Silence reigned in the narrow cell for a few moments, whilst two human jackals
stood motionless over their captured prey.
A savage triumph gleamed in Chauvelin's eyes, and even Heron, dull and brutal
though he was, had become vaguely conscious of the great change that had
come over the prisoner.
Blakeney, with a gesture and a sigh of hopeless exhaustion had once more
rested both his elbows on the table; his head fell heavy and almost lifeless
downward in his arms.
"Curse you, man!" cried Heron almost involuntarily. "Why in the name of hell did
you wait so long?"
Then, as the prisoner made no reply, but only raised his head slightly, and looked
on the other two men with dulled, wearied eyes, Chauvelin interposed calmly:
"More than a fortnight has been wasted in useless obstinacy, Sir Percy.
Fortunately it is not too late."
"Capet?" said Heron hoarsely, "tell us, where is Capet?"
He leaned across the table, his eyes were bloodshot with the keenness of his
excitement, his voice shook with the passionate desire for the crowning triumph.
"If you'll only not worry me," murmured the prisoner; and the whisper came so
laboriously and so low that both men were forced to bend their ears close to the
scarcely moving lips; "if you will let me sleep and rest, and leave me in peace--"
"The peace of the grave, man," retorted Chauvelin roughly; "if you will only
speak. Where is Capet?"
"I cannot tell you; the way is long, the road--intricate."
"I'll lead you to him, if you will give me rest."
"We don't want you to lead us anywhere," growled Heron with a smothered
curse; "tell us where Capet is; we'll find him right enough."
"I cannot explain; the way is intricate; the place off the beaten track, unknown
except to me and my friends."
Once more that shadow, which was so like the passing of the hand of Death,
overspread the prisoner's face; his head rolled back against the chair.
"He'll die before he can speak," muttered Chauvelin under his breath. "You
usually are well provided with brandy, citizen Heron."
The latter no longer demurred. He saw the danger as clearly as did his
colleague. It had been hell's own luck if the prisoner were to die now when he
seemed ready to give in. He produced a flask from the pocket of his coat, and
this he held to Blakeney's lips.
"Beastly stuff," murmured the latter feebly. "I think I'd sooner faint--than drink."
"Capet? where is Capet?" reiterated Heron impatiently. "One--two-- three
hundred leagues from here. I must let one of my friends know; he'll communicate
with the others; they must be prepared," replied the prisoner slowly.
Heron uttered a blasphemous oath.
Where is Capet? Tell us where Capet is, or--"