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Title: Pam and the Countess
Author: Cowper, E. E. (Edith Elise)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pam and the Countess" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]



[Illustration: "I BELIEVE WE ARE GOING STRAIGHT OUT TO SEA."  Page 70]



                                  *PAM
                           AND THE COUNTESS*


                                   BY
                              E. E. COWPER



                  _Illustrated by Gordon Browne, R.I._



                         BLACKIE & SON LIMITED
                           LONDON AND GLASGOW
                                 (1920)



                           *By E. E. Cowper*

Gill and the Beanstalk.
Camilla’s Castle.
The Forbidden Island.
Nancy’s Fox Farm.
White Wings to the Rescue.
The Haunted Trail.
The Girl from the North-west.
The Mystery Term.
Ann’s Great Adventure.
The White Witch of Rosel.
The Brushwood Hut.
The Mystery of Saffron Manor.
The Island of Secrets.
Pam and the Countess.
Jane in Command.
Maids of the "Mermaid".



        Printed in Great Britain by Blackie & Son, Ltd., Glasgow



                               *Contents*

CHAP.

      I. In which Pam does a Good Deed, and sees a Strange Thing
     II. Mollie Departs, but Comes Back at Breakfast Time
    III. In Which Hughie is Ill-used
     IV. In which Pam Makes a Move
      V. The Adventures of the Yawl and her Crew
     VI. "I wouldn’t have believed it of Pam!"
    VII. Confidences in "the Cave"
   VIII. "Little Friend of all the World"
     IX. The Strange Adventure of the Curlew’s Call
      X. Life or Death on the Beak Cliff
     XI. In which Adrian holds a decided opinion about Pam
    XII. In which Pam defies the Countess
   XIII. Double "A" and a Diamond Crown
    XIV. "If anybody dies, it’ll be her," said Hughie
     XV. In which Hughie takes action
    XVI. A Duel before Dawn
   XVII. In which Amazing Things Happen
  XVIII. Mr. Badger Calls at Bell House; and Christobel at Fuchsia
         Cottage
    XIX. The Trick
     XX. The "Messenger" to the Rescue
    XXI. Ladders of Light



                            *Illustrations*


"I believe we are going straight out to sea" . . . _Frontispiece_

She saw the face distinctly

"Get out, madam"

"I wish I were dead"



                              *PAM AND THE
                               COUNTESS*



                              *CHAPTER I*

                    *In which Pam does a Good Deed,
                       and sees a Strange Thing*


Pamela sat among the rocks with her elbows on her knees and her chin on
her hands.  In spite of the entrancing loveliness of her surroundings
she had been reading with such interest that she had scarcely looked up
in an hour.  The book now lay face down on another round-topped rock,
while Pamela stared at the sea, and thought about the contents of the
book.

It was spring-time, and in spring Bell Bay was perhaps a thought more
perfect than at any other time in the year. The wonderful little
horse-shoe of its quiet haven was a jewel of colour in the dark setting
of its cliff entrance.  The semicircle of the high, rough stone sea-wall
above the rock-strewn sands seemed to take on light from the flowering
of the tiny rock plants, while the gardens at the Bell House behind that
wall were just a mass of greenness and bloom.

Outside and above those gardens rose the sides of the valley, towering
up into the blue of the clean, clear sky, and melting away into the
woods inland.  The bay was so small that the Bell House and its grounds
filled the centre of it, as it were.  There was no room for a
"sea-front". No room for another house even--Bell Bay belonged to the
Bell House.

Farther up the valley was Paramore’s--the Temperance Tea Inn--to which
parties came in the season by the one narrow road that ran along below
the Bell Ridge--on the north side, that was.  Farther still up the
valley--also on the roadside--stood the tiny church, no bigger than a
room, Fuchsia Cottage, where lived Anne Lasarge, and a few more
cottages--not enough to make a village--that tailed away to Folly-Ho, a
hamlet on the Peterock road.

On the south side of the valley--facing the long, grey front of the old
Bell House--the woods fringed the heights like a green rampart.  Just in
one place glimmered the white walls of Crown Hill, the beautiful country
place of Sir Marmaduke Shard, K.C.

That was all there was of Bell Bay--unless you count Mainsail Cottage,
sitting like a gull’s nest over the sea on the south headland, and
Woodrising, the empty house so long "To Let", buried in dense woods
right up at the back of the valley.

In the former lived Penberthy--pensioner--who looked after Sir
Marmaduke’s little yawl--the _Messenger_.

In the latter lived nobody but Mrs. Trewby, a caretaker; a mournful
widow afflicted by bilious attacks, and living therefore in a cloud of
her own creation.

Finally, as a last word in this explanation, the Bell House was the
ancestral home of the Romilly family, and Mrs. Romilly was living there
with all "the family" except its head, away in command of that
first-class battleship _Medusa_; and her eldest son, Malcolm, who was
busy as lieutenant on the destroyer _Spite_.

Now Pamela, already introduced reading a book among the rocks of this
miniature haven, was absorbed in a new idea, of which the book was an
outward and visible sign. Pamela was by no means a self-constituted
martyr, but at the same time she believed herself to be a sort of "odd
man out" in the family circle.  She was thirteen--not even a long way on
the road to fourteen.  It must be allowed then that thirteen bore no
comparison to Adrian and Christobel, who had reached sixteen and
seventeen, or to Hughie, who was but seven.  Malcolm, of course, was out
of it altogether, being nearly twenty, and at sea.

Christobel was the one other girl in a party of five.  She was
undoubtedly Adrian’s chum, and when he was at Harrow her particular
friend and companion lived close at hand as a rule--Mollie Shard, that
is to say, the only child of Sir Marmaduke and Lady Shard.  Mollie was
eighteen, Christobel seventeen and a half; Mollie exceptionally clever,
Christobel exceptionally in earnest, and tenacious as her father, whom
she resembled so closely that in babyhood she had been nicknamed "Jim
Crow", being a darker edition of the elder "Jim".

Pamela’s admiring affection for her one sister never failed, but it must
be admitted that the gap between "nearly eighteen" and thirteen is
considerable.  Moreover, Christobel had been to school, the same school
as Mollie Shard. They had left for good together this Easter, and Pamela
hugged the thought that she was to share the same rule, going to school
next Easter, when she would be fourteen, for four years.  At the same
term, Hughie would go to a preparatory school, and the reign of Miss
Violet Chance, their governess, would be over.

That was how the matter stood; also, it was the reason why Pamela
studied a Girls’ Guide Handbook, with zeal that was seldom present in
the case of Arithmetic or French Grammar.  Her high aim--her secret
ambition--was to become a Girl Guide, a "Silver Fish" with power to wear
at least twenty badges on her sleeve, and, by the time she was sixteen,
a Patrol Leader.

Pamela was bitten deeply by the thought of this wonderful army of girls,
who could do practically everything possible for girls to do.  But there
was no chance of joining in Bell Bay.  The nearest corps would be at
Peterock, four miles to the north; or Salterne, the big town on the
estuary harbour, eight or ten miles to the south.  Mrs. Romilly did not
know anything about companies and patrols, and did not like the idea of
Pam getting mixed up with all sorts of girls.  She knew about the
ambition, but had asked for it to wait till her anxious daughter should
join the school company at Somerton.

So there it was.  Pamela meanwhile fought with difficulties. She wanted
to learn to cook; Mrs. Jeep, who had ruled long years in the kitchen,
would not let her.  She wished to wash and iron; but Miss Chance thought
it was not quite nice for her to associate with Patty Ingles--between
maid--who did these things three days a week.  It was tiresome, but had
to be put up with.  Pamela perforce spent her zeal on the book, and on
making secret signs whenever opportunity occurred.  She tried to fulfil
Scout Law, including one good deed every day, and she tried to hide what
she was doing from Hughie--which was impossible, as he possessed an
uncanny power of seeing everything, no matter how carefully hidden.

With intent grey-blue eyes fixed on the distance, Pamela considered life
as matters stood.

At that moment Miss Chance came up to the sea-wall from the garden, and
called her.  When she looked round Miss Chance asked questions.  It was
a way she had, and quite exasperating at times, because she seemed to
have a perfect genius for asking questions to which answers were
obvious.

"Isn’t the sand rather damp, Pam dear?" she inquired in an even voice.
"I think you ought to be careful about chills now we have so much
influenza about.  Are you reading?  Wouldn’t it be better to come up to
the garden?"

Pamela answered neither of these questions, but she got up, stretched,
and shook her skirt.

"The others are not back yet, are they?" went on Miss Chance, shading
her eyes with a knuckly hand and gazing towards the shining horizon.
"Why didn’t you go with them, dear?"

Pamela said she wanted to read; then she came across the rock-strewn
sand towards the rugged steps that led up to a gap in the wall, and as
she came certain sentences in "The Knight’s Code" repeated themselves:--

"Defend the poor, help them that cannot defend themselves."

"Do nothing to hurt or offend anyone."

"Perform humble offices with cheerfulness and----"

There are certainly moments when fulfilment is not easy----

"When do you suppose they will be back?" asked Miss Chance.

Pamela explained that there was a strong tide, and a light wind, but
they’d said they would be back by tea-time--meaning six o’clock and
solid high tea, not the afternoon variety.

"How tiresome!" exclaimed the governess, "I do wish they would hurry."

"You can’t hurry sailing-boats," suggested Pamela patiently, as she went
up the steps.

"I should have thought you could put up more sails, dear," said Miss
Chance, who had spent none of her valuable time in mastering the
intricacies of yachts and their habits, "it really is most annoying!"

"They don’t know anybody wants them back before ten. I believe they’ve
gone up to Peterock; the tide served--Penberthy said so--besides
Salterne is too far; they didn’t start till after lunch, you see, there
was a lot to do at Crown Hill, Mollie couldn’t come before."

"Your mother wants a message taken to the station about the stores she
expects to-morrow," said Miss Chance, as they walked along the terrace,
"they may come to-night by the 9.20 from Salterne.  She wants them sent
out specially at once, because there is too much, she thinks, for
Timothy Batt; besides, his cart won’t go to the station again till
Saturday."

"Did she want Addie to go?" asked Pamela, waking to the situation.  Then
she continued quickly: "He won’t want to go after tea, Miss Chance, he’s
arranged with Penberthy to do some painting on the yawl."

"He must put that off," said Miss Chance firmly.

"I’ll go to the station--now, before tea," was Pamela’s answer, "I
cleaned my bicycle this morning.  It looks smart enough to go out
calling even on the station-master at Five Trees."

She said this so gravely that Miss Chance was a little uncertain as to
whether she herself was not being laughed at.  You could not quite be
sure about Pamela, she was rather an inscrutable young person--tall and
slim like her lovely mother, with a small face, a square chin, and
firmly closing mouth.  She owned a distinguishing nose also, very
delicately modelled and turning up the least bit in the world.  The
family alluded to it as a "snub" at times, but there was nothing at all
snubby about it, and it was full of character.  For the rest, she owned
a plaited rope of hair that fell below her waist, brown with more than a
hint of red in it.  Hughie was like her, but the other three followed
rather faithfully in Captain Romilly’s pattern, except that Adrian was
on the way to be tall--had outgrown his sixteen-year-old strength, in
fact, which was no doubt why the influenza fiend had driven him home in
term time.

"Well," Pamela concluded with a question, "will that do?"

Miss Chance thought it would.  Mrs. Romilly, finishing letters in a
hurry for the 5.30 post, thought it would too. The stores were very
important, as Mrs. Jeep was "out" of nearly everything that made life
pleasing, and there was no fruit yet in the garden to help out puddings.

"Don’t tire yourself, darling," murmured Mrs. Romilly, writing an
address.

"I shan’t be back by six o’clock, Mummy--at least most likely
not--coming back is easy but going will be uphill most of the way."

"So it will."  Mrs. Romilly spoke as though this was a new idea.  Then
she turned her head and smiled at Pamela with serene large blue eyes, "I
dare say the _Messenger_ won’t be punctual," she said, "so the others
will be late, and anyway, dear child, tea can be kept for you, so don’t
hurry--and thank you so much for going."

Pamela wheeled the bicycle up the drive into the narrow road that ran up
and up close under a towering hill-side. All along it, hanging over the
road, were banks of fuchsia trees--in summer the whole track would be a
sheet of fallen fuchsia blossom.  She passed the Temperance Inn on her
right, then the church upon the height among the fuchsias, and soon
after that the little fairy house called "Fuchsia Cottage", where lived
Miss Anne Lasarge, the small grey lady called "The Little Pilgrim" by
the Romilly family, because she was like a character in a book they
loved.

Miss Anne had done wonders during the War; she had been out in the
devastated regions of France working among the homeless peasants.  She
had only been back since Christmas.  Pamela looked at the cottage as she
passed. It was like a lovely toy--an ideal cottage--the atmosphere of
Miss Anne made a distinct sense of peace cling to it all the year round.
No one was in the garden, no one working on the three little terraces
bright with flowers, that rose one above another to the lattice-paned
bow window of Miss Anne’s sitting-room.

Pamela was the least bit disappointed.  There was perfect understanding
between her and Miss Anne--who possessed a genius for understanding
everybody, and everybody’s worries.  She knew that it was rather lonely
to be a middle person in a family--cut off above and below. Pamela
vaguely wondered where she was gone to; a natural conclusion being that
some one must be ill in one of the farms.

Wheeling the bicycle on up the clean even road she left all trace of
houses behind and came to the woods at the back of the valley.  The road
ran between an over-shadowing height on one side, and thick woods on the
other--they bridged the centre of the deep to where the southern heights
towered up, covered with more woods.

Presently a white wall began, and the trees behind it thinned a good
deal.  The wall was high and had broken glass along the top of it.
There was a distinct suggestion of rebuff to an inquiring public.
Pamela, looking at it, remembered Kipling’s story in which "the invasion
of privacy" is spoken of as a danger.  In this part of the far west land
there did not seem much need for walling yourself in, she thought.
Moreover, no one lived at Woodrising but Mrs. Trewby the pessimistic
caretaker, and it belonged to Sir Marmaduke, who wanted to let it, and
had wanted to let it ever since he bought it before the War.  There was
the big square board--"To be let un-furnished".  There were several
boards at different points, but no one took the house.  It required much
money spent on the inside, and the large pretty gardens were neglected.
No one worked in them but Peter Cherry, son of Mrs. Rebecca Cherry, the
widow who ran the Temperance house in conjunction with her sister Mrs.
Paramore.

As Pamela passed the big double gates in the wall, she glanced up at the
house behind them.  Little could be seen of it but slate roof and
chimneys.  It was a square, white house of moderate size; not pretty,
but comfortable.  There was smoke going up from four chimneys.  Pamela
noticed this as she noticed most things, and deduced from it that Mrs.
Trewby was airing the rooms.  She also decided that Sir Marmaduke must
find the house--still unlet--a great expense.  People said he had bought
it because he did not want anyone in the valley of an uncongenial kind.
He and the Romilly family owned the whole place in present
circumstances.  A third family--the sort that could afford a house and
grounds like Woodrising, might be in the way! That is what people said;
no one knew anything actually, because the great K.C. was not a man to
confide his affairs to the general public.

Pamela, having glanced at the chimneys went on her way still alongside
the white wall with glass on its top.  She was walking in the road and
some impulse caused her to glance back at the gates when she had gone
some little distance.  She could just see that one of them had opened
inwards, and within the opening stood two people in earnest
conversation.  One was short and slight, the other was tall and leaned
on a stick.  The short and slight person was Anne Lasarge, her grey
cloak and grey bonnet with white strings proved her; the other was Major
Hilton Fraser, the invalided army doctor, lodging at Mainsail Cottage,
with the Penberthys.  He was lame from shell splinters in the thigh;
also four years spent in Mesopotamia and front-line dressing-stations in
France had left their mark.  Major Fraser was the hero of the Romilly
family; Pamela could not mistake his figure.  The question was: what
could he and the Little Pilgrim be at, meeting at Woodrising?

She paused to gaze, making sure.  Then she went on her way, wondering
and interested.  Pamela was always interested; some people called her
"inquisitive", which is not so pleasant an accusation to have tacked on
to one!  But she could not help herself, for it was that which her nose
stood for, with its delicate, keen lines and sharp outline.  Just
inquiry and the liveliest intuition.

"I daresay they are in love with each other," considered Pamela,
reviewing the situation mentally, "they ought to be, they’ve gone
through a lot together, but what has Woodrising to do with it, unless
they know somebody who wants to live there!"

This seemed to her a reasonable explanation.  She decided that he had
friends who wished to take the house, and he had asked Miss Anne to come
and look at the rooms for him.  He might find difficulty in measuring
rooms perhaps.

All the same he’d better not have depended on Miss Anne for that sort of
thing.  "I’d sooner be nursed by that angel than any living soul,"
thought Pamela, "but I don’t believe she knows about houses, and paint,
and carpets. She’s perfectly vague and unpractical about prices.  He’d
better have asked Miss Chance--or Jim Crow--she’d be better than
anybody.  I wish he’d marry Jim Crow, then we could keep a hero in the
family."

Pamela sighed as she decided that there was no hope of this glorious
conclusion to friendship.  "It’s a pity she’s too young--but he likes
her better than Mollie Shard."

She reached the top of the long hill at the back of the valley, and,
mounting, began the easier part of the journey--down and up, down and
up, over the loveliest scented moorland road--till presently she came in
sight of the miniature railway station, looking like a good-sized
hen-coop on its platform, and the shining rails stretching away north
and south as far as eye could see, until the hills swallowed them.

Nobody was in the hen-coop.  The booking office was locked.  The person
who did most things had gone off for some meal.  There would be a train
from Salterne through to Peterock at 6.45, and then the last one at
9.20.  No rush of trains let it be said, as of course the up trains from
Peterock did not count in this connection.

Pamela sat down on a seat to wait for a human being to appear.  She
hoped they would not be long, because she was hungry, but she was not in
the least dull.  She was always looking and thinking--years ago by
instinct, nowadays with intention; it was part of the Scout training.
She looked once at the shed of the platform opposite, then she shut her
eyes and counted mentally how many posts supported it, how many scallops
edged the roofing, how advertisements were hung within against the wall
behind, and what they were all about.  It was good practice. Anything
could be used.  The great idea, of course, was accuracy, and the power
of noticing every detail in the quickest time.  Pamela loved doing it,
and she did not know yet, of course, that she had a special gift that
way.

Time passed.  At 6.30 a man sauntered into view wiping his mouth.
Pamela went to him, and gave her instructions about the cases from
London in a concise and definite manner.  Then she hurried off to her
bicycle, and made speed on the way home.  She calculated that she should
be back before seven; the sooner the better, because sun had set, and a
veil of dusk was falling over the uplands--faint, sweet twilight.

Just at that moment the front tyre burst.  There was a bit of broken
glass on the road.  As Pamela picked it up and threw it aside into the
heather, she thought of Woodrising and that strongly-guarded wall--quite
irrelevant, but better than losing one’s temper.  It was maddening, but
there was nothing to do but walk home--about two miles from where she
stood.

First, however, she made a try at mending the rent, and it was while she
was at work--on what resulted in nothing but a waste of time--that a
motor-car passed.  It was a large car and strange to Pamela, which was
not a surprising thing perhaps, though many cars paid visits in summer
to beautiful Bell Bay.

The car was showing lights, and hummed past the girl at a good pace, but
Pamela took in all details with her usual swift inclusion.

Luggage--a good deal.  Certainly three people inside, and the window on
her side closed.  It was a large car, but, she felt certain, a hired
one.  The driver was no smart chauffeur, and the girl felt certain that
no gorgeous private touring-car would have been allowed to carry
miscellaneous trunks.

It was not the Shards’ car.  She knew that; it was a huge thing and
painted grey; besides, the Shards would have turned off seaward earlier,
for Crown Hill was reached by a road that went to Ramsworthy, the other
side of the southern heights.  This road was the direct route to Bell
Bay, and though Peterock could be reached by turning off to the right
lower down, any car for that town would have followed a straight line
past the station and away northward.

Who could be coming to Bell Bay, then, in a big, hired car, laden with
luggage, at that hour?

Now here was a mystery, and if Pamela could have imagined all that was
to come out of it, she would have felt even more thrilled than she did.



                              *CHAPTER II*

                    *Mollie Departs, but Comes Back
                           at Breakfast Time*


Pamela failed to make anything of her repairing job, so, after fifteen
minutes loss of time, she started off to walk it, wheeling the bicycle,
for there was no place on the lonely way where she could leave it.

Dusk was now falling in earnest.  Pam lighted her little lamp for
company and made all speed.  She had lost time over the tyre, but felt
she was not far from home when the turn to Peterock was reached.  From
the top of this height now she could see over the long stretch of the
Bell Bay valley, and the shimmer of grey sea beyond the trees--just a
peep between the great headlands, Bell Ridge on the north above her
home, and The Beak on the opposite side of the cove.

The evening was so still that the far-off mutter of the everlasting tide
on the rocks came up to her.  She lifted her head and sniffed the faint
salt breath of the wind, and in that instant caught the throb of a
motor.  She checked and listened.  Then went on again quickly.  There
was no doubt about it, a motor was coming up the long hill, out of the
valley shadows.  Then it must have gone to Bell Bay, for she was
convinced it was the same car.

In a minute or two it passed her, going back to Salterne. The same
car--big and dark, with powerful lights.  The luggage was gone from the
top where it had been placed, protected by a low fenced enclosure.
Pamela saw all that at a glance, but her attention was centred on the
occupant of the car--there must be someone inside there still, because
she could see an electric lamp alight within the carriage.  She stopped
at the roadside, waiting for it, and as it went by fixed all her
attention on the person who was reading a newspaper by the light of the
brilliant lamp on the wall.

She saw the face distinctly--clean shaven, the powerful heavy features
so often associated with great lawyers.  He was reading intently, and
his soft hat was pushed backward from his eyes.  Pamela opened her lips
in a little gasp of astonishment.  The last person in the world she had
thought of!

[Illustration: SHE SAW THE FACE DISTINCTLY]

It was Sir Marmaduke Shard.  Alone.  But he had not been alone when the
car passed her the first time.

Pamela stared after the receding car till it was lost in the dusk; then
she went on again at her best pace, very much surprised, for it would
really seem that the great Sir Marmaduke had actually brought someone to
Bell Bay, left them behind somewhere, and gone back to Salterne.  It
really was exciting, because there was nowhere to come to except his own
house, and had he been going there he would surely have chosen the
direct road.

Moreover, to leave again at once, like this!  Pamela could find no
answer to the riddle.

When she reached home, nobody questioned her lateness, because they were
all, so to speak, rather busy being low-spirited--a condition that
nearly always takes people’s attention off others.

Poor Adrian was very sorry for himself; very sorry indeed; and there was
much excuse for him.  It seemed likely that there would be no more
sailing in the beloved _Messenger_.

Christobel, on her part, was passionately sorry for Adrian. She
understood fully what such a blow meant to him who found more delight in
sailing than in anything else in life.

Mrs. Romilly was grieving for both of them, but as usual was most
absorbed in trying to think of a way out of the wood, and how to
substitute something that would do--nearly as well.

Finally, there was Miss Violet Chance--nicknamed the "Floweret" in
happier moments, by the way--who paralysed Mrs. Romilly’s efforts and
made matters worse by bright endeavours at dispersing the cloud.

"After all," said the Floweret, "what _is_ a yacht?  Surely we can find
something quite as jolly!  What about rounders? Wouldn’t it soon be good
weather for croquet?"  She suggested to Adrian a collection of moths,
and asked him where he had put the stamps he had been so proud of the
year before last?

Adrian said:

"I’ve got them all, thank you, Miss Chance," in a voice that went to Jim
Crow’s heart, because the suppressed torture in it was so acute.

Because, then, this gloomy company was assembled in the drawing-room,
Pamela found no one about, and going straight to the dining-room
proceeded to make a good tea; and Hughie, hearing her come in, entered
on the tips of his toes, sat down at a distance on the big leather sofa,
curled up his toes under him--till he looked like a small soapstone
"god"--and waited patiently.

"Why aren’t you in bed?" asked Pamela, as she helped herself to some
fresh cocoa brought in for her.

"It isn’t eight," said Hughie.

"My dear child, it’s ten past!"

"Well," Hughie glanced at the clock unashamed, "they’ve forgotten me,
you see.  That’s why I came out here, for fear they should remember."

"Miss Chance won’t forget," warned Pamela with conviction.

Hughie set that aside.

"They are in a state of miserableness, so nobody is remembering things,"
he said, "it’s rather beastly, Pam, they can’t sail the _Messenger_ any
more----"

"Who can’t?" interrupted Pamela sharply, pausing with a glass of potted
meat in her hand.

"All of them--Mollie, and Jim Crow, and Addie, and the worst is that
Addie will be cross most of the time now, which is a fearful pity; he
won’t help me do my rigging, because it will remind him of the yawl.
It’s most unlucky for everybody."

"Why can’t they sail the _Messenger_ any more?" asked Pamela, going on
with her supper.  The thought flashed through her mind that the sudden
and brief appearance of Sir Marmaduke was going to be explained simply.

"Because the gardens at Crown Hill are in a mess," Hughie went on with
slow emphasis, "they are in a _fearful_ mess, and everything is growing
too fast, and Mr. Jordan can’t do it, and there aren’t any men, because
they’re mostly dead in the War.  Miss Ashington says Penberthy has got
to go in the gardens the whole while.  Not a minute on the sea--and you
know they can’t go without Penberthy, Sir Marmaduke won’t let them."

"Beastly hard luck," said Pamela firmly.

"I expect it’s Fate," Hughie suggested thoughtfully.

"Why can’t they have Peter Cherry from Woodrising?" said Pamela,
ignoring fate.

"It isn’t any good asking me," answered Hughie, "because, how can I
tell?  But anyway Woodrising is simply bursting with weeds, and the more
there are, the more they come.  He must stay and pull them out, and
plant greens for Mrs. Trewby.  She eats greens, she told Mrs. Jeep she
_has_ to.  He can’t possibly go to Crown Hill, and Miss Ashington is
worried about the garden, Mollie says she is."

The door opened and Miss Chance looked round the edge of it.

"Ah, _there_ you are, little runaway!" she said with her usual
sprightliness, "I’ve found you."

"I wasn’t lost, Miss Chance.  I was only talking to Pam," remarked the
little runaway, letting himself drop over the back of the sofa in an
ingenious and complicated manner.

Miss Chance turned her attention to Pamela.

"You’ve come back, dear," she suggested, "I hope it’s all right about
the Stores’ cases; Mrs. Jeep will be so glad to have them."

Pamela explained her accident, mentioned that she had been obliged to
walk back, and gave the message from Five Trees, namely, that the cases
had not come, but should be sent on at once when they did.  She added
that she was just going in to tell her mother.  She said everything she
could think of to forestall the inevitable questions, and good Miss
Chance swept Hughie away to bed, remarking that it was late, but that
the days were getting longer, and the summer would soon be here.

"That’s what will make it harder for poor old Addie, about the yawl,"
thought Pamela, as she got up from the table, and departed for the scene
of woe.  She was very glad that Hughie’s information had "put her wise",
as the folk of the far west say--it would have been so galling for
Adrian if she had plunged in, and asked what the matter was to start off
with.  That was Pam’s way of looking at it.

So she gave the story of her mishap; said she would have to send the
bicycle to Salterne, it must go in on Saturday by Timothy Batt’s cart;
gave her message about the stores, and made talk of a mildly distracting
nature.

Adrian was gloomily turning a magazine; he looked up.

"It’s all knocked on the head about our sailing, Pam," he said, "pretty
rotten!  Fancy having to see the old _Messenger_ moored out there the
whole blessed summer, and have nothing but our dinghy to go out in!
It’s enough to make a person of sense commit suicide."

"Hughie told me something when I got in," said Pamela with sympathy, "I
was awfully sorry; he said Penberthy is wanted at Crown Hill.  Of course
the gardens are too much for Jordan--there used to be three men."

Adrian muttered something biting about gardens generally.

Christobel broke in.

"Mollie told us--she is most horribly disappointed herself--it cuts off
her fun too, but she says the gardens must come first, as Lady Shard
hates seeing things go--as they are; and men are so scarce, they want
every creature they can get on the farms, of course.  Oh dear, I wish
one could get at Sir Marmaduke, he’s always nice about the yawl."

"Why don’t you ask him yourself?" suggested Pamela.

Both the others began to answer together in their eagerness; then
Christobel dropped out, and Adrian went on.

"How can we, my good child?  We can’t exactly write letters to him
asking him to hand over his yawl to us!  As for talking, we shan’t meet
till goodness knows when--August at earliest."

Pamela suggested cautiously that Sir Marmaduke usually came for
week-ends in the summer.

"Well, he may have, once in a way," allowed Adrian gloomily, "but he
won’t do it this year.  Not a dreg of hope. He hasn’t been down, and
he’s not coming.  Government has put him on one of these hundred and
fifty thousand commissions about miners’ bath-rooms, or railway men’s
sofa cushions!  It makes one ill.  I wish the whole lot were at the
bottom of Vesuvius.  We can burn wood, and drive coaches, and go back to
decent life.  Anyway there it is. We can’t get at Sir Marmaduke.
Penberthy has got to do gardening----" his voice ceased in a sigh that
was a positive groan.

"One would almost think you three--I mean Mollie and Crow and you--would
do as well without Penberthy," said Pamela, "Penberthy does nothing ever
but talk, does he? Mollie is as good as any man, she’s pretty well
trained her muscles on the land--and all that----" this was an allusion
to the heroic efforts of Miss Shard on the Ensors’ farm at Hawksdown
during the holidays of two war years at least.

"Of _course_ she could, Pam," Christobel interrupted hastily, noting
Adrian’s rising irritation, "but you see Mollie won’t be here either."

"Mollie not here!"  Pamela’s face of startled dismay was satisfactory to
the distressed pair.

"You see," said Adrian, "things have pretty well tumbled about our ears
this afternoon!  Well, the bottom has been knocked out of the whole
show."

Pamela looked from one to the other, she did not ask another question,
but her expression did, so Christobel answered:

"Mollie is going up to town this week-end to see her mother about crowds
of things.  She believes they’ve taken a cottage on the river just
for--well, airing themselves. Mollie says Crown Hill is too far to come
for week-ends; it is a long way, we know.  If they have a cottage they
can live out of London, and he can go up--I mean Sir Marmaduke can; he
can’t get down here, Mollie says--not yet anyway.  The only person who
will be here much will be Miss Ashington, and she’ll look after things
for Lady Shard, who says she can’t possibly live here and leave Sir
Marmaduke in London; besides she wants to present Mollie."

"Present Mollie!" echoed Pamela with awe.  The world was simply changing
swiftly.

Mrs. Romilly folded the paper she was reading, and said in her even,
restful voice.

"I should have liked to have presented Crow at the same garden-party as
Mollie, but it isn’t convenient this year, so we must wait till next
summer."

"When Hughie and I are at school," suggested Pamela, a little smile
quivering round her firm lips.

Her mother’s eyes smiled back sympathy.

"It’s unlucky for Mollie and Crow not to be together," she said, "but of
course Lady Shard wants Mollie and of course she can’t leave Sir
Marmaduke alone, so we others must e’en put up with it all.  Something
will turn up presently.  I feel it in my bones," said Mrs. Romilly, "and
meanwhile don’t let’s cross bridges before we come to them.  I _know_
nothing will be as bad as one fears, it never is."

She looked at Adrian, who made no response.

"Let’s hope," said Crow.

"Has Mollie gone?" asked Pamela, suddenly thinking of an explanation for
the motor-car.  She put her foot in it, of course.

"My good girl, do have a grain of sense," begged Adrian, "how could she
be gone, when she was out on the _Messenger_ with us till nearly seven
o’clock?"

"She goes to-morrow," explained Christobel, "not finally of course.  She
comes back about Tuesday--she’s got to pack and take up things Lady
Shard wants, you see. Then she’ll go for good--I mean for about six
weeks--after that."

Pamela made no comment.  She was trying to fit that car piled with
luggage into this sudden development of Bell Bay doings.  Hitherto, the
great K.C. and his wife had been to and fro constantly winter as well as
summer.  Miss Ashington--commonly called "Auntie A.", as her name was
Adelaide Ashington--had been in residence nearly always.  She was Lady
Shard’s sister, and a person positively made up of schemes--which never
seemed to come off, and were, as a rule, dropped in favour of something
more arresting.  At present, the farming problem was her hobby, and she
was full of an idea for milking cows once a day at eleven o’clock in the
morning, so that land-girls need not get up so early, and farmers could
do with less labour.  The trouble, though, seemed to be that the cows
would not agree to this excellent plan.  However, Auntie A. did not
despair of bringing them also to a sense of duty, and meanwhile she
stayed at Crown Hill doing no one any harm, which was something to be
thankful for.

It appeared then a settled question that the Shards would not come to
Bell Bay until summer was well nigh through. Penberthy would no longer
be available, and the lovely yacht would be on her moorings--useless to
the Romilly party.  It certainly was a sorrowful outlook for Adrian. As
Christobel said afterwards to Pamela: "If Addie had never been able to
use the yawl almost like his own it wouldn’t have mattered."  But he
had; and of course nothing could make up for it.

Pamela thought that week-end was one of the most dismal she had ever
spent.  Indeed it was so gloomy that she forgot about the motor-car
mystery and surprising visit of Sir Marmaduke; all her mind and
efforts--hers and Crow’s--were spent in trying to devise a new and
interesting way of passing time.  Mrs. Romilly was willing to fall in
with any plan, even to the extent of hiring a sailing-boat of a size
suitable.  She was ready to suppress her own feelings in the
matter--they would have been distinctly anxious--and let Adrian go to
Salterne and find something; an open boat with a sail.

However, on Monday, Adrian, as his manner was, shook himself free of
this weight of care and announced that no one was to bother about him
and his needs.  The dinghy--which was bigger than the average dinghy
carried by an eight-ton yacht, and which belonged to the Romillys--would
do well enough for fishing, he said.  And for the rest, he had made
various appointments with John Badger of Champles--the farm on the Down
above Bell House--connected with rats and young rabbits.

"Besides the lawn must be kept decent," he concluded; which was his way
of saying that the ancient gardener, "Hennery" Doe, could not be left to
bear what Mrs. Jeep called "the blunt" of the Bell House gardens.

So content was restored, and Mrs. Romilly wrote to her husband that "the
children were perfectly sweet"; they were certainly of the kind that has
a sense of responsibility very much awake.

On that day--Monday--Miss Lasarge came down to the Bell House, stayed to
tea, and was a joy to everybody--especially Hughie, who adored her--but
it struck Pamela that she was a little less talkative than usual;
perhaps even a little absent-minded.  She went away early and said she
had gardening to do.

Nobody noticed this but Pam, and she, sitting at her window in the
evening looking straight across the sea-wall, the rocks, and the tide
rippling out over the golden sand, decided that the Little Pilgrim was
in love with Major Fraser.  "Why don’t people settle things comfortably
and be done with it," thought Pamela vexedly.  "They are both nice, and
they could live at Fuchsia Cottage."

On Tuesday morning, so early as the nine-o’clock breakfast hour, came a
surprise.

It had been raining in the night, and was still drizzling, with an
inclination to clear up, when Mollie Shard burst upon the scene in an
atmosphere of wet wind and scent of salt.

She had not had breakfast.  It appeared that Auntie A. was not down, and
as Miss Shard had something to communicate that refused to be kept back
till conventional hours she had left Crown Hill, in a "trench" coat and
no hat, racing down to the Bell House to see her friends, and tell her
tale.

Everybody was down and beginning, except Pamela, and the conversation
was a perfect rattle of questions and answers.

"Suppose," said Mrs. Romilly, "you let Mollie tell us what she has been
doing."

Mollie explained that what she had been doing was entirely
uninteresting.  It was only what she expected--a little house on the
river near Weybridge.  "Yes, the usual little cottagey thing--with a
lawn."  Mollie liked it, and anyway it had to be because Dad couldn’t
leave London for ages.  "It’ll have to be put up with," said Mollie,
"one must look forward to better times," but it seemed that was not the
matter that was causing all this bubble of excitement and beam of
smiles.

"Addie, I’ve got a message for you and Crow from Dad. Very special.  You
can have the _Messenger_ to play with, till he wants her."

"_We_ can!" gasped Christobel.

Adrian murmured "My hat!" and flushed red all over his tanned face.

"Yes.  That’s why I came bursting down, because why shouldn’t we go out
to-day?  Do let’s.  I’ve got to do reams of packing, and I’m vowed to go
back with the goods, next Monday.  Mother lets me off till Monday.
Well, anyway Dad says he sees that Crow and Adrian can manage the yawl
just as well as he can, and he trusts her to you--only he says if you
wreck her you’ll have to give him another--that’s all.  Of course he
knows Penberthy isn’t vital. Especially when he has lumbago.  She’s not
a heavy boat, and yawls are awfully convenient, Mrs. Romilly--aren’t
they, Addie?"

"Rather," agreed Adrian ecstatically; his hands shook a little with the
thrill of the moment.  Crow’s grey eyes, so like her father’s, seemed to
shine with an inner light.

"Well, then, that’s all settled.  No, don’t thank.  Dad hates
_Messenger_ being on the moorings, just wasting.  Hullo, here’s Pamela,
just in time to join in this jubilee.  I say, Pam, why didn’t you stop
when I called you?"

Pamela slipped into her chair, took an egg, realized the amazing news
from a few words of Crow’s, looked from her mother’s happy face to
Adrian’s, then attended to Mollie’s question.

"How do you mean--’stop’--stop when?"

"Why, just now--when I was coming down the bay drive from Crown Hill, I
was nearly at the end lodge, and you came down the road from Hawksdown,
went to the edge of the cliff above Penberthy’s and stared down into the
cove.  I called out to you, but you wouldn’t answer, you must have
heard."

Everybody looked at Pamela, who went on eating her egg slowly.

"It was my wraith," she said, "it wasn’t me."

"Jolly solid wraith," declared Mollie, laughing.

"Well, but where did I go?" demanded Pamela, half laughing.  "I mean,
where did you think I went?"

"Don’t know, my dear; I lost sight of you.  It’s for you to say where
you went."

Pamela shook her head, and helped herself to marmalade.

"Well, it wasn’t me," she repeated.

"’_I_’, Pamela dear, ’_I_’, please," put in Miss Chance urgently.  And
everybody laughed.



                             *CHAPTER III*

                     *In which Hughie is Ill-used*


Some days after that joyous breakfast--Mollie being deeply engaged in
the arduous duty of packing--the Romilly crew took out the white yawl in
force.

Jim Crow was admittedly skipper.  She was the eldest, and had a
"sailing" bent undoubtedly.  Captain Romilly, in training his family to
understand the true inwardness of boats, had discovered the natural gift
in his elder daughter. Adrian loved it--and loved the sea, but he was
going to be a soldier in due course; Crow and Hughie were following
faithfully in the Romilly record.

On this warm still evening--for the day was drawing to a
close--_Messenger_ floated lazily on a heaving oily sea. The sky was
full of brassy clouds that seemed to have a copper lining; these,
drifting, with scarcely perceptible movement, from the north and east,
formed rather a serious barrier to getting home, because, given a good
strong tide running out also, what is the cleverest yacht to do?

Earlier in the day, with mainsail set as well as mizzen, with big jib
ballooning out in fine style, in fact, looking exactly what a well-kept
yawl should look, _Messenger_ had gone away down to the southwest
straight before the wind and with the tide.  The skipper had acted on a
sound principle in this; but she was not very sure of her tides, and,
having decided that the tide should be in their favour for the homeward
run, was now disturbed and puzzled to find it had not turned yet--and
the hour was six o’clock or after.

"Of course," said Pam, leaning with her head back against the
deck-house, "of course that was where old Penberthy came in.  He didn’t
do anything.  He was fearfully lazy, but he was a perfect clock for
tides."

"So shall we be, soon," murmured Adrian peacefully from under the brim
of a battered hat, "but anyway what does it matter!  We shall be home
some day.  Great Scot, isn’t this A1!"

"It would be if I wasn’t afraid Mother would worry. It’s our first day
without anybody, you see----"  Christobel suggested this in an
apologetic tone.

"My good Crow--what do you call anybody, might I ask?  Old Pen was
simply luggage.  And Mollie is only one more hand, naturally.  I mean
she couldn’t effect a rescue if we went to smash, could she?"

"Of course not, but Mother----"

"Mother is full of sense," said Adrian with decision, as he sat up and
looked about appreciatively.  "I never in all my life saw anything more
perfect than the colours on the old Beak and Bell Ridge.  I wouldn’t
have missed this evening for--well--really, Crow, what does time matter?
It’s as calm as a plate."

That was true, but the skipper’s eye glanced uneasily towards the
dipping sun.

Hughie, sitting as usual like a small image of contemplation in a
comfortable corner of the well, had said nothing, but listened to the
argument.

"If I was at home I could say to Mum there’s no wind," he suggested.

"But you’re not at home; the Floweret can say so," said Adrian.

"She won’t.  She’ll say ’dear Mrs. Romilly, don’t be anxious’," remarked
Hughie with grave assurance.

It was so very true that the elders looked at each other and laughed.

Then Christobel said humbly:

"It’s all my fault.  I made sure the tide turned in our favour at five
o’clock.  That seemed to give us heaps of time to pick up moorings and
make all snug by half-past seven."

"For any sake, Crow, don’t be in a repentant mood," urged Adrian, "the
tide is keeping a pleasant surprise up its sleeve.  At present it’s
pretending it never comes in at all!  Keep it in a good temper whatever
happens.  It will get tired of the merry jest in two jiffs and remember
how jolly and warm the little bays are all along; then it’ll go home in
a hurry!  Oh, I say--what a coast this is!  I don’t believe you can beat
it round England anywhere."

Adrian thus refused to be roused into worry, but Pamela was sorry for
Crow.  Crow had such a terribly tender conscience!  She pulled herself
together and sat upright with a decisive little movement.

"Give me the dinghy," she said, "and I’ll go ashore and carry a message.
Then, when you get back, the boat will be in the cove all right to take
you off.  There’s no difficulty about it--it’s as simple as--as
anything."

"Pam, it’s three miles!  You can’t possibly----" Christobel objected.

"Oh, my dear--it isn’t.  Not nearly three miles even from Bell Bay.
What are you thinking of?  I don’t believe we are a mile from the Beak.
It’s nothing of a row.  Just look----"

Christobel looked.  First at the big headland, then at Adrian, who had
made no comment.

Pamela went on explaining her plan.

"Suppose you make a little tack in towards Ramsworthy and the
lighthouse.  That will bring us quite near the easiest side of the Beak.
Then Hughie can come with me. I’ll land him and he can go up the sloping
part into Ramsworthy, over Hawksdown, and into Bell Bay as quick as he
likes--how far is it?  Only about a mile and a half.  _I_’ll row the
dinghy along the shore.  We’ll just see which of us gets back first,
won’t we, Hughie?"

"_I_ shall," answered the small person without hesitation.

"Depends on the tide," said Pamela, "if it turns pretty quick, I shall."

"My young friends, you are both in error," Adrian stretched amazingly as
he spoke, "we shall--if the tide turns.  You others won’t have a look
in."

"Well, if you do, you can pick up the moorings and wait for me to fetch
you off.  And anyway Mother will see you from the windows so she will be
comfortable, and everybody will be comfortable," was Pamela’s conclusion
of the whole matter, as she got up.

Christobel was not satisfied, though she had acted on the suggestion of
a tack in the direction of Ramsworthy Cove, to the right of the Beak
head--looking at it from the sea.

"I don’t like to think of you and Hughie going ashore--all that
way--alone," she said.

"Crow, you are hatching difficulties," retorted Pamela, "what else can
we do?  If Addie puts us ashore he’ll have to leave you.  Ought you to
be left all alone on the yawl? What do you think, Addie?"

Adrian cut the Gordian knot by a new division of labour and a very
decided opinion.

"Mother wouldn’t like you and Hughie to go home--I mean, go ashore, from
here--by yourselves.  We know she wouldn’t, so it’s no use arguing.  I
vote Pam stays aboard with Crow while I put Hughie ashore at Ramsworthy
Cove. Hughie can cut away home over Hawksdown, and race us, because the
tide’s turning already.  When I’ve put him out I’ll come back here.
That’s all about it, come on, youngster."

Pamela was disappointed, but she said nothing.  A sailing boat in a calm
is deadly dull most certainly, and Pamela objected strongly to dullness
and monotony.  Her inquiring mind was always seeking new interests, and
she loved surprises--she was always trying to surprise herself, in small
ways.  The idea of rowing Hughie ashore and then going along round the
headland to Bell Bay had appealed to her desire for adventure.
However--of course Adrian was right, Mrs. Romilly would not have been
pleased at such an independent excursion on the part of her younger
children.

The dinghy started, and the mile of sea between lazily floating
_Messenger_ and the shadowy bay beyond the lighthouse point was quickly
crossed.  Adrian came back as quickly, and, as he sprang aboard and bent
to tie up the tow rope, announced that the tide was flowing strongly.

"Wind or no wind," he said, "we shall get back before old Hughie.  What
a rum thing it is how that always happens.  As long as you wait--you
don’t get it.  Start doing something else, and there you are!  Moral
is--never wait.  Always do something else.  May as well tack,
Crow--here’s the wind too; breeze getting up with the tide of course!"

So the white yawl, leaning over very gently, gathered speed, and
skimming through the smooth placid sea, made two tacks and picked up her
moorings easily in half an hour.

The interest of this event is--what happened to Hughie, the human
messenger.

Hughie, silent at all times, and almost as keen an observer as his
sister Pamela, said nothing when this arrangement was made.  At the same
time he was well pleased to be put ashore with the responsibility of
this small excursion upon his own shoulders.  It was an adventure, and
to Hughie, whose imagination was riotous, it might lead into all kinds
of strange happenings.

Adrian landed him in the tiny cove beyond the great headland, on the
point of which was a kind of fortress, walled and powerful--the
barricaded strength of the lighthouse, which faced Atlantic gales
through weather indescribable.

Outward and inner walls were white; all the low strong buildings were
white, and the tower itself stood at the outer guard, smooth, round, and
amazingly strong.  Looking up at this as they rowed in Hughie felt a
thrill--next to being a sailor like his father, he would have wished to
be a lighthouse man--but this was a secret.

In the steep little cove lay the scattered bones of an old ship; weed
grew in the staring ribs, and the massive keel was sunk deep into the
sand.  This was nothing new.  The wreck had been there many years; it
was that kind of thing that made Government build such a lighthouse.
The Beak in old days had been one of the most relentless murderers of
all the western headlands.

"There you are, old chap.  Cut along home now, and tell Mother we’ll be
there before you," instructed Adrian as he pushed off, looking behind
him as he went.

Hughie nodded, picked his way over the strewn wreckage, and went up the
broken sloping steep at the back of the cove till he reached the road on
the top.  This went from the small village, Ramsworthy, over
Hawksdown--which was the bare lovely height on the moor above the
lighthouse--and down into Bell Bay.  Several roads branched off; one
went along the point to the lighthouse settlement; one led away back
across Ramsworthy moor to the station at Five Trees.  Yet another went
to Clawtol, the Ensors’ farm, and on past that and the principal lodge
of Crown Hill to join the main road from Salterne.

This was the way Pamela’s mysterious motor-car should have come, had it
been behaving in a reasonable manner.

Hughie ran and walked alternately till he reached the top of Hawksdown.
Then he stopped to look round.  The sun was dipping into the sea--far,
far out.  Here and there upon the sea was a sailing vessel, looking like
a painted toy. Not distant a great way from the lighthouse was the
_Messenger_, a glistening model of perfection, with her white sails
drawing on this new breeze that rippled the water.

Hughie, gazing at the straining sail and the ripple, saw that they would
get home first if he waited, so he started off at a trot, making quite
straight across the moorland for the drop into Bell Bay between
Penberthy’s cottage and the Crown Hill gate.  It was the shortest way
home.

The sun had gone into the sea, and a purply shadow was creeping over the
land--the whole world was a happy hunting ground for adventures, and
Hughie would have asked nothing better than to follow one of the farm
tracks and go on till he met something surprising.  At the crossroad to
Clawtol Farm he paused, and looked along it because it was pretty.  It
dipped away from the high pitch of the moor and went down and down
between banks covered with gorse and heather.  It was sheltered as well
as pretty, and was one way to Bell Bay, of course, though roundabout.

Hughie, stopping to look along this road, saw something immensely
surprising--about the last thing he dreamed of--indeed a dragon or a
giant would have been less astonishing, because he was always expecting
creatures of that kind. What he saw was his sister Pamela.  She was
walking rather slowly between the gorsy banks in the direction of
Clawtol Farm.  Even as he looked, she paused, went up the left-hand bank
two steps, picked some flower, jumped back into the road, and walked
slowly on.

Hughie stared at this vision.  At first in unbelief; then with a rapid
calculation of time; then in amaze.  It certainly was Pam; but she must
have been amazingly quick to get up there, though it was possible--well,
of course it was possible, because there she was!  His mind reviewed
rapidly the idea that Addie must have gone back very quickly and taken
Pam off at once, and put her ashore on the home side of the Beak--you
could climb it, but it was an awful bit of cliff.  Altogether that
explanation did not appeal to a reasoning mind.  Then he remembered the
ripples on the sea, and the straining mainsail of the yawl as she
gathered speed on the homeward track.  Of course that must be it.  The
_Messenger_ had picked up her moorings and they had put Pam ashore to
come up and meet him, while they stowed the sails.  That was what would
have been done--supposing they reached home first.  Hughie concluded
that he must have taken too much time over his journey--it was a most
annoying conclusion to arrive at. Hughie shouted with vigour:

"Pam--I say--_Pam_!" and then stayed to watch the effect.

The tall, slim figure in neat skirt and jumper--such as Hughie connected
with both his sisters--went on at a steady pace.  It seemed that the
headgear was a cap of the tam-o’-shanter kind.  Pamela had one
undoubtedly, but her small brother could not quite remember whether she
had been wearing it this afternoon.  Most likely she had. Anyway, the
long, thick plait of polished hair was very obvious, hanging to the
waist-line and below.

"Pam!" he shouted again, with greater energy.

The girl checked.  She looked up and round, but not back. She seemed by
the movements of her head to be listening.

"Hullo-o-o!" hailed Hughie, with force.

Pamela stood still with a startled pull-up, and turned round and glanced
behind her.  Hughie was conscious of surprise at the way she did it.  He
could not have explained clearly perhaps what it was that shocked him
just a little in his sister’s manner.  His feeling was instinctive only.

She acted in a _guilty_ manner.

Now this sort of thing was not only foreign to Pamela, but to the entire
Romilly family.  They did unexpected and independent things at times, of
course--and explained afterwards.  They did not do things they were
ashamed to own up to, which was what Pamela appeared to be guilty of at
this moment.  Hughie flushed at the thought of it.  Why was she running
away; why wouldn’t she make a sign?

He raised an arm, waved it round his head and started to catch her.  She
seemed to hesitate.  Then she also distinctly made a gesture of the
hand, and ran too.  Away from him--in the direction of Clawtol.

Hughie had not a chance when Pamela ran.  He knew that by long
experience.  His sister was a real "sprinter"; her long legs, light
body, and excellent "wind" left him nowhere every time.  At the same
time he had no intention of giving in, though he was angry.  It was a
mean thing to do; especially after she had seen him and answered his
wave.

He ran on steadily, though he knew the distance between them must be
increasing fast, till he came in sight of Clawtol ricks and roofs, and
the hedge-row fencing that began at the turn of the road.  The dog was
barking monotonously in that maddening way tied-up dogs do bark when
anything interests them, and Hughie reasoned that the dog had heard
Pamela run by along the road.

He stopped at the gate to see if there was a person about, and became
interested in the distant doings of Mrs. Ensor, who was trying to induce
several families of chickens--thoroughly mixed up among themselves--to
go to bed in correct parties.  The open coops stood in a row; Hughie
looked through the gate, as it was a high one, and observed the
manoeuvres.

Mrs. Ensor was a short, dark woman, with pretty eyes and a distinct
moustache.  Besides the moustache she owned six little boys, in ages
ranging from eight down to eighteen months.  This last--an important
member of the Ensor family--was staggering about among the rebellious
chickens, like them, he had no particular bed-time, and fought against
it whenever it was decreed.  As Hughie watched, drawn away from his
intention of questioning Mrs. Ensor about Pam, a small pig charged
through the mêlée, upset the Ensor baby, scattered the chickens and
caused an uproar that brought more little Ensors to the scene of action.

One of these saw Hughie, and pulled his mother’s skirt to make her
notice the visitor.  Hughie therefore pushed open the gate, and advanced
rather gingerly, because the noise was deafening and Mrs. Ensor was
shaking the baby--as an example to its brothers of what happens when
people are naughty enough to fall over a pig.

"Mother," urged Reube Ensor, who was six, and very small, "here be
Master Hughie."

The tumult ceased as by magic, and Mrs. Ensor advanced to meet her
visitor, with the baby surprised into silence.

Hughie shook hands politely.  Then he asked if his sister had just been
to the farm.

"I thought I saw her," he explained, "she was in the road, and I thought
she might have come up for eggs."

This idea had occurred to him when he saw the hen-coops as a very
possible explanation for Pamela’s conduct.  Her gesture to him might
have meant that she was going on to Clawtol Farm in a hurry.

Mrs. Ensor had not seen anybody.  Miss Pamela had not called for eggs.
She turned to the row of listening little boys and demanded of them,
"had anybody seen Miss Pamela?"

There was a certain amount of whispering and nudging, from which the
farmer’s wife seemed to gather that Pamela had been seen.  It was "young
Reube" who volunteered information, twisting his cap round and round in
very small nervous hands.

Hughie looked at him with shy sympathy.  He liked Reube, but could not
explain why.

"Did you see my sister?" he asked gravely.

"Yes, I seen the young lady," admitted Reube.

"Where did she go?" asked Hughie again.

"She went down along Crown Hill.  She was running."

That was all Reube said, or knew apparently.  As he gave this answer he
looked from Hughie to his mother with a puzzled expression which neither
interpreted to mean anything but shyness.

"I think I’d better go home now, Mrs. Ensor," said the visitor rather
ceremoniously.  "I shall be rather late for our tea, shan’t I?  I expect
my sister has gone to Crown Hill to see Miss Ashington, so I shan’t go
that way--it’s much longer."

Mrs. Ensor and family--with an inquisitive escort of chickens and little
pigs--came to the gate with Hughie and let him out.

"Good-night, Mrs. Ensor," said Hughie, and lifted his cap with
precision.

Young Reube stood in the background with a troubled expression on his
small dark face.  After Hughie was gone he ran about and drove chickens
into coops, but all the while there was a sense of confusion in his
mind, because he had no power to explain--words do not come easily when
you are six!

Hughie raced back along the road to the top of Hawksdown. From there it
was not very far to the drop of the hill down into Bell Bay.  At a turn
he came in full view of the lovely cove, and paused to look for the
white yawl. There she was on her moorings.  Sails stowed too, and he
could see someone getting out of the dinghy on to the big flat rock
where they usually landed.  There was not enough light for him to
distinguish persons, but seeing the _Messenger_ was safely back home
nothing else mattered.

He took to his heels and ran headlong down the steep road, past the
lodge gate of the cove road.  To Crown Hill, round the corner, down, and
down, till he came to the sea-wall and gardens of the Bell House; and as
he ran he became increasingly angry, which was a rare state of mind with
Hughie.  He considered himself swindled.  He had been put ashore on
purpose to carry a message, and had felt the importance of the trust.

It was a small thing that the yawl should be home first, though, as he
had seen the dinghy coming ashore that would not have happened had he
not been tricked into turning aside by Pamela.

The thing was distinctly unfair.  Pamela, his partner in many
interesting episodes, had gone back on him in this, she had treated him
meanly and put him in a silly position.



                              *CHAPTER IV*

                      *In which Pam Makes a Move*


The first thing people said to Hughie was, of course, "What a long time
you were!"  It was exactly what he expected, and he felt extremely
bitter about it.

There was supper on this night, everybody was hungry, and they had so
much to tell Mrs. Romilly about the events of the day that no more than
that comment was made at the moment.

Mrs. Romilly had not been anxious.  She had observed the calm, had
guessed the tides, and simply given orders that "high tea" would be
supper.  She was rejoiced that this first attempt had been a success,
but decided that her youngest son was tired out--he was so silent.  She
remembered the climb out of Ramsworthy Cove, the walk over
Hawksdown--thought of the long day of hot calm--and put no questions at
all about it.  Indeed she diverted those that the rest of the crew would
have asked.

Pamela, as usual, came in rather late.  Hughie looked at her.  She sat
down, saw him, and said:

"I saw you running down the hill, aren’t you hot, poor Midget?  It is
stuffy as thunder, Mummy, and the wind is coming in little puffs over
Bell Ridge; presently there’ll be a row--we shall hear the thunder tanks
come wheeling along over our heads!  I _am_ hot!"

Hughie decided she had been running also.  But he felt this was not the
time or place to go into the question.  He ate his supper in silence,
and matured a telling and desperate plan for paying his sister back.  He
would ignore her presence.  He would not say good-night to her.

Thus when bed-time came, Hughie, busy as usual with some infinitely
small carpentering work connected with his latest boat, got up, put away
his tiny blocks, pulleys, and fine cord, and went to kiss his mother.
She was making sails for him--perfect sails with amazingly neat reefing
knots and cord-stiffened edges.  Nobody could make model boat-sails like
Mrs. Romilly.

"Oh, Mum----" said Hughie very low, and smiled.

"Tired boy," answered ’Mum’, also smiling, "go to bed and go to sleep,
and don’t wake till eight."

Hughie said good-night to Adrian, Christobel, and the Floweret; then he
went off to bed, deliberately missing out Pam.

Nobody thought about it but Pam herself.  The others were all busy,
Addie and Crow playing chess and too much absorbed, the Floweret reading
the newspaper to Mrs. Romilly.  Pamela, very intently taking notes from
her precious handbook, had turned her head ready for Hughie’s kiss.  He
always kissed her as well as his mother.  But Hughie walked down the
room with short quick steps, opened the door, shut it very softly, and
was gone.

This action was in no way lost on his sister.  She not only saw it all,
but she realized that it was a case of extreme measures on Hughie’s
part, and made up her mind to get to the bottom of the business.

Pamela’s bedroom was a small one at the end of the house, and it looked
out over the sea-wall and into the rocky cove.  Hughie’s room was a pair
to it, farther along the little cross passage that barred the end of the
long corridor down the centre of the house.  Hughie’s window looked the
same way as Pamela’s, and they were exactly alike--strong casements,
deep window seats, with a view passing description for peace and beauty.

At nine o’clock Pam went up to bed; but she walked by her own door, to
Hughie’s, and without knocking, opened it softly and went in.

A young clear moon was rising up the purple sky, and there was light
enough to show any movements, especially as the blind was up.  The owner
of the room was in bed, and no doubt ought to have been asleep, but the
excitements already narrated had kept him awake--combined with the
expectation of a visit from his sister.

He turned his head on the pillow and looked at her. Pamela closed the
door gently, came to the foot of the bed, and leaning her crossed arms
on the brass foot, said:

"What’s the matter, Midget?"

Hughie was not the sort of person to pretend he did not know what she
was thinking of.  He retorted by another question.

"Why didn’t you stop when I called you, Pam?"

"Called me!  Where?  When?"

"On the top of Hawksdown--where the road goes to Clawtol," said Hughie.

"But _when_?"

"Why, this evening, when I was coming home, of course."

There was a pause.  Pamela seemed to be thinking deeply.  Hughie made
use of the interval to sit up in bed--indeed he sat on his pillow,
holding the small pyjama-clad ankles of his crossed legs in either hand.
He looked very much like an enlarged soapstone figure of an Indian god.

After a sufficiently long pause to make Hughie feel sure his sister was
very guilty in the matter, Pamela said:

"What was I doing?"

"I should think you ought to know," answered Hughie coldly.

"No, but tell me.  I want to know just what you saw."

Hughie complied.

"So I waved--when I’d called; and you looked back and put up your hand.
And then you ran away.  I ran too, but I couldn’t catch you--I never
can--you know that perfectly well," he concluded.

He could see his sister’s face quite plainly in the moonlight. She was
frowning with a sort of puzzled intentness, and her keen features looked
very sharp.  Hughie, quick as she to observe, began to explain further.
He told how he went to Clawtol, and how he inquired from Mrs. Ensor and
her family.

"And Reube said he’d seen you," he ended.

"Reube said he’d seen _me_," echoed Pamela, "are you sure, Midget?"

Hughie considered; then he repeated carefully:

"Mrs. Ensor said ’did you see the young lady?’ and Reube said ’yes’."

"Ah!" breathed Pamela, low, to herself.  Then she left her position at
the bed foot, and moved about the room in a restless silent fashion, her
eyes on the ground.  At last she came to a stand by the window.

Hughie made no remark; his eyes followed her, and he was much
interested; there was plainly something on foot not understandable at
first.

"How was I--she--dressed?" asked Pamela suddenly.

"Oh, your usual things--what you had on the boat," said Hughie vaguely.

"Brown shoes and stockings?" Pam demanded.

Hughie thought about it.  Then he said he couldn’t see so far.

"But I saw your pigtail hanging down.  There was a bit of light on it,
and it shone."

Pamela went back to the foot of the bed, and leaned there.

"Look here, Hughie," she said seriously, "if I say a thing you’d believe
me, wouldn’t you?"

Hughie gripped his ankles with either small brown hand and gazed back at
her thoughtfully.

"I should _believe_ you--if you said a true thing," he said.

"Well, I’m going to say a true thing.  The girl you saw wasn’t me--I
mean, I."

"Oh!" said Hughie, "who was she, then?"

"I don’t know any more than you do, but I’d venture to bet a shilling
that she’s the same girl Mollie Shard saw. Don’t you remember when
Mollie said she saw _me_, out by Mainsail Cottage on Tuesday morning.
Well, I wasn’t."

"Oh," murmured Hughie again--then, "I remember what Mollie said, but why
didn’t you say it wasn’t you, Pam?"

"I was thinking about something rather queer that I saw myself; kind of
adding them together."

"What did you see yourself?"

Pamela did not answer this question at once, her mind was searching
round for points, at last:

"One thing is plain;" she said, "there’s a girl about who looks like me;
but goodness knows who she is, or where she comes from.  Look here,
Hughie, will you keep your eyes open--now you know.  I’ll try and follow
it up too, and I promise I’ll tell you what I find out even if I don’t
tell other people."

"I see.  Yes, all right, Pam," agreed the Midget with dignity.  As a
matter of fact he was really not quite sure whether he did see.  It was
all rather startling; why should there be a girl exactly like Pam--and
with the same pigtail even?  However, there it was.  He had said he
would believe what his sister told him.

"Well, good-night, Hughie; we shall see what happens next," said Pamela.
She was not laughing at all, her face wore the same keen look.  "And
remember you promised not to say one word to a living soul, whatever
happens."

"All right.  I promise.  Good-night, Pam," and Hugh raised his face to
be kissed rather meekly.  He felt as though all this was rather serious.

Pamela went away to her own room and sat down in the low window-seat to
puzzle out the position.

There was a girl in Bell Bay so like herself that two people who knew
her well had been completely deceived, yet nobody had arrived in the
cove--publicly.  Indeed, there was no place for them to arrive at,
without the inhabitants being aware.

"The queer part is," thought Pamela, "that nobody is worrying with
curiosity, because whenever anyone sees her they think it’s I, and
naturally they don’t notice any more. Whatever that girl does will be
put on my shoulders, and I can’t go and say she’s there because I don’t
know."

She looked at the silver, clear, clean moon, riding so gaily up and up,
and at the inky shadows of rocks away down on the white shining sand of
the cove.  Everything was painted black and white, and the ripple of the
sea was a laughing whisper.

Pamela was used to this fairy scene in all sorts of phases, but
to-night--probably because of the Mystery Girl--she felt as though
something uncanny were abroad, and to shake herself free from the
feeling she opened her precious handbook, and proceeded to search
through it from end to end.  "What should a person do--what would a
Patrol Captain, or any experienced Guide do, if she found she had a
’double’?  Practical information about making jam tins into
candlesticks, or how to meet a mad dog! Splendid directions for camping
and tracking--_tracking_!"

Pamela paused and thought about that.  She studied the means for finding
out a bicycle-track, what sort of bicycle--which way going.  That might
be useful if the girl rode a bicycle.  Footprints might be followed up
if she could be sure what sort of shoe the girl wore.

She shut up the book, and began to undress, gazing dreamily out at the
moonshine all the time, utterly unconscious what that moonshine was to
show her one night--in the near future.

Just before she went to sleep her mind fixed itself again on a previous
idea.  This business had surely got to do with Woodrising--with the
strange motor-car--and with the secret visit of Sir Marmaduke Shard.
She had no proof that he went that night to Woodrising, but she was
perfectly certain he had done so.  The first thing, of course, was to
find out if anybody had come to Woodrising.

The next morning, warm, lovely--and far removed from any sort of
mystery--arrived, in about five minutes. Mornings do arrive swiftly when
you are thirteen and have been out sailing nearly all day before.
Everything looked the same downstairs, and Pamela felt it difficult to
believe she had a "double" and Bell Bay was the innocent scene of a
surprising secret.  She found that Christobel and Adrian were already
planning a sail of some importance, and was met by a pressing invitation
to go too.

"Where?" asked Pam lazily.

"Peterock.  Addie wants his hair cut, and it can be cut at Peterock just
as easily as Salterne.  Besides, it’s much nearer."

Christobel said this with intent, for though nearness was nothing to her
and Adrian, she knew instinctively that her mother rather cherished the
thought of their "keeping near home".  So many people who have no
experience of sailing believe that the safety is increased by keeping
near land, whereas it is just as possible to drown in one fathom of
water, as forty fathoms.

However, Christobel threw out the bait with purpose, and Mrs. Romilly,
smiling happily, said:

"That would be nice, darlings.  Won’t you want lunch and tea on board?
Ask Jeep for all you need."

Both Pam and Hughie excused themselves from this expedition.  The day
promised to be unusually hot and breathless, and Pamela, knowing exactly
what it would be like, preferred a bathe and a book.  Hughie wanted to
test the new sails to his model boat.

This division of forces was so often practised that Mrs. Romilly took no
notice.  She was sure that the two elders could manage the yawl--and for
the rest, a day in which there seemed to be neither wind nor waves, was
very satisfying to her mind.  Pamela liked being alone--she and Hughie
spent hours in the cove contented and harmless. All would be well.

The morning wore on in peace, and about midday the voyagers went down,
basket-laden, and very happy.

"It will be thunder," prophesied Pam, who was sitting on a low rock,
with her back against another, learning certain enthralling rules by
heart from a certain book, "it will be quite calm and oily, and
presently you’ll have a cracking storm.  I feel it in my head.  Glad I’m
not going. Crow, do you remember the day when we couldn’t get anywhere,
and we threw the slices of beef overboard and they went with us for
_miles_--sort of cheek by jowl, sitting on the sea."

"That was before the War," said Crow, evading the thought, "one doesn’t
have slices of meat now, of anything, thank goodness.  Beef and ham pies
would sink."

"Not before we’ve eaten them," put in Adrian calmly, "come along, Crow.
I say, Pam--supposing we don’t get to Peterock, but go to somewhere down
coast beyond Ramsworthy, do you mind suggesting to Mother that we are
playing on the sands at Netheroot or Tamerton?  Either would do, ’fraid
there’ll be no wind for Salterne."

"Can you get your hair cut at Netheroot?" asked Pamela.

"No, don’t suppose so; why?"

"Only because Mother likes to picture you on shore most of the time,
when you go sailing, I mean--it’s so nice and dry; and the sea is wet as
wet can be!  If there is a thunderstorm you’ll go ashore, shan’t you?"

"Like a shot," declared Adrian, as he pushed against the rocky landing
platform, and drove the dinghy dancing over the breaking ripples.

Pamela watched, sleepily, as the boat made for the white yawl.  She
rejoiced that she had remained on land, when the sails went up under
Addie’s strenuous hauling, yet admired wholeheartedly as the flop of the
moorings’ buoy set free the yacht, and, leaning over very gently, she
drifted broadside on towards Bell Ridge--the northern headland.

Even as she drifted, silent as a shadow, the far faint rumble of summer
thunder murmured from inland, and Pam said "thought so" contentedly.
After that she shut her eyes and reviewed a succession of plans;
something ought to be done now she had a day to herself, or an afternoon
at any rate, no one to ask inconvenient questions either, for Hughie
being in the secret required but a hint.  He was the most circumspect
person living.

Sitting there with her eyes closed Pamela arranged a practical plan.
She would go for a walk after lunch, on the pretext of taking her
bicycle to Timothy Batt’s house at Folly Ho.  Timothy was the carrier,
and lived with his old horse, at the very small hamlet on the Peterock
road beyond the turn to the station--and also, of course, beyond
Woodrising.  She would leave the bicycle, and coming back she would take
stock of that empty house, going round the big grounds encircled by the
white wall.  Surely something could be discovered that might help to
elucidate this mystery.

The plan was excellent; when Pam and Hughie went in to dinner, she asked
leave, and got it easily.  Then came the thunderstorm--about which all
details will be given presently--not only the details, but the results
and consequences.

It was an exceedingly unusual and violent thunderstorm, frightening the
household not a little; all except Pamela and Hughie, who for their own
reasons did not mind in the least.  Hughie wanted to test small boats in
the water that rushed, seething, into the big horse-trough in the yard,
and Pamela pictured footprints of a revealing nature, marking the wet
soil all round Woodrising.

Good may come out of anything.  And surely advantages might be expected
from such rain as fell into Bell Bay on that afternoon.

Mrs. Romilly was certainly worried on account of the yawl, but Pamela
told her what Addie had said about Netheroot or Tamerton.  Also when the
storm had passed she could see for herself that the water was hardly
more rough.  There was nothing to suggest danger.  Later on the telegram
came; but not till after Pamela had started off on her delayed walk.

She went after five-o’clock tea, into a wonderful washed world, where
every plant, bush and hedge seemed to have been touched with a magic
brush, and set in jewels.  The sandy soil oozed beneath her feet, and
rills of water streamed down the hill in winding gullies.

Pamela whistled softly to herself as she went; it was good to be alive
on such an evening, and she felt very hopeful about her chances of
making discoveries, chiefly because she felt so buoyantly cheerful.

Folly Ho was perhaps a mile from Bell Bay.  Timothy Batt promised--or
rather his wife promised for him--that the bicycle should go to Peterock
next day but one.  Next day was station day.  Alternate journeys--Five
Trees and Peterock.

"Pity we didn’t have it this morning, missie, Batt’s gone to Peterock
to-day."

Pamela said "never mind", and meant it.  Her object was Woodrising.

She sped back along the wet road with eager haste, and checked not till
she came to the long hill, and the white wall enclosing those thickly
wooded grounds and white buildings.  Then she did what she had planned
to do--got through the hedge on to the wooded hill above Woodrising,
made her way down slowly through the trees till she reached the barrier
wall, and then began to follow the course of the wall round the whole of
the little estate.  She believed there would be some chance, which she
could make use of, either to get in, or see in, for surely there must be
outlets!  Gates, or gaps, or ladders, or something that could be made
use of.

However, she went round two sides of it--the wall at the top, and the
long side wall down the hill--and found no opportunity.  She knew too
that she must not count on the wall edging the road, because no burglar
even could attempt its slippery height.  That was three sides!  She was
thinking of this, and that she might never see more than the top
windows, slate roof, and chimneys of the tantalizing house, when she
came on a ladder--a short ladder set conveniently up against the
wall--positively inviting her to mount it.

She went up cautiously and looked over.  It was at the corner, in the
angles of the side and lower walls, and she saw that within was a high
rubbish heap that obviously formed a bed for vegetable marrows.
Heaped-up straw mould, and softness--the easiest thing in the world to
jump down on to.  But that was rather an extreme measure, so Pamela went
back down three steps and considered the question.

Then she observed that the glass at this point was crushed and scraped
till the wall top was smooth enough to pass with comfort.  One might
have supposed that someone made a practice of getting over just here;
Pamela’s mind leaped to the thought of Peter Cherry, the boy--it would
of course be his quickest way home to the Temperance Tea House.  No
doubt a secret way.

She went up again and viewed the grounds.  Immediately below were the
kitchen-gardens--beyond that vistas of long shrubbery walks--lawns,
fruit trees--every sort of tree, and everything overgrown and run riot.
There was a wild luxuriance about the whole place which was natural to
Bell Bay and its sheltered warmth.  No one seemed to be about.

After a few minutes’ hesitation, Pamela went "over the top" with a swift
movement, and jumped down on to the vegetable-marrow bed.  It was damp
and soft.  Pausing to reconnoitre she noticed two bricks missing in the
wall on the inner side.  The holes had all the appearance of steps made
on purpose, and confirmed her opinion about Peter Cherry’s short cut.

Then she went into the garden, making for the shelter of the nearest
shrubbery.  Keeping out of sight of window view she followed the paths
in and out towards the house. Everywhere she looked for "tracks", for
footmarks in the wet soil, and was pleased when she found the trace of a
shortish square-toed boot with nail-studded sole.  Certainly Peter
Cherry!  She felt she was getting on in experience. So absorbed was she
that she confused the bush fringed paths, and got mixed up as to which
she had inspected. Then, she came on the neat, narrow print of a woman’s
shoe, and stooped to examine it with intense interest.  Here was a plain
track, and she followed it some yards between overhanging, very wet
apple-trees, till it turned the corner into a cross path.  Pamela
stopped and looked up and down. Surely she had been this way before.
She looked back between the green walls and felt certain the look of it
was familiar.  A thought struck her and she slipped off one of her own
shoes, and compared the sole to the shoe print. Either it was her own
track--which she was crossing unawares--or somebody else wore exactly
the same sized shoe.  It was a maddening dilemma.

She was puzzling over this when she became aware of voices, not far
distant, and coming nearer--from the house. Somebody was talking in what
Pamela would have described as a "fussy voice".  She stood listening,
and might have been caught on that instant if the talkers had glanced
down between the apple-trees, for two figures passed across the end of
the alley she was in, and went on towards the kitchen-garden.

Pamela made up her mind to see who they were, and looked about eagerly
for a safe shelter.  She reasoned that they would go round the bottom of
the garden and back up the south side, so she hastened in the direction
of the house, where very thick-growing shrubberies offered screens, and
hid herself in the wettest possible bushes by the side of a direct path
homeward.

Certainly ten minutes passed before anyone drew near. Then she was
rewarded for her damp condition.  Two women came along, talking.  That
is to say, one talked--never ceased to talk.  The other, the silent one,
was Mrs. Trewby, and she, looking as bilious and despondent as usual,
listened with respectful misery stamped on her sallow face.

The person who did the talking puzzled Pamela’s sharp examination.  She
was familiar, yet difficult to place.  After they had passed, and the
fussy voice chattered on, growing less audible, Pamela suddenly
remembered who she was--Mrs. Chipman, Lady Shard’s one-time lady’s maid,
and a well-known person at Crown Hill for some years.  Her name had been
Emily Baker in those days, when she was just as fussy and talkative.
She married the butler at the Albert Gate house in London, and kept a
lodging-house on the east coast.  The War had done for the
lodging-house, and the butler was slain by sickness in India.  She had a
pension and no doubt Lady Shard was kind to "my good Chipman", as she
called her.

Pamela could just remember her at Crown Hill; now, she looked fatter,
more dumpy, and more pompous, otherwise just the same.  This discovery
was a blow, because it was a simple explanation of the visitor to
Woodrising--Chipman, sent down to stay with Mrs. Trewby, at the Shards’
expense.  Of course, but how dull!  The girl could have nothing on earth
to do with them.

As Pamela shook the wet off her skirt, she realized that she had been so
intent on trying to remember Chipman that she never listened to a word
she was saying.  Rather depressed, she went back along the path to the
corner, and as she went she heard Mrs. Chipman
calling--"Countess--_Countess_."

"If they are going to let a _dog_ out I’d better run," thought Pamela;
and she went over the wall briskly, into the wooded meadow.



                              *CHAPTER V*

                      *The Adventures of the Yawl
                             and her Crew*


To go back to the start of the white yawl.  After the mooring-buoy had
"plopped" into the smooth sea, the sails half-filled, and then, as the
pretty craft righted herself, they slackened again in a succession of
sleepy rattles.  Then followed a period of drifting to leeward, the
dinghy drifting also, and bumping softly against the yacht’s counter in
a stupid manner.

Adrian flung himself on the deck and mopped his forehead; he said:

"I wonder why Mother always rejoices when there is no wind.  It doesn’t
appeal to me as a desirable state of things. Pam looks jolly comfortable
over there--wish I was in her place!  I say, Crow, don’t say we’re going
to play the fool like this all day."

"Why say anything in such a very short space of time, dear boy,"
retorted the skipper lazily; "we’ve hardly started--isn’t that thunder,
hark?"

"It is thunder, my good woman," allowed Adrian, "which means growlings,
heat and stickiness immeasurable. Don’t give way to optimistic hopes and
picture--first a gentle cooling shower, and then a sweet little breeze
that will waft us to Peterock without a tack."

Christobel, obstinately happy, lay back in a comfortable position with
one arm thrown over the tiller.  Suddenly she sat up.  A queer little
breeze had dropped upon them from the heights.  The slack sails filled,
the yawl leaned gently to leeward and, with ever-increasing speed, began
to cut steadily through the glassy heaving sea.  Straight out they
went--out and out into the world of blue--the cordage strained and
creaked, the hard sails pulled, and _Messenger_ sped through the water
with a delicious bubbling hiss.

"How’s that, umpire?" demanded Crow, turning a smiling glance on Adrian,
"kindly remember next time occasion rises, that it’s never worth while
looking on the dark side."

"The hot side, you mean," said Adrian unabashed, "where are we going
now?"

"Out," answered his sister briefly.

"Good.  Let’s get away from our native land for a bit--it’s stuffy.
Besides I want to look at it from a distance, it enlarges one’s mind."

So Christobel, like the master mariner in "The Wreck of the Hesperus",
"steered for the open sea", and Adrian, whose appetite was enlarging as
well as his mind, decided that dinner was of more importance than
anything else, and diving into the saloon began fetching up plates,
food, cups and lemonade; as _Messenger_ was on an even keel, and the
breeze held, the conditions were ideal and there was nothing to worry
about.  As they ate, they planned the excursion with precision.  They
were going out, but the ebbing tide was carrying them
northward--Peterock way, that is to say; presently they would tack, and
from a distance of some seven miles set a straight course on a
"soldier’s wind" for the pretty town.  They fixed the hour at which they
would arrive, how long they would stop, and how short a time it would
take them to get back--under the very satisfactory conditions of fair
tide and fair wind.

As a rule, this is the way of all ways to upset everything; and to-day
the rule held good.

First the wind dropped--dropped--and ceased.  One moment the sails were
drawing with firm pressure; actually the next moment they hung limp--not
a cord stirring.  At the same time, as Crow said, "someone blew the
candle out".

As it happened she gave an exclamation and looked up. A bank of dense
black cloud had covered the high sun that had shone upon them till then.
The sky was divided in two by a distinct line.  To seaward, blue, clear,
exquisite. To landward and above the vivid broken coast hung massed
clouds of most fearsome appearance.  Clouds above clouds--the lowest,
greyish battalions tearing along at headlong speed; above them others of
purple black, moving statelily at a different angle; above them again
piled heaps of strange shapes, shot and lined with coppery tints.  These
were moving at a different pace, and in a different direction.

As far as eye could see over the hilly land was black. And the black was
devouring the sunny blue.

Christobel looked up, round, and landward.  Then she said in rather a
small voice:

"How _horrid_!" and turned her eyes seaward.

Adrian contemplated the heavens with a frown, then he got up, saying one
might as well put away the things.  He put them away, and incidentally
made everything snug inside; nothing was left loose to shift or roll.

Christobel heard him doing it and guessed that he expected it would be
necessary.

Presently he came up the short companion-way, put his head out and
stared at the sky again.  The line of black was advancing swiftly over
the blue.

"We shall have big rain, old lady," he said.  "I don’t know how much
wind!  Of course, it’s only thunder, but----"

Low down over the hills shot out a succession of wicked fiery darts.
They stabbed downwards into the quiet land as though they would destroy
it.  Deep ominous rumblings followed.

"I think I rather hate it," said Crow uneasily.

"I’ll get the mackintoshes out of the fore lockers, expect we shall find
a use for them before we are through with this beano!  You’ll have to
put yours on," Adrian said, then he laughed.  "When it comes, it’ll
_come_."

Then they both laughed, and Christobel as usual found support and
comfort in her brother’s matter-of-fact way of looking at things.  She
was no coward.  Her courage was of a high order, though she was not
aware of it, but certain conditions affected her imagination and made
icy thrills run all over her.

Adrian would have said "It’s only a few clouds--what does that matter?"
Equally he would have said of a dark night and its mysteries, "If it
were daylight you wouldn’t mind!  What’s the difference?  There’s
nothing there."

While she gazed at the towering masses that hung over sea and land with
dread in her eyes, Adrian thought about mackintoshes.

"When the rain comes I shan’t mind," said Crow, "rain is only--well,
rain."

"How true," murmured Adrian, "and being rain it wets."

They both laughed again, and the skipper felt better.

But even Addie was quite silent before the wetting part came.

The land was invisible now, except when those stabs of flame tore splits
in the barrier; then the two watchers could see the dark breathless
combes and the big headlands showing black and rugged.  But it seemed as
though there was no end to the piling weight of cloud that now almost
covered the sea, the vivid contrast of the blue space over the shining
horizon making it the darker.  The growlings and rumblings had now
turned to crashes, the noise adding to the dread.

At this phase Adrian questioned whether it would not be well to get the
mainsail in--it would be so wet, he suggested, and they could do with
the mizzen well enough; but Christobel did not agree.

"If the wind is bad we can drop the peak," she said, "after all it’s not
like a cutter mainsail--they are so huge. We’ve only just enough to send
us along nicely.  Besides, once we stow it it will take ages to set
again.  Let’s risk it."

So they decided to "risk it", which was an instance of Crow’s way of
looking at things.  She was not afraid to face a possible gale--but she
was horribly afraid of the look--the influence--of that overwhelming
pile of gloomy cloud.

"I wonder how many ’volts’ are playing skittles up there," remarked
Adrian thoughtfully, "great Scotland! If one knew how to box it all up
and use it for transport power--engines of every sort and kind!  Why
can’t I invent something!  It ought to be a British monopoly--we could
switch it on to any nations that played the fool--and there we should
be----  Hullo--see that tender drop, Crow?  A wash-hand basin would
hardly have held it--put this thing on."

"This thing" was, of course, the mackintosh.

The brother and sister were busy for a few seconds, then they sat down
again armoured--in sticky, shiny oilskins, and sou’westers well drawn
over their ears.

"Go inside, Addie, why should two swim?" said Crow, speaking loud
through the deafening riot of crashes.

"Oh no," shouted Adrian with weighty sarcasm, "I’ll go to bed, and light
the stove, and tuck myself up with a hot-water bottle; better still, you
could leave the tiller and tuck me up!  By the way, that reminds
me--aren’t you about fed up with steering?"

Crow shook her head, and spread both hands out with a meaning
gesture--only her elbow stayed the tiller in place.

Adrian understood; it was just a question of waiting, so he varied the
monotony by going forward to batten down the forehatch, coil in loose
sheets, make fast the anchor, and see that the peak halyard was nowhere
hitched or encumbered. Then he returned aft and shut the door of the
main cabin, commenting still on the size of one or two splashes, which
he declared would have filled the kettle; the door slid along in grooves
and was proof against heavy seas or torrents of rain.  Then he turned an
inventive eye on the dinghy, which was rocking sleepily under their
quarter, and suggested that she might be used as a "wind anchor" if she
filled up.

"Supposing we get a real howler," said Adrian, "we could make her fast
to the bowsprit, you see, and just ride."

It was while they were laughing over this brilliant idea that Crow saw
the grey wall coming, and sprang to attention as it were, standing
up--an alert grip on the tiller.

It seemed to reach from the bank of blackness to the sea, and shut off
the land like a blind.  It was coming towards them--coming out to sea
ushered by a noise like the rush of rapids--an immense volume of rain
water, descending in lines straight as harp strings, and striking the
level sea. It was very amazing, and Christobel gazed with awe; she had
never seen anything quite like it, because a stretch of land has so many
interruptions that you cannot see the _line_ as you can on miles of
water.  Besides, water striking water like that is a very wonderful
thing, foam fringes the edge of it all along, hissing like a boiler.

"This looks as though it meant to hurt our feelings--especially the
dinghy’s," said Adrian cheerfully, "she isn’t used to bad manners."

Crow shrank instinctively as the rush of the advancing thing enveloped
the yawl.  They were battered by such rain as she had never experienced
before, yet once into it, all her dread was dispelled like a nightmare.

Rain fell on the deck like the rattle of bullets, and in a minute the
whole place was a wild wash of water pouring through scuppers, water
streaming into the well, water heaving and lifting everything that could
be pushed out of place.  Crow held on to the tiller, but there was
nothing doing in the sailing way--yet--nothing but water which seemed to
nail them motionless by sheer weight.  She glanced aside at the little
boat, and saw her filling up swiftly--"Oh, poor dinghy," she gasped
aloud--but there was no time to do anything, or even consider doing it,
for something was coming at the back of the rain that asked for all her
attention.

A puff of strong, chill wind----

_Messenger_ leaned heavily to starboard, the flattened sea seemed to
rise up in a line of foam under her quarter, water poured in at the
streaming scuppers--and away she went--blinded--battered--drenched--away
and away like a hunted creature flying for its life.

Certainly five minutes passed before these two adventurers began to take
stock of their situation.  So far, they had just let drive, steering the
only possible course, straight ahead.  At the end of five minutes the
force of the downpour began to abate, but the wind was increasing.

As soon as speech was possible Adrian asked where she thought they were
going?

The skipper laughed rather tremulously--it had been a strenuous five
minutes.

"What about America?  We might call on President Wilson.  Please
remember we can go where we please on the High Seas now!  No more
permits--no more ’out of bounds’.  The question is, where can you get
your hair cut?"

"Anywhere will do between here and Land’s End," answered Adrian
generously.

The rain was pouring off his sou’wester, over his nose. He looked very
large and cheerful.

Now this was approximately the moment when Pamela assured her mother--on
Adrian’s authority--that the voyagers would be on shore at Tamerton or
Netheroot!  It was no doubt fortunate for Mrs. Romilly that she could
not see the facts of the situation.

The straining yawl was driving her way through apparently limitless grey
sea, of which the churning foam was taken by a wild wind and flung ahead
in stinging mist.  The sky, so far as it could be seen, was a froth of
whirling cloud; everything was grey and confused--no land--no order--no
outline.

"I believe we are going straight out to sea," said Crow.

"Do you?"  Adrian was not impressed, "we may be going anywhere--all ways
look alike.  Jolly untidy view I call it!  And look here, what about
that wretched dinghy? She’s about full up, and to judge by the way she’s
towing weighs about two ton!  In one of these jerks we shall snap the
painter; and then--she’ll sink like a ton of sand."

Of all things in the world Christobel dreaded what she called "playing
with boats" in the open sea, under conditions like the present.  She
pictured a sickening lurch, Addie overboard--driving to
leeward--swallowed up in hideous grey confusion, herself helpless!  Her
lips grew white, but all she said was:

"Plenty of time yet."

Adrian laughed, flecks of many colours dancing in his hazel eyes.

"How true!  And the world before us!  I say, Crow, isn’t this absolutely
top-hole?"

"Hum--hum--please remember, my dear child, that we’ve got to come back."

"Plenty of time," said Adrian, echoing her words.

"I’ll agree with you, when the rain stops, and I can see where we are;"
Christobel shook herself as she spoke, and then looked in an interested
manner at the wet drippings.

Adrian reverted suddenly to his unpleasant idea about the dinghy.  There
was no doubt that she was a serious pull back--a heavy and dangerous
drag on the yacht.  Crow saw it was inevitable, so she made her
conditions.  Adrian should bail out if she might bring _Messenger_ up
into the wind and lie-to, while he chose to poise himself in critical
attitudes.

"Otherwise, I simply won’t," declared the skipper with decision.

Adrian saw no necessity, of course.  There was more zest in a really
dangerous operation!  However, he made no objection and Crow put the
helm hard down.  The yawl answered like a horse with a tender mouth.
Round she came on a sweeping curve, the wet sails first shivering, and
then giving out a succession of loud reports.  A moment after and they
were on a level keel in comparative quiet, leaping at the waves with
some sort of regularity.

"Phew!  What a comfort!" exclaimed Christobel, stretching both arms.
Then she lashed the jerking tiller, while her brother hauled over the
foresail sheets, and braced in the mainsail close.

The wind rushed by them with the same force, but they did not feel it,
of course, and there was time to take stock, and put their "house in
order", so to speak.  Moreover, the skipper had pleasure in the
conscious knowledge that if Addie did fall overboard it would be easy
enough for him to regain the yawl.

She laughed with sudden joyousness.

"What’s the joke?" asked her brother.

"I feel like the frog-footman in _Alice Through the Looking-glass_, ’I
shall stay here--on and off--for days, and days’. It’s very appropriate
to one’s wishes."

"Well, we needn’t go home," Adrian remarked as he hauled in the small
boat cautiously, "I mean we can go back by train, and leave the
yawl----"

"Where?"

"Oh, anywhere."

This was not at all explicit, but Crow understood his meaning, which was
that they were not bound to sail back to Bell Bay.  They could make some
port, and, putting the _Messenger_ in safety, return by rail.

"We’ll see where we are when the clouds roll by," she answered; "it’s
not going on, Addie.  I believe firmly that we shall have a perfect
evening."

Adrian, divesting himself of his oilskins, and his boots--"in case the
bally thing sank with him," as he explained, made no answer to his
sister’s expectations.  But about ten minutes after, when he climbed
over the counter, his work well done, he repeated that there was any
amount of time, and it would be much better fun to go home some other
way.

The storm had either dispersed or "gone to America", they thought.  It
had changed the whole aspect of the scene into a desolate waste of
tossing grey sea and driving grey cloud, but there was no more
lightning, very little rain, and a mere mutter of far-away thunder.

The voyagers found it was just on three o’clock, and Adrian suggested
they should steer by compass.  He wanted to know where it was.

"Mollie put it somewhere," answered Crow, with cheerful vagueness most
unbecoming in a skipper.

So Adrian unlocked the door of the main cabin, and slid it open.

"Wonderful how whiffy any boat gets when you shut her down, even for
half an hour, with everything close," he remarked, putting his head
within and sniffing critically, "commend me to an oil-stove on a small
yacht for an A1 stench."

Christobel sat still outside, waiting.  Her mind was much easier.  She
realized that all conditions were quieter.  She could certainly see
farther.  Adrian called out from below that he couldn’t find the
compass, so she also dived into the saloon, and hunted exhaustively.  No
compass.  They decided that Mollie or Penberthy had taken it ashore.

To let in more light upon the search Adrian unfastened the forehatch,
and then lighted the stove, because there was a "wonderful
unanimity"--as somebody said, on the question of early tea, Adrian
declaring he was full of salt, and Christobel that such a lot had
happened since lunch.

All things then being in train for refreshment and start, the skipper
hastened upstairs again, and the first thing she saw was that the dinghy
had slipped her tow and gone off.

She called to Adrian, who appearing with swiftness took a comprehensive
look at the shifting grey waste around.

"She can’t be far off," declared Crow hopefully.

Her brother pointed to a dark blot that was heaved up by a wave, only to
disappear behind another foam-tipped hill.

"Little beast," he said shortly.

"Never mind," Christobel urged cheerfully--she detected a fallen
expression on his face, "never mind, Addie, it’s nobody’s fault.  We’ll
soon pick her up."

As they hauled the jib over and let out the mainsheet, she added:

"_What_ a blessing it didn’t happen when the rain was pouring, and she
was full of water!  She’d have sunk to a certainty."

Adrian allowed these cheering remarks to pass unnoticed.

"I thought I made her fast," he said.  Such mishaps rankle.

In spite of all their efforts that dinghy evaded capture for twenty
minutes at least, if not more.  If anybody thinks this improbable let
them try to capture a small light boat in such conditions.  Many tacks
seemed to succeed only in passing just out of reach; running down on the
wind ended in a miss, because the pace was too swift for the careful use
of the necessary boat-hook.

Adrian stood ready in the bows of the yawl, holding to the forestay,
only to fail half a dozen times, once narrowly escaping a dive.  After
that he pursued operations from the counter, making Crow very nervous.

"Hold on, child, for mercy’s sake," she urged, "do consider wretched me
if you go overboard!"

Adrian was just in the heat of proving that it would be actually to her
advantage if he fell overboard--couldn’t he reach the dinghy more
easily--when Christobel, partly by sheer luck, brought the yawl up into
the wind on the very spot, so cleverly that she seemed to stop side by
side with the runaway.  A swoop of the boat-hook, a moment’s tension,
and Adrian had grasped the trailing tow-rope.

Christobel blew a very loud sigh of relief, she had been very intent on
the capture.  Immediately on that came an exclamation of surprise, and
Adrian rose from his knees to see what new excitement was coming their
way.



                              *CHAPTER VI*

                *"I wouldn’t have believed it of Pam!"*


The heavy atmosphere of spray, rain, and driven cloud that had enveloped
the yacht up till now was passing bodily over to seaward.  From beneath
the curtain of it towards the north appeared--in brilliant sunshine--a
wonderful line of coast showing up in rain-swept clearness.  Above it
the sky was blue; the purple and emerald hills glowed in the setting.

"Oh, Addie, what a dream of beauty!  We shall be in it directly--just
look how all the murky stuff is drifting away over the sea!  I say,
though, aren’t we a long way out--miles and miles!"

Adrian dived below to search for the glass, which fortunately had not
gone ashore with the compass.  Christobel with narrowed eyes, tried to
distinguish landmarks.  The sunlight over the coast was growing stronger
every moment.

After bringing the glass to bear on the scene Adrian gave a joyful
chuckle.

"Who’d have thought it, Crow," he cried, pointing rapidly from place to
place as he named them.  "See--there you are!  The Beak miles behind us.
There’s the Bell Ridge, ever such a way back.  There’s the
lighthouse--white as a big tooth.  There’s the high Down up above
Ramsworthy--with the glass you can see the rows of new houses above
Netheroot sands!  Do you see where we are, old girl?  Almost level with
Salterne Harbour!  Here’s the Heggadon bluff exactly opposite, and, of
course, just round the corner of that you get the entrance to the
estuary.  It is simply the neatest thing in life.  Why, I pictured that
we were somewhere between Peterock and Bell Bay, with all the hard work
to do coming back against this northerly breeze--and here we are only a
mile or two from the harbour with a fair wind, and please note tide in
our favour still. Now look here--we chuck Peterock, of course, and make
for Salterne while we have tea--go right up to the bridge and pick up
some spare moorings.  Put a decent chap in charge of the yawl.  Get my
hair cut, and go back by train. How’s that?"

"And wire to Mum as soon as we get into the town," added Christobel
behind the glasses.

"Oh, that’s of course," said Adrian, who was restless with excitement,
"come on then, let’s have tea--any amount of tea, I’m as hollow as a
drum.  Give me the tiller, you’ve been at it for an age.  The stove’s
all ready--by the way, I told Mother Jeep to give us about a dozen
hard-boiled eggs, I knew I could eat six!  I say, Crow, isn’t it the
very limit to come out down here?  Who’d have imagined such dazzling
luck.  When you come to think of it, losing the dinghy was about the
best thing that ever happened to us----"

And so on ... Adrian glowing with optimism which was his normal
condition--when not in the depths of despondency.

Christobel was supremely happy too.  The sun shone. Addie was very
content, and Mrs. Romilly would receive a wire.  She made tea, and sang
under her breath.

It was nearly five o’clock when they crossed the humming bar, between
the lovely slopes of Peverell and Tamerton. The wind dropped suddenly,
because the huge bluff called the Heggadon formed a complete screen, but
the tide still acted a friendly part, for, though it was turning
outside, the change was not completed inside, as harbours and all inlets
of the sea are half an hour to an hour later than the main tide outside.

The _Messenger_ swept in smoothly on the top of the flood, under the
most perfect conditions possible.  The beautiful estuary looked like an
inland sea, with here and there the long back of a sandbank showing
above the ripple.

"We’ll do it again, Crow, won’t we?" said Adrian, beaming satisfaction,
"why, it’s nothing."

"No," allowed the skipper, eyeing the wet sails thoughtfully.

"Look at the time, my good girl--look!  Five o’clock. And when did we
leave Bell Bay?"

Christobel thought it was about 11.30.

"So it was--well, what’s that?  Five hours and a half--and not plain
sailing, mind you, either--but a rattling thunderstorm, and a lost
dinghy!  I call it great!"

Crow admitted that it was great.

"But I’m afraid we shan’t get home till rather late," she added.

Adrian briefly reviewed the train time-table, which was decidedly
limited in that part of the world.

"We shall want something extra to eat in the town," he said, "but mind
you, one can do an awful lot in the eating line in ten minutes.  I know,
because I’ve tested. Let’s say 6.20, Crow, and get to Five Trees at
about 6.45----"

"Addie, we _can’t_," broke in Christobel, dismayed, "we are simply bound
to miss that train.  We are going awfully well, but it ought to take
nearly an hour to reach the bridge, and then there’s all the work of
stowing, and finding a man--and your hair--and the wire--Oh, we can’t do
it!"

"Well, there’s only one other train, the last one, what’s that--leaves
Salterne about five minutes to nine.  Beastly few trains!  Well, what do
you say?"

Christobel considered with a disturbed expression of face.

"Well," went on Adrian, who quite refused to see any drawback to the joy
of the situation, "well, look here, Crow.  We’ll _try_ for the 6.20, and
if we miss it we’ll go by the nine o’clock."

There was no doubt at all about the missing.  The wind lessened to a
mere breath, and the tide was beginning to turn against them during
their sail up the last long reach. They got to the bridge in a state of
"sleepiness", as the skipper called it--so much so that they had to
submit to receive assistance from a person of the "long-shore" kind, who
had fastened a speculative eye upon them the moment they appeared at the
turn by the big shipyard.  He came to meet them, in a clinker-built
boat, rowing weightily--he was very like the men in W. W. Jacobs’
stories.  Adrian accepted a tow and the offer of "a little pair
o-moorings where the old _Fair Hope_ lays when she’s in harbour".

Adrian accepted, assuring Christobel over his shoulder that it was the
only thing to do, and far the quickest.

The mariner went slow, slower; "slow as the wheels of evolution", as a
certain story says.  He hailed kindred spirits on the quay, and the
small matter of picking up a moorings buoy was turned into a positive
function--and would have to be paid for as such, of course!

Christobel groaned aloud, then laughed.  It was no use worrying.

Adrian, whistling between disparaging remarks on the manners and customs
of long-shore persons, took it easily.

"Lots of time before nine o’clock, Crow," he said.

They went into the town about the time the 6.20 p.m. arrived at
Salterne, and sent off their wire.  After that the skipper resigned
herself to calm enjoyment.  The afternoon, since the storm dispersed,
had been so beautiful that Mrs. Romilly could hardly have worried so
far, and the telegram would secure the rest.

Adrian had his hair cut.  The necessary feeding was not a matter of ten
minutes, but a most delightful meal; finally Crow rejected a suggestion
of "The Pictures for about half an hour or so"--nothing would induce her
to risk missing that train--and they sat in the station in the warm
darkness. It was very quiet, and sparely lighted.  She was happy enough,
but Adrian was rather regretful about going at all.

"I see what we ought to have done," he said, "wired to Mum that we were
sleeping on board in the harbour.  What an awful pity.  I suppose we
couldn’t do it now, Crow?"

"Can’t send a wire now," answered Christobel.

"Pity.  That walk from Five Trees to Bell Bay is rather a grind.  If we
stayed on the yawl we could sail home to-morrow morning."

"We can’t stay on the yawl--Mother would be in fits, when we’ve wired we
are coming by this train.  Addie, don’t have a fleeting mind.  Let’s
talk about something else."

But the train came in from Riversgate--they could see it winding along
out of the far hills to the south of the harbour and crossing the bridge
like a mechanical toy--they got in, and went over to the end of the
carriage from which the wide estuary was visible under the young moon.
Such a wonderful sight, with sandhills exposed and a hundred different
channels sending tides out to sea.

"I wouldn’t live inland if you paid me to," said Adrian firmly.

"’And so say all of us’," quoted Crow in an ardent whisper.

Then they were silent--looking out.

Twenty to twenty-five minutes after that, they drew into the little
moorland station, high, fresh, and lonely, under the moon.  There were
still clouds about, which made the shadows more eerie.  It was all
beautiful and mysterious as only the far west country can be.  The
brother and sister heartily agreed that the whole day had been well
worth living.

"I’m not sure this isn’t best of all," said Crow.

Adrian was planning arrangements for fetching the yawl, and they covered
the long stretch of white road in quick time; no walking is so
delightful as that in moonlight, with all the world to oneself.  Owls
hooted from the trees, and in a distant copse a nightingale suddenly
began his song--more perfect for the space and loneliness.

The Romilly pair became silent.  Conversation seemed almost irreverent.

They were approaching the Folly Ho turn.  Suddenly into the quiet broke
a monotonous light sound--the tapping of feet on hard ground; someone
was running at an even pace.

"We’re not the only people alive to-night," said Christobel in a low
voice, "I thought we were."

"Coming from Peterock way," Adrian said, "we shall see who it is in a
jiff; they are bound to come in front of us, unless they jump the hedge
into the field.  Sounds like a girl running."

"Why?" asked Christobel, "much more likely to be Peter Cherry, or
someone like that.  There are not many girls to run when one comes to
calculate."

They were approaching the turn.  The road before them was white and
clear, the trees at the corner looking curiously distinct.  With one
accord both ceased to speak, and gave all attention to the light regular
sound that drew nearer.

Pat, pat, pat--fell the running feet, and from the side-road appeared a
figure.  In a moment it was speeding down hill in front of the
interested pair.

"_Addie!_" gasped Christobel, with startled emphasis.

"My only aunt!" ejaculated Adrian, "who’d have thought it."

"You see who it is?"

"Rather!"

"But, Addie, what’s she doing coming from Folly Ho, this time of night?"

"Why ask me?" said her brother with reason.

"Mother thinks she’s in bed, of course," went on Christobel in a
troubled voice; "I’m sure it can be explained, but it is horrid.  It’s
utter bad form.  I wouldn’t have believed it of Pam."

Adrian maintained a gloomy silence.  Brothers never approve of
unconventional explosions on the part of sisters; especially very pretty
sisters of Pamela’s age.  It is taken as a matter of course that they
are not old enough for independent action.

With one accord the two elders increased their pace to a fast walk, then
to a trot.

"We shall see her directly," said Crow, "she wasn’t going so very fast,
and the road past Woodrising is perfectly straight for some way."

They reached the corner.  Ahead of them, some way down the hill, was a
running figure.

Adrian put his fingers to his mouth and made a long, harsh whistle like
a steam escape.

For a moment they saw a face, as the girl checked and glanced round.
But she did not stop, she ran on again, evidently faster.

"Jolly well ashamed of herself," said Adrian, rigidly disapproving.
"She can’t escape, Crow.  She’ll be ahead of us--in sight--all the way
home."

It is a proverb never "to boast", that is to say, never to reckon on a
hope as a fact--lest something unexpected spoils the hope.  In this case
the moon failed the pursuers. They had been so intent on Pamela that
neither of them noticed a big patch of cloud sailing swiftly up from the
north. In a moment the moon was shut off, and in a minute the darkness
was pretty complete, for the cloud was a heavy one.

"Oh--dash it!" exclaimed Adrian irritably, "just when we were sure."

"Never mind, we can run just the same.  We shall get used to the dark,
and anyway, Addie, _she_ can’t run fast any more than we can.  One can’t
help taking care, when one can’t see."

"Hedges are getting clearer," suggested Adrian, "funny how quickly one
gets used to things.  This Woodrising wall is plain as the lighthouse."

They ran on--down hill always, passed the long line of wall, and just as
the overhanging shrubs and sheltering height of Fuchsia Cottage
hill-side showed a big black patch on the right hand, the moon suddenly
appeared again, and everything around--road, hedges, bushes, and
towering steep above cottage and church--came out again as clear as a
painted scene.

Adrian and Christobel both looked ahead down the road. It was empty.
Not a soul in sight.

"Where’s she gone to?" said Christobel, stopping.

"Don’t ask me, my good girl," Adrian was cross, unquestionably, "I
suppose she’s up to some trick."

Such a suggestion did not please Crow.

"You shouldn’t talk like that, Addie," she expostulated. "Pam doesn’t
play ’tricks’.  She isn’t that sort of girl. None of us are.  There may
be something up we don’t know about that sent her up to Folly Ho.
Perhaps Mother wanted a message taken to Timothy Batt--one never knows!
The thing I don’t understand is, how she’s managed to disappear,
considering the road is about as straight as a ruler, and the moonlight
is bang on it, and there’s only one way home."

Adrian said nothing; in silence, and at a quick walk they arrived
opposite the shaded gate of Fuchsia Cottage.  Here Christobel stopped
again.  "She can’t have sunk through the earth, Addie, and she wouldn’t
have jumped the hedge! I believe she went in here.  Mother may have
given her a message to the Little Pilgrim--why not?"

"Why not, of course!" echoed Adrian dryly.  "The sort of thing Mother
would do--considering it’s just on ten o’clock."

There was so much truth in this, that Christobel did not make any reply
to it--she said:

"I’m just going to ask," and opened the gate.

They went up the path, mounted three short flights of brick steps that
cut the three little terraces, and found themselves at a deep porch half
buried in roses.  Apparently Miss Lasarge heard them coming, for she
appeared on the threshold of the pretty sitting-room-hall.

"This _is_ nice, dear children," she said in the eager sweet voice that
was one of her attractions, "come into the dining-room--the cocoa is
just ready."

That was the cottage.  A good-sized sitting-room hall with windows
looking two ways, and a cosy little dining-room.  Three bedrooms above.
There was also the kitchen, where reigned Lizzie Sprot, a sturdy
west-country young woman, who had lived eleven years with Miss
Anne--from the age of seventeen.  Lizzie Sprot had gone to bed, she
always went when she had taken in the cocoa, and left Miss Anne to sit
up and write letters as a rule.

"Is Pam here?" asked Christobel, as they followed the slim, grey figure
into the dining-room, yet even as she asked the question she felt
instinctively it was a foolish one.

"Is who here, dear?  Sit down now, both of you--that’s right.  Two cups
from the corner cupboard, please, Crow--that is delightful.  Now, what
is it you were asking--something about Pam?"

Christobel asked again.  Adrian said nothing, except to corroborate his
sister’s story.

"So you think you saw Pamela come down the Folly Ho turn, and
go--towards home?"

Now Miss Lasarge said this, a mere repetition of what she had just been
told, in rather an uncertain tone.

Adrian said afterwards, that anyone could see she thought it was
objectionable, but did not like to say so.

Christobel looked a bit anxious, but went straight to the point with the
sincerity that was part of her sterling character.

"We don’t _think_, Little Pilgrim, we know.  The moon was bright, and
the road clear as day.  Addie whistled to her, and she looked round.  We
saw her look over her shoulder at us, but instead of stopping she only
ran faster."

"Oh, that doesn’t sound like Pam," murmured Miss Anne.

"But it _was_ Pam," asserted Crow.

"Don’t you think you might easily have mistaken some other girl for
Pamela, dear?  Moonlight is very deceptive--and you said that a cloud
came directly after and obscured your vision.  Really, I can’t help
feeling----"

"It was Pamela right enough, Miss Anne," said Adrian firmly; "she was as
plain as a hayrick, pig-tail and all.  No other girl in Bell Bay has
hair like Pamela.  Besides, when it comes to that, what other girls are
there about?  Mollie Shard is not here now, and if she were, she isn’t
the least like Pam."

There was a pause.  Christobel set her cup on the table and half rose.

"You needn’t go for a few minutes," suggested Miss Anne, "Mother won’t
be anxious.  She got your wire, I know, because I was there when it
came."

Christobel asked if Mrs. Romilly was anxious during the thunderstorm;
and recounted their adventure in a few words--as matter of fact, the
yawl affair had been driven out of her mind by this business about
Pamela.

"It was a horrid storm here," said Miss Lasarge, apparently pleased to
talk about something else, "terribly noisy, and very heavy rain.  But I
understood that your mother wasn’t really anxious.  She hoped you were
on shore--then it came fine--so lovely, too--I never saw anything like
the colours--land and sea."

Christobel stood up to go.  She apologized again for calling in at such
an hour.

"We only just thought there was a chance of Pam--having come in with a
message----"

"I’m _sure_ you’ll find it was all right, dear Crow," said Miss Lasarge,
kissing her; "I--I expect it was somebody else.  You’ll find Pam is in
bed and asleep, unless she is sitting with your mother."

"No doubt we shall find Pam is in bed, and she’ll tell us she’s asleep,"
said Adrian, as they went out through the gate.

"Oh, don’t, Addie," begged Christobel, "I’m sure there’s an
explanation."

Silence ensued, then she continued:

"Didn’t you think Miss Anne was a tiny bit--well--confused? I thought
so."

"_I_ thought she believed it was Pamela, but tried not to believe it,
and was hunting round for excuses anyway. She certainly seemed a bit
uncomfortable--besides, it’s sheer rubbish to tell us it might be
somebody else.  She knows and we know that there isn’t anybody else.
But she’s an awfully kind person--in fact, she’s a regular little saint,
she can’t bear to think anybody is wrong."

As they were opening the big gates at the end of the drive, Christobel
asked:

"Shall we tell Mother?  What _ought_ we to do about it?"

"You mean about seeing Pam?"

"Yes.  Suppose we find Mother knows nothing and is secure and
comfortable as usual, and that Pam is up in her room.  Well, what ought
we to do?"

"Oh, I don’t know," said Adrian irritably, "it’s sickening. One can’t go
clacking to Mother about Pam--it simply isn’t done," he shut the gates
with a vicious snap.

"That’s what I thought," Crow was relieved, "let’s wait and see what Pam
says--I’ll go and ask her to-night."

"Just as you like," agreed Adrian indifferently, and they went in.

Mrs. Romilly was reading the paper; she was delighted to see them, and
eager to hear all details.  She said she had not been anxious, because
Pam told her they proposed landing if the weather was bad.  At this
point Adrian turned his head discreetly to conceal a smile.  When the
storm passed she had been quite happy; and, when the telegram came, had
considered it all a most wise arrangement.

"Your hair looks so nice, darling," she said, looking approvingly at
Adrian’s sleek head.

Pleading sleepiness the two went off to bed, and on the landing upstairs
Christobel said: "Wait a minute," and slipped down to Pamela’s room at
the end.

She knocked.  There was no answer, so she opened the door gingerly, and
put her head into the opening.  A long heap in the bed stirred, and
turned over with a jerk.

"Hullo, who is it; what do you want, Hughie?" demanded Pamela in the
slurring tones of one but half awake.

"It’s not Hughie--it’s Crow.  I just peeped in to see if you were
awake," said Christobel, not at all pleased with herself, because she
felt a wee bit mean.

"Oh, you’re back.  That’s all right.  I’m so glad. Did you have a jolly
time?"

"Awfully jolly--after the thunder cleared," said Crow.

"Tell me about it to-morrow.  Good-night, Crow," murmured Pamela
sleepily, and relapsed into slumber.

In the passage Christobel whispered to Adrian:

"She was sound asleep--_sound_.  I woke her, but she was only half
awake."

Adrian whistled softly, and departed to his room without comment.



                             *CHAPTER VII*

                      *Confidences in "the Cave"*


A journey to Salterne next day was out of the question, because the
weather had taken the bit between its teeth and was behaving badly.
This happens so often after a thunderstorm that nobody was surprised;
everyone simply looked out for something to do.  Adrian plunged with
vigour into a brief spell of mowing.  It seemed wise to grapple with the
rapidly growing grass while there was nothing better on hand.
Christobel, feeling uneasy, sought an opportunity for private
conversation with her sister.  She was uneasy, because she believed it
was somehow all right--though it looked all wrong--and she didn’t know
how to begin.

Pamela was alone in the library, sitting in the biggest leather chair
after a style of her own, that is, inside the chair with her long slim
legs hanging over the arm, and her knees forming a satisfactory rest for
the inevitable book.

Christobel entered on this scene of peaceful comfort with a direct
question, after her way:

"Oh, Pam, there you are.  I rather wanted to ask you something."

She shut the door, and came forward to take a seat on the edge of the
writing-table, near the big chair.

Pamela glanced at her and detected mystery.  She did not say so, though,
but let her gaze rest again on the interesting page and murmured:

"All right.  Fire away."

"You don’t mind my asking, Pam, but did Mother send you out--send you
anywhere--last night?"

The inquiry was made awkwardly.  Crow flushed rather pink.

"How do you mean?"

Pamela’s intent blue gaze was raised, and she looked curiously at her
sister’s face.

"How do you mean ’send me out’, Crow?"

"Well, is there any mystery about it?"

"About what?"

"About you being out last evening?"

Pamela remained silent for quite a minute; she was reviewing swiftly in
her mind what the time was when she had returned from Woodrising--after
her ineffective search-visit. Eight o’clock!  She was back before eight,
of course, because supper was timed for eight and she was in--with a
brief period for dressing.

After that pause she answered:

"I don’t know what you are driving at, my dear Crow."

But of course Christobel had noticed the hesitation.  It made her feel
rather stronger.

"Do you mind telling me when you did come in, Pam? I ask for a reason."

"Well, if you seriously want to know," answered the younger girl rather
stiffly, "I was in just in time to change for supper--and supper was at
eight o’clock--later than usual.  That was because Mum had put the food
back thinking you and Addie would be home."

"Ten to _eight_?"

"Well, why not?  It was nearly dark, but the moon had begun--besides,
we’d been mewed up indoors an awful lot with the rain."

Pamela was throwing out little feelers of excuse--as it were--for her
wanderings round Woodrising, in case she had been seen.  Somebody had
told Christobel something, she believed firmly, and her defensive
instinct made her rather stiff.

"Well, _I_ was meaning about ten minutes to _ten_--not eight," said the
elder girl.

They looked at each other searchingly.

"I was in bed before that," said Pamela.  "I don’t know the least what
you are talking about, Crow, but you seem to have a lively maggot in
your brain about me."

"It isn’t anything in my brain--it’s a question of the eyesight of two
people."

"Who’s the other person?"

"Addie.  We both saw you----"

"Oh dear," ejaculated Pamela in an exasperated voice, "do you mean to
say you think you saw me out of doors just before ten o’clock, because
you may as well disabuse your mind of the idea at once.  Addie doesn’t
count, he leaps to conclusions.  He’d say the Little Pilgrim was me for
two pins, and believe it if he was in an imaginative mood. Well, you did
_not_ see me, Crow."

"My dear girl, I’m awfully sorry you feel vexed about it."

"Wouldn’t you be vexed, if people practically told you you were telling
lies," said Pamela, fingering the pages of her book with unsettled
fingers.

"I don’t.  I assure you I don’t," said Christobel urgently "but please
do look at our side of the question.  Now listen, Pam.  We got in to
Five Trees about 9.25, we came straight along with a moon as bright as
day, and just before we came to Folly Ho corner we heard some one
running.  _I_ thought it sounded like a girl--unless it was a boy in
running shoes--the feet were so light.  Of course we were
interested--down past the little grass patch at the crossroad came
_you_----"

Pamela made a gesture of speaking.

"All right, then," went on Crow, "not you--a girl so exactly like you
that there was no difference.  She had a dark skirt and jumper--like
yours--it was most certainly blue--lighter stockings and shoes--I mean
not black.  She had no hat on, and a heavy tail of plaited hair hanging
down.  As she ran I saw it swing--like yours does.  Now, are you
surprised we thought it was you?"

"What did you do?" asked Pamela.

"Simply stared.  Then Addie gave a whistle shriek, fearfully loud.  She
stopped and looked over her shoulder, then she ran on.  Honestly I admit
we were savage.  Just consider, Pam; it appeared to be you beyond
question, and we naturally concluded you were just out for the fun of
it, and didn’t want us to see you.  Of course it looked as though you
didn’t mean to stop on purpose."

"Funny," allowed Pamela in a milder tone, "well, what did you do next?
I suppose you saw where this very surprising girl went to?"

Christobel felt this was the weak part of her story, but she told it
conscientiously.

"I see.  So the girl was swallowed up by the cloud! Are you sure you
ever saw her at all, Crow?"

"Never was so sure of a thing in my life," declared Christobel, slipping
off the table edge, and going to the window-seat, where she took a more
comfortable seat, "we saw the girl.  Who she is, I don’t pretend to say,
as you say she is not you.  It was just in that bit of road outside
Woodrising that we lost sight of her.  Thinking she was surely you I
made Addie go into Fuchsia Cottage and ask Miss Lasarge."

"Why--on earth?" demanded Pamela, with a little frown of annoyance, as
she shut her book smartly.

"Why?  Because I thought you’d gone in there.  It was the only way to
account for your disappearance."

"For _hers_, you mean."

"Yes; of course.  Only, remember we were certain it was you then."

"What did the Little Pilgrim say?" asked Pamela, with an accession of
interest, as she pulled herself up in the chair, swinging her slim feet
rather restlessly.

"Oh, nothing much.  She just listened, and said you weren’t there, and
you hadn’t been, and she was sure it couldn’t be you--that was all.  We
thought she seemed rather nervous--rather sort of hesitating--but it
might have been our fancy.  You see, Pam, I was so sure it couldn’t be
anyone but you, that I had a feeling the Little Pilgrim thought it was,
but meant to hold her tongue.  She’s such a little angel of kindness
she’d always shield anybody she thought might be risking a fuss."

"I daresay," allowed Pamela in a non-committal way; then she added,
"well, are you satisfied now, Crow?  I can only tell you again that I
was in bed--at that time."

"My dear old girl, if you say you were not the person we saw, there’s an
end," answered Christobel warmly, yet even as she spoke she was faintly
uneasy--Pamela was keeping something back.  She was sure.  However,
there was no more to be said.  She changed the subject.

"Addie’s bathing," she said, "he loves bathing in the rain, and at the
present moment it is pouring anchors and marlinespikes--where’s Hughie?"

Pamela was just going to say where she thought Hughie was, but changed
the information to a vague:

"Oh--somewhere.  You’re not going to fetch the yawl back to-day then,
Crow?"

Christobel said the tide would serve much better in the afternoon a bit
later.  It could be done now, but they would have to be home by five
o’clock, or they’d have the whole weight of the ebb against them.

"Better to have an hour or so to spare," she added cheerfully and went
out.

Pamela remained sitting in her nest, swinging her feet and
thinking--thinking.  "Then there was something in Mollie’s and Hughie’s
accusation."  She had come away yesterday from her venture at Woodrising
persuaded that the whole thing was "tosh"--that Sir Marmaduke had kindly
given a lift to Mrs. Chipman for old time’s sake--being in the
neighbourhood himself, perhaps for business reasons.  It was so natural
that Mrs. Chipman should pay a visit to Mrs. Trewby, for they were
acquaintances of old days.

Last night, before she fell asleep, she felt assured that both Mollie
and Hughie had made a mistake somehow--unlikely as it seemed.  Now, the
whole thing was awake again, and positively demanding attention.  Poor
Pamela felt the least bit gloomy about it; first, because she had read
somewhere that if a person has a "double" in the world they are sure to
die promptly; secondly, because she was becoming a butt for false
accusations on all sides.  She felt instinctively that Crow, her best
friend, was a little suspicious, and Addie, of course, would be frankly
sceptical.  Only Hughie believed her.  Hughie was a very wise person,
not to be despised as a partner in difficulty.

She slipped to her feet, and left the room, ran upstairs, and stood
quietly listening at the top of the back stairs.  No one was about.  The
voice of Mrs. Jeep conversing profoundly with Keziah, the house
parlour-maid, was the only sound audible.  The wide front stairs mounted
from the hall into the long corridor, and were not used by servants. The
backstairs came up from the kitchen passage to a lobby shut off by a
green baize door, and went on upwards to the attics, which were large
and charming rooms, with many cupboards, and the most perfect views in
the house, out of quaint dormer windows.

There were four at least and wide passage space also.

Mrs. Jeep owned one; Keziah and Patty Ingles the between-maid shared
another.  One was a spare room for chance servant visitors, and the end
one over Pamela’s and Hughie’s rooms was what is called a "box" room.
Here was "luggage"--big, old-fashioned trunks, leather portmanteaux,
large hat boxes.  Neat piles of cardboard boxes--the sort that drapers
and dressmakers send out--all sizes, and tidy stacks of brown
paper--sacking--cords--all the odds and ends necessary for packing of
any kind.  There were chairs with burst cane seats, and baths needing
paint, cans that leaked, and baskets damaged in various ways--these had
waited through the war to be mended, and waited still for workers; Mrs.
Romilly was a most methodical, tidy person and detested waste.

Besides all this was the old nursery property of "dressing-up"
chests--clothes for charades in winter--a rocking-horse, and the dolls’
houses; the thousand-and-one things that belong to a family of children.

Hughie loved it all with a deep and faithful love.  Secretly he played
with the dolls’ houses, and set the small china-headed dolls round the
loaded tables for their silent meals with affectionate care.  Pamela
knew all about these matters, but she was far too loyal to betray the
secret.

When she came into this big chamber of treasure trove she stood still
and looked round.  The fact that nobody was visible did not convince her
that nobody was there.

"Hullo!" she said in a low voice.

"Hullo!" returned a small voice in an absorbed tone.

Pamela crossed the room and looked over a barricade of lumber.  At first
sight it seemed that a heavy oak dower chest, topped by a pile of boxes,
was set against the wall.  It was not.  Between its bulk and the wall of
the attic there existed a narrow space--so narrow that it would not
appear possible as a retiring place even for the smallest boy.

Pamela looked over--as has been stated--and dropped a small paper bag.

"I brought you some chocolates," she said.

"Thanks," murmured Hughie in a slow drawl.  Squeezed between the chest
and the wall he was absorbed in most intricate stitchery.  On his knee
was set a cardboard box full of bits and scraps--both white and
coloured--wee spars, small lengths of catgut, bits of fine wire.  Also,
sitting very upright, two neatly smiling dolls, with bran-stuffed bodies
and china heads, dolls about three inches long--the large kind held no
attractions for Hughie.

"How are you getting on, Midget?" asked Pamela with sympathy.

"It’s rather trying," said the dressmaker, "their arm-sleeves fray out
of the holes, and the button-holes are simply fearful.  But they must
have the things."

"They’ll look jolly nice when they are finished," said Pamela, "can’t I
help you?"

Hughie rejected help.

"I’ve made a white ensign for the new boat," he said, nodding towards
the tiny flag that lay finished on the box-top.

"Ripping!" exclaimed Pamela, picking up the bit of work. It was most
beautifully made.  Seeing her undoubted admiration Hughie fished out of
his coloured heap a fine cord to which were attached a succession of
wonderful little flags and burgees in many colours and designs.

"Signal halyards," he said, "it took me weeks--and months.  It’s the
whole code."

"Hughie, you are rather surprising," said Pamela, as she examined the
extraordinary result of skill and patience. Then she pushed the boxes a
little to one side and seated herself on the corner of the oak chest.

"I rather wanted to tell you something," she began.

"I know," said Hughie, adding as she paused in surprise, "is it about
the pig-tail girl?"

Pamela told him what had happened, and what Christobel had asked her.

Hughie made no comment.

"I wish they hadn’t gone to Fuchsia Cottage and asked Miss Anne about
it," went on Pamela thoughtfully, "the more people who are dragged into
it, the more bother it will be to----"

"To what?" inquired Hughie, without looking up.

"Well, I was going to say--to find out.  Then I remembered that probably
there isn’t anything to find out.  I mean, if there is a girl she is
probably a relation of Mrs. Trewby’s."

"I suppose you think she lives at Woodrising?" suggested Hughie
cautiously.

"Crow said she disappeared just outside that wall--when a cloud made it
dark.  _They_ thought she’d run on into Fuchsia Cottage gate--you see."

"I know.  It was the other gate more likely," said Hughie in a
deliberate manner.

"Well, I daresay.  I don’t see where else she can be living.  But what I
mean is, Hughie, that it’s not exciting. I thought I’d just try and find
tracks--or something definite--so I went all round Woodrising yesterday
evening.  One can’t get in; besides, I hadn’t the cheek to go and ring
at the gate-bell and say ’Have you a girl like me anywhere about?’  I
couldn’t do it, so I just----"

"Scouted," suggested Hughie, as he threaded a fine needle with silk with
a view to button-holes, "you got it out of your Scout book."

Pamela coloured faintly.

"I rather tried to do as they say in the Rules, but there weren’t any
tracks outside.  Then I got over the end wall; there was a ladder
against it outside, and I’m perfectly certain Peter Cherry uses it for a
short cut.  Inside there was a manure heap--not a smelly one--straw
chiefly for marrows--so there was a good place to jump into.  The garden
was appallingly wet; and you never saw anything like the bushes,
Midget--one mass.  I saw Peter’s bootmarks as plain as a house--and then
I found nice narrow shoes like mine, and made sure I’d got a clue, but
it occurred to me that they might easily be my own feet!  I’d been going
up and down, and in and out--such a lot of paths and all so much
alike----"

"Next time I’d put a trail of pebbles if I were you," suggested Hughie.

"You mean like Hop-of-my-thumb did, when he found the birds ate his
bread-crumbs?"

"Or," said Hughie, pausing in his work, "you could blaze a trail on the
bushes.  That’s easy enough--tiny little breaks in the twigs--and leaves
stuck on the ends of them.  I would."

"Yes," agreed Pamela thoughtfully, "if I go again I will. Well, anyway I
had to hide, because two women came from the house and went to the end
of the garden.  One was Mrs. Trewby--looking as yellow as marmalade--and
the other was that maid Baker.  Lady Shard had her for years, and she
married the London butler.  Her name is Mrs. Chipman now.  Do you
remember her, Midget?"

"She came to tea with Mrs. Jeep when she was dressed in black.  I hated
her," said Hughie, "she says silly things to people about being
mischievous.  She calls it ’mischeevious’.  She doesn’t understand
anything."

"She’d talk the hind leg off a donkey," said Pamela with contempt.  "I
should think the butler was very thankful when he died and could get
away from her voice--it clacks.  I couldn’t remember her at first, and I
was so busy remembering that I forgot to notice what she said--it was
all about people, though--you know how that kind of person talks.  They
went back past me to the house, and then the Chipman female began
shouting for her dog, and I was so fearfully afraid of being caught that
I fled along the path over the wall and came home."

"How did you know she was calling the dog?" asked Hughie, opening the
paper bag and looking into it with interest.  "How do you know she
wasn’t calling the other girl?"

"Couldn’t have been; she called ’Countess, Countess, Countess’, just how
people call dogs, and that sort of person usually call dogs by that kind
of name; and the dogs are usually big, fluffy ones which never do what
they’re told.  Oh, it was a dog right enough, I’m sure.  Well, that’s
all.  It isn’t a very bright prospect is it, Midget?"

"Not very," allowed Hughie; "what time is it, Pam?"

Pamela, consulting a wristlet watch, said it was about twelve.  It must
be, she concluded, because her watch was a quarter to one.  "I calculate
it to be over half an hour fast towards the end of the week," she told
him, "then I begin fresh on Sundays.  It’s a bother, because you forget
and are sure to be late for breakfast.  However, it can’t be helped."

"Don’t tell anybody I’m here," Hughie requested, finishing the chocolate
and smoothing out the bag.  Paper bags came in usefully at times.

"Not Mother, do you mean?  She may ask."

"I don’t mind her, but not the others, Pam.  It’s impossible to sew
properly when people come bothering about and asking questions."

Pamela promised, and departed light-footed.

In the corridor she met her mother, who promptly asked where was her
youngest son.

"He’s all right, Mummy--sewing, in the cave," said Pamela, "and he
doesn’t want anyone to know."

"All right.  _I_ shan’t tell," said Mrs. Romilly, smiling. Then she
asked about the yawl, and the plans of the older pair about fetching her
from Salterne.

Pamela related what she knew, so far as it went.  In a day or two the
tide would serve better, as there would be a later ebb in the afternoon.

"The fact is, Miss Chance would rather like to make a shopping
expedition to Salterne the same day--and couldn’t she come back in the
boat?" asked Mrs. Romilly, innocent of all this involved--as mothers so
often are.

The silence that ensued was so full of meaning, that Mrs. Romilly
answered it as though her daughter had spoken.

"I think, darling child, that you ought--all of you--to make things as
nice for Miss Chance as you can.  There are no regular lessons just now,
because of Addie being sent home, and Crow finishing up at Easter;
besides, it will soon be Whitsuntide now; but I think we ought to try
and make it as pleasant for her as possible, don’t you?  She is always
most kind."

"Oh, yes, awfully kind," agreed Pamela hastily, "but Mother, are you
sure she likes going on the yawl?  You know she’d be rather a
responsibility for Addie and Crow; she doesn’t understand a boat, she
stands on the gunwale and expects the boat to wait as if it were a stone
step!  She truly might get drowned rather easily, you know, and what
_could_ they do, if she fell overboard?"

"I see," murmured Mrs. Romilly thoughtfully, "yes, I see.  Well, she
might come back by train.  I’ll talk to her about it.  At the same time,
if she really wishes to go by sea, I’m sure it will be all right."

To this Pamela said nothing, but she formed an inward resolve that she
would have nothing to do with this expedition.



                             *CHAPTER VIII*

                   *"Little Friend of all the World"*


On a certain evening, a couple of days or so after this, the sky cleared
beautifully, and the sun went down with grand promise of fine weather
again.

Miss Chance was correcting French exercises in the library when Adrian
and Christobel entered, very hot and triumphant--the Bell House lawns
were mown to perfection, and to-morrow would suit in all ways for the
fetching back of the yawl.

"It must be done to-morrow," Adrian threw himself with a crash on the
springy sofa, "_must_ be--we can’t leave the _Messenger_ at Salterne any
longer.  She must be on her moorings by this time to-morrow."

"I hope you will have a fine day, then," said Miss Chance, placing
papers aside in a neat heap, "you had a terrible storm the day of your
last expedition--terrible.  I always think though that thunder and
lightning and such terrors must be sent for some good purpose--to teach
us something."

"They teach you not to leave your oilskins behind," suggested Adrian
from the floor.

"Oh, hush, dear boy--is that quite nice?" said the excellent woman in a
shocked voice--and then changing the subject with rather laboured
vivacity she went on:

"Really I wish dear Pam would concentrate more.  She is having so few
lessons now that she ought to be giving of her very best.  One would
think her mind was entirely distracted.  I told her so, and her reply
was _most_ unconvincing--she said if she had twelve times as much to do
she would do it twelve times as well!  Most unreasoning."

"I don’t agree with you, my dear Floweret," said Adrian, "I agree with
Pam.  If you are in for a fearful grind--well, there you are--you grind;
you get acclimatized, so to speak, like people living on the west coast
of Africa.  After a bit you thrive on the beastly thing--in fact revel
in it. Whereas if you make a snatch at it--well, there’s a hopeless
failure."

Good Miss Chance gave a crackling laugh; she was devoted to Adrian,
especially when he slapped her on the back and called her the Floweret,
or "my good Blossom"--in cheerful allusion to her pretty name.  She
plunged into argument with zest therefore.

"The west coast of Africa," she said, "is not nearly so subject to
pestilence and dangerous malaria as it used to be.  Advancing science
has taught us how to deal with these things--and what has it to do with
French exercises! I am sure you cannot be thinking reasonably.  What
else can be expected from your position, which is exactly the opposite
to what was intended for the use of a sofa."

"I know," said Adrian, "I am aware of that, Miss Chance. But I never was
a Conservative.  My opinions might be classified as
Republican-Imperialist.  Let me reason with you.  If the legs are on the
sofa, and the head is on the floor, blood flows freely to the brain, and
it swells with astonishing rapidity.  Result, a vigorous crop of ideas.
I’m full of them at this moment--my brain is, that’s to say.  They are
sprouting so rapidly that I shall be able to impart to you information
on many subjects in a brace of jiffs."

Miss Chance was about to plunge into further depths, when Christobel
intervened politely.

"Don’t listen to him, Miss Chance, he is talking the worst kind of
piffle--suppose we go to bed.  Addie, get up, your head was never
intended for a carpet-cleaner. Come along and say good-night to Mum,
she’s gone up because she had a headache."

Crow stood up and stretched.  Adrian, after a violent effort to get on
to the sofa by muscular effort alone, came on to his feet in the
ordinary way, and proceeded to shake himself into his garments with some
regard to appearance.

"Now I wonder," said Miss Chance, gathering all her properties into
order, and replacing some in drawers, "I wonder whether you two would
give _me_ a lift to-morrow. I want a day’s shopping in Salterne, or some
hours anyway--why shouldn’t I go in with you--and sail out?"

There was one short pause strenuous with meaning! Then Crow, as usual,
met the difficulty.

"If you want to shop, Miss Chance, it wouldn’t fit in, you see we should
have to go to the harbour and get the yawl out--and home.  I am sorry,
but really it would be difficult to get time for shopping, wouldn’t it,
Addie?"

"Well, well, we will discuss the matter in the morning," said Miss
Chance, not in the least offended.  She certainly was a "goodhearted
soul," as Crow impressed on Adrian going upstairs.

"She may be," he declared desperately, "but her good heart won’t be much
use in the boat.  She’ll most likely be drowned, and we shall be
responsible."

The depths of gloom are speedily reached.

Mrs. Romilly was sitting in an arm-chair before a little fire.  She said
she was cold after all that rain.  She was dressed in a loose gown of
the colour matching her eyes, and her lovely hair--just like
Pamela’s--was hanging round her like a shawl.

"I’ll brush that," said Christobel firmly.

Adrian sat down on the fender-stool with his back to the fire and looked
dejected.

"Is your head bad--or better, Mummy, dear?" asked Christobel, proceeding
to the business of brushing.  "Addie and I have been talking to Miss
Chance, or we should have come sooner."

Mrs. Romilly said her head was better, also that she was very pleased
they’d been talking to Miss Chance; finally she wanted to know if
anything had been said about the sail from Salterne.

"If you go, and when you go," she concluded, "she wants to go in with
you--walk to Five Trees, I mean, and sail home."

"I don’t think she’ll enjoy it much, Mother," ventured Christobel.

"Why not, dear--_you_ do?"

"Yes, but you see we don’t mind knocking about, and wet, and spells of
discomfort--she might be sick, most people are."

Mrs. Romilly was not blind to the trend of feeling.

"I don’t see why she shouldn’t have a try," she suggested mildly, "if
she is ill, or hates it, she needn’t go again.  After all, poor thing,
she never has been."

"Well, Mother, you see it was Sir Marmaduke’s affair before this, wasn’t
it?  And such a crowd with Penberthy and Mollie--as he didn’t ask Miss
Chance, we couldn’t force her in, could we?"

"Well, there won’t be a crowd now," persisted Mrs. Romilly, "even if you
all go--only five."

"Only five!"  Christobel looked at Adrian over her mother’s head, she
said the two words with her lips--soundlessly--and smiled.

But Adrian would not smile.

"If she’d been with us the other day, in the thunderstorm, she wouldn’t
have wanted to go again," said the boy darkly, "she’d have been in
fits."

"But, darling, I thought you said it was lovely?" this, from his mother
in an expostulating voice.

Christobel warned, with raised eyebrows, and headshakes.

"So it was when the storm was over," said Adrian, refusing to see the
signals, "but she wouldn’t have enjoyed the process of working through
it.  Of course we did," he added quickly, "we enjoy anything, no matter
how beastly--but when it comes to being drenched, and battered, and
shaken up, Miss Chance mightn’t.  And you see, Mum, we can’t put her
ashore--that’s flat.  If she comes, she must come.  I can’t undertake to
land people."

"You landed Hughie one day."

"That was a dead calm."

"Well, but supposing there is a calm to-morrow?"

"If there is we shall go straight back to Salterne, that’s all--and
sleep on the boat," announced Adrian desperately; "surely Miss Chance
would find it pretty uncomfortable to have to sleep on the yawl with
four other people, and not even a toothbrush among the lot."

The unfortunate part of this episode was that it did not achieve its
object, but only succeeded in making Mrs. Romilly firmer on the
contested point.  She did not believe in the discomforts Adrian had
mentioned--which were perfectly true, of course--because they had been
kept from her before.

She thought the young ones did not want Miss Chance to go--they
certainly did not, but the reasons put forward were strictly facts.

She was sweet and sympathetic, but her mind was made up.

"Please make it as nice and easy for her as possible, dear children,"
she said; "I depend on you, Crow; after all she has never yet been on
the yacht."

There was no more to be said of course.  Christobel gave way without
another word.  Adrian was silent, but when they were saying "good-night"
he suggested quite amiably:

"We’ll give the Floweret as good a time as we know how, Mum, and by the
way, it’s only fair to remember it isn’t our fault she’s never been out
in the _Messenger_--she’s always been away in the holidays when we did
all the sailing--and Sir Marmaduke was here."

Mrs. Romilly protested that she knew all this.  The yawl had never been
at their service in term-time before--Adrian being absent.

"Perhaps this is the beginning of good times," she said; "perhaps she
will make a first-rate sailor."

Brother and sister looked at each other speechless, when they got
outside.  Then Crow whispered:

"Are we downhearted?" and sped away to her room, head turned over her
shoulder with her lips forming a very decided "No--o--o."

Adrian stood at his window presently looking out at the sweet breathless
night.  There was no air, the stars were clear.  "If it’s a calm she’ll
be sick," he thought, "poor old Blossom"--and peace descended on his
soul.

So the matter was settled, and, in order to give Miss Chance time for
her shopping, the young Romillys went by an earlier train from Five
Trees.  They did not mind that at all.  Adrian wanted to get to his
beloved _Messenger_--the sooner the better.

The party consisted of four--because Hughie was included.  Pamela simply
declined.  She wouldn’t say why or wherefore.  She looked at the others
during breakfast remarking that four was an even number.

"All agog to dash through thick and thin," she murmured, "Crow can shop
with Miss Chance and Hughie can go with Addie to the yawl.  Three people
jostling each other in front of shop windows is never comfortable, and I
hate sitting on a hot deck at anchor.  Home is nicer."

They all went off gaily, Miss Chance carrying a string bag besides her
bag-purse, to Crow’s annoyance.  She could not bear "walking with a
string bag," she said. However Miss Chance could not be parted from it.
The necessary food was to be bought in Salterne, and they were to start
back after lunch, and come home with the tide.

It sounded perfectly charming, not a hitch.  Mrs. Romilly was well
pleased.  She and Pamela had lunch together, and the peace of the house
was balm.  The day held fine--very fine.  About two o’clock there was
about as much air as you would expect under a vacuum bell.

Pamela called her mother’s attention to it.

"Oh, I expect they’ve got some wind even if we haven’t," said Mrs.
Romilly; "I shan’t worry, and, Pam dear, tea at half-past four, for you
and me--and after that will you go up to Clawtol and get some eggs from
Mrs. Ensor?  A dozen or two dozen even--we eat such a lot now Addie has
taken to demanding hard-boiled ones for the yacht.  If I can’t get
enough from Clawtol, we must try the Badgers at Champles to-morrow or
next day."

Pamela did not mind in the least.  She had a plan in fact.  Why not come
back by Woodrising?  A basket of eggs would prove her business.  She
need not do anything--at the same time she felt she could not rest till
she obtained some knowledge of her "double".  Having settled that the
girl did not exist, she had been shaken out of that security by
Christobel’s surprising questions and confusion of her identity.  It was
not possible to pass it over.  Fate had sent her another free day, clear
of "family"; she must have one more attempt at Woodrising.

She and her mother followed the thought of _Messenger’s_ return with
interest.

"If there had been a good wind they might have reached the lighthouse by
now," said Pamela, spreading her bread and butter with a thankful heart,
"as it is----"

"What?  ’As it _is_’" asked Mrs. Romilly.

"Well, Mummy dear, no wind.  What can they do? They’ll be coming down
the estuary about now--perhaps crossing the bar.  Miss Chance won’t feel
the swell till they get really out--a good way."

"Are they bound to feel the swell?"

"Mummy, they are.  I can assure you it’s the sort of heaving that makes
one try hard _not_ to think of bacon grease. If you do, you’re sorry."

"Poor Miss Chance," said Mrs. Romilly, and laughed.

Pamela looked at her with eyes that were grey-green--sometimes they were
blue, sometimes grey--it depended on the sky and the atmosphere.

"I’m rather afraid," she remarked, "that a bit of bad luck is coming to
those poor ones.  There is a mist.  You know how it begins.  Bits of
ragged chiffon seem to float past one, going nowhere in particular.
There isn’t a breath of air, and yet a cold kind of draught has
arrived."

"I _am_ sorry," said Mrs. Romilly, with feeling, "but a fog won’t
prevent their getting home.  If they keep close in, the cliffs are so
very obvious."

Pamela made no comment on this; she simply said it certainly would not
prevent her walk to Clawtol for the eggs, while through her mind ran the
idea that nothing could be better than a good thick white mist--such as
they got in perfection at Bell Bay--for her mystery hunting expedition.

She kissed her mother and went, feeling joyous and independent.  Her
plan was cut and dried, so to speak, all settled--and when plans are
like that they are very apt to turn topsy-turvy, and land people where
they least expected to be.

Pamela went the usual way, across the lawns, out by the wicket that led
to the beach, and very slowly up the steep cliff road past Crown Hill
lodge gates and on up to Hawksdown.  A sea fog has the effect of
producing a feeling of loneliness.  It cuts you off, and it makes voices
and distant noises sound different.  She went on till she reached the
summit, and arriving there, went along cautiously towards the cliff
edge, to see if the _Messenger_ might be within sight.

The land on top of the Beak was very wild, desolate even; as it sloped
very slightly downward to the cliff edge it behoved a wanderer to go
cautiously.  The Beak was not perpendicular.  It could be climbed by an
expert, or even an agile, clear-headed person like Pamela, but as she
said to herself, "It was not the sort of thing you’d pick out to do,
unless you had a very strong mood on."

She thought that as she looked over, and out to sea.  No sail was within
her vision.  The water was visible, but through a fluff of thick white
haze, that moved with the ceaseless shift of a kaleidoscope.  Very
dazzling.  It made her giddy to watch the curious floating rags of
it--coming, coming, ever thicker.  If the yawl were close she could not
be seen.

Of course it will be understood that the bluff of a headland is not a
narrow point.  It is a long stretch of wild high land that juts out to
sea.  There are such things as actual peaks sticking out to seaward, but
these are rock, sheer, bare rock, to be found--some at any rate--in the
Channel Islands, where you see most kinds of rocky headland in every
weird shape.

But the Beak on which Pamela stood was a very blunt beak.  The
lighthouse lay perhaps half a mile to the south--invisible from the
top--and Bell Bay was certainly half a mile to the north; all between
was wild cliff trending outward like a huge bent elbow.

Pamela sat down on a gorsy hump, and looked towards Ramsworthy and
Netheroot sands.  She could not see them because of the fog.  Nor could
she see any sail.  It was profoundly lonely, except for the sea-birds
which kept up a constant wailing cry.  They had noticed a human being
appear on the scene, and instantly rose in whity-grey clouds, crying and
screaming, circling round and round uneasily. When nothing happened they
settled down, and presently there was silence again--complete silence
except for one bird, that wailed distressfully at short intervals.  From
the sound, Pamela thought it was young--or very old--or wounded.  It was
not quite like the others.  However, it was impossible to distinguish,
as when it cried all the others rose up and began again.

She sat there perhaps ten minutes, then she went off back to the road,
and presently, at the turning, away down to the farm.

Mrs. Ensor was leaning over the gate with the baby in her arms.  She
greeted Pamela with some satisfaction and said she had plenty of eggs.
They went in together to the dairy, and Mrs. Ensor, putting the baby
down, proceeded to pick out eggs by dates pencilled on them. Meanwhile
she talked.

"Suppose you don’t happen to have met with our Reube--which way did you
come, Missie?"

Pamela explained.

"I’m afraid he’s more like to be Ramsworthy way or, for all that comes
to, Folly Ho.  Mischeevious young monkey he is to be sure," she sighed,
but smiled also with conscious pride in the "mischeevious" one.  "For
ever up to something--and for _looks_, why there--you’d think he only
wanted a pair o’ wings to fly to Heaven."

"He’s a dear little boy," said Pamela, "I like Reuben; he’s only six,
though, isn’t he?"

Mrs. Ensor said he was six, but had "double the years of naughtiness in
him".  It appeared that he had detached himself from the party of
children coming from Ramsworthy school, said he’d got enough dinner left
to do for his tea, and departed all alone.

"There wasn’t one of them with ’thority to make him do as he was told
you see, Missie," said the anxious mother, "he knows I want him for all
sorts.  He’s ever such a help. But there, once in a while off he’ll go;
he never come for his tea, because he know’d I should catch him."

Pamela sympathized secretly with "young Reube". When she said good-bye,
she promised to look out for him, and urge upon him to return home
speedily.  Mrs. Ensor was very grateful.

"That’s a weight off me, Missie," she declared.  "Six ain’t no age when
it comes to that, and these sea mists do seem to worrit anybody, sort of
squeezing you in."

Pamela departed, carrying her eggs carefully, and pursued her way
towards Crown Hill, planning to cut through the park by a foot-track
they were allowed to use, and go down into Bell Bay at the back of the
valley, thus returning via Woodrising "according to plan".  The last
thing she saw of the farmer’s family was a general action, so to speak,
amongst the children and animals in the "muck yard". Into this Mrs.
Ensor dived, dispersing the contending arms, and restoring order.

"I’m glad I shan’t have to be a farmer’s wife," thought Pamela, "it’s
funny how happy they are."  She remembered Reube; then she sat down on a
felled log by the edge of the road to think, for a curious conviction
had awakened in her mind and, as she stopped, seemed to fill every bit
of her brain.  Most people understand that feeling of _certainty_ about
a thing they know nothing about.  It comes of itself and stays.  Nothing
will argue it away, yet there is no reason why it should be there.

Now the conviction that had taken possession of Pamela’s mind was this:

"Young Reube" was in serious trouble on the rugged point of the Beak.
And the queer intermittent cry, that she had noted as distinguished from
the other bird cries, was the despairing voice of the child calling
faintly.

There was no reason at all for this conviction except that Reube had not
come back to tea, yet Pamela was convinced it was exactly as she
pictured.  She sat on for a few minutes thinking.  She did not want to
give up her plan at all.  It was, in fact, a blow--then the danger of
going down the Beak was considerable.  Pam reviewed the idea of going to
Bell Bay and trying to find a man.  There was Major Fraser--he would
have gone, but he was still lame. Adrian would have gone, but he was on
the sea.

Suddenly she remembered that the first duty of a Girl Guide was to help
anyone in distress, danger unconsidered. "Little Friend of all the
World" was the very pith of the whole matter, "Be prepared" the motto,
and secret sign.

Most surely there was only one thing to be done and that was to go and
see, and take immediate action if necessary.

As she came to this conclusion, she straightened her shoulders and sat
upright.  She had been leaning forward with elbows on knees, chin in
hands.  And, as she moved, she heard a noise close by, and looked round.

By the roadside, a little farther down, was an open-front cart-shed, the
sort that has a rickety roof on plank walls and shelters not only carts,
but farm machines of various kinds.  Pamela got up and walked a yard or
two down to look.  It might of course be "young Reube" hiding, which
would clear her difficulties at once.  There was no one in the shed.
She went round the side to the back, called softly,
"Reuben--Reuben--come out, I want to tell you something."  She knew he
would come if he were there. No answer, but a hen walked slowly out from
the bushes clucking.

"Oh, you idiot!" said Pamela, annoyed.  It must have been the hen.  She
walked slowly back to her basket, picked it up, and went off the way she
had come.



                              *CHAPTER IX*

                     *The Strange Adventure of the
                             Curlew’s Call*


Pamela went back steadily the way she had come, and reached the
branching of the road with a full appreciation of the work she had set
herself to do--supposing that "curlew" cry should be the desperate
appeal of poor little Reuben.

The fog was thicker, she could but just see the water at the cliff foot;
sometimes not that, because the mist shifted in patches--unequal
patches.  She sat down to listen, feeling as though she could hear
better so.  Her only guide would be the cry.  Of course her return had
caused a perfect bedlam of dismay among the birds, so she had to wait
till they were reassured; then, when all was still except the
everlasting wash of the water on the rocks, she heard the one wail
again.

Listening for it with a new idea in her mind, she wondered that she had
ever been deceived into thinking it was a curlew.  She tried to place
it, and the stillness of the atmosphere helped her.  A little to the
south of the central point, and down--certainly down.

If Mrs. Romilly could have seen her daughter at that moment she might
have been excused for a nervous collapse.  Pamela looked about for a
safe place in which to dispose of the egg basket, finally planting it
between two sturdy tussocks of coarse grass and heather.  Then she
pulled her little close hat tighter down, shifting the holding pin;
looked to her shoe ties; and started onward slowly down the preliminary
incline.  There was no edge to drop over, instead, a very deceptive
slope, that grew steeper and steeper until it became dangerous.

She fully realized what the child had done, and how he had been led
astray by the apparent easiness of the first part.  Probably some idea
of birds’ eggs had drawn him on--though it was too late in the
season--or it might have been simply adventure.  Pamela thought about it
as she went on, and wondered why he stayed where he was instead of
coming back.  It was likely that he had hurt himself.

One of the dangers of this business was starting too fast. In some ways
a cliff edge to get over would be less of a snare, because you went over
with the full knowledge of your risks.

When she looked back, after perhaps five minutes of cautious descent, it
was astonishing to note how a "cliff" had risen up behind her.  She
seemed to be a long way down, and the height at her back looked
amazingly steep too.  The time was near when she would have to take to
her hands and knees, and crawl--then after a while she would be letting
herself down by rock points, strong grass, and the rugged, uneven
surface of the real cliff--but there were cracks, and little gullies
made by rain and softer soil; these would help.

Every now and then she waited, listening intently, but there was a
longish pause in the crying.  It occurred to her that she might get an
answer by calling--and moreover set at rest any lingering doubt.  She
called:

"Reuben, Reube, Reube--where are you?"  Her voice was clear and pretty,
a sweet voice, the sound of it comforting in a way.

Quickly came an answer on a different note to the despairing wail of the
earlier call.

"Here--Miss----"

The question was very surely decided.  Reuben knew who it was by the
politeness of the "miss"--even in extremity.  He recognized Pamela’s
voice.  But the "here", was rather baffling!  Where was "here"?  She
would have to find out, and anyway she knew it was Reuben, that was all
that mattered much.  Pamela started on down once more.  Down, and along
at the same time, partly because the call suggested it as the right
direction, partly because it was easier.

She had to cross a most horrible slope of burned grass--very steep, yet
smooth.  It gave her some uncommonly ugly moments, but she forced
herself not to look down, and on no account to increase her speed.  She
went by inches, digging her toes and fingers in and resolutely thinking
of Reuben and the business in hand--not of possibilities.

"After this comes a nice broken-up bit," she said aloud, to keep herself
sensible, "when I go up again, I’ll try farther along.  These slippery
bits are no use."

Having reached the nice broken-up bit aforesaid, she cautiously turned
over, and sitting on a big tufty ledge, looked about her.

A little smile flickered round her mouth.

"One in the eye for Addie," she said, "he declared I couldn’t get up or
down the Beak; and it’s worse in a mist."

The mist was distinctly thick now.  So much so that the top of the
headland was out of sight, and the sea was invisible.  She was like a
very lonely bird in the middle of an ocean of drifting film.  Probably
this was what the eagles felt like--high, high up on a rocky peak in the
clouds.  She was not nervous--it was all so very exciting--but it was
important to locate the lost one as soon as possible, because time was
going rather fast.

"Hullo, Reube, call again!" cried Pamela.

There was no answer--there had been no cry, she thought, since the
"miss" in the beginning.  She waited a moment and then tried again.
"Reube--I’m close by--I’m come to help you--where are you?"

All the birds started to shriek and scream with delirious riot.  They
rose in a cloud, and circled round and round. It was maddening.

"Oh you silly idiots," said Pamela.

As the clatter died down into isolated screams, she heard a voice say:

"I bean’t afeard o’ birds, Miss."

"That’s right, Reube," she spoke in a hearty manner, because the words
came in a detached weak tone, as though the speaker made an effort to
say them.

He must be quite close, she thought.

Down she went again, with infinite care, because the surface of
everything was greasy with mist that thickened continually.  Down and
down, and ever the mutter and wash of waves on rock grew more distinct.

Then the voice called, with more life in it.

"Here, Miss!  You do be going too far."

Pamela checked and looked round eagerly.  _Above_ her, but more to the
Ramsworthy side, in the loneliest and most inaccessible bit of the Beak,
was a dark heap, a very little heap; and, small as it was, the great
part of it consisted of a hump of coarse grass.  On the ledge where this
grew clung the human part of the heap.

"_I_ see you," said Pamela, in a cheerful tone.

It was an heroic effort on her part, for, looking at the whole
situation, up, down, and round, it was distinctly terrifying.  After
nearly ten minutes cautious climbing, she came within arm’s length of
the child.

He was lying on his face, arms grasping a snag of rock at the back of
the grass bunch.  He had never looked so small to Pamela, and, in an
instant, she saw by his face what he had suffered; it was pinched and
drawn--stained with tears and dirt.

She laughed.  Not because she felt like laughter, but because she had
neither water nor food, and something must be done to rouse the failing
courage--_if_ they were to get up the fog-shielded height that towered
above them.

"I was mortal glad--when I heard you," volunteered Reube, gazing at her
with sunken eyes: "I was pretty near asleep."

"Not at all a nice place for a doze;" said Pam, "now what on earth made
you come here, young man?"

Reube said: "I dunno, Miss."  He did not, of course. He had just started
climbing down in a spirit of adventure, and found himself forced to go
on in order to find a way up again.  Here was the difficulty.  Pamela
saw that it would not be possible to go straight up from here.  A cold
thrill of dismay ran through her veins.  They _must_ move--they must
start moving at once, there was no time to be lost.  And she must find
out the way of least resistance, so to speak; that way only could she
get on with the exhausted child.  And she could not see!

The mist dazzled her, wetting every grass blade with a glitter of tiny
shining powder.  She would have to move upward, even though difficulties
forced her to go along the cliff face also.  That was all that seemed
perfectly clear. Also, and first of all, there was the condition of
Reube.

He remained passive, his white face resting on his arm, his hands
gripping the grass tussock.  There seemed no sort of spring in him, and
Pamela looked uneasily at his closed eyes.  She realized that he was
injured as well as exhausted, and said:

"What’s the matter, Reube--where are you hurt?" in very gentle tones.

Reube opened his eyes and tried to pull his scattered wits together.

"It’s me leg, Miss--and I’m that _dry_----" he ceased.

Pamela felt acutely that water was impossible.  Then an idea occurred to
her--very inadequate, but still something.  She spread her handkerchief
on the grass--saw that it began to get damp at once--and so left it for
a minute, weighted with a little lump of soil, while she looked at the
leg.

The obvious injury was a swollen and bruised knee, very blue, and
growing bluer.  But what she feared more was the appearance of the
ankle.  The child was wearing rather clumsy laced boots, too large for
him, probably his brother’s boots.  It was probable that the boot had
twisted, wrenching the ankle.  Pamela hoped that it was only a bad
sprain--not a break or a dislocation, but she did not know.  The foot
certainly looked queer.  She wondered if she ought to take the boot off.
But the laces were knotted in more than one place, and a terror of
interfering seized her.

"If only I knew first aid," she thought miserably.

The moment she got a chance she would learn the whole thing.  Therein
lay another immense advantage of being a real Guide.  She would have
known exactly what to do. But ignorant handling might make things very
much worse. She moved the foot cautiously, Reube shrank and winced.

She was sure it looked all wrong.  Suppose it was broken--what awful
pain!

Pamela returned to examination of her handkerchief.  It was quite
wet--really wet.  She pressed it between the child’s lips, feeling
hopeful.

"Suck it, Reube," she said, "it isn’t much, but it might make you feel a
wee bit better."

Then she remembered that soldiers sucked pebbles when they were very
hard put to it from thirst in front-line trenches.  She considered the
advisability of giving Reube a wet pebble to suck--if she could find
one--there seemed to be none in the least suitable.  After all, suppose
Reube swallowed the pebble in a moment of half consciousness! That would
be worse than anything.  She returned to a very settled conviction that
_the_ important thing in life was to know first aid, and belong to the
Girl Guides, when you would be armed with practical knowledge of what to
do in all circumstances.

Reuben seemed the least bit revived.  Whether it was the result of her
company or of the handkerchief one could not tell, but the time seemed
to have come to make a real start, if they were ever to get up the
mist-veiled height above them.

From then on--for possibly twenty minutes, when she was completely
played out--poor Pam remembered afterwards as a nightmare of the worst
kind.

She started by climbing up two feet, and then grasping Reube by the arm,
pulled him up to her.  She urged him to use his sound foot, and just
drag the other.  The slowness of the process was exasperating; the
difficulty grew and grew, because the climb was steeper and more
slippery. She persevered, Reube made heroic efforts--but at the end of
fifteen to twenty minutes, he lay a dead weight.

He had fainted.

Pamela felt pretty desperate.  They had come up some distance, but much
of the time had been spent in going a long round, that was bound to be,
because she was forced to pick the best foothold.  Not much useful
progress had been made, and what now?  She could not revive the child.
He might even be dead!

Pamela spoke aloud to herself.

"Well, dead or alive, I’ve got to get him up;" her teeth were set in
this determination.

After resting for a few minutes she took sure footing, tested her
position, and then, putting an arm around Reube’s waist, heaved up the
small body to a place perhaps a foot higher.  This process she repeated
six times.  She had gained perhaps eight feet, but she was very tired.
The child remained inert, with closed eyes.

Pamela rested again.  This time her lips trembled just a little, and she
blinked her eyes as she stared fixedly along that awful slope.  It was
so fearfully steep, and the foothold more and more slippery.  If only
someone would come!  She had not called, because she knew there was no
one about on the top of the cliff, and it seemed waste of breath and
strength.  She understood the curious stolidity of villagers.  Supposing
anyone passed along the road at the top he would take no notice of
cries--probably would not hear.

Had there been no fog, Addie might have seen her and climbed up.  Surely
the yawl must be somewhere below, cut off from vision by that mass of
elusive shifting whiteness.  Then she remembered that there was also a
calm, a dead breathless calm.  Perhaps the yacht had not passed
Heggadon, and might have to go back to Salterne when the tide turned.

Everything was against her, and against being found, because all the
attention would be for the yawl and not for herself; it would be taken
for granted she was safe on land.  She remembered that the Floweret
would certainly have said: "Where _can_ dear Pamela have gone to!
Surely she is very late."  That might have drawn people’s attention, but
even the Floweret was lost to her now.  There was positively no hope of
help.  Reuben’s life, and her own too, for that matter, depended on her
own unaided efforts.

She took a long breath, thought of all sorts of things in a queer rush
of resolution to do what hundreds--thousands--of brave men and women had
done in the fighting years.  After all this adventure was not unlike
getting a wounded comrade into safety from the lonely perils of No Man’s
Land.  If a wounded man could do it for another one worse
wounded--surely she, who was sound, could do it for this little
creature.

That was about the reasoning of her mind if it were analysed--but, of
course, it all passed like a flash of realization, she did not reason.
Then she began again, and had gone up in the same way another five feet,
hardly more, when a sick feeling of fright seemed to choke her--she
could not get higher.  She had come to a place that was so steep as to
be practically a wall.  It was like that for some ten feet, after which
it looked easier--but just here it was sheer.  She must try and get
round it, as it were--shift herself and the boy along.  To that end it
would be better to explore alone first--find out where her best road lay
and come back for Reube?  The question was dare she leave him, would he
move if he returned to consciousness, and roll down into the sea.

She was considering her position, when she heard a call--actually a
human call.

A wave of passionate thankfulness swept over her--nearly as possible she
burst out crying from sheer relief. Who--who could it be?

Then she saw.

Rather above, and a good deal to her left, was a figure making towards
them in a swift and capable manner.

Pamela was just going to answer with a cry of welcome, when a sense of
dazed confusion checked her, and for several moments she remained just
staring with an uneasy suspicion that she might have "gone off her head"
from the strain.

For the person coming down towards her was the double of herself.  No
less, apparently.

Pamela looked away--shut her eyes, opened them and stared down at the
sea, moving everlastingly through the shifting haze of the white fog.
Everything was the same. Reube was still unconscious.  She glanced at
the poor foot, it still seemed the wrong way round.  Then she looked
back at the girl, and saw--certainly herself--to all appearance.

A tall slim creature in a blue serge skirt, tan stockings, tan shoes, a
Japanese silk blouse, and chamois leather gauntlet gloves.  It was
almost a relief to realize that she wore a dark knitted
tam-o’-shanter--which Pam was not wearing that day, though she often
wore one.  Over the shoulder of this double hung a thick plait of lovely
bright hair.  Pamela glanced down at her own plait to compare them, and
her sudden thought was--

"Hers is lighter."

Pausing at a distance of some yards, the stranger stared hard at Pamela,
and Pamela was so absorbed in staring at her in return that she nearly
slid down the Beak into the sea.

"What is the matter?"

That was the first thing the double asked, and her voice was a little
unexpected.  It was rather deep, and she spoke slowly--carefully--with
the least touch of something different in the accent.

Pamela cleared her throat; she felt nervous, she felt the least bit as
though nothing were real.

"It’s little Reube Ensor," she said, "he’s hurt."

"Reube Ensor!" repeated the other girl with care, "how did he come upon
this cliff?"

"He’s only six.  He got away from the other children coming from school.
I suppose he wanted to climb. Anyway, he’s hurt his foot awfully.  I’ve
been trying to get him up for ages, but it’s appallingly difficult,
because he’s fainted and he can’t do a thing for himself, you see."

She rushed the words with a sort of friendliness, yet all the while she
was quite absorbed in the girl and hardly knew what it was she said.

"I shall help you," said the stranger; and came along in an active,
sure-footed way, glancing about as she came.

Pamela crossed over Reube’s small body to the right side, to make room
for the other girl who, kneeling, looked at him, at his leg and
foot--Pamela meanwhile looking at her.

"This is the boy of the farm on this hill," said the girl, and raised
her eyes, meeting Pamela’s.  They stared straight at each other, and the
original Pam--so to speak--was conscious rather thankfully that this
interloping "Pam" was not like her in the face.

She was handsomer.  She was very handsome, but she had not Pamela’s
elusive charm and daintiness of outline.

Her skin was fair and untanned; but her eyes were dark, long shaped, and
of a red-brown colour, with dark lashes; her eyebrows were long and
cleanly pencilled, set rather high above her eyes.  Her nose was the
least bit aquiline, and she had those cut-upward nostrils that give a
curiously disdainful air; it was a beautiful nose.  Her mouth was
beautiful too, very well shaped, but with rather thin lips, and her chin
was round and full.

She was certainly a very handsome girl, especially if you added her hair
to the catalogue.  It was golden--shades lighter than Pam’s--a real
bright gold colour, thick and long.

She sat down sideways--all her attitudes were graceful, like Pamela’s.

"Why did you come for him?" she asked, making a sign towards Reube.

"Why did you come after me?" retorted Pamela; she _felt_ instinctively
something the least bit supercilious in the look and manner of the
other.

"I was near the shed where carts are put, and I saw you. I have seen you
before, and I wished to know----" she paused, then went on, skipping
what she "wished to know", "I saw you put your basket on the cliff and
go down.  So I waited to know why you climbed in such bad weather.
After a while I came after you to see what happened.  If you had called
I should have come more quickly."

Pamela in return told why she had come back.  She related what Mrs.
Ensor had said.  "When I got to that cart-shed, it rushed over me all in
one instant that the crying sea-gull was Reube.  I _had_ to come back.
Don’t you have those sort of convictions sometimes--you know--when
there’s no earthly sense in a thing yet you’re perfectly sure it must
be."

The other girl shook her head.

"Oh no.  I don’t feel like that," she said, "I do what I choose, when I
wish to do it, that’s all."

Then she glanced up at the cliff just above them and went on with
decision.

"We cannot take him by that way.  It is less steep the path I came down.
We must go along--then up.  See, now, he is very small and light, we can
carry him between us, it will be easy for two."



                              *CHAPTER X*

                   *Life or Death on the Beak Cliff*


Afterwards, Pamela found she had rather an indistinct recollection of
that journey to the cliff top.  One thing was certain, she could not
have done it without the help of her double.  They carried Reube in a
sort of sling made by their own cotton petticoats.  It was the strange
girl’s notion, and proved quite practical.  Each girl wore a petticoat.
One supported the boy’s head and shoulders, and one his legs--any other
method would have been impossible, because of the injured foot, that is
to say, without causing terrible pain to Reuben.

He came to himself while he was being trussed into this amateur sling,
and stared at the new girl with such interest that Pamela felt it was as
good as "burnt feathers" for curing faintness.

"Hullo, Reube," she said, laughing, "now we shan’t be long--shall we?"

"No, Miss," agreed Reube in a weak voice.

"Hold on this," ordered the stranger.

"Yes, Miss, I’ll ’old to it," he gazed from one girl to the other with
interest.

That was the beginning.  The end was on the top resting near the egg
basket--with Reube like a mummy flat on the grass, and the pair of girls
taking breath.

"I’m awfully obliged to you," said Pamela, "really grateful beyond
words.  I should have had to stay there all night."

"All night, why?" asked the other, turning her head to look curiously at
the speaker.  In that moment Pam found herself wondering if the girl was
really as supercilious as she looked--or whether the expression was
caused by her disdainful eyebrows.

"Why!  But you wouldn’t leave a person like that, would you?"  Pamela
opened her big, grey-blue eyes as she answered with this question.

"Oh, yes.  If it seemed to be the most sensible thing to do.  I should
put him in the safest place possible--then I would go and find help."

"He would have fallen down," said Pamela decidedly, "he wasn’t
conscious, and he couldn’t hold on.  One daren’t be responsible for
leaving him."

The other girl shrugged her shoulders slightly.

"Oh, well--where is the sense to kill two people instead of one?  You
are the most important."

"_I!_  Not so sure," Pam laughed.  "I’m only a woman, and this child
will be a man some day.  We’ve got too many women in England as it
is--heaps too many, and we want all the boys we can get, they are
fearfully important."

"Oh, for that perhaps!  I was thinking of birth.  You are Pamela
Romilly, and your family is distinguished; he is but a common child."

Pamela was veritably startled by such an odd remark. The "common child"
appeared to have much the same feeling, to judge by his round eyes.  He
looked at Pam--to whom he was devoted--anything she said was right, but
he did not understand much about it anyway.

"That sounds rather like the Middle Ages--or the people of the French
Court before the big Revolution, doesn’t it?" she said cautiously, not
wishing to offend this young person of strange views who had helped her
so grandly out of a tight corner; "you see we don’t have that sort of
opinions nowadays.  At least one never hears them--especially since the
war.  It brought us all close together. Our brother fought--and Mrs.
Ensor’s brother fought, and there you are.  We’ve all got on the same
ground and we want to stay like that--you can’t put people back when
they’ve done ripping things, can you?"

Reube closed his eyes.  These were the sentiments he was used to from
Romillys, Shards, Ensors, and Badgers, and all the rest of the valley
folk; he could understand that.

"Did your brother fight?" asked the strange girl quickly.

"Oh, yes--Royal Navy--he’s Lieutenant on the destroyer _Spite_.  Dad’s a
sailor, you know, he commands the battleship _Medusa_, one of the new
ones."

There was a pause, then the other girl rose to her feet.

"My father was killed," she said in a sort of fierce, stifled voice.

Pamela jumped up also.  She was shocked through all her sensitive being.

"Oh," she exclaimed.  "Oh, I’m so horribly sorry.  I oughtn’t to have
talked about the war, one never knows. How splendid--how utterly
splendid!"

The other girl said nothing at all, but made a move to pick up Reuben.
Pamela took her share--and the egg basket, and the two of them started
off with the chrysalis slung between them.  It was easy enough going
through the longish coarse grass which was now so wet, and the drifting
mist that still held.  Pamela was thinking hard, but she did not speak,
that last sentence spoken by the strange girl had been such a shock that
she wanted her to do the talking.  Perhaps matters would be explained
later.

The hour was nearer seven than six o’clock, for all these doings had
taken up time.

One after another questions rose in Pamela’s mind. She was tired and
strained without knowing it, so the questions seemed to be dropped
without answers.  They went on down the long lane between the gorsy
banks.  As the strange girl was leading she had command of the
procession; she made for the cart-shed, went in, and stopped.

"Take your petticoat," she ordered, "then I will put this child on your
back, and open the gate.  You may take him to the farm."

"Oh--but----" began Pamela, disturbed and puzzled.

"I shall not come into the farm, if that is what you wish. It is not
possible," the other cut her short in a peremptory manner; "quick
now--we cannot stand here; someone may come and that would be annoying."

Pamela found herself swept along in spite of herself. She mechanically
did as she was told.  The other girl was so strong and decided.

Just before she lifted little Reuben she said to him:

"Please say nothing to your family about me.  Do you understand?  It is
better for everyone that people do not talk.  If you talk Sir Marmaduke
Shard will be angry with you."

"Yes, Miss," murmured Reube, awestricken and confused. A moment after he
knew nothing, because when he was lifted he fainted.

Pamela wanted to get the business over as quickly as possible.  The boy
was a great anxiety.  Also she felt as though her brain were entirely
confused, and she wanted to set it in order again.  She passed through
the farm-gate--the dog began to bark furiously--then she called.  On the
other side of the stack-yard she saw a man hurrying, it was Ensor, the
farmer; then Mrs. Ensor appeared, and immediately she found herself the
centre of a small crowd, and heard herself saying that they ought to
send for a doctor at once because the foot was very bad.

"It mayn’t be broken, but it’s all wrong," she said.

Ensor did not talk, he was a silent man; everybody else did, and Pamela
had to urge quiet and warm milk at once.

"I had nothing to give him and he was so thirsty, poor mite."

"You look bad enough yourself, Missie.  Down the Beak!  Whoever heard
tell the like.  Naughty boy----"

"Don’t scold him, Mrs. Ensor, he really has been through an awful lot,"
protested Pamela.  "No, I won’t stay a moment.  I must get back as soon
as possible, or my mother will be anxious.  If you like I’ll tell Major
Fraser at Mainsail Cottage, probably he’s in now."

But Mrs. Ensor would not have that--she had, as she told her husband, "a
better notion of what was becoming", so the eldest boy was
despatched--running--with a good deal of elbow action--and Pamela took
her leave then, and went soberly surrounded by an atmosphere of intense
loving gratitude.  It was hardly spoken--it was in the air.

She felt as though she had small right to it, because, had it not been
for the stranger, she must have been still on the face of that awful
cliff--with dusk coming on, and the fog so chill.  She shivered an
instant, but at the same time almost her heart gave a little bound of
excitement.

She had met the other girl; her own double!  And who was she?  What was
her story?  Where had she come from?

"I’ll ask her," thought Pam, "she will be waiting in the cart-shed."

But no one was in the cart-shed.  The place was bleak and shadowy, full
of mist.  The girl was gone.

It was a blow.  Freed from the burden and care of the rescued Reube,
Pamela had pictured that she and the girl would walk "home"--she did not
know where that was, but believed it to be Woodrising--they would talk.
She would learn the girl’s name, and hear where she came from and why
she was at Woodrising.

This break off was very irritating, because there was such a great deal
of mystery, and it has been said that Pamela was inquisitive, or at
anyrate always eager to know the "why" of puzzling things.  Then,
suddenly, a few words spoken rushed to her mind.  The girl had told
Reube that if he talked Sir Marmaduke Shard would be angry.  Well, that
settled it from one point of view.  Sir Marmaduke had brought someone
secretly to Bell Bay; this was the person he had brought--he was behind
the mystery!

"Woodrising is his house--they must have gone there, I thought that in
the beginning.  Now I wonder if that silly little Chipman creature is
taking care of this girl."

Pamela frowned as she reasoned it out.  There is a game in which people
hunt for hidden things and are told whether they are getting "warmer",
as they come near it, or "colder", as they get farther away.

Pamela was getting very warm indeed!

Just at that moment she saw someone in front of her. It was past the
turn into the cliff road, and she was making straight for the steep drop
into Bell Bay.  Clouds and the persistent fog together were making an
evening much too dull for the date, now days were lengthening out so
much. For a moment or two Pamela was uncertain, then she realized who
they were.  Two figures--one tall, with the unmistakable walk of a
flat-footed person who turns her toes in; the other small, very dapper
and neatly made, walking with short steps.

The Floweret, and Hughie.

She was startled almost into calling; then it occurred to her to shirk
persistent questions by keeping behind till they got home.  However,
that did not present itself as the right course to a member of the
Romilly family, so Pamela decided that first thoughts were best and she
shouted cheerfully.

Hughie stopped short, and checked his companion, who looked in every
direction but the right one before she became aware of Pamela’s slim
figure speeding down towards them.  Then she waved both her basket and
her waterproof cloak, and in so doing knocked Hughie’s hat off, while
some of the contents of the basket fell on the road.

Hughie salved them, miraculously unbroken, and replaced them in the
basket with precision.

"How delightful, dear Pamela!" cried Miss Chance beaming.  "Now where do
you spring from?  Do you know the most odd thing happened a short time
ago!  As Hughie and I were coming slowly up from the cove at
Ramsworthy--very slowly--I was quite convinced that I saw _you_ and
another girl exactly your height, you seemed to be carrying something.
Just for one moment I saw you in the mist, against the sky line, as it
were.  But fog is so terribly deceptive that I mistrusted my own eyes.
It was only for an instant--you seemed to be just on the top of the
cliff--then you disappeared."

"Well," said Pam, not at all afraid of the Floweret’s acuteness--because
it did not exist, "I was on the cliff top, and I was carrying something.
The fact is, Miss Chance, I’ve had a pretty lively adventure, and it’s a
bit of a mercy--it’s a real big mercy, when one comes to think of it,
that I’m here to tell my tale."

She walked on with them, carrying her eggs, and recounted her story,
very briskly--simply leaving out her double.

She told how she went over the cliff, because of the oddness of the
sea-bird scream, found little Reuben, and hauled him out of danger.  She
said very little, laying no stress on the terrible difficulty and danger
of the feat.

Hughie made no remark.  Miss Chance asked many questions.

"Dear Pamela," she cried, "I can’t bear to think of it!  How did you
manage to lift him if his foot was injured?"

Pamela said she used her petticoat as a sort of sling.

"_Petticoat_--Oh!" gasped the Floweret horror-stricken, and pursued the
matter no further in that direction.  "We cannot be thankful enough that
you are spared," she concluded.

"I gave him to the Ensors," went on Pamela, skating lightly over the
interval.  "Ensor was in the stack-yard--just going off to hunt--he’d
never have found Reube, I’m certain.  They sent off Joey to get Doctor
Fraser--look there they come--I’m so glad."

This created a diversion.  Miss Chance was thrilled also because she
adored Major Fraser--and all brave men, for that matter--she was an
excellent woman with high ideals, though her feet were flat.

The parties met and stopped for explanations.

"What’s this story about little Reube found by you on the Beak, Miss
Pam?" asked the Major, "Joey is a bit tongue-tied!  Here, young man, run
on and tell your mother I’m coming at once."

This order he gave in parenthesis, and then said to Pamela again:

"It seems to be a miraculous happening all round. Lucky for the child
that you heard him call--and still greater luck that you were able to
get him to the top!  But I suppose it was not the worst part of the
Beak?"

Pamela avoided the look of shrewd inquiry.

"It wasn’t precipitous, of course," she said, "we should be having tea
with the mermaids if it had been."

"Didn’t the fog make it slippery?" asked Major Fraser.

"Oh yes, rather.  However, we did it," then meeting his eyes she went
on: "I shall learn first aid after this, Major Fraser.  Do you know I
hadn’t a notion what to do with his foot.  He fainted, poor tiny mite,
and I hadn’t a drain of water except mist on my handkerchief!  It was
simply beastly.  I do hope you won’t find his foot broken, but really it
did seem to me quite the wrong way round."

"Well, I must get on and see to this wounded man--as for you, Miss Pam,
perhaps Miss Chance will kindly act deputy for me and see that you have
some strong soup and go to bed early."

He went on, thinking as he walked--not about Reuben Ensor.  He was
certain Pamela had kept back some important detail of her adventure.  He
knew the Beak.  He knew the physical powers of a girl like Pamela, and
the dead weight of a boy of six years old.

What was she keeping back, and why?

Meanwhile Pamela, having had quite enough of questions, and being
heartily sick of giving answers with a reserve behind, changed the
subject completely by demanding explanation from Miss Chance as to why
and wherefore she was--where she was?  Also what had become of the boat.

The Floweret fell into the trap all standing--never seeing that it was
intended to draw her mind from the Beak question.  She had a very pallid
countenance.  Pamela had noticed that when they met; and she proceeded
to explain it by the story of the day’s sail.

Salterne, she said, was delightful.  She had shopped to her heart’s
content; all the parcels were on the yawl. The sail down the river too
was perfectly charming.

"Do you know, dear Pamela," said poor Miss Chance, "I felt quite sure I
should prove a most competent sailor, and become quickly inured to the
ups and downs of sea-life. Indeed, I told dear Adrian that I hoped to
enrol myself as one of the crew of the _Messenger_ now that Sir
Marmaduke has lent her to the family.  Adrian did not say much, and I
must admit that when I got outside--I mean when the yacht was really at
sea--it became a different matter."

"Were you bad--sick, I mean?" asked Pamela.

"Oh, _very_."

"How wretched for you.  I am so sorry, Miss Chance, but you know one
does get like that--when it is jumpy, and when it’s very calm too.  You
mustn’t mind about it. Nelson used to be sick, didn’t he?"

"The great sailor Collingwood was martyr to _mal de mer_. Yes, dear, one
must comfort oneself with such examples. And really," added Miss Chance
with a touch of very earnest feeling, "I feel rather thankful that,
unlike them, my duty does not oblige me to pursue the experiment.  My
work lies on land, and I think I shall remain on terra firma in future."

"Shan’t you try sailing any more then?" asked Pamela in rather an
innocent voice.

"No, dear, I think not," answered Miss Chance with fervour.

"But where is _Messenger_?" went on Pam, "I can see they dropped you at
the Ramsworthy Cove, but what are they doing?  Coming home, or going
back?"

"They’ll come home if they can," informed Hughie, speaking for the first
time; "but Addie thought the tide mightn’t last out.  If it doesn’t, I’m
to tell Mum not to bother, because they’ll just run back to the harbour
and anchor inside the bar.  It would be ripping.  I wish I could have
stayed."

"Mother might have worried about your being on the yawl, anchored out,"
said Pamela.

"She needn’t," said Hughie rather sorrowfully--then he went on with more
vigour, "some day I shall anchor in all sorts of places.  In the Nile,
and in the Zambesi, and in the Lawrence, and in the Danube, and crowds
besides. It’s only just waiting till then.  I don’t much care."

In a spirit of philosophy he lapsed into silence, opening the gate on to
the Bell House lawn with an absent air.

There was so much to tell Mrs. Romilly that her attention was distracted
from the possible troubles of the yawl; besides, Miss Chance was so very
sincere in her assurances about the calm.

Pamela added that it was as safe inside the bar of Salterne river as at
the bridge.

"Much safer than Bell Bay."

"Addie says they’ll come on the very early tide and be here by seven
o’clock," Hughie repeated his message with care.  "He says there is
always a breeze in the very earliest morning."

"Did he tell you to tell me that, darling?" asked his mother, looking
into the earnest eyes that held hers.

"He told me, because Miss Chance was so awfully sick that she couldn’t
listen," answered Hughie.

Pamela said she would go to bed when Hughie did, and as Major Fraser’s
order was definite, she had the soup and went.  About that part of the
adventures related to her, the point most tragic, in Mrs. Romilly’s
opinion, was Reuben’s injured foot.  She was deeply distressed about
Mrs. Ensor, and made plans for sending up in the morning--inquiries and
dainties.

"How fortunate we are to have such a doctor as Major Fraser resting
here," she said to Miss Chance, "how thankful I am dear Pam heard the
child.  He might have died. I don’t know the Beak, Miss Chance, is it
very steep?"

The Floweret opined that it was certainly steep, she also mentioned the
detail of the petticoat sling.

"Pamela told me that was how she managed to get the boy up, it was a
most original idea you know, Mrs. Romilly, but Pam is so full of
resource, dear child--it is wonderful. When we met Major Fraser he was
in a hurry, but he asked questions.  I rather fancied he was surprised
she was able to do it, and you know I could not well mention the means
she employed, it would not have been quite nice, I thought."

"I’ll tell him," said Mrs. Romilly, "if he is puzzled. Of course, he
would be interested to know when you consider Pam’s age and limits.
It’s not like a man.  Reube is a tiny boy for his age, but they are all
fairly sturdy, and if it was very steep--Oh, my poor little Pam--I wish
I’d been there!  Yes, she is clever, and so plucky."

Meanwhile the person who was "clever and so plucky" had undressed in the
shortest time possible, got into bed and fallen asleep almost before she
laid her head down. For once in a way Pamela was worn out; not only had
the long strain and hard physical exertion tried her, but she was in a
mental fog about her mysterious double.

What to do about it!  What to do----

Ought she to tell her mother?  Did it matter?  If it did not matter, why
was Sir Marmaduke so secret, and why did the girl herself refuse to go
into Clawtol Farm, and lurk about in this queer way?  An ordinary
seaside visitor would come to the shore; why then did she never appear
in the cove or among the rocks?

All these questions chased each other through her mind while she
undressed and brushed out her long hair.  Then, just before she lay
down, came the realization of one fact. This strange girl appeared only
very early, or late--never when Bell Bay was busy with ordinary life.
Mollie saw her quite early.  Hughie saw her in the evening.  Crow and
Adrian saw her after dark, very late indeed.  Finally Pamela had seen
her in late afternoon, but then there was such a thick fog that she
could elude anyone.

"Oh, bother it all," thought Pam, "no good worrying any way, one can’t
do any more to-night."

Then she was asleep.



                              *CHAPTER XI*

                    *In which Adrian holds a decided
                           opinion about Pam*


No one should count on anything.  We say that often, yet we do the
opposite.  Pamela thought no one could bother her again that night, yet
she was wakened about two hours after she fell asleep by the cautious
opening of her door.

There was moonlight still, of course.  The moon rose later, and was
veiled by fog still, but grey light made things in her room visible.

"Pam!" it was Hughie’s voice; he slid round the edge of the door, closed
it after him, and came towards the bed on tiptoes, a quaint little
figure in blue-and-white striped pyjamas.

"Well?" answered Pamela, not in the least realizing that no cause but an
important matter would have made Hughie do this.  She was hardly awake.

Hughie seated himself on the edge of the bed and looked at her.

"Are you awake, Pam, now?" he inquired.

"Yes, I am--now----"

"Well, look here----"

"Look here what?  Why did you come?"  Pam was still confused.

"A person threw a thing into my window.  It went whack on the floor--not
a bump--just a teeny whack.  Then I got up and found it.  See----"
Hughie stretched out his hand.

Pamela gathered her wits together and sat up.  Then she bent forward to
look, and took the something from his hand.  She turned it over with
caution, surprised, and still befogged.

"What on earth!" she murmured, and stopped.

"I’ll light your candle," said Hughie.

Pamela glanced up.

"Get my torch, Midget, and snap it on while I look. We don’t want a
candle, it might be seen outside--or inside, for that matter; we don’t
need an audience."

Hughie did as he was asked, and stood by her side, bringing the little
bright light to bear on the parcel she held.  It was very small.  A
longish foreign envelope, containing apparently some little heavy things
of irregular size that felt like pebbles.  Pamela tore it open.
Certainly pebbles, little gravel ones not even washed, were in the
envelope, and a folded bit of paper.

Within the note were these words, written in a pointed narrow hand, not
like that usual with schoolgirls.

"I wish to speak with you.  Come to the Clawtol wood at 8.30 to-morrow."

There was no signature.

Pamela read it twice, then she said in a very wideawake tone:

"_Cheek!_"

Hughie watched her with interest.  He was not able to master handwriting
yet, but his wits were keen.

"Is it the other girl, Pam?" he asked.

"Yes."

"Who is she, then?"

"Goodness knows," exclaimed Pamela, "but she’s, well--she thinks a most
awful lot of herself.  Whether her opinion is justified I suppose her
friends know best.  _I_ know nothing at all, yet."

"Does she want you to do something, then?"

"My dear Midget, she doesn’t ask.  She coolly _orders_ me to meet her at
8.30 to-morrow--she writes ’to-morrow’ and never says whether it’s
morning or evening--to begin with, that’s idiotic!  And why does she
throw it into your window, I’d like to know?  She must be raving mad,
prowling about our house at--what time is it--eleven o’clock. It simply
isn’t decent."

Pamela was both annoyed and startled, at the same time she was
intrigued, and a tiny bit flattered.  This surprising stranger, who bore
a very distinguished stamp on her personality, had picked out
her--Pamela--as an acquaintance, not Christobel!  Well, it was odd; she
read the note again, and looked at the dusty little pebbles in the
envelope.

"She put those in to weight the letter, of course--but why your window?"

"She meant it for yours," suggested Hughie.

"Hum--how did she know these two rooms were yours and mine?"  Then a
light broke on Pamela’s mind.  "I know, Midget--she’s been pumping Mrs.
Trewby and Baker--I mean Mrs. Chipman, and they’ve told her things. Both
of them know how we live and what we do with ourselves.  She wasn’t sure
quite which window, so she chucked it into the first one, which happens
to be yours. I say though, it’s awful cheek!  Fancy if anybody saw her."

"Fancy if Addie and Crow were on the yawl and saw her in the garden--I
say," Hughie chuckled, "they’d say it was you, Pam--they’d be certain
this time."

Pamela lay back on her pillow and frowned.

"I wish she’d leave me alone, Midget.  I’ve a feeling in my bones that
she’ll get me into a mess before she’s done. I don’t believe she has a
shred of consideration, now she knows we are alike."

"Has she seen you, Pam?" asked Hughie with keen interest.

"Seen me!  Why, I perfectly forgot I’ve never told you a thing.  Here,
climb on the foot of the bed, and I’ll tell you exactly what happened
to-day.  I was so fearfully tired, and so busy warding off all the
idiotic questions, that I never remembered I hadn’t told you."

Hughie climbed up as suggested, packing himself like an Indian idol as
usual, and listened to the true and complete version of the rescue on
the Beak cliff.

When it was ended he said:

"Well, I thought it was fearfully funny that you got up Reube all alone.
I’ve been down there----"

"You have," interrupted Pamela with sharp disapproval, "then you’re not
to do it again, Midget.  Swear you won’t."

Silence.

"Well--look here," Pamela compromised, "if you won’t promise, will you
tell me when you go and let me come too. Honestly, it isn’t safe for
you.  Reube slipped and was nearly killed.  Only my going saved him."

"I’ll tell you, Pam," agreed Hughie, impressed by her anxious tones.

"That’s all right--on your honour, Midget, you’ve promised.  Well, to go
back to this woman, genuinely I shouldn’t have got up alone with that
child.  It was so slippery--one simply could not get a foothold to
grip."

"Major Fraser was thinking about it while he talked to us," remarked
Hughie dryly, "_he_ was wondering, I saw him."

"Well, he’ll have to wonder," answered Pamela shortly, "I’m getting fed
up with this girl.  By the way, Midget, her face isn’t like mine.  She’s
frightfully pretty."

"So are you," said her brother with firmness.

Pamela turned pink.

"Oh no--not pretty.  I may be interesting--I hope I am.  And I know my
hair’s decent.  But really and honestly this girl is lovely--and
yet--she didn’t exactly draw one. Some people make you love them on the
spot."

"Like Miss Lasarge," said Hughie.

"Yes, she’s simply adorable--and that reminds me of an idea that came on
me at supper.  I can’t go into it now--but remember to remind me, would
you, I might forget with all this rush of confusion.  Oh dear!  How
tiresome people are sometimes--what was I saying?"

"You said the girl was pretty, and she didn’t draw you," reminded Hughie
with painstaking care, "was she nice, Pam?"

"I couldn’t say.  She’s clever.  It was she thought of the petticoat.
She climbs like a cat; she isn’t a bit nervous--somehow she has a look
of being used to it.  There’s something about her that impresses
one--her nose is a bit hooky."  Pamela paused and considered the matter,
Hughie watched her intently; then she began again:

"She’s only told me one thing, Midget, and that came up by accident.
Somehow brothers and fathers happened to be mentioned, and she said
_her_ father was killed in the war.  Just that.  She looked so queer
when she said it, kind of fierce.  She’s got funny eyes--dark eyes, but
not black--or hazel, there’s a sort of tinge of red in them, and when
she told me that, the red shone."

There was another pause, then Hughie remarked:

"We _did_ see you, Pam."

"Who did?"

"Why don’t you remember Miss Chance said that we saw you in the mist
against the sky, and thought it was two Pams carrying something."

"I’d forgotten.  Yes, you must have."

"I didn’t say a word.  She just thought she was mistaken afterwards.
But I did rather wonder about it--especially when I felt pretty sure you
couldn’t have got up the Beak."

Pamela laughed.

"You have sense, Midget--heaps.  Now, look here, you’d better go to bed,
I’m sleepy."

Hughie slid off the bed.

"Shall you go to Clawtol Wood?" he asked.

"I don’t know.  I’m not sure.  Besides, how can I tell which 8.30 she
means?"

"She can’t mean breakfast-time," suggested her brother with reason.
"They’d tell her we have it at half past eight, and usually wait about
till nine in holidays.  Besides, it’s a bad time for hiding oneself
considering everybody in Bell Bay is going back to work."

"So it is.  Well, I must say going to meet people at 8.30 in the evening
is rather a vulgar sort of action," Pamela lay down as she gave this
distinctly sensible opinion.  "I don’t care about going.  I don’t think
I will, Midget."

"I wouldn’t," remarked Hughie decidedly, and went off--silently as he
entered.

The crew of the yawl was good as its word, and turned up at
breakfast-time--half past eight.  Indeed they were in the cove much
earlier, and riding on the moorings like a white swan on a pond.  It was
calm and fresh as fairyland. Mist seemed to have lasted most of the
night, but cleared with sunrise, leaving a wonderful feeling of
cleanness.

Christobel and Adrian were in high spirits, they had done what they most
wished; anchored out all night, and slept on board--on their own
responsibility, and they felt entirely satisfied with the experience,
also, anxious to do it again.  The more they did, the more they might be
allowed to do without bother or question, for when Mrs. Romilly
understood that they were as safe as in Penberthy’s day, she would cease
to trouble about them.

Addie shouted up to her window, and imparted news in cheerful tones.
Crow went in to have a bath and do her hair before the bell rang.

There was a general stir of excitement.

In the middle of breakfast Adrian said:

"Pam was up as early as we were.  I congratulate you, my dear
girl--never saw anything so athletic in my life! Talk about our risks!
They were jolly small compared to your plan of speeding about all over
the Beak at sunrise--jolly slippy hour too."

Pamela sat up with a sort of a start, and sat staring at the speaker
while a flush of colour crept over her face, saying nothing at first.

"No good you saying you were in bed--this time," continued Adrian with a
good-natured emphasis on the last two words, "we saw you, as plain as we
saw the old Beak--ripping it looked, too--didn’t we, Crow?"

"We saw a girl climbing down the Beak--who looked exactly like Pam----"

"Well, who else could it be _but_ Pam," interrupted Adrian, "need we
haggle over a thing like that?  If we were in London, or even Peterock,
one might see a few samples of girls, but not in Bell Bay."

Everyone was looking at Pamela, and for one wild moment she contemplated
saying she was the person seen, just to stop the conversation.  Then she
remembered that nothing is so silly--apart from wrong--as a fib, even a
harmless fib, because you are bound to tangle yourself up in a network
of bother, and afterwards, when you do tell the truth, people will not
believe.

"I wasn’t on the Beak this morning," she said; "I didn’t get up till
nearly eight."

There was silence of a tense kind.  Adrian raised his eyebrows and
looked at Christobel.  Christobel winced, gazed at her plate and turned
pink.  Mrs. Romilly glanced from one face to the other, puzzled.

Hughie came to the rescue.

"Pam got up soon before eight.  I know, because when she opened her door
I heard."

Poor Pamela cast a grateful look towards her faithful ally.

Then the Floweret--faintly conscious of uneasiness, but believing in
everybody’s good faith, as usual--burst into the conversation.

"I call that quite an odd coincidence--don’t you, dear Mrs. Romilly?  To
think that Pamela should have risked her life to save that of another,
on the Beak last evening, while we were all in ignorance.  And that this
morning when she was not there, Adrian should fancy she was! Most
strange, is it not?"

Nobody entered into argument as to the strangeness of the Floweret’s
"coincidence", but Crow demanded eagerly what was the story about Pam.

She was told--by everybody except Pamela, who sat listening.  Christobel
was intensely interested; Adrian asked many questions.  Finally, it was
decided that someone must go up to Clawtol and inquire about Reuben;
then the party dispersed, the decision having been reached that Crow and
Adrian would go up that morning, carrying certain delicacies for Reube;
and Mrs. Romilly would go herself to see Mrs. Ensor later in the
afternoon, probably after tea.

Nothing particular happened to the elder pair as they walked up, taking
the shorter and easier way through Crown Hill park, except that Adrian
gave it as his assured conviction--first, that Pamela had been on the
Beak that morning; secondly, that she had not rescued Reube Ensor.

"Addie, how _can_ you!" said Crow, almost tearful, "besides, it’s silly.
Hughie heard her get up; and how could she be telling a story about the
Beak?  Reube was brought up by someone--there he is, badly hurt.  I
think you carry things too far sometimes."

"My dear friend," pronounced Adrian weightily, "I assure you on my
honour that it would take every inch of muscle _I’ve_ got to haul that
child up the Beak."

"But, Addie, Pam is as active as a cat!"

"She may be, but she can’t do impossible things.  That cliff is fairly
precipitous, and the mist makes the whole show as greasy as butter.  I
tell you, Crow----"

"Perhaps she didn’t come up the worst bit," urged Christobel eagerly.

"The place we saw her on this morning is the worst bit--well, as bad as
any.  It’s all bad.  What did she tell that lie for, Crow, I ask you?
_I_ saw her.  You saw her. Rum thing is she must have seen us.  She was
there the whole time we took getting from opposite the lighthouse to the
north of the Beak.  Just crawling up and down, and moving along.  Why,
the thing was patent.  It was blazing. I swear I don’t understand what
Pamela is up to."

Christobel was on the point of suggesting a lame excuse; because she
certainly had seen Pamela, when they became aware of a lady wandering
over the grass in the wake of a King Charles spaniel whose nose was
buttoned up so high that it seemed miraculous he could live upside down,
as it were.  He was attached to a long lead, and as he ran round tree
trunks the lady became a fixture at unexpected moments, because she
never let go whatever happened.  She did not see the Romillys because
she was as short-sighted as the spaniel.

Christobel hurried towards her, with a cry of "Good morning, Auntie A.,"
unwound the dog and the lady, and started them again on a clear space.

"My dear children," said Auntie A., beaming, "how nice to see you both,
and looking so well too, but surely it is not summer holidays yet--what?
Ah, I should have remembered.  I saw you last week I believe, dear
Adrian, before Mollie went.  I miss her so much, especially in the
matter of Charles and his exercise--I do assure you he sets me at
defiance.  Indeed he does.  The spirit of the age, is it not?  So sad!
Excuse me, dear Christobel, but is my veil on my hat, I believe Dickens
put it there when I came out, I feel certain she must have done so, yet
I cannot find it."

"It is under your chin, Auntie A.," said Crow gently and unsmiling, "I
expect it got crooked and you pulled it down.  Shall I undo it, and
start again?"

"If you would, dear, I should be most grateful," said Miss Ashington,
beaming, and she stood still while Christobel undid the veil, took it
off, and put it on again neatly over the brim of her wide hat.  She
stood still, but she talked earnestly all the time about land girls and
farming, which was her special hobby at the moment.

Adrian teased the King Charles.  He hated it, and its way of making
snuffling noises and barks like coughs. Auntie A. never noticed that the
dog was being teased, but she heard the coughing barks, and said she
must go home and give poor Charles some tea made from stewed herbs. She
had invented the cure herself.  She and Charles drank it--at least it
was forced down the spaniel’s throat when he became extra snuffly.

"I really think he ought to have something, Miss Ashington," said Adrian
gravely, "he sounds as though he’d got congestion of the lungs, or
bronchitis, doesn’t he, Crow?"

Christobel said: "Oh no, I don’t think it’s as bad as that,"
reproachfully, but Miss Ashington turned homeward; she was pulling the
edge of her veil--already it was coming slowly down.

"Of course you want to know about poor little what’s-his-name," she
said, drifting on from the farm questions. "I sent to inquire, because
the milk boy told Mrs. Homer about the affair.  Dear Pamela seems to
have rescued the child in a most heroic manner.  So difficult to climb
up cliff’s with a boy on your back----"

"On her back," echoed Christobel in a surprised tone.

"Mrs. Ensor--or somebody--Oh yes, little Joe said she was carrying the
child on her back, and he was unconscious. Really, you know, my dear
children, I think steps should be taken to obtain the Humane Society’s
medal for dear Pamela."

"Isn’t that to do with drowning, though?" murmured Crow.

"Well, dear, the child _would_ have been drowned had he fallen from the
Beak.  It is practically the same thing.  I will write to my brother and
put the matter before him--something really must be done.  I feel that
we ought not to lose sight of your sister’s courageous act.  Sir
Marmaduke would, I am certain, be the first to insist----"

She was stopped suddenly by finding herself entangled in the lead.
Charles had gone twice round a tree stem.

"Really," murmured Auntie A., "really, this is _most_----" the rest of
the protest was lost in the folds of the veil which was coming off the
brim of her hat again.

Adrian picked up Charles and, walking backwards twice round the tree
trunk, set the confusion clear.

Miss Ashington did not laugh--she had not the faintest sense of humour,
but a very large heart.  She beamed with gratitude from a space between
the veil and the hat.

"Thank you, dear Adrian, how good of you.  We must go home.  I feel
convinced poor Charles is not himself."

Charles was not himself, if his normal condition was good temper.  He
was enraged with his persecutor and the worst of it was that he found it
impossible to explain, except in snuffles, which did not count.

"Rosemary tea," murmured Aunt A., jerking the string, "or was it sage?"

"I should give him laurel water, Miss Ashington," said Adrian in a
serious tone, "it has the most lasting effect on dogs of that breed."

"Laurel water!  Really, I must remember that.  Thank you, dear
Adrian--come, Charles, come----"

She went--with the veil round her shoulders, and Charles coughing
defiance at the enemy.  Charles had heard the parting advice and knew
perfectly well that "laurel water" was only a polite name for prussic
acid.

"How could you, Addie?" Christobel expostulated.

"Oh, it does them good--they both enjoy it," said her brother, "you
heard what she said about Pamela."

Christobel nodded.  She was pleased.  There was no doubt in the world
that Pam had behaved like a heroine, yet Addie was trying to make her
out something of a criminal! The matter was still more decided when the
two reached Clawtol.  They were overwhelmed with gratitude and honour by
little Mrs. Ensor in the first place, and Ensor himself in the second.

These two had removed their son from Pamela’s shoulders, and referred
several times to his disconnected recollections of that awful time on
the cliff front.

"They ’adn’t a drop of water, sir," said Mrs. Ensor to Adrian, her eyes
full of tears, "if I’d a known, my cup o’ tea would ’ave choked me.  And
boy says--Miss Pam takes ’er handkercher, and lays it on the grass--to
get misty like, then she puts it in ’is mouth.  ’Suck that, Reube,’ says
she ’an I wish I could do better for you.’  Wonderful I call it.
_Wonderful_.  And she nobbut a child ’erself when it comes to years.
He’s asleep now, missie, or you could see him."

Ensor came to the gate with his visitors.  There was quite a ceremonial
of respect in his manner.  Christobel gave the message that Mrs. Romilly
would call in the evening, and the two went off home by the cliff road.

Adrian said nothing much till they reached the much-discussed summit.
Then he went out over the ground, slowly descending, looking about as he
went.

"Don’t, Addie," protested Crow, following, "it’s simply beastly.  Just
look!"  She stood still.

After some minutes her brother came back.

"No time now," he said, "but I shall have a try later. In any case
though, I shall stick to my opinion.  I bet you everything I possess,
old girl, that Pamela couldn’t have done that job alone."



                             *CHAPTER XII*

                   *In which Pam defies the Countess*


Pamela was growing angry.  This seldom happened with her, because though
she had a temper "of her own", as Mrs. Jeep declared, it was well under
control.  She had a great contempt for people who are angry in a
"senseless" way, that is to say, without adequate reason.  In the
present situation she considered she had reason, and therefore
indignation was brewing up into serious anger.

"Why can’t people leave other people’s affairs alone," said Pamela to
herself.  What business had this handsome strange girl to mix up in
Romilly affairs?  She melted occasionally when she remembered the affair
of the cliff. It was well never to forget that the cool courage of this
inconvenient "double" had saved her from tortures indescribable, and
probably death.  One must never forget gratitude, and a debt of honour
like that; at the same time poor Pamela was grievously hurt at Adrian’s
suspicions and scepticism.

The worst of it was, they were true.

Addie knew, of course, she could not have done the work alone.  Yet she
dare not speak.  She had heard what the stranger said to Reube--Sir
Marmaduke Shard was at the back of this mystery, he was a great K.C. and
a person of untold wisdom; if she talked she might set on foot a whole
host of mischief; she might offend the Shards and endanger the present
joys of the yawl.  She might destroy the friendship between the Bell
House and Crown Hill.

Pamela’s imagination saw herself a perfect outcast, scorned by both
families, because she had not been able to hold her tongue for a brief
period.

The conditions were quite distinct to her eyes.  Sir Marmaduke, having
brought down the girl in secrecy--telling no one, not even Mrs. Romilly
or his own daughter--must intend it to remain a secret, for the present
anyway. And to prove it came the girl’s warning to Reube.

It was plain that she went out early or late.  She had been on the Beak
again that morning at seven o’clock.  Now was that by permission?
Pamela believed it was not.  She believed that her double gave the
keepers at Woodrising a most anxious time.

"She would," muttered Pam, with her head against the window frame, "she
would--she hasn’t got that nose for nothing.  She may trample on that
wretched Chipman, and give Mrs. Trewby jaundice, but she shan’t trample
on me.  I can’t help looking like her, but there it ends--no human power
shall turn me into a door-mat--to be ordered about by that nose."

These metaphors were confused certainly, but the intention was very
distinct.  Pamela had made up her mind about that message thrown into
Hughie’s window.  She was going to proceed on direct lines--and at once.
There, in the window-seat of her room, she had reasoned it out and come
to the conclusion that she must take decided action.

Nothing should make her meet the girl in secret.  She would go to
Woodrising after tea, ask to see her, and tell her so, once for all.

Hughie asked no questions that day, he was a tactful child.  Miss Chance
had a headache, and the two elders were going out in the dinghy to fish
for whiting, taking their tea.  Pamela felt a pang when Crow said:
"Won’t you ever come in the boat, Pam?"  It looked as though she had
private concealments, and the horrible part was that she had--only they
were honourable and with excellent intentions.

She excused herself with such anxious humility that Christobel’s
sympathy was with her entirely.  Adrian said nothing.

Mrs. Romilly started for Clawtol escorted by Hughie. Then Pamela Romilly
made preparations to put her foot down with credit to her family.

She brushed her long hair, changed her blouse, and put on a different
hat, a shady one.  She got out clean washed gauntlet gloves, and
polished her brown shoes.  Then she went up to Woodrising.

She met no one by the way, and all the time was conscious of surprise at
her own boldness--for no one can deny it was bold.

Arrived outside the carriage-gate in the wall she found it was locked.
There was a pair of big gates with little spikes along the top, and in
one of these was a small gate.

"Anyone would think it was a lunatic asylum," thought the girl, and from
that sprang a sudden amazing question: "Was it?  Was this strange girl a
’funny person’?  She did not look ’cracked’," as Pam breathlessly put
it, but one never knows!

The only thing to do was to summon Mrs. Trewby by the gate bell.  So she
rang it.  As she stood waiting, she recalled that Mrs. Trewby had told
Mrs. Jeep she always kept the gate locked, because of tramps and
trippers.

"Anybody wouldn’t believe how folk make free with a person’s property,"
Mrs. Trewby had said.  "Here, there, and everywhere--and to sweep up
after them is not what I’m paid to do."  So the gate was kept locked
because of excursionists, not lunatics.

Mrs. Trewby came with slow steps, and Pamela heard her sigh as she undid
the chain.  The small gate opened, and the two looked at each other
through the opening.

"Good afternoon," said Pamela politely, "could I see the young lady who
is staying here?"

Mrs. Trewby looked as though someone had fired a squib in her ear.  Her
sallow face and melancholy eyes became distracted and rather frightened.

"Young lady," she echoed, and moved the gate a few inches as though to
close it.

"Yes.  We needn’t pretend, need we, Mrs. Trewby. I’ve seen her, and she
sent me a note last evening asking me to meet her.  I must speak to
her."

"Sent you a note, miss!"  Mrs. Trewby repeated these words in a startled
manner.  "Who ever brought it?  If it was boy----"

In this way Mrs. Trewby let the cat quite out of the bag, and made it
impossible to deny the presence of the young lady at Woodrising.

"She brought it herself," said Pamela, "if you want to know how she gave
it in, you’d better ask her, I’m not here to tell things; I’m here to
speak to her, it’s important."

Mrs. Trewby stood in awe of the Romillys, and at that moment she was
almost afraid of Pamela.

"Well, miss," she conceded, "if you’ll step inside, I’ll tell Mrs.
Chipman.  She will be in a way, but I can ask her.  It’s no business of
mine--what I say is ’attend to your own business, it’ll take all your
time’--nobody can say I’ve put myself forward to interfere; it’s not my
nature; I never was one for forwardness, that I will say."

These comments on her own character were made by Mrs. Trewby as she shut
the gate, locked it, and led the way across the gravel sweep to the
square white porch in the square white house-front.  Here again was a
double-locked door she opened, and Mrs. Trewby led Pamela into the dim
hall; then, with a murmured assertion that it was not her fault, she
melted into some back passage.

In the briefest time, and before Pamela had time to do more than take in
the fact that the hall ran through the house to a glass door at the end,
and that there seemed to be several rooms, Mrs. Chipman burst upon her
sight.

She was a little woman, stout, and extremely bustling and buxom.  She
wore the style of garment that used to be called a habit bodice--tight
and firm, and bristling with bead trimming and buttons.  Her neck was
short, but she had a beaded collar fastened by a brooch.  Nothing on
earth could have been more respectable and farther from any idea of
mystery than Mrs. Chipman.

"Good evening, Miss Pamela," she said in a quick bustling voice,
suppressed to a low note, "I find Mrs. Trewby’s communication difficult
of comprehension.  Do I understand that you have a message for--me?"

"I wish to see the young lady who is staying here, Mrs. Chipman, and to
make things clear I may as well say that I’ve spoken to her.  And she
sent me a note--I’ve really come about the note."

"Excuse me, Miss Pamela, might I request----"  Mrs. Chipman motioned
towards a door with a flourish of her fat hand, and then led the way to
it, flung it open and let Pamela pass in, then she shut the door and
practically stood with her back to it, thus barring the way out.

Pamela glanced round expecting to find the person she wanted, but there
was no one in the room but themselves. It was apparently a dining-room,
comfortably furnished in a very solid manner, and having a window at the
end looking over the lawns.

Mrs. Chipman swept on without taking breath.

"I realized some such demand from words conveyed by Mrs. Trewby, but the
mental capacity of persons dwelling in the country--as a
permanency--being to a great extent limited, I believed she had mistaken
your words.  I am loath indeed to deny any member of the family what
would appear a most reasonable request, but I assure you, Miss Pamela, I
stand in a position of trust--nay, more--a position of great
responsibility, and therefore I grieve to say that I could not
accede--that is to say if there is a young lady at all.  To begin with I
cannot admit that there is a young lady----"

"Then you must be sillier than people think, Mrs. Chipman," said Pamela
blandly, "we’ve all seen her--only the others take her for me----"

"That is so--the case with many----"

"Well, I don’t like it then," Pamela cut her short with raised tone.  "I
don’t like it, and I won’t bear the burden of the things she does.  So
far _I_ am the only person who has spoken to her--in our family--but
unless you let me see her now, and speak to her, and settle things up, I
will tell them all--every one."

Mrs. Chipman tried to speak.  Pamela continued firmly,

"I don’t want to be the least rude, but if you are responsible and all
the rest of it, why don’t you look after her? Do you know she threw a
note into my brother’s window last night about eleven, or half-past
ten?"

Mrs. Chipman gave a squeak like a trapped mouse, then she pressed a hand
to her tight bodice.

"Surely, surely, miss--I cannot credit----"

"It was Hughie’s window, the next to mine," went on Pamela, "_he_
brought it in to me, because it was addressed to me.  How she knew our
rooms I can’t say--but that doesn’t matter--the point is, what was she
doing in our grounds at that time?"

Then flashed into Pamela’s mind the power of the whip she held--she went
on:

"What would Sir Marmaduke say, Mrs. Chipman?  If you won’t let me see
her, I shall certainly ask _him_ if I may--and explain matters."

Mrs. Chipman was "taken all aback", like a full-rigged ship up in the
wind.  She hesitated.

"Far be it from me, Miss Pamela, to place obstacles----"

"That’s all right then," said Pam, "can I see her now?"

At that moment a bell pealed somewhere in the house. Really pealed, with
the jangling force of a violently pulled bell.

"If you will excuse me, miss," said Mrs. Chipman, visibly perturbed.
She opened the door, and hurried out into the hall, Pamela following
closely with interest very wide awake.

Again the bell was rung, more forcefully than ever.

"Dear, oh dear!" muttered Mrs. Chipman, increasing her pace.

Pamela giggled.

But the bell-puller was unreasonably impatient.  A door on the right
hand of the hall--same side as the room they had quitted, but the last
door--opened sharply, and the girl under discussion appeared.  She wore
no hat, and held a book in her hand.

"I rang twice," she said, "I heard voices, and----"

Pamela came forward.  Drawn up to her full height, her carriage and
manner were at least as haughty as those of the other girl.

"_I_ was talking to Mrs. Chipman," she said.  "As a matter of fact I
came to see you, and she was doubtful about it; so I told her I
insisted."

"Excuse me, Countess," burst in Mrs. Chipman, "but I must protest now,
and once for all against irregular conduct.  I stand in the position of
guardian.  The grounds are open to you, and you have the option of
gravitation to any portion of the wood, orchards, or gardens--there is
no excuse----"

"You talk too much," said the girl irritably, "be silent. You are not a
guardian, you are my maid--Sir Marmaduke is my guardian, for the time.
Come into this room, Miss Romilly, I will receive you here."

She turned round and went back into the drawing-room, leaving Mrs.
Chipman blown out like an angry bird with feathers on end.

Pamela followed--thinking hard, "receive me!  Cheek!" and the other
revelation--"So Countess wasn’t a dog!  I wonder what sort of Countess!"

In the drawing-room with the door closed, the two girls faced each other
standing.  And Pamela was again struck by the beauty and imperious style
of this odd "double". Also, she had to admit how wonderfully alike they
were in general effect.

Pamela began the conversation.

"I’ve come about your--note," she said with a little gesture of her hand
towards her skirt pocket, "I suppose you don’t realize that you mistook
the room and threw it into my brother’s window?"

"Oh, the little boy’s room.  He gave it to you?"

"Yes."

"Did he read it?"

"I don’t understand you," said Pam frowning.

"Did he open it when he picked it up in his room?"

"Naturally not," Pamela stiffened, "you don’t seem to understand.  No
decent people open other people’s letters."

Countess shrugged her shoulders.

"Just so.  That is well then.  But if you received my note why did you
not come to the wood?"

"Come!  When?"

"The hour that I appointed.  8.30."

Pamela raised her eyebrows.

"So you expected me to go to Clawtol at half-past eight this morning,
because you wished it!  Doesn’t it occur to you that you
are--well--rather presumptuous? Why--on--earth--should I?"

Pamela fired off each word, as it were, with a separate emphasis.

The girl seemed a little taken aback by this way of looking at things.

"Wretched creature," thought Pamela suddenly, with the broad instinct of
fair play natural to girls of her upbringing, "she’s always had her own
way.  She thinks herself a little tin god!  She doesn’t understand!"

"Can I sit down?" she said aloud, and without waiting for an answer took
her seat on a big sofa, near the window.

The other girl moved a step or two nearer, and sat down at the other end
of the same sofa.

"Well, look here," went on Pamela, "let’s understand each other, if you
don’t mind, then there won’t be any bother."

"Is there some bother?" asked the other girl.

Pamela controlled her temper with effort.  The assumption of superiority
was so aggravating.

"There will be a good deal of bother, if you do unreasonable things,"
she went on, trying to be indifferent. "If you want to send notes would
you kindly leave them at the front door, because----"

"Impossible," interrupted the Countess decidedly, "you see I am not
supposed to go outside these grounds. If I were to walk to your house
openly I should betray myself.  I do not stay in the grounds of course,
because I wish to go outside.  But I employ my own means."

Pamela looked at her with a frustrated feeling.  If only the girl were
not so horribly "cock-sure"!

"Well, look here," she began at another point, "will you tell me your
name?  I find it a bit difficult to talk without knowing it."

A sort of glint flashed in the stranger’s eyes.  And Pamela’s natural
perceptions caused her to read the thought behind that glint on the
instant.

The girl imagined she was fishing for information!

"You can call me ’Countess’, if you wish to give me a name," she
answered, "I have eight names, but I do not tell them to people in this
place.  You heard my maid say ’Countess’.  Very well, then, you can also
say Countess."

"Oh, thanks--that’s very obliging of you," said Pamela, quite
unimpressed, "it’s as you please, of course.  And after that, to get to
the reason of my visit.  I naturally supposed that you meant me to meet
you at 8.30 to-night."

"Oh--to-night will do," allowed the Countess quite amiably, "I wished
this morning, because I was in a hurry, but to-night will do as you have
misunderstood my meaning."

"_Neither_ would do, simply because I’ve no intention of meeting you
anywhere, or at any time.  It is just as well you should understand."

There was a pause.  Then Pamela took up her parable again--rather
enjoying herself.

"As I said to you a few minutes ago, why on earth should I?  _I_ don’t
want to be bothered with meeting anybody on the sly--we don’t do it in
our family.  The others would soon notice and think I was doing a
low-down thing.  I don’t know you--I don’t know your name.  You are no
business of mine.  I don’t care what you’ve got to say if it is
secret--if it isn’t, well, be open.  That’s the whole position, please
understand I came here because I wish to be open, and to tell you
honestly."

The Countess sat still with her eyes gazing at the carpet, her glance
had dropped from Pamela’s expressive face and large clear eyes.

"You are unkind," she said, after a moment of silence. "I have no
one--no one."

She clasped her hands together rigidly on her lap, and Pam saw that they
shook.  The corners of her proud mouth twitched a little.  But she held
herself severely in check, and controlled evident emotion.

_This_ was worse than anything to a girl with a heart like Pamela’s.

"I’m sorry," she said, "awfully sorry--but, what did you want me for?"

She was annoyed with herself for asking, it was a weakness, she felt
that.

Countess raised her eyes to meet Pam’s.  There was a something the least
bit softer over their hard brightness.

"I am troubled," she said, "and wished to ask advice from you.  When we
carried that boy up the cliff yesterday I dropped my brooch--it was a
safety pin of rather large size, of gold, and with my first letter and
the crown in diamonds.  My mother gave it to me on my birthday when I
was twelve years old--I would not lose it for the world.--It was in my
blouse--here, you see," she touched the opening of her silk shirt.  "I
don’t know what I should do, I cannot find it--but I cannot offer a
reward--what shall I do?"

"You were on the cliff this morning looking for it, weren’t you?" asked
Pamela, full of sympathy, and realizing the reason for Adrian’s attack
on herself.

Countess nodded.

"Oh, for a long while, everywhere."

"My brother saw you.  They were coming back from Salterne in the yawl,
and passed under the Beak about seven o’clock.  They thought it was _I_,
you see," Pamela made a little grimace of disgust, "and said what was I
doing there? I said I wasn’t there."

"Did they believe you?" asked Countess, with a sudden interest that made
her seem more girlish.

"Crow did."

"’Crow’!"

"I beg your pardon, I mean Christobel, my elder sister. She is Mollie
Shard’s friend, and she’s going to be presented fairly soon--she’s done
with school--but we are awfully good chums.  _She_ believed me, of
course.  She’d sooner mistrust her own eyes than my word, because we
both know we wouldn’t tell each other crammers."

"Is that lies?"

"Yes.  She knows I wouldn’t.  _You_ wouldn’t tell your sister lies when
you knew she trusted you, would you?"

Countess shrugged her shoulders with a faint air of amusement.

"I have no sister, so--well!  But I should tell any person what I like,
and whatever suited me to say.  No one is bound to incriminate
themselves.  It is not ’lies’, as you call it--that is business, and
common-sense."

"Can’t agree with you at all," said Pamela icily.  "’Business and
common-sense to tell lies when it paid’.  Nice sort of ideas!"

She sat silent for a moment, then she asked:

"Are you at school?"

"Since I was ten years old, I have stayed--with a family--in England."

"Oh, then you are not _English_?"  Pamela felt a sense of relief, though
she always tried hard not to be narrow.

"No," said the Countess, adding, after a moment’s pause, "I was to go to
school next term after the summer holidays."

"Shall you now?"

"I don’t know.  I dare say not.  I went for a while, it was horrible.  I
left soon; I don’t know about anything."

"No wonder she left soon," thought Pamela, "her talk is simply full of
’I’s’, never heard anyone say so many."  Again there was silence,
because it was not easy to keep up conversation; the situation was so
cramped and artificial to a girl of "open-air" temperament.  Pamela
began wondering if it would not be better to go now; she had said her
say, and wanted to end it all.

"Well, I’m awfully sorry about your brooch," she pulled up her gloves,
and made a move to stand up.  "If I hear that anyone has found it, what
shall I do?  I can’t claim it. Shall I give it to the Police--or what
about Miss Ashington?"

"Who is Miss Ashington?  Don’t go yet--I want to talk to you--I want to
know things."

Pamela settled down rather uneasily, for the Countess had laid a
restraining hand on her arm.

"Oh, Miss Ashington is Lady Shard’s sister," she answered the first
question simply.

"Yes, of course, but I forgot.  Chipman told me that, I remember now.
No, how could I tell her, it would betray me, since the brooch is lost
on the cliff, or the road. I cannot tell what I shall do--besides this
Miss Ashington knows nothing of me--no one knows."

Again she conveyed an impression to Pamela that she was not telling the
truth.  Whether it was a true impression or not, it stiffened Pamela’s
resolution.

"I’m afraid I can’t think of anything, then," she said, "if you don’t
know anyone _really_, and you won’t let Mrs. Chipman offer a reward.  If
I find it, I’ll leave it at the door with Mrs. Trewby.  And now I must
go, really and honestly."

"But you will come and see me," protested the Countess.

"How can I?  You say yourself that Sir Marmaduke has put you here, and
wishes no one to know.  There must be some good reason for him to
arrange that--he’s an awfully kind, nice man, we all love him," said
Pamela warmly.  "I won’t do sly things against his wish.  Why, he’s
letting us use his lovely yacht now."

"That white yacht is his?" asked the other girl.

Pamela assented.

"And you go out on it when he is away?"

"He is allowing us to use her all the summer till he comes in
September--it’s awfully kind."

"Then who goes with you?" demanded the Countess; she seemed interested.

"No one, we manage her ourselves.  There used to be a man, but they want
him in the gardens at Crown Hill, so we go quite alone."

"Go where?"

"Oh, anywhere along the coast here.  This morning Adrian and Christobel
were coming from Salterne.  They got caught in that thunderstorm the
other day, and ran in there up to the harbour, left the yacht, and came
back by train.  Yesterday they went by train to fetch her, and came back
early this morning."

Pamela was feeling a little more friendly as she talked about the
_Messenger_.  Memories rushed into her mind of the evening of the
thunderstorm day and how the others had mistaken the Countess for her.

"That reminds me," she said, "on the evening of the thunderstorm day did
you go out--to Folly Ho, on the Peterock Road, and come home late, quite
late--half-past nine.  Oh, nearly ten?"

The other girl considered.  Not as though she did not remember, but as
though she was not sure whether she would tell or no.

Pamela got up from her seat and walked a few steps; they walked together
to the middle of the room, and paused there to say good-bye.

"Yes, no doubt I went out.  I often do," said the Countess rather
cautiously.

"Well, Addie and Crow--the others I mean--saw you. They were coming from
the station.  Didn’t he whistle?"

"If you say so, I expect he did.  I think I heard a whistle one night."

"He said you looked round and then ran.  They thought it was I, and they
were cross with me."

At this moment Pamela noticed that the other girl’s attention was fixed
upon a long mirror on the wall opposite She also looked, and saw the two
full-length figures, each with its long tail of beautiful bright hair.
The same height! The same figure!  The same dress!

"Oh!" ejaculated Pam in startled dismay.

The Countess laughed, for the first time.

Afterwards, as Pamela hurried home with rather a perturbed mind,
thinking puzzled thoughts, the picture of that pair of girls was
distinct, and tiresome.  She did not like it.



                             *CHAPTER XIII*

                    *Double "A" and a Diamond Crown*


In a day or two Pamela had recovered from those pricking fears.  After
all, there was nothing to worry about. The Countess would not worry her
any more, because she had been firm.  "The great thing is," thought Pam,
"to be firm.  To let people really see that you mean what you say, then
they won’t ’try it on’."  She felt that the Countess had been inclined
to "try it on".  There was no doubt about that.  Now it was ended, and
no one a penny the worse.  Who she was, or what she did at Woodrising
must remain a mystery, for the present anyway.  It was tantalizing, but,
as the girl had offered no explanation herself, Pamela felt it would be
impossible to pry or ask servants, even if they would answer.  She was
sorry about the brooch, sorry for the loneliness of this strange young
person; all the same, she felt instinctively that the Countess could
very well take care of herself.

The sun shone, the wind blew, not too hard.  Pamela, with something of
thankfulness, threw herself into the boating plans, and went out fishing
for whiting, which the family ate joyfully.

Three or four days of peace went by, and then a positive bomb of
annoyance fell into her pleasure, scattering destruction on all sides.

Adrian put off things often.  He forgot, or seemed to for the moment,
but never for good.  There was a strong underlying tenacity in his
nature; he always did--ultimately--what he said he would do.  Therefore,
after apparently forgetting what he had said about inspecting the Beak
cliff, he went off one day before breakfast--after an early bathe--and
went down over the ground that had been so much discussed.

The result was startling.

When Pamela came down to breakfast that morning she found everybody
absorbed in the examination of some small thing Mrs. Romilly was
holding.  She, sitting in her place behind the urn, was turning this
article in her hands, and Adrian, who had given it to her, was leaning
over the back of her chair, Crow stooping over the tea-cups, Hughie
enjoying a good view under people’s arms, and Miss Chance pretending to
see for fear of giving trouble.

Christobel looked up as Pamela entered.

"Oh, Pam--Addie has been on the Beak, and he has found the most adorable
brooch--I wish to goodness Mum would feel we might keep it!"

"Why not? findings--keepings," said Adrian.  "I present it to Mother.
It’s a ripper."

"Thank you, darling--but it wouldn’t be possible to keep it."  Mrs.
Romilly held up the small object for Pamela to see.

Before she looked, she guessed, then taking it in her hand saw the guess
was correct.

A gold safety pin about an inch and a half long, attached to it, the
loveliest decoration, a double "A", that is two capital A’s entwined,
and above them a tiny coronet, the whole made in diamonds.  It was
stained with earth and damp when brought in, and Mrs. Romilly, putting
it into a cup, washed it with hot water and rubbed it on her soft
handkerchief.  It was lovely, and obviously very valuable.

Pamela gazed at it speechless, turning it over in her hands, trying to
think--but feeling too startled.

"Jolly lucky, wasn’t I, Pam?"  Adrian bent over and took the jewel from
her.

"On the Beak?" questioned Pamela uncertainly.

"Yes.  Just the place where you hauled up little Ensor. I ’reconstructed
the crime’, as the French Police do; result of reconstruction, can’t
think how you managed to do it!  I couldn’t.  Found it took all the
running I could do to keep in the same place, so to speak.  Stiffish
climb with no encumbrances.  Just in a tuft of grass I found this thing
stuck; it looked as though someone had dropped it and then trodden on
it, squeezing it down fairly firm, but not burying it."

"How funny!" commented Pamela weakly.  She felt it was weak, and that
made her turn pink.  Then, knowing she had turned pink, nervousness
seized her and she became very white.

Christobel was looking at her, wondering, surprise visible in her honest
eyes.

"I want Mum to keep it," said Adrian, "why shouldn’t she?  It’s a
mystery how it got there.  It may have been stuck in that tuft for
years.  The person who owned it may be dead."

"Oh no, we must hand it over to the Police," said Mrs. Romilly.  There
was a general cry of "oh Mother!" as she took the brooch back again into
her hand, and examined h even more critically.  In that moment a thought
struck her, and she looked up at her eager family.

"Crow dear--why shouldn’t it be Auntie A’s?  Why, of course, my dear
children--why not?  Consider the letters, ’A’ and ’A’ entwined--it no
doubt stands for Adelaide Ashington.  After all, it is rather rare to
have two ’A’s’ for your initials."

"But, Mummy, the crown----" suggested Crow.

"Coronet?  Why not?  Miss Ashington and Lady Shard are daughters of Lord
Stilborough.  They might have a coronet in a jewel, I daresay--just for
ornament.  Crow, isn’t Lady Shard’s name ’Amelia’?"

Christobel said it was, also suggested that Mollie’s name was Amelia
Mary.

"Oh well, then," went on Mrs. Romilly, "I’m afraid, Addie dear, there
isn’t much mystery.

"But look here, Mother," Adrian interrupted eagerly, for he disapproved
strongly of this explanation, "I say--you’re not going to make me
believe that either Lady Shard or Auntie A. wandered about the Beak
cliff!"

"Oh no, not they, of course.  But don’t you see, Addie, the thing might
have been dropped and picked up by someone who wasn’t honest.  It may
even have been stolen. You know how utterly vague they both are, dear
souls, they’ll forget and never miss it.  Then the person who had it
might have gone on the cliff front--some servant--man-servant from
London, say--chauffeurs, anybody--I propose that someone goes up to
Crown Hill and hands it over to Auntie A.  It is most certainly theirs."

"Once it gets into Miss Ashington’s hands no one will see it again,"
said Pamela desperately.

"That sounds rather an awkward remark," commented Adrian, as they all
took their places round the table.

"I don’t mean she’ll steal it," explained Pam, very hot and worried,
"but what’s the good of talking; everybody knows her.  Whether it is
hers or not she’ll forget Mother has sent it to her, and things will
drift vaguely."

"What would you do then?" asked Crow.

"Oh, give it to the Police, and tell them to advertise it. Then the real
owner will claim it."

So said Pamela in the despairing hope of giving a chance to the
Countess, who would claim, of course, through Sir Marmaduke, if she did
not wish to appear in the matter.

Adrian agreed with her, quite unexpectedly, for which she felt grateful.

"There’s a lot of sense in Pam’s notion, Mother," he said, "Auntie A. is
no more and no less than the White Queen in _Alice Through the
Looking-glass_--with just as much sense.  She’s an old dear, we all
know--but she’ll give the thing to Charles to eat as soon as not; or
hand it to a beggar in mistake for sixpence!  She doesn’t know the
difference between her own hat and a church hassock."

"_Darling_," expostulated Mrs. Romilly, "is it as bad as that?"

"Well, Mum--you know Auntie A.  I vote for the Police Station at
Ramsworthy.  Let me take it there."

"I think we ought to try Crown Hill first," said his mother, quietly
persistent, as always, now the idea had once lodged in her brain.
"Who’ll go?"

A wild impulse rushed into Pamela’s brain.  Should she offer to take it,
and return it to its rightful owner, trusting to the fact that Miss
Ashington would never remember whether she had received it or not?  But
the thought occurred only to be rejected.  It wouldn’t do at all.  It
would be horrid, and after all, suppose the brooch was given to Auntie
A., all she had to do was to tell the Countess, who could write to Sir
Marmaduke Shard and explain that the strange jewel was hers.  That was
simple enough.

When the party dispersed after breakfast Pamela felt better.  The path
seemed less encumbered.  She decided to write to the Countess and to
take the letter herself and leave it at the gate.  Miss Chance and
Hughie conveyed the precious parcel to Crown Hill with a letter from
Mrs. Romilly, and the other two went off to the bay to overhaul
_Messenger_ for a grand clean up and polish.

After several attempts Pamela wrote a note that satisfied her.

"Your safety pin brooch has been found on the Beak cliff and sent to
Miss Adelaide Ashington at Crown Hill. Because the initials are ’A.A.’
my mother thinks it must be hers or Lady Shard’s.  If you apply to them,
no doubt you can get it back.--P".

Having read this once or twice and finding it met the case, Pamela
folded the note neatly, sealed it with her own little silver seal, and
went out.  She did not go straight up the road to Woodrising, but across
the valley, round through Crown Hill park, into the woods at the inland
end, and down the hill from the station.

Finding the road clear she rang the gate bell with vigour, handed the
message to Mrs. Trewby, with the sentence, "no answer, say, please," and
departed--not down the road past Fuchsia Cottage, but back up towards
Folly Ho, and over the hill behind on to the Bell Ridge above the
church, and so home, down the steep to the Bell House--in time for
lunch.  The only person she met was Mr. John Badger of Champles, a large
and heavy man with the smallest possible twinkling eyes.  There was no
harm in Mr. Badger--no harm at all, he was a kind man, but he had one
weakness and that was gossip.  The largeness of his body was the very
opposite extreme to the size of his mind--which could not well have been
smaller.  He was driving sheep from one fenced bit of his fields to
another--there was not much for them to eat on the Bell Ridge Downs and
they had to be kept to measured allowances or they would have wandered
away to look for something better.

"All alone, missie?" said Mr. Badger in friendly spirit.

"I like walking alone," answered Pamela.

"Well, well, no harm can’t come to you these parts.  No tramps don’t
come up along these ways.  You don’t see no strangers about--can’t call
Mrs. Chipman to Woodrising a stranger, same as she lived down along
Crown Hill some fifteen years."

"Oh," murmured Pamela, which was hardly a remark at all, but she felt as
though her mind had best remain a blank to all these questions.  As for
discussing them, she did not wish to think about them, even.

"What a lovely view there is from here, Mr. Badger!" she rushed into
generalities, "don’t you wonder if sheep see anything?  Can they enjoy a
view, or do they see nothing at all?"

Mr. Badger opined that all the sheep cared about was a "belly-full",
which was no doubt very true.

Pamela left him gazing after her, and wondering why she had come up
there all alone.  Mr. Badger saw mysteries and scandals in every
movement of his neighbours, which made life very interesting for him.

Pamela could see "plumb down" into Bell Bay as she went lower and lower
on a slope that rivalled the Beak, but was better holding-ground because
of ferns and stubby gorse.  It seemed as though you could take a flying
jump on to the roof of the Bell House, among the twisted chimneys. She
could see the _Messenger_ at her moorings, looking like the loveliest
toy--white deck, white hull, and gold line glittering in the sunshine.
She saw the dinghy put off from her and come ashore--infinitely tiny,
with wee figures rowing, dressed in white, Addie and Crow.  She heartily
wished that brooch had never been found; or if it was to be found, that
it might have been her fate to find it.  It was bad luck Adrian coming
into the muddle.  However, the Countess had only to write to Sir
Marmaduke and he could claim the jewel from Auntie A. and settle the
whole affair within three days.  It was no use bothering about it any
longer.

In this mood Pamela arrived at home, looking lovely and happy, only to
be at once reminded of the business again by Miss Chance’s report.

She and Hughie came across the lawn with the others, and the first thing
Pam heard was Adrian’s eager information to his mother, who was sitting
on the terrace outside the drawing-room windows.

"Mother, the Floweret says Auntie A. swears it isn’t hers.  She’ll have
to give it up."

"But is it Lady Shard’s?" asked Mrs. Romilly.

"Miss Ashington appeared uncertain as to that--indeed she was a little
confused----"

"She always is," Adrian interrupted.

"Hush, Addie; let Miss Chance tell me what was said."

"It really was not easy to gather her opinion, dear Mrs. Romilly,
because it seemed that Miss Ashington had been administering a decoction
of herbs--I think on Adrian’s advice--to the spaniel.  She was anxious
and perturbed as she thought the poor dog was suffering."

"Oh, laurel water!  My only aunt, what a priceless situation!" murmured
Adrian, and collapsed on the grass.

"I _hope_ he won’t die," said Crow, anxiously.

"What did Addie advise?" inquired her mother.

Christobel was careful.

"Mummy, she told us she was going to make tea out of sage or--I don’t
know--some filth she’d heard or read about it.  I expect she’s given
Charles a dose; I don’t wonder he’s in pain.  But, Miss Chance, did she
say anything about Lady Shard and the brooch?  That is the thing that
matters."

"I understood her to say that she would inquire, but her conversation
was disconnected."

"You bet it was," said Adrian from his seat on the edge of the terrace.

"We must leave it for the present.  There’s the lunch bell--hurry,
everybody," advised Mrs. Romilly, getting up and passing an arm through
Christobel’s.

"Mother, I wish we’d never sent it to Crown Hill," said Crow, as they
went in at the big window.  "Will you promise to ask about its fate?
Don’t let’s lose it.  After all, Addie found it, and failing an owner he
ought to have it."

Mrs. Romilly promised to ask after a decent interval, and the matter
dropped for the moment.

Nothing more happened about it except that, missing Hughie, Pamela
sought him in "the cave" later on, where he was absorbed in making a
doll’s ulster out of a bit of checked fluffy material that had been
given to Hennery Doe to make strips of, wherewith to fasten down the
arms of plum trees on the north wall.  Hughie, seeing infinite
possibilities in the bit of stuff, had calmly annexed it, and it was now
taking shape, the "arm-sleeves" proving a tough problem, owing to the
thickness of the stuff and the smallness of the doll.

"Well," said the workman, when Pam looked over the barrier.

"There’s a new bother, Midget."

"I know.  I saw your face.  Is it about that girl?"

Pamela explained about the brooch; telling the story of it.

"It’s rather tiresome," allowed Hughie, turning the coat inside out.

"I wonder what she’ll do?"  Pam’s tone was worried.

"She might go and ask for it."

"She couldn’t ask Miss Ashington, she doesn’t know her," said Pamela
quickly.

"She’s the kind of person who might do things you didn’t think about.  I
don’t care for that sort of girl."  Hughie spoke as one with life-long
experience.  "You’d better look out, Pam."

"How can I look out?" retorted Pamela almost irritably. She was never
cross with Hughie.

"Well," said the Midget, recognizing that she had much excuse, "we may
as well both look out, for I’m pretty sure she’s rather a tiresome
person."

That was all the comfort Pamela received, but poor as it was, in a way
it did comfort her; there was something so imperturbable about Hughie,
it made her feel less inclined to exaggerate.

Evening fell, rather dark, because the moon rose late. Miss Adelaide
Ashington sat outside in the broad tessellated piazza, that ran along
the south-west front of Crown Hill house.  It was a handsome house;
white, in the Italian style; the gardens were beautiful when in good
order. Auntie A. had her breakfast outside as a rule, often her tea--but
not dinner, because lights being necessary--for eating at any rate, when
your dinner-hour is late--she was afraid moths and other creatures would
fly into the lamps.  So she sat out after dinner, in the growing
shadows, sipped coffee, and comforted Charles, who was recovering from
internal disorder.

A tall slim figure came towards her from the gardens, walking with easy
assurance among the shadowy flowerbeds. Charles heaved himself up on his
cushion, and barked weightily in a strangled manner.  Miss Ashington,
looking about for the cause, said:

"Well--well--well--it’s only our dear Pamela--what a fuss--what a fuss."

Charles choked in his endeavours to express disapproval, and "our dear
Pamela" came up to the piazza and greeted his mistress.

She said it was a lovely evening, but her feet were wet with the dew;
she leaned against a pillar, and, turning up one slim foot, looked at
the sole of her shoe.  Miss Ashington looked at it also, in a vague kind
of manner--she could not see, but she was disturbed to know it was wet.

"Surely it is late for you to be out, dear child," said Auntie A.,
"_hush_, Charles, be quiet, you know very well who it is--now let me
call Dickens and she will find you dry shoes--what about Mollie’s--I
really cannot allow----"

"But I must go back at once," said the girl, "please do not call
anyone," as Miss Ashington hunted on her table for the brass hand-bell
that was supposed to be at her elbow, but was always underneath other
things, "please do not. I came from my mother to say, may she have the
safety-pin brooch with the diamond crown that Adrian found on the
cliff--that she sent to you--because the owner is found."

"Ah, the brooch with A initials--yes--yes--yes--now _where_," murmured
Auntie A.  "I think I had better ring for Dickens----" she hunted for
the bell and the table fell over.

Charles coughed himself into convulsions.

"Dear, dear--if you can find the bell--please ring it, dear child."

"Dear child" was on her knee hunting, with the bell safely covered by
her skirt.  She was searching among the overturned articles with the
desperate hope of finding what she came for, instinct suggesting that it
might easily be actually on the table.

It was.  That is to say, it had been put into Miss Ashington’s wicker
work-basket, which, having fallen over also, upside down, had emptied
its contents on the tiled floor. The brass bell clattered, the reels of
cotton spun about driving Charles into delirium, but the searcher cared
for none of these things, for she had seen the sudden glint of the
diamonds in a ray of light that the drawing-room lamps threw out across
the pavement.

"Here it is," she said, with a ring of joy in her voice, "let me make
this right."

She set the table up, bundled the obvious contents of the work-basket
back into place, seized the papers, books, wool, finally the bell--and
put them on the table--in doing so she rang the bell, and on the instant
was upon her feet, straightening her shady hat.

"Thank you, thank you, Miss Ashington--and I must now go--my shoes are
so wet.  You will forgive me that I go at once."

A maid appeared, coming out of the window in answer to the bell summons.

As Miss Ashington looked round to speak to her, Pamela melted into the
shadows like a wraith.

"Is that you, Farr?"  Auntie A. was rather flustered. "We had an
accident.  No, I didn’t ring--not intentionally--the table fell over.
Take care you don’t slip on a reel, they are so treacherous and the
pavement is very----  Oh, _poor_ little Charles, he was so upset and
quite resented a visitor at this time of night!"

"You must have been surprised yourself, ma’am," said Farr, making
conversation as she chased reels, thimbles, and mysterious little
bundles that were perfectly useless.

"Miss Pamela came for the diamond brooch--I think I told you that Mrs.
Romilly sent it to me believing it to be mine because of the initial.
Mr. Adrian discovered it--on the cliff--at least I fancy that was
what--thank you, Farr----  You see my poor Charles was so ill this
morning, that--however, I’d quite forgotten where I put it, but it fell
out of the work-basket when----  Of course a summer night is not like
any other time of year, but I could not help feeling that Miss Pamela
should have had an escort."

"I saw Miss Romilly from the window, ma’am," said Farr, picking up the
coffee tray from its special stool, "tall young lady she’s growing; very
stylish too; ’er ’air is beautiful."

"So it is--so it is--lovely hair.  I’m very fond of that child.  I hope
she has not caught cold.  I fancied she was a little hoarse to-night,
quite likely if she runs about like this in such a heavy dew.  I think
I’ll come in now, Farr, if you will kindly carry Charles’ basket."



                             *CHAPTER XIV*

                   *"If anybody dies, it’ll be her,"
                              said Hughie*


It must have been about a week after that when Hughie, passing by
Pamela’s door with a view to making himself tidy for lunch, heard a
sound of stifled sobbing.  He stood still, quite shocked.  Here was an
unprecedented state of things, and one outside his experience, because
Pam was a cheerful interested person, always busy, never morbid. It was
horrible.

Hughie had been in "the cave" since breakfast and was on his way to his
room rather "delicately" like King Agag, because he knew his mother
would wish him to be out of doors, and he had shirked the boat and the
bay to finish some particular job of his own devising.  Meanwhile
something had been happening, obviously.  But what?

He opened the door which was not locked, and put his head into the room.
Pamela was lying on her bed face downwards, crying bitterly.

Hughie shut the door, then he walked close up to the bed, and very very
gently pulled the heavy plait of hair that fell across her shoulders and
on to the counterpane. Immediately there was a change in the tone of the
sobs.  A choke--then silence--then a faint cough, then a sigh--Pamela
changed her position a little, and felt for a lost handkerchief.
Hughie, noting the missing article on the pillow, put it into her hand.
A minute after that she raised herself into a sitting posture, and
looked at him; her pretty eyes were heavy and swelled, and her lips
trembled.

"Pam," said Hughie, cut to the heart yet reserved, "I expect it’s that
woman?"

Pamela nodded and blew her nose.

"Well, what’s she been doing now?"  To show that he was come to stop,
Hughie dropped noiselessly to the floor and sat cross-legged, clasping
an ankle in either hand.

Pamela cleared her throat and said in a tone that tried hard to be
indifferent and casual.

"Mother thinks--I’ve stolen that brooch--and told a lie--because----"
stifled silence ensued.

"Well," said Hughie, "that’s very ridiculous."

"Not when you hear--what it’s about----" again there was a pause, then
starting on a lower note altogether Pamela said:

"Mother wanted to hear about the brooch, Addie made her.  So, after a
week, you see, she wrote to Miss Ashington and asked what had happened
and if it was hers--I mean if the brooch was.  This morning Auntie A.
sent down a note--all scrawly and covered with blots and half the words
left out as usual," this description was emphasized bitterly, "and she
said--she said that I fetched the brooch on the same evening you and
Miss Chance took it--you remember, Midget, a week ago to-day."

"I know," agreed Hughie, "the morning Charles ate the laurel water."

"Yes, well she says, _I_ came in the evening about nine, or half-past
nine, and said Mother sent me for the brooch, and she gave it to me--she
says a good deal more; something about her work-basket being upset; but
anyway _I_ took the brooch away, and there’s an end to it."

"Why, it was the girl--my goodness, she’s a funny person!" said Hughie.

"She’s a beast.  She’s a perfect beast without any decency or sense of
honour," declared Pamela in a stormy burst of indignation.  "I told her
to write to Sir Marmaduke and ask him to claim it from Auntie A.  It was
perfectly simple.  Then she goes and plays this low trick again."

"You’d better tell about her," suggested Hughie with interest.

"I said I wouldn’t.  She said it would get her into awful trouble."

"Well, she gets you into trouble."

"I know, but, Midget, she’s all alone--her mother seems to be dead; her
father was killed in the War.  Fancy being shut up with Chipman and no
one decent to speak to!  You see, I don’t _blame_ her for trying to get
her brooch back--she might do that----"

"It was rather clever," Hughie chuckled suddenly, "a sort of short cut,
Pam."

"I daresay, but people oughtn’t to use short cuts that hurt other people
so awfully."

"She’s selfish," said Hughie gravely, "_fearfully_ selfish, she doesn’t
care when the others get hurt."

There was a long pause; then Pamela announced that she wasn’t coming
down to dinner; she told him that Mrs. Romilly had gone off to Crown
Hill to see Miss Ashington.

"What did Mum say to you?" asked Hughie.

"Nothing.  Not a word--she gave me the letter to read."

"What did you say?"

"I was feeling so sick and awful, I don’t know what I said--except that
I didn’t go at all.  It sounded so helpless in the face of that letter."

"I think I’ll go to dinner," announced Hughie suddenly, and he picked
himself up, dusting himself in an incomplete manner.

"You can have my brush and comb, Midget, if you like," suggested Pamela,
lying down again in a languid manner.  "Oh dear, I wish I was dead.
People say when there are two of a person one always dies.  I hope it’ll
be me."

This was very gloomy.  Hughie gazed at her from under his brows as he
brushed his hair.  Then he looked at his hands, appeared satisfied that
their condition would pass the eagle-eyed inspection of the Floweret,
and walked to the door.  From there he said:

"If anybody dies it’ll be her," and went, closing the door quietly
behind him.  Pamela felt comforted.

Dinner was proceeding in the dining-room, in a horribly uncomfortable
manner, because the three persons present all knew of this amazing state
of things, and not one knew what to say.  Hughie slid into his chair and
was helped to mince without comment.  Miss Chance was doing her best to
keep up a pretence that nothing was the matter, and welcomed her
youngest pupil as an ally, but Hughie was glum.

"Now," said the Floweret hopefully, "_do_ let us settle about a picnic.
I am sure Hughie will side with me. Adrian, what about an alliance
between boats and pedestrians--to Ramsworthy Cove, for instance--or
farther; the sands at Netheroot looked so inviting when we passed the
other day, I always contend there are no such sands anywhere. Come now,
what do you say?"

Adrian was talking to Crow in a low voice.  He glanced up.

"Beg your pardon, Miss Chance, I didn’t hear what you said;" then,
dropping his voice,

"It’s not a bit of good shutting one’s eyes to facts, Crow. I confess I
don’t understand this latest business--it sounds insane--but Pamela’s
hiding something up her sleeve; besides, I’ll swear she never got little
Ensor up the Beak by----"

"Oh, don’t go on about that, Addie.  I’m sick of the very name of that
cliff.  If the Ensors say she did, and Reuben declares she carried
him--he told me so again when I went yesterday--it’s idiotic to keep on
nagging about it. Let’s drop the Beak once for all, and as for this
latest business, as you call it, I won’t believe it.  I refuse to
believe it on the authority of Auntie A.; she’s so--well--perhaps I’d
better not say what I think."

It was seldom that Crow was heard to speak thus savagely. She was quite
unlike herself, just as Pamela appeared to be!  But she was angry,
chiefly with circumstances, and in any case nothing should induce her to
believe such a thing about dear old Pam.  It was outrageous.  Pam, who
was the soul of generosity and straightforwardness, to go to Miss
Ashington and tell a lie to get hold of a valuable brooch!  The thing
was a glaring insult to her character and to the whole Romilly family.
That was Crow’s opinion.

Hughie looked up at his eldest sister with approval. Christobel was so
gentle that an attack from her was an event.

"What do you think, Hughie?" she asked.

"It’s silly," was the brief answer, "and can I have some gooseberry pie,
Crow?"

"What does it matter what Hughie thinks?" said Adrian, feeling a little
injured.

Hughie ate gooseberries and spoke not, but he wondered what they would
say if they knew what he knew!

However, matters got worse instead of better.  Mrs. Romilly came back
sooner than they expected; she had not had lunch at Crown Hill, she had
declined it saying she must go home.  However, she would not eat, but
went off to the drawing-room with Crow and Adrian.  Hughie took the
opportunity to collect food for Pamela.  Tartlets, cake, and a tempting
little veal pie from the sideboard.  Laden with this he retired upstairs
and entered Pamela’s room again with difficulty, putting the plate on
the floor while he opened the door.

"There was mince, and gooseberry pie as well, Pam," he said, setting the
plate down on the bed, "but I couldn’t bring it, because it was loose,
these things are hard--it’s rather a comfort there was some hard stuff
about--but, any way, Jeepy would give me some."

"Jeepy" was Mrs. Jeep--cook, house-keeper, and adorer-in-chief amongst
Hughie’s train of admirers.

"That child’s intelleck is beyond telling," was a favourite assertion of
Mrs. Jeep’s, and one with a good deal of truth in it.

The servants had, of course, picked up the rumour of strange behaviour
on the part of Miss Pamela, and Keziah, keeping Patty out of it, of
course, with sharp injunctions about "little pitchers" and "long ears",
had whispered to Mrs. Jeep that there certainly was something in it.

"Times and times," asserted Keziah, "I’ve seen her lately.  Well, out of
my window one night; she was going along the terrace, here near eleven
and after.  I must say it’s not pretty behaviour.  And I’m not the only
one neither.  When I went up to Badger’s for eggs, he said to me: ’One
of your young ladies seems to take her walks abroad.’  ’Well, Mr.
Badger,’ I said, ’and why not?  I suppose the country is made for walks.
I’m walking myself,’ I said, ’and so are you.’  I said----" she stopped,
breathless.

"Glad you was brief with him," said Mrs. Jeep in a slow comfortable
voice, "I don’t hold with such folks being so free with gentry’s names.
They ought to know better, but there’s a many don’t know their places
these times.  The mistress is put out though; upset she is, and I don’t
like to see it, for you never see no bad feeling nor goings on in this
house--nice children they are, and have been from babies--the lot of
them.  Mr. Malcolm just such another as Master Hughie, very inventive in
his ways, always some notion in his head."

There was sympathy and curiosity too in the kitchen, though Patty Inglis
the between-maid was allowed to ask no questions, and sharply
reprimanded by Mrs. Jeep and Keziah for the least appearance of
interest.

Meanwhile Mrs. Romilly sat in her chair in the drawing-room resting her
cheek on her hand.  Christobel on a stool close by patted the other hand
reassuringly.  Adrian looked out of the window, for of all things he
could least bear to see his mother unhappy.

"I see no way out of it," said Mrs. Romilly after relating Auntie A.’s
story, "of course she was vague and wandering, and repeated herself as
usual--that’s nothing--the thing that matters is perfectly clear--Pamela
went there about half-past nine--she had gone to her room we all
know--she stayed only a few minutes and seemed in a hurry.  She would
have been in a hurry naturally.  Miss Ashington said she seemed nervous
and unlike herself, and her voice was husky, or low--well, not quite the
same.  That also we can account for easily enough, because Pam is by no
means a practised deceiver----"

"I don’t think it is _proved_ that she is a deceiver at all, Mother, let
alone practised!"

So said Christobel in a low voice, unshaken by evidence.

"Dear old Crow," murmured Mrs. Romilly in rather a choked voice, "I like
you to feel so; but, well _Farr_ saw her too, and remarked how tall she
was growing and how lovely her hair is--so it is, lovely."  Mrs. Romilly
gave a little cough, and hastily changed her position; then suddenly a
tear fell with a tiny splash on the back of Christobel’s stroking hand.

"Oh, Mummy!" she exclaimed.

"How silly of me, darling.  I didn’t mean to--but I don’t understand,
and I can’t bear to be--well--outside with you children--we’ve always
got on so well, and had no secrets.  This----"

There was a tense silence.

Adrian, having spoken no word up till now, had been growing more and
more angry with the world in general.

"It’s a jolly old muddle," he declared suddenly. "Honestly, Mother, it’s
not reasonable to suppose Pamela would be such a silly ass as to march
up to Crown Hill and publicly say you sent her for a diamond brooch, and
then swear she hadn’t been!  I ask you now, is it feasible?  It’s sheer
blazing idiocy.  _If_ she did she’s mad and ought to be put in an
asylum.  It isn’t even criminal, it’s drivelling. As for Auntie A.--now
_she_ is mad.  Always has been. Well, I should say she’d dreamed the
whole business if Farr was out of it.  You say Farr saw Pamela; did Farr
tell you, or did Auntie A. speak for Farr?"

"Oh, Miss Ashington told me what Farr remarked about Pam’s----"

"_There_ you are then.  Bet you the whole thing is some mad vision of
Auntie A.’s!  Sure of it.  She was asleep on the verandah and when you
asked for the brooch, having lost it, she says this----"

"But, darling boy, she wouldn’t invent----"

"Not intentionally, Mother, but she’s got a roving imagination, we see
that every week.  One time she’s teaching pigs to kill themselves in
order to save the butcher’s feelings!  Another time she wants to train
calves to drive the sheep to market in order that land girls need never
get up!  _Don’t_ believe her, Mother dear, and for any sake don’t sorrow
about her rotten fairy tales.  They’ll find that brooch in Charles’
stomach when he dies of over-eating--if she hasn’t been wearing it all
the while herself.  Oh, I say, _do_ let’s shut up all this misery, Mum.
An atmosphere of crime and sorrow is enough to make one ache to be back.
Let’s cut it out, and cease persecuting wretched Pamela, because Auntie
A. is a lunatic."

If it did nothing else, this speech made Mrs. Romilly "sit up and take
notice", as her son said cheerfully a few minutes later.  Presently she
went upstairs; and fortified by a "nice cup o’ tea" made and brought up,
and administered by Mrs. Jeep herself, really did begin to think there
might be something in what Adrian said.

"Men are very level-headed," thought Mrs. Romilly, "they are not so
emotional and impressionable as we are; after all, of course, poor
Auntie A. is very vague."

Out of doors Crow and the level-headed one went down to the bay in
company.  Sisters are given to a certain clearness of vision not always
vouchsafed to mothers.  Said Christobel:

"Addie--do you _really_ think all that you said to Mother about Miss
Ashington and Pam?"

"Of course I don’t," promptly answered the shameless Adrian, "Miss
Ashington is mad, right enough--raving--ought to be chained up before
she drives all the farmers dotty, but she saw Pam right enough--so did
Farr."

"But, Addie----"

"Oh, I know--you’re going to say one ought not to believe the evidence
of one’s own sight if it is against people you love.  You must--till
one’s got something more reliable to see with than eyes.  All the same
life’s not worth living if Mother is in a distraught condition--and
nobody comes to meals except the Floweret trying to draw us all together
by bonds of family love.  If she’s ’bright’ again at tea-time I shall
take the yawl to Salterne and stay there.  If Pam has got the thing it’s
her look-out, she won’t enjoy having it--as I said before, she’s been
awfully queer lately."

In order to check another allusion to the Beak, Christobel suddenly
proposed bathing from the yacht.

"Time for a heavenly one before tea," she suggested.

Adrian forgot all the sorrows of the household in an instant and
received the plan with a cheer; they two went with a rush, which carried
them breathless and giggling on to the sands among the seaweedy rocks
and the anemone-peopled pools.  Here was Hughie--testing secretly a
storm or wind anchor that he had invented.  Adrian upset him into a sea
pool--which Hughie did not mind, because it diverted attention from the
wind anchor--then the two elders proceeded to haul the dinghy down and
make preparations.

"Whole day since we came," remarked Adrian regretfully, "what waste!"

"She wants washing inside," commented Crow, rubbing certain dirt marks
with her fingers.  "Look, this isn’t a tennis shoe--it’s a heel!"

"I’d like to catch anybody messing about with her," said Adrian
wrathfully, then Christobel suggested it might be the Floweret.

"She sits in the dinghy with a book sometimes you know, Addie, when the
rocks are extra wet.  I don’t know why; probably it makes her feel
adventurous and buccaneering."

They got the little boat down, and rowed off into the bay--lovely it
was, warm and smooth, with a faint swell coming in from outside, the
swell that causes a rushing ripple to rise over the hard ridged sand,
filling the tiny rock ponds and making the littlest crabs wave their
legs about and scamper for the shelter of miniature weed forests.  It
was a divine day, and a divine scene; brother and sister felt it and
cast off the dreariness that had clouded the morning.

They reached the yawl in an utterly joyous frame of mind, and whirled on
board anyhow.  Then Adrian said in rather a startled voice:

"Hullo, Crow, didn’t we leave that door open?  Surely, surely we did,
because we both said it was whiffy inside--who shut it then?"

"Wind, of course," said Crow indifferently.

"My good girl----"

"Oh don’t, Addie--hurry up--get into the fore-cabin or where you like,
but hurry, or we shan’t have half a swim. I won’t say ’time flies’,
because it’s too copy-book--but I’ll remind you that tea is half-past
four.  Get on."

So saying, Christobel took possession of the saloon--"according to
plan", as we used to hear in the days of the War, and Adrian disappeared
down the fore-hatch.  This was the standing arrangement for bathing--as
the whole party of Romilly boys and girls could swim like ducks; they
learned when babies almost--it was family law.

Christobel did not take long to get ready as a rule, but she took longer
than she meant because several small matters seemed to her to be
differently placed, or untidy. As everyone knows who inhabits a yacht of
say six to eight tons, there must be a place for everything, and
everything in that place.  It had always been so on the _Messenger_.
Every shining hook had its cup, or jug.  Every plate or saucer fitted
into its own groove.  Kitchen things--polished like
looking-glasses--were placed along barred shelves, and kettles sat in
wells made to fit them.

To-day something was a little wrong.  Crow frowned at the hooks and
racks, as she pinned her hair up under a rubber cap--this and that
seemed to have changed places--or she thought so.  The cushions on the
settees in the saloon were certainly wrong--all on one side.  Adrian
must have been right about the door; that was perhaps part of the
invasion.  She thought of calling out to her brother and then decided
not to, because if she said anything Addie would make a point of locking
up the yawl every night, and the result would be that peculiar something
in the stuffiness that always made her feel sick.

Christobel was not a perfect sailor like Adrian and Hughie--neither of
them could be swept off their balance, but Christobel could.  So much
so, that she had at times borne agonies in silence rather than spoil
Adrian’s day.  She was seldom actually sick, but she felt a horrible
nausea and faintness, and the one thing that would precipitate this
condition was that mixture of paraffin, varnish, cushion stuffing, and
station-waiting-room-stale-sandwich smell, that came up from the saloon
when the closed doors were opened; for once locked up there could be no
ventilation naturally--without water getting in also; not in so small a
boat, for the fore-hatch must be battened down and bolted inside before
the companion door was locked outside.

All this occurred to Crow in time to stop her making remarks on her
suspicions.  After all, she could not remember who came out of the cabin
last.  Again Penberthy might have gone on board--he might even have
taken Major Fraser with him, which would account for the gravel and dirt
marks on the dinghy.

Just as she came to this conclusion she heard Adrian’s dive and a few
seconds after his shout for her, so she ran up, and went over the side
with the clean sweep of a first-rate swimmer.  That was the end of
questionings--for the time.



                              *CHAPTER XV*

                     *In which Hughie takes Action*


It has been said, even in this story, that important situations often
arise from ridiculously small happenings. Everybody knows it so well
that one apologizes for such a stale reflection.

However, in the present instance the thing that led up to the very small
happening was tea at Fuchsia Cottage, to which all four were invited,
and all four went.  The Little Pilgrim’s teas were "things of beauty,
and joys for ever", the pleasure never palled, because she had
particular scones, buns, cakes and jams that other people knew not of,
and her table decorations were as original as they were lovely.  She
held a theory that people ought to eat a great deal at tea, which was
delightful when it fell in with the idea of the guests.  There was no
"company" about it, from first to last it was sheer satisfaction.

This day was no exception to the rule, and for reasons that can be well
understood the young Romillys positively jumped at the invitation.  It
would be freedom from the atmosphere that seemed to spoil everything at
the Bell House.

True to Adrian’s suggestion, Mrs. Romilly had ignored the mystery of the
diamond brooch.  She treated Pamela as always--or tried to.  But she was
pale and absent in manner, and it was a daily stab to poor Pam to look
up suddenly and find her mother’s eyes watching her with a sort of
appeal in their blue depths.  Pamela on her part was obviously unhappy,
her small face was smaller still, and her grey-blue eyes looked darker.
In spite of the heroic efforts of the elder pair, who pulled the
business of life along like a pair of well-matched horses, it was not
the same perfectly happy life that it had been in the spring and always
before in the memory of the children.

Miss Lasarge saw there was something the matter, but the Romilly family
had the sense to wash its own linen at home.  No one in the house
"confided" woes outside. Also, Miss Lasarge had, at the time,
considerable anxiety on her own shoulders, which she kept to herself, of
course; the sympathy being no less for everybody.

So she asked them to tea, and they came.  And the party was one of the
most perfect she had ever invented, with rose petals in all shades of
pink making a pattern round the delightful dishes.  Tongues were
loosened by the sense of festivity, even Hughie talked; everybody
talked, except Pamela, who looked tired.

They stayed until after six o’clock, and then the Little Pilgrim walked
down to the gate with them.  Outside in the road they stood talking over
the gate, as people do loath to go.  Adrian was talking about the yawl,
he and Christobel laughing over some of the adventures.

"We go out most days," he said.

Miss Lasarge looked towards the west and the clear sky over the sea.

"It is promising for to-morrow?" she asked; her gaze wandered to the
white wall over the road, that high glass-topped wall that enclosed
Woodrising.

"Oh, rather!"

"Don’t you think you are very lucky?"  She asked this question suddenly
of Addie, in the soft hesitating tone natural to her.

"Lucky, I should think so!  It’s awfully jolly of Sir Marmaduke to let
us have _Messenger_."

"I was thinking of something bigger than that--I mean, _wider_--than
just a yacht.  It’s the _freedom_, Adrian.  Of the sea, of the shore, of
the woods--that’s what I meant.  You see, there are prisoners."

"Oh, not _now_, Little Pilgrim," Christobel expostulated, "we’ve got
them all home, thank God, by this time."

"Ours!  Oh, yes, I hope we have, I believe we have; but I was
thinking----"

"Miss Anne, please don’t ask us to feel--well, sentimental--about German
prisoners," said Adrian in rather a hard voice; he was digging a hole in
the road with his stick, as a vent for his feelings, "they’ve had a good
time in England."

"Oh no, dear, it was something quite different that was in my mind, I
assure you.  Only, what one feels is--value freedom--it is so wonderful
really."

"Expect it is, one jolly well takes it for granted though, doesn’t one,
Crow?"  Adrian strongly objected to strenuous remarks, whatever the
subject.  "Well, Miss Anne, thanks awfully, we’ve had a ripping time,
your party was simply top-hole.  Think of Crow and me enjoying freedom.
Oh, by the way, it’s ’the freedom of the seas’, isn’t it?  Early
to-morrow, all being well, we want to go to Salterne."

"For the day, or what?" asked Miss Lesarge, smiling.

"For the day," agreed Crow.  "As usual, Addie wants his hair cut, and
the only man he approves of is in Union Street.  We anchor the yawl and
come back late; the tides have come round by now, to a nice useful
arrangement. Miss Anne, you know Mother doesn’t mind now if we sleep on
board, as long as we are inside the estuary.  That gives us a grand long
time to do things."

All this was said in the road, you will remember.  Adrian and Christobel
possessed clear voices that carried; they did not modulate them to any
great extent; lastly the white wall was only the width of the road from
this conversation.

Neither Pamela nor Hughie spoke, yet they two realized with a sort of
shock what the meaning was behind Miss Anne’s little eager protest about
"prisoners".  She knew, she must know!  She was just thinking out loud
her own gentle pity for the girl behind the white wall.  Pamela saw it
so on the instant, and with a flash of memory recalled the large dull
old-fashioned drawing-room at Woodrising, and the girl sitting alone,
trying to be interested in a book.  And she can climb, thought Pam
suddenly, perhaps she was used to mountains; why not?  Anyway, she must
be accustomed to great possessions, to woods and parks, to great
estates! A new view of the case brightened Pamela’s mind.  Miss Anne was
looking at her, their eyes met and the girl smiled, then turned pink,
and looked away.

"I wonder!" thought the Little Pilgrim.

Pam was wondering also.  Hughie had made up his mind, undoubtedly Miss
Anne knew about the girl; that was interesting, but Hughie’s estimate of
the situation was not like his sister’s; there was no sentiment, and no
pity in it.  He was purely practical.  "She might have to stop inside
Woodrising," he thought, "then it would be different.  But she tells
lies and comes out on the sly; she steals things and lets Pam bear the
blame.  Miss Lasarge doesn’t know."

So he looked at Miss Lasarge with a shrewd pitying gaze as he lifted his
cap for good-night, and made no remark on the way home.

The evening was uneventful, and a voyage to Salterne was planned for
next day as Adrian suggested.  Pamela was asked to go and said she
would; Hughie refused, he had his own scheme.

Then the household went to bed, and to sleep, but let it be understood
that the small matter, namely that little talk outside Miss Anne’s gate,
had set in motion a far more important event, which was yet to happen.

Hughie slept with his window open, of course; he was a very light
sleeper, indeed he said he could hear the crabs’ toes clatter as they
ran out of one pool into another.  This statement might have been
exaggerated, but the fact remains that he could hear most things;
therefore, when he woke up in the night he realized that a noise from
outside had been the cause.  He lay still and listened for sounds in the
house.

All was still; also all was dark, because the moon did not rise till
early morning, and at present was giving her best moonshine in the
day-time.

Hughie waited with a sense of growing alertness, and presently slid out
of bed, climbed on the window-seat, and looked towards the bay.  Soft,
velvety darkness, ripple of water, and faint reflected shine on the sea,
was all he heard and saw.

"Tiresome!" considered Hughie, not reassured by all this peace.  He felt
trouble afoot.

Motionless he sat, as some small wild thing of the jungle; motionless,
but alive in every muscle.

From the bay came a sudden knock of wood on wood, just the noise a
person recognizes who understands boats and would never mistake it for
anything else.

"Dinghy," thought the Midget, and, without more ado, he slid from his
seat and put on some clothes that would not be conspicuous; so careful
was he, indeed, that he got out stockings, articles he hated in summer;
but bare white legs show in the dark.  Presently he was complete.  Serge
knickers and sweater, blue stockings and sandshoes.  Then he opened his
door and looked out.  No sound, a pitch dark, silent house.

Hughie’s mind was intent on the garden door.  The big front door was
bolted and barred and would make a noise if opened.  The back door
possessed a terribly stiff key that turned with a shriek.  Jeepy would
not have it oiled; she would not have it touched for mysterious reasons
of her own connected with the possible bad conduct of Patty Ingles!  It
was a far-fetched idea, but it kept the key rusty, so that was no good.
There remained the children’s door, as it had always been called, the
door into the garden, just beyond Pamela’s window.  It would not do for
her to hear.  Hughie wanted to do this business entirely off his own
bat, so to speak, and of all things he did not wish to have "people
making a row", so he hoped the door would not betray him.

As it happened, poor Pam was sleeping rather heavily. She had had many
restless nights, but something in those words of Miss Anne’s had made a
difference.  Things were not so hopelessly unjust; she did not feel so
ill-used quite. So she slept soundly, and Hughie, moving like Sherlock
Holmes and "Raffles" rolled into one, as only he could, got out of the
house without a creak or a scratch, closed the door, and found himself
on the end terrace under Pam’s window close to the sea-wall.

Every stone being familiar, he went straight from there along the grass
border of the walk, guiding himself by the wall.  Once he stopped and
listened intently, when he heard that little bump again--it was a
slightly grinding bump at irregular intervals.  Hughie knew now what it
was--the dinghy against the rocks.  It might mean that the little boat
had got loose and was being shifted this way and that by the tide.
There was nothing exciting about that, of course, but Hughie was
convinced that something more was being enacted--there was human agency
at work.

He came to the end of the wall, went through the gate, round, and then
down towards the rocks.  Now here was necessity for careful going,
because of the darkness, and he wished heartily he had stayed to get the
little electric torch that stood on the library writing-table.  However,
knowing the bay by heart made it easier, and every minute his eyes were
more used to the dark.

The sand felt cool and hard; there was plenty of it, because the tide
was just starting to rise steadily and creep into the pools.  Hughie
knew this must be so, of course--partly because he understood tides, but
particularly in this instance owing to Adrian’s plan for the morning.

They were to start early for Salterne, while there was still enough of
the tide to take them.  It could not have been long since the tide
turned; he tried to calculate, and succeeded in realizing that the faint
greyness that lay in the night was not "moon", but morning coming.  And
that was what made a chill, fresher than a night wind.

Presently he found the dinghy, and felt all over her with understanding
hands.  The sculls were there--rolling a little, improperly placed.  She
was broadside on to the beach, heaving up a little on the wash.

"She simply _never_ went down by herself," decided Hughie, and thought
over the matter deeply.

Her normal position was a good way up the shore.  In stormy weather well
above high-water mark--but last night in a comfortable position for
loading a basket and oddments--on the sand, with her little anchor fixed
between two rocks.  The anchor had been lifted and was put in the bows.
The dinghy could not have done that to herself!  No need to argue; the
question was answered.

_Someone_ had taken the boat out, and sent her adrift! When you come to
think of it, this was an odd thing to happen in the night--more than odd
in Bell Bay.  Almost unbelievable, because you might leave anything
about and all your doors and windows open in such a garden of friends as
the valley.

The conclusion Hughie came to was that no native of Bell Bay had done
it.  He had little doubt who was the offender, and stood still
considering his next move.

_Why_ should Pam’s double want to go out aboard the yawl at such an
hour?  Crow having said nothing at all to anyone about her suspicions
with regard to meddling in the saloon; of course Hughie knew nothing
about that, and the idea came to him in all its startling freshness.
However, having convinced his reason, he quickly decided on the next
action.

"I’d better go and find her," said Hughie to himself in the low murmur
with which he held "doll" conversations.

As the tide was rising he had small difficulty in pushing the dinghy
down; she was the lightest make, varnished--a first-rate little craft
with the power of standing much more than her slight appearance
suggested.  A very fortunate thing, as it proved afterwards.

The little boy got in, balanced himself in the stern to lighten the
bows, and pushed off deftly; then he sat down, took the sculls, and
looked about him into the dark.  The sculls, small as they were, were
too big for his hands, but he was strong and amazingly tenacious--he
never gave up what his heart was set on.

"She can’t get away," he murmured again, and, as the idea took his
fancy, he gave a sudden little wriggle of amusement.

Then he sculled out to the _Messenger_ with very short light strokes,
wonderfully noiseless.  He went into the thick of the dark, thick
because the mistiness of dawn was there--it was what people called "the
darkest hour before the dawn", starless, moonless, softly thick.  Having
gone a short distance, Hughie turned the dinghy round gently by rowing
one oar, and, having got his craft stern first, he began to push
steadily with both sculls.  He knew he would soon find the yawl--but all
in a moment, and he must be prepared not to bump.

To his quick ear came a sound; he stopped and listened. It was
water--rippling against an obstacle--the incoming tide driving past the
bows of the yacht.  He had not far to go, because _Messenger_ was
pulling the length of her chain cables inshore--a very different
position from the one she would have held in a strong ebb, as she lay
then almost under the shadow of the Bell Ridge point, the height to the
north of the cove.

Hughie pushed his craft cleverly up to the counter, shipped his sculls,
and gripped the stern rail as he stood up.  It was neatly done.  He
pushed the dinghy a little farther, holding on till he got the bows in
position, then he bent the towing rope--the painter--on to the rail, and
climbed up.  Being there he made sure of the painter--he never left
things to chance like Adrian did, and he possessed in a remarkable
degree the quick neatness of the born sailor’s handling of things.

Having finished, he stood still and looked about.

The deck showed white.  The mainsail was not stowed, but just let down
and lightly lashed, ready to haul up quickly in the morning: there was
nothing to hurt it but dew--dew was everywhere and the footing slippery.
As he stood looking along the shadowy white outline against which the
mast rose oddly black, and the rigging seemed like black spiders’ web,
Hughie again wished he had the torch.  Then an idea struck him entirely
to his taste.  It was better certainly to be in the dark, especially as
he knew where the matches were kept.  All was well.

He stepped off the counter down into the well and looked at the
companion doors--open half-way.  Hughie gave a cursory examination to
that, and then went along the deck to find out the state of the
fore-hatch.  That was lifted sideways an inch or two--Adrian had slipped
a marline-spike under the edge of it to insure a draught.  Without
question this had not been touched.  She was inside, and she had entered
by the companion.

Hughie crept back along the side of the deck-house roof, let himself
down, and took a seat on the companion steps. He wanted to listen, also
he was reviewing the position and the probabilities.  What would this
girl do?  He had never been at close quarters, or even near her, but
when one is only seven and small, without being a coward it is
reasonable to calculate chances of warfare with a person double that age
and strong.

Hughie considered the black, silent interior that showed through the
opening, then he murmured in the faintest whisper--under cover of the
tide-rush rippling against the bows.

"If she kills me she’ll be hung."  It was a comforting thought to have
British law on his side.  Sir Marmaduke would see justice done
undoubtedly, in spite of his mysterious dealings with the stranger.
"She’s his prisoner," thought Hughie, which seemed simple enough.

He was as noiseless as a cat, and as wiry--he slipped through the gap
into the darkness within and proceeded on all fours.  In his mind was a
certain small and neat lantern belonging to Adrian--it was plated, and
fitted with a bit of candle in such a way that nothing disturbed its
flame.  He proposed to light this, and the thought occurred that some
day, when this business came out, he would ask Addie to give it to
him--when he went back to school.  Surely the labourer was worthy of
some sort of hire, and that lantern would add extraordinary joy to "the
cave" in dull winter days to come.

Thinking all these matters over, Hughie achieved a noiseless passage
through the saloon into the store pantry. He reasoned that the girl was
more likely to be in the fore-cabin--as a more remote hiding place; at
the same time she might easily be asleep on one of the saloon bunks;
these formed cushioned seats in the day-time, and, when the lids were
lifted, hammocks within, for which the cushions were used.  She could
not know about that, so she would lie down on the outside, and it made
him tingle to realize that she might be within a few inches of him.  He
reached the pantry, amidships, without hearing or seeing anything, and
there sat down again, his back against the partition, to listen and
locate her whereabouts if possible before he betrayed himself by
lighting the lantern.

The silence was profound; he could hear the water rippling along the
hull underneath.  Then he thought it might be wise to creep through into
the fore-cabin; to that end he felt along the shelf for the admired
lantern, could not find it, and realized that Adrian might have moved
it; he could not find the matches either.  It was tiresome, for he began
to want light, and time was getting on without tangible results.  Then
the faint greyness along one side of the raised fore-hatch reminded him
that he could mount the steps of the little ladder, push the hatch
aside, and see better, without much trouble.  It was still dark outside,
but that was nothing to the profounder dark inside, where the only means
of seeing at all was through the thick ground glass, double, along the
top of the saloon above deck.

He went through into the fore-cabin, found the steps, mounted softly,
and pushed the heavy hatch by inches from the deep rim over which it
fitted.  He had to put out all his strength, but he made very little
sound.



                             *CHAPTER XVI*

                          *A Duel before Dawn*


When Hughie had shoved the hatch far enough aside to allow his head and
shoulders to pass, he went up one step higher and looked out.  It was
lighter.  He could distinguish things on the deck for what they were,
and see the water.  He had hardly realized that, when he also realized
something else.

A figure was standing on the counter holding to the little mizzen-mast,
and pulling in the dinghy.

There was not a doubt of it.  There she was.  She must have been in the
saloon when he passed in the dark.  She had bided her time, slipped out
and up the companion while he was shifting the hatch.

Hughie was exasperated; at the same time he generously admired her
quickness of resource.  She must not be allowed to succeed all the same.
He squeezed up through the opening, got his woolly sweater caught on the
big hook that clinched the fastening outside, released himself, losing
valuable seconds, was on his feet and speeding along the deck in a few
more--just too late!

He saw the slim dark figure descend into the dinghy with a reckless
spring, and the boat drifted away as he reached the counter.  It was an
odd, shadowy drama, played out in the thick haze of dawn from which the
night darkness was gradually peeling.

"Come back!" ordered Hughie with decision.

The girl was putting the sculls into the rowlocks quite deliberately;
she knew she was safe, or, let it more truly be said, thought she was
safe.  The boat was rocking softly on a smooth heave, and going
shorewards all the time.

The girl appeared to be surprised at Hughie, for she fingered the sculls
in an uncertain manner while she gazed back at the small active figure
poised on _Messenger’s_ graceful stern.

"You will stay there now," she said, with an emphasis on the last word.
She spoke rather low, but there was a triumphant ring in the tone.

"Why?" asked Hughie, watching her, and rather attracted by her voice,
because of the measured way of speaking.

"Because I shall not fetch you."

"How unkind!" said Hughie drily.

The girl in the dinghy did not quite like his tone.  She expected a
complete surrender and an anxious appeal.  She thought she heard a very
low chuckle, which was odd.

"You have no right to follow me," she said, playing with the oars; "it
is very ill manners."

"What about you trespassing?" retorted Hughie.  "I suppose you know I
can give you in charge.  You may have stolen any amount."

"How dare you!" this fiercely.

"Stealing off yachts is awfully common, you know," went on Hughie;
"that’s why people keep them locked. We don’t lock up the _Messenger_,
because Bell Bay people are honest--I mean they always have been up till
now."

The girl appeared not to hear; she was looking over her shoulder towards
the shore to which she was drifting.  Her mind was turning over rapidly
what course to adopt.  Would it be wiser to take this child off and make
friends with him, or to go home and leave the affair to chance?  The
latter impulse prevailed, solely because she was angry at being stopped
in her intention, and the desire to vent her spite was very strong.  She
would leave him just as he was for the others to find, and they could
think what they liked.

She began to row; then stopped, for Hughie spoke again.

"It’s awfully silly of you to take the boat, because then everybody
knows," he commented.  "Come back; what’s the good of being an idiot?"

"You are a rude little child," said the Countess angrily. "Now I shall
punish you; you shall stay there."

Hughie laughed.  Then, to her utter amazement, he made a clean dive from
the counter, hands over head, heels up, cutting the water with hardly a
splash, and presently came up only a couple of yards astern of the
dinghy.  Then he shook the water out of his eyes and said blandly:

"I told you you were an idiot--now I think you are a full-sized one.
You’d much better have come back when I told you."

He turned over on his back, and splashed mocking heels at her, then
started off homeward; and when the Countess pulled the boat inshore he
was there first, and, running in, seized the painter.

"Get out, Madam," he requested, "and help pull the boat up; you are too
heavy for me to drag, and the tide’s coming up pretty fast."

[Illustration: "GET OUT, MADAM."]

His tone was absolutely polite, at the same time the Countess had seldom
felt less happy.  He was so small, and so good-tempered over it all!
She certainly felt rather like a "full-sized idiot"!

The dinghy was secured, Hughie fixing the anchor between two rocks.

The whole valley was wrapped in thick grey haze, but there was no light.
The east being behind the high Downs made morning late in Bell Bay.

The Countess looked on at Hughie’s efforts; then she said, almost
against her will:

"You are very wet."

"Well, one is when one’s been in the sea; you can’t help it."

The girl coloured, but she pursued amicable tactics.

"I hope you will not catch cold."

"Oh, thanks," said Hughie, and he looked at her so expressively that she
could not fail to remember it was her fault that he was wet.

"You’d better come through our garden," he went on; "it’s shorter.  I
expect you know the way all right."

"I did not pass through your grounds," said the Countess quickly; "I
came along the road," she pointed in the direction of Crown Hill lodge.

"How do you get out of Woodrising without the people knowing?" asked
Hughie, as they climbed the beach among the rocks.

"You have no business to ask," said the Countess haughtily.

Hughie looked at her sideways.

"I think you are awfully funny; you’d amuse anybody," he declared
thoughtfully.

"Amuse--I!"

"Yes, there you go again.  You do such ridiculous things, and when
people can’t help smiling you cut up rough.  You look like Pam on the
outside--except your face," went on Hughie critically; "but you aren’t a
patch on Pam really--she’s a sport."

"’Sport’, how?  Does she shoot then?  I can shoot," said the Countess
sharply.  It was plain she did not wish to be thought inferior to
Pamela.

"Can you, oh--that’s all right.  No, I meant Pam was awfully decent; she
plays the game always."

"You English think of games and nothing else," said the Countess
scornfully.  "My father had a little gun made for me, and I could kill
when I was--oh--as small as you."

"I’m seven," said Hughie, "and a good bit of eight as well."

There was a pause as they passed through the gate on to the terrace
walk; the house was visible now, looking large and sleeping, with its
shuttered eyes.

"We’d better walk on the grass, because of gravel noises," advised
Hughie.  "I shouldn’t make it, but you do.  And look here, it’s no use
you trying to get on the yawl again, because she’ll be locked up."

"Why?"

"I shall tell Addie to lock her.  He’ll see the dinghy has been shifted;
he’s simply bound to."

Now this was obvious.  The girl could not deny it, and an angry light
made her brown eyes look reddish as she turned a quick glance on the
boy.  She checked speech though.

Hughie looked back at her curiously.

"What did you want to do?" he asked.

It appeared that she considered whether to answer or not, and then took
the resolution to say something anyway.

"I wanted to go somewhere."

"Where?"

"It does not matter.  Anywhere.  Salterne, or what is another
place--Peterock.  I am sick and weary of this place--I wish to see a new
one.  Surely there is no harm in that?"

She said this innocently enough, but in her eyes lay a something that
was not so honest as her words.

"Why don’t you ask Sir Marmaduke?" asked Hughie. "He’d let you go to
Salterne or Peterock with Mrs. Chipman in the car.  Why shouldn’t he?"

"He would not; it is verboten (forbidden)," said the Countess sharply.

"It’s what?" asked Hughie, frowning; he half recognized the sound of the
German word, for he had heard Miss Chance helping Christobel with German
holiday tasks.

"Nothing," answered the Countess quickly.

They had crossed in front of the sleeping windows, along the turf edge
of the lawn borders.  Hughie avoided a straight crossing, because the
track on the grey wet spread of grass would be apparent to the whole
house.  Along the narrow border he scrubbed it out as they went, walking
behind his charge for that purpose.

When they came to the front door end of the house, and the drive, he
told the girl to hurry, and hurried himself--always on the turf edge,
this time to avoid the noise of footsteps on the gravel.

"You see," he explained, "those open windows up above the front door are
Addie’s and Crow’s.  We are only in view about two seconds, but you
never know."

The Countess asked why they couldn’t go out by the kitchen garden door.
It seemed that she knew the geography of Bell House grounds.

"We can’t get out.  Old Hennery Doe takes the keys away when he goes,
and let’s himself back when he comes in the morning at half-past six.
He doesn’t hold with eight-hour days--he calls it ’silly muck’," said
Hughie, adding sagely, "so do I--what’s the sense of stopping just
because it’s eight hours, when the fruit is rotting and mice eat the
peas.  Look at my father--his work is never done.  Nobody can stop in
the Navy and the Army--how could they?  Fancy if the battleships did
that sort of thing!" the scorn conveyed by Hughie’s tone was
indescribable, and let it be said that on this point the Countess was
entirely in sympathy.

Hughie opened the gate for her, and, being bare-headed, made a little
gesture of salute as she passed through.

"I hope you will not catch cold," said the girl; her tone was
patronizing, and Hughie recognized it--a sentence culled from Mrs.
Jeeps’ conversation came aptly to his mind.

"If you will be advised by me, you will remain in your own garden," said
he gravely; "and thank you for your good wishes."

This ended the interview.  Hughie shut the gate with care, murmuring as
he did so: "We prefer your absence to your company," again Mrs.
Jeep--and then he started off running at top speed down the turn to the
stables and backyard, round the house and in at the garden door.  That
he locked inside.  Then he pulled off his soaked shoes and stockings on
the mat--rubbing stone-cold feet energetically to dry them well--sped
along the passage, up the back-stairs, and away down to his own room,
leaving no mark or faintest trace with his bare feet.  Arrived "at
home", he dragged off the wet garments--knickers and woolly sweater, not
even a vest in addition--bundled the things up and put them with the
stockings under his bed--as the shoes were always wet, more or less,
they did not count; then he rubbed himself energetically with a rough
towel, assumed the striped pyjamas, dived into bed, and was asleep
within three minutes.

For Hughie the episode was successfully closed.  For some others it had
just begun.

It was said that when the two entered the drive from the terrace walk,
Hughie hurried the pace in order to get his charge out of range of
Adrian’s and Christobel’s windows. There was just about a minute in
which that curve of the drive was in full view from the house.  There
were surely a thousand chances to one that the pair would not be seen at
such an hour--not much after four o’clock in the morning.  But as it
happened, Adrian had waked--perhaps some odd instinct of doings on board
the yawl had pricked him--the thousandth chance was against Hughie, and
Adrian got up at that instant to look at the weather and see what sort
of day was going to favour his project.  His plan the night before had
been a seven o’clock start and breakfast on board.  It would be heavenly
in the early morning, and nearly three hours tide to Salterne river
would be theirs. He wanted to be off at half-past six, but Mrs. Jeep was
firm about seven--she "didn’t hold" with depriving people of their rest,
she said.  So seven it was to be--and Adrian, on the alert at 4.20, saw
something that surprised him so immensely that he was nailed to the
floor, gazing.

The disappearing figures of Pamela and Hughie just rounding the curve of
the drive towards the big gates. Hughie bare-headed--otherwise as usual.
Pamela just as usual.

Dawn was piercing the "darkest hour", and the pair were fairly distinct
in the mist.  Distinct enough to remove all doubt as to who they were.
Adrian gazed as they went out of sight, gazed at the empty drive; then
he leaned from his casement and listened.  No sound but here and there a
faint "tweet" from a tentative bird, asking if it was time to get up.

Three or four minutes passed, then Adrian opened his door, hurried down
to Christobel’s room and knocked--once--twice--no answer; she was
asleep; he went in.

"Is that you, Keziah?" murmured Crow--sleepily: "is it five?"

"I say, Crow," said Adrian in an energizing whisper, "wake up for any
sake.  I’ve seen about the rummest thing you ever heard of."

"Oh," Christobel answered thickly, "what a pity."

"Pity! How do you mean?"

"Because I want to go to sleep--it’s rather early, isn’t it?"

"It’s soon after four; but look here, Crow, this isn’t a false alarm--or
a mare’s nest--it’s simply _the_ most amazing eye-opener."

"Oh, is it?"  Christobel roused herself to look at her excited brother;
from long experience she felt sure that he would not be quiet till he
had got the news "off his chest". She raised herself a little on the
pillow and tried to be interested.  "Go on," she said; "what is it?"

"Well, what do you say to Pam and Hughie walking up the drive to the
front gate."

"Oh, Addie--what rot!  Four in the morning!"

"My good girl, I stared at them till my eyes nearly dropped on the
window-seat.  I just happened to wake, and went to see what sort of a
day it seemed--the window was open--there they were."

"Why didn’t you hear them on the gravel first?" asked Crow in an
unbelieving tone; she realized that here was another attack on Pam, only
this time Hughie was included. She refused to believe a word on the
spot; she made up her mind against this tale.

Adrian said the two walked on the grass-edge border--Pamela first,
Hughie following; they did not seem to be talking, they went fast.

"Why didn’t you call?" asked Crow.

"I was simply knocked out of time.  I just stared, and they were gone
round the turn.  Then I came to you."

"Hum," Christobel sniffed sceptically; "how were they dressed?"

"I told you--I don’t know, I’m sure--same as usual--the kid no hat.  I
said so.  Look here, Crow--what are we to do?" this in an urgent tone.

"Do?  Oh, nothing; what could we do?  Go to sleep again till we have to
get up."

"I must say, Crow, you are most awfully casual," said Adrian in an
offended voice.  "The thing’s about as strong as it can be, and you
won’t move.  Pamela has been behaving like a lunatic for weeks, and now
she is taking her walks abroad at four in the morning and dragging the
kid with her."

"Well, you see, Addie, I don’t admit that Pam has been doing anything
different from ordinary," argued Crow in her sober, level way.  "I don’t
believe it, and you can’t make me.  As for _this_.  I think the mist has
deceived you."

Adrian rose indignantly from his seat on the bed foot.

"Of course if you’re going to----"

"Stop a minute, Addie.  Here, give me my dressing-gown."  She sat up and
put her arms in the sleeves, talking as she did so.  "How long did you
say it was--you’ve only been here a few minutes--they were going _out_,
not coming in.  Well, it’s perfectly simple.  I’ll go and see; if they
were walking away up the drive ten minutes ago at the outside, they
can’t be in bed now."

Christobel flitted away like a shadow, down the long corridor, round
into the cross passage at the end, and stopped outside Pamela’s door.
She heard the sound of regular breathing in the stillness, and went in.
There was Pam, sound asleep.  Christobel’s experienced eye ran over the
neatly-folded garments on a chair, the blouse hung deftly over the bed
foot, sleeves inside out.  The room was neat and in order.

"Absurd," muttered Crow with emphasis.

Pamela stirred, turned over, and started up on her elbow, rubbing her
eyes.

"What--what is it, Crow; am I late?  Is it half-past six?"

"Oh no, half-past four.  Don’t worry--I just came to look out of your
window----"  Crow suited action to the excuse, lamely made, for she was
not used to excuses.

"It’s going to be fine, Pam; there’s a mist----" she laughed softly with
a little sense of triumph, and slipped out of the room.

Pamela vaguely wondered, but it was obvious that her sister was "not
cross"--Christobel seldom was; she meant there was a very sympathetic
atmosphere, which was true.

Crow went on and peeped in at Hughie.  A small heap in the bed, the top
of a sleek head, and absolute slumber, with the room just as usual.

She fled back down the passage and arrived in her own room rather
inclined to giggle.

"Both in bed, both sound asleep, not foxing, but simply _sound_.  I woke
Pam; she was perfectly foggy, and wanted to know if it was time to get
ready.  When I said ’no’ she was practically asleep before I came away."

"I suppose they bolted back," said Adrian, though he was plainly
surprised.

"Bolted!  My dear Addie!  Pam’s clothes were all as neat as a Chinese
puzzle, her shoes put together, her blouse hanging out to air!  Hughie’s
room was the same--you know how tidy those two are; they beat us hollow.
It’s not a scrap of use reasoning that they could have done all that in
the time, because it isn’t possible, especially as you say they were
going away, not coming in!  After all, Addie, one must be reasonable."

Adrian was reasonable.  He went off in silence.  He saw the force of
what his sister said, but he had the evidence of his eyesight against
it.  The whole thing was staggering. It was part of the strange and
complicated way that life had been behaving for weeks.

After that he slept fitfully, being worried, and at half-past six left
the house to get things ready on the yawl, leaving the girls dressing.
Pamela had come along the passage to Crow with a beaming face and her
lovely hair like a bronze shawl over her shoulders; she wanted
Christobel to plait her tail as Keziah was busy packing a basket. Adrian
saw his sister, and was bound to admit she looked like a guiltless
person who had slept soundly.

She said Hughie was asleep; as he was not going there was no need to
wake him.

Crow was dressed and putting one short pin in a nice little close hat,
when she heard Adrian come back.  He came into her room, hardly waiting
for the answer to his knock, shut the door, and leaned his back against
it.

Christobel, instantly aware of something new, turned round; her brother
was breathing rather fast, and there were sparks in his hazel eyes.

"Something is up, Crow--no question."

"Why--what?"

"Oh, the dinghy has been used--she’s full of gravel and
footmarks--sculls messed up--anchor shifted--painter wet and muddled
up--whole thing anyhow, and up in a new place, not where I put her."

Christobel exclaimed softly; Adrian went on:

"Someone’s been on board the yawl.  The fore-hatch is hauled off! there
are any amount of wet footmarks and gravel prints inside, on deck,
especially on the counter. The companion door is wide open.  Besides
that, one of the bunks, the one you use, was all untidy--all the
cushions were on that side--and sort of messed up.  Once before I had a
dim idea someone had been on board----"

"So had I," murmured Crow softly.

"You never said so."

"Well, I thought I was mistaken.  It was so unlikely."

"It’s obvious," said Adrian drily, "that very unlikely things are the
order of the day.  In fact, it’s just as well not to say ’all things are
possible’.  Also there’s no use in pretending Penberthy or Fraser would
do it, because it’s out of their line altogether.  Somebody has been on
board who doesn’t understand boats--I mean, that’s my impression."

"Then it can’t be Pam," interrupted Christobel hastily

Adrian saw the argument in her mind.

"Don’t ask me--don’t say ’can’t be’, anyway.  I feel inclined to say
’I’m mad, you’re mad, we’re all mad’ like the cat in Alice.  Anyway,
it’ll take me an hour to clean up."

"Oh, Addie, what about Salterne?"

"Never mind, we’ll go to Peterock instead; tide’s A1 for Peterock after
nine o’clock."



                             *CHAPTER XVII*

                    *In which Amazing Things Happen*


The only thing confided to the general public about this surprising
development was that Adrian considered the allowance of tide all too
short for reaching Salterne, which was true, and had decided therefore
to make a day at Peterock.  For the latter place everything was
convenient, the out-going tide would begin to ebb soon after nine
o’clock, and turn between three and four in the afternoon; could
anything be better?

"I wonder you didn’t settle on that in the first place," said Mrs.
Romilly, a most reasonable remark.  She did not know that Adrian
cherished a secret hope to anchor out all night again in Salterne river,
whereas Peterock was not the kind of harbour for such pleasures.  It was
not a harbour at all, in fact, but a lovely watering-place with a pier;
within the pier was a makeshift mooring-ground, choked up with various
craft.  No born sailor would go to Peterock for enjoyment.  However,
these matters were not within Mrs. Romilly’s knowledge, and Peterock
would do quite well for hair-cutting.

On finding the start was not immediate Mrs. Romilly made out a list of
commissions, and Christobel was too busy hearing about these things to
have any more time for the mystery.  When she and Pamela went off there
was a serene atmosphere.

"Doesn’t the dinghy look clean," exclaimed Pamela in warm admiration.
"Addie, you’ve scrubbed the whole thing.  She’s lovely!"

Adrian, who was rowing, looked at his sister quickly. The sincerity of
her face was unquestionable.

Thus the mystery grew, but Adrian was not ruffled as he had been in the
morning.  Then, Crow had him at a disadvantage; he could not prove
anything; he was forced to feel even foolish in the face of the evidence
Christobel brought about the peaceful slumber of the supposed culprits.
Now it was different.  He was justified by his startling discoveries,
and good temper was the result.

Christobel looked round as they boarded the yawl, but saw no signs of
disorder.  All was neat as usual.  She and Pamela packed the food into
the pantry shelf and set about helping to get the sails up.

Poor Pam was very happy.  She felt freer than she had done for a long
time.  Nothing could happen out here. The sea was glorious, and Crow was
always the same to her; nothing could come between them, she thought.

The breeze was off shore--what is called a "soldier’s wind", which means
that it serves without tacking.  The tide was strong, the sea, with such
a breeze, of course was smooth; it was all as perfect as possible.

"The Floweret could have come to-day without being sick," said Pamela,
gazing over the shimmering waste with half-shut eyes; "what a pity
Midget is left behind."

"He looked rather tired," said Crow from her place at the tiller.

"Did he; I wonder why.  He slept sound enough; he never woke till Keziah
called him, and then he went to sleep again," said Pam.

Christobel smiled.  This was exactly what she had felt sure of, and
there was no effort at all in her sister’s way of speaking.

The start was excellent, the sailing was perfect; "dull care" seemed to
have been left behind in Bell Bay--but one never knows!

Lunch being planned for rather an early hour, the two girls went down to
get things in order about twelve o’clock. Adrian took the tiller, and,
steering with his eyes half shut, whistled softly to himself.
Christobel began setting the swing table in the saloon--the plan was to
lay-to upon the wind and have a proper lunch, as there was time;
Peterock cliffs were already in sight, and they would be moving towards
their destination all the while on the drift of the tide.

Pamela went through to light the stove--hot water would be wanted for
washing up, which was never left indefinitely. She had just put the
kettle on when she heard Christobel say something, and called out.

"What’s that, Crow?"

"How _funny_!"

"What’s funny?"  Pamela set a saucepan close to the kettle--with a view
to egg-boiling--and then swooped through the low door full of curiosity.
"What’s funny?" she asked again.

Crow was sitting on the bunk seat which was generally called hers,
holding something in her hand--a handkerchief. Not one of Adrian’s
"tablecloths", nor one of the girls’ strong linen hem-stitched articles
with the name letter in the corner.  It was small and fine and
lace-edged. Crow began turning it round slowly through her fingers,
looking for some mark.

A spasm passed through Pam’s mind.  She was beginning to be accustomed
to that sudden sick shock, that meant "danger ahead", but it was none
the less unpleasant.

Christobel came to a corner, and stayed.

"Goodness!" she murmured.  "I _say_, Pam, look here!"

Pamela had no need to "look here", she guessed.

"How _extraordinary_!" went on Crow with emphasis; "the same letters
that were on the safety-pin brooch--and a tiny little coronet.  It’s
awfully pretty, but--who on earth!"

She looked up at Pamela; their eyes met, and Christobel was acutely
conscious that Pam knew something.  She flushed scarlet; then the colour
fled and left her very pale; her clear eyes shifted from Crow’s gaze,
and in their depths was an uneasy, deprecating shadow.

"Do you know anything about this?" asked Christobel.

"About the handkerchief, no.  Oh no, I don’t.  How _could_ it come
here?"

It was perfectly true that she had no idea how the handkerchief came
there, but it was not the sort of truth that was natural to Pamela
Romilly, and as she said the horrid words she felt sick with herself.
In a lightning moment she resolved to go to the Countess and tell her
that she intended to state the whole position to Christobel--she would
do it; she would warn the girl and have it all above-board.

Silence fell like a stone between the sisters.  Christobel realized that
Pamela _had_ some secret; Pamela saw that she did.

Slowly the elder girl folded up the handkerchief and put it in her skirt
pocket.

"What shall you do--about it?" asked Pamela nervously.

"I shall give it to Mother, I suppose.  When one considers that the
letters and the coronet are the same--well----"

Her tone was cold--she was hurt because Pam would not speak.

A sudden strange inspiration came to Pamela in that desperate moment.
Desperate, because Crow had backed her up and fought her battle right
through--she could not bear this last misunderstanding.

"Crow," she said, leaning forward; her voice shook a little, and her
eyes looked suspiciously limpid--"Crow--do you mind my saying
something--about it?"

"Why should I?"

"Don’t say anything to Mother, yet.  Take it to Miss Anne."

"_Miss Anne_--Little Pilgrim?"  Christobel checked her work, and gazed
back startled.  "Why?"

"I can’t tell you why--but do.  I am sure it would be the best thing to
do."

The elder girl considered this, not with much sympathy it seemed; then
she said:

"Oh well, perhaps.  I don’t know.  Anyway, we may as well put lunch;
Addie is awfully hungry."

So it passed, with a very heavy cloud left behind to darken the clear
holiday sky!

Lunch was eaten and greatly enjoyed by Adrian.  The two girls using a
self-control such as only girls know how to call up when necessary,
Addie saw no difference in either--but they saw it--in each other.

Then came the arrival at Peterock, the smart picking up of moorings, the
convenient man doing nothing in a large clinker-built boat close by,
with a pipe between his teeth, willing for a consideration to "oblige"
and give advice.

Then the three went ashore with the afternoon before them, and to make
it all more complete they decided to have tea at a gay and joyous
tea-shop on the biggest esplanade, and start for home about five-thirty
or six; even so with such a wind and the splendid flow-tide they would
have ample time.  Adrian had his hair cut, while the girls--more or less
constrained--looked into shop windows.  When they met again Christobel
said she did not like the idea of waiting so long in the town, "suppose
the wind dropped"--it was lighter.  Adrian was disappointed, but he
realized that they were not allowing themselves much time for possible
accidents.

"Let’s get off at four--about--and have tea on board," said Crow.  As a
matter of fact the "snap" in the day had gone out for her since that odd
conversation with Pamela.

"_Tell_ you what we’ll do," cried Adrian suddenly, as a new move
occurred.  He loved new moves.  "We’ll get off about four; we’ll sail
down to the cove this side Bell Ridge--you know Champles Creek.  We’ll
drop anchor there and have tea on shore.  We shall be home then
practically, as we’ve only got Bell Ridge between us and the bay, and
can walk over if the worst comes to the worst."

"Why should there be any ’worst’?" asked Crow, not quite convinced.

"No reason, but one ought to have a bolt hole--always. All wild animals
do, and their instincts are--hullo, there’s old Timothy Batt--Peterock
day, I suppose."

Timothy Batt’s "van" was drawn up at the curb, bulging with parcels of
all shapes.  He sat under the canvas hood, while people in shops came
out and handed him more things.  He was very well known.

As the Romilly trio came up he leaned out and made a gesture of summons
to Pamela, who stepped forward to meet it.

Timothy explained that her bicycle was ready, "if so be" as she would be
content to risk a probable collapse of the tyre at an early date.

"Them at the works," explained Mr. Batt, "can’t make no job of it.  A
new tyre is what ’e wants--they don’t take no ’sponsibilities."

"They’ve been such an age over it already," said Pamela, annoyed,
"weeks--I must ask about the tyre--I wish I’d known, Timothy."

"Well, missie, ’twasn’t for want o’ me tellin’ of you. ’Tis a matter of
two weeks or more--us coming up along Folly Ho Road--pretty near dark it
were, and that I marked because I says to the missus ’twas a lone place
for you that hour.  I called out, and stopped be roadside right enough
to told you what they says down works.  ’Thank ’e’, says you--nobbut
that, and on you goes.  Bein’ as I was home goin’ and I didn’t stop.
There ’twas----"

"Oh," said Pamela uncertainly.  "Oh, I see----"  She moved on a step,
then she turned back to the cart and told Timothy she would write to the
works, "or Mother would".

Timothy Batt informed the missus that evening that "Miss Pamela looked
’pined’," and "she’d a lost way with her--happen she’s growed too tall
to be hearty," said the carrier.

Pamela certainly felt both "pined" and "lost" as she walked on with the
others.  She had no doubt whatever that this was another case of her
"double", and glancing sideways at Adrian, as he walked along balancing
neatly on the curb, saw the look on his face that she had begun to know
now.  Crow remained perfectly stolid, changing the subject at once to
something far removed from bicycles and Timothy Batt.

In old days, both would have said to her at once, "What were you doing
on the Folly Ho Road at that time?"  Now, nobody spoke, and to poor
Pamela it was a sort of brand proclaiming her outlawed from the family
confidence.

On the top of the handkerchief affair it was rather shattering, and she
felt a lump rise in her throat.  However, she called up her resolution
to hearten herself, swallowed the pain, and tried to take it all
philosophically.  After all, it would be explained presently, and in the
meantime she was doing what she thought right by the girl who had asked
for her silence.

Sails do not always turn out "according to plan", but this one did--as
far as getting to the creek below Champles Farm was concerned.  It was
the loveliest place, though hardly worthy to be called a creek when it
came to an anchorage.  On such a day, with an off-shore wind, the place
was perfection.  And once more the spirits of the three recovered the
usual level.  Adrian dropped the anchor, and the white yawl lay on the
smooth sea exactly like "a painted ship upon a painted ocean", while her
crew went ashore.

A stream came down through a glorious cleft in the rugged height.  There
were trees and ferns, the former a bit stunted from sea-wind; but Bell
Ridge was a barrier on one side, and on the other, the coast-line
trending outward made a shield.

Two thermos flasks and a weighty basket went ashore with the crew in the
dinghy.  It was some while after five then; but, as Adrian said the tide
would be in their favour till half-past nine, the feeling of ease was
delightful.  No hurry.  No bother about wind or tide.  Home was just
round the point by sea, and perhaps a mile by land, as the crow flies.
More, of course, if climbing is allowed for.

Soon after six Adrian said he should bathe.  Crow unearthed a magazine,
and Pamela said she would climb to the top and look at the view.

Everybody agreed that it "was all right", and became absorbed in their
different occupations.  Time passed so swiftly that it had presently
reached the hour of half-past seven.  Then Adrian, who had become busy
on the yawl in some unexpected direction, came ashore and said it was
time to be lifting anchor.

Christobel shut the magazine, wishing next month was due to-morrow, and
gazed at him with vague eyes.

"Wake up, old lady; we ought to be getting back. Where’s that idiot
Pam?"

"Oh, isn’t she on the shore?" said Christobel, stretching. "How heavenly
it looks!"

"Yes, I know, but it’s about eight o’clock--or soon will be.  We’d
better get things on board; I can come and take her off."

"Whistle--call," suggested Crow, getting up from her fern seat.

Adrian did his best, which was something to be proud of, in the noise
line.  Christobel had to tell him to stop; she said the lighthouse at
Ramsworthy would send the boat up, thinking it was a ship in distress.
They both stood on the edge of the rippled sea, looking up at the cliff
and the wooded gully that cut it from top to the rocky base.

"_There_!" exclaimed Crow.

"Pam--e--la, _hullo--o_!"  Adrian’s strong voice woke echoes that called
and called again.

Clear of the bushes, on the summit stood the person they wanted, looking
down at them apparently, but never a word said she, nor did she make
sign or gesture.  She just stared.

Christobel waved her handkerchief, waved her hat, joined in Adrian’s
shout:

"Go--_ing_!"

Anyone could have heard much farther off than the cliff top.  True, it
was high, but the scene was so still, the waves but a ripple, and the
wind a breath.

"She’s mad," announced Adrian; "she’s raving, Crow. I told you she was.
If she isn’t coming, why can’t she answer?  I must say this positively
passes--well, never mind--get in--we’ll go.  If she comes down I’ll
fetch her off, but I shall certainly tell her what I think.  Otherwise
she can walk home."

"I don’t understand," said Crow.

"Of course you don’t.  People are not expected to understand lunatics."
Adrian said that and a few more things more pointed than flattering on
the way out to the yawl.

Meanwhile Pamela sat down on the edge of the cliff and watched them with
apparent interest.

By that time the light was beginning to turn into shadow.

"I suppose it couldn’t be anyone else!" ventured Christobel, twisting
round in the stern seat to look up at the motionless watcher.

"Anyone else!  My good girl, ask your own senses! Look at her hair!
Look at everything!  Besides, where is Pamela?  Didn’t we see her go up
to that very place?"

"Addie, don’t you think I’d better go back, and up to her and see if
anything is wrong?"

"How could there be anything wrong?  She looks perfectly healthy--there,
she’s going away.  Well, of all the blazing bits of cheek----"

It was true.  Pamela got up, stood clear against a bit of bare ground so
that they saw her figure distinctly; then she turned and walked away,
disappearing on the instant from view.

Adrian gave a snort--it was nothing less--and boarded the yawl in
silence.

The voyage home from the creek and the finish up took perhaps half an
hour.  Adrian left nothing to chance that night: he locked the companion
door, he fastened the fore-hatch.

"You’ll have to put up with stinks, Crow," he said bitterly, being most
horribly cross; "with the whole of Bell Bay one seething mass of
lunatics one has to take precautions."

Crow said nothing.  She saw it must be so, also she was very much
puzzled; there was the handkerchief of course, in addition, from her
point of view; Addie knew nothing about that.  However, amazements were
not yet a thing of the past.  When they two got in supper was just
beginning--everybody was collected round a cosy, well-filled table,
everybody, and--Pamela, who was cutting bread. She looked hot and rather
tired.

"We’re just about equal," she said.  "I was so sorry to be late."

"_Late_!" came from the two elders in voices of amazed indignation.

"You were just off.  I never saw anything so lovely as _Messenger_, just
leaning over, and spinning along, with the dinghy streaming behind.  It
was no good then, of course, so I just went back through the gorse ridge
and came down the usual way."

"Do you mean to say we were sailing when you first saw us, Pam?" said
Christobel, in a shocked voice.

"Sailing, yes--streaking along awfully fast.  Have some bread, Addie?"

"But, my dear girl, we were on the shore when we first saw you,"
persisted Christobel.  "We called and shouted till we were afraid of
attracting public attention and being had up for nuisances."

"Did you see Pam then, dear?" asked Mrs. Romilly.

"_See_ her, of course, Mummy, but she wouldn’t answer. We called--we
waved--we were on shore waiting by the dinghy, wondering why on earth
she was so late.  Then we saw her come to the cliff edge and look down
at us. Addie made an awful noise, but she never answered.  She just
seemed to be staring straight at us.  At last we couldn’t wait any
longer and we put off to the yawl.  She watched us reach the yawl and
then she turned away and went off. That’s what _we_ saw."

"How _very_ odd," said Mrs. Romilly uncertainly.  "Tell them just what
happened to you, darling."

"I went up the cliff to the top," Pamela answered, speaking rather
quickly, "then I thought I’d just go to Champles and fetch a few eggs,
as it was easy to carry them by the boat.  And coming away from Champles
I went round above the church, because it was so lovely--and there was a
most awful bother going on--Crow, you know where Mr. Badger has all
those sheep penned, and the field where the mare and the foal are in
with those calves.  Well, _all_ the sheep were out--hundreds--the whole
place was covered, the mare had got into the cornfield where the young
corn is just coming up green--and the calves had gone.  I started to get
the mare out, it took ages; then I saw the calves had gone into the
field that’s nearly hay.  It was particularly trying for Mr. Badger,
because I knew he would be at Salterne market to-day and not back.
Everyone else was gone home, of course.  I got the mare back, and the
calves, and some of the sheep.  It took ages and ages; when I got to the
cliff edge there was _Messenger_ sailing away. Certainly I didn’t blame
Addie for a second.  I only went to look on the off-chance of her being
still in the creek--it was very late."

Adrian made no remark from first to last.  He hardly appeared to listen,
but ate his supper in absorbed silence. Frankly, he did not believe a
word of the story, but he did not know what to think.  How his sister
could dare to assert that they never saw her, and that the yawl was on
her way home, was past understanding.

Mrs. Romilly had come to the conclusion--from Adrian’s manner and Pam’s
nervousness--that there had been some tiff on board, and the separation
was due to disagreement. She changed the subject, and peace prevailed on
the surface.



                            *CHAPTER XVIII*

                    *Mr. Badger calls at Bell House;
                   and Christobel at Fuchsia Cottage*


Hughie most tactfully refrained from saying one word to add to Pamela’s
weariness that night.  It was plain she was very tired--plain to her
mother, who, for that reason perhaps, was a little inclined to be biased
against the elder pair.

It was not kind to leave the child alone at Champles Creek, when by
their own story they had seen her and called to her.

"After all, one of you might have gone up to see what was the matter,
darling," she said to Crow later.

"But, Mother, _she_ says we’d started."

"I think she is saying it to shield you both; Pam is very generous,"
suggested Mrs. Romilly.

"I suppose you mean that either way _we_ are wrong," answered Crow, a
little wounded.

"Well, do you think it was quite kind to leave her all alone?  After a
long tiring day?  But never mind--a night’s rest will put it right, and
certainly Pam bears no malice."

That was how the affair looked to Mrs. Romilly.  Christobel said no
more.  She was a wise, kind girl--moreover, she was becoming aware of
some strange mesh of misunderstanding that had entangled them all.
Pamela had had to bear the brunt of that horrible brooch affair--now
_she_ was accused of this!

The handkerchief was in her possession still, of course, and, as she
examined it that night, Pamela’s odd suggestion came back to her with
new force.  At any rate Miss Anne would bring another mind and
imagination to bear on these entanglements.

Hughie, then, waited till next day, when he conveyed a secret invitation
to Pamela to meet him in "the cave" at a certain hour for important
conversation.  Pamela went, and, curled up happily behind the barricade
with her long legs doubled up under her, she heard the story of the
Countess’ raid on the yawl and the way she had been circumvented.

"Now what did she want to do?" said Pamela thoughtfully, her head
against the big trunk.

"_I_ rather guess----" said Hughie.

"What?"

"She wants to escape from Bell Bay.  If I was her," he went on, clasping
his ankles as he sat cross-legged--"if I was her, I should escape, but
in a more sensible way, of course."

"I see, escape to Salterne.  I wonder if she has any money," considered
Pamela.

"Sure to--lots."

"I wonder," went on Pam, "if Addie found out things on board; he never
said a word to me."

"Of course he did.  The dinghy was all filthy mess, and there must have
been a whole _field_ on the yawl!  _I_ couldn’t stop to clean up.  There
was that girl, and besides, I was so wet."

"Midget, you haven’t caught cold, have you?" asked Pamela anxiously.

"No.  I say, Pam--because Addie found out the mess was why you didn’t go
to Salterne, don’t you see?  It made things late--then you went to
Peterock.  I guessed that was it."

Pamela saw also, in an instant.  Then she told Hughie about the
handkerchief; he nodded gravely.

"Well, if Crow takes it to Miss Lasarge, perhaps _she’ll_ go and tell
Sir Marmaduke.  I wish they’d take that girl away--she spoils all our
fun."  Hughie sighed, then he remarked, "I told her it’s no use her
raiding the yawl any more--I said Addie would lock her up.  I said I’d
tell him to, but he’ll do it jolly well without me telling."

Pamela remained deep in thought as she reviewed this situation.

"I wonder what that girl will do next," she said at last, and sighed.

"Well, _I_ wish she’d put her head in a bag," remarked the Midget with
quite unexpected coarseness; "she doesn’t seem to be any use."

Now if anybody is thinking that the trouble at Champles Farm began and
ended with poor Pamela’s anxious efforts, "he is deceived by his own
vanity", as Mrs. Jeep would have said.  The day was not ended before
that worthy woman sent in a message by Keziah to know whether she could
speak to mistress for a few moments.  Mrs. Romilly departed to the
housekeeper’s room, and presently left that comfortable sanctum more
confused in mind than ever.

It appeared that Mrs. Jeep considered it her duty to mention what "they"
were saying about Miss Pamela.  It was "all over the village" that Miss
Pamela had removed the hurdle and had caused Mr. Badger’s sheep to
wander like the Israelites in the desert: some having been found at
Peterock, one been run over on the main road to the station, and several
still lost.  That Miss Pamela had opened the gates at both ends of Spill
land--the senseless name of the field in which the mare and the heifers
were pastured--and let the animals out.

"They will have it as Badger’s mare is so bad with the colic that she
won’t get over it.  Green corn’s shocking food for a horse--well, serve
her right, the greedy creature--but the heifers, five of them, have
trampled the field he’d laid by for hay something cruel.  I’m repeating
what they say, ma’am--there may be an ounce of truth to a barrel of
lies--we know how they talk.  But anyway, it’s laid to Miss Pamela.  In
my opinion, that Badger’s trying to make a case for himself.  He thinks
he knows where the money lays! I don’t hold with that Badger, ma’am;
never did, he’s too free with his gossip.  What I say is, Miss Pamela
knows the rights of a field just as well as them Badgers.  She was never
one for mischief--not from a child.  It’s silly nonsense, that’s what it
is, ma’am, but I thought I’d tell you in case that feller comes round
making out a case for damage."

Mrs. Jeep stayed, breathless; she had been fighting the family battles
since the milk came from Paramore’s in the morning.  It was the milkman
that first brought the tale; followed shortly by the postman and the
baker.  Hennery Doe had "known ove night", he admitted, but, as he
disapproved of gossip just as decidedly as of eight-hour days, the story
had remained with him.

"Oh dear, oh _dear_," said Mrs. Romilly, "it really is too absurd.  Poor
little Pamela seems to be in the wars all round.  What is the matter?
Why are people so hopelessly idiotic?"

Mrs. Jeep sympathized respectfully.  She intended to uphold the family
whatever turn the matter took, though in her secret heart she thought it
not an impossible contingency that Pamela might have left a gate open.

"Unluckily she was there--in the evening," allowed Mrs. Romilly; "if
only I could say she was at home!"

There it was.

Mr. Badger first of all wrote a letter to Mrs. Romilly. This he followed
up by a visit, next morning, and poor Pamela was sent for to the
library.  She was pale and worried; there was an anxious look in her
grey-blue eyes, for the situation was so entirely new to all her
experiences that she felt like a convict.

Mrs. Romilly said:

"Pam dear, tell Mr. Badger what you saw, and what you did."

Pamela told, in rather a breathless way, and one strong point in her
favour was her visit to Champles to fetch the eggs that were always
welcome at the Bell House. Mr. Badger admitted that she had reached
Champles before seven o’clock--about a quarter to seven in fact.
Badger’s contention seemed to be that she had opened the gates before
that--soon after six, because witnesses had seen sheep wandering at
half-past six.

"I didn’t go that way, Mr. Badger," said Pamela with decision; "I began
to climb up from the creek somewhere about six, and went straight to
Champles.  I came _back_ round the farm and the field where the mare
was.  No one was about, and I tried for an hour to get the animals
home--the mare couldn’t have eaten a great deal; I got her out, but the
calves wouldn’t go."

"I dunno," said Mr. Badger, with a twinkling eye fixed on the
cornice--_one_ on the cornice, that is, _one_ on Mrs. Romilly--"I dunno
as I can save that mare; she’s a turrable loss.  If she dies the foal’s
sure to foller; he’s full young. As for the hay, an’ them sheep----"

Mr. Badger believed he had a strong case.  He said he could bring
witnesses to swear that they saw Pamela about six o’clock going through
the Spill land.  The witnesses were vague rumour, really, but supposed
to be people walking out from Peterock to Bell Ridge and back--these
people "had passed a remark" on the subject when the sheep were all over
the roads, and remembered a young lady in blue with a long tail of hair,
walking in the direction of Peterock.

"How could _I_ be going to Peterock, Mother?  You _do_ see how
improbable it is, don’t you?"

Mrs. Romilly was firmer than Mr. Badger had hoped. He had planned a
"walk over", and pictured himself returning home with a cheque for at
least twenty pounds in his pocket!  The fact is that Mrs. Romilly was so
convinced of Pamela’s truth herself that she refused to be shaken.

"I’m sorry, Mr. Badger," she said; "at the same time, if, as you allow,
people were walking out from Peterock to the ridge and back why should
not one of them have left your gate insecure?  Strangers are careless,
we know.  As for the young lady in blue with long hair whom they say
they saw on the spot--the story is not convincing.  They had heard the
description of my daughter, and are shielding themselves behind it.  I
don’t think we need say any more."

Mr. Badger went, dismissed icily by Keziah, who upheld the honour of the
Bell House as first lieutenant to Mrs. Jeep; at the same time she
remarked, in privacy:

"I’ve no opinion of Badger, Mrs. Jeep, as you know, but it takes some
explaining to see why ever Mr. Adrian and Miss Pamela tell such
different tales.  Mr. Adrian’s ever so gruff, won’t hardly speak to Miss
Pamela, nor Miss Christobel neither, so far as I can see.  He _is_ put
out."

Keziah spoke truly, for Christobel could get no opinion from her brother
either way.  He refused to discuss Badger, or his woes.  When Christobel
said it was all a story--a fairy tale of gossip--didn’t he think so?
Adrian said:

"My dear Crow, did we see Pamela, or did we not see Pamela!  You know
what we did, and you know what she did?  Well, what’s the good of
talking."

It was conclusive enough to drive Crow into her own room and a
consultation with her own mind as to the best course.  There was still
that suggestion of Pam’s about Miss Lasarge.  Crow sat in her wicker
armchair and gazed up the carriage drive, on which Adrian still declared
he had seen the younger pair at four o’clock in the morning. Madness--of
course, yet, what about that queer invasion of the yawl?  The whole
thing was delirium of improbabilities; the more Christobel thought about
it, the simpler it seemed to go and ask Miss Anne for advice.

So, about four o’clock on the day of Mr. Badger’s visit, Christobel
announced she was going for a walk, and "made tracks" for Fuchsia
Cottage.  Miss Anne was at home; she usually was at that hour; and she
received the girl with pleasure visible in every line of her small pale
face.

"Now of course you’ll have tea with me, Crow; do you know, I was just
beginning to pity myself for being all alone, and so you’ve saved me
from a contemptible state of mind. I’ll tell Lizzie--and what about the
lawn?"

Christobel said it was rather windy; she did not want tea out of doors,
it was too public.  That settled it, because Miss Lasarge understood.

Everything went as is usual until the middle of the meal, when outside
subjects of conversation had been exhausted; then Crow said:

"Little Pilgrim, I’m come really to ask you to help us----"

"_Us?_" questioned Miss Anne, undisturbed.

"Well, it affects us all, so I’d sooner say us.  We are in a strange
kind of morass--I don’t know what to call it.  We’ve never had such a
horrible state of things in the family before; you know how happy we
are?"

"I know," agreed Miss Anne; "and so something has happened to spoil it!
Suppose you begin at the beginning and tell me.  ’Trouble shared is
trouble spared’, isn’t it?"

"I’m trying to remember when this trouble actually started," said
Christobel, leaning her head back on the cushion, and gazing at the
flowers on the table with unseeing eyes.

"It was about the time Mollie went.  The first we knew of it was when
Pam saved little Ensor.  She said, and they said, that she did it
alone--you remember.  Adrian said it was impossible.  Some days
afterwards he went to look at the place, and he found a most lovely
diamond brooch with two ’A’s’ for initials and a coronet over them----"

Miss Anne stirred in her chair.  Crow paused.

"Go on dear," said Miss Anne.

Crow went on, she told the whole story of the brooch, with scrupulous
accuracy, adding one after the other the appearances of Pamela in places
where she should not have been at such hours.  She went on, without
interruption, through the very strange story of Adrian’s vision at four
in the morning, and the even stranger relation of the condition in which
the yawl and the dinghy were found. Finally there was the discovery of
the handkerchief on board the yawl, and _this_ latest affair of the
picnic at Champles Creek and Pamela’s amazing behaviour, followed so
quickly by Badger’s accusation.

Crow was very deliberate; she did not forget the episode of Timothy Batt
even, bringing the whole relation up to the present moment, as it were.
Then she ceased to speak.

Miss Anne was leaning her cheek on her hand, and her elbow on the arm of
the chair; she did not look at Christobel, but very intently out at the
lawn and flowers.

"What do _you_ think, Crow?" she presently asked. "Have you any
interpretation of your own?"

Christobel shook her head rather despondently; then she said:

"Anyway, I’m absolutely sure Pamela hasn’t done anything dishonourable.
I don’t understand what’s happening, but I do know Pam, and I’ve
sometimes thought she might be aiming at some--well--some rather cranky
sort of noble deed----"  Crow flushed and looked at her companion in a
deprecating manner.  "She’s simply wild about the Girl Guide business;
she’s only waiting till she gets to school to be one.  She reads it up,
and soaks it in, and she’s awfully set on doing a good deed every day,
and helping people whatever it costs.  Don’t you see how it might lead
to--to things, perhaps?  One can’t tell how, exactly."

"She might be shielding somebody?" suggested Miss Lasarge.

"Yes; if there was anybody to shield.  Besides," added Christobel in a
more matter-of-fact tone, "a lot of it is sheer muddle--the Badger
business, I mean, _that’s_ sinful nonsense."

Miss Anne laughed; the fierceness in Crow’s way of saying "sinful
nonsense" pleased her very much.

After that they talked it all over quietly, and the upshot was that one
thing especially seemed to puzzle Miss Lasarge, namely the surprising
vision Adrian saw at four o’clock in the morning.

"He could hardly have been mistaken in Hughie," she said.

"Or in Pam," added Crow.

To that Miss Anne made no reply.

When Christobel had taken her leave, greatly comforted, though nothing
had happened so far to lift the burden, Miss Lasarge looked at the
clock; it was half-past five. She hesitated, then made up her mind--and
a very firm mind too--because though Miss Anne was small and pale she
had a great soul in that small body, and she realized that she must help
innocent folk who were suffering through no fault of their own.

She put on a grey cloak and little close bonnet with a grey veil, and
slipped across the road to Woodrising gates like a grey shadow.  It was
a cloudy day, and the very young new moon was "lying on her back", as
country folk say, which is a sign of tiresome weather.  Miss Anne,
looking up, saw the silver sickle, pale and slim, for the first time.

Mrs. Trewby opened the gate, sighing; she was more bilious than usual by
reason of Mrs. Chipman’s company, and a large housekeeping allowance.
Mrs. Chipman liked what she called "a good table", meaning, of course,
the things on it, not the table.  Therefore, in doing her best to keep
Mrs. Chipman in countenance, Mrs. Trewby had upset herself for weeks,
probably months.  It was a pity, because it made her very unhappy and
darkened her life.

"I wish to see the Countess, Mrs. Trewby," said Miss Anne.

"Well, miss, I dunno’----"

"It’s very important," continued Miss Anne, quietly passing inside; "I
will answer to Sir Marmaduke."

When Miss Lasarge spoke in that voice she was always obeyed, and so she
presently found herself within the hall, and Mrs. Chipman discussing the
matter with many creakings of the tight bodice.

"I assure you, Miss Lasarge, that I have agitated in vain," cried Mrs.
Chipman; "coercion has been attempted in vain; the temperament of the
Countess is opposed to isolation, therefore----"

"I am afraid we cannot discuss that, Mrs. Chipman; the point is that Sir
Marmaduke left orders which must be carried out.  Now, if you please, I
wish to see the Countess."

Mrs. Chipman was for the time suppressed--like the guinea-pigs in _Alice
in Wonderland_--she was rather like a guinea-pig when you come to think
of it.  She ushered Miss Lasarge into the drawing-room where Pamela had
seen the Countess, but nobody was there, and Miss Anne detected in a
moment that Mrs. Chipman really was not sure whether she could produce
her very self-willed charge. It was a matter of luck!

In that moment they both saw the girl in question going swiftly across
the lawn towards a shrubbery lower down. Miss Anne did not hesitate; she
opened the window--which was of the "French" kind--passed out quickly,
and called.

The girl stopped, and stood looking to see who had summoned her; saw
Miss Lasarge and remained, hesitating. Had it been Mrs. Chipman she
would have walked away, that was obvious.

Miss Anne went over the grass towards her.

"I want to have a little talk with you, Countess," she said, without the
least asperity.  "Won’t you come back and entertain me?"

They came back together, into the drawing-room, and Miss Anne shut the
window, because she preferred to keep the conversation private.

She did not find this task at all easy, chiefly because the girl’s
attitude--in every sense--was so antagonistic.

Sir Marmaduke Shard had given her and Major Fraser a sort of partnership
as watch-dogs over this girl--chiefly because one was a first-class
hospital nurse, and the other a doctor--yet they had no actual
authority, only moral authority.  He wanted someone on the spot to
oversee Mrs. Chipman, and be ready supposing her charge should be ill.
He fancied that he had arranged for every contingency in a most complete
manner, but being a man as well as a great lawyer, he had of course
missed entirely the main points--the practical points--with results
already shown.

Miss Anne and Major Fraser both had a reason for helping; this came to
light afterwards; but even so they would probably have declined all
association with the business had they realized how perfectly untamable
Sir Marmaduke’s ward was going to be.

Things had come to a head, though, and Miss Lasarge felt herself on firm
ground when she began to talk.  She told the girl that she knew
everything--including the brooch business and the wanderings over the
countryside.

The Countess watched her shrewdly--to see how much she really did
know--and quickly realized that nothing was said about the night visit
to the yawl.  Miss Anne did not mention it, because she could not make
up her mind about that.  How could little Hughie be connected with this
girl in such an excursion?  It was not possible to understand it, and
the Countess decided she did not know, and triumphed.

She excused herself about the brooch, saying it was her own; she had
dropped it on the cliffs.

"When you met Pamela Romilly?" suggested Miss Anne.

"Was there any wickedness in helping to carry the farm boy?" said the
Countess.

"Of course not, my dear; but you should not have been out.  You promised
Sir Marmaduke in my hearing that you would keep to these grounds for the
short time you are staying--you break your word, and, if I am not
mistaken, you induced Pamela Romilly to keep your secret, and so have
involved her in all sorts of grief and misunderstanding."

"She need not keep her promise," said the Countess, with a little smile.

"But she would, of course.  And you knew she would, didn’t you?"

The girl gave that little shrug with which she met objections she
despised, and, as Miss Anne looked at her handsome face and her arrogant
supercilious expression, she found herself wondering how, when, and
where it would ever be possible to teach this untaught soul a code of
honour.



                             *CHAPTER XIX*

                              *The Trick*


Miss Anne’s visit at Woodrising lasted nearly an hour, which annoyed the
Countess extremely, but she made little way on the road she had hoped to
gain.  She tried to awaken some sympathy for Pamela, but the girl
appeared to find amusement in Pam’s trouble.  Because she had been brave
over the cliff affair, Miss Anne hoped she felt for little Reuben, but
she was in no wise interested, the farm people were "common".

At the end of the hour Miss Lasarge realized that the chief hold she had
was in the fact that the Countess was afraid of Sir Marmaduke--of anyone
in power, perhaps. It was a weapon Miss Anne could not bear to use, but
she had to protect her beloved children at the Bell House.

"Well," she said, "then I’ll say good night, and you will be wiser, my
child, if you do as Sir Marmaduke wishes. You are making a mistake in
acting as you do.  I am obliged to say that I shall tell him if it does
not cease."

The Countess looked down at the little grey person who presumed to
interfere with her amusement.  It did not occur to her that she could
not shield herself behind a lie. It would be quite easy to tell Sir
Marmaduke that the girl who ran about in the evenings was Pamela
Romilly.  He would believe her, of course.  She recalled with
satisfaction that Miss Ashington was sure she had been visited by
Pamela.  There was nothing--nothing to prove in any single instance that
it had not been Pamela Romilly. Mrs. Chipman would be silent for her own
sake.

As the little grey lady stood watching her face she read the thought.
Perhaps the Countess did not try to conceal it; perhaps she was not so
well practised in deceit as to hide it all--after all, fourteen years is
not a long time.  In either case Miss Anne saw it quite plainly, and she
said:

"You might deny all sorts of things, but you would have to explain to
Sir Marmaduke how you came to leave your handkerchief on his yacht--on
Tuesday night.  It is a thing that cannot be denied."

The girl stiffened, and stood rigidly still.

Then she said suddenly.

"It is a lie--you invent it to frighten me."

"No," answered Miss Anne, looking at her with the clear grey gaze that
seemed the essence of truth, "it is quite true. My dear child, you know
it is true.  There is your initial, and the little coronet--quite
unmistakable.  Now good night again--be wise, and be good, and you will
be happy too.  I tell you frankly that _I_ have your handkerchief, but I
shall not use any evidence against you unless you make me."

Seldom in her life had the grey lady felt so much pain as when she left
the Countess standing in the Woodrising drawing-room with that
expression of fear and anger together on her pretty face.  Miss Anne had
been used to girls as friends always, and had started by treating this
girl in the same way as others.  The Countess on her part started by
pretending friendliness, and cheated!  That was the
difficulty--kindness, in her eyes, was weakness.

Miss Lasarge went home, and on the way made up her mind to write to Sir
Marmaduke if there was any further trouble, but she did not wish to
bother him needlessly, because she knew he was very busy at work on a
Government Commission.  Also, it did seem rather absurd that several
women could not keep one girl of fourteen within bounds.

Left alone, the Countess sat down with some force and cried furious
tears.  Then she took her hat off and threw it on the floor--flung her
gloves one way and her shoes another. Then she rang the bell violently,
ordered Mrs. Chipman to pick the things up--and marched upstairs in her
stockings with high held chin.

She would not go out--to-night--or to-morrow--perhaps not for one or two
more days, but _wait_.  She had plenty of money; she would not be
trammelled by these common people--after all what could they do to her?
That was the point naturally--what they could do that mattered? She had
been in England a long time.  Quite long enough to understand that
nobody would hurt her, whatever she did; but not long enough to
appreciate kindness at its true value--which was sad, in many ways.
Therefore she settled her own plan, in her own way, went to bed and
slept soundly.

At the Bell House life assumed something of the old peace.  Nothing
happened in the Badger line--having cast his bolt, the wily master of
Champles Farm was not quite certain what to do next.

Christobel smiled on Pamela, who in her turn summoned up courage to ask
what she had done with that handkerchief.

"Gave it to the Little Pilgrim," said Crow.

"What did she say?"

"Nothing."

"Didn’t she say one word?  Didn’t she know _anything_?" persisted poor
Pam, disappointed.

"She looked at the initial, and I don’t think she was surprised.  I
don’t know why, but my feeling said she wasn’t surprised.  I told her
about the brooch and--and a few things I’d noticed," went on Crow,
turning a little pink under her sister’s anxious gaze.  "She nodded, and
listened--that was all; but one felt she’d do something--quietly,
without fuss!  I don’t know why one should always expect her to, but one
does."

Pamela was thinking: "She’ll help.  She _knows_----"

Her face cleared a little.

"Pam," began Christobel with a sudden impulse to get nearer this
isolated little sister, "I don’t like asking if you don’t--I mean if
you’ve something private.  But do you mind telling me if you went on the
yawl that Tuesday night--before our sail?"

Pamela looked startled, hesitated a moment, and then said:

"No--I was never out of bed."

Christobel, seeing a disturbed look in her eyes, answered with a
questioning:

"Truly, Pam?"

"On my honour, Crow.  Honour bright!  I was asleep, and I never knew
anything about it.  I didn’t know things had been disarranged, till
afterwards."

"But Hughie?"  Christobel brought out the two words as half exclamation,
half question.

"I’d rather you didn’t ask me about anyone else, Crow," said Pam
imploringly; "I can only tell you that you needn’t think Midget naughty.
He is absolutely _wonderful_.  His pluck and his sense too.  I don’t
believe there’s a child to equal him in England!  If you only----" she
checked herself, and added in rather a choky tone, "Least said soonest
mended, I suppose!  ’Wait till the clouds roll by’, dear old thing; they
will, some day."

The weather began to be tiresome just about now, never two days alike,
never morning and afternoon alike. Probably the old saying about an
intoxicated moon had something to do with it.  The crew of the
_Messenger_ were not deterred, however; they sailed in fits and starts,
gaining excellent experience of management and a lot of good exercise
and salt air.

"Sooner them than me," said Keziah, shivering ostentatiously as she
closed a rain-spattered casement with a bang.  "Every man to his taste,
but however anybody can look to a sailor’s life----"

"_I_’m going to be a sailor," said Hughie from a kneeling position
before a chair, on the seat of which he was preparing a diminutive
brush, and equally small pot of varnish for use upon "blocks" no bigger
than young green peas. "It’s as good as any other way of living, Keziah.
If you’re drowned you can’t be smashed in a railway accident, or die of
small-pox.  Even soldiers have to be buried--we don’t.  It’s much the
tidiest way."

Keziah departed in haste with a "Go on, Master Hughie, tidy indeed!" and
told Mrs. Jeep that "the sayings of that child were past all knowledge".

Hughie chuckled to himself, well aware he had shocked Keziah, and went
upstairs to wash his hands for lunch. He was looking forward to an
afternoon after his own heart--nasty weather out of doors, and peaceful
hours in the cave, finishing "rigging".

Pamela was rather distraite at lunch.  After days of peace and ordinary
"old-fashioned" life, as she called things as they were, a little letter
had reached her that morning, not by hand--not thrown in at the
window--posted the day before in Bell Bay probably, postmark Ramsworthy,
the nearest office.

It was from the Countess.  Its tone was kind, was friendly, was even a
little humble.  She was very lonely and unhappy, she had no one to speak
to, and would Pamela please meet her for only ten minutes in the wood
behind Crown Hill next day?  She suggested half-past five--allowing time
for Pamela’s tea, she said--and declared that she would go in any case,
just in the hope of seeing Pamela. She asked if Pam would wait till six
o’clock if no one appeared, because it wasn’t always easy to get out.
Finally she asserted that she had been very patient and very miserable
for a long, long time--nearly two weeks--and it couldn’t hurt anybody if
Pamela came and talked to her for ten minutes.

There is small doubt, perhaps, that Pam should not have considered such
a proposition.  But it must be remembered that she knew nothing at all
about Miss Anne’s strict injunction, or the importance of the rules set
for the Woodrising household.

It was true that the Countess had remained a quiet prisoner through
nearly a fortnight of dreary, windy, gusty, sunless weather, and
Pamela’s soft heart was melted towards her. After all, she was only
fourteen, there was such an odd bond in the likeness and the age.
Again, no one had been told but Pam that her father was killed, and she
had been bandied about from house to house like a portmanteau of clothes
left behind.  Pamela did not know who she was, but guessed her of
considerable importance, not that that mattered in her eyes, but it
accounted for things.  Pam’s theory was that somehow "Government was
responsible", in which belief she was "very warm", as people say in
hide-and-seek.  That explained Sir Marmaduke, who was always on
Commissions, and cloaked in official secrecy--and blindness.

Anyway it would not matter if she met the girl once; she would soon see
if the Countess was "getting nicer", as Pamela said to herself.  So she
decided to go, and talk to her for ten minutes, also, to tell no one, as
she was adjured in the letter; no one, not even Hughie.

From that moment dated a most amazing adventure, one that might easily
have cost the lives of several people, including this weighty charge of
the great K.C.

Adrian and Christobel went out for a short sail as usual, came back,
moored the yawl--she was safe enough on her strong holding
ground--pulled up the dinghy, and appeared at tea saying the weather
looked beastly.

There had been over a fortnight of this horrible broken-up outlook, and
according to Adrian there might be a month. Long sails had been
abandoned.  The persistent pair got a run out and back most days, either
morning or afternoon, for two hours at the outside just for experience
and exercise, as has been said already.  They had never once remained
out to tea; hardly ever for lunch.  It was not tempting enough.  They
came in, on this particular day, before four o’clock, having gone out at
two.

"No good," said Adrian; "silly ass the weather is.  I say, Crow, why not
racquets in the garage after tea--there is no car as it’s gone to be
done up--we shan’t hurt the walls.  Ask Mother."

Mrs. Romilly agreed placidly; she preferred it to sails in ugly weather,
even if the plaster came down!

Hughie retreated again to the cave.

Pamela disappeared by herself.  That was just about ten minutes past
five.

One hour later Pamela was still up in the wood beyond Crown Hill park.
She had gone through the grounds, reached the copse about the time
fixed, and waited, sitting on a fallen tree in the glade.  The place was
sheltered from wind and all sound but the far away murmur of surf on
rocks.  Pamela waited at first in a strained sort of way, rather
nervous, and wondering how she and the Countess would get on together
after their one and only meeting at Woodrising.  Then, when the girl did
not come, she guessed there must have been some obstacle, and stayed
from minute to minute, because she pictured the Countess arriving
breathless, having run all the way, and being dreadfully disappointed at
finding the place empty and chance lost.  Pamela strolled up and down
and gazed through the leafy tree-tops at the drifting clouds.  They
seemed to be going surprisingly fast, and there was a lot of vapour
about; the intoxicated moon was invisible, but where she might be was a
tiny misty patch, and away low down in the west was a veiled eye with a
ring round it.

Presently Pamela realized that it was after half-past six; she could not
wait.  She went along in the Woodrising direction for some little way;
no one appeared.  She turned back and went off on the homeward track,
looking over her shoulder every few moments just to see if the Countess
was arriving at the eleventh hour.

Out of the wood she came, through Crown Hill park, down the drive to the
lodge, and reached the gate at the bottom of the slope on to the horn
above the bay.  The road turned sharply here, of course, almost dropping
to the sea-wall and Bell House lawns, but on the rugged exposed bit of
cliff was Mainsail Cottage, Penberthy’s domicile, which had once been
the coast-guard station.  Part of this was let to Major Fraser, who was
at the moment away in London.

Mrs. Penberthy, a little vague woman rather like "Mrs. Jellaby", was
standing behind the white low wall of the wind-blown garden, looking out
to sea with hands shielding her eyes.  She was alone; no doubt Penberthy
was working overtime at Crown Hill as usual.  As Pamela reached the
corner, the elbow of the turn, she forgot Mrs. Penberthy’s interest in
the sea, and stood looking down puzzled--very puzzled indeed.

On the sea-wall terrace, leaning over, stood Mrs. Romilly, with a
handkerchief tied over her blowing hair; beside her was Mrs. Jeep, stout
and dignified in starched cap.

Down on the edge of the rocks was a group: Hughie, Miss Chance, and
Keziah--all staring out to sea with hands shielding eyes from the
drizzly gusts that blew into the bay, not with violence, but nastily.
The evening had closed in surprisingly early for seven o’clock; it might
almost have been nine.  So far as Pamela could see, there was not a sail
in sight, yet at moments she thought she saw something grey and ragged
rise and fall, far out.

Then she started off running down the hill, and half-way was checked by
a cry from her mother.  Pamela stopped and stared--they were waving--all
were waving and calling out!  _Why_?  She waved back, and went on
running, noting as she got nearer and nearer what an extraordinary state
of excitement seemed to prevail.  She remembered also that Adrian, Crow,
and the yawl were not there.

Somehow or other she had not seen that in the first surprise.  Now that
she did see it, it came as a shock--a shock with dismay.  But even now
she did not in the least realize what had happened.

She hurried to her mother, and was greeted with--"_Oh_, my little Pam!"
and an almost passionate clasp of arms.

"Mummy darling, what _is_ the matter?  Why is everybody----"

"I can*not* understand," Mrs. Romilly interrupted, urgently talking.  "I
am worried about the others, of course, but the yacht is nice and
solid--one feels they are really all right--but who on earth?  It’s like
witchcraft!"

"What is?" demanded Pamela, looking to Hughie, who had come up with
Keziah, and was the only person not chattering.

"_You_, in the dinghy!" said Hughie, returning her inquiring gaze with
eyes so full of meaning that gradually a dawning dread took possession
of her mind.  She turned to Mrs. Romilly.

"Mother, I never went in the dinghy."

"Dear child, I see now, of course, but we all thought you’d gone off in
her."

"Gone off in her!  At this time!  In such beastly weather--why?"

"But, Pam, we saw you go!"

"Saw me go!" Pamela echoed the words almost stupidly.

"To be strictly accurate, dear, no one saw you put off," said the
Floweret; "had we done so, of course, we should have interfered,
realizing how very unsuitable all conditions are.  But Keziah saw you
rowing out of the bay in the dinghy, and came running down--she was
turning down the beds in yours and Hughie’s room----"

"You could have knocked me down with a _touch_, I was so taken up," put
in Keziah.  "I screeked out, ’It’s never Miss Pamela’, and off I went.
Mr. Adrian’d come in by then, so I banged on his door and I said----"

"Where _is_ Addie?" put in Pamela anxiously.

"Darling, they are gone after you; you see--" said Mrs. Romilly, trying
to smile in a scared sort of way--"the thing is, I don’t understand.
They’ll be all right, of course. They were out after lunch to-day and
came back to tea, as you know.  The thing that startles me so is----"

"But how did they get on to _Messenger_ without a boat?" demanded
Pamela.  "I beg your pardon, Mummy--how rude of me to cut in--but I
really am so awfully surprised."

"_Swam_," announced Hughie, with a spring that landed him side-saddle on
the top of the sea-wall; then he laughed.

Pamela looked from one to the other with wide eyes; then she suddenly
remembered Hughie’s plan for catching the Countess.

"Who thought of it?" she asked quickly; "was it you, Midget?"

"Well, you see," explained that young person, "when Addie came down and
saw you right out there in the dinghy, he said, ’How in thunder am I to
get to the yawl?’ and Crow said nothing at all, and I said ’_Swim_’.
Then Addie thought and thought and said ’How’s that?’ to Crow, and Crow
rushed up home to get a bathing-dress----"

"Oh but, Mother," cried Pamela in distress, "what on earth can Crow do
on the yawl with no dress--she hasn’t got any clothes on board."

"No, but Addie has, dear.  Crow will do all right. Addie has two sets of
flannels on the yacht always, often more.  Crow will have one set and
Addie the other, and they’ve got the oilskins, you see.  Really,"
reasoned poor Mrs. Romilly, trying to pretend it was all very
amusing--"really, it is quite an adventure--and an awfully good idea of
Midget’s.  I don’t think Addie would have thought of it himself,
somehow.  It is very--well--unusual."

"Horribly cold and rough," said Pamela, shivering as she looked at the
grey water surging restlessly in the pretty bay.

"Rough water isn’t always cold," said Mrs. Romilly; she was using every
possible argument to make herself think this business was nothing.

Pamela asked how long ago the yawl had started, and was told that she
sailed about half an hour since.  Of course the swim, the dressing, and
the start had all taken time. When had they seen the boat leaving the
cove? Nobody seemed very sure.  All that was mazy.  The excitement had
been so great, and the fear about Pamela so acute, that time had not
been counted or noticed. Probably it was somewhere about six o’clock
when the retreating dinghy was first seen.

A feeling of intense indignation gripped Pamela body and soul.  She had
never been so angry in her sweet-tempered life.

It was vile, it was treacherous!

The Countess had written that perfidious letter to draw her safely away
and out of sight.  That was all--not one word of honesty in the
pretended loneliness and friendly overture.  Pamela saw through the move
clearly, now it was too late.

The girl calculated that she could pass down through Bell Bay grounds to
the cove, and reach the dinghy without interference--under the guise of
her double--Pamela.  If the servants saw her on the beach no one would
trouble.

Pamela realized also that she had satisfied herself of the fact that the
yawl went out for short runs and back--her chances of finding the
dinghy, and no one about, on such a day was a hundred to one,
therefore--and as for the one chance against her, had Adrian been on the
yawl and the dinghy in use, she would have strolled off--pretending to
be Pamela--and tried again another day, no doubt.

Having been baulked in her plan of hiding on the _Messenger_, she had
stolen the dinghy.  Ignorant of weather conditions outside, no doubt she
thought she could get to Peterock--anywhere.

Time went on.  Eight o’clock.  Nine.  Ten.  Then Pamela begged her
mother to send for Miss Anne.  _She_ would have to explain; perhaps it
would take off Mrs. Romilly’s mind from the agony of waiting for the
yawl.

Nobody went to bed.  Every hour the wind grew stiffer--it had backed
down into the south-west and settled to blow--dark as pitch, with
horribly squally gusts.  Pamela remembered that awful night as long as
she lived, and the grey dawn that followed--when the wind screamed in
the chimneys, and spray blew up the valley.



                              *CHAPTER XX*

                    *The "Messenger" to the Rescue*


When Christobel came back to the shore after getting ready for that
strange swim, she felt as though she was in a dream and the events
happening to somebody else.  To be starting out in such uncanny fashion
when the day was closing in and night--very threatening night--begun,
seemed too unnatural.  She did not like the notion of sailing into that
uneasy grey waste beyond the cliff gates of the cove, but apart from the
discomfort she was hardly afraid.  Both she and Adrian had become
practised in the last two weeks of choppy sea and gusty breezes.

The predominating idea, though, was the madness of Pamela.

Both Crow and her mother were absolutely dazed by this amazing act on
the part of the younger girl.  Why?  _Why_? What was the use and what
was the sense?  Could it be anything to do with Badger?  She had seemed
so happy during this fortnight past.  At tea-time there was no
appearance of worry.

"Well, Mummy--I’m not sure.  She was very quiet and absent at tea."

"So she was--yes----"  Then Mrs. Romilly went over the whole ground
again, tearing her own heart with doubts, dreads, and misgivings.

But the upshot of the whole thing seemed to be that Pamela was demented.
No sane girl would go off at that hour, and in such a sea, rowing an
open dinghy with small sculls.

The swim was nothing--rather jolly in fact.  Adrian climbed up first and
let down the short white steps for her.

"What’s the tide doing?" asked Crow, and she stood a moment on the
counter looking round.

"On the turn, I think; however, considering we don’t know which way
she’s gone----"

"No; but won’t she be forced to go the way the tide goes?" suggested
Crow from the companion-way.

"I suppose so.  What raving insanity it all is!  I can’t see a glimpse
of her anywhere.  You see, we don’t know how long a start she had."

"Keziah said----"

"Oh, I know--but Keziah’s an idiot.  Did you ever know her tell you a
thing accurately?"

It will be seen that Adrian was cross.  He was, very. Expecting a wet
night, he had housed the mainsail and the mizzen in their covers, and
now all was to undo, and do over again.  It really was maddening.  Also
he had made up his mind to tell Pamela his opinion when they found her.
Having restrained his tongue on the Champles Creek event, he believed it
was now time to let go.

When the two were ready, they looked very business-like and fit
sailor-men.  Crow in flannels and oilskins, with sou’-wester tied down,
and steady grey eyes looking from beneath the peak of it, was a most
alluring personality. Addie looked big and square, and very much in
earnest.

The first question to answer was, how much sail should be allowed.  They
had gone out that day with one reef down; the weather demanded that.
Adrian now decreed two reefs down, foresail and storm jib, no mizzen.
The jib had to be changed, and reefs taken down; they both worked, but
it took a little time, as everyone knows who has done these
nail-breaking jobs in the circumstances that usually attend
them--namely, drizzly rain, salt spray, and wind in aggravating gusts.

"We shall have to have the lights," said Adrian, groaning.

"If only it were morning instead of seven in the evening," murmured
Crow.

"My good girl, what _is_ the use----"

Crow laughed.

"No use, Addie, only for goodness’ sake let’s buck up. We’ve got to go
and search the briny main, so we may as well be cheerful.  By the way, I
believe Mother is going to send a messenger somewhere, too."

"How do you mean _somewhere_?"

"Ramsworthy."

"No earthly use.  What could they do?  I believe there is an old
crank----"

"The lighthouse men have a boat, haven’t they?"

"Daresay--yes, believe they have.  But you’re not going to get them out
ploughing the coast vaguely.  They _might_ go to pick someone off a
wreck they could see, or hear.  Mum might just as well save her trouble.
Too late to wire.  No one to wire to!  It’s up to _us_, old lady; we’ve
got the only thing that’s any chance--a sound, fast, sailing boat.
There, that’s done."

It was the last reef.

Then the mainsail went up, jerking and rattling, looking absurdly small,
and quite useless.  Also the wrong shape.

"We shan’t capsize, anyway," said Crow, inwardly pleased at the small
amount of canvas showing.

"No, but we might be pooped."

"Waves aren’t big enough, child."

"You _wait_!"  Adrian gave a "hollow" laugh; he noticed it himself.
"I’ve often wondered what a ’hollow laugh’ was, in books," he said; "now
I’ve done it myself!  Next time I shan’t jeer at the miserable chaps who
do it when they are hanging by one finger-nail to a crag five thousand
feet above a torrent."

"_They_ don’t," corrected Crow; "_they_ set their teeth till their jaws
look like granite rocks.  The person who gives the ’hollow laugh’ is the
villain who lured them to the crag, and is peeping over just before he
goes back to marry the best girl."

Both laughed, not a "hollow one".

"Right-o," said Adrian; "let’s sing the ’Marseillaise’, Crow, and run up
the White Ensign--we’ve no earthly right, but no one will dispute with
us just now.  I’ll batten the fore-hatch, then ’Westward ho, with a
rumbillo--and it’s----’"  Adrian gave a shout that could be heard right
up the valley and made Crow jump, ending with "’my mariners all--O----’"
in a fantastic falsetto.

Then he cast off the mooring-buoy.

Hand-waving from the shore and the sea-wall wished them success.  The
white yawl, lying down to her work in a steady-going fashion, looked
very business-like--no frills at all, sheer labour.

Christobel was steering, while Adrian watched the sails; the red and
green lights made rays on wave-tops sometimes, and then the situation
took on an eerie kind of feeling, very dramatic.

"I feel as though we were doing a film play," said Crow; "one might, you
know, but it would be desperately difficult."

So they talked, and the _Messenger_ ploughed her way, out and out,
making a long tack, really for want of a better idea.  Christobel hoped
they would presently see the dinghy. The tide appeared to be
rising--that would be going towards Salterne--but the wind was strongly
from the south-west; consequently this went some way to nullify the
force of the tide, and a small light boat might be expected to be
affected much by the wind.

"What would she do; row, or drift?" said Crow.

"To tell the honest truth, I shouldn’t be a bit surprised if she had
landed at Champles," answered Adrian.

"Could she?"

"Why not?  The tide is rising, and wind on the shore. She’s the sense to
know that the creek is sheltered by the Bell cliff."

"But, Addie, _why_ go out, and then go back to Champles?"

"Don’t ask me any more riddles, my dear child.  Why go at all?  The
point seems to be that, as the whole proceeding is insane, we’ve got to
calculate with perfectly impossible proceedings."

After this they talked in low voices, sitting close together in the
well.  Reasonably sheltered, comfortable after a fashion, but anxious
and strained; going out and out, and always watching.  At least once
every few minutes one or other of them thought they saw something
dark--on a wave--in a hollow--against a creaming smother of foam; yet
always it was nothing.

They heard the thump of engines on the wind coming from the thick
distance, and thought they saw a long trail of black smoke blowing
forwards, as a steamer went out west by north.  Also they certainly saw
an old barque, close hauled, jamming away into the heart of the dirt.

"Evidently tide is rising," reasoned Adrian.  "That old thing wouldn’t
be going up if it wasn’t; she’s tacking. They always use tides, whatever
the weather is.  Ripping sailors those fellows are."

About an hour from then it was dark as possible; the wind was fairly
hard, and kept the rain off, of course. Christobel tried not to think of
her mother.  The point was to get Pamela, and the likelihood pointed to
the swamping of the dinghy.  It sickened Crow to remember how probable
that was, and to hearten herself she called up the memory of the little
boat on the day of the big thunderstorm--whether towed or free, she had
_lived_, anyway--and was this sea any worse?  Christobel thought it was
about the same, "Much of a muchness," she murmured; and Adrian asked:
"What’s that you are saying?"  Crow told him what she was thinking.

"Oh, _this_ is worse," said Adrian decisively; "we’ve had ten days of
ups and downs to ruffle it, and the wind you get in a thunderstorm isn’t
the same as a bad turn like this. Crow, I’ll get the night-glass.  We
might see something."  Christobel gripped his arm, and suggested a
change of direction.

If they made a course towards Peterock, they would have a fair wind,
strong--but a tough tide against them.  That would keep them from
getting too fast--to nowhere in particular.  Keep them neutral, as it
were.

Adrian liked the idea, also said he: "Please remember we’ve had nothing
to eat, my dear girl.  I’m hollow, dying of hunger."

"So am I," agreed Crow, "and our strength must be kept up, whatever
happens.  Addie, why not lie-to?"

Adrian laughed, because he knew this was always the end and aim of
Crow’s manoeuvres in bad weather, and especially at food-times.  The
comfort of being able to do things while your craft managed herself was
indescribable.

"I’ll have a look round first," he said.

He had got out the night-glass, to which he was not well accustomed, and
the result of using it was that he felt sure he saw something to
leeward--something dark and small showing up on the foam.

They let out the mainsail and jib, kept the yawl away, and ran off in
the direction indicated.  _Messenger_ strained through the tossing
water, dipping her bowsprit till the little jib was drenched.

It was fruitless.  Whatever it was, it had gone.  After that they went
on again in pursuit of another delusion, and, by the time a third black
patch had disappointed them, Crow believed there was something the
matter with the glass.  Perhaps there was.  Anyway, these things were
snares.

About that time they really were very hungry and tired. Neither would
betray anxiety, and both spoke of Pamela and the dinghy with calm
certainty, as though the latter was an ironclad.  Christobel would not
confess her real handicap, because Addie laughed at such things.  It was
sheer fright of the _depth_ and _power_ of the water in such
circumstances.  On fine, sunny days this is forgotten and enjoyment
reigns, because you feel that you are not helpless--but when darkness is
added, and tossing, hungry wave-crests go and come everlastingly under
gleams of red or green light, the dread is apt to grow and grow till it
becomes overwhelming.  The victim begins to feel about as small and
utterly useless as a spent match, and imagination forces her to realize
the acres and fathoms, the miles of green, awful depth, cold, heavy, and
supremely terrible, that, shifting always, and always, lie below the
coppered keel.

"I won’t think about it," Crow was saying to herself, and went on
thinking all the time; so, of course, the best thing was to get busy
over commonplace things, and she requested Adrian to haul the foresail
across and prepare to wait awhile.

Just about then the siren from the lighthouse began to shriek.  The
regular "hoots", short and long, came across the wild waste in husky
screams--immensely distant, so it seemed, to the brother and sister.
They had expected the winking light, but had not seen it, no doubt
because of the thick dark, which could only be pierced for a certain
radius.  The wail of the siren made everything more fearsome, and the
only way to revive drooping courage was with food and hot cocoa.

They went below, trying to forget the outside horrors in the warmth and
glow of the little saloon.

Crow was on tenterhooks, dragged all ways by anxiety and thoughts of her
mother, but she tried not to show it, though she realized that Adrian’s
manner had changed in the last hour.  He was feeling the same--and would
not show it.

Suddenly an impulse to rush on deck seized Christobel. A thrill of
excitement ran through her veins; she set her cup down and listened.

"What’s the matter?" asked Adrian, watching her.

"Didn’t you hear a--wait a bit, Addie, I must----"  She was up and
through the door with a swift run.  Adrian followed, not understanding.

The blackness seemed to strike their eyes at the instant--blackness and
grey shapes moving up and down--across and across--flashes of white foam
and with that douches of cold spray.

Christobel was up on the counter holding to the mizzen, and trying to
see; the stem of the yacht rose and fell in nasty pitches.

"Come down, Crow," called Adrian; "you’ll slip!"

The answer was an excited cry from his sister:

"Addie, Addie, _quick_--the boathook!  Get her, get her, don’t let the
boat go--it’s _Pam_!"

Adrian saw--to leeward of the yawl--quite close, too, something dark
rise on a wave from under the stern almost. Someone gave a call which
was blown away by the wind, only a faint echo of it reaching them.

Christobel held on to the mizzen and shouted directions.

"Row, _row_, Pam--come up to the red light; we’ll get you--don’t be
afraid."

Adrian hurled himself forward with the boathook, and dropped the steps
into the hooks.

The figure in the boat was pulling.  They could see a white patch of
face, and--the hair.

Two minutes, and they had got hold of her.

Christobel did not know what she was saying; she was sobbing--yet not
crying--a perfect frenzy of joy in feeling, actually _feeling_ Pamela’s
arm--not a dream, a solid flesh and blood arm--and dragging her up the
steps.  She was drenched and speechless, and clung to Crow’s hands with
a frantic clutch.

"Oh, Pam--darling old Pam--it’s all right now--don’t be afraid--it’s all
right--you’re safe!"

Crow was saying all sorts of things while Adrian was dealing with the
dinghy--as far as he could see there was water washing about in her,
nothing dangerous, but enough to cover the floor boards.  However, he
could not stop to bale now, unless it was absolutely necessary.  Pam was
safe!  His hands shook as he knotted the painter with sharp tugs.  No
getting away this time!  No time to be lost!  He thought of his mother’s
face when they left, of how she would look when they got back--and
brought Pam!  He choked as he realized that a miracle had happened, and
God had sent the dinghy across their path in that wild waste of
confusion.

Having secured the dinghy, he plunged down the cabin steps just to have
one joyous moment of triumph with old Crow before starting on the
voyage--well, back.  As he entered, his sister turned round; the hanging
lamp shone on her face, and he saw, looking at her first, a curious
scared expression; not shocked--_amazed_!

On the bunk-seat by her side sat a girl--not Pamela! Adrian was
conscious of her good looks in a second, but also that she looked
terribly ill, quite ghastly.

There was a moment or two of tense silence--from words, when the
pitching of the yawl seemed more violent, and the noises of rattling,
bumping, dashing, splashing, and creaking--the scream of the wind, and
the monotonous jar of _Messenger’s_ bows as she crashed down on each
succeeding wave--appeared louder than ever before in the memory of the
Romilly pair.

"I say," said Adrian, sitting down, "what’s up?  Excuse me, but who on
earth are you?"

"Yes, who are you--where’s Pamela?"  Christobel backed up her brother
once he had spoken, almost fiercely.

The girl looked from one to the other.  At first hardily, then her lips
quivered, and she stared at the table, blinking back tears.

"I wish I was dead," she said.

[Illustration: "I WISH I WERE DEAD"]

"Oh, is that what you came out for?" Adrian retorted, with something
like exasperation.  "Well, you jolly nearly were dead.  As you say you
wish to be, I suppose you wouldn’t have minded, but you seem to forget
that you’ve risked our lives too--let alone the fearful anxiety to my
mother, and----"

"Don’t, Addie," urged Crow; "what’s the good--we’ll settle all that
afterwards.  The point is, where’s Pam?"  Then speaking directly to the
girl she asked: "Where is Pamela, my sister?"

"Oh, quite safe--on land--in the Crown Hill wood, I expect."

"How do you know?" suspiciously.

"I asked her to meet me.  To come at half-past five.  I asked her
particularly."

"Why?" asked Adrian.

There was silence; the girl looked sullen; her eyes seemed sunken
almost, so deep were the shadows round them.

"Why?" demanded Adrian again.  "What was your object?  If you wanted to
borrow our dinghy why didn’t you come and ask for it--not that we should
have let you have it this weather," he added _sotto voce_, in an
Adrian-like aside.

"Don’t ask any more till she’s had something to eat and drink," said
Crow.  "Here, take off your coat; you’re awfully wet."

She pulled the coat off with a firm hand.  There, fastening the silk
blouse in front, was the diamond safety-pin. The light made it glitter
with a hundred tiny rays.

"_Addie_!" exclaimed Crow.

"Well, it is my own," said the girl.

"Just so.  We are beginning to see light--at least _I_ am," retorted
Adrian stiffly.  "You’ve been posing as my sister Pamela, haven’t you?
Was it you who went to Miss Ashington and asked for that brooch?"

"It is _mine_!" flamed the girl.  "Cannot I have my own?"

Adrian shrugged his shoulders.

"You don’t seem to see that there are two ways of getting one’s own," he
said, "a decent way--and, well--a rotten one.  Did you by any chance
happen to let out Badger’s sheep and his horses, and come along to the
cliff above Champles cove the other day?"

"How can I tell?  Perhaps I did.  I think you are rude and unkind," said
the girl in an aggrieved voice.

"Great Scot!" ejaculated Adrian.  "Well, of all the extraordinary
females----"

Christobel was putting food on the table while this curious conversation
took place.  She now interrupted it by ordering this surprising visitor
to eat, which she did, heartily and hungrily.  Afterwards Crow ordained
that she was to take off her skirt, shoes, and stockings, and they could
be dried at the stove.

"You can roll up in a blanket," she said, "and stay where you are;
you’ll soon be warm all through down here. Adrian and I have got to get
home now."

"I don’t want to go home," said the girl, untying her shoes.

"Why not?"

"I am not happy.  If I go back I shall be very uncomfortable."

"It looks as though you thought of no one but yourself," said Crow.  "I
dare say you don’t _mean_ it, but it sounds so."

The girl took off her shoe and felt the wet foot.  Then she glanced up
at Crow, and said with more strength in her voice--she was revived by
the food:

"But, of course, I mean it.  Everyone is the most important person in
the world to himself.  You _must_ think of yourself first, of course."

Christobel was so startled at this point of view that she said nothing
at all.  She was not very ready with words at a crisis.  So she
contented herself by helping this young person into the bunk, with
cushions and blankets; then she left the saloon, closing the door all
but an inch or two; as it slid in a groove this arrangement was easy
enough.

Adrian was outside; she could hear him on deck, settling matters
ship-shape, stowing down all loose ends and gear that might get free.
The "tug of war" was coming; she knew that well enough; they had got to
get home.

"Hullo, old lady," said Adrian cheerfully, coming down beside her,
"we’ve got to get home now.  It’s a straight-forward job, anyway, no
side issues!  ’All is safely gathered in’," he laughed, so did
Christobel.

"I wonder where we are--about," she said.

"Oh, can’t be far off.  We shall soon know when we’ve had a shot or
two," declared Adrian easily.

The idea of "taking shots" at a lee shore, mainly consisting of rocks,
in pitch darkness, with a strong wind behind you, would no doubt have
been new and interesting to most sailors.



                             *CHAPTER XXI*

                           *Ladders of Light*


"Pay off, pay off," cried Adrian; "we’ll run for it! The wind should be
on our quarter, considering where it comes from; when we pick up the
siren from Ramsworthy lighthouse--or better still, the light--we shall
know how to get into Bell Bay."

Christobel suggested that the bay would be too rough. As it was not
possible to see to pick up the mooring-buoy, she proposed Salterne.  It
would be safe and calm within the estuary.

"Oh, _rather_--of course," Adrian agreed warmly; he did not intend to
tell his sister all he thought about their position, but he assumed the
tiller.

Christobel protested eagerly.

"Truly, Addie, I’m not tired."

"All right, you’re not, old lady; but we’ve got a stiffish time ahead,
you know.  We’re going to take this in turns, so save yourself for your
watch.  Why don’t you go in and take an easy now?"

But Crow refused.  She preferred the frenzied turmoil and Addie’s
company, outside, to the warm ease within, and the neighbourhood of this
strange girl.

Brother and sister sat shoulder to shoulder in the spray-wet darkness
holding the tiller between them, for it took one man’s strength at least
to keep it steady.

The white yawl ran like a terrified deer pursued by hounds.  With her
wet sheets straining hard as steel, she tore through, and over, the
black cauldron of leaping water. Wherever sea is, there must be a little
lessening of darkness, for dim reflection comes from somewhere in the
sky. It is only darkness made faintly visible, just enough to show up
its terrors.  Masses of torn cloud raced above them with a mad speed
that dazzled; heavy sea thundered along below.  Walls of dread closed
them in, shut them down, tried to force them back, opened for them
below. And there was no sight or sound of human company, no possibility
of a human hand to cling to, no chance of a word of human sympathy.
Christobel had had some experience, but, she owned to herself, never one
like this--and she prayed that, if they came through it alive, she might
never see it again.  It was so _cruel_.

In "running free" as they were, the strain on vessel and steersman is
greatest.  The ship, whatever her rig, does not run without using every
mite of her power to escape from the pressure to which she is held.  Her
natural motion is, of course, to sweep clean round, because of the
weight on the mainsail, but the rudder holding her to a straight line is
in the power of the helmsman, and with all that force will she rush
ahead to get away, as it were, from the drive of it.  In this headlong
flight, too, the least variation of the tiller causes her to swoop in a
terrifying way, while she leaves behind her a path of bubbling foam as
white as the wake of a steamer.

Once Christobel began to speak about the girl asleep in the saloon; she
thought it would distract them both from the dread monotony; also she
was curious about her.  But Adrian refused.

"Let’s cut her out, Crow," he said.  "I think there isn’t an ounce of
doubt that she’s a young Hun.  How she comes to be here we shall know in
time--but her manners and customs are--well--you know.  It does not
beseem me as a male Briton to abuse a female, even a Hun female, so, if
you don’t mind, we’ll cut her out.  One thing I’ll say, I’m taking off
my hat to old Pam all the time.  She had a rotten time over that brooch,
and over Badger too--while--oh, never mind!"

"Let me tell you one thing, Addie," urged Crow, "then I’ll not say one
word till we are home."  She told him about the handkerchief, letting in
the light instantly upon the identity of the person who had raided
_Messenger_.

Adrian nearly loosed the tiller in his excitement.

"Crow, don’t you see now _who_ it was the Midget was escorting out of
our grounds at four in the morning?  Good old Midget!  I _say_, Crow,
that kid has been sharpening his wits on other folks’ business; he’s
certainly coming along! Wonder why he didn’t speak."

"Probably Pam told him not to--then he wouldn’t, and I expect _this_
girl appealed to Pam to hold her tongue.  You know what she is--Pam, I
mean--at any time, and just now she’s full up with notions about helping
all the world--the Girl Guides’ profession.  She’d bear anything, of
course," so said Crow, understanding her sister.

"And this young person would let----"  Adrian checked the comment.
"Hold up, Crow, let’s talk about the weather!  Jolly fine for the time
of year, isn’t it?  Who was it said ’We’ve been having a lot of weather
lately?’  We are to-night, about a month of weather in twelve hours!"

So these two laughed and "carried on" through the bleak storm, while the
one who had caused it all lay sleeping soundly among her pillows.

After a bit they fell silent, just doing their work, they were tired, of
course, and talking against the howlings of the night was exhausting
work.

An hour passed; it seemed a whole night; it seemed as though the horror
had been going on through endless ages. Crow stood up and stretched.

"I’m going to make you some cocoa," she said.

"Right-o!" agreed Adrian cheerfully.

Presently she came back with a big cup and two stout bacon sandwiches, a
thing Adrian greatly liked.

"Now I’ll fetch mine," said Crow; and did so, planting herself firmly.
"Can you manage your cocoa without spilling?" she said.

"I’ve drunk it," answered her brother promptly. "Addie, it was boiling!"

"Well, it’s boiling still for all I know.  Ever so much warmer in the
region of the waistband!  Sandwiches don’t spill, thank goodness.
Awfully decent grub this, Crow."

When all the "grub" had gone the way of the boiling cocoa, the pair felt
more conversational.

"We don’t seem to pick up the lighthouse, Addie," said Crow tentatively.

Adrian agreed; he also said that by all his calculations they ought to
have run bang on to Bell Bay beach about half an hour ago.

"We’ve nothing to steer by but the wind," he allowed, "and that may
change.  One never knows.  What time is it, Crow?"

Christobel said it was after twelve o’clock.

"I wish we could hear that siren.  But, Addie, we may be going the wrong
way!"

"Probably are, my child.  I tell you honestly I’m not sure of anything
in the wind line--and I’m not sure whether we are going with the tide or
against it--well, naturally, considering I don’t know where we are
going.  It’s about the rummest old stunt I ever played up to--quite a
new experience, in polite language."

"I wish day would come," said Christobel.  "Addie, do you remember the
thunderstorm?"

Adrian looked round to see what the dinghy was doing. Crow laughed; then
she said in a warning voice:

"And you _quite_ understand that if you even dared to get out and bale
her, I’ll scream.  I’ll begin, and not stop.  It would be worse than the
lighthouse siren."

"I won’t bale her out now, but I think I ought to shorten the painter,"
said Adrian thoughtfully; "the thing will snap--just look at that."

_That_ was a lightning forward swoop of _Messenger_ on the back of a
wave, followed by a check as she met the force of a curling crest; the
dinghy checked also--in the trough behind.  Then as the yawl leaped
again the tow-rope tightened with a jar that sent out a perfect
Catherine wheel of dazzling spray.

"Here, just a moment," said Adrian, surrendering the tiller to his
sister; "I’d better just give it a----"

"Don’t--Addie, _don’t_!" cried Christobel, with a sudden sense of
desperation--it was the breaking-point of nerves, only she did not
realize it.

Adrian jumped up on the counter, and stooping above the rail got hold of
the tow-rope.  At that instant, a long black wave-head swept after them
out of the dark, carrying the dinghy on its crest.

The little boat nearly came on board, striking hard with her sharp bows;
there was a sudden lift of the counter as the wave roared under their
keel; Adrian lurched, fell over and rolled.  Christobel let go the
tiller, sprang up with a shriek so piercing that she did not recognize
her own voice, and flung her whole weight on Adrian’s legs.  It steadied
him for the instant, and getting his balance he flung an arm round the
mizzen, and directly after righted himself.

But _Messenger_ had got her head!  With the tiller loose she was free.

There was one appalling moment when she drove broadside on, heeling over
almost at right angles.  The water poured along the leeward rail, and
she was almost buried to the mast in seething foam.  It streamed into
the companion--down to the saloon--everywhere.  The noise was perfectly
indescribable, one riot of roar, rattle, and storm. Then the white yawl
finished her mad dash for freedom and suddenly righted on a level keel,
gasping, as it were, while other sounds were lost in the rush of water
pouring away through the scuppers.

Christobel did nothing.  She was shaking from head to foot and sobbing
in a distracted manner.  Adrian, utterly amazed, patted her back, the
while he seized the kicking tiller.

"Hullo, old lady--what’s up?  Get a holt on it. Why--nothing’s happened,
only this beastly row."

"Oh, Addie--Addie--Addie!" choked poor Crow, "if you’d--gone.  I
thought--I thought----"

"No harm done.  Miss is as good as a mile any day," shouted Adrian
cheerfully above the din.  "I say, Crow, look!  If it isn’t Miss Hun,
come to inquire after our health!"

The Countess had pushed open one door, and was standing on the step
looking about--evidently she could see nothing, her eyes being dazzled
by the lamp within.

"Everything is falling down," she said in her deliberate voice.  "What
is the matter?"

"Nothing at all," answered Adrian.  "My sister and I are playing hockey
to warm ourselves."

"That is an untruth.  Do you suppose I should believe it?" retorted the
girl.

"Not at all.  Why should you?"  Adrian’s tone was the essence of
courtesy.

"Why do you say so then?"

"Ah--there you have me, Miss A.," said Adrian, leaning his head back and
looking at her from under the peak of the sou’wester.

"Don’t, Addie," urged Crow, on the verge of a fit of giggles, though
tears still stood on her lashes; "it’s no use. She can’t understand,
poor thing."  Then she went to the door and suggested to their visitor
that she should stay inside.  She told the girl it was very rough, very
uncomfortable, and they did not know where they were.

The Countess saw this was the truth.

"But I’m not afraid," she said.  "I can come out too."

"You’ll get wet," warned Crow.

The Countess shrugged her shoulders.

"If we must drown," she said, "I prefer to see.  Also I can swim.  I
learned in the swimming baths at----" she broke off.  Crow guessed why.
She was put into an odd mackintosh coat, and sat outside.  Adrian did
not want her at all; he hated it; also she was in the way if anything
happened.  However, she just asserted herself as she always did, and
there she was.

Hours went by--hours of black monotony, in which the lost voyagers
hardly realized that the wind was harder and the sea rougher.  They
ceased to talk, but every now and then Adrian and Crow changed places.
Also they took hot cocoa at intervals, and "hoped for the day", like St.
Paul and his wrecked companions; it was their only hope. The girl was no
trouble.  She seemed to have courage and endurance; she did not
complain, and said "thank you" when they gave her cocoa.  The only
remark she made in several hours was that she "did not understand why
people did all this dirty work for amusement".  She said she liked a big
yacht with plenty of servants, but a small one was "menial work".

Adrian agreed; then he looked sideways at Crow, who was close to him,
with such an absurd face, that she nearly burst into giggles again.

It must have been three o’clock in the morning when they two became
aware of a sound in the air, a sound that was not wind or waves--a
steady pulsing sound, rapid and regular, growing also in distinctness.

Christobel and Adrian looked at each other; they tried to locate it, but
the dark smother and eternal driving of the tireless wind baffled them.
It was something that steamed, for the swift beat of the engines was now
clearly defined--louder, louder, drumming against the howling gusts.

Adrian was steering, head up and listening keenly; Crow was seized with
sudden panic--her imagination leaped to the thought of collision, of
being run down there--helpless and unseen.

Adrian realized, and said "Lights are all right."  She felt easier--they
all listened, staring into the black confusion as well as the stinging
spray would let them.  The air was full of the throb.

Then, all in a moment, a towering black shape materialized from the
darkness, and bore down upon them with the rush of a railway train--out
of the night, without lights, without warning, it passed.  To them, as
the yawl wallowed in the wake of its seething track, there seemed to be
inches only to spare!  Of course there was very much more, but the
nearness was rather staggering all the same.

The three on the little yacht saw the keen knife edge of the bows speed
by with high fountains of water flung up either side the cutting line.

It was a moment of tense excitement.  Adrian gave a suppressed shout.

"Oh, Crow, did you see her--the beauty!  A destroyer! I say, how awfully
_alive_ they are--isn’t one jolly proud of them?"

"It was rather a near thing, wasn’t it?" murmured Christobel, holding on
as the yawl leaped.

"Jolly well worth it, though.  I’ve never seen a destroyer pass so
close, on her ’lawful occasions’," answered Adrian, quoting a certain
well-known story; "nothing can take that from one."

The drumming faded away down wind, and the Romilly pair settled again to
wait for the slow-coming dawn, when suddenly Adrian gave a whoop--a
positive wild Indian screech.

"Oh, I say, Crow, look--look!  Of all the crowning luck, this is----"

Moving over the "face of the waters", over the black tossing waste, was
a ladder of dazzling white light.  It searched in miles, it searched in
inches, like some living, busy, sensing creature.  Christobel thought of
the fingers of light in the "Martians", that hunted for the victims. It
was thrilling.  Dumb, dazed, they watched the brilliant feelers creeping
over the water.

Crow hardly breathed; she was standing, just petrified.

Suddenly Adrian slammed his hand down on the tiller.

"_They’re looking for us_!" he cried.  "Great Scot!  Of all the----"

"Oh, but, Addie, how could they have----"

"My good girl, do you suppose anything escapes the Navy?  The look-outs
saw our little bit of a blink; they want to know who we are--they know
everything--they are simply _It_."

Adrian’s rhapsody was cut off on his lips; the dazzling feeler had found
them.  It rested on the white yawl, and stayed.  He waved his arm
wildly; Crow waved both arms. The Countess sprang to her feet, shielding
her face with her sleeve, and the white light glinted upon her golden
hair plait.

Under the searching brilliance Adrian and Crow put _Messenger_ up in the
wind, and she lay-to--wet, ragged, battered, shaken, most disreputable,
with her drenched mainsail, her flapping storm-jib no bigger than a
towel, while the poor little dinghy reeled alongside drunkenly, the
water washing over her floor boards.

Before her crew had recovered from this visitation a splendid boat, as
long as _Messenger_, if not longer, swept up alongside with a precision
that never even touched the fenders of the yawl, which Adrian had rushed
to throw out.  He said to his mother afterwards, in a perfect passion of
admiration, "The bo’sun just hooked on--no fuss--no bother--and
_Messenger_ jumping like a mad-horse."

The boy in charge was perhaps a year older than Christobel. His fair
face was beaming with satisfaction.  He was enjoying himself to the
full!  With engaging courtesy he put the two girls in the stern sheets
and held a short parley with Adrian, who refused to leave the yawl.

"You see, sir, I’m responsible--she’s Sir Marmaduke Shard’s _Messenger_,
and he----"

"Your brother sent me to fetch you off, and two of our men will take
over the yawl," explained the boy.

"My _brother_!"

"Mr. Romilly, yes.  We are destroyer _Spite_, and the men will see the
yawl safe into Bell Bay; they are instructed."

Orders flew, while Christobel gasped out "_Malcolm_" in a choked voice
as Adrian came down beside her.

"There’s any amount of grub on board," said Adrian hurriedly, "cocoa and
coffee.  Please tell your men to----"

"Thanks very much, sir; they’ll enjoy themselves."  Mr. Rodney Vane
passed on the information, and the big galley swept away, along the
ladder of light, towards the waiting destroyer.

"I suppose," ventured Christobel, recovering speech, "that Bell Bay is
close by."

"Not so very close, Miss Romilly," answered Mr. Vane. "You see, you’re
in the Bristol Channel.  We saw your lights, of course, and couldn’t
make you out, as you weren’t a fishing-boat, and were--ahem--flying the
White Ensign."

Adrian became crimson.

"That was a rag, sir," he explained hastily.  "You see, my sister and I
went off at a moment’s notice on a funny sort of mission; we didn’t
think anyone would see--we ran it up for a rag--and forgot it."

Mr. Vane noticed my "sister" in the singular.  He wondered about the
tall girl with a golden pigtail, but of course made no remark.

Malcolm, in all the state of authority and gold lace, received them at
the gangway.

"Hullo, Crow, this is awfully decent.  Hullo, Pam----"

There was a moment’s pause as he and the tall girl with arrogant eyes
looked at each other.

"Come along down to my cabin," he said.  "I expect you want to rest."

At the earliest possible moment Adrian and Crow explained the meaning of
this eccentricity on their parts, also all they knew, so far, about the
strange girl they had rescued in place of Pamela.

"Poor little Pam," said Malcolm.  "That reminds me, I’ve got three days
leave due, and I’m coming along to look up the Bell House.  How’s Mum?"

"She’ll be all right when we get back," answered Crow sagely; "just this
moment I expect she’s not over bright."

In course of time the white yawl lay on her moorings in Bell Bay, none
the worse for this wild adventure.

In the same course of time the galley put in against the rocks--which
were used as a quay--under the charge of Mr. Hedderwick, the bo’sun,
while the wanderers carried Mr. Vane and Malcolm off to the Bell House
to see Mrs. Romilly.  That was in the morning early; no one had been in
bed, or wished to go; everybody was pale and shadowy about the eyes, and
poor Mrs. Romilly had to meet her two recovered children alone first,
before she could see Mr. Vane, and admire the wonders of the galley.
The sight of Malcolm was the finest tonic of all.

Miss Lasarge was there.  She had been there all night with Mrs. Romilly,
and during that time had told her the story of the Countess--all she
knew--no one knew everything but Sir Marmaduke.

White-faced Pam was hugged by Crow and even by Adrian.  All was
understood--all was forgiven.

Hughie went down to the cove to take the pattern of the galley and make
friends with Mr. Hedderwick; when that resplendent person asked him if
he was coming in Our Service, Hughie answered: "Of course, sir," and won
Mr. Hedderwick’s heart once and for all.

That evening, very late, Sir Marmaduke arrived from London.  A wire,
sent from Salterne very early in the morning of despair, brought him
away on the instant.  He came first to the Bell House, and talked to
Mrs. Romilly and Miss Anne.

It was not his profession, or his nature, to cast aside reserve and tell
secrets.  Besides, it was Government business, and he was only an agent.
However, the ladies understood that Pamela’s double was a German, not
only of good birth, but actually related to the Hohenzollern family.
Her father was a brave soldier, and a gentleman, and had met his death
early in the battle of the Marne.

He died in a British hospital, as it happened the one in which Miss
Lesarge and Major Fraser were working.  In this way they saw at least
one German gentleman, and for that reason were ready to befriend his
child when the need arose.

Her mother was very much a Prussian, and supposed to be in hiding owing
to the revolution--she was not a popular lady.  The girl had been at
school in England, because her father wished it, then the War came.  She
was shifted from one German family to another.  When trouble and
internment came she was moved.  Being a young person of importance, she
became a perfect white elephant to the powers that be, and was finally
handed over to the wardship of Sir Marmaduke Shard, who thought that he
had solved the riddle when he sent her to Woodrising in the charge of
Lady Shard’s old servant.

It was manifestly impossible to let her go about or to let her identity
be known; the country people would have been furious.  Until she could
be sent back to her own people, she must be put in some quiet place.

The result of Sir Marmaduke’s clever plan has been told in this story.
He took the Countess and Mrs. Chipman away with him next day.
Woodrising knew them no more, and Mrs. Trewby became less bilious, but
no one was told what happened to the Countess, even Lady Shard never
knew, and as for Auntie A., she had forgotten about the matter. Charles
had a fit, and when he recovered she had a plan for making hens all lay
their eggs at the same hour every day, being of course an immense saving
of labour for everyone.  Mrs. Ensor had "no opinion" of it; she was
extra busy, as Reuben was just beginning to walk again on his mended
ankle.

When this strange hurricane cloud passed, it left the sky of the Bell
House family blue and clear again.  Peace came back, and the days were
the same as before that stormy petrel disturbed life.

Pamela returned joyously to the study of Girl Guide rules, but admitted
that it is perhaps as well to be careful about the nature and extent of
your "good turns".

She often wondered about the "Countess", and would immensely have liked
to know her eight names, and what the double "A" stood for.  She never
did.  Mollie Shard knew nothing; she heard the story from the Romillys
when she came down, and the only time she ever saw the Countess was that
morning, very early, when she mistook her for Pamela.

So that is the story of Pam and the Countess, from first to last, with
its grief, misunderstanding, and danger. Whether anything more will ever
be known, or whether Pam will ever meet her "double" again, of course no
one can say.  For the present, the story has ended happily.





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