“You lie!” Forrest answered fiercely. “You have thrust yourself into a matter which does not concern you, and you are going to take the consequences.”
“And what might they be?” Kate asked slowly.
“They rest with him,” Forrest answered, pointing toward Engleton. “There is a man there who was our friend until a few days ago. He dared to accuse us of cheating at cards, and if we let him go he will ruin us both. We are doing what any reasonable men must do. We are seeking to preserve ourselves. We have kept him here a prisoner, but he could have gained his freedom on any day by simply promising to hold his peace. He has declined, and the time has come when we can leave him no more. To-night, if he is obstinate, we are going to throw him into the sea.”
“And what about me?” Kate asked.
“You are going with him,” Forrest answered. “If he is obstinate fool enough to chuck your life away and his, he must do it. Only he had better remember this,” he added, looking across at Engleton, “it will mean two lives now, and not one.”
Engleton rose to his feet slowly.
“Who is she?” he asked, pointing to the girl.
“I am Kate Caynsard, one of the village people here,” she answered. “I heard you working to-night from outside. You heard me shout back?”
“Yes!” he said. “I know.”
“I will tell the truth,” the girl continued. “I was fool enough once to come here to meet that man”—she pointed to De la Borne—“that is all over. But one night I was restless, and I came wandering through the plantation here. It was then I saw from the other end that the place had been altered, and it struck me to listen there where the air-shaft is. I heard voices, and the next day they were all talking about the disappearance of Lord Ronald Engleton. You, I suppose,” she added, “are Lord Ronald.”
“I believe I was,” he answered, with a little catch in his throat. “God knows who I am now! I give it up, De la Borne. If you are going to send the girl after me, I give it up. I’ll sign anything you like. Only let me out of the d—d place!”
A flash of triumph lit up Forrest’s face, but it lasted only for a second. Kate had suddenly turned upon them, and was standing with her back to the wall. The hand which had been hidden in the folds of her dress so long, was suddenly outstretched. There was a roar which rang through the place like the rattle of artillery, the smell of gunpowder, and a little cloud of smoke. Through it they could see her face; her lips parted in a smile, the wild disorder of her hair, her sea-stained gown, her splendid pose, all seemed to make her the central figure of the little tableau.
“I have five more barrels,” she said. “I fired that one to let you know that I was in earnest. Now if you do not let us go free, and without conditions, it will be you who will stay here instead of us, only you will stay here for ever!”