Facing the Flag

Page 13

Captain Spade had expected to find him there.

The party approached cautiously, taking the utmost precaution to avoid kicking a pebble or stepping on a twig, the noise of which might have revealed their presence. In this way they reached the door of the pavilion near which was the curtained window of the room in which the light was burning.

But if the door was locked, how were they going to get in? Captain Spade must have asked himself. He had no key, and to attempt to effect an entrance through the window would be hazardous, for, unless Gaydon could be prevented from giving the alarm, he would rouse the whole establishment.

There was no help for it, however. The essential was to get possession of Roch. If they could kidnap Gaydon, too, in conformity with the intentions of the Count d'Artigas, so much the better. If not--

Captain Spade crept stealthily to the window, and standing on tiptoe, looked in. Through an aperture in the curtain he could see all over the room.

Gaydon was standing beside Thomas Roch, who had not yet recovered from the fit with which he had been attacked during the Count d'Artigas' visit. His condition necessitated special attention, and the warder was ministering to the patient under the direction of a third person.

The latter was one of the doctors attached to Healthful House, and had been at once sent to the pavilion by the director when Roch's paroxysm came on. His presence of course rendered the situation more complicated and the work of the kidnappers more difficult.

Roch, fully dressed, was extended upon a sofa. He was now fairly calm. The paroxysm, which was abating, would be followed by several hours of torpor and exhaustion.

Just as Captain Spade peeped through the window the doctor was making preparations to leave. The Captain heard him say to Gaydon that his (the doctor's) presence was not likely to be required any more that night, and that there was nothing to be done beyond following the instructions he had given.

The doctor then walked towards the door, which, it will be remembered, was close to the window in front of which Spade and his men were standing. If they remained where they were they could not fail to be seen, not only by the doctor, but by the warder, who was accompanying him to the door.

Before they made their appearance, however, the sailors, at a sign from their chief, had dispersed and hidden themselves behind the bushes, while Spade himself crouched in the shadow beneath the window. Luckily Gaydon had not brought the lamp with him, so that the captain was in no danger of being seen.

As he was about to take leave of Gaydon, the doctor stopped on the step and remarked:

"This is one of the worst attacks our patient has had. One or two more like that and he will lose the little reason he still possesses."

"Just so," said Gaydon. "I wonder that the director doesn't prohibit all visitors from entering the pavilion. Roch owes his present attack to a Count d'Artigas, for whose amusement harmful questions were put to him."

"I will call the director's attention to the matter," responded the doctor.

He then descended the steps and Gaydon, leaving the door of the pavilion ajar, accompanied him to the end of the path.

When they had gone Captain Spade stood up, and his men rejoined him.

Had they not better profit by the chance thus unexpectedly afforded them to enter the room and secure Roch, who was in a semi-comatose condition, and then await Gaydon's return, and seize the warder as he entered?

This would have involved considerable risk. Gaydon, at a glance, would perceive that his patient was missing and raise an alarm; the doctor would come running back; the whole staff of Healthful House would turn out, and Spade would not have time to escape with his precious prisoner and lock the door in the wall after him.

He did not have much chance to deliberate about it, for the warder was heard returning along the gravel path. Spade decided that the best thing to be done was to spring upon him as he passed and stifle his cries and overpower him before he could attempt to offer any resistance.

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Facing the Flag Page 14

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Jules Verne

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