The House of the Four Winds, by John Buchan

Chapter 12

The Street of the White Peacock

Jaikie rubbed the dust from his eyes, for he had landed in a heap of debris, and looked round for Newsom. Newsom was at his elbow, having exhibited an unexpected agility. He was still a little puzzled to learn how Newsom came to be with him. After his business with the Countess he had found him waiting with the car, stubbornly refusing to move till he had the word from his master. He had despatched him with a message to Randal Glynde and the man had returned unbidden. “Boss’s orders,” he had explained. “The boss says I’m to stick to you, sir, till he tells me to quit.” And when in the evening the expeditionary force left the camp Newsom had begged for a place in it, had indeed insisted on being with Jaikie in whatever part the latter was cast for. It was not “boss’s orders” this time, but the plea of a sportsman to have a hand in the game, and Jaikie, looking at the man’s athletic figure and remembering that he was English, had a little doubtfully consented. Now he was more comfortable about that consent. At any rate Newsom was an adept at climbing walls.

The Countess had allowed him to pick six Greenshirts, herself showing a most eager interest in their selection. They were all young townsmen, for this was not a job for the woodlander or mountaineer, and four of them could speak English. All were equipped with pistols, electric torches, and the string-soled shoes of the country. As reserves he had twenty of a different type, men picked for their physique and fighting value. He thought of them as respectively his scouts and his shock-troops. He had made his dispositions pretty much in the void, but he reasoned that he wanted light men for his first reconnaissance, and something heavier if it came to a scrap. His judgment had been sound, for when in the evening the party, by devious ways and in small groups, concentrated at the Cirque Doré encampment, he found that Randal Glynde had had the same notion.

Randal, having had the house in the Street of the White Peacock for some time under observation, and knowing a good deal about its antecedents, had come to certain conclusions. The place was large and rambling, and probably contained cellars extending to the river, for in old days it had been the dwelling of a great merchant of Krovolin. There was no entrance from the street, the old doorway having been built up, and coming and going was all by the courtyard at the back. The prisoners might be anywhere inside a thousand square yards of masonry, but the odds were that they were lodged, as Jaikie had been, in rooms facing the street. The first thing was to get rid of the watchers there, and this was the immediate task of the six Greenshirts. But it must be done quickly and circumspectly so as not to alarm the inmates. There were five watchers by day and three by night, the latter taking up duty at sundown. If a part of the Cirque passed through the street in the first hours of the dark, it would provide excellent cover for scragging the three guards, and unobtrusively packing them into one of the vans. The street must be in their hands, for it was by the street-front that escape must be made. Randal, who had become a very grave person, was insistent upon the need for speed and for keeping the business with his watchers secret from Mastrovin. Mastrovin must not be alarmed, for, like Jaikie, he feared that, if he were cornered too soon, he would have recourse to some desperate brutality.

It was Jaikie’s business to get inside the house, and the only way was by the courtyard at the back. Randal had had this carefully reconnoitred, and his report was that, while the gate was kept locked and guarded, the wall could be climbed by an active man. It was impossible to do more than make a rudimentary plan, which was briefly this. Jaikie was to get into the courtyard, using any method he pleased, and to overpower, gag, and bind the guard. Randal had ascertained that there was never more than a single guard. For this purpose he must have a companion, since his fighting weight was small. His hour of entrance must be 10 p.m., at which time the Six were to deal with the watchmen in the street. Their success was to be notified to Jaikie by Luigi’s playing of Dvorak’s Humoresque on his fiddle, which in that still quarter at that hour of night would carry far.

Then there was to be an allowance of one hour while the Six kept watch in the street, and Jaikie, having entered the house, discovered where the prisoners were kept. After that came the point of uncertainty. It might be possible to get the prisoners off as inconspicuously as Jaikie himself had made his departure. On the other hand, it might not, and force might have to be used against desperate men. At all costs the crisis, if it came, was to be postponed till eleven o’clock, at which time the reserves, the Twenty, would arrive in the courtyard. It was assumed that Jaikie would have got the gates open so that they could enter. He must also have opened the house door. Two blasts on his whistle would bring the rescuers inside the house, and then God prosper the right!

That last sentence had been the parting words of Randal, who had no part allotted him, being, as he said, an ageing man and no fighter. Jaikie remembered them as he crouched in the dust of the courtyard and peered into the gloom. So far his job had been simple. A way up the wall had been found in a corner where an adjacent building slightly abutted and the stones were loose or broken. He had lain on the top and examined the courtyard in the dying light, and he had listened intently, but there had been no sight or sound of the watchman. Then, followed by Newsom, he had dropped on to soft rubble, and lain still and listened, but there was no evidence of human presence. The place was empty. Satisfied about this, he had examined the gate. He had been given some elementary instruction in lock-picking that evening at the Cirque, and had brought with him the necessary tools. But to his surprise they were not needed. The gate was open.

A brief reconnaissance showed him that the courtyard was different from what it had been on his arrival two days ago. The medley of motorcars had gone. The place was bare, except for the heaps of stone and lime in the corner where someone seemed to have been excavating . . . Jaikie did his best to think. What was the meaning of the unlocked gate? Someone must be coming there that night and coming in a hurry. Or someone must be leaving in a hurry. Why had Mastrovin suddenly opened his defences? The horrid thought came to him that Mastrovin might be gone, and have taken Alison and the others with him. Was he too late? The mass of the house rose like a cliff, and in that yard he seemed to be in a suffocating cave. Far above him he saw dimly clouds chasing each other in the heavens, but there was no movement of air where he sat. The place was so silent and lifeless that his heart sank. Childe Roland had come to the Dark Tower, but the Dark Tower was empty.

And then he saw far up on its façade a light prick out. His momentary despair was changed to a furious anxiety. There was life in the place, and he felt that the life was evil and menacing. The great blank shell held a brood of cockatrices, and among them was what he loved best in the world. Hitherto the necessity for difficult action had kept his mind from brooding too much on awful presentiments. He had had to take one step at a time and keep his thoughts on the leash. There had been moments when his former insouciance had returned to him and he had thought only of the game and not of the consequences . . . . Indeed, in the early evening, as he approached Krovolin, he had had one instant of the old thrill. Far over the great plain of the Rave, from the direction of the capital, had come the sound of distant music and dancing bells. He had known what that meant. Mr Dickson McCunn was entering his loyal city of Melina.

But now he knew only consuming anxiety and something not far from terror. He must get inside the house at once and find Alison. If she had gone, he must follow. He had a horrid certainty that she was in extreme peril, and that he alone was to blame for it. . . . He got to his feet and was about to attempt the door, when something halted him.

It was the sound of a fiddle, blanketed by the great house, but dropping faint liquid notes in the still air. It held him like a spell, for it seemed a message of hope and comfort. One part of the adventure at any rate had succeeded, and the Six were in occupation of the Street of the White Peacock. It did more, for it linked up this dark world with the light and with his friends. He listened, he could not choose but listen, till the music died away.

It was well that he did so, for Newsom’s hand pulled him down again. “There’s someone at the gate,” he whispered. The two crouched deeper into the shadows.

The gate was pushed open, and a man entered the courtyard. He had an electric torch which he flashed for a moment, but rather as if he wanted to see that the torch was in working order than to examine the place. That flash was enough to reveal the burly form of Mastrovin. He shut the gate behind him, but he did not lock it. Evidently he expected someone else to follow him. Then he walked straight to the excavation, and, after moving some boards aside, he disappeared into it.

The sight of Mastrovin switched Jaikie from despondency into vigorous action. “After him,” he whispered to Newsom. Clambering over the rubble they looked down a steep inclined passage, where a man might walk if he crouched, and saw ahead of them the light of Mastrovin’s torch. It vanished as he turned a corner.

The two followed at once, Newsom hitting his head hard on the roof. Jaikie did not dare to use his own torch, but felt his way by the wall, till he came to a passage debouching to the right. That was the way Mastrovin had gone, but there was no sign of his light. Jaikie felt that he could safely look about him.

They were in a circular space whence several passages radiated. That by which they had come was new work, with the marks of pick and shovel still on it. But the other passages were of ancient brick, with stone roofs which might have been new two centuries ago. Yet in all of them was the mark of recent labour, a couple of picks propped up against a wall, and spilt lime and rubble on the floor. Jaikie deduced that the passage from the upper air was not the only task that Mastrovin’s men had been engaged in; they had been excavating also at the far ends of some of the other passages.

He did not stop, for their quarry must not be lost track of. He turned up the alley Mastrovin had taken, feeling his way by the wall.

“There’s wiring here,” he whispered to Newsom.

“I spotted that,” was the answer. “Someone’s up to no good.”

Presently they reached a dead end, and Jaikie thought it safe to use his torch. This revealed a steep flight of steps on the left. It was a spiral staircase, for after two turnings they had a glimpse of light above them. Mastrovin was very near. Moreover, he was speaking to someone. The voice was quite distinct, for the funnel of the staircase magnified it, but the words were Evallonian, which Jaikie did not understand.

But Newsom did. He clutched Jaikie’s arm, and with every sentence of Mastrovin’s that clutch tightened. Then some command seemed to be issued above, and they heard the reply of Mastrovin’s interlocutor. The light wavered and moved, and presently disappeared, for Mastrovin had gone on. But there came the sound of feet on the stairs growing louder. The other man was descending — in the dark.

It was a tense moment in Jaikie’s life. He took desperate hold of his wits, and reasoned swiftly that the man descending in the dark would almost certainly hug the outer wall, the right-hand wall of the spiral, where the steps were broader. Therefore he and Newsom must plaster themselves against the other wall. The staircase was wide enough to let two men pass abreast without touching. If they were detected he would go for the stranger’s throat, and he thought he could trust Newsom to do the same.

The two held their breath while the man came down the stairs. Jaikie, sensitive as a wild animal, realised that his guess had been right — the man was feeling his way by the outer wall. Newsom’s shoulder was touching his, and he felt it shiver. Another thing he realised — the stranger was in a hurry. That was to the good, for he would not be so likely to get any subconscious warning of their presence.

For one second the man was abreast of them. There was a waft of some coarse scent, as if he were a vulgar dandy. Then he was past them, and they heard him at the foot of the stairs groping for the passage.

Jaikie sat down on a step to let his stifled breath grow normal. But Newsom was whispering something in his ear.

“I heard their talk,” he gasped. “I’ve got their plan. . . . They are going to let the Countess occupy the town. . . . She must cross the river to get to Melina. . . . They’ve got the bridge mined, and will blow it up at the right moment . . . and half the place besides. . . . God, what swine!”

To Jaikie the news was a relief. That could only be for the morrow, and in the meantime Mastrovin would lie quiet. That meant that his prisoners would be in the house. The cockatrices — and the others — were still in their den.

But Newsom had more to say.

“There are people coming here — more people. That fellow has gone to fetch them.”

Jaikie, squatted in the darkness, hammered at his wits, but they would not respond. What could these newcomers mean? What was there to do in the house that had not been done? Mastrovin had the bridge mined, and half the town as well, and could make havoc by pressing a button. He had his cellars wired, and new passages dug. All that was clear enough. But why was he assembling a posse to-night? . . .

Then an idea struck him. If the gates were open to let people in, they were open to let the same people out. And they might take others with them. . . . He had it. The prisoners were to be removed that night, and used in Mastrovin’s further plans. When he had struck his blow at Juventus they might come in handy as hostages. Or in the last resort as victims.

From the moment that he realised this possibility came a radical change in Jaikie’s outlook. The torments of anxious love were still deep in his soul, but overlying them was a solid crust of hate. His slow temper was being kindled into a white flame of anger.

He looked at his watch. It was one minute after half-past ten. The Twenty would not arrive till eleven.

“I must go on,” he whispered. “I must find what that brute is after and where he keeps my friends. . . . You must go back and wait in the yard. Please Heaven our fellows are here before the others. If they are, bring them up here — I’ll find some way of joining up with you. . . . If the others come first, God help us all. I leave it to you.”

As he spoke he realised sharply the futility of asking a cockney chauffeur to hold at bay an unknown number of the toughest miscreants in Evallonia. But Newsom seemed to take it calmly. His voice was steady.

“I’ll do my best, sir,” he said. “I’m armed, and I used to be a fair shot. Have you a pair of clippers in that packet of tools you brought?”

Jaikie dived into his pocket and handed over the desired article.

“Good,” said Newsom. “I think I’ll do a spot of wire-cutting.” And without another word he began to feel his way down.

Jaikie crept upward till the stairs ended in a door. This was unlocked, as he had expected, for Mastrovin was leaving his communications open behind him. Inside all was black, so he cautiously flashed his torch. The place was dusty and unclean, a passage with rotting boards on the floor and discoloured paper dropping from the walls. He tiptoed along it till it gave on to a small landing from which another staircase descended. Here there were two doors and he cautiously tried the handles. One was locked, but the other opened. It was dark inside, but at the far end there was a thin crack of light on the floor. There must be a room there which at any rate was inhabited.

The first thing he did, for he had put out his torch, was to fall with a great clatter over some obstacle. He lay still with his heart in his mouth, waiting for the far door to be thrown open. But nothing happened, so he carefully picked himself up and continued with extreme circumspection. There were chairs and tables in this place, a ridiculous number of chairs, as if it had been used as a depository for lumber, or perhaps as a council-chamber. He had no further mishap, and reached the streak of light safely. . . . There were people in that farther room; he could hear a voice speaking, and it sounded like Mastrovin’s.

Another thing he noticed, and that was the same odd smell of coarse scent which he had sniffed as the man passed him on the stairs. The odour was like a third-rate barber’s shop, and it came through the door.

He could hear Mastrovin talking, rather loud and very distinct, like a schoolmaster to stupid pupils. He was speaking English too.

“You are going away,” he was saying. “Do you understand? I will soon visit you — perhaps in a day or two. I do not think you will try to escape, but if you do, I warn you that I have a long arm and will pluck you back. And I will punish you for it.”

The voice was slow and patient as if addressed to backward children. And there was no answer. Mastrovin must be speaking to his prisoners, but they did not reply, and that was so unlike Sir Archie that a sudden horrid fear shot into Jaikie’s mind. Were they dying, or sick or wounded? Was Alison? . . .

He waited no longer. Had the door been triple-barred he felt that he had the strength to break it down. But it opened easily.

He found himself in a small, square, and very high room, wholly without windows, for the air entered by a grating near the ceiling. It smelt stuffy and heavily scented. Mastrovin sat in an armchair, with behind him a queer-looking board studded with numbered buttons. There was a clock fixed on the wall above it which had a loud solemn tick.

The three prisoners sat behind a little table. Archie looked as if he had been in the wars, for he had one arm in a sling, and there was a bloodstained bandage round his head. He sat stiffly upright, staring straight in front of him. So did Janet, a pale unfamiliar Janet, with her hair in disorder and a long rent in one sleeve. Like her husband, she was looking at Mastrovin with blank unseeing eyes. Alison sat a little apart with her arms on the table and her head on her arms. He saw only her mop of gold hair. She seemed to be asleep.

All that Jaikie took in at his first glance was the three prisoners. What devilry had befallen them? He had it. They had been drugged. They were now blind and apathetic, mindless perhaps, baggage which Mastrovin could cart about as he chose. There had evidently been a row, and Archie had suffered in it, but now he was out of action. It was the sight of Alison’s drooped head that made him desperate, and also perfectly cool. He had not much hope, but at any rate he was with his friends again.

This reconnaissance took a fraction of a second. He heard Mastrovin bark, “Hands up!” and up shot his arms.

There were two others in the room, Dedekind with his red pointed beard, and a sallow squat man, whom he remembered in the Canonry. What was his name? Rosenbaum?

It was the last who searched him, plucking the pistol from his breeches pocket. Jaikie did not mind that, for he had never been much good with a gun. For the first time he saw the clock on the wall, and noted that it stood at a quarter to eleven. If he could spin out that quarter of an hour there was just the faintest chance, always provided that Mastrovin’s reinforcements did not arrive too soon.

“I have come back,” he said sweetly. “I really had to get some decent clothes, for I was in rags.”

“You have come back,” Mastrovin repeated. “Why?”

“Because I liked your face, Mr Mastrovin. I have the pleasantest recollection of you, you know, ever since we met two years ago at Portaway. Do you remember the Hydropathic there and the little Glasgow journalist that you cross-examined? Drunken little beast he was, and you tried to make him drunker. Have you been up to the same game with my friends?”

He glanced at Archie, trying to avoid the sight of Alison’s bowed head. To his surprise he seemed to detect a slight droop of that gentleman’s left eye. Was it possible that the doping had failed, and that the victims were only shamming?.. . The clock was at thirteen minutes to eleven.

Mastrovin was looking at him fixedly, as if he were busy reconstructing the past to which he had alluded.

“So,” he said. “I have more against you than I imagined.”

“You have nothing against me,” said Jaikie briskly. “I might say I had a lot against you — kidnapping, imprisonment, no food or drink, filthy lodgings, and so forth. But I’m not complaining. I forgive you for the sake of your face. You wanted me to tell you something, but I couldn’t, for I didn’t know. Well, I know now, and I’ve come back to do you a good turn. You would like to know where Prince John is. I can tell you.”

Jaikie stopped. His business was to spin out this dialogue.

“Go on,” said Mastrovin grimly. He was clearly in two minds whether or not this youth was mad.

“He is with the Countess Troyos. I know, for I saw him there this morning.”

“That is a lie.”

“All right. Have it your own way. But when you blow up the bridge here tomorrow you had better find out whether I am speaking the truth, unless you want to kill the Prince. Perhaps you do. Perhaps you’d like to add him to the bag. It’s all the same to me, only I thought I’d warn you.”

He was allowed to finish this audacious speech, because Mastrovin was for once in his masterful life fairly stupefied. Jaikie’s purpose was to anger him so that he might lay violent hands on him. He thought that, unless they took to shooting, he could give them a proof of the eel-like agility of the Gorbals Die-hards, not to speak of the most famous three-quarter back in Britain. He did not think they would shoot him, for they were sure to want to discover where he had got his knowledge.

He certainly succeeded in his purpose. Mastrovin’s face flushed to an ugly purple, and both Dedekind and Rosenbaum grew a little paler. The last-named said something in Evallonian, and the three talked excitedly in that language. This was precisely what Jaikie wanted. He observed that the clock was now at eight minutes to the hour. He also noted that Alison, though her head was still on the table, was looking sideways at him through her fingers, and that her eyes had an alertness unusual in the doped.

Suddenly he heard a shot, muffled as if very far off. This room was in the heart of the house, and noises from the outer world would come faintly to it, if at all. But he had quick ears, and he knew that he could not be mistaken. Was the faithful Newsom holding the bridge alone like Horatius? He could not hold it long, and there were still five deadly minutes to go before the Twenty could be looked for. . . .

Yet it would take more than five minutes to get the prisoners out of the house and the gate. That danger at any rate had gone. What remained was the same peril which had brooded over the library at Castle Gay, before Dickson McCunn like a north wind had dispersed it. These wild beasts of the jungle, if cornered, might make a great destruction. Here in this place they were all on the thin crust of a volcano. He did not like that board with studs and numbers behind Mastrovin’s head.

Again came the faint echo of shots. This time Mastrovin heard it. He said something to Dedekind, who hurried from the room. Rosenbaum would have followed, but a word detained him. Mastrovin sat crouching like an angry lion, waiting to spring, but not yet quite certain of his quarry.

“Stand still,” he told Jaikie, who had edged nearer Alison. “If you move I will kill you. In a moment my friend will return, and then you will go — ah, where will you go?”

He sucked his lips, and grinned like a great cat.

There were no more shots, and silence fell on the place, broken only by the ticking of the clock. Jaikie did not dare to look at the prisoners, for the slightest movement on his part might release the fury of the wild beast in front of him. He kept his eyes on that face which had now become gnarled like a knot in an oak stump, an intense concentration of anxiety, fury and animal power. It fascinated Jaikie, but it did not terrify him, for it was like a monstrous gargoyle, an expression of some ancient lust which was long dead. He had the impression that the man was somehow dead and awaited burial, and might therefore be disregarded. . . .

He strove to stir his inertia to life, but he seemed to have become boneless. “It’s you that will be dead in a minute or two,” he told himself, but apathetically, as if he were merely correcting a misstatement. Anger had gone out of him, and had taken fear with it, and only apathy remained. He felt Mastrovin’s eyes beginning to dominate and steal his senses like an anæsthetic. That scared him, and he shifted his gaze to the board on the wall, and the clock. The clock was at three minutes after eleven, but he had forgotten his former feverish calculation of time.

The door opened. Out of a corner of his eye he saw that Dedekind had returned. He noted his red beard.

Jaikie was pulled out of his languor by the behaviour of Mastrovin, who from a lion couchant became a lion rampant. He could not have believed that a heavy man well on in years could show such nimbleness. Mastrovin was on his feet, shouting something to Rosenbaum, and pointing at the newcomer the pistol with which he had threatened Jaikie.

The voice that spoke from the door was not Dedekind’s.

“Suppose we lower our guns, Mr Mastrovin?” it said. “You might kill me — but I think you know that I can certainly kill you. Is it a bargain?”

The voice was pleasant and low with a touch of drawl in it. Jaikie, in a wild whirling survey of the room, saw that it had fetched Alison’s head off her hands. It woke Janet and Archie, too, out of their doll-like stare. It seemed to cut into the stuffiness like a frosty wind, and it left Jaikie in deep bewilderment, but — for the first time that night — with a lively hope.

Mr Glynde sniffed the air.

“At the old dodge, I see,” he said. “You once tried it on me, you remember. You seem to have struck rather tough subjects this time.” He nodded to the Roylances and smiled on Alison.

“What do you want?” The words seemed to be squeezed out of Mastrovin, and came thick and husky.

“A deal,” said Randal cheerfully. “The game is against you this time. We’ve got your little lot trussed up below — also my old friend, Mr Dedekind.”

“That is a lie.”

Randal shrugged his shoulders.

“You are a monotonous controversialist. I assure you it is true. There was a bit of a tussle at first before our people arrived, and I’m afraid two of yours were killed. Then the rest surrendered to superior numbers. All is now quiet on that front.”

“If I believe you, what is your deal?”

“Most generous. That you should get yourself out of here in ten minutes and out of the country in ten hours. We will look after your transport. The fact is, Mr Mastrovin, we don’t want you — Evallonia doesn’t want you — nobody wants you. You and your bravos are back numbers. Properly speaking, we should string you up, but we don’t wish to spoil a good show with ugly episodes.”

Randal spoke lightly, so that there was no melodrama in his words, only a plain and rather casual statement of fact. But in that place such lightness was the cruellest satire. And it was belied by Randal’s eyes, which were as sharp as a hawk’s. They never left Mastrovin’s pistol hand and the studded board behind his head.

Mastrovin’s face was a mask, but his eyes too were wary. He seemed about to speak, but what he meant to say will never be known. For suddenly many things happened at once.

There was the sound of a high imperious voice at the door. It opened and the Countess Araminta entered, and close behind her a wild figure of a man, dusty, bleeding, with a coat nearly ripped from his back.

The sight of the Countess stung Mastrovin into furious life. A sense of death and fatality filled the room like a fog. Jaikie sprang to get in front of Alison, and Archie with his unwounded arm thrust Janet behind him. In that breathless second Jaikie was conscious only of two things. Mastrovin had fired, and then swung round to the numbered board; but, even as his finger reached it he clutched at the air and fell backward over the arm of his chair. There was a sudden silence, and a click came from the board as if a small clock were running down.

Then Jaikie’s eyes cleared. He saw a pallid Rosenbaum crouching on the floor. He saw Randal lower his pistol, and touch the body of Mastrovin. “Dead,” he heard him say, “stone dead. Just as well perhaps.”

But that spectacle was eclipsed by other extraordinary things. The Countess Araminta was behaving oddly — she seemed to be inclined to sob. Around his own neck were Alison’s arms, and her cheek was on his, and the thrill of it almost choked him with joy. He wanted to weep too, and he would have wept had not the figure of the man who had entered with the Countess taken away what breath was left in him.

It was Newsom the chauffeur, transfigured beyond belief. He had become a younger man, for exertion had coloured his pallid skin, his whiskers had disappeared, and his touzled hair had lost its touch of grey. He held the Countess with one arm and looked ruefully at his right shoulder.

“Close shave,” he said. “The second time tonight too. First casualty in the Revolution.” Then he smiled on the company. “Lucky I cut the wires, or our friend would have dispersed us among the planets.”

The Countess had both hands on his arm, and was looking at him with misty eyes.

“You saved my life,” she cried. “The shot was meant for me. You are a hero. Oh, tell me your name.”

He turned, took her hand, bent over it and kissed it.

“I am Prince John,” he said, “and I think that you are going to be kind enough to help me to a throne.”

She drew back a step, looked for a second in his face, and then curtseyed low.

“My king,” she said.

Her bosom heaved under her tunic, and she was no more the Praefectus but a most emotional young woman. . . . She looked at Randal and Jaikie, and at Janet and Archie, as if she were struggling for something to relieve her feelings. Then she saw Alison, and in two steps was beside her and had her in her arms.

“My dear,” she said, “you have a very brave lover.”

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:32