“’T woke us,” said Carre. “And we wondered what was up. What was it, then, monsieur?”
“That devil of a white stallion of Le Pelley’s. It was him killed Tom Hamon and Peter Mauger, and he tried to kill Mr. Gard. We’ve been on this job for weeks past, while you were all sleeping in your beds.”
“Mon Gyu! and we none of us knew anything about it till we heard yon scream! And he’s dead——”
“He’s dead—unless he’s the devil,” said the Senechal sententiously.
HOW THEY THANKED GOD FOR HIS MERCIES
Vast was the wonder of the Sark folk when they heard next day of that night’s doings, and learned who the murderer of the Coupee was, and how and by whom he had been laid by the heels.
The whole Island breathed freely once more, and was outspokenly grateful to the courage and pertinacity which had lifted from it the cloud and the reproach.
Some of them even had the grace to be not a little ashamed of their previous doings, but ascribed the greater part of the blame to Tom’s widow and Peter Mauger.
But it was days before Stephen Gard took any interest in the matter, past or present, or in anything whatsoever.
The Doctor’s pad undoubtedly saved his life, but no amount of padding could avert entirely the fiendish malignity of those merciless iron flails.
He lay unconscious for eight-and-forty hours; and the Doctor—though he never breathed a word of it, and prophesied complete recovery with the utmost cheerfulness and apparent sincerity—had his own grim fears as to what the effect of the whole hideous event might be on one who had already suffered such undue strain of mind and body.
Fortunately, his fears proved groundless. On the third day, Gard quietly opened his eyes on Nance, who had barely left his bedside since the Senechal went down to La Closerie himself and brought her back with him to Plaisance.
“I’ve been asleep,” he said drowsily. “Anything wrong, Nance dear?” and he tried to sit up, but found his head heavy with cold water bandages, and a pain about his neck and left shoulder, and his left arm in splints, and all the rest of him one great aching bruise.
“Why—” he murmured, in vast surprise.
“You’re to lie quite still,” said Nance dictatorially, with lifted finger. “And you’re not to talk or think till the Doctor comes.”
“Give me a kiss, then!”—good prima facie evidence, this, that his brain had suffered no permanent injury.
“Well, he didn’t say anything about that,” and she bent over him and kissed him with a brimming flood of gratitude in her blue eyes, and he lay quiet for a time.
“Is it dead?” he asked suddenly, with a reminiscent shudder which set all his bruises aching.
“The white horse? Yes, Dieu merci, it’s dead! But you’re not to talk or think.”