5V2xIG

5V2xIG

"Oh, my lord, consider." Silver in a panic dropped on his knees. "I shall be shut up for years; it will kill me; it will kill me! And you don't know what a terrible and clever woman Miss Greeby is. She may deny that I gave her the revolver and I can't prove that I did. Then I might be accused of the crime and hanged. Hanged!" cried the poor wretch miserably. "Oh, you'll never give me away, my lord, will you."

"Confound you, don't I risk my reputation to get the money," raged Garvington, shaking off the trembling arms which were round his knees. "The truth of the letter will have to come out, and then I'm dished so far as society is concerned. I wouldn't do it—tell that is—but that the stakes are so large. One million is waiting to be picked up and I'm going to pick it up."

"No! no! no! no!" Silver grovelled on the floor and embraced Garvington's feet. But the more he wailed the more insulting and determined did the visitor become. Like all tyrants and bullies Garvington gained strength and courage from the increased feebleness of his victim. "Don't give me up," wept the secretary, nearly beside himself with terror; "don't give me up."

"Oh, damn you, get out of the way!" said Garvington, and made for the door. "I go straight to Wanbury," which statement was a lie, as he first intended to see Mother Cockleshell at the camp and make certain that the reward was safe. But Silver believed him and was goaded to frenzy.

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"You shan't go!" he screamed, leaping to his feet, and before Garvington knew where he was the secretary had the heavy poker in his grasp. The little fat lord gave a cry of terror and dodged the first blow which merely fell on his shoulder. But the second alighted on his head and with a moan he dropped to the ground. Silver flung away the poker.

"Are you dead? are you dead?" he gasped, kneeling beside Garvington, and placed his hand on the senseless man's heart. It still beat feebly, so he arose with a sigh of relief. "He's only stunned," panted Silver, and staggered unsteadily to the table to seize a glass of brandy. "I'll, ah—ah—ah!" he shrieked and dropped the tumbler as a loud and continuous knocking came to the front door.

Naturally in his state of panic he believed that the police had actually arrived, and here he had struck down Lord Garvington. Even though the little man was not dead, Silver knew that the assault would add to his punishment, although he might have concluded that the lesser crime was swallowed up in the greater. But he was too terrified to think of doing anything save hiding the stunned man, and with a gigantic effort he managed to fling the body behind the sofa. Then he piled up rugs and cushions between the wall and the back of the sofa until Garvington was quite hidden and ran a considerable risk of being suffocated. All the time the ominous knocking continued, as though the gallows was being constructed. At least it seemed so to Silver's disturbed fancy, and he crept along to the door holding the revolver in an unsteady grip.

"Who—who—is—"

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"Let me in; let me in," said a loud, hard voice. "I'm Miss Greeby. I have come to save you. Let me in."

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Silver had no hesitation in obeying, since she was in as much danger as he was and could not hurt him without hurting herself. With trembling fingers he unbolted the door and opened it, to find her tall and stately and tremendously impatient on the threshold. She stepped in and banged the door to without locking it. Silver's teeth chattered so much and his limbs trembled so greatly that he could scarcely move or speak. On seeing this—for there was a lamp in the passage—Miss Greeby picked him up in her big arms like a baby and made for the sitting-room. When, within she pitched Silver on to the sofa behind which Garvington lay senseless, and placing her arms akimbo surveyed him viciously.

"You infernal worm!" said Miss Greeby, grim and savage in her looks, "you have split on me, have you?"

"How—how—how do you know?" quavered Silver mechanically, noting that in her long driving coat with a man's cap she looked more masculine than ever.

"How do I know? Because Chaldea was hiding under the studio window this afternoon and overheard all that passed between you and Garvington and that meddlesome Lambert. She knew that I was in danger and came at once to London to tell me since I had given her my address. I lost no time, but motored down here and dropped her at the camp. Now I've come to get you out of the country."

"Me out of the country?" stammered the secretary.