The smoke cleared slowly away. Engleton had risen to his feet, the light of a new hope blazing in his eyes. Forrest and Cecil de la Borne stood close together near the door, which still stood ajar. The girl, who stood with her back to the wall, saw their involuntary movement towards it, and her voice rang out sharp and clear.
“If you try it on I shoot!” she exclaimed. “You know what that means, Cecil. A pistol isn’t a plaything with me.”
Cecil looked no more toward the door. He came instead a little farther into the room.
“My dear Kate,” he said, “we are willing to admit, Forrest and I, that we are beaten. You can do exactly what you like with us except leave us here. Our little joke with Engleton is at an end. Perhaps we carried it too far. If so, we must face the penalty. Take him away if you like. Personally I do not find this place attractive.”
Kate lowered her revolver and turned to Engleton.
“Come over to my side,” she said. “We are going to leave this place.”
Engleton staggered towards her. He had always been thin, but he seemed to have lost more flesh in the last few days.
“For God’s sake let’s get out!” he said. “If I don’t breathe some fresh air soon, it will be the end of me.”
“In any order you please,” Cecil de la Borne said smiling. “The only condition I make is that before you leave the place altogether, Kate, I have a few minutes’ conversation with you. You can hold your pistol to my temple, if you like, while I talk, but there are a few things I must say.”
“Afterwards, then,” she answered. “We are going first out of the place. We shall turn seawards and wait for you. When you have come out, you will hand us your electric torches and go on in front.”
“You are quite a strategist,” Forrest remarked grimly. “Do as she says, Cecil. The sooner we are out of this, the better.”
Kate passed her hand through Engleton’s arm.
“Come along,” she said. “Lean on me if you are not feeling well. Do not be afraid. They will not dare to touch us.”
Engleton laughed weakly, but with the remains of the contempt with which he had always treated his jailers.
“Afraid of them!” he exclaimed contemptuously. “I fancy the boot has been on the other leg. Who you are, my dear young lady, I do not know, but upon my word you are the most welcome companion a man ever had.”
The pair moved toward the doorway. Neither Forrest nor Cecil de la Borne made any effort to prevent their passing out. Kate turned a little to the right, and then stood with the revolver clasped in her hand.
“Please come out now,” she said. “You will give your electric torch to him.”
She indicated Engleton, who stretched out his hand. Cecil and Forrest obeyed her command to the letter. Engleton held the torch, and they all four made their way along the noisome passage. Forrest turned his head once cautiously toward his companion’s, but Cecil shook his head.