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   Chapter 28 No.28

The Moon Rock By Arthur J. Rees Characters: 32371

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


It was a strange story which Charles Turold heard by that grey Cornish sea-a story touched with the glitter of adventurous fortune in the sombre setting of a trachytic island, where wine-dark breakers beat monotonously on a black beach of volcanic sand strewn with driftwood, kelp, dead shells, and the squirming forms of blindworms tossed up from the bowels of a dead sea. It was there in the spell of solitude thirty years before that Robert Turold's soul had yielded to temptation at the beck of his monstrous ambition.

That, however, was the end-or what Robert Turold imagined to be the end-of the story. The listener was first invited to contemplate a scene in human progress when men gathered from the four corners of the earth and underwent incredible hardships of hunger, thirst, disease, lived like beasts and died like vermin for the sake of precious stones in the earth. Thalassa brought up before the young man's eyes a vivid picture of an African diamond rush of that period-a corrugated iron settlement of one straggling street, knee-deep in sand, swarming with vermin and scorpions, almost waterless, crowded with a mongrel, ever-increasing lot of needy adventurers brought from all parts of the world by reports of diamonds which could be picked out with a penknife from the dunes and sandy shingle which formed the background of the villainous "town." In the great waves and ridges of sand which stretched everywhere as far as the eye could reach, runaway scoundrels of every shade of colour wormed on their bellies with the terrible pertinacity of ants, sweating and groping in that choking dust for the glittering crystals so rarely found.

Thalassa had been infected by the diamond fever like so many more. Like other young men he wanted plenty of money for women and grog-what else, he asked, could a man get for money that was worth having? In those days he was a sailor before the mast, lacking the capital for such delights. So he deserted his timber tramp when she touched at Port Elizabeth, and set out for the diamond fields with another runaway-the ship's cook, who had an ambition to have his meals cooked for him for the rest of his life, instead of cooking meals for other people.

The fields were far to the north. Thalassa reached them after a terrible journey through the stony veldt and sandy desert, broken by barren hills. His companion died of the hardships, and was buried in the desert which stretched to the wandering course of the Orange River. Thalassa secured his license and went "prospecting."

"Dost a' know anything about diamonds-digging for them?" he broke off to ask.

Charles Turold shook his head.

Thalassa lapsed into silence for some moments, his eyes fixed on the sea hissing among the black wet rocks at his feet, then said-

"A man's a fool most of his days, but sometimes he can be such a fool that the memory 'll come up to mock him when he lays dying. Here was I, deserting my ship and throwing away a year's wages and a'most my life to get to these damned fields, thinking to pick up diamonds cut and glittering like I'd seen them in London shops, when as soon as I'd clapped eyes on the first diamond I saw dug up I knew that I'd left behind me at the other end of the world as many rough diamonds as there was in the whole of that dustbin of a place-diamonds that didn't have to be dug for, either, only I didn't know them when I saw them."

His narrowed eye gleamed craftily, a mere pin's point of expression in the direction of Charles, as though expecting a question. But Charles kept silence, so he went on with his story. He let it be understood that his luck on the fields was of the worst possible description-never a solitary stone came his way. But he had no heart for digging. He was always thinking of the diamonds in that remote spot which he had ignorantly let slip from his grasp, like the dog in the fable dropping the substance for the shadow. He would have gone back to look for them, but he'd spent most of his little capital in that wild-goose chase, and the miserable remnant oozed away like water in a place where the barest necessaries of life cost fabulous prices. Soon he became stranded, practically penniless.

It was this precarious moment of his fortunes which his star (his evil star, he insisted on that) selected to bring him into juxtaposition with the man whose life was to be inexorably mingled with his own from that time henceforward. The actual meeting place was a tin-roofed grog shanty kept by a giant Kaffir woman and a sore-eyed degenerate white man, whose subjection to his black paramour had earned for him among the blacks on the field the terrible sobriquet of "White Harry." Here, one night, Thalassa sat drinking bad beer and planning impossible schemes for returning to his diamonds at the other end of the world. The place was empty of other customers. The Kaffir woman slumbered behind the flimsy planking of the bar, and "White Harry" sat on the counter scraping tunes out of a little fiddle. Thalassa remembered the tune he was playing-"Annie Laurie." Upon this scene there entered two young men, Englishmen. Thalassa discerned that at once by the cut of their jib. Besides, they ordered Bass beer. Who else but Englishmen would order Bass beer at five shillings a bottle in a God-forsaken place like that?

"He was one of them." Thalassa moved his hand vaguely in the direction of St. Fair churchyard. "Smart and lively he was then-not like what he was afore he died. I took a fancy to him as soon as I set my eyes on him. He was a man in those days, and I knowed a man when I saw 'un. I didn't care so much for the looks of the other 'un-Remington was his name, as I heered afterwards. Well enough for some tastes, but too much of the God Almighty Englishman about him to suit me. A handsome chap he was, this Remington, I'm bound to say-young and slim, wi' a pink face like a girl's, not a hair on it, and lookin' as though he might a' turned out of a bandbox. Him-Turold-had a moustache, and his face was a dark 'un, but I liked him for all his black looks-though not so black in those days, either. More eager like."

Charles Turold found himself trying to picture Robert Turold in the part of a smart lively young fellow, and failing utterly. But Time took the smartness out of a man in less than thirty years. It had also taken the liveliness out of Robert Turold for good and all.

Thalassa went on with his story. The young men were served with their beer at five shillings a bottle, and sat down in a corner to drink it. They talked as they sipped, and Thalassa listened. His original idea that they were young men of wealth (because of the Bass) was soon dispersed by the trend of their conversation. They had gone out from England to make their fortunes on the fields, but had come a cropper like himself, and were discussing what they'd do next. The fair-haired one, Remington, was all for getting back to England while they had any money left, but Turold was dead against it. There were plenty of diamonds to be found, and he was going to have some of them. He'd been talking to a man who was just back from the interior with a story of a river beach full of diamonds, and he was fitting up an expedition to go back and get them. Turold wanted to join in, but Remington said he'd heard too many stories of diamonds to be picked up for the asking. Had he forgotten about the cursed Jew who got a hundred pounds out of them? Turold said this was different-the man had brought back a little bottleful of diamonds. Remington replied with a sneer about "salting." They argued. "Suppose we dropped the last of our money?" Remington asked. "No worse than crawling back to England like whipped curs, poorer than we set out," said the other. Remington said he didn't want to go back to England like that, but he'd sooner face it than run the risk of being stranded in that hell of a place. Turold answered he was not going back till he'd made a fortune. He said (Thalassa remembered his exact words): "I don't care how I do it, Remington, but I will do it-mark my words." "Show me a more sensible plan than this, and I'm with you," Remington had replied.

It was at this stage that Thalassa was seized with an inclination to thrust himself into the dialogue. Striving to explain his reasons at that distance of time, he said it was Robert Turold's last remark which really decided him-did the trick, as he phrased it. Actually it must have been a prompt recognition of the kinship between two lawless souls.

He left his seat and went across to where the two young Englishmen were earnestly talking, unaware that they had been overheard. He approached them as one shipwrecked sailor might approach two other castaways marooned on the same rock. They all wanted money, and they all wanted to get away from that God-forsaken hole. Diamonds they were after? Well, he could take them to a place at the other end of the world where there were enough diamonds in the rough to make them all rich for life.

After the first surprise at his interruption they heard him in silence, and then plied him with questions. Where were these diamonds? In a volcanic island in the South Pacific. Where about? They couldn't expect him to tell them that. It was Robert Turold (Thalassa seemed to have addressed himself principally to him) who asked him how he knew that the diamonds were still there. Thalassa's reply was that they were buried in a big box, and the island was out of the run of ships. What sort of a big box? Turold had asked. Thalassa replied (perhaps reluctantly) that the box was "a kind of a coffin," and that there was a dead man inside of it as well as the diamonds, but he, at all events, was not likely to run off with them.

Remington and Turold were startled by this answer, and conferred hastily apart. They returned to ask more questions. They wanted to know how the body and the diamonds had got there in the first instance, but that was a story which Thalassa refused to reveal. That had nothing to do with it, he said. The ship which had buried the man there had gone down afterwards with all hands, so nobody knew about the diamonds except him.

After that Remington became the chief questioner, Robert Turold merely looking on, his dark eyes frequently meeting Thalassa's. It seemed as though he must have realized that these last replies concealed a story better left unprobed. But Remington wanted to know why Thalassa had come searching for diamonds in that part of the world when he knew of plenty in another, and Thalassa had replied, in all simplicity, that it was because the Almighty had endowed him with more muscles than brains, and he hadn't recognized the worth of the stones at the time. In fact, he didn't know that they were diamonds. His experience on the fields had improved his knowledge in that respect, and he now knew that he had left behind him on the lonely island enough diamonds in the rough to make them all rich-two bottlesful, and some in a leather bag, where the dead man also kept one of those digging licenses which the damned German officials sold you-what did they call it? Prospector's license-a schurfschein? said Remington. Yes, that was it. He knew it again as soon as he got one on the fields.

Turold and Remington again talked together in whispers, and then Turold asked Thalassa how he proposed to get the diamonds. Thalassa had his plan ready. They must get down to the Cape and get a boat to Sydney from Capetown. That was the jumping-off place. From Sydney they were to take a boat to-another place. The island was a bare two days' sail from the "other place," and Thalassa proposed to hire a cutter on the mainland and sail over to it. He was no navigator, but he could find his way back to that island again at any time.

Turold seemed inclined to agree, but Remington put in another of his sharp questions. Why did he want to bring two strangers into the business? What was to prevent him getting the diamonds on his own account, without sharing with anybody? Thalassa replied that he had no money to finance the expedition, and even if he got the diamonds they'd be no use to him. How could a rough seaman like himself, who could hardly write his own name, turn the stones into the large sum of money they represented? That was an enterprise which called for civilized qualities of education and address which he did not possess. From his standpoint it was an even deal between them. They were to supply the money and intelligence in return for his knowledge, and they would share and share alike.

It was Robert Turold who ultimately settled the decision-winning over the reluctant Remington with words which Thalassa had never forgotten. He also recognized the risk, but he thought it was well worth taking. It seemed that the two had a little more than £200 left between them-just about enough to carry the thing through. What was the use of returning to England with that paltry sum, he had asked. He spoke of a girl-some girl who was waiting in England for Remington while he made his fortune abroad. Was he going to go back to her penniless? "Even if this doesn't turn out right," he went on, "we'll have reached another part of the world, with a fresh chance of making money, instead of being poor in England, that breeding-ground for tame rabbits, where poverty is the unforgiveable sin." "I liked him for those words," said Thalassa, "for they came from a man whose thoughts were after the style of my own. 'Twas they decided the other chap, and next morning we set out for Capetown. From there we got passages in a cargo boat for Sydney."

Charles found it easier to visualize this picture than the former. The departure of the three upon such a wild romantic venture had in its elements all the audacity, greed, and splendour of youth, and he also was young.

Thalassa went on with his story.

During the voyage to Sydney, Robert Turold used to talk to him on deck at nights after Remington had gone to his bunk. It was in these solitary deck tramps under glittering stars that Thalassa first heard from the other's lips of the Turrald title: the title for which the fortune he was seeking was merely a stepping stone-the means to obtain it. "Night after night he talked of nothing else," said Thalassa, "and I knew he would do what he wanted to do." It was easy to gather from his story that his original admiration for Robert Turold soon grew into a deeper and stronger feeling. There was something in the dead man's masterful ambitious character which exercised a reluctantly conceded but undoubted fascination upon his companion's fierce spirit.

Such were their relations when they reached Sydney and set out on a further voyage to the other place which Thalassa was so reluctant to name. On arriving at the "other place" they made their way to its east coast, which was the starting point of their journey to the island. From a brown man living on the coast Thalassa hired a smart little ketch which the three of them could easily handle, and in this they embarked for the island from a beach which curved like a white tusk around a blue bay.

They did not reach the island for six days-through baffling winds, and not because they did not steer a right course. As Thalassa had said, there was no difficulty in finding it, for they had only been one day at sea when the smouldering smoke of the distant volcanic cone came into vision, making an unholy mark against the clear sky which they never lost again. Gradually they beat nearer until they made it-a circular ragged high ridge jutting abruptly from a deep sullen sea, with a red glow showing fitfully in the smoke of the summit.

There was an outer reef, but Thalassa knew the passage, and steered the ketch through a tortuous channel above sunken needle-pointed rocks to a little sheltered harbour inshore. Here they made the ketch fast, and landed on a beach of volcanic violet, where they sometimes sank knee deep into sulphuric water, and felt squirming sea things squelch beneath their tread. Above this margin of violet-black sand, deposits of volcanic rock and lava rose

almost perpendicularly, enclosing the central cone in a kind of amphitheatre.

The stones they had travelled so far to obtain were there waiting for them. Thalassa hurried over that part of the story, narrating it in barest outline with suspicious glances directed at his listener's intent face. Apparently he led his companions to the spot as soon as they landed-up a path through a gap in the crater wall, across a furrowed slope all a-quake, where jets of steam issued from gurgling fissures in snaky spirals. On the other side of this dreary waste Thalassa led the way across a ledge to firmer ground and a grave. Charles gathered that the occupant of the grave had been coffined in a seaman's chest in his clothes: "There he was, with his bottles of diamonds in his coat pockets, and more in his leather bag in his breast pocket, just as I left him twelve months afore to go to the other end of the world looking for what I'd buried." A grim smile curved Thalassa's face as he uttered these words; the idea seemed to contain elements of humour for him.

"They were diamonds, then?" said Charles curiously.

"Ay; they were diamonds right enough. Him-Turold-said they were diamonds as soon as he uncorked one of the bottles and poured a few into the palm of his hand. There was some rare big ones in one of the bottles-enough to have brought all those fools tumbling out of Africa if they'd know of them. From some papers they found on the chap Turold said he'd must a-been prospecting in nigh every part of the world."

"How did he come to be buried there with his diamonds, in that lonely spot?" asked Charles wonderingly.

"He was a passenger, and died as we was passing the island. 'Twas the skipper's fancy to give him a land burial. But that doesn't matter a dump-it's outside the story." He turned his eyes away from Charles.

Dusk had fallen before they finished their search, and Thalassa would not undertake the risk of threading the boat out from the tortuous reef passage in the darkness. They decided to camp on the island for the night, preferring the sulphur-impregnated air ("A lighted match would blaze and fizzle in it like a torch," Thalassa declared) to the cramped discomfort of their little craft. They brought some food ashore, and made a flimsy sort of camp above high water, at the foot of the encircling walls of the crater. There they had their supper, and there, as they lounged smoking, Remington in an evil moment for himself suggested that they should sort the diamonds into three heaps-share and share alike. Robert Turold agreed, and they emptied the stones out of the bottles and leather bag into a single heap. Remington took one bottle and Robert Turold another; to Thalassa fell the empty bag. As the stones were sorted one was to be placed in each receptacle until the tally ran out.

It must have been a strange spectacle-so strange that it made a lasting impression on the least imaginative mind of the three, for he tried in his rude way to reproduce it on that Cornish beach after the lapse of thirty long years. He threw bits of rock on the sand to indicate the positions in which they had sat. From his description Charles pictured the scene adequately enough: the violet-black beach, exhaling sulphuric vapours, the yellow-grey volcanic rocks, the gurgling ebullitions of a geyser throwing off volumes of smoke high above them, and the faces of the three men (ruddy in the fire-glow, white in the moonlight) intent on the division of the heap of dull stones scattered on a flat rock between them. Thalassa remembered all these things; he remembered also how startled they were, the three of them, at the unexpected sound of a kind of throaty chuckle near by, and turned in affright to see a large bird regarding them from the shadow of the rocks-a sea bird with rounded wings, light-coloured plumage, and curiously staring eyes above a yellow beak. When it saw it was observed it vanished swiftly seaward in noiseless flight.

The division, commenced good-humouredly enough, soon developed the elements of a gamble between Robert Turold and Remington. They forgot Thalassa's existence as they argued and disputed over the allotment of certain stones. The foot or so of flat rock became the circumference of their thoughts, ambitions, and passions-their world for the time being. In that sordid drama of greed Thalassa seemed to have comported himself with greater dignity than his two superiors by birth and education. He even took it upon himself to reason with them on their folly. Perhaps he knew from his own seamy experience of life what such things developed into. At all events, he urged his companions to defer the division until they returned to civilization and could get the spoils appraised by eyes expert in the knowledge of precious stones. But they would not listen, so, not liking the look of things, he withdrew a little distance off and watched them, leaning against a rock. That was his tacit admission (so Charles interpreted this action) that he was on Robert Turold's side, and felt that his own interests were identical with those of the master mind. The two, left to themselves, wrangled more fiercely than ever. There were unpleasant taunts and mutual revilings. The listener by the rock learnt definitely what he had previously suspected-that there was bitter blood and bad feeling between the two men, buried for a time, but now revived with a savageness which revealed the hollowness of their supposed reconciliation. It was about a girl, some girl in England with whom they had both been in love. Thalassa gathered that Remington had left England as the favoured suitor. He had (in Thalassa's words) "cut Turold out."

Charles Turold could not forbear a faint exclamation of astonishment. His brain reeled in trying to imagine the austere figure of Robert Turold squabbling over a girl and some diamonds on a lonely island in the South Pacific. He was too amazed at the moment to see the implications of this part of the story.

"They went on snarling and showing their teeth, but not biting," continued Thalassa, "sorting out the little stones all right, but quarrelling over the bigger. There was two-the biggest in the bunch by far-which they kept putting aside because they couldn't agree about the sharing of them. At last it came about that there was only these two big 'uns left, lying like two beans on the bit o' rock, side by side. Before I could guess what was likely to happen Turold grabbed them up quick, and put them in his bottle. 'These two are mine, Thalassa's and mine,' he said. 'You've had your share, Remington.' Remington sprang from the rock quick as a snake. 'One's mine,' he said. But Turold was up as quick. 'It's not for you,' he says, with his dark smile. 'We'll put it against the girl you filched from me, and call it an even deal. What does a happy lover want with diamonds?' 'Damn you!' cries the other, and hit him in the face. They both went down, scuffling and panting in the sand. I stood where I was, for I weren't going to come between them till I saw how it was going to be. Presently I could see that Remington was stronger, and that Turold was getting the worst of it. After a bit Turold called out, 'Thalassa!'

"I ran down at that fast enough, and got out my knife as I went. They'd slipped down the sloping beach half-way to the sea, writhing like a couple of the blind-worms that I kept stepping on, going over and over so quick that I couldn't do anything at first. But one of them was sobbing in his breath as though he was pretty well finished, and I guessed it was Turold. Then I saw Remington's face on top, and before they could swing round again I got a good stroke in his neck where it gleamed white in the moonlight. The blood jumped out warm on my hand, and he rolled over so quick that I thought I had killed him. But as I stooped over him he was up like a flash, staggering up the steep beach, his feet plopping and sucking in the water underneath. Turold was on his feet by that time, breathing hard, getting back his breath. 'After him-quick!' he says to me, his face black with rage-'he's got the diamonds.'

"I ran after him up the beach, but he heard me coming and had the start of me. He had firm ground under him by then, and was tearing along the rocks towards the path I'd taken them that afternoon, turning round now and again to look back, the blood glistening in the moonlight on his white face. There we was-him going higher and higher, me after him, and Turold standing below on the beach, staring up at the two of us.

"Run my best, I couldn't get near him. I suppose he thought he was done for if I caught him, and by that time my blood was pretty well up. I had one pull over him-I knew the island, and he didn't. The path he was taking led to the top of the island, where the crater was, with a kind of wall of rocks round it. But before you came to that there was a great hole which fell down God Almighty knows how deep, and was supposed to have been another volcano at some time or other. This hole was divided into two by a narrow ridge running right across it, and the path Remington was on took him straight to the edge. So he'd either got to go across this ridge when he come to it or turn back and be caught.

"He was a long way ahead when he come to it, but he never stopped. He just gave one glance down at me, and went on to the ridge. I watched him balancing along it like a man on a tight rope, mounting higher and higher, for the ridge went up steep on the far side. Thinks I to myself, 'You're a plucky one,' then all of a sudden I heard a shout from below, and looked down. There stood Turold, waving me out of the way. He'd been to the boat for a gun we'd brought with us, and was taking aim at Remington. The next thing I saw was Remington turning round on the ledge to come back to my side, having found out, I suppose, that the ridge would take him into the crater. Just as he turned I heard the shot. It must have winged Remington pretty bad, because he went tumbling off the ridge head first, like a man taking a dive into the water. I turned and climbed down to where I'd left Turold. His face was all aglow with rage. 'The infernal scoundrel!' he said, then-'Did you get the diamonds?' 'How was I to get them when I never caught him?' I said. 'Then we'll get them off his body in the morning,' he said in a low tone. 'You'll never do that,' says I. He asks me why not, turning on me a face as savage as a dog's. 'Because whichever side he's dropped he's safe from us,' I said. 'There's a hole that no man's ever seen the bottom of on one side of the ridge, and on the other a stinking lake of green boiling sulphur. When you shot him you sent him into one or the other, so you can say good-bye to him and the diamonds.' 'Oh!' he cries, when he heard that-just like that; then after a bit he points up the path, and asks me to go back and have a look for him. I went back as far as the ridge. The moon was clear as day, shining on that infernal green lake on the one side, and into the deep hole on the other. The lake was bubbling and stewing in the moonlight like a witchpot, and the other side of the ridge was just black emptiness, and there was no sign of Remington-I knowed there couldn't be. Back I went again, and as I was climbing down the path to where Turold was standing I saw something glinting in the black sand at his feet, and when I got there I picked up the bottle of diamonds where Remington must have dropped them when struggling with Turold. I gave them to Turold. 'And now,' says I, 'let's get out of here. The moon's bright enough to let me find my way through the reefs, and this island ain't a healthy place to stay too long on. I know it, and you don't.' He was glad enough to follow me to the boat, and we got through on a good flowing tide."

Thalassa stopped abruptly, as though to leave on his listener's mind an impression of that furtive departure on a dark whispering sea beneath a blood-red moon.

"You got back to the mainland?" queried Charles, as he remained silent.

"Ay-and to England. Afore we got there Turold had persuaded himself that Remington slipped off the ridge accidental, and that he missed him when he fired."

"Perhaps his conscience pricked him. Go on."

"There's nowt much more to tell. Turold got me my share of the money, and then we parted. He offered to invest it for me, but I wasn't going to trust no banks-not I. It took me two years to waste it on gambling and women. Then I took to sea again. That lasted another year. Then I found myself in 'Frisco, where I shipped in a four-masted barque and come home round the Horn. I was pretty sick of the sea after two bad goes of rheumatic fever, so I made up my mind to hunt up Turold. I found him after a while. He didn't seem best pleased to see me at first, but he said I could stay till he had time to think out what he could do for me. That was the beginning of it. We never parted again, him and me, until he was carried out of yon house feet first. We got used to each other's ways, and I was worth all he paid me because I saved him worry and expense. He was all for saving, in those days. Married he was too, to a little timid thing of a girl who was in fear and trembling of him. 'Twas a black day for her when she married that headstrong stubborn devil. 'Mr.' Thalassa she always called me, poor woman. I married a maid-servant they had. That was Turold's idea-he thought by that way he could get his household looked after very cheaply by the pair of us. I wasn't keen on marrying, but it didn't make much odds one way or the other, for no living woman, wife or no wife, would have kept me in England if I'd wanted to get out. As it happened, I never did. I stayed on, going from place to place where they went-where Turold took us."

"Whom did my uncle marry?" asked Charles.

"You might a' guessed that. 'Twas the girl t'other had cut him out of. I thought the masterful devil'd get her when Remington was out of the way, but I asked him once straight out, and he said yes, it was the same girl. She was a pretty timid little thing in those days, but I don't know why they was both so mad after her. However, there it was."

"And do you think that after all these years, Remington is really alive?" said Charles, looking at him earnestly. "Do you think it was he who murdered my uncle?"

"Happen maybe, happen not. The night he was killed I found him in a rare funk in his room. He rang his bell like a fury, and when I went up he swore he heard the footsteps of Remington just afore, running round the rocks outside of Flint House just as he heard him pattering along the rocks on the island that night. I didn't believe 'un then, but I'm not so sure since. If he's come back to get Turold it's for sure he's still somewhere about, waiting his chance to get me as well. I'm keeping my eye open for 'un-walked the coast for miles, I have, looking for him. He won't take me unawares, same as Turold." His eyes searched the cliffs behind them.

"You may not recognize him if you meet him. It is thirty years since you saw him. A man changes a lot in thirty years."

"That's true, 'tis a thought which never crossed my mind." Thalassa's look was troubled.

"As you've told me this story you'd better leave it in my hands, and not go looking for anybody with that knife of yours."

"What be you going to do?"

"I must go to Scotland Yard and tell them your story. It's the only chance."

"And get me into trouble?"

"There's not much fear of that. In any case, you must stand that, for Sisily's sake."

Thalassa nodded his acquiescence. "Better be careful yersel' getting back to London. The police here is watching for you. They've been a' Flint House more than once, looking for both of you."

"It's a risk I must take, nevertheless," said the young man, rising from his seat as he spoke. "It's for Sisily's sake. Good-bye, Thalassa, and thank you for what you've told me."

Thalassa did not reply or offer to accompany him. From his seat on the rocks he followed Charles's ascent up the narrow path with contemplative eyes.

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