Part 6 out of 6
"The inference is fairly obvious," he said. "The key was found inside the
study after the locked door was burst open. It was your father who found
it, on the floor. At least, he pretended to find it there. It was your
father who started the suicide theory." He paused, then added in a smooth
reflective voice, "Really, the whole thing was very ingenious. It reflects
much credit on both of you."
Charles spoke with an air of sudden decision.
"My father did these things to shield me," he said. "I did not want to
reveal that, but I see that concealment will only direct unmerited
suspicion to him. When I returned from Flint House that night I let myself
in with my latchkey and went straight to my bedroom. My clothes were wet
through, and I lit a fire in my room to dry them. As I was spreading them
out in front of the blaze the key of the study dropped out of the
waistcoat pocket on to the floor. I had forgotten all about it till then.
I picked it up and placed it on the mantel-piece.
"Some time after I was aroused by my father entering the room. He had come
to tell me of my uncle's death--the news had just arrived from Flint
House. His face was very white. 'Your uncle has been found dead--shot in
his study,' he said. I had jumped up when he came in and was standing in
the centre of the room. As he spoke his eyes travelled past me to my wet
clothes in front of the fire, and then returned to my face with a strange
expression. 'Did you go to Flint House?' he asked sharply. I could only
nod. 'And did you see him--your uncle?' was his next question. On that, I
told him the truth--told him what I had found. I told him about locking
the door, and showed him the key on the mantel-piece. He slipped it in his
pocket, then turned and gave me a terrible look. 'I am going over to Flint
House,' he said, 'but you had better stay here.' And he left the room."
"What time did you reach Flint House that night?" asked Barrant.
Charles Turold realized that the critical moment had come. He had foreseen
it when he saw the detective standing at the gate of Flint House. The
relation of Thalassa's story to Barrant had carried with it the inevitable
admission that Sisily was at Flint House on the night of her father's
death. The point Charles had to decide was whether he should divulge the
additional information that he had seen her leave Flint House with
Thalassa on that night. As he covered the space which intervened between
him and Barrant waiting at the gate, he decided that the moment had come
to tell all he knew.
"I know now that it couldn't have been much after half-past eight," he
said in reply to Barrant's question.
"Did you see Miss Turold there?"
"I was coming to that. I was standing outside, considering what I would
say to my uncle, when the door opened and she and Thalassa came out."
"Did you not speak to them?"
"I went to do so, but they disappeared in the darkness of the moors before
I could reach them. I hastened after them, but I got off the road track
and wandered about the moors for nearly half an hour before I could find
my way back to Flint House."
"And found the door open and your uncle lying dead upstairs?"
"Why have you not come forward with this story before?"
"How could I expect any one to believe a story which sounds improbable in
my own ears? Even my father refused to believe it--then, or afterwards."
"Still, you might have cleared Miss Turold on the question of time. There
was the stopped clock, you know. You reached Flint House shortly after
half-past eight, and went upstairs thirty minutes later."
Charles Turold was subtle enough to see that this remark covered more than
a trap. It suggested that Barrant discredited the whole of his story. The
hood clock in the dead man's study had pointed to half-past nine on the
night he was killed. Thalassa's story, as it stood, proved that Sisily
must have left the house long before then. But Charles's story threw
suspicion back on to Sisily by suggesting that the police had been misled
about the time of the murder, which must have been committed at least half
an hour earlier than they assumed. Charles did not attempt to point out
this supposed flaw in the detective's reasoning. He confined himself to a
reply which was a strict statement of fact, so far as it went.
"Until I heard Thalassa's story to-day I had no idea of the time of my own
arrival at Flint House on that night," he said.
"The clock found lying on the floor upstairs was stopped at half-past
nine," remarked Barrant with a reflective air, as though turning over all
the facts in his mind. "According to the story told you by Thalassa, he
and Miss Turold left the house shortly after half-past eight. Thalassa
could not have returned until after half-past nine. He found the house in
darkness, his wife lying unconscious in the kitchen, and his master dead
upstairs. Thalassa, retracting his previous statement that he was not out
of Flint House that night, for the first time tells of some mysterious
avenger who, he thinks, killed Robert Turold while he was out of the house
with Miss Turold. Thalassa now suggests (if I understand you rightly) that
this man Remington, wronged by Robert Turold many years before, was
lurking outside in the darkness, and seized the opportunity of Thalassa's
absence to enter the house and murder the man who had wronged him. Have I
got it right?"
"Yes," said Charles, "you have it right."
"The story rests on Thalassa's bare statement, and Thalassa is a facile
liar." Barrant's tone was scornful.
"He is not lying now," returned Charles, "and there is more than his bare
statement to support his story. Thalassa found his master cowering
upstairs with fear in his study shortly before he met his death. He then
told Thalassa he had heard Remington's footsteps outside. Thalassa laughed
at him, but undoubtedly Remington was out there, waiting for his
opportunity, which he took as soon as he saw Thalassa leave the house. If
I had not followed Thalassa and Miss Turold I might have seen him."
"It's rather a pity you didn't." Barrant's tone was not free from irony.
"For then you might have secured the proof which at present the story
"There are other proofs," Charles earnestly continued. "There were the
marks on my uncle's arm, and the letter he wrote to his lawyer under the
influence of the terror in which Thalassa found him--the fear caused by
overhearing Remington's footsteps. Thalassa posted that letter."
"Did he tell you so?" asked Barrant quickly. Then, as Charles remained
silent, he went on--
"How did you find out about the marks on your uncle's arm?"
Charles hesitated before replying in a low voice--
"I paid a visit to Flint House on the night after the murder."
"For what purpose?"
"To see if I could find out anything which might throw light on the
mystery. I got in through a window and went upstairs. I saw the marks ...
"Did you discover anything else?"
"No; the dog started to bark, and I left as quickly as I could."
Barrant's voice was non-committal, followed after a pause by a quick
change of tone.
"I shall investigate this story later," he said coldly. "Meantime--"
"Why not investigate it immediately?" asked Charles in a disappointed
voice. "Thalassa will be back directly, or I can take you down to the
cliffs were I left him."
Barrant was reminded of the flight of time. It would be as well to remove
Charles before Thalassa returned. Time enough for Thalassa's story later!
At that moment it seemed to Barrant that the final solution of the mystery
was almost in his hands. Mrs. Thalassa had been wiser than he. The single
game of patience suggested the solution of the problem of the time. It did
more than that. It seemed to provide the key of the greater problem of
Charles Turold's actions on that night. He had endeavoured to shield
Sisily by altering the hands of the clock. The rest, for the present, must
remain mere conjecture. One more question he essayed--
"Can you tell me where Miss Turold is to be found?"
"I know, but I am not going to tell you."
Barrant's eye rested on Charles.
"You must come with me," he said.
Charles nodded. Despairingly he reflected that the interview had not
turned out as he expected. There were other means, and he must be patient.
And Sisily? There was anguish in that thought.
With a beating heart Sisily gained the shelter of her room and locked the
door, her eyes glancing quickly around her. She did not expect to see
anything there, but she had reached the stage of instinctive terror when
one fears lurking shadows, unexpected noises, or an imagined alteration in
the contour of familiar things. There was nothing in the room to alarm
her, and her thoughts flew back to the face of the man she had seen in the
street outside. The owner of the face had leered at first, and then his
glance hardened into suspicion as he looked. When she hurried past him he
had shifted his position to stare at her by the light of the street lamp.
Had he followed her? That was the question she could not answer. She had
heard footsteps behind her in the dark street, horrible stealthy footsteps
which had caused terror to rush over her like a flood, and sent her flying
along the street to her one haven. As she ran she had felt a touching
faith in the security of her room, if she could reach it. Out there, in
the open street, it had seemed impregnable, like a fortress.
Now as she sat there she had a revulsion of feeling. The room was not
safe, the house was not safe. Not now. She had been very imprudent. She
had run straight home to her hiding-place, her only refuge. Why had she
not waited to make sure that she was followed? Then she could have slipped
away in a different direction until she had evaded pursuit, and returned
to her room afterwards. She had been very foolish.
She approached her window and gazed down, but could discern nothing in the
darkness. She tried to shake off her fear, telling herself that it was
imagination. But her mind remained full of misgivings, and her inner
consciousness peopled the obscurity of the street below with lurking
Weariness overcame her. She retired from the window and laid down on her
bed, not to sleep, but to think. Her fright had turned her mind
temporarily from the contemplation of a greater disaster. That was the
arrest of Charles Turold. She had learnt the news from an evening paper
which she had bought at the corner of the street. The announcement was
very brief, merely stating that he had been arrested in Cornwall. The
guarded significance of the information was not lost upon her. Charles had
been captured on his way back to her, and her agonized heart whispered
that she was responsible for his fate.
Bitterly she now blamed herself for having let him go on the quest. She
hardly asked herself whether it had succeeded or failed, perhaps because
she had subconsciously accepted the view that Thalassa, after all, had
nothing to tell. Nor did she think of the calamity which had again
overtaken her love. The effect of her original renunciation was still
strong within her, and Charles's discovery of her and her promise to him
had not really altered her attitude. His finding her, and their subsequent
conversation in the room below, bore an air of the strangest unreality to
her, as if she had been merely an actor in a stirring scene which did not
actually affect her. Some subtle inward voice told her that these things
did not matter to her.
It was part of a feeling which she had always within her--the sense of
living under the shadow of some dark destiny which would not be mitigated
or withheld. It was a strange point of view for one so young, but it had
been hers ever since she remembered anything. The tragedy and the shame
which had come into her life recently had found her, as it were, waiting.
She regarded them merely as the partial fulfilment of the unescapable
thing which had been prepared for her before she was born, and had dogged
her lonely footsteps since childhood. In the isolated circumstances of her
life and upbringings it was not strange, perhaps, that she had such
She had loved Charles Turold with all the strength of a passionate
solitary nature, and it was this feeling or instinct of fatality which had
given her the strength to renounce him. Indeed, it seemed to her that that
inseparable companion of her inmost thoughts had prompted her to linger
outside the door at Flint House on this afternoon so that she should
overhear her father's words--catch that sinister fragment of a sentence
which compelled her to refuse the love of Charles until she had learnt the
truth. She could not listen to him with that secret half-guessed. And, the
full truth known, no other course was open to her save renunciation.
She had not wavered. Sometimes, in the vain way of the young heart seeking
for happiness, she found herself wishing that she had not listened at the
door to those few words which sent her back to Flint House that awful
night to learn the truth from her father, or, at least, had not acted upon
them. The words she overheard had not told her much, and she might have
tried to forget them. But she thrust that thought from her like an evil
thing. She would have hated herself if she had followed that course and
found out the truth of her birth afterwards, deeming herself unworthy of
the love of one who had been ready to sacrifice everything for her sake.
No! It was better, far better, that she should know.
She had not thought of suspicion falling on herself. Her youth and
inexperience, borne upward on the lofty wings of sacrifice, had not
foreseen the damning significance which might gather round her secret
visit to Flint House and her subsequent disappearance. Not even when she
heard of her father's death had the folly of her contemplated action
dawned on her. Her dreamy unpractical temperament, keyed up to the great
act of abnegation, had not paused to consider what the consequences might
be to herself.
Lying there in the darkness of her room, she recalled how that revelation
had been made to her. It was the first night after her arrival in London,
in the drawing-room of a private hotel near Russell Square, where she had
intended staying for a few days while she sought for some kind of
employment. There was a group of women seated round the fireplace,
talking. She was seated by herself some distance away, turning over the
leaves of a magazine, when a loud remark by one of the speakers startled
her into an attitude of listening fear. "Have you read about this Cornwall
murder?" The words, cold and distinct, had broken into her sad reflections
like a stone dropped from a great height. They had gone on talking without
looking at her, and she had listened intently, masking her conscious
features with the open magazine. It was well that she did. They discussed
the murder in animated tones. The strangest case! ... A great title ...
the Turrald title ... to be heard before the House of Lords next week ...
and now the claimant was murdered ... he was very wealthy, too. Thus they
talked; then the first voice, which seemed to dominate all the others,
broke in: "It was thought to be suicide at first, but I see by tonight's
paper that his daughter is suspected. She has disappeared, and is supposed
to have fled to London. What are girls coming to--always shooting somebody
or somebody shooting them! It's the war, I suppose...."
The shock of that double disclosure had been almost too much to bear. Till
then she had not known that her father had been murdered, much less that
she was suspected of killing him. Dizziness had swept over her. Things
seemed to spin round her, yet she saw them rotating with a kind of
dreadful distinctness--the false smiling faces of the women, the
furniture, a cat blinking on the hearthrug, an empty coffee cup on a small
table. One stout lady, enthroned on a pile of red and blue cushions,
sailed round and round on a sofa with the preposterous repetition and
tragic reality of a fat woman on a roundabout. Then the circling faces and
furniture vanished. She swayed with the sensation of growing darkness, and
had the oddest fancy that the break of the waves on Cornish cliffs was
sounding in her ears. She was dreamily inhaling the sea air....
She had pulled herself sharply together. She had something of her father's
tenacity and courage in her composition, and that had nerved her to face
the ordeal and saved her from giving herself away. The darkness lightened,
the electric lights danced dizzily back into view, and the room became
stationary once more. With an effort at calmness she rose from her seat
and sought her room, and next morning she left the house. Henceforth her
lot was one of furtive movement and concealment.
As she lay there, staring open-eyed into the darkness, her thoughts
slipped back to the night of her visit to Flint House in a vain effort to
recollect some overlooked incident which might throw light on her father's
mysterious death. There was one thing over which she had frequently
puzzled without arriving at any interpretation of it. She thought of it
now. She saw herself stealing from her father's room with the sound of his
last awful words ringing through her being. Beneath, near the foot of the
staircase, she could see Thalassa waiting, the glow of the tiny hall light
falling on his stern listening face. She was walking along the passage to
go to him when some impulse impelled her to glance through a window which
looked out on the moors and the rocks near the house.
Her eyes had fallen on a shape, shrouded in the obscurity of the rocks not
far from the window, which seemed to have some semblance to the motionless
figure of a man. She had stood there for a moment, glancing down intently,
but it had not stirred. If it had human semblance, it seemed to be carved
in stone. She came to the conclusion that she was mistaken. Experience had
taught her what strange shapes the rocks took after nightfall. With
another fleeting glance she had hurried downstairs, and from the house.
She thought about it now without arriving at any conclusion as to what it
was that she had seen so indistinctly--whether man or rock. Charles had
been up there that night, but it was not Charles. This figure or rock was
on the other side of the house.
Stupor descended gradually on her tired brain like the coming of darkness,
and she fell into sleep--the first rest that had visited her since she
learnt of Charles's arrest. But her slumber was disturbed by dreams. She
dreamt that she was back in Cornwall, sitting on her old perch at the foot
of the cliffs, looking at the Moon Rock. The face in the Rock was watching
her, as it had always watched her, but this time with a dreadful sneer
which she had never seen before. It frightened her so that she moaned and
tossed uneasily, and awoke with a cry, shaking with terror.
As she reached out her hand for the matches by the bedside to light the
gas, the sound of the front door-bell pealed through the house. Sisily
sprang up, her eyes seeking to pierce the darkness, her ears listening
intently. Who could it be? She was alone in the house. Mrs. Johns had gone
to one of her spiritualistic meetings, and was not likely to be home until
late. Besides, she had her own key, with which she always let herself in.
She crept cautiously to the window and strained her eyes downward. She was
just able to catch a glimpse of two vague figures underneath in the
darkness. The light of the street lamp glinted on something one of them
was wearing on his head. It was a policeman's helmet.
The terror of the hunted took possession of her. She sought to remain
calm; her trembling lips essayed a sentence of a prayer. But it was no
use. She was too young for philosophy or Christian resignation. Terror
shook her with massive jaws. She did not want to be caught, to be put in
prison, to be killed. She wandered aimlessly about the room like a trapped
creature. She must escape--she would escape!
With a great effort she calmed herself to reflect--to calculate if there
was any chance of getting away. She esteemed it fortunate that she had not
lit the gas in her room. The whole house was in darkness. The policeman
might think there was nobody in, and go away. But she dared not reckon on
There came another and louder ring of the bell downstairs.
Again she crept to the window and looked down. The policeman and the other
man were conferring in a murmur which reached her ears. The policeman
stepped back into the garden path and scanned the darkened windows of the
house. She shrank back from the window.
The ring was followed by the sound of knocking at the front door--knocking
heavy and prolonged, which reverberated solemnly through the silent house.
Then once more there was silence.
In her ignorance of the methods of the law she wondered wildly whether the
next step would be to break in the door and search the house. Terror shook
her again at this thought, scorched her with burning breath. She would
escape--she must. But how? Her fingernails pierced the palms of her hands
as she vainly tried to think out a way. Should she hide somewhere? She
rejected that plan as impracticable. The back way? But there was no
outlet--only a small garden abutting on other back gardens. There was a
dark side street only a few houses away. If she could only reach it....
She stood quite motionless, expecting the knocking to start again. But it
did not. She thought she heard the shuffle of feet and husky whispers in
the garden path underneath, but she could not be sure of that. What were
they doing? Why were they so silent? "Suppose they got in through the
window?" she whispered to herself. Her soul died within her at that
thought. She tried to assure herself that the windows were locked, but her
staring eyes peopled the invisible staircase with creeping figures. The
darkness grew intense and terrifying, like a rushing black torrent flowing
over her head. She was alone, in an empty world ... The torrent ceased,
and the darkness took the form of a great sable wing, moving, flapping,
seeking to enfold her. She put up her hands to ward it off.
At that instant a sharp and decisive sound reached her. It was the click
of a shut gate. As she recognized the sound a new thought came to her--a
hope, when hope seemed gone. She stepped noiselessly to the window and
looked down. She was just in time to catch a glimpse of two retreating
figures revealed in dark contour beneath the rays of the street lamp. The
next moment they passed out of sight.
They had gone! But they would return--she felt sure of that. She must get
away at once before they did--run out of the door and make for the side
She listened for a moment longer. There was no sound anywhere now. The
house was lapped in absolute quietness. She felt for her hat, and calming
her nerves with a desperate effort, stole quickly from the room and
downstairs. As she stood in the silent hall, facing the closed door, she
again thought she heard whisperings. She recoiled in fear, wondering if
they were outside, waiting. It was her worst ordeal yet. Then desperation
conquered her terror. Her trembling fingers pulled back the bolt, and she
There was no one there to check her flight. The streets seemed empty.
Without turning her head she ran past the houses which intervened between
her and the side street. She gained it, and turned into its friendly
darkness. She was as free as a bird again, for the moment.
A kind of exultation seized her at this unexpected deliverance from her
adventure, but that mood passed as she reflected upon her present
position. She had left the house without her few belongings, and what was
far worse, without her money, which she kept in a hand-bag locked up in
her small case in the bedroom she had just left.
She had not a penny in the world, and she dared not go back.
That was not the moment to reflect upon the grimness of her situation. The
sound of approaching footsteps shaped her fears of capture into renewed
action. She walked rapidly away.
The time was near midnight, and the streets were almost empty. She kept
her way along dark obscure streets, shunning the lighted thoroughfares.
She had no settled plan in her mind, except to keep on. Hers was the
instinct of the hunted creature for darkness and obscurity. Her fevered
spirit hurried her along, spurring her with the menace of an imprisonment
which was worse than the cramped horror of the grave. In the grave there
was no consciousness of the weight of the earth above, but in prison, held
like an animal, watched by horrible men, beating despairing hands against
locked doors--ah, no, no! Her free young body and soul revolted with
nausea at the thought. Death would be better than that. She walked still
With that possibility impending she shrank from any chance contact with
passers-by, turning into side streets to avoid any one she saw coming.
Once, a policeman, appearing unexpectedly out of the shadows, set her
heart beating wildly, but he passed by without looking at her.
It grew later, and the streets became quite deserted. She had been walking
for more than an hour when she noticed that the houses were scattered,
with open spaces now and then, and a bracing freshness in the air which
suggested that she was getting away from where the herds of London slept,
into open spaces. For some obscure reason this made her nervous, and she
turned back. After a while London closed in on her again, but this time in
a more squalid quarter, a wilderness of dirty narrow streets, where even
in the darkness the debasing marks and odours of squalid poverty were
perceptible in the endless rows of houses which seemed to crowd in upon
her. She came to a bridge and crossed it into an area of gaunt and
darkened factories. Here, strange nocturnal noises and sights frightened
her. She saw shadowy forms, and heard rough voices on a wharf in the
blackness of the river beneath her, followed by a woman's scream. She ran
when she heard that--ran along the riverside till she came to another
bridge, which she recrossed. She found herself in a quieter and better
part of London, where the streets were wide and well-kept, and she
slackened her pace into a walk again.
The night wore on like eternity, with immeasurable slowness yet incredible
swiftness. She had been walking for hours, and yet she had no feeling of
fatigue. She seemed to move through the streets without any effort of her
own. Towards the morning she was carried along with a complete absence of
bodily sensation, as if she had been in very truth one of those
disembodied spirits of Mrs. Johns' spirit world, driven through the
solitude of the ages by the implacable decree of some incalculable
malignant force called immortality. She felt as though centuries of time
had rolled over her head when the murk of the lowering sky lightened, and
the London dawn was born, naked and grey.
The dawn brought London to life with a speed which was in the nature of a
miracle. From the appearance of the first workers to the flocking of the
streets, was, as it were, but a moment. The 'buses and trams commenced
running, and shops opened. Sisily found herself walking along Holborn,
where the thickening crowds jostled her as she walked. But she did not
care for that now, nor did she seek the comparative seclusion of the side
streets. Her fear of capture had passed away, and her only feeling was
impenetrable isolation and loneliness. The people who were passing had no
more existence to her than if they had been a troop of ghosts. She had the
sensation of belonging to another world and could not have communicated
with them if she had wished. But the spirit which had sustained her during
the night disappeared with the clamorous advance of the day. She became in
an instant conscious of the grievous pangs of a body which seemed to have
been flung back to her in a damaged state. It ached all over. Her head
throbbed with a dull buzzing sound, and she was so tired that she could
hardly stand. She felt as if she must lie down--in the street, anywhere.
And she was tormented by thirst. But she still kept on.
She found herself, after a while, by one of those little backwaters which
are the salvation of strangers to London: a green railed square, with
trees and fountains, and a quiet pavement where a street artist was
drawing bright pictures with crayons. An old four-wheeler was moored in
the gutter by the entrance, the horse munching in the depths of a
nose-bag, the elderly driver reclining against the side of the cab,
smoking and watching the pavement artist.
Sisily entered the empty square to rest herself. As she sat there on one
of the wooden seats the full misery of her situation came home to her, and
she asked herself anxiously what she was to do. She had nowhere to go, and
no money to buy food or shelter--nothing in the world that she could call
her own except the clothes she was wearing. They were the coat and skirt
she had put on to come to London, and she noticed with feminine concern
that the dark cloth showed disreputable stains and splashes of her night's
exposure. Hastily she took her handkerchief from her pocket to remove the
tell-tale marks. As she did so a bit of buff cardboard fluttered on to the
gravel at her feet. She stooped and picked it up. It was the return half
of her ticket to Cornwall.
The remembrance of her arrival at Paddington revived in her as she looked
at it--the fright she had had when the ticket collector caught her by the
arm to return half of the whole ticket she had given up. She had put the
ticket in the pocket of her jacket and never thought of it again. Had Fate
decreed her original mistake of taking a return ticket when she needed
only a single one? She was at that moment inclined to think so.
The question of its use was decided as soon as she saw it. The ticket
would take her back to Cornwall and Thalassa. Thalassa would help and
The gilt hands of a church clock opposite the square pointed to half-past
eight. She knew that the morning express for Cornwall started shortly
after ten, but she did not know what part of London she was in or the
direction of Paddington. Animated by a new hope, she left her seat and
asked the cabman for directions.
The cabman looked at her with a ruminating eye. That eye, with
unfathomable perspicacity, seemed to pry into her empty pockets and pierce
her penniless state. He did not ask her if she wanted to be driven there,
but intimated with a shake of his grey head that Paddington was a goodish
walk. Then he gave her directions for finding it--implicit and repeated
directions, as though his all-seeing eye had also divined that she was a
stranger to the ways of London.
Sisily thanked him and turned away, repeating his directions so that she
should not have to ask anybody else. First to the right, second to the
left, along Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Street, up Oxford Street to
Edgeware Road, down Edgeware Road to Praed Street--so it ran. She followed
them carefully, and found herself on Paddington station a quarter of an
hour before the departure of the express.
She entered a third-class carriage, but sat in a corner seat, longing for
the train to move out. The minutes dragged slowly, and passengers kept
thronging in. All sorts of people seemed to have business in Cornwall at
that late season of the year. They came hurrying along in groups looking
for vacant compartments. Sisily kept an eager eye upon the late arrivals,
hoping that they would pass by her compartment. By some miraculous chance
she was left undisturbed until almost starting time, then a group of fat
women dashed along the platform with the celerity of fear, and crowded
ponderously in. The next moment the train began to slip away from the
station, and was soon rushing into the open country at high speed.
Of the details of that journey she knew nothing at all. She sat staring
out of the window, her thoughts racing faster than the train. The events
of the last few days receded from her mental vision like the flying houses
and fields outside the carriage window, fading into some remote distance
of her mind. Relief swelled in her heart as the train rushed west and
London was left farther and farther behind. Something within her seemed to
sing piercingly for joy, as though she had been a strange wild bird
escaping from captivity to wing her way westward to the open spaces by the
sea. London had frightened her. Its crowded vastness had suffocated her,
its indifference had appalled her. She had felt so hopelessly alone there;
far lonelier than she had ever been in Cornwall or Norfolk. Nature could
be brutal, but never indifferent. She could be friendly--sometimes. The
sea and the sky had whispered loving greetings to her, but not London.
There was nothing but a hideous and blank indifference there. She was glad
to get away--away from the endless rows of shops and houses, from the
unceasing throngs of indifferent people, back to the lonely moors of
Cornwall, to look down from the rocks at the sea, and breathe the keen
As the journey advanced and the train swept farther west she became dull,
languid, almost inert. Lack of food and the previous night's exposure
induced in her a feeling of giddiness which at times had in it something
of the nature of delirium. In this state her mind turned persistently to
Thalassa, and the object of her return to him. She was struggling towards
him, up great heights, under a nightmare burden. She seemed to see him
standing there with his hands outstretched, ready to lift the burden off
her shoulders if she could only reach him. Then she was back in the
kitchen at Flint House, watching him bending over his lamps, listening to
the wicked old song he used to sing--
"The devil and me we went away to sea,
In the old brig 'Lizbeth-Jane...."
The train caught up the refrain and thundered it into her tired head ...
"Went away to sea, went away to sea, In the old brig 'Lizbeth-Jane." And,
listening to it, she fell into a dazed slumber.
She awoke with a start to find that it was getting dusk and the train was
running smoothly through South Cornwall. As she looked out of the window a
grey corpse of a hill seemed to rise out of the sea. It was Mount St.
Michael. Then she caught a glimpse of Carn Brea and the purple moors. The
people in the carriage began to collect light luggage and put on coats and
wraps. The next moment the train came to a standstill at Penzance station.
She clung to the safety of the throng in passing through the barrier,
fearing most the St. Fair wagonette which might be drawn up outside. She
was not known in Penzance, but the driver of the wagonette might recognize
her. But Mr. Crows, indifferent to shillings, had not yet arrived. Sisily
hurried past a group scanning the distant heights for the gaunt outline of
the descending cab, like shipwrecked mariners on the look-out for a sail.
She reached the moor road by a short cut through, the back part of the
town, and set out for Flint House in the velvety shadows of the early
It had been raining, but the rain had ceased. The sun, hidden through a
long grey day, shone with dying brilliance in a patch of horizon blue,
gilding the wet road, and making the wayside puddles glitter like mirrors.
A soddened little bird twittered joyfully in the hedge, casting a round
black eye at her as she passed. The moors, carpeted with purple, stretched
all around her, glistening, wet, beautiful.
In the train she had felt hungry and tired, with burning head and cold
limbs. As she walked these feelings wore off, and were replaced by a
feeling of upliftment which was magical in its change. Her misery and her
burden dropped from her. The softness of the moors was beneath her feet,
and a sweet wind touched her lips and cheeks with a breath which was a
caress. The plaintive distant cry of a gull reached her like a greeting.
The solitude of Cornwall surrounded her.
When she reached the cross-roads she struck out across the moors. Before
her, at no great distance, she could see the swelling mountainous reaches
of green water breaking on the rocks in a long white line of foam, and the
dark outline of Flint House clinging to the dizzy summit of the black
Her false strength failed her suddenly as she neared her journey's end.
The house loomed dimly before her tired vision in the fast gathering
darkness. She stumbled with faltering steps round the side of the house
to the kitchen door, and turned the handle. It was locked. She knocked
As in a vision she saw the white furtive face of Mrs. Thalassa peering out
at her from the window, and her fluttering hands pressed against the
glass, as though to thrust her back. Sisily rushed to the window.
"Let me in!" she cried. "It is I--Sisily."
The window opened suddenly, and Mrs. Thalassa stood there looking out at
her like a small grey ghost--a ghost with watchful glittering eyes.
"Go away--go away," she whispered with a cunning glance. "Quick! They're
looking for you--they'll catch you."
Sisily's heart went cold within her. "Where is Thalassa?" she faltered.
"Send him to me--tell him I have come back." Her eyes travelled vainly
around the gloom of the empty kitchen in search of him.
"He's gone--gone away!"
"Gone? Oh, no, no! Don't say that. Where has he gone?"
"I don't know. He went away. He's not coming back." She shook her head
angrily, with a wild gleam in her eye. "You go away, too, or they'll catch
you--the police. They come every night to look for you."
She cast another cunning look at the girl, and shut down the window.
Sisily could see her reaching up and fumbling with the lock. Thalassa
gone! Despair clutched her with iron hands, and held her fast. She glanced
up at the window of her father's study, and thought she saw the dead man
there, his stern face looking coldly down upon her. She turned away
shuddering. Where could she go? She had nowhere to go, and she knew her
strength would not carry her much farther.
She plunged blindly into the shelter of the great rocks near the house.
She found herself wandering among them like a being in a dream. Then
complete unconsciousness overtook her, and she sank down.
When she came to herself again night had descended and a storm was
brewing. She sat up wonderingly and looked around her, indifferent to the
rain which had commenced to fall on her uncovered head. Gradually
remembrance came back to her. She saw that she was lying on the great slab
of basalt which overhung the Moon Rock. She could hear the beat of the sea
far beneath her, but she felt no fear. She was not conscious of her body
or limbs--of nothing but a burning brain, and wide-open eyes which gazed
out into the darkness and stillness around her.
As she looked it seemed to her startled imagination that the masses of
rocks which littered the edge of the cliff moved closer to each other,
starting out of the shadows into monstrous grotesque life, then circling
round her in a strange and dizzy whirl. It was as though the old Cornish
giants had come back to life for a corybantic dance with the demirips of
their race--dancing to the music of the sea sucking and gurgling into the
caves at the base of the cliffs. With swimming eyes Sisily watched them
careering and pirouetting around her. Faster and faster they went,
advancing, retreating, bending clumsily, then wavering, toppling, reeling,
like giants well drunk. A great stone fell into the sea with a splash, as
if dislodged by a giant foot. As though that signalled the cockcrow of
their glee, the dancers stopped in listening attitudes, and sank back into
rocks once more.
Sisily turned her eyes weakly from the slumbering rocks to the hills. The
light of a coming moon behind them showed the outline of the granite
pillars and stone altars of the Druids, where they had once sought to
appease their savage gods, like the Israelites of old. Sisily had often
meditated by these places of sacrifice, trying to picture the scene. Now,
as she looked, it was enacted before her eyes. A red light brooded on one
of the hills, growing brighter and brighter. Brutish shaggy figures came
out of the darkness, dragging a youth to the altar. Sisily saw him
distinctly. He was naked, with a beautiful face, haggard and white, and
was bound with cords. Suddenly he freed himself, and dashed down the slope
into the darkness. He was pursued and brought back, and the cries of his
pursuers mingled with an appalling scream for help which seemed to float
down the mountain side to where she lay, filling the silent air with
This scene, too, faded away, and the beams of the rising moon, now
beginning to show over the hill-tops, formed in her mind the mirage of a
beautiful day--one of those exquisite days which Nature produces at long
intervals. Sisily saw a blue sky, sunlight like burnished silver, green
fields and clear pools in which everything was reflected ... a slumbrous
perfect day, with drowsy cattle knee-deep in grass, bees, and floating
butterflies, and the shrill notes of happy birds.
Once more the tangled loom of her fevered brain wove a new picture. She
was back in her bedroom at Flint House, looking down at the graven face of
the Moon Rock. As she looked, a great hand seemed to come out of the sea
and beckon to her. The summons was one she dare not disobey. She left her
bed, crept downstairs in the darkness, out to the edge of the cliff, and
looked down. The face of the Moon Rock was watching her intently. She
thought it called her name.
Ah, what was that cry? She came to her senses, startled, and looked
fearfully round her. She was alone on the cliffs, above the Moon Rock, and
she could hear the sea hissing at its base. But what else had she heard?
Had somebody called her name? It was still very dark. To the south the
light of the Lizard stabbed the black sky with a white flaming finger as
if seeking to pierce the darkness of eternity. Nearer, the red light of
the Wolf rock gleamed--a warning to passing souls flying southward from
England to eternal bliss to fly high above the rock where the spirit dog
lay howling in wait. Had the cry come from there?
No. It was not the howl of the Wolf dog that she had heard. That was her
own name. She crept closer to the edge of the cliff and looked down into
the sea--down at the Moon Rock. The old Cornish legend of the drowned love
came back to her. Was Charles dead? and calling her to him? She would go
to him gladly. She had loved him in life, and if he wanted her in death
she would go to him.
She clutched a broken spur of rock on the brink and looked down to where
the sea bored round the black sides of the Moon Rock. She could see her
own pool too, lying peaceful and calm in the encircling arm of the rock.
In her delirium she struggled to her feet and started to climb down the
face of the cliff.
The wind tapped angrily at the windows of Flint House, the rain fell
stealthily, the sea made a droning uneasy sound. The fire which burnt on
the kitchen hearth was a poor one, a sullen thing of green boughs and coal
which refused to harmonize, but spluttered and fizzed angrily. The coal
smouldered blackly, but sometimes cracked with a startling report. When
this happened, a crooked bough sticking up in the middle of the fire, like
a curved fang, would jump out on to the hearthstone as though frightened
by the noise.
Thalassa sat on one side of the fire, his wife on the other. Her eyes were
rapt and vacant; he sat with frowning brows, deep in thought. Robert
Turold's dog crouched in the circle of the glow with amber eyes fixed on
the old man's face as if he were a god, and Thalassa lived up to one of
the attributes of divinity by not deigning to give his worshipper a sign.
Occasionally the dog lifted a wistful supplicating paw, dropping it again
in dejection when it passed unregarded.
Presently Thalassa got up and went to a cupboard in the corner. From some
hidden receptacle he extracted a coil of ship's tobacco and a wooden pipe
shaped into a negro's head, with little beads for eyes, such as may be
bought for a few pence in shops near the London docks. He returned to his
seat, filled the pipe, lit it with a burning bough, and fell to smoking
with lingering whiffs, gazing into the fire with dark gleaming eyes as
motionless as the glinting beads in the negro's carved head.
The clock on the mantel-piece ticked steadily away in the silence. The
dog, with a brute recognition of the unsatisfactory nature of spiritual
aspiration, descended to the care of his own affairs, and scratched for
fleas which knew no other world than his hind-quarters.
"Go away, go away! You mustn't come in here!"
The shrill voice of Mrs. Thalassa broke the silence like a cracked bell,
shattering her husband's meditations, and causing the dog to spring to his
feet. Thalassa looked at her angrily. She was making mysterious motions
with her hands, as if expostulating with some phantom of her thoughts,
muttering and shaking her head rapidly. Her husband stared across in
silence for a moment.
"By God! she doesn't improve with age," he growled; then, louder: "What's
the matter with you? What are you making that noise for?"
The question went unheeded. To his astonishment she sprang to her feet
with a kind of grotesque vivacity, and, darting over to the window, began
gesticulating again with an angry persistency, as if to some one outside.
Thalassa left his seat and went to the window also. His wife had ceased
her gestures, and stood still listening and watching. Thalassa pulled back
the blind, and looked out. The moor and rocks were draped in black, and
the only sounds which reached him were the disconsolate wail of the wind
and the savage break of the sea on the rocks below. He looked at his wife.
She had started tossing her hands again at some spectral invisible thing
in the shadowy night. She was quite mad--there could be no doubt of that.
He endeavoured to lead her back to her seat by the fireside, but she broke
away from him with surprising strength, and again her voice rang out--
"Go away ... go away! You can't come in. I won't let you in. You're a
wicked girl, Miss Sisily, and I won't let you in. You killed your father,
and you'd like to kill me, but I'll keep you locked out. Go away!" Her
voice rose to a screech.
The blood rushed to Thalassa's head as he listened to these words. He
understood quite suddenly--this was not a demented raving. Sisily had been
there--she had come back to him in her fear--and she had been driven away.
He turned to his wife and caught her up in his great arms, shaking her
violently, as one shakes a child. The sight was terrible and absurd, but
there was no one to witness it but the dog, who circled round and round in
yelping excitement, as though the scene was enacted for his benefit alone.
"Has Miss Sisily been here?"
The question thundered out in the empty silence. Mrs. Thalassa crouched
like a preposterous hunched-up doll on the seat where her husband had
flung her, looking up at him with stupid eyes, but not speaking. He
approached her again.
"Speak, woman, speak, or I'll strangle you."
She backed away, whimpering with fear. "No, no, Jasper, leave me alone."
"Has Miss Sisily been here?"
The sight of those long outstretched hands, by their menace to her life,
seemed to restore her reason. "Yes," she mumbled.
"This evening--before dark--when you were out."
"And you wouldn't let her in?"
"How did you know it was her?"
"She knocked at the door, and I looked out of the window."
"Did you see which way she went?"
"Over by the cliffs, where she used to go."
Thalassa repeated these last words mechanically. Anger possessed him, but
apprehension stirred in his heart. Sisily had trusted him, she had come
back to him, and he had failed her. That had been at six o'clock, and it
was now nine. Three hours, and there had been a storm. Where was she? Had
she been out in the storm?
He searched in the cupboard for a lantern, lit it, and made for the door,
followed by the dog. As he flung open the door the wind rushed in with
such force that it beat him back, and the candle in the lantern flickered
and lengthened like a naked flame. He fought his way out furiously,
slamming the door behind him.
Outside, the rocks crouched in the darkness in nameless shapes. Thalassa
prowled among them, struggling desperately with the wind, telling himself
that she was safe--yes, by God, she was safe. Of course she wouldn't stay
on the rocks in that storm. She would seek shelter. "Where?" asked
something within him mockingly, "Where would she dare go, except to you?"
He stood still to reflect. "She might go to Dr. Ravenshaw's," he said
aloud, as though answering an unseen but real questioner. "Fool!" came the
reply, "you know she would not go to Dr. Ravenshaw's. She would not dare."
And fear gripped his heart coldly.
He stumbled on again, bruising and cutting his limbs among the rocks. As
he went he kept calling her name--"Miss Sisily" at first, and then, as his
fear grew stronger, "Sisily, Sisily!" The wind wailed back to him, but
that was all.
He stopped again to reflect. It was useless looking for her in the
darkness. He could do nothing until the moon was up. The sky was already
beginning to brighten with the coming light. So he stood where he was,
In a quarter of an hour the moon showed above the horizon, slurred through
the rain, like a great drowned face. Higher and higher it rose until the
black curtain lifted off the moors, and the light shimmered on little
pools left after the rain, made fretwork in the shadows of the rocks, and
fell upon the surface of the sea. And as the moon rose the hideous uproar
of wind and sea began to die away.
Thalassa threw down the lantern, and resumed his search. Carefully he
explored in and out among the rude masses of rock, beating farther and
farther away from the house, cautiously skirting the perpendicular edge of
the cliffs, looking over, and backing away again. His wider cast brought
him at length to where the Moon Rock rose from the turmoil of the sea. He
crept on hands and knees to the bald face of the cliff, and looked down.
By the light of the moon something caught his eye far below--something
white and small, showing distinctly against the black glistening base of
the Moon Rock. He could not discern what it was, but a nameless terror
seized him, and his jaw dropped as he crouched there, gazing. Then he
scrambled to his feet with a wild cry, and made for the path down the
cliffs to the pool. It was some distance from where he was, but there was
no shorter way. He rushed recklessly along the cliff edge till he reached
it, and climbed down.
It was there he found her.
She was lying limp and motionless on the edge of the pool, and the
receding tide was still lapping over the shelf of the rock where the sea
had flung her.
Thalassa dropped on his knees beside her. "Sisily, Sisily!" he cried
He stooped over her, calling her repeatedly, but she did not reply. Her
face showed still and white in the moonlight. He unfastened the front of
her dress, and put his hard hand on her soft flesh, but he could not feel
her heart beating. He lifted her tenderly in his arms, and she lay against
his body inert and cold, her wet head resting on his shoulder. Thus he
started the ascent of the cliff.
A giant's strength still lurked in his ageing frame. It was well for him
that it did. He had only his feet to depend upon in that long slippery
ascent, and the wind tugged at him angrily, as if anxious to jerk him off
the path into the sea. But he fought his way up with his burden, though
his body was swaying and his head was dizzy when he reached the top.
He did not stop for a moment. Still holding her fast he set out, not for
Flint House, but to the churchtown. Dizzy, panting, and staggering, he
struggled on across the moors, and as he walked he listened anxiously for
any sound from the inanimate form in his arms.
But she lay still and motionless against his breast.
On he went until he reached the churchtown, and made his way up the empty
street to Dr. Ravenshaw's house. He turned in the garden gate, and beat
with his heavy boot against the closed door.
Some one stirred within, and a ray of light in the fanlight grew bright as
footsteps in the passage drew near. The door opened, and showed the figure
of Dr. Ravenshaw holding in his hand a lighted lamp which shone upon
Thalassa and the dripping figure in his arms. The doctor looked down from
the doorstep in silent surprise, then stepped quickly back from the
threshold and opened the surgery door, holding the lamp high to guide
"There--on the couch," he said, placing the lamp on the table. "What has
"Miss Sisily fell over the cliffs by the Moon Rock. I found her and
carried her up, and brought her straight here."
The doctor's quick glance was a professional tribute to the strength of a
frame capable of performing such a feat. He turned his attention to
Sisily, bending over her and feeling her pulse. With a sharp exclamation
he dropped her wrist and tore open the front of her dress, placing his
hand on her heart. With his other hand he took up his stethoscope from the
"Bring that lamp closer--quick!" he cried.
Thalassa lifted the lamp from the table and stood beside him. The yellow
glow of the lamp enveloped the livid bluish features of Sisily and the
stooping form with the stethoscope. The instrument of silver and rubber
held miraculous possibilities of life and death to Thalassa. He watched it
anxiously--directed the light upon it. The shape on the couch remained
Thalassa's gaze wandered from the stethoscope to
Dr. Ravenshaw. The doctor's bent neck showed white between the top of his
shirt and the grey hair above it. He was wearing no collar, so he must
have been going to bed--when the knock came. Thalassa's eyes dwelt on the
exposed flesh with a steady yet wondering contemplation. The lamp in his
hand wavered slightly.
Dr. Ravenshaw rose to his feet, oblivious of the man who was staring at
his neck from behind. His downward glance rested on Sisily's face, and his
eyes were grave. He turned away and walked out of the room, but returned
almost immediately with a small mirror.
"Hold the lamp higher," he said to Thalassa. "I want the light to fall
right on her face. Higher still--so."
He fell on his knees by the couch and held the mirrored side of the glass
to Sisily's lips. The lamp, held aloft, illumined his face as well as
hers. His features were set and rigid.
Thalassa stood still, his eyes brooding on the sharp outline of the bent
mask. A vague idea, startling and terrible, was magnifying itself in his
mind. Once his glance wandered to Ravenshaw's neck, then returned with
growing fixity to his face, seen at closer range than he had ever beheld
it. In the vivid light the elemental lines beneath the changes of time
took on a strange resemblance to a face he had known in the distant past.
A spectral being seemed to rise from the dead and resume life in the
kneeling body of Dr. Ravenshaw.
Involuntarily he stepped back, and the likeness vanished in the added
distance. The veil of the past was dropped again. He could see nothing now
but the commonplace whiskered face of an elderly Cornish doctor bending
over the inanimate form on the couch. Again the lamp shook slightly.
"What are you doing with that light?" said Ravenshaw peevishly. "Cannot
you hold it steady? Bring it closer, man--closer than that. Now, hold it
In the nearer vision the elemental lines of a forgotten face again
confronted Thalassa beneath the flabby contours of age. It was like
looking at a familiar outline covered by a mask--a transparent mask. He
stood stock still with uplifted lamp, like a man in a trance, but his eyes
never left Dr. Ravenshaw's face.
Some minutes passed silently before Dr. Ravenshaw withdrew the mirror from
Sisily's lips. He turned it over and looked closely at the surface of the
glass. The man behind him stared over his shoulder. Their eyes met in the
mirror, and held for a moment fascinated. In that brief space of time the
revelation and recognition were completed. Dr. Ravenshaw's glance was the
first to break away. The hard brown eyes watching him followed the
direction of his view to a pair of spectacles resting on the table.
Thalassa understood the intention, and harshly forestalled it.
"No use to put on your glasses now," he said. "I recognize ye, and I've
seen that damned scar on your neck."
He put the lamp back on the table, and his hand went towards his belt.
Ravenshaw understood the motion and checked it with a gesture.
"No need for that, either, Thalassa. There are other things to think
Thalassa's hand dropped to his side. "You're right," he muttered. "Get on
with your doctoring."
"No--not now," answered Ravenshaw sadly. "It's no use. She is dead."
"Dead!" Thalassa stood overwhelmed. Silently he surveyed the slight
recumbent form on the couch, his moving lips seemed to be counting the
drops which dripped from her clinging garments on to the carpet. "Dead,
did ye say? Why, I carried her here--brought her across the moors to you."
His voice trembled. "Can't ye do nothing?"
"No--not now. It is too late."
Thalassa's eyes rested attentively on the other's face. Ravenshaw's
complete acquiescence in death as an unalterable fact stung his untutored
feelings by its calmness. "Dead!" he repeated fiercely. "Then you've got
that to pay for now--Remington."
"Pay? Oh, yes, I'll pay--make payment in full," was the reply, delivered
with a bitter look. "But not to you."
"To think I shouldn't a' known ye!" Thalassa spoke like a man in a dream.
"After all these years? After what I suffered alone on that
island--through you and Turold? You'd hardly have known me if you'd met me
six months afterwards instead of thirty years. Robert Turold didn't know
me. Nobody knew me."
Thalassa's eyes still dwelt upon him with the unwilling look of a man
compelled to gaze upon an evocation of the dead.
"Where did you get to--that night?" he quavered. "I could a' sworn--could
a' taken Bible oath--"
"That you and that other scoundrel had killed me? I've no doubt. But it so
happened that I was saved--miraculously and unfortunately. I fell on to a
projecting spur of stone or rock not far down, which caught and held me.
By the light of the moon I saw you come along the ridge to look for me.
You were almost close enough for me to push you into that infernal sulphur
lake where you hoped I had gone. You turned back in time--fortunately for
Thalassa kept his gaze upon him with the meditating intentness of one
trying to learn anew a face so greatly altered by the awful changes of the
years. His great brown hands, hanging loosely at his sides, clenched and
opened rapidly with a quickness of action which had something vaguely
menacing in it.
"I know your eyes now," he mumbled. "With the glasses on, you're
different. That's why ye wore them, I suppose. Turold heered ye that night
you killed 'un. He knew your footstep--or thought he did. I laughed at
him. A' would to God A'mighty I'd hearkened to him, and then I might a'
catched you. How did ye get away from the island?"
Ravenshaw raised his head to reply, then stood mute, in a listening
attitude. Outside the window the sound of footsteps crunched the gravel
walk, and approached the house. Thalassa heard and listened too. The
crunching ceased, and there was a knock at the door. Thalassa looked
questioningly at Ravenshaw, who nodded in the direction of the door.
"Open it," he said. Thalassa hesitated. His eyes sought the couch. "Yes,
in here," said Ravenshaw understandingly. "We shall want witnesses."
Thalassa went to the door and opened it.
A man's voice in the darkness asked for Dr. Ravenshaw, and the owner of
the voice stepped quickly inside at Thalassa's invitation. The visitor
peered at the tall figure in the unlighted passage. "Is it you, Thalassa?"
he said hesitatingly, and Thalassa recognized the voice of Austin Turold.
The voice went on: "Tell me--"
"In there." Thalassa jerked his head towards the gleam falling through the
partly open surgery door. "He wants you." He walked ahead and pushed the
door open. Austin Turold followed, but started back as he looked within.
Then he entered, his eyes dwelling on the shadowy outline on the couch in
"What has happened at Flint House, Ravenshaw? Now--to-night, I mean." He
spoke shakily. "There's a story abroad of Thalassa having been seen
carrying a figure through the churchtown and entering your house. Has
somebody fallen off the cliffs--been drowned? Is that it?" He stepped
quickly across to the couch, and, looking down, as swiftly recoiled. "What
does this mean?" he hoarsely cried.
Ravenshaw did not speak.
"Miss Sisily fell over the cliffs by the Moon Rock," said Thalassa. "I
went down for her, but it was too late. She was drowned."
Austin's look sought Ravenshaw's, who nodded in confirmation.
"More horror--more misery," whispered Austin. A shudder ran through him.
"I do not understand," he said simply. "Thalassa?"
"It's not for me to explain," said Thalassa quickly.
"You then, Ravenshaw."
Ravenshaw spoke slowly.
"They have been looking for the man who killed Robert Turold--your
brother. Well, I am he."
"You!" gasped Austin, in a choking voice. "What do you mean? I do not
understand you. My son has been arrested."
"He has been arrested wrongly, then. It is I--I alone am responsible."
Austin groped for his glasses like a man suddenly enveloped in darkness.
His fingers closed on them and adjusted them on the bridge of his nose.
Through them he surveyed the man before him with close attention.
"Ravenshaw," he said gravely, "either you are mad or I am. Did not my
sister call here to see you on the night my brother was killed, and did
you not go with her to Flint House and break into my brother's room? How,
then, could you have killed Robert? Besides, I saw my son at Penzance
to-day. He tells me he is innocent, and that the murderer is a man whom
Robert and Thalassa robbed and wounded on a lonely island thirty years
ago, and left there for dead, as they thought. What does it all mean?"
"These things can all be explained," replied Ravenshaw. "It is a long
story. Sit down, and I will tell it to you."
"Not here--not here!" replied Austin unsteadily. His glance went to the
corner of the room and the tranquil figure on the couch. He hid his face
for a moment in his hands, then said: "Let us go to another room."
Ravenshaw made a sad gesture of acquiescence. "Come," he said quietly,
lifting the lamp from the table. The other two followed him, and Thalassa
closed the surgery door gently behind them. The doctor led them into a
sitting-room opposite, where they seated themselves. After a moment's
silence Ravenshaw began to speak in low controlled tones which gave no
indication of the state of his feelings.
"You know all about this island part of the story," he said, inquiringly,
"how your brother and Remington, seeking their fortune together, came to
Austin Turold nodded.
"I am Remington," pursued the other. "I will take up the story from that
point--it will save time."
Again Austin Turold assented with a nod. There was neither anger nor
resentment in his glance. The look which rested on the speaker was one of
"I will pass over as briefly as possible what happened after I was left
behind in that horrible place. By the light of the moon I saw them
go--from the ridge I saw them put out to sea. I watched them until the
boat was a mere speck on the luminous waters, and finally vanished from
sight. I was left alone, a desperately wounded man, on an arid sulphurous
island, without food or water.
"When I was sure the boat had gone I returned to our camping place, and
bound my wounds with strips torn off my shirt. Then I fell asleep. I must
have developed fever in my slumber, for I have no clear recollections of
the next few days. I vaguely recall roaming like a demented being among
those solitudes in search of water, and finding a boiling spring. The
water, when cooled, was drinkable. I suppose that saved my life. For food,
there was shell-fish and mutton-bird eggs, with no lack of boiling water
to cook them.
"I lived there so long that I forgot the flight of time. I became a wild
man--a mere shaggy animal, living, eating, and sleeping like a beast.
"I was rescued by a passing steamer at last, rescued without any effort of
my own, for I had gone past caring. From the ship they saw me leaping
about the naked sides of the volcanic hills like a goat, and they put off
a boat. Some lady passengers were badly scared when I was brought
aboard--and no wonder. They were very kind to me on that ship. She was
homeward bound, and brought me to England. I told the captain my story,
but I could see that he didn't believe me, so I told nobody else. Not that
anybody wanted to know--really. One's misfortunes are never interesting to
"I had a little money left when I landed in England--not much, but
sufficient to take me to my wife and support me until I found Robert
Turold. I had left my wife living with her parents in a London suburb.
Robert Turold and I had both been in love with her before we left England.
She loved me, but he had some strange kind of influence over her--the
dominance of a strong nature over a weak, I think. Or perhaps it was a
more primitive feminine instinct. He was always the strong man--even
then--ruthless, determined. It was strange that he should have loved such
a gentle timid creature, though that, perhaps, was not so strange as a man
like Robert Turold loving any woman. But love her he did.
"She had a great capacity for affection--she was one of those women who
have to love, and be loved. Her guileless face, her appealing eyes, seemed
to beseech the protection of a masculine shield in a world which has no
mercy for the weak. She was born to be guided, to be led. It was my fear
of her simple trustful disposition which led me to urge her to marry me
secretly before I left England with Turold. Her parents did not favour me,
and they wished their daughter to marry well--there was an aunt from whom
she had expectations, and the aunt had a prospective husband in view for
her. I feared their joint influence. She consented willingly enough; she
was easy to persuade--on the eve of our parting. She clung to me
"I was to make enough money to return to England to claim her in a year or
so--that was the plan. But I had been absent nearly three when I was left
on the island. And another twelve months passed before I reached England
again. Four years! A long time. Almost any combination of circumstances
can be brought about in such a period. People die, marry, or can be
forgotten as though they had never existed. It was my lot to be forgotten.
"I hastened to London, to my wife's old home, and learnt that the family
no longer lived there. Where had they gone to? The maid who opened the
door could not tell me--she did not know. At my request she went for her
mistress. The lady of the house came down to me, a tall slender woman,
indifferent, but well-bred enough to be polite. She had taken the house
from the Bruntons, she said. It was too large for them after their
daughter's marriage. It was dusk, and she could not see my face, but she
heard my startled exclamation--'Married? To whom?' To a Mr. Turold--a very
suitable match. They had been married for some months, and she was
expecting a child.
"How she gathered that last piece of information I do not know. Perhaps
she and Mrs. Brunton exchanged letters--women write to one another on the
slightest pretexts. That thought made me cautious. Fortunately, I had not
given my name. I thanked her, and rose to go. She offered to write down
the Bruntons' address for me (they had gone to live in the country), but I
said I could remember it. And I got away from the house in the gathering
darkness without her actually seeing my face--not that it would have
mattered much, if she had.
"I thought it all over that night. I visualized readily enough what had
happened. Robert Turold, returning to England with some concocted story of
my death, had swept her off her feet, caught her on the rebound. He had
returned a prosperous man, and doubtless his love-making was reinforced by
Alice's worldly parents and the match-making old aunt. The combination was
a strong one, and I was supposed to be dead. So she married him, without
breathing a word to anybody of her previous secret marriage to me. I
realized that at once. She would be too afraid--left to herself. She would
tell herself that it wasn't worth while--that nobody need ever know now. I
could imagine her twisting her little hands together in apprehension as
she faced the problem--our secret--then gradually becoming calmer as
something whispered in her ear that it was her secret now, and need not be
told. You see, I knew her nature so well. There are many such
natures--gentle souls who shrink from responsibility in a world which,
sooner or later, generally sees to it that we are compelled to shoulder
the burden of our own acts.
"I was not long in making up my mind. I determined to do nothing. I take
no special credit to myself for that decision. The marriage with Robert
Turold was an accomplished fact, and my belated reappearance upon the
scene would have plunged her in unhappiness. She was about to become a
mother, too. That weighed with me. I loved her far too well to injure her
or her child. It meant letting Robert Turold go free if I remained dead,
but there are other things in life besides money and revenge. Fortunately
the position from the practical point of view was simplified by the death
of my only relative, my uncle, during my absence from England, who had
bequeathed his small property to me--not much, but sufficient for my own
"I took my uncle's name, the better to conceal my identity, and resumed
the medical studies which had been interrupted by my departure from
England four years before. When I received my degree I searched for a
remote spot where I was not likely to encounter any one who had known me
in my past life, and chose this lonely part of the Cornish coast. And here
I have remained for thirty years.
"They have not been unhappy years. It was not my disposition to waste my
life by hugging the illusions of the past. My days were occupied walking
long distances to see my patients scattered at distant intervals on this
desolate coast, and my nights I spent in antiquarian and archaeological
studies, which were always a favourite pursuit of mine. It was a hobby
which earned me some local repute in the course of the years, and was
ultimately the means of bringing me face to face with Robert Turold again.
That was the last thing in the world I desired to happen. In the early
years I used to think of him wedded to my wife, and wonder whether he had
succeeded in his great ambition. After a while the memory faded, as most
memories do with the passing of the years.
"Then the meeting came--six months ago. I heard Flint House was let,
though not to whom. The news did not interest me. But next evening, when I
returned from my rounds, my servant met me at the door with the
information that the new tenant of Flint House was in the consulting-room
waiting to see me.
"I went in. The tall elderly figure sitting there rose at my entrance and
said: 'Not a patient, doctor--quite another matter.' I started slightly at
the familiar ring to that harsh authoritative voice, but I did not know
who he was until he handed me his card. He had already commenced talking
about that accursed title as he did so, and he did not notice my
agitation. He had come to Cornwall in pursuit of the last pieces of
evidence for his family tree, and some local busybody had told him that I
was versed in Cornish antiquities and heraldry. That piece of information
had brought him to me. He begged for my assistance--my valuable
assistance--in elucidating the last scraps of his genealogy from the
graves of the past.
"I could have cut him short by laughing aloud--though not in mirth. I had
regained my self-command, for I saw that he had not the slightest
suspicion to whom he was talking. That in itself was not surprising. I had
not recognized him. And how much greater was the change in my own case!
Time alters us all in a much less period than thirty years, and there was
more than the passage of time. Those months of horrible solitude on that
island had changed me into an old man in appearance, with grey hair, and
bleared and weak eyes from the sulphur fumes. And Time had made the
disguise impenetrable in the thirty added years. I was an old man. My hair
and beard were white, and I wore thick glasses. I felt I need be under no
apprehension of Robert Turold recognizing me--then, or at any time, unless
I was careless.
"His request for my help had a strange fascination for me. There was an
uncanny thrill in sitting there within an arm's length of him, meeting his
unsuspicious glance, and listening to him with the knowledge that I could
have put his plans and ambitions to flight with a single word, and had him
begging for mercy. I was in the position of Providence, and withheld my
hand, as Providence generally does. My desire to punish Robert Turold had
long since died. At sixty, revenge is a small thing. What is human
retribution to the ferocity of Time's revenge on us all? Retribution and
Justice--these are human catchwords, signifying nothing. What is Justice?
Who is to judge when the scales are even? It was easier to comply with his
request than arouse suspicion by refusal, but that wasn't what weighed
with me. I wanted to see more of him, to win his confidence, if possible.
I was curious to know what kind of life he had given the woman for whose
sake I had let him go free for thirty years.
"He took a liking to me. My knowledge of ancient Cornish lore proved
useful in the final stages of his search--his thirty years' search for a
family tree. It was not long before I discovered that he had found no
happiness in life. At times his face wore a hunted look--the look of a man
who walked his days in fear. His imperfect vision peered out on a darkened
world with apprehension, though not of me. In my strange position with him
I felt like a ghost permitted to watch, unseen and unsuspected, the
travail of a gloomy solitary mind. It was apparent enough, but only to me.
My quickened eyes pierced the outward husk and saw within. I thought I had
outlived my desire for revenge, but it grew again at the sight of a
punishment which was so much more subtle than anything I could have
planned. Death would have put his restless soul to sleep, granted him
eternal respite. The sufferings of the spirit were a living torment. His
was a strange case. His lifelong pursuit of a single idea, his restricted
consciousness of one image, had made him morbid, lonely, introspective.
And so the past had revisited him, darkening and disquieting his mind. He
feared shadows, he was haunted by footsteps.
"Footsteps! I learnt that when he consulted me for sleeplessness. He told
me he used to lie awake at night, imagining he heard footsteps pattering
on the rocks outside. I knew well enough whose footsteps he was haunted
by. I imagined him lying there in that lonely house, sweating with horror,
listening ... listening. He asked me once, did I believe in ghosts? I told
him no, but I said I'd known a case of man returning to life long after he
was supposed to be dead. I related the story--one which had come under my
observation as a medical man. He listened with gnawing lip and pale face,
and from my window afterwards I saw him striding home across the moors,
glancing backwards in the dusk.
"It was his own fault that he ever heard those footsteps in the way he
feared. He did not play the game, according to our poor conception of what
the game is. If he had done so he would have been quite safe from me. But
there are some things too shocking to be contemplated, even in the worst
of our kind. A man does not give away a woman--that is one of the rules.
Robert Turold put a woman to shame in her coffin.
"I had kept out of her way, never going to Flint House because I feared
her feminine eyes might be too sharp for me. But she fell ill, and Robert
Turold asked me to attend her. Refusal was impossible, as there was no
other doctor nearer than Penzance.
"She did not recognize me--at first, but the shock I received when I saw
her left me almost stunned. I had carried her memory through the
years--the image of a pretty slim girl, with brown hair and eyes, and kind
of soft vivacity which was her greatest charm. In her place I found, lying
there, a withered grey woman with dim eyes and broken spirit. God knows
what she had gone through at his hands, but it had destroyed her.
"It was her death-bed. She was worn out in body and spirit, and had no
strength to rally. She was weeks dying, but her life was steadily ebbing
all that time. It was a kind of slow fever. She was delirious when I first
saw her, and delirious or unconscious, with few lucid intervals, until she
died. And the jargon of her wandering mind was in reality the outpouring
of a tortured soul. It was the title and the family name--always that, and
nothing else. She wasn't well-born enough or sufficiently educated to bear
the title as his wife--it seemed that that fact had been impressed on her
again and again in the long lean years of the search for the family tree.
Let her go away ... go away somewhere quietly with Sisily, and she would
never bother him any more. That was the unceasing burden of her cry, a cry
to which I was compelled to listen with a torn heart.
"The reserve, the frame of mind, which I wore like armour in Robert
Turold's company I dropped altogether at her bedside. Her lucid intervals
were few, but I was not afraid of her recognizing the old Cornish doctor
with his muffler, his glasses, his shaggy white hair and beard. The daily
sight of her shrunken ageing features reminded me that I had nothing to
fear--that Time had effectually disguised us from each other's
recognition. We were old, we two. Life had receded from us--what had we to
do with its fever, its regrets, its passions and futile joys? The clock
had ticked the time away, the fire was dying out, the hearth desolate and
cold. I was resigned before, I was resigned then. I did what I could for
her, which was little enough. Human progress, such as it is, has been
acquired through the spirit. The body defies us--we have no control over
it. So she died--mercifully unconscious most of the time--and died, as I
had hoped, without the least suspicion of the truth.
"You cannot faintly imagine the shock of Turold's announcement on the day
of her burial, to me, who had been so arrogantly certain that the secret
was safe. If you remember what took place at Flint House on that occasion
you will recall that it was a question from me which brought the truth to
light. Your brother's answer awakened my suspicions, and made me
determined to find out what he actually knew. He brought out the truth
then, as I've no doubt now he intended to do in any case.
"The puzzle to me was the exact extent of his knowledge. He knew two
things for certain. One was that I had married Alice before leaving
England, and the other was that I was still alive. But he obviously did
not know that I was Remington. How had he found out the two facts? I
guessed that the woman he believed to be his wife had revealed the secret
of her earlier marriage on her death-bed, but the other was a problem
which I could not solve. Nor did I try to. When I reached home I went mad.
The calmness, the self-repression of thirty years, vanished in an instant
in the monstrous infamy of that disclosure. There was something too
horribly sinister in the character of a man who could be driven by
ambition to make such a disclosure without regret, almost without
hesitation. He sacrificed and put to shame two gentle creatures at the
beck of his implacable mania. For the title he had forfeited tenderness,
pity, decency--all the human attributes--with a brazen and unashamed face.
That man walked the earth alone. By that act he set himself apart, defying
all laws, all feeling--everything.
"As I grew calmer I reflected that he could not defy me. I could bring him
tumbling from his lofty perch with a few words. He might brazen out his
attitude to the whole world, but not to me. What was more, I could dictate
to him--could keep his mouth shut with a threat of reviving the past, of
putting him on his trial for robbery and attempted murder thirty years
"I determined to do it--to see him and reveal myself, and let him know
that my own course of action would be decided by his. If he chose to keep
silent, he would have nothing to fear from me.
"I set out across the moors in the darkness. It was raining, and I walked
fast until Flint House loomed out of the blackness before me. Then I
paused to consider my course of action. I was about to thwart a madman
with a fixed idea, in a lonely house where he had in his service another
man who could be depended on to make common cause against me when he knew
the truth. I was not afraid of Robert Turold, but I was of Thalassa. I
knew he was strong enough to hurl me through the window into the sea.
These elements in the situation called for caution. I crept across the
rocks towards the kitchen window. As I did so I thought I saw a figure
move among the rocks, and I ran quickly to the narrow lip of cliff which
overhangs the sea at the back of the house. There I stood for awhile, but
could hear nothing but the sea raging far down beneath me. I came to the
conclusion that I had been mistaken. Who was likely to be prowling round
Flint House in a storm--except myself? I crept round the side of the house
and looked through the kitchen window.
"Thalassa's wife was in the kitchen, alone, with some playing cards spread
out on the table in front of her. But before long the door leading into
the passage opened, and Thalassa came in. He sat down, but after the lapse
of a few minutes he rose from his chair and approached the window. I
shrank back into the shadow of a rock, watching him. He stood looking out
into the darkness for perhaps five minutes, then I saw him start, turn his
head, and go out of the room. I heard the front door open, followed by the
sound of footsteps ascending the stairs. A moment later I heard the murmur
of voices in Robert Turold's room upstairs.
"I went nearer to try and find out what had happened, but it was no use. I
could see a gleam of light in the study window, and could hear Robert
Turold's voice mingled with feminine tones, then--silence, followed once
more by the sound of an opening door. From my place of concealment I saw
two people going down the garden path--Thalassa and a female figure. They
passed through the gate and vanished into the darkness of the moors.
"My opportunity had come. I went to the house and tried the front window.
It was unlocked, and yielded. I got through, and went quickly upstairs. A
light was shining underneath the study door. I opened it, and saw Robert
Turold sitting at his table writing with his back towards me.
"At the sight of that atrocious scoundrel sitting there immersed in his
shameful project against a woman I had loved, my self-control gave way
utterly, completely. I had intended to be calm, to reason with him, to
exact my terms with a cold logical brain. I did none of these things.
Without a word of warning, before he even knew I was in the room, I sprang
on him, clutching him, shaking him in a blind insensate fury till my
strength suddenly failed me and left me sick and giddy.
"'I am Remington,' I said--'Jim Remington.' I leaned against the table,
panting and exhausted, looking at him. His self-control was something to
marvel at. He just sat still, returning my look with cold motionless eyes,
no doubt trying to discern the features of the man he had wronged through
the film of age. But in spite of his self-control I could see the grey
pallor of fear creeping into his face, and he could not keep his lips from
trembling. Twice he essayed to speak, but his mouth refused to utter the
words. What he did say was strange to me, when he got it out at last. 'I
was right'--I heard him whisper, almost to himself--'I knew, I knew.' He
repeated those words several times. It was then I saw that his
self-control arose from the fact that although he was terrified he did not
appear to be so greatly surprised. Surprised he was, but not in the way I
had expected. His prime difficulty seemed to be to get out of his head the
identity by which he had known me. 'You are Ravenshaw--Dr. Ravenshaw,' he
said. 'How can you be Remington?' He brought out this with an effort, like
a man trying to shake off an unreasoning horror.
"I had expected him to face it out, to challenge me, perhaps deny all
knowledge of my existence. Instead, he merely sat there staring at me with
an air of terrified realization, like a person gazing upon the dreadful
materialization of an expected phantom. I told him the truth in the fewest
possible words, and he listened silently, never removing his eyes from me,
the phantom of his past. When I had finished he lay back in his chair, but
his eyes stared up at me with a kind of dead look, like half-closed eyes
in a coffin. 'I knew that you were rescued from the island,' he said. 'But
I thought you were long since dead.'
"That statement surprised me. I asked him how he had learned of it. He
told me it was through the medium of an overheard conversation in a London
hotel nearly thirty years before. He had gone up to town to see his
lawyer, and one of the people at the hotel where he put up happened to be
one of the passengers of the _Erechtheus_, the steamer which had
rescued me. The man sat at the next table, and Turold heard him tell the
story to a friend one night at dinner. It had happened just like
that--quite simply, but it was a possibility I had overlooked. Not that it
mattered, as it happened, but it would have--if Alice had been with him.
Turold, of course, kept his knowledge to himself. He was too cautious to
approach the passenger, but he instructed his lawyer to make guarded
inquiries at the shipping office of the vessel in order to verify the
story. Then he returned home, consumed by anxiety, no doubt, to wait for
my reappearance. As the months slipped past and I did not appear, hope
revived within him. It appears that he had heard the passenger say that I
was a wreck--a physical wreck. That must have been a cheering item in a
bad piece of news. I can imagine its growing importance in Turold's mind
as the time went on and I made no sign. Finally (and thankfully) he
reached the conclusion that I was indeed dead, and that he had nothing
more to fear. There was an element of uncertainty about it, though, a lack
of definite knowledge. I fancy that was one of the reasons which led him
to take Thalassa into his service when he turned up some time later. It
was a deep and subtle thing to do. Thalassa was bound to help him against
me, if ever I came back.
"The years went on, and he grew quite certain, as any man in his position
would, in the circumstances. He forgot all about me. That frame of mind
lasted until he came to Cornwall, and then, it seemed, I came back into
his life in the strangest way. I haunted him in the spirit, and he never
once guessed that I might be there in the flesh. Who can explain this?
"As he spoke of it he looked as though he had a grievance against me, as,
perhaps, he had--from his point of view. 'You faded from my mind for
twenty years,' he said. 'But here--in Cornwall--your memory began to haunt
me. It was your footsteps, principally. I used to fancy you were following
me across the moors. Tonight for the first time I actually heard
them--heard them above the noise of the storm. They came to my ears clear
and sharp, around the house, on the rocks, under the window.' He cast on
me an appalled, a hopeless glance. 'Why have you left it so long?' he
cried. 'What do you want--now?'
"He positively had no glimmering of my feelings. His fixed idea, like a
cancerous growth, had sucked all the healthy life out of him. Hot anger
stirred within me again, but I retained control of myself this time. I
asked him how he had found out about the earlier marriage, and he told me
Alice had babbled something in her delirium--enough to arouse his
suspicions. It seemed that he had waited for one of her lucid intervals,
and wormed the truth out of her. 'The proofs--of course you've obtained
them?' I asked casually. Yes, he had the proofs. He had sent to London for
them immediately. I asked him where they were. 'What do you want to know
for?' he asked in an agitated voice. I told him quite simply, that he must
give me his proofs and tell the members of his family that he had been
mistaken--that Alice's first husband had really died before she married
him. If he agreed to do that he had nothing farther to fear from me--I
would remain dead forever. 'You can destroy proofs, but not facts,' he
muttered in reply to this. I told him the facts were never likely to come
to light if he entered into a compact of silence.
"He sat for a few moments as if contemplating the alternatives I had
placed before him--sat with one hand in his table-drawer, seeking for
papers, I thought. He desisted from doing this, and said quite suddenly,
'The proofs are in the clock-case.'
"I had no suspicion. He had once shown me a curious receptacle in the
bottom of the clock-case, where he kept papers. I went towards the clock,
and was stooping over the drawer in the bottom of the case when I heard a
swift footstep behind me. I turned. He was approaching with a revolver.
The secret of his disclosure and the open drawer were explained. I suppose
I owed my life to his dim sight, which compelled him to come so near.
"I sprang at him, and we struggled. That struggle brought down the clock
with a shattering crash. Robert Turold and I were locked in one another's
arms, wrestling desperately for the revolver, when I saw the great moon
face of the clock flit past my vision like the face of a man taking a
header off a pier. The crash startled Robert Turold. His hand loosened,
and I got the revolver from him. As I tore it from his fingers it went
off, and shot him.
"He backed away from me with a kind of frozen smile, then crumpled up and
slid to the floor. I bent over him. He made a slight movement, but I could
see that he was dying--that he had only a very few moments to live.
"Coolly and rapidly I reflected. The fall of the clock would be heard
downstairs. Flight! There was a chance, if Thalassa had not returned. My
other instinct was to secure the proofs first, though they were really
useless then. I rummaged in the clock-case, and found a large envelope
which I stuffed in my pocket. The face stared up at me; the clock had
stopped at a minute to nine. I had an idea--an inspiration. I pulled the
long hand down to the hour-half--to half-past nine. If I escaped from the
house undiscovered, with only that half-stupid little woman downstairs, I
would rush across the moors home--call my servant on some pretext as soon
as I got in, and ask her the time. Then I should be quite safe--could defy
everybody. Make it ten o'clock, then! No--too long to be safe. It might be
"It is strange how quickly the brain works when the instinct of
self-preservation is aroused. These thoughts flashed through my mind in a
kind of mental lightning. In the briefest possible space of time I was on
my feet and out of the room. I locked the door on the outside, intending
to take the key to defer discovery, but it slipped from my fingers in my
haste, and fell in the dark passage. I dared not stop to search, for just
then I heard a sound--or thought I did. Panic seized me. I feared I was
trapped--my escape cut off. I flung precaution aside and went leaping
downstairs to the door. I fumbled for the door-catch in the darkness,
flung open the door, and ran out into the night--across the moors and
"I had hardly got inside before your sister came with her husband to see
me--to beg me to go with her to Flint House and reason with your brother.
To reason with him! He was beyond the futility of argument, the folly of
retort. I did not want to go--at first. Then it dawned upon me that a
kindly fate offered me a providential chance of securing my safety. No
suspicion could fall on me if I went back--and found the body.
"And so it turned out. We reached Flint House just at the right moment,
for me. I broke into the room and found him--dead. He was not where I had
left him. In a last paroxysm he had struggled to his feet and fallen
across the clock-case, with the intention, as I shall always believe, of
putting back the hand of the clock. I think his dying vision saw me alter
it, and his last thought--his last effort--was to thwart my intention to
mislead those upon whom would devolve the duty of investigating his death.
But death was too quick to allow him to carry out his intention."
The cessation of the speaker's voice was followed by silence. Thalassa had
nothing to say--no need for words. Austin Turold could not trust himself
to speak. It was not that his cynical philosophy of life failed him at
that moment. The eternal staging of the drama was the eternal tragedy of
the performers. But he was thinking of his son. He had vision enough to
realize that in Sisily's death Charles had lost all. His own hardness of
outlook melted at that thought. It crumbled his worldliness to ashes,
flooded his heart with vain regret, found utterance at last in the
"How am I to tell my son?"
His eyes, dwelling on the door of the inner room, revealed the direction
of his thought.