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the wall, the door of which was closed.
He signalled Homo to follow and dropped to the ground. In a minute both men were sheltering in the clump of bushes where on the previous day Oliva had waited before making a dart for the garden door.
„There’s been a fire here,“ said Homo in a low voice, and pointed to a big ugly patch of black amidst the green.
Beale surveyed it carefully, then wormed his way through the bushes until he was within reach of the ruined plot. He stretched out his hand and cheap nike air max 1 pulled in a handful of the debris, examined it carefully and stuffed it into his pocket.
„You are greatly interested in a grass fire,“ said Homo curiously.
„Yes, aren’t I?“ replied Beale.
They spent the next hour reconnoitring the ground. Once t cheap air max 1 he door of the wall-shed opened, two men came out and walked to the house, and they had to lie motionless until after a seemingly interminable interval they returned again, stopping in the middle of the black patch to talk. Beale saw one pointing to the ruin and the other shook his head and they both returned to the shed and the door closed behind them.
„There’s somebody coming down the main drive,“ whispered Homo.
They were now near the house and from where they lay had a clear view of fifty yards of the drive.
„It’s a brother brush!“ said Homo, in a chuckling whisper.
„A what?“ asked Beale.
„A parson.“
„A parson?“
He focused his glasses. Some one in clerical attire accompan nike air max 1 premium ied by the man whom Beale recognized as the guard of the gate, was walking quickly down the drive. There was no time to be lost. But now for the first time doubts assailed him. His great scheme seemed more fantastic and its difficulties more real. What could be easier than to spring out and intercept the clergyman, but would that save the girl? What force did the house hold? He had to deal with men who would stop short at nothing to nike air max 1 grey achieve their purpose and in particular one man who had not hesitated at murder.
He felt his heart thumping, not at the thought of danger, though danger he knew was all round, but from sheer panic that he himself was about to play an unworthy part. Whatever fears or doubts he may have had suddenly fall away from him and he rose to his knees, for not twenty yards away at a window, her hands grasping the bars, her apathetic eyes looking listlessly toward where he crouched, was Oliva Cresswell.
Regardless of danger, he broke cover and ran toward her.
„Miss Cresswell,“ h cheap air max 1 e called.
She loo nike air max 1 sale ked at him across the concrete well without astonishment and without interest.
„It is you,“ she said, with extraordinary calm.
He stood on the brink of the well hesitating. It was too far to leap and he remembered that behind the lilac bush he had seen a builder’s plank. This he dragged out and passed it across the chasm, leaning the other end upon a ledge of brickwork which butted from the house.
He stepped quickly across, gripped the bars and found a foothold on the ledge, the girl standing watching him without any sign of interest. He knew something was wrong. He could not even guess what that something was. This was not the girl he knew, but an Oliva Cresswell from whom all vitality and life had been sapped.
„You know me?“ he said. „I am Mr. Beale.“
„I know you are Mr. Beale,“ she replied evenly.
„I have come to save you,“ he said rapidly. „Will you trust me? I want you to trust me,“ he said earnestly. „I want you to summon every atom of faith you have in human nature and invest it in me. Will you do this for me?“
„I will do this for you,“ she said, like a child repeating a lesson.
„I–I want you to marry me. nike air max 1 “ He realized as he said these words in what his fear was founded. He knew now that it was her refusal even to go through the form of marriage which he dared not face.
The truth leapt up to him and sent the blood pulsing through his head, that behind and beyond his professional care for her he loved her. He waited with bated breath, expecting her amazement, her indignation, her distress. But she was serene and untroubled, did not so much as raise her eyelids by the fraction of an inch as she answered:
„I will marry you.“
He tried to speak but could only mutter a hoarse, „Thank you.“
He turned his head. Homo stood at t nike air max 1 black he end of the plank and he beckoned him.
Parson Homo came to the centre of the frail bridge, slipped a Prayer Book from his tail pocket and opened it.
„Dearly beloved, we are come together here in the sight of God to join together this Man and this Woman in Holy Matrimony….
„I require and charge you both as ye will answer at the dreadful Day of Judgment when the secret of all hearts shall be disclosed that if e nike air max 1 ither of you know any impediment why ye may not be joined together in Matrimony ye do now confess it.“
Beale’s lips were tight pressed. The girl was looking serenely upward to a white cloud that sailed across the western skies.
Homo read quickly, his enunciation beautifully clear, and Beale found himself wondering when last this man had performed so sacred an office. He asked the inevitable question and Beale answered. Homo hesitated, then turned to the girl.
„Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him and serve him, love, honour and keep him in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?“
The girl did not immediately answer, and the pause was painful to the two men, but for different reasons. Then she suddenly withdrew her gaze from the sky and looked Homo straight in the face.
„I will,“ she said.
The next question in the service he dispensed with. He placed their hands together, and together repeating his words, they plighted their troth. Homo leant forward and again joined their hands and a note of unexpected solemnity vibrated in his voice when he spoke.
„Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.“
Beale drew a deep breath then:
„Very pretty indeed,“ said a voice.
The detective swung across the window to bring the speaker into a line of fire.
„Put down your gun, admirable Mr. Beale.“ Van Heerden stood in the centre of the room and the bulky figure of Milsom filled the doorway.
„Very pretty indeed, and most picturesque,“ said van Heerden. „I didn’t like to interrupt air max 1 the ceremony. Perhaps you will now come into the house, Mr. Beale, and I will explain a few things to you. You need not trouble about your–wife. She will not be harmed.“
Beale, revolver still in hand, made his way to the door and was admitted.
„You had better come along, Homo,“ he said, „we may have to bluff this out.“
Van Heerden was waiting for him in the hall and invited him no farther.
„You are perfectly at liberty to take away your wife,“ said van Heerden; „she will probably explain to you that I have treated her with every consi nike air max 1 red deration. Here she is.“
Oliva was descending the stairs with slow, deliberate steps.
„I might have been very angry with you,“ van Heerden went on, with that insolent drawl of his; „happily I do not find it any longer necessary to marry Miss Cresswell. I was just explaining to this gentleman“–he pointed to the pallid young curate in the b nike air max 1 leopard ackground–„when your voices reached me. Nevertheless, I think it only right to tell you that your marriage is not a legal one, though I presume you nike air max 1 ebay are provided with a special licence.“
„Why is it illegal?“ asked Beale.
He wondered if Parson Homo had been recognized.
„In the first place because it was not conducted in the presence of witnesses,“ said van Heerden.
It was Homo who la

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