The Jewel

All that glisters is not gold - Shakespeare
There was the turnkey's belt lying on the floor, with the keys and manacles fixed to it, just as it had failed and come off him at the fatal moment. Elzevir picked it up, tried the keys till he found the right one, and unlocked the door of the well-house.

"There are other locks to open before we get out," I said.

"Ay," he answered, "but it is more than our life is worth to be seen with these keys, so send them down the well, after their master."

I took them back and flung them, belt and keys and handcuffs, clanking down against the sides into the blackness and the hidden water at the bottom. Then we took pail and hammer, brush and ropes, and turned our backs upon that hateful place. There was the little court to cross before we came to the doors of the banquet-hall. They were locked, but we knocked until a guard opened them. He knew us for the plasterer-men, who had passed an hour before, and only asked, "Where is Ephraim?" meaning the turnkey. "He is stopping behind in the well-house," Elzevir said, and so we passed on through the hall, where the prisoners were making what breakfast they might of odds and ends, with a savoury smell of cooking and a great patter of French.

At the outer gate was another guard to be passed, but they opened for us without question, cursing Ephraim under their breath, that he did not take the pains to let his own men out.

Then the wicket of the great gates swung-to-behind us, and we went into the open again. As soon as we were out of sight we quickened our pace, and the weather having much bettered, and a fresh breeze springing up," we came back to the Bugle about ten in the forenoon.

I believe that neither of us spoke a word during that walk, and though Elzevir had not yet seen the diamond, he never even took the pains to draw it out of the little parchment bag, in which it still lay hid in his pocket. Yet if I did not speak I thought, and my thoughts were sad enough. For here were we a second time, flying for our lives, and if we had not the full guilt of blood upon our hands, yet blood was surely there. So this flight was very bitter to me, because the scene of death of which I had been witness this morning seemed to take me farther still away from all my old happy life, and to stand like another dreadful obstacle between Grace and me. In the Family Bible lying on the table in my aunt's best parlour was a picture of Cain, which I had often looked at with fear on wet Sunday afternoons. It showed Cain striding along in the midst of a boundless desert, with his sons and their wives striding behind him, and their little children carried slung on poles. There was a quick, swinging motion in the bodies of all, as though they must needs always stride as fast as they might, and never rest, and their faces were set hard, and thin with eternal wandering and disquiet. But the thinnest and most restless-looking and hardest face was Cain's, and on the middle of his forehead there was a dark spot, which God had set to show that none might touch him, because he was the first murderer, and cursed for ever. This had always been to me a dreadful picture, though I could not choose but look at it, and was sorry indeed for Cain, for all he was so wicked, because it seemed hard to have to wander up and down the world all his life long, and never be able to come to moorings. And yet this very thing had come upon me now, for here we were, with the blood of two men on our hands, wanderers on the face of the earth, who durst never go home; and if the mark of Cain was not on my forehead already, I felt" it might come out there at any minute.

When we reached the Bugle I went upstairs and flung myself upon the bed to try to rest a little and think, but Elzevir shut himself in with the landlord, and I could hear them talking earnestly in the room under me. After a while he came up and said that he had considered with the landlord how we could best get away, telling him that we must be off at once, but letting him suppose that we were eager to leave the place because some of the Excise had got wind of our whereabouts. He had said nothing to our host about the turnkey, wishing as few persons as possible to know of that matter, but doubted not that we should by all means hasten our departure from the island, for that as soon as the turnkey was missed inquiry would certainly be made for the plasterers with whom he was last seen.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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