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    Chapter 62

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    Chapter 62
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    The End of Sadi

    They brought Sadi Hafiz to the house on the hill and the journey was a long one for a man with a bullet in his shoulder. The first news Ralph had of the happening was a thundering knock at the gates which roused him from a fitful sleep and sent him to his window.

    The gates were locked and barred and could not be opened without his permission. He saw the gleam of lanterns outside, and presently a shrill voice called him by name and he knew it was Sadi. Hurrying downstairs, he joined the suspicious gatekeeper, who was parleying through the barred wicket.

    "Let them enter," he said, and himself lifted one of the bars.

    A glance at Sadi told him that something serious had happened and he assisted the wounded man into the house.

    "Allah, I am finished!" groaned Sadi. "That pig. If that pistol had not caught in the folds of my cloak he would have been in hell to-night!"

    Hamon sent for a woman and in the meantime examined the wound.

    "It is nothing," said Sadi roughly. "The last time he shot me was more serious."

    "The last time he shot you?" repeated Hamon dully.

    Sadi had noticed a peculiar development in the man, which was not altogether explained in his changed appearance. He seemed to be thinking of something so intently that he had no time to interest himself in the events of the moment.

    "What is the matter with you?"

    "Nothing," said Hamon, coming out of his reverie. "You were saying ...?"

    "I was saying that the last time he shot me was more serious."

    "Who shot you, anyway?" asked Hamon. "Not the beggar?"

    "The beggar," repeated the other grimly.

    Here conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the woman whom the Moorish girl had called Señora Hamon. She carried a large bowl of water and cloths and Hamon watched her unseeingly while she dressed the wound. When she had gone, he took up the thread of the conversation.

    "I never thought he would do you much harm," he said, "he is very old and feeble--you did not tell me that you knew him."

    "I did not know that I knew him," replied the Moor, "or that you knew him. But Mr. Morlake is an old enemy of mine!"

    With a start Hamon came to himself.

    "You were speaking about the beggar, weren't you?" he said, frowning. "I'm so rattled and muddled to-night. You were talking of the old beggar man, Abdul."

    "I'm talking about Mr. Morlake," said the other between his teeth. "The gentleman you so considerately married to your woman this morning!"

    "Oh!" said Hamon blankly.

    The tidings were too tremendous for him to take in. He passed his hand wearily before his eyes.

    "I don't get it," he said haltingly. "The beggar was Morlake, you say? But how could he be? He was an old man----"

    "If I'd had the eyes of a mole," said the other bitterly, "I'd have known it was Morlake. It was his favourite disguise when he was in the Intelligence Service in Morocco."

    Hamon sat down on the divan where the man was lying.

    "The beggar was Morlake," he said stupidly. "Let me get that in my mind. And I married them!"

    He burst into a fit of laughter and Sadi, with his knowledge of men, saw how near his host was to a breakdown. Presently he calmed himself.

    "Did he get her? Of course he did. He took her from you and shot you. Oh God! What a fool I was!"

    "He hates you," said the Moor after a long interval of silence. "What is behind it?"

    "He wants something I have--that is behind it." The flushed face and the slurred voice aroused Sadi's suspicion. Had the man been drinking?

    As though he read Sadi's mind, Hamon said:

    "You think I'm drunk, don't you, but I'm not. I was never more sober. I'm just----" he hesitated to find a word, "well, I feel differently, that is all."

    He made one of his abrupt exits, leaving Sadi to nurse his wound and to ponder on a development which brought almost as much unease to his mind as did his wound to his body. Hamon must go, he decided coldbloodedly. If it was true that there was an English police officer looking for him in Tangier, then the policeman must have his prey. Only in that way could Sadi be rehabilitated in the eyes of his many employers. Hamon had ceased to be profitable; was nearing the end of his financial tether. The shrewd Moor weighed up the situation with unerring judgment. He did not sleep, his shoulder was too painful; and soon after sunrise he went in search of his host.

    Hamon was in the room that the girl had occupied. He at any rate had found forgetfulness, and on the table, where his head rested on folded arms, was an open pocket-book and a scatter of papers. Sadi examined them furtively.

    There were half a dozen negotiable bank drafts, made out to "Mr. Jackson Brown," and there was also a white paper folded in four....

    Hamon awakened and lifted his head slowly. The Moor was reading, and:

    "That is mine, when you've done with it," said Hamon.

    In no way disconcerted, Sadi dropped the papers on the table.

    "So that is it? I wondered what you were scared of. You're a fool; that paper would hang you. Why don't you burn it?"

    "Who told you to read it?" asked the other and his eyes were like live coals. "Who asked you to sneak in here and spy on me, Sadi?"

    "You're a fool. I'm in pain and bored. I came in to talk to you, expecting to find you in bed."

    Ralph was slowly gathering his property together.

    "It was my fault, for leaving it around," he said. "Now you know."

    Sadi nodded.

    "Why don't you destroy it?" he asked.

    "Because I won't, I won't!" snarled the other, and pushed the case savagely into his pocket.

    He followed Sadi with his eyes as the Moor strolled out of the room and sat motionless, staring at the door and fingering his lip.

    Toward the evening, he saw one of Sadi's men mount his horse, and, leading another, go down the hillside. That could only mean one thing: the messenger was riding to Tangier without drawing rein except to change his horse. And he could only be riding to Tangier on one errand. Ralph Hamon chuckled. For some reason the discovery afforded him intense amusement. Sadi Hafiz was saving his own skin at his expense. In two days--to-morrow perhaps--authorisation would come through from the Sultan's representative, and he, Ralph Hamon, would be seized by the man whom he had befriended, and carried into Tangier, there to be extradited to stand his trial for--what?

    He drew a long whistling breath. His hand unconsciously touched the case in his pocket. There were no safes to hide it there, no strong boxes, and yet a match, one of a hundred from a ten-centimos box, would relieve him of all danger. And he did not, would not, could not burn the accursed thing. He was well enough acquainted with himself to know that he was physically incapable of that last drastic act.

    At the back of the house were his own stables, and the grooms' quarters. He strolled round casually and called the head groom to him.

    "I'm going on a journey to-night, but it is secret. You will bring your horse and mine to the river where the road crosses--we'll go to the coast and afterward into Spanish territory. There is a thousand pesetas for you and yet another thousand if you are a discreet man."

    "Lord, you have sewn up my mouth with threads of gold," said the man poetically.

    Hamon went into Sadi's room to take dinner with him and was unusually cheerful.

    "Do you think they will reach Tangier?" he asked.

    "That is certain," said Sadi, "but I have as good a tale as any. I told her I was taking her back to her friends. I did not harm her in any way and I think I will be able to satisfy the consulate that the young lady was alarmed for no good reason. The beggar I shot at--why? Because I do not know that he is Mr. Morlake. To me he is an evil old thief from whom I am rescuing the lady. Yes, the consulates will accept my story."

    "And do you think I shall be able to satisfy the consulates?" asked Hamon, fixing his blazing eyes on the wounded man.

    Sadi shrugged his shoulder and winced with the pain of it.

    "You are a rich man and powerful," he said diplomatically. "I am a poor Moor, at the mercy of foreigners. To-morrow I will go back to Tangier," he said, "and you?"

    "To-morrow I also may go to Tangier," said Hamon, not moving his eyes from the other, and he saw him shift uncomfortably.

    "These things are with God," said the philosophical Sadi.

    The household went to bed early. Sadi's men had been accommodated within the walls--a course which satisfied their chieftain. Midnight was striking on the little clock in the drawing-room when Hamon, dressed for riding, and wearing a thick coat that reached to his knees, came down the stone stairs to the hall. He wore rubbers over his shoes and made no sound as, creeping to the door of the room where Sadi was sleeping, he turned the handle softly. Only a candle burnt to give light to the sick man and Hamon stood, listening in the open doorway, till he heard the regular breathing of the sleeper. Then he drew a long, straight knife from his pocket and went into the room. He was only there a few minutes, and then the candle was extinguished and he came out.

    He rode hard for two hours and halted whilst his groom heated some water and prepared a meal, and in the light of the dancing fire, the man said in alarm:

    "Lord, there is blood on your sleeve and on your hands."

    "That is nothing," said Hamon calmly. "This morning a dog of my house would have bitten me, so I killed him."
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