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The Red Redmaynes
by Eden Phillpotts
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He knew himself and he knew that this strange and novel emotion of love was, at least in his case, a deep, omnipotent thing, beyond and above any selfish and purely personal desire for happiness. Even Doria admitted that much probably, though whether, did the test arise, he would put the woman's prosperity before his own passion, Brendon took leave to doubt.

He retreated presently as the hour of one approached, but before doing so, returned to the subject of Robert Redmayne. The elder spoke the last word and left Mark in grave doubt as to what the immediate future might bring.

"If," said Bendigo, "my brother has any just excuse for what he did, or can convince me, for instance, that he took Pendean's life in order to save his own, then I stick by him and don't give him up while I can fight on his side. You'll tell me that I'll be in reach of the law myself if I do any such thing; but that won't frighten me. Blood's thicker than water when you come down to a job like this."

It was a new attitude, but the detective said nothing, and as a clock in the hall below beat the hour of one he returned to the cupboard and drew the door behind him. Bendigo had just lighted another pipe when there came the sound of feet ascending the stair; but it was no doubtful or cautious footfall that they heard. The ascending man neither hesitated nor made any effort to approach without noise. He came swiftly and as the sailor stood up calm and collected, to meet his brother—not Robert Redmayne but Giuseppe Doria appeared.

He was very agitated and his eyes shone. He breathed hard and wiped the hair away from his forehead. He had evidently been out in the rain, for water glistened on his shoulders and face.

"Suffer me to drink," he said. "I have been frightened."

Bendigo pushed the bottle and an empty tumbler across his table and the other sat down and helped himself.

"Be quick; what the devil's the matter? He'll be here in a minute—my brother."

"No, he will not be here. I have seen and spoken with him—he's not coming to you."

Doria helped himself very sparingly to some spirits; then he explained.

"I was going the rounds and just about to turn out the oil lamp over the front gate as usual when I remembered Mr. Redmayne. That is half an hour ago and I thought it would be better to leave the lamp, to guide him, for the night is dark and wild. I came down the ladder therefore; but I had already been seen. He was waiting under the shelter of the rocks on the other side of the road, where there is a pent roof of natural stone; and seeing me he remembered me and came and spoke a little. He was full of new fear and dread. He said that people had been hunting him and that even now men were hidden not far off to take him. I assured him it was not so and swore to him that you were alone and desired only to succour him. I used my best words and prayed him to come in swiftly and let me shut the outer gate and make it fast; but his suspicions grew; the fear of a hunted animal was in his eyes. He misunderstood me. Terror conquered him and what I had said, to make him feel safe, acted in the contrary way. He would not come within the gate but sent a message that you are to come to him instead, if you still will to save him. He is a very sick soul and will not last long. I saw death in his eyes under the lamplight."

There was a pause while Bendigo slowly took in this change in the situation. Then he lifted his voice and spoke, not to Doria, but to the man in hiding.

"Come right out, Brendon," he said. "The game's up for to-night as you've heard. Doria has seen Bob, and he's frightened the poor beggar off apparently. Anyway he's not coming."

Mark emerged and Giuseppe gazed in astonishment. His mind evidently ran backward and his face flushed with annoyance.

"Corpo di Bacco!" he swore. "Then you heard my confidences. You are a sneak!"

"Stow that," cried Bendigo. "Brendon's here because I wished it for my brother's good. I wanted him to know what passed—and your love affairs are neither here nor there. He'll not use anything he heard that don't concern his proper business. What did Robert say?"

But Doria was angry. He opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again, looked first at Brendon and then at his master and breathed hard.

"Get on," said Bendigo. "Shall I go out to the man, or has he gone?"

"And as for me; don't think twice about it," added Brendon. "I'm here for one reason only, and that you know. You and your private hopes and ambitions have nothing to do with me."

Upon this speech the Italian appeared to regain his composure.

"I am a servant for the moment and my duty is to Mr. Redmayne," he answered. "This is the message that I have been told to bring. The hunted man will not trust himself behind doors or under a roof, until he has seen his brother alone. He is hiding now near the place where Mrs. Pendean and I found him, in a cave beside the sea. It opens upon the water and it can be approached by boat. But there is a way also inside, that enables him to creep down into the cave from the cliffs behind it. He will be in this place until his brother comes, to-morrow night after twelve o'clock. But the way down from the land is hidden very carefully and he will not speak of that. You must go to him from the sea, my master. He thought it out while he spoke to me. He will light his lamp in the cave, and when the light is seen from the launch, you will put in and come to him. That is what he demands shall be done; and if anybody tries to land but only his brother, he will shoot them. So he swears, and he said also that when Bendigo Redmayne knows all, then he will forgive all and be on his side."

"Did he talk like a sane man?" asked Brendon.

"He talked like a sane man; but he is at his last gasp. He must have had mighty strength once, only it is now worn down to nothing."

An uneasy thought passed through the detective's mind. Could it be possible that Doria, while speaking previously to Bendigo about private affairs, had discovered his presence in the great cupboard and then warned Robert Redmayne that he would not meet his brother alone? He dismissed the suspicion, however, for Doria's surprise and anger when he emerged were genuine enough. Moreover there appeared no reason why Giuseppe should side with the fugitive.

Bendigo spoke.

"So be it," he said. "It's a matter of life and death now and I'm sorry we must wait till another night. We'll fetch out in the launch and, when we see the light, go in and hail him."

Then he turned to Brendon.

"I'll ask you to hold off until I've seen the poor chap. As a brother I ask it."

"Trust me. It's quite understood that nothing shall be done now until you have seen him and reported. It may not be regular, but common humanity suggests that."

"You can stop here to-morrow night," continued the sailor. "And if I prevail with the unfortunate man I'll bring him off in the launch. Then we'll talk sense to him. We've got to remember that nobody's ever heard his side."

"If Captain Redmayne had a side he wouldn't have run away, or taken the extraordinary pains that he did take to conceal his victim," answered Mark. "Don't buoy yourself up to suppose that will be a possible line of defence. We're far more likely to get him off by proving a homicidal act under the influence of shell shock—and the less reason there was for murdering Michael Pendean, the more reason there will be for supposing your brother out of his mind and therefore guiltless when he did it."

"He is a very sane and a very sorry man now," declared Doria. "He will come to your hand like a starved bird, signor."

"So much for that, then; and now we had better turn in," said Bendigo. "I've always got a spare bunk in the spare room and you'll find all you want, barring a razor, in the bathroom. You young men use the newfangled safety razors, so Giuseppe can lend you one no doubt."

Doria promised that a razor should be in the bathroom early on the following morning; then he retired and Bendigo, who found that he was hungry, descended to the dining-room. Brendon and he made a meal before going to bed.

From his couch in a small chamber adjoining the older man's, Mark heard Mr. Redmayne growling to himself in evident sorrow for his brother. Himself he felt moved at a situation so painful, but was glad enough to know that a few more hours would determine it. In his own mind he felt satisfied of the issue and imagined Robert Redmayne as detained for a certain period at the royal pleasure and then, if medical opinion sanctioned the step, once more liberated.

He turned to his own affairs and faced the fact that his hope of Jenny grew thin. The thought of her was now complicated by her position. He had never considered that in the future she might be rich and possessed of far larger means than he could ever attain. He looked forward and perceived that opportunity would lie with him to enjoy some private conversation on the following day. Yet, when the time came, what was there that he could say to her? The storm had blown itself out and dawn returned before he slept.

With morning Bendigo proved grumpy and desirous to be left alone. He was evidently much perturbed and shut himself into the tower room with his pipe and "Moby Dick." He only cared to see Jenny, who spent some time with him. It was from Brendon that she heard the facts in the morning when, much to her surprise, he appeared at breakfast while she was making tea. Doria joined them a little later, but Mr. Redmayne, usually an early riser, did not appear. Jenny took him his breakfast.

He came down to luncheon and, after that meal, Doria conveyed Brendon in the launch to Dartmouth, where Mark visited the police station and explained the need for further delay. There was now no necessity for the contemplated man hunt and he let Inspector Damarell learn that the fugitive had been found and would probably surrender within four-and-twenty hours. He telephoned to Scotland Yard the same information and presently returned to "Crow's Nest." The day was still and sunless with fine rain falling; but the wind had dropped and the night promised to be calm.

Doria landed Brendon and then put off again, going slowly down the coast. He asked Mark's permission to do so, that he might make a few mental notes of distances for the coming night. The raised beach, on which Robert Redmayne had been first spoken, was about five miles off, and Giuseppe suspected that Redmayne's hiding-place would be found to lie still farther to the west.

He departed therefore at a definite rate of speed and was back again in three quarters of an hour before the dusk had fallen. But he had nothing to report. He had found no cave where he expected one, and now guessed that Robert Redmayne's secret holt must be nearer than they imagined.

The night came at last—very dark overhead but clear and calm. Beneath "Crow's Nest" the waves, sunk to nothing, made a quiet whisper along the feet of the precipices and tinkled on the little beaches that here and there broke the cliff line. The tide was just making and midnight had struck when Bendigo Redmayne, in rough-weather kit, stumped down his long flight of steps and went to sea. Brendon and Jenny stood above under the flagstaff, and soon they heard the launch purr away swiftly under the darkness.

The woman spoke first.

"Thank God we are at the end of this horrible suspense," she said. "It has been a cruel nightmare for me, Mr. Brendon."

"I have felt much for you, Mrs. Pendean, and admired your marvellous patience."

"Who could but be patient with the poor wretch? He has paid the price of what he did. Even I can say that. There are worse things than death, Mr. Brendon, and you will presently see them in Robert Redmayne's eyes. Even Giuseppe was sobered after our first meeting."

That she should use the Italian's Christian name so easily struck unreasoning regret into the heart of Mark. It gave him an excuse for a question.

"Do you believe all Doria tells you? Is he regarded here as a domestic or an equal?"

She smiled.

"As a superior rather than an equal. Yes, I see no reason to doubt his story. He is obviously a great gentleman and a man of natural fine feeling. Breeding and education are different things. He has little education, but a native delicacy of mind belongs to him. You feel it."

"He interests you?"

"He does," she confessed frankly. "Indeed I owe him something, for he has a wonderful art and tact to strike the right note with me."

"He has had rare opportunities," said Brendon grudgingly.

"Yes; but not everybody would have taken them. I came here distracted—half mad. My uncle tried to be kind, but he has no imagination and could rise to nothing higher than reading me passages from 'Moby Dick.' Doria was of my own generation and he has a feminine quality that most men lack."

"I thought women hated feminine qualities in men."

"Perhaps I misuse my words. I mean that he possesses a quick sympathy and a sort of intuition that are oftener found in a woman than a man."

Mark was silent and she asked a question.

"I could not fail to note that you do not like him, or if that is too strong, that you see nothing to admire in him. What is there antipathetic in his nature to you, and in yours to him? He doesn't like you either. Yet you both seem to me such gracious, kindly men. Surely you have no bias against other nationalities—a man with a cosmopolitan record like yours?"

At this thrust Brendon perceived how unconsciously he had displayed an aversion for which no real reason existed—no reason, at any rate, that he might fairly declare. And yet he was frank; nor did his response perhaps surprise her, though she appeared to be astonished.

"There's only one answer, Mrs. Pendean: I'm jealous of Signor Doria."

"Jealous! Why, Mr. Brendon—what have you to envy him?"

"You would not be likely to guess," he replied, though in truth Jenny had already done so accurately enough. "I am sure that if Doria is a gentleman I need not be jealous, seeing what is in my thought cannot be spoken to you by any man for many a long day to come. And yet to envy him is natural; and when you ask what I envy, I will be honest and tell you. Fate has given him the privilege of lightening the cruel burden placed upon your shoulders. His sympathy and intuition you admit have succeeded in so doing. You will say that no Englishman could have done that exactly in the way he did—perhaps you are right; but one Englishman regrets from the bottom of his heart that the opportunity was denied him."

"You have been good and kind, too," she answered. "Do not think I am ungrateful. It was not your fault that you failed to discover Robert Redmayne. And, after all, what would success have amounted to? Only the capture of the unfortunate man a few months sooner. Now, I hope, he will see that there is nothing for it but to give himself up to his brother and trust his fellow creatures to be merciful."

Thus she led conversation away from Doria and herself, and Mark took the hint. He no longer doubted that her regard for the Italian might easily ripen into love. He assured himself that he dreaded this for her, yet suspected all the time that his regret was in reality selfish and inspired by personal disappointment rather than fear for her.

Anon they saw the flash of a ruby and an emerald upon the sea westward and soon heard Redmayne's motor boat returning. Less than half an hour had passed, and Brendon hoped that Robert Redmayne had yielded to his brother's entreaty and was now about to land; but this had not happened. Only Giuseppe Doria ascended the steps and he had little to tell.

"They didn't want me yet, so I ran back," he said. "All goes well; his cavern lies quite near to us. The lamp flashed out only two miles away and I ran in; and there was the man standing just outside a small cave on the little beach before it. He cried out a strange welcome. He said, 'If any other lands but you, Ben, I will shoot him!' So the master shouted that he was to fear nothing, and he jumped ashore as soon as our nose touched the sand; then told me to put off instantly. They went back into the cave together and I am to return within an hour."

He explained the position of the cave.

"It is above the little beach, revealed at low tide, where cowries are to be found," he said. "I took Madonna there on an occasion to gather the little shells for the fancywork the master makes."

"Uncle Ben fashions all sorts of wonderful ornaments out of shells," explained Jenny.

Doria smoked some cigarettes and then descended again. In twenty minutes the boat had gone to sea once more, while Jenny bade Mark good night and retired. She felt it better not to meet her uncles on their arrival, and Brendon agreed with her.



CHAPTER VIII

DEATH IN THE CAVE

Alone, Brendon regarded the future with some melancholy, for he believed that only Chance had robbed him of his great hope. Chance, so often a valued servant, now, in the mightiest matter of his life, turned against him. Not for a moment could he or would he compare himself with the man he now regarded as a successful rival; but accident had given Doria superb opportunities while denying to Brendon any opportunity whatever. He told himself, however, that a cleverer man than he would have made opportunities. What was his love worth if it could not triumph over the handicaps of Chance?

He felt ruled out, and he had not even the excuse to impose himself upon Jenny and still seek to win her by pretending that he was better fitted to make her permanently happy than his rival. Indeed he knew that in the long run such a cheerful and versatile soul as Giuseppe was more likely to satisfy Jenny than he, for Doria would have all his time to devote to her, while marriage and a home must be only a part of Brendon's future existence. There remained his work, and he well knew that, whatever Jenny's position and independence, he would not leave the business that had brought him renown. Only on one ground he doubted for her, and again and again feared that such an attractive being as Doria might follow the tradition of his race and presently weary of one woman.

Next he considered another aspect of the situation and thought of every word that Jenny had recently spoken. They pointed to one conclusion in his judgment and he believed that when a seemly period had elapsed she would allow herself to love Doria. That was as much as to say she had already begun to do so, if unconsciously. This surprised him, for even granting the obvious fascination of the man, he could hardly believe that the image of her first husband had already begun to grow faint in Jenny's memory. He remembered her grief and protestations at Princetown; he perceived the deep mourning which she wore. She was indeed young, but her character had never appeared to him youthful or light-hearted. Against that fact, however, he had certainly only known her after her sorrow and loss, and he remembered how she had sung on the moor upon the evening she passed him in the sunset light. She had probably been cheerful and joyous before her husband's death. But she surely never possessed a frivolous nature. His knowledge of character told him that. And there was strength as well as sweetness in her face. Serious subjects had interested her in his small experience of her company; but that might be because she responded, as a delicate instrument, to her environment; and he himself had never been anything but serious beside her. With the Italian, no doubt, there had happened moments when she could sometimes smile and forget. Doria's own affairs, of which he loved to chatter, had doubtless often distracted Mrs. Pendean from her own melancholy reflection, and in any case she could not sigh forever at her age.

The return of the motor boat arrested his reflections. She had been gone about an hour when Mark perceived her running very swiftly homeward. Guessing that Bendigo Redmayne and his brother were now aboard, he prepared to retire until the following day to the room he occupied. He had arranged to be invisible unless Robert Redmayne were willing to see him and discuss the future.

But Doria once more came back to "Crow's Nest" alone, and what he had to tell soon altered the detective's plans. For Giuseppe was much concerned and feared that evil had overtaken his master.

"After the time was up, I ran in," he said, "and the rising tide brought me within a few yards of the mouth of the cave. The light was burning but I could see neither of them. I hailed twice and got no answer. All was still as the grave and I went near enough to the shore to satisfy myself that there was nobody there. The cave was empty. Now I am a good deal alarmed and I come back to you."

"You didn't land?"

"I didn't touch shore, but I was within five yards of the cave, none the less, for the tide is now risen. The light shone upon emptiness. I beg you will return with me, for I feel that some evil thing may have happened."

Much puzzled, Brendon delayed only to get his revolver and an electric torch. He then descended with Doria to the water and they were soon afloat again. The boat ran at full speed for a few minutes; then her course was changed and she turned in under the cliffs. Mark soon saw a solitary gleam of light, like a glowworm, at sea level in the solid darkness of the precipices, and Doria, slowing down, crept in toward it. Presently he shut off his engine and the launch grounded her prow on a little beach before the entrance of Robert Redmayne's hiding-place. The lamp shone brightly, but its illumination, though serving to show the cavern empty, was not sufficient to light its lofty roof, or reveal a second exit, where a tunnel ran up at the rear and could be climbed by steps roughly hewn in the stone.

"It is a place my master showed me long ago," explained Doria. "It was used by smugglers in the old days and they have cut steps that still exist."

Both men landed and Giuseppe made fast the launch. Then immediate evidence of tragedy confronted them. The floor of the cave was of very fine shingle intermixed with sand. The sides were much broken and the strata of the rock had wrinkled and bent in upon itself. The lamp stood on a ledge and flung a radius of light over the floor beneath. Here had been collected the food and drink supplied to Redmayne on the previous day, and it was clear that he had eaten and drunk heartily. But the arresting fact appeared on the beaten and broken surface of the ground. Heavy boots had torn this up and plowed furrows in it. At one spot lay an impression, as though some large object had fallen, and here Brendon saw blood—a dark patch already drying, for the substance of it was soaked away in the sandy shingle on which it had dropped.

It was a blot rather than a pool and under his electric lamp Mark perceived a trail of other drops extending irregularly toward the back of the cavern. From the mark of the fallen body a ridge ploughed through the shingle extending rearward, and he judged that one of the two men had certainly felled the other and then drawn him toward the chimney, or tunnel that opened at the back of the cave. Spots of blood and the dragged impression of some heavy body stretched along the ground to the stone steps and there disappeared.

The detective stopped here and inquired the length of the staircase and whither it led; but for a time his companion appeared too dazed to answer him. Giuseppe showed a good deal of the white feather, combined with sincere emotion at the implicit tragedy.

"This is death—death!" he kept repeating, and between his words his mouth hung open and his eyes rolled fearfully over the shadowy places round about him.

"Pull yourself together and help me if you can," said. Brendon. "Every moment may make all the difference. It looks to me as though somebody had been dragged up here. Is that possible?"

"To a very powerful man it might be. But he was weak—no good."

"Where does this place lead?"

"There are many shallow steps, then a long slope and, after that, you have to bend your head and scramble out through a hole. You are then on a plateau halfway up the cliff. It is a broad ledge and from it one only track, rough and steep, rises up zigzag, like our hairpin roads in Italy, till you reach the summit of the cliff. But it is rough and broken—impossible by night."

"We must go that way all the same and make it possible. Is the boat fast?"

"If you will help me, we will pull her up into the cave. Then we can hunt and she will not take harm."

Lamenting the loss of time, Mark lent a hand and the launch was soon above high-water mark. Then, with Brendon in front and the light from his torch upon the steps, they began their ascent. Save for a drop of blood here and there, the stone stairway gave no clue; but when they had reached its summit and the subterranean path turned to the left, still in a tunnel of the solid rock, they marked on the ascending slope, slippery with percolations from the roof, a straight smear dragged over the muddy surface. Pursued for fifty yards the tunnel began to narrow and the roof descend, but still the smooth track of a heavy object being dragged upward was evident. Save for an occasional word the men proceeded in silence, but Brendon sometimes heard the Italian speaking to himself. "Padron mio, padron mio—death!" he repeated.

For the last ten yards of the tunnel Mark had to go on his knees and crawl. Then he emerged and found himself in the open air on a shelf hung high between the earth and the sea. All was dark and very silent. He held up his hand to Doria and the two listened intently for some minutes, but only the subdued murmur of the water far beneath reached their ears. No sound broke the stillness round about. Under their feet stretched a ledge of fine turf, browned by winter and covered with the evidence of sea birds. Giuseppe picked up a few grey feathers as the electric torch swept the surface of the plateau.

"For the master's pipe," he explained. "He uses feathers to cleanse it."

Overhead the cliff line stretched black as ink against the sky, making the midnight clouds above it light by contrast. Here Brendon saw evidences that the dead weight dragged from beneath had remained still a while, and he observed an impress near it on the herbage, where doubtless a living man had rested after his exertions. There were clots of blood on the grass near this spot, but no other sign visible in the present condition of darkness. Remembering the death of Michael Pendean, Brendon was already reconstructing, in theory, the events immediately under his notice. That Bendigo Redmayne's brother had slain the elder now appeared too probable; and he had apparently proceeded as before and removed his victim—in a sack—for the line on the cave floor below and along the path which Mark had just traversed indicated some heavy, rounded object that did not change its shape as it was dragged along.

For two minutes he stood, then spoke.

"Where is the path from here?" he asked, and Doria, proceeding cautiously to the east of the plateau, presently indicated a rocky footpath that ascended from it. The track was rough and evidently seldom used, for brambles and dead vegetation lay across it. They proceeded by this way and Brendon directed the other to disturb nothing, so that careful examination might, if necessary, be made when daylight returned. The path elbowed to right and left sharply, ever ascending, and it was not too steep to prevent steady progress. It ended at last on the summit of the cliffs, where, after a barren space of fifty yards, a low wall ran separating ploughed lands from the precipices. But no sight of any human being awaited them and, on the close sward of the summit, footsteps would have left no record.

"What d'you make of it?" asked Doria. "Your mind is swift and skilled in these deviltries. Is it true that my master and my friend is a dead man—the old sea wolf dead?"

"Yes," said Brendon drearily. "In my mind there is no doubt of it. It is also true that a thing has happened which I should have prevented and a life been lost which might have been saved. From the first I have taken too much on trust in this matter and believed all that I was told too readily."

"That is no blame to you," answered the other. "Why should you have doubted what you heard?"

"Because it was my business to credit nothing and trust nobody. I am not blaming anybody, or suggesting any attempts to deceive me; but I have accepted what sounded obvious and rational, as we all did, instead of examining things for myself. You may not understand this, Doria; but other people will be only too quick to do so."

"You did the best you could; so did everybody. Who was to know that he came here to kill his brother?"

"A madman may do anything. My fault has been to assume his return to sanity."

"What more natural? How could you assume otherwise? Only an insane man would have killed Madonna's husband, and only a very sane one would have escaped the sleuths afterward. So you argued that he was mad and then sane again; yet now he has gone mad once more."

Brendon desired to be at Dartmouth as swiftly as possible, so that a search might be instituted at dawn. Doria considered whether he might make best speed by road or water, and decided that he could bring Mark more quickly to the seaport in the launch than along the highway.

"We must, however, return by the tunnel," he said, "for there is no other route by which we can get back to the boat."

Brendon agreed and they descended the zigzag path and then, from the plateau, reentered the tunnel and presently reached the steps again and the cavern beneath. Extinguishing the lamp, which still burned steadily, they were soon afloat, and under a tremor of dawn the little vessel cut her way at her best speed, flinging a sheaf of foam from her bows and leaving a white wake on the still and leaden-coloured sea.

They saw a figure beneath the flagstaff at "Crow's Nest" and both recognized Jenny Pendean. She made no signal, but the sight of her evidently disturbed Giuseppe's mind. He stopped the boat and appealed to Brendon.

"My heart is in my mouth," he said. "A sudden fear has overtaken me. This madman—it may be that he has turned against his own and those who are his best friends. There is a thing lunatics will do. It follows—while we are away—do you not see? There are only two women at 'Crow's Nest' now, and he might come and make a clean sweep—is it not so?"

"You think that?"

"With God and the devil all things are possible," answered the other, his eyes lifted to the house on the cliffs.

"You're right. Run in. There may be a danger for her."

Doria was triumphant.

"Even you do not think of everything," he cried; but the other did not answer. On him lay a load of responsibility and a heavy sense of failure.

He directed Doria how to act, however.

"Tell Mrs. Pendean and the servant to lock up the house and then join us," he said. "They had better come to Dartmouth, and they can return presently with you, after you have landed me. Beg that they do not delay a moment."

Doria obeyed and in ten minutes returned with Jenny, dazed and pale, and the frightened domestic still fumbling at her bodice buttons. They were both in great fear and full of words; but Brendon begged them to be quiet. He warned Jenny that the worst was to be dreaded for her uncle, and their awful news reduced her to silence quickly enough. Thus they sped on their way, leaped between the harbour heads before sunrise, and soon came ashore at the landing stage.

Doria's work was now done and, having directed him to take the women back, Mark bade them all keep the house until more news should reach them.

"Telephone to the police station if you have anything to report," he directed, "but should the man appear and attempt to enter, prevent him from doing so."

He gave them further directions and then they parted.

In half an hour the news had spread, search parties set out by land, and Brendon himself, with Inspector Damarell and two constables, put to sea in the harbour-master's swift steam launch. Some food had been brought aboard and Mark made a meal as he described the incidents of the night. It was eight o'clock before they reached the cavern and began a methodical search over the ground and upward. Mark had arranged with Doria that a signal should fly from "Crow's Nest" for him if there were any news; but nothing had happened, for the flagpole was bare.

Then began a laborious hunt in the cave and the tunnel by which it was approached from above. Morning light filled the hollow place and the officers working methodically left no cranny unexplored; but their combined efforts by daylight revealed little more than Brendon had already found for himself in the darkness. There was nothing but the trampled sand, the partially eaten store of food, the lamp on its stone bracket, the black blot of blood, and the shallow trench left by some rounded object that had been dragged to the steps. The tide was down but the little beach only displayed the usual debris at high-water mark. Inspector Damarell returned to the steam launch and bade the skipper go back to Dartmouth.

"We'll ride home by motor from above," he said. "Tell them to bring my runabout car to the top of Hawk Beak Hill; and let 'em fetch along some sandwiches and half a dozen bottles of Bass; I'm thinking we shall want 'em by noon."

The launch was off and once more the chimney with the steps, the inclined plane beyond, and the plateau halfway up the cliff were all examined with patient scrutiny. The police went at a foot's pace, yet nothing appeared save an occasional drop of blood upon a stone and the trail of the object dragged upward on the previous night.

"He must be a Samson," said Mark. "Consider if you or I had to pull a solid, eleven-stone man in a sack up here."

"I could not," admitted the inspector. "But it was done. We're going to have a repetition of that job at Berry Head in the summer. We shall hunt the cliffs, like a pack of hounds, and presently find some place hanging over deep water. Then we shall hit on a sack in a rabbit hole or badger's earth—and that will be all there is to it."

On the plateau they rested, while Brendon found some clear marks of feet—a heavy, iron-shod boot, which he recognized. They occurred in a soft place just outside the mouth of the tunnel and he recollected the toe plates and the triangle-headed nails that held them.

He called Inspector Damarell.

"When this is compared with the plaster casts taken at Foggintor, you'll find it's the same boot," he said. "That's no surprise, of course, but it proves probably that we are dealing with the same man."

"And he'll use the same means to vanish into thin air that he did six months ago," prophesied the other. "You mark me, Brendon, this is not one man's work. There's a lot hid under this job that hasn't seen light—just as there was under the last. It's very easy to say, because we can't find a motive, the man's mad. That's the line of least resistance; but it don't follow by a long sight that it's the right line. Here's a chap has lured his brother to death, and very cunning he's been about it. He's pitched a yarn and then, after a promise to turn up, he changes his mind and makes a new plan altogether by which old Ben Redmayne is put entirely in his power. Then—"

"But who was to know he meant mischief? We had facts to deal with. Mrs. Pendean herself had seen and spoken to him; so had Doria. In the case of the lady, at any rate, all she said was above suspicion. She hid nothing; she behaved like a Christian woman, wept at the spectacle of his awful misery, and brought his message to his brother. Then sudden, panic fear overtook the man at the last moment—natural enough—and he begged Bendigo Redmayne to see him in his hiding-place alone. It rang true as a bell. For myself I had not a shadow of suspicion."

"That's all right," admitted Damarell, "and I'm not one who pretends to be wise after the event. But, as I told you before, I thought it a mistake to suspend our search and take the matter out of professional hands just when we were safe to nab him. You were in command and we obeyed, but whatever the murderer had to say would as well have been said to us as to his brother—and better; because in any case he might have tempted a brother to break the law for him. Now there's more innocent blood been shed and a damned, dangerous criminal—mad or sane—is still at large. Most likely more than one. However, it is not much use jawing, I grant you. What we've got to do is to catch them—if we can."

Brendon made no reply to this speech. He was vexed, yet knew that he had heard little more than the truth.

He examined the plateau and showed again where some round object had pressed the earth and where a man had sat beside it. From this spot it was not possible to dispose of a body in the sea. Beneath it extended a fall of a hundred feet to broken ground, which again gave by sloping shelves to the water. Had a corpse been thrown over here, it must have challenged their sight beneath; and yet from this standpoint no sign of the vanished man or his burden appeared. But the zigzag path to the cliff top revealed neither any evidence of a weight being dragged upward nor the impression of the iron-shod foot. Fresh footprints there were, but they had been made by Brendon and Doria on the previous night. Now the police ascended, making careful examination of every turn in the way, and finally reached the summit a little after noon. It was a dizzy height, beetling over the sea beneath; but crags and buttresses broke out from the six hundred feet of precipice and any object thrown over from the crest of Hawk Beak Hill must have been arrested many times in its downward progress.

Inspector Damarell stopped to rest and flung himself panting on the close sward at the crown of the cliff.

"What do you think?" he asked Brendon; and the other having made a careful examination of the ground around them and scanned the peaks and ledges beneath, answered:

"He never came here—at any rate not until he had disposed of the body. It's the broken ground under the plateau we must search. There may be a way down that he knew. I guess he threw the body over, then scrambled down himself and covered it deep with stones. It's surely there—for the simple reason that it can't be anywhere else. We should have found out if he'd brought it to the top. And in my judgment, even if he wanted to do so, he would have lacked the physical strength. He must have spent himself getting it to the plateau, however strong he is, and then found that he could do no more. The body, therefore, should be hidden in the rocks below the plateau."

"We can leave it at that then, till we've had something to eat and drink," answered the inspector, and proceeding to the nearest point of the highroad, where a car already waited for them, they made a meal. The constable who drove the car had no news, but Brendon expected that information might await him at Dartmouth. He was convinced that on this occasion the object of their search could not long evade discovery.

They chained up the motor car, and the constable who had driven it joined them when they descended to explore the broken ground beneath the plateau.

"There's nothing more hateful to me than a murder without the body," declared Damarell, on the way down. "You don't even know if you're on firm ground to start with, and every step you take must hang upon a fact that you can't verify except by circumstantial evidence. Every step may in reality be a false one—and the nearer you appear to be to the truth, the farther you may be going away from it. A pint of blood needn't of necessity mean a murder; but this chap, Robert Redmayne, has a partiality for leaving red traces behind him."

The others listened and then they reached the plateau and went down to the stony space beneath. This was not difficult to reach. A dozen rough-and-ready ways presented themselves to a climber; but neither Brendon nor his companions could find the least indications that any other had recently descended.

Now they quartered out the stone-covered ground and, having first searched every superficial yard for indications of disturbance, proceeded to a methodical and very thorough hunt beneath the surface. The stones were moved and the space critically examined over every square foot, but not a shadow of evidence to show that the spot had been trodden or touched could be discovered. Brendon sought first immediately below the plateau, where the sack and its contents must have fallen, but nothing indicated such an event. The stones were naked and no stain of blood or indication of any intrusion upon the lonely spot rewarded the searchers. For three hours, until dusk began to deepen on the precipices above them, the men worked as skilfully and steadfastly as men might work. Then their fruitless task was done. Brendon's theory, so confidently proclaimed, had broken down and he confessed his failure frankly enough.

They climbed up together once more and reached the summit of the cliffs again. Here, by the main road, they met one or two civilians who had devoted the day to assisting the police; but not one of them reported any sight or rumour of the fugitive.

The entrance of "Crow's Nest" opened upon the highroad which took the police back to Dartmouth, and here Brendon delayed the car and descended alone down the coomb to the house that had so suddenly lost its master. The place seemed mourning and it was very silent. Mark inquired for Jenny and the frightened maid doubted whether she might be seen.

"The poor lady be cruel put about," she explained. "She says she brings evil fortune after her and wishes to God it was her that was dead and not poor master. Mr. Doria tried to comfort her a bit; but he couldn't and she told him to be gone. She's very near cried her eyes out of her head since morning."

"That does not sound much like Mrs. Pendean," he answered. "Where is she, and where is Doria?"

"She's in her room. He is writing letters. He says that he must look after new work pretty quick, because no doubt he won't be wanted here after a month from now."

"Ask Mrs. Pendean if she can see me a moment," he said, and the woman, left him to ascertain. But Brendon was disappointed. Jenny sent word that she could not see him to-day and hoped he would take occasion to call on the following morning, when he would find her more composed.

To this he could answer nothing and presently started to rejoin the car. Giuseppe overtook him from the house; but he could only report that the day had passed without event at "Crow's Nest."

"Nobody has come but a clergyman," he told Brendon, "and we have been careful to leave everything just as the old captain left it."

"I will see you to-morrow," promised Mark; then he rejoined the inspector and their car went on its way.

A surprise and a keen disappointment awaited them at Dartmouth. The day's work had produced no result whatever. Not a trace of Robert Redmayne was reported from anywhere and Inspector Damarell offered the former solution of suicide. But Brendon would not hear it now.

"He is no more dead this time than he was six months ago," he answered; "but he has some system of disguise, or concealment, that utterly defeats the ordinary methods of a man hunt. We must try bloodhounds to-morrow, though the scent is spoiled now and we can hardly hope for any useful results."

"Perhaps he'll write from Plymouth again as he did before," suggested the inspector.

Weary and out of spirits, Mark left the police station and went to his hotel. To be baffled was an experience not new to him and thus far he felt no more tribulation than a great cricketer, who occasionally fails and retires for a "duck," knowing that his second innings may still be told in three figures; but what concerned him was the double failure on the same case. He felt puzzled by events and still more puzzled by his own psychology, which seemed incapable of reacting as usual to the stimulus of mystery and the challenge of a problem, apparently ineluctable.

He felt that his wits were playing him false and, instead of cleaving some bold and original way to the heart of a difficulty, as was his wont, he could see no ray of light thrown by the candle of his own inspiration. Inspiration, in fact, he wholly lacked. Once only in the past—after an attack of influenza—had he felt so barren of initiative as now, so feeble and ineffective.

He fell asleep at last, thinking not of the vanished sailor, but Jenny Pendean. That she must suffer at her uncle's sudden death was natural and he had not been surprised to learn of her collapse. For she was sensitive; she had lately been through a terrible personal trial; and to find herself suddenly associated with another tragedy might well induce a nervous breakdown. Who would come to the rescue now? To whom would she look? Whither would she go?

Mark was early astir and with Inspector Damarell he organized an elaborate search system for the day. At nine o'clock a large party had set out, for another morning brought no news by telegram or telephone, and it was clear that Redmayne still continued free.

Brendon proceeded presently to "Crow's Nest," drawn thither solely by thoughts of Jenny, for whatever she might secretly think of Doria and feel toward him, it was certain that he could not be of any great support under present circumstances. Doria was essentially a fair-weather friend. Many were the things that Jenny would be called to do and, so far as Mark knew, there was none to assist her. He found her distressed but calm. She had telegraphed to her uncle in Italy and though she doubted whether he would risk return into an English winter, she hoped that he might do so.

"Everything is chaos," she said, "just as it was at Princetown. Uncle Bendigo told me only a few days before these things happened—when he had made up his mind that his brother Robert must be dead—that the law would not recognize his death for a certain period of years. And now we know that he is not dead but that poor Uncle Bendigo is. Yet the law will not recognize his death, either perhaps, seeing that he has not been found. Uncle Robert's papers and affairs were gone into and he left no will; so his property, when the law sanctions it, would have been divided between his brothers; but now I imagine it all belongs to my uncle in Italy; while, as for poor Uncle Bendigo, I expect that he has made a will, because he was such a methodical man; but what he intended to do with his house and money we cannot tell yet."

Jenny had nothing to say or suggest that could help Brendon and she was very nervous, desiring to leave the lonely habitation on the cliffs as quickly as possible; but she intended to await Albert Redmayne's decision.

"This will greatly upset him, I fear," she said. "He is now the last of 'the red Redmaynes,' as our family was called in Australia."

"Why the adjective?"

"Because we were always red. Every one of my grandfather's children had red hair, and so had he. His wife was also red—and the only living member of the next generation is red, too, as you see."

"You are not red. Your hair is a most wonderful auburn, if I may say so."

She showed no appreciation of the compliment.

"It will soon be grey," she answered.



CHAPTER IX

A PIECE OF WEDDING CAKE

Albert Redmayne, holding it his duty to come to England, did so, and Jenny met him at Dartmouth after his long journey.

He was a small, withered man with a big head, great, luminous eyes, and a bald scalp. Such hair as yet remained to him was the true Redmayne scarlet; but the nimbus that still adorned his naked skull was streaked with silver and his thin, long beard was also grizzled. He spoke in a gentle, kindly voice, with little Southern gestures. He was clad in a great Italian cloak and a big, slouchy hat, which between them, almost served to extinguish the bookworm.

"Oh, that Peter Ganns were here!" he sighed again and again, while he thrust himself as near as possible to a great coal fire, and Jenny told him every detail of the tragedy.

"They took the bloodhounds to the cave, Uncle Albert, and Mr. Brendon himself watched them working, but nothing came of it. The creatures leaped up the channel from the cave and were soon upon the plateau where the long tunnel opens into the air; but there they seemed to lose their bearings and there was no scent that attracted them, either up to the summit of the cliffs, or down to the rocky beach underneath. They ran about and bayed and presently returned again down the tunnel to the cave. Mr. Brendon has no belief in the value of bloodhounds for a case like this."

"Nothing further of—of—Robert?"

"Not a trace or sign of him. I'm sure that everything that the wit of man can do has been done; and many clever local people, including the County Commissioner and the highest authorities, have helped Mr. Brendon; but not a glimpse of poor Uncle Robert has been seen and there is nothing to show what happened to him after that terrible night."

"Or to brother Bendigo, either, for that matter," murmured Mr. Redmayne. "It is your poor husband's case over again—blood, alas, but nought else!"

Jenny was haggard and worn. She devoted herself to the old man's comfort and hoped that the journey would not do him any hurt.

Mr. Albert Redmayne slept well, but the morning found him very depressed and melancholy. Things, dreadful enough at a distance, seemed far worse now that he found himself in the theatre of their occurrence. He maintained a long conversation with Mark Brendon and cross-questioned Doria; but their information did not inspire him to a suggestion and, after twenty-four hours, it was clear that the little man could be of no assistance to anybody. He was frightened and awe-stricken. He detested "Crow's Nest" and the melancholy murmur of the sea. He showed the keenest desire to return home at the earliest opportunity and was exceedingly nervous after dark.

"Oh, that Peter Ganns were here!" he exclaimed again and again, as a comment to every incident unfolded by Brendon or Jenny; and then, when she asked him if it might be possible to summon Peter Ganns, Mr. Redmayne explained that he was an American beyond their reach at present.

"Mr. Ganns," he said, "is my best friend in the world—save and excepting one man only. He—my first and most precious intimate—dwells at Bellagio, on the opposite side of Lake Como from myself. Signor Virgilio Poggi is a bibliophile of European eminence and the most brilliant of men—a great genius and my dearest associate for twenty-five years. But Peter Ganns also is a very astounding person—a detective officer by profession—but a man of many parts and full of such genuine understanding of humanity that to know him is to gain priceless insight.

"I myself lack that intimate knowledge of character which is his native gift. Books I know better than men, and it was my peculiar acquaintance with books that brought Ganns and me together in New York. There I served him well in an amazing police case and aided him to prove a crime, the discovery of which turned upon a certain paper manufactured for the Medici. But a greater thing than this criminal incident sprang from it; and that is my friendship with the wonderful Peter. Not above half a dozen books have taught me more than that man. He is a Machiavelli on the side of the angels."

He expatiated upon Mr. Peter Ganns until his listeners wearied of the subject. Then Giuseppe Doria intervened with a personal problem. He desired to be dismissed and was anxious to learn from Brendon if the law permitted him to leave the neighbourhood.

"For my part," he said, "it is an ill wind that blows good to nobody. I am anxious to go to London if there is no objection."

He found himself detained, however, for some days, until an official examination of the strange problem was completed. The investigation achieved nothing and threw no ray of light, either upon the apparent murder of Bendigo Redmayne, or the disappearance of his brother. The original mystery at Foggintor Quarry was recalled, to fill the minds of the morbid and curious; but no sort of connecting motive between the two crimes appeared and the problem of Robert Redmayne only grew darker. All purpose was lacking from both tragedies, while even the facts themselves remained in doubt, since neither incident furnished a dead body to prove murder against the missing man.

Mr. Albert Redmayne stayed no longer in Devonshire than his duty indicated, for he could prove of no service to the police. On the night previous to his departure he went through his brother's scanty library and found nothing in it of any interest to a collector. The ancient and well-thumbed copy of "Moby Dick" he took for sentiment, and he also directed Jenny to pack for him Bendigo's "Log"—a diary in eight or ten volumes. This he proposed to read at his leisure when home again. To the end of his visit he never ceased to lament the absence of Mr. Peter Ganns.

"My friend is actually coming to Europe next year," he explained. "He is, without doubt, the most accomplished of men in the dreadful science of detecting crime and, were he here, he could assuredly read into these abominations a meaning for which we grope in vain. Do not think," he added to Jenny, "that I undervalue the labours of Mr. Brendon and the police, but they have come to naught, for there are strange forces of evil moving here deeper than the plummet of their intelligence can sound."

He departed, assured that his family was the victim of some evil, concealed alike from himself and everybody else; but he promised Jenny that he would presently write to America and lay every incident of the case, so far as it was known and reported, before his friend.

"He will bring a new intelligence to bear upon the tragedy," said Albert. "He will see things that are hidden from us, for his brain has a quality which one can only describe as a mental X-ray, which probes and penetrates in a fashion denied to ordinary thinking apparatus."

Before he returned to the borders of Como and his little villa beneath the mountains, the old scholar took affectionate leave of Jenny and made her promise to follow him as soon as she was able to do so.

He had failed to observe the emotional bonds that united her to Doria; but he had found Giuseppe an attractive personality and welcomed the Italian's good sense and tact under distressing circumstances. He made him a present of money before leaving and promised him testimonials if he should need them. As for Jenny, she was to enjoy the bequest under her grandfather's will when she desired to do so, while for her future, her uncle trusted that she would make her home with him.

He soon departed and the Redmayne inquiry, begun with much zest and determination, gradually faded away and perished of inanition. No solitary clue or indication of progress rewarded the investigations. Robert Redmayne had vanished off the face of the earth and his brother with him. There remained of the family only Albert and his niece—a fact she imparted, not without melancholy, to Mark Brendon, when the day came that he must take his leave of her and return to other and more profitable fields of work.

He urged her to join her uncle as soon as possible and he begged her to accept his willing service in any way within his power; while she was gracious and thanked him for all that he had done.

"I shall never, never forget your patience and your great goodness," she said. "I am indeed grateful, Mr. Brendon, and I hope, if only for your sake, that time will lay bare the truth of these horrible things. To know that good men, against whom there was no grudge or hate in the world, have been murdered by their fellow men—it is a nightmare. But God will bring the truth to light—I feel positive of that."

He left her more deeply in love than ever; but there seemed no note of hope or promise in their farewell. And yet he felt a profound conviction that they would meet again. She undertook to acquaint him with her movements and was not sure that she would accept Albert Redmayne's invitation to join him. So Mark left her, believing that Doria was certain to determine her future and guessing that, if she presently proceeded to Como, the lively and indomitable Italian would quickly follow.

For the present, however, Giuseppe seemed to be concerned with his own affairs. He brought Brendon back on his last journey from "Crow's Nest" in the launch and explained that he had already found good work beside the Thames.

"We shall, I hope, meet again," he said, "and you may hear presently of a very wonderful adventure in which Doria shall be l'allegro—the merry man and the hero!"

They talked and Mark became impatient under a growing consciousness that the quicker-witted spirit was pulling his leg. Doria preserved the best possible temper, but his Latin love of a certain sort of fun seemed cynical and almost inhuman under the circumstances.

They spoke of the mystery and, upon that subject, the motor boatman declared himself as quite unable to find any explanation; but, with respect to Brendon's failure, he did not hesitate to make a sly allusion. Indeed he hinted at things which Mark was to hear six months later in a more responsible mouth.

"Above all, what has puzzled me most in this horrid affair is you, Brendon," declared Giuseppe. "You are a great sleuth, we know; yet you are no better than the rest of us stupid people before these happenings and horrors. That made me wonder for a long time; but now I wonder no longer."

"I'm beat and I own it. I've missed something vital—the keystone of the arch. But why do you say that you wonder no more? Because you know me now and find me a very dull dog?"

"Not so, my friend, far from it. You are a very wily, clever dog. But—well, as we say in Italy, 'if you put a cat into gloves, she will not catch mice.' You have been in gloves ever since you knew Madonna was a widow."

"What do you mean?"

"Very well you know what I mean!"

And that was the end of their conversation, for Brendon frowned in silence and Giuseppe began to slack the engines as they reached the landing stage.

"Something tells me I shall meet you again, Marco," he said as they shook hands and prepared to part; and Brendon, who shared that impression strongly enough, nodded.

"It may be so," he answered.

For a period of several months, however, the detective was not to hear more of those who had played their small parts in the unsolved mystery. He was busy enough and in some measure rehabilitated a tarnished reputation by one brilliant achievement in his finest manner. But success did not restore his self-respect; and it diminished in no degree the fever burning at his heart.

Once he received a note from Jenny telling him that she hoped to see him in London before leaving for Italy; and the fact that she had decided to join her uncle gave him some peace; but he heard nothing further and his reply to Mrs. Pendean's communication, which had come from "Crow's Nest," won no response. Weeks passed and whether she remained still in Devonshire, was in London, or had gone to Italy, he could not know, for she did not write again.

He dispatched a long letter in early spring to the care of Albert Redmayne, but this also won no response. And then came an explanation. She had been in London, but kept him ignorant of the fact for sufficient reasons. She had neither thought of him nor wanted him, for her life was full of another.

On a day in late March, Brendon received a little, triangular-shaped box through the post from abroad, and opening it, stared at a wedge of wedding cake. With the gift came a line—one only: "Kind and grateful remembrances from Giuseppe and Jenny Doria."

She sent no direction that might enable him to acknowledge her gift; but there was a postal stamp upon the covering and Brendon noted that the box came from Italy—from Ventimiglia, a town which Doria once mentioned in connection with the ruined castle and vanished splendours of his race.

And yet, despite this sudden, though not surprising, event, there persisted with Mark a conviction that this did not mean the end. Time was to bring him into close companionship with Jenny again: he knew it for an integral factor of the future; but the persistence of this impression could not serve to lighten his melancholy before an accomplished fact. That he might live to be of infinite service to Jenny a subconscious assurance convinced him; but he must say good-bye to love forever. Henceforth hope was dead and when duty called he knew not what form his duty might assume. Through a sleepless night he retraced every moment of his intercourse with Doria's wife and much tormented himself.

But other recollections awakened by this survey gave him pause and pointed to mysteries as yet unguessed. For was it possible that this tender-natured woman, who had mourned her husband so bitterly but nine months before, could now enter with such light-hearted joy into union with another man? Was it reasonable to see Jenny Pendean, as he remembered her in the agony of her bereavement, already the happy and contented bride of one a stranger to her until so recently?

It was indeed possible, because it had happened; but reasons for so untimely an event existed. They might, if understood, absolve the widow for an apparent levity not consonant with her true and steadfast self. It cast him down, almost as much as his own vanished dream and everlasting loss, that hard-hearted love could work such a miracle and banish the wedded past of this woman's life so completely in favour of a doubtful future with a foreign spouse.

There were things hidden, and he felt a great desire to penetrate them for the credit of the woman he had loved so well.



CHAPTER X

ON GRIANTE

Dawn had broken over Italy and morning, in honeysuckle colours, burned upon the mountain mists. Far beneath a lofty hillside the world still slumbered and the Larian lake, a jewel of gold and turquoise, shone amid her flowery margins. The hour was very silent; the little towns and hamlets scattered beside Como, like clusters of white and rosy shells, dreamed on until thin music broke from their campaniles. Bell answered bell and made a girdle of harmony about the lake, floating along the water and ascending aloft until no louder than the song of birds.

Two women climbed together up the great acclivity of Griante. One was brown and elderly, clad in black with an orange rag wrapped about her brow—a sturdy, muscular creature who carried a great, empty wicker basket upon her shoulders; the other was clad in a rosy jumper of silk: she flashed in the morning fires and brought an added beauty to that beautiful scene.

Jenny ascended the mountain as lightly as a butterfly. She was lovelier than ever in the morning light, yet a misty doubt, a watchful sadness, seemed to hover upon her forehead. Her wonderful eyes looked ahead up the precipitous tract that she and the Italian woman climbed together. She moderated her pace to the slower gait of the elder and presently they both stopped before a little grey chapel perched beside the hill path.

Mr. Albert Redmayne's silkworms, in the great airy shed behind his villa, had nearly all spun their cocoons now, for it was June again and the annual crop of mulberry leaves in the valleys beneath were well-nigh exhausted.

Therefore Assunta Marzelli, the old bibliophile's housekeeper, made holiday with his niece, now upon a visit to him, and together the women climbed, where food might be procured for the last tardy caterpillars to change their state.

They had started in the grey dawn, passed up a dry watercourse, and proceeded where the vine was queen and there fell a scented filigree of dead blossom from flowering olives. They had seen a million clusters of tiny grapes already rounding and had passed through wedges and squares of cultivated earth, where sprang alternate patches of corn yellowing to harvest and the lush green of growing maize. Figs and almonds and rows of red and white mulberries, with naked branches stripped of foliage, broke the lines of the crops. Here hedges sparkled in a harvest of scarlet cherries; and here sheep and goats nibbled over little, bright tracts of sweet grass. Higher yet shone out groves of chestnut trees, all shining with the light of their tassels, very bright by contrast with the gloom of the mountain pines.

And then, where two tall cypresses stood upon either side, Jenny and Assunta found the shrine and stayed a while. Jenny set down the basket which she carried with their midday meal, and her companion dropped the great bin destined to hold mulberry leaves.

The lake below was now reduced to a cup of liquid jade over which shot streamers of light into the mountain shadows at its brink; but there were vessels floating on the waters that held the watchers' eyes.

They looked like twin, toy torpedo boats—mere streaks of red and black upon the water, with Italy's flag at the taffrail. But the little ships were no toys and Assunta hated them, for the strange craft told of the ceaseless battle waged by authority against the mountain smugglers and reminded the widow of her own lawless husband's death ten years before. Caesar Marzelli had taken his cup to the well once too often and had lost his life in a pitched battle with the officers of the customs.

Long shafts of glory shot between the mountains and drenched the lake; the shoulders of the lesser hills flamed; the waters beneath them flashed; and far away, among the table-lands of the morning mist, against a sapphire sky, there gleamed the last patches of snow.

A cross of rusty iron surmounted the little sanctuary by which they sat, and the roof was of old tiles scorched a mellow tint of brown. To Maris Stella was the shrine dedicated; and within, under the altar, white bones gleamed—skulls and thighs and ribs of men and women who had perished of the plague in far-off time.

"Morti della peste," read Jenny, on the front of the altar, and Assunta, in gloomy mood before the recollection of the past, spoke to her young mistress and shook her head.

"I envy them sometimes, signora. Their troubles are ended. Those heads, that have ached and wept so often, will never ache and weep again."

She spoke in Italian and Jenny but partially understood. Yet she joined Assunta on her knees and together they made their morning prayer to Mary, Star of the Sea, and asked for what their souls most desired.

Presently they rose, Assunta the calmer for her petitions, and together they proceeded upward. The elder tried to explain what a base and abominable thing it was that her husband, an honest free trader between Italy and Switzerland, should have been destroyed by the slaves in the government vessels beneath, and Jenny nodded and strove to understand. She was making progress in Italian, though Assunta's swift tongue and local patois were as yet beyond her comprehension. But she knew that her dead smuggler husband was the subject on Assunta's lips and nodded her sympathy.

"Sons of dogs!" cried the widow; then a steep section of their road reduced her to silence.

The great event of that day, which brought Jenny Doria so violently back into the tragedy of the past, had yet to happen, and many hours elapsed before she was confronted with it. The women climbed presently to a little field of meadow grass that sparkled with tiny flowers and spread its alpine sward among thickets of mulberry. Here their work awaited them; but first they ate the eggs and wheaten bread, walnuts and dried figs that they had brought and shared a little flask of red wine. They finished with a handful of cherries and then Assunta began to pluck leaves for her great basket while Jenny loitered a while and smoked a cigarette. It was a new habit acquired since her marriage.

Presently she set to work and assisted her companion until they had gathered a full load of leaves. Then the younger plucked one or two great golden orange lilies that grew in this little glen, and soon the women started upon their homeward way. They had descended about a mile and at a shoulder of Griante sat down to rest in welcome shadow. Beneath, to the northward, lay their home beside the water and, gazing down upon the scattered and clustered habitations of Menaggio, Jenny declared that she saw the red roof of Villa Pianezzo and the brown of the lofty shed behind, where dwelt her uncle's silkworms.

Opposite, on its promontory, stood the little township of Bellagio and behind it flashed the glassy face of Lecco in the cloudless sunshine. And then, suddenly, as if it had been some apparition limned upon the air, there stood in the path the figure of a tall man. His red head was bare and from the face beneath shone a pair of wild and haggard eyes. They saw the stranger's great tawny mustache, his tweed garments and knickerbockers, his red waistcoat, and the cap he carried in his hand.

It was Robert Redmayne. Assunta, who gazed upon him without understanding, suddenly felt Jenny's hand tighten hard upon her arm. Jenny uttered one loud cry of terror and then relaxed and fell unconscious upon the ground. The widow leaped to her aid, cried comfortable words and prayed the young wife to fear nothing; but it was some time before Jenny came to her senses and when she did so her nerve appeared to have deserted her.

"Did you see him?" she gasped, clinging to Assunta and gazing fearfully where her uncle had stood.

"Yes, yes—a big, red man; but he meant us no harm. When you cried out, he was more frightened than we. He leaped down, like a red fox, into the wood and disappeared. He was not an Italian. A German or Englishman, I think. Perhaps a smuggler planning to fetch tea and cigars and coffee and salt from Switzerland. If he leaves enough for the doganieri, they will wink at him. If he does not, they will shoot him—sons of dogs!"

"Remember what you saw!" said Jenny tremulously: "Remember exactly what he looked like, that you may be able to tell Uncle Albert just how it was, Assunta. He is Uncle Albert's brother—Robert Redmayne!"

Assunta Marzelli knew something of the mystery and understood that her master's brother was being hunted for great crimes.

She crossed herself.

"Merciful God! The evil man. And so red! Let us fly, signora."

"Which way did he go?"

"Straight down through the wood beneath us."

"Did he recognize me, Assunta? Did he seem to know me? I dared not look a second time."

Assunta partially followed the question.

"No. He did not look either. He stared out over the lake and his face was like a lost soul's face. Then you cried out and still he did not look but disappeared. He was not angry."

"Why is he here? How has he come and where from?"

"Who shall say? Perhaps the master will know."

"I am in great fear for the master, Assunta. We must go home as quickly as possible."

"Is there danger to the signor from his brother?"

"I do not know. I think there may be."

Jenny helped Assunta with her great basket, lifted it on her shoulders and then set off beside her. But the rate of progress proved too slow for her patience.

"I have a horrible dread," she said. "Something tells me that we ought to be going faster. Would you be frightened if I were to leave you, Assunta, and make greater haste?"

The other managed to understand and declared that she felt no fear.

"I have no quarrel with the red man," she said. "Why should he hurt me? Perhaps he was not a man but a spirit, signora."

"I wish he were," declared Jenny. "But it was not a ghost you heard leap into the wood, Assunta. I will run as fast as I can and take the short cuts."

They parted and Jenny hastened, risked her neck sometimes, and sped forward with the energy of youth and on the wings of fear. Assunta saw her stop and turn and listen once or twice; then the crags and hanging thickets hid her from view.

Jenny saw and heard no more of the being who had thus so unexpectedly returned into her life. Her thoughts were wholly with Albert Redmayne and, as she told him when she met him, it remained for him to consider the significance of this event and determine what steps should be taken for his own safety. He was at Bellagio when she reached home, and his manservant, Assunta's brother, Ernesto, explained that Mr. Redmayne had crossed after luncheon to visit his dearest friend, the book lover, Virgilio Poggi.

"A book came by the postman, signora, and the master must needs hire boat and cross at once," explained Ernesto, who spoke good English and was proud of his accomplishment.

Jenny waited impatiently and she was at the landing stage when Albert returned. He smiled to see her and took off his great slouch hat.

"My beloved Virgilio was overjoyed that I should have found the famous book—the veritable Italian edition of Sir Thomas Browne—his 'Pseudodoxia Epidemica.' A red-letter day for us both! But—but—" He looked at Jenny's frightened eyes and felt her hand upon his sleeve. "Why, what is wrong? You are alarmed. No ill news of Giuseppe?"

"Come home quickly," she answered, "and I will explain. A very terrible thing has happened. I cannot think what we should do. Only this I know: I am not going to leave you again until it is cleared up."

At home Albert took off his great hat and cloak. Then he sat in his study—an amazing chamber, lined with books to the lofty ceiling and dark in tone by reason of the prevalent rich but sombre bindings of five thousand volumes. Jenny told him that she had seen Robert Redmayne, whereupon her uncle considered for five minutes, then declared himself both puzzled and alarmed. He showed no fear, however, and his large, luminous eyes shone out of his little, withered face unshadowed. None the less he was quick to read danger into this extraordinary incident.

"You are positive?" he asked. "Everything depends on that. If you have seen my unfortunate, vanished brother again here, so near to me, it is exceedingly amazing, Jenny. Can you say positively, without a shadow of doubt, that the melancholy figure was not a figment of your imagination, or some stranger who resembled Robert?"

"I wish to Heaven I could, Uncle Albert. But I am positive."

"The very fact that he appeared exactly as you saw him last—in the big tweed suit and red waistcoat—would support an argument in favour of hallucination," declared her uncle. "For how on earth can the poor creature, if he be really still alive, have remained in those clothes for a year and travelled half across Europe in them?"

"It is monstrous. And yet there he stood and I saw him as clearly as I see you. He was certainly not in my thoughts. I was thinking of nothing and talking to Assunta about the silkworms, when suddenly he appeared, not twenty yards away."

"What did you do?"

"I made a fool of myself," confessed Jenny. "Assunta says that I cried out very loud and then toppled over and fainted. When I came round there was nothing to be seen."

"The point is then: did Assunta see him also?"

"That was the first thing I found out. I hoped she had not. That would have saved the situation in a way and proved it was only some picture of the mind as you suggest. But she saw him clearly enough—so clearly that she described a red man not Italian, but English or German. She heard him, too. When I cried out he leaped away into the woods."

"Did he see and recognize you?"

"That I do not know. Probably he did."

Mr. Redmayne lighted a cigar which he took from a box on a little table by the open hearth. He drew several deep breaths before he spoke again.

"This is a very disquieting circumstance and I greatly wish it had not happened," he said. "There may be no cause for alarm; but, on the other hand, when we consider the disappearance of my brother Bendigo, I have a right to feel fear. By some miracle, Robert, for the last six months, has continued to evade capture and conceal the fact of his insanity. That means I am now faced with a most formidable danger, Jenny, and it behooves me to exercise the greatest possible care of my person. You, too, for all we can say, may be in peril."

"I may be," she said. "But you matter more. We must do something swiftly, uncle—to-day—this very hour."

"Yes," he admitted. "We are painfully challenged by Providence, my child. Heaven helps those who help themselves, however. I have never before, to my knowledge, been in any physical danger and the sensation is exceedingly unpleasant. We will drink some strong tea and then determine our course of action. I confess that I feel a good deal perturbed."

His words were at variance with his quiet and restrained expression, but Mr. Redmayne had never told a falsehood in his life and Jenny knew that he was indeed alarmed.

"You must not stop here to-night," she said. "You must cross to Bellagio and stay with Signor Poggi until we know more."

"We shall see as to that. Prepare the tea and leave me for half an hour to reflect."

"But—but—Uncle Albert—he—he might come at any moment!"

"Do not think so. He is now, poor soul, a creature of the night. We need not fear that he will intrude in honest sunshine upon the haunts of men. Leave me and tell Ernesto to admit nobody who is not familiar to him. But I repeat, we need fear nothing until after dark."

In half an hour Jenny returned with Mr. Redmayne's tea.

"Assunta has just come back. She has seen nothing more of—of Uncle Robert."

For a time Albert said nothing. He drank, and ate a large macaroon biscuit. Then he told his niece the plans he was prepared to follow.

"Providence is, I think, upon our side, pretty one," he began, "for my amazing friend, Peter Ganns, who designed to visit me in September, has already arrived in England; and when he hears of this ugly sequel to the story I confided in his ears last winter, I am bold to believe that he will hasten to me immediately and not hesitate to modify his plans. He is a methodical creature and hates to change; but circumstances alter cases and I feel justified in telling you that he will come as soon as he conveniently can do so. This I say because he loves me."

"I'm sure he will," declared Jenny.

"Write me two letters," continued Albert. "One to Mr. Mark Brendon, the young detective from Scotland Yard, of whom I entertained a high opinion; and also write to your husband. Direct Brendon to approach Peter Ganns and beg them both to come to me as quickly as their affairs allow. Also bid Giuseppe to return to you immediately. He will serve to protect us, for he is fearless and resolute."

But Jenny showed no joy at this suggestion.

"I was to have had a peaceful month with you," she pouted.

"So indeed I hoped; but it can hardly be peaceful now and I confess that the presence of Doria would go some way to compose my nerves. He is powerful, cheerful, and full of resource. He is also brave. He remembers the past and he knows poor Robert by sight. If, therefore, my brother is indeed near at hand and to be expected at any moment, then I should be glad of some capable person to stand between us. Should my brother presently indicate, through you or somebody else, that he wants to see me alone by night, as in the case of Bendigo, then I must absolutely decline any such adventure. We meet in the presence of armed men, or not at all."

Jenny had left Doria for a time and apparently felt no desire to see him again until her promised visit to her uncle should be ended.

"I heard from Giuseppe three days ago," she said. "He has left Ventimiglia and gone to Turin, where he used to work and where he has many friends. He has a project."

"I shall speak with him seriously when next we meet," declared the old man. "I entertain great admiration for your attractive spouse, as you know. He is a delightful person; but it is time we consider the future of your twenty thousand pounds and yourself, Jenny. In the course of nature all that is mine will also be yours, and when the estate of poor Bendigo is wound up, my present income must be nearly doubled. Leave to presume death, however, may be delayed. But the fact remains that you will enjoy the Redmayne money sooner or later, and I want to come to grips with Giuseppe and explain to him that he must understand his responsibilities."

Jenny sighed.

"Nobody will make him understand them, uncle."

"Do not say so. He is intelligent and has, I am sure, a sense of honour as well as a deep and devoted affection for you. But he must not spend your money. I will not allow that. Write to him at Turin and entreat him from me to abandon anything that he may have in hand and join us instantly here. We need not keep him long; but he can look after us for a while until we learn when Ganns and Brendon are to be expected."

Jenny promised, without much enthusiasm, to call her husband to the rescue.

"He will laugh and perhaps refuse to come," she said. "But since you think it wise, I will beg him to hasten and tell him what has happened. Meanwhile what of to-night and to-morrow night?"

"To-night I go across the water to Bellagio and you come with me. It is impossible that Robert should know we are there. Virgilio Poggi will take care of us and be very jealous for me if I hint that I am in any danger."

"I'm sure he will. And should you not warn the police about Uncle Robert and give them a description of him?"

"I'm not sure as to that. We will consider to-morrow. I little like the ways of the Italian police."

"You might have watchers here to-night, ready to take him if he appears," suggested Jenny.

But Albert finally decided against giving any information.

"For the moment I shall do nothing. We will see what another morning may bring forth. To feel this awful presence suddenly so close is very distressing and I do not want to think of him any more until to-morrow. Write the letters and then we will put a few things together and cross the lake before it is evening."

"You do not fear for your books, Uncle Albert?"

"No, I have no fear for my books. If there is a homicidal being here, intent upon my life, he will not look to the right or the left. Even when he was sane, poor Robert never knew anything about books or their value. He will not seek them—nor could he reach them if he did."

"Did he ever visit you here in the past? Does he know Italy?" she said.

"So far as I am aware he was never here in his life. Certainly he never visited me. It is, in fact, so many years since I have seen him that I might have met him and failed to recognize the unhappy man."

Jenny wrote the letters and posted them; then she packed for her uncle and herself and presently, having warned Assunta and Ernesto that no stranger must be admitted until his return on the following day, Albert Redmayne prepared to cross the lake. First, however, he locked and barred his library and transferred half a dozen volumes more than commonly precious to a steel safe aloft in his bedroom.

A boatman quickly rowed them to the landing stage of Bellagio and they soon reached the dwelling of Albert's friend, who welcomed them with an equal measure of surprise and delight.

Signor Poggi, a small, fat man with a bald head, broad brow, and twinkling eyes, grasped their hands and listened with wonder to the reason for their arrival. He knew English and always delighted in the practice of that language when opportunity offered.

"But this is beyond belief!" he said. "An enemy for Alberto! Who should be his enemy—he who is the friend of every man? What romance is this, Signora Jenny, that throws danger into the path of your dear uncle?"

"It is the sudden threat and terror of my vanished brother," explained Mr. Redmayne. "You are familiar, Virgilio, with the terrible facts concerning Robert's appearance and Bendigo's disappearance. Now, suddenly, when I have long come to believe that my younger brother's lurid career was ended and that he had ceased to be, he leaps upon the mountains and reappears in his habit as he lived! Nor can we doubt that he lives indeed. He is no ghost, my friend, but a solid, shadow-easting man, who may be seeking my life by reason of his distempered mind."

"It is romance," declared Virgilio, "but romance of a very grim and painful description. You are, however, safe enough with me, for I would gladly shed my blood to save yours."

"Well I know it, rare Virgilio," declared the other. "But we shall not long impose ourselves upon your courage and generosity. We have written to England for Peter Ganns who, by God's providence, is now in that country and hoped to visit me in a few months. We have also called upon Giuseppe Doria to return at once to us. When he does so I am content to sleep at home again; but not sooner."

Signor Poggi hastened to order a meal worthy of the occasion, while his wife, who was also a devoted admirer of the Englishman, prepared apartments. Nothing but delight filled Poggi's mind at the opportunity to serve his dearest companion. An ample meal was planned and Jenny helped her hostess in its preparation.

Poggi drank to the temporal and eternal welfare of his first friend and Albert returned the compliment. They enjoyed a pleasant meal and then sat through the June twilight in Virgilio's rose garden, smelled the fragrance of oleanders and myrtles in the evening breeze, saw the fireflies flash their little lamps over dim olive and dark cypress, and heard the summer thunder growling genially over the mountain crowns of Campione and Croce.

Mr. Redmayne's niece retired early and Maria Poggi with her, but Virgilio and Albert talked far into the night and smoked many cigars before they slept.

At nine o'clock next morning Mr. Redmayne and Jenny were rowed home again, only to hear that no intruder had broken upon the nightly peace of Villa Pianezzo. Nor did the day bring any news. Once more they repaired to Bellagio before dark, and for three days lived thus. Then there came a telegram from Turin to say that Doria was returning immediately to Como and might soon be expected via Milan; while on the morning that actually brought him to Menaggio, his wife received a brief letter from Mark Brendon. He had found Mr. Ganns and the two would set forth for Italy within a few days.

"It is impossible that we can receive both here," declared Albert; "but we will engage pleasant apartments with dear Signor Bullo at the Hotel Victoria. They are full, or nearly so; but he will find a corner for any friends of mine."



CHAPTER XI

MR. PETER GANNS

Mark Brendon received with mingled emotions the long letter from Jenny Doria. It awaited him at New Scotland Yard and, as he took it from the rack, his heart leaped before the well-remembered handwriting. The past very seldom arose to shadow Mark's strenuous present; but now, once more, it seemed that Robert Redmayne was coming between him and his annual holiday. He told himself that he had lived down his greatest disappointment and believed that he could now permit his thoughts to dwell on Jenny without feeling much more than the ache of an old wound. Her letter came a week before the recipient proposed to start upon his vacation. He had intended going to Scotland, having no mind for Dartmoor again at present; but it was not his failure, so complete and bewildering, that had barred a return to familiar haunts. Memory made the thought too painful and poignant, so he designed to break new ground and receive fresh impressions.

Then came this unexpected challenge and he hesitated before accepting it. Yet a second reading of the woman's appeal determined him, for Jenny wrote for herself as well as her uncle. She reminded Brendon of his goodwill and declared how personally she should welcome him and feel safer and more sanguine for his companionship. She also contrived to let him know that she was not particularly happy. The fact seemed implicitly woven into her long letter, though another, less vitally interested in the writer, might have failed to observe it.

Regretting only that Albert Redmayne's friend must be approached and hoping that Mr. Peter Ganns would at least allow him a few days' start, Brendon sought the famous American and found his direction without difficulty. He had already visited New Scotland Yard, where he numbered several acquaintances, and Mark learned that he was stopping at the Grand Hotel in Trafalgar Square. On sending in his name a messenger boy bade Brendon follow to the smoking-room.

His first glance, however, failed to indicate the great man. The smoking-room was nearly empty on this June morning and Mark observed nobody but a young soldier, writing letters, and a white-haired, somewhat corpulent gentleman sitting with his back to the light reading the Times. He was clean shaved, with a heavy face modelled to suggest a rhinoceros. The features were large; the nose swollen and a little veined with purple, the eyes hidden behind owl-like spectacles with tortoise-shell rims, and the brow very broad, but not high. From it abundant white hair was brushed straight back.

Brendon extended his glance elsewhere, but the messenger stopped, turned, and departed, while the stout man rose, revealing a massive frame, wide shoulders, and sturdy legs.

"Glad to meet you, Mr. Brendon," he said in a genial voice; then he shook hands, took off his spectacles, and sat down again.

"This is a pleasure I had meant to give myself before I quitted the city," declared the big man. "I've heard about you and I've taken off my hat to you more than once during the war. You might know me, too."

"Everybody in our business knows you, Mr. Ganns. But I've not come hero-worshipping to waste your time. I'm proud you're pleased to see me and it's a great privilege to meet you; but I've looked in this morning about something that won't wait; and your name is the big noise in a letter I received from Italy to-day."

"Is that so? I'm bound for Italy in the fall."

"The question is whether this letter may change your plans and send you there sooner."

The elder stared, took a golden box out of his waistcoat pocket, opened it, tapped it, and helped himself to a pinch of snuff. The habit explained his somewhat misshapen nose. It was tobacco, not alcohol, that lent its exaggerated lustre and hypertrophied outline to that organ.

"I hate changing my itinerary, once made," replied Mr. Ganns. "I'm the most orderly cuss on earth. So far as I know, there's but one man in all Italy is likely to knock my arrangements on the head; and I'll see him, if all's well, in September next."

Brendon produced Jenny's letter.

"The writer is niece of that man," he said and handed the communication to Mr. Ganns.

Peter put on his spectacles again and read slowly. Indeed Mark had never seen a letter read so slowly before. It might have been in some cryptic tongue which Mr. Ganns could only with difficulty translate. Having finished he handed the communication back to Brendon and indicated a desire for silence. Mark lit a cigarette and sat surveying the other from the corner of his eye.

At last the American spoke.

"What about you? Can you go?"

"Yes; I've appealed to my chief and got permission to pick this up again. My holiday's due and I'll go to Italy instead of Scotland. I was in it from the first, you know."

"I do know—I know all about it, from my old pal, Albert Redmayne. He wrote me the most lucid dispatch that ever I read."

"You can go, Mr. Ganns?"

"I must go, boy. Albert wants me."

"Could you get off in a week?"

"A week! To-night."

"To-night, sir! Do you reckon that Mr. Redmayne is in any danger?"

"Don't you?'"

"He's forewarned and you see he's taking great precautions."

"Brendon," said Mr. Ganns, "run round and find when the night boat sails from Dover, or Folkestone. We'll reach Paris to-morrow morning, I guess, catch the Rapide for Milan, and be at the Lakes next day. You'll find we can do so. Then telegraph to this dame that we start a week hence. You take me?"

"You want to get there before we're expected?"

"Exactly."

"Then you do think Mr. Albert Redmayne is in danger?"

"I don't think about it. I know he is. But as this mystery has only just let loose on him and he's got his weather eye lifting, it will be all right, I hope, for a few hours. Meantime we arrive."

He took another pinch of snuff and picked up the Times. "Will you lunch with me here in the grillroom at two o'clock?"

"With pleasure, Mr. Ganns."

"Right. And telegraph, right now, that we hope to get off in a week."

Some hours later they met again and over a steak and green peas Brendon reported that the boat train left Victoria at eleven and that the Rapide would start from Paris on the following morning at half past six.

"We reach Bevano some time after noon next day," he said, "and can either go on to Milan and then come back to Como and travel by boat to Menaggio, where Mr. Redmayne lives, or else leave the train at Bevano, take steamer on Maggiore, cross to Lugano, and cross again to Como. That way we land right at Menaggio. There's not much in it for time."

"We'll go that way, then, and I'll see the Lakes."

Peter Ganns spoke little while he partook of a light meal. He picked a fried sole and drank two glasses of white wine. Then he ate a dish of green peas and compared their virtues with green corn. He enjoyed the spectacle of Brendon's hearty appetite and bewailed his inability to join him in red meat and a pint of Burton.

"Lucky dog," he said. "When I was young I did the like. I love food. You need never fear any rough stuff in business as long as you can eat beef and drink beer. But nowadays, I don't go into the rough stuff—too old and fat."

"Of course not, sir. You've done your bit. Nobody on your side has been at closer quarters with the big crooks, or heard their guns oftener."

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