“That stone, too!” said the doctor darkly. “Sergeant, in view of what you’ve been telling me, there seems something very, very terrible about all this. I suppose there’s absolutely no doubt in your mind now, who—?”
The Irishman jerked out a great oath. “Doubt!” echoed he grimly, “doubt! So little doubt, Docthor,” added he hoarsely, “that we go get ’um this very night.”
“Alas, poor Yorick!” said Yorke sadly. “Say, Burke!” he continued in an awe-struck voice “this is like a leaf out of O’Brien’s book, with a vengeance. You remember him, that cold-blooded devil who Pennycuik nailed up in the Yukon—used to shoot ’em and shove their bodies under the ice?”
Slavin nodded gloomily. “At Tagish, ye mane? Yeah! I ’member ut. Penny sure did some good wurrk on that case.”
Redmond had by this time completed his gruesome task. “There’s lots of these blocks lying around Gully’s,” he remarked, “I’ve seen ’em. Place’s got a stone foundation. Look at the notches he’s chipped in this one—to keep the wire from slipping!”
“Eyah!” said Slavin, with grimly-unconscious humour, “Exhibit B. We must hang on to ut, heavy as it us—an’ th’ wire, tu! Well, people, we’d betther shove this pore shtiff on the buckboard, an’ beat ut.” He turned to the doctor’s laconic factotum. “Come on, Lanky!” he said briskly. “Let’s go hitch up.”
Presently, when all was ready, Slavin took the lines and the coroner climbed up beside him. The rest of the party followed on foot. A sombre, strange little procession it looked, as it moved slowly westward into the dusky blaze of a blood-red sunset. In the hearts of the policemen grim resolve was not unmixed with certain well-founded forebodings, as they fully realized what a sinister, dangerous mission lay ahead of them that night.
’Twas then—like tiger
At every pass with toil and net,
’Counter’d, where’er he turns his glare,
By clashing arms and torches’ flare,
Who meditates, with furious bound,
To burst on hunter, horse, and hound,—
’Twas then that Bertram’s soul arose,
Prompting to rush upon his foes.
The old detachment clock struck nine wheezy notes. Yorke and Redmond, seated at a table busily engaged in cleaning their service revolvers, glanced up at each other sombrely.
“Getting near time,” muttered the former, “the moon should be up soon now. Lanky,” he continued, addressing that individual who was sitting nearby, “what are you and the Doctor going to do? Going back to Cow Run tonight, or what?”
“Don’t think it,” replied the teamster laconically. He glanced towards the open door and assumed a listening attitude. “Th’ Sarjint an’ him’s out there now—chewin’ th’ rag ’bout it—hark to ’em!”
Ceasing their cleaning operations for a space, the two constables listened intently to the raised voices without. “No! no! no!” came Slavin’s soft brogue, in tones of vehement protest to something the coroner had said, “I tell yu’ ‘tis not right, Docthor, that yu’ shud run such risk! Wid us ‘tis diff’runt—takin’ th’ chances av life an’ death—just ord’nary course av juty. . . .”