw Philip Vaudin come round from the Creux in his boat and run across to the rock, and almost as soon as he had disappeared round Quette d’Amont, he came speeding back, alone, and not to the harbour, but straight to the fishermen’s rough landing-place inside Breniere.
“What is it then, Philip?” she asked anxiously, as he hauled himself up the rocks on to the turf.
“I’ve come for two miners,” he panted, for he had come quickly. “They’ve run him to earth in a hole, but they won’t either of them go in after him, and they want some one who will.”
“Yes. He came out in the night, and they chased him, but he got into his hole, and they’re sitting on it ever since,” and he hurried away through the waste of gorse and bracken to the miners’ cottages.
Volunteers were evidently not over plentiful. It was a considerable time before he came back with a Welshman, Evan Morgan, and a young Cornishman, John Trevna, and neither of them seemed over eager for the job.
“For, see you,” had been Morgan’s view, “coing in a hole after a man what hass a gun iss not a nice pissness, no inteet!” and the Cornishman agreed with him.
However, they put off, and Nance crouched in the bracken and watched all their doings.
She had long since caught sight of John Drillot and Peter Vaudin sitting on the rock wall, and wondered what kind of a hiding-place Gard could possibly have found therein. A poor one, she feared, and that the end would be quick.
The boat disappeared round the corner, and presently she saw the three men join the others at the wall, and they all clustered there and talked, and then one by one they disappeared into the wall itself, and she sat watching in fear and trembling.
HOW TWO WENT IN AND THREE CAME OUT
“It iss better to sit here two, three days till he comse out than to go in and get yourself killt, yes inteet!” was the burden of Evan Morgan’s answer to all their arguments for a speedy assault. And “Iss, sure!” was Trevna’s curt, complete endorsement.
But when, at John Drillot’s suggestion, they had squeezed under the slab to have a look at what lay below, and had peered down the slit that Gard tried first, and had then lighted on the tunnel, and had found the gun and powder-flask jammed in a crevice—that put a different face on the matter.