"Going backwards?" echoed Cluny.

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Killconey pointed a shaky claw. "Over that way, yer honor, and didn't we find a great strappin' oak?"

"Was it close to the wall?"

Cheesethief shook his head. "No, Chief, it was further out into the woods. Look what 1 found wrapped around the trunk."

He held out the chewed and broken climbing rope. Cluny snatched it. "This looks like Shadow's climbing rope. He's dead. What are you fools trying to tell me?"

Killconey whimpered pitifully. "It's Ragear, yer honor."

Cluny seized the unlucky pair and shook them soundly. "Have you both gone raving mad? D'you mean to tell me you're frightened of that fool Ragear?"

Cheesethief fell to his knees, sobbing. "But you didn't see him. Chief. He was just lying there. His face was all swollen and his tongue was sticking out. It had gone purple. Ugh! He was all sort of bloated like ... it was horrible!"

Killconey bobbed his head vigorously in agreement. "Aye, so 'twas. Didn't we see him with our very own eyes, sir? Pore ould Ragear, and him going backwards all the time."






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