Deals With An Escape And A Journey
Five scouts' lanterns burned smokily in the ground room of the keep when Dickson
ushered his charges through its cavernous door. The lights flickered in the gusts that
swept after them and whistled through the slits of the windows, so that the place was full
of monstrous shadows, and its accustomed odour of mould and disuse was changed to a
salty freshness. Upstairs on the first floor Thomas Yownie had deposited the ladies'
baggage, and was busy making beds out of derelict iron bedsteads and the wraps brought
from their room. On the ground floor on a heap of litter covered by an old scout's blanket
lay Heritage, with Dougal in attendance.
The Chieftain had washed the blood from the Poet's brow, and the touch of cold water
was bringing him back his senses. Saskia with a cry flew to him, and waved off Dickson
who had fetched one of the bottles of liqueur brandy. She slipped a hand inside his shirt
and felt the beating of his heart. Then her slim fingers ran over his forehead.
"A bad blow," she muttered, "but I do not think he is ill. There is no fracture. When I
nursed in the Alexander Hospital I learnt much about head wounds. Do not give him
cognac if you value his life."
Heritage was talking now and with strange tongues. Phrases like "lined Digesters" and
"free sulphurous acid" came from his lips. He implored some one to tell him if "the first
cook" was finished, and he upbraided some one else for "cooling off" too fast.
The girl raised her head. "But I fear he has become mad," she said.
"Wheesht, Mem," said Dickson, who recognized the jargon. "He's a papermaker."
Saskia sat down on the litter and lifted his head so that it rested on her breast. Dougal at
her bidding brought a certain case from her baggage, and with swift, capable hands she
made a bandage and rubbed the wound with ointment before tying it up. Then her fingers
seemed to play about his temples and along his cheeks and neck. She was the
professional nurse now, absorbed, sexless. Heritage ceased to babble, his eyes shut and
he was asleep.
She remained where she was, so that the Poet, when a few minutes later he woke, found
himself lying with his head in her lap. She spoke first, in an imperative tone: "You are
well now. Your head does not ache. You are strong again."
"No. Yes," he murmured. Then more clearly: "Where am I? Oh, I remember, I caught a
lick on the head. What's become of the brutes?"
Dickson, who had extracted food from the Mearns Street box and was pressing it on the
others, replied through a mouthful of Biscuit: "We're in the old Tower. The three are
lockit up in the House. Are you feeling better, Mr. Heritage?"
The Poet suddenly realized Saskia's position and the blood came to his pale face. He got
to his feet with an effort and held out a hand to the girl. "I'm all right now, I think. Only a
little dicky on my legs. A thousand thanks, Princess. I've given you a lot of trouble."