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11: We Read the Diary of Robin Gaunt

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« on: November 20, 2023, 05:54:06 am »

I AM on board a ship. She is filling with oil now from a tanker alongside. No lights. No idea where we are. Thought the country we motored through resembled Devonshire.

They're Russians---the crew---unless I'm much mistaken. The most frightful gang of murderous-looking cut-throats I've ever seen. Two of them fighting now: officers seem to have no control. Difficult to tell which are the officers. Believe my worst fears confirmed: the Bolsheviks have my secret. May God help the world!

+++

Under way. Just read the papers Wilmot spoke about. Is Stockton mad? Why did he say nothing at the inquest? And Joe---poor little chap. How dare they say such things about me? The War Office knew; why have they kept silent?

+++

The murderers! The foul murderers! There was a wretched woman on board, and these devils have killed her. They pushed her in suddenly to the cabin where I was sitting. She was terrified with fear, poor soul. The most harmless little short fat woman. English. They hustled her through---three of them, and she screamed to me to help her. But what could I do? Two more of the crew appeared, and one of them clapped his hand over her mouth. They took her on deck---and with my own eyes I saw them throw her overboard. It was dark, and she disappeared at once. She just gave one pitiful cry---then silence. Are they going to do the same to me?

+++

Four men playing cards outside the door. Certain now that they are Russians. What does it all mean?

+++

It is incomprehensible. There must be at least fifty rubber suits on board with cisterns and everything complete for short-range work with my poison. An officer took me to see them, and one of the men put one on.

"Good?" said the officer, looking at me.

I wouldn't answer, and a man behind me stuck a bayonet into my back.

"Good now?" snarled the officer.

I nodded. Oh! for a chance to be on equal terms. . . .

But they are good: far too good. They have taken my rough idea, and improved upon it enormously. A man in one of those suits could bathe in the poison safely. But what do they want them for, on board a ship?

+++

Thank Heavens! I am on shore again. They dragged me up on deck and I thought it was the end. A boat was alongside, and they put me in it. Then some sailors rowed me away. It was dark, and the boom of breakers on rocks grew louder and louder. At last we reached a little cove, and high above me I could see the cliffs. The boat was heaving, and then the man in charge switched on an electric torch. It flashed on the end of a rope ladder dangling in front of us, and swaying perilously as the swell lapped it and then receded. He signed to me to climb up it, and when I hesitated for a moment, he struck me in the face with his boat-hook. So I jumped and caught the ladder, and immediately the boat was rowed away, leaving me hanging precariously. Then a wave dashed me against the cliff, half stunning me, and I started to climb. An ordeal even for a fit man. . . . Exhausted when I reached the top. I found myself in a cave hewn out of granite. And Helias was waiting for me.

"Your quarters," he said. "And no monkey tricks."

But I was too done in to do anything but sleep.

+++

The mystery deepens. This place is too amazing. To-day I have been shown the plant in which my poison is to be made. It is a huge tank capable of holding I know not how many tons concealed from view by a wooden building built around it. The building is situated on the top of the cliff and the cliff itself is honeycombed with caves and passages. One in particular leads down from the tank to a kind of living-room, and thence up again to another opening in the cliff similar to the one by which I entered. And from the bottom of the tank there runs a pipe---yards and yards of it coiled in the room. Enough to allow the end to reach the sea. There is a valve in the room by which the flow can be stopped. It must be to supply the vessel below. But why so much? I will not make it: I swear I will not make it, even if they torture me.

+++

Dear God! I didn't know such things were known to man. Four days---four centuries. Don't judge me . . . I tried, but the entrance was guarded.

[In the original this fragment was almost illegible. Poor devil---who would judge him? Certainly not I. Who can even dimly guess the refinements of exquisite torture they brought to bear on him in that lonely Cornish cave? And I like to think that behind that last sentence lies his final desperate attempt to outwit them by hurling himself on to the rocks below. "But the entrance was guarded."]

+++

It is made. And now that it is made what are they going to do with it? They've let me alone since I yielded, but my conscience never leaves me alone. Night and day: night and day it calls me "Coward." I am a coward. I should have died rather than yield. And yet they could have made it themselves: they said so. They knew the formula. But they thought I'd do it better. If any accident took place I was to be the sufferer.

Should I have ended it all? It would have been so easy. It would be so easy now. One touch: one finger in the tank and everything finished. But surely sooner or later this place must be discovered. I lie and look out over the grey sea, and sometimes on the far horizon there comes the smoke of a passing vessel.

Always far out---too far out. Anyway I have no means of signalling. I'm just a prisoner in a cave. They don't even give me a light at night. Nothing to do but think and go on thinking, and wonder whether I'm going mad. Is it a dream? Shall I wake up suddenly?

Yesterday I had a strange thought. I must be dead. It was another world, and I was being shown the result of my discovery on earth. Cruelty, death, torture---that was all that the use of such a poison as mine could lead to. It was my punishment. It's come back to me since---that thought. What was that strange and wonderful play I saw on earth? "Outward Bound." Rather the same idea: no break---you just go on. Am I dead?

[Undoubtedly to my mind the first time that Robin Gaunt's reason began to totter. Poor devil---day after day---brooding alone.]

+++

Things are going to happen. There's a light at sea---signalling. Is it the ship, I wonder? They're letting down the pipe from the cave above me. It's flat calm: there is hardly a murmur from the sea below.

+++

At last I know the truth. At last I know the reason for the tank on the top of the cliff, and all that has happened in the last three months. With my own eyes I have seen an atrocity, cold-blooded and monstrous beyond the limits of human imagination.

Six thousand feet below me gleams the Atlantic: I am on board the dirigible that Wilmot murdered Ganton to obtain. I have locked my cabin door: I hope for a few hours to be undisturbed. And so whilst the unbelievable thing that has happened is fresh in my mind I will put it down on paper.

[I may say that this final portion of Robin Gaunt's diary was written in pencil in much the same ordered and connected way as the first part of his narrative. It shows no trace of undue excitement in the handwriting: nor, I venture to think, does it show any mental aberration as far as the phraseology is concerned.]

I will start from the moment when I saw the signal from the sea. The pipe was hanging down the cliff, and after a while there came a whistle from below. Almost at once I heard the gurgle of liquid in the pipe: evidently poison from the tank was being lowered to someone underneath. Another whistle and the gurgling ceased. Then came the noise of oars; the pipe was drawn up, and for some time nothing more happened.

It was about half-an-hour later that Helias appeared and told me to come with him. I went to the main living-room, where I found Wilmot, and a man whom I recognised as having seen on board. They were talking earnestly together and poring over a chart that lay between them on the table.

"The 2nd or 3rd," I heard Wilmot say, "and the first port of call is the Azores."

The other man nodded, and pricked a point on the chart.

"That's the spot," he said. "A bit west of the Union Castle route."

And just then I became aware of the faint drone of an engine. It sounded like an aeroplane, and Wilmot rose.

"Then that settles everything. Now I want to see how this part works." He glanced at me as I stood there listening to the noise, which by this time seemed almost overhead. "One frequently has little hitches the first time one does a thing, Mr. Gaunt. You will doubtless be able to benefit from any that may occur when you proceed yourself to stop the next war."

They all laughed, and I made no answer.

"Let's go and watch," said Wilmot, glancing at his watch. "I'll just time it, I think."

He led the way up the passage towards the tank, and I followed. That there was some devilish scheme on foot I knew, but I was intensely eager to see what was going to happen. Anything was better than the blank ignorance of the past few weeks.

We approached the tank, and then to my amazement I saw that there was a large open space in the roof through which I could see the stars. And even as I stared upwards they were blotted out by a huge shape that drifted slowly across the opening so low down that it seemed on top of us.

"The dirigible that Mr. Ganton so kindly bought for me," said Wilmot genially. "As I say, it is the first time we have done this and I feel a little pardonable excitement."

And now the huge vessel above us was stationary, with her engines going just sufficiently to keep her motionless in the light breeze. One could make out the two midship gondolas, and the great central keel that forms the backbone of every airship of her type. And as I stared at her fascinated, something hit the side of the wooden house with a thud. A man clad in one of the rubber suits who was standing on the roof slipped forward and caught the end of a pipe similar to the one in the cave. This he dropped carefully into the tank.

"Ingenious, don't you think, Mr. Gaunt?" said Wilmot. "We now pump up your liquid into the ballast tanks, at the same time discharging water to compensate for weight. You will see that by keeping one tank permanently empty there is always room for your poison to be taken on board. When the first empty tank is filled, another has been emptied of water and is ready."

I hardly listened to him: I was too occupied in watching the level of the liquid fall in the gauge of the tank: too occupied in wondering what was the object of it all.

"Twelve minutes," he remarked as the pump above began to suck air in the tank. "Not so bad. We will now go on board. Another little device, Gaunt, on which we flatter ourselves. It looks alarming, but there is no danger."

Swinging above us was a thing that looked like a cage, which had evidently been let down from the airship. In a moment or two it came to rest on the roof, and Wilmot beckoned to me to go up the steps.

"Room for us both," he remarked.

I made no demur: it was useless to argue. Why he wanted me on board was beyond me, though doubtless I should know in time. So I followed him into the cage, and he shut the door. And the next moment we were being drawn up to the dirigible.

It was the first time I had been outside and I stared round eagerly, but in the faint grey light that precedes dawn it was difficult to see much. Far below us lay the sea, whilst inland the ground was hilly. I saw what I took to be a road in the distance: also a tall chimney which stuck up from the midst of low-lying buildings. And then the cage came to rest: it had been drawn right into the keel of the airship. A metal plate closed underneath us with a clang, and we both stepped out into the central corridor.

"Something to eat and drink, Mr. Gaunt," said Wilmot, and I followed him in a sort of dull stupor.

He led the way to a luxurious cabin which was fitted up as a dining-room. On the table were champagne and a variety of sandwiches.

"We will regard this as a holiday for you," he remarked. "And if you behave yourself there is no reason why it shouldn't prove a very pleasant one. After it is over you will have to refill the tank for us, but for the next three or four days let us merely enjoy ourselves."

We were flying eastwards---I could tell that by the light; and I peered out of the window, trying to see if I could spot where we were.

"A beautiful sight, isn't it?" said Wilmot. "And when the sun rises it is even more beautiful. Lord Grayling and the Earl of Dorset both agreed that to see the dawn from such a vantage-point was to see a very wonderful sight."

"In God's name," I burst out, "what does it all mean?"

He smiled as he selected a sandwich.

"Just your scheme, my dear fellow," he answered. "Your scheme in practice."

"But there's no war on," I cried.

"No. There's no war on," he agreed.

"Then why have you filled the ballast tanks with poison?"

"You may remember that I once pointed out to you the weak point in your scheme," he answered. "There was no money in it. In the course of the next few days you are going to see that defect remedied, I trust.

"Of course," he went on after a while, "this is only going to be quite a small affair. It's in the nature of a trial run: just to accustom everyone to what they have to do when the big thing comes along. And that's why I've brought you along. You have had, I gather, a little lesson over not doing what you're told, and I feel sure that you will give me no further trouble. But one never knows that some little hitch may not occur, and should it do so in your particular department, it will be up to you to rectify it."

But I haven't the time to give that devil's conversation in full. I can see him now, suave and calm, seated at the table smoking a cigar whilst he played with me as a cat plays with a mouse. Utterly ignorant then as to what was going to happen, much of it was lost on me. Now I can see it all.

It conveyed nothing to me then that the British public was keenly interested in the airship: that tours at popular prices were given twice a week: that there was talk of floating a company in the City.

"Not that that is ever likely to come off, my dear Gaunt," he remarked, "though if it did, of course, I should have no objection to taking the money. But it instils confidence in the public mind: makes them regard me as an institution. And an institution can do no wrong. You might as well suspect the Cornish Riviera express of robbing the Bank of England."

There lies the diabolical ingenuity of it all. Did I not hear from the cabin where they kept me bound and gagged---guarded by two men---did I not hear him showing two members of the Royal Family over the vessel? That was while we were tied up to the mooring mast before we started.

Did we not go for a four-hour trip with thirty people on board, amongst them some of the highest in the land? He told me their names that night, with a vile mocking smile on his face.

"But why," I shouted at him, "why?"

"All in good time," he answered. "I am just showing you what an institution I am."

That's it: and will anyone believe what I am going to write down? I see it all now: the tin mine ostensibly being worked as a tin mine; in reality merely a cloak to disguise the making of the poison. As he said, it had to be in a deserted place by the sea, because the ship had to take supplies on board.

He's told me everything: he knows I'm in his power. He seems to take a delight in tormenting me: in exposing for my benefit the workings of his vile brain. But he's clever: diabolically clever.

It was two days ago that they let me out of my cabin. The airship was in flight, and looking out I saw that we were over the sea. They took me into the dining-cabin, and there I saw Wilmot and a woman. She was smoking a cigarette, and I saw she was very beautiful. She stared at me with a sort of languid interest: then she made some remark to Wilmot at which he laughed.

"Our friend Helias has a strong right arm," he remarked. "Well, Gaunt---very soon now your curiosity is going to be satisfied. We have ceased to be commercial: we're going to go and stop your war. But we still remain an institution. Have you ever heard of Mr. Cosmo Miller?"

"I have not," I said.

"He is an American multi-millionaire, and at the moment he is some forty miles ahead of us in his yacht. If you look through that telescope you will be able to see her."

I glanced through the instrument, and saw away on the horizon the graceful outlines of a steam yacht.

"A charming boat---the Hermione," he went on. "It goes against the grain to sink her."

"To do what?" I gasped.

"Sink her, my dear Gaunt. She is, one might say, your war. She is also the trial run to give us practice for other and bigger game."

I stared at him speechlessly: surely he must be jesting.

"Considerate of Mr. Miller to select this moment for his trip, wasn't it? Otherwise we might have had to try our 'prentice hand on less paying game. At any rate he has sufficient jewellery on board to pay for our running expenses if nothing more."

"But, good God!" I burst out, "you can't mean it. What is going to happen to the people on board?"

"They are going to sink with her," he replied, getting up and looking through the telescope.

A man came into the cabin and Wilmot swung round.

"No message been sent yet, Chief."

Wilmot nodded and dismissed him.

"A wonderful invention---wireless, isn't it? But I confess that it renders modern piracy a little difficult. In this case the matter is not one of vital importance, but when we come to the bigger game the question will have to be very carefully handled. Now on this occasion it may be that the two excellent and reliable men who took the place of two members of the Hermione's crew at Southampton have broken up the instrument already; or it may be that the wireless operator hardly considers it worth while to broadcast the information that he has seen us. However, we shall soon know. My dear!" he added to the girl, "we're getting very close. I think it might interest you now."

She got up and stood beside him, whilst I stood there in a sort of stupor. I watched Wilmot go to a speaking-tube: heard him give directions to fly lower. And then, drawn by some unholy fascination, I too went and looked out.

Half-a-mile ahead of us was the yacht, steaming slowly ahead. The passengers were lining the rail staring up at us, and in a few seconds we had come so close that I could see the flutter of their pocket-handkerchiefs.

"Come with me, Gaunt," snapped Wilmot. "Now comes the business. My dear, you stay here."

He rushed me along the main corridor till we came to one of the central ballast tanks. The engines were hardly running, and I realised that we must be directly over the yacht and just keeping pace with her. Two men clad in rubber suits stood by the tank: two others were by the corresponding tank on the opposite side of the gangway. Wilmot himself was peering into an instrument set close by the first tank, and I saw a duplicate by the second. I went to it and found it was an arrangement of mirrors based on the periscope idea: by looking into it I saw directly below the airship.

And of the next ten minutes how can I tell? Straight underneath us---not a hundred feet below---lay the yacht. Everyone---guests, crew, servants---were peering up at the great airship, which must have seemed to fill the entire sky. And then Wilmot gave an order. Two levers were pulled back, and the rain of death began to fall. The rain that I had invented----Oh, God!---it was unbelievable. . . .

I saw a woman who had been waving at us fall backwards suddenly on the deck and lie there rigid, her face turned up towards us. A man rushed forward to her help: he never reached her. The poison got him first. And all over the deck it was the same. Men and women ran screaming to and fro, only to crash forward suddenly and lie still as the death rain went on falling. I saw three niggers, their black faces incongruous against their white ducks. They had rushed out at the sound of the pandemonium on deck, and with one accord, as if they had been pole-axed simultaneously, they died. I saw a man in uniform shaking his fist at us. He only shook it once, poor devil. . . .

And then as if from a great distance I heard Wilmot's voice---"Enough."

The rain of death ceased: it was indeed enough. No soul moved on the yacht: only a white-clad figure at the wheel kept her on her course.

Stumbling blindly, I went back to the central cabin. The girl was still there, staring out of the window, and I think I screamed foolish curses at her. She took no notice: she was watching something through a pair of glasses.

"Quite well timed," she remarked as Wilmot entered. "She's only about a mile off."

I looked and saw a vessel tearing through the water towards us: coming to the rendezvous of death.

"I would never have believed," said Wilmot, "that with her lines she would have been capable of such speed."

Then he turned to me.

"Put on that suit," he said curtly. "We're going down on deck."

He was getting into one himself, and half unconsciously I followed his example. I was dazed: stunned by the incredible atrocity I had just witnessed.

And if it had been terrible from above, what words can paint the scene on deck as we stepped out of the cage? In every corner lay dead bodies; and one and all they stared at me out of their sightless eyes. They cursed me for having killed them: everywhere I turned they cursed me.

The deck was ringing wet: the smell of the poison lay heavy in the air. And again and again I asked myself---What was the meaning of this senseless outrage? I didn't know then of the incredible wealth of the wretched people who had been killed: of the marvellous jewels that were on board.

The other vessel lay alongside: a dozen of the crew clothed in rubber suits had come on board the yacht. It was the ruthless efficiency of it all that staggered me: they worked like drilled soldiers. One by one they carried the bodies below and piled them into cabins. And when a cabin was full they shut the door. They damped down the stoke-room fires: they blew off what head of steam remained. They stove in the four ship's boats and sank them: they moved every single thing that would float and put it below in such a place that when the ship sank everything would go down with her. And all the while the dirigible circled overhead.

Once, and only once, did anything happen to interrupt them. Heaven knows where he had been hidden or how he had escaped, but suddenly, with a wild shout, one of the crew darted on deck. In his hands he held a pick: he was a stoker evidently. Gallant fellow: he got one of them before he died. In the head---with his pick, and then another of the pirates just laid his glove wet with the poison against the stoker's face. And the work went on.

At last Wilmot appeared again. He was carrying a suit-case, and I saw him signal to the airship. She manoeuvred back into position and the cage was lowered on to the deck of the yacht. And a minute later we were in the dirigible once more.

"A most satisfactory little experiment," said Wilmot. "We will now examine the spoils more closely."

Sick with the horror of it all, I stood at the cabin window, whilst he and the woman went over the jewels on the table behind me. We had circled a little away from the yacht, and the other vessel no longer lay alongside, but a hundred yards or so away. And suddenly there came a dull boom, and the yacht rocked a little on the calm sea.

"A sight, my dear, which I don't think you've ever seen," said Wilmot, and he and the woman came to the window. "A ship sinking."

Slowly the yacht settled down in the water: they had blown a great hole in her bottom. And then at last with a sluggish lurch her bows went under and she turned over and sank. For a time the water swirled angrily to mark her grave: then everything grew quiet. No trace remained of their devilish handiwork: the sea had swallowed it up.

"Most satisfactory," repeated Wilmot. "Don't you agree, Gaunt?"

He laughed evilly at the look on my face.

"And you have committed that atrocious crime for those," I said, pointing at the jewels.

"Not altogether," he answered. "As I told you before, this is merely in the nature of a trial trip. Of course it's pleasant to have one's expenses paid, but the principal value of this has been practice for bigger game. . . . That is what we are out for, my dear Gaunt: bigger game."

I watched him with a sort of dazed fascination as he lit a cigar. Then he began to examine through a lens the great heap of precious stones in front of him. And after a while the thought began to obsess me that he was not human. His complete air of detachment: his amused comments when he discovered that a beautiful tiara was only paste: above all the languorous indifference of the girl who only an hour before had witnessed an act of wholesale murder made my head spin.

They are devils---both of them: devils in human form; and I told them so.

They laughed, and Wilmot poured me out a glass of champagne.

"You flatter us, Gaunt," he remarked. "Surely you have not been listening to the foolish remarks of the crew. They, poor simple-minded fellows, do, I understand, credit me with supernatural powers, but I am surprised at you. Merely your antidote, my friend: that's all."

"I don't understand what you're talking about," I muttered.

"There now," he said genially, "I am always forgetting that your knowledge of past events is limited. An amusing little story, Gaunt, and one which flatters your powers as a chemist. I may say that it also flatters my powers as a prophet. My men, as you may know, are largely Russians of the lower classes. Docile, good fellows as a general rule, with a strong streak of superstition in them. And realising that in a concern of this sort one has to control with an iron hand, I anticipated that possibly an occasion might arise when some foolish man would question that control. It was because of that, my dear Gaunt, that I took so much trouble to procure that admirable ointment of yours, the existence of which is not known to the members of my crew. In that point lay the little element of---if I may say so---genius, which separates a few of us from the common herd. Though I admit that it was with some trepidation---pardonable I think you will allow---that I put the matter to the test. Of the efficacy of your poison I had no doubt, but with regard to the antidote I had only seen it in action once, and then on a guinea-pig. If I remember aright, my darling," he said to the girl, "we drank to Mr. Gaunt's skill as a chemist in one of our few remaining bottles of Imperial Tokay, at the conclusion of the episode. A wonderful wine, Gaunt; but I fear extinct. These absurd revolutions that take place for obscure reasons do a lot of harm."

That's how he talked: the man is not human. Then he went on.

"But the episode in question will, I am sure, interest you. As I had foreseen, some stupid men began to question my authority. In fact, though you will hardly believe it, it came to my ears that there was a conspiracy to take my life. It is true I had had a man flogged to death, but what is a Russian peasant more or less? Apparently this particular fellow sang folk-songs well, or tortured some dreadful musical instrument better than his friends. At any rate he was popular, and his death was a source of annoyance to the others. So, of course, it became necessary to take the matter in hand at once in a way which should restore discipline, and at the same time prevent a recurrence in the future. My dearest, this caviare is not so good as the last consignment. Another devastating example of the harm done by revolutions, I fear. Even the sturgeons have gone on strike.

"However, to return to my little story. I bethought me of your antidote. 'Here,' said I to myself, 'is an opportunity to test that dear chap Gaunt's excellent ointment in a manner both useful and spectacular.' So I rubbed it well into my face and hands---even into my hair, Gaunt---and strode like a hero of old into the midst of the malcontents. You perceive the beauty of the idea. A man not gifted with our brains might reasonably remark, 'Why not don a rubber suit, which you know is quite safe?'

"True, but besides being hot and uncomfortable---I think we shall have to try and improve those suits, Gaunt---it is very clumsy in the event of the wearer being attacked with a knife. And though I anticipated from what I had heard that they proposed to use your poison, one has to allow for all eventualities. Also there was that mystic vein in them which I wanted to impress.

"Behold me then, my dear fellow, apparently as I am now, striding alone and unarmed to their quarters. For a moment they stared at me dumbfounded---my sudden appearance had cowed them. And then one of them pulled himself together and discharged a syringe full of the liquid at me. It hit me in the cheek---a most nervous moment, I assure you. I apologise deeply to you now for my qualms; I should have trusted your skill better.

"Nothing happened, and the men cowered back. I said no word; but step by step I advanced on the miscreant who had dared to try and rob the world of one of its chief adornments. And step by step he retreated till he could retreat no further. Then I took his hand and laid it on my cheek. And that evening we tied him in a weighted sack, and buried him at sea."

He smiled thoughtfully and studied the ash on his cigar.

"It was most successful. Rumours about me vary amongst these excellent fellows. The one I like best is that I am a reincarnation of Rasputin. But there has been no further trouble."

He rose from the table and swept the jewels carelessly into the suit-case.

"Not a bad haul, my little one. We shall have to be very careful over the disposal of the Shan diamonds: they're notorious stones."

They both walked over to one of the windows together, and . . .

[At this point the narrative breaks off abruptly. Evidently Gaunt was interrupted and crammed the papers hurriedly into his pocket. And the only other document---the most vital of all---was scrawled almost illegibly on a torn scrap of paper. Whether it was written on the airship or at Black Mine will never be known. Of how he got back to the mine there is no record. Who were the men alluded to as "them" is also a mystery, though I have no doubt that one of them was Wilmot. Possibly the other was Helias.]

I heard them to-day. They didn't know I was listening. The Megalithic with thirty of the gang on board. Attack by night. The bigger game. He will succeed: he is not human. . . . Hydrogen not helium. . . . Not changed. . . . Sacrifice ship. . . . Fire. . . .

+++

That is all. Those are the papers that we read, sitting on the edge of the cliff with the writer beside us staring with vacant eyes over the grey sea below. Those were the papers, stumbled on by the merest accident, on which we had to base our plans. Was it true or were we the victims of some gigantic delusion on the part of Gaunt? That was the problem that faced us as the first rays of the early sun lit up Black Mine on the morning of September 8th.

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