Poison Island eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 327 pages of information about Poison Island.
of me, but I still walked forward, playing with my intention, always telling myself that I could relinquish it and turn back to Falmouth, cheating—­yes, I fear deliberately cheating—­myself with the assurance until more than half the journey lay behind me, and to turn back would be worse than pusillanimous.  At St. Austell a carrier offered me a lift, and brought me to Liskeard.  Thence I walked forward again, and in the late afternoon came in sight of Minden Cottage.

“I recognized it at once from Harry’s description, and at first I was minded to walk up and knock boldly at the front door.  But remembering also the lad’s account of the garden and how the Major would spend the best part of his day there—­and partly, I fancy, being nervous and uncertain with what form of words to present myself—­I pulled up at the angle of the house, where the lane comes up alongside the garden wall to join the road, and halted, to collect myself and study my bearings.

“The time was about twenty minutes after five, and the light pretty good.  But the lane is pretty well overgrown, as you know.  I looked down and along it, and it appeared to end in a tangle or brambles.  I turned my attention to the house, and was studying it through my glasses, taking stock of its windows and chimneys, and generally (as you might say) reckoning it up, along with the extent of its garden, when, happening to take another glance down the lane, to run a measure of the garden wall—­or perhaps a movement caught my eye—­ I saw a man step across the path between the brambles, out of the garden, as you might say, and into the plantation opposite.  The path being so narrow, I glimpsed him for half a second only.  But the glimpse of him gave me a start, for, if to suppose it had been anywise possible, I could have sworn the man was one I had known in Falmouth and left behind there.”

“Captain Coffin!” I exclaimed.

“Ay, lad, Captain Coffin—­Captain Danny Coffin.  But what should he be doing at Minden Cottage?”

“The quicker you proceed, sir,” said Miss Belcher, rapping the table, “the sooner we are likely to discover.”

[1] Russell’s waggons—­“Russell and Co., Falmouth to London”—­were huge vehicles that plied along the Great West Road under an escort of soldiers, and conveyed the bullion and other treasure landed at Falmouth by the Post Office packets.  They were drawn, always at a foot-pace, by teams of six stout horses.  The waggoner rode beside on a pony, and inside sat a man armed with pistols and blunderbuss.  Poor travellers used these waggons, walking by day, and sleeping by night beneath the tilt.



“Well, ma’am,” resumed Captain Branscome, “so strong was the likeness to old Coffin, and yet so incredible was it he should be in these parts, that, almost without stopping to consider, I turned down the lane on the chance of another glimpse of the man.  This brought me, of course, to the stile leading into the plantation; but the path there, as you know, takes a turn among the trees almost as soon as it starts, and runs, moreover, through a pretty thick undergrowth.  The fellow, whoever he was, had disappeared.

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Poison Island from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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