"Good," Parabere assented, with the utmost coolness. "Why not? Let us do it."
We went in, and in a moment the orders were given, and, the men being charged to be silent and to make as little noise as possible over the work, we had every hope of accomplishing it undetected. To go out into the road and raise and replace the shattered gate would have been too bold a step. We contented ourselves, therefore, with removing four great baulks of timber from the one gate to the other, and placing them across the gap in such a manner that, being supported by large stones, they formed a pretty high barrier. To these, at Boisrueil's suggestion, were added three doors which we forced from their hinges in the house, and behind the whole, to cover our retreat the better, we tethered six sumpter horses in two lines.
It remained only to unbar the rear gate and see that it opened easily. This being done, as we had done all the rest, stealthily and in darkness, and by men who dared not speak above a whisper, I gave the word to hang the male prisoner and gag and bind the woman. Colet undertook these duties, and with a grim humour of his own hung the rascally host on the threshold where the brigands must run against him when they entered. Then I directed every man to saddle and bridle his nag and stand by it, and so we waited with what patience we might for the DENOUEMENT.
It seemed very long in coming, yet when it did, what with the restless movements of the horses and the melancholy murmur of the stream, it well-nigh took us by surprise. It was Boisrueil who touched my sleeve and made me aware of a low trampling on the road outside, a sound that had scarcely become clearly audible before it ceased. I judged that the moment was come, and passed the word in a whisper to open the gates. Unfortunately, they creaked, and I feared for a moment that I had been premature; but before they were more than ajar a harsh whistle startled the silence, a flare blazed up on the road, and a voice cried to charge.
On the instant the ground shook under the assailants' rush, but the barricade, which doubtless took the rogues by surprise, brought them to a sudden stop, and gave us time to file out. The heavy rain which was failing served to cover our movements almost as well as the baggage horses which we had posted for the purpose; while we ran the less risk, inasmuch as the flare they had kindled lit up the upper part of the house but left the courtyard in perfect darkness.
Naturally, once outside, we did not linger to see what happened, but, filing in a line and like ghosts up the bank of the stream, were glad to hit on the road a hundred and fifty paces away, where it entered the gorge. Here, where it was as dark as pitch, we whipped our horses into a canter and made a good pace for half a league, then, drawing rein, let our horses trot until the league was out. By that time we were through the gorge, and I gave the word to pull up, that we might listen and learn whether we were pursued. Before the order had quite brought us to a standstill, however, two figures on a sudden rose out of the darkness before us and barred the way. I was riding in the front rank, abreast of Parabere and La Font, and I had just time to lay my hand on a pistol when one of the figures spoke.
"Well, M. le Capitaine, what luck?" he cried, advancing, and drawing rein to turn with us.
I saw his mistake, and, raising my hand to check those behind, muttered in my beard that all had gone well.
Reminder: Arrow keys left and right (← →) to turn pages forward and backward, up and down (↑ ↓) to scroll up and down, Enter key: return to the list