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.He was wondering if the rocks had fallen down of their own accord.He prayed fervently that he would come to that conclusion.The man turned, so silently that he might have been a shadow, and stared in the direction of the bay, although the fog would prevent him from actually seeing it.Ginger could tell from his attitude that he was listening.Thenhe turned back to the square hole in the rock.Again he listened.He listened for so long that Ginger felt he couldn't stand much more of it.He realised, of course, why the man was listening.He was listening for a sound that would tell him someone was inside.Ginger almost ceased to breathe.The strain was awful.He became angry with himself for the affect it was having on him.He could have ended it there and then, of course, by shooting the man as he stood against the light only a few yards away, but such an act was unthinkable.It would be too much like murder and he never seriously considered it.Then, suddenly, and still soundlessly, the figure vanished.Ginger did not move.Was the man still there, standing in the fog ? Had he gone ? No sound came to answer the question.But presently, as Ginger stood there tense, listening, there came one that brought him near to panic.It was a voice calling.Marcel's voice.He seemed to be not far away.Certainly he was much nearer than the bay.The inference was plain.Marcel was on his way up the hill to ascertain the reason for his long absence.And if that was so, he was walking into what might well turn out to be a death trap.The man in the blue jersey had heard him coming.That was why he had moved away so suddenly.Where was he ? No matter where he was, decided Ginger, Marcel must not be allowed to come nearer.Again came the hail, muffled by the fog." Allo there ! Ginger, where are you ? "Ginger thought swiftly.The significance of a man calling somebody would not be lost on the Russian, unless he were a fool, which was not a thing to reckon on.He would know, now, that the demolished embrasure was no accident.He would know, as definitely as if he had been told, that either somebody was inside the gallery or had been inside.Taking a firm grip on his automatic, Ginger began to move forward, inch by inch, foot by foot.But if his movements were slow his nerves were racing at full stretch.A last short step took him to the opening.With infinite caution he moved his body forward until he could see round the edge of the rock.Simultaneously came a shout from Marcel, alarmingly close.But the fog still shrouded everything and he could not be seen.A movement caught Ginger's eye.It was only slight, but it was enough.He made out the burly figure of the bearded man crouching behind a massive boulder about a dozen yards away.Very slowly he was raising his right arm.In the hand was a heavy revolver.He was peering in the direction from which the last hail had come, which meant that his back was turned to the embrasure, a circumstance that suited Ginger very well.Marcel's footsteps could be heard now, approaching, stopping, and coming on again.A loose rock rattled.The man behind the rock did not move.There was no need.He had only to wait.Ginger raised his automatic and covered the crouching figure.Then in a shrill voice he shouted : "Keep back, Marcel ! There's a man here with a gun."Before the last words had left his lips the picture sprang to life.With a grunt of surprise the waiting man sprang up, whirled round and fired.It was a panic shot, for it was unlikely that he actually saw Ginger, who had not exposed himself.He may have fired at the sound.Anyway, the bullet smacked harmlessly against the face of the rock.Ginger returned the shot just as the manleapt forward into the fog, so whether or not he had hit him he did not know.Nor did he know what was happening, although clattering rocks told him that someone was moving.Feeling that to go out would be folly, he remained where he was.Marcel had been warned.There was nothing more to be done for the moment.The risk of them shooting each other in the blinding fog was great.Then, as he waited, the heavy revolver roared again, to be followed a split second later by the whip-like crack of Marcel's little police automatic.Ginger began to creep forward, hugging the rock face, but he had only just started when there was a great crashing of rolling stones and rocks." Marcel ! " he yelled, throwing caution to the winds in his anxiety."Are you all right ? "He gasped his relief when Marcel's voice came back."Yes.Come here ! "Feeling his way forward Ginger came upon Marcel standing on the lip of a steep slope that fell away into the mist, and, if the noise of waves was any indication, into the sea.He was staring down."Where is he ? " asked Ginger breathlessly.Marcel shrugged and pointed down the slope." "Did you shoot him 1 ""I cannot tell.I tried.After he shoots at me, I shoot back and he jumps and falls into the fog.What happens after that I do not know.All I hear is the stones falling down the hill.""He didn't hit you ? ""But no.He cannot shoot well, that one, or I must be a dead man now.Name of a dog !What an affair What happens here ? Why are you so long? Algy gets angry.We are worried.""You are worried," returned Ginger grimly."I was the one to be worried.Come and have a look at this."He took Marcel to the broken embrasure and pointed to the gun."What d'you know about that ? "Marcel's dark eyes saucered."Name of ten thousand devils ! " he gasped."There are more inside," Ginger told him."And this is France ! " expostulated Marcel with high indignation."Who dares to make a fortress on the soil of France ? We shall show them they cannot do this," he concluded furiously."They've done it," Ginger pointed out, practically.Bertie's voice could now be heard through the fog." Here ! I say, you chaps, what's going on up there ? " "Come and look,"Ginger called back.Presently, guided by their voices, Bertie joined them.He looked at the gun.He put his monocle more firmly in his eye and looked again."By Jove! "he exclaimed."That certainly is something.What a bally nerve! Who was shooting at who ? "Ginger told him."Where did this impudent fellow go ? ""Marcel says he fell down the hill.""Served him right.Was he dead ? ""I don't know, and I'm certainly not going to break my neck climbing down to find out [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]