Quick as lightning, and while the other men were roaring with laughter, Hilary dashed at the cutlass, picked it up, and, assuming now the part of aggressor, he turned upon Allstone, presenting the point of his weapon, and drove the ruffian before him out of the place, turning the next moment upon his companions, who offered not the slightest resistance, but retreated before him laughing with all their might.

Hilary was about to seize the opportunity to chase them onward through the passage and try to escape, but Allstone was too quick for him.

The first, bearing a candle stuck between some nails in a piece of wood, was a fair, fresh-coloured young fellow, and he was closely followed by a burly middle-aged man bearing another candle, Allstone coming last. "There," said the younger man, "there's about as nice a mess for a set o' nets to be in as anyone ever saw;" and he laid hold of the pile that Hilary had drawn over his face.

Active as a leopard, Hilary sprang down to avoid him, when the pieces of the broken plate the remains of that which had thrown the young officer down into the burning spirit this time befriended him, for Allstone stepped upon a large fragment, slipped, fell sprawling, and the cutlass flew from his hand with a loud jangling noise in the far corner upon the stone floor.

Then it struck him that his clothes had pretty well grown dry again, and he went over in his mind the incidents of the day and the past night, thoughts which were interrupted by the coming of Allstone, who bore some bread and meat, and a mug of beer, while a man behind him dragged in a table and chair, and afterwards carried in a straw mattress and a pillow, Allstone looking grimly on.

Hilary's first act on recovering himself was to creep back cautiously to the side, and lower down the stone over the open well, shivering still as he realised more fully the narrowness of his escape. "Old Allstone will be wanting to know what I have done with his jug," he said, as he seated himself upon the stool, and began to think what he should do.

"I wonder whether old Allstone has given the alarm?" he said half aloud, as he placed the cutlass in his belt. "They'll have to run fast to catch me now. Hallo! what's that?" That was a piercing scream, followed by loud cries of "Help! Papa help!" Hilary had made his escape, and he had nothing to do now but make straight for the sea; but that cry stopped him on the instant.

"Oh, yes," said Allstone, "I went and had a look at the window-bars to-night." "Safe enough, yes," muttered Hilary, as he heard the departing steps; "they've locked me up safe enough. Was anything ever so vexatious?"

In the king's name I order you to set me at liberty." "And in the king's name I refuse, Master Hilary." "Then I shall take it," cried Hilary, making for the door, which he reached and flung open, but only to find himself confronted by three rough, sailor-looking fellows. "You see," said Sir Henry smiling. "Allstone, take away that tray. Good-bye for the present, Hilary. I will see you to-night."

Just then the whispers began again, and placing his ear this time to the great hole, he plainly heard two men speaking: "I think you can do it without a light," said one. "Ay, easy enough. You stop, and if you hear Allstone coming, give just one pipe, and I'll be up directly." "All right. Get the hollands this time. Gently with that key."