She Fell Among Thieves

She Fell Among Thieves by Dornford Yates Read Free Book Online

Book: She Fell Among Thieves by Dornford Yates Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dornford Yates
Tags: She Fell Among Thieves
day.
    So I came to the head of the valley about a quarter past five.
    The head of the valley was closed, except for a deep ravine by which the water came down. The torrent raged in this channel which it had worn and no man on earth could ever have gone that way; but I think, if he could, he would only have come to a cliff, for though, because the gorge curled, I could not see up, above the bellow of the rapids I was almost sure I could hear the roar of a fall. I very soon saw the path which I was to take, but hereabouts there was no other way out and, after a few minutes’ rest in the cool which the rapids dispensed, I left the turf to climb to the mountain road.
    Now the path was mostly open: it follows that the higher I climbed, the better I viewed the mountains on the opposite side of the valley which I had left. These were most heavily wooded: but, observing them carefully, I presently saw that what I had thought one mountain was really two, and that though, from below, the foliage hid their juncture, there must at that point be a way that a man could take. (I do not mean to say that he could not have climbed straight up the mountain-side, for, steep as it was he could have gone up or come down by passing from tree to tree: but this would have been a most hard and perilous progress and could never have been attempted except by day.) When next I stopped to look, it was clear I was right, for I saw the faint ridge in the pretty green quilt of the tree-tops which tells of a pass.
    Now Vanity Fair had not said that the valley was blind, but she had pretty well forced me to take the path on my right. I had little doubt of two things. One was that she did not wish me to find the pass I had marked: and the other that it was by that pass that the man I had seen in the meadows had come to Jezreel.
    I was nearing the road now and I stopped once more to gaze across the valley and see what I could.
    Now the path had been leading me back, away from the head of the valley towards Jezreel, and when I looked round this last time, I saw directly before me a delicate fall of water which was lacing the hanging forest a crow’s mile off. The cascade itself was so slender and the forest about it so deep that unless I had turned at that moment, I should never have known it was there. That was how I had missed it when I had gone by in the valley, because for two or three paces I was looking the other way.
    At once I whipped out my glasses and set my back to a rock.
    If there was a path up to the pass, at some point or other that path had to cross that fall…
    And so it did, halfway up. I could see the rough-hewn bridge that carried it over the foam. There was not so much as a handrail: and the bridge was very narrow, just wide enough for one man.
    At last I lowered my glasses, to smile at my luck. Three paces more or less, and I should have gone empty away. As it was…
    I put my glasses away and turned to the road.
    This was closer than I knew. In fact, the boulder had masked it – the rock against which I had leaned, to steady my gaze. As I rounded that comfortable bulwark –
    ‘That’s right,’ said Vanity Fair. ‘Did you set your watch?’
     
    She was sitting alone in the back of an open car. On its step was spread a napkin, on which was standing a glass. As I stepped on to the road, the chauffeur, called Jean, ripped open a bottle of beer.
    ‘I knew you’d be thirsty,’ she said. ‘And thirst is a healthy emotion which should be indulged. Not a thirst for knowledge, you know. I’ve known that to be unhealthy.’
    I saw my chance and leaped in.
    ‘I never asked her,’ I said. ‘She volunteered the information.’
    An image regarded me straitly.
    ‘Who volunteered what?’
    ‘Virginia,’ I said. ‘She saw me setting my watch and told me the legend and that the clock doesn’t chime the quarter past. If she wasn’t pulling my leg, that means that I must be mistaken and that it was the half-hour and not the quarter that I

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