“It would be a fine thing,” said the Postilion moodily, as I, at length, closed the chaise door, “it would be a nice thing if ’e was to go a-dying.”
“By the looks of him,” said I, “he will be swearing your head off in the next ten minutes or so.”
Without another word the Postilion set the lanthorn back in its socket, and swung himself into the saddle.
“Your best course would be to make for Tonbridge, bearing to the right when you strike the high road.”
The Postilion nodded, and, gathering up the reins, turned to stare at me once more, while I stood in the gleam of the lanthorn.
“Well?” I inquired.
“Eyes,” said he, rubbing his chin very hard, as one at a loss, “eyes, i-dentical—nose, same—mouth, when not bloody, same —’air, same—everything, same—Lord love me!”
“Pembry would be nearer,” said I, “and the sooner he is between the sheets the better.”
“Ah!” exclaimed the Postilion with a slow nod, and drawing out the word unduly, “and talking o’ sheets and beds—what about my second passenger? I started wi’ two, and ’ere’s only one—what about Number Two what about—’er?”
“Her!” I repeated.
“’Er as was with ‘im—Number One—’er what was a-quarrelling wi’ Number One all the way from London ’er as run away from Number One into the wood, yonder, what about Number Two—’er?”
“Why, to be sure—I had forgotten her!”
“Forgotten?” repeated the Postilion, “Oh, Lord, yes!” and leaning over, he winked one eye, very deliberately; “forgotten ’er—ah! —to be sure—of course!” and he winked again.
“What do you mean?” I demanded, nettled by the fellow’s manner.
“Mean?” said he, “I means as of all the damned onnat’ralness as come on a honest, well-meaning, civil-spoke cove—why, I’m that there cove, so ’elp me!” Saying which, he cracked his whip, the horses plunged forward, and, almost immediately, as it seemed, horses, chaise, and Postilion had lurched into the black murk of the night and vanished.
WHICH BEARS AMPLE TESTIMONY TO THE STRENGTH OF THE GENTLEMAN’S FISTS
Considering all that had befallen during the last half-hour or so, it was not very surprising, I think, that I should have forgotten the very existence of this woman Charmian, even though she had been chiefly instrumental in bringing it all about, and to have her recalled to my recollection thus suddenly (and, moreover, the possibility that I must meet with and talk to her) perturbed me greatly, and I remained, for some time, quite oblivious to wind and rain, all engrossed by the thought of this woman.
“A dark, fierce, Amazonian creature!” I told myself, who had (abhorrent thought) already attempted one man’s life to-night; furthermore, a tall woman, and strong (therefore unmaidenly), with eyes that gleamed wild in the shadow of her hair. And yet my dismay arose not so much from any of these as from the fact that she was a woman, and, consequently, beyond my ken.