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   Chapter 80 No.80

Come Rack! Come Rope! By Robert Hugh Benson Characters: 3026

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


He could follow every step of the drama after that, for he appeared to himself now as a mere witness, without personal part in it.

First, there were voices below him, so clear and close that he could distinguish the intonation, and who it was that spoke, though the words were inaudible.

It was Mr. Garlick who first spoke-a sentence of a dozen words, it might be, consenting, no doubt, to come out without being dragged; congratulating, perhaps (as the manner was), the searchers on their success. A murmur of answer came back, and then one sharp, peevish voice by itself. Again Mr. Garlick spoke, and there followed the shuffling of movements for a long while; and then, so far as the little chamber was concerned, empty silence. But from the hall rose up a steady murmur of talk once more….

Again Robin's heart leaped in him, for there came the rattle of a pike-end immediately below his feet. They were searching the little chamber beneath, from the level of the hall, to see if it were empty. The pike was presently withdrawn.

For a long while the talking went on. So far as the rest of the house was concerned, the hidden man could tell nothing, or whether Mr. John were taken, or whether the search were given up. He could not even fix his mind on the point; he was constructing for himself, furiously and intently, the scene he imagined in the hall below; he thought he saw the two priests barred in behind the high table; my lord Shrewsbury in the one great chair in the midst of the room; Mr

. Columbell, perhaps, or Mr. John Manners talking in his ear; the men on guard over the, priests and beside the door; and another, maybe, standing by the hearth.

He was so intent on this that he thought of little else; though still, on a strange background of another consciousness, moved scenes and ideas such as he had had at the beginning. And he was torn from this contemplation with the suddenness of a blow, by a voice speaking, it seemed, within a foot of his head.

"Well, we have those rats, at any rate."

(He perceived instantly what had happened. The men were back again in the chapel, and he had not heard them come. He supposed that he could hear the words now, because of the breaking of the panel next to his own.)

"Ralph said he was sure of the other one, too," said a second voice.

"Which was that one?"

"The fellow that was at Fotheringay."

(Robin clenched his teeth like iron.)

"Well, he is not here."

There was silence.

"I have sounded that side," said the first voice sharply.

"Well, but-"

"I tell you I have sounded it. There is no time to be lost. My lord-"

"Hark!" said the second voice. "There is my lord's man-"

There followed a movement of feet towards the door, as it seemed to the priest.

He could hear the first man grumbling to himself, and beating listlessly on the walls somewhere. Then a voice called something unintelligible from the direction of the stairs; the beating ceased, and footsteps went across the floor again into silence.

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