He snapped orders. The hired Thrid of the trading-post staff had not quite grasped the situation. They couldn't believe it. Automatically, as he commanded the iron doors and shutters of the trading post closed, they obeyed. They saw him turn on the shocker-field so that nobody could cross the compound without getting an electric shock that would discourage him. They began to believe.
"At ease," Hartford told the Terrible Third. "Rest. Smoke if you've got 'em."
So forward I went, and gained but little by my obstinacy except uncomfortable quarters and rough company, for we made for Sleat, and there were boarded by Allan Knock. The Captain was convinced he had secured Barisdale in my person, but Knock was forced to declare that he was wrong in this, though he could not name me; but the next day he returned with Creach, before whom I was paraded like a beast on market-day.
What particularly attracted my attention was a little girl, certainly not more than seven years of age, who was busily engaged in polishing and sharpening the stamps he used. I stopped for a moment and watched this man and child, working steadily, silently, at this late hour of the night. I could but marvel at the patience and the skill the child showed at her work. It was the first time in my life that I had seen such a very little child at work, although I saw many others in the days that followed.
I pass over the spectacle of Poirot on a camel. He started by groans and lamentations and ended by shrieks, gesticulations and invocations to the Virgin Mary and every Saint in the calendar. In the end, he descended ignominiously and finished the journey on a diminutive donkey. I must admit that a trotting camel is no joke for the amateur. I was stiff for several days.
"And I relieve you of that duty," Nef snapped. "Come up to my quarters."
"Enough of your insolence!" The bearded man cocked his rifle. "I could blow your heads off!"
"That will do then," said Marian, decisively. "This, then, is my plan. I will go to the house of the first thou didst name. No doubt they will be pleased to entertain a daughter of the house of Winstanley. I will crave their hospitality until my father doth send or come; and in leaving I will present them with this string of pearls, which will do doubt delight their honest hearts, unused to the gold and glitter of the great. Thou shalt take me; so get thy sword and mantle and come."
[Pg 113]详情 ➢
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