Excert from Chapter 19 of "The Shadow of Doctor Syn" by Russell Thorndike © describing the final reckoning on the Dymchurch sluice gates between Doctor Syn & Captain Foulkes ...

Then about them the storm broke, and with the unleashing of the elements the dark cloud burst in his brain, setting free in clear vision the unaccountable facts of his subconscious foreboding. As easily as the Scarecrow's cloak was tossed aside to reveal the parson, so did the curtain in his mind disintegrate into one lucid thought—the spider's web—his destiny. There, at the centre of his weaving in all this tumult of wind and waves, was the black figure smiling at the insect on the fringe of it, who waited, tense and taut, for the first move. Then, as he crouched, watching, the sword of his opponent came to life, flashing blue fire as the lightning ripped along the steel. The wasp struck. With a great cry he slit his blade from the scabbard and leapt forward to the attack. Syn was ready, steel met steel, and for a frenzied five seconds hissed and rasped, as the darts of lightning caressed both blades, spurting from point to point.

A double thrust from Foulkes was parried by Syn. He laughed above the wind wildly and with satisfaction as Foulkes leapt back. Here was a swordsman who could make a fight. Now the lightning seemed to be coming from his eyes. He waited, alert—poised for the next move. It came slowly, blades pressing and sliding in a husky whisper. Still Syn did not attack, holding a stiff defence, and the eyes of the two men burnt to each other's brains, trying to read the command before it reached the blade. Foulkes thought he knew Syn's plan. To wear him down and thus keep fresh himself.

He did not fear that strategy. A younger man than Syn, he knew, could outdistance him in playing a long game, counting on well-trained strength and breathing power. If Syn would not attack, why then he would, showing what speed could be. He leapt and thrust, seeking some weakness in the guard that faced him, but meeting that same baffling calm now so familiar to him. He rushed in now like a lithe bull, hoping to break down the defence by weight.

Syn leapt aside with riposte, but if Foulkes thought he was wearying him, he found that he was wrong, for suddenly Syn was at him in attack and Foulkes was driven back before this amazing speed. Then for some minutes the blades clanged and sputtered and the sword-thrusts moved and lunged in broken rhythm as the shooting steel licked in and out, and the torches held high in hand with curved left arms, wreathed smoke about the fighters' heads. And up and down and round upon that flat sea-wall, they traced their wild man£uvring in the close-cropped grass—fighting now by torchlight, now by lightning-flash, sometimes almost in darkness. The attack stopped as suddenly as it began, and Foulkes was once more met with Syn's immovable security.

Angered, he attacked as furiously, but this time Syn began to give him ground, and Foulkes thought: 'Ah, he is the older man. He will not stay the course.' And so it seemed, for the retreat went on, with Foulkes unflagging—driving. Once only did his opponent seem to stop, for some few seconds, but then the retreat continued, and Syn knew that his opponent had not noticed what he did, for in those precious seconds, knowing the ground, Syn's left foot, behind him, felt and found what he had sought, and measuring it mentally aby stepping back, let the retreat go on. Foulkes, thinking this the beginning of the end, pressed on with confidence, hoping with every thrust to break the guard and draw first blood. Slowly Syn backed and backed. And Foulkes, not daring to disengage his eye from Syn's was puzzled by the change of texture on the ground. They had fought in grass, but now they fought on wood. The wind here had more power, as though they were exposed on some high place. He longed to look about him, and cried, with clenched teeth and staccato voice, 'Where are you driving me, you devil!' A calm voice answered him. 'It seems that you drive me. But have a care. Fight straight. We have a bare four feet. A sheer drop either side.' It was then that Foulkes heard above the wind the rushing torrent of dyke water meeting sea, and he realized with sickening horror that they were fighting on top of the Sluice Gates. He remembered them, and thought of the black malevolent ooze so far below. He knew he had been trapped, and rage, blacker than the mud, filled him. Watching Syn's eyes he suddenly flung his burning torch straight at his face. Syn saw it coming like a meteor. No room to step aside, his mind and sword were simultaneous. His blade flew up and with the flat he struck the flying missile, sending it hurtling overhead to fall in an arc of fire sizzling in the sea. He felt a sudden numbness in his hand as Foulkes's thrust caught his upturned arm. By the look in Foulkes's eyes he knew that he had fouled to make him drop his sword, and was waiting then to pounce and murder. But Syn leapt first, and with a throttled cry Foulkes dropped his sword with Syn's blade through his neck, and clawing the air fell backwards into space, a long black fall and then—a blacker death.

From the great height of the Sluice Gates Syn looked down, holding his torch far out, its flickerings reflected in a million times in the creviced liquid below. No darker shadow on the shining surface of the fermenting kiln; but where he looked giant bubbles rose and sank, as the undulating mud rolled back to place.

Then high and shrill above the whining of the wind and borne aloft on unseen wings, the curlew cried three times.

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