“Trust to Lord Saxondale’s diplomacy, Phil,” she said, softly, as she passed him on her way to the stairs.
The grim smile that settled on the faces of the three men after the women and the trembling priest had passed from the hall, was not one of amusement. It was the offspring of a desperate, uneasy courage.
“Quentin, the safety of those women upstairs depends on your thoughtfulness. You must leave this affair to me. We can’t keep them waiting any longer. Gad, they will tear down the historic gate I had so much difficulty in building last year. Wait for me here. I go to meet the foe.”
Turk was standing in the courtyard with a revolver in his hand. Lord Bob commanded him to put away the weapon and to “stow his bellicoseness.” Mere chance caused Turk to obey the command in full; half of it he did not understand. The voices outside the gate were much more subdued than his lordship expected, but he did not know that Prince Ugo had warily enjoined silence, fearing the flight of the prey.
“Who is there?” called Lord Bob, from the inside
“Are you Lord Saxondale?” demanded a guttural voice on the outside.
“I am. What is the meaning of this disturbance?”
“We are officers of the government, and we are looking for a person who is within your walls. Open the gate, my lord.”
“How am I to know you are officers of the law? You may be a pack of bandits. Come back to-morrow, my good friends.”
“I shall be compelled to break down your gate, sir,” came from without, gruffly.
“Don’t do it. The first man who forces his way will get a bullet in his head. If you can give me some assurance that you are officers and not thieves, I may admit you.” Lord Bob was grinning broadly, much to the amazement of the servant who held the lantern. There were whispers on the outside.
“Prince Ravorelli is with us, my lord. Is he sufficient guarantee?” asked the hoarse voice.
“Is Giovanni Pavesi there, also?” asked Saxondale, loudly.
“I do not know him, my lord. The prince’s companions are strangers to me. Is such a person here?” Lord Bob could almost see the look on Ugo’s face when the question was put to him.
“I never heard the name,” came the clear voice of the Italian. “My friends are well known to Lord Saxondale. He remembers Count Sallaconi and the Duke of Laselli. Two men from Brussels are also here—Captains Devereaux and Ruz.”
“I recognize the prince’s voice,” said Saxondale, unlocking the gate. “Come inside, gentlemen,” he said, as he stood before the group. “Sorry to have kept you waiting, you know, but it is wise to be on the safe side. So you are looking for some one who is in my castle? May I inquire the name of that person?”
“You know very well, Lord Saxondale,” said Ugo, now taking the lead. He stood boldly, defiantly before the Englishman.