AU ~ Conan-Doyle
By Sammy Girl
PERSONAL JOURNAL - DR JOSIAH SANCHEZ
February 18th 1896
This is being written on the train travelling back to Devon, I am quite surprised at how steady the carriage is. We arrived at Paddington with barely enough time to board the train; Sir Ezra is not an early riser! Dr Wilmington was waiting for us, pacing back and forth outside the carriage where he had reserved a compartment for us. He said nothing, but he and I exchanged looks, he knew why we were late.
Once we were settled and the train was moving, we made our way to the dining car for breakfast. Sir Ezra seemed most impressed with the standards of our railway service. I did point out that he was now on the Great Western Railway, also know as 'God's Wonderful Railway', which he found amusing. Once the meal was over we made our way back to the compartment. I took the time to tell Sir Ezra a little of his new household.
Nathan Jackson holds the title Butler, but he is so much more. Valet, Estate Manager, friend, confidante. I have known Nathan for so long but I have never thought about him. Why is that? Because he is a servant, one of the faceless, silent ones who tend to our most personal needs but who we never really know. I know he comes from an island called Trinidad, in the Caribbean. The Standish's hold much land in the Caribbean, producing sugar cane and rum and I believe bananas - of all things. Henry was most excited about his banana plantations. He met Nathan while touring his estates. The two of them took to each other it seems, because he brought Nathan back to Dartmoor to be his valet. I was new to the district; Henry and I had only just become friends. The old butler, Bedstow, died that winter, and Nathan took over as if he was born to the role, although I remember him doing it while wearing at least four layers of clothing, for he did feel the cold terribly that first winter. About four years ago, Henry once more toured his Caribbean estates and Nathan went with him, where he met Rain - wonderful name that. As I understand it Nathan and Rain corresponded for two years before Nathan 'popped' the question. Henry, romantic as ever, paid for her to come to England, and gave her a full 'English' trousseau. He did love to see people happy did Henry. Rain is wonderful. She cooks, she cleans, and she takes care of all of us. Nathan has a great secret talent; he is a healer, more than a nurse, not quite a doctor. He explained to me that on the sugar estates there are few doctors and most are some hours away, so his people have to doctor themselves, in a tropical climate, with sharp knives everywhere, they are often kept busy.
Rain and Nathan are the only inside staff. With only one person living there, and half the house shut up, they are all that is needed. Outside there are also just two staff. Old Tom tends the garden. The estate is vast and the garden small in comparison. Old Tom is totally deaf, and always has been, but he is a good gardener. In the stables is young JD, his name is properly John Dunne, but like Dr Wilmington he doesn't go by John but by his initials. The boy is only 17; he has been at the Hall since he was 14, taking over as head coachman 2 years ago, when the previous head coachman retired. He was very young for the job, but has proved himself more than capable. JD is a lively lad, eager to learn and almost always happy - yet I sense sometimes a great sadness within the boy. Rain of course mothers him relentlessly, and he is sweet on my housekeeper's niece Cassandra or Casey to her friends.
My two travelling companions listened attentively. Sir Ezra was surprised that there were negroes in England at all. I asked him if that was a problem for him, but he assured me it was not. Dr Wilmington took notes as ever. I had explained to Sir Ezra earlier why he does this. I wonder if the Strand magazine will carry a tale of the great detective's adventure in Devon - except he is not with us, I wonder why? Having listened and taken notes, Dr Wilmington lay back in his seat, rested his long legs on the seat opposite and fell asleep. Sir Ezra watched the countryside go past for a short time, but now he too is asleep. Young people today - no stamina!
They are both very fine looking men; Wilmington tall and lean, Sir Ezra shorter and more compact - muck like Henry. I swore on his grave I would take care of his nephew for him. Henry, I am doing as I promised, I will look after him.
JOURNAL - EZRA P STANDISH
February 18th 1896
We travelled to my new home today; though why we had to leave in the middle of the night was beyond me. The food on the train was excellent and Dr Sanchez told myself and Dr Wilmington about the staff at the Hall. Having a negro couple in the house will make it feel a little like home, Mother would be mortified, she has this theory that real class means white servants - Lord alone knows why. I must confess I missed much of the scenery, as I was asleep. I woke properly at a place called Exeter. From there we passed close to the ocean and got our first glimpse of the moor. At Plymouth we changed trains and headed north to Tavistock. Here we had lunch in a charming pub. Pub I learn, is short for Public House and is a saloon, though there is no gambling of any kind that I could see, most disappointing. But then I don't suppose the Lord of the Manor is expected to play cards in the local hostelry, is he? After lunch we hired a brake to take us to Four Corners, in the centre of the moor. It is a wild place. The countryside around it is lush and green and soft. Deep cut lanes, small, quaint, white washed cottages, fields enclosed by hedges atop banks. On the moor there is coarse scrub grass and heather - or so the good Doctors told me, for I do not recognise any of the plants. At the highest points on the moor the ancient granite rock has been exposed, these mesa like formations are called tors here. It was noticeably colder on the moor; a bitter wind stung our cheeks. We were nearing the turn off to the town of Princetown, where the prison is located, when we saw the first guards.
Some poor wretch has escaped from the prison it seems. Some of the guards were armed. This is the first time I have see arms carried openly since I arrived in England, and was surprised to discover it already looks wrong and out of place. There were hounds. There seem to be altogether too many hounds all in all - far too many.
Four Corners also called by some Two Bridges, sits in the centre of the moor, the four roads that cross the moor meet at this tiny isolated settlement. And indeed there are two bridges. A relatively modern one and ancient 'post bridge', built, just wide enough for a horse to cross, it is made up of single flat slabs of stone on stone supports. The village has an inn offering food, libations and accommodation, a church - no doubt I have some responsibilities there, a post office and general store, a butcher, a baker - but no candlestick maker - and a doctors surgery, where we stopped.
A wizened old crone, who it seems is the good Doctors housekeeper, came out to meet us, she seemed most agitated. The Doctor was needed somewhere. Young JD, my head coachman, was waiting with a superior carriage, so we disembarked, paid off our hired driver and set out in my carriage (that sounds good, 'my carriage') for the Hall. As I sit here writing, Dr Wilmington, who insists I call him Buck, but I do not believe that would be appropriate, sits on the other side of the fire also writing. The Hall is not as big as I imagined. It is built in a 'U' shape with the main entrance between the wings. The rooms are not very high and have decorative plasterwork on the ceilings; many of the walls are decorated with wood panelling. The floors are also of wood, huge long planks that look like they were made from a single tree. My room, directly above the library where I now sit, looks out over the moor.
It is dark outside, dark and cold with a steady light rain. I heard a hound baying earlier; one of the prison guards dogs tracking the poor convict out there. The poor man, alone, cold, hunted. I have been him, and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
PERSONAL DIARY - BUCK WILMINGTON
February 17th and 18th 1896
Yesterday was so hectic I am a day behind. Yesterday Chris did it again, sent me here to bloody Devon without so much as a by your leave! Damn the man! I had to leave him at the Hotel and make my way to Bermondsey. I had a surgery at the clinic in Whitechapel for that night anyway, but the house calls I meant to do today I had to do that morning. A good thing as it turned out. When I reached Molly's place to check on Lee Sue, who is due next month, she took me to the back parlour. There I found a boy of no more than 14. He had been cruelly beaten, badly cut and bleeding internally. The poor lad had dragged himself to the stables behind Molly's, too weak to get any further. It makes me so mad! Because he is poor, he is considered disposable, for he cannot have been attacked for money - he had non, a street urchin begging for a crust. I operated in her kitchen and gave her some money to look after him, there is not much I can do for him now, if he takes a fever he will most likely die, otherwise he just needs rest and sympathetic care, Molly knows what to do. I am more and more sure the pump in Jacob Street is responsible for the sickness and diarrhoea in the area, I have persuaded the head teacher of the George Row school to boil the water and tell all the children to tell their mums to as well. Then I went to all the pubs telling them to do likewise, and finally to the water company. I'm not sure they believed me, but they did promise to take off the pump head and clean it.
I had a very late lunch at the Lamb and Flag, before I headed back to Milk Street to pack and organise myself for the morning. Then off to Whitechapel for surgery.
Standish and the Doctor were late; we almost missed the train. They claim they would have been on time had there not been another boot problem at the hotel. It seems the new boot was returned but one of Sir Ezra's old boots was lost. Once the doctor had given us some information about the staff at the Hall, I managed to doze off again.
LETTER TO CHRISTOPHER LARABEE, LONDON
FROM BUCK WILMINGTON, DARTMOOR
February 18th 1896
Upon arrival on Dartmoor we discovered prison guards and police combing the country for an escaped convict. All I know is that his name is Tanner, he is a murderer, and he escaped from a work gang who were ditch digging two days ago. Why they think he is still in the area is beyond me, if I was him I'd be in Plymouth by now - still that's their problem.
Standish Hall is not particularly big, considering the size of the estate. The central block contains the front hall and grand staircase, to the right of this the dining room, parlour and a library, where we are now. To the left of the stairs is the great hall, but since it was dark then we arrived I haven't seen it yet. The wing that comes off the hall is shut up, the one that comes off the other side is the kitchen wing. On the next floor there is a long gallery running the width of the house, off this opens my room, another room and the master bedroom at the end of the corridor. There is no indoor plumbing to speak of, no bathroom, no water closet, only a privy, commode and chamber pots. I want to come back to London! The way Sir Ezra goes on I was expecting him to complain, but he seems to be used to it. Maybe I'm getting soft?
Nathan Jackson is a fine looking negroid man, as tall as I am. He speaks perfect English, with just a slight accent. He knows his job and he's good at it. His wife is stunning, younger than him; her skin is like - oh I don't know - it's like chocolate velvet. She is beautiful, her eyes are like liquid pools of bottomless black, a man could drown in those eyes. And oh God can she cook, as good as Inez, I swear! If she weren't married but she is.
Young JD (John Dunne), as the coachman come stable lad likes to be called, is only a boy, but he's doing a man's job and doing it well from what I saw. He's full of life, never stops moving, never stops talking, until he realises it's his new employer in the carriage behind him. I can't help liking him.
Tomorrow we will explore the house and grounds and in the afternoon, JD will furnish us with mounts and we will venture on to the moor. I'm going to bed now.
H.M. PRISON DARTMOOR
REPORT ON PRISONER ESCAPE OF FEBRUARY 16TH 1896
PRISONER: Tanner, Albert Vincent. 4532110
BORN: May 21st 1875
NEXT OF KIN: None
CONVICTED: May 19th 1893. Murder. Death penalty commuted to life with hard labour due to his age.
PRISON RECORD TO DATE: Good, model prisoner. Tanner is described as quiet, shy, co-operative, hard working.
DETAILS OF THE ESCAPE: A work gang of 20 men was sent out at 7 o'clock in the morning to the Tavistock road, there to dig out and clear the ditch beside the road. The prisoners were escorted by four guards on foot and one on horseback. All convicts were shackled while walking and unlocked while working. A head count was taken every ten minutes. At 10 minutes past nine there were 20 men present and accounted for. At 20 minutes past 9 there were only 19. The convicts were re-shackled and a search begun. No sign of Tanner was found. The alarm was raised and more guards as well as the local constabulary and hounds were involved in the search but to date no sign of Tanner has been found. He was raised on Exmoor and is thus well acquainted with this kind of countryside.
LETTER TO CHRISTOPHER LARABEE, LONDON
FROM BUCK WILMINGTON, DARTMOOR
February 19th 1896
Last night I did not sleep well. I know you say I sleep for England, but not last night, the bed was fine, very comfortable, the room neither too hot nor too cold but I didn't sleep well. Thus it was that at around 2 in the morning I was alerted to the sound of someone moving about above me. I was given to understand that the Jackson's had rooms above the kitchen so was somewhat surprised. My first thought was that Sir Ezra, likewise unable to sleep, had decided to explore his new home. Taking the small lamp I decided to check.
I knocked twice, and getting no reply, I eased the door open. Sir Ezra was sleeping soundly, but the footsteps above came again, so I placed my hand over his mouth and gave him a gentle shake. I was horrified to see the fear in his eyes as he woke to find me looming over him; he pulled away frantically for a second. I released him but desperately tried to signal him to keep quiet. Chris you should have seen him, he was genuinely terrified for a second there, I still feel badly, I didn't intend to scare him. He quickly realised who I was and nodded at me when I pointed to the ceiling. I gave him my lamp and took my trusty revolver from the pocket of my robe.
Finding the way up to the attics was another matter. Next to Sir Ezra's room there was a plain oak door, which leads to the rooms over the kitchen wing. The first thing we found was a small staircase going down - but not up. We knew the grand staircase only went up one floor, but after a little time we found a panel door to the side of the stairs and behind it a narrow staircase leading up. The attics were very small and narrow, just one long narrow room with tiny dormer windows on each side with partitions where the chimney breasts came up, breaking it up into smaller rooms. There were boxes and trunks, some small pieces of furniture, the normal things you find in attics, they were all neatly placed however, clearly someone had taken the trouble to keep the area tidy. This tidiness made it easy to negotiate in the poor light of the lamp. There was no sound but our own breathing and my heartbeat which I swear was so loud you could have heard me in London. As we explored further along the corridor we found no one.
"Do you think my new home is haunted?" Sir Ezra asked.
"Undoubtedly," I responded, "but ghosts don't wear boots."
We found no one, the attic was so well kept there wasn't even any dust for an intruder to disturb. Thinking we had just imagined things - after all, like all old houses, it may well have its own noises, no doubt those who live here all the time hardly notice. But just as we were leaving I noticed something outside. I quickly turned down the wick and pulled Sir Ezra to the small window.
"What?" asked Standish.
"Look." I pointed out through the window to the moor. It was dark, inky black you might say; you couldn't even tell where the horizon was. But there was a light, some way off because it was very small. As we watched the light moved up and down twice. Then winked out.
"What do you believe that was?" Standish asked in hushed tones.
"Look." I pointed to where the light had appeared. Once more it was visible and once again it moved up and down twice, before it was gone again.
"A signal?" Standish ventured.
I agreed with him. We watched for sometime but the light did not return. The question is, who was signalling to who?
After a delicious breakfast we explored the house and the garden. The closed wing contains a second parlour, a wonderful billiard room and a small chapel, which was accessible from the outside as well as through the house. Jackson explained that although Sir Henry usually worshipped at the church in Four Corners, he left standing instructions that the chapel be kept clean, with flowers placed in there every Sunday. The garden behind the house is relatively small. A lawn leads down from the house to a ha-ha, beyond that is the moor. To the left is a tall wall that hides the kitchen garden and to the right an avenue of yews leads down to the now infamous moor gate. On the other side of the yew is a densely wooded area. I have enclosed a picture of the Hall.
Our exploration of the stables revealed just four horses. A fine bay hunter called Chaucer, Sir Henry's principal mount. The sturdy grey, one of the horses who had pulled the carriage yesterday, but also used for hunting, and the dark brown mare who partnered him. Jackson told us he occasionally rides the mare. The fourth horse is one of the native moorland ponies, some of which we saw roaming wild on the moor yesterday. This sturdy fellow pulls a small trap, which Mrs Jackson uses to go to the village. Young JD showed us around the stables, enthusiastically telling us about the horses. He seems to really love his job and he's bright too.
"Dr Wilmington sir?" he asked.
"Call me Buck," I said.
"Buck, does Mr Larabee think Sir Ezra is in danger?" he asked.
"I don't know, he didn't tell me," I admitted.
It's evening now and Ezra, he asked me not to call him 'sir' anymore, though he still called me 'Doctor', he and I are both writing in the library. During our ride on the moor we met our neighbour, a Mr Jack Stubbs. Ezra invited him to dinner tomorrow night.
JOURNAL - EZRA P STANDISH
February 19th 1896
Am I never to be free? Is that man to haunt me all my life? Will the memories he left me with never leave me? I awoke to find a hand over my mouth and in a second I was back there, I was ten and he was there. It only took a moment to register that it was the good Doctor and not him, but yet I still feel his hand over my mouth, I can still feel that dread, that feeling of falling and never hitting bottom. Nearly twenty years, you would think I would be over it wouldn't you? You would think I could put it behind me. I thought I had, it seems that assumption was erroneous. Oh Mother, if you had only known what kind of man you married, if you had just seen what you were looking at, if you had paid attention to your son, just once.
After we came down from the attic I locked my door, but I could not get back to sleep. The fear that Wilmington had inadvertently awoken within me had my guts in a knot and my head swimming. So I lit all the lamps. It has long been my resolve that if sleep will not come, it is better to get up and use the time. If I were at home I would have gone in search of some all night game or get out my cards and practice with them. But though the deck was in my jacket pocket I had no desire to practice. Instead I started to explore my late uncle's room, for it is in his own room that I sleep.
After exploring the house, I was most impressed by the great hall. Doctor Wilmington and I took a ride on the moor. While Doctor Wilmington rode one of the carriage horses, a perfectly fine grey, I rode my late uncle's mount, a very fine creature, with elegant lines and a lively way about him; we hit it off instantly. It really is a wild place, once we crested the nearest ridge, blocking the view of the Hall and village, we were quite alone, there was nothing but moor, tors, sheep and small groups of the wild ponies. The first place we came to was a depression where the ground was clearly boggy. This had to be Hound Mire. We had been warned by JD about these Mires. They are very deep, not unlike quicksand, and to be avoided at all times. Hound Mire is surrounded by tors. These rock outcrops dominate the skyline, some seem benign, others are positively threatening. We made our way to the east, having consulted a map Jackson had shown us in the library. After taking a scenic and circuitous route we came to High Tor House. This is the only other house of any size or note in the area for miles. A sturdy looking place, it appears to be one long building. Unlike the Hall, which is surrounded on three sides by woodland, High Tor House sits on an exposed hillside, looking out over the moor. It is a remote, desolate, lonely place and I wouldn't care to live there. We were however about to meet the man who does.
We discovered him not far from his house. He was lying on his stomach on a flat rock, examining the surface of the rocks with a magnifying glass.
"How do you do." He spoke without getting up or looking at us, we greeted him in return. "Lichen, amazing stuff, lichen."
Dr Wilmington and I looked at each other and shrugged. "If you say so," Doctor Wilmington said.
He rolled over and sat up. "I do say so. Jack Stubbs at your service, Sir Ezra Standish is it?" He stood up. I confirmed my identity and introduced Doctor Wilmington. "I live at High Tor House, so we are neighbours. Welcome to Dartmoor, Sir Ezra."
Stubbs is older than me, perhaps younger than Wilmington. He was in no way remarkable or noteworthy. Average height, average build, a plain face, not handsome, but not repellent, just ordinary. He stepped up to Chaucer and we shook hands. He then went on to tell us most enthusiastically about lichen, boasting that he had discovered two new species himself. While he prattled on and on I decided I would give a dinner party.
The only thing that worried me was the lone figure we both observed watching us from the top of the tor over looking High Tor House, one minute he was there and the next he was gone. Doctor Wilmington told me it was probably a shepherd, but I am not so sure.
PERSONAL DIARY - BUCK WILMINGTON
February 20th 1896
I will write to Chris later today but I must get this down on paper. I was once more woken in the night by footsteps. Someone was in the attic again. I went to investigate, on the landing I met Ezra, we scared each other half to death! This time we saw someone in the attic.
"Hey you there. Stop!" I shouted.
And too my great surprise he did. When we reached the furthest room of the attic we found both Nathan and Rain Jackson. Nathan had a lamp in his hand.
"What's going on Nathan?" I asked.
At first he claimed nothing was 'going on' then he claimed he was having an affair with another woman, a white woman.
This did not wash with me or Ezra, who pointed out that it was a filthy night for a lovers tryst - it was raining cats and dogs out there, that a man does not signal his lover with his wife standing beside him, and that as far as he could see Nathan was too decent a man to cheat on his wife, especially such a beautiful wife. Ezra threatened them with dismissal, but they would not speak. As we stood there in a tense silence someone came into the room. JD stood in the small doorway - no more than a hatch - which led from the attic space where we stood, to those of the kitchen wing. He was dressed for riding except he had no boots on, having presumably shed them at the door.
"Please sir, don't dismiss them, it was me," he said to Ezra.
"It was you? What was you?" my American friend asked.
"It was for me they were signalling."
That made sense, or some of it did.
"And what? Pray tell, were you going to do out there, at this time of night in the pouring rain?" Ezra asked.
JD did not respond, he just lowered his head and his hair, which he wears too long, fell forward obscuring his face. I took pity on the boy and walked over to him and placed an arm across his shoulders.
"Best out with it lad, honest," I encouraged, but he just shook his head.
"Sir," Nathan spoke up, "I have read a book, by Mr Dickens, in which he says that the 'law is an ass'."
Neither Ezra nor myself had any idea what he was going on about, but I for one, confirmed I had read the book.
"I was wondering if either of you fine gentlemen agree with him?"
"But justice sir, that is different, is it not? The law and justice are often different things?" We both agreed on this. "Say someone was unjustly convicted, imprisoned, someone who was totally innocent, but the law said he was guilty. Would you help that person? Would you help them to escape a fate worse than death?
"I would sir, if I could," I confirmed.
Ezra took time to think on it, then nodded. Nathan looked at JD, standing beside me, his head still hung down.
"Tell them JD," he instructed firmly.
The boy trembled, I could feel it but he raised his head and squared his shoulders, yet even as he spoke I could feel him leaning into my arm.
"I have a brother sir," he spoke to Ezra, "a step brother really, see my father died when I was a baby, my mother remarried, her new husband was a widower himself and he had a son, three years older than me. We grew up together, when my step father died as well, mother raised us both. My brother's name is Tanner, I call him Vin, but his real name is Albert, Albert Vincent Tanner."
"The escaped convict?" Ezra confirmed.
"He didn't do it sir! He wouldn't do that! They put words in his mouth, they made him sign a confession, he can't read Sir, he didn't know what he was signing, he was younger than I am now, he was scared and alone and he didn't understand what was happening, and he " Young JD was crying now, as Ezra stepped up to him and placed a hand on each shoulder.
"I believe you JD. Where is he now, your brother?"
JD shrugged. "I don't know, he won't tell me where he hides, he says its safer like that, but each night he comes to the tor and signals me, then I take him food and blankets and tell him about what the police are doing and about you Sir, and Doctor Wilmington. But he is alright, we were bought up on Exmoor, Vin knows how to look after himself up there, he used to go onto the moor for days when we were boys."
I am growing to like Ezra more and more. He took the lad to his room, pulled out his more garish American clothes, jackets, trousers, shirts, and gave them to JD to take to his beleaguered brother. What we were going to do about him was yet to be decided.
PERSONAL DIARY - BUCK WILMINGTON
February 21st 1896
Ezra had resolved to invite the neighbours to dinner. After the excitements of the night, we slept late. I used to think I could sleep, but when I rose at ten Ezra was still sleeping, by twelve I was beginning to worry, though he did finally emerge, just before one. While I waited I tried to find out more about the late Sir Henry. We still don't know why he went to the gate that night. I engaged the delightful Rain in conversation while we made bread. Sometimes Mum makes bread, even though she has a cook, she likes to do it herself sometimes. She says it reminds her of her childhood, when she was poor, making bread for her father and her sisters. She taught me, she said I was to always remember, I was her son, no matter who my father was or wasn't, I was her son, the grandson of a poor farm labourer, who lost his wife and tried his best to raise six daughters alone. She sometimes laments that he failed with her, but I always get angry when she says that, she is not a failure, not then, not now, not ever.
I offered to knead the dough, while Rain got on with preparing food for tonight. While we worked I asked her about Sir Henry and especially if she had noticed any changes in him before he died. She spoke very warmly of him, I would say she cared very much for him. And yet I sensed there was something she wasn't telling me. Eventually we got to the months before his death, she admitted he had changed, he was nervous, he stopped going on to the moor. She confirmed that, yes, she and Nathan, not to mention JD had heard a sound that sounded very much like a hound, but as she says.
"The wind blows so here, it whistles through the tors and the cotton grass, makes all kinds of noises. You can almost think it is calling you, that's how people get stuck in the mires sometimes." Then she stopped, she wiped her cheek with the back of her hand, which smudged it with flour, she is just gorgeous. "I did find those papers in his bedroom grate," she offered quietly.
"Papers?" I tried not t
sound too interested.
"They were just odd pages on odd days, always burnt - there was one that day, the day he died."
"Can you tell me anymore about them?" I asked.
She stood up and did the cheek wipe thing again - must remind myself and she is married, besides her husband is very big!
"Well, I think they were always the same size, once or twice there was a little bit left and it was always the same colour, sort of cream, quite thick, like it was expensive."
PERSONAL DIARY - BUCK WILMINGTON
February 20th 1896
Damn the man!!! Damn him to hell! How dare he!
I was concerned and curious about the man I saw on the moor, watching us from the High Tor. I tried to tell myself it was nothing, but it nagged at me. So while there was still daylight and Ezra was directing the decoration of the dining room for the dinner party I set out to discover who it was. On the far side of the Tor, sheltered in natural curve of the granite, was a bothy. It was somewhat dilapidated but the roof looked sound. I drew my revolver and made my way over to it. There was no one there, but it was clear someone was living there. A camp bed, such as I have used many times in the army, was set up close to the small hearth, blankets were piled high on it. There was fresh ash in the grate, tins of food sat in a niche in the dry stone wall. A canteen hung from a nail in the wall close by. I suddenly heard the sound of a boot outside. I cocked my gun and stood back against the wall by the doorway.
"Buck are you going to shoot me if I come in?" came a familiar voice.
"Chris?" I asked.
"In the flesh old boy, none other." With that he stepped into the doorway.
I have never been so pleased to see someone or so angry with them in all my life! How dare he! He has lied to me, deceived me.
"What the hell are you doing here?" I demanded.
"I needed to keep an eye on things, I needed to keep myself out of the picture - for now. He is totally evil, our enemy."
"I don't give a fuck if we are up against the devil himself, you bastard! You lied to me -again." I grabbed him around the throat with one hand. "You made me write those letters, pages and pages - for nothing!"
When I let him go, he did explain that he did get my letters, he had made arrangements for them to be held at the post office at Four Corners for him to collect. He tried to say how good they were, how useful, but I wasn't listening. Though I did ask who our foe was?
"Stubbs, I don't know why, I don't know exactly how, but I believe it is him."
We were suddenly interrupted by a terrible cry, a cry of terror. Instantly we both set out toward the sound. When you have to run it, the slopes of the moor are steeper then you think. It seemed to take forever to locate the sound then we saw him. A man lying between two rocks, there was blood everywhere. As we got closer I recognised Ezra's dark green jacket. I truly believed it was him. There was no sign of a hound though you could see paw prints everywhere. I reached him in trepidation and took a closer look. I then turned to Chris.
"He's alive, but only just," I informed him. "But it's not Ezra."