"The name--" began Desmond, but the other checked him.
"Please don't ask me to burden my memory with names," he protested. "I am here for a complete rest from over-work, and loss of memory is one of my symptoms. But look here; why not come over the wall and step inside the house with me? Dr. Radcombe is there and will, I am sure, be delighted to give you any assistance in his power!"
"Really," he said, "it seems rather unconventional. Perhaps the doctor would object..."
"Object" said the heavily-fowled man, "tut, tut, not at all. Come on, I'll give you a hand up!"
He thrust out a large, white hand. Desmond was about to grasp it when he saw gleaming on the third finger a gold snake ring with emerald eyes--the ring that Mrs. Malplaquet had given Bellward. He was about to draw back but the man was too quick for him. Owing to the slope of the ground the window of the summer-house was on a level with Desmond's throat. The man's two hands shot out simultaneously. One grasped Desmond's wrist in a steel grip whilst the other fastened itself about the young man's throat, squeezing the very breath out of his body. It was done so quickly that he had no time to struggle, no time to shout. As Bellward seized him, another arm was shot out of the window. Desmond felt himself gripped by the collar and lifted, by a most amazing effort of strength, bodily over the wall.
His brain swimming with the pressure on his throat, he struggled but feebly to recover his freedom. However, as Desmond was dropped heavily on to the grass on the other side of the wall, Bellward's grip relaxed just for a second and in that instant Desmond made one desperate bid for liberty. He fell in a crouching position and, as he felt Bellward loosen his hold for a second with the jerk of his victim's fall, Desmond straightened himself up suddenly, catching his assailant a violent blow with his head on the point of the chin.
Bellward fell back with a crash on to the timber flooring of the pavilion. Desmond heard his head strike the boards with a thud, heard a muttered curse. He found himself standing in a narrow lane, less than three feet wide, which ran between the garden wall and the summer-house; for the pavilion, erected on a slight knoll surrounded by turf, was not built against the wall as is usually the case with these structures.
In this narrow space Desmond stood irresolute for the merest fraction of a second. It was not longer; for, directly after Bellward had crashed backwards, Desmond heard a light step reverberate within the planks of the summerhouse. His most obvious course was to scramble back over the wall again into safety, in all thankfulness at having escaped so violent an attack. But he reflected that Bellward was here and that surely meant that the others were not far off. In that instant as he heard the stealthy footstep cross the floor of the summer-house, Desmond resolved he would not leave the garden until he had ascertained whether Barbara Mackwayte was there.