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the nearest station, which was at Cwm Eithin? Or should he take refuge in the neighbouring mountains, where there was plenty of wild ground eminently well adapted for purposes of concealment ?
Hastily revolving in his mind the various pros and cons of these plans, he took advantage of the general concentration of attention upon Gladys to creep unnoticed out of his hiding-place. He was turning his steps instinctively towards the stables to procure a horse, when suddenly he recollected with dismay that he would find nothing there, as the equine had accompanied the human part of the establishment in the move to Nant Olchfa. For a moment he stood uncertain. Then he went on again, having remembered also how improbable it was for the recently arrived strangers to have come on foot. They were almost certain to have either ridden or driven to Llysderw; and whatever had conveyed them there should now convey him away. As for opposition on the part of anyone whom they might have left in charge of their means of conveyance, he had not much fear on that score, for he was provided with something which would very soon dispose of any nonsense of the kind. And, so thinking, he drew out of his pocket a loaded revolver and held it ready for immediate use.
For the present, however, its services were not needed. His enemies had ridden over without an attendant, and their horses. were standing not far from the house, with the bridles flung over a gate-post, as they had been left when the riders rushed off to the conflagration. He returned the pistol to his pocket on perceiving the unguarded steeds, and proceeded immediately to profit by the opportunity thus afforded him. Unfastening all three horses from the post to which they were attached, he mounted one of them and rode away, leading the other two by the bridles. He had by this time settled that his flight should be by rail, and therefore took the road to Cwm Eithin. After proceeding for a mile or so, he checked his course to strip the saddles and bridles off the two led horses and turn the animals loose into a large field of grass. Having shut them in there, lest they should stray back to their masters, he resumed his journey at full speed, extremely pleased to have succeeded in securing so good a start. For without horses there could be no immediate and rapid pursuit; and horses were few and far between for miles around Llysderw-a thinly populated district inhabited by cottagers and small farmers, who either kept no horses at all, or else only under-sized, half-starved, sorry creatures of the Rosinante breed. As even these could not be procured without much difficulty and hunting about from house to house, and as no one would know what had become of the steeds he had carried off, his enemies evidently were not likely to be mounted again for a long while. And time was all he needed-give him that and he would snap his fingers at them!
As he galloped along, mentally reviewing his position from all points to try and judge accurately what sort of a chance of escape he had, he perceived that things looked well for him, and that his prospect of getting clear off was satisfactory.
To begin with. He might safely reckon on a considerable amount of delay taking place before his departure could be discovered. The people at the burning house were sure to be all at sixes and sevens, rushing hither and thither and trying to save as much as possible from the flames. No doubt it would at first be supposed that he also was similarly engaged somewhere or other about the building, and in the prevailing state of confusion there would necessarily be much loss of time before the fallacy of that supposition was known. Then when that had been ascertained there was nothing to show in which direction he had gone, and it was a chance if they hit upon the right one. Whichever way they went they had no horses to expedite the pursuit and assist them in scouring the country to find traces of him. So that altogether it was plain that the foe was not likely to be able to get on his scent in a hurry, and that he would almost certainly have time to baffle them and give them the slip.
His spirits revived with these encouraging considerations; and he laughed mockingly to think of the major's disgust when he should learn that the bird he had felt so sure of capturing was flown. Serve him right, too. The middle of the night was emphatically not a proper hour to go and call unasked upon any strange gentleman whose acquaintance one might desire to make. In acting as he had done the major had been guilty of an impertinent intrusion upon Reginald's privacy; and it was to be hoped that the having had all his trouble for nothing would teach him to be less pushing and unmannerly in future.
Then again the fugitive recalled to mind word by word the overheard colloquy which had warned him to fly; and the jeering mood in which he had thought of those who had expected to take him into custody was changed to savage fury with the woman who had given them their information, and deprived him of success at the very moment when it seemed
The hateful old hag had betrayed him as he had always feared she would do if he did not manage to silence her for good and all. He had thought to have done the trick with what he had added to her milk-jug the other day; but unluckily that must have gone wrong somehow, and so she had been able thus to bring about his ruin and rob him of the brilliant prize he had striven for and was on the point of gaining. For he was on the point of gaining it-there could be no doubt about that. He would have taken good care that the ladder did not arrive in time to save Gladys if those men had not come and
interfered. And if the ladder had been thus delayed, and if that damnable Leah had been disposed of before she had blabbed, then his happiness would have been assured, for the long-coveted Nant Olchfa would have been his to have and to hold and do as he liked with his absolutely, with no encumbrance in the shape of a wife attached thereto. But that woman had spoilt everything-brought his plans to nought, and wrecked his hopes altogether. Oh, it was intolerable to think of all this, and to know that she must perforce be left unpunished since he was fleeing for his life and could not afford time to go and find her and take vengeance for the mischief she had done him!
And the murderous villain felt a furious craving for revenge, which, being unsatisfied, was as tormenting mentally a's unquenched thirst would have been bodily, and made him grind his teeth and groan out aloud with pain.
The object of his hatred, whom he imagined to be far away, was, however, just then close at hand; and in order to understand how that happened it is necessary to go back to Leah's visit to Cwm Eithin on the preceding day.
It was not till quite late that Enville returned to his quarters, and she was able to speak to him and confide in him as she desired to do. He ought doubtless, after hearing her story, to have taken precautions to keep her within reach till its accuracy should have been ascertained. But he did not think of that in his horror at the idea of the perils to which Gladys might be liable at any and every moment as long as her cousin was at liberty and actually living in the same house with her. If what Leah said was true-and her manner made him think it was then Gladys' safety needed to be seen to without an instant's delay. And he hurried off to take steps for Reginald's immediate arrest, leaving Leah free to stay or go as she pleased.
Her original intention had been to go straight home as soon as she had had her interview with him. But when she left his room it was so dark that she changed her mind about this, and determined instead to go back to the public-house, get supper there comfortably, and start homewards a couple of hours later. By this means she would avoid having to tramp the whole way in the dark, for she knew that the moon would be shining in the small hours of the morning. And as her homeward journey was thus delayed, and as for the first six miles her route was identical with that to Llysderw, it happened that she was coming away from Cwm Eithin just when Marshall was approaching it, and that a turn of the road brought him suddenly face to face with her at the very moment when he was cursing her with bitter hatred and a miserable sense of impotent desire for vengeance.
The moonlight was sufficiently bright for him to see at once who she was, and he recognised her with a fierce exultation which made amends, for the moment, for all the disagreeables of his situation. He forgot everything save the unspeakable bliss of this unexpected opportunity for satisfying his revenge. It was a wild and lonely place. She should not escape him again. And a sudden, comfortable sense of content and wellbeing suffused itself throughout him as he realised this.
If he had been thinking about her, so also had she thought much about him during the weary, long night walk; but her thoughts had been of a very different kind from his, for vague feelings of compunction for what she had done were struggling to assert themselves.
The old, passionate devotion to her nursling by which she had been animated for years was still stirring feebly within her in spite of all his ingratitude. Besides that, to have a living object for her affection was a necessity of her nature, and life seemed a very desolate affair without either her cat or her foster-son. Was it not a pity to have caused an irreparable breach between him and her? Was it yet possible to repair the breach? What if, instead of going straight home, she were to toil on to Llysderw on chance of getting there in time to warn him of impending danger?
Tired though she was, she was debating nevertheless whether or not to undertake this extra journey for his sake, when she heard horse's feet coming swiftly along the road to meet her, and looked up curiously, wondering who was travelling through the night at such speed. In a minute more both steed and rider were in sight, and she perceived that the latter was her foster-son.
Her mind was in so uncertain a condition regarding him at the moment that she could not herself have told exactly whether she were wishing him well or ill. But the feeling of relief which she experienced at seeing him safe and unharmed seemed to prove that desire for his good was, on the whole, predominant. She saw that he drew rein as soon as he recognised her, and walked the horse towards her as though for conversational purposes.
"Well indeed, and I be glad," she burst forth eagerly. That was all she had time to say.
"Are you? D-you!" he interrupted savagely, stretching out his hand as he spoke.
There was a flash, a report, a heavy fall, a groan; and then the woman lay lifeless in the road and the man was galloping along again as before, with an expression of ferocious satisfaction on his face.
What a handy thing a pistol was! He didn't believe he could have kept his hands off her just then, whether he had
been armed or not; and she'd have been a deuced awkward customer to attack without a weapon of some kind-indeed he thought it was quite an open question whether he wouldn't have come off second best in a hand-to-hand tussle with such a great strong brute as her! Thanks to the jolly little pistol, however, everything had been settled cosily and safely without his having been obliged to expose himself to the risks of a struggle. And it was good-very, excellently good-to know that he had been able to pay her off before he left the country!
(Will be concluded next month.)
From a sheltered inland dwelling, where fruit and flowers abound,
My thoughts return with pleasure to the sea,
Where the bare and rugged headlands overlook the rockbound
And the breeze from the ocean rushes free.
I remember, in the spring-time, the early flowers that smiled,
There we wandered on the hill-side, we sauntered by the sea, And we watched the vessels passing to the bay,
Or we rambled through the valley with the streamlet hidden deep,*
And the rocks that looked like towers old and grey.
And I think me of the hours spent roaming on the beach,
Oh! pleasant are the mem'ries of the blue and changing sea,
And the glory of the sunshine and the showers.
* Bishopston Valley, Glamorganshire.