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Title: Grey Shapes
Author: E. Charles Vivian
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0608171.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: November 2006
Date most recently updated: November 2006

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Grey Shapes
E. Charles Vivian



Chapter I A MATTER OF SHEEP



A LITTLE pile of opened letters, with their neatly-slit envelopes
pinned to them, lay beside the typewriter on the desk: the girl who
sat back from the desk in her comfortable chair, reading a novel, was
tall, but not too tall; she had piquantly irregular features, brown
hair with reddish shades in it, and deep, blue eyes, long-lashed. Her
principal attraction was expressiveness, both of eyes and lips, though
she could render her face as wooden as a doorpost if she chose.

She put the novel down on the desk as a tall, youngish man, with
exceptionally large feet and hands, came into the doorway of the room
and, paused for a moment, reflected as he always did when he first saw
her for the day that he had been wise in his choice of a secretary. He
looked ungainly, at a first glance, by reason of those feet and hands,
but a second glance would convince anyone that he was nothing of the
sort. Clean-shaven, pleasantly ugly, he gave the girl a smile as she
looked up at him.

"Morning, Miss Brandon," he said.

"Good morning, Mr. Green," she answered. "There are--yes, twenty-
two inquiries, none of them very interesting."

"We'd better get an editorial regrets done, I think," he said.

She looked a question at him, and he explained:

"You know. Not--'the editor regrets'--in our case, but the same
sort of thing. 'Messrs. Gees have given careful consideration to your
case as stated in your letter, and regret they are unable to offer any
advice.' Something like that--get it engraved in copperplate and run
on to decent paper. It'll save you answering each one individually."

"But I've so little to do, as it is," she pointed out.

"I know," he assented gravely. "It's growing into weeks since we
wound up the Kestwell case, and I put the balance of that twelve
thousand pounds away in the safe. And we've spent over two of the
twelve thousand already, including my new car."

"We?" she queried stiffly.

"Well, I saw you putting a new typewriter ribbon on a couple of
days ago," he said, "and I suppose you paid the window cleaner. I
didn't."

The telephone bell rang before she could reply. She removed the
receiver and listened, and then replied:

"Yes, I should think eleven o'clock would be all right. Will you
hold on while I ask one of the principals?"

With her hand over the mouthpiece she looked up at Green--or Gees,
as his intimate friends always called him:

"A Mr. Tyrrell from Cumberland is in London--his letter is among
those on the desk--and wants to see you at eleven o'clock, Mr. Green."

"Okay by me," he answered. "Tell him I also yearn."

"Yes, Mr. Tyrrell"--she spoke into the receiver--"our Mr. Green
will be pleased to see you at eleven o'clock."

She replaced the receiver, and turned over several of the letters,
eventually picking out one which she handed to Gees.

"Yes," he said, "it will be as well to see what he wants before he
gets here, and there's half an hour to go. I hope the poke contains a
real pig--we get so many silly inquiries."

He glanced at the sheet of paper. Pinned at the top left-hand
corner was a small clipping, evidently from some agony column. It
read--

"Consult GEE'S CONFIDENTIAL AGENCY for everything, from mumps to
murder. Initial consultation, two guineas--37, Little Oakfield Street,
Haymarket, London, S.W.I."

"Ah," Gees observed complacently. "Our old 'mumps to murder' is
still pulling 'em in, then, even from the wilds of Cumberland. But--
Oh! What the--? Am I a goat? The man's daft!"

"He enclosed a check for two guineas," Miss Brandon remarked.

"Yes, I said he was daft, didn't I? Sheep? Does he think we're a
veterinary establishment, or a dumb friends' league?"

"I suppose sheep come between mumps and murder," she said
reflectively, "and he is the only one who sent the two guineas in
advance."

"Well, then, I'll talk to him, wurzel worrier from the wilds
though he may be, and unless he stops the check he won't see his two
guineas any more. Now what about the rest of them, Miss Brandon?"

He drew up a chair, and, seated at the end of her desk, went
through the other letters. As he put the last one down, he shook his
head.

"Editor's regrets are strongly indicated, Miss Brandon," he
observed, "and in the next advertisement we'll put a note to the
effect that a stamped addressed envelope must accompany all inquiries.
We shall be three bob and more down by the time you've told all this
lot that I don't feel inclined to take up their cases. And that--" as
the doorbell rang "-will be our sheepist, I take it."

Rising, he went to the next room, which formed his own office, and
left her to admit the visitor. Presently she opened his door--

"Mr. Tyrrell to see you, Mr. Green," she announced.

"Ah! Come in, Mr. Tyrrell. Take that chair--it's comfortable."

The visitor lowered six feet of bone and muscle into the leather-
upholstered armchair at the end of Gee's desk--he did not know that he
was directly facing a concealed microphone, the wires of which
terminated in a pair of earphones which Miss Brandon could fit on in
her room if Gees put his foot on a buzzer stud under his desk. The net
effect of him, Gees decided was brown: brown tweed suit, well cut,
with brown brogue shoes, and he had brown eyes and a sun-browned,
pleasant sort of face. An open-air man, and a good sort, with a
pleasant, honest smile.

"You got my letter, I hope, Mr. Green?" he asked.

Gees nodded at his desk. "It's here," he answered. "All I can
gather is that you want my advice about losing sheep--or rather, about
how not to lose sheep. To begin, now--have you advertised?"

Tyrrell shook his head. "Not that sort of loss," he answered.

"You'd better state the case," Gees advised. "The where and the
how and the why, and make it as full as you like. Though I must warn
you in advance that I know next to nothing about sheep--on the hoof,
that is. Saddle of mutton at Simpson's--yes. Otherwise--but tell me
all about it, since you've come for a consultation."

His visitor smiled, thought awhile, and then began.

"You know Cumberland, Mr. Green?"

"I have a hope of visiting the lake district some day," Gees
answered, "but it hasn't materialized yet. That is--no."

"Not the lake district--I can see Skiddaw from my bedroom window,
but if you don't know Cumberland that conveys nothing to you. I own
about two thousand acres, Mr. Green--Tyrrells have owned it for
centuries and the greater part of it is sheep run, though there is
some arable land as well. But, in the main, sheep farming. A far-flung
country--my nearest neighbor is well over a mile away--was, rather,
until McCoul took Locksborough Castle and decided to rebuild enough of
it to live in. Rather wild country, it would seem to you, I think.
And, since last March, I have lost over fifty sheep."

"And where do I come in?" Gees inquired.

"Those sheep have been killed--mangled horribly--by some great dog
or dogs," Tyrrell proceeded. "I've had the police on it, of course,
but with no result, except that they have proved to me that no dog
capable of doing the damage is kept within twenty miles of my land--
that is, no dog which is not kept under proper control."

"In that case, what do you think I could do?" Gees asked again.

"I don't know. But there's this about it. Sitting here talking to
you, the whole thing seems incredible, preposterous. My head shepherd,
a man named Cottrill, is a straight, practical, unimaginative man of
about forty, but--well, in such a district as that old legends
survive, and there is a vein of superstition in the most practical of
the people. He says it's unearthly, and that no dog as we know dogs is
responsible for the damage. I've been out nights with him, watching--
to no purpose, of course. They were the nights when nothing happened."

"Still, what could I do?" Gees insisted.

"Find what is destroying my sheep," Tyrrell answered promptly.

"When the police who know the district have failed?" Gees pointed
out, and shook his head. "I'm afraid, Mr. Tyrrell--"

"But they have merely approached the problem on routine lines,"
Tyrrell interrupted. "Checked up all the dogs within a reasonable
radius of my flocks, and virtually proved them innocent. After that,
they own, they are at a standstill. And I know this is no ordinary
dog."

"The specter hound of Man, eh?" Gees observed meditatively.

"Something like that, I honestly believe," Tyrrell assented with a
hint of nervous earnestness. "Oh, I know it sounds damned silly,
sitting here with a telephone handy and cars honking outside--all the
twentieth century round us. If you come to undertake this problem for
me, you'll step back a couple of centuries, back into a world where
people still believe that solid, material things are not all of life."

"As you believe, evidently," Gees suggested.

"I have an open mind," Tyrrell admitted. "Look here, Mr. Green--
first of all, though, would this fall to you, or would any other
member of your firm undertake it, if it is undertaken?"

"It would fall to me. I am the firm--all of it."

"But--your secretary said one of the principals would see me,"
Tyrrell pointed out. "So I assumed--and the name of the firm is
plural. You mean--you are Gees? All of it?"

"Gregory George Gordon Green," Gees said solemnly. "Therefore."

"Well, look here, then. So far, I've lost fifty sheep, and if this
goes on for another six months, I shall not only lose fifty more, but
Cottrill will go, and so will others of my men. They regard it as a
curse on the place, especially those who have seen the carcasses. If
you'll undertake to kill this dog or whatever it is--put an end to the
trouble for me, I'll pay you fifty pounds."

Gees considered it. "I will undertake a week's investigation for
that sum," he offered. "That is, on the understanding that the fee is
paid whether I lay the ghost or no--even if it's merely a matter of
sitting up a night or two with a gun and shooting a dog."

"Umm-m!" Tyrrell grunted doubtfully. "And yet--"

"Well?" Gees asked in the pause.

"Well," Tyrrell echoed, with an air of decision, "I'll pay that,
and another fifty to hold you a second week if the first is not enough
to solve the mystery. I'll go that far, for I read all that Kestwell
case and know what you did in it, and now I see you--well!"

"For these bouquets, much thanks, Mr. Tyrrell," Gees said gravely.
"Shall we say--if I arrive the day after to-morrow?"

"That will suit me," Tyrrell assented. "I'll meet you at the
station--it's an eight mile drive to my place--Dowlandsbar."

"Oh, but I shall drive all the way," Gees said. "I run a Rolls-
Bentley, and can do it in the day comfortably. Stay--where?"

"You'd better let me put you up," Tyrrell answered. "The only inn,
the _Royal George,_ is the better part of two miles from me, and the
accommodation there is--well, rather primitive. Yes, I'll put you up."

"Very good of you, I'm sure," Gees told him, and rose to his feet
to indicate that the interview was at an end. "Expect me in time for
dinner, the day after to-morrow, at--yes, Dowlandsbar." He glanced at
the address at the top of Tyrrell's letter to get the name right.

Tyrrell, risen too, held out his hand. "I'll do my best to make
you comfortable in the wilds," he promised. "Since seeing you, I've
got faith in you, Mr. Green. I believe you may be able to solve my
problem."

"We'll see. I make no promises. But I'll do my best."

 * * * *

"A likeable chap," Gees observed to Miss Brandon after his caller
had gone. "Public school type, but not too much so. And I've always
had it in mind to have a look at the lake district, though he's rather
out of it, by what he says. Still, I can move on, after killing the
dog, or dogs. It's a dog killing his sheep, that's all."

"And you say he's going to pay you fifty pounds to go and kill
it?" she asked, with patent incredulity.

"Ah, but he's got a bee about it being a ghost dog," Gees pointed
out. "The local police have exonerated all the dogs in a twenty mile
radius, he says--but I know from the time I spent on my father's
Shropshire estates that if a dog gets the sheep-worrying habit, he'll
travel far more than twenty miles in a night to gratify his tastes."

"Then--" she began, and stopped, thinking it over.

"It's got him down," Gees explained. "There was a point in our
talk when I could see belief in the supernatural in his eyes. I don't
wonder. He lives eight miles from a station, and his local is the best
part of two miles from where he lives--Dowlandsbar, heaven save us!"

"His local?" she asked curiously.

"Short for pub--the nearest bar to lean against," he explained.
"And his next door neighbor is half a mile away and named McCoul, so
what have you? I start early in the morning the day after to-morrow."

"And--and I remain in charge here?"

"Obviously. Go over the inquiries as they come in each morning--
open all the letters whether they're marked 'Personal' or no. I've no
low intrigues on, just now, so you won't get shocked. Send editor's
regrets in every case where you feel it's possible, and if you come
across anything interesting write and say the matter is receiving
consideration, and on receipt of our initial fee of two guineas we
shall be happy to communicate further. Then send that particular
inquiry on to me, and I'll see what I think of it. Of course, if
Tyrrell's right--"

He broke off, and stood thoughtful by her desk for awhile.

"You mean, about the supernatural?" she inquired eventually.

"It would be sub-natural, if anything, in a case of this sort," he
answered. "I'm going to spend the rest of the day in the British
Museum library, Miss Brandon, and when you've finished discouraging
the rest of our inquirers you can get on with your novel. One of these
days, there may be some work for you again, and till then I like the
decorative effect of having you here. If I'm not back at your usual
time for closing down, just put the cover on your typewriter and go."

"Very good, Mr. Green. Do you--do you think this is super--no,
sub-natural, as you called it?"

"I'll tell you when I come back from Dowlandsbar." he answered,
"and since I don't start till the day after to-morrow, that's some
while ahead. But a nice holiday in the lake district--or somewhere
near it--before the end of September, and a check for fifty pounds for
taking it--well, what have you? I'd be sub-natural myself if I didn't.
See you tomorrow morning, if not this evening, Miss Brandon."

"Very good, Mr. Green."



Chapter II BEYOND ODDER



THERE was a one-armed, crankily-sagging signpost beside the road,
and, glancing up at it as he slowed, Gees read on its decrepit arm

 ODDER 3 DOWLANDSBAR 6

and, having got too far past it by the time that he read his
destination thereon, braked to a stop, reversed, and then swung the
long bonnet of the Rolls-Bentley into the narrow, uneven way indicated
by the sign.

"The shades of night were falling fast," he quoted to himself,
"and if that lad had had to drive along a lane like this, it's not
'Excelsior' he'd have been shouting to the landscape, but Gordelpus."

The nose of the car went burrowing down and down, and the narrow
lane wound snakily until there appeared a hump-backed bridge of grey
stone, just wide enough to admit the car between its weathered
parapets. But, short of the bridge, Gees braked suddenly to a
standstill, for, looking down the bonnet into the gathering gloom of
evening, he saw the vanguard of a flock of sheep on the hump of the
bridge, and beyond them, as far as the next bend of the lane, was a
greyish mass of their fellows. They went scuttering past the car,
enveloping it in a woolly flood, and darkness had advanced perceptibly
when the shepherd, a tall, gaunt, black being with a patient dog
walking beside him, came abreast.

"Good evening," Gees saluted him. "Am I right for Dowlandsbar?"

"Aye, ye're right," said the shepherd, "an' can't go wrong.
Through Odder, an' 'tis but a step. Ye'll see the slats of the roof
above the trees. A long hoose--Squire Tyrrell's place. Gude night to
ye."

"Good night, and thank you," Gees answered, and went on.

As it had burrowed down to the bridge, so the nose of the long car
now sought heaven for awhile. The hard-pumped tires--Gees always
traveled with tires ten pounds above the recommended pressure--bumped
and scraped in the ruts of the lane, and even with the perfect
springing and steering of this car ten miles an hour was the limit for
safety. The crest of the climb gave place to descent with such
abruptness that Gees feared lest his exhaust pipe should scrape on the
summit of the ridge: again he dipped down and down and down, until he
saw four cottages of grey stone, two on each side of the way, and
beyond them an inn which declared itself as the _Royal George,_ with,
almost facing it, a slightly larger cottage with a brightly lighted
window in which were displayed bottles of old-fashioned sweets,
packages of much-advertised soaps, and cigarette placards, together
with a festoon of sausages.

"Odder," said Gees to himself, noting the white-lettered, blue
enamel plate which declared this emporium as a post office and gave
the name, "but it should be Much Odder".

By this time, he had switched on his headlights, and the village
slid into darkness behind him as the car wheels splashed through a
tiny rivulet that crossed his way without the formality of a bridge.

He traveled another tortuous mile or so, dipping and lifting, and
then into the long ray of his headlights came a man who kept to the
middle of the lane and, as the car approached him, raised his right
hand above his head. Recognizing Tyrrell, Gees braked to a standstill.

"It is you, of course," Tyrrell observed as he came abreast the
car. "I thought I'd come along and act as guide."

"Kind of you," Gees answered, and opened the near side door. "I
know now why you talk about fells in this part of the world."

"Yes?" Tyrrell seated himself in the car as he spoke. "Why, then?"

"Because when my radiator wasn't pointing horizontally upward
along this trail, it fell, and I wondered if I were going to fall
too--out over the windscreen. Yes, fells by all means, here."

"That's an old one," Tyrrell told him. "I suppose you know nearly
everyone in the district has one leg longer than the other?"

"I'll buy it," Gees offered. "Hereditary disability?"

"Not exactly. Walking along the slopes of the hills does it."

"They never come back, then," Gees reflected. "Well, I don't
wonder at it. What do I do--just go ahead?"

"Yes--keep straight," Tyrrell bade.

"Since this lane would break a snake's back, I'll forgive you for
that advice," Gees promised. "But why guide me, if I can't go wrong?"

"Because Locksborough Castle gateway is half a mile this side of
mine, and you'd probably have turned in at it if I hadn't come along."

"If there's a borough round here, it's a rotten one," Gees
declared solemnly. "A sound one would have gone off to level ground
long ago."

"It never was a borough," Tyrrell told him. "Amber--he's our vicar
and a bit of an archaeologist--he explains it as a corruption of
barrow, Danish or more ancient, and the Norman occupation didn't
destroy the name, though they built a castle on the site. Here--this
is the gateway. No--bear to the right, don't go in. That's why I met
you."

Two rugged monoliths reared up almost directly in front of the
car, and Gees swerved sharply to the right to pass them and keep to
the uneven, narrow main way. Beyond them, as he passed, he caught a
glimpse of rugged, jagged-topped walls rising against the clear night
sky.

"Ruins," he observed. "I thought you said somebody lived there?"

"It was possible to restore the keep--three floors of it--to a
habitable state, and McCoul bought the place and did the restoring,"
Tyrrell explained. "The rest of it is still ruinous. If he hadn't
taken it, I think the ancient monuments people would have taken it
over. You know--the National Trust. But McCoul is a bit of an
antiquarian."

"And your nearest neighbor," Gees remembered, and felt that his
London flat and office, in which he had talked with this man only two
days before, was already several worlds and centuries away.

"Yes. I--er--I hope you don't mind, but he and his daughter Gyda
are dining with us tonight. It was arranged before I went to London,
and I forgot about it when we arranged for you to come today."

"Well, I packed a tuxedo, thank God," Gees reflected piously.

"Well, really!" Tyrrell protested. "Did you think I wanted you to
bring your own provisions when I asked you to stay with me?"

"A tuxedo," Gees explained, "is an apology for not dressing for
dinner--respectability without tails. You'd call it a dinner jacket."

"Oh, sorry," Tyrrell apologized. "Here--turn in here. Left."

Gees swung the wheel in time, and found himself on a graveled
drive which, after the bumpy, rutted lane, made driving a pleasure.

"The term is American, I believe," he explained. "My father wants
to brain me every time he hears it, being a soldier of the old
school."

"Yes?" Tyrrell queried interestedly. "What regiment?"

"Oh, some obscure crowd of footsloggers for a start--Coldstreams,
as a matter of fact. But being a general with a K.C.B., he doesn't
brag about his regimental service. I went for distinction when I
joined up--the Metropolitan police was my mark. But their discipline
was so strict that I chucked it after two years, and wished I'd gone
for the army instead, as the old man did. Still, it was useful for my
present business. What I don't know about police methods--well!"

He swung the car alongside a long frontage of grey stone, a two-
storied mansion with deeply set windows--most of it showed plainly in
the ray of the headlights before he swerved to halt beside the deeply-
receded, wide main entrance. A pendent electric bulb in a quaint old
lantern revealed a great oaken door with vast hinges of scroll worked
iron--it was an antique in itself, that door, as Gees realized.

"Well, constable," Tyrrell observed, "you'll have good time for a
bath and change before dinner, if you feel like it. We'll get your
traps out, and then I'll show you where to stable this beauty."

Gees followed him out from the car, and went to the back to open
it up and haul out his big suitcase. Then he turned to Tyrrell.

"You're a good scout, and I like you," he said.

 * * * *

The floor boards of the room were old as time, with wide cracks
between them, and the floor sloped as, in a past age, the foundations
of the house had settled. The furniture was plainly Jacobean, all but
the full-length mirror, which, Gees decided, was more probably Tudor,
re-silvered. There was a press in which he dared not hang his clothes
lest he should never find them again, so vast it was. And, like the
floor, the ceiling beams were black with age.

He made a final adjustment of his tie before the mirror: the
electric light by which he had dressed was incongruous in such an
apartment, and he could hear the engine, by which in all probability
the light was provided, pulsing somewhere. Beat, beat--miss--beat--
miss--beat beat beat. Suction gas plant, he decided, and, opening his
door, switched off the light and passed along the corridor until he
came to the head of the staircase. There, for a moment or two, he
paused.

The staircase itself was magnificent. Wide stairs curved down to
the big entrance hall of Dowlandsbar, and there was a balustrade which
was pure renaissance, black, like the floor and ceiling beams in his
room, with age, and so delicately carved as to appear the work of a
Cellini or Da Vinci. The hall into which he gazed as he stood, for the
moment unnoticed by the people occupying it, had an oaken floor black
and old as the rest of the house's woodwork that he had seen so far,
and there were rugs, and little tables, and a great fireplace inside
which Tyrrell stood warming himself at a log fire, while, nearly
facing him, stood a man and a woman who for the period of this little
pause absorbed all Gees' attention.

The man, he decided, was somewhere in the fifties, and stood well
over six feet in height. His hair was iron grey, as was the half of
moustache that Gees could see--both the man and woman were in profile
to him. Of greyhound leanness, and with an almost regal pose, the man
accentuated his own height. Tyrrell was tall, as was Gees himself, but
this man appeared to stand over him, look down on him--such was the
impression Gees gathered in this first view--and the profile was hawk-
like, finely, even beautifully molded. An arresting type, this man,
and, if his mentality were equal to his appearance, one worth knowing.

And the woman, at a first glance, would be about the same age, for
her hair was snow-white, a crown of little ripples that shone softly,
like old satin in the lighting of the big hall. Gees saw her more
nearly three-quarter face than in profile, and saw that, like the man,
she had classically fine features--gazing down from his height, he
could not see their eyes--with richly red lips almost too full for
such a face, and daintily molded chin over a neck that Praxiteles
might have rejoiced to model. She too was of unusual height, almost as
tall as Gees himself, and very slenderly-fashioned, with beautiful,
ringless hands. "Give her a bow and arrow," said Gees to himself as he
began to descend the stairs, "and there's Artemis--in grey crepe-de-
chine or something of the sort. But what a pair!"

But, as he faced her and was introduced to Gyda McCoul, he found
his estimate of her age was wrong--the white hair had misled him as he
had looked down, for she was obviously still in her twenties. Her eyes
were amber and green--he could never determine their real color, or
whether they were green-flecked amber or amber-flecked green. Either
way, they completed as bizarre an attractiveness as he had ever seen,
though, as for a moment he took her hand, he felt a sense of--was it
fear? Or was it that faint thrill that comes with the sight and
realization of something utterly new, an unhoped experience to be
faced? He could not tell, and he turned for his introduction to the
man and met the gaze of a pair of eyes as nearly black as any he had
seen. Here again was new experience: McCoul's eyes held all the fire
and light of youth, while his faintly-lined face was that of one who
has known all things--the face of a disillusioned cynic and old, past
belief.

These were first impressions, and then Tyrrell spoke:

"Mr. Green has driven all the way from London, so he ought to be
the hungriest of us all, if he isn't. But it's poured ready for you,
Green." And, with the final statement, he indicated a cocktail glass
on the occasional table by the corner of the fireplace--the others, as
Gees noted, already had their glasses in their hands.

"I don't know that I'm superlatively hungry," he said as he took
up the glass and turned again to face the woman--or girl, perhaps. "At
present, I'm rather lost in amazement over this miracle of a house.
The little I've seen of it so far, that is. What do you think of it,
Miss McCoul? Don't you envy him his collection of antiques?"

"She need not," Tyrrell put in, before she could reply.

"But I do," she said, after a brief pause in which Gees took in
Tyrrell's remark and prayed that he himself was not destined to act
alone in the matter of the sheep while his host went love-making. And
she smiled, revealing perfectly-even, shining white teeth.

"From London in a day," McCoul remarked, and Gees glanced at him
to meet the gaze of his uncannily dark eyes--so dark that there was no
distinguishing between iris and pupil. "I wonder what the legionaries
marching north to the wall would have thought of it?"

"We are not far from the old Roman wall, I suppose?" Gees
inquired.

"It's a goodish step," Tyrrell told him. "Mr. Green has come here
to help me with my sheep mystery," he explained to the other two. "To
put an end to the trouble, I hope. Two more killed last night, Green--
"

A voice from the side of the hall announcing that dinner was
served interrupted him, and the four of them passed through a doorway
under the staircase to a dining-room lighted only by the candles on
the table, and, like all the rest that Gees had seen of the house,
furnished in a way that would have made an antique-collector choke
with jealousy. As they seated themselves, Tyrrell looked at Gees.

"Very plain feeding, you'll find," he observed. "My cook is no
Brillat-Savarin. You're in the wilds, here--all primitive."

It was difficult of belief, Gees felt as he glanced at Gyda
McCoul's grey dinner frock, and then at her father's perfectly-
tailored jacket. A dumpily-built maid waited on them, and evinced good
training as she did it. But for the absence of a waiter in tails, they
might have been in one of the better class London restaurants, and
both soup and fish were as good as the service and table appointments.
A remark by Gees set them all talking of place names--Oswaldstwhistle,
Odder, Much Hadham, Nether Wallop, Wig-Wig, and other curiosities of
naming, provided light chatter through which Gees observed that
neither McCoul nor his daughter appeared to appreciate the really good
plain cooking of the first two courses. Then the maid placed a dish
before Tyrrell, and, removing the cover, revealed a large joint of
beef.

"Plain fare, Green, as I warned you," Tyrrell observed. "Also as a
warning, it's underdone--very, because--well!" He gave Gyda McCoul a
glance which said she would understand and appreciate what he meant.

"Specially for me and my father," she said, with pleasure in her
voice. "Oh, but you shouldn't, Mr. Tyrrell! Quite possibly Mr. Green
doesn't like it as underdone as we do--do you, Mr. Green?"

"You can save a spot of the outside when it comes my turn,
Tyrrell," Gees counseled. In actuality, he hated underdone meat.

Then he watched, and saw red slices--half-raw, they looked to
him--laid on the plates of the other two, while Tyrrell reserved a
portion of more fully cooked meat for himself and Gees. And there was
a hard glitter in McCoul's black eyes as he looked down at the plate
set before him: he may not have been hungry at the beginning of the
meal, but, if his expression went for anything, he was avid for that
red flesh, and the girl, too, seemed to rouse to greater appreciation
of her meal. Tyrrell, himself, like Gees, took an outside cut.

"I did remark that I lost two more last night, didn't I?" he asked
as he helped himself to vegetables.

"You did," Gees assented. "I suppose you fold them at night since
this trouble started? Or do you leave them out and take the risk?"

"Oh, they're folded, of course," Tyrrell answered, as if surprised
at the question, "and Cottrill--that's my shepherd--he's kept watch
night after night, but nothing happens the nights he's on watch. Then,
immediately he relaxes--the very first night he thinks the trouble is
over--two more are killed. Always two--it's not the promiscuous
harrying and mangling you usually get when a dog takes to sheep-
worrying, but just two carcasses, and no trace of what did it. More
beef, Mr. McCoul?"

"I will have another slice, thanks," McCoul assented, and Gees
took his plate to pass it while Tyrrell carved red, dripping stuff,
nauseating to Gees' sight. It was not merely underdone, but almost
raw.

"And you, Miss McCoul?" Tyrrell asked, poising his carving knife.

"Yes, thank you, even at the risk of being thought greedy."

Again Tyrrell carved, and Gees got a glimpse of the girl's teeth--
beautiful, even teeth, between full, red lips that needed no
artificial coloring. She was innocent of make-up of any kind, Gees
decided, except for the powder that all women use.

"Always two, eh?" Gees observed, and shook his head as Tyrrell
gestured the invitation of a second helping at him. He emptied his
glass, and the maid refilled it with a burgundy that bespoke a fine
taste in vintages and careful ageing. "Clockwork regularity."

"A fiendish sort of instinct," Tyrrell amended, "as if there were
more than instinct in it--some human knowledge behind the mad things
that do this. I've sat up all night with a gun, and Mr. McCoul has
kept watch with me several times this summer, but--nothing. No sign of
trouble, as long as there's anyone about, and Cottrill is getting
tired of constantly folding the sheep in fine weather. It's no joke,
rounding up the flock on these hills night after night--and to no
purpose."

"Except that you might have lost more, if you didn't," Gees said.

"There is that, of course," Tyrrell assented moodily.

"Are you an expert at this sort of thing, Mr. Green?" the girl
asked.

"Well, my father has a little place in Shropshire--runs one of the
few surviving herds of aurochs on it, and some sheep," Gees explained,
though he hated the sight of the general's Shropshire estate. "I would
hardly call myself an expert--just cognizant, say."

"General Sir George Green, that is?" McCoul asked interestedly.

"Why, yes--he is ex-service," Gees answered, "though most men of
his age are, nowadays. Why, do you know him, sir?"

McCoul shook his head. "The aurochs," he explained. "I had the
pleasure of seeing the herd, once. No, I have not met your father."

"Oh, Mr. Green!" Gyda McCoul laughed, and something in the laugh
reminded Gees of the sound he had made as a child by tapping pendent
glass lusters with a long nail. "A little place, you call it. I was
there with my father to see the aurochs, and it's a wonderful estate!"

"That's exactly what the income-tax people think," he conceded
without enthusiasm, "which makes my father's life one long strain on
two ends that refuse to meet. An estate is the very deuce, and when my
turn comes to inherit--heaven keep it away and the old chap alive for
years yet--I shall sell it and give the aurochs to the Zoo, or
something."

"Then you must be the Mr. Green who calls himself Gees--the one
who became famous over the Kestwell case?" McCoul suggested.

Gees gave him a steady stare, and not a friendly one--it was not
McCoul he hated at that moment, but himself, for betraying his
identity, and Tyrrell for revealing his purpose in being here to these
people.

"Quite accidentally," he said. "I didn't do anything, really."

"Enough to make me feel you'd be the man to save the rest of my
sheep," Tyrrell put in. "Though there's no similarity in the cases, of
course--Anarchists, or whatever you like to call that gang you ran to
earth, are not exactly like mad dogs with extra intelligence."

"I fail to see any difference," Gees dissented.

He saw McCoul nod appreciation of his remark. The talk flowed on,
and all the while Gees watched and studied this amazing pair. For they
were amazing: there was a vitality about McCoul which belonged to a
world-beating athlete in his early twenties rather than to a grey-
headed man with a grown-up daughter, and the girl herself, equally
vital and alive, betrayed ever and again a range of knowledge and
worldly-wisdom more characteristic of a middle-aged woman than one of
her age. And in the mellow light of the candles, that white hair of
hers was like ripples of purest sea-foam on wave crests, and her eyes
deepened to a darkness that was more amethyst and emerald than mere
amber and green--Gees saw or imagined a wistful tenderness in them,
once, as she gazed across at Tyrrell, and felt anew that he must go
dog-hunting alone.

"Gyda?" he echoed the name after McCoul had spoken it in
addressing her. "What an unusual name--unusually attractive, I mean."

"A corruption of Bridget," McCoul explained as she smiled at Gees.
"Or rather, of Brigid, which is the form I prefer."

"And I suppose you trace descent from Finn McCoul?" Gees half-
asked, with the very faintest hint of amusement in the query.

"There is no reason why Finn should have been given more
prominence than many others," McCoul said with a frown. "We were kings
in Ireland before the O'Neills had won to chieftainship."

"Was Eochaid one of the family?" Gees inquired thoughtfully.

"Eochaid?" Gyda fired out the name sharply, almost fearfully.

He gave her a steady look. "Married Etain of the fairy folk," he
said, "and had his year. Dalua warned him at the start, I believe--the
whole story has been told by Fiona McLeod, which is how I know."

"I see." She relaxed, patently relieved by the explanation, and
McCoul gave an audible sigh, as might a man after passing a dangerous
moment. Tyrrell offered liqueurs, and a discussion of the relative
merits of Cointreau and old liqueur brandy swept away a brief but not
less real tension. For a moment, Gees knew, Gyda McCoul had been
definitely afraid. Of what, he questioned inwardly?

 * * * *

Another brief moment of tension arose later, just before father
and daughter set out for home, when Tyrrell observed that the
neighborhood was rich in antiquities, and Gees, remembering a previous
remark of his in connection with archeology, questioned:

"You said the vicar was strong on it, I believed? Amber, isn't
it?"

"It is," Tyrrell answered, after an awkward silence.

"There is a feud, Mr. Green," Gyda explained, coming to the
rescue. "My father and Mr. Amber hate each other--you didn't know, of
course."

"I see," he said. "It was evident that I'd dropped a brick of some
sort, but naturally I didn't know anything about it."

Being by this time very much alive to impressions, he sensed more
in the momentary tension than the mere quarrel between the two men. An
expression in Tyrrell's eyes indefinable beyond that it was a
decidedly unhappy look, went to show that he was involved, in some
way. Then McCoul decided on going, and Tyrrell offered to walk as far
as his gateway with him and his daughter.

"In that case," Gees remarked, "I'd like to act escort too."

"Oh, but you must be tired, after driving from London today," Gyda
protested. "And we don't need an escort at all, really."

But Gees saw Tyrrell's gaze at her, and knew he would be doing the
man a good turn if he could manage to pair with her father. "I
insist," he said, "if only as exercise after sitting still all day."

Eventually they set out, and Gees' maneuvering placed him ahead
beside McCoul, with the other two following. The September night was
mild and fine, and they went coatless and hatless into the light of
the moon a day or two past its full, along the graveled drive and out
to the rutted lane. At first, Tyrrell's and Gyda McCoul's voice
sounded to Gees and her father as they walked, but McCoul took long
strides, and the voices in rear faded out--as Gees knew they would.

"Not your first visit to Cumberland, surely, Mr. Green?" McCoul
asked in consequence of a remark Gees had made on the quality of the
lane.

"Not the first--no," he answered, "for I went through Carlisle in
a sleeping berth on my way to Aberdeen and that's Cumberland, of
course. Came back east coast, so I didn't see much of the district."

"No, you wouldn't," McCoul observed, and his tone suggested that
he resented having his leg pulled.

"It would be an interesting county, if it were ironed out," Gees
said.

"I don't quite understand," McCoul admitted stiffly.

"Well, there'd be so much more of it if it were flattened," Gees
pointed out brightly. "So much is up-ended. A hill or two here and
there--yes, but when it's all in roof sections--well, where are you?"

"In Cumberland, apparently," McCoul said coldly.

"That's how it struck me," Gees assented. "And eerie, too,
especially in moonlight like this. As if one might see the Daoine Shih
peering from behind a crag like that." He pointed, as he spoke, to a
hump of grey rock showing a score yards beyond the low stone wall that
bounded the lane. "And a crock of gold under the rock," he ended.

"What do you know of the Daoine Shih?" McCoul demanded sharply.

"Oh, one picks up things, here and there," Gees evaded with
surface carelessness. "Legends, you know, and all that sort of thing.
I've always felt sorry for Eochaid--any human would, I think."

"You seem to have that legend on your mind," McCoul accused.

"Not more than a good many others. I'm merely interested, and
Tyrrell told me you had antiquarian tastes. Lived here long?"

"We arrived in March," McCoul answered. "I bought the castle last
year, but it took some time to make any of it habitable. There was
nothing but the bare walls when I bought it."

"And the servant problem?" Gees asked. "How does Miss McCoul
manage about that? It's difficult to get servants in a place like
this, surely--that is, I don't really know if it is, of course."

"I brought a kern from the wilds of Gallway, and he does nearly
everything for us," McCoul explained. "One of my own clan."

"Galway, eh?" Gees reflected aloud. "I must go to Ireland, some
day. The wild and woolly part of it, I mean--get impressions."

"Then you don't know Ireland either?" McCoul inquired
sarcastically.

"Well, nothing to speak of," Gees confessed. "I've done the ritual
tour of Killarney and drunk Guinness in Dublin, and I own to having
been in a faction fight near Cork, long ago, but the real Ireland, the
land of the Daoine Shih--no. I must look it up."

By that time, they had come in sight of the two stone pillars
beyond which the rugged walls of Locksborough Castle reared upon a
hillock, distinct and ruinous in the moonlight. McCoul halted and
looked back: Tyrrell and Gyda were just in sight, and her silver-white
head was very close to her companion's, Gees saw as he too looked
back.

"Now what do you know of the fairy folk?" McCoul demanded--there
was a trace of menace in the query, as Gees realized.

"Legend only, as I told you before," he said cheerfully. "But--
these pillars." He nodded at the two gigantic stones which marked the
entrance to the castle grounds. "Never used as posts, surely?"

"I really couldn't say," McCoul answered stiffly.

"Stonehenge would be far more perfect if the people of a century
or two ago hadn't broken up some of the stones for road making," Gees
pursued meditatively, ignoring his companion's resentment. "And
Avebury--Avebury is a tragedy, from the point of view of anyone with a
respect for the old beliefs. These pillars remind me of Avebury--they
belonged to something much bigger, once. In the days when the Daoine
Shih were not afraid to show themselves--but men feared instead."

"You're a strange man, Mr. Green," McCoul said with odd
abruptness.

"What man isn't?" Gees retorted, gazing straight into the black
eyes--in that light they were quite black--that searched for hidden
meanings in his words. "We're all strangers to each other."

McCoul gave him no answer. The other two came up with them, and
Gyda McCoul smiled at Gees--she looked unearthly, a slender, perfect
figure with her uncovered white hair shining in the moonlight.

"What a wonderful night, Mr. Green," she said softly.

So very softly, almost as if the words embodied a temptation, and
yet, to him, her voice was like metal striking on glass lustres, a
glassy tinkling--or the touch on a knife blade on a plate on which
half-raw beef dripped redly. He could not forget that beef.

"Marvelous," he assented. "I'd like to roam about these hills--
except that I should probably get lost and caught by the fairy folk."

"Mr. Green has the fairy folk on his brain," McCoul put in coldly.
"For tonight, he appears able to talk of nothing else."

"But it is none too warm," the girl said with an abrupt change of
manner--to Gees it seemed that she shrank from him suddenly. "So many
thanks to you for a delightful evening, Mr. Tyrrell. Good-night, Mr.
Green--we shall meet again, I expect. Father, we must go."

It was dismissal, and Tyrrell, realizing it, took her hand and
kissed it before bidding good night to McCoul--Gees contented himself
with a more formal parting. Then the two stood and watched while
father and daughter walked between the monoliths and on toward the old
castle. Not till they were within the shadow of its wall did either
speak. Then--

"Pretty far gone, aren't you?" Gees queried acidly.

"It was not for that I agreed to your coming here, was it?"
Tyrrell retorted, with a trace of real anger.

"Possibly not," Gees said equably, "but I managed you a _tete-a-
tete_ with the lady, and I'm so dog-tired I wouldn't care if you
carried me back. I haven't had such an interesting evening since I
ditched an airplane in the sea off Worthing. Let's go home, shall we?"

"By all means," Tyrrell assented coldly.

"No good, like that," Gees said, and did not move. "You fetched me
here--at fifty pounds a week, to get at the bottom of a mystery for
you, and I've started on the job already. If you're going all icy,
I'll forego my wage and start back to-morrow. Do we carry on, or do we
carry on? You're the finance of the business."

"You mean--?" Tyrrell asked, evidently mystified.

"That I am the hired man," Gees told him. "Do I carry on?"

"Oh, don't be a blasted fool, man!" Tyrrell adjured with sudden
heartiness. "Of course you carry on. I'm sorry--I ought to have known
you took this walk because of me, and you must be nearly falling
asleep as you talk, after that drive today. What have you-?"

"Nothing," Gees interrupted ruthlessly. "Give me a few hours to
arrange my impressions. I believe I've jumped into something big, big
and old. And I haven't been here ten minutes, yet. Let's go home."

But, before turning to go, he gazed up at the reared stones that
marked the gateway, and at the part-ruined castle on its mound beyond.



Chapter III COTTRILL



TWEED-JACKETED, and wearing a pair of jodhpurs he had thought at
the last moment to thrust into his suitcase before leaving London,
Gees mounted a stubby little pony and urged it to catch up with
Tyrrell, who in breeches and leggings was already riding a similar
pony away from the long frontage of Dowlandsbar. They rode down the
graveled drive and out to the rutted lane, where Tyrrell turned east,
away from Locksborough Castle and Odder. It was a still morning with
some of the warmth of summer about it, and a bluish haze veiling the
rugged ridges among which they rode. Glancing back before they began
their descent into the first deep hollow, Gees saw the two monoliths
which marked the entry to McCoul's habitation, and the castle itself,
ruinous except for the square, massive grey keep, a rambling jumble of
broken-down walls set on its little height, and surrounded by grass-
grown earthworks which reminded him of Maiden Castle in Dorset, though
they were of not such tremendous proportions as that old stronghold.

"And this lane leads where?" he asked, noting the grass that grew
between the ruts, and evidence of little care and less use.

"It will bring you out on to the main Carlisle road," Tyrrell
answered, "about eight miles away. You can give your pony his head--he
won't let you down. But with that car of yours, I'd advise you to go
back the way you came. This lane is no joke for a car, in this
direction. There are only two farms, and it gets worse as it goes on."

"I'd call it one big joke all the way," Gees comment sourly. "Why
don't you do something about it--make a road of it, say?"

Tyrrell shook his head. "I want it kept like this," he explained.
"Otherwise, tourists and char-a-bancs, and all the rest of it."

"Something in that, of course," Gees remarked. "Look here, I did
some thinking over the early tea your maid brought me. Has anyone
beside you been losing sheep or are you the only one?"

"As far as I know, I'm the only sufferer," Tyrrel answered.

"Umm-m! And how does your land run--who are neighbors?

"Toward Odder, McCoul is next me," Tyrrell explained. "About two
hundred acres go with the castle, most it useless ground, heather and
stones. On this side, a man named Bandon is tenant of the farm that
joins on to land, and he doesn't run sheep--he has a dairy farm of
sorts, and you can't graze cattle on land that sheep have been over,
as probably you know. And both north a south is waste land--as is a
good deal of mine, for that matter. We turn off, here."

He swung his pony to the right and passed through an opening in
the low stone wall, and Gees, following noted the rough three-barred
gate that guarded the opening--it was no more than a rude hurdle--laid
against the farther side of the wall. They faced a declivity of--for
one unused to the country, appalling steepness, and Gees drew rein.

"Give him his head," Tyrrell advised. "I'll show the way."

And they rode down, while Gees queried inward whether he would
slide along his pony's neck and over its head, but, with Tyrrell
leading, came safely to comparative level, a sheltered area of three
or four acres of rich grass land, cropped close inside a large sheep
fold that was empty, now, except for a small, dark man and a patient
dog, and two woolly things lying beside one of the hurdles that formed
the fold.

"That's Cottrill," Tyrrell stated as he dismounted at the entrance
to the fold, and Gees followed suit. They tied their reins to one of
the hurdles. "I told him to leave those carcasses--wanted you to see
them and get some idea--we'll have a word with him, first."

He led on, and Gees, following, found himself facing a sturdy,
honest-looking little man of nearly middle age, with dog-like brown
eyes and close-clipped black beard and moustache, who touched his hat
at Tyrrell and gave this stranger an inquiring glance.

"Cottrill--my shepherd, Green," Tyrrell stated. "Cottrill, this is
Mr. Green, who is going to put an end to our troubles. I brought him
to have a look at these two carcasses before you burn them."

Gees offered his hand, and the man gripped it firmly, while
Tyrrell let his eyebrows go up at this acknowledgment of the
introduction.

"Glad to see you, sir," Cottrill said, in a pleasant voice with
hardly any trace of dialect in it, "and I hope the master's right
about you."

"He's a bit optimistic, perhaps," Gees remarked. "You have had six
months of this trouble, I understand, and all the killings in pairs."

"That's so, sir. A sort of what you might call method about it.
I've come across sheep-worrying dogs in my time, but never anything
like this. It's got on my nerves, to tell the truth. I'm--well,
scared."

"Ah!" Gees observed. "Any special reason for being scared?"

"Yes, sir." Cottrill glanced at his master, and caught a nod which
invited him to be as frank as he liked. "The devilish calculation of
it--not like ordinary sheep-worrying. I've sat up night after night,
and the master's sat up, and even Mr. McCoul from the castle has
watched with him this summer, and as long as we watch--nothing! But as
soon as we don't watch--well, there's another two done in. As if them
things had knowledge, not like animals, but more like humans. And it's
gettin' me down. Because, you see, the sheep are my people, as you
might say."

"I know," Gees said. "You take it as against yourself."

"I'd trust Cottrill to do his damndest," Tyrrell put in.

"I've done it, sir," the man said. "But--they're too much for me."

"They?" Gees asked. "More than one, then?"

"Two, sir," Cottrill answered. "I sighted 'em, back in May."

"You never told me this." Gees turned to Tyrrell, accusingly.

"I thought it better for him to tell you," Tyrrell answered. "He's
the one who saw them. Tell that tale, Cottrill."

"It'd be about the middle of May," the shepherd said. "I'd begun
this folding, of course, and we'd had a fortnight clear of these
things, with me watching every night--that was after we'd put the
police on to it, and much use _they_ are, too! Mr. Tyrrell said I
needn't watch, that night, so I was on my way home--there was a bit of
mist come in off the sea, and it was gettin' dark, and dimmish like as
I went off to my home. About a couple of miles away from where I was
folding 'em, then--another bit of grass rather like this, only away
over there"--he pointed up to the summit of a ridge away from the
lane--"and I hadn't a gun with me, that night. And I saw 'em, two of
'em--grey shapes away in the mist--just glimpsed 'em for a moment.
Great things like donkeys."

"Long-eared, eh?" Gees surmised thoughtfully.

"No, I couldn't say I saw any ears. The size of donkeys, I mean.
They showed up against the sky, and I went after 'em, but, of course,
I couldn't find anything. Then I went off back to the fold as quick as
I could, and got there in time to find two carcasses all mangled like
the two over there"--he nodded at where the two carcasses lay--"and no
sign of pad-marks nor nothing to tell me where them things come from
or where they went--and there's never been any sign to guide us,
either. That sight of 'em I got--just the grey shapes, and no more."

"And you went back," Gees observed, marveling at the courage of
the man who had thought nothing of going back to his sheep when two
ravening beasts, "the size of donkeys," had been abroad.

"As I'm tellin' you, sir," Cottrill said. "But Jimmy here"--he
gestured at his dog, which looked up at mention of his name--"I've
never known him act as he did then. Turned reg'lar coward, he did--
stuck his tail between his legs and whined and cringed--didn't you,
Jimmy?"

The dog stood up to wag his tail at being addressed, and then
again sat down and gazed at his master. He was of nondescript breed,
Gees saw, more collie than anything, sturdily built and shaggy.

"Something he didn't like facing, eh?" Gees suggested.

"Something he would not face, sir," the man amended. "Stuck behind
me, and when I touched him he was all quivering with fright. I tell
you, sir, just as I've told the master, them grey things are more than
dogs. They're devils, and know as much as devils know. Lord, if only
I'd had my gun, that night! If only to make a blood trail to follow."

"Put that more plainly, Cottrill," Gees invited. "Devils, you
say--what do you mean by devils?"

"Well, sir, I've had Jimmy here from a pup, and trained him up to
his job. The sweetest tempered dog in a hundred mile, and as brave as
a lion, against anything he can understand--things that live like him
and me and you, sir, if you don't mind my puttin' it that way. And if
he puts his tail between his legs and goes all trembly, it's because
of something he can't understand, if you get me, sir. Unearthly, I'd
say."

"Things that live like him and me and you." Gees picked out the
words and echoed them thoughtfully as he gazed at the dog.

"There you are!" Tyrrell exclaimed, with a note of exasperation.
"Cottrill's got it--even Moore, the policeman, looks at it like that,
I believe! They're all set on believing there's something unearthly
about this--but ghosts don't go in for material killings like those."
He nodded at the two carcasses lying beyond them, inside the fold.

"And you're bitten by the same bug yourself," Gees accused.

"I don't know what to think," Tyrrell owned.

"You're not a native of this district, are you?" Gees turned to
the shepherd and addressed the question to him.

"Why, yes, sir," the man answered with a smile. "Born an' bred
here, an' my father was shepherd at Dowlandsbar before me."

"But you don't talk like a native," Gees persisted. "What have you
done with your Cumberland dialect, if you were born here?"

Again Cottrill smiled. "Well, you see, sir, there was the war--I
was just a bit of a boy when I joined up in time to do a bit--"

"Military Cross," Tyrrell put in, "and recommended for a
commission."

"Which I didn't want," Cottrill went on, "and after I got demobbed
I thought I'd see a bit of the world. So I went out to the States and
did a bit of roving there, got off to Peru down the west coast an'
went across the Andes to Buenos Aires--fooled about, as you might say,
sir, on this job an' that job. But all the time I could see these
fells--they pulled me back at the finish, an' here I am an' here I'll
stop."

"Believing that some things don't live like him and me and you."
Gees stooped and patted the dog as he spoke.

"Not exactly, sir, but keepin' an open mind. These fells--

He did not end it, but looked up at the heights about them. They
were in a basin-like depression, pierced at its northern end by a
narrow cut, along which flowed the tiny rivulet which had its source
in a spring on the eastern hillside. And, as Cottrill ceased speaking,
Gees felt the utter silence as a thing almost tangible: there was no
breath of wind, no token of life of any kind on the hills that shut
them in-until a solitary carrion crow sailed over them, a black and
ominous thing against the hazed and cloudless sky.

"You were saying--?" Gees asked, after a long pause.

"An open mind, sir," the man answered. "Here we've got sunshine--
full day--and it's difficult to believe anything but what you see. But
after nightfall it's different--the fells have their own secrets.
Before Mr. McCoul took the castle an' had it repaired to live in, I
doubt if you'd get anyone in Odder to come past that gateway in the
dark. It's old, a graveyard of the very old dead, the people who were
here in the very beginning of things, an' they say they can feel--"

"Rank superstition, Cottrill!" Tyrrell broke in impatiently. "As a
man who has seen the world, you ought to know better than to give heed
to those old women's tales. And we came here for Mr. Green to see
these carcasses--the way they were killed is real and material enough,
with no ghastliness about it. You can't accuse a ghost of--"

"Wait, though," Gees interrupted in turn. "What tales do they tell
of the castle, Cottrill? What was it--did anyone see a ghost there?"

Cottrill shook his head. "No, sir--I never heard of anyone seeing
anything. But the feel of it--even in daylight."

"That is, until Mr. and Miss McCoul came to live there, and
humanised it again?" Gees suggested, ignoring Tyrrell's evident
impatience.

"I suppose so, sir. I haven't heard so much about it since they
came to live in it. Not that that would have anything to do with our
losin' sheep like this, though. I just told you because you asked."

"Yes--thank you very much, Cottrill. Now we'll look at these
sheep, since that was the idea in coming here--eh, Tyrrell?"

"It was," Tyrrell answered shortly, and moved toward the
carcasses.

The other two followed him, and the dog got up and padded sedately
beside his master until they had walked nearly halfway across the
fold. But then, abruptly, Jimmy stopped, whined, and sat down, looking
up at Cottrill with eyes as nearly human as a dog's can be, and in
them an expression half-fearful, half-pleading. Gees stopped to
observe him.

"That's curious," he remarked.

"He's been the same every time, sir," Cottrill said.

"I'd have to carry him to get him near them corpses, and even then
he'd fight to break away from me an' darned near bite me to do it. An'
him that'd tackle anything on four legs or two, if I set him at it.
Jimmy!"

With the last word he called to the dog, and both Gees and Tyrrell
stopped to watch. But Jimmy crouched down fearfully and whined,
evidently more fearful of obeying the call than of what might happen
to him for refusing. Cottrill went back and patted him, and he thumped
the ground with his tail once or twice, as if glad of this absolution.

"Now, Jimmy--come on, old chap!" Cottrill adjured him.

But again the dog crouched and whined, in abject fear.

"All right, then," Cottrill said reassuringly, and turned to go
on. "He's never disobeyed me about anything else," he explained, "an'
I'd trust him with anything, anywhere. But this is--well, too much for
him to stand, by the look of it. He won't go near 'em."

Following him and Tyrrell, Gees looked down at the two horribly
mangled carcasses. "I don't wonder," he said rather grimly. "But"--he
bent over one of them--"ripped and torn like that, and no blood?"

"There never is, sir," Cottrill said.

Bending down, Gees took hold of a foreleg and turned the stiff
carcass over so that it lay on its back. There was a great, ugly tear
beginning at the throat of the animal, and running back to its
shoulder, and the flap of fleece and skin hung loosely back, showing
the bloodless flesh torn and gnawed--where the meat should have been
thickest, bone gleamed whitely. And the mangling of the rest of it was
sickening to see.

"They always drink all the blood like that, sir," Cottrill said in
a matter-of-fact way, "an' then have a feed off the meat."

Gees straightened himself. "Two killed like this, every time?" he
asked, gazing at the other, equally mangled carcass.

"No more, an' no less," the shepherd confirmed him.

Gees looked back at the dog, down with his head on his forepaws,
now, faced toward them and watchful. Again the silence wrapped round
him like a fourth presence here. Then Tyrrell moved, impatiently.

"Well, what do you make of it?" he demanded.

"Nothing, yet," Gees answered imperturbably. "Give me time."

He snuffed at the air as might a hound seeking a scent.

Then he took a petrol lighter from his pocket, flicked it, and
held it up. The tiny flame stood straight--there was no breeze to
deflect it.

"Do you smell anything?" he asked of Cottrill.

"Ah, I wondered if you'd get it too, sir," the man said.

"What do you get?" Gees asked, putting his lighter away.

"It's like--an' yet not like--the wires in front of Passchendaele,
sir," Cottrill said slowly. "I was there, an' the corpses hung an'
rotted on the wire, an' the smell, when the wind drove it--like what I
get after one of these killin's, and yet not like it. This is fouler."

"Very faint, but foul, as you say," Gees confirmed him. "But it
doesn't come from those." He nodded at the carcasses before him.

"No, sir, not from them," Cottrill said gravely.

"What the devil are you two talking about?" Tyrrell demanded. "I
can't smell anything unusual." And he too sniffed, and shook his head.

Gees disregarded him. "Cottrill," he said, "when the police took
it up--at least, I suppose they took it up--what did they do?"

"Had a search for dogs all round," the shepherd answered, "an'
couldn't find one they could blame, anywhere, let alone two. Then
Inspector Feather--he's the big noise around here--he asked me to let
him know instantly the next killing happened, an' he brought a blood-
hound to see if he could track the things that did it."

"And the bloodhound?" Gees asked--though he felt he knew the
answer.

"Just like Jimmy there." Cottrill nodded at his waiting dog. "They
couldn't get it near the killings, an' when they made a cast round
with it, it just shivered an' crouched an' wouldn't work--wouldn't
even try for a scent. An' I remember that scent you picked up--just
now was much stronger, then--it was fair hellish. But the hound
wouldn't take it."

"I must see this Inspector Feather," Gees half-mused. "What are
his views now--I suppose you still report the killings."

"I do," Tyrrell put in, "and I've raved at him. Also he's had six
men on watch for a week on end, all with shotguns, and never a trigger
was pulled. While they watched, nothing happened--as always."

"Well, what does he do now?" Gees persisted.

"Comes up and sees me, and regrets. To hell with his regrets!
Offers to keep men on watch as long as I like and what's the use? He
could keep men on for six months, if he would, and the night after
they go off it would happen again. It always does, when Cottrill gets
a night's sleep. I feel like rounding up every sheep I own and putting
them into a sale yard, except that I hate being beaten."

"You're not beaten, yet," Gees said thoughtfully. "Neither am I."

"Do you mean you're going to put an end to it, then?" Tyrrell
asked.

Gees gave him a whimsical sort of smile. "As I asked before--give
me time," he answered. "I want to see several people, including this
Inspector Feather and some of his men, and"--he turned to Cottrill--
"for awhile I'm going to leave you alone, as far as looking after the
sheep is concerned. You may have one or two more killings before I
come in to stop them, but I may want to talk to you at times."

Cottrill shook his head. "The sheep are my people," he said.

"I know," Gees assented, "but--without being irreverent--it is
expedient that two should die--or four should die--for the rest. For
the present, I am not watching sheep, but going straight for the
things that play hell with them, and--as you've noted already--drink
blood."

"Vampires?" Cottrill only half-questioned.

"No. You're a thinking being, Cottrill, so it's safe to tell you
I'm not sure what they are. I've got to find out, first."

"Good luck to you, sir," Cottrill said earnestly. "I wouldn't
wonder if you did get to the bottom of it. I'll do just as you say."

"Then carry on, you and Mr. Tyrrell, as if I were not here--until
I feel like getting busy at the sheep end. I'm on the other end,
first."

"Not dogs?" Again it was only half a question.

Gees smiled. "Perhaps dogs," he said. "Except--that smell."

"I get you, sir," and Cottrill smiled. "Half-dogs, say."

"And what the hell all this means--" Tyrrell began, and broke off.

"There's a good deal of hell about it, as Cottrill has found out,"
Gees told him. "Or rather, a state between earth and hell--this is
about the most interesting business I've run up against since I
ditched an airplane in the sea off Worthing--and made money out of
it."

With a last glance at the two carcasses, he turned away.

"I've seen enough, and heard more," he remarked. "I've got a
hunger I wouldn't sell, and I suppose you do have lunch, at
Dowlandsbar--what a glorious name for any place! Do we go back, or do
we go back?"

Tyrrell, making no reply, walked beside him. As they neared the
dog it stood up, gazing anxiously up at its master.

"Good old Jimmy!" Cottrill said encouragingly, and the dog wagged
his tail vigorously. "We're both scared, an' you're honest about it."

"By the way"--Gees stopped abruptly--"what do you do with those?"
He turned his head to nod at the two carcasses they had left.

"Burn 'em," Tyrrell answered. "They'll be carted to a heap of
brushwood and stuff at Dowlandsbar, and a few cans of paraffin make
sure of their being altogether destroyed. Nobody would touch that
meat."

"Which goes to show that the bug has bitten you too," Gees
observed. "Well, Cottrill, we shall meet again. I don't blame you for
being scared. It's natural, considering everything."

"Glad to've met you, sir," the man said, with a hint of
earnestness.

"And I you," Gees answered sincerely.

He untied his pony and mounted to return, his feet looking bigger
than ever as they hung down below the turn-ups of the jodhpurs.
Tyrrell led the way up to the lane.

"Think you've got to the bottom of it, do you?" he asked as Gees
came abreast of him beyond the stone wall. There was a trace of
derision in the query.

"As far down as the neck," Gees answered imperturbably, "and I've
got to get all the way down to the feet and the ground under them.
Don't be so damned impatient--I've not been here a day, yet."



Chapter IV INSPECTOR FEATHER



EXTERIORLY, as Gees decided when he came out from the house after
a huge and satisfying lunch with his host, Dowlandsbar was utterly
devoid of architectural pretensions: it was no more than a big, oblong
stone box, divided into compartments by the interior partitioning
walls and dumped on a ledge of a hillside so that it faced south-
west--if the ledge had been artificially terraced in the side of the
hill, the work had been done so long ago that no trace of it remained.
The thickness of the grey stone walls was that of a fortress, and, as
Gees had already noted, the interior walls were of little less
solidity. Slate-roofed above its two stories, it was a grim-looking
habitation--but inside was a treasure house of the handicraft of past
ages. There was a huddle of outbuildings tucked away at the inner end
of the house, viewing it from the lane, and before it, over the ridge
that it faced, showed the ragged tops of Locksborough Castle's ruined
walls, with the boxlike keep rising apparently undamaged in their
midst, its arrow-slit windows and even the machicolations that crowned
it intact. No other dwelling-house or building was in sight.

"I want to ask you some things," Gees stated, as Tyrrell came to
stand beside him. "To begin with, how many men do you employ?"

"Six--eight, altogether, and three maids in the house--which is
including the cook," Tyrrell answered. "You're an odd sort of inquiry
agent, Green," he added, with amusement evident in his tone.

"Not an agent at all--a principal," Gees dissented. "I like the
way you've taken me in as a brother, too, instead of putting me out to
board or leaving me to fend for myself. But where do your men live?"

"You'll find their cottages quite near by--two of them in the glen
just outside the gate, but on the other side of the lane."

"M'yah! Houses have a way of hiding themselves in country like
this, of course. How old is this house of yours, by the way?"

"Does it matter to your inquiry?" Tyrrell countered dryly.

"I don't know what does matter, yet," Gees said. "Never mind, if
it pains you. Magnificent weather for September, isn't it?"

"The newest part of the house--that is, the end nearest to the
outbuildings, which you can see is an addition if you look closely at
this front wall--is not less than three hundred years old," Tyrrell
explained rather morosely. "This main doorway is much older."

"Much," Gees agreed, turning to look at the house and taking out
his cigarette case. "Have one--no? I will, then. It looks to me as if
the original builder made it a one-story fabric, and then a later
occupant lifted the roof and put another floor under it--and a still
later one put that new end on, three hundred years ago, you say. Bless
me, how time flies! And yours is an old family, I gather?"

"I don't know how you gather it," Tyrrell said, "but you happen to
be right. A relative of my ancestors achieved some distinction in the
New Forest with a bow and arrow, not many years after the Conquest."

"Saxon, eh?" Gees conjectured thoughtfully.

"Mainly Danish, my branch of the family," Tyrrell dissented.

"And settled here? But the Danes stuck to the East coast, surely?"

"Oh, no! They allied with the Irish, in the early days, and came
across the Irish Sea to see what they could find on this West coast,
quite a few of them. Vikings used to winter at Dublin, and hire
themselves and their men for the wars between Irish chiefs, and some
of them came over here and settled. Also, this was part of Northumbria
in those days, and that was nearly all Danish."

"Quite so," Gees agreed. "There was a chap named Siward, earl or
something of the sort. I must look it all up, some time."

"And what has all this to do with my sheep?" Tyrrell inquired
acidly.

"I don't know, yet," Gees answered with unruffled placidity. "I'm
getting the feel of the place. Do you know who built that castle?" He
nodded at the ruined walls beyond the ridge that they faced.

"Yes, it was William de--Guillaume, he called himself, Guillaume
de Boisgeant." He spelt out the surname after speaking it. "Why?"

"Umm-m!" Gees took no heed of the final query. "I'd hate to be
called wooden giant, myself. Would that be--when did he build?"

"In Stephen's time, and the name is supposed to imply that he came
from somewhere near Ghent, or his ancestors did. Spelling was a mere
wild amusement in those days. But he built on the site of something
much older--that hillock where the castle stands is peppered with
Roman brick, and even the Romans built on older earthworks. And now
have you had enough of archaeology, or shall I go inside and fetch out
a few volumes of the _Britannica_? You've only to say the word."

"Put that differently, and I ought to be thinking sheep, dreaming
sheep, and talking sheep," Gees observed thoughtfully. "Slaughtered
sheep, that is, bled white by what killed them. Well, perhaps.
Tyrrell, if you don't let me tackle this in my own way, it won't get
done. If you do--well, I'll amend the terms we made in London--in my
office. I'll accept fifty pounds for putting an end to your trouble,
whether it takes a week or seven months, and nothing at all if I don't
end it."

"Then you're sure of success?" Tyrrell asked eagerly.

"No. I don't know yet what is killing your sheep, but I've seen
for myself that these are no normal killings, which simplifies it,
enormously. The abnormal is bound to declare itself, if you look for
it long enough and in the right way. And I haven't asked you a single
question that does not bear on the problem, though you may find that
hard to believe. But--who's that coming through the gateway?"

"Inspector Feather--the one in civilian clothes," Tyrrell answered
after only a glance at the small touring car advancing along the
drive, "and that copper with him is Constable Moore, our local
muddler. I telephoned Feather about this last killing as soon as
Cottrill reported it to me--I've telephoned him each time it happened,
and he's come out each time to show me how useless he is about it."

"I didn't suspect the existence of a telephone," Gees observed.
"What is it, a Marconi contraption? You've got no wire visible."

"Since the wire came down with the snow every winter, and put me
out of communication, I had it laid underground," Tyrrell explained.
"It comes up to join the ordinary wires at the end of the lane."

"You're not a poor man, are you?" Gees remarked abruptly.

"Well?" Tyrrell asked, and smiled amusedly.

"And yet you live in a place like this?"

"You heard Cottrill say how the fells pulled him back," Tyrrell
said. "So with all of us who belong here--and my people have lived in
this house for centuries. It's in the blood of us to stay."

"There is no escape," Gees reflected aloud. "And you mean to marry
Gyda McCoul and rear up successors to feel like that--and stay here."

"I've not asked her to marry me, yet," Tyrrell admitted, "but--
yes, I do mean that. Does it also bear on the problem of the sheep?"

"Call it a mere statement of what I saw as obvious last night,"
Gees countered. "And now--the inspector. Let us be practical."

The final observation was a fruit of his survey of the man who got
out of the car after pulling on his handbrake at the corner of the
house, instead of driving up to stop abreast the main entrance. A very
large man, though still active in all his movements, clad in a suit of
grey tweed that fitted him none too well, he looked more military than
police with his squared shoulders, brownish-red face in which his grey
eyes were deeply set under bushy brows, and big, cavalry moustache
hiding his mouth. Following him came Constable Moore, equally large,
but of a slow, lumbering type--Hercules with sciatica, Gees mentally
dubbed him. The inspector, approaching Tyrrell and Gees as they stood
on the graveled frontage, saluted by touching his soft felt hat.

"Afternoon, sir," he said to Tyrrell. "I thought I'd just look you
up over this last outrage, to see if there's anything different about
it."

"In fact," Tyrrell interrupted savagely, "to show your damned
incompetence once more. I'm utterly fed-up with you, Inspector
Feather."

For some seconds, the inspector appeared as if about to choke, and
his reddish face took on a purplish tinge. Then he achieved control
over himself, and spoke in a way that Gees admired.

"Very good, sir. I'm sorry to have intruded on you. I hope you
have no objection to my seeing your shepherd, Cottrill, about it?"

"See him by all means," Tyrrell snapped back. "And after that,
what are you going to do about it? Go home and dream again?"

"Mr. Tyrrell," Feather asked coolly, "if a man of yours has
bungled some piece of work, do you castigate him in front of others?"

"I'm sorry, Inspector," Tyrrell said frankly, realizing his own
lack of decency, "and I take it all back. Green, this is Inspector
Feather, who has tried to get to the bottom of this trouble--though
with no success, so far. Inspector, Mr. Green, from London, who--"

"Is just looking round your wonderful country and admiring it, and
enjoying my friend's hospitality," Gees put in. "Though I've not seen
much of it yet, having only arrived last night. I expect your duties
take you over a fairly extensive territory, Inspector?"

"Some few miles to cover, sir," Feather answered, far more
placably than he had spoken to Tyrrell, so far. "It's a sparsely
populated area, this, and I do a good bit of driving about in the
course of a week."

"And in all your driving, I suppose, you've never come across a
case like this," Gees suggested. "One so difficult, I mean."

"That is the case, sir. It's--well, baffling, say, I find it."

"Yes, very, I should think," Gees assented encouragingly. "Mr.
Tyrrell has been telling me all about it, and we went to see the
carcasses of these last two sheep this morning. I suppose you've tried
everything? I know a little about police work, by the way."

"Is that so, sir?" The inspector accorded him a slight increase of
respect, and Tyrrell frowned heavily, but did not interrupt them.
"Yes, I think I've done everything possible. Drummed up six men this
summer--though it's difficult for me to spare as many--and put them on
watch over the sheep--and the very night after they were taken off it
happened again. Moore, here, has watched with Cottrill, too. I've had
a census of dogs taken all over my district, and exonerated every one
of 'em, and last June we had that drive, you'll remember, Mr.
Tyrrell."

"Drive?" Gees echoed. "How do you mean that, Inspector?"

"Got every man we could, and two troops of boy scouts, and started
early in the morning to beat all the countryside for miles--I had an
idea it might be an animal or animals escaped from some menagerie or
something--they're big beasts that do this, as you can see from the
carcasses, and I had an idea there might be something hiding in the
fells and coming out to play this devil's game with Mr. Tyrrell's
sheep. But we found nothing--except for one wild cat that one of my
men shot."

"Which was not big enough to do damage of that sort," Gees
observed.

"Not by a long chalk, sir. Mr. Tyrrell"--he turned from Gees as he
spoke--"I propose to organize another drive. We may find something if
we do, and I can get more men into it, this time."

Tyrrell made a slight grimace. "Do what you like," he said, "but
if you stop to reflect, you'll remember that these killings have all
been exactly alike, pointing the fact that the same beasts have done
them all the time. Add to that, there has been as much as a fortnight
interval between two killings--and if those things are hidden in the
fells, what do they live on? Do they starve for a fortnight?"

"Well, there are rabbits, sir," Feather ventured.

"Do you think, in six months, we should not have come across some
sign if they had been killing rabbits?" Tyrrell demanded. "Do you
think Cottrill or somebody would have gone all this time without
finding some sign of the things themselves? He, for one, tramps every
bit of the fells with that dog of his--and he's seen nothing at all."

"Yes, sir, but I'm suggesting they may lie up outside the bounds
of your land, and come in to kill. I propose a twenty-mile drive from
north to south, and adding in the boy scouts we can get, there'll be
between one and two hundred people beating the country, this time."

"With intervals of fifty yards, and the size of these things that
do the killings, they ought to find them if they're there," Gees put
in.

"At least, it seems to me worth trying," Feather said hopefully,
"and it's got to be done while this weather lasts, if at all. Once the
autumn rain and fogs begin, it would be a mere waste of time."

"When do you propose to undertake it, then?" Tyrrell asked.

"Well, today's Tuesday--Friday, I'd say. I can get my crowd
together and out here by about eleven on Friday morning, if you
agree."

"And do I feed them, or pay them?" Tyrrell asked acidly.

"No more than you did before, sir," Feather answered, and Gees
sensed the resentment that his quiet tone concealed--he was a genius
at keeping his temper, evidently. "The boys will bring their own food
and treat it all as a lark, and I shall look after the rest of them--
that is, the county will have to stand the expense. But"--he turned to
address Gees--"it'll be more than fifty yards intervals, sir. With
that, you'd only cover a front of five thousand yards, not the full
width of Mr. Tyrrell's own land. From one to two hundred yards apart,
I want them--and those things are big enough to see at that distance."

"You're going by Cottrill's glimpse of them and his description,"
Gees suggested, after a moment's pause for thought.

"To some extent, sir. But if you see things like these by night,
with probably a bit of haze about, they're bound to look bigger than
reality. Cottrill said they were as big as donkeys, but anything the
size of a Great Dane would be big enough to do what they're doing."

"Still doing," Tyrrell amended for him, sourly.

"Mr. Tyrrell," he said gravely, "if you can suggest anything I
have not done in connection with this case, I shall be most happy to
do it."

There followed an awkward minute or so, and Gees feared lest
Tyrrell should break out into open rage. But, instead, he laughed.

"You win, Inspector," he said. "No--I'm sore over it, as you'd be
if they were your sheep, but I haven't an idea in my head beyond what
you've done and propose to do. You want to see Cottrill, I suppose?"

"I'd like to see him, and inspect the carcasses, sir."

"Well, he'll be over in Anker's Glen--and you'll find four of my
men carting the hurdles to make him a new fold. That is, unless he's
gone out on the fells to see to his sheep, and in that case the men
making the new fold will tell you where to find him. If this keeps on
much longer, there will be nowhere to put fresh folds for him."

"You mean that you move the sheep each time?" Gees asked.

"Necessarily," Tyrell answered. "Sheep are the worst fools of all
animals, but you won't get them down on to that ground where the
killing took place for another two months, at least. Cottrill knows he
can't, now, and so he folds in a fresh place after a killing."

"You get that, Inspector?" Gees asked.

"The smell of blood, I expect," Feather said. "In the same way,
I've seen sheep go nearly mad over being driven into a slaughter
house. All animals are the same when there's blood about."

But, Gees thought and did not say, there had been no blood at the
scene of this last killing. Instead, there had been a faint reek that
had a sickening, loathsome quality, a scent he could no more forget
than define. He nodded a grave assent to the inspector's statement.

"That is so," he said. "Well, I shall be here to take part in your
drive--and good luck to it. This is a ghastly affair."

"It's against my professional pride, sir," Feather said, "and I'd
do anything to put an end to it, as Mr. Tyrrell knows."

He took his leave, and the stout constable, who had stood in the
background and said nothing throughout the interview, though he had
heard it all, followed his superior and climbed unhandily into the
car. Gees watched meditatively as the inspector started his engine,
reversed and turned, and eventually went off down the drive toward the
gateway.

"His professional pride," he observed thoughtfully.

"What do you make of him, Gees?" Tyrrell inquired.

"Ah! That's real friendliness, calling me that," Gees answered,
and smiled. "I make less of him than I do of you, over it."

"Explicate?" Tyrrell asked, after a thoughtfully frowning pause.

"Well, he lived up to the best traditions of the force, took all
your insults as if they had been compliments," Gees explained, "and
you didn't show up as the world's most perfect little gentleman
against him, either. I'm being frank, and you can kick me out, if you
like."

"No, I won't. Feather's a sound officer, really, but I'm so sore
over this that I say more than I mean, probably," Tyrrell admitted.

"Well, say a little less about me, from henceforth," Gees urged
gently. "You were about to tell him I'd come here to investigate this
business when I broke in and stopped you at it. I don't want a board
put up at the gateway to say Gees is investigating something between
mumps and murder on this spot. I don't want you to shout my purpose in
being here at any more of your friends or retainers, but just to play
the simple innocent with a vast interest in Cumberland, which I'm now
seeing for the first time. And if you tell the police I'm conducting a
private investigation for you, you put the police's backs up--see?"

"With consequent loss of interest on their part," Tyrrell
suggested.

"Possibly," Gees admitted. "Wow, but that was a whale of a lunch!
Do you know what I feel like doing, at this moment?"

"Haven't the faintest idea," Tyrrell answered.

"Going to my room, pulling down the bed cover, and settling down
for an hour or so before tea. It must be this air, I think."

"Just as you like." He sounded as if the idea did not appeal to
him.

"Permission granted, obviously," Gees remarked. "You're thinking I
ought to be up and about, of course, doing my damndest. But, as I told
you, the terms of the contract are now fifty all in if I succeed, and
nothing if I fail--and I do it in my own way."

"I'll see that you're wakened for tea," Tyrrell promised, far less
stiffly. "And--you think well of Inspector Feather, apparently?"

"As a police officer--yes," Gees answered. "Trained to routine
work and employing all the best police methods--more than he told you
or me, almost certainly. Feather is no fool, within his limitations."

"Meaning--?" Tyrrell queried interestedly.

"I told you, the abnormal is bound to declare itself if you look
for it long enough and in the right way--but you mustn't look for it
in normal ways. Which is why I'm going to climb on to my little bed
and either think or not--I think I want some more material to think
over, before I really begin thinking. We'll see."

He turned toward the house and made for the entrance.

Tyrrell, unmoving, watched him go, and smiled.

"You can't help liking the chap," he told himself.



Chapter V BAR TALK



THERE had been five scones in the dish, all hot and buttery, when
Tyrrell had called Gees down from his room for tea. One remained, now.
Gees, who had had three, looked at the lonely survivor, wistfully.

"Take it," Tyrrell urged. "I'm turning on to cake."

"Then it would be a pity to waste this," Gees said, seizing the
scone. "It must be this air that's getting me down."

"Getting the scones down, too," Tyrrell gibed.

"I want to borrow a suit of clothes," Gees announced abruptly.

"Well"--Tyrrell surveyed his figure--"apart from hands and feet,
you and I are much of a size, I should say. Anything of mine--"

"No," Gees interrupted. "Good of you and all that, but have you a
man working for you of about my size? I want a working suit."

"There's Weelum," Tyrrell said, after a moment's thought. "He'd be
about your build if somebody hit him on the nose and pushed his head
back. You know--stoops. But I think a suit of his would fit you."

"A dirty suit," Gees explained. "Everyday, corduroy, reach-me-down
uglies. The uglier the better. Can you borrow one without his knowing
it's for me? And a cap or hat--I'll muddy a pair of my own shoes."

"Is this disguise?" Tyrrell asked. "I mean, if it is, you've got
to wear boots, not shoes. Farm hands don't, you'll find."

"Quite right," Gees assented. "I packed a pair of heavy boots,
fortunately. Experience of Shropshire mud made me do it. Well, suit,
and hat, to make a farm laborer of me. Can you do it, unbeknown?"

"I think so," Tyrrell assented rather dubiously. "For when?"

"This evening--to walk to Odder and mingle with the gay throng in
the _Royal George_ on terms of fraternity and equality."

"And is _that_ how you expect to discover what's killing my
sheep?" Tyrrell demanded with heavy sarcasm.

"Part of it," Gees answered placidly. "I wish you'd be a little
less anxious to keep my nose hard down on the sheepstone, but as a
matter of fact this is relevant to my idea of pursuing the abnormal by
abnormal paths. How do you approach this Weelum, as you called him?"

"I don't," Tyrrell answered. "I approach my cook. Weelum is her
son, and illegitimate at that. He lives on the premises with her, and
I expect I could persuade her to let me have a suit of his and say
nothing about it for the evening--say nothing to him, that is."

"Tomorrow, of course, she'll tell the world," Gees suggested, "but
it will be too late to damage me, then. All right, Weelum let it be.
Oh, one other thing, though. I want Cottrill with me."

"Cottrill?" Tyrrell echoed, in blank stupefaction. "But he'll be
watching by the sheep tonight, man. Always, after a killing--"

"There will be no killing tonight," Gees interrupted. "I want him
to come pub-crawling with me, as far as Odder and the _Royal George_."

"You'll never get him away from his sheep," Tyrrell prophesied.

"Well, will you get him to come here and see me after he's
finished his folding?" Gees asked. "Will he be near enough for that?"

"Yes, I can send and get him to come over before dark. But I
assure you it will be impossible to get him away from the flock."

"I'll take the assurance--and Cottrill too, after I've had a word
with him. Now will you go and see about a suit of Weelum's workaday
fustian? I may have to make alterations in it to fit it, or anything."

"It shall be done," Tyrrell promised, and, having finished his
tea, went off to that part of the house over which his cook ruled.

It came to pass some two hours later that Cottrill, arriving at
the house in answer to a summons, faced his master just as there
emerged from the house a being at whom he frowned in a puzzled way,
since, as nearly as he could tell, it was a stranger to these parts.
Soiled corduroy trousers over enormous feet, an old grey gabardine
coat of which the sleeves were too short by an inch or two, and which
was soiled as if its owner had gone ditching in it for years; a blue
striped shirt, a muffler of dark wool round the neck, and a dirty old
cap pulled well down over the eyes, completed the outfit.

"How do I look, Tyrrell?" Gees asked, and Cottrill first smiled
and then chuckled as he recognized the voice.

"Villainous," Tyrrell answered unhesitatingly.

"Splendid!" Gees remarked with deep satisfaction. "Now, Cottrill,
I suppose you blow along to the _Royal George_ at Odder occasionally,
if things are quiet enough to give you an evening off?"

"Well, sir, I have been known to do such a thing," the shepherd
admitted, with a twinkle in his eye.

"Well, we'll go along together tonight, and I'll be--"

"Not tonight, sir," Cottrill interrupted gravely. "I shall be
keeping an eye on the fold, after what happened night before last."

"Whether you do or no, there will be no more killings tonight,"
Gees told him with utter certainty in his tone, "and I assure you it
will be far more useful if you come and give me the freedom of the
bar."

"I'd be uneasy, sir. It's not as if--well, you see, the sheep are
my people. And to leave them alone in the fresh fold, tonight--"

His gesture implied refusal to think of such a thing. Then Tyrrell
spoke--his look at Gees' face determined him.

"They close at ten, Cottrill," he said. "I'll take a shot gun and
go down to Anker's Glen, and you can come and relieve me after knock-
out. Mr. Green is set on making this expedition tonight."

"Because, after today, too many people will know me--I should be
recognized by someone in spite of these clothes," Gees explained.

"Well, if you're sure, Mr. Tyrrell--" Cottrill began, and again
did not end it. Evidently he was reluctant to leave his sheep to the
care of any other. "And I don't see what use--" he began again.

"As I remarked to Mr. Tyrrell," Gees told him, "this is an
abnormal case, and you've got to use abnormal methods to get at the
cause of the trouble. It may be quite useless, this little jaunt, but
I want to try it--and if I go alone, the men in that bar will shut up
like oysters."

"An' I'm to be the oyster-knife," Cottrill suggested. "All right,
sir, since Mr. Tyrrell is goin' to keep watch. I'll come."

"Good! I'll be George--just George, for the evening. Friend of a
cousin of yours, shall we say? From down south--Sussex, for choice."

"I think I can back that amount of fiction, sir."

"Not sir--George." He looked at his watch. "If I meet you outside
the gate in about an hour's time, that will give you a chance to get
something to eat, and it will be very nearly dark by then, too."

"Right you are, sir. I'll be there," Cottrill promised.

"No--George!" Gees insisted. "Start practicing it now."

"All right, George. I'll be there in an hour from now."

He went down the drive, Jimmy following him. The dog was plodding
wearily, Gees noted, and Cottrill himself seemed none too fresh.

"I wonder how many miles they've done today already?" Gees mused.
He thought of how he had seen the sheep scattered to graze on the
hillsides, and what it meant to collect them all and fold them for the
night. "And Odder's nearly three miles away," he added.

"He'll be all right after a rest and some food," Tyrrell said,
"but I doubt whether this idea of yours will lead to anything."

"We'll see," Gees said. "No other idea has led to anything, so
far, so at the worst I shall merely come out even. But--dinner, eh?"

Tyrrell led the way inside, and then gestured Gees to precede him.

"You're sure that maid of yours can keep quiet--till to-morrow?"
Gees asked. "It would be a pity if a word from her got ahead of me."

"It won't," Tyrrell promised. "I've seen to that already."

 * * * *

Night had fully fallen when Cottrill and Gees went off toward
Odder: Tyrrell, with a double-barreled breechloader in the crook of
his arm and about a dozen cartridges loaded with number three shot,
had set out for Anker's Glen half an hour earlier. Since the moon
would not rise till after ten o'clock, and the haze was thicker than
on the preceding night, the darkness in the hollow to which the two
descended after leaving Dowlandsbar gateway was of such a quality that
Gees stumbled more than once in the ruts of the unkempt lane.

"This reek's comin' off Solway, I reckon," Cottrill remarked. He
halted, wetted his forefinger by sticking it in his mouth, and held it
up to test the air. "Yes," he added as they went on. "West, with a bit
of north in it--there'll be a fog by mornin', George."

"Ah! You oughter see what a Lunnon fog's like," Gees responded.

"Bad enough here, in winter," Cottrill said.

They passed over a stone bridge that Gees remembered from the
night before, since it had given him little more than a foot of
clearance on each side of his car, and bent to the steep ascent
beyond. The tall stones of the entrance to Locksborough Castle reared
ghostly in the haze, and Gees saw that Cottrill signed the cross on
himself as he passed the twin pillars. He was about to comment on it
when with a little thrill down the spine he realized that a specter-
like grey figure was showing above the low stone wall between them and
the castle lands, and advancing toward them. Then it resolved itself
into the form of a woman, and Cottrill uttered a cheery "Good night"
as they came abreast.

"Why, Mr. Cottrill, isn't it?" Gees recognized Gyda Mccoul's
voice.

"That same, miss," Cottrill said, and paused. "It's a foggy sort
of night--I'm afraid our good weather's breakin' up at last."

"Oh, I hope not!" As she spoke, she took a step forward, seemed to
stumble, and recovered herself within a yard of Gees--he could see her
snow-white hair, uncovered, and see, too, a half-luminous quality in
her eyes, before she backed away from him. "This awful lane!" she
exclaimed. "It makes an evening walk almost impossible. But surely you
should be watching the sheep tonight, Mr. Cottrill?"

"No, miss, I'm takin' a night off wi' George here--he's come all
the way from Sussex to have a look at us up here. There won't be
nothing happen to the sheep again as soon after the last killin' as
this."

"Well, you know best, of course," she said. "Good night, Mr.
Cottrill. And good night, George, too." And she went on toward the
monolith-guarded entry to the castle, while Cottrill and Gees resumed
their way. And, Gees realized, there had been a spice of mockery in
her voice when she had bidden him good night: she had recognized him,
he knew.

"They say she walks about a lot o' nights," Cottrill observed,
when be felt sure the subject of the remark was beyond hearing.
"Restless, like. Ever see a white head like hers before, George?"

"Not quite so striking," Gees admitted. "It's very attractive."

"Mighty pretty," Cottrill agreed, "but a bit uncanny. I saw one
like it in Valparaiso, but she had a face you could camp out on--got
some Arauco blood in her, and her hair was straight, not curly like
Miss McCoul's."

"There's a prospect that she won't be Miss McCoul much longer, I
understand," Gees observed after they had tramped some way in silence.

"Aye," Cottrill assented, and Gees divined from his tone that this
was a subject he was not inclined to discuss.

Again they went on in silence, topped the rise beyond the castle,
and went winding down into Odder. The village emporium was closed,
Gees noted: he saw, too, the squat steeple of a little church that he
had not observed from his car--it was set back from the lane and
tucked into a slope that rendered it inconspicuous. Then they turned
toward the _Royal George,_ from the frontage of which a band of light
lay out across the lane, and in it the thickening reek of the night
swirled smokily. Cottrill opened a door, and the two entered a big,
low ceilinged room, paneled shoulder-high with painted and grained
deal planking. There were settles round three sides, a plain deal
table with two scrubbed, backless forms as seats for it in the middle
of the room, a dart board hung in the corner by the window, and a bar
at which a red-faced man in shirt-sleeves presided. A dozen or so of
men dressed much as was Gees himself sat round on the settles, in twos
and threes, and against the bar lounged a well-dressed youngster who
screwed up his eyes to gaze at the new-comers in a way that suggested
he had been drinking freely. The sag of the pint tankard he held
suggested it, too.

"Why, it's Co-Cottrill!" he hiccupped. "Good old Cottrill! How-
how's sheep-killing going on, Cottrill? All-all dead yet?"

"Not all, Master Harold," Cottrill answered stiffly, as he
approached the bar. "Two pints, tankards, Mr. Querrett. I've got a
friend from Sussex come to see us. George, this is Mr. Querrett, an'
if you can find better beer between here an' Sussex--well, you're
clever. Why, hullo, Harry! How goes it, Ben? Taters all clamped yet?"

"Aye, an' a rare crop, too," Ben, a grey-headed ancient,
responded.

"They hain't begun clampin' of 'em yet, down in Sussex," Gees put
in, addressing himself to both Cottrill and the ancient.

"You jest coom from theer, then?" Ben inquired friendlily.

"Aye," he answered. "Come up through the sheers."

"Through what, mister?" The ancient put a hand to his ear for the
reply, and the rest of the men in the room listened too.

"The sheers," Gees repeated. "Lemme see, now. There was Birksheer,
an' Oxfordsheer, an' Shropsheer, an' Lancasheer--"

"Geography lesson, gentlemen all!" the youngster by the bar broke
in. "Counties of England in their or-order, by the man from Sussex.
Dirty county, Sussex, by the look of him. Refill, please, Querrett."
He slid his tankard across the bar and released it with the order.

"No, Master Harold, you get no more to drink here tonight,"
Querrett answered firmly, and put the empty tankard away after handing
two to Cottrill. Gees took one of the two and silently toasted the
shepherd with it before he drank, and discovered it was very good beer
indeed.

"No more t'-night?" the youth demanded harshly. "Why, 'ts'not
nine, yet! Not half-pas' eight. Don' be silly, man!"

"It's nearer nine than half-past eight," Querrett told him firmly,
"and if it were only seven you wouldn't get another drop across this
bar. It's time you went home. Good night, Master Harold."

Gazing round the room blinkingly, as if inclined to appeal against
the decision, the youth sensed that the landlord's suggestion was
approved. He stuck his hands in his pockets and walked unsteadily to
the door, pausing there to look back into the room as he held on to
the handle. He grinned, foolishly, and opened the door.

"Good nigh', ev'ybody," he said, and went out, slamming the door.

"If I'd had a boy like that, I'd ha' leathered him black an'
blue," Ben said solemnly. "Reckon he'll break Mr. Amber's heart, this
way."

"An' his sister's as well," said another. "She's fair worritted
over his ways. 'T'ain't as if he could carry his drink."

"The vicar's son, eh?" Gees asked of Cottrill.

"Aye. He's at college at Oxford--they give 'em far too long
holidays, an' don't discipline 'em when they're there," Cottrill
answered. "What d'ye think of our Cumberland beer, George?"

"Fine stuff," Gees said reverently. "You were right about it."

"That young feller oughter be leathered," Ben insisted to the
company in general. "If I had a son like him, I'd leather him, I
would."

"An' how are things down yure way, mister?" A brawny individual in
a shabby velveteen jacket put the question to Gees as he set a pint
glass on the bar and gestured Querrett to refill it.

"Oh, slow," Gees answered. "But I come into a bit o' money, so I
reckoned I'd travel a bit an' see me old friend here." He indicated
Cottrill by a nod. "An' havin' come into that bit o' money," he added,
"I reckon it's up to me to stand me footin', like. What'll everyone
have, now?" He looked round the room to see how the invitation would
be received, trusting to Cottrill's sponsorship to justify it.

"Well, that's very kind o' your friend, Mr. Cottrill," Ben said,
and finished his drink hastily. "I'll drink his health in another
pint, wi' pleasure, an' I reckon the rest of us'll do the same."

"Drink up, chaps," Cottrill admonished heartily.

"George is a warm member, an' he can afford it. Half for me this
time, Mr. Querrett--I don't want to make the pace too hot, an' we've
just had pints."

The landlord bustled between the bar and his taps--he had the beer
in casks at the back--and eventually every member of the party had a
fresh drink at Gees' expense. They toasted him, and old Ben smacked
his lips loudly as he lowered his tankard after a long draught.

"An' how d'ye like our part o' the world, mister?" he inquired.

"You've got too many hills, an' not enough trees," Gees answered.

"You don't want to be all smothered up in woods, do you?" Ben
demanded. "As f'r the hills, I reckon the Almighty put 'em there."

"An' trees," another observed, "there's a fine clump round Mr.
Tyrrell's place--reg'lar little wood, it is. Don't want trees
everywhere you go. It'd make it stiflin' like, besides the mess o'
leaves."

"All round that old ruin we passed on the way here, there's no
more trees'n hair on a baby's chin," Gees declared gravely.

"Ah, that'll be Locksborough," Ben remarked. "Well, there was some
fine rowans, but Mr. McCoul had 'em all cut down an' the roots
pizened. It beat us, that did--unless maybe he reckoned to use 'em as
firewood."

"That way, he wouldn't ha' had the roots pizened," another
suggested.

"Happen he wouldn't," Ben said, and dismissed the subject. "Well,
Mr. Cottrill, what's yure news? Yu're a bit of a stranger, these
days."

"Why, yes," Cottrill agreed. "It's some while since I called in
for a pint, ain't it? News? Nothing good, I can assure you, Ben."

"You hain't found out what's a-doin' of it yet, then?"

Cottrill shook his head. "Neither hide nor hoof," he answered.

"I was talkin' to Moore tonight," the velveteen-jacketed man put
in, "and he told me there's to be another drive, come Friday mornin'."

"Aye, an' if any o' them boys go tromplin' round my tater clamp,
I'll leather 'em," Ben promised.

"The things that kill them sheep ain't likely to hide in your
tater clamp, Ben," velveteen-jacket said slily, and won a general
laugh.

"Happen they don't," Ben snapped when the laugh subsided. "D'you
know where they do hide, since you talk so sure about it?"

"Happen you know as much as I do about 'em," velveteen retorted.

"What d'you chaps make o' these things, then?" Gees ventured,
opening the subject for which he had made this excursion. "I'm a
stranger about heer," he added apologetically, "an' know no more'n
what Mr. Cottrill told me, about losin' his sheep by dogs o' some
sort."

"Well, mister, that's what it is," Ben said, and suggested by his
tone that he intended to say no more on the subject.

"But you been callin' of 'em things, not dogs," Gees pointed out.

"It'd be back about the middle o' July, mister," the velveteen man
said slowly, after a pause in which nobody moved or spoke, "an' Jack
Baldwin--he ain't here tonight--Jack was comin' along from Dowlandsbar
way, same as it might be you an' Mr. Cottrill tonight. Top o' the rise
this side the old castle, he sighted two things t'other side the wall
alongside the road--things, he called 'em, not dogs. They was goin'
like all possessed across country, Jack said--it was nigh on dark, but
not quite. Jack said they loped over the wall a score paces in front
o' him, an' then took the other wall an' went outer sight in a dip
t'ords the castle. An' Jack said he'd take his oath they warn't dogs
nor yet nuthin' a dog'd come near, though they was four-legged."

"More like big cats?" Gees suggested.

"No. Like dogs, Jack said, but not dogs. Because, he said, there
was a smell went with 'em that made him nigh sick, a smell no dog
could live with--they was to wind'ard of him, an' he got the smell as
they went across his front. Ye know, sometimes a dog'll roll on a dead
rat or anything an' get a powerful stink on him, but Jack said it was
not a bit like that. More--more like bad chemicals, he reckoned..."

"I were here when he come in that night," another interrupted,
"an' he were white as a sheet, an' what he said about the smell were
that if any of us ever got to hell, it'd be what we'd find. The reek
o' the pit where the damned frizzle, he said, not bein' careful o' his
words at anytime, ain't Jack. An' if you went by the look o' him, he'd
seen the davvle hisself, that night. All to pieces, he were."

"An' they're what's killin' Mr. Tyrrell's sheep," the velveteen
man added. "An' 'tis my belief no mortal man can tackle 'em, even if
he could find 'em, any more'n ye could tackle the old dead risen."

"The old dead risen?" Gees echoed questioningly.

"The man's a stranger," Ben cut in, "or he'd know there's things
round these fells we don't talk about, lest we get their ill-will." He
tilted his tankard, and ceremoniously spilled a gout of its contents
on the sanded floor, and with amazement Gees saw that half a dozen
others, Cottrill among them, did the same. It was a sort of libation,
as if the men who made it feared lest the "old dead" should hear
themselves discussed, and so must be propitiated.

An odd quiet followed, and the occupants of the bar looked at each
other uneasily: there was fear in the atmosphere of the place, Gees
sensed, and a lad by the window let out a little yelp as the door went
clattering open and a wild-eyed, bare-headed man, his grizzled hair
all tousled, almost ran in and, steadying, approached the bar.

"Fr the love av the Virgin, Misther Querrett, gimme a double
whisky, an' make it big!" he pleaded rather than ordered.

"Shaun Ammon, Mr. McCoul's man at the castle," Cottrill whispered
explanatorily to Gees. "Why, Shaun, what's wrong?" he asked, as the
landlord took down a bottle and a man by the door shut it hastily.

"Ah, sure, I've seen an' smelt 'em," Shaun answered half-
sobbingly. "Beyant the church, waitin' be the wall o' the graveyard.
Eyes like fires glowin' at ye--great grey things crouchin', an' one
growled as I wint by. An' hell itself'll smell no worse than thim."

"There!" the velveteen man exclaimed. "Wasn't that what Jack said?
The reek o' the pit where the damned frizzle was his words."

"But how come you to be out this way so late, Shaun?" Querrett
asked. "You've never been here after dark before, I know."

The man finished his neat whisky and put the glass down. "I'll be
throublin' ye f'r the same again, Misther Querrett," he said, "F'r I
nade it, if iver a man did. How'm I here so late, ye're askin'? It was
the masther, Misther McCoul--Miss Gyda went f'r one o' her walks, an'
since she was out a long while, he sez to me--'Shaun,' he sez, 'I
mislike Miss Gyda bein' out alone so late, with all the happenin's
that happen these days--go find her, she wint t'ords Odder, an' ye'll
find her forninst the village, sure.' An' I kem out lookin' f'r her,
but divil a sight of her could I see. An' bein' so near, a dhrink
sthruck me as a frind in nade, an' I kem on past the churchyard--but
not f'r ten barrels av the craythur would I have kem if I'd known what
I'd see!"

Cottrill emptied his tankard and put it down. Then he turned to
Gees and gripped the stick--it was almost a cudgel--he had brought.

"I dunno how you feel about this," he said, "but if the grey
things are still there--but I wish I had my gun with me." And he moved
toward the door, while Gees, comprehending his intent, followed.

"Nay, come back!" Ben called to them. "Can ye face devils from the
pit wi' no more than a stick, man? Come back! Death's out there!"

"Aye, the old dead, mayhap," and Cottrill lifted his stick aloft,
"but I cut this from a mountain ash myself. And I'm going."

He went out to the night. Gees, following him, looked back and saw
a huddle of frightened faces as the occupants of the bar crowded round
the doorway. Cottrill, hurrying, glanced back too for a moment.

"If they had the guts of a louse among 'em, they'd come too," he
said. "Hullo! Tom Cotton's a man, at least. Comin' with us, Tom?"

The velveteen-jacketed man, running to catch up with them, eased
his pace to fall in beside Cottrill. "Aye," he said. "If so be as we
might track 'em down an' put an end to this devil's business."

They hurried on, and came to the low wall bounding the churchyard.
Again Gees caught the vile reek he had smelt that morning by the sheep
fold, but of whatever had caused it there was no sign, though they
searched all four sides of the quadrangle. Then, standing in the
misty, utter stillness to listen for a moment, vainly, Cottrill shook
his head.

"Might be anywhere, by this time," he said. "In the churchyard
itself, mayhap. There's hiding enough among the tombs."

"The old dead wouldn't go in consecrated ground," Tom Cotton said.

"Are they, then?" Cottrill turned on him and put the question
sharply, almost fiercely.

"This smell," Tom said. "That, or--" He did not end it.

"Ssh!" Cottrill cautioned him. "Don't speak of _them_."

"You goin' back home, or stoppin' the night here?" Tom asked after
another long silence in which they looked over the wall.

"Back home, of course," Cottrill answered. "Why?"

"It's more'n I'd do, tonight," Tom said. "But there's that poor
chap Ammon--he'll never dare go back to the castle alone. If--"

"Yes," Cottrill said, "he can come with us. Now, though. I'm not
stopping in there any longer, nor goin' in again. Tell him, will you."

Tom went off toward the inn, and Cottrill and Gees went a little
way back toward it. Presently Shaun Ammon came hurrying toward them.

"May the saints in glory look down an' reward yez, gentlemen," he
accosted them. "'Tis meself that'd niver dare go back alone, an' no
breakfast there'd have been for the masther in the mornin' av I'd
sthayed, an' Miss Gyda's hot wather to make tonight, too."

"You'll be rather late with it," Gees suggested.

"An' maybe I will, but Miss Gyda's a forgivin' sort. Ah, me head's
all rattlin' wi' the fright, an' I can't think. Av you two gentlemen
would come as far as the dureway, I'll remimber it in me prayers. The
divil is out tonight, sure, an' all his angels too."

"We'll see you home, Shaun," Gees promised.

"May the blessin' av Mary rest on ye, gentlemen," Shaun prayed
fervently. "'Tis no night to go alone, be the powers!"

As they climbed to the ridge between them and the old castle, Gees
could hear the Irishman drawing long, shuddering breaths, as if the
terror of what he had seen were still on him. And, until they had seen
him open a postern door at one corner of the old keep, and enter, no
more words were spoken except for the "Good nights" of all three.
Then, as the two turned to go back to the lane, Cottrill spoke.

"It looks as if they were coming out into the open at last," he
said. "God send it, before I go mad."

"Soon, now," Gees said soothingly.

"You mean that?"

Cottrill stopped to face his man while he put the question. But,
before Gees could answer, they both faced toward Dowlandsbar to
listen. Not from Dowlandsbar itself, but from beyond it, came the
faint report of a gun. Then again it sounded to them, and faint echoes
of the report volleyed among the fells and died out.

"The master!" Cottrill whispered. "Nobody else would be shooting
at this time of night. They're there among the sheep!"

He turned and ran, and Gees, following at first, caught him up and
kept beside him on the way to Anker's Glen.



Chapter VI ATTACK



FROM the top of Brownhill Scar, a humped mound or hillock on the
ridge over which a path led to Anker's Glen, Tyrrell paused to look
back at the last of the sunset afterglow, pink and emerald shading to
deepening turquoise between horizon and zenith. A little light
remained on such heights as this, but in the valleys the shadows were
deepening fast, and the light haze that would later become a misty
reek was thickening. Dowlandsbar, a mile and more to the west from the
Scar, was hidden by the intervening height; to the east, far off and
no more than a glimmering point, Tyrrell could see the coalesced
lights of the farmhouse where Bandon, whose land formed the eastern
boundary to Tyrrell's own, lived. There was no other sign of human
occupancy of the rugged landscape: cottages, what there were of them,
were set low down in the glens for the sake of water, and of winter
shelter too.

Nearly all Tyrrell's land was, like his homestead, on the north
side of the lane which formed his only way to main roads and the
urgencies of what claims to be the higher form of civilization, but
the glen in which the sheep were folded for this night was part of
some two hundred acres on the south side. The lane itself averaged an
east and west direction, though its persistent divergences from the
average as it followed the conformations of the ground made this hard
of belief to one who did not know the countryside.

Heather-clad, rock-scarred, the heights grew obscure and their
outlines softened with the coming of darkness: from this height on
which he paused Tyrrell could look down into Anker's Glen, a wide
valley of rich grass in which the new fold showed as a grayish oval in
the dimness, filled as it was with the fleecy backs of his sheep. He
broke his gun, slipped in two of the cartridges from his pocket, and
snapped the breech closed again before following the narrow sheep
track that led down the hillside toward the fold. There might be no
need of it--Gees had said there would be no killings--but fear had
lain over these fells for six months, now, and was over them tonight.
And Gees was a stranger who had been here but a bare twenty-four
hours--how could he tell what might happen in the hours of darkness?

There were scrubby clumps of broom on the hillside, any one of
which might have hidden a target for the breechloader, but appeared
void of any occupancy when Tyrrell passed them. Between him and the
fold, and less than a dozen yards distant from it, rose up a solitary
mountain ash, the only tree in sight, its red clusters of berries
black in the deepening gloom. As he came into the shadow of its boughs
a flapping sounded among them, and a lone carrion crow sailed off to
westward, a black blot against the very last of the sky's light.
Startled, even chilled by the sight, Tyrrell half raised his gun to
aim at the evil thing, but then lowered it again--it was too uncertain
a shot. But that lessening speck against the darkening west was
ominous, threatful: fear lay heavy over the fells, tonight.

He made the round of the fold, slowly, since it would be two hours
and more before Cottrill would relieve him of his watch, and came back
to the lone tree. The sheep were quiet, some of them cropping the
grass inside the fold, others placidly cud-chewing, but, Tyrrell
noted, not one of all the flock was lying down. With a sudden gust of
irritation he reflected that they ought to be out, scattered all over
the fells, on such a night as this, rather than cooped together to
scatter at dawn and be rounded up again in the next dusk. Cottrill had
stood the abnormal situation splendidly up to the present, had made no
complaint, though he could not have had a score nights in bed all this
summer, but he could not go on, Tyrrell knew. The mere physical strain
would be too much for him when winter approached, and, in addition to
that, the uncanny, almost unearthly nature of these killings would
break any man's nerve, even one with such unthinking courage as
Cottrill had shown--up to now!

Tyrrell, watchful of his man, was convinced that he would not
stand much more of it. He had agreed to Gees' suggestion of taking
Cottrill with him to Odder as much for the shepherd's sake as for
anything, believing that such an evening off, among the cronies he
would meet in the bar of the _Royal George,_ would have a tonic
effect. That Gees himself would get anything of value out of the
expedition, Tyrrell did not believe for a moment. A group of laborers
and the like, gossiping over their beer, could contribute nothing in
the way of enlightenment as to how the sheep were killed.

Leaned against the tree, his gun in the crook of his arm, he gave
himself up to reflection. Gees--what could Gees learn that others had
not learned--what could he do that had not been done already? Impulse
alone, at first, had led him--Tyrrell--to send that two-guinea check
in response to the semi-comic advertisement that had caught his eye,
and then the man himself--Tyrrell had wanted to know more of him, and
had so far believed in one who might prove an utter charlatan that
there, in London, he had agreed to risk fifty pounds for a solution of
the mystery.

There, in the heart of civilization, the problem had appeared
utterly different from what it did here. The superstition it had
wakened had seemed a foolish thing, but here on the scene of the
killings Tyrrell was not so sure that it was foolish. In ordinary
times, his men were common-sense beings: for years he had heard no
more than old tales told half-skeptically, in the way that grownups
regard children's fairy tales, stories of interest and no more. But in
these last six months all that had altered, and even Cottrill,
traveled and common-sense man that he was, seemed to believe in the
presence of something un-human, evil, fearsome. Others made vague
allusions--Tyrrell had heard the phrase--"the old dead," and noted a
sudden change of subject if he came on two men talking. Did they
believe the old dead could rise and do evil on earth again? He had
seen Jack Baldwin, one of his workmen, seated under a wall and eating
his midday snack of bread and bacon, and had seen the man carefully
cut off a piece of his meal and throw it over his shoulder--not
cutting out something unfit for his own eating, but choosing a morsel
of the best to throw away. Propitiating ... what? For there was
something, not the "old dead," but something else that these men
believed existed, and they would never speak of it in Tyrrell's
hearing.

And all this superstitious belief had grown up in the past six
months, he reflected. Before the killings began, his men and their
neighbors had been quite normal in their outlook. Was there a fire
behind this smoke, or were they all silly and credulous over something
that had a perfectly natural and reasonable explanation? And why the
devil should he himself go cold with superstitious fright when a
carrion crow flapped out from a tree and flew off into the night? He
had seen carrion crows flying over the fells all his life, and had
regarded them as part of that life, birds that had their uses, foul
though they might be. Was this folly infecting him?

What would Gyda think of him, if she knew he yielded though ever
so little to credence of these fantastic beliefs? For as long as he
could remember, the inhabitants of the district had shunned
Locksborough Castle ruins in all but the brightest of daylight, feared
it as a haunt of the "old dead," whoever or whatever they might be,
and as a place of ill-omen, but Gyda's father had bought and restored
it, and now he and she lived there with no sign of fear of their
surroundings. A little thrill of another sort took Tyrrell as he
recollected her walking beside him in the darkness toward her home,
her shining head so close to his shoulder, her voice soft and
caressing--and the pulsing, wonderful vitality of her that stirred him
as did the strange, luminous softness of her eyes--such eyes as he had
never seen before. Soon, perhaps, he would have her as mistress of
Dowlandsbar, pillow that shining head on his shoulder and feel the
warm prisoning of her white arms. Gyda, his wife! From his first sight
of her, he had loved her.

The rattle of a displaced stone high up on the hillside startled
him from his long reverie. Darkness was heavy about him, now, and the
haze of the day had thickened to a misty reek in which the nearest
hurdles of the sheepfold, only a dozen yards distant from the tree,
had merged into an indistinct grayness. He must have been dreaming
here a long time, for that falling stone could only mean that Cottrill
was coming down to relieve him. And the sheep, surely, knew that
someone beside himself was here, for the grey mass of them was moving,
milling round and about--but _away toward the centre of the fold!_
They were crowding inward on each other with little "Urr's" and grunts
and coughings, and now there was quite a space between the edge of
their mass and the hurdles, and still they milled round, crowding in
to the centre of their mass. And Tyrrell knew--it was not Cottrill
coming down the hillside! A shudder of fear took him--not such fear as
men know in facing normal danger, but such unreasoning terror as grips
and holds a child that finds itself alone in the dark. He pressed his
back hard against the tree, felt for and found the safety catch of his
gun and slid it off, and waited through an eternity of stillness, save
for the rustle and grunts and coughs of the milling, frightened sheep.

Twenty yards away, or more, beyond the deeper shadow cast by the
foliage of the tree, something moved toward the fold, a grey blot on
the misty darkness. With his worst paroxysm of fear passed, Tyrrell
lifted his gun to his shoulder, but knew the muzzle was wavering--he
tried to grip the barrel and steady it, and so held his fire. Another,
more whitish shape joined the first, and now he had the gun steady on
them both, but a choking, hellish reek came to his nostrils, a
sickening smell as that of death itself. He wanted to cough, to cry
out, but could make no sound. The two shapes moved on toward the fold,
and from within it came a collective, moaning noise, such as he had
never heard from sheep or any animals--it was the last extremity of
terror expressed in sound. The two things leaped the hurdles, long,
gaunt shapes, they seemed, and then Tyrrell pressed the trigger of his
right barrel, heard the echoes of the shot go clattering along the
fells, and let off the left barrel too. There came to his singing ears
a low, angry howl, half-doglike, half-human, and the two things leaped
back out of the fold and came at him as he broke the gun and fumbled
in his pocket for fresh cartridges when the empty shells dropped at
his feet. But he could not get at the cartridges: his pipe and tobacco
pouch would get in the way of his fingers.

At just such a distance as the branches of the tree reached over,
the two things stopped, and, fumbling feverishly for cartridges,
Tyrrell saw four eyes gleaming at him like points of fire. He got out
two cartridges, but in his clumsy, fumbling haste dropped them both
when he tried to insert them in the breech of the gun. The two things
turned their heads so that he could see only two points of light, and
at that a sudden rage and fear lest they should escape took him. He
snapped the gun breech shut, clubbed it, and charged out at them--here
were real things, no ghosts, his brain told him in that moment. The
slight downward slope from the tree trunk gave him pace for his rush.
Now he saw the things clearly, almost as if it were day instead of
darkness-as if, his brain told him, they were luminous. Gaunt grey
things with little, pointed ears, and the one that shrank back from
him was more nearly white than the other. That other sprang at him as
his foot dropped into a hole, and as he fell the impetus of his rush
carried him sliding face downward over the short, thick grass. And now
it was over him, on him. The poisonous reek of its breath came to his
nostrils as he saw white teeth dropping toward his face--a snarling
growl, and the whitish beast charged its fellow and knocked him in the
ribs with such force that he rolled over and over, and Tyrrell heard
the grating tear of his coat and felt a stinging pain in his shoulder.
He saw the two beasts rolling over and over close beside him, heard
that snarling growl again--and then consciousness left him.

"Master! Master, for God's sake wake up! Say something! No, he's
not dead, an' I can't find any hurt except this scratch. Master!"

Tyrrell sat up, slowly, with Gees kneeling beside him and holding
his arm. Then, with Gees still holding him, he began retching, and was
violently and horribly sick. As he put up a hand to his forehead at
the end of the paroxysm he realized that his hair was sodden with dew:
he could not remember losing his hat: it must have fallen off when he
made that rush from under the tree, and he had lain here a long while.
All that had happened was clear in his mind, intolerably, awfully
clear.

"Feel better, now?" Gees asked, while Cottrill peered anxiously.

"Yes. Let me stand up. I'm all right, now. Only, I've been in
hell--no, hell came here to me. The sheep--another killing?"

"Why, no, master," Cottrill said. "I've been around, an' the sheep
are all right. What--was it _they_ again, then?"

"Things--wolf things," Tyrrell said. "Not wolves, not dogs--not
anything that lives as we live. I believe it all, now. Straight from
hell, they came--Cottrill, I must sell the flock. It's--hopeless."

"No," Gees said.

"Oh, I'll pay you your fifty pounds!" Tyrrell retorted harshly.

"You blasted fool! I'll ram the check down your throat!" Gees
fired back with sudden heat. "Did you think I meant that, then?"

"Ram nothing!" Cottrill growled. "Who the hell are you to talk
like that to the master, after what he's been through tonight?"

"What do you mean?" Tyrrell demanded fiercely. "You told me there
would be no killings tonight, or I'd never have let Cottrill go with
you on your fool pubcrawl. What do you mean?"

"I mean"--Gees took a long breath while he got back his self-
control--"that what you have seen tonight, whatever it is, is sub-
human, not supernatural, and the human is stronger than the sub-human.
I've been here one day, and already I know enough to feel sure that if
you give me time, I'll beat the sub-human, and you can leave your
flock out on the fells all night and every night, and Cottrill here
can sleep in his bed till lambing time. And you may keep your fifty
pounds!"

"That is, you can go right away and find these things, and destroy
them?" Tyrrell asked, and made a gibe of the question.

"No," Gees answered.

"Then what's your certainty? What do you know--what can you do?"

"Find them--put an end to it," Gees answered coolly.

"I've been out with him tonight, Master," Cottrill said, almost
timidly, "an' I believe he might, if you give him a chance. He's got
the brains, an' he's got the guts for it, too. Excuse me, of course."

"What of your no killings tonight?" Tyrrell demanded. "There would
have been a killing, if I hadn't been here with that gun."

"I was mistaken," Gees said, and the way in which he broke off
indicated that he repressed a further explanation. "Well, what about
it, Tyrrell? Do I turn the car out and go back to-morrow morning?"

Tyrrell reached up and put his hand to his shoulder. He felt the
torn fabric of his coat and underclothing, and a wad of bandage.

"Who tied that up?" he asked, disregarding Gees' final question.

"Mr. Green," Cottrill answered, "by match light. I struck the
matches. It's a scratch--whatever did it didn't go deep, sir."

"Fortunately, I had two handkerchiefs on me," Gees added.

They stood silent for awhile. Cottrill picked up the gun, broke it
and found it unloaded, and closed the breech again.

"Gees," Tyrrell said at last, "I'm an ill-conditioned swine, and
feel like one, but if you'd lived through these last six months with
us--with Cottrill and me, that is--well! I apologize to you, and if I
break out again, put it down to the strain of this--this beastliness
we're enduring. Don't go back--stay and see it through with me, and
ask me what you like if you can restore us to normal--end it for us."

"Sound enough," Gees said, "and I've told you what I'll ask, for
the week or for as many months as there are days in the week. And if
you'll have patience, I will end it, soon, perhaps. I can't say more
than that, or put a limit to the time. Only, it shall end."

"You know--what?" Tyrrell asked. "How much--what are they?"

"I'm not telling you a thing," Gees said inflexibly. "Instead, I
want you to tell me what you know and saw--all that happened here."

After another pause, Tyrrell told all that he could remember of
his vigil and what had happened at its end. By the time he had
finished the story, his voice was unsteady and he was trembling at the
recollection of the things he had seen and smelt and felt.

"Then I lost consciousness," he ended, "but somehow, as if the
memory of it belonged to someone else rather than to me, I have a
sense that one of them, the whitish one, came back and stood over me,
and sniffed at me--at my shoulder where that scratch is. It may have
licked the scratch, even, though since I was dead unconscious when you
two found me, I don't know how I know this. And it was the horrible
stench that sent me off--they didn't hurt me, except for the scratch."

"Licked you--yes," Gees mused. "You don't know which way they
went, do you? That isn't in your consciousness?"

"No, I have no idea," Tyrrell answered.

"No. They scared Shaun Ammon by the churchyard wall at Odder, and
then came straight here, evidently--came the same way as you did,
since you heard that stone roll, up on the path. I think we are a
little nearer locating them, but--no. Can you walk home?"

"A damned silly question," Tyrrell answered, and laughed a little.
"Obviously the two of you can't carry me--I've got to walk home."

"Yes, but do you feel fit for the tramp?" Gees persisted.

"Even if I do, we can't leave Cottrill here alone," Tyrrell said.
"Unless I stop here till morning, it means leaving the flock
unguarded, for I'm not going to take that walk in the dark
alone.""'Scuse me, sir," Cottrill broke in, "if I have this gun an' as
many cartridges as you have on you, I'll be quite happy here alone.
Your mistake was in comin' out from under the tree--you said they
didn't do anything but stand away an' watch while you stayed under the
tree--which is where I'll stay to watch, when you go."

"And what the devil has the tree to do with it?" Tyrrell demanded.

"Ygdrasil," Gees said.

"Who the devil's he, and what has he to do with the tree and these
hell's fiends that wouldn't come under it?" Tyrrell asked again.

"You're right, Mr. Green," Cottrill said with deep conviction.

"Are you two in conspiracy to talk double Dutch at me?" Tyrrell
asked. "What has the tree special in the way of virtue?"

"Ygdrasil--the world ash," Gees said. "Never mind--it would take
half the night to explain my theory fully, and bring in some few
things altogether unconnected with trees--and you've had enough for
one night without a pack of explanations. But Cottrill knows--hand him
the cartridges, and I'll go back with you. It'll be midnight, soon."

"If you could look in at my place on the way an' let Jimmy loose,
sir, I'd be glad," Cottrill asked as Tyrrell took his remaining
cartridges from his pocket and handed them over. "He'll find me, if
you just untie him. Thank ye, sir--six--seven--is that all?"

"You'll find the other two somewhere under the tree," Tyrrell
answered. "I dropped them when I was trying to reload the gun."

They set off at last to climb the hillside. Cottrill, under the
ash Ygdrasil, strained his eyes toward Brownhill Scar in an effort at
seeing them as they came against the skyline. But, though he could
vaguely distinguish the outline of the height, the mist had thickened
too much for human or any other figures to be discernible on it. He
turned his coat collar up over his ears and settled to his vigil.

 * * * *

Tyrrell kicked at a log in the wide fireplace of the entrance hall
of Dowlandsbar, and with a crackle a shower of sparks flew out,
proving that there was still plenty of life under the white wood-
ashes. Then he took up the whisky decanter the maid had set out with
siphon and glasses on the occasional table by the corner of the
fireplace, poured himself about half a tumbler of the spirit, and
poised the decanter over the second glass while he looked up at Gees.

"One for you?" he asked. "We can do with them, I think."

"About half that quantity, thanks," Gees answered. "I'll tackle it
when I come down--won't be a minute."

He ran up the staircase, his clumsy boots thudding on the carpet,
and disappeared. Presently he came down again, still wearing Weelum's
garments, but he had donned over them a fleecy overcoat and had
exchanged the dirty cap for a tidier one of his own. Tyrrell stared at
him.

"Now what the devil next?" he demanded irritably.

"Cottrill," Gees said. "I'm going back to him. Not that I
anticipate any more trouble near the sheep tonight, but I want to talk
to him--get his views clearly. He knows more than I thought."

"You mean you're going back there alone?" Tyrrell asked
incredulously. "After what happened to me--alone over the fells?"

Gees took his right hand from his coat pocket, and, shining darkly
in his grasp, there showed the blued steel of a fair-sized automatic
pistol barrel. "Webley thirty-eight is going with me," he said.

"Leave it, man," Tyrrell urged. "You can see him to-morrow."

"Let's get this all square," Gees said. He dropped the pistol back
in his coat pocket and squirted soda water into the glass Tyrrell had
set for him with a stiff tot of whisky. "You're all agreed in your own
mind that I'm to stay and see this business through. Is that so?"

"Certainly I want you to see it through," Tyrrell assented.

"Then I'll see it through, but on one condition, which is that
what I say, goes. There's precious little that I shall ask of you, or
of anyone else, until the finish of it, and then I may ask a good
deal--but I want you to trust me absolutely unless you find out I'm a
dud, and not question any decision of mine--even this one. Does that
go?"

"I think I can promise it," Tyrrell said thoughtfully. "Yes--I'll
take your advice about it--and your instructions, if you wish it."

"I shall wish it, later on," Gees admitted. He gulped down his
drink and put the glass back on the table. "I wonder if you realize
that you've had a miraculous escape from death tonight--and death in
as ugly a shape as ever a man faced," he added gravely.

"I know--why didn't they make an end of me?" Tyrrell asked.

"I may yet be able to answer even that question," Gees said. "In
the meantime, you'd better go to bed. See you in the morning."

He went out, closing the big entrance door on himself quietly, but
saw before he went that Tyrrell was already pouring himself another
half-tumbler of whisky. Well, Gees reflected, probably he needed it,
after the experience to which he had been subjected. Although
physically intact, he was badly shaken, and the spirit might help him
to sleep.

The night mist had thickened still more since they had come in,
and visibility was limited to a dozen yards or less, although the moon
had risen. Through the grayness Gees could see the narrow line of
beech and elm trees which the worthies of Odder designated a wood, an
unkempt shrubbery running parallel with the graveled drive to the
gateway, with thick undergrowth of brushwood and saplings. His big,
heavily-shod feet thudded on the gravel until he was halfway along the
drive--and then with a shiver that went all the way down his spine he
stopped abruptly, for there, in the undergrowth, at perhaps six yards
distance, burned four tiny fires. Points of reddish light, set in
pairs, and as he stood gazing at them they began to move, while he
heard the low snarling that had chilled Tyrrell's blood in Anker's
Glen.

His thumb pushed off the safety catch of the Webley as the pistol
came out from his pocket, and four shots, hard on each other, crashed
on the stillness. There was a howl as the glaring eyes vanished, a
crackle and flurry of the undergrowth--Gees chanced two more shots at
random, and then the front door of the house opened to reveal light
beyond the cloudiness across which two shapes leaped, to vanish again
in the hollow towards which Dowlandsbar stood faced.

"Gees?" Tyrrell shouted, agitatedly. "Are you safe?"

"Quite safe," Gees shouted back.

For a minute or so he stood irresolute, and then, slowly, he went
back toward the lighted doorway. Tyrrell faced him, wide-eyed.

"What--what--?" He seemed unable to end the question.

"Waiting for me," Gees answered. "I didn't expect that, so soon.
But--I don't think I'll go to Cottrill tonight, not even with Mr.
Webley to keep me company. They won't go after him, but they might
follow me and attack again from behind. No--I think I'll go to bed."

"What do you mean, so soon?" Tyrrell asked.

"If I were you," Gees said slowly, "I'd tell Feather he needn't
organise that drive for Friday. Yes--he'd better cancel it."

"Do you wish me to tell him that?" Tyrrell asked.

"Yes. It would be quite useless, and a waste of his time too."

"Look here! How much do you know?" Tyrrell demanded impatiently.

"All of it, except what, exactly, is doing all this. Something not
quite material, though material enough to be felt and seen and smelt.
The old dead, perhaps--and perhaps not. Give me time, man."

He went and stood gazing into the fireplace: the log that Tyrrell
had stirred was almost enveloped in pale flame, now; down in front of
it were embers red as the eyes that had glowed at him from the copse
beside the drive--glowed by virtue of the inward fire of the things to
which they belonged, for there had been no other light for them to
reflect. Glowed, Gees felt, like points of the fires of hell.

"They live, but not as we live," he said, half to himself.
"Drinking warm blood, rending raw flesh, like lions and all the cat
tribe--and yet--pah! More dog-like, wolf-like--I saw them as they went
across the light. One--two--three--four people have seen them tonight.
No--three, though. Utterly evil--well, some of them would be that,
though not all."

"What on earth are you talking about?" Tyrrell questioned.

Gees turned to face him. "Do you know the 'Fairy Song'?" he asked.

"No, I don't. What have fairy songs to do with things like these?"

"'They laugh, and are glad, and are terrible'," Gees quoted. "Good
night, Tyrrell--I'm off to bed."



Chapter VII AMBER



TYRRELL removed the cover from the chafing dish, and revealed yet
another egg reposing among pinkish scrolls of fried bacon.

"Ought a man to eat three of them at breakfast?" Gees inquired.

"Hand me your plate," Tyrrell responded, "but you say it's the air
again, I'll heave the dish at you."

"It would be a pity to waste that one," Gees observed, passing his
plate, "and you couldn't warm up the bacon very well, either."

Later, as he applied himself to toast and marmalade, Tyrrell
inquired if he had made any plans for the day.

"Several," he admitted. "As a beginning, if you don't mind my
using your telephone, I want a word with Eve Madeleine."

"With who?" Tyrrell asked, obviously startled by the name, Gees
conjectured, for he could think of nothing else startling in his
reply.

"Shush, man!" he admonished gravely. "You mean with whom, surely.
Eve Madeleine, I said. My secretary--I have to call her Miss Brandon
to her face, but as soon as she's out of sight she becomes Eve
Madeleine, and it really is her name, too. One of these days I shall
get it mixed and either call her Miss Madeleine or Eve Brandon to her
face, and then she'll walk out on me and I'll have to get another."

"You are an ass!" Tyrrell observed. "A remarkably charming girl, I
thought, when I called to see you the other day."

"The other day!" Gees echoed thoughtfully. "It's hardly credible
that this is only my second breakfast here. Things are humming."

"None of what has happened seems credible, in daylight," Tyrrell
said. "And after telephoning? You said you had several plans."

"Principally, a talk with the archeological parson you told me you
keep. The Reverend Walter Edward Amber, vicar of Odder, M.A., of
Balliol, one s., one d. How long has he had the living?"

"A good thirty years," Tyrrell answered. "Where did you get those
particulars?" He sounded rather constrained, Gees thought. Gyda McCoul
had explained that there was a feud between her father and the vicar,
and, of course, Tyrrell sided with the McCouls for her sake.

"Most of them from an ordinary work of reference I found on a
shelf in your hall," he answered. "Also, I've met the s., when I was
boozing with Cottrill last night. A most objectionable pup, I thought
him--the s., not Cottrill. I trust the father is a better type."

"He's--well, rather a hot-tempered man," Tyrrell said slowly. "A
Gael from Caithness, though you'd never guess it by his accent. His
people are landowners up there, with hardly a sixpence among them."

"Poor and proud, eh?" Gees suggested. "And since he came from wild
country like that, he doesn't mind a place like this. But how does a
man from Caithness happen to get educated at Balliol?"

"You'd better ask him," Tyrrell said rather irritably. "And if you
don't like this country, why breathe on it? What's wrong with it?"

"Oh, nothing," Gees answered. "The air is wonderful--if you so
much as lift that dish, I'll throw the marmalade pot! Another point
while I think of it. What made the McCouls come and settle in a place
like this? A girl like that, you'd think, would hardly."

"Ask McCoul, if you want to know," Tyrrell snapped, interrupting.
"The place is good enough for us who live in it--all of us."

Having finished his breakfast, Gees pushed back his chair, lighted
himself a cigarette, and looked at his watch. He shook his head.

"Too early, yet, to call Eve Madeleine," he observed. "Tyrrell, if
you'll accept the remark in the spirit in which it is spoke, it's not
only Gaels from Caithness who are hot tempered. If you came to
Piccadilly Circus and asked me why Eros wasn't wearing a chest
protector, or remarked that the girls round there looked lonely, I
wouldn't get all hot and bothered. I'm merely trying to get the hang
of things here."

"And adding a few comments as you go on," Tyrrell interrupted.

"I won't crab the country any more. After all, if you had
factories and cinemas and char-a-bancs, you'd only get smoke and
petrol fumes and spoil this marvelous air--leave that dish alone, I
tell you!"

Tyrrell laughed as he stubbed out his cigarette end and stood up.

"But you'll have to make this visit to the vicar without any
sponsorship from me," he remarked, suddenly grave again. "And I
suppose I'd better tell you, though--well!" He made a long pause, as
if doubtful about the telling, and then resumed. "You see, my father
and Amber were great friends, and young Harold and his sister and I--
Harold was no more than a baby, of course, for most of it--well, we
sort of grew up together, if you understand. They were as free of this
place as I was of the vicarage--I don't know why I'm telling you all
this."

"I think I do, though," Gees said thoughtfully. "It's not so much
because of Amber himself that I'm to see him on my own--isn't that it?
Nor because of Harold, if you want the t's crossed and i's dotted."

"I had an idea you'd understand," Tyrrell assented gratefully. "A
thing like that is difficult to put into words, and I feel--"

"Guilty about the girl," Gees thought but did not say. "Well," he
said aloud, "all this i's irrelevant to my purpose in seeing Amber,
and it merely puts me _au fait_ to an extent that prevents me from
putting my foot into things--and believe me, it's some foot, mine!
Now, I think, I'll go and have a word with Eve Madeleine, and if she
hasn't got there I shall get 'no reply' and it won't cost anything.
Where do you keep your telephone, though?"

"In the hall. Open the wall cabinet on the left of the fireplace,
and you'll see it sitting inside. Microphone instrument--quite modern.
That and the electric lighting plant are my concessions to your style
of living, but I wouldn't have a wireless set if you paid me."

"Stout feller," Gees observed. "Persevere in that resolve."

He went out to the entrance hall and found the telephone, with a
comfortable chair before it in which to wait after he had called
Trunks. And, presently, he heard his secretary's voice announcing her
identity, or rather, his own, under the pseudonym he used for his
office.

"Yes, Gees at this end, too," he told her. "I won't tell you
anything about myself, except that it's marvelous air here. What have
you at your end of the table? Any inquiries worth following up?"

"Only one," she answered. "A man in Sussex suspects his wife of
being poisoned--she's still alive, but unwell, he writes, and he's
afraid of being suspected of poisoning her and thinks you might--"

"Have you got his initial two guineas consultation fee?" Gees
interrupted. "If not, get it. If you have, arrange him a consultation
for--let me see. Yes, a week from today, at eleven-thirty."

"I haven't got it yet," she said. "I'll write and suggest it and
tell him--you expect to be back a week from today, then?"

"My dear Miss Brandon, I'd hate to suggest his coming all the way
up here! If I'm not back then, and he sends the two guineas, it will
be quite easy to write and put him off till I do get back."

"Yes, I see. Of course," she assented. "But the wife may die."

"He'll be no worse off," Gees responded cheerfully. "That is, if
he's suspected of poisoning, attempted murder is nearly as bad as
murder, and so he'll only be a little worse off. Anything else?"

"No, except for inquiries I needn't trouble to report to you."

"There's one born every minute, of course," he remarked. "But I
want you to do something for me, Miss Brandon, which is my main reason
for ringing you. Pack and send me as quickly as you can the most
informative work on Norse mythology you can lay hands on--try Bumpus
and the Times Book Club, and Hatchard, and anyone else you can think
of, and get the best--not the _Golden Bough,_ though. I know pretty
much all there is in that. Any book specially devoted to the Norse
gods and legends, and hurry it."

"Very good, Mr. Green. It shall go off today."

"Add to that, anything you can lay hands on which gives Druidical
and pre-Druidical rites and observances in this country, going back to
the flint age, if possible. I don't know where you'll find that, but
look up the bibliography of the subject in the _Britannica,_ and get
and send me something. What's that? ... I said, Druidical and pre-
Druidical--you know, the chaps who used to sacrifice to the mistletoe
and wear woad-de-chine--woad! Blue paint. Druids. Oh, Lord!"

"I understand, Mr. Green. Ancient Britons."

"They're the ones. But don't forget the flint age too."

"Very good, Mr. Green. Both books shall go off today."

"And in case you want to talk to me, the telephone number here is
Odder, six. Odder, short for more peculiar." He spelt it out. "And
that's all for now. Spare no expense over the books, though."

"It is more peculiar, too," he said to himself as he replaced the
microphone and closed the cabinet, "and now Ho for Amber--Amber, Ho!"

Tyrrell, entering the hall in time to hear the final apostrophe,
shook his head as Gees turned to face him.

"One would think you were enjoying these horrors," he remarked.

"It's the--well, the climate is invigorating," Gees answered. "I'm
not enjoying the horrors any more than you are, but, as I assured you
last night, they are not going to last much longer. And it's a
conviction of mine that if you try to live on a high note all the
time, you break down. High C occasionally, but B natural for everyday
use."

 * * * *

To use his own expression, Gees turned out the buzzwagon for his
visit to Odder vicarage. In ordinary language, he started up the
Rolls-Bentley and went down the drive in it, but, after he had got
into the lane, he changed his mind and reversed to drive back and run
the car into the big shed where the ancient two-seater that contented
Tyrrell was also stabled. When he came back to the frontage of the
house, Tyrrell hailed him from the doorstep of the main entrance.

"Changed your mind about going, eh?" he inquired.

"Partly," Gees answered. "One sees so much more, on foot."

He kept on and, emerging again from the gateway, plodded along the
lane, crossed the narrow stone bridge, and so came up abreast the
monoliths marking the main entrance to Locksborough Castle. There he
halted, and gazed along the short, grassy track that ended before the
keep.

"Oomph!" he mused. "Strong enough, till firearms came in."

There was no sign of life about the place. The massive square of
the keep towered high, apparently as sound and strong as the builders
had left it: round, it stretched a ruined wall, in some parts not a
foot above ground level, in others rising to eight feet or so, and
sometimes altogether razed, though the line of it was easy to trace.
Altogether, it enclosed four acres or more of ground, including that
on which the keep stood, and within the enclosure were ruined
fragments of other buildings that had been, all of grey stone or flint
work. Like most of the strongholds of its day, the castle and its
adjacent buildings had formed a complete community, the retainers and
craftsmen of the place being within call of their feudal lord. And
round and about, from Odder on the one side to Dowlandsbar on the
other, were tracts of fertile land in the valleys that might support
cattle and sheep, or, broken up from pasturage, bear corn crops for
the people of the castle.

There were, too, as Gees saw, lines and mounds denoting older
fortifications: the moat remained, dry, now, and filled in to a
grassy, level strip from bank to bank before the entrance to the keep,
which showed as an inconspicuous doorway in the mighty stone wall,
with, above it, arrow slit windows which, as Gees knew, admitted more
light to the interior than one would guess from an outside survey.
But, disconnected and altogether apart from the ridge raised by
excavating the moat, other raised lines of turf, sunken, perhaps, in
the many centuries since they had been heaped up, until they were but
little above the normal level, ran maze-like about the edges of the
slight eminence. It had evidently appealed to successive races as
worthy of being fortified: Romans, as Gees knew already had built on
it; those trenches and a long barrow at the far side from the lane
pointed to works perhaps even earlier than those of the Roman
occupation, and perhaps to Danish or even Saxon work, while the two
remaining monoliths by the entrance were obviously pre-Roman. Up into
mediaeval times, and perhaps later, Locksborough had certainly been a
place of some importance.

Now, outwardly, it was a ruin, for the sky showed through the top-
most arrow-slit of the keep--McCoul must have roofed in the part that
he used at a lower level than that slit, which marked what had been
the highest story. And of him and his daughter, and of Shaun Ammon,
Gees could see nothing, though he stood at gaze by the gateway for
some minutes. At last he went on, crossed the ridge beyond, and
dropped down into Odder to see a squat, square grey house quite near
the church, a dwelling of far too imposing a size and character to
rank in with the cottages, though it was of less content, evidently,
than Dowlandsbar. By its position and character, Gees decided it was
the vicarage, and made his way there to pull at an old-fashioned bell-
handle beside the pale, weathered oaken door, at which a clangorous
tolling sounded within.

A dumpy little maidservant, strikingly like the one who waited at
table at Dowlandsbar, opened to him after a very brief interval, and
in answer to his inquiry for Mr. Amber requested him to step inside.
He waited in a narrow hallway, and presently found himself facing an
elderly man of middle height, red-haired, and with keen, kindly grey
eyes. A dog-collar proclaimed his calling: but for his wearing it,
Gees would have taken him for a farmer who preferred black attire.

"Mr. Green, I think," he said by way of opening. "Do come in and
sit down." He gestured at the door by which he had come into the hall.

Gees preceded him into the room and saw, seated by the fireplace
at its far side, a woman taller than and little less old than Amber:
she had been beautiful in her youth, Gees decided, and was still more
than normally attractive of feature as well as of expression.

"My wife, Mr. Green," Amber said. "My dear, this is the gentleman
staying with Mr. Tyrrell. Do sit down, Mr. Green, won't you?"

Gees acknowledged the introduction, and turned again to Amber.
"Yes, but how do you know my name and where I am, before I've even
spoken?" he inquired with a smile.

Amber smiled too. "Our Jenny and Mr. Tyrrell's Annie are sisters,"
he explained. "All Odder knows about you and your wonderful car."

"I see," Gees remarked, and seated himself in the chair the vicar
indicated. "Gath and the streets of Astalon aren't in it with Odder."

Mrs. Amber laughed, a friendly, cheery little laugh. "We have so
little to gossip about," she half-apologized, "and according to Jenny,
you are here to put an end to the sheep-killing at Dowlandsbar."

"Why, yes, that is so," Gees admitted, realizing that it would be
useless to deny it, and mentally damning Tyrrell for announcing the
fact. Probably Tyrrell had spoken of it in advance, for Gees could not
recollect his mentioning his--Gees'--purpose in his maid's hearing.
And, with Jenny's sister in Tyrrell's household, Gees realized, there
could be little going on at Dowlandsbar that was not known here.

"You will be doing us all a great service," Amber said. "There are
all sorts of stories going about the village and round the cottages in
the fells for miles--about these killings. A revival of old
superstitions, and a general fear of something uncanny."

"It was concerning that side of it, sir, that I ventured to come
and see you," Gees stated. "I'm afraid--well, it is uncanny."

Amber glanced at his wife. "Perhaps you would like to come into my
study for a little while," he suggested. "I think--you will
understand, my dear. Either of the children might come in while we
talk."

"In other words, Mr. Green, he's afraid my nerves won't stand it,"
Mrs. Amber said. "Perhaps he's right, though. But I hope to see you
again before you go--can you stay to lunch with us?"

"It's awfully good of you," he answered, while the vicar waited by
the door of the room. "Some other day--no, though, I will accept.
Tyrrell will understand when I don't come back."

"You can telephone him--we are civilized enough for that," she
said. "I'm glad you can stay--now go and talk your secrets."

She spoke with sincere friendliness, Gees felt. Though he had been
in the house only a few minutes, he liked its atmosphere, liked these
people, and felt himself among friends as he entered the vicar's
untidy study and seated himself at the latter's invitation. Amber drew
up a chair for himself, sat down, and polished a pair of glasses with
his handkerchief before fitting them on his nose.

"Now, Mr. Green, how can I help you?" he asked gravely.

"So far, though I've hardly known you five minutes, you've helped
me by merely being alive," Gees responded with equal gravity. "But as
to this particular matter you're an enthusiastic archeologist, I
understand. Conversant with pretty much all there is to know about
Odder and its surrounding country--and ruins."

"Well, that would be saying a good deal," Amber hedged. "Say that
I am interested in the subject--and have been all my life."

"Concerning Locksborough Castle, now," Gees suggested.

He saw the vicar's mouth tighten, and waited through a long pause.

"Er--you mean its history, I suppose?" The question came at last.

"Certainly. I understand you would not be inclined to talk about
its present-day state--or its occupants either."

"On the other hand," Amber said slowly, "I have no objection to
saying to anyone that the man McCoul was rude to me, most rude, with
no reason or provocation whatever, and that I will have nothing to do
with him until he apologizes. Which," he ended, "is not likely to
happen."

"Then we'll leave him alone, for the time being," Gees suggested.
"The history of the place, and any legends, especially."

"Yes. Well, the castle was built by Guillaume de Boisgeant--"

"Couldn't you begin before that?" Gees interrupted. "A long while
before. Those two stones by the gateway for a start, say--or earlier."

"The legendary period, eh?" The vicar smiled, as if not ill-
pleased at finding one interested in his own subject. "Understand,
there is only legend, nothing really certain before de Boisgeant's
time."

"I think the legendary period will interest me most of all," Gees
observed quietly, and offered a cigarette which the vicar accepted. He
took one for himself, and lighted them both.

"You have a reason in asking--or no?" Amber inquired.

"A most decided reason--the object of my visit here."

"I see-e." He sounded gravely reflective. "Well, Mr. Green, there
are some things I should prefer not to state without good reason,
because they lie outside the province of the Thirty-nine Articles. I
am, as perhaps you do not know, Celtic by birth--Gaelic, in fact, and
perhaps, in my study of my hobby, which is old things and old times, I
have come to give credence to things which ordinary people would
regard as fantastic--non-existent things, from the material view-
point. And it is understood between us that whatever I say--" He
paused, and gazed at his guest as if he preferred only to imply the
rest.

"I came to you for help," Gees said. "Whatever you tell me, you
tell me only. And--very few things are fantastic, I am finding out."

"So! Well, Locksborough Castle--yes. The name, by the way, is a
corruption of Loki's Barrow--the place never was a borough, though in
old time it had a certain importance. And Loki was the god of deceit
and illusion in Norse mythology--the deity of evil, in fact."

"Alternatively, Dalua," Gees suggested.

"Ah! You're not altogether a neophyte in these paths, I see. Yes,
analogous, say. But if you want all the story, we must go back beyond
Loki--or Loge, as he becomes in the Wagnerian legend and in German."

"I certainly do want all the story," Gees said decidedly.

"I did a little digging there when I was younger and more
energetic, after getting permission from the then owner to disturb the
turf," Amber said. "The north trench and its corresponding--parapet, I
suppose you would call it--gave me evidence of very early occupation
indeed. I found eleven flint arrow-heads, and two stone hatchets, most
beautifully worked, and another implement which I took to be a
scraper--used for scraping skins before dressing them. The curator of
York Museum, whom I happen to know and who is a final court of appeal
on such matters, confirmed my opinion on this. And then I traced and
mapped those early earthworks, defining them, as nearly as I could,
apart from the later work. I believe, if the site were fully
excavated, it would prove as rich in traces of early man in Britain as
Maiden Castle in Dorset, or, say, Avebury. There was certainly a
settlement there, and those early men fortified it after their
fashion. Cleverly, too."

"And-?" Gees asked. "The type of men they were, I mean?"

"Flint men, one may call them," the vicar said, half-musingly. "I
should say they had a religion of sorts in their later stages, they
probably erected the monoliths, and almost certainly most of those
standing stones were cut and used in the building of the castle, long
later. Put the first race as existing between two and three thousand
years ago, and perhaps farther back than that. A people who believed
in fierce gods, made human sacrifices to them, and were fierce
themselves. Evil, from our point of view. They are the race that our
people here call the 'old dead,' and undoubtedly they had an extensive
settlement on the site. I do not think the Druid cult prevailed here,
in spite of the monoliths. I believe this was a fiercer, less cultured
and more bloodthirsty race dying out before the Roman occupation, and
leaving behind, among the early British inhabitants of the country, a
legend of evil--staining the site, as one might say, with cruelties
that would cause it to be regarded as haunted. By the victims of the
cruelties, possibly, but more probably by the authors of them."

"And that belief persisted," Gees suggested.

"Among such Britons as inhabited here, though they were sparse,
being on the edge of the Pict country," the vicar answered. "Still,
even in those days there were probably flocks of sheep about these
fells--the Britons were a far more civilized race than is generally
credited today, and the good grazing would bring their flocks here.
Then came the Romans, and they seized on the site as admirable for a
stronghold. They had no fears of hauntings, being a practical people,
and this, before the wall was built, was in my opinion one of their
citadels. It ought to be excavated--nobody knows what treasures of the
Roman occupation lie under that turf. But apparently, in these days,
there is money for everything but the extension of knowledge.
Research, in every direction, limps and starves--the possibility of
war takes all the money, and places like this keep their secrets."

"And, after the Roman occupation?" Gees asked.

"Danish realization of the strength of the site," Amber answered
unhesitatingly, "and now we come to something more like certainty,
although it must still be regarded as legend. But, well inside the
fortifications of the flint men, there is a long barrow. I should say
that, inside it and well below the present ground level, there is a
long ship buried with the Viking to whom it belonged by the place
where the steering oar or rudder came in to the afterdeck, and his
arms beside him. I don't know if you know that that was a custom of
theirs?"

Gees shook his head. "I didn't know it," he confessed.

"It was so. When some famous man died, they buried him with his
ship. And this, I think, was a pirate of the worst sort--Loki's
barrow, remember. The god of deceit, the god of evil. From somewhere,
perhaps from service with the Irish kings of that day, this Viking
sailed into Solway, perhaps, or perhaps beached his ship somewhere
near the coast where Silloth stands today, or came in as far as
Whitrigg, and then came ravaging inland with his crew. They may have
found Picts here, since the Romans had gone long since--whatever they
found, they ousted it and took possession, and when the captain of the
long ship died they hauled it here and buried him in it--in that long
barrow at Locksborough. And heaven alone knows what atrocities they
committed to make their occupation safe. There is a tale--I don't
believe it, myself--that on the eleventh of October every year the old
Viking comes out from his barrow and can be seen on it, winged helmet
and byrnie and all the rest of his war gear, challenging any who will
to come and fight with him. According to the legend, one of the de
Boisgeants did sally out from the castle to take up the challenge, and
after fighting the specter withered away and died."

"Interesting," Gees observed. "I hope to be back in London before
the eleventh of October. If not, I shall stay in bed that night."

"Thorfinn Thorfinnsson, the Viking in question, has not appeared
on any of the occasions that I have watched for him," the vicar said.

"Oh, you took that much trouble?" Gees asked.

"I did. He existed, past question, and I believe he is buried on
the site, long ship and all. Now, since you seem interested, a
digression. Have you ever heard of the Daione Shih--Duione Sidhe"--he
spelt out both forms of the words--"the Shee, as they are best known?"

Gees quoted:

"There was a breeze in the whispering fern.

And a star that danced in the stream.

When the Men of Peace came riding by

Betwixt a dream and a dream.

'Twixt Beltane fire and Hallow-e'en

Men that have sight may see

The hosts who pass, nor stir the grass--

The riding of the Shee."

"Ah! The woman who wrote that had genius," Amber said "'Men that
have sight'--it is not a pleasant gift, that sight, as I know. But by
that sight I know you have a purpose in what you have asked me, Mr.
Green, or I should not be telling you all this."

"I'm glad I came to the right man," Gees observed.

The vicar smiled. "If you did," he retorted. "But where was I?
Yes--you mentioned Dalua, before I began telling all this."

"I did. Identical with Loki, I make him."

"Practically. There are differences. Dalua belongs to the Erse
legends, and is almost purely Erse. Loki, who is supposed to watch
over Thorfinn Thorfinnsson in his barrow--and to watch to this day,
too!--belongs in the Norse mythology. That is"--a dreamy look took the
keenness from his grey eyes--"if it is no more than mythology."

"You mean-?" Gees asked.

"I mean that men can create evil by their thoughts," the vicar
answered slowly. "Words, and even thoughts, are vibrations that go on
endlessly, and so with beliefs. I think that when the belief in the
old Norse gods was strong, they existed--Valhalla fell because belief
died out, and its gods failed for lack of human support, but enough
belief may remain in superstition and fear to give them a shadowy life
to this day. And if ever superstition and fear centred round a place,
it is round Locksborough, and very much alive in these last six
months."

"Giving renewed vitality to Loki, you would say?"

"I see you understand--yes. Reanimating the evil of the place--I
have not begun on the de Boisgeants, yet, and I'm afraid you find me
long-winded on my pet subject. If so--"

"Not in the least," Gees interrupted. "It is all valuable."

"Yes. I believe you are on the right track, Mr. Green, though
materialists would laugh at both of us. Yes. Well, let us consider
Loki and Dalua as identical, and turn to Erse legend for a moment. Do
you know, by any chance, the legend of Eochaid and Etain, originally
written by Fiona McLeod, and turned into the opera _The Immortal Hour_
by Rutland Boughton? The substance of the legend, mean?"

"Quite well," Gees answered. "Dalua promised Eochaid happiness--
Eochaid was a king in Ireland, young and romantic, and Dalua promised
him happiness much as Mephistopheles promised Faust. Dalua, as I
remember it, brought Eochaid and Etain together, and the king married
her, and at the end of a year Etain went off with Midir, prince of the
fairy folk, back to her own people, and left Eochaid desolate."

"Near enough," the vicar said. "Add in that Etain was not human at
all, but was a daughter of the Shee--the fairy folk. Then add in that
when Midir tempted her away from Eochaid, she left behind with him a
child--it may have been daughter, or it may have been son. But it was
only half-human, and that strain of the Shee persisted in the race to
which Eochaid belonged. It may have been that the Shee kept an
interest in the child, and brought it in touch with their own kind
when it grew up. There may have been other interminglings of the human
and the Men of Peace, as I should call them in my own country, and
probably there were. So that, to this very day, the strain persists."

For a long time Gees sat silent. Then he looked the vicar straight
in the eyes, and met an unwavering, sincere gaze.

"That's a strange thing for a man of your profession to say, Mr.
Amber," he remarked.

"I know," the vicar answered quietly. "In this room."

"Certainly," Gees assented. "Even if I did so much as mention it
outside--which I wouldn't dream of doing--I should only raise a laugh
from my hearers."

"Not all of them, if they belonged to this district," Amber
dissented. "But now, for a moment or two, the Duoine Sidhe--the Shee."

"Legend pure and simple," Gees suggested.

"Simple, say," the vicar dissented again. "There must be some
Celtic blood in you, Mr. Green, judging by your patience with these
fantastic theories. Never mind. You must consider the Shee as timeless
ones, knowing nothing of human ageing or the passing of time--"

"Immortal, say," Gees interposed.

"No. Oh, no! Get that out of your head at once. Not subject to
human ailments, or changeable by age, as we are, but far from
immortal. Etain and her descendants, Midir and his kind, in human
shape, could be destroyed. I repeat that--could be destroyed." He
looked at Gees in an intent way, as if he would put all the insistence
he could into the statement. "Don't think for one moment that they are
immortal."

"Subject, say, to the accidents of humanity," Gees suggested.

"Yes--otherwise, the Shee would people the earth, and possibly
subdue humanity, since we neglect all but the material," the vicar
assented. "As it is, they are a failing race, for they have no
children among themselves. Only as when Etain came to Eochaid--and
because of that, they take human shape and size and try desperately to
mate with the human race. Else, they must eventually die out
altogether."

"And that," Gees said, "is why Tyrrell was not torn to pieces in
Anker's Glen last night."

"I don't get that," the vicar said quickly. "What was it?"

"No, please! I've come to get all you can tell me--I'll tell you
about this later, if you like. Back to the Shee--the fairy folk."

"One thing," the vicar said earnestly. "You must not regard the
Shee as evil--many of them are beneficent beings. As with humanity,
there are good and evil among them--some devoted to Dalua, some to
better and even noble ideals. But, all the time--and they are out of
time--soulless, and therefore heartless, as we conceive those words.
Feelingless, say--unable to enter into human emotions, though they may
seem just as capable as was Etain of feeling--of love."

"Seem," Gees commented. "But, in reality--"

"They counterfeit human emotions to attract human beings," Amber
stated. "If there is reality in it--I do not know. No human being can
ever know. But of fixity of purpose--nothing, beyond the one aim. To
perpetuate the race, to achieve survival--and it is many a day since
they dared to face humanity, to assert that such a race exists."

"Because they are sub-human," Gees observed after a pause.

"Quite so! You have them in legend--the rhymes of true Thomas, and
others of the kind. Mr. Green, they do exist! You may think I violate
the creed by which I live in saying it, but--they do exist."

"Are we--or are we not--getting rather away from Locksborough
Castle in this?" Gees asked. "I believe you--the Shee do exist."

"And we are not getting away," the vicar insisted earnestly.
"Don't you see that--there you have a place stained and soaked in
evil, and I have more to tell you on that point yet. A place, humanly
speaking, abhorrent, haunted by evil, if not by visible ghosts, and a
place from which all the people of the district shy away. What more
probable than that the more evil of the Shee, the dregs that sub-human
race, say, should use it, haunt it, come there to consort with their
familiars..."

He broke off and sat thoughtful. There seemed to Gees something
that he had been about to say, and had not said.

"And all this time," Gees said, "I have not mentioned McCoul's
name!"

"Nor I," Amber said quickly. "If I accused a fellow human being of
having traffic with these Men of Peace, without just and full cause, I
should be guilty of a sin which will not be forgiven either in this
world or the next. I am telling you legend, and no more."

"The legend of Eochaid and Etain," Gees said thoughtfully. He
remembered how, at dinner with Tyrrell, Gyda McCoul had appeared
fearful at the mere mention of that legend. "Yes. And you say they are
timeless--that is, out of time as far as age is concerned. Yes. So if,
assuming such a thing could be, Etain appeared today, she would be
just as young and just as charming as when she persuaded Eochaid to
take her as his queen--for the year that ended so badly for him?"

"She would be unchanged," Amber assented. "If it could happen."

"Do you know anything to prevent it from happening?" Gees asked.

"I must own, I had not considered such a thing," the vicar
admitted.

"No? Well, think it over. And you said you had more to tell me,
about the subsequent reasons for the avoidance of Locksborough by the
local inhabitants. Concerning this de Boisgeant, I suppose?"

The vicar had no chance to answer. The door of the room appeared
to fall inward, and Gees looked up and started up at the appearance of
a girl who, charging into the room, blew away the illusion of
yesterdays that the two men had created between them. All Gees could
tell in that first sight of her was that she had chestnut-red hair
that would have set Roussetti aflame with longing for his palette and
brushes and all his genius for reproduction on canvas, and eyes like
the vicar's own, but of a deeper, more sea-like blue-grey. She halted
in midcourse, and stared at this unexpected stranger as he stood up.

"Oh, daddy, I've just come in," she said. "I didn't know you were
not alone in here. Where's--I'm so sorry! I didn't mean--"

"My dear," Amber said, "don't run away. This is Mr. Green, who is
staying at Dowlandsbar and lunching with us today. I was just about to
tell him the history of the de Boisgeants at Locksborough when you
fell--yes, fell, by the way of it--into the room and interrupted us."

"I didn't fall at all, Mr. Green," the girl said, with a shy smile
at him. "And, since daddy won't finish the introduction, I'm Madeleine
Amber, though everybody calls me Madge, and--it's so nice to see
anybody new in these wilds. Daddy, what do I do? Is this all quite
private, or may I hear about the sins of the de Boisgeants again? Mr.
Green, don't let him throw me out. It's too fascinating, and he's so
clever about it. I believe he's ferreted out everything there is to
know about that fiendish family."

The vicar looked at his watch. "Lunch is in half an hour," he
said. "I don't think we need mind her hearing the history of the de
Boisgeants, Mr. Green. She knows it fairly well."

"Having met Miss Amber," Gees said, "I should hate to part from
her until I'm forced to it."

"Mr. Green," she said severely, "You were obviously born a
flatterer. Now be honest, and tell me to get out because I'm not
wanted."

"I'll be perfectly honest," he answered. "You'll find this quite a
comfortable chair, and it's so nice to see anybody new in these wilds.
If you go away, I shall feel desolate--and the tale of the de
Boisgeants won't suffer, sir?" he added, turning to the vicar. "I hope
not, because I'm here to get all the story you can tell me."

"As far as that part of it goes," Amber said, "I can assure you
that Madge's presence will make no difference at all--if she chooses
to stay, that is. She knows it all so well already." He looked at the
girl, who gave Gees a smile which declared her intention.

"Daddy's being pontifical," she remarked, "Those de Boisgeants--
Mr. Green, if you call them dirty dogs, you won't be exceeding the
speed limit. A Rolls-Bentley, isn't it?"

"Precisely," he agreed, "but the speed would frighten the de
Boisgeants. We're centuries behind them in our talk. Can it possibly
interest a lady so obviously modern?"

"Mr. Green," she said calmly, "I understand that daddy is going to
tell you about the sins of the de Boisgeants, and when did you ever
meet a member of my sex who was not interested in anyone's sins,
either of yesterday or today? Why, we live on them!"

"Madge, darling!" the vicar exclaimed feebly.

"Proceed, daddy," she commanded. "I can almost see Mr. Green's
ears waggling. He wants to know the sins of the de Boisgeants. What I
don't know about them isn't worth knowing. Daddy, proceed."



Chapter VIII MADELEINE AMBER



FOR a minute or two Amber disregarded his daughter's injunction
and sat silent, while the girl, seating herself on the arm of his
chair, smiled in a friendly way at Gees. She had just as fine features
as her mother, and a wild-rose complexion slightly tanned by sun and
wind; there was about her an utter un-self-consciousness that added to
her attractiveness, and Gees, remembering what Tyrrell had implied
concerning her, felt that the man was a fool. This child of the open
with her very obvious sense of humor was worth ten of an exotic being
like Gyda McCoul: the contrast between them, was, to use Gees' own
simile, that between high C and B natural. If, eventually, Tyrrell did
marry Gyda, as seemed to be his intent, he would be compelled to live
in an intensity that might and probably would prove wearing: with this
girl, he would have found comradeship and a far saner happiness. But
it was his affair: Gyda had fascinated him: she might so far fit into
the life he lived as to content him, but it was doubtful if she could
adapt herself to that extent, and, from what Gees had seen of Tyrrell,
the man was incapable of adapting himself at all. Madeleine Amber, at
this first meeting, showed herself as capable of sympathy and
understanding and, with no loss of her own individuality, as one who
would fit her life to that of the man she chose. So Gees saw her, and
on better acquaintance found no cause to modify his judgment.

"Yes," the vicar said at last, "the de Boisgeants. There is in
existence a script written by Mancius, a monk of York, and because of
what was done by the de Boisgeants of his day, he gives a brief
history of the family. The first of them built this castle in
Stephen's time, and made it a veritable hell for the inhabitants of
the district. Perhaps you recollect a little of the history of that
time, Mr. Green, before the coming of the Plantagenets. All England,
one might say, was one great torture chamber. The barons and feudal
lords ravaged and killed and tortured just as they chose, and castles
like Locksborough sprang up all over the country, each one of them a
nest of plunderers--law ceased to exist, and in the phrase of the
time, no man reaped what he had sown. It was, I think, the most evil
time this land has ever known, and among those devils in human shape
who made it so Guillaume de Boisgeant was not the least. He was
killed, just before Henry Plantagenet came to the throne, by his own
son--murdered in his bed."

"Quite an interesting family, evidently," Gees observed.

"Charming people," Madeleine Amber put in. "Wait, though--daddy
hasn't really begun, yet." She put her arm round the vicar's neck and
leaned against the back of his chair. He looked up at her and smiled.

"Don't interrupt, Madge--and stop tickling at once. Yes, Mr.
Green, they were an unusually foul nest of brigands, even for those
bad days. Mancius tells how Guillaume had his men-at-arms roast one of
his prisoners alive in the great hall of the castle while the family
were at dinner, apparently as an entertainment. Other stories, too--
the floors of the dungeons under the castle must have been soaked with
blood, many a time. And the son who killed his father was, as you may
guess, no better than that father. King Henry restored the country to
order gradually, but this part of it was far from any centre of
authority. York, probably, would be the main seat of administration,
but York was far away, and Jean, the second de Boisgeant--he murdered
his wife, by the way, to please one of his lights o' love, while he
ruled here Jean did what he liked, to a very great extent. That is, he
kept the countryside in terror, just as his father had done. He did
not live long--one of his own men-at-arms stabbed him, the dispute,
according to Mancius, being over the men-at-arms' daughter. What had
happened to her, and what happened to her father after the stabbing, I
leave you to imagine, and even if Madge were not here I should not
particularize."

"Don't mind me, daddy," the girl said. "We moderns, you know."

"That's because I tell her the young people of today seem to have
lost all their reticence," Amber explained. "Now the third de
Boisgeant, Hugh, was credited with the study of the black arts in
addition to his other villainies--he experimented on children much
after the way of the original Bluebeard, Gilles de Laval, who
flourished long later in France. Gilles, after he had slaughtered
about two hundred children, paid the penalty for his crimes, but that
was in a rather more civilized age. Hugh de Boisgeant was carrying on
his practices at the time when Richard of the Plantagenets was in
Palestine, and when Richard was imprisoned, all England was scoured to
pay his ransom. De Boisgeant went to York and handed over some part of
the plunder he and his forbears had collected here, paid in a great
sum toward the ransom, and so won immunity for himself. He returned
here, and one eleventh of October went out to the long barrow to do
battle with the spectre viking, Thorfinn Thorfinnison. He came back
unwounded, but after that night he gradually wasted away--and not so
very gradually, either. By All Soul's Day he was dead, a fleshless
skeleton, almost. This is as Mancius tells the tale in his script."

"Actually," Madeleine added, "he caught cold and developed
tuberculosis. Daddy's been looking for the spectre, and there isn't
one."

"Or pernicious anemia," Gees suggested, smiling at her. "All the
same, I'd hate to go looking for that specter myself. And the next of
the family, sir--or was this Hugh the last of them?"

"Oh, no! He left two sons. Geoffrey, the younger of the two, went
to his brother's room one night and stabbed him in his sleep, and then
took his brother's wife--she had been Eleanor de Morville, a relative
of that de Morville who helped to assassinate Thomas A. Beckett, but I
do not know the degree of relationship. King John came to the throne,
and in the state in which England was then, the crime went unpunished,
as did most of the crimes of these de Boisgeants. Now--this, as nearly
as I can quote it from memory, is the story that Mancius tells. Two
years after murdering his brother, Geoffrey went hunting at a
distance, which may mean anything, but since Mancius speaks of a great
forest I take it to mean Inglewood Forest, which was of far greater
extent then than now. In this great forest he met a fair damsel of
middle earth--that is, one of the Shee--and constrained her and took
her to his castle. But she would not yield herself to him except as
his wife, so they were married according to the customs of her
people--of her people, mind, not normally with bell and candle--and a
week later Eleanor was buried, leaving no children. That is how
Mancius tells it, and if Geoffrey killed Eleanor or had her killed,
she probably got no more than she deserved, for almost certainly she
had been a party to the murder of her husband, the elder of the two
brothers."

"_Anno tertii, johannes regnant,_" Madeleine observed.

"My dear, your Latin lacks finish," the vicar remarked. "But it
was in the third year of John's reign that the damsel of middle earth
comes into the story, as you say. She bore Geoffrey two children, a
boy and a girl. Geoffrey himself set to work to restore the family
fortunes, get back some equivalent of what his father had paid toward
King Richard's ransom. That is to say, he tortured and murdered after
the custom of the family for miles round, and stained Locksborough
with blood as heavily and evilly as ever it had been stained in the
days of the old dead--the first people of all on the site. The
children grew up, and their mother retained her youth--I told you that
they are out of time, her people, and do not age as do human beings.
Geoffrey died, apparently a natural death, which was strange for that
family, and the woman of middle earth took her daughter and
disappeared--both of them disappeared, leaving the son, Colum, to
inherit and rule here. Observe the name, Colum. Erse, and by that you
may form your own conclusion as to the origin of the damsel of middle
earth who became his mother."

"She belonged to the lordly ones in the hollow hills," Madeleine
said. "Daddy took mother and me to see _The Immortal Hour_ when we
were in London, and I'm sure she was one of the Irish fairy folk."

"Or from our own country," the vicar went on. "Mind, Mr. Green, I
am telling you this story as I read it in Mancius and other sources,
and you may take it as a fairy tale, if you like. To return to the de
Boisgeants, though. Colum took his father's place, and was no better
than that father--there was no exception among them, but they were all
evil and did evil. You must think of Locksborough of that day as a
little town, inhabited by fierce men who gathered there because they
were driven out from among their kind--criminals, all of them--and
stole wives where they would. A place of fear, for the normal
inhabitants of the district, peopled by a band that lived by plunder,
and ruled, then, by Colum de Boisgeant, who was the lord of the castle
when John died and the third Henry came to the throne. Colum had
married, but into what family is not told. He had three sons, the
eldest of whom was killed in some raid. The other two quarrelled and
fought in their father's lifetime, and Hugh, youngest of the family,
killed his brother and was forced to flee from his father's vengeance
for the deed. Fratricide, you may observe, was a hobby in the family.
Colum is supposed to have been poisoned by his wife--whether the
accusation were just or no, she was burned to death in the castle
yard, and a nephew--it is quite impossible to ascertain how there was
a nephew, or where he came from--appeared and claimed the estate. But
Hugh, the son, came back with a young wife of surpassing beauty who,
he said, was his cousin--and that, you must realize, put them within
the prohibited degree according to church law of that time, but there
was still no law, either ecclesiastical or civil, to touch
Locksborough. Hugh had the nephew toasted over a slow fire, and took
possession. The wife of surpassing beauty appears to have followed in
the footsteps of the original Hugh, for children disappeared from the
district and she was credited with having made away with them and with
practicing unholy rites. Also, according to Mancius, she was a
daughter of middle earth. If that were so, it would make her son--for
she had a son--three-quarter of the race of the Shee, and only one
quarter human. Now--and mark this and make what you like of it--she
named the son Diarmid."

"I don't see--" Gees said, and did not end it.

"No? Well, leave it for the present. Diarmid de Boisgeant was
still a young man when he brought home a wife, another being of great
beauty according to Mancius, and they had a little daughter--Hugh was
a grandfather while he was still a middle-aged man. Patience, Mr.
Green. He was the last of them, so far as occupation there is
concerned."

"But the son, Diarmid," Gees pointed out, "and the wife and
daughter. You mean--they didn't inherit after Hugh?"

"We can leave them for a minute or two," the vicar said, looking
at his watch. "Madge, dear, will you go and ask your mother to ring
through to Dowlandsbar and tell Mr. Tyrrell that Mr. Green is lunching
with us? We ought to have thought of it sooner, really."

She rose from her perch on the arm of the chair and went out. Gees
noted that her color heightened at the request.

"The last of them," her father said when the door had closed.
"Yes, Hugh de Boisgeant. Mr. Green, has Mr. Tyrrell told you of a
farm--Bandon is the name of the man occupying it--which adjoins his
land?"

"He did mention it--yes," Gees assented.

"Yes. Well, somewhere on that farm, in the time of the de
Boisgeants, was a small priory built round a holy well. You know--
there had been miraculous cures, and the monkish settlement grew up on
the spot because of pilgrims resorting to it--the well had been
discovered, or rather its properties had, by Saint Brenda, and it had
been famous before the de Boisgeants built this castle. It is
impossible to locate it today, or to find any trace of the priory,
either. It was rich with gifts, jewels and gold--all the treasures
that the grateful of those days bestowed on it for their cures. One
winter's night Hugh de Boisgeant and his men attacked the place. They
slaughtered every monk but one, who escaped and somehow got to York.
They burned the priory and every building attached to it to the
ground, and came back to Locksborough with the treasure--Hugh feared
neither God nor man, though he may have had some respect for his
master the devil. He wanted that treasure, and he took it in his own
way."

"I begin to see--but go on," Gees said.

Engrossed in his story, the vicar took no heed of the comment.

"Hugh should not have let that monk escape," he said. "The time
was still lawless--Edward Longshanks had not yet come to restore order
to England--but this terrible sacrilege was too much for what
government there was. A de Vere--one of the family which held the
earldom of Oxford and lost the battle of Barnet for Earl Warwick--a de
Vere was sent here to call de Boisgeant to account for this and other
crimes. He besieged the castle for two months before it fell. He
hanged de Boisgeant and every other man who came out from the
surrender, broke up the stronghold entirely, but for some reason or
other did not damage the keep, which stands as it did when de
Boisgeant swung from the top. One man, Diarmid, is known to have
escaped vengeance. Hugh de Boisgeant's wife was killed in the sack of
the place, and Diarmid's wife too, but Diarmid and his daughter were
never found. What became of them is not known--Mancius' record ends
with the siege and sack of the castle."

"And the treasure--all that they took from the priory?" Gees
asked.

The vicar shook his head. "That was never traced, either," he
said. "Legend has it that Hugh--the Hugh who destroyed the priory to
win it--sits over it in full armor somewhere within the bounds of the
outer wall, and any who search for it will wither away as his ancestor
did after giving battle to the specter of Thorfinn Thorfinnsson. There
have been searches for it, but the owner of the place who sold it to
McCoul discouraged anything of the sort, and the treasure ranks in the
district as fairy gold, better left alone."

"Yes, better left alone," Gees echoed thoughtfully.

"I have told you the story of the de Boisgeants at what you may
consider unpardonable length," the vicar remarked, "but there was a
purpose in it--to show you that the family followed evil--was
altogether bad. Now look back to the beginning of it. Apart from the
Roman occupation--there is no record of that, and there have been no
excavations--apart from it, every race that has occupied Locksborough
has added evil to it--from the fall of the de Boisgeants, it has been
shunned and regarded as no place for human habitation--until McCoul
bought it and restored just so much of the keep as would make a
habitation for him and his daughter. Its reputation, apparently, does
not weigh with him. I know he got it for next to nothing--the previous
owner was glad to sell at any price, and I understand McCoul drove a
hard bargain over it. Also, he spent as little as possible to make it
habitable."

"And Diarmid de Boisgeant and his daughter were untraced," Gees
observed, after a long pause in which the vicar sat, apparently
doubtful as to his guest's opinion of the story he had told--and of
himself for telling such a blend of fact and immaterial, fantastic
fancy.

"Diarmid and Lynette de Boisgeant were never traced," Amber said.

"Lynette, eh? That takes us into a different breed of legend--the
Arthurian, surely," Gees half-questioned.

"Not necessarily. If you accept the legendary part, probably the
women of middle earth who came into this family were conversant with
things far outside the Cumberland fells--the name may have originated
in a memory of a previous experience, contact with different people."

"I'm very glad I came to you, sir," Gees remarked thoughtfully.

"If I have helped--" the vicar began, but got no further. Again
the door burst open, and Madeleine Amber stormed into the room.

"Daddy, it's mutton. Forgive me, Mr. Green, but mother always has
fits about mutton getting cold quickly, and--lunch is ready."

"Tell her to keep the cover on the dish for another two minutes
while we have a small wash," the vicar bade. "I'll take you along, Mr.
Green. Did you ring Dowlandsbar, Madge?"

"Mother did," she answered. "I'll go and tell her you're coming to
lunch in time for dinner--he's never in time for meals, Mr. Green."

"A distinct slander," Amber said. "Run along, child."

"So," Green remarked as he followed his host, "if one accepts this
as you have just told it, Diarmid de Boisgeant was only one-quarter
human, and, assuming that his wife belonged to middle earth, his
daughter who escaped with him was only one-eighth human?"

"It would seem so," Amber confirmed him, "but I have not told you
all this story as fact of today--you must make allowance for the
superstitions of the age in which Mancius wrote--the beginning of
Edward the First's reign. Also, his script is on parchment sheets in
blackletter Latin, very carefully written, but the Latin is rather
like my daughter's. And one sentence of the script is utterly obscure,
as far as relation to the rest goes. After explaining how the fall of
the castle was brought about by de Vere and his men, Mancius tells how
Hugh de Boisgeant was hanged and search for Diarmid and his daughter
proved fruitless. Then he says--'Neither were the "loupi" seen by the
beseigers.' There is no other reference anywhere in the script to
these 'loupi,' by which I take it he means wolves."

"No other reference, eh?" Gees asked thoughtfully.

"None. I take it that they form a part of the story that he meant
to tell, or thought he had told earlier. Kept as pets, possibly.
Wolves were exterminated in this country in Edward's reign, remember."

"And they're the sort of pets people like the de Boisgeants would
keep," Gees reflected. A not altogether irrelevant thought of the four
eyes he had seen like points of fire in the copse at Dowlandsbar
drifted into his mind as he dried his hands and followed his host to
the dining room, where the rest of the family waited for the vicar.

"My son Harold, Mr. Green," Mrs. Amber introduced. "Walter, do
please begin carving at once. Tepid mutton--will you sit here, Mr.
Green?--tepid mutton is worse than warm ice-pudding, don't you think?"

The vicar said a brief grace, and Jenny removed the covers. Gees
seated himself opposite Madge, and saw the boy staring at him in a
puzzled way as he too took his seat.

"Worse," Gees said solemnly, "than white pigs in Birksheer."

"Gosh!" Harold murmured, and turned crimson. "The man from
Sussex!"

"Worse," Gees added, "than a geography lesson." Observing the
boy's slack mouth and morning-after appearance, he had no mind to
spare him.

"You have met Harold before, Mr. Green?" Mrs. Amber asked.

"Once," he answered, "but I didn't think he would recognize me. We
were both in character parts on a fairly full stage when we met."

"He's never told us about joining any dramatic society at Oxford,"
Madge remarked. "But did daddy branch off into geography, Mr. Green?"

"Only slightly," he answered. "Over a priory on Bandon's farm that
is vanished altogether, today. And he merely mentioned it."

"And the one monk who escaped to York," she observed. "I know. If
mother hadn't lectured him severely, he'd still be looking for that
priory instead of visiting his parishioners."

"But Bandon is one of my parishioners, my dear," the vicar
protested mildly, "and your gift of exaggeration amounts to
misrepresentation."

"I should never have thought that farm would be in your parish,"
Gees remarked. "Then, of course, you count in Dowlandsbar too?"

"That is so," the vicar answered. "Mine is a widespread charge.
Before the black death, there was a populous village between
Dowlandsbar and Bandon's place, but it disappeared utterly in Richard
the Second's time. The plague unpeopled these fells by two-thirds."

"Has daddy told you about the dungeons at Locksborough, Mr.
Green?" Madge asked, after a silence devoted to the destruction of
roast mutton.

"Not yet," he answered. "I hope he will, though."

"I wish he could--all of it," she said, "but Ben Latimer prevents
him from finding out. Not poor old Ben himself, of course, but what
happened to him in connection with these McCouls."

Gees noted the shade of contempt in her voice as she mentioned the
McCouls. "And what did happen--if I may ask?" he inquired.

The vicar took up the story. "Ben," he explained, "is by way of
being a builder. An old man, now--employs labor when he needs it,
which is not often, and is a very good stone mason himself."

"Also, he owns a tater clamp, and threatens to leather people if
they appear likely to go near it," Gees observed.

"And this is your second day here!" the vicar remarked, gazing
hard at him. "How much more do you know about him, may I ask?"

"Nothing," Gees answered. "I happened to meet him--in character."

Again Harold's face turned brick red, and he scowled.

"I see," the vicar said--but he did not see, obviously. "Ben is a
good, sound workman, and when McCoul bought the castle and grounds, he
got Ben to put two floors in the keep and roof them in--it was a mere
shell, with all the floors either destroyed by de Vere and his men at
the time of their siege of the place, or else--and more probably--
taken as building material later. Practically all the cottages in
Odder, and this house too, are built of stone from Locksborough. In
addition to putting in the two floors, Ben cleared the ground floor
and made it habitable. One slab of stone stood up above the rest in
the flooring, and in order to level it with the rest Ben took it up,
and discovered a stairway leading to vaults--dungeons and a torture
chamber, I judge by what Ben described to me of their fittings. By
McCoul's order he replaced the stone and cemented it in--but, he told
me, before he finished his work there McCoul had removed all the
cement, and the stone slab was loose from the rest of the flooring."

"The wine-cellar is under the dining-room," Gees observed.

"It may be," the vicar assented seriously. "In any case, McCoul
evidently intended to maintain access to the dungeons, which had gone
undiscovered until he arrived and Ben cleared that floor--it was feet
deep in rubble and debris of all sorts. But when Ben had finished his
work--he employed as many as twelve men on it, at one part of the
reconstruction--when he had finished, he naturally sent in his
account, having paid off his men and incurred a good deal of expense
for materials. That account was not paid. Ben's wife fell ill, and my
wife was the angel she always is in these cases--to your face, my
dear--and she found Ben literally starving himself to provide invalid
necessities for his wife. For one in his position, the repairs to the
castle had been a very big contract, and he had put all his savings
into it rather than go to McCoul for money in advance. When he was in
danger of being sold up I went to McCoul, and it was then that I
experienced the worst rudeness I have ever endured from any man. A
week after I had buried old Mrs. Latimer--the second week in August,
it would be--I understood from Ben that the account had been paid in
full. Had it been paid sooner, I believe she might have lived."

"It was a shameful thing, Mr. Green," Mrs. Amber said. "And when
Walter took Madge and me to London for our holiday--we came back only
three weeks ago--I saw Miss McCoul in a theatre one night, wearing
jewels that would have paid poor old Ben's account ten times over."

"Umm'm! What sort of jewels, Mrs. Amber?" Gees asked.

"I couldn't tell you, except that they struck me as very fine."

"There was a moon of diamonds--you know, a crescent, set in gold,"
Madge said. "She wore it as a dress ornament, up towards the left
shoulder--Oh, what diamonds! Antique, by the look of it. And a ruby
pendant--I'm sure it must have been a ruby. I've never seen such a
lovely stone. She came into the cloak room while I was there, and
looked at me as if I'd been a performing frog. Oh, yes, she had a
bracelet, too--diamonds and one big emerald, in platinum. The other
two things looked antique, but the bracelet was quite modern, and I
should say almost priceless. I wouldn't dare wear such things in a
public place like a theatre, even if I had them."

"Which isn't likely," the vicar murmured gently.

"Quite modern, eh?" Gees queried. "The setting--yes. But the
cutting of the stones, especially the emerald. The faceting?"

"I don't know anything about that," Madge said dubiously.

"No, it's a silly sort of remark of mine. And you say that the
crescent and pendant looked antique?"

"I think so," she answered. "The setting was very heavy."

He smiled. "You're an observant sort of person, evidently."

"Tater clamps, and leatherings," she fired back, and laughed.

"Ah, but they were thrown at me," he said. "In the bar of the
_Royal George_ last night, in fact. I went there with a view to
getting the sense of the meeting--the feel of Odder, I might call it."

He saw the vicar gaze at his son with a sort of dawning
understanding of the character parts Gees and Harold had played, and
saw, too, that Harold gave him a resentful look. But he had no pity
for the boy.

"_The George,_" the vicar said slowly, "takes the place of a club
for the men of the village. Querrett, the landlord, is a very good man
indeed, and Mrs. Querrett and my wife, I might say, are joint trustees
in every case of illness in the parish. A very fine pair, the
Querretts."

"So you were Mr. Cottrill's George, Mr. Green?" Madge accused
abruptly.

"I had to get there somehow," he admitted, "and if I'd gone as
myself I should have been frozen out of learning anything."

"I wish I could see more of Cottrill," the vicar observed. "That
man combines knowledge of the legends of this district with a sound
practicality acquired in his travels, and everybody likes him."

"Ygdrasil," Gees murmured thoughtfully.

"The world ash! Did he talk to you of that?" Amber demanded.

"We're going to talk about it," Gees said. "That is, I mean him to
talk about it. From what I can see, your folklore ranges from Erse to
the Germanic, and for a stranger there's almost too much of it. But I
have hopes of digesting all I've swallowed--before lunch, that is." He
gave Mrs. Amber an anxious glance with the last sentence.

"I do hope our Cumberland cookery hasn't been too primitive for
you," she said anxiously.

"Bring it to London, tell me where I can find it, and tell
everyone that's my alternative address," he assured her.

"I'm so glad," she said. "We are primitive, you know."

"Then you conceal the fact remarkably well."

"Apology for what doesn't need it is mother's long suit," Madge
told him. "Mr. Green, how much do you know about faceting jewels?"

"Just a little," he answered. "One hears these things."

"And Ygdrasil, and white pigs in Berkshire--though you pronounced
it wrong--and the way you simply lapped up daddy's tale of the de
Boisgeants--Mr. Green, is there anything you don't know?"

"Quite a good deal," he answered promptly. "For instance, and to
revert to Mancius for a moment, what are 'loupi,' in your opinion?"

"Badly spelt for Latin, of course, but I think 'lupus' is second
declension," she answered. "And the French--'loup.'"

"I might have thought of it myself," he said.

"In other words," she observed severely, "you knew it already."

Later, when he had announced his intention of leaving, the vicar
came out to find his hat and coat for him.

"I do hope you'll come and see us again, Mr. Green," he invited
sincerely. "It is so rarely that I meet anyone interested in my
subject."

"My stay here will be short one, I hope," Gees responded, "but
I've enjoyed today so much that it won't be my fault if I don't fit in
another visit. You've been a real friend, Mr. Amber."

He started as a hand grasped his arm, and, looking round saw Madge
beside him, tweed-clad and wearing an impudent little hat.

"Say I've been a friend too," she begged. "And say that you'll
endure my walking with you on your way back--Mr. Cottrill's landlady
has had a baby, from which you mustn't deduce any more than you're
meant--"

"Madge! My dear!" the vicar interposed warningly.

"The younger generation is utterly devoid of reticence daddy," she
said. "Mrs. Nevern has had a baby, Mr. Green, quite recently--a
fortnight ago, in fact--and I want to go and see her, and it. The 'it'
is to distinguish it from her, because it's a girl too."

Gees glanced at the basket hanging from her hand. "Let me carry
that for you," he asked.

"How nice of you! Be careful--eggs. I must see that baby."

He bade good-bye to Amber, and set out with the girl.

"Errand of mercy, eh?" he suggested, as they passed the
churchyard.

"Curiosity," she answered. "Did you ever meet any girl or woman
who wasn't curious over a baby? And I'm a parson's daughter."

"I don't see the application," he said, after a moment's thought.

"No?" she queried, and laughed. "Well, we're always worse than the
average, though my daddy is enough to make a saint of anyone. All the
same, I shall scream for help if you dare to regard me as a saint."

"You're not," he said dryly.

"Give me that basket!" she ordered sharply.

"I won't," he retorted. "Ah, Ygdrasil again."

They passed under a mountain ash, its berries shining redly in the
afternoon sunlight. Madge looked up at it.

"No, carry the basket," she adjured. "You're one of us, obviously.
I don't know when I've liked a man so much--not as a man, mind you, or
anything sentimental and dam-foolish, but as one of us."

"Us being whom?" he asked.

"Daddy's got sight," she explained, "and he liked you. So did
mother. Therefore, you must be one of us. _Quod erat-_"

"_Faciendum,_" Gees concluded for her. "I feel made for life."

"If you can, slosh Harold one for us," she asked. "I know he saw
you in the _George,_ and was heavily boozed. You're outside, of
course, and all tied up with problems outside our little family
affairs. But if you get a chance, slosh him heavily."

"I won't forget," he promised.

"You see, mother's sad about him," she explained, "and daddy feels
the lad is too old to be put over his knee and half-murdered--which is
what ought to happen to that ungrateful brother of mine. Daddy could
do so much more for his people here if it were not for what he's
spending on putting Harold on his feet by sending him to his own
college--Balliol--and it seems such utter waste--am I saying too much,
Mr. Green?"

He looked down at her, met her gaze, as she trudged up hill beside
him, and saw a nervous anxiety lest she had overstepped the bounds
with a stranger.

"When you say too much, I'll tell you, Miss Amber," he said.

"I knew you were one of us," she said contentedly. "Big enough to
shoulder other people's troubles, in spite of your own."

"But I have none of my own," he said gravely.

"Then your father was not an impecunious parson," she declared.
"Though, mind you, I wouldn't change my daddy for Jawn D. Rockefeller,
and I wouldn't do anything to grieve him for ten Jawn D. Rockefellers
and all they own. Mind those eggs!"

"The eggs," he stated gravely, "shall be guarded as--as I'd guard
you, if one of the de Boisgeants' 'loupi' appeared."

"They don't appear in daylight," she said solemnly.

They topped the ridge, and came within sight of the two monoliths
guarding the entrance to Locksborough Castle.

"No, they don't appear in daylight," the girl repeated.



Chapter IX AT DOWLANDSBAR



"YES, Mrs. Amber, that will be quite all right. I shall understand
he is lunching with you, and expect him when he gets here."

Tyrrell put the receiver back on its rest, closed the cabinet, and
turned to face Annie, sister of the maid-of-all work at the vicarage.

"Miss McCoul, sir," she said. "Say's she'd like to see you, sir."

Gyda McCoul stood in the open doorway, to his sight a picture of
perfection as he turned from the telephone cabinet.

"Unquestionably, the gods are good," he said, as he hurried toward
her with both hands outstretched, and a smile that emphasised the
words in his eyes more than on his lips.

"I'm so glad you think so," she answered, and gave him her two
hands to hold momentarily. "My father is busy, and I came to ask how
you are after your terrible experience last night. I do hope--but you
are quite yourself, I see. It wasn't so very terrible, then?"

"It was terrible enough," he answered sombrely. "But--how do you
know what happened last night? Who has been telling you?"

"Oh, you know what gossip is," she said evasively. "Your man
Cottrill, and--but I am glad to see you, Mr. Tyrrell! As soon as I
heard, I made up my mind to come and see you, because--well, just
because!"

"Because?" he echoed, and reached for her hands again--but they
evaded his, and she smiled as she stepped back from him.

"Because--well, a neighbor," she said, with surface lightness.

"No more?" he asked, and, advancing, forced her to a standstill.
"Gyda, you know! I've loved you from the first time I saw you, and
you've never given me a chance to tell you all that you mean to me. My
dear--Gyda--if only you could care for me." His arms went round her--
they had the hall to themselves, for Annie had gone about her work,
and the girl, knowing herself alone with him, yielded to his clasp and
looked up into his eyes, steadily, unwaveringly.

"But I do," she said, very softly. Her shining white head lay
against his shoulder, and the soft velvet of her lips was his. He
lifted her arm to place it round his neck, and, little given as he was
to any softer emotion, the tender clasp that he won made him fear lest
she should divine too soon the strength of his passion for her. With
her strange eyes half-closed, she rested in his clasp, to him a
fragile being, infinitely dear.

"My dear--Gyda--from the first sight of you--no other thought," he
said, half-incoherently. "And now--incredible! That you care."

"Oh, I do!" she whispered back. "I know--"

But then she released herself from his hold and stood back: Annie,
the maid, entered from the back of the hall, and Tyrrell turned to
face her, knowing that Gyda's new relationship with him would be news
in Odder before many hours had passed. He did not care: in the
happiness of his new certainty he cared for nothing but the girl
beside him.

"Could you tell me, sir--beg pardon, sir," Annie asked, "but is
the lady staying for lunch here?"

"Miss McCoul is staying for lunch," Tyrrell said, "but you need
only lay for two--Mr. Green will not be in for lunch. And--Annie--Miss
McCoul and I are going to be married. You may as well know."

Annie looked from one to the other of them, at a loss for words,
for a moment or so. Then she folded her hands before her, primly.

"Very good, sir. I'm sure I hope you'll be happy, sir."

"Thank you, Annie. Lay lunch for two, please."

He made the response quite formal. There had been a lack of
enthusiasm in the girl's reception of his announcement that angered
him, momentarily. But then, he reflected, her sister was in service at
the vicarage, and all Odder had looked for a match between him and
Madge Amber until these McCouls had come to live here. Added to that,
Gyda's unusual appearance, her snow-white hair and green-flecked,
amber eyes, went against her with the simple country folk, while her
father's treatment of Ben Latimer and his antagonism to the vicar
rendered both McCoul and herself objects of dislike. It was nothing,
Tyrrell told himself: as his wife she would soon live down their
present opinion.

Gyda smiled at him and shook her head as Annie vanished.

"I didn't say I could stay to lunch with you," she said.

"Darling, I simply won't let you go," he answered "Your father--
are you thinking he may wonder what has become of you?"

"I told him I was coming here. But--this Mr. Green?"

"Gone to the vicarage--lunching there, they tell me," Tyrrell
said. "Why--what about him, dearest?" Again he passed his arm round
her and held her. "You don't dislike him, do you?"

"I know nothing of him," she answered, with a shade of constraint.

"Then--but don't let's talk about him or anything else, today,
except you. And I've won you-I can't believe it, yet! Gyda--I love
your name! And you, wonderful one--I love you! May I tell you?"

"There are many ways of telling." She hid her face against his
shoulder to answer whisperingly. "I--dear, I want them all."

 * * * *

In mid-afternoon, Gees handed Madge Amber her basket back, outside
the gateway of Dowlandsbar.

"Do come and see us again, Mr. Green," she asked.

"I think I can promise that--yes, I will," he answered. "And if
you or any of your people are in London at any time. I hope you'll
give me a chance to show how I appreciate the kindness I've
experienced at your home today. It was a real experience for me, Miss
Amber."

"But daddy liked you, you see," she said, "and he's got sight--I
don't mean the sight of the physical eye. Now I must go and see Mrs.
Nevern and her baby--good-bye for the present, Mr. Green."

For a minute or two he watched her on her way. Tyrrell felt
uncomfortable over the way he had treated her, evidently, but if she
felt his defection as a loss, she gave no sign of it. But then, Gees
decided, she had far too much good sense to wear her heart on her
sleeve, or pine for a thing that was beyond her reach. Healthy-minded,
a little too outspoken, perhaps, but very attractive, lovable.

He put her out of his mind, for there was so much else of moment
needing thought, arising out of his visit to the vicarage. Amber's
story, the plunder of the old-time priory--and Gyda's jewels! Had
McCoul unearthed what Hugh de Boisgeant had buried, centuries before?
If the wealth of the priory had been hidden at Locksborough, surely
someone must have found it, long ago? And yet it may have been hidden
so securely that one who sought it must know where to search.

Amber believed, but would not say, that there was some connection
between the hounds that formed Gees' errand here and the old castle--
some connection between them and the McCouls, perhaps. But Gees felt
now that he knew why such a man as McCoul had bought the place,
installed himself and his daughter in it. He had been a poor man when
he came there--his failure to pay Latimer for so long proved it--and,
suddenly, had been able to pay and produce fine jewels--antique
jewels, too!--for his daughter's wear. By keeping his discovery of the
priory treasures secret, he evaded the laws regarding treasure-trove,
and probably during his and his daughter's visit to London of which
Madge had spoken--other visits too, in all likelihood--he had disposed
of some part of the gems and gold that had once decked a shrine.
Thirteenth and fourteenth century golden ornaments would be immensely
valuable for their workmanship, and there were markets for such things
in which no questions as to their origin would be asked, as Gees knew.

But there was no proof--there was no proof of anything, nor even
suspicion enough on which to act in any way. The vicar and Gees
himself might be certain that McCoul had discovered what Hugh de
Boisgeant had hidden, and might believe that it was McCoul who loosed
the vile hounds to their killings, but open accusation of anything of
the sort would be akin to lunacy on their part. It was difficult--
damned difficult, Gees told himself. And yet there must be a way.

He came to the doorway of Dowlandsbar and found Tyrrell standing
out on the step, gazing across at all that showed of Locksborough
above the intervening ridge. There was a softened look in Tyrrell's
eyes, and he appeared free of the nervous irritability that the strain
of the past six months had induced in him. He smiled at Gees.

"News for you," he said. "I didn't lunch alone, after all."

"No-o," Gees, said softly. "But she's gone, evidently."

"How--why, do you know already?" Tyrrell asked in surprise.

"I can see what you've got on the shoulder of your coat, man."

Tyrrell looked down, and then reached up to detach one silver,
shining hair. He held it carefully between his fingers and smiled.

"I hadn't noticed it," he said.

"Well, aren't you going to congratulate me? I know! Come in and
have a drink on it."

"Don't want a drink--till tea time," Gees answered, "but I hope
you'll be happy, all the same--when this sheep trouble is settled."

"I can forget even that, today," Tyrrell said confidently. But,
for a moment, a frown clouded his expression. Gees had shown no more
enthusiasm over his news than had Annie--and, he realized, had
acknowledged it with just such words as she had used.

"But look there!" Gees said suddenly, and pointed towards the
castle.

Swathes of whitish reek were veiling the machicolations of the
keep, and as Gees spoke they thickened, while over the ridge came the
advance guard of the fog. Locksborough appeared to sway in the haze,
and while they looked it vanished entirely. The sunlight striking on
Dowlandsbar was suddenly dimmed, and then put out like a candle, while
the air grew chill as the first wreaths of vapor swirled round the
doorway. And now the ridge over which the fog had marched so suddenly
was invisible behind a white, icy wall, solid-seeming as they gazed.

"This is what I've been afraid of, but I didn't expect it so
soon," Tyrrell said. "I mean--I hoped those grey things would have
been destroyed before the winter fogs began. This is rolling in off
Solway, and heaven only knows how long it will last. The sheep--
Cottrill--" He broke off, and all the nervousness that his joy of the
day had driven out, for a little while, returned. "I wonder if he--"
he began again, and again did not speak all the thought aloud.

"Where is Cottrill?" Gees asked, after a moment's pause.

"Out--where would he be?" Tyrrell answered. "I went to see him in
Anker's Glen this morning, after you'd gone. He wanted to keep the gun
for the present, so I let him have it--he won't come to any harm,
though. But with this coming on so suddenly, he won't be able to get
the sheep back to the fold tonight--they scatter in all directions
during the day, and to find them and get them together in this--well!"

"Yes, an impossible task," Gees assented thoughtfully. "But--
something else. Which is the Neverns' cottage--where Cottrill lives?"

"About a quarter of a mile along the lane, on the other side from
here--it's in a hollow, and the gate from the lane is painted blue.
Why, though? Cottrill is out on the fells, now. You can't--"

"Not Cottrill at all, for this," Gees interrupted. "Miss Amber is
there--at Nevern's place, and she can't go home alone in this. I'll
get my Webley." He went into the house, and Tyrrell heard him taking
the staircase two or more steps at a time as he went up.

He came out with his big overcoat on, a minute later.

"Back for tea, I expect," he said without pausing. "I've had one
meal with them today. Save me a bun if I'm late. I'm beginning to feel
peckish again already--it's the air."

Hurrying on, he crossed the lane when he emerged from the drive
and, keeping over to the right hand side, soon came in sight of a
little blue gate. He opened it and found himself descending a steep
pathway, down which he went slowly and cautiously, since the white fog
that wrapped round him was now so thick as to reduce visibility to a
couple of yards or less. A door showed, and he knocked and waited. The
door was opened, and a small girl looked up at him timidly.

"I want to see Miss Amber, dear," he said. "Is she here?"

"Miss Madge?" the child shrilled. "Here's a gempleman for you!"

The girl appeared, her empty basket in her hand, and stared at him
wonderingly. Apparently she was ready to return home.

"I've come to escort you, Miss Amber," he said. "I'll wait, if
you're not ready--I'm not in any hurry, except to catch you before you
start. That is to say, the hurry is over since you haven't gone."

"I was just going--how very kind of you, Mr. Green! But you ought
not to have troubled--I can't possibly lose my way to the village."

"A worse thing than losing your way might have happened, if you'd
gone alone," he said. "It was not that I had in mind."

She glanced down at the small girl, who stood listening. Then she
stooped and kissed the child, and faced him again.

"All ready," she said. "Good-bye, Ethel--take care of mother. The
gentleman means I might fall into a ditch and get muddy."

"It wasn't what you meant, I know," she said to Gees as they
emerged to the lane and the blue gate clattered against its post, "but
I wanted Ethel to feel cheerful about being in the cottage with only
her sick mother and the baby till Nevern gets back tonight."

"I was a fool to say what I did in her hearing," he remarked.

"I don't think she caught your meaning," she dissented. "And even
if she did, the cottage is shaded by a rowan. You might have seen the
red berries if you'd looked up and if the fog would let you."

"Do you think its being there makes any difference?" he asked.

"It's what they think that counts," she pointed out sagely.

"Well, what is the special significance of the tree, then?"

"The mountain ash--oh, Mr. Green! Surely you know quite well how
they regard it as a protection from all evil? Some kind of survival of
the old reverence for it as Ygdrasil, the world ash-tree of power."

"And McCoul cut his down and poisoned the roots," he remarked.

"So you know that too? Yes--eight beautiful rowans between the
moat and the keep doorway. And he had the roots poisoned with arsenic.
A big auger hole bored in the centre of each of them after the trees
had been cut down, and the powder poured in, and then a piece of metal
sheeting nailed over the hole. Ben Latimer told me how it was done."

"What you might call a series of deciduous murders," he commented.

"Deciduous--oh, yes. Of course--they're not coniferous."

"And McCoul didn't want protection from evil--hold up, Miss Amber.
Take my arm, won't you?" For she had stumbled and almost fallen over
one of the potholes of the lane, and, by her expression as she limped
onward, had wrenched her ankle rather severely.

"Thank you," she said, and leaned rather heavily on him for
support. "It's painful at first--my foot twisted. Not seriously--I
shall lose the feeling of it in a minute or two, but just at first--
and if anyone from the village sees us like this, they'll think I'm a
brazen hussy and walking out with you already."

"Well, you're walking home with me instead," he replied. "And now
what about a cigarette--or isn't smoking one of your virtues?"

"I'd love one," she assented. "I left my case at home, by mistake,
and was just wondering if I were brazen enough to ask for one."

They stopped while he produced his case and lighted cigarettes for
her and himself. And, though he put the case away and offered his arm
again, he did not go on when she took it. She looked up at him.

"Why--what--why do you look like that?" she demanded. "What is it?
Did you"--he felt her fingers tighten on his arm--"did you hear
anything?" She stared up into his face, her own eyes wide.

"Quiet!" he bade, his right hand in his overcoat pocket.

They stood quite still. The shadow of a shape seemed to pass in
the reeking whiteness beyond the low stone wall. The dead stalk of one
of last summer's tall weeds crackled, and Gees' hand came out from his
pocket. There was a soft rustling, as of pads on grass--and then it
died out, leaving utter stillness in which they stood for nearly a
minute facing each other. Then Madge's fingers slackened.

"Nothing," she said. "That is, nothing now. There might have
been!"

"I'm very glad I saved you from going home alone," he said
gravely.

She held up her cigarette with over half an inch of ash on its
end. "I did keep still, when you told me," she said, and smiled--but
he could see that her lips were trembling, and, as her hand trembled
too, the ash fell. "I--I don't know how to thank you, Mr. Green."

"It was a rabbit, or something, probably," he said reassuringly.
"You said yourself that those--the other things--don't come out in
daylight, so it couldn't have been anything to fear."

"But this is not daylight," she dissented. "I--do believe I want
to be sensible, won't you? But I'm so glad you're with me, now."

"Well, I'm glad I'm with you--and that's no compliment, but the
truth," he said lightly. "And you're eminently sensible."

"I wish I were!" she exclaimed. "You are being good to me, Mr.
Green. If I had started from the cottage and been alone now--"

"But you're not," he interrupted. "I'm taking care of that--and of
you, till you're safe at home. And my friends usually call me Gees."

"Oh, what a name! But do you mean me to call you that, then?"

"Most certainly I do, Madge. We've known each other quite a long
time, now--let's keep moving. This fog is icy, and your coat's thin."

They went on, down toward the stone bridge between Dowlandsbar and
Locksborough. Gees kept well to the left side of the lane, for
guidance by means of the low whitethorn hedge that formed a boundary
here. So they came to the bridge, and, halfway over it, Madge dropped
her basket and clung to Gees' arm with both hands, pressing close to
him. For something went past them with a rush on the far side of the
bridge, a softly-padding shape that vanished in a moment--and again
Gees scented a foul reek that he recognized. The padding went up the
hill behind them, towards Dowlandsbar and the open fells, and died
out.

"Oh!" she exclaimed fearfully. "The other one!"

He saw terror in her eyes, and held up the Webley for her to see.

"You're quite safe," he said reassuringly. "And it's gone, as
frightened of us as you are of it. A dog, most likely."

"No." She released her grip on him as she shook her head. "Not a
dog--you know it was not a dog. There is no dog as big as that
anywhere near here. It was the other one--they are out, Mr. Green."

He put his hands on her shoulders, the pistol still grasped in his
right hand. "Now look here, my child," he said, "you've got to pull
yourself together. Even if they are out, they are not after us. I'll
land you safely at home, never fear. Will you believe it?"

She gazed up at him. "Ye-yes," she said shakily. "Oh, what must
you think of me for being such a coward? But--they're not of earth."

"Quite probably there's a perfectly rational explanation for
them," he said. "Things not of earth don't descend to killing sheep--
they don't do material damage either to animals or human beings. Now
come along and be sensible, before your father begins to worry about
you."

She achieved a smile and took his arm again. "Why, yes," she said,
as they went on uphill. "But I'm keeping close to you till we get
there. And then--what about you? You can't go back alone?"

"I both can and shall," he answered decidedly. "I told Tyrrell I
should be back for tea, and asked him to keep some for me."

She made no reply, and Gees wondered whether mention of Tyrrell
had silenced her. They tramped on, and passed where two ghostly things
rose in the reek--the standing stones at the entrance to Locksborough.
And then, nearing Odder, they heard voices, and two beings loomed up
and stopped within sight of them. Gees recognized Harold Amber and a
brawny being in velveteen coat and corduroys--Tom Cotton.

"We were coming to fetch you home, Madge," Harold said. "Father
got worried about you, and asked Tom to come along with me."

Cotton peered hard at Gees, and smiled broadly. "Glad to meet you
agin, sir," he said. "You took us all in nicely, last night."

"Glad to hear it," Gees answered. "And now I needn't come any
farther, Miss Amber. Why, hullo! What's Jimmy doing here?" For a dog
appeared from beyond Cotton in the fog and sat down beside him.

"That ain't Jimmy--it's his sister--belongs to me," Cotton
explained in jerks. "Same litter, but she's got better brains."

"You can't possibly go back to Dowlandsbar alone, Mr. Green,"
Madge said. "Tom, we saw the grey things--they passed us. They are
out."

Again Gees held up the Webley. "I've got a friend with me," he
said, "and the pair of us are a match for any other pair."

"Aye, maybe, mister," Cotton remarked, "but so be as you ain't
ashamed o' my company, I'll walk along with you, an' go an' see my
sister--Mrs. Nevern, that is. I ain't been near her since the baby was
born, an' now's my chance. If so be the fog don't lift, I can turn in
along o' Cottrill for the night. Miss Amber'll be safe wi' her
brother--it ain't more'n a quarter of a mile to the vicarage from
here."

"That seems a reasonable way of saving us from escorting each
other about all night," Gees observed. "I'll say good-bye here, Miss
Amber, and leave you to your brother's care for the rest of your way."

He glanced at Harold, who, he noted, had refrained from speaking a
word to him. Madge Amber held out her hand.

"Yes, I know you want to get back," she said. "Oh, my basket! I
must have dropped it down by the bridge. Could you keep it for me if
you see it--till we see you again, Gees?" With the last word, she
smiled, and Gees smiled back as he released her hand.

"I'll save it for you," he promised. "Now we'll go."

But, when she and Harold had vanished in the fog, he stood for a
minute or two listening, and Tom Cotton listened too.

"It's all right, mister," Tom said at last. "They're too near home
to come to any harm. That was a rare trick you played on us last
night!"

They started toward Dowlandsbar, and the dog walked quietly beside
its master. Cotton turned up his coat collar and buttoned it, for the
white reek that enveloped them was chilling.

"You didn't reckon we had anything to do wi' this sheep killin',
did you, mister?" he inquired after a silent half-mile or so.

"I wouldn't be such a fool," Gees answered, "but I didn't want to
freeze you all up by appearing as my natural self, so I got Cottrill
to give me the freedom of the house, to learn what I could."

"About the killin's, that'll be," Cotton surmised. "Well, it
didn't do no good, did it? We'd nuthin' to tell useful, like."

"I found it very useful," Gees dissented. "It gave me an idea of
what you are all like--put me in touch with the place."

"Aye, it would," Cotton agreed gravely. "I never thought o' that.
Well, 's'long as I'm in the _George_ if you happen in, you'll be
welcome. Any friend o' Miss Amber's good enough for me--an' all of us,
too."

"A general favorite, is she?" Gees encouraged him.

"All of 'em, except that silly young devil," Cotton told him. "In
fifty mile round, there ain't a man to touch our parson. If anyone's
in trouble--an' Mrs. Amber, too. Salt o' the earth, them three."

"And what do you do?" Gees inquired after another period of
silence. "That is, if I'm entitled to ask you such a question."

"Me? Oh, I worked at Bandon's up to midsummer, but then he cut
down, times not bein' too good, an' me bein' a single man I had to go.
Got a few odd jobs since, enough to keep me an' Effie in grub."

"Effie being your sister, I suppose," Gees suggested.

"Lord, no, sir! This is Effie. All right, old gal," he said as the
dog looked up at him, "we're just talkin' about you, that's all. No,
Mrs. Nevern's my sister, an' I ain't been near her for some while,
lest she should think I was cadgin' a meal, but I just finished a
fortnight on a stable-roofin' job wi' Ben Latimer, so now I can go an'
see her wi' a few mutton chops in my poachin' pocket an' a drop o'
somethin' good for me an' Nevern--which I'd got all ready before the
fog come over an' Mr. Amber asked me to go an' meet Miss Madge. So
there it is, an' here I am. But Miss Madge said you'd seen they devil
hounds. Didn't try to go for you, did they?"

"On the other hand, we hardly saw them," Gees answered. "They
passed us in the fog, going toward Dowlandsbar, separately."

"That'd be--both of 'em was the other side o' this place?" He
jerked his thumb toward the shadowy monoliths of Locksborough, abreast
them as he spoke--and, Gees saw, he crossed himself.

"Why, yes, they were both on the Dowlandsbar side," Gees said.

"Aye, last night, when Ammon spotted 'em by the churchyard, was
the only time they've been seen or heard on the Odder side o' the
castle. Mister, I thought about that, an' you know what I think?"

"That they were waiting to get me alone," Gees said quietly.

"Aye, you've hit it, mister! Master Tyrrell let it get about that
you'd be comin' from London to track 'em down, an' they were after
you. They got a lot more sense'n any animals--look at the way they
don't go near the sheep as long as Cottrill's on watch, an' the first
night he's off, there's two more done in. They ain't animals. They
know!"

"It looks like it," Gees admitted. "But what are they, then?"

"That man McCoul," Cotton answered indirectly. "S'posin' he's what
he looks to be? Locksborough's queer, haunted by no end o' things. An'
you'd say as soon as you look at him--he ain't altogether natural.
Black magic, I make it. S'posin' he's havin' truck wi' the old dead,
the bloody old dead buried there, an' raises 'em. They lived an' died
in blood, if all that's said is true, an' if he raised 'em for his own
ends they'd go out after blood. Why he'd want to raise 'em I don't
know, an' it's no use askin' me, but I say these things are the old
dead, raised to life in the shape o' wolves by that man McCoul." He
spat as he ended, a gesture obviously directed against the man McCoul.

Gees stooped and picked up Madge's basket, for by this time they
had reached the stone bridge, and he had been looking for it.

"Apparently you don't like McCoul," he remarked.

"Like him?" Cotton echoed, and at the sound of the words the dog
padding beside him growled. "All right, Effie," he said to her. "You
ain't no cause to concern yourself--yet. He come to live here in
March, an' them things first appeared in March. He's in league wi' the
devil, his father, an' he raises the hell hounds for his own ends an'
lets 'em out to hunt for blood, which is the only reward he can give
'em an' the only one they want. Else, why'd he poison the rowans, the
only good things that ever came out o' the earth at Locksborough, bar
grass which'll grow even on a suicide's grave--grow anywhere? An' his
cat-eyed witch daughter--in old time, they'd ha' burned her at the
stake, an' a damned good thing too! Ben Latimer's wife'd be alive
today if it wasn't for them McCouls. Do I like McCoul!"

"Apparently, as I said, you do not," Gees remarked again. "But
what proof have you of any of this? What evidence, even?"

"If I had a shadow of anything to back what I'm sayin', I'd raise
all Odder against 'em, get 'em stoned whenever they show their faces,"
Cotton said savagely, and the dog growled again. "Here, Effie, don't
get fretted, old girl! You're like our inspector, sir, if you'll
forgive me for sayin' it. He goes smellin' around for evidence,
lookin' up every dog for miles round, an' it's here--here all the
time! An' if you've come down from London to do the same, well--an'
maybe I'll be givin' offence by sayin' it, but I say it all the same--
if that's all you reckon to do, you'd better go back. It ain't no
good."

"No?" Gees asked gently. "What ought I to do, then?"

He halted outside the gateway of Dowlandsbar, and gazed at Cotton
as he asked it. Cotton shook his head, and grinned.

"To tell the truth, sir, I don't know," he said. "No. Well, will
you be all right between here and the Neverns' place, or shall I walk
as far as the gate with you?" Gees asked.

"Lord love you, sir, you're a real good sort, but I'll be quite
all right. Come an' see us in the _George_ again--an' you needn't come
from Sussex, next time. I'll stand bail for you, if Cottrill ain't
there."

They parted with a hearty handshake, and Gees went on--he kept a
careful eye on the copse beside the drive, but it was innocent of any
presence such as had tenanted it the preceding night. When he came
into the big hall of the house, Tyrrell gestured silently at a tray on
the table beside the fireplace. Gees went to it and removed a cover.

"Man, you're a friend!" he said. "Four scones all hot and
buttered, and I'm ravenous, though I had a whale of a lunch. It must
be the--"

"Cut it out!" Tyrrell interrupted, almost shouting.

"Fog, I was going to say," Gees completed. "Have you had tea?"

"Aye," Tyrrell said. "I waited some time, and then gave you up."

"Ah! That's the air," Gees told him, and grinned widely. He put
Madge's basket down, and poured himself cup of tea.

Tyrrell stood up and put down the book he had been reading. "I'm a
little troubled in my mind about Cottrill, Gees," he said.

"Yes?" Gees bit a scone, and, because he could speak no more,
looked the rest of the question.

"Yes. I know he's out on the fells with the sheep--was when this
fog came down--and I don't know if he'll be able to get back."

"What can you do?" Gees asked, before taking a second bite.

"Nothing, till the fog lifts, of course."

"I didn't know it was 'of course.' When will the fog lift?"

"Oh, why ask such a blasted silly question?" Tyrrell aimed.

Gees took two more bites, and there was no more of that one. He
took a drink of tea, and refilled the cup. Then he took another scone.

"What time was it when Miss McCoul left?" he asked.

"About half an hour before you got back--why?" Tyrrell answered.

"Is McCoul on the telephone?" Gees disregarded Tyrrell's query.

"No. I wish they were, now--especially with this fog."

"Aye," Gees said thoughtfully. "It's a pity."

"Here, what do you mean?" Tyrrell demanded sharply. Gees gazed
full at him for some seconds. "The grey shapes are out," he said at
last.

"The--Cottrill--out there!" Tyrrell almost gasped the words. Then
a blaze of anger came into his eyes. "Here, what the hell do you mean,
asking about McCoul and the telephone like that? Do you dare suggest
_he_ has anything to do with the grey shapes?"

"Quiet--quiet, man!" Gees bade. "Did I say anything of the sort?"

"Why--why, no, you didn't," Tyrrell half-stammered. "But you
asked--about him--and about Gyda. It sounded as if--" He did not end
it, but stood looking at Gees in a puzzled, half-resentful way.

"So the fog may last days?" Gees suggested thoughtfully, taking no
heed of Tyrrell's attitude.

"May last days, and may all be cleared off by tomorrow morning--or
even sooner," Tyrrell said more easily. "There is no telling."

"In that case, nothing can be done till to-morrow morning, or
sooner," Gees said, and bit away nearly half of the scone between his
fingers. "That is, except to finish these, and take care of that
basket. I've promised to return it to Miss Amber."

"Er--did she mention me?" Tyrrell asked awkwardly.

"Now would she?" Gees retorted, and laughed. "Besides, after what
you told me before I went to escort her, would it matter if she did?"

Tyrrell shook his head, gravely, and less in negation than in
concern, and Gees finished the scone he held and took another.

"I haven't had such an appetite for years," he said. "It must
be"--he made a long pause and gazed hard at Tyrrell--"a renewal of my
youth--Yah!"

And he bit into the third scone.



Chapter X MISSING



INSTEAD of the view of Locksborough Castle and the valley between
it and Dowlandsbar, Gees saw only a blank whiteness when he looked out
from his window next morning, and the daylight was so far reduced by
the fog that he had to turn on the electric light for his shave. He
went downstairs to find Tyrrell standing before a log fire in the
dining-room, anxiety in every line of his face.

"Bad," Tyrrell said. "It's bad. Utterly unexpected--no warning of
it. No fall in temperature--nothing! Let's have breakfast."

He rang, and Annie brought in their breakfast of kidneys and
bacon. Tyrrell removed the cover and looked at Gees.

"Are you still under the influence of the air about here?" he
asked. "I mean--how many kidneys, and much bacon do you want?"

"It must be bad," Gees answered. "I'll have a lot, please."

Tyrrell helped him liberally, and, after some hesitation, took one
rasher of bacon for himself and sat gazing at it.

"I'm going to sell the flock," he announced abruptly.

"Well, you can't till the fog lifts," Gees told him, "and if you
don't eat, you'll get so weak that you won't be able to sell anything.
And not all your fretting will push the fog away. Eat, man!"

Tyrrell shook his head. "It's no use," he said. "I was awake half
the night, listening, thinking. The gods are against me--a fog like
this ought not to happen so early in the year. And the grey things
were out last night, you said--that will be two more gone, at the
least. Cottrill could never fold them after the fog dropped down."

"He might," Gees said. "Anker's Glen is on the south side of the
lane, and you told me you only have two hundred acres on that side--"

"But he drove them across the lane in the morning," Tyrrell
interrupted. "There's not much more than twenty acres of good grass in
that two hundred, and since it's sheltered we save it as late in the
year as we can. When the fog dropped down, they were scattered all
over the fells, easy game for the grey things. And I've not heard from
Cottrill either, which means he didn't get back last night."

"I suppose he's got a hut or two out on the sheep runs?" Gees
asked.

"Oh, yes! He knows how to take care of himself. He'd make a fire
for himself, and he keeps tinned stuff out there for use in the
lambing season, when he knows he'll have to be out all night. But--"
He broke off and looked at the piece of bacon, untouched on his plate.

"Then it means two more sheep gone," Gees said. "I told you--or
rather, I believe I told him--two or four more. In that, you must
realize, I was reckoning without this fog. I counted on having a plan
of campaign arranged to make it no more than four at the outside, but
the fog upsets my calculations as much as it upsets you, apparently.
And now it may be six, or even eight, if they stick to their habit of
pairs and no more. But eight is the limit--don't sell the flock."

"Look here, how much do you know?" Tyrrell demanded acridly.

"So far as telling you anything I could prove is concerned,
nothing," Gees answered. "In my own mind, everything about it." He
applied himself industriously to kidneys and bacon, and passed his cup
for more coffee, disregarding Tyrrell's expression of impatience.

"Damn it, man!" Tyrrell observed as he refilled the cup. "Can't
you be more explicit? If you know everything about it--"

"And can't prove a single word of what I know," Gees interrupted.
"Tyrrell, we're up against something--as you've realized, if only you
bring yourself to admit it, that you can boil down to one word--fear.
Fear of the uncanny, fear of the unnatural, and you've got to face the
fact that it is unnatural. Those things have chosen their times, acted
as no dogs would act if they were worrying sheep--you admit that?"

"I've got to admit it," Tyrrell said after a pause for thought.

"As nearly as I can make out, they appeared twice in six months,
before I got here--two men saw them, and obviously it was through
carelessness on their part--I'm regarding them as beings with more
sense than mere animals. Since I arrived here, you've seen them, Shaun
Ammon has seen them, and I've seen them--and Miss Amber was scared to
the point of holding on to me like death by glimpsing them. Apparently
you rather advertised the fact that I was coming here to end the
trouble, and they're out after me, as nearly as I can make it out to
catch me alone, though the way I loosed off with the Webley the night
before last rather discouraged them. But they don't like me, and--I
want you to take particular notice of this--_they like you!_"

"What on earth do you mean by that?" Tyrrell asked amazedly.

"Why weren't you torn to pieces in Anker's Glen the night before
last?" Gees asked in reply. "There you were, ready to be torn."

"I've wondered over that, myself," Tyrrell admitted, and shuddered
at the recollection. "That thing over me, stinking at me, and the
other one charging it and knocking it away before I lost
consciousness!"

"Queer--you've got to admit it. By the way, if you're not eating
the rest of those kidneys, I am. You can't warm 'em up, and it's a
pity to waste them. Might I?" He held out his plate.

"By all means," Tyrrell assented, and scooped the remainder of the
contents of the dish on to the plate. "I'd sooner keep you for a week
than a fortnight, if you go on eating at this rate. But I don't
understand--what is the queerness? You're so damned mysterious about
it."

"Because I've no proof. I've nothing that would justify me in
saying one word--about anything. Yet, in my own mind, I know."

"What?" Tyrrell asked.

"Something so fantastic," Gees said soberly, "that you'd probably
turf me straight out if I put it into words. Miss Amber said it
yesterday, though I wouldn't agree for fear of frightening her too
much--these things are not of earth. And yet they are, in a sense,
material enough to do material damage. Neither brutes nor human,
though."

"They must be one or other, surely," Tyrrell said, after a long
pause in which he watched kidneys and bacon disappear with incredible
swiftness. "Or halfway between brute and human--"

"Neither," Gees interposed. "There is another state, and if I said
that within hearing of a bus-load of London office workers, they'd
jeer themselves black in the face. And now the marmalade"--he reached
for it--"as a groundwork for the final drink of coffee and the post-
prandial cigarette. Good word, post-prandial--good, sound, Victorian
epithet. What do we do with ourselves this morning?"

"What the hell can you do?" Tyrrell demanded savagely, and
gestured at the window, beyond which showed a blank whiteness.

Gees made no reply, but finished his toast and marmalade. Then he
produced his cigarette case and offered it. Tyrrell took one.

"I know," Gees said, as he lighted his own cigarette. "We'll go
out to the front door and look at the weather. It may thin out--"

"Oh, shut up!" Tyrrell interrupted disgustedly. "Can't you see I'm
all on edge? Unable to do anything, and--"

"Exactly," Gees interrupted in turn. "Unable, even, to get rid of
me, unless you turn me out into this wet blanket. I've told you I know
what's wrong, and I've told you I'll put it right, if you give me
time. And I know, too"--he spoke very seriously--"you've got a fear,
now, behind and distinct from your original fear. Justifiably, too."

"What do you mean, man?" Tyrrell demanded with sharp anxiety.

Gees shook his head, silently--and the door of the room opened to
admit Annie, at whom Tyrrell stared with a sort of angry questioning
over the interruption as she approached him.

"Beg pardon, sir," she said, "it's Mr. Cotton wants to see you.
About Mr. Cottrill, he said, and could he see you now?"

"One minute, Annie--tell him in one minute." Tyrrell waited until
she had gone out. "Now, Gees," he demanded, "what did you mean by that
remark--a fear behind my original fear? Out with it, man!"

"After I've laid your ghosts--not before," Gees answered with a
sort of inflexible determination in his tone. "You'd better see this
man Cotton, and if you don't mind, I'll come too. About Cottrill, he
said--it may be something more important than I could tell you."

Tyrrell stood up. "All right," he said coldly. "We will see this
man Cotton. But if you mean what I think you mean--" He broke off, and
stood for a half-minute or so gazing intently at Gees.

"I'll tell you nothing that I can't prove," Gees said. "So far, I
can prove nothing. Ergo, I'll tell you nothing. And Cotton's waiting."

They went out, then, to the front doorway, where Tom Cotton stood
waiting, silhouetted against the white curtain of the fog, with his
dog Effie patient and still beside him. He touched his hat to Tyrrell.

"It's about Cottrill, sir," he said, without waiting for Tyrrell
to speak. "I kipped in at my sister's place last night, an' he didn't
turn up all night. Ain't turned up yet, either. I reckoned,
considerin' what's been happenin' lately, I'd come along an' tell
you."

"Yes," Tyrrell said, "and what do you think I'm going to do about
it, Cotton?"

"I don't see as how anyone can do anything, till this fog lifts,
sir," Cotton said dubiously. "Weelum told me the fold is in Anker's
Glen, now, so I s'pose I might get that far wi'out losin' myself, but
it's ten to one against his bein' there, for foldin' 'em last night
was past mortal man's doin', I know. But--he's out there, somewhere."

"Well?" Tyrrell snapped out the query, sharply.

"An' the grey things was out, too, sir," Cotton said soberly.

"Possibly. But that doesn't mean anything has happened to
Cottrill," Tyrrell said. "He's got a gun of mine, and there's the
dog."

"Aye, sir, but what gets me is that he knows these fells as no
other man knows 'em," Cotton pointed out. "I'd trust him to find his
way in this, or in the blackest night, from here to Whitrigg, cross-
country all the way. If he'd suffered no damage, he'd have been back,
now."

"Then what do you propose about it?" Tyrrell asked.

"Well, sir, I'm pretty much at home about these fells myself, but
I don't propose to go over 'em alone, while the grey things are about.
I reckoned, if so be as there was two or three of us, now." He paused,
and glanced from Tyrrell to Gees and back, questioningly.

"You mean, you'd guide in this?" Gees poked an index finger toward
the dense fog that enfolded them, and the gesture was incredulous.

"Well, sir, I don't say I'd go everywhere," Cotton answered. "But
the tracks I know, an' there's a good man somewhere out there, maybe
needin' our help. I'd do my damndest to find him, though not alone."

There followed a silence, in which Tyrrell stood irresolute.

"A good man," Cotton said again, earnestly. "One o' the best
shepherds that ever whistled a dog, an' a good man as well."

"Well, do you want me to come with you?" Tyrrell demanded harshly.

"No, sir, I wouldn't ask that. I'd rather you didn't, to tell the
truth. If you got a couple o' breechloaders, an' I took Weelum an'
Nevern--neither of 'em's doin' anything till the fog lifts, I'll be
bound--wi' them two, I'd make as good a search as I could."

"Wait a minute, then," Tyrrell bade.

He went back into the house, and Gees and Cotton waited in silence
until he returned, carrying a pair of hammerless breech loading shot
guns. He handed them to Cotton, who took them reverently, as one who
could appreciate a beautiful pair of guns when he saw them.

"There!" Tyrrell said, and, putting his hand in his pocket,
brought out a handful of cartridges. "Loaded with number three--stuff
to stop a bull, let alone a dog." He handed the cartridges over and
produced more. "Three dozen, altogether--but what about you, though?"

"I'll take Cottrill's own gun," Cotton said, "an' bein' a twelve-
bore, it'll take these cartridges. Thankye, sir. I'll find Weelum, an'
then go along an' pick up Nevern on the way--an' come back here to let
you know after we've found him, some time today."

"Good luck to you, Cotton," Tyrrell said. "Fetch him back--tell
him not to trouble about the sheep till the fog lifts. He can do
nothing till then, and he's better sitting over a fire than out
there."

"Aye, that's right, sir. I'll find Weelum an' do my best."

He took four steps, and was no more than an indistinct shadow: two
more, and he had vanished altogether, while, such was the deadening
quality of the fog, even the sound of his footsteps ceased to reach
Tyrrell and Gees by the doorway. The stillness about them was
absolute.

"I wonder why he didn't want you?" Gees reflected aloud.

"Wants to go his own way, and is afraid I might give orders, I
expect," Tyrrell said. "Also I know none of them like my friendship
with the McCouls. It's made a difference, but"--a note of
determination came into his voice--"I'll make them accept her! That
is, unless I sell out and go. This--these killings--can't go on."

"Quite so," Gees assented. "But what would you do?"

"I don't know," Tyrrell said doubtfully. "As you remarked, I'm not
a poor man, and I suppose I'd find something--I don't know. But you
see--perhaps you've seen already, that is--how this hellish business
is getting me down. I'm not myself, Gees. I'm losing poise, getting
irritable and hating myself for it. My nerve is going, I know."

"Not to be wondered at, after six months of it," Gees commented.
"Let's go in--it's chilly out here." He turned to the doorway.

"Why, yes." Tyrrell followed him into the big hall and closed the
door. "I think I'll go over and see McCoul and Gyda. Cotton won't be
back for hours, and there's nothing else to do."

"I'll come with you," Gees offered. "Or"--as he saw Tyrrell's
sudden stare--"don't you want me? Just as you like."

"Yes, come along," Tyrrell said. "I'll get my coat."

Gees, getting his own coat, slipped the Webley in its pocket. They
set out, guiding themselves by keeping to the edge of the drive and
then to the side of the lane. Tyrrell, evidently engrossed in thought,
kept silence until they came to the stone bridge, and Gees, except for
swearing when he stubbed his toe against a stone, made no remark. Then
Tyrrell halted and looked back, as if he sought to pierce the fog that
prisoned them from sight of their surroundings.

"I'm badly worried about Cottrill," he said. "I wonder if I ought
to have gone? He'd have gone home last night, unless--"

Gees waited. Presently Tyrrell faced about again.

"He may have been out where he didn't think it safe to try getting
back, though," he said, as if to comfort himself with the supposition.
"And Cotton's got two good men with him--no, I could do nothing more
than they can, if I did go. Not as much, in fact."

They bent to the ascent that faced them, and came to the standing
stones at the entrance to Locksborough, where Gees halted.

"I won't come in with you, after all," he said. "Go on alone."

"Why, what on earth's the idea?" Tyrrell asked in surprise.

"Oh, just changed my mind," Gees answered. "I mean it, though."

"It isn't--it isn't because you don't want to meet her--them--is
it?" Tyrrell demanded, with a hint of resentful suspicion.

"Not that at all," Gees answered frankly. "Something altogether
different, I assure you. And you'll want her to yourself."

He smiled as he said it, and Tyrrell looked reassured. "Odd of you
after coming so far," he said. "Still, just as you like."

"Go on, man," Gees urged. "I'd only be the unwanted one."

"Well--see you for lunch, then," Tyrrell said, and went on.

He vanished almost instantly along the grassy way leading to the
castle. Gees gave him two minutes or less, and then followed, his hand
gripping the Webley in his coat pocket, and his thumb on the safety
catch in readiness to slide it off. The track was easy to follow, in
spite of the fog, and he held to it until he came to the outer end of
the causeway built up to form a level crossing over the deep, steep-
sided moat. Here he turned off to make the circuit of the moat by way
of its outer edge, going slowly, and gazing down all the time. The
slope of the cutting, he saw, was so steep as to render climbing
either up or down difficult, if not impossible, for the greater part
of the circumference. But, at a point which he judged as almost
opposite the causeway, a path ran down diagonally, grass grown and
evidently little used. He took it and, reaching the bottom of the
moat, found it dry and grass-grown. Then, ascending by the path again,
he resumed his tour of the circumvallation, and came back to the
causeway. That diagonal path made a second means of entry to the
walled enclosure in which the keep and all the rest of the castle
buildings had stood, and, except for these two points, the moat formed
an almost, but not quite, impassable obstacle. One could clamber up or
down that slope, but only with great difficulty and even risk of
falling and rolling down.

"And that," Gees told himself, "is that."

Silently he crossed the causeway, and came under the towering wall
of the keep by the deeply-set door which guarded the main entrance. He
noted that its latch turned by an old-fashioned iron ring, like the
fastenings of church doors, but the door itself was new-looking. A
pause to inspect it, and then he set off to circle the keep itself. He
came to the postern by which he had seen Shaun Ammon enter, a tiny
portal set deep in the thickness of the massive wall, and showing an
ordinary brass knob as means of opening. At sight of that Gees nodded
his head as if some theory he held were being confirmed, and went on.
At the back was yet another entrance, and it appeared to him that it
had been cut in the wall not long since, and again the door was brass-
knobbed and modern, while beside it stood a big, galvanized water
tank, with a pipe leading into it from a semi-rotary pump. Here,
evidently, was the water supply, and probably the means of access that
Ammon generally used. Gees went on, found the fourth wall of the
square blank and solid, and halted at the corner of the frontage.

For a period that he could not have measured as time he stood, his
back pressed against the solid stone, his right hand gripping the
pistol in his pocket, and every nerve a-quiver with something
approaching panic terror. There was no sight nor sound, to his
physical senses, to cause him fear, but he had a consciousness that
the whiteness which now seemed to press on him was filled with
presences, evil things not of earth--though he gripped the pistol, he
knew it was quite useless against these impalpable presences. He would
have shouted, useless though any cry would be with the thickness of
the wall intervening between him and any other human being, but he had
no voice. He would have moved away, but had no power of movement--and
yet, so far as sight or feeling told him, there was nothing to prevent
cry or movement. Yet there were things crowding on him, foul as murder
in the dark, more fearful, more evil, than any tangible beings--
Amber's tale of the old dead came into his mind, and that other tale
of the specter of Thorfinnsson, whose human assailant had withered
away after battle with him. And though he stood in utter silence, yet
there were voices at his ears--voices that told of unimaginable evil,
yet made no sound.

"In the name of God!" he whispered desperately--whispered, because
he had no voice. But with the whisper he was alone again, drawing a
long breath of more than relief and, lifting his hand to his forehead,
he found it wet with a cold sweat.

He had seen nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing. To all outward
sense, he had experienced no more than a waking nightmare--but he knew
now why the people of Odder feared to pass the standing stones in the
dark, and knew that his own soul had been given a glimpse of the
presences that throng hell. They had gone, and earth and air were
clear of them, for this present, but they might return.

He went along the wall toward the main entrance. Suddenly a tall
figure loomed before him in the fog, and resolved itself into McCoul,
standing by the doorway and gazing at him bleakly.

"Ah, Mr. Green," McCoul said. "Lost your way in the fog, eh?"

"I must have done," Gees answered, and, seeing the faint, satiric
smile that grew about McCoul's lips, felt sure the man knew that he
had not lost his way--knew, possibly, where he had been, and why.

"Won't you come in? I suppose you came to take Mr. Tyrrell back
for lunch, since he said he would have to go. He is inside, with my
daughter." And McCoul gestured toward the open door and stood back,
waiting for Gees to precede him.

"Thank you, I will," Gees assented, and entered through the mighty
wall--it was over a dozen feet in thickness, he saw.

Inside, he saw that the apartment to which he had entered ran the
full width of the keep from right to left, but lacked possibly a third
of its depth. Remembering the water tank and pump by the doorway at
the back, he decided that Shaun Ammon had his quarters and kitchen
there, but there appeared to be no communication between the back
premises and this great room, in which he could see, as means of
ingress, only the door by which he had entered and, in the left-hand
front corner as he stood, the beginning of a spiral stairway set in
the thickness of the wall. There was a plain, white plaster ceiling a
good twenty feet from the floor, which was of new-looking pine boards,
unstained and unpolished, but with rugs scattered over it--and, in the
vast area of the room, they looked like mere postage stamps. As for
the sparse furnishing, Gees decided that everything had been delivered
in plain vans, and that in making his selection McCoul had determined
on keeping the monthly payments as low as he could with decency. And
the uncovered grey stone walls gave the place a grim, chill look.

Yet there was warmth enough; in each end wall was a fireplace, in
each a log fire burned, and each had its big wicker basket of sawn
logs for replenishing the fires at need. By the one at the left side,
not far from the gaping, gloomy staircase entrance, stood Tyrrell and
Gyda, clearly defined in the light of a pendent Aladdin lamp, the
light of which supplemented such as was admitted through the four
arrow-slits, two in the front wall and one at each end. Gees advanced
toward the pair, and McCoul followed him, breaking away to put more
logs on the fire before which a long, plush-upholstered settee was
placed.

"I found Mr. Green outside," McCoul said, addressing nobody in
particular. "It appears that he lost his way in the fog."

"Not difficult," Tyrrell observed. "But--Gees, old chap, what's
wrong with you? You look as if you'd seen a ghost."

"It was nothing," Gees answered--quite truthfully. "I'd no idea I
looked anything different from the ordinary--morning, Miss McCoul." It
was a belated salutation, he felt.

"Good morning." She stretched out her hand, and he took it and
felt her clasp as something warm, vital, even thrilling. And she
smiled at him: she was different, softer, more woman and less mystery,
than when he had seen her at dinner at Dowlandsbar. Again she was
wearing grey, a plainly-cut, fleecy-looking frock that set off her
perfect figure and appeared to emphasize her height. "I suppose you
have come to drag Philip away?"

"To make a morning call myself, say," he suggested. "From what I
know of Tyrrell, the man who wants to drag him anywhere ought to turn
out with a four-horse team and a crowbar to prize him loose from what
he's holding. You have spacious quarters here, Miss McCoul."

"And that is about all you can say for them," she said, and
smiled.

"Oh, no!" he dissented. "Think of the historic associations of the
place. And you might stumble on the de Boisgeant treasure at any
moment--the plunder of the old priory that de Vere couldn't find."

"I'm afraid neither my father nor I have been interested in the
history of the place," she said, her smile vanishing.

"Tyrrell, I thought you told me Mr. Mccoul had antiquarian
tastes?" Gees accused. "You hear what Miss McCoul is telling me?"

"My interest is in ancient architecture," McCoul put in, turning
from the fire. "Early Gothic, for instance--this keep is no more than
a stone box, as you may have noticed. Its occupants--I am not
interested in them. They built for use, and ignored symmetry or
decoration."

"But that, now"--Gees nodded at a blurred escutcheon carved in the
stone over the fireplace. "There's decoration, surely--the arms of the
de Boisgeants, I take it. Two--yes, two wolves, couchant and
regardant, as supporters to a--I don't know, though. If that thing in
the middle were a bit clearer, I should say it was a harp. And if
there ever were a motto on that scroll underneath, it has worn away."

"I have not studied heraldry," McCoul said, very stiffly.

"Philip has been telling me he is very anxious about his
shepherd," Gyda cut in--Gees had an impression that she was determined
to change the subject of conversation. "I do hope nothing has happened
to the man. It must be awful, being lost on the fells in this fog. And
those awful dogs that have been killing the sheep--not that they would
dare to attack a man, and I understand the shepherd has a gun with
him."

"You think they are dogs, then?" Gees asked, gazing full at her.

"Why, of course!" Again she smiled at him. "What else?"

"I believe," Tyrrell put in, "Gees--that is, Green--has a theory
about these things, Gyda, and believes they are--"

"Several theories," Gees cut in harshly, and glared at Tyrrell.
"For instance, if a couple of beasts of any kind got loose from a
menagerie, they could hide among the fells and do damage like this."

"Quite a feasible solution," McCoul remarked approvingly. "And if
that is the case, Mr.--er--Green, how do you propose to catch them?"

"By another drive," Gees answered promptly, "such as I understand
was organized by the police earlier in the year."

"Ah, possibly," McCoul said, as if he considered the suggestion
and would deliver a verdict on it later. "Yes, possibly."

"Meanwhile," Tyrrell remarked, "if we're going back for lunch--"
He glanced at his wrist watch, and then at Gees, and did not end it.

Then Gees looked at his watch, and discovered to his amazement
that two full hours had passed since he had parted from Tyrrell by the
monoliths. He recalled the timeless terror in which he had stood
backed against the wall of the keep--it had lasted far longer than he
had thought. McCoul touched his arm, and glanced at Tyrrell
significantly.

"Shall we make our adieux outside, Mr. Green?" he inquired.

"Why, yes," Gees assented. "Considerate of you to think of it,
sir."

They went out. From the corner of his eye, as he passed out from
the place, Gees saw Gyda's arms go up and about Tyrrell's neck.
Outside, McCoul looked up at the sky, and nodded approvingly.

"The fog is thinning, Mr. Green," he said, "and I believe I can
feel the beginning of a breeze. Do come and see us again while you're
here, won't you? Though, I understand, you are not staying long."

"No, not long," Gees answered, "but we shall meet again."

McCoul gave him a long, questioning look, but did not put the
question into words. And his eyes, Gees felt as he met that gaze, were
twin wells of blackness in which dwelt hypnotic power. For awhile they
stood, the will of each strained to its utmost, McCoul compelling, and
Gees resisting. Then Tyrrell came out, and McCoul relaxed and smiled.

"Yes," he said, "I think we shall meet again," and there was in
the words a sound as of one sword blade grinding along another. "You
will always be welcome, as Mr. Tyrrell's friend."

"Thanks so much, Mr. McCoul," Gees answered. "I shall look forward
to our next meeting."

"And now we'll go and see about that lunch," Tyrrell said
heartily. "The fog is thinning, obviously, and we may have news of
Cottrill when we get back. If so, Mr. McCoul, I shall accept Gyda's
invitation for tea this afternoon. I--er--well, you know, it's all
new."

"May it never grow old," McCoul answered. "I shall hope to see
you, and hand you over to her care for tea."

At the inner end of the causeway across the moat, Gees glanced
behind him. The fog had certainly thinned, for he could see the
towering frontage of the keep as a darkness in the reek, and, before
it, a figure that he knew was McCoul's, though it was but a line
against the background of stone.

"May it never grow old," Tyrrell, beside him, echoed softly. "It
can't--man, she's wonderful! I never dreamed--"

He lost himself in recollection.

"That steak we had for lunch yesterday was wonderful too," Gees
said. "I hope there's something as good today."

"You--you hog!" Tyrrell gasped.

"Aye, hoping there's good offal in the trough. Step it out, man,
or your gong will have gone before we get there."



Chapter XI FOUND



BY mid-afternoon, when Tyrrell, more anxious than ever now over
what might have happened to Cottrill, went out to the front of the
house to gaze toward the entrance to the drive, a south-west breeze
had driven the fog away, and the rugged landscape was plain to sight
in the soft, slight warmth of the late autumn sun. Gees, following his
host, saw him gazing toward the tower of Locksborough, and realized
that his thoughts were divided between Cottrill and Gyda, fear for the
one and longing for the other.

"If only they'd come back!" he said. "She's expecting me."

"They are coming back, now," Gees said.

Tyrrell spun on his heels to face toward the drive entrance. Only
one of the three who had set out appeared--Cotton, with a breechloader
in the crook of his arm and his dog plodding beside him. And, because
of the way he walked, Tyrrell made no move toward him, but stood
until, with his message in his eyes before he spoke, Cotton faced him.

"Found?" Tyrrell asked--though he knew. "Speak, man!" There was,
in that adjuration, the anger that bespeaks fear.

"Aye, found," Cotton said. "Him an' Jimmy, in Valgersby. Up at the
top end among the rocks, an' his throat torn like the sheep. God!" He
made a queer gesture with his free hand. "That a man should--"

"Do you mean he's dead?" Tyrrell's words were whispered.

"I left Nevern an' Weelum by the body, while I come to tell of
it," Cotton answered. "Neither'd stay alone, so I come back to tell
it."

"You came back alone?" Gees asked incredulously.

"I fear God--nought else, mister," Cotton said. "I reckoned"--he
addressed Tyrrell again--"maybe the police'd want to see the body
where 'tis lyin', so I told 'em not to move it, not to touch it, till
I'd seen you an' heard what you say. But Weelum an' Nevern'll never
stop in the Cleft after sundown--Weelum's all of a tremble wi' fright
now. Was when I left 'em there to come an' tell you about it."

Tyrrell glanced at the westerning sun. "Wait," he said, and went
within the house. Presently Gees heard the faint "Ting!" of the
telephone bell, and then the murmur of Tyrrell's voice.

"Where is this place--Valgersby, Cotton?" he asked.

"Valgersby Cleft, sir--it's more'n three mile from here, that
way"--he gestured over the roof of Dowlandsbar--"an' a sort of valley
between two ridges, like all of 'em. Only the sides are a bit steep
compared wi' most of 'em, an' the top end, where we found him, is sort
of walled all round wi' rock. I've heard my old grandfer say, when I
was a boy, he could remember when there was a sheep farmer lived
there, an' there's the remainders of a house there yet, but it's all
part o' Mr. Tyrrell's land, now. Cottrill had a hut there, for the
lambin'."

"And being out that way, meant to go to the hut for the night,
rather than try to find his way back through the fog," Gees suggested.

"I reckon that'd be it, sir, except--he'd gone up past the hut to
the top end, where it's shut in by the rocks. I reckon he found them
things there, knew they were there, an' went after 'em. Got one
cornered betwixt him an' the rocks, I'd say, because the right barrel
of his gun'd been fired--an' then the other one sprung on him from
behind. That's how I read the signs of it--an' the stock of the gun is
tooth-marked, where one of 'em took hold of it to drag it away from
him. All tooth-marked--deep marks, too. Lion's strength in the jaws
that did it--a little more, an' they'd ha' broken the wood to pieces."

Tyrrell came out to them. "I've talked to Moore," he said. "He's
ringing through to tell Inspector Feather and then coming along with
Doctor Markham. He wants the body left where it is till he's talked to
Feather, so I'm going to Valgersby without waiting for them. Are you
coming with me, Gees?" He gave a glance toward Locksborough as he
spoke. "Or perhaps--no, though. I told her--she'll understand."

"What'll I do, Mr. Tyrrell?" Cotton asked. "D'you want me to
come?"

"If you'll wait here--not here, but by the gate--for Moore and the
doctor, and then come along with them," Tyrrell said. "And whatever
Moore says, I'm not leaving the body out there all night. Perhaps you
could help to bring it in, if--will you do that, Cotton?" The final
question was an appeal, as if he had no right to ask it.

"Aye, I'd do anything for Cottrill, alive or dead," Cotton said
soberly. "I'll wait as you say, sir, an' come along with 'em."

"Thank you," Tyrrell said, almost humbly. "Shall we go, Gees?"

They stayed only to get overcoats and sticks--Gees put his
automatic pistol in the pocket of his overcoat--and then set off,
Tyrrell making a pace that, Gees knew, would render overcoats
superfluous before they reached the Cleft, if he kept it up.

"I blame myself," he said. "And yet, with that fog, what could I
do? If others had gone out last night, it might have meant other
lives."

"As far as I can see, you could do nothing," Gees assented.

"This alters everything," Tyrrell declared after a silence. "I
must sell the flock at once--next week. Nobody--no shepherd would
think of taking Cottrill's place, with that danger to face. I must
sell."

"Much may happen before next week," Gees pointed out.

"You've done nothing!" Tyrrell retorted fiercely. "No more than
Feather has done--except that you've talked about what you may do. And
what can you do--what can any man do, against this?"

No reply was possible, Gees felt. He could understand how Tyrrell
felt over this tragedy, how he saw no possibility of tracking down the
beasts that had killed Cottrill. And Tyrrell was right, of course. No
shepherd would risk taking Cottrill's place, to face this danger.

"I want to give you every chance," Tyrrell said in an altered
tone. "I haven't altogether lost faith in you, Gees, so stay out your
week--longer, if you like. But I don't see that you or any man can do
anything. It looks utterly hopeless, to me."

"I'll stay out the week, at least," Gees promised.

 * * * *

The valley ran north and south, narrowing at its northern end to a
horseshoe-like tract, not more than twenty yards from side to side,
shut in by almost perpendicular walls of bare rock some twenty to
thirty feet in height, and quite unclimbable. In the point of the shoe
a dark, irregular line on the rock marked where a spring oozed and
trickled, and there were tufts of moss like green warts on the smooth
stone to mark its way. Where the valley widened from the horseshoe
stood a rough hut of unmortared stones, roofed by an old tarpaulin
that was held down to the walls by big stones laid on its edges, and
round this erection the walls of an old-time house rose a foot or less
above the short, thick grass. And, between the house and the trickle
of water, Nevern and Weelum stood well back from something that had
been covered by an overcoat. Near by lay the carcass of the dog Jimmy,
its throat a mess of mangled flesh, and a gash behind the shoulders
where jaws that had met to crush the animal's backbone had torn away
the skin and flesh. Between Jimmy's bared teeth Gees found a few
coarse, grizzled hairs: the dog had fought back, evidently, but
whatever had killed him had been a thing of far greater strength than
any dog.

Then, while they waited for Moore and the doctor, Gees ventured to
lift the overcoat and look beneath it, but dropped it again and stood
back, sick with horror. Something had set teeth into Cottrill's
carotid artery above the shoulder-blade--the clothing was ripped away
from the left shoulder--and had torn away the side of his neck.
Cottrill's swarthy face, as Gees remembered it, was now ashy grey, and
the lips were whitish, leaden-looking. _They_ had bled him as they had
the sheep, and then, down towards the ribs, had eaten.

Gees staggered towards the rock wall, and was violently sick. He
sat down on the grass, and Tyrrell stood over him and looked down.

"They--they didn't touch his face," he said. "Thank God, they
didn't touch his face! But--don't look, Tyrrell! Don't look!"

"Don't fear it," Tyrrell answered, shuddering. "Can you-?"

He did not end it, but Gees understood, and got on his feet.

"By the living God, I'll get them!" he said. "Tyrrell--trust me,
man! I'll get them, I tell you! It's got to end."

Then, speaking no more, they waited, and a little apart from them
Nevern and Weelum waited too. The edge of sunlight crept up the rock
on the eastern side of the cleft, foot by foot, and after an interval
that no one of the four thought to reckon as time Moore, heavy and
slow of movement, and Doctor Markham, a rather shabby, middle-aged
little man, came up the valley and joined them. Tyrrell gestured at
the overcoat as he nodded a greeting at the doctor.

"There," he said. "But--you can do nothing. Dead long since."

"It must be examined, Mr. Tyrrell," Markham answered gravely.

He went and removed the overcoat to make his examination, and,
standing back from him, they saw him start and heard his exclamation
of horror. Then he knelt--what he did, none of the four knew--and
after what seemed a long time replaced the overcoat, and, rising to
his feet, gestured to Moore, who had been standing back with the
others, his helmet in his hand. The man went toward him.

"There is no purpose in leaving the body here," Markham said. "I
can tell you--he has been dead more than twelve hours, and there are
not four ounces of blood left in the body. The opening of the carotid
artery was the cause of death. There is no purpose in leaving the body
here and from what I have seen it would not be wise to leave it,
unless you care to stay the night and watch over it."

"God forbid, sir!" Moore exclaimed. "I'd be next, if I did."

"Perhaps you will arrange, Mr. Tyrrell," Markham suggested.

"Yes." Tyrrell looked down the valley, toward the lane, and saw
Cotton and his dog approaching. "Nevern--you and Weelum--get a hurdle
or something--no, you'll find planks in that hut, though, to put him
on. We'll take turns at carrying him back--there's no time to send for
a cart before sunset. A wide plank, if you can find it."

The two went toward the hut, and Cotton approached Tyrrell.

"I stopped to tell my sister he wouldn't come back, sir--Mrs.
Nevern, that is. Are you takin' him back, sir?"

"Yes, carrying him," Tyrrell answered somberly.

"I was thinkin', sir--I'll take his place, if you like."

"_What?_" Tyrrell exclaimed, thunderstruck.

"Take his place," Cotton repeated calmly. "Y'see, sir, Effie here
is as good as Jimmy was--better, if anything, wi' sheep, an' if I take
his place I might stand a chance o' gettin' them. To even things up
for him--the best man for miles, he was." There were tears in the
man's eyes as he ended his explanation, chokily.

Tyrrel held out his hand. "Tom, you're a good man, too," he said.
"But I wouldn't let you or any man take the risk of night watching,
after this. You may have Cottrill's place, at Cottrill's pay, but run
no risks. I shall blame myself if you do--and suffer by it."

Nevern, carrying a wide deal plank, came out from the shepherd's
hut, and Weelum followed him. The doctor and Moore helped them to
place the body on the plank, and then, Nevern at the head end and
Weelum carrying the other, they set off without waiting for any word
from Tyrrell, and Moore and Markham went with them. Gees picked up the
gun that Cottrill had carried, and saw, near the butt-plate,
indentations a quarter-inch and more deep in the polished walnut of
the stock. There was, too, a gouge in the under side of the wood where
a piece had been bitten out altogether. Breaking the gun, Gees saw a
fired shell in the right barrel and an untouched cartridge in the
left.

"Well, sir," Cotton said to Tyrrell, after a long pause in which
he watched Gees' movements, "if so be the grey things are to get me,
they'll get me, whether you take me on or no, for as sure as God made
me I'll haunt these fells till they or I come to an end. If so be I'm
to get them, it'll be so--I shan't go before my time. An'--you go
along, sir, an' I'll fold 'em in Anker's Glen tonight."

"You will do nothing of the sort," Tyrrell declared firmly. "It's
far too late to set about rounding up the flock, and as one of those
who found the body you'll be wanted by Inspector Feather to tell your
tale. No. Whatever I lose by it, the sheep stay out, tonight."

"All right, sir. Just as you say, and I'll be after 'em in the
mornin'. There may be one or other on its back--I'll do my best to
take his place. An' poor old Jimmy--I'd like to bury him, sir."

"To-morrow," Tyrrell said. "You'll come back with us, now."

They followed the way the bearers had gone down the line of the
valley until they reached the lane and saw the more slowly-moving
little party going on ahead. Then Gees spoke abruptly.

"Where do you burn the carcasses of the sheep, Tyrrell?"

"Down in the dip the other side of the house," Tyrrell answered.
"There's a line of trees and brushwood along the stream that goes
under the stone bridge, as you may have noticed, and it takes a lot of
wood, as well as cans of paraffin. And then we bury what's left of the
bones."

"Ah! Can you pile me a heap ready for a burning--a big heap?"

"Why, yes, I could have it done," Tyrrell answered. "Why?"

"Because it may be needed soon--any time, now," Gees said. "A big
pile--half as big again as you'd make for two sheep, say, and fully a
dozen cans of paraffin if you have that many about the place."

"As many as you want," Tyrrell assured him. "I always keep a big
stock for the engine that runs my electric light plant--in winter, we
get practically cut off, at times, so I run no risks."

"Good! A dozen two-gallon cans, and a big pile. I'd like it laid
and the paraffin cans put beside it--with a bucket to throw more
paraffin on the fire as needed--tonight, if you can manage it."

"I don't know--why do you want this done?" Tyrrell demanded.

"Remember what I told you," Gees said. "If I'm to put an end to
this--this hellishness, it's got to be in my own way, and what I say
goes. And that--making the pile ready, is all I shall ask of you."

"All right, it shall be done," Tyrrell promised, rather sulkily,
"but I wish you were not so damned mysterious about things."

"I've got to be," Gees told him. "You may see that I have my
reason for that, even, later on. If all goes well, not much later on."

"Twenty-four gallons o' paraffin," Cotton remarked abruptly, as
Tyrrell did not speak again. "You're goin' to have a mighty fire,
mister."

"I shall need it, I think," Gees said. "Also, I shall want a word
with you later, Cotton. Don't go back from Dowlandsbar to wherever
you're going before you've seen me. Have you got a twelve-bore gun?"

"Aye sir. Most of us round here like a bit o' rabbitin'."

"Good! And you've got that pair of beauties as well as this I'm
carrying, Tyrrell. Four-yes, four will be enough."

"Oh, damn all this mystery!" Tyrrell broke out harshly. "Why the
devil can't you say plainly what you mean to do, man?"

But Gees, foreseeing all that he hoped to do, was unruffled by the
outburst, for he knew that to tell Tyrrell would be to spoil all.

"You promised I should carry out my contract in my own way," he
said. "This _is_ my way. Until you think I've failed, let me follow
it!"

They caught up with the other four and their burden. Constable
Moore had relieved Weelum, who now carried the pair of guns. Cotton
drew alongside Nevern and touched him on the shoulder.

"Give it over to me, Bill," he said. "You've had about enough, I
reckon, an' he was my friend. Let me take that end."

They made the exchange, and the little party went on in silence
for awhile. Where the lane topped the last ridge before Dowlandsbar,
Gees paused for a second to look round the fells. The sun was no more
than a half hour above the horizon; bare, treeless ridges, rock-
spotted, purpled with heather, lay soaking in the mellow sunset light.
A line of rooks straggled across the sky to northward, heading for a
clump of firs in the very far distance, and Tyrrell's sheep dotted the
nearer sides of the heights in ones and twos and little groups. From
the hollows in which cottages were hidden lines of smoke rose and
wavered north-eastward in the faint breeze that brought a tang of the
sea, and a light haze began to gather with the approach of night.

"He's light, so light," Tom Cotton said softly, as if to himself.
"He was never more'n a little man, but he had a heart of gold."

 * * * *

Inspector Feather, in company with a lank, dour-looking, uniformed
police sergeant, came out from the shed in which Cottrill's body had
been placed at Dowlandsbar, and saw Gees and Tom Cotton waiting
outside. Following the two police officers came Tyrrell and Doctor
Markham, and the doctor spoke to Tyrrell as they emerged.

"I should like to wash my hands, Mr. Tyrrell," he said.

"Why, certainly, doctor," Tyrrell answered, and led on toward the
house. But, when Feather and the sergeant would have followed them,
Gees held up a beckoning finger, and they paused.

"What do you make of it, Inspector?" Gees asked, accenting the
first pronoun as if he anticipated an opinion of value.

"Make of it?" the inspector snapped. "What can I make of it? You
said, when I saw you before, you knew something of police work, so I
expect you know this means my resignation. Six months of sheep-
worrying might pass, but with a man killed--well! I'm finished."

"Because you can't get what's doing it?" Gees suggested. "No, stay
here, Cotton"--as Tom turned away--"I want you too."

"_You_ want?" Feather demanded sharply. "What the-?"

"Inspector," Gees said in the pause, "if you caught these things,
put an end to it, you wouldn't have to resign, would you?"

"If!" Feather echoed bitterly. "What can I do? I've tried
everything I know. A couple of regiments of soldiers to comb all this
country--for a month on end, and _then_ it's began again! What can I
do?"

"I'll forfeit five hundred pounds to any charity you like to name,
or to you personally if you like, if those two things are alive at the
end of another fortnight," Gees said. "That is, if you'll put yourself
under my orders, and unless they're charged with murder and held for
trial--which is next to impossible. Is it a bargain?"

"You--charged with murder--dogs?" Feather gasped in semi-
stupefaction. "Here--five hundred pounds--what are you talking about?"

"Saving your resignation, if you do as I tell you," Gees answered.

"Well, but what--who are you, anyhow?" Feather demanded.

"Remember the Kestwell case?" Gees asked in reply.

The inspector nodded. "There's no police officer in all England
who doesn't," he said. "A proper cause celebre, that."

"Well, I'm Gees."

"Oh, my God!" Feather exclaimed. "And you want me to--"

He broke off, staring, and shook his head. "Gees!" he murmured.

"I want two good men, and absolute secrecy," Gees told him calmly.
"That is, in addition to this very good man--you, Tom Cotton. Four of
us, with our hearts in it--and good shots, too. We've got to be good
shots, and bag our game without reloading. To save you from resigning,
Inspector--will you follow my lead, and get these things?"

"Gladly, so long as you don't go outside the law," Feather
promised.

"Right! I suppose you can handle a twelve-bore breechloader, eh?"

"As well as the next man. So can Rapkin, here--Sergeant Rapkin,
Mr. Gees--er--Mr. Green, isn't it? This business has got me down."

"Green--Gees, anything you like, as long as you play in with me.
You've got to lose a few nights' sleep, watching for them--"

"Oh, damn it, that's been done for six months, now!" Feather
interrupted. "If that's all you can do, we've done it already."

"Wait, man!" Gees urged gently. "Watching in a certain place.
Supposing I know where these things hide, and we wait for them there--
wait to catch them coming out or going in? I know, I tell you."

"Yes, but how do you know?" the inspector asked dubiously.

"That's my business. Resign if you like, of course. But I'll put
up five hundred pounds, and put the check into anyone's hands you like
to appoint--made payable to you, in the event of failure."

"Well, I'm damned," Feather said rather feebly.

"Not yet," Gees assured him. "Come under my orders--do as I tell
you, and you won't be--that is, you won't have to resign through
failing to catch these things. Are you game to try it?"

"Yes, I will," Feather answered decidedly. "And for your fourth
man--Sergeant Rapkin here. A better shot than I am, if anything."

"Glad to meet you, Sergeant," Gees said to the man. "Now, do
either of you know anything about Locksborough?" He nodded towards the
castle.

"You don't mean--these silly rumors about Mr. McCoul?" Feather
asked incredulously. "Because if you're after him, I'll have nothing--
"

"I don't want you to meet McCoul--I don't want you to have
anything to do with McCoul," Gees interrupted. "Beast, not men, we're
after."

"But--you said Locksborough," Feather said doubtfully.

"Oh, _will_ you do as I tell you?" Gees broke out, with a
momentary gust of impatience. "Locksborough isn't McCoul, man!"

"It's damned near him, though," Feather pointed out. "Well, what
do you want us to do? Go there? If so, when? And what for?"

"There is a moat round Locksborough," Gees said quietly. "There
are two ways of crossing it, one at the front, and one at the back.
Some night while we watch--it may be tonight, those things will come
out and go back in by one of those two ways. Cotton and I will watch
all night in front, and you and Sergeant Rapkin will watch the back
way--I'll post you, and come and tell you when to leave your posts,
every night that we have to keep watch. Take it or leave it."

Inspector Feather gazed towards the house, and saw the doctor
standing on the doorstep, apparently waiting to speak to him.

"What do you think of it, Sergeant?" he asked.

"Well, if the gentleman knows what he's talking about--" the
Sergeant said noncommittally, and left it at that. "All right!"
Feather made up his mind. "I'll try it, Mr. Green, on the strength of
what you did in the Kestwell case. Half a minute while I have a word
with Doctor Markham, and then I'll come back. You'd better come along
with me, Sergeant--he wants to know about the inquest."

They went off, and Gees turned to Cotton. "Are you in on this,
Tom?" he asked.

"Up to the neck, Sir," Cotton answered. "If so be as reckon you
know, I'll trust you. An' since it's Locksborogh--" he broke off and
gazed toward the frowning outlined as it was against the last of the
sunset. "Aye, I felt it was there, all the time," he ended.

"I think," Gees remarked, as he saw Feather and the sergeant
returning, "you're the surest of us all, Tom. Don't go--listen."

They waited, and the two police officers faced Gees again.

"Well?" he asked. "Do I put up the five hundred as proof of my
belief in myself. I'll write the check now, you like."

"No, Sir," Feather said. "Here's two men witnesses to what you've
said about it, and if I counted you one who'd go back on his word I'd
have nothing to do with you. It's because I believe you won't have to
write the check that I'll stand in with you. And now, what?"

"Is there a private room at the _Royal George?_" Gees inquired.

"There's a little snuggery round the back," the inspector
admitted.

"Right. Now see Mr. Tyrrell, tell him you want to a couple of
guns, one for yourself and one for the sergeant, and ten rounds apiece
loaded with number three. I'll meet you in that snuggery at half-past
nine tonight, and till then, say nothing."

"You can trust me for that," Feather said decidedly.

"Yes, I thought I could. Tom, can you be here at nine tonight?"

"Just when you say, sir," Cotton answered unhesitatingly.

"Nine it is, then, and we'll go together. Mind, Inspector, it may
be tonight, or six or ten nights hence. But if you have patience, the
thing I'm waiting for will happen--and then you won't have to resign.
I'm as sure of it as I am of death or an income tax form."

"Nine-thirty at the _George,_ Sir," the inspector answered. "It's
irregular, and all that, but so's the whole business from start to
finish. And I believe you know what you're talking about."



Chapter XII VAIN VIGIL



"WE will have a look in the bar, first," Gees suggested. "It's not
quite half-past nine, and I'd like to get the feeling of the meeting."

"Right you are, sir," Tom Cotton assented, and led way toward the
main entrance of the _Royal George_. Gees spared a thought for
Tyrrell, glooming at home alone. He had had an idea of accompanying
Gees as far as the gateway of the castle, with a view to calling Gyda,
but, when Gees had stated that he might stay at the vicarage talking
to Amber up to any hour, had decided not to risk it. That, as Gees
knew, would be the decision of everyone in the district, as soon as
the news of Cottrill's death got about: nobody would venture out alone
after dark, which, for Gees, simplified matters to some extent.

He followed Cotton into the bar, and saw twice as many men there
as when he had visited the place with Cottrill. As he and Cotton went
up to the counter, he heard buzz of talk, and Cottrill's name
separated itself from the general gabble in more than one place. The
news got round--possibly Constable Moore had been talking. But there
it was, and there was no other subject for discussion, for that night.

"Pints, Tom, eh?" Gees suggested.

"Pints it is, sir," Tom assented, as Querrett nodded a genial
welcome at them both before turning to fill another order.

He returned, and Gees requested two pints. Querrett grinned at
him.

"Thankye, sir. Takin' it to Sussex with you?"

"Inside," Gees answered. "I'd hate to let beer like yours go
flat."

"Eh, the man from Sussex!" It was Ben Latimer's voice. "Howde do,
mister? Have they started clampin' up their taters down yure way yet?"

"I really couldn't say, Mr. Latimer," Gees answered. "I hope to be
going back in a day or two, and I'll write and let you know, if you
like. Meanwhile, what do you say to a pint--beer, not taters?"

"Mister, that's a fine idea," Ben assented gravely. "An' to think
that the last time you come in heer, 'twas wi' poor Cottrill! Ah, a
good man if ever there was one! Straight as an ash-plant, he was."

Gees turned to the bar to order another pint, and took the two
that Querrett had already filled, handing one to Cotton and taking the
other to Ben. Returning to get his own and pay, he saw Harold Amber
enter, and saw, too, that the lad checked momentarily at sight of him,
and then came on up to the bar in a swaggering, defiant sort of way.
Then, with his own tankard in his hand, Gees turned to Ben.

"What was that you said?" he asked.

"Only't he oughter come in, when the fog dropped down, mister,"
Ben said. "Whether 'twas the old dead, or them"--he splashed some part
of his drink on the floor as he spoke the accented word--"he oughter
come in. You knew him--he brought you heer, an' stood for you.

"Aye, he did," Gees assented. "But what do you think--what, Ben?"

"Mister"--the old man looked up at him--"three more year, an' I
make my threescore an' ten. From a child I've' heard tales, fairy
tales like Jack an' the beanstalk, an' put no more to 'em than a grown
man should. I've believed what I've seen, the good grass on the earth,
an' trees, an' flowers bloomin', an' the cattle on a thousand hills,
as the Book says--an' sheep too. An' men friendly an' not afraid, men
like Cottrill doin' their jobs an' payin' no heed to fairy tales, no
more than I did. An' then this--a thing no mortal man can believe in
daylight--things that know as much as men, an' act like men, except
that men don't drink blood. Fairy tales, people of the hills, Men of
Peace," and again he splashed drink on the floor with the words, "an'
the tales that made us shiver when we were little children are true!
True, mister! There's no man heer'll go home alone tonight. We know.
Hear 'em talk--listen to any of 'em. The things that do this've tasted
human blood, an' we know. The old dead, or _them_." And again, with
the last word, he spilled beer on the floor. "Heer's to you, mister,"
he ended, and, lifting the tankard, drank of its depleted contents.

"Mr. Green?" Harold Amber stood beside Gees. "Can I have a word
with you? Sorry to interrupt, and all that, but--well, you know."

"I'm afraid I don't," Gees said. "Excuse me, Mr. Latimer--just a
moment. Well?" He faced Harold. "What is it?"

"Must you show me up in front of my father?" Harold asked
bitterly.

"Well, I don't know," Gees said, thoughtfully. "For a start, could
I? You're rather a blot, aren't you? Show you up--"

He caught the fist raised to strike him, twisted the youngster's
arm, and Harold moaned feebly with the pain of it. So quietly was the
altercation conducted that nobody saw enough to interfere.

"Don't," Gees warned, quietly. "Don't be a bigger fool than you
are now, and never tackle a full-grown man till you're sure he's
drunker than you are, Harold Amber. And before you get drunk on this
very good beer, understand that there isn't a yokel in this bar that
doesn't despise you as a chap that can't carry his drink--I saw that,
the last time I was in here. I'm not going to do sob-stuff over your
mother and father and what your damned silliness means to them, but
just telling you--you're letting yourself down. When a village like
Odder despises you, you must be a blot. You are a blot--turn yourself
round and be a man."

He released Harold's wrist, then, and the boy rubbed his shoulder
wincingly, his face dull red with anger. But he made no reply, and
after a second or two Gees turned and saw Ben Latimer nod at him
approvingly. Evidently the old man had heard some part of Gees'
admonition.

"Do him a power o' good, that will, when he's had time to think it
over," he said. "Us chaps can't talk to him like that, more's the
pity, but he can't reckon he's any cut above you. Mister, they're
sayin' you come here after them things that killed poor Cottrill." He
made more than half a question of the final statement.

Gees shook his head. "It's a police business, now," he answered.

"Aye, I s'pose it is," Ben assented regretfully. "But 'tis no use
tellin' Jack Moore or that inspector chap what we're beginnin' to know
is true--what we do know is true! Tell 'em to look for what that
black-eyed devil's got hid under Locksborough, an' they'd call ye
silly."

"Why, what has he got hidden there?" Gees seated himself on the
bench beside the old man, that their talk might not be overheard.

"Keeps 'em down there, mister," Ben accused. "Things he's raised
by his black arts, an' lets 'em out to go ravenin'. Unholy things,
raised from their graves for his own use, whatever that may be. Else,
why did he go to live at a place like that? No ordinary man'd go to
live at a place where you can feel the old dead round you, even in
daylight."

Gees shook his head. "If he kept things like these, that man Ammon
wouldn't stay," he dissented. "You saw him in here the other night."

"Ammon?" Ben echoed skeptically. "He's no more'n a half-wit.
Moreover, mister, I had the doin' o' that place for the McCouls--put
in two floors an' roofed it in, an' did the partitionin' of it. An'
Ammon is shut off so he can't tell what's goin' on. The entrance to
the underpart is by a stairway at the front corner o' the ground
floor, an' Ammon's two rooms at the back are altogether cut off from
the big front room where the two fireplaces are. To get in there, he's
got to go up a little staircase to the first floor, an' then come down
into that big front room, an' McCoul's only got to bolt the door at
the top o' the stairs on the first floor to keep Ammon from knowin'
anything o' what goes on, either in that big room or in the dungeons
under."

Again Gees shook his head. "What goes on, then?" he asked.

"How should I know, mister? I never studied black magic, nor seen
it worked. But you mark my words, it'll be well to keep childern
indoors after dark, round here. Else, they'll begin to disappear as
'tis said they did in the far-back days, when there was black magic
goin' on at Locksborough. As there is now, wi' Diarmid McCoul makin'
it."

"_What_ name did you say?" Gees asked, startled.

"Why, Diarmid McCoul--_his_ name," Ben answered. "'Twas on the
agreement I had for my work there, an' on the check he sent me too
late to save my wife. She'd be alive today, but for him--rot his
soul!"

For a minute or more Gees sat silent, recalling the vicar's story
of the siege of Locksborough and the end of the de Boisgeants. Then,
realizing that Ben in his bitterness was capable of accusing McCoul of
anything, he glanced at his watch and rose to his feet--by this time
Inspector Feather would be wondering what had become of him.

"Well, I must go, Mr. Latimer," he said. "I shall see you again, I
hope, and talk about more pleasant things."

"Aye, I'm here most nights," Ben said. "But 'tis a pity you're
givin' up lookin' for them things. Maybe as you say 'tis a police job,
now, but police ways ain't no use, here. They don't believe."

Gees bade him good night, and went to the door, where Tom Cotton
already stood waiting for him. They emerged from the place.

"Ten minutes to ten, mister," Tom said reprovingly.

"I know," Gees answered. "Latimer was interesting. Which way now?"

"Just here," Tom said, indicating a door near the corner of the
inn frontage. "We might ha' gone through by that door at the end o'
the bar, but this way's better, so we're not seen. Aye, Ben'll always
talk against McCoul an' his daughter, if he's half a chance, an' no
wonder, either, the way he was kep' waitin' for his money while his
wife died."

He opened the door, and they entered a small room, lighted by an
ordinary paraffin lamp standing on a red cloth-covered centre table.
Inspector Feather and Sergeant Rapkin, both in heavy, uniform
overcoats, stood side by side on the hearthrug, and four double-
barreled breech loading guns leaned against the wall opposite them.

"You're rather late, Mr. Green," the inspector remarked coldly.

"I am," Gees agreed, "but I haven't wasted the time."

"And now what?" Feather asked. "You're in charge, I suppose."

"If I'm not, you may as well go back and write out that
resignation of yours," Gees answered. "I want my instructions carried
out implicitly, perfectly. All three of you must understand and agree
to that."

"It is understood," Feather told him, very coldly indeed, and Tom
Cotton nodded and murmured some form of indistinct assent--but Gees
knew it was genuine enough. He gestured at the guns by the wall.

"One each, as arranged," he said. "Load them in here, and slip the
safety catches off before we pass the standing stones on our way to
Locksborough--and then keep your fingers off the triggers till it's
time to shoot. Further to that, no word is to be spoken by any one of
you, once we get outside this room, and as far as possible you are to
make no sound. Now, Inspector--and you too, Sergeant--do you know
anything about Locksborough? Could you find your way about there?"

Both men shook their heads, and waited for him to speak again.

"No, I thought not. Well, there's a moat all round the place, dry,
now, but with sides as good as unclimbable, except in two places. One
is a causeway filled in to make a road to the front of the keep, and
the other is a narrow, diagonal path running down and up the sides of
the moat at the back. Your post, Inspector, and yours, Sergeant, is
where that path comes up the outer side of the moat, or rather, a few
yards back from where it comes up, so that you get anything coming up
that path between you and the sky--and if you get one of them, I think
Tom here and I will get the other, unless you can bag both. There is a
little mound set back from the edge of the moat, and there you'll lie,
after I've posted you, either till we get them or till I come from
behind--from behind, mind, for you're to shoot anything that shows in
front--to tell you the watch is over for tonight."

"Do you mean, if a man shows up against the sky, you want us to
fire at him?" Feather asked incredulously. "Because, if so--"

"I'll stake my own life no man will show up," Gees interrupted.
"That path leads nowhere, except to grass land and the valley where
the stream runs between the castle grounds and Dowlandsbar, and it
would be dangerous in the dark even for a man who knows it. All you'll
see, if you see anything, will be four-legged things. Is it all
clear?"

"Yes, except that neither of us will shoot until we're sure
whatever shows up _is_ four-legged," Feather answered. "I'll detain a
man, if you think fit, since I'm following your instructions, but I
won't shoot him."

"That's agreed--detain him by all means," Gees said. "Finally, no
word spoken, no smoking, and no sound of any kind. Agreed?"

"Quite," Feather assured him. "Though whether this is any use--"

"Back out if you like," Gees said in the pause.

"No, I won't back out. For six months, now, I've been badgered
over this business, and officially reprimanded twice for not catching
the things, whatever they are. After the inquest to-morrow it won't
stop at a reprimand unless I can show results, and I've got a wife and
family to think about. We'll try your way, and see what happens."

"Tonight, and for several nights, nothing may happen," Gees warned
him. "All I feel sure about is that they will come out eventually."

"Then why not a search warrant, at once?" Feather inquired.

"Could you get one?" Gees asked in reply. "You have no evidence of
any sort to offer, and I certainly wouldn't come forward to give you
any, because I know perfectly well that a search on a warrant, however
thorough you might make it, would be utterly useless."

"Then I suppose we've got to do as you say," Feather responded
after a long pause. "But aren't we rather late about starting?"

"You may leave that to me. Now, take a gun apiece and load it, and
we'll start--you and the sergeant will follow us two. And mind, once
outside here, no word is to be spoken by any one of us. I'll point you
and the sergeant to your places, and then Tom and I will take ours."

He took a gun and loaded it from the cartridges already in his
pocket, and the other three followed suit. Then they went out and,
turning away from the lighted entrance, went up and out from the
village. There was no soul in sight: tonight, and for many nights to
come, Gees felt certain, nobody would remain abroad in Odder: the
frequenters of the _Royal George_ would come and go only in pairs or
more, and would both come and go straight from and to their homes.

With the coming of night, the south-west breeze that had driven
away the fog had strengthened. Clouds obscured the sky, and the night
was dark as any Gees had known, though clear; the air was soft,
threatful of rain. There would be little hardship, clad as they were,
in their watch, unless the rain came down before dawn. Silently they
came to the standing stones and passed between them, and now Gees,
gesturing to Cotton to fall behind him, took the lead, the other three
following in single file. Then the raised embankment of the moat's
outer edge showed dimly, while beyond it two lines of light in the
lower wall of the keep showed that the ground floor was occupied. Gees
led on, swerving off before he reached the causeway to circle the moat
on its outer side.

Peering downward, he found the point where the diagonal path
emerged at the back. There, waiting till the other three grouped round
him in a little hollow, he took Feather by the sleeve and led him to
his post, gesturing him to lie down, and then returning to place the
sergeant beside him. From where they lay, the entrance to the path
showed as a V-shaped cut in the embankment, clear of the keep and
outlined against the night sky. He pointed toward it, kneeling beside
Feather, and won a nod in response. Then he rose and went back to
where Tom Cotton waited, and, gesturing to Tom to follow, led the way
to the front of the keep again, noting, as he passed, the lighted
arrow-slit in the side wall, corresponding to the two strips of light
in front.

The pair of them crossed over the grass-grown causeway. At its
inner end, a score yards or so distant from the front of the keep,
were the moss-grown remains of an outer fortification that had once
housed the drawbridge windlass, in all probability. Silently, so faced
that they commanded both the entrance to the keep and the causeway,
the two lay down and began their watch, side by side in a niche of the
ruined wall, which, here, rose little more than a foot from the ground
level, and so afforded concealment for their bodies but still gave
them full range of view, both toward the causeway and the main
entrance to the keep. From the clock in Odder church tower eleven
strokes sounded to them faintly, not long after they had lain down
with guns ready.

A long age went by. The night-breeze moaned eerily over and about
the two watchers, and once it seemed to Gees that he heard faint
voices in it, high up, as if someone were speaking and some other
answering at the very top of the old keep--or even as if the sounds
came from the air itself, and they who spoke floated independently of
any support. It may have been fancy, he knew, but he heard Tom Cotton
beside him breathe sharply, suddenly, as if he too heard or fancied
the sounds. Then came a faint click at which both tensed to full
watchfulness. Gees saw the doorway as an oblong of faint light that
did not ray outward, and then saw McCoul's tall figure emerge and
stand outlined against the light. A minute or less passed, and Gyda
appeared beside her father, who stood out from the light and became a
mere shadow against the wall as he made way for her.

"He will not come, now," they heard her say.

"No," McCoul's voice answered. "I could have told you that an hour
ago. And if he had, he would have brought Green with him."

Gyda laughed, the tinkling laugh that reminded Gees of metal
tapping on glass. He could see the shining whiteness of her head in
the faint light from the doorway, and all the line of her slender
figure.

"You might have entertained him," she said.

"Pah!" McCoul exclaimed impatiently. "But he will not come
tonight, your Philip. It is far too late, now."

"Father!" Gees heard, and knew it was no imagining of his, a
sudden eagerness in her voice as she spoke the word.

"No," McCoul said, as if it were a forbidding. "Not tonight."

He returned through the doorway. A minute or more the girl stood
before it, and then she followed him, and the door was closed. Not
only closed, for Gees heard the sharp clack of bolts being shot into
their sockets. He recollected them, one at the top and one at the
bottom of the door, heavy iron bolts, level with equally heavy hinges.

Watching, he saw a third arrow-slit illuminated in the wall, some
twenty feet or more above the first two, and decided that either
McCoul or Gyda had gone up from the ground floor--it was unlikely that
Shaun Ammon was responsible for the light, at this late hour. Midnight
struck from Odder church tower, and, minutes later, the two lower
lines of light in the wall of the keep vanished, and a second slit
above became illuminated. The McCouls were going to bed, apparently.

First one, and then the other, of this second pair of lights was
extinguished after another long interval. Then, with a touch on
Cotton's shoulder, Gees rose to his feet, and Tom rose too.

Together they went round to where Gees had posted the two police
officers, and Gees signaled to them to get up. The four went single
file back to the lane, and, out beyond the monoliths, Gees spoke.

"Over for tonight," he said, keeping his voice down almost to a
whisper. "It may mean many nights of watching, Inspector."

"I'll risk a few more," Feather answered, "if the weather keeps as
it is now. Though, to tell the truth, I'm not in love with it. With
your idea, I mean. You seem pretty sure, I know."

"Five hundred pounds sure, as I told you," Gees said. "Meanwhile,
where do I find you to-morrow, to make any necessary arrangements?"

"The inquest will be at the _George_ at three o'clock, and I shall
be there. Moore is putting up Rapkin for the night, and I'm staying at
the _George_. What about these guns--are you taking them?"

"No--you'd better take charge of all four of them, if you will.
I've something else in my pocket--and a police permit to carry it."

They separated, Cotton and Gees going toward Dowlandsbar,--Cotton
had arranged to lodge with the Neverns, as Cottrill had done before
him--and the two police officers taking the opposite direction. Late
though it was after Gees had parted from Cotton, he found the front
door of Dowlandsbar unlocked and Tyrrell seated before the fire in the
hall. Tyrrell looked round at him rather unamiably as he entered.

"Had a good evening?" he asked. "What's that on your coat?"

Gees looked down. The front of the coat was green stained from
pressing against the ruins of the gatehouse at Locksborough.

"It's as dark as a stack of black cats, and I bumped against
something," he answered. "It'll brush off--looks like that stuff that
you get on old dead branches, which is what it is, probably. Yes, I
had quite a good time, thanks, and now"--he yawned behind his hand--"I
think a spot of ear-pounding is indicated. You didn't sit up for me,
did you? I mean, I'm sorry if I kept you up."

"Not in the least," Tyrrell assured him, more cordially. "If I'd
felt like going to bed, I'd have gone."

"Well"--Gees turned toward the staircase--"I feel like going to
bed, and I'm going. Good night, mine host."



Chapter XIII A SURVEY



LOW-HANGING clouds were chasing swiftly across the sky when Gees
looked out from his window the next morning: there had been a little
rain in the night, as the state of the drive in front of the house
showed, but now it had ceased, though still, from the direction in
which the clouds were driving, the wind was in the south-west--the
rainy quarter. As he shaved Gees queried whether the police inspector
would consent to a night's watching in the rain: to his practical,
unimaginative mind, the vigil they had already kept and its lack of
any result was evidence of the slenderness of their chance of saving
him from resigning, and with him, as with Tyrrell, Gees was and knew
himself at a disadvantage in that he could not tell of what he
believed. If he did anything of the sort, Tyrrell would turn him out
of the house instantly, and Inspector Feather would decline to have
anything more to do with him: he had to keep his plans and his belief
as well from Tyrrell's knowledge, and make use of Feather and his
sergeant without disclosing the actual nature of that use.

By the time he and Tyrrell had finished breakfast--a silent meal,
for Tyrrell seemed very depressed--the sun had begun to break through
the clouds, and when, with a cigarette apiece, they went out to the
front of the house, shadow and sunlight were chasing each other across
the grassy slopes between them and the square tower of Locksborough.
For a little while Tyrrell stood gazing at the old keep.

"I want to go and see--see Gyda," he said, with an odd kind of
constraint for such a remark. "Would you care to walk over with me?"

"Why, certainly, if you don't think I should be in the way," Gees
answered. "Now, or have you things to do before you start?"

"Now--or practically now," Tyrrell said. "I've been round my men,
and had a talk with Cotton--told him he can fold the sheep tonight if
he prefers to do so, but is not to stop out on watch over them--before
you came down. It's not too early to go--there." He nodded toward the
castle and made half a question of the statement.

"No, I should think not," Gees agreed, but rather dubiously.

"Gees"--Tyrrell faced him with the air of a man who drives himself
to put the question--"what do you think of her--Gyda?"

"I--well, I've seen practically nothing of her," Gees answered,
rather embarrassed by the question. "Very unusual--unusually
attractive, I mean. Not a bit ordinary. But my opinion doesn't
matter."

"I had an impression that you disliked her," Tyrrell said.

"I? My dear chap, why on earth should I dislike her? I know what
it is, you're all strung up over yesterday's tragedy--and you were
badly strung up before it happened, too. You're imagining all sorts of
things, with no foundation whatever. A very charming girl, and very
attractive, in her own way. And I can't say fairer than that."

"You don't sound--oh, I don't know what it is!" Tyrrell exclaimed
impatiently. "But you see, all Odder's cold-shouldering them, her and
her father, because Amber must go and poke his nose into something
that was not his concern, and McCoul very rightly put him in his place
over it. The result is the same as if McCoul had been in the wrong--
Amber's been here thirty years, more or less, and nobody must go
against him. McCoul is a stranger, and they take years to accept
strangers, here. I know, when I marry Gyda, I've got to fight the
whole crowd of them to get recognition for her, to get her accepted as
belonging here."

"Umm'm! Is it worth while?" Gees asked incautiously.

"Is it--do you mean is _she_ worth while?" Tyrrell demanded
sharply, "because, if you do, you're insulting my future wife, and the
sweetest girl, and best, too, I've ever met--"

"Oh, don't be so damned silly!" Gees interrupted. "You spoke of
selling out the sheep and getting out from here, and I merely
questioned whether it wouldn't be better to do that than try to
overcome local prejudice, which I know can be a very fearsome thing.
And from what I've seen of this place so far, ranging yourself in
opposition to Amber is like butting your head against a brick wall. It
would be better for you, and better for Gyda Tyrrell, to start new
elsewhere."

"For her, yes, perhaps," Tyrrell said, his transient wrath all
evaporated, "but for me--the Reformation hadn't begun when a Tyrrell
first lived at Dowlandsbar, and it would be an uprooting, a hard
thing."

"I expect she will make the decision for you," Gees remarked after
a pause. "They generally do, the dear things! You'll be wax, as usual
in such cases, and think you're deciding everything yourself, too."

"Well, I shall have to sell the flock," Tyrrell said decidedly.
"After this--Cottrill, I mean--I'll have no more men on night
watching, even if any of them would do it. I believe Tom Cotton would,
if I'd let him, but I won't. And so, the sheep must go, worse luck."

"When?" Gees asked after another pause.

"I'll go over to Carlisle and arrange it early next week. It's a
big flock, and I don't want to lose money by being too hasty over it."

"In other words, you've quite lost faith in me?" Gees suggested.

"While it was only sheep," Tyrrell answered, "I was prepared to
carry on and give you your chance. Now a man has been killed, I'm not
sure if I have any right to let you take risks over it. In any case, I
won't. Make what inquiries you like, and stay as long as you like to
make them, but at night, the sheep take their chance. You don't."

"Well, they're your sheep," Gees observed calmly. "But while I'm
here, one thing I want to ask you. Neither with the McCouls, nor with
anyone else, do I wish you to say one word as to what I am doing or
where I spend my time. The fact that I was not here with you last
night, for instance--I don't want that known, anywhere. I don't want
anything at all known about me. Can you remember that?"

"Yes. Short of actual lying, I can promise it," Tyrrell answered.
"By the way, that brushwood pile you asked me to have made. It's down
there"--he gestured toward the stream in the valley before them, "but
you didn't find a use for it last night, after all."

"I might, before I go," Gees said. "I suppose it'll stay there?"

"Till it's wanted for another pair of sheep, as it's certain to be
before I can get rid of them. Those things will come back."

He turned toward the house abruptly. "Let's go," he said. "I shall
have to attend that inquest this afternoon, so it won't be possible to
see her then. And--you're a good chap, Gees, if you weren't so
infernally secretive over something you've found out. I know there is
something, and you're holding it back from me. What is it?"

Again he faced about as he put the question. Gees shook his head.

"I know nothing," he said. "No more than you know, when it comes
down to stark facts. My conclusions may be wrong--I've seen no more
than you've seen, and as for what actually killed your sheep and their
shepherd, frankly, I don't know. So I can't tell you."

"Sell out here--it's no use staying--take her right away from the
place"--Tyrrell thought aloud. "Come on--let's go."

They crossed the causeway in mid-morning, and Gyda came out from
the keep to meet them, her shining, snow-white hair uncovered, and a
smile of welcome in her strange eyes as she gave both her hands to
Tyrrell and spared Gees a momentary nod of greeting, and no more.

"Oh, I am so glad to see you!" she exclaimed. "This terrible news
about the shepherd, Philip--is it really true he was killed?"

"Quite," Tyrrell answered, still holding her hands. "The inquest
is to be this afternoon, so I came over this morning to see you. I
shall have to attend it, so--well, here I am."

"How did you hear of Cottrill's death, Miss McCoul?" Gees asked.

"Why, Shaun told me," she answered, and, withdrawing her hands
from Tyrrell's, gazed full at him. "Shaun--our cook and general
servant. The boy from the store brought up some goods for us this
morning, and he told Shaun, who couldn't keep a thing like that to
himself. Philip, how terrible for you! What will you do about it?"

"Sell the sheep, dear," Tyrrell answered. "I wanted to talk to you
about it--about a good many things. Later, of course."

McCoul came out and joined them, coatless, and with his shirt-
sleeves rolled up from his skinny, sinewy arms. Seen thus, he appeared
leaner and taller than ever, and nodded down at both his visitors.

"Morning, gentlemen," he said. "I've been sawing logs as a means
of exercise--our fireplaces eat up a good deal of wood, and I make it
one of my amusements. Philip, I see you're occupied. Mr. Green, can I
offer you anything? Some mid-morning refreshment, now?"

"Too early, thanks," Gees answered. The man was altogether too
effusive, he felt, though, possibly, he wanted to leave Tyrrell and
his daughter alone, and chose this way of doing it.

"Well, come and tell me what you're doing about this latest
tragedy," he suggested. "Something will have to be done now, of
course."

"It becomes a police affair," Gees answered, and saw Gyda, with
her hand on Tyrrell's arm, begin to draw him apart. "When human life
is in danger, amateurs like myself must walk carefully."

"Ah! Yes!" McCoul nodded gravely. "Human life--yes. Then"--he
began to walk toward the entrance, and Gees followed, leaving the
other two to themselves--"you mean you withdraw altogether?"

"I shall not stay here much longer," Gees answered evasively. "I
like Tyrrell, and he's not anxious for me to go for a day or two."

"No, poor fellow," McCoul assented. "Glad of a congenial spirit to
divert his thoughts. Yes. I wonder--would you care to see over the
castle, Mr. Green? That is, the keep--the rest of it, as you can see,
is nothing but grassgrown bits of wall. I conclude it was easier to
take stone from here than to quarry it for more modern dwellings."

"I'd very much like to see over it," Gees answered. He glanced
behind him, and saw Tyrrell and Gyda crossing the causeway to its
outer end. The girl had her hand on Tyrrell's arm, and was gazing up
at him as they walked. McCoul too paused to look back.

"Yes, they're fully occupied in each other, and we shall be doing
them a kindness by effacing ourselves," he said. "Well, consider me
the custodian of this ruin, Mr. Green, and present me with sixpence if
you think my patter deserves it. Observe these walls, fifteen feet
thick at ground level, and twelve at the top. Built in the days of
King Stephen, and today the cement between the stones is as hard as
the stones themselves. Imperishable, almost, walls like these."

"Most of these structures erected before the Black Death are,"
Gees observed. "They had the secret of enduring cement, then."

"Ah! I see you are one of the initiate," McCoul said heartily. "It
is so. When the plague fell on England, the master craftsmen were
swept off so suddenly that they had no chance to impart their secrets
to others, and so one may almost date a building by the quality of its
cement. That is, having regard to the nature of the architecture. You
cannot confuse the Norman arch with the later Gothic, and all this
keep is pure Norman, though late. They built for eternity, not for
time. Now see this!" They had reached the doorway, and McCoul pointed
to two deep grooves just within it. "The portcullis-iron, and with
projecting spikes, when it existed. Above, the slit through which was
let down. And in the thickness of the wall a tiny chamber which
contained the windlass. That chamber is empty now. Iron was valuable
in the early days, and no trace of the mechanism is left. But we will
go up into the chamber, if you wish, and you can see where the
windlass stood."

"I don't think we will, thanks," Gees said, and, meeting McCoul's
gaze, felt that there was a challenge in it. He began to understand
that his host had seized this opportunity of proving--what? Looking
back before entering the thickness of the doorway, he saw Tyrrell and
Gyda making the outer circuit of the moat, and now Tyrrell's arm was
round the girl's waist: they walked as lovers walk.

"Then what would you wish to see?" McCoul asked. "There is a fine
view from the top, or there are the old dungeons?"

"Anything you care to show me," Gees answered, emerging from the
thickness of the wall into the long apartment he had already seen. "I
think--well, what about the view from the top."

"Mr. Green"--McCoul faced him, and, as once before, Gees felt and
resisted the hypnotic power of the man's eyes--"I don't know if you
know that the oafs of this village--and others who should know better
as well as the mere clods--attribute to me some part in the things
that have happened this summer. The killing of Mr. Tyrrell's sheep, I
mean. You, I know, came here to investigate these things, and now you
have an opportunity of proving for yourself that there is nothing in
this place, nothing and nobody except myself and my daughter and our
servant Shaun Ammon. The two outside will thank us for leaving them
alone as long as you wish, and I should like to show you the whole of
the place."

"Purely as a matter of interest, if you do," Gees said calmly.

"Then just as a matter of interest--unless you tire," McCoul
suggested--but Gees knew it was more than that. "This way--we will
begin at the top and come downwards, if you will. This staircase"--he
pointed to the opening of the spiral way in the corner of the room--
"and halfway up to our first floor you will see the entrance to the
passage that leads to the windlass room in the thickness of the wall.
But we will go all the way up, first--I will lead the way, if you'll
follow."

"Why, certainly--it's very good of you to take the trouble."

He followed to the staircase and began the climb. Round and round
and round he went, passing four exit doorways in succession, and
coming out at last, rather breathless and weary, to an embrasure at
the summit, whence he could see the moss-grown, crumbling sentrywalk,
with its breast-high curtain wall, running along all four walls of the
tower. He looked over the curtain and saw Odder nestling in its valley
to the west--it was just visible beyond the intervening ridge--and,
eastward, Dowlandsbar and the rugged country beyond.

"If it were a clear day," McCoul said beside him, "you might see
Skiddaw, but the distances are too clouded. It is not a long view,
today. And there"--he pointed down inside the fabric--"is our roof. I
would not go to the expense of having it placed here at the top, and
so far we have made no use of the top floor that the roof covers. Nor
do I think we shall, now. Down there"--again he pointed, this time
toward an old trench beyond the moat in which Tyrrell and Gyda stood
together--"is something that makes me think I shall have little more
use for this place."

"You would leave them, then?" Gees asked.

"Why, yes. They will have no need of me. But there is much to show
you--little here, except for the strength of the place this view
reveals. All the surrounding heights are beyond bowshot, and archers
here have the advantage of trajectory, you may observe."

"Had," Gees amended thoughtfully. "Till guns came in."

"Why, yes--had," McCoul amended. "There--there, you see, is the
place where they heated the pitch to throw down on besiegers, but in
the last siege wood became so scarce that most of the pitch was not
used, and they had to be content with toppling stones down. Shall we
make the circuit of the walls, or would you rather go down again?"

"Down, I think," Gees said. There were places where weather-worn
stones sloped dangerously toward the inner side, and in spite of
McCoul's apparent cordiality he felt he would rather not trust himself
along that old-time sentry walk with the man. An accident would be so
easy to contrive, and could never be questioned, after.

"Very well--as you wish," He entered the stairway again, and Gees
followed. At the first exit to which they came on their downward way,
McCoul stepped out on to a bare flooring of deal planks, and Gees,
coming after him, found himself in an utterly empty apartment which,
under its lofty, plain white ceiling, seemed vast. It was bounded by
the four outer walls, their stones rough from the chisels of the men
who had quarried them, and, except for the oblong hole leading to the
spiral stairway, there was no visible means of access to it.

"Nothing to show you here," McCoul said, "except that there is
nothing. I wish you to assure yourself of that, Mr. Green."

"It is entirely unnecessary," Gees assured him, looking him full
in the eyes. And, for that once, he had the satisfaction of seeing
McCoul's gaze fall before his own. McCoul turned toward the stair.

"We will take the next floor, then," he said.

"Supporting a floor across this distance must have been a big
business," Gees suggested. "Even if the supporting beams run from
front to back, considering this as the front, it's a long span."

"Steel girders, four of them--Latimer put them up," McCoul
explained, and Gees realized anew the magnitude of the contract old
Ben had undertaken. "Each floor is the same, and the cross beams rest
on the girders. It is all very solid--quite safe. Let us go."

He led down to the next floor. Here they came out to an oak-walled
passage leading from front to back, with one door on the left as they
faced inward, and two on the right. McCoul opened the left-hand door,
and revealed a room sparsely furnished, occupying the full half of the
floor space on this floor: there was a narrow divan bed against the
far wall, with the clothes thrown back from it in disarray.

"My daughter's room," McCoul stated. "She is rather untidy, you
may observe, even apart from the fact that Ammon has not yet made the
bed or done anything to the room. And no exit but this, observe."

Irritated at the persistent mockery in the man's voice, Gees took
a couple of steps into the room to look round it, and then emerged
again. McCoul closed that door and opened the one opposite. "My room,"
he announced. "Occupying only the front half of this side, you will
note. Behind it is our dining-room, with a stairway down to Ammon's
quarters."

There was nothing in this bare, even poorly furnished apartment to
give Gees pause, and he emerged as McCoul opened the third door of the
corridor and revealed a fairly well-appointed dining-room, oak-
furnished with leather upholstery, and its walls tapestry-hung. McCoul
crossed it and drew aside a tapestry curtain to reveal a stout door,
fitted with a bolt which he shot into its socket before turning to
face Gees.

"There," he remarked, with a note of satisfaction. "That is
Ammon's only communicating way with all I have shown you, and now he
is barred out until he comes round by the front and unbolts this door.
And, as you see, these three rooms are all of this floor."

"Yes, I see," Gees answered quietly. "And the walls, you say, are
fifteen feet thick, so if I chose to doubt that you are showing me
everything--well, you can get a lot into fifteen feet, can't you?"

"Why the insinuation, Mr. Green?" McCoul asked coldly.

"Because you're not earning the custodian's sixpence," Gees
answered with a smile. "You're suspecting me of suspecting you,
apparently."

"Coincidence--my arrival here coinciding with the beginning of
this outbreak of sheep-worrying--has caused me to be suspect," McCoul
said. "I wish to convince one man--and one who has interested himself
in the affair on Mr. Tyrrell's behalf, at that--that there is no
possibility of my being connected with it. That is why I am
endeavoring to show you everything, and to make you realize you miss
nothing that there is within these walls. That is why I barred Ammon
out till you have seen him, prevented him from coming out from his own
room--"

"One moment, Mr. McCoul," Gees interrupted. "Do you think that I
suspect you of keeping here two such hounds--if they are hounds,--as
have killed over fifty sheep and a man on Dowlandsbar lands?"

McCoul smiled. "I merely wish to prove to you--to one man, as I
said, and a reasonable man at that--that I do not," he answered.

"Then lead on," Gees invited. "We'll miss out the windlass room,
though, and go down. The dungeons ought to be interesting, if it's
possible to see them. I know the ground floor room, of course. Oh, by
the way, there's a postern door at the corner of the wall in front.
Does that lead into the big front room downstairs?"

"No," McCoul answered. "It gives access to a passage in the
thickness of the wall, leading straight through to Ammon's quarters--
into the kitchen, in fact. But he rarely uses it, since it is badly
lighted and the floor is not in very good condition."

"I see. Well, the dungeons, eh?"

Down on the ground floor, McCoul raised two sections of board,
and, getting his fingers under the edge of a stone slab, lifted it up
on end, revealing a stone staircase that went down into black
darkness. The effortless way in which he raised the massive thing
proved that he had strength far beyond the ordinary, and there was no
sign of undue strain about him as, flicking the dust from his hands,
he took up a big electric torch which lay on a table beside the
fireplace. He clicked the light on, and, pointing the torch at Gees,
momentarily dazzled him.

"I'm afraid this is all the light here, unless we go round and get
candles from Shaun," he observed. "But if I go first, this will give
light enough to show you everything. Bare cells, and a torture chamber
which you may find rather interesting. The rack is still there."

He entered the stair, and Gees, with yellow spots still wavering
before his eyes after the beam of the torch had struck on them,
followed his lead. A half-score of damp stone steps took them down to
a passage-way of equally damp earth, with a slimy stone wall to either
side, and in each wall were doorways--the doors had rotted, long
since, and only traces of them remained. Each doorway gave access to a
cell, some so small that a man could neither stand upright or lie at
length in them, others somewhat larger. McCoul flicked off the torch,
and the darkness, in spite of the aperture behind at the top of the
stair, was so intense as to seem tangible. He flicked it on again, and
moved forward, sending a ray into each doorway as they passed, and
waiting while Gees looked in before going on to the next earth-
floored, terrible prison.

"There was no light, as you see," he said. "The things done down
here would not bear light. There is air, from some crevice that I have
not found. Sometimes the prisoners were meant to live."

"Darkness like that is death itself," Gees observed. "No man could
live in it for long--days only, I should think."

"Their nerves were tuned differently," McCoul said. "Hence--this!"

They had come to the end of the passage, Gees saw, and now stood
in the entrance to a large, low-ceiled chamber which, as nearly as the
torchlight declared it, was circular in shape. At the far side the ray
revealed a rotted wooden structure, enough of which remained to show
that it was, as McCoul had said, a rack, on which many a man had
shrieked in torment, if Amber's tale of the de Boisgeants were true. A
rusted brazier, and a little pile of moldering implements beside it,
came next into the light as McCoul swung it round, and then he
advanced to the centre of the chamber, where was a raised, coffin-
shaped stone.

"A unique survival, I think," he said, throwing the light on it.
"I have never seen another. Observe, Mr. Green, those sunken channels
would fit arms and legs, and there is a depression into which the head
would lie. Iron clamps--here are the holes for them--would hold the
patient down at the knees and waist and neck and forearms, while the
surgeons at the brazier yonder operated on him--or her, as the case
might be. And here, and here--these channels for the blood to run off
into vessels. See how the stone is blackened with it, to this day."

"I think I've seen enough," Gees said.

But McCoul swept the light round the slimy stone walls, revealing
pairs of rusty manacles high up, so that one in them must hang by his
wrists; fetters pendent from the ceiling, for hanging victims head
downward while, as he observed, the brazier was placed under them, and
other hellish devices which he explained until Gees felt sick with the
horror of it. Then, turning, as if by accident he sent the ray of the
torch full into Gees' eyes again, temporarily blinding him.

"Yes," he said calmly, "their nerves were tuned differently. Shall
we go back? I think except for a cell or two we may have missed, I
have shown you all there is underground here."

He went back to the passage between the cells, but halted before
one doorway and threw the light across to its far wall, high up.

"I think--yes, this must be the one," he said. "A rough sort of
carving on the stone, if you care to examine it before going up."

Still dazzled by the light, Gees took one unthinking step
forward--but then, almost beyond the edge of the light, he caught a
whitish glimmer as of lead or some such metal, and flung out a hand to
grip the edge of the doorway as he felt McCoul's hand on his back. He
could have sworn that McCoul had tried to push him forward, though the
pressure was only momentary, and the instant that his hand went out to
grasp the wall, it ceased, while McCoul gripped his coat and pulled
him back.

"My God, the wrong one!" he exclaimed, and there might have been
fear for his guest in his voice, or the rage of disappointment. "If
you'd taken another step--thank heaven I realized in time!"

He dropped the ray of the torch and revealed a stonewalled,
circular hole occupying nearly all the area, and going down to
blackness. And the glimmer of metal that Gees had seen was a leaden
pipe. It was the well, he realized, from which Shaun Ammon pumped
water into the tank beside his door at the back of the keep, and if he
had fallen down there and McCoul had gone up the stairs and replaced
their covering--or even if he had gone to get help--there would have
been little chance of anything but a corpse coming out of that
doorway. And McCoul had tried to push him in: he felt utterly certain
of it.

"Well, all's well that ends well," McCoul said awkwardly.

"That well very nearly ended me," Gees retorted, and felt inclined
to add--"or you did," but refrained. "I won't bother about any
carvings on the stones, thank you all the same."

"Just as you please," McCoul said coolly. "And in that case, we
will go up again. Except for Shaun Ammon's quarters, you have seen all
there is of the keep, now--as I wished you should."

"We won't bother about Ammon's quarters, either, thanks," Gees
said. "I expect Tyrrell will be wondering what has become of me."

If McCoul could have had his way, he knew now, Tyrrell would have
had far more cause for wonder.



Chapter XIV IMPLICATIONS



BACK in the big ground-floor apartment although the Aladdin lamp
had not been lighted and the arrow slits afforded no more than a
dimness, Gees felt grateful for the light after the blackness of the
dungeons. Tyrrell and Gyda had returned from their communings outside
the walls, and now the girl sat on the settee before the fireplace,
while Tyrrell, standing before her, appeared as almost a different
man: the strained look had gone from his face altogether, and, Gees
thought with a twinge of pity for him, he seemed as happy as a
bridegroom.

"Father, do put on your coat!" Gyda exclaimed as McCoul turned
from replacing the stone he had up-ended to descend into the dungeons.
"I wonder you didn't think of it before. What must Mr. Green think of
you?"

McCoul advanced and took up the coat, which lay across the back of
the settee. "It would only have got stained, down there," he said, and
rolled down his shirt sleeves to put it on.

"You look as if you'd been seeing ghosts, Gees," Tyrrell accused.

Gees glanced at himself in a long mirror on the wall beside the
fireplace, and saw good ground for the remark: the color had not yet
come back to his face after his experience on the edge of the well.
Then he looked at his hands, and saw them soiled with a greenish slime
from the walls that he had gripped to save himself.

"No, not ghosts," he said, and held up his hands. "I wonder"--he
turned to McCoul--"would it be possible to get rid of this?"

"Why, certainly," McCoul answered. "Up the stair, in the passage
leading to the windlass room--I had better show you."

Again he led the way up, and turned in at the first exit from the
spiraling way. Gees found himself in a narrow, dark tunnel in the
wall, in which he could scarcely stand upright. By the light of his
torch McCoul revealed a hole in the side of this passage and opened a
door of modern, unpainted deal, and there was a bathroom about ten
feet by six, lighted by an arrow slit in the outer thickness of the
mighty wall. A cheap-looking enameled bath, a towel rail, a plywood
wall cabinet, a basin with taps beside the bath, and a plain Windsor
chair, were all its furnishings. McCoul paused in the doorway.

"Soap and towel--there is a clean one, I see," he said. "Shall I
stay, or will you find your own way down?"

"Oh, I can manage, thanks," Gees answered. "But you have water
laid on to this height? An unexpected luxury."

"Rain water, collected from the roof into a tank higher up,"
McCoul explained. "If that should fail, there is it pump to force up a
supply. You will find a clothes brush in the cupboard there."

Taking off his coat to wash, Gees found that he had need of the
brush--and of more than that, for the stains from the dungeon walls
remained on his sleeves after he had done his best to get rid of them.
He came out from the bathroom and closed the door, and, save for the
very faint semblance of light at the entrance to the stairway, stood
in absolute blackness. A match guided him back--he had no mind to
explore in the direction of the windlass chamber--and he returned to
the ground floor, to find the other three standing before the
fireplace.

"I hear Mr. McCoul just saved you from a very nasty accident,"
Tyrrell observed as Gees joined them.

"Yes," he answered. "Just. How deep is that well, Mr. McCoul?"

"Sixty feet, to the water level," McCoul said.

"Then it would have been a very nasty accident," Gees commented,
and again, looking McCoul full in the eyes, saw him avert his gaze.

"Are you staying here much longer, Mr. Green?" Gyda asked.

"I shall have to get back next week," he answered, "to investigate
a case which looks"--again he glanced at McCoul--"like attempted
murder. Almost impossible to prove, though, from what I know of it."

He saw the strained look reappear momentarily on Tyrrell's face,
but, as if she read her lover's thoughts, Gyda clasped his hand as he
stood beside her, and the expression passed.

"Mr. McCoul," Tyrrell said, "I'd like you and Gyda to dine with me
again tonight, if you will. She has already consented."

"Why, yes, thank you very much," McCoul answered slowly, after a
brief pause in which his brows contracted and then relaxed.

Gees thought hard for an excuse--he did not want to be a member of
the party, and he had to find some reason for absence, quickly.

"I'm afraid I shall not be able to be with you, Tyrrell," he said.
"When I rang my secretary yesterday, I asked her to send me some
rather important papers to Carlisle, and I thought of turning out the
car and going over for them after the inquest. I may be very late
back."

"Umph!" Tyrrell looked rather disconcerted. "Well, I'm sorry. But
why Carlisle--why didn't you have them sent to Dowlandsbar?"

"Because I had an idea I might have left Dowlandsbar--finished all
I came to do here. And I must have those papers--they're urgent."

"This is the first I've heard of them," Tyrrell said, with frigid
skepticism. "Bearing on your attempted murder case, perhaps?"

"Indirectly," Gees answered. "You're thinking of the problem of
getting back here after dinner and returning alone, of course?"

"Yes, but I know!" Tyrrell's expression lightened. "I'll turn out
my car, Gyda, and drive you and your father back here."

"There is no need," McCoul said. "I have not the slightest fear of
walking back with Gyda. An escort is quite unnecessary."

"What do you say, Gyda?" Tyrrell asked, and pressed her hand. "Are
we to say good night at Dowlandsbar, or here?"

She gave him a smile. "It is for you to say," she answered. "Then
that's settled," he said happily. "Go and get your old documents,
Gees, and I'll expect you back when I see you. Midnight, eh?"

"I'd better stay for dinner in Carlisle," Gees said reflectively.
"Since I'm not sure what time I shall be back, I mean--and that would
make it midnight or thereabouts. Or I might even put up there for the
night, instead of risking the drive along your lane in the dark. If
so, I could ring through and tell you I'm not returning till morning."

"Just as you like." Tyrrell appeared to have forgotten his
skepticism, perhaps in anticipation of driving Gyda back and managing
an interval alone with her, at which, obviously, McCoul would
willingly connive. "You do as you like, and I'll expect you and your
father about seven, Gyda. We can tell him all we've been talking
about, then."

"In that case, my absence will be a boon," Gees observed drily.

The glance Gyda gave him was assurance that she would consider it
in that light. Tyrrell took her arm and moved forward from the
fireplace.

"Time to be going," he said. "It's much later than I thought."

He went out with her, and Gees and McCoul followed. They emerged
to the sunlight of full day, brilliant after the gloom within the
keep.

"I shall be sorry to miss seeing you and Miss McCoul tonight,"
Gees observed to McCoul. "And very many thanks for showing me round.
You proved an admirable cicerone, once you'd got over suspecting me of
suspecting you. Your explanation of the methods of torture in the old
days, for instance. You must have studied that subject pretty
thoroughly."

"In the course of a long life, one learns much," McCoul answered.

"True in your case," Gees remarked thoughtfully. He nodded at the
hump of grass-grown ruin before them: beyond it, Gyda and Tyrrell had
already crossed the causeway, and were going on toward the monoliths.
"That will be where the drawbridge was managed, I suppose?" he asked.

"Yes," McCoul said. "It was a tower in the outer wall, with an
arch slotted for the portcullis and the mechanism for both portcullis
and drawbridge in a chamber over the arch. Only starvation--" He broke
off abruptly, with the air of one who had already said too much.

"Then de Vere's men didn't succeed in breaking a way through the
outer wall, even?" Gees suggested coolly.

"Breaking--" McCoul almost gasped, evidently caught off his guard
for the moment. Then he recovered himself. "I am afraid I have not
looked up the history of the place sufficiently to tell you what
happened in the final siege, Mr. Green," he said coldly.

"No? Well, many thanks for all you have told and shown me," Gees
remarked. "And now I'd better chase after Tyrrell--after lunch,
rather, for obviously Tyrrell is interested in only one person, for
the present. Good-bye, Mr. McCoul--I hope we shall meet again."

And he hurried off, but slackened his pace after he had crossed
the causeway. Tyrrell and Gyda had already emerged to the lane and
turned toward Dowlandsbar, and, for the moment, Gees did not want to
overtake them. Quite apart from their absorption in each other, he had
plenty to think over, in addition to the fact that McCoul had
attempted to push him into the well under the keep. For he knew that
for a fact.

Up at the summit of the tower, McCoul had spoken as if the old-
time strength of the place were a thing of today. "Archers here _have_
the advantage of trajectory," he had said, and had acknowledged the
slip when Gees had pointed it out. Then, in the torture chamber, he
had described the nature and uses of the various implements with the
certainty and detail of one who had actually witnessed their use. And,
just now, he had spoken of the gate-house tower in a way that only one
who knew it could have spoken--or had he a vivid imagination that he
called to use in answering Gees' question? This last was a
possibility.

From beyond a bend in the lane, where, Gees decided, she had
paused for a last embrace with Tyrrell, Gyda appeared, and as she
faced him Gees saw that she looked radiant with happiness, as might
any girl who had just parted from her lover for only a few hours.

"So kind of you to linger, Mr. Green," she greeted him, "and very
kind of you to give Philip and me so much time to ourselves."

"But I found your father so very interesting--almost
overpoweringly so, in fact," he answered--and knew that, if he had not
grasped at the sides of the cell in time, McCoul would have
overpowered him.

"I'm so glad," she said. "Do forgive me for neglecting you,
though. I do hope we shall see you again before you go."

"I hope so, too--and now I must hurry after Tyrrell."

They went their ways. Before he rounded the bend in the lane Gees
looked back and saw the slender, almost perfect grace of the girl's
receding figure, and her silvery little head held high--she went as
one quite happy, quite carefree. Then he went on, thoughtfully.

Tyrrell waited for him in the gateway of Dowlandsbar, and he too
looked quite happy, and laughed a little as he saw Gees' expression.

"Not all the cares of the world, surely?" he queried. "Though you
look as if you were carrying a few of them. What's on your mind?"

"Gunpowder," Gees said, "hadn't come into use in the time of Henry
the Third. That was what I was thinking at the moment."

"Oh, your inspection of the keep, eh?" Tyrrell suggested.

"And de Vere found it too tough a nut to crack," Gees pursued,
"but badly provisioned--short of firewood, too. So he sat down and
starved it out. And bagged and hanged the lot, bar two."

"You've been hearing about it, eh? Well, I'll forgive you your
desertion for dinner tonight, in return for the way you left Gyda to
me this morning. Has McCoul been telling you about the siege?"

"No, Amber told me that," Gees answered.

Tyrrell made no response, and, Gees noted, he stiffened and
increased his pace at mention of the vicar's name. They entered the
house, and Tyrrell took up a parcel, inspected the address on it, and
held it out. "For you," he said, in an altered, constrained way.

Gees took the parcel, tore one end of the wrapping, and saw the
edges of two bulky books. He shook his head.

"Eve Madeleine has come up to scratch, as usual, bless her," he
remarked. "The morning's post, evidently--but I don't want them, now."

 * * * *

After lunch, Gees got out the Rolls-Bentley and, stopping in front
of the house, waited while Tyrrell got in beside him. Then he drove on
until they were just about to cross the narrow stone bridge before
taking the ascent to Locksborough gateway, and there stopped.

"Trouble of any sort?" Tyrrell inquired.

"No. I was just taking a look at that pile you made for me."

He gazed over the fence beside the lane at a breast-high heap of
mingled logs and brushwood, with, beside it, an array of two-gallon
cans of paraffin surmounted by an ordinary galvanized iron pail. Then,
as he gazed ahead again, and let the car move slowly on, he laughed.

"You must be out of civilization, here," he remarked. "To stand a
dozen cans beside an ordinary road, even as far from it as they are,
would be equivalent to giving them away to somebody."

"Savagery," said Tyrrell acidly, "evidently has its advantages."

He had relapsed from the mood to which Gyda had won him earlier in
the day, and now was broodingly quiet, oppressed by the prospect of
the inquiry into the causes of Cottrill's death. Gees of necessity
kept his eyes on the way before him: they bumped past the standing
stones and, reaching the crest of the ridge beyond Locksborough,
dropped down into Odder, where Gees drew up in front of the _Royal
George_. Until he saw the assembly that the forthcoming inquest had
drawn together there, he would not have believed that the district was
so populous. When Tyrrell got out from the car, half-a-dozen or more
gaitered and tweed-coated farmers came forward to greet him, and not
far short of fifty working-class men eyed the car and its driver
curiously. For such a place, it was a crowd, but there were no women
in it, and no children. Possibly the men had decided that this was no
fit scene for their wives and families, for, Gees reflected, the women
would hardly have stayed away of their own accord.

He saw the vicar, who raised a hand to him in friendly greeting
from where he stood talking with an aged villager, but made no move to
approach. Feather and Sergeant Rapkin stood apart from all the rest,
and, while Tyrrell talked with his farmer acquaintances, Gees
approached the two police officers, and nodded in response to
Feather's salute.

"You are prepared to carry on tonight, I hope?" he asked.

"I said I'd carry on," the inspector answered, rather irritably.

"That's good," Gees commented, and smiled. He understood that the
inspector, like Tyrrell, was apprehensive over the forthcoming
inquiry, and thus decidedly on edge. "Make it the same meeting place
at nine forty-five, and I've decided to make a slight change. I'll
have you with me, Inspector, and Cotton and the sergeant can pair at
the back."

"You're taking charge," Feather replied, as if to say that Gees
could do what he liked--also, that whatever he did, Feather himself
had little faith in the result. So it sounded to Gees.

"Quite so," he answered. "And that," as a small saloon car came
through the village toward them, "will be the coroner, I expect."

"It is so--see you tonight, nine forty-five," Feather said, and
moved to meet the official, Rapkin accompanying him. Gees went back to
Tyrrell, and they entered the _George,_ ascending to a big first-floor
room which had been prepared for the inquest, and into which as many
as could crowded as audience to the proceedings.

It proved a brief affair. An uncle of Cottrill deposed to having
identified the body, and then Tom Cotton described how he and Weelum
had discovered it in Valgersby Cleft. The doctor gave his evidence as
to the cause of death, and then Tyrrell was called and taken through a
_resume_ of the sheep-killings of the past six months, ending his
story with the sudden and unexpected fog that had driven over the
land, with Cottrill out in it somewhere. He made it clear, and the
coroner expressed entire agreement with him, that it would have been
useless and perhaps dangerous to others to attempt to find Cottrill in
the fog.

Lastly, Inspector Feather took the oath, and stated that he and
his men had made every effort to find the dogs responsible for the
sheep-worrying, and had failed utterly, as he had to admit. He bore
patiently with the coroner's bitter sarcasm over his inefficiency, and
declared that he had done all that man could do, and must abide this
result. After he had been dismissed, the coroner addressed the seven
men who had been empanelled as a jury, and who had accepted the
evidence without question or comment. They had all known the dead man,
and knew Tyrrell, too.

"Sheep-worrying by dogs that have become subject to that form of
mania, in sheep-farming districts, is a rather rare thing," he said,
"but it is a well-known trouble, all the same. As a rule, the dogs
responsible for the damage are either caught or shot after only one
instance of the worrying, or two at most. Here we have a police
inspector declaring that he has checked up and examined every dog
licensed or exempted to its owner over a very large area indeed, and
that he has been unable to find the offending dog or dogs, though he
has had six months and more in which to do it, since the first case
was reported to him by Mr. Tyrrell. There is, you must note, a certain
strange uniformity about these cases, so far as the sheep are
concerned. In place of indiscriminate worrying of several sheep, two
are killed on each occasion, and, further to that, they are all the
property of one owner. It would almost seem as if there were human
direction behind these dogs, except that it is impossible to conceive
human beings capable of such senseless destruction. However that may
be, a human life has been lost now, and unquestionably that life was
taken by the animals which destroyed the sheep. Of this there can be
no doubt whatever. The terrible state in which the body of the
unfortunate man was found, and the fact that it had been drained of
blood as had the sheep, points to an identical agency. It appears,
from what the witness Cotton has told us, that Cottrill cornered these
beasts in Valgersby Cleft, and they turned on him and overpowered him.
Possibly, as Cotton suggests, he cornered one, and the other attacked
him from behind. You can regard his death only as a matter of
accident--there is no other possibility.

"With regard to what caused that accident, and to its being abroad
and capable of doing damage six months and more after the first case
of worrying had been reported by the owner of the sheep, I can only
say that the full report of this inquiry will be forwarded to the
proper quarter, and, if there is blame attaching anywhere"--here he
gazed hard at Inspector Feather--"that blame will be duly apportioned
and will receive its just recognition. It is no concern of this
inquiry. Now, gentlemen, you may retire to consider your verdict, or,
if you find that unnecessary, deliver it here and now."

He had pointed them to the verdict so plainly that they had no
need to retire, and after a minute or two of headshaking, nodding, and
whispering, the one they had appointed foreman gave it, and the
solitary local reporter in attendance scrawled "Accidental Death" on
his notes and went off to write the necessary paragraph and head it--
"Shepherd's Tragic Death." Outside, Gees waited until Tyrrell
appeared.

"You'll forgive me for not driving you back?" he asked.

"Why, of course!" Tyrrell answered cordially. "Thank heaven,
that's over! I felt sure he was going to blame me for not going out to
find Cottrill, as soon as the fog came down with him out in it."

"Man, he wouldn't be such a fool!" Gees remonstrated.

"Well, he wasn't, but they take queer views, at times, though
Cottrill has been out in fogs dozens of times before. Now you want to
get off to Carlisle--yes. I'm sorry you won't be with us tonight--
selfishly sorry, for it would have given me a better chance to get
Gyda to myself. But there it is. Come back when you feel like it,
tonight or in the morning, just as you like. I'll get off back, now."

He was as good as his word, and Gees knew, as well as if the
intent had been spoken, that Tyrrell would stop by the gateway to
Locksborough in the hope that Gyda would be visible. Gazing at his
retreating figure, Gees questioned what to do with the time between
now and a quarter to ten. He might run over to Carlisle, of course,
and return in plenty of time to meet Feather, but it seemed an aimless
sort of excursion. Then he sighted Tom Cotton emerging from the inn,
and beckoned to him.

"The private room here, Tom, at a quarter to ten tonight," he said
when Tom faced him. "You're willing to make another night of it?"

"As many as you ask, sir, if it means gettin' 'em," Tom answered
gravely. "Since I'm not keepin' watch over the sheep, it's no use
foldin' 'em, an' as for bein' willing, when I think of how I found him
out there, I'd do anything on earth for a half-chance to get 'em."

"That's all right, then," Gees said with a faint smile. "Hullo!
Here's Mr. Amber--how are you, sir? I saw you inside there."

"Yes--call it curiosity, if you like," the vicar said. "Well, Tom,
I understand you are to be shepherd at Dowlandsbar, now?"

"Yes sir, that's so," Tom assented, "but I'd forfeit that an' a
dozen other jobs to have him back, right willingly."

"I don't doubt it," Amber said gravely. "He was a general
favorite, was Cottrill, and I never heard a word said against him."

"Tom has spoken his epitaph, sir," Gees put in. "A just one, too,
I think, from the very little I saw of him."

"Yes?" The vicar turned to him. "His epitaph? What was it?"

"He was never more'n a little man"--Gees looked at Tom Cotton and
quoted his own words to him--"but he had a heart of gold."

"It might justly be his epitaph," Amber commented. "Yes--but you
didn't go back with Mr. Tyrrell, Mr. Green. You're not leaving us yet,
surely?" He glanced at the Rolls-Bentley standing a few yards away.

"No-o," Gees said, rather dubiously. He nodded good-bye to Cotton,
about to move away, and then an idea suddenly occurred to him. "Is
Miss Amber anywhere about--I mean, is she available, sir?" he asked.

"Why, yes, if you wish to see her," Amber answered. "At home--we
should be glad to give you tea, if you care to come in."

"Thanks all the same, but that wasn't my idea," Gees said. "I
wonder--would you mind if I took her out to tea--Carlisle, or
somewhere of the sort? Just for the run--I've hours to waste,
somehow."

"You'd better come in and ask her," Amber suggested. "She'll be
delighted, I expect--she gets out so little, poor girl!"

Leaving the car standing, Gees accompanied him to the vicarage,
and the girl he sought opened the door to them.

"I saw you over the churchyard wall," she said, "and you've come
for tea, haven't you, Mr. Green? Do say you have!"

"It's Gees, and I haven't," he answered. "I've got your father's
permission to ask you, and the car here ready--would you like to run
over to Carlisle with me for tea--or anywhere else you like?"

"Oh, Mr. Green, you don't mean it!" she exclaimed, her eyes
shining with sudden excitement.

"But I do," he insisted, smiling at her. "What abaht it, now?"

"Just that you're a perfect dear--isn't he, daddy? I won't be one
second getting a coat and hat."



Chapter XV CARLISLE INTERLUDE



"GREGORY GEORGE GORDON GREEN, four of 'em-Gees," the owner of the
name explained patiently as the crazy signpost at the entrance to the
lane appeared. "Don't blame me. Pity me, if you feel like it."

"I'm not sure--no," Madge said. "It isn't you. Not--not big
enough. I'd like to think of you as something else. Something"--she
broke off, at a loss for a word--"something more heroic."

"Heaven save us!" he ejaculated, and swung the long bonnet of the
car southward, away from the signpost. "If you want real heroics, my
old man always calls me Gordon, but I warn you I shall weep if you
start it. Why couldn't my godfathers and godmothers have thought of
Eric, or little by little, or grail for Galahad, or even Augustus?
There's a nice mellow flavour about Augustus, when you come to think
of it."

"George!" she said. "It is your name, too. Yes, plain George."

"Hellish plain," he remarked, and, being on a straight stretch,
put down the accelerator. "Rub it in all you like--I'll keep
cheerful."

"Oh, but you know I didn't mean that!" she expostulated. "Ooo-h!
Are we going to Carlisle, or Southampton? The country's whizzing."

"Do you feel unhappy about it?" he asked.

"Do you know what the young lady in Venice wrote to her friend?"
she asked in reply.

"I'll buy it," he offered--and, glancing at the speedometer, saw
the pointer at seventy. "She shouldn't--never put compromising things
on paper. But what did the young lady in Venice write to her friend?"

"I am sitting on the bank of the Grand Canal, drinking it all in,
and life has never seemed so full before," Madge quoted. "Oh!"

He had only swerved for a slight bend, and the car held the road
perfectly. The girl relaxed her hold on the door strap, and sat at her
ease as Gees drove down another straight stretch at seventy-five.

"I wonder if she finished it--the Grand Canal, I mean," Gees said.

"But you should have laughed," she complained. "The dead cats and
things--Daddy took us for a holiday in Venice, five years ago, and if
only you'd seen the Grand Canal! But, Mr. Green--Gees--George--why did
you bring me out like this? Why me? I'm loving every moment of it, and
I want to know why? In a car like this."

"Because, for one thing, it's the only car I've got," he answered,
and slowed for a series of irritating bends. "For another--why you,
you said--you're an antidote. I'm not swearing at you, mind. I
suddenly felt I wanted a spot of sanity, and I thought of you. Someone
human and sweet, someone as fresh from God's hand as these hills, and
as pure as the air that blows over them. That's why. Now sit quiet."

There rose before them a hill, a gradient of one in four, or even
less, as he knew from having descended it on his way to Dowlandsbar.
He opened out to take it, and, quietly, the long car rose to its task,
the bonnet humping up before them as if it sought the sky. And ever
the engine purred quietly, evenly, until they came to a summit and
began to drop down to the valley beyond. Madge touched Gees' arm.

"I'm so proud," she said. "You think that of me?"

"I've a lot to tell you before we go back," he answered. "Not yet.
We'll find a quiet table somewhere for tea, and then talk, eh?"

"George, you're a genius for fitting the scene to the occasion."

"Well, if it's got to be George, George it is," he said. "Now we
must turn left, for Carlisle. If we're to go to Carlisle, that is."

"I don't care where we go," she declared. "You're in charge."

At that, he had a momentary thought of Inspector Feather, but put
it aside. He wanted absolute freedom from the thought of Cottrill's
death and what had caused it, for the time.

"Madge, we're going to talk seriously over tea, I warn you," he
said, after making the sharp left turn toward Carlisle. "That turn was
less than a right angle, by the way--horrible Elisha ought to be told
about it. But I want you to consider me as a father-confessor, and--"

"Oh, but you're much too young!" she interrupted. "Brother-
confessor, say, and I'll try and bear it. My sins are many, though."

"I'll go easy on penances," he promised.

"Thank you, George. But be careful how you drive, just here. Cows
walk out of gateways suddenly at this time of day, here and
hereabouts. It's afternoon milking time, and a cow is a valuable
animal."

"So is this car. Then you know this road well?

"I used--" she began, and then broke off and sat silent. Gees felt
that he knew what she had been about to say, and the reason for her
failing to complete the admission. And, glancing at her, he saw that
her color had heightened, and she gazed straight ahead.

"Used to come this way often," he said, "up to, say, six months
ago."

"Yes," she assented deliberately, "but Philip--Mr. Tyrrell--had no
right to talk about me to you, or to tell you he used--"

"He has told me nothing," he interrupted. "He's never mentioned
your name or referred to you, apart from once asking whether you had
spoken of him, after I'd lunched at the vicarage and seen you home."

"Then you shouldn't make deductions," she said. "It wasn't because
of me that you came here--to Dowlandsbar. And even if it means
excommunication, I'm not going to confess--anything. Why should I, to
you?"

"You're far short of being excommunicated, as yet," he answered.
"I keep on forgetting that we're strangers, really, and I ought not--"

"We're not strangers!" she broke in, energetically. "I could
repeat all the old platitudes, and all they amount to is that I feel
as much at home with you as with my own father, able to talk to you as
I can to him. But about--about what you hinted just now, I won't talk
to anyone. It's finished, forgotten, buried beyond resurrection."

"Maybe," he said, as if he doubted the statement. "And since you
make that declaration, we'll talk about other things. For one thing,
now, I don't know this village, so you'll have to direct me to the
best place for tea. Hotel for preference--I don't like tea shops."

Under her guidance he drove into the old city, and, ten minutes
later, faced her across a table while she glanced at her wrist watch.

"Fifty minutes," she observed. "Why, they'll only just be having
tea at home! Do you know, George, I yearned for a ride in your car,
even before you came to lunch with us. And here I am!"

"Yes, but why the yearn?" he queried. "No--you order what we're
going to have for tea"--for a waiter stood over them--"and remember
I've got a large appetite, owing to the air in this district."

She gave the order, and the waiter went to execute it. "We all eat
more largely here than you do in London," she remarked. "A north-
country tea would frighten the average Londoner, from the size of
theirs."

"I want to know more about this yearn," he reminded her. "Why?"

"Well, Weelum--the man at Dowlandsbar, that is--told Annie, and
Annie told our Jenny, all about this wonderful car, and I felt if I
could travel in one like it--just as we've traveled today--I wanted to
run away from Odder, or rather be carried away, like this. In luxury,
not having to plan it myself--and it's come true, and I'm happy."

"But you've got to go back," he reminded her.

"I'm quite content to go back--it isn't that, at all. The mere
change, sight of fresh things, sense of movement. And most of all,
escape if only for an hour or two from the oppression that hangs over
Odder, and has hung over it all this summer. Something--something not
of earth, brooding and waiting always, even in daylight. Fear."

"You have felt it all this summer?" he asked.

She nodded, waited till the waiter had gone, and then poured the
tea. "Many of us have felt it," she said. "Daddy has, I know, and men
in the village--Tom Cotton and a friend of his who saw the things--
Jack Baldwin, his name is--for others. It is there, all the time."

"The Shee," he suggested. He saw a way of getting round to the
main purpose for which he had brought her out, a roundabout way, but
still a possibility. But she shook her head at the suggestion.

"No. Most decidedly, no. Another name for them is 'Men of Peace,'
and what has happened at Dowlandsbar this summer--and especially the
last thing, Cottrill's death, would drive them away."

He nodded a grave assent. "I want to propound a theory," he said.

"Yes?" She looked her interest. "About--your talk with daddy?"

"What he told me," he assented. "And yet--no, we won't begin on
that. This way--it's an adaptation of a theory put forward in a play I
saw some time ago, one of those plays that go outside material,
normally possible things. Supposing you could stand at a great
height--on some hill, say, and look down on a road winding past--see
miles of the road, and see clearly all that was on it? People far back
along the road, people directly under you, and others far forward--and
assume that all the traffic on the road is going in one direction?"

"A one-way road--yes," she assented. "And I see it all."

"Not all, but a very long stretch of it. Now say that you have
come up to the top of the hill from a long way back on the road, and
are at liberty to go down again to any point on it you choose?"

"Any point I choose--yes," she assented again.

"Now say that the road is time," he went on. "Up on your height,
you are out of time. You have come up there from far back, and you go
down again to the nearest point--down to today. And you are exactly as
you were when you came up from the far back point--from long ago."

"Uninfluenced, not aged by time, you mean?" she questioned.

"Just so--I see you get it. Beings on whom time has no visible
influence, though they are not immortal. They are merely independent
of time, in a different state from ours. On another plane, say."

"A higher plane?" she questioned again, earnestly. "A lower, I
think," he answered. "Like the Shee."

"Elementals--earth-bound," she suggested after a thoughtful pause.

"More like--leave them for the minute, though, since you
understand what I have been trying to explain. And I'll have that
other scone, since you've gone on to cakes. Now--I suppose you know
the story your father told me, of the final siege of Locksborough?"

"Yes. I felt that Locksborough was coming into it," she said.

"And before the siege, how members of that family dabbled in black
magic, kidnapped children, and all the rest of it--you know that?"

"I know it all," she answered. "I've read all daddy's copy of
Mancius, and he and I have discussed the story, often."

"Yes. Well, Diarmid de Boisgeant, who was not found when the rest
of that race and their followers were exterminated by de Vere and his
besiegers--Diarmid was a descendant of de Boisgeants who had dabbled
in black magic and so owned the devil as their lord, and he was also a
descendant of the Shee, the fairy folk. Is this rank nonsense to you,
or do you keep an open mind about these things, like your father?"

"I go further," she said soberly. "Yes, I see. Diarmid de
Boisgeant went back up to the height from that time, being so much of
the Shee by birth that he was independent of time, as you put it. And
came down into life again--yes. I think my father believes that, but
he won't say it. Only--you know how he went to see McCoul, about Ben?"

"Yes. When McCoul told him to mind his own business."

"And it was his business--daddy was trying to save Mrs. Latimer's
life. Ben couldn't keep from her what it would mean to them if McCoul
didn't pay, and the mental worry of it killed her, even more than her
illness. But daddy came back that day simply white with rage, and he
told me something that he has never told anyone else. When he was
almost a boy--it was while he was at Balliol--he went on a long
vacation to the west of Ireland, to Galway. And one day he met a man
and a girl riding along a road on ponies. The man was McCoul--daddy is
sure of it, he says--and the girl was McCoul's daughter, looking
exactly as they look now. And that was nearly forty years ago. You
see?"

"If he's right, McCoul should be in his grave, and Gyda an old
woman," Gees commented thoughtfully. "That is, if they were in time as
we are. And quite possibly McCoul's hostility is due to recognition."

She smiled. "If you'd seen a photograph of daddy as he was then,
you wouldn't say that," she said. "He was a handsome youth, then."

"Well, we're getting on," Gees observed, "and since that was the
last scone, I'll turn on to cake too. Also, more tea, please. Now the
next point. When the solution of the sheep-killings and Cottrill's
death is reached, at the very least McCoul and his daughter will be
implicated. I'm as sure of that as I am that Cumberland air gives me a
whale of an appetite. You see what that means?"

"Yes--and I see what the appetite means," she answered. "Shall I
ring and ask the waiter to bring some more cakes?"

"Don't frighten him--this will stay me till dinner time. It means
that--I've been long enough with Tyrrell to see that he's infatuated
with Gyda McCoul. I daren't say a word of what I believe to him--"

"I am no longer interested," she broke in. "Please don't."

"But I must," he persisted. "Note the word I used infatuated.
Naturally--grant, as I believe you will, that Gyda McCoul is a being
out of time, possessed of something different from human attraction,
and you'll see that in his present state Tyrrell is not himself. Under
a spell, if you choose to call it that. She wanted him, and she's got
him, for this present. And that is why I want you to--"

"Please!" she broke in again. "You don't understand, altogether.
I'll tell you--yes, I will confess to you, now. Philip and I and Peter
Bandon, and sometimes Harold, did everything together till Peter
married, and then it was Philip and Harold and I--we were all much
younger than Peter, and Harold was youngest of us all. Philip grew
into my life till I knew I loved him, and knew too that he loved me.
Placidly, say--we were so utterly sure of each other. It was all
understood, settled--until last March, when the McCouls finally came
to live at Locksborough. Then, all that had been was finished. No more
drives to Carlisle with him, no more seeing him coming up the path to
the vicarage--Oh, I'm confessing everything!--no more looking forward
to the time when I should leave the vicarage for Dowlandsbar. A bitter
month or two, and then it all died and left me cold. Now, if there
were no man but Philip Tyrrell left on earth, I'd turn my back on
him."

"That is, as he is now," Gees urged. "But think forward, think of
him needing some influence, someone to whom he can turn, after--"

"He must not think to turn to me" she interrupted. "I can pity him
then, but no more. No." She smiled at him. "No, George, nothing he
could say or do would ever bring it back to life. Impossible."

There are shades in negation, but, he knew this of hers as final,
absolute, for to-morrow as for today. Again she smiled at him.

"You've tried your best" she said, "and I don't like you less for
it. Give me absolution, and let's talk of something else, shall we?"

"Anything. You suggest the subject, and I'll jabber."

"Or gibber," she amended, and laughed. "I know, though. What time
is it now--what time must you be back at Dowlandsbar?"

"The time now is five-fifty. I want to get back to Odder not later
than nine-thirty, and to Dowlandsbar to-morrow morning."

"That means--Oh, what does it mean, George? Odder goes to sleep by
ten o'clock, or at least when the men from your royal namesake get
thrown out. Odder nine-thirty--you can't stay out all night, there."

"Say I must be back by nine-thirty, and leave it at that," he
suggested. "What happens after is yet to be seen, if anything."

She gave him a long look. "I wouldn't be me if I were not curious
about it," she said, "but--say six o'clock, by the time we get out.
Now be guided by me. Thursby, Wigton, Abbey Town, Calvo, and
Skinburness. In this car of yours, you can do it and get me back home
in time for dinner. I'll tell you the roads, from Skinburness to our
lane."

"All of which means what?" he asked, and signed to the waiter to
bring a bill. "It sounded perilously like bad language, as you said
it."

"I'm incapable of anything of the sort," she retorted. "It means a
sight of the sea, and at sunset, too. And then--you said you wanted to
be back by nine-thirty--it means you'll come to dinner with us, and
still have plenty of time. It is being a good day, George."

He paid the bill, and went out with her to the car. They took the
road to the south-west, and Madge snuggled down luxuriously.

"Thursby, George--do you realize it? Thor's place. And Valgersby,
the place of the Valkyrs, Odin's maidens who chose the slain. And
Brownhill Scar--Brynhild's Scaur. All the country reeks with old
legend, if you examine its names. Norse, Danish--Thorfinn Thorfinnsson
fought his last fight somewhere near Valgersby, daddy says, and died
gloriously while his men wiped out the Picts and saved Locksborough--
but it hadn't been named Loki's Barrow then, until he was buried
there. He was a little, dark man, rather like Cottrill, but a bad
man."

"How do you know what he was like?" Gees asked.

"Because--I must have been about twelve, and it was a school
holiday. I went up to Locksborough one day in a hot August, and went
to sleep behind the long barrow, and I saw him in a dream. Bandy-
legged, with a winged helmet, and a little dark man with a beak of a
nose and a hard face. Just saw him, and--I'd never sleep near the long
barrow again, although he didn't seem to see me. Locksborough was
empty, then. Nobody thought it would ever be lived in. Loki, the god
of evil."

Gees made no reply. They went through Wigton, and Madge warned him
in time for the turn on to the road to Abbey Town.

"Then Calvo, and then the sea," she said. "You're not George at
all. You're a god out of old time, carrying me to where I want to be,
to sight and smell of the sea at sunset--and the whole of this is a
dream, because one's wishes don't come true in real life. The
unexpectedness of it. I shall go back home and live it all over
again."

She looked up at him, and saw his eyes directed to the road ahead.

"Impersonal, quite," she said. "Don't think I'm asking you to feel
any of it. I'm just--happy, somehow. You're not in it, personally.
You're just--don't be offended--you're just the agent of my happiness.
Yes--no, right, quick! That other road goes to Silloth. Yes, just the
agent, but a god all the same. Bragi, perhaps. George, why the devil
did you come to Odder? I'm going to miss you badly--not you, but all
you're giving me--when you go away again. Remember, I'm a parson's
daughter, and they're worse than the majority. Else, I wouldn't be
talking like this. Why give me all this?"

"To try to make you realize what Tyrrell will need, at the end,"
he answered. "Whether I bring about that end, or it just happens."

"Yes--no, hard left! There! Now stop. If we stay ten minutes, we
can still get home in time for dinner. Now don't speak, yet."

They sat up over the quiet sea, its little, uncapped waves rolling
lazily in under the south-west breeze, and there was a path of golden
light that led to a far coast and the height of Criffel dim in the
west. The last of the sunset was about them, and the breeze lapped
over them, bringing the tang of salt water, chill and heartening.

"What he will need," she said very thoughtfully. "Yes. But had he
any thought for me in my great need? We people of the north--I am of
the north, George--we feel very deeply, if we feel at all. There was a
time, a little time, when I wished to die, and it was nothing to him.
A bitterness, and there was no comfort anywhere, for I knew he was
hungering for that strange beauty--unearthly beauty that even then I
knew was not altogether good. Gyda McCoul--or Lynette de Boisgeant?"

"I am not sure," Gees said. "No, I am not sure."

"No. There are other things at Locksborough. The very old dead,
and Thorfinn's people, and the men and women who did sacrifice in a
circle of the standing stones--the two in the gateway are part of the
circle. Sacrifice to strange gods--and now Philip Tyrrell has gone
away after strange gods. He may come back, but not to me. So all this,
your taking me out and making me feel so very happy for a little
while, is quite useless. All my love for Philip Tyrrell is quite
dead."

"Well, that doesn't mean our excursion has been useless," he said.

"No?" she gazed up at him. "Then where is the use?"

"Making you feel so very happy," he answered, and smiled at her.
"'Sun, moon and stars, brother, all good things. There is also a wind
on the heath.' Take Petulengro's wisdom to yourself, my dear, and go
on being happy. I'm very glad I thought to ask you to come out."

"Oh, brother mine, you've got big hands and a big heart!" she
said. "Daddy was right--you are one of us, and I'm happier still,
now."

Gees laughed quietly. "I have also big feet," he observed.

"Yes, I know, but I couldn't catalogue everything. You're all big.
Now one last look, and a bit of a verse you won't know--

'One swelling tide of ocean, darkly green.

One sunlit path, that meets the dying day--

One step between.'

And not long ago, I wanted to take that step, but not now. It's
time to go back, and you're to stay for dinner since you're free till
nine-thirty and not going back to Dowlandsbar, and I haven't talked so
much since Angus Maconochie's pig walked to Inverness on stilts.
You've got to turn round somehow, and I'll give you the turns to take
us back to Odder as we come to them. Let's go, please, or we'll be
late."

Driving on a little way, he found a gateway which gave him room to
turn the car, and they went back. The girl sat quite silent except for
directing him at need, and at last the crazy signpost pointing to
Odder and Dowlandsbar showed: to Gees it seemed an age since he had
first stopped and backed to follow the guiding of that post.

But, short of the signpost, where a half-dozen firs grouped beside
the road, he pulled in and stopped with two wheels off the metalling.
Madge looked up at him questioningly.

"I shall need headlights along the lane," he explained, "and after
we get out of the first dip, they'll be visible from the top of
Locksborough keep, for a little while. What time do you have dinner?"

"It's a movable festival, like Easter," she answered, "later at
some times than others, with half-past seven as the average. But what
will happen when your lights are visible at Locksborough?"

"Nothing, if they're not visible too soon," he answered. The
McCouls, he knew, were due for dinner at Dowlandsbar at seven, but he
would take no risks of being seen returning. "I am still in Carlisle,
dining there, and not due back here till midnight. And it's hardly
likely that another car would be coming along here at this time."

"It's all rather puzzling," she said dubiously.

"On the contrary, it's all quite clear, now," he dissented.
"Somehow this run out with you has made everything plain, filled in
the gaps in my theory--all but one, that is."

"May I know the theory?" she asked after a pause.

"I don't see why not," he answered thoughtfully. "The gap is--what
are the things that have done these killings? What are they using to
bring Tyrrell to the point where he will finally decide to go?"

"Decide to go?" she echoed, in a puzzled way.

"This is how I see it, now," he said. "First, though--when did it
occur to you that Tyrrell was in love with Gyda McCoul?"

"She came here with her father very early in the year," she
answered, "before the alterations were completed for them to come to
live here in the castle. The change in him began then--I knew then."

"And in that case, Gyda McCoul knew too--meant to get him."

"It may have been so. I know he changed from that time, to me."

"Yes. They didn't come here because of Tyrrell, but for a
different purpose altogether. Then Gyda saw him, and he became their
second purpose, but she doesn't mean him to stay here at Dowlandsbar,
doesn't intend that they shall live there after marriage. As far as
their object in being at Locksborough is concerned, they have already
achieved it. Remains only to make sure of Tyrrell, and for Gyda to go
with him, quite away from here, where she and her father are
ostracized."

"But he wouldn't leave Dowlandsbar, surely?" she protested.

"He has already talked of it to me," Gees assured her. "He has
made up his mind to sell the flock, realizing now that he can't ask
Tom Cotton or anyone else to take the risk of guarding it. And
Dowlandsbar is primarily a sheep farm. She means him to leave it
altogether."

"And so--you mean they instigated these killings, to make him feel
that the place--his home--is altogether useless to him?"

"Just that. And McCoul is a master of old magic--"

"But if they didn't come here because of Tyrrell, why did they
come at all? What was the different purpose you spoke of just now?"

"You saw a part of it, in London," he answered. "The diamond
crescent and ruby--pendant, wasn't it? McCoul was too poor to pay Ben
Latimer at first, and then--remember, neither de Vere when he took the
castle, nor anyone since his day, ever discovered the priory plunder
and all else that the de Boisgeants collected in their day."

"And you think-?" she asked after another thoughtful pause.

"Well, isn't it clear? That hoard was hidden so securely that only
those who knew the hiding place, saw it put away, could find it. By
buying Locksborough, McCoul ensured undisturbed ownership of all that
was there, and the law of treasure-trove doesn't apply until someone
beside himself knows for certainty that he has unearthed the de
Boisgeant hoard. How many times have they been away since they came
here?"

"Twice. They went away in June, and then I saw her as I told you,
when we were in London not long ago. Yes, I see. He took things to
sell--jewels, parts of what he found. And--the beasts?"

"Brought to being somehow," Gees said doubtfully. "Things with a
blood lust, tangible things, not ghosts. I wonder--"

He broke off and sat silent, thinking of how McCoul had shown him
over the keep--but what other chambers were set in the thickness of
the mighty walls? What, besides the range of cells and that terrible
room beyond them, was there of hiding place under the fabric?

Madge clutched at his arm, and he looked down at her.

"Yes?" he asked.

"Please take me home," she begged. "I want the comfort of four
walls round me, and not--it's growing eerie, and I don't know what the
shadows hide. Please! It's been such a happy time, but--"

"I understand," he said, and roused the engine to life. "Twenty
past seven now--I'll put the car round at the back of the vicarage,
and you'll be in time for your movable feast."

But he looked down at her upturned face, and did not start.

"Madge?" he asked.

She put both arms round his neck. "You dear! Oh, you dear!" she
said, and gave him her lips.

"This--it doesn't spoil your day?" he asked.

"Completes it--crowns it." She released herself from his hold and
settled herself close beside him. "And now--home, George."

He drove on and turned into the lane.



Chapter XVI DINNER FOR THREE



GYDA MCCOUL put down her coffee cup and rose to her feet, and at
her movement Tyrrell too stood up, and turned to open the dining-room
door for her. But before he could move toward it she spoke.

"No-please, Philip. I don't want to leave you--only to come and
sit with you while you finish your coffee. Do sit down."

Clad, as when she had dined at Dowlandsbar before, in shimmering
grey, she was a ghostly, indistinct figure outside the range of the
candlelight from the table as she came past her father toward
Tyrrell's chair. McCoul, so leaned back that his face was in shadow,
stirred his coffee absently, and Tyrrell seated himself again as Gyda
perched herself on the arm of his carving chair, and then laid her arm
across his shoulders. He looked up at the touch, and smiled at her.

"Not too comfortable, is it?" he asked.

"Close to you, my dear," she answered caressingly.

"I see you expect to lose more sheep," McCoul, still stirring his
coffee, observed. "More than two, next time, it seems."

"Why, what makes you think so?" Tyrrell asked anxiously.

"Merely the bonfire laid where the others have been," McCoul
answered. "This one is so much bigger--big enough for roasting an ox."

"Ah, that!" Tyrrell said, with a note of relief in his voice as he
realized that McCoul had seen no more definite portents. "As a matter
of fact, Gees--Green, that is--asked me to have that pile laid. I
don't know exactly what he expects, unless it is that he hopes to
catch those infernal beasts and burn them as we burned all the sheep."

"Then he is still hopeful of catching them?" McCoul asked.

"I don't know," Tyrrell answered slowly, remembering that Gees had
asked for silence regarding his plans. "But after Cottrill's death, he
can hardly interfere with police work. I believe he thinks of going
back to London early next week, which looks as if--"

"As if he had given it up," McCoul suggested in the pause.

"Well, yes," Tyrrell admitted. "If it hadn't been for this idea of
his, spending the evening in Carlisle, he might have told you what he
thinks about the situation, and what he intends to do. I'm not sure."

"And what do you intend to do?" McCoul asked. "This cannot go on.
The police have proved themselves quite ineffective--it cannot go on."

"No," Tyrrell agreed. "Gyda and I were talking of it this morning,
while you were showing Green over the castle. I shall make
arrangements next week to sell the flock, which means, of course, the
end of living here for me. A big wrench, but--you'll be pleased, won't
you, Gyda?"

"It is as you said this morning," she answered. "The sheep are the
life of the place, and if they cannot be kept here, it dies."

"True." Tyrrell voiced the confirmation rather gloomily. "It's a
most amazing thing, an impossible thing in these modern days, and yet
there it is. Somebody will discover the cause, put an end to these
horrible things, sooner or later, and then sheep can be run on these
fells again. But I give it up--Cottrill's death ends it, for me, and
I've told the man who took his place to keep to his home dark."

"Yes," McCoul said gravely, and drank his coffee. He put the cup
down on the table. "Until the dogs are found, the sheep must go."

"And I'll risk no other man's life over finding them," Tyrrell
said. "If they are dogs--and to me they seemed like something worse,
something fiendish and awful. I told Gyda this morning how they
nearly--"

"Ah, don't recall it, darling!" she interposed, and laid her hand
momentarily across his lips. "Say that it is all over--or next week,
when the sheep are gone, it will be all over. And in a little time--"

She did not end it, but bent to drop a light kiss on his forehead
as he looked up at her. His face cleared as he met her gaze.

"She told me of that," McCoul said coolly. "And you gained an
impression that they were not ordinary dogs, you say?"

He waited. Gyda, sitting erect again, appeared as if she too
waited for Tyrrell's reply, which was long in coming.

"They were four-legged, I know," Tyrrell said at last, "and grey--
one paler than the other. And--dogs? Well, I felt that they came from
the kennels of hell. Think of the cunning of them, too. Until then,
never once had they come near the sheep except when the flock was
unwatched. Holding off as long as there was a guard, and instantly it
was taken off, another killing! Like--like human intelligence."

"But ordinary dogs might scent human beings and keep away," McCoul
urged. An outsider, had there been one, might have thought he was
leading Tyrrell on to commit himself definitely to some course of
action. "Perhaps you are a little--well, strung up over this, Philip."

"To this extent," Tyrrell said with decision. "The flock goes, and
Dowlandsbar goes--to whoever will have the nerve to buy the place. I
know these are no ordinary dogs--say I'm superstitious, say I'm
running away from the trouble, if you like, but since Green has failed
to discover them--and his going off to Carlisle like this is proof
that he's given it up and is interesting himself in other things--
since he has failed and the police are utterly useless, I give up--
go!"

"Not alone, Philip," Gyda said, very softly.

"My compensation," he said, and drew her hand round to his lips to
kiss it. "I don't know--do you think of staying on at Locksborough,
sir? I mean, after Gyda and I are married and gone?"

"I should not stay on in any case," McCoul answered. "The place is
too gloomy, and fully modernizing it is out of the question."

"Not worth while," Tyrrell agreed thoughtfully.

"Also, the prejudice of the people of this place--I could never
overcome it," McCoul added. "That man Amber--they follow him. And the
fact that I have dared to live in such a place as Locksborough--your
people here are full of superstition, Philip."

He rose from his chair and stood beyond the candlelight, a tall
indistinctness in the gloom. Only his eyes showed, and to Tyrrell it
seemed that some vagrant ray from the candles must have rested on
them, for he could see them plainly, luminous pools of darkness. Then
McCoul turned toward the door, averting his face from Tyrrell.

"You two will not need me for awhile," he said.

"But--but we can't leave you alone?" Tyrrell urged, halfheartedly.

"Oh, yes." McCoul's voice was softly satiric. "There is a good
fire in the hall, I know, and you have much to say to each other.
Consider that your friend is here with us, and I am talking to him."

He went out, closing the door on himself very quietly. By the
fireplace in the big entrance hall, Annie the maid had just placed a
tray containing decanter, siphon, and glasses, on the occasional table
that stood there, and, turning and catching sight of McCoul's tall
figure advancing, she started and then crossed herself as she turned
away.

"Why do you do that, girl?" McCoul demanded, keeping his voice
low, but with an angry, almost growling note in the question.

She turned again to face him, fearful, yet defiant.

"You're not my master," she said, "an' heaven forbid that you ever
should be! An' I don't answer to you for what I do."

Then she faced about and went out hurriedly by the door leading to
the servants' quarters. McCoul gazed after her for a few moments, and
then went to stand gazing into the log fire.

In the room he had left, Gyda moved from her seat on the arm of
Tyrrell's chair and dropped down on his knees, reclining against him.
He pressed her head against his shoulder, kissed her passionately.

"Soon, darling," he said. "It must be soon."

She leaned back in his clasp to look at him. Her eyes were all
amber, then, her gaze intense, and he had an instant's half-
consciousness that somewhere, at some time, just such eyes had gazed
at him before. In some other state, it must have been--a half-memory
out of childhood, perhaps--and then the consciousness passed as he
heard her voice, whisperingly soft, the velvet of her lips almost
touching his own.

"Quite soon--dearest, quite soon. But not here, not in this place.
You shall take me away. I can tell you now how glad I am you have
decided not to stay in this place, and my father is glad too."

"And yet--it's my home, Gyda darling. So many associations, things
of all my life, and the lives of my people before me. Roots, deep down
in me--I might put some man in to manage till those things are caught,
and then come back here with you. For they must be caught, sooner or
later. And then to have you here, mistress in my home!"

"Philip, shall I not be your home?" she almost whispered.

Again he kissed her, and for an interval was silent, holding her
close to him. Half-past eight chimed from a clock in the corner of the
room, and Gyda laid her cheek against her lover's, sighing
contentedly.

"I wonder whether Green will get back tonight," Tyrrell said.

"You mean--before we go?" He felt her stiffen slightly in his
clasp, and heard in the question a note almost of anxiety.

"Why, no--he said he would not be back till midnight, if at all,"
he answered. "Don't you like him, then?"

"He does not like me," she answered evasively.

"Oh, absurd!" Tyrrell protested. "He told me how charming he
thinks you. And why on earth should he dislike you, my darling?"

"It was my impression. Philip, has he said anything to you of my
father showing him over the castle this morning?"

"Not a word--he hasn't mentioned it since we came back," he
assured her. "But why should you think he dislikes you--I'm sure he
does not. And in any case, he will be gone in two or three days'
time."

"And you--you will take me away, Philip, when I belong to you?"
Her arms tightened about his neck, and the words, almost whispered,
were yet tense with earnestness. "Quite away from this place?"

"My dear, I have said I would," he answered, puzzled by her
insistence. "Why--why are you so determined that we should not stay
here?"

"It is--it is"--she smiled at him with tremulous lips--"just a
little fear, Philip. As if there were danger for me here--even death,
if I stay too long. I know I must not stay though--"

"Darling, it's this awful business of Cottrill's death that's
upset you," he interrupted her. "It's cast a gloom over all of us, and
you are over-sensitive. No harm shall come to you--why, I love you!"

Minutes later, he laughed softly as he gazed into her eyes.

"Danger!" he exclaimed. "Oh, but you're much too wonderful to come
to any harm, my Gyda! Yes, we'll go quite away--among your own people,
if you wish. Over in Ireland, isn't it?"

"I have no people," she answered. "My father and I are quite
alone. I think we had better join him, Philip. It will soon be time
for us to go, and we cannot leave him alone all the evening."

"Oh, but you needn't go yet," he objected, as they stood up and
she patted her disarranged hair. "It isn't even nine o'clock."

"No?" She smiled at him. "An hour longer, then. If we go and talk
to him for a little while, I think he will find a way of leaving us to
ourselves again before we go. But now you must find me somewhere to
put my hair straight, Philip. You've tumbled it about so."

"Darling, it's lovely anyhow," he assured her, "but I'll get Annie
to show you"--he went to the bell-push beside the door and pressed
it--"and then you can come and join me and your father in the hall."

Annie, her lips set in a thin line, answered the bell.

"Just take Miss McCoul along to put her hair straight, Annie,"
Tyrrell bade. "And then you'll join us again, dear."

"This way, miss," Annie said, with distaste in her voice.

Tyrrell gazed after her as the two went out, his anger at her
attitude evident in his face. Then he followed out from the room, and
saw the two ascending the staircase. Annie led on to a bathroom,
pushed open the door and switched on the light.

"There," she said. "There's a brush an' comb on the shelf"

"Were you taught to speak to your master's guests like that?" Gyda
demanded sharply, pausing in the doorway of the room.

"I've done what the master told me," Annie retorted sullenly.

"Girl!" Gyda bent toward her, and before the sudden, fierce blaze
of the amber eyes the girl recoiled, terrified. "You should be whipped
in the courtyard--"

But then, suddenly, she herself started back and closed the door
between them. Annie stared at its panels, gradually recovering
herself.

"Courtyard?" she whispered. "Courtyard--what courtyard?"

She turned away slowly, and made her way to the kitchen, where
Tyrrell's cook sat reading, but looked up at the girl's entry.

"Cook," Annie broke out, glad of a confidante, "that yellow-eyed
witch said I ought to be whipped in the courtyard, because I wouldn't
bow and scrape to her when the master told me to show her where she
could tidy her hair. Whipped in the courtyard, she said!"

"Did she?" the cook queried ponderously. "Well, you can't, because
we ain't got no courtyard here, whatever that might be. And what's
more, the day she comes to reign here, I walk out, I do."

"Me too," Annie agreed fervently. "What's come over the master,
takin' up with her like he's done, is a mystery. That's what it is, a
mystery. Whipped! I've a good mind to tell him an' give notice first
thing to-morrow. I'm not to be talked to like that by her!"

 * * * *

McCoul was not in the entrance hall, Tyrrell found, and the outer
door stood open. He went to look, and found McCoul on the step.

"Enjoying the night," McCoul explained. "It is not in the least
cold. And you two have settled everything, I hope?"

"Settled? Oh, yes!" Tyrrell answered, a little surprised at the
question. "You mean, about Gyda's wishing to get away from here?"

"I have been thinking," McCoul answered indirectly, "and it seems
to me that when you put Dowlandsbar up for sale, I might arrange to
sell Locksborough, since I have no intention of continuing there. A
buyer of this place would be glad to get the two hundred acres of good
grazing that go with the castle. It would be a good opportunity."

"That is, if I sell," Tyrrell said. Though, lover-like, he fell in
with Gyda's wishes after little persuasion, it was quite a different
thing when McCoul assumed that Dowlandsbar was already as good as in
the auction market. It seemed to him that his prospective father-in-
law was trying to force his hand, and he felt a faint resentment.

"Why--what else could you do?" McCoul asked calmly.

"I might put a man in to manage while the place lies fallow--until
these things are caught and the trouble about them has died out,"
Tyrrell answered. "Then Gyda and I could come back to live here."

"Ye-es." But there was doubt of the suggestion in McCoul's
hesitant response. "But if you form fresh ties elsewhere, what then?"

"I shall never form such ties as bind me to this place," Tyrrell
said decidedly. "Generations of my people have lived and died here, I
myself grew up among these people--" he broke off abruptly,
remembering how, in siding against Amber, he had isolated himself from
nearly everybody in the place. "Dowlandsbar is home to me," he ended.

Then Gyda came out to them: she may have heard Tyrrell's last
declaration, for she laid her hand on his arm and urged him forward,
into the shadows beyond the doorway, and he saw McCoul draw back.

"I want you to myself for a little while, Philip," she said
softly. "Not for long--we must go, soon. Not for long, father," she
added over her shoulder to McCoul, who went back into the house.

"Yes?" Tyrrell asked her. There was a somber, troubled note in his
voice: it seemed to him then that McCoul was trying to urge him too
far and too fast, and that Gyda, too, failed to comprehend all that
Dowlandsbar meant to him. He went with her beyond the graveled
frontage of the house to the grassy slope beyond, and there, pausing
to face him, she reached up and put her arms round his neck.

"What is home, but the place where love is?" she asked tenderly.

"Ah, darling!" he answered. "You're so wonderful! But, Gyda, now I
face the actual fact of leaving here, think of it as a thing done, I
begin to realize all it will mean. I know your wish--my dear, it's
only that there must be some regret, some natural regret."

She leaned close to him. "My dear, you are sad tonight," she said
caressingly. "I love you, Philip, yet not even I can make you happy."

"I should be far less happy if it were not for you," he answered.
"But it came over me--why my sheep and no others--why my shepherd and
no other? Why am I singled out for this fantastic, absurd visitation
that nobody seems able to trace or end? Why should my farm be cursed--
it is no less--cursed? I feel it as that, feel that there is no
remedy. Else, I would not think of leaving my home."

"Yet, since it is so," she said, very softly, "you have decided.
My dear, the whole world is before us--neither of us is poor, and the
whole world is before us. And my love all yours, Philip, all that I
can give--more than you can dream till you know me fully, become--"

She broke off and laid her lips on his. In a little while he held
her, back from him to gaze at her, and felt himself half-dazed by the
intensity of her passion. Yet there was in it some strange, ethereal
quality that was beyond passion, and with all the longing for her that
he felt there was a trace of wonder at her, even of fear.

"Become--what?" he questioned, and saw her strange eyes shining in
the light from the doorway--or so he thought at first, but realized
for one instant that they stood beyond any light that could ray out.

"Mine, all my own," she whispered back. "Body and spirit, soul and
strength. Oh, my lover, how shall I live through time when you are
not? I who have waited so long, so long--kiss me and have done with
words, for they tell nothing. Your lips--the heart of you--"

Even as he kissed her he laughed, laughed with a happiness such as
he had never known. It seemed to him that she breathed into him a life
beyond his life, lifted him to a level on which, hitherto, he had
never stood. And her soft laughter came back, answering him.

"Oh, my beloved, how shall I wait?" he asked passionately.

"A little while--a very little while," she answered him.

McCoul's tall figure shadowed the doorway--Tyrrell could not have
told whether he had stood in the darkness with Gyda for a minute, or
an hour. He knew only that he had entered and returned from some world
of feeling, poignantly, achingly intense, and that he longed for Gyda
to take him back there. He knew that in truth there was more to her
love than he had dreamed, that she was wonderful beyond his
understanding.

"Gyda, we must go back," McCoul said, and the practicality of the
words was like cold water on Tyrrell. "It is past ten."

"Wait, and I'll turn the car out," Tyrrell said.

"Oh, but you mustn't take all that trouble," McCoul expostulated.

"I insist. Gyda shall not walk back. You wish it, darling?" Secure
in the darkness, he held her close till she answered.

"We are one in our wish, my lover."

"Wait for me--only a minute," he said, and set off toward the cart
shed that had been set apart for his car, beyond the end of the house.
The doors had not been closed since Gees had taken out his Rolls-
Bentley, and Tyrrell had only to fling up the dickey cover of his old
two-seater, crank up the engine since the self-starter was too weak to
turn it, and drive out to halt before the doorway to the house.

"Hope you won't mind sitting behind, sir," he said to McCoul, and
switched on the headlights. "Gyda, here with me."

McCoul climbed in. Gyda seated herself beside Tyrrell, and he
drove off along the graveled way and out to the lane. They were near
the narrow stone bridge when he felt her hand clutch his arm.

"What?" he asked. "Did you leave anything behind?"

"No," she answered. "It was nothing," and her grasp relaxed.
"Only, as these hinds and serfs say, as if someone stepped across my
grave."

"Hinds and serfs." He puzzled over such an expression, but did not
question it, while he drove up to the standing stones and, passing
between them, went on across the grassy slope till he reached the end
of the causeway across the moat. There he stopped the car, and McCoul
got out.

"You will come in for a minute, Philip?" he asked, and took the
answer for granted. "I will go on ahead and light the lamp."

Then Tyrrell got down from the driving seat, went round to the
near side of the car, and opened the door. He took Gyda in his arms,
hungrily, as she stepped out, and held her.

"You've wakened so much--so much I never knew was in me," he said.
"Gyda, Gyda mine, it must be soon, very soon!"

"Can you come to see me tomorrow?" she asked.

"My darling, I'd come from the ends of the earth when you ask," he
answered. "Tomorrow--how soon?"

"In the afternoon, alone?"

"Darling, when you wish."

"And then, we can decide how soon--for always. My dear, it cannot
be too soon for me, as for you. And now you must come in, only for a
very little while, and then go. My dear--yes, I wait, too."

They passed along the causeway, Tyrrell's arm about her waist, and
her little white head laid against his shoulder. Before them, the
yellow oblong of light in the wall of the keep showed that McCoul had
lighted the Aladdin lamp, and they passed in, for a few moments
obscuring the dim ray laid along the grass.



Chapter XVII DINNER FOR FIVE-AND AFTER



THE clock in Odder church tower clanged out the half-hour as Gees
pulled on his hand-brake at the back of the vicarage, and, without
moving, he grinned down at Madge beside him.

"Seven-thirty and no blinkin' error," he said. "That is, if that
clock's right. Mine here says it's two minutes slow, and you're late
for dinner unless mine's a liar. I believe it's truthful."

"I'm not necessarily late for dinner," she said, and, opening the
door for herself, got out. "If I am, it was worth it. Come along and
let's see. Mind, they've got to lay an extra place for you. George,
you're a terrible lot of trouble, but you're worth it. Come along."

Following her, he found that she was wrong, for a place was
already laid for him. The vicar explained, with an air of modesty.

"We--er--well, you see, Mr. Green, my wife decided you had only
suggested taking Madge to Carlisle for tea, and--er--well, you would
acquire an appetite on the way back, and if we could persuade you to
stay and dine with us--er--well--quite possibly Mr. Tyrrell is not
expecting you back, although of course he might, but--er--do stay and
share our simple meal. I can ring through and tell him--"

"He's not expecting me," Gees said, "and I don't wish you to ring
him. Also, your daughter has already invited me, and as a final and
altogether conclusive reason, I'm glad of a chance of seeing you and
Mrs. Amber again. So I accept, with joy and goodly glee."

The vicar's eyes twinkled. "Glad you know your Burton," he said.
"I've studied him, and if I were a writer, I'd go to him for plots. I
have the original edition, with the sixteen pages that ought never to
have been printed. I keep it locked, of course--"

"Measly blighter!" Madge interposed. "But I'll find that key one
of these days, if it means picking your pockets."

"My dear, Jenny rang the gong just before you came in," her father
protested. "And you haven't even taken your hat off. Mr. Green, do let
me take you along to get rid of your coat and hat. I'm afraid we are
rather lax in our ideas of dinner time--my fault, mostly, but also we
must defer to the vagaries of a cook, to some extent. I fear she
regards me as a great sinner. There was a _souffle,_ once--a tragedy.
A perfect tragedy. It went--so!" He extended a hand floorward. "We
have never had a _souffle_ since. My wife and the cook are in unison
about it. One must treat one's cook, it seems, with a certain amount
of deference. Things have altered sadly since I was a young man."

"They're still altering," Gees assured him, following to the
alcove which served as a cloak room. He found a peg for his hat and
coat. "Now we won't keep Mrs. Amber waiting--lead on, sir, and I'll
follow."

The talk over the meal ran on general subjects for awhile. Harold,
it appeared, had decided on the Air Force as a career: both Mrs. Amber
and Madge, Gees concluded, knew more about recent books and plays than
he himself did, and the vicar, contributing an occasional remark,
proved himself fully conversant with topics of the day. After one of
his comments, he saw Gees' amused smile, and questioned it.

"I want to know how you all do it?" Gees asked in reply.

"How we all do what?" the vicar queried, slightly puzzled.

"Why, know so much of what's going on, when you're here as you
are."

"Quite simple, my dear Watson. I have, fortunately, a small income
of my own in addition to my stipend--the living is not a very good
one--and every year we take three weeks' holiday and make the most of
it, sometimes in our own country, and sometimes abroad. One can store
up much in three weeks, by the aid of white magic."

"That being?" Gees queried.

"Well, say the steam engine, the internal combustion engine, and a
few electrical devices, all of which would have been the rankest magic
a little more than a century ago, and not even considered white, in
all probability. And our rather older friend the printing press--magic
again, now that I can read today what happened on the other side of
the world yesterday. We have reached what I should call the beginning
of comprehension, touched the fringe of knowledge."

"A fairly deep fringe, surely," Gees urged thoughtfully.

"Oh, no! The veriest outer fringe, of no depth at all. The common
fallacy that is it more, and that man has made himself in reality a
lord of creation, leads to skepticism over all that remains to be
learned. Man has gone utterly material, let his machines master him,
and will believe only what he can see and prove by material means. The
vast field of the immaterial remains almost untouched. The why of
being, even the influence of the ductless glands on character."

"But the ductless glands are material enough, daddy," Madge urged.

"Character is not," he said dryly. "Then in the material--what is
electricity? We are no nearer the answer to that than men were in
Faraday's time. Apart from the veriest crust, the composition of the
interior of the earth is utterly unknown--there may be life within the
planet as well as on its surface, for all that we can tell. A little
while ago, all the elements of which matter is composed were said to
be known--but two outside the known range have since been discovered.
In every direction, we have to say we do not know, and your brief
investigations here should have convinced you that in yet another
field we know nothing at all, and discredit as superstition the little
that has been guessed."

"Other planes of being, that is," Gees suggested.

"If the cost of, say, a couple of battleships had been devoted to
research, man might have been master of the fourth dimension by now,"
the vicar answered indirectly. "There may come a day when we are no
longer fixed in time, but able to travel in it as we travel in space."

Madge looked across the table at Gees and smiled, as if to say
that she recalled his theory of such a possibility.

"Take a few machine guns back to the battle of Hastings," Harold
suggested, "and upset all the history books."

"But then we as we are should never have existed," Mrs. Amber
said.

"Do we exist?" Madge asked. "What is reality?"

"Coffee, my dear, I'm glad to say," the vicar answered her. "Mr.
Green, will you take yours with me in my study? We can rejoin the
others afterward, but I'd like a word or two with you first."

In the study, Gees faced his host questioningly.

"For one thing," Amber said, "will you tell me if you are going on
with your investigations, or giving up and leaving us?"

"I'm very far from giving up," Gees answered unhesitatingly.

"I am glad to hear it--very glad to hear it," the vicar observed.
"I believe you have--the right angle, let us say. Sufficient credulity
to accept the fantastic. That is, fantastic from the material,
commonplace standpoint. And you regard Locksborough as the centre of
the trouble, as I do?"

"Between ourselves, I regard McCoul as the originator of it," Gees
admitted frankly. "An experience I had there this morning proves to me
that the man is afraid of me--or afraid of what I may find out."

"Possibly. Also quite between ourselves, Mr. Green, I once met
McCoul and his daughter, exactly as they are now, nearly forty years
ago."

"I'm glad you mentioned that," Gees said. "Madge--your daughter--
told me of it today, while we were out. But are you sure?"

For a moment or two the vicar reflected, and then he nodded
gravely.

"In this way," he said. "I saw them quite plainly as they passed
me, noted things about them--eyes and hair, particularly. It is
possible that a son might resemble his father enough to be mistaken
for him when he has grown to the father's age. It is possible, too,
that a daughter might reproduce her mother's eyes and snow white hair,
but very unlikely that she would inherit both characteristics so as to
be mistaken for her mother. But the double coincidence--to me it is an
impossibility that both father and daughter should be exactly like
their immediate forbears. Make every allowance you like for possible
lapses of memory on my part, and still I say these two are the two I
saw then."

"I accept it as fact," Gees remarked quietly.

"One more thing, Mr. Green, and then we can go back to the others.
If your belief justifies you in taking any action against McCoul--if
you have any grounds for taking action--take it quickly."

"Yes?" Gees queried. "Where is the need for that?"

"Here, in Odder," the vicar answered. "Feeling against McCoul--and
against his daughter too--has been growing almost since they first
came to live at Locksborough. Tyrrell has alienated himself from
everyone by his association with them, and now it is known that he
intends to marry the daughter, he is almost as much outside the pale
of these people as the McCouls themselves. And Cottrill's death has
intensified the feeling against them to a dangerous point. Odder
almost openly accuses McCoul of being responsible for Cottrill's
death, instigating whatever caused it. The police can take no action
against him, I know, for they have no material evidence to connect him
with what has happened here. But the people of the village, and for
miles round--they are simple folk--rather primal in their instincts to
this day, and all the old beliefs and superstition have been roused to
full life among them. They might take action themselves, before long."

"Such as?" Gees asked.

"Such as setting fire to the castle, say. Putting themselves in
the wrong, putting McCoul in a very strong position, and possibly
ending any action you may contemplate. If they force Inspector Feather
and his men to take McCoul's part, for instance--"

He paused, and Gees thought it over. Certainly, if Feather had to
protect the McCouls, there would be an end to his co-operation in
these night watches--but Gees could not tell how long they must go on
without result. And he could see no other course but the one on which
he had determined: open accusation, or search on a warrant such as
Feather had suggested, he felt sure, would ruin everything. He shook
his head.

"I must risk it," he said. "I cannot take action yet."

"It is difficult, I know," the vicar reflected. "Against the
abnormal, normal planning or action would be useless. One personal
warning. Do not go to the bar of the inn alone. I know you have been
there with Cottrill, and with Tom Cotton too. But do not go alone--
remember, everyone here knows you are staying with Tyrrell."

"Yes, I see," Gees assented. "The feeling against the McCouls
might extend through him to me. But I think I have finished with that
bar."

Then Amber took him to the old-fashioned, comfortable drawing-room
of the house, and the four of them--Harold had disappeared--talked
until, at twenty minutes past nine, Gees rose and intimated that he
must go. When he had said his good-byes, Madge got ahead of her father
on the way to the door, and turned to Gees.

"Since you left your car at the back, it will be quicker to go out
that way," she suggested. "I'll show him, daddy--you needn't come."

She escorted Gees out by the back door, and went with him to the
car. There he opened the tool chest and took out an electric torch,
which he dropped into his overcoat pocket. Then he turned to the girl.

"No, get in," she bade. "I've something to say to you, after you
are inside, but not before."

"I am not taking the car just yet," he said. "It may remain here
for several hours, yet. I am going off on foot."

"Where?" She moved quite close to him and looked up into his face.

He shook his head. "I am not taking the car," he repeated.

"You're going after the grey things," she accused. "And Cottrill--
"

"Cottrill was alone--I shall not be," he pointed out.

"Then--but you know what they are--don't tell me any more. And it
was not for that I wanted to come out to speak to you, but because
of--of what happened this afternoon, just before you drove home. When
you stopped beside the road, and--you remember?"

"Do I remember, Madge!" he echoed, and smiled at her.

"Just this--it wasn't today that it happened. We came down from
the height that is out of time, just for a minute--a minute that does
not belong to any day we know. A little space apart from life as I
must live it--as you must live it. Not less sweet, not less dear, but
apart as a yesterday, or some tomorrow that we cannot see, now."

He put his arms round her. "Not less sweet, not less dear, than
you," he told her. "I understand, Madge, perhaps better than you
think."

"Then I can be happy in remembering it. Bless you, dear-good
night."

She withdrew herself from his hold and ran back into the house.

 * * * *

"Now, Inspector, the procedure is exactly as last night, except
that I want you with me outside the front entrance, and the sergeant
and Tom Cotton to watch the path at the back. All loaded and ready?"

"All ready," Feather answered. "But why the change?"

"Say that I want official support for both Tom and myself, instead
of our acting independently of you. Account for it in that way, if you
like. And we'll go--we ought to be in position by ten o'clock."

"Are you sure this is going to lead to anything?" Feather paused
to ask, after taking up one of the guns and making certain it was
loaded.

"I'm sure no other way is going to lead to anything, and sure
enough of this to forfeit that five hundred pounds if it doesn't,"
Gees snapped out acidly. "Do I write you the check now, or do we
start?"

"If we draw blank tonight," Feather said, "you can write it before
we start to-morrow night, and hand it to someone to hold either till I
call off and lose it or till your fortnight is up and you lose it."

"That's agreed," Gees remarked cheerfully. "Now let's get going."

Ten o'clock was striking as Cotton and Sergeant Rapkin settled
into their post that commanded the exit from the path through the
moat, and Gees went back with the inspector and crossed the causeway,
two silently flitting figures that disappeared altogether when they
lay down in the niche of the ruined gatehouse. The frontage of the
keep showed no light from any of its arrow slits, but, after a long
period of waiting, Gees saw the glow from the headlights of Tyrrell's
car advancing from Dowlandsbar. Then, since their niche was too near
the direct line between the causeway and the main entrance, while
ordinary people went by, he clambered on all fours, Feather following
him, to another secure shelter in the ruins. There they saw the car
halt, its headlamps striking a cone-shaped ray over them to end on the
wall of the keep, and McCoul came first alone and entered the place,
the heavy iron latch of the door clacking hollowly as he moved it.
Light showed from within soon after, both from the two arrow slits and
from the doorway itself, and after another, longer interval Tyrrell
and Gyda appeared, her silvery hair shining close to Tyrrell's
shoulder as he held her near to him. The two watchers heard her soft,
caressing voice--"My dear--yes, I wait, too," and then the pair passed
and disappeared within the keep. Gees noted that the door remained
open, for the entrance still showed as lighted. For just one moment he
felt compunction over thus spying on the lovers, but then he
remembered Cottrill's body, bloodless and mangled as he had seen it,
and forgot all softer thoughts.

Another long interval passed, and then Tyrrell and Gyda emerged
again. They passed to where the car stood, and, five minutes or more
later, Gees heard Tyrrell crank the engine to life. He had turned to
go out to the lane when Gyda returned across the causeway, and now
McCoul became visible, still in his evening clothes, and framed in the
doorway of the keep while his daughter advanced toward him.

"It is a perfect night," she said, quite audibly to the watchers.

"A hunting night," McCoul answered her, and laughed aloud.

Then they both went within the keep, but still, Gees noted, the
door remained open, and the light from the big, ground-floor room was
kept on. For a minute or less another faint light appeared in the
arrow slit that Gees knew now was in the wall of Gyda's room on the
first floor: it disappeared, and then came another long interval of
stillness. A little breeze sighed about the place, but so little sound
was there that Gees, his senses strained to full acuteness, could hear
his own wrist watch ticking. And then, he knew, fear came.

Silent as was the night itself, intangible, invisible, fear came
as he lay there watching the lighted doorway. Some hideousness, some
unnatural, devilish presence tensed his every nerve and chilled him.
He saw dimly that Feather, beside him, moved, and reached out to grip
the inspector's arm while, subduing his own terror in the need of
keeping his companion quiet, he managed to whisper, "Quiet!" and keep
his teeth from chattering. And Feather lay still again.

Something showed for an instant and no more in the lighted
entrance and, before either man could lift a gun, a grey shape passed
out along the causeway and was gone. Another followed, and, since the
two men were lying to leeward of the track, the foul smell that Gees
knew came to his nostrils for a moment. There had been no chance, no
time to fire a shot, before the things were gone. Then Gees stood up.

"Inspector," he said, keeping his voice very low, "I am going to
sign their death warrant." And, moving noiselessly across the grass,
he went to the door and closed it, lifting the latch by turning the
iron ring, and dropping it so that the door was fastened. He tried it
to make certain, and then returned to where Feather stood.

"Now we'll post ourselves closer," he whispered, "and when they
come back and stop against that closed door shoot, and don't miss."

"And then McCoul--arrest him," Feather whispered back. "He sent
them out. Get them first, then him."

"Aye, arrest McCoul!" Gees said aloud.

They moved up to within a few feet of the doorway, and there lay
down again. Time ceased to be. Gees thought of Cottrill, of the sheep
scattered and unguarded on the fells, of two things rending at
throats, drinking hot blood--a soft pattering on the grass, and he
nudged the man beside him gently. _They_ were returning.

He saw them, two shadows on the darkness. One went within the
thickness of the wall where the closed door was set, one held back, as
if waiting while its partner made a way, and, his gun already at his
shoulder, Gees aimed as nearly as he could in the gloom.

"Fire!" he bade sharply, and pressed his trigger.

An awful, half-human screech mingled with the report of his gun,
and then the crash of Feather's shot sounded beside him. He let off
the left barrel, aiming into the doorway, and again Feather's gun spat
flame. Then, on his feet, his automatic pistol ready in his right hand
and the electric light in his left, Gees went to where the grey thing
outside the doorway wriggled hideously and yapped in a wolfish way--a
pellet had struck some nerve centre, and with blood pouring from its
chest the thing jerked about on the grass. Gees put the pistol to its
ear and pressed the trigger, and all movement ceased.

He rayed the light into the doorway, where the smaller, paler one
of the two lay quite still, its green-flecked, amber eyes glaring in
death, its evenly set little teeth exposed in a wolf's grin. But the
eyes of the one through whose brain Gees had sent a bullet were black
as the night.

"My God, we've got 'em!" Feather said, half-incoherently. "Got 'em
at last! Got 'em! And now--and now for McCoul!"

"And now for McCoul," Gees echoed grimly.

"He's guilty--they're his, and he let 'em out," Feather declared
excitedly. "And he knows we're after him--else, he'd have opened this
door with all this shooting going on. Wait, though! Let's call in the
sergeant and your man Cotton. My God, what a night!"

But the night was not over yet, Gees knew. He waited while the
inspector went to the corner of the keep and, cupping his hands about
his mouth, sent out a stentorian call--"Rapkin! Errrapkin!" that went
in bellowing echoes down into the hollows--perhaps, Gees thought,
crossed to strike on Tyrrell's ears at Dowlandsbar.

He played the ray of his torch over the two dead grey shapes. They
were wolves in build, but far bigger than any wolf he had ever seen.
The grizzled-furred, larger one of the two was male, and the other,
with finer, lighter fur and green-flecked amber eyes, female--there
was no doubt, now, in Gees mind as to what they were.

"Could be destroyed. I repeat that--could be destroyed. Don't
think for one moment that they are immortal."

He remembered the vicar in his study, insistent on his theory. The
black magic that had evoked these shapes had failed, and they had been
destroyed. Then Feather returned from his summoning.

"He answered me--they're coming back," he said. "I wonder--no, we
won't try to make an entry till they get here. Then--"

He broke off and stood musing. At his return, Gees had switched
off his torch, and the things on the ground were no more than outlined
shapes, the smaller one a mere dimness in the shadow of the doorway--
until, at a thought, Feather stooped over it, seized it by its tail
and a hind leg, and dragged it out beside its fellow. He made a little
exclamation of disgust as he straightened himself after his task.

"It's heavy," he said after a pause. "Heavier than you'd think."

And, after another brief period of waiting for Rapkin and Cotton:

"Where the devil did he _get_ such things?"

"Aye, where the devil?" Gees echoed grimly.

Rapkin and Tom Cotton came trotting across the causeway, and Gees
flicked on his light as guidance for them. He looked up the blank,
grim frontage of the keep, and saw the stars overhead. Then, gazing
downward, he rayed the torch momentarily on to each carcass, that the
two men might see them as they approached.

"By gum, you got 'em both!" Tom Cotton exclaimed. "And now,"
Feather said, "I want you all with me while I round off the night's
work by arresting McCoul."

"On what charge?" Gees asked dryly.

The inspector, ignoring the question, went into the doorway and,
grasping the iron ring of the latch, used it as a knocker. His use of
it sounded like the tat-tat-tat of a machine gun, and he released the
handle and stood before the door, waiting.

But there was no sound of movement from within. A thin, faint line
of light between the door and its framing showed that the lamp inside
had not been extinguished, but, though Feather knocked again after an
interval, and waited again, the door remained closed.



Chapter XVIII CHANGE AT DAWN



"IF they're not going to open it," Feather said resolutely, "I
am." He turned the handle and pushed at the door. It swung inward,
revealing a section of the lighted apartment. Feather went inside and
turned to call to the other three waiting without:

"Come in, all of you! They've gone upstairs, or somewhere."

"Probably somewhere," Gees said to himself as he went in. He
looked at his wrist watch. There was a heavy task yet to be done, but
it was not yet an hour past midnight, and dawn was still far off.

"Not here, obviously," Feather said, looking round the apartment
in which not so much as a cat could have hidden. He lifted his voice
and shouted toward the staircase in the corner--"McCoul? Mister
McCoul?"

He waited, but there was no response, no sound of any kind. Gees
gazed round the big apartment, saw the long settee angled away from
the farther fireplace, and the dead white ash of burned logs.

"Those things outside," he said abruptly.

"Well?" Feather turned on him and rasped the word out, harshly.
"They're dead enough, aren't they?"

"Yes," Gees assented quietly. "Who killed them?"

"Who killed them?" Feather echoed, in angry surprise at the
question. "Why, we did, didn't we? I can claim as much credit as you
over it, except for your putting a bullet through the head of the big
one."

"Yes." Gees' voice was still very quiet. "I want you to claim
equal credit with me, Inspector. More, if you like."

"We killed them," Feather insisted. "Both of us fired both
barrels. But they can wait. McCoul!" He shouted again. "He's
upstairs," he said. "Inside these tremendous walls, they may not have
heard us shoot."

Gees shook his head, but did not reply. Rapkin and Tom Cotton,
their guns under their arms, stood together, silent and waiting, and
the utter, soundless stillness of the place was an oppression.

"Yes, they're upstairs," Feather said at last. "I'm going after
'em, too. That other lamp, there--light it, Sergeant, and come up with
me. Mr. Green, either you or Cotton ought to stay down here, to see
that they don't go out some other way."

He looked round the bare walls. "But there's only the one way," he
added. "If we bolt that door and shove the settee in front of it, we
shall know if they do go out. And they can't get far."

"No," Gees agreed. "They can't get far."

"Give me a hand, Sergeant," Feather ordered. He went to the
settee, and Rapkin followed him. The two of them carried the settee
over to the doorway, where Feather, putting down his end, closed and
bolted the door top and bottom, and then they ranged the settee across
so that the door could not be opened until it had been moved again.

"Better so," Feather said. "We shall know now if they go out, and
in a place like this it's best to keep together. Light that lamp
there, Sergeant." He pointed to an unlighted lamp on a deal table by
the back wall. "With that and your torch, Mr. Green, we should be all
right. We can't have too much light--this place gives me the creeps,
and we don't know the way about upstairs."

"I can tell you," Gees said. "You come first to a doorway that
leads to a bathroom and another room over the main doorway, in the
thickness of the wall. The next door-way leads on to the floor above
us, where you'll find two bedrooms, one for McCoul and the other for
his daughter, and a dining-room, with a separate staircase leading
down to Ammon's quarters. Over that again is an empty room which takes
up the whole area of the keep, then comes the roof McCoul had put in,
and above that are the battlements--the four bare walls."

"How do you know this?" Feather demanded, with a tinge of
suspicion.

"I know it," Gees answered composedly, "because McCoul showed me
over the place when Tyrrell and I came here this morning--yes, it was
only this morning, though it seems much longer ago than that."

"Well, hand me that lamp, Sergeant, and I'll go first. They don't
mean to come down, evidently. You follow me, and keep that gun handy,
but with the safety catch on. Mr. Green, and you, Cotton, I want you
to come up too. If there's any trouble--resistance, or anything, I may
want you both for evidence, later on."

"I wouldn't stop down here alone," Tom Cotton said, "not for all
the gold in England."

"It may be silly, but I feel rather like that myself," Feather
admitted, and took the lamp from Rapkin. "Come along--I'll go first."

Gees went last. The little party came to the first exit from the
spiral stair, and Feather halted and half-turned about.

"This the way to the bathroom?" he called back to Gees below him.

"Yes--and another room farther along." He switched on his torch.
"You and the sergeant can take the light and look--Cotton and I will
wait here, so that nobody can go up or down without our seeing them."

They waited while the lamp receded along the passage. After an
interval Feather returned, the silent Rapkin following him closely.

"Nothing," he said. "That room at the end--there's holes in the
floor and in the outside wall, too, but not big enough for anyone to
get through. Iron rust on the stones, as if there'd been chains,
once."

"Quite right--windlass chains," Gees told him. "Now will you go
first? McCoul's bedroom is on the right, his daughter's on the left."

With the light from the lamp to guide him up the worn, uneven
treads of the staircase, Feather wound on upward until he stepped out
to the corridor of the first floor. Gees, coming out beside him,
pointed.

"McCoul's room," he said.

The door of the room was open, as was that of the larger apartment
opposite, which McCoul had said was Gyda's. Feather went along and,
standing in McCoul's doorway, held the lamp above his head.

"McCoul?" he said sharply. "Mr. McCoul?"

But there was no response, and after a second he stepped into the
room and looked behind the door. Gees, advancing to look in, saw
McCoul's evening clothes dropped carelessly on a chair, and his
underclothing, socks, and shoes, in a little heap beside the bed,
which had been made and left tidy. Feather gazed at Gees.

"Odd," he said, "they're what he was wearing when he came back
here in that car. He must have changed."

"Yes, he changed," Gees said.

Feather stepped out into the corridor, and, again holding the lamp
high, looked into the other room. The shimmering grey frock Gyda had
worn had been laid carefully on the tidy bed, and at the foot of the
bed was a little heap of underclothing, with silk stockings hanging
over the edge, and grey satin shoes on the rug. After a moment's
hesitation and utter stillness Feather stepped inside, and saw the
room was empty of human presence. He emerged again.

"That other door," he said. "Do you know?"

"The dining-room," Gees told him. "You'd better look in there
too."

"McCoul?" Feather shouted again. Then he went toward the dining-
room door, which was closed, and laid his hand on the handle.

"I don't like this," he said uneasily. "I don't like it at all."

He turned the handle and pushed at the door, and it swung wide. He
entered, Gees following him, and the other two moved along the passage
to look in. Feather pointed at the door that he faced.

"Where does that lead--do you know?" he asked.

"Down to Ammon's quarters, McCoul told me," Gees answered. "I have
not been down, though, so I don't know what it's like."

"Well, the door is bolted on this side," Feather observed.

"We can come back and take that later, if they're not hiding
higher up. They are hiding somewhere--and they must have heard the
shots, after all."

"Yes, I think they heard the shots," Gees said very quietly.

"Let's look up on the next floor," Feather said, and emerged to
the corridor again. "I'll go first, as before."

Without emerging from the stairway, he looked into the big, empty
room above by the light of the lamp he carried. "Not here," he said,
his puzzlement evident in his voice. "And higher?" Moving the lamp
back to light the stairway, he revealed a heavy wooden door that had
stood open when Gees had ascended to the battlements with McCoul, but
now was closed and bolted top and bottom.

"Not up there, unless there's some other way," Feather said. "They
couldn't go up this way and bolt the door from this side. That man
Ammon--he may know something. Let's go and see."

So they went down again, and, unbolting and opening the door in
the dining-room, Feather revealed another stairway spiraling down, but
ending on this floor. He entered, and the other three followed him, to
emerge into a sort of kitchen in which stood a paraffin cooking stove
and other ordinary kitchen furniture. Then another door, and in the
little room to which it led Shaun Ammon slept in a narrow bed by the
far wall, while yet another door bolted on the inside was visible--it
was the one that led out at the back of the castle, Gees felt sure,
and the water tank he had seen was on the outer side.

Feather went to the bed and bending over it, shook the sleeper.

"Wake up!" he bade sharply. "I want to question you."

But he won no response. The man in the bed lay still.

"Here, you!" Feather shouted angrily, and shook him again, more
vigorously. "Wake up, I tell you!"

Ammon slept on, his breathing heavy and even.

"Shamming!" Feather exclaimed disgustedly.

"No," Gees said.

He moved up beside the bed, and, reaching down carefully, managed
to lift one of the sleeping man's eyelids. Only the white of the eye
showed, as Feather, looking down, saw.

"What is it, then?" he asked. "Drugs?"

"No, not drugs," Gees answered. "I think you'll find it's post-
hypnotic suggestion, and McCoul had him under control, so that he goes
to sleep at a certain hour and wakes at a certain hour. Best leave him
for the present. In that state, he couldn't let them out at the back
and bolt the door after they'd gone. Besides, the door at the top of
this stair was bolted on the other side, so they didn't come down
here."

"Then where are they?" Feather demanded sharply. "We saw them come
in, and they didn't go out again by the front. Where the devil are
they? Here, let's go back and see if they've slipped past us somehow."

Passing through the kitchen, he went up the stair again and, after
the other three had emerged to the dining-room, bolted the door at the
top. Then he went on and, entering Gyda's room, opened the door of a
wardrobe and looked within. Some dresses hung there, and nothing else.
Feather crossed to McCoul's room and looked in another wardrobe,
vainly. He came out, and for some seconds stood irresolute, puzzled.

"Let's go down," he said at last. "They may have slipped past us."

But, in the ground floor room, the light of the hanging lamp
showed the settee still standing before the barred outer door. Feather
put down his lamp on a table by the fireplace, and shook his head.

"Secret passages," he said. "A place like this--"

Gees glanced at his wrist watch. Dawn was far off yet, he saw.

"I don't know." Feather moved toward the fireplace, thinking. Then
he reached out and grasped one of two round iron bars, each nearly six
feet in length, that leaned against the outer corner of the fire
place. "Odd sort of pokers," he remarked. "Used for levering big logs
about, I suppose." He pulled the bar to the perpendicular, as if to
feel its weight, and then leaned it against the wall again.

"Now I know!" Gees exclaimed abruptly.

"Know what?" Feather asked. "Where they've hidden?"

But Gees did not answer. He went to the foot of the spiral
stairway, slid aside a rug, and lifted out the two sections of
planking that concealed the entrance to the dungeons. But he could not
lift the stone beneath, though two recesses at one end gave him hand-
hold.

"Come and lend me a hand, Inspector," he asked.

Feather, already beside him, bent to lift at the stone. Between
them they got it up on end, and revealed the stain going down.

"But they couldn't have put the boards back," Feather objected.

"Not that. Now we're here--those iron bars. McCoul showed me more
than he meant this morning, and I'm sure--come down with me."

He went to the fireplace and took up one of the bars. It was all
he could carry down the stairs, he knew, and he beckoned to Tom
Cotton.

"You bring the other, Tom," he bade. "Light us down, Inspector."

After only a moment's hesitation Feather moved and took up the
lamp, which he had not extinguished. Gees switched on his torch and
handed it to Rapkin before taking up the iron bar.

"You may need more light," he said. "The stairs are slippery."

Then he went down, Cotton following him with the second bar.

"Straight on, Inspector," he bade. "The room at the end."

They emerged to the torture chamber, and the light of the lamp
revealed its ghastly fitments. But, without heeding them, Gees went to
the raised stone block in the middle, and Feather stood over it with
the lamp in his hand, the light falling on the recessed shape of a
human figure chiseled in it, and the black-stained runners that told
what its use had been. Stooping, Gees looked at the exits of the
runnels.

"Yes, as I thought," he said, and fitted the end of his bar into a
circular hole in the side of the stone. "You'll find another hole like
this, Tom, at that end, where the deep groove comes out to the side.
And I think you'll find that bar fits in, if you try it."

He was right. Each bar ran about a foot into the stone, leaving
nearly five feet sticking out horizontally.

"Now, with me, Tom--get all the leverage you can, and lift. He
shouldn't have let me see the bits of cement he'd chipped away where
the stone fits to the floor. Ready? Now--all your strength--lift!"

He put all his own strength to the task. Slowly the massive block
of stone came up, like the lid of a box, and revealed a cavity
beneath. They lifted the stone beyond its point of balance, and let it
thud over on to its side, and the two bars stuck out from it
perpendicularly, now. Feather held the lamp so that its light shone
into the cavity, and Rapkin, standing at the end, rayed the light of
the torch in too.

"Heavens above us!" Feather whispered, as if robbed of his voice
by what he saw.

At the end where Rapkin stood, a heap of dull yellow coins. Beyond
them, the sheen of gems set in golden ornaments, heaped
indiscriminately. There was a crucifix of gold, blazing with great
diamonds; there were jeweled bracelets and brooches, golden cups--one
filled with heavy, jeweled rings; there was the red fire of rubies,
and the cold green glitter of emeralds, and, since all the cavity was
filled with these things, the actual bulk of the treasure was beyond
their ascertaining. After a long, long silence Gees put one foot
across to the far edge of the cavity, and gripped the bar he had
lifted.

"I thought you had better see it, Inspector," he said. "Tom, catch
hold at your end and let's cover it in again."

"A king's ransom," Feather said, in an awed way.

"Blood and torment--murder and worse than murder went to the
making of that collection," Gees said. "It will rank as treasure-
trove--which is why I wanted you to see it. Heave hard, Tom."

But it was not until Feather set down his lamp, and both he and
Rapkin pushed at the bars from the other side, that the stone came
over and dropped back into its place. Then Feather took up the lamp.

"Will it be safe like that?" he asked.

"Only we four know," Gees answered, "and if McCoul hadn't shown me
the way down here I should never have guessed it. Ben Latimer knows
where the staircase is, but no more. And you'll report it, I suppose."

"Certainly I shall report it," Feather answered. "Another charge
against McCoul, concealing treasure-trove and perverting it to his own
use. That is--I suppose he knew it was there, though."

"If you look over there"--Gees pointed at the heap of rusted,
ancient pincers and other things of terror beside the moldering
brazier--"you'll see a perfectly new heavy hammer--or nearly new,
rather--and the cold chisel he used to chip away the cement from the
edges of this stone. But even then I didn't guess, not until I saw
these two bars and realized how he'd lifted it. Alone, probably--he
was as strong as two ordinary men. And his daughter wore some part of
this stuff as ornaments, proof that he knew of it."

They went back, and Gees replaced the stone and planks by the foot
of the spiral stairway, and slid the rug back into its place.

Feather gazed at the settee across the doorway, and shook his
head.

"They can't get far," he said in a low voice, as if to himself.
"She's too conspicuous with that hair of hers--and so is he."

Again Gees looked at his watch. Time, but not too much time,
remained for what he knew he had yet to do. He went over to the settee
and pulled off the cushion which covered all its length.

"And now I want some rope," he said. He looked round the room. By
the wall opposite the door stood a small, sham-antique, carved oak or
pseudo-oak chest. Opening it, he found and took out a ball of heavy
white cord, and, unwinding a length, tested its strength as fully as
he could.

"Good enough, I think," he commented in a satisfied way.

"It's McCoul's property," Feather reminded him, "and so is that
settee cushion you chucked on the floor. What do you want to do?"

"Burn those two carcasses," Gees answered calmly.

"What?" Feather barked it out. "Evidence--burn them?"

"Inspector," Gees said coolly, "four of us here are witnesses that
those two beasts have been destroyed. Get other witnesses if you like,
but I'm going to burn those carcasses before dawn."

"I'm damned if you are!" Feather exclaimed heatedly.

"When you began this," Gees reminded him, "you agreed to put
yourself under my orders, and now I hold you to that. I am going to
burn those two carcasses outside, on a pile made ready down by the
stone bridge, and do it before daylight, too. I intend to tie them on
to this cushion, and use it as a sled--drag them there. Tom, are you
willing to help me? It's got to be done."

"Aye, Mr. Green, you're right--you've been right all along," Tom
said gravely. "I'll help to burn the cursed things, lest worse come to
us. Unless what you reckon might hap is already happed."

"Hand me my torch, Sergeant," Gees bade curtly. He dragged aside
the settee, shot back the bolts, and opened the door. Then he rayed
the torch out through the doorway, and Tom looked out over his
shoulder. Rapkin, too, gazed out.

"God above us!" The sergeant gave vent to the exclamation in a
frightened way. "Neither of 'em's got a tail!"

"Rot, man!" Feather pushed him aside to look along the ray of
light. "I saw their tails when I dragged the littler one out of the
way after we shot 'em. What are you talk--"

He broke off. Gees dropped the light from the carcasses, and
turned to see the inspector's face whiter than before.

"What's wrong, Inspector?" he asked coolly.

"What--I'd have sworn--" Feather stammered, and did not end it.

"You would have sworn right," Gees answered. "Now, man, before the
change completes itself, do we burn them? You claim equal credit with
me for shooting them, remember. Do we burn them, before dawn?"

"Yes," Feather gasped after a long pause. "Yes--Oh, my God, yes!
Quick! I'd never believe if I hadn't seen--that. Quick--yes!"

"Then put that standing lamp in the doorway to give us light
enough to tie them on the cushion," Gees bade, "and then we can drag
them down the lane to the pile laid ready near the stone bridge. Come
on, Tom."

 * * * *

"Now. One--two--three--heave!"

Grasping the hind legs of the larger of the two beasts, while Tom
Cotton held the forepaws, Gees swung the carcass, and with the last
word let go. The thing fell into the centre of the brushwood pile, and
sank from their sight--Sergeant Rapkin held the electric torch as
guide for their movements. They took up the smaller, whitish-furred
beast in the same way and heaved again, and it fell and lay partly
visible across its fellow. Then Gees filled the pail that had been
left there from one of the cans of paraffin, and flung it on the pile.
Again he filled and threw the fluid, again and yet again, until eight
cans were empty.

"Sixteen gallons, master," Tom said. "Enough, surely."

"We can see if it is," Gees said, and, sweating from his labors,
struck a match and held it to the pile for a second or more. Rapkin
switched off the torch: light was growing in the east, and had grown
enough already to reveal all things clearly. He stood back.

A flickering, feeble flame among the brushwood showed that it had
caught alight, and Gees stepped back hastily. Then with a roar a
column of flame and black, oily smoke shot heavenward, and wavered
toward Dowlandsbar in the light dawn breeze. In the cast, the first
purpling of clouds before the rising of the sun appeared. Feather
stood back, staring at the roaring pile. Under their canopy of smoke
and flame, the two carcasses were invisible. The wood was damp, Gees
knew: there was more of smoke than flame in the roaring, crackling
pillar.

"What--what are you doing, Gees?"

Tyrrell leaped the fence between the lane and the fire with the
shout, and came up beside Feather as Gees turned, wiping his forehead
with the back of his hand.

"Ending it," he answered, and took up one of the two remaining
full cans of paraffin. He unscrewed the cap, and tilted the can over
the pail, emptying it and putting it down again. As he straightened
himself, he saw Tyrrell, scantily clad under his overcoat, beside him.

"You mean--you've got them?" Tyrrell asked eagerly. "I heard
shooting in the night, and your voices here just now, and came--"

But then he broke off, his eyes wide with horror, his outstretched
hand pointing at the pile. The strengthening breeze had slanted the
fire, and for a few moments all that lay there was visible.

"Look! Look!" Tyrrell screamed awfully.

In the centre of the fire there showed the white roundness of a
woman's bare breast, and there was just a glimpse of snow white hair--
but Gees lifted the pail and flung its contents as Tyrrell dropped in
a fit beside him. Again black smoke hid all that the pyre held.

"See to him," Gees said to Feather. "Tom and I will see to the
fire. Get him away--carry him away, before he comes round."

Nearly an hour later, Gees and Tom Cotton went among the hot
ashes, heedless of spoiling their footgear, and, kicking aside the
bits of logs that yet glowed, crushed to powder such of the bones and
skulls as the fire had left whole.

"What's going on at Dowlandsbar, Tom?" Gees asked as they finished
this last task and came back to cool ground.

"They've put Mr. Tyrrell to bed," Tom answered, "an' the inspector
telephoned for Doctor Markham. Not that he's real bad, it seems, but
the inspector reckoned he wanted him in bed for awhile."

"Yes, he would," Gees said thoughtfully. "And four of us can take
oath that we threw two beasts on the fire and burned them to ashes."

"Aye," Tom assented gravely. "Only just in time, though."

Gees gazed toward the lane. His face was grimed with smoke from
the fire; there were splashes of paraffin on his clothes, and greenish
stains from the dungeon walls of Locksborough. The breeze of dawn had
failed, and the world lay very still in the early morning sunlight.

"I'll go and get my car, I think," Gees said.



Chapter XIX FOUR LETTERS



"EVE MADELEINE," Gees told himself "Punctual to the minute over
her lunch, the darling."

He gave the girl time to install herself in her own room, then
went out from his office, opened her door, and stood in the doorway.
She gazed up at him over her typewriter.

"Afternoon, Miss Brandon," he said. "Anything doing?"

"A few inquiries I have not yet acknowledged, Mr. Green," she
answered coldly. "I rang through to the number you gave me the day
before yesterday, and was told by Mr. Tyrrell that you had left and he
could give me no more information. So I held everything over until I
could hear from you."

"Quite so." Advancing into the room, he seated himself on the
corner of her desk. "I stepped aside into Shropshire--or rather, the
car did--to tickle the aurochs under their chins and see how badly my
poor papa is getting swindled through not looking after his own
property. Remind me to draft an advertisement for a new bailiff for
the home farm, later on. The present one accepted his resignation
before I left this morning. Accepted it as a _fait accompli,_ I mean.
Now about these inquiries of yours. Anything very pressing?"

"They are all here." She indicated a pile of a dozen or so opened
letters, with two unopened ones on top. "Will you go through them?"

"In a minute. What about our Sussex wife-poisoner?"

"It was about him I rang you. He sent his two guineas, and I
acknowledged the check and made the appointment as you told me. He
rang up on receipt of my letter and asked if it would not be possible
for you to see him earlier--he offered to pay all your expenses if you
would go and see him at his home, and said it was very urgent."

"Then it is--to him," Gees said. "But he's not me. Write and tell
him I'll call on the appointed date, if he likes, not before. I'm much
too important to be hurried. Gee-whiz, it's good to be back!"

"Then you didn't enjoy your stay in Cumberland," she observed.

"What I meant is that it's good to look at a motor-bus and feel
reasonably sure it won't turn into a sedan chair or a Roman war
chariot while you wait," he explained mystifyingly. "It was--well,
what you might call educative. Broadening the old mind, and all that.
If I told you lycanthropy is a reality, you'd probably start walking
up the wall--or out for good--so I won't assert it. But it is, all the
same. And these?" He took up the two unopened letters, and saw that
both were postmarked "Odder." Then he gazed at the top sheet of the
opened scripts. "Hullo!" he said, and took it up to read:

"Green Esq..

"37, Little Oakfield Street.

"London, S.W. I.

"Dear Sir.

"On returning from my attendance on Mr. Tyrrell, I was hopeful of
seeing you again. I have to thank you for your assistance in the
Dowlandsbar case, which I do. So far, your unexpected absence has made
no difference, but, in the event of any questions arising over what
happened at Locksborough Castle and the subsequent destruction of the
two animals, I trust I may count on your support of my statement as to
their being animals and nothing else.

"I shall be glad to have your assurance on this point.

"Yours faithfully.

"ARTHUR D. FEATHER (Inspector)."

"Write and assure him that they were animals, Miss Brandon," Gees
said. "Put it in the first person, and say that I'm surprised at his
questioning it. Ask him if he thinks they were insects--no, don't put
that in, though. Just that I'm surprised, and they were animals. Of
the wolf family, but you needn't mention that either. Now I'll just
have a look at these, before dealing with the inquiries."

He put down Feather's letter and opened one of the envelopes he
held. A pink slip fluttered down from the letter he took out and
unfolded, and he inspected the slip first and handed it to the girl.

"I'll endorse it for paying in presently," he said. "Hold on."

And he began to read:

"Dear Green.

"Among other things, you forgot your fee. I enclose check for 50
pounds, as agreed between us.

"With regard to the suitcase and contents that you left here this
morning, could you give me some instructions? Do you wish the case
repacked and sent to your London address? I hope that is your wish,
and that you do not intend to return here, as, in spite of the great
weight you have lifted from my mind, on the one hand, on the other
what I saw this morning makes me wish never to see you again. I think
of going abroad for a year or two.

"Thanking you for all you have done.

"Very truly yours.

"PHILIP LESLIE TYRRELL."

"Aha!" Gees said. "Take a letter, Miss Brandon. 'Dear Tyrrell,
many thanks for yours with enclosure. I shall be glad if you will
repack and send the suitcase to me at this address, all charges
forward. Your decision to go abroad is a good one. Yours faithfully.'
And stick on a twopenny stamp for me to sign across, Miss Brandon--let
us by all means be formal and correct. Now the next."

He opened it, and found two letters inside. After glancing at both
he began on the longer of the two:

"Dear Mr. Green.

"I am sorry that your departure from Odder was so sudden that we
had not the pleasure of seeing you again. I have just had a long talk
with Tom Cotton, who told me all that he knows of what you did at
Locksborough, and what you saw in the fire. He saw it too, he tells
me--in confidence, since Inspector Feather has ordered him to keep his
mouth shut. I can only suppose that, with the directing will gone, the
bodies gradually returned to their normal shapes, and that you burned
them only just in time. I can see no other explanation.

"Already, with the knowledge that the beasts are destroyed, the
whole atmosphere of the place is different. There is relief evident in
the looks and voices of men and women alike, and the children play and
go about again happily. We owe you much, and if you come this way
again, you will find a very sincere welcome awaiting you from us all.
I trust that you will find your way here, and that we may have the
pleasure of entertaining you to the best of our ability.

"Madge, who is posting this, is putting in a letter of her own to
you, she tells me. As for the rest of us, you have our very warmest
regard, and our wishes--my prayers, too--for success and happiness in
your career and all your life.

"Sincerely yours.

"WALTER E. AMBER."

"Stout feller," Gees murmured. "I'll answer this myself. One more,
and then we'll look at the inquiries."

He unfolded Madge's letter.

"George, dear.

"I saw you go off in the car--my bedroom window looks out at the
back--but I naturally thought you were going back to Dowlandsbar. And
you drove off in that awful suit, apparently to London! George, you're
iniquitously careless of yourself.

"When daddy told me of last night and what you had done, I just
thanked God for keeping you from harm.

"Although you wouldn't stop to say good-bye, I'm still happy over
our drive, every minute of it. Shall ever see you again, I wonder?

"Over what you asked me about Philip Tyrrell, when I told you it
was quite impossible and still mean it, we hear _via_ the Annie-Jenny
news service that he is putting in an elderly married cousin of his,
complete with wife, and going quite away, probably for a long time.
But the sheep will remain, now, and Tom Cotton and his Effie will see
Mrs. Nevern's baby toddle round.

"George, don't quite forget.

"MADGE."

Gees got off the corner of the desk.

"I'll answer these to make sure of the country post, Miss
Brandon," he said. "The inquiries can come next."

Back in his own room he wrote:

"Madge, dear.

"Some time, by what your father told me, you will be in London
again. I want you to write and promise that you will let me know in
good time, and that you will not go back without seeing me. My flight
from Odder--your father would understand it, I feel sure, and so will
you, when I tell you.

"Yes, we shall meet again. Bless, you, dear.

"GEES (_not_ George!).

"P.S. I am sending the suit to be cleaned."

He folded the letter, put it in an envelope, and wrote the
address. Then he took another sheet of paper and began writing to
Amber.



THE END



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