When I stood there before the room had been as dark as pitch, but now a flicker of light was at the far end. A voice cried:
“M’sieur! M’sieur! I have not forgotten thee!”
It was Pierre Caribou. I saw his figure silhouetted against the light of the flaring candle which he held in his hand.
Duchaine had placed one arm about his daughter’s waist, and was urging her along. But she stopped and looked back to me. I saw she held one broadsword in her hand, as I held the other.
“Come, monsieur!” she gasped.
But I was too mad with the desire to make an end of Leroux to accompany her. I wanted to go back. I tried to find the bolt of the door in the gloom, but while my fingers were fumbling for it Jacqueline came running back to me.
“Quick, or we are lost!” she cried.
“I am going back,” I answered, still fumbling for the holt Duchaine had drawn.
“No! We are safe inside. It is a secret room. My father made it in the first days of his sojourn here in case he was pursued, and none but Pierre and he know the secret. Ah, come, monsieur—come!”
She clung to me desperately, and there was an intensity of entreaty in her voice.
I hesitated. There was no sound in the room without, and I believed that the two ruffianly followers were ignorant of what had happened, and had not dared to return after being driven away.
But I meant to kill Leroux, and still felt for the bolt.
As I fumbled there the door splintered suddenly, and Jacqueline cried out. Through the hole I saw the oil-lamp shining in the outer room.
The door splintered again. All at once I realized that Leroux was firing his revolver at the panels. It was fortunate that we both stood at one side, where the latch was.
Then I yielded reluctantly to Jacqueline’s soft violence. I followed her through the dark chamber, under an archway of stone, and through a winding passage in the rock. Pierre’s candle flickered before us, and in another moment we had squeezed through a narrow opening into a chamber in the cliff.
On the ground were five or six large stones, and Pierre began to fit them into the aperture through which we had passed. In a minute the place was completely sealed, and we four stood and looked breathlessly at one another within what might have been a cenotaph.
Not the slightest sound came from without.
We were standing in a stone chamber, apparently of natural formation, but finished with rough masonry work. It was about the size of a large room, and I could see that it was only a widening of the tunnel itself, which continued through a narrow exit at the farther end, running on into the unknown depths of the cliff.
From the freshness of the air I inferred that it connected with the surface at no distant place.
The entrance through which we had come had been made by blasting at some period, or widened in this way, and then cemented, for the stones which Pierre had fitted into it exactly filled it, so that it was barely distinguishable from where I stood, and I am certain that it would have required a prolonged scrutiny on the part of searchers on the outside to enable them to detect it.