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The Coming Of The Danish Brig
Mr. John Heritage, solitary in the old Tower, found much to occupy his mind. His
giddiness was passing, though the dregs of a headache remained, and his spirits rose with
his responsibilities. At daybreak he breakfasted out of the Mearns Street provision box,
and made tea in one of the Die-Hard's camp kettles. Next he gave some attention to his
toilet, necessary after the rough-and-tumble of the night. He made shift to bathe in icy
water from the Tower well, shaved, tidied up his clothes and found a clean shirt from his
pack. He carefully brushed his hair, reminding himself that thus had the Spartans done
before Thermopylae. The neat and somewhat pallid young man that emerged from these
rites then ascended to the first floor to reconnoitre the landscape from the narrow
unglazed windows.
If any one had told him a week ago that he would be in so strange a world he would have
quarrelled violently with his informant. A week ago he was a cynical clear-sighted
modern, a contemner of illusions, a swallower of formulas, a breaker of shams--one who
had seen through the heroical and found it silly. Romance and such-like toys were
playthings for fatted middle-age, not for strenuous and cold-eyed youth. But the truth was
that now he was altogether spellbound by these toys. To think that he was serving his
lady was rapture-ecstasy, that for her he was single-handed venturing all. He rejoiced to
be alone with his private fancies. His one fear was that the part he had cast himself for
might be needless, that the men from the sea would not come, or that reinforcements
would arrive before he should be called upon. He hoped alone to make a stand against
thousands. What the upshot might be he did not trouble to inquire. Of course the Princess
would be saved, but first he must glut his appetite for the heroic.
He made a diary of events that day, just as he used to do at the front. At twenty minutes
past eight he saw the first figure coming from the House. It was Spidel, who limped
round the Tower, tried the door, and came to a halt below the window. Heritage stuck out
his head and wished him good morning, getting in reply an amazed stare. The man was
not disposed to talk, though Heritage made some interesting observations on the weather,
but departed quicker than he came, in the direction of the West Lodge.
Just before nine o'clock he returned with Dobson and Leon. They made a very complete
reconnaissance of the Tower, and for a moment Heritage thought that they were about to
try to force an entrance. They tugged and hammered at the great oak door, which he had
further strengthened by erecting behind it a pile of the heaviest lumber he could find in
the place. It was imperative that they should not get in, and he got Dickson's pistol ready
with the firm intention of shooting them if necessary. But they did nothing, except to hold
a conference in the hazel clump a hundred yards to the north, when Dobson seemed to be
laying down the law, and Leon spoke rapidly with a great fluttering of hands. They were
obviously puzzled by the sight of Heritage, whom they believed to have left the
neighbourhood. Then Dobson went off, leaving Leon and Spidel on guard, one at the
edge of the shrubberies between the Tower and the House, the other on the side nearest
the Laver glen. These were their posts, but they did sentry-go around the building, and
passed so close to Heritage's window that he could have tossed a cigarette on their heads.
It occurred to him that he ought to get busy with camouflage. They must be convinced
that the Princess was in the place, for he wanted their whole mind to be devoted to the