“It is,” he answered. “I am glad I did not kill you both: it left your mother time to see her dead husband, and has given me the pleasure of killing you now: the treat improves with keeping. Well, let me go on. After that I was forced to leave the country for some time—”
“For another piece of villainy, which your wife discovered.”
“How do you know that? Oh, from Claire, I suppose: however, it does not matter. When I came back I found you: found you, and struck again. But again my cursed luck stood in my way and that damned friend of yours knocked me senseless. Look at this mark on my cheek.”
“Look at the clasp and you will see where your blow was struck.”
“Ah, that was it, was it?” he said, examining the clasp slowly. “I suppose you thought it lucky at the time. So it was—for me. For, though I made another mistake in the fog that night, I got quits with your friend at any rate. I have chafed often enough at these failures, but it has all come right in the end. I ought to have killed your father upon Adam’s Peak; but he was a big man, while I had no pistol and could not afford to risk a mistake. Everything, they say, comes to the man who can wait. Your father did not escape, neither will you, and when I think of the joy it was to me to know that you and Claire, of all people—”
But I would hear no more. Mad as I was with shame and horror for my grandfather’s cruelty, I knew this man, notwithstanding his talk of revenge, to be a vile and treacherous scoundrel. So when he spoke of Claire I burst forth—
“Dog, this is enough! I have listened to your tale. But when you talk of Claire—Claire whom you killed to-night—then, dog, I spit upon you; kill me, and I hope the treasure may curse you as it has cursed me; kill me; use your knife, for I will shout—”
With a dreadful snarl he was on me and smote me across the face. Then as I continued to call and shout, struck me one fearful blow behind the ear. I remember that the dim lamp shot out a streak of blood-red flame, the cabin was lit for one brief instant with a flash of fire, a thousand lights darted out, and then—then came utter blackness—a vague sensation of being caught up and carried, of plunging down—down—
TELLS HOW AT LAST I FOUND MY REVENGE AND THE GREAT RUBY.
“Speak—speak to me! Oh, look up and tell me you are not dead!”
Down through the misty defiles and dark gates of the Valley of the Shadow of Death came these words faintly as though spoken far away. So distant did they seem that my eyes opened with vague expectation of another world; opened and then wearily closed again.
For at first they stared into a heaven of dull grey, with but a shadow between them and colourless space. Then they opened once more, and the shadow caught their attention. What was it? Who was I, and how came I to be staring upward so? I let the problem be and fell back into the easeful lap of unconsciousness.