“Then allow this gentleman who is carpentering away so pleasantly within the house, to do so to his heart’s content, but don’t let him leave it. Show yourselves now in the garden, he has sufficient prudence to know that three constitute rather fearful odds against one, and so he will be careful, and remain where he is. If he should come out, we need not let him go until we thoroughly ascertain what he has been about.”
“You shall command the squadron, doctor,” said the admiral, “and have it all your own way, you know, so here goes! Come along, Henry, and let’s show ourselves; we are both armed too!”
They walked out into the centre of the garden, and they were soon convinced that the hangman saw them, for a face appeared at the window, and was as quickly withdrawn again.
“There,” said the doctor, “now he knows he is a prisoner, and we may as well place ourselves in some position which commands a good view of the house, as well as of the garden gate, and so see if we cannot starve him out, though we may be starved out ourselves.”
“Not at all!” said Admiral Bell, producing from his ample pockets various parcels,—“we came to bring you ample supplies.”
“Yes; we have been as far as the ruins.”
“Oh, to release Marchdale. Charles told me how the villain had fallen into the trap he had laid for him.”
“He has, indeed, fallen into the trap, and it’s one he won’t easily get out of again. He’s dead.”
“Yes; in the storm of last night the ruins have fallen, and he is by this time as flat as a pancake.”
“Good God! and yet it is but a just retribution upon him. He would have assassinated poor Charles Holland in the cruelest and most cold-blooded manner, and, however we may shudder at the manner of his death, we cannot regret it.”
“Except that he has escaped your friend the hangman,” said the admiral.
“Don’t call him my friend, if you please,” said Dr. Chillingworth, “but, hark how he is working away, as if he really intended to carry the house away piece by piece, as opportunity may serve, if you will not let it to him altogether, just as it stands.”
“Confound him! he is evidently working on his own account,” said the admiral, “or he would not be half so industrious.”
There was, indeed, a tremendous amount of hammering and noise, of one sort and another, from the house, and it was quite clear that the hangman was too heart and soul in his work, whatever may have been the object of it, to care who was listening to him, or to what conjecture he gave rise.
He thought probably that he could but be stopped in what he was about, and, until he was so, that he might as well go on.
And on he went, with a vengeance, vexing the admiral terribly, who proposed so repeatedly to go into the house and insist upon knowing what he was about, that his, wishes were upon the point of being conceded to by Henry, although they were combatted by the doctor, when, from the window at which he had entered, out stepped the hangman.