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Pleasure Book for Boys - Chapter 8

FORESTER OF THE FLANNELS.

By K. Netson Abbott

Chapter 8

With a low groan the man fell doubled up on the steps. Dick waited breathlessly, feeling sure the noise must have been heard within, but the song continued; and setting his teeth with grim determination, he crept down the steps, crouched for a moment in the shadow of the half-opened door, then with extreme caution drew it slowly towards him. The chorus of the song had now started, and drowned any noise he may have made, as he locked the door, slipped the key in his pocket, and pushed in the bolts.

Stooping over the huddled form of the sentry, Dick saw he was coming round, and securing the iron gate at the top of the steps, he dashed back to the porch where he had left his shoes.

"They won’t get free in a hurry,” he thought, as he fastened his shoes and dashed towards the cover of the hedge.

He was elated with his victory, and it did not occur to him that a sentry might have been posted outside the gardens, till running down the path he was startled by a yell behind him, and glancing over his shoulder saw the dark form of a tall man silhouetted against the moonlit sky.

Dick increased his pace, and dashed down the slope, but he had not gone far when a shot kicked up the dust at his side. The sight only drove him on to greater speed. Probably the man had mistaken him for Paul; if so, he would give him no chance to discover his mistake.

On and on he ran, careless of obstacles. The next shot fell behind him, and the thought that he was the swifter of the two sent him sprinting on at a pace too great for safety, and before he could stop himself, he caught his foot against a ledge of rock, and rolled over and over, down the incline at the side of the track, into a thick mass of bushes.

In spite of the thorns that scratched his face and hands, he decided to stay where he was until his pursuer had passed. Surely they would hear the shots at the mine and come to his assistance. Unfortunately the man had seen him fall, and presently Dick heard, to his dismay, footsteps moving in his direction through the undergrowth. Hardly daring to breathe, he kept perfectly still till the sounds became fainter as the man strode past.

Now was his chance, if he was ever going to warn them at the mine. Stealthily, Dick crept back to the path, but when he tried to run again he found the fall had left him bruised and stiff, and it was only on hearing the steps of his pursuer close behind him that he was able to go at any pace. The man did not now attempt to shoot; it had occurred to him also that firing might be heard at the mine. But now he tried another method. With a whiz a knife cleft the air, and Dick felt a sharp pain in his shoulder, but he dared not pause, and with a sob of wild excitement he kept steadily on.