Part 4 out of 5
recent events!--has made me suspicious that he isn't, and happen I can do
a good bit--a very good bit--to turning him out. Now, if I help in that
there work, will Miss Greyle continue me in my post of estate agent at
"Not for any longer than it will take to turn you out of it, Mr.
Chatfield," replied Audrey with an energy and promptitude which
surprised her companions. "So we need not discuss that. You will never
be my agent!"
"Very good, ma'am--that's quite according to my expectations," said
Chatfield, meekly. "I was always a misunderstood man. However, this here
proposition will perhaps be more welcome. It's always been understood
that I was to have a retiring pension of five hundred pounds per annum.
The family has always promised it--I've letters to prove it. Will Miss
Greyle stand to that if she comes in? I've been a faithful servant for
nigh on to fifty years, Mr. Vickers, as all the neighbourhood is aware."
"If I come in, as you call it, you shall have your pension," said Audrey.
Chatfield slowly felt in a capacious inner pocket and produced a large
notebook and a fountain pen. He passed them to Vickers.
"We'll have that there in writing, signed and witnessed," he said. "Put,
if you please, Mr. Vickers, 'I agree that if I come into the Scarhaven
estate, Peter Chatfield shall at once be pensioned off with five hundred
pounds a year, to be paid quarterly. Same to be properly assured to him
for his life.' And then if Miss Greyle'll sign that document, and you
gentlemen'll witness it, I shall consider that henceforth I'm in Miss
Greyle's service. And," he added, with a significant glance all round, "I
shall be a deal more use as a friend nor what I should be as what you
might term an enemy--Mr. Vickers knows that."
Vickers held a short consultation with Audrey, the result of which was
that the paper was duly signed, Witnessed, and deposited in Chatfield's
pocket. And Chatfield nodded his satisfaction.
"All right," he said. "Now then, ma'am, and gentlemen, the next thing is
to get away out o' this, and get on the track of them as put us here.
We'd better start a big fire out o' this dry stuff--"
"But what about these revelations you were going to make?" said Vickers.
"I understood you were to tell us--"
"Sir," replied Chatfield, "I'll tell and I'll reveal in due course, and
in good order. Events, sir, is the thing! Let me get to the nearest
telegraph office, and we'll have some events, right smart. Let me
attract attention. I've sailed in these seas before. There's steamers
goes out of Kirkwall yonder frequent--we must get hold of one. A
telegraph office!--that's what I want. I'm a-going to set up a
blaze--and I'll set up a blaze elsewhere as soon as I can lay hands on a
bundle o' telegraph forms!"
He leisurely took off his shawl and overcoat, laid them on a shelf of
rock, and moved away to collect the dry stuff which lay to hand. The
three young people exchanged glances.
"What's this new mystery?" asked Audrey.
"All bluff!--some deep game of his own," growled Copplestone. "He's the
most consummate old liar I ever--"
"You're wrong this time, old chap!" interrupted Vickers. "He's a bad
'un--but he's on our side now--I'm convinced. It is a game he's playing,
and a deep one, and I don't know what it is, but it's for our
benefit--Chatfield's simply transferred his interest and influence to
us--that's all. For his own purposes, of course. And"--he suddenly
paused, gazed seaward, and then jumped to his feet. "Chatfield!" he
called quietly. "You needn't light any fire. Here's a steamer!"
THE YACHT COMES BACK
Chatfield, his arms filled with masses of dried bracken and coarse grass,
turned sharply on hearing Vickers's call and stared hard and long in the
direction which the young solicitor pointed out. His small, crafty eyes
became dilated to their full extent--suddenly they contracted again with
a look of cunning satisfaction, and throwing away his burdens he drew out
a big many-coloured handkerchief and mopped his high forehead as if the
perspiration which burst out were the result of intense mental relief.
"Didn't I know we should be rescued from this here imprisonment!" he
cried with unctuous joy. "Thought they'd pinned me here for best part of
a week, no doubt, while they could get theirselves quietly away--far
away! But it's my experience 'ut them as has served the Lord's never
deserted, Mr. Vickers, and if you live as long as--"
"Don't be blasphemous, Chatfield!" said Vickers, curtly. "None of that!
What we'd better think about is the chance of that steamer sighting us.
We'll light that fire, anyway!"
"She's coming straight on for the island," remarked Copplestone, who had
been narrowly watching the approaching vessel. "So straight that you'd
think she was actually making for it."
"She'll be some craft bound for Kirkwall," said Vickers, pointing
northward to the main group of islands. "And in that case she'll probably
take this channel on our west; that fire, now! Come on all of you, and
let's make as big a smoke as we can get out of this stuff."
The weather being calm and the grass and bracken which they heaped
together as dry as tinder, there was little difficulty about raising a
thick column of smoke which presently rose high in the sky. But Audrey,
turning away from the successful result of their labours, suddenly
glanced at Copplestone with a look that challenged an answer to her own
thoughts. They were standing a little apart from the others and she
lowered her voice.
"I say!" she murmured. "I don't think we need have bothered ourselves to
light that fire. That vessel, whatever it is, is making for us. Look!"
Copplestone shaded his eyes and stared out across the sea. The steamer
was by that time no more than two or three miles away. But she was coming
towards them in a dead straight line, and as she was accordingly bow on,
and as her top deck and lamps were obscured by clouds of black smoke,
pouring furiously from her funnels, they could make little out of her
appearance. Copplestone's first notion was that she was a naval patrol
boat, or a torpedo destroyer. Whatever she was it seemed certain that she
was heading direct for the island, at that very point on which the
fugitives had been landed the previous night. And it was very evident
that she was in a great hurry to make her objective.
"I think you're right," he said, turning to Audrey. "But it's strange
that any vessel should be making for an uninhabited island like this.
What--but you've got some notion in your mind?" he broke off suddenly,
seeing her glance at him again. "What is it?"
Audrey shook her head, with a cautious look at Chatfield.
"I was wondering if that's the _Pike_?--come back!" she whispered. "And
if it is--why?"
Copplestone started, and took a longer and keener look at the
vessel. Before he could speak again, Vickers called out cheerily
across the rocks.
"Come on, you two!" he cried. "She's seen us--she's coming in. They'll
have to send off a boat. Let's get down to the beach, so that they'll
know where there's a safe landing."
He sprang over the edge of the cliff and hurried down the rough path;
Chatfield, picking up his coat and shawl, prepared to follow him; Audrey
and Copplestone lingered until he, too, had begun to lumber downward.
"If that is the _Pike_," said Audrey, "there is something--wrong. Whoever
it is that is on the _Pike_ wouldn't come back to take us!"
"You think there is somebody on the _Pike_--somebody other than Andrius?"
"I believe the man who calls himself Marston Greyle was on the _Pike_,"
announced Audrey. "I've always thought so. Whether Chatfield knew that
or not, I don't know. My own belief is that Chatfield did know. I believe
Chatfield was in with them, as the saying is. I think they were all
running away with as much of the Scarhaven property as they could lay
hands on and that having got it, they bundled Chatfield out and dumped
him down here, having no further use for him. And, if that's the _Pike_,
and they're returning here, it's because they want Chatfield!"
Copplestone suddenly recognized that feminine instinct had solved a
problem which masculine reason had so far left unsolved.
"By gad!" he exclaimed softly. "Then, if that is so, this is merely
another of Chatfield's games. You don't believe him?"
"I would think myself within approachable distance of lunacy if I
believed a word that Peter Chatfield said," she answered calmly. "Of
course, he is playing a game of his own all through. He shall have his
pension--if I have the power to give it--but believe him--oh, no!"
"Let's follow them," said Copplestone. "Something's going to happen--if
that is the _Pike_."
"Look there, then," exclaimed Audrey as they began to descend the cliff.
"Chatfield's already uneasy."
She pointed to the beach below, where Chatfield, now fully overcoated and
shawled again, had mounted a ridge of rock, and while gazing intently at
the vessel, was exchanging remarks with Vickers, who had evidently said
something which had alarmed him. They caught Chatfield's excited
ejaculations as they hurried over the sand.
"Don't say that, Mr. Vickers!" he was saying imploringly. "For God's
sake, Mr. Vickers, don't suggest them there sort of thoughts. You make me
feel right down poorly, Mr. Vickers, to say such! It's worse than a bad
dream, Mr. Vickers--no, sir, no, surely you're mistaken!"
"Bet you a fiver to a halfpenny it's the _Pike_," retorted Vickers. "I
know her lines. Besides she's heading straight here. Copplestone!" he
cried, turning to the advancing couple. "Do you know, I believe that's
Copplestone gave Audrey's elbow a gentle squeeze.
"Look at old Chatfield!" he whispered. "By gad!--look at him. Yes," he
called out loudly, "We know it's the _Pike_--we saw that from the top of
the cliffs. She's coming straight in."
"Oh, yes, it's the _Pike_," exclaimed Audrey. "Aren't you delighted, Mr.
The agent suddenly turned his big fat face towards the three young
people, with such an expression of craven fear on it that the sardonic
jest which Copplestone was about to voice died away on his lips.
Chatfield's creased cheeks and heavy jowl had become white as chalk;
great beads of sweat rolled down them; his mouth opened and shut
silently, and suddenly, as he raised his hands and wrung them, his knees
began to quiver. It was evident that the man was badly, terribly
afraid--and as they watched him in amazed wonder his eyes began to
search the shore and the cliffs as if he were some hunted animal seeking
any hole or cranny in which to hide. A sudden swelling of the light wind
brought the steady throb of the oncoming engines to his ears and he
turned on Vickers with a look that made the onlookers start.
"For goodness sake, Mr. Vickers!" he said in a queer, strained voice.
"For heaven's sake, let's get ourselves away! Mr. Vickers--it ain't safe
for none of us. We'd best to run, sir--let's get to the other side of the
island. There's caves there--places--let's hide till something comes from
the other islands, or till these folks goes away--I tell you it's
dangerous for us to stop here!"
"We're not afraid, Chatfield," replied Vickers. "What ails you! Why man,
you couldn't be more afraid if you'd murdered somebody! What do you
suppose these people want? You, of course. And you can't escape--if they
want you, they'll search the island till they get you. You've been
deceiving us, Chatfield--there's something you've kept back. Now, what is
it? What have they come back for?"
"Yes, Mr. Chatfield, what has the _Pike_ come back for?" repeated Audrey,
coming nearer. "Come now--hadn't you better tell?"
"It is the _Pike_," remarked Copplestone. "Look there! And they're going
to send in a boat. Better be quick, Chatfield."
The agent turned an ashen face towards the yacht. She had swung round and
come to a halt, and the rattle of a boat being let down came menacingly
to the frightened man's ears. He tittered a deep groan and his eyes again
sought the cliffs.
"It's not a bit of good, Chatfield," said Vickers. "You can't get away.
Good heavens, man!--what are you so frightened for!"
Chatfield moaned and drew haltingly nearer to the other three, as if he
found some comfort in their mere presence.
"It's the money!" he whispered. "The money as was in the Norcaster
Bank--two lots of it. He--the Squire--gave me authority to get out his
lot what was standing in his name, you know--and the other--the estate
lot--that was standing in mine--some fifty thousand pounds in all, Mr.
Vickers. I had it all in gold, packed in sealed chests--and they--those
on board there--thought I took them chests aboard the _Pike_ with me. I
did take chests, d'ye see--but they'd lead in 'em. The real stuff is
hidden--buried--never mind where. And I know what they've come back
for!--they've opened the chests I took on board, and they've found
there's naught but lead. And they want me--me!--me! They'll torture me to
make me tell where the real chests, the money is--torture me! Oh, for
God's sake, keep 'em away from me--help me to hide--help me to get
away--and I'll tell Miss Greyle then where the money's hid, and--oh,
Lord, they're coming! Mr. Vickers--Mr. Vickers--"
He cast himself bodily at Vickers, as if to clutch him, but Vickers
stepped agilely aside, and Chatfield fell on the sand, where he lay
groaning while the others looked from him to each other.
"Ah!" said Vickers at last. "So that's it, is it, Chatfield? Trying to
cheat everybody all round, eh? I suppose you'd have told Miss Greyle
later that these people had collared all that gold--and then you'd have
helped yourself to it? And now I know what you were doing on that yacht
when we boarded it--you were one of the gang, and you meant to hook it
"I didn't--I didn't!" screamed Chatfield, beating the sand with his hands
and feet. "I meant to slip away from 'em at a Scotch port we was to call
at, and then--"
"Then you'd have gone back to the hidden chests and helped
yourself," sneered Vickers. "Chatfield, you're a wicked old
scoundrel, and an unmitigated liar! Give me that paper that Miss
Greyle signed, this instant!"
"No!" interjected Audrey. "Let him keep it. He'll have trouble enough
presently. It's very evident they mean to have him."
Chatfield heard the last few words and looked round at the edge of the
surf. The boat had grounded on the shingle, and half a dozen men had
leapt from it and were coming rapidly up the beach.
"Armed, by George!" exclaimed Copplestone. "No chance for you,
The agent suddenly sprang to his feet with a howl of terror. He gave one
more glance at the men and then he ran, clumsily, but with a speed made
desperate by terror. He made straight for the rocks--and at that, two of
the men, at a word from their leader, raised their rifles and fired. And
with a shriek that set all the echoes ringing, the sea-birds screaming,
and made Audrey clap her hands to her ears, Chatfield threw up his arms
and dropped heavily on the sands.
"That's sheer murder!" exclaimed Vickers, as the yachtsmen came
running up. "You'll answer for that, you know. Unless you mean to
murder all of us."
The leader, a smiling-faced fellow, touched his cap respectfully, and
grinned from ear to ear.
"Lor' bless you, sir, we shot twenty feet over his head!" he said. "He's
too precious to shoot: they want him badly on board there. Now then, men,
pick him up and get him into the boat--hell come round quick enough when
he finds he hasn't even a pellet in him. Handy, now! Captain's
compliments, sir," he went on, turning again to Vickers, and pointing to
certain things which were being unloaded from the boat, "and as he
understands that no vessel will pass here for two more days, sir, he's
sent you further provisions, some more wraps, and some books and papers."
THE TORPEDO-BOAT DESTROYER
Before Vickers and his companions had recovered from the surprise which
this extraordinary cool message had given them, the men had bundled
Chatfield across the beach and into the boat and were pulling quickly
back to the _Pike_.
Audrey broke the silence with a ringing laugh.
"Captain Andrius is certainly the perfection of polite pirates," she
exclaimed. "More food--more wraps--and books and papers! Was any marooned
mariner ever one-half so well treated?"
"What's the fellow mean about no vessel passing here for two more days?"
growled Copplestone, who was glaring angrily at the yacht. "What's he so
meticulously correct for?"
"I should say that he's referring to some weekly or bi-weekly steamer
which runs between Kirkwall and the mainland," replied Vickers.
"Well--it's good to know that, anyhow. But wait until the _Pike's_
vamoosed again, and we'll make up such a column of smoke that it'll be
seen for many a mile. In fact, I'll go and gather a lot of dried stuff
now--you two can drag those boxes and things up the beach and see what
our gaolers have been good enough to send us."
He went away up the cliffs, and Audrey and Copplestone, once more left
alone, looked at each other and laughed.
"That's right," said Copplestone. "What I like about you is that you
take things that way."
"Is it any use taking them any other way?" she asked. "Besides I've never
been at all frightened nor particularly concerned. I've always felt that
we were only put here so that we should be out of the way while our
captors got safely away with their booty, and as regards my mother, I
know her well enough to feel sure that she quickly sized things up, and
that she'll have taken measures of her own. Don't be surprised if we're
rescued through her means or if she has set somebody to work to catch the
"Good!" said Copplestone. "But as regards the _Pike_, I wonder if you
observed something during the few minutes she was here. I'm sure Vickers
didn't--he was too busy, watching Chatfield."
"So was I," replied Audrey. "What was it?"
"I believe I'm unusually observant," answered Copplestone. "I seem to see
things--all at once, don't you know. I saw that since we made her
acquaintance--and were unceremoniously bundled off her--the _Pike_ has
got a new and quite different coat of paint. And I daresay she's changed
her name, too. From all of which I argue that when they got rid of us
here, the people who are working all this slipped quietly back to some
cove or creek on the Scotch coast, did a stiff turn at repainting, and
meant to be off to the other side of the world under new colours. And
while this was going on, Andrius, or his co-villain, found time to
examine those chests that Chatfield told us of, and when they found that
Chatfield had done them, they came back here quick. Now they're off to
make him reveal the whereabouts of the real chests."
"Won't they be rather running their necks into a noose?" suggested
Audrey. "I'm dead certain that my mother will have raised a hue and cry
"They're cute enough," said Copplestone. "Anyway, they'll run a good many
risks for the sake of fifty thousand pounds. What they may do is to run
into some very quiet inlet--there are hundreds on these northern
coasts--and take Chatfield to his hiding-place. Chatfield's like all
scoundrels of his type--a horrible coward if a pistol's held to his head.
Now they've got him, they'll force him to disgorge. Hang this compulsory
inactivity!--my nerves are all a-tingle to get going at things!"
"Let's occupy ourselves with the things our generous gaolers have been
kind enough to send us, then," suggested Audrey. "We'd better carry them
up to our shelter."
Copplestone went down to the things which the boat's crew had deposited
on the beach--a couple of small packing-cases, a bundle of wraps and
cushions, and some books, magazines and newspapers. He picked up a paper
with a cry which suggested a discovery of importance.
"Look at that!" he exclaimed. "Do you see? A _Scotsman!_ Today's date!
And here--_Aberdeen Free Press_--same date!"
"Well?" asked Audrey. "And what then?"
"What then?" demanded Copplestone. "Where are your powers of deduction?
Why, that shows that the _Pike_ was somewhere this morning where she
could get the morning papers from Aberdeen and Edinburgh--therefore,
she's been, as I suggested, somewhere on the Scotch coast all night. It's
now noon--she's a fast sailer--I guess she's been within sixty miles of
us ever since she left us."
"Isn't it more pertinent to speculate on where she'll be when we want to
find her?" asked Audrey.
"More pertinent still to wonder when somebody will come to find us,"
answered Copplestone as he shouldered one of the cases. "However, there's
a certain joy in uncertainty, so they say--we're tasting it."
The joys of uncertainty, however, were not to endure. They had scarcely
completed the task of carrying up the newly-arrived stores to the shelter
which they had made in an angle of the rocks when Vickers hailed them
from a spur of the cliffs and waved his arms excitedly.
"I say, you two!" he shouted. "There's a craft coming--from the
south-west. Come up! There!" he added, a few minutes later, when they
arrived, breathless, at his side. "Out yonder--a mere black blot--but
unmistakable! Do you know what that is, either of you? You don't? All
right, I do--ought to, because I'm a R.N.V.R. man myself. That's a
T.B.D., my friends!--torpedo-boat destroyer. What's more, far off as she
is, my experienced eye and sure knowledge tell me exactly what she is.
She's a class H. boat built last year--oil fuel--turbines--runs up to
thirty knots--and she's doing 'em, too, just now! Come on,
Copplestone--more stuff on this fire!"
"I don't think we need be uneasy," said Copplestone. "Miss Greyle thinks
that her mother will have raised a hue and cry after the _Pike_. This
torpedo thing is probably looking round for us. She--what's that?"
The sudden sharp crack of a gun came across the calm surface of the sea,
and the watchers turning from their fire towards the black object in the
distance saw a cloud of white smoke drifting away from it.
"Hooray!" shouted Vickers. "She's seen our smoke-pillar! Shove more on,
just to let her know we understand. Saved!--this time, anyway."
Half-an-hour later, a spick and span and eminently youthful-looking naval
lieutenant raised his cap to the three folk who stood eagerly awaiting
his approach at the edge of the surf.
"Miss Greyle? Mr. Vickers? Mr. Copplestone?" he asked as he sprang from
his boat and came up. "Right!--we're searching for you--had wireless
messages this morning. Where's the pirate, or whatever he is?"
"Somewhere away to the southward," answered Vickers, pointing into the
haze. "He was here two hours ago--but he's about as fast as they make
'em, and he's good reason to show a clean pair of heels. However, we've
ample grounds for believing him to have gone due south again. Where are
"Got the message off Dunnett Head, and we'll run you to Thurso," replied
the rescuer, motioning them to enter the boat. "Come on--our commander's
got some word or other for you. What's all this been?" he went on, gazing
at Audrey with youthful assurance as they moved away from the shore. "You
don't mean to say you've actually been kidnapped?"
"Kidnapped and marooned," replied Vickers. "And I hope you'll catch our
kidnapper--he's got a tremendous amount of property on him which belongs
to this lady, and hell make tracks for the other side of the Atlantic as
soon as he gets hold of some more which he's gone to collect."
The lieutenant regarded Audrey with still more interest. "Oh, all right,"
he said confidently. "He'll not get away. I guess they've wirelessed all
over the place--our message was from the Admiralty!"
"That's Sir Cresswell's doing," said Copplestone, turning to Audrey.
"Your mother must have wired to him. I wonder what the message is?" he
asked, facing the lieutenant. "Do you know?"
"Something about if you're found to tell you to get south as fast as
possible," he answered. "And we've worked that out for you. You can get
on by train from Thurso to Inverness, and from Inverness, of course,
you'll get the southern express. Well put you off at Thurso by two
o'clock--just time to give you such lunch as our table affords--bit
rough, you know. So you've really been all night on that island?" he went
on with unaffected curiosity. "What a lark!"
"You'd have had an opportunity of studying character if you'd been
with us," replied Vickers. "We lost a fine specimen of humanity two
"Tell about it aboard," said the lieutenant. "We'll be thankful--we've
been round this end-of-everywhere coast for a month and we're tired. It's
quite a Godsend to have a little adventure."
Copplestone had been right in surmising that Sir Cresswell Oliver had
bestirred himself to find him and his companions. They were presently
shown his message. They were to get to Norcaster as quickly as possible,
and to wire their whereabouts as soon as they were found. If, as seemed
likely, they were picked up on the north coast of Scotland, they were to
ask at Inverness railway station for telegrams. And to Inverness after
being landed at Thurso they betook themselves, while the torpedo-boat
destroyer set off to nose round for the _Pike_, in case she came that way
back from wherever she had gone to.
Copplestone came out of the station-master's office at Inverness with a
couple of telegrams and read their contents over to his companions in the
dining-room to which they adjourned.
"This is from Mrs. Greyle," he said. "'All right and much relieved by
wire from Thurso. Bring Audrey home as quick as possible.' That's good!
And this--Great Scott! This is from Gilling! Listen!--'Just heard from
Petherton of your rescue. Come straight and sharp Norcaster. Meet me at
the "Angel." Big things afoot. Spurge most anxious see you. Important
news. Gilling.' So things have been going on," he concluded, turning
the second telegram over to Vickers. "I suppose we'll have to travel
"Night express in an hour," replied Vickers. "We shall make Norcaster
about five-thirty tomorrow morning."
"Then let us wire the time of our arrival to Gilling. I'm anxious to know
what has brought him up there," said Copplestone. "And well wire to Mrs.
Greyle, too," he added, turning to Audrey. "She'll know then that you're
absolutely on the way."
"I wonder what we're on the way to?" remarked Vickers with a grim smile.
"It strikes me that our recent alarms and excursions will have been as
nothing to what awaits us at Norcaster."
What did await them on a cold, dismal morning at Norcaster was Gilling,
stamping up and down a windswept platform. And Gilling seized on
Copplestone almost before he could alight from the train.
"Come to the 'Angel' straight off!" he said. "Mrs. Greyle's there
awaiting her daughter. I've work for you and Vickers at once--that chap
Spurge is somewhere about the 'Angel,' too--been hanging round there
since yesterday, heavy with news that he'll give to nobody but you."
Such of the folk of the "Angel" hotel--a night porter, a waiter, a
chamber-maid--as were up and about that grey morning, wondered why the
two old gentlemen who had arrived from London the day before should rise
from their beds to hold a secret and mysterious conference with the
three young ones who, with a charming if tired-looking young lady, drove
up before the city clocks had struck six. But Sir Cresswell Oliver and
Mr. Petherton knew that there was no time to be lost, and as soon as
Audrey had been restored to and carried off by her mother to Mrs.
Greyle's room, they summoned Vickers and Copplestone to a private
parlour and demanded their latest news. Sir Cresswell listened eagerly,
and in silence, until Copplestone described the return of the _Pike_; at
that he broke his silence.
"That's precisely what I feared!" he exclaimed. "Of course, if she's been
hurriedly repainted and renamed, she stands a fair chance of getting
away. Our instructions to the patrol boats up there are to look for a
certain vessel, the _Pike_--naturally they won't look for anything else.
We must get the wireless to work at once."
"But there's this," said Copplestone. "They certainly fetched old
Chatfield to make him hand over the gold! They won't go away without
that! And he said that he'd hidden the gold somewhere near Scarhaven.
Therefore, they'll have to come down this coast to get it."
"Not necessarily," replied Sir Cresswell, with a knowing shake of the
head. "You may be sure they're alive to all the exigencies of the
situation. They could do several things once they'd got Chatfield on
board again. Some of them could land with him at some convenient port and
make him take them to where he's hidden the money; they could recapture
that and go off to some other port, to which the yacht had meanwhile been
brought round. If we only knew where Chatfield had planted that
"He said near Scarhaven, unmistakably," remarked Vickers.
"Near Scarhaven!" repeated Sir Cresswell, laughing dismally. "That's a
wide term--a very wide one. Behind Scarhaven, as you all know, are hills
and moors and valleys and ravines in which one could hide a Dreadnought!
Well, that's all I can think of--getting into communication with patrol
boats and coastguard stations all along the coast between here and Wick.
And that mayn't be the least good. Somebody may have escorted Chatfield
ashore after they left you yesterday, brought him hereabouts by rail or
motor-car, and the yacht may have made a wide detour round the Shetlands
and be now well on her way to the North Atlantic."
"But in that case--the money?" asked Copplestone.
"They would get hold of the money, take it clean away, and ship it from
Liverpool, or Glasgow, or--anywhere," replied Sir Cresswell. "You may be
sure they've plenty of resources at command, and that they'll work
secretly. Of course, we must keep a look out round about here for any
sign or reappearance of Chatfield, but, as I say, this country is so wild
that he and his companions can easily elude observation, especially as
they're sure to come by night. Still, we must do what we can, and at
once. But first, there are one or two things I want to ask you young
men--you said, Mr. Vickers, that Chatfield solemnly insisted to you that
he did not know that the man who had posed as Marston Greyle was not
"He did," replied Vickers, "and though Chatfield is an unmitigated old
scoundrel, I believe him."
"You do!" exclaimed Gilling, who was listening eagerly. "Oh, come!"
"I do--as a professional man," answered Vickers, stoutly, and with an
appealing glance at his brother solicitor. "Mr. Petherton will tell you
that we lawyers have a curious gift of intuition. With all Chatfield's
badness, I do really believe that the old fellow does not know whether
the man we'll call the Squire is Marston Greyle or not! He's
doubtful--he's puzzled--but he doesn't know."
"Odd!" murmured Sir Cresswell, after a minute's silence. "Odd! Very, very
odd! That shows that there's still some extraordinary mystery about this
which we haven't even guessed at. Well, now, another question--you got
the idea that some one else was aboard the yacht?"
"Some one other than Andrius--in authority--yes!" answered Vickers. "We
certainly thought that."
"Did you think it was the man we know as the Squire?" asked Sir
"We had a notion that he might be there," replied Vickers, with a glance
at Copplestone. "Especially after what happened to Chatfield. Of course,
we never saw him, or heard his voice, or saw a sign of him. Still, we
Sir Cresswell rose from his chair and motioned to Petherton.
"Well," he said, "I think you and I, Petherton, had better complete our
toilets, and then give a look in at the authorities here and find out if
anything has been received by wireless or from the coastguard stations
about the yacht. In the meantime," he added, turning to Vickers and
Copplestone, "Gilling can tell you what's been going on in your
absence--you'll learn from it that our impression is that the Squire, as
we call him, was on the _Pike_ with you."
The two elder men went away, and Copplestone turned to Gilling.
"What have you got?" he asked eagerly. "Live news!"
"Might have been livelier and more satisfactory," answered Gilling, "if
it hadn't been for the factor which none of us can help--luck! We tracked
"You did?" exclaimed Copplestone. "Where?"
"When I said we I should have said Swallow," continued Gilling. "You
remember that afternoon of our return from Bristol, Copplestone? It seems
ages away now, though as a matter of time it's only four days ago!--Well,
that afternoon Swallow, who had had two or three more keeping a sharp
look out for the Squire, got a telephone message from one of 'em saying
that he'd tracked his man to the Fragonard Club. I'd gone home to my
chambers, to rest a bit after our adventures at Bristol and Falmouth, so
Swallow had to act on his own initiative. He set off for the Fragonard
Club, and outside it met his man. This particular man had been keeping a
watch for days on that tobacconist's shop in Wardour Street. That
afternoon he suddenly saw the Squire leave it, by a side door. He
followed him to the Fragonard Club, watched him enter; then he himself
turned into a neighbouring bar and telephoned to Swallow. The Squire was
still in the Fragonard when Swallow got there: from that time he kept a
watch. The Squire remained in the Club for an hour--"
"Which proves," interrupted Copplestone, "that he's a member, and that I
ought to have followed up my attempt to get in there."
"Well, anyway," continued Gilling, "there he was, and thence he
eventually emerged, with a kit-bag. He got into a taxi, and Swallow heard
him order its driver to go to King's Cross. Now Swallow was there
alone--and he had just before that met his man scooting round to see if
there was a rear exit from the Fragonard, and he hadn't returned.
Swallow, of course, couldn't wait--every minute was precious. He
followed the Squire to King's Cross, and heard him book for
"Northborough!" exclaimed Copplestone, in surprise. "Not Norcaster? Ah,
well, Northborough's a port, too, isn't it?"
"Northborough is as near to Scarhaven as Norcaster is, you know," said
Gilling. "To Northborough he booked, anyhow. So did Swallow, who, now
that he'd got him, was going to follow him to the North Pole, if need be.
The train was just starting--Swallow had no time to communicate with me.
Also, the train didn't stop until it reached Grantham. There he sent me a
wire, saying he was on the track of his man. Well, they went on to
Northborough, where they arrived late in the evening. There--what is it,
Copplestone," he broke off, seeing signs of a desire to speak on
"You're talking of the very same afternoon and evening that I came
down--four evenings ago," said Copplestone. "My train was the four
o'clock--I got to Norcaster at ten--surely they didn't come on the
"I feel sure they did, but anyhow, these trains to the North are usually
very long ones, and you were probably in a different part," replied
Gilling. "Anyway, they got to Northborough soon after nine. Swallow
followed his man on to the platform, out to some taxi-cabs, and heard him
commission one of the chauffeurs to take him to Scarhaven. When they'd
gone Swallow got hold of another taxi, and told its driver to take him
to Scarhaven, too. Off they went--in a pitch-black night, I'm told--"
"We know that!" said Vickers with a glance at Copplestone. "We motored
from Norcaster--just about the same time."
"Well," continued Gilling, "it was at any rate so dark that Swallow's
driver, who appears to have been a very nervous chap, made very poor
progress. Also he took one or two wrong turnings. Finally he ran his car
into a guide post which stood where two roads forked--and there Swallow
was landed, scarcely halfway to Scarhaven. They couldn't get the car to
move, and it was some time before Swallow could persuade the landlord at
the nearest inn to hire out a horse and trap to him. Altogether, it was
near or just past midnight when he reached Scarhaven, and when he did get
there, it was to see the lights of a steamer going out of the bay."
"The _Pike_, of course," muttered Copplestone.
"Of course--and some men on the quay told him," continued Gilling. "Well,
that put Swallow in a fix. He was dead certain, of course, that his man
was on that yacht. However, he didn't want to rouse suspicion, so he
didn't ask any of those quayside men if they'd seen the Squire. Instead,
remembering what I'd told him about Mrs. Greyle he asked for her house
and was directed to it. He found Mrs. Greyle in a state of great anxiety.
Her daughter had gone with you two to the yacht and had never returned;
Mrs. Greyle, watching from her windows, had seen the yacht go out to
sea. Swallow found her, of course, seriously alarmed as to what had
happened. Of course, he told her what he had come down for and they
consulted. Next morning--"
"Stop a bit," interrupted Vickers. "Didn't Mrs. Greyle get any message
from the yacht about her daughter--Andrius said he'd sent one, anyway."
"A lie!" replied Gilling. "She got no message. The only consolation she
had was that you and Copplestone were with Miss Greyle. Well, first thing
next morning Swallow and Mrs. Greyle set every possible means to work.
They went to the police--they wired to places up the coast and down the
coast to keep a look out--and Swallow also wired full particulars to Sir
Cresswell Oliver, with the result that Sir Cresswell went to the naval
authorities and got them to set their craft up north to work. Having done
all this, and finding that he could be of no more service at Scarhaven,
Swallow returned to town to see me and to consult. Now, of course, we
were in a position by then to approach that Fragonard Club--"
"Ah!" exclaimed Copplestone. "Just so!"
"The man, whoever he is, had been there an hour on the day Swallow and
his man tracked him," continued Gilling. "Therefore, something must be
known of him. Swallow and I, armed with certain credentials, went there.
And--we could find out next to nothing. The hall porter there said he
dimly remembered such a gentleman coming in and going upstairs, but he
himself was new to his job, didn't know all the members--there are
hundreds of 'em--and he took this man for a regular habitue. A waiter
also had some sort of recollection of the man, and seeing him in
conversation with another man whom he, the waiter, knew better, though he
didn't know his name. Swallow is now moving everything to find that
man--to find anybody who knows our man--and something will come of it, in
the end--must do. In the meantime I came down here with Sir Cresswell and
Mr. Petherton, to be on the spot. And, from your information, things will
happen here! That hidden gold is the thing--they'll not leave that
without an effort to get it. If we could only find out where that is and
watch it--then our present object would be achieved."
"What is the present object?" asked Copplestone.
"Why," replied Gilling, "we've got warrants out against both Chatfield
and the Squire for the murder of Bassett Oliver!--the police here have
them in hand. Petherton's seen to that. And if they can only be laid
hands on--What is it?" he asked turning to a sleepy-eyed waiter who,
after a gentle tap at the door, put a shock head into the room.
"Somebody want me?"
"That there man, sir--you know," said the waiter. "Here again,
Gilling jumped up and gave Copplestone a look.
"That's Spurge!" he muttered. "He said he'd be back at day-break. Wait
here--I'll fetch him."
THE REAVER'S GLEN
Zachary Spurge, presently ushered in by Gilling, who carefully closed
the door behind himself and his companion, looked as if his recent
lodging had been of an even rougher nature than that in which
Copplestone had found him at their first meeting. The rough horseman's
cloak in which he was buttoned to the edge of a red neckerchief and a
stubbly chin was liberally ornamented with bits of straw, scraps of
furze and other odds and ends picked up in woods and hedge-rows. Spurge,
indeed, bore unmistakable evidence of having slept out in wild places
for some nights and his general atmosphere was little more respectable
than that of a scarecrow. But he grinned cheerfully at Copplestone--and
then frowned at Vickers.
"I didn't count for to meet no lawyers, gentlemen," he said, pausing on
the outer boundaries of the parlour, "I ain't a-goin' to talk before
"He's a grudge against me--I've had to appear against him once or twice,"
whispered Vickers to Copplestone. "You'd better soothe him down--I want
to know what he's got to tell."
"It's all right, Spurge," said Copplestone. "Come--Mr. Vickers is on our
side this time; he's one of us. You can say anything you like before
him--or Mr. Gilling either. We're all in it. Pull your chair up--here,
alongside of me, and tell us what you've been doing."
"Well, of course, if you puts it that way, Mr. Copplestone," replied
Spurge, coming to the table a little doubtfully. "Though I hadn't meant
to tell nobody but you what I've got to tell. However, I can see that
things is in such a pretty pass that this here ain't no one-man job--it's
a job as'll want a lot o' men! And I daresay lawyers and such-like is as
useful men in that way as you can lay hands on--no offence to you, Mr.
Vickers, only you see I've had experience o' your sort before. But if you
are taking a hand in this here--well, all right. But now, gentlemen," he
continued dropping into a chair at the table and laying his fur cap on
its polished surface, "afore ever I says a word, d'ye think that I could
be provided with a cup o' hot coffee, or tea, with a stiff dose o' rum in
it? I'm that cold and starved--ah, if you'd been where I been this last
twelve hours or so, you'd be perished."
The sleepy waiter was summoned to attend to Spurge's wants--until they
were satisfied the poacher sat staring fixedly at his cap and
occasionally shaking his head. But after a first hearty gulp of strongly
fortified coffee the colour came back into his face, he sighed with
relief, and signalled to the three watchful young men to draw their
chairs close to his.
"Ah!" he said, setting down his cup. "And nobody never wanted aught more
badly than I wanted that! And now then--the door being shut on us quite
safe, ain't it, gentlemen?--no eavesdroppers?--well, this here it is. I
don't know what you've been a-doing of these last few days, nor what may
have happened to each and all--but I've news. Serious news--as I reckons
it to be. Of--Chatfield!"
Copplestone kicked Vickers under the table and gave him a look.
"Chatfield again!" he murmured. "Well, go on, Spurge."
"There's a lot to go on with, too, guv'nor," said Spurge, after taking
another evidently welcome drink. "And I'll try to put it all in order, as
it were--same as if I was in a witness-box," he added, with a sly glance
at Vickers. "You remember that day of the inquest on the actor gentleman,
guv'nor? Well, of course, when I went to give evidence at Scarhaven, at
that there inquest, I never expected but what the police 'ud collar me at
the end of it. However, I didn't mean that they should, if I could help
it, so I watched things pretty close, intending to slip off when I saw a
chance. Well, now, you'll bear in mind that there was a bit of a dust-up
when the thing was over--some on 'em cheering the Squire and some on 'em
grousing about the verdict, and between one and t'other I popped out and
off, and you yourself saw me making for the moors. Of course, me, knowing
them moors back o' Scarhaven as I do, it was easy work to make myself
scarce on 'em in ten minutes--not all the police north o' the Tees could
ha' found me a quarter of an hour after I'd hooked it out o' that
schoolroom! Well, but the thing then was--where to go next? 'Twasn't no
good going to Hobkin's Hole again--now that them chaps knew I was in the
neighbourhood they'd soon ha' smoked me out o' there. Once I thought of
making for Norcaster here, and going into hiding down by the docks--I've
one or two harbours o' refuge there. But I had reasons for wishing to
stop in my own country--for a bit at any rate. And so, after reckoning
things up, I made for a spot as Mr. Vickers there'll know by name of the
"Good place, too, for hiding," remarked Vickers with a nod.
"Best place on this coast--seashore and inland," said Spurge. "And as you
two London gentlemen doesn't know it, I'll tell you about it. If you was
to go out o' Scarhaven harbour and turn north, you'd sail along our coast
line up here to the mouth of Norcaster Bay and you'd think there was
never an inlet between 'em. But there is. About half-way between
Scarhaven and Norcaster there's a very narrow opening in the cliffs that
you'd never notice unless you were close in shore, and inside that
opening there's a cove that's big enough to take a thousand-ton
vessel--aye, and half-a-dozen of 'em! It was a favourite place for
smugglers in the old days, and they call it Darkman's Dene to this day in
memory of a famous old smuggler that used it a good deal. Well, now, at
the land end of that cove there's a narrow valley that runs up to the
moorland and the hills, full o' rocks and crags and precipices and such
like--something o' the same sort as Hobkin's Hole but a deal wilder, and
that's known as the Reaver's Glen, because in other days the
cattle-lifters used to bring their stolen goods, cattle and sheep, down
there where they could pen 'em in, as it were. There's piles o' places in
that glen where a man can hide--I picked out one right at the top, at the
edge of the moors, where there's the ruins of an old peel tower. I could
get shelter in that old tower, and at the same time slip out of it if
need be into one of fifty likely hiding places amongst the rocks. I got
into touch with my cousin Jim Spurge--the one-eyed chap at the
'Admiral's Arms,' Mr. Copplestone, that night--and I got in a supply of
meat and drink, and there I was. And--as things turned out, Chatfield had
got his eye on the very same spot!"
Spurge paused for a minute, and picking out a match from a stand which
stood on the table, began to trace imaginary lines on the mahogany.
"This is how things is there," he said, inviting his companions'
attention. "Here, like, is where this peel tower stands--that's a thick
wood as comes close up to its walls--that there is a road as crosses the
moors and the wood about, maybe, a hundred yards or so behind the tower
on the land side. Now, there, one afternoon as I was in that there tower,
a-reading of a newspaper that Jim had brought me the night before, I
hears wheels on that moorland road, and I looked out through a convenient
loophole, and who should I see but Peter Chatfield in that old pony trap
of his. He was coming along from the direction of Scarhaven, and when he
got abreast of the tower he pulled up, got out, left his pony to crop the
grass and came strolling over in my direction. Of course, I wasn't
afraid of him--there's so many ways in and out of that old peel as there
is out of a rabbit-warren--besides, I felt certain he was there on some
job of his own. Well, he comes up to the edge of the glen, and he looks
into it and round it, and up and down at the tower, and he wanders about
the heaps of fallen masonry that there is there, and finally he puts
thumbs in his armhole and went slowly back to his trap. 'But you'll be
coming back, my old swindler!' says I to myself. 'You'll be back again I
doubt not at all!' And back he did come--that very night. Oh, yes!"
"Alone?" asked Copplestone.
"A-lone!" replied Spurge. "It had got to be dark, and I was thinking of
going to sleep, having nought else to do and not expecting cousin Jim
that night, when I heard the sound of horses' feet and of wheels. So I
cleared out of my hole to where I could see better. Of course, it was
Chatfield--same old trap and pony--but this time he came from Norcaster
way. Well, he gets out, just where he'd got out before, and he leads the
pony and trap across the moor to close by the tower. I could tell by the
way that trap went over the grass that there was some sort of a load in
it and it wouldn't have surprised me, gentlemen, if the old reptile had
brought a dead body out of it. After a bit, I hear him taking something
out, something which he bumped down on the ground with a thump--I counted
nine o' them thumps. And then after a bit I heard him begin a moving of
some of the loose masonry what lies in such heaps at the foot o' the peel
tower--dark though it was there was light enough in the sky for him to
see to do that. But after he'd been at it some time, puffing and groaning
and grunting, he evidently wanted to see better, and he suddenly flashed
a light on things from one o' them electric torches. And then I see--me
being not so many yards away from him--nine small white wood boxes, all
clamped with metal bands, lying in a row on the grass, and I see, too,
that Chatfield had been making a place for 'em amongst the stones.
Yes--that was it--nine small white wood boxes--so small, considering,
that I wondered what made 'em so heavy."
Copplestone favoured Vickers with another quiet kick. They were,
without doubt, hearing the story of the hidden gold, and it was
"Well," continued Spurge. "Into the place he'd cleared out them boxes
went, and once they were all in he heaped the stones over 'em as natural
as they were before, and he kicked a lot o' small loose stones round
about and over the place where he'd been standing. And then the old
sinner let out a great groan as if something troubled him, and he fetched
a bottle out of his pocket and took a good pull at whatever was in it,
after which, gentlemen, he wiped his forehead with his handkerchief and
groaned again. He'd had his bit of light on all that time, but he doused
it then, and after that he led the old pony away across the bit of moor
to the road, and presently in he gets and drives slowly away towards
Scarhaven. And so there was I, d'ye see, Mr. Copplestone, left, as it
were, sold guardian of--what?"
The three young men exchanged glances with each other while Spurge
refreshed himself with his fortified coffee, and their eyes asked similar
"Ah!" observed Copplestone at last. "You don't know what, Spurge? You
haven't examined one of those boxes?"
Spurge set his cup down and gave his questioner a knowing look.
"I'll tell you my line o' conduct, guv'nor," he said. "So certain sure
have I been that something 'ud come o' this business of hiding them boxes
and that something valuable is in 'em that I've taken partiklar care ever
since Chatfield planted 'em there that night never to set foot within a
dozen yards of 'em. Why? 'Cause I know he'll ha' left footprints of his
own there, and them footprints may be useful. No, sir!--them boxes has
been guarded careful ever since Chatfield placed 'em where he did.
For--Chatfield's never been back!"
"Never back, eh?" said Copplestone, winking at the other two.
"Never been back--self nor spirit, substance nor shadow!--since that
night," replied Spurge. "Unless, indeed, he's been back since four
o'clock this morning, when I left there. However, if he's been 'twixt
then and now, my cousin Jim Spurge, he was there. Jim's been helping me
to watch. When I first came in here to see if I could hear anything about
you--Jim having told me that some London gentlemen was up here again--I
left him in charge. And there he is now. And now you know all I can tell
you, gentlemen, and as I understand there's some mystery about Chatfield
and that he's disappeared, happen you'll know how to put two and two
together. And if I'm of any use--"
"Spurge," said Gilling. "How far is it to this Reaver's Glen--or, rather
to that peel tower?"
"Matter of eight or nine miles, guv'nor, over the moors," replied Spurge.
"How did you come in then?" asked Gilling.
"Cousin Jim Spurge's bike--down in the stable-yard, now," answered
Spurge. "Did it comfortable in under the hour."
"I think we ought to go out there--some of us," said Gilling. "We
At that moment the door opened and Sir Cresswell Oliver came in, holding
a bit of flimsy paper in his hand. He glanced at Spurge and then beckoned
the three young men to join him.
"I've had a wireless message from the North Sea--and it puzzles me," he
said. "One of our ships up there has had news of what is surely the
_Pike_ from a fishing vessel. She was seen late yesterday afternoon going
due east--due east, mind you! If that was she--and I'm sure of it!--our
quarry's escaping us."
THE PEEL TOWER
Gilling took the message from Sir Cresswell and thoughtfully read
it over. Then he handed it back and motioned the old seaman to look
"I think you ought to know what this man has just told us, sir," he said.
"We've got a story from him that exactly fits in with what Chatfield told
Mr. Vickers when the _Pike_ returned to carry him off yesterday.
Chatfield, you'll remember, said that the gold he'd withdrawn from the
bank is hidden somewhere--well, there's no doubt that this man Zachary
Spurge knows where it is hidden. It's there now--and the presumption is,
of course, that these people on the _Pike_ will certainly come in to this
coast--somehow!--to get it. So in that case--eh?"
"Gad!--that's valuable!" said Sir Cresswell, glancing again at Spurge,
and with awakened interest. "Let me hear this story."
Copplestone epitomized Spurge's account, while the poacher listened
admiringly, checking off the main points and adding a word or two where
he considered the epitome lacking.
"Very smart of you, my man," remarked Sir Cresswell, nodding benevolently
at Spurge when the story was over. "You're in a fair way to find yourself
well rewarded. Now gentlemen!" he continued, sitting down at the table,
and engaging the attention of the others, "I think we had better have a
council of war. Petherton has just gone to speak to the police
authorities about those warrants which have been taken out against
Chatfield and the impostor, but we can go on in his absence. Now there
seems to be no doubt that those chests which Spurge tells us of contain
the gold which Chatfield procured from the bank, and concerning which he
seems to have played his associates more tricks than one. However, his
associates, whoever they are--and mind you, gentlemen, I believe there
are more men than Chatfield and the Squire in all this!--have now got a
tight grip on Chatfield, and they'll force him to show them where that
gold is--they'll certainly not give up the chances of fifty thousand
pounds without a stiff try to get it. So--I'm considering all the
possibilities and probabilities--we may conclude that sooner or
later--sooner, most likely--somebody will visit this old peel tower that
Spurge talks of. But--who? For we're faced with this wireless message.
I've no doubt the vessel here referred to is the _Pike_--no doubt at all.
Now she was seen making due east, near this side of the Dogger Bank, late
last night--so that it would look as if these men were making for
Denmark, or Germany, rather than for this coast. But since receiving this
message, I have thought that point out. The _Pike_ is, I believe, a very
"Very," answered Vickers. "She can do twenty-seven or eight knots an
"Exactly," said Sir Cresswell. "Then in that case they may have put in
at some Northern port, landed Chatfield and two or three men to keep an
eye on him and to accompany him to this old tower, while the _Pike_
herself has gone off till a more fitting opportunity arises of dodging in
somewhere to pick up the chests which Chatfield and his party will in the
meantime have removed. From what I have seen of it this is such a wild
part of the coast that Chatfield and such a small gang as I am imagining,
could easily come back here, keep themselves hidden and recover the
chests without observation. So our plain duty is to now devise some plan
for going to the Reaver's Glen and keeping a watch there until somebody
"There's another thing that's possible, sir," said Vickers, who had
listened carefully to all that Sir Cresswell had said. "The _Pike_ is
fitted for wireless telegraphy."
"Yes?" said Sir Cresswell expectantly. "And you think--?"
"You suggested that there may be more people than Chatfield and the
Squire in at this business," continued Vickers. "Just so! We--Copplestone
and myself--know very well that the skipper of the _Pike_, Andrius, is in
it: that's undeniable. But there may be others--or one other, or two--on
shore here. And as the _Pike_ can communicate by wireless, those on board
her may have sent a message to their shore confederates to remove those
"Capital suggestion!" said Sir Cresswell, who saw this point at once. "So
we'd better lose no time in arranging our expedition out there.
Spurge--you're the man who knows the spot best--what ought we to do about
getting there--in force?"
Spurge, obviously flattered at being called upon to advise a great man,
entered into the discussion with enthusiasm.
"Your honour mustn't go in force at all!" he said. "What's wanted,
gentlemen, is--strategy! Now if you'll let me put it to you, me knowing
the lie of the land, this is what had ought to be done. A small party
ought to go--with me to lead. We'll follow the road that cuts across the
moorland to a certain point; then we'll take a by-track that gets you to
High Nick; there we'll take to a thick bit o' wood and coppice that runs
right up to the peel tower. Nobody'll track us, nor see us from any
point, going that way. Three or four of us--these here young gentlemen,
now, and me--'ll be enough for the job--if armed. A revolver apiece your
honour--that'll be plenty. And as for the rest--what you might call a
reserve force--your honour said something just now about some warrants.
Is the police to be in at it, then?"
"The police hold warrants for the two men we've been chiefly talking
about," replied Sir Cresswell.
"Well let your honour come on a bit later with not more than three police
plain-clothes fellows--as far as High Nick," said Spurge. "The police'll
know where that is. Let 'em wait there--don't let 'em come further until
I send back a message by my cousin Jim, You see, guv'nor," he added,
turning to Copplestone, whom he seemed to regard as his own special
associate, "we don't know how things may be. We might have to wait hours.
As I view it, me having listened careful to what his honour the Admiral
there says--best respects to your honour--them chaps'll never come a-nigh
that place till it's night again, or at any rate, dusk, which'll be about
seven o'clock this evening. But they may watch, during the day, and it
'ud be a foolish thing to have a lot of men about. A small force such as
I can hide in that wood, and another in reserve at High Nick, which,
guv'nor, is a deep hole in the hill-top--that's the ticket!"
"Spurge is right," said Sir Cresswell. "You youngsters go with him--get a
motor-car--and I'll see about following you over to High Nick with the
detectives. Now, what about being armed?"
"I've a supply of service revolvers at my office, down this very street,"
replied Vickers. "I'll go and get them. Here! Let's apportion our duties.
I'll see to that. Gilling, you see about the car. Copplestone, you order
some breakfast for us--sharp."
"And I'll go round to the police," said Sir Cresswell. "Now, be careful
to take care of yourselves--you don't know what you've got to deal with,
The group separated, and Copplestone went off to find the hotel people
and order an immediate breakfast. And passing along a corridor on his way
downstairs he encountered Mrs. Greyle, who came out of a room near by and
started at sight of him.
"Audrey is asleep," she whispered, pointing to the door she had just
left. "Thank you for taking care of her. Of course I was afraid--but
that's all over now. And now the thing is--how are things?"
"Coming to a head, in my opinion," answered Copplestone. "But how or in
what way, I don't know. Anyway, we know where that gold is--and they'll
make an attempt on it--that's sure! So--we shall be there."
"But what fools Peter Chatfield and his associates must be--from their
own villainous standpoint--to have encumbered themselves with all that
weight of gold!" exclaimed Mrs. Greyle. "The folly of it seems incredible
when they could have taken it in some more easily portable form!"
"Ah!" laughed Copplestone. "But that just shows Chatfield's extraordinary
deepness and craft! He no doubt persuaded his associates that it was
better to have actual bullion where they were going, and tricked them
into believing that he'd actually put it aboard the _Pike_! If it hadn't
been that they examined the boxes which he put on the _Pike_ and found
they contained lead or bricks, the old scoundrel would have collared the
real stuff for himself."
"Take care that he doesn't collar it yet," said Mrs. Greyle with a laugh
as she went into her own room. "Chatfield is resourceful enough
for--anything. And--take care of yourselves!"
That was the second admonition to be careful, and Copplestone thought of
both, as, an hour later, he, Gilling, Vickers and Spurge sped along the
desolate, wind-swept moorland on their way to the Reaver's Glen. It was
a typically North Country autumnal morning, cold, raw, rainy; the tops of
the neighbouring hills were capped with dark clouds; sea-birds called
dismally across the heather; the sea, seen in glimpses through vistas of
fir and pine, looked angry and threatening.
"A fit morning for a do of this sort!" exclaimed Gilling suddenly. "Is it
pretty bare and bleak at this tower of yours, Spurge?"
"You'll be warm enough, guv'nor, where I shall put you," answered Spurge.
"One as has knocked about these woods and moors as much as I've had to
knows as many places to hide his nose in as a fox does! I'll put you by
that tower where you'll be snug enough, and warm enough, too--and where
nobody'll see you neither. And here's High Nick and out we get."
Leaving the car in a deep cutting of the hills and instructing the driver
to await the return of one or other of them at a wayside farmstead a mile
back, the three adventurers followed Spurge into the wood which led to
the top of the Beaver's Glen. The poacher guided them onward by narrow
and winding tracks through the undergrowth for a good half-mile; then he
led them through thickets in which there was no paths at all; finally,
after a gradual and cautious advance behind a high hedge of dense
evergreen, he halted them at a corner of the wood and motioned them to
look out through a loosely-laced network of branches.
"Here we are!" he whispered. "Tower--Reaver's Glen--sea in the distance.
Lone spot, ain't it, gentlemen?"
Copplestone and Gilling, who had never seen this part of the coast
before, looked out on the scene with lively interest. It was certainly a
prospect of romance and of wild, almost savage beauty on which they
gazed. Immediately in front of them, at a distance of twenty to thirty
yards, stood the old peel tower, a solid square mass of grey stone,
intact as to its base and its middle stories, ruinous and crumbling from
thence to what was left of its battlements and the turret tower at one
angle. The fallen stone lay in irregular heaps on the ground at its foot;
all around it were clumps of furze and bramble. From the level plateau on
which it stood the Glen fell away in horseshoe formation gradually
narrowing and descending until it terminated in a thick covert of fir and
pine that ran down to the land end of the cove of which Spurge had told
them. And beyond that stretched the wide expanse of sea, with here and
there a red-sailed fishing boat tossing restlessly on the white-capped
waves, and over that and the land was a chill silence, broken only by the
occasional cry of the sea-birds and the bleating of the mountain sheep.
"A lone spot indeed!" said Gilling in a whisper. "Spurge, where is that
"Other side of the tower--in an angle of the old courtyard," replied
Spurge, "Can't see the spot from here."
"And where's that road you told us about?" asked Copplestone. "The
"Top o' the bank yonder--beyond the tower," said Spurge. "Runs round
yonder corner o' this wood and goes right round it to High Nick, where
we've cut across from. Hush now, all of you, gentlemen--I'm going to
Screwing up his mobile face into a strange contortion, Spurge emitted
from his puckered lips a queer cry--a cry as of some trapped animal--so
shrill and realistic that his hearers started.
"What on earth's that represent?" asked Gilling. "It's blood-curdling?"
"Hare, with a stoat's teeth in its neck," answered Spurge. "H'sh--I'll
call him again."
No answer came to the first nor to the second summons--after a third,
equally unproductive, Spurge looked at his companions with a scared face.
"That's a queer thing, guv'nors!" he muttered. "Can't believe as how our
Jim 'ud ever desert a post. He promised me faithfully as how he'd stick
here like grim death until I came back. I hope he ain't had a fit, nor
aught o' that sort--he ain't a strong chap at the best o' times, and--"
"You'd better take a careful look round, Spurge," said Vickers.
"Here--shall I come with you?"
But Spurge waved a hand to them to stay where they were. He himself crept
along the back of the hedge until he came to a point opposite the nearest
angle of the tower. And suddenly he gave a great cry--human enough this
time!--and the three young men rushing forward found him standing by the
body of a roughly-clad man in whom Copplestone recognized the one-eyed
odd-job man of the "Admiral's Arms."
The man was lying face downwards in the grass and weeds which clustered
thickly at the foot of the hedgerow, and on the line of rough,
weatherbeaten neck which showed between his fur cap and his turned-up
collar there was a patch of dried blood. Very still and apparently
lifeless he looked, but Vickers suddenly bent down, laid strong hands on
him and turned him over.
"He's not dead!" he exclaimed. "Only unconscious from a crack on his
skull. Gilling!--where's that brandy you brought?--hand me the flask."
Zachary Spurge watched in silence as Vickers and Gilling busied
themselves in reviving the stricken man. Then he quickly pulled
Copplestone's sleeve and motioned him away from the group.
"Guv'nor!" he muttered. "There's been foul play here--and all along of
them nine boxes--that I'll warrant. Look you here, guv'nor--Jim's been
dragged to where we found him--dragged through this here gap in the hedge
and flung where he's lying. See--there's the plain marks, all through the
grass and stuff. Come on, guv'nor--let's see where they lead."
The marks of a heavy, inanimate body having been dragged through the wet
grass were evidence enough, and Copplestone and Spurge followed them to a
corner of the old tower where they ceased. Spurge glanced round that
corner and uttered a sharp exclamation.
"Just what I expected!" he said. "Leastways, what I expected as soon as I
see Jim a-lying there. Guv'nor, the stuff's gone!"
He drew Copplestone after him and pointed to a corner of the weed-grown
courtyard where a cavity had been made in the mass of fallen masonry and
the stones taken from it lay about just as they had been displaced and
"That's where the nine boxes were," he continued. "Well, there ain't one
of 'em there now! Naught but the hole where they was! Well--this must ha'
been during the early morning--after I left Jim to go into Norcaster. And
of course him as put the stuff there must be him as fetched it
away--Chatfield. Let's see if there's footmarks about, guv'nor."
"Wait a bit," said Copplestone. "We must be careful about that. Move
warily. We 'd better do it systematically. There'd have to be some sort
of a trap, a vehicle, to carry away those chests. Where's the nearest
point of that road you spoke of?"
"Up there," replied Spurge, pointing to a flanking bank of heather. "But
they--or him--wasn't forced to come that way, guv'nor. He--or them--could
come up from that cove down yonder. It wouldn't surprise me if that there
yacht--the _Pike_, you know--had turned on her tracks and come in here
during the night. It's not more than a mile from this tower down to the
At that moment Vickers called to them, and they went back to find Jim
Spurge slowly opening his eyes and looking round him with consciousness
of his company. His one eye lightened a little as he caught sight of
Zachary, and the poacher bent down to him.
"Jim, old man!" he said soothingly. "How are yer, Jim? Yer been hit by
somebody. Who was it, Jim?"
"Give him a drop more brandy and lift him up a bit," counselled Gilling.
But it needed more than a mere drop of brandy, more than cousinly words
of adjuration, to bring the wounded man back to a state of speech. And
when at last he managed to make a feeble response, it was only to mutter
some incoherent and disjointed sentences about and being struck down from
behind--after which he again relapsed into semi-unconsciousness.
"That's it guv'nor," muttered Spurge, nudging Copplestone. "That's the
ticket! Struck down from behind--that's what happened to him. Unawares,
so to speak, I can reckon of it up--easy. They comes in the
darkness--after I'd left him here. He hears of 'em, as he says,
a-moving about. Then he no doubt Starts moving about--watching 'em, as
far as he can see. Then one of 'em gives him this crack on the
skull--life-preserver if you ask me--and down he goes! And then--they
drag him in here and leaves him. Don't care whether he's a goner or
not--not they! Well, an' what does it prove? That there's been more
than one of 'em, guv'nor. And in my opinion, where they've come from
He pointed down the glen in the direction of the sea, and the three
young men who were considerably exercised by this sudden turn of events
and the disappearance of the chests, looked after his out-stretched hand
and then at each other.
"Well, we can't stand here doing nothing," said Gilling at last. "Look
here, we'd better divide forces. This chap'll have to be removed and got
to some hospital. Vickers!--I guess you're the quickest-footed of the
lot--will you run back to High Nick and tell that chauffeur to bring his
car round here? If Sir Cresswell and the police are there, tell them
what's happened. Spurge--you go down the glen there, and see if you can
see anything of any suspicious-looking craft in that bay you told us of.
Copplestone, we can't do any more for this man just now--let's look
round. This is a queer business," he went on when they had all departed,
and he and Copplestone were walking towards the tower. "The gold's gone,
"No sign of it here, anyway," answered Copplestone, leading him into the
ruinous courtyard and pointing to the cavity in the fallen masonry.
"That's where it was placed by Chatfield, according to Zachary Spurge."
"And of course Chatfield's removed it during the night," remarked
Gilling. "That message which Sir Cresswell read us must have been all
wrong--the _Pike's_ come south and she's been somewhere about--maybe been
in that cove at the end of the glen--though she'll have cleared out of it
hours ago!" he concluded disappointedly. "We're too late!"
"That theory's not necessarily correct," replied Copplestone. "Sir
Cresswell's message may have been quite right. For all we know the folks
on the Pike had confederates on shore. Go carefully, Gilling--let's see
if we can make out anything in the way of footprints."
The ground in the courtyard was grassless, a flooring of grit and loose
stone, on which no impression could well be made by human foot. But
Copplestone, carefully prospecting around and going a little way up the
bank which lay between the tower and the moorland road, suddenly saw
something in the black, peat-like earth which attracted his attention and
he called to his companion.
"I say!" he exclaimed. "Look at this! There!--that's unmistakable enough.
And fresh, too!"
Gilling bent down, looked, and stared at Copplestone with a question
in his eyes.
"By Gad!" he said. "A woman!"
"And one who wears good and shapely footwear, too," remarked Copplestone.
"That's what you'd call a slender and elegant foot. Here it is
again--going up the bank. Come on!"
There were more traces of this wearer of elegant foot-gear on the soft
earth of the bank which ran between the moorland and the stone-strewn
courtyard--more again on the edges of the road itself. There, too, were
plain signs that a motor-car of some sort had recently been pulled up
opposite the tower--Gilling pointed to the indentations made by the
studded wheels and to droppings of oil and petrol on the gravelly soil.
"That's evident enough," he said. "Those chests have been fetched away
during the night, by motor, and a woman's been in at it! Confederates, of
course. Now then, the next thing is, which way did that motor go with its
They followed the tracks for a short distance along the road, until,
coming to a place where it widened at a gateway leading into the wood,
they saw that the car had there been backed and turned. Gilling carefully
examined the marks.
"That car came from Norcaster and it's gone back to Norcaster," he
affirmed presently. "Look here!--they came up the hill at the side of the
wood--here they backed the car towards that gate, and then ran it
backwards till they were abreast of the tower--then, when they'd loaded
up with those chests they went straight off by the way they'd come. Look
at the tracks--plain enough."
"Then we'd better get down towards Norcaster ourselves," said
Copplestone. "Call Spurge back--he'll find nothing in that cove. This job
has been done from land. And we ought to be on the track of these
people--they've had several hours start already."
By this time Zachary Spurge had been recalled, Vickers had brought the
car round from High Nick, and the injured man was carefully lifted into
it and driven away. But at High Nick itself they met another car,
hurrying up from Norcaster, and bringing Sir Cresswell Oliver and three
other men who bore the unmistakable stamp of the police force. In one of
them Copplestone recognized the inspector from Scarhaven.
The two cars met and stopped alongside each other, and Sir Cresswell,
with one sharp glance at the rough bandage which Vickers had fastened
round Jim Spurge's head, rapped out a question.
"Gone!" replied Gilling, with equal brusqueness. "Came in a motor, during
the night, soon after Zachary Spurge left Jim. They hit him pretty hard
over his head and left him unconscious. Of course they've carried off the
boxes. Car appears to have gone to Norcaster. Hadn't you better turn?"
Sir Cresswell pointed to the Scarhaven police inspector.
"Here's news from Scarhaven," he said, bending forward to the other car,
"The inspector's just brought it. The Squire--whoever he was--is dead.
They found his body this morning, lying at the foot of a cliff near the
Keep. Foul play?--that's what you don't know, eh, inspector?"
"Can't say at all, sir," answered the inspector. "He might have been
thrown down, he might have fallen down--it's a bad place. Anyway, what
the doctor said, just before I hurried in here to tell Mrs. Greyle, as
the next relative that we know of, is that he'd been dead some days--the
body, you see, was lying in a thicket at the foot of the cliff."
"Some days!" exclaimed Copplestone, with a look at Gilling. "Days?"
"Four or five days at least, sir," replied the inspector. "So the doctor
thinks. The place is a cliff between the high road from Northborough and
the house itself. There's a short cut across the park to the house from
that road. It looks as if--"
"Ah!" interrupted Gilling. "It's clear how that happened, then. He took
that short cut, when he came from Northborough that night! But--if he's
dead, who's engineering all this? There's the fact, those chests of gold
have been removed from that old tower since Zachary Spurge left his
cousin in charge there early this morning. Everything looks as if they'd
been carried to Norcaster. Therefore--"
"Turn this car round," commanded Sir Cresswell. "Of course, we must get
back to Norcaster. But what's to be done there?"
The two cars went scurrying back to the old shipping town. When at
last they had 'deposited the injured man at a neighbouring hospital
and came to a stop near the "Angel," Zachary Spurge pulled
Copplestone's sleeve, and with a look full of significance, motioned
him aside to a quiet place.
The quiet place was a narrow alley, which opening out of the Market
Square in which the car had come to a halt, suddenly twisted away into a
labyrinth of ancient buildings that lay between the centre of the town
and the river. Not until Spurge had conducted Copplestone quite away from
their late companions did he turn and speak; when he spoke his words were
accompanied by a glance which suggested mystery as well as confidence.
"Guv'nor!" he said. "What's going to be done?"
"Have you pulled me down here to ask that?" exclaimed Copplestone, a
little impatiently. "Good heavens, man, with all these complications
arising--the gold gone, the Squire dead--why, there'll have to be a
pretty deep consultation, of course. We'd better get back to it."
But Spurge shook his head.
"Not me, guv'nor!" he said resolutely. "I ain't no opinion o'
consultations with lawyers and policemen--plain clothes or otherwise.
They ain't no mortal good whatever, guv'nor, when it comes to horse
sense! 'Cause why? 'Tain't their fault--it's the system. They can't
do nothing, start nothing, suggest nothing!--they can only do things
in the official, cut-and-dried, red-tape way, Guv'nor--you and me
can do better."
"Well?" asked Copplestone.
"Listen!" continued Spurge. "There ain't no doubt that that gold was
carried off early this morning--must ha' been between the time I left Jim
and sun-up, 'cause they'd want to do the job in darkness. Ain't no
reasonable doubt, neither, that the motor-car what they used came here
into Norcaster. Now, guv'nor, I ask you--where is it possible they'd make
for? Not a railway station, 'cause them boxes 'ud be conspicuous and easy
traced when inquiry was made. And yet they'd want to get 'em away--as
soon as possible. Very well--what's the other way o' getting any stuff
out o' Norcaster? What? Why--that!"
He jerked his thumb in the direction of a patch of grey water which shone
dully at the end of the alley and while his thumb jerked his eye winked.
"The river!" he went on. "The river, guv'nor! Don't this here river,
running into the free and bounding ocean six miles away, offer the best
chance? What we want to do is to take a look round these here docks and
quays and wharves--keeping our eyes open--and our ears as well. Come on
with me, guv'nor--I know places all along this riverside where you could
hide the Bank of England till it was wanted--so to speak."
"But the others?" suggested Copplestone. "Hadn't we better fetch them?"
"No!" retorted Spurge, assertively. "Two on us is enough. You trust to
me, guv'nor--I'll find out something. I know these docks--and all that's
alongside 'em. I'd do the job myself, now--but it'll be better to have
somebody along of me, in case we want a message sending for help or
anything of that nature. Come on--and if I don't find out before noon if
there's any queer craft gone out o' this since morning--why, then, I
ain't what I believe myself to be."
Copplestone, who had considerable faith in the poacher's shrewdness,
allowed himself to be led into the lowest part of the town--low in more
than one sense of the word. Norcaster itself, as regards its ancient
and time-hallowed portions, its church, its castle, its official
buildings and highly-respectable houses, stood on the top of a low
hill; its docks and wharves and the mean streets which intersected them
had been made on a stretch of marshland that lay between the foot of
that hill and the river. And down there was the smell of tar and of
merchandise, and narrow alleys full of sea-going men and raucous-voiced
women, and queer nooks and corners, and ships being laden and ships
being stripped of their cargoes and such noise and confusion and
inextricable mingling and elbowing that Copplestone thought it was as
likely to find a needle in a haystack as to make anything out relating
to the quest they were engaged in.
But Zachary Spurge, leading him in and out of the throngs on the wharves,
now taking a look into a dock, now inspecting a quay, now stopping to
exchange a word or two with taciturn gentlemen who sucked their pipes at
the corners of narrow streets, now going into shady-looking public houses
by one door and coming out at another, seemed to be remarkably well
satisfied with his doings and kept remarking to his companion that they
would hear something yet. Nevertheless, by noon they had heard nothing,
and Copplestone, who considered casual search of this sort utterly
purposeless, announced that he was going to more savoury neighborhoods.
"Give it another turn, guv'nor," urged Spurge. "Have a bit o' faith in
me, now! You see, guv'nor, I've an idea, a theory, as you might term it,
of my very own, only time's too short to go into details, like. Trust me
a bit longer, guv'nor--there's a spot or two down here that I'm fair
keen on taking a look at--come on, guv'nor, once more!--this is
He drew his unwilling companion round a corner of the wharf which they
were just then patrolling and showed him a narrow creek which, hemmed in
by ancient buildings, some of them half-ruinous, sail-lofts, and sheds
full of odds and ends of merchandise, cut into the land at an irregular
angle and was at that moment affording harbourage to a mass of small
vessels, just then lying high and dry on the banks from which the tide
had retreated. Along the side of this creek there was just as much
crowding and confusion as on the wider quays; men were going in and out
of the sheds and lofts; men were busy about the sides of the small craft.
And again the feeling of uselessness came over Copplestone.
"What's the good of all this, Spurge!" he exclaimed testily. "You'll
Spurge suddenly laid a grip on his companion's elbow and twisted him
aside into a narrow entry between the sheds.
"That's the good!" he answered in an exulting voice. "Look there,
guv'nor! Look at that North Sea tug--that one, lying out there! Whose
face is, now a-peeping out o' that hatch? Come, now?"
Copplestone looked in the direction which Spurge indicated. There, lying
moored to the wharf, at a point exactly opposite a tumble-down sail-loft,
was one of those strongly-built tugs which ply between the fishing fleets
and the ports. It was an eminently business-looking craft, rakish for its
class, and it bore marks of much recent sea usage. But Copplestone gave
no more than a passing glance at it--what attracted and fascinated his
eyes was the face of a man who had come up from her depths and was
looking out of a hatchway on the top deck--looking expectantly at the
sail-loft. There was grime and oil on that face, and the neck which
supported the unkempt head rose out of a rough jersey, but Copplestone
recognized his man smartly enough. In spite of the attempt to look like a
tug deck-hand there was no mistaking the skipper of the _Pike_.
"Good heavens!" he muttered, as he stared across the crowded quay.
"Right you are, guv'nor," whispered Spurge. "It's that very same, and no
mistake! And now you'll perhaps see how I put things together, like. No
doubt those folk as sent Sir Cresswell that message did see the _Pike_
going east last evening--just so, but there wasn't no reason, considering
what that chap and his lot had at stake why they shouldn't put him and
one or two more, very likely, on one of the many tugs that's to be met
with out there off the fishing grounds. What I conclude they did,
guv'nor, was to charter one o' them tugs and run her in here. And I
expect they've got the stuff on board her, now, and when the tide comes
up, out they'll go, and be off into the free and open again, to pick the
_Pike_ up somewhere 'twixt here and the Dogger Bank. Ah!--smart 'uns they
are, no doubt. But--we've got 'em!"
"Not yet," said Copplestone. "What are we to do. Better go back and get
He was keenly watching Andrius, and as the skipper of the _Pike_ suddenly
moved, he drew Spurge further into the alley.
"He's coming out of that hatchway!" whispered Copplestone. "If he comes
ashore he'll see us, and then--"
"No matter, guv'nor," said Spurge reassuringly. "They can't get out o'
Scarvell's Cut into the river till the tide serves. Yes, that's Cap'n
Andrius right enough--and he's coming ashore."
Andrius had by that time drawn himself out of the hatchway and now
revealed himself in the jersey, the thick leg-wear, and short sea-boots
of an oceangoing man. Copplestone's recollection of him as he showed
himself on board the _Pike_ was of a very smartly attired, rather
dandified person--only some deep scheme, he knew, would have caused him
to assume this disguise, and he watched him with interest as he rolled
ashore and disappeared within the lower story of the sail-loft. Spurge,
too, watched with all his eyes, and he turned to Copplestone with a gleam
"Guv'nor!" he said. "We've trapped 'em beautiful! I know that place--I've
worked in there in my time. I know a way into it, from the back--we'll
get in that way and see what's being done. 'Tain't worked no longer, that
sail-loft--it's all falling to pieces. But first--help!"
"How are we to get that?" asked Copplestone, eagerly.
"I'll go it," replied Spurge. "I know a man just aback of here that'll
run up to the town with a message--chap that can be trusted, sure and
faithful. 'Bide here five minutes, sir--I'll send a message to Mr.
Vickers--this chap'll know him and'll find him. He can come down with the
rest--and the police, too, if he likes. Keep your eyes skinned, guv'nor."
He twisted away like an eel into the crowd of workers and idlers, and
left Copplestone at the entrance to the alley, watching. And he had not
been so left more than a couple of minutes when a woman slipped past the
mouth of the alley, swiftly, quietly, looking neither to right nor left,
of whose veiled head and face he caught one glance. And in that glance he
recognized her--Addie Chatfield!
But in the moment of that glance Copplestone also recognized something
vastly more important. Here was the explanation of the mystery of the
early-morning doings at the old tower. The footprints of a woman who wore
fashionable and elegant boots? Addie Chatfield, of course! Was she not
old Peter's daughter, a chip of the old block, even though a feminine
chip? And did not he and Gilling know that she had been mixed up with
Peter at the Bristol affair? Great Scott!--why, of course. Addie was an
accomplice in all these things!
If Copplestone had the least shadow of doubt remaining in his mind as to
this conclusion, it was utterly dissipated when, peering cautiously round
the corner of his hiding-place, he saw Addie disappear within the old
sail-loft into which Andrius had betaken himself. Of course, she had gone
to join her fellow-conspirators. He began to fume and fret, cursing
himself for allowing Spurge to bring him down there alone--if only they
had had Gilling and Vickers with them, armed as they were--
"All right, guv'nor!" Spurge suddenly whispered at his shoulder. "They'll
be here in a quarter of an hour--I telephoned to 'em."
"Do you know what?" exclaimed Copplestone, excitedly. "Old Chatfield's
daughter's gone in there, where Andrius went. Just now!"
"What--the play-actress!" said Spurge. "You don't say, guv'nor? Ha!--that
explains everything--that's the missing link! Ha! But we'll soon know
what they're after, Mr. Copplestone. Follow me--quiet as a mouse."
Once more submitting to be led, Copplestone followed his queer guide
along the alley.
THE GREENGROCER'S CART
Spurge led Copplestone a little way up the narrow alley from the mouth of
which they had observed the recent proceedings, suddenly turned off into
a still narrower passage, and emerged at the rear of an ancient building
of wood and stones which looked as if a stout shove or a strong wind
would bring it down in dust and ruin.
"Back o' that old sail-loft what looks out on this cut," he whispered,
glancing over his shoulder at Copplestone. "Now, guv'nor, we're going in
here. As I said before, I've worked in this place--did a spell here when
I was once lying low for a month or two. I know every inch of it, and if
that lot are under this roof I know where they'll be."
"They'll show fight, you know," remarked Copplestone.
"Well, but ain't we got something to show fight with, too?" answered
Spurge, with a knowing wink. "I've got my revolver handy, what Mr.
Vickers give me, and I reckon you can handle yours. However, it ain't
come to no revolver yet. What I want is to see and hear,
He had opened a ramshackle door in the rear of the premises as he spoke
and he now beckoned his companion to follow him down a passage which
evidently led to the front. There was no more than a dim light within,
but Copplestone could see that the whole place was falling to pieces. And
it was all wrapped in a dead silence. Away out on the quay was the rattle
of chains, the creaking of a windlass, the voices of men and shrill
laughter of women, but in there no sound existed. And Spurge suddenly
stopped his stealthy creeping forward and looked at Copplestone
"Queer, ain't it?" he whispered. "I don't hear a voice, nor yet the ghost
of one! You'd think that if they was in here they'd be talking. But we'll
Clambering up a pile of fallen timber which lay in the passage and
beckoning Copplestone to follow his example, Spurge looked through a
broken slat in the wooden partition into an open shed which fronted the
Cut. The shed was empty. Folk were passing to and fro in front of it; the
North Sea tug still lay at the wharf beyond; a man who was evidently its
skipper sat on a tub on its deck placidly smoking his short pipe--but of
Addie Chatfield or of Andrius there was no sign. And the silence in that
crumbling, rat-haunted house was deeper than ever.
"Guv'nor!" muttered Spurge, "How long is it since you see--her?"
"Almost as soon as you'd gone," answered Copplestone.
"Ten minutes ago!" sighed Spurge. "Guv'nor--they've done us! They're off!
I see it--she must ha' caught sight o' me, nosing round, and she came
here and gave the others the office, and they bucked out at the back.
The back, Guv'nor! and Lord bless you, at the back o' this shanty there's
a perfect rabbit-warren o' places--more by token, they call it the
Warren. If they've got in there, why, all the police in Norcaster'll
never find 'em--leastways, I mean, to speak truthful, not without a deal
"What about upstairs?" asked Copplestone.
"Upstairs, now?" said Spurge with a doubtful glance at the ramshackle
stairway. "Lord, mister!--I don't believe nobody could get up them
stairs! No--they've hooked it through the back here, into the Warren. And
once in there--"
He ended with an eloquent gesture, and dismounting from his perch made
his way along the passage to a door which opened into the shed. Thence he
looked out on the quay, and along the crowded maze of Scarvell's Cut.
"Here's some of 'em, anyway, guv'nor," he announced. "I see Mr. Vickers
and t'other London gentleman, and the old Admiral, at all events. There
they are--getting out of a motor at the end. But go to meet 'em, Mr.
Copplestone, while I keep my eye on this here tug and its skipper."
Copplestone elbowed his way through the crowd until he met Sir Cresswell
and his two companions. All three were eager and excited: Copplestone
could only respond to their inquiries with a gloomy shake of the head.
"We seem to have the devil's own luck!" he growled dismally. "Spurge and
I spotted Andrius by sheer accident. He was on a North Sea tug, or
trawler, along the quay here. Then Spurge ran off to summon you. While
he was away Miss Chatfield appeared--"
"Addie Chatfield!" exclaimed Vickers.
"Exactly. And that of course," continued Copplestone, glancing at
Gilling, "that without doubt--in my opinion, anyway--explains those
elegant footprints up at the tower. Addie Chatfield, I tell you! She
passed me as I was hiding at the entrance to an alley down the Cut here,
and she went into an old sail-loft, outside which the tug I spoke of is
moored, and into which Andrius had strolled a minute or two previously.
But--neither she nor Andrius are there now. They've gone! And Spurge says
that at the back of this quay there's a perfect rabbit-warren of courts
and alleys, and if--or, rather as they've escaped into that--eh?"
The detectives who had accompanied Sir Cresswell on the interrupted
expedition to the old tower and who had now followed him and his
companions in a second car and arrived in time to hear Copplestone's
story, looked at each other.
"That's right enough--comparatively speaking," said one. "But if they're
in the Warren we shall get 'em out. The first thing to do, gentlemen, is
to take a look at that tug."
"Exactly!" exclaimed Sir Cresswell. "Just what I was thinking. Let us
find out what its people have to say."
The man who smoked his pipe in placid contentment on the deck of the tug
looked up in astonishment as the posse of eight crossed the plank which
connected him with the quay. Nevertheless he preserved an undaunted
front, kept his pipe in his tightly closed lips, and cocked a defiant eye
"Skipper o' this craft?" asked the principal detective laconically.
"Right? Where are you from, then, and when did you come in here?"
The skipper removed his pipe and spat over the rail. He put the pipe
back, folded his arms and glared.
"And what the dickens may that be to do with you?" he inquired. "And who
may you be to walk aboard my vessel without leave?"
"None of that, now!" said the detective. "Come on--we're police officers.
There's something wrong round here. We've got warrants for two men that
we believe to have been on your tug--one of 'em was seen here not so many
minutes ago. You'd far better tell us what you know. If you don't tell
now, you'll have to tell later. And--I expect you've been paid already.
Come on--out with it!"
The skipper, whose gnarled countenance had undergone several changes
during this address, smote one red fist on top of the other.
"Darned if I don't know as there was something on the crook in this here
affair!" he said, almost cheerily. "Well, well--but I ain't got nothing
to do with it. Warrants?--you say? Ah! And what might be the partiklar'
natur' o' them warrants?"
"Murder!" answered the detective. "That's one charge, anyhow--for one of
'em, at any rate. There's others."
"Murder's enough," responded the skipper. "Well, of course, nobody can
tell a man to be a murderer by merely looking at his mug. Not at
all!--nobody! However, this here is how it is. Last night it
were--evening, to be c'rect--dark. I was on the edge o' the fleet, out
there off the Dogger. A yacht comes up--smart 'un--very fast sailer--and
hails me. Was I going into Norcaster or anywheres about? Being a
Northborough tug, this, I wasn't. Would I go for a consideration--then
and there? Whereupon I asked what consideration? Then we bargains.
Eventual, we struck it at thirty pounds--cash down, which was paid,
prompt. I was to take two men straight and slick into Norcaster, to this
here very slip, Scarvell's Cut, to wait while they put a bit of a cargo
on board, and then to run 'em back to the same spot where I took 'em up.
Done! they come aboard--the yacht goes off east--I come careenin' west.
That's all! That part of it anyway."
"And the men?" suggested the detective. "What sort were they, and where
"The men, now!" said the skipper. "Ah! Two on 'em--both done up in what
you might call deep-sea-style. But hadn't never done no deep-sea nor yet
any other sort o' sea work in their mortial days--hands as white and soft
as a lady's. One, an old chap with a dial like a full moon on him--sly
old chap, him! T'other a younger man, looked as if he'd something about
him--dangerous chap to cross. Where are they? Darned if I know. What I
knows, certain, is this--we gets in here about eight o'clock this
morning, and makes fast here, and ever since then them two's been as it
were on the fret and the fidge, allers lookin' out, so to speak, for
summun as ain't come yet. The old chap, he went across into that there
sail-maker's loft an hour ago, and t'other, he followed of him, recent. I
ain't seen 'em since. Try there. And I say?"
"Well?" asked the detective.
"Shall I be wanted?" asked the skipper. "'Cause if not, I'm off and away
as soon as the tide serves. Ain't no good me waitin' here for them chaps
if you're goin' to take and hang 'em!"
"Got to catch 'em first," said the detective, with a glance at his two
professional companions. "And while we're not doubting your word at all,
we'll just take a look round your vessel--they might have slipped on
board again, you see, while your back was turned."
But there was no sign of Peter Chatfield, nor of his daughter, nor of the
captain of the _Pike_ on that tug, nor anywhere in the sailmaker's loft
and its purlieus. And presently the detectives looked at one another and
their leader turned to Sir Cresswell.
"If these people--as seems certain--have escaped into this quarter of the
town," he said, "there'll have to be a regular hunt for them! I've known
a man who was badly wanted stow himself away here for weeks. If Chatfield
has accomplices down here in the Warren, he can hide himself and
whoever's with him for a long time--successfully. We'll have to get a lot
of men to work."
"But I say!" exclaimed Gilling. "You don't mean to tell me that three
people--one a woman--could get away through these courts and alleys,
packed as they are, without being seen? Come now!"
The detectives smiled indulgently.
"You don't know these folks," said one of them, inclining his head
towards a squalid street at the end of which they had all gathered. "But
they know _us_. It's a point of honour with them never to tell the truth
to a policeman or a detective. If they saw those three, they'd never
admit it to us--until it's made worth their while."
"Get it made worth their while, then!" exclaimed Gilling, impatiently.
"All in due course, sir," said the official voice. "Leave it to us."
The amateur searchers after the iniquitous recognized the futility of
their own endeavours in that moment, and went away to discuss matters
amongst themselves, while the detectives proceeded leisurely, after their
fashion, into the Warren as if they were out for a quiet constitutional
in its salubrious byways. And Sir Cresswell Oliver remarked on the
difficulty of knowing exactly what to do once you had red-tape on one
side and unusual craftiness on the other.
"You think there's no doubt that gold was removed this morning by
Chatfield's daughter?" he said to Copplestone as they went back to the
centre of the town together, Gilling and Vickers having turned aside
elsewhere and Spurge gone to the hospital to ask for news of his cousin.
"You think she was the woman whose footprints you saw up there at the
"Seeing that she's here in Norcaster and in touch with those two, what
else can I think?" replied Copplestone. "It seems to me that they got in
touch with her by wireless and that she removed the gold in readiness for
her father and Andrius coming in here by that North Sea tug. If we could
only find out where she's put those boxes, or where she got the car from
in which she brought it down from the tower--"
"Vickers has already started some inquiries about cars," said Sir
Cresswell. "She must have hired a car somewhere in the town. Certainly,
if we could hear of that gold we should be in the way of getting on
But they heard nothing of gold or of fugitives or of what the police and
detectives were doing until the middle of the afternoon. And then Mr.
Elkin, the manager of the bank from which Chatfield had withdrawn the
estate and the private balance, came hurrying to the "Angel" and to Mrs.
Greyle, his usually rubicund face pale with emotion, his hand waving a
scrap of crumpled paper. Mrs. Greyle and Audrey were at that moment in
consultation with Sir Cresswell Oliver and Copplestone--the bank manager
burst in on them without ceremony.
"I say, I say!" he exclaimed excitedly. "Will you believe it!--the
gold's come back! It's all safe--every penny. Bless me!--I scarcely know
whether I'm dreaming or not. But--we've got it!"
"What's all this?" demanded Sir Cresswell. "You've got--that gold?"
"Less than an hour ago," replied the bank manager, dropping into a chair
and slapping his hand on his knees in his excitement, "a man who turned
out to be a greengrocer came with his cart to the bank and said he'd been
sent with nine boxes for delivery to us. Asked who had sent him he
replied that early this morning a lady whom he didn't know had asked him
to put the boxes in his shed until she called for them--she brought them
in a motor-car. This afternoon she called again at two o'clock, paid him
for the storage and for what he was to do, and instructed him to put the
boxes on his cart and bring them to us. Which," continued Mr. Elkin,
gleefully rubbing his hands together, "he did! With--this! And that, my
dear ladies and good gentlemen, is the most extraordinary document which,
in all my forty years' experience of banking matters, I have ever seen!"
He laid a dirty, crumpled half-sheet of cheap note-paper on the table at
which they were all sitting, and Copplestone, bending over it, read aloud
what was there written.
"MR. ELKIN--Please place the contents of the nine cases sent herewith to
the credit of the Greyle Estate.
"PETER CHATFIELD, Agent."
Amidst a chorus of exclamations Sir Cresswell asked a sharp question.
"Is that really Chatfield's signature?"
"Oh, undoubtedly!" replied Mr. Elkin. "Not a doubt of it. Of course, as