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THE BLACK WOLF'S BREED

the lengths to which his desperation and folly might carry him. I had need for both haste and caution.

I was now at the top of a slight hillock, the grooms resting at the foot. As ill fortune would have it, my horse's hoof loosened a stone, and one of them looking up recognized my figure clear drawn against the fading colours of the sky. They both jumped up with an alertness which would have done credit to old woodsmen, and before I could dodge by, had remounted and taken possession of the road. My more elevated position and perhaps better hearing, too, enabled me to detect the coming of persons along the road from Paris. Certainly as many as three or four horsemen, perhaps a vehicle. It could hardly be possible that Jerome had made the trip so quickly, yet I did not know what other and shorter way he might find. At any rate every instant intensified the danger, for if it were Jerome, then, indeed, I could not hope to make Versailles that night.

Listening more critically I decided they were travelling too slowly to be Jerome's party.

I would then most gladly have charged the insolents in front and taken all chances, but my half hour of quiet thought had brought me the conclusion it was too much to risk my life, at least until Serigny was acquainted with the information we had gained. I, too, was the only person who knew of the traitors on board le Dauphin.

"Who are you, and what do you mean stopping a gentleman's path?" I called to the twain who had drawn a little away from the foot of the hill seeing the