She pulled a stroke or two in silence, and then
" When you were in the cabin together I was listen-
ing. At one point I think I must have fainted ; but it
cannot have been for long, for when I came to myself
you were still talking about — about John Kailton.""
I remembered the sound which I had heard, and
almost in spite of myself asked, '' You heard about — ^'
" Claire ? Yes, I heard. ■'•' She nodded simply ; but
her eyes sought mine, and in them was a gleam that
made me start.
Just then the boat touched at a mouldering flight of
stairs, crusted with green ooze to high-water mark, and
covered now with snow. She made fast the boat.
" This was the way he went,^^ she muttered. " Track
him, track him to his death ; spare him no single pang
to make that death miserable ! " Her low voice posi-
tively trembled with concentrated hate. " Stay," she
said, " have you money ? "
8'3fi DEAD man's rock.
I suddenly remembered tliat I had given all the
money on me to Bagnell for gettinfj out my boat, and
told her so. At the same moment, too, I thought upon
the tin box still lying under the boat's stern. I stepped
aft and pulled it out.
'' Here is money/' she said ; " money that I was to
have given him. Fifty puunds it is, in notes — take it
"But you?" I hesitated.
"Never mind me. Take it — take it all. What do
I want with money if only you kill him ?"
1 bent and kissed her hand.
" As Heaven is my witness," 1 said, " it shall be his
life or mine. The soul of one of us shall never see
Her hand was as cold as iee, and her pale face never
" Kill him ! " she said, simply.
I turned, and climbed the stei)s. By this time day
had broken, and the east was streaked with angry flushes
of crimson. The wind swept through my dripping
clothes and froze my aching limbs to the marrow. Up
the river came floating a heavy pall of fog, out of which
the masts showed like grisly skeletons. The snow-storm
had not quite ceased, and a stray flake or two came
bi'ushing across my .face. So dawned my Christmas
As I gained the top, I turned to look down. She
was still standing there, watching me. Seeing me look,
''KILL him!'' 337
she waved her ai'ms_, and I heard her hoarse whisper,
" Kill him ! Kill him ! Kill him ! "
I left her standing- so, and turned away ; but in the
many ghosts that haunt my solitary days, not the least
vivid is the phantom of this white - haired woman
on the black and silent river, eternally beckoning,
I found myself in a yard strewn with timber, spars
and refuse, half hidden beneath the snow. From it a
flight of rickety stone steps led to a rotting door, and
thence into the street. Here I stood for a moment,
pondering on my next step. Not a soul was abroad so
early ; but I must quickly get a change of clothes some-
Avhere ; at present I stood in my torn dress trousers and
soaked shirt. I passed up the street, my shoeless feet
making the first prints in the newly-fallen snow. The
first ? No ; for when I looked more closely I saw other
footprints, already half obliterated, leading up the street.
These must be Simon Colliver's. I followed them for
about a hundred yards past the shuttered windows.
Suddenly they turned into a shop door, and then
seemed to leave it again. The shop was closed, and
above it hung three brass balls, each covered now with
a snowy cap. Above, the blinds were drawn down, but
on looking again, I saw a chink of lig-ht between the
shutters. I knocked.
After a short pause, the door was oj)ened. A ved-
eyed, villainous face peered out, and seeing me, grew
l)lauk with wonder.
:i"l^ DEAD man's hock.
"What do 30U want ? ^' inquired at Icns^tli tlie
voice belong! no- to it.
" To buy a fresh suit of clothes. See, 1 have fallen
into the river."
MutterinfT something beneath his bvoath, the pawn-
broker opened his door, and let me into the shop.
It was a dingy nest, iitttnl up with the usual furni-
ture of such a jdace. The one dim candle threw a
ghostly light on chairs, clocks, comi^asses, trinkets, sauce-
]Kins, watches, j)iles of china, and suits of left-ofF clothes
arrayed like rows of suicides along the wall. A general
air of decay hung over the den. Immetliately opposite
me, as I entered, a stuffed parrot, dropping slowly into
dust, glared at me with one malevolent eye of glass,
while a hideous Chinese idol, behind the counter, poked
out his tongue in a very frenzy of malignity. But my
eye wandered past these, and was fixed in a moment
upon something that glittered upon the counter. That
something was my own watch.
Following my gaze, the man gave me a quick,
suspicious glance, hastily caught up the wnteh, and was
bestowing it on one of his shelves, when I said —
" Where did you get that ? "
" Quite innocently, sir, I swear. I bought it of a
gentleman who came in just now, and would not jiawn
it. I thought it was his, so that if you belong to the
Force, I hope "
" Gently, my friend,-"' said I ; " I am not in the
police, so you need not be in such a fright. Nevertheless,
AT THE pawnbroker's. 339
that wateli is mine ; I can tell you the number, if j^ou
don^'t believe it/''
He pushed the watch across to me and said, still
g-reatly frightened —
" I am sure you may see it, sir, with all my heart.
I wouldn't for worlds — - — ""
'' What did you give for it ? "
He hesitated a moment, and then, as greed over-
mastered fear, rei^lied—
" Fifteen pounds, sir ; and the man would not take
a penny less. Fifteen good pounds ! I swear it, as I am
alive ! "
Although I saw that the man lied, I drew out three
five-pound notes, laid them on the table, and took my
watch. This done, I said —
" Now I want you to sell me a suit of clothes, and
aid me to disguise myself. Otherwise "
" Don't talk, sir, about ' otherwise.' I'm sure I
shall only be too glad to rig you out to catch the thief.
You can take your pick of the suits here ; they are
mostly seamen's, to be sure ; but you'll find others as
well. While as for disguises, I flatter myself that for
getting up a face "
Here he stopped suddenly.
'' How long has he been gone ? "
" About half an hour, sir, before you came. But no
doubt you know where he'd be likely to go ; and I won't
be more than twenty minutes setting you completely to
340 DEAD MAN S UOCK.
In less than half an hour afterwards, I stepped out
into the street so comi)letely disguised that none of my
friends — that is, if I had possessed a friend in the
world — would have recognised me. I had chosen a
sailor's suit, that being the character I knew myself best
able to sustain. My pale face had turned to a bronze
red, while over its smoothly - shaven surface now
grew the roughest of untrinuned beards. Snow was
falling still, so that Colliver's footprints were en-
tirely obliterated. But I wanted them no longer.
He would be at Paddington, I knew; and accordingly
I turned my feet in that direction, and walked rapidly
My chase had begun. I had before me plenty of
time in which to reach Paddington, and the exercise of
walking did me good, relaxing my stiffened limbs until
at length I scarcely felt the pain of the weals where the
cords had cut me. It was snowing persistently, but
I hardly noticed it. Through the chill and sullen
morning I held doggedly on my way, past St. Katharine's
"Wharf, the Tower, through Gracechurch Street, and out
into St. PauFs Churchyard. Traffic was already begin-
ning here, and thickened as I passed down Ludgate Hill
and climbed up to Holborn. Already the white snow was
being churned and trodden into hideous slush in which
my feet slipped and stumbled. My coat and sailor's
cap were covered with powdery flakes, and I had to hold
my head down for fear lest the drifting moisture should
wash any of the colouring off my face. So my feet
THE CHASE BEGINS. 341
carried me once more into Oxford Street. How well
remembered was every house, every lamp-post, every
flag- of the pavement almost ! I was on my last quest
" To-nig'ht ! to-nig-ht ! '"'' whispered my heart : then
came back the words of Claire^s mother — " Kill him !
Kill him ! " and still I tramped westward, as westward
lay my revenge.
Suddenly a hansom cab shot past me. It came up
silently on the slushy street, and it was only when it
was close behind that I heard the muffled sound of its
wheels. It was early yet for cabs, so that I turned my
head at the sound. It passed in a flash, and gave me
but a glimpse of the occupant : but in that moment
I had time to catch sight of a j)air of eyes, and knew
now that my journey would not be in vain. They were
the eyes of Simon Colli ver.
So then in Oxford Street, after all, I had met him.
He was cleverly disguised — as I guessed, by the same
hands that had painted my own face — and looked to the
casual eye but an ordinary bagman. But art could not
change those marvellous eyes, and I knew him in an
instant. My heart leapt wildly for a moment — my
hands were clenched and my teeth shut tight ; but the
next, I was plodding after him as before. I could wait
Before I reached Paddington I met the cab return-
ing empty, and on gaining the station at first saw
nothing of my man. Though as yet it was early, the
'31:' DEAD man's UOL'K.
platform was already cruwdi-d with holiday-makers:
a few country dames laden witli countless bundles,
careworn workers preparing to spend Christmas with
friends or parents in their villagv home, a sprinkling of
schoolboys chafing at the slowness of the clock. After
a minute or so, I spied Simon Colliver moving among
this happy and innocent crowd like an evil spirit. I
flung myself down upon a bench, and under pretence of
sleeping, quietly observed him. Once or twice, as he
passed to and fro before me, he almost brushed my knee,
so close was he — so close that I had to clutch the bench
tightly for fear I should leap up and throttle him. He
did not notice me. Duulitless he thought me already
tossing out to sea with tlie ^ulls swooping over me, and
the waves merrily dashing over my dead face. The
waiting game had changed hands now.
I heard him demand a ticket for Penryn, and, after
waiting until he had left the booking office, took one
myself for the same station. I watched him as he
chose his compartment, and then entered the next.
It was crowded, of course, with holiday-seekers; but
the only person that I noticed at first was the man
sitting directly opposite to me — an honest, red-faced
countryman, evidently on his way home from town, and
at present deeply occupied with a morning paper which
seemed to have a peculiar fascination for him, for as he
mised his face his round eyes were full of horror. I
paid little attention to him, however, but, having the
corner seat facing the engine, watched to see that Colliver
THE AVAITING GAME CHANGES HANDS. 8 !
did not change his compartment. He did not appear
again, and in a minute or two the whistle shrieked and
we were off.
At first the countryman opposite made such a pro-
digious to-do with his piece of news that I could not
help watching him. Then my attention wandered from
him to the country through which we were flying.
Slowly I pondered over the many events that had passed
since, not many months before, I had travelled up from
Cornwall to win my fortune. My fortune ! To what
had it all come ? I had won a golden month or two of
love, and lo ! my darling was dead. Dead also was the
friend who had travelled up with me, so full of boyish
hope : both dead ; the one in the full blaze of her
triumph, the other in the first dawn of his young
success : both dead — and, but for me, both living yet
Suddenly the countryman looked up and spoke.
" Hav^ee seen this bit o^ news ? Astonishin' 1 And
her so pretty too ! "
'' What is it ? ^^ I asked vacantly.
For answer he pushed the paper into my hands,
and with his thumb-nail pointed to a column headed
" Tereible Tragedy in a Theatre.''^
" An^ to think/'' he continued reflectively, '' as how
I saw her wi^ my own eyes but three nights back — an'
actin^ so pretty, too ! Lord ! It made me cry like any
sucking child: beautiful it was — just beau-ti-ful !
Here^s a story to tell my missus ! "
341' DEAD JIAX'S ROCK.
I took the paper and read —
"Terrible Tragedy in a Theatre. Suicide op a
Famous Actress. — Last ovening, the performance of tho new
aiicl popular tragedy, Franccsca, at the Coliseum, was interrupted
by a sceue perhaps the most awful that has ever been presented
to the play-going public. A sinister fate seems to liave pursued
this play from the outset. It will bo \vithin the memory of all
that its young and gifted author was, ou the very night of its
production, struck down suddenly in the street by an unknown
hand which the police have not yet succeeded in tracing. La.st
night's tragedy was even more terrible. Clarissa Lambert,
whose name "
But I wanted to read no more. To the country-
man^s astonishment the paper slipped from my listless
fing-ers, and once more my g-aze turned to the carriage
window. On we tore through the snow that raced hori-
zontally by the pane, through the white and peaceful
country — homeward. Homeward to welcome whom ?
Whom but the man now sitting, it might be, within a
foot of me ? To my heart I hugged the thought of
him, sitting there and gloating over the morrow.
The morrow ! Somehow my own horizon did not
stretch as far : it was bounded by to-night. Before
to-morrow one of us two should be a dead man; perhaps
both. So best : the world with its loves and hatreds
would end to-night. So westward we sped in the grey
light beneath which the snowy fields gleamed unnatu-
rally — westward while the sun above showed only
as a crimson ball, an orb of blood, travelling westward
too. At Bristol it glared through a murky veil of
smoke, at Exeter aud thruugh the frozen pastures and
leafless woodlands of Devon droj^ped swiftly towards
my goalj beckoning with blood-stained hand across the
sky. Past the angry sea we tore, and then again into
the whitened fields now growing dim in the twilight.
In the carriage the talk w^as unceasing — talk of home^
of expectant friends, of Christmas meetings and festivi-
ties. Every station was thronged, and many a happy
welcome I witnessed as I sat there with no friend but
hate. Friends ! What had I to do with such ? I had
a friend once, but he was dead. Friend, parents, love
— all dead by one man's hand, and he But a little
while now ; but a little while !
We reached Plymouth shortly after five — the train
being late — and here the crowd in the carriages grew
greater. It was dark, but the moon was not yet up —
the full moon by which the treasure was to be sought.
How slowly the train dragged through Cornwall ! It
would be eight before we reached Penryn, and low water
was at half -past eleven. Should we be in time ?
The snow had ceased to fall : a clear north-east wind
had chased the clouds from heaven, and scarcely had we
passed Saltash before a silver rim came slowly rising
above the black woods on the river's opposite bank.
Clear into the frosty night it rose, and I fell to wonder-
ing savagely with what thoughts Colliver saluted it.
It was already half -past eight as w^e changed our
train at Truro, and here again more time was wasted.
Upon the platform I saw him again. He was heavily
cloaked and muffled now, for it was freezing hard ; but
310 DEAD man's rock.
beneath the low brim ot" his hut I saw the deep, black
eyes gleaming with impatience. So at last once more
" Penryn ! "
I looked at my waUli. It was nine o'clock; mure
than an lumr and a luilf late. )iy the light from the
carriage window I saw him step out into the shadow
ol: the platform. 1 followed. Here also was a large
crowd bound for Helston, and the coach that waited
outside was quickly thronged inside and out. Colliver
was outside the station in a moment, and in another had
jumped into a carriage waiting there with two horses,
and was gone up the hill beneath the shadow of the
bridge. In my folly 1 had forgotten that he might
have telegraphed for horses to meet him. However,
the coach was fast and I could post from Helston. I
clambered up to the top, where for want of a better seat
I projiped myself up on a pile of luggage, and waited
whilst box after box, amid vociferous cursing, was piled
up beside me. At length, just as I was beginning to
despair of ever starting at all, with a few final curses
directed at the bystanders generally, the driver mounted
the box, shook his reins, and we were off.
The load was so heavy that at first five horses were
used, but we left one with his postillion at the top of
the hill and swung down at a canter into the level
country. The snow lay fairly deep, and the horses'
hoofs were soundless as we plunged through the
crisp and tingling air. The wind raced past me as
ACROSS THE MOORS. 347
I sat perched on my rickety seat, swaying' wildly
with every lurch o£ the coach. With every gust I
seemed to drink in fresh strength and felt the very
motion and swiftness enter into my blood. Across the
white waste we tore, up a stiff ascent and down across
the moorland again — still westward; and now across the
stretches of the moor I could catch the strong scent
of the sea upon the wind. Along the level we sped,
silent and swift beneath the moon. Here a white house
by the roadside glimmered out and was gone ; there
a mine-chimney shot up against the sky and faded
back again. We were going now at a gallop, and from
my perch I could see the yellow light of the lamps on
the sweatiug necks of the leaders.
There was a company of sailors with me on the
coach-top — smoking, talking, and shouting. Once or
twice one of them would address a word or two to me,
but got scanty answers. I was looking intently along
the road for a sign of Colliver^s carriage. He must have
ordered good horses, for I saw no sign of him as yet.
Stay ! As we swept round a sharp corner and swung on
to the straight road again, I thought I spied far in front
a black object moving on the universal white. Yes, it
must be he : and again on the wings of the wind I heard
the call, "To-night! to-night! Kill him! kill him!
Crash ! With a heavy and sickening lurch sideways,
the coach hung for an instant, tottered, and then
plunged over on its side, flinging me clear of the
348 UHAD MAN^S KOCK.
luggage which pounded and rattled after. As I
struggled to my feet, half dazed, I saw a confused
medley of struggling horses, frightened passengers and
scattered boxes. Collecting my senses I rushed to help
those inside the coach and then amid the moaning,
cursing and general dismay, sought out my huiKlic,
gi'asped it tiglitly and set off at a run down the heavy
road. I could wait now for no man.
Panting, spent, my sore limbs weighted with snow,
I gained the top of the hill and plunged down the steep
street into Helston. There, at " the Angel '' I got a
post-chaise and pair, and set off once more. At first,
seeing my dress and wondering what a sailor could want
with post-chaises at that hour, they denuirred, but the
money quickly persuaded them. They told me also that
a gentleman had changed horses there about half an hour
before and gone towards the Lizard, after borrowing a
pickaxe and spade. Half an hour : should I yet be in
I leant back in the chaise and pondered. I knew
by heart the shortest cuts across the downs. When I
reached them I would stop the carriage and take to my
feet once more. The fresh horses were travelling fast,
and as we drew near the sea I dimly noted a hundred
familiar landmarks, and in each a fresh memory of Tom.
How affectionately we had taken leave of them, one by
one, on our journey to London ! Now each seemed to
cry, " What have you done with your friend ? " This
was my home-coming.
BY THE ROCK ONCE MORE. 349
At the beginning of the downs I stopped the
carriage, paid and dismissed the astonished post-boy
and started off alone at a swinging trot across the
snow. Southward hung the white moon, now high
in heaven. It mvist be almost time. Along the old
track I ran, still clutching my bundle, over the frozen
ruts, stumbling, slipping, but with set teeth and strain-
ing muscles, skirted the hill above Polkimbra with just
a glimpse of the cottage roofs shining in the hollow
below, and raced along the cliffs towards Lantrig. I
guessed that Colliver would come across Polkimbra
Beach, so had determined to approach the rock from
the northern side, over Ready-Money Cove.
Lantrig, my old home, was merrily lit up this
Christmas Eve, and the sight of it gave me one swift,
sharp pang of anguish as I stole cautiously downwards
to the sands. At the cliff^s foot I j^aused and looked
across the Cove.
Sable and gloomy as ever. Dead Man's Rock soared
up against the moon, the grim reality of that dark
shadow which had lain upon all my life. From it had
my hate started ; to it was I now at the last returning.
There it stood, the stern warder of that treasure for
which my grandfather had sold his soul, my father had
given his life, and I had lost all that made both life and
soul worth having. " Blood shall be their inheritance,
and Fire their portion for ever.^' The curse had lain
upon us all.
Creeping along the shadow, I crossed the little Cove
.'ioO DEAD man's rock.
and peered throug-h the arcliway on to Polkimbra Sands,
now sparkling in the moonlight.
Not a soul in sight ! As far as eye could see the
beach was utterly deserted and peaceful. I stepped
down to a small pool, left by the receding tide in the
rock's shadow, I'emoved my false hair and beard, and
carefully washed away all traces of paint from my face.
This done, I slipped off my shoes and holding them with
the bundle in my right hand, began softly and carefully
to ascend the rock. I gained the first ledge ; crept
out along it as far as the ring mentioned nii the clasp,
and th(Mi began to climb again. This needed care, for
the ascent on the north side was harder at first than
on the other, and I could use but one hand with ease.
Slowly, however, and with effort I pulled myself up
and then stole out towards the face until I could com-
mand a view of Polkimbra Beach. Still I could see
nobody, only the lights of the little church - town
twinkling across the beach and, far beyond, the shadowy
cliffs of Kynance. I pulled out my watch. It was
close on half-past eleven, the hour of dead low water.
As I looked up again I thought I saw a speck
approaching over the sands. Yes, I was not mistaken.
I set my teeth and crouched down nearer to the rock.
Over the sands, beneath the shadow of the cliffs he came,
and as he drew nearer, I saw that he carried something
on his shoulder, doubtless the spade and pickaxe. A
moment more and he turned to see that no one was
following. As he did so, the moon shone full in his
MY ENEMY COMES. 851
face^ and I saw, stripped now of all disguises, the
features of my enemy.
I opened the tin box and took out my knife. I had
caused the thin sharp blade, found in my dead father^s
heart, to be fitted to a horn handle into which it shut
with an ordinary spring-clasp. As I opened it, the
moonlight glittered down the steel and lit up the letters
Still in the shadow, he crept down by the rock, and
once more looked about him. No single soul was abroad
at that hour to see; none but the witness crouching
there above. I gripped the knife tighter as he dis-
appeared beneath the ledge on which I hung.
A low curse or two, and then silence. I held my
breath and waited. Presently he reappeared, with
compass in one hand and measuring-tape in the other,
and stood there for a moment looking about him. Still
About forty feet from the breakers now crisply
splashing on the sand, Dead Man^s Rock suddenly ended
on the southern side in a thin black ridge that broke off
with a drop of some ten feet. This ridge was, of course,
covered at high water, and upon it the Belle Fortune
had doubtless struck before she reeled back and settled
in deep water. This was the '^' south point •'•' mentioned
on the clasp. Fixing his compass carefully, he drew
out the tape, and slowly began to measu:re towards the
north-west. ''End South Point, 37 feet,"" I remem-
bered that the clasp said. He measured it out to the
:352 DKAi) man's kock.
end, and then, digging with his heel a small hole in the
sand, began to walk back towards the rock, this time to