The Man Who Was Thursday
11. The Criminals Chase The Police
SYME put the field-glasses from his eyes with an almost ghastly relief.
"The President is not with them, anyhow," he said, and wiped his forehead.
"But surely they are right away on the horizon," said the bewildered Colonel,
blinking and but half recovered from Bull's hasty though polite explanation.
"Could you possibly know your President among all those people?"
"Could I know a white elephant among all those people!" answered Syme
somewhat irritably. "As you very truly say, they are on the horizon; but if he were
walking with them . . . by God! I believe this ground would shake."
After an instant's pause the new man called Ratcliffe said with gloomy decision--
"Of course the President isn't with them. I wish to Gemini he were. Much more
likely the President is riding in triumph through Paris, or sitting on the ruins of St.
"This is absurd!" said Syme. "Something may have happened in our absence; but
he cannot have carried the world with a rush like that. It is quite true," he added,
frowning dubiously at the distant fields that lay towards the little station, "it is
certainly true that there seems to be a crowd coming this way; but they are not all
the army that you make out."
"Oh, they," said the new detective contemptuously; "no they are not a very
valuable force. But let me tell you frankly that they are precisely calculated to our
value--we are not much, my boy, in Sunday's universe. He has got hold of all the
cables and telegraphs himself. But to kill the Supreme Council he regards as a
trivial matter, like a post card; it may be left to his private secretary," and he spat
on the grass.
Then he turned to the others and said somewhat austerely--
"There is a great deal to be said for death; but if anyone has any preference for
the other alternative, I strongly advise him to walk after me."
With these words, he turned his broad back and strode with silent energy
towards the wood. The others gave one glance over their shoulders, and saw
that the dark cloud of men had detached itself from the station and was moving
with a mysterious discipline across the plain. They saw already, even with the
naked eye, black blots on the foremost faces, which marked the masks they