“Why that’s so, lady,” he admitted. “Lord! When I was a boy I mind some great doings. One night there was a great fight. I mind it now. Fifteen of the King’s men were lying hidden close to the cove there, and it looked for all the world as though the boats which were being rowed ashore must fall right into their hands. They were watching from the Hall, though, and the Squire’s new alarm was set going. It were a cry like a siren, rising and falling like. The boats heerd it and turned back, but three of the Squire’s men were set on, and a rare fight there was that night. There was broken heads to be mended, and no mistake. Mat Knowles here, the father of him who keeps the public now, he right forgot to shut his inn, and there it was open two hours past the lawful time, and all were drinking as though it were a great day of rejoicing, instead of being one of sorrow for the De la Bornes. I mind you were here a few weeks ago, miss. You know the two Mr. De la Bornes?”
“Yes!” Jeanne admitted. “I know them slightly.”
“Mr. Andrew, he be one of the best,” the man declared, “but Mr. Cecil we none of us can understand, him nor his friends. What he is doing up there now with this man what’s staying with him, there’s none can tell. Maybe they gamble at cards, maybe they just sit and look at one another, but ’tis a strange sort of life anyhow.”
“I think it is a very interesting place to live in,” Jeanne said. “What became of the siren which warned the smugglers?”
“There’s no one here as can tell that, miss,” the man answered, “There are them as have fancied on windy nights as they’ve heerd it, but fancy it have been, in my opinion. Five and twenty years have gone since I’ve heerd it mysen, and there’s few ’as better ears.”
“Mr. Andrew de la Borne is not here now, is he?” she asked.
The fisherman shook his head.
“Mr. Andrew,” he said, “is mortal afraid of strangers and such like, and there’s photographers and newspaper men round in these parts just now, by reason of the disappearance of this young lord that you heerd tell on. Some say he was drowned, and I have heerd folk whisper about a duel with the gentleman as is with Mr. Cecil now. Anyway, it was here that he disappeared from, and though I’ve not seen it in print, I’ve heerd as his brother is offering a reward of a thousand pounds to any as might find him. It’s a power of money that, miss.”
“It is a great deal of money,” Jeanne admitted. “I wonder if Lord Ronald was worth it.”
The two men sat opposite to one another separated only by the small round table upon which the dessert which had followed their dinner was still standing. Even Forrest’s imperturbable face showed signs of the anxiety through which he had passed. The change in Cecil, however, was far more noticeable. There were lines under his eyes and a flush upon his cheeks, as though he had been drinking heavily. The details of his toilette, usually so immaculate, were uncared for. He was carelessly dressed, and his hair no longer shone with frequent brushings. He looked like a person passing through the rapid stages of deterioration.