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betwixt them. They're both in my red barn, if you want their direction.
He hurried on suddenly up the hill, leaving me gazing upwards at him. When I caught him up he was swearing—as one did in those days—and stamping his foot in the middle of the road.
' I tell you,” he said violently, “it's the most accursed business! That Castro, with his Cuba, is nothing but a blasted buccaneer
and Carlos is no better. They go to Liverpool for a passage to Jamaica, and see what comes of it!”
It seems that on Liverpool docks, in the owl-light, they fell in with an elderly hunks just returned from West Indies, who asks the time at the door of a shipping agent. Castro pulls out a watch, and the old fellow jumps on it, vows it's his own, taken from him years before by some picaroons on his outward voyage. Out from the agent's comes another, and swears that Castro is one of the self-same crew. He himself purported to be the master of the very ship. Afterwards—in the solitary dusk among the ropes and bales—there had evidently been some play with knives, and it ended with a flight to London, and then down to Rooksby's red barn, with the runners in full cry after them.
“ Think of it,” Rooksby said, “and me a justice, and oh, it drives me wild, this hole-and-corner work! There's a filthy muddle with the Free Traders a whistle to blow after dark at the quarry. To-night of all nights, and me a justice
and as good as a married man!”
I looked at him wonderingly in the dusk; his high coat collar almost hid his face, and his hat was pressed down over his eyes. The thing seemed incredible to me. Here was an adventure, and I was shocked to see that Rooksby was in a pitiable state about it.
“But, Ralph," I said, “I would help Carlos."
“Oh, you,” he said fretfully. “You want to run your head into a noose; that's what it comes to. Why, I may have to flee the country. There's the red-breasts poking their noses into every cottage on the Ashford road." He strode on again. A wisp of mist came stealing down the hill. “I can't give my cousin up. He could be smuggled out, right enough. But then I should have to get across salt water, too, for at least a year. Why
ROMANCE He seemed ready to tear his hair, and then I put in my say. He needed a little persuasion, though, in spite of Veronica.
I should have to meet Carlos Riego and Castro in a little firwood above the quarry, in half an hour's time. All I had to do was to whistle three bars of Lillibullero," as a signal. A connection had been already arranged with the Free Traders on the road beside the quarry, and they were coming down that night, as we knew well enough, both of us. They were coming in force from Canterbury way down to the Marsh. It had cost Ralph a pretty penny; but, once in the hands of the smugglers, his cousin and Castro would be safe enough from the runners; it would have needed a troop of horse to take them. The difficulty was that of late the smugglers themselves had become demoralized. There were ugly rumors of it; and there was a danger that Castro and Carlos, if not looked after, might end their days in some marshdyke. It was desirable that someone well known in our parts should see them to the seashore. A boat, there, was to take them out into the bay, where an outward-bound West Indiaman would pick them up. But for Ralph's fear for his neck, which had increased in value since its devotion to Veronica, he would have squired his cousin. As it was, he fluttered round the idea of letting me take his place. Finally he settled it; and I embarked on a long adventure.
ETWEEN moonrise and sunset I was stumbling through the bracken of the little copse that was like a tuft of hair
on the brow of the great white quarry. It was quite dark, in among the trees. I made the circuit of the copse, whistling softly my three bars of “ Lillibullero.” Then I plunged into it. The bracken underfoot rustled and rustled. I came to a halt. A little bar of light lay on the horizon in front of me, almost colorless. It was crossed again and again by the small fir-trunks that were little more than wands. A woodpigeon rose with a sudden crash of sound, flapping away against the branches. My pulse was dancing with delight-my heart, too. It was like a game of hide-and-seek, and yet it was life at last. Everything grew silent again, and I began to think I had missed my time. Down below in the plain, a great way off, a dog was barking continuously. I moved forward a few paces and whistled. The glow of adventure began to die away. There was nothing at all—a little mystery of light on the tree-trunks.
I moved forward again, getting back towards the road. Against the glimmer of dead light I thought I caught the outlines of a man's hat down among the tossing lines of the bracken. I whispered loudly:
“ Carlos! Carlos!"
There was a moment of hoarse whispering; a sudden gruff sound. A shaft of blazing yellow light darted from the level of the ground into my dazed eyes. A man sprang at me and thrust something cold and knobby into my neckcloth. The light continued to blaze into my eyes; it moved upwards and shone on a red waistcoat dashed with gilt buttons. I was being arrested.
“ In the King's name.
It was a most sudden catastrophe. A hand was clutching my windpipe.
“Don't you so much as squeak, Mr. Castro," a voice whispered in my eas.