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Carnacki, The Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson

Part 3 out of 3

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into the distance, and was nothing more than a slightly deeper colored
nucleus far away in the strange colored atmosphere.

"The landlord gave out a queer little cry, and twisted over against me,
as if to avoid something. From the inspector there came a sharp breathing
sound, as if he had been suddenly drenched with cold water. Then suddenly
the violet color went out of the night, and I was conscious of the
nearness of something monstrous and repugnant.

"There was a tense silence, and the blackness of the cellar seemed
absolute, with only the faint glow about each of the lanterns on the
table. Then, in the darkness and the silence, there came a faint tinkle
of water from the well, as if something were rising noiselessly out of
it, and the water running back with a gentle tinkling. In the same
instant, there came to me a sudden waft of the awful smell.

"I gave a sharp cry of warning to the inspector, and loosed the rope.
There came instantly the sharp splash of the cage entering the water;
and then, with a stiff, frightened movement, I opened the shutter of
my lantern, and shone the light at the cage, shouting to the others to
do the same.

"As my light struck the cage, I saw that about two feet of it projected
from the top of the well, and there was something protruding up out of
the water, into the cage. I stared, with a feeling that I recognized the
thing; and then, as the other lanterns were opened, I saw that it was a
leg of mutton. The thing was held by a brawny fist and arm, that rose out
of the water. I stood utterly bewildered, watching to see what was
coming. In a moment there rose into view a great bearded face, that I
felt for one quick instant was the face of a drowned man, long dead. Then
the face opened at the mouth part, and spluttered and coughed. Another
big hand came into view, and wiped the water from the eyes, which blinked
rapidly, and then fixed themselves into a stare at the lights.

"From the detective there came a sudden shout:--

"'Captain Tobias!' he shouted, and the inspector echoed him; and
instantly burst into loud roars of laughter.

"The inspector and the detective ran across the cellar to the cage; and I
followed, still bewildered. The man in the cage was holding the leg of
mutton as far away from him, as possible, and holding his nose.

"'Lift thig dam trap, quig!' he shouted in a stifled voice; but the
inspector and the detective simply doubled before him, and tried to hold
their noses, whilst they laughed, and the light from their lanterns went
dancing all over the place.

"'Quig! quig!' said the man in the cage, still holding his nose, and
trying to speak plainly.

"Then Johnstone and the detective stopped laughing, and lifted the cage.
The man in the well threw the leg across the cellar, and turned swiftly
to go down into the well; but the officers were too quick for him, and
had him out in a twinkling. Whilst they held him, dripping upon the
floor, the inspector jerked his thumb in the direction of the offending
leg, and the landlord, having harpooned it with one of the pitchforks,
ran with it upstairs and so into the open air.

"Meanwhile, I had given the man from the well a stiff tot of whisky; for
which he thanked me with a cheerful nod, and having emptied the glass at
a draft, held his hand for the bottle, which he finished, as if it had
been so much water.

"As you will remember, it was a Captain Tobias who had been the previous
tenant; and this was the very man, who had appeared from the well. In
the course of the talk that followed, I learned the reason for Captain
Tobias leaving the house; he had been wanted by the police for
smuggling. He had undergone imprisonment; and had been released only a
couple of weeks earlier.

"He had returned to find new tenants in his old home. He had entered the
house through the well, the walls of which were not continued to the
bottom (this I will deal with later); and gone up by a little stairway in
the cellar wall, which opened at the top through a panel beside my
mother's bedroom. This panel was opened, by revolving the left doorpost
of the bedroom door, with the result that the bedroom door always became
unlatched, in the process of opening the panel.

"The captain complained, without any bitterness, that the panel had
warped, and that each time he opened it, it made a cracking noise. This
had been evidently what I mistook for raps. He would not give his reason
for entering the house; but it was pretty obvious that he had hidden
something, which he wanted to get. However, as he found it impossible to
get into the house without the risk of being caught, he decided to try to
drive us out, relying on the bad reputation of the house, and his own
artistic efforts as a ghost. I must say he succeeded. He intended then to
rent the house again, as before; and would then, of course have plenty of
time to get whatever he had hidden. The house suited him admirably; for
there was a passage--as he showed me afterward--connecting the dummy well
with the crypt of the church beyond the garden wall; and these, in turn,
were connected with certain caves in the cliffs, which went down to the
beach beyond the church.

"In the course of his talk, Captain Tobias offered to take the house off
my hands; and as this suited me perfectly, for I was about stalled with
it, and the plan also suited the landlord, it was decided that no steps
should be taken against him; and that the whole business should be
hushed up.

"I asked the captain whether there was really anything queer about the
house; whether he had ever seen anything. He said yes, that he had twice
seen a Woman going about the house. We all looked at one another, when
the captain said that. He told us she never bothered him, and that he had
only seen her twice, and on each occasion it had followed a narrow escape
from the Revenue people.

"Captain Tobias was an observant man; he had seen how I had placed the
mats against the doors; and after entering the rooms, and walking all
about them, so as to leave the foot-marks of an old pair of wet
woollen slippers everywhere, he had deliberately put the mats back as
he found them.

"The maggot which had dropped from his disgusting leg of mutton had been
an accident, and beyond even his horrible planning. He was hugely
delighted to learn how it had affected us.

"The moldy smell I had noticed was from the little closed stairway, when
the captain opened the panel. The door slamming was also another of his

"I come now to the end of the captain's ghost play; and to the difficulty
of trying to explain the other peculiar things. In the first place, it
was obvious there was something genuinely strange in the house; which
made itself manifest as a Woman. Many different people had seen this
Woman, under differing circumstances, so it is impossible to put the
thing down to fancy; at the same time it must seem extraordinary that I
should have lived two years in the house, and seen nothing; whilst the
policeman saw the Woman, before he had been there twenty minutes; the
landlord, the detective, and the inspector all saw her.

"I can only surmise that _fear_ was in every case the key, as I might
say, which opened the senses to the presence of the Woman. The policeman
was a highly-strung man, and when he became frightened, was able to see
the Woman. The same reasoning applies all 'round. _I_ saw nothing, until
I became really frightened; then I saw, not the Woman; but a Child,
running away from Something or Someone. However, I will touch on that
later. In short, until a very strong degree of fear was present, no one
was affected by the Force which made Itself evident, as a Woman. My
theory explains why some tenants were never aware of anything strange in
the house, whilst others left immediately. The more sensitive they were,
the less would be the degree of fear necessary to make them aware of the
Force present in the house.

"The peculiar shining of all the metal objects in the cellar, had been
visible only to me. The cause, naturally I do not know; neither do I know
why I, alone, was able to see the shining."

"The Child," I asked. "Can you explain that part at all? Why _you_ didn't
see the Woman, and why _they_ didn't see the Child. Was it merely the
same Force, appearing differently to different people?"

"No," said Carnacki, "I can't explain that. But I am quite sure that the
Woman and the Child were not only two complete and different entities;
but even they were each not in quite the same planes of existence.

"To give you a root idea, however, it is held in the Sigsand MS. that a
child '_still_born' is 'Snatyched back bye thee Haggs.' This is crude;
but may yet contain an elemental truth. Yet, before I make this clearer,
let me tell you a thought that has often been made. It may be that
physical birth is but a secondary process; and that prior to the
possibility, the Mother Spirit searches for, until it finds, the small
Element--the primal Ego or child's soul. It may be that a certain
waywardness would cause such to strive to evade capture by the Mother
Spirit. It may have been such a thing as this, that I saw. I have always
tried to think so; but it is impossible to ignore the sense of repulsion
that I felt when the unseen Woman went past me. This repulsion carries
forward the idea suggested in the Sigsand MS., that a stillborn child is
thus, because its ego or spirit has been snatched back by the 'Hags.' In
other words, by certain of the Monstrosities of the Outer Circle. The
thought is inconceivably terrible, and probably the more so because it is
so fragmentary. It leaves us with the conception of a child's soul adrift
half-way between two lives, and running through Eternity from Something
incredible and inconceivable (because not understood) to our senses.

"The thing is beyond further discussion; for it is futile to attempt to
discuss a thing, to any purpose, of which one has a knowledge so
fragmentary as this. There is one thought, which is often mine. Perhaps
there is a Mother Spirit--"

"And the well?" said Arkwright. "How did the captain get in from the
other side?"

"As I said before," answered Carnacki. "The side walls of the well did
not reach to the bottom; so that you had only to dip down into the water,
and come up again on the other side of the wall, under the cellar floor,
and so climb into the passage. Of course, the water was the same height
on both sides of the walls. Don't ask me who made the well entrance or
the little stairway; for I don't know. The house was very old, as I have
told you; and that sort of thing was useful in the old days."

"And the Child," I said, coming back to the thing which chiefly
interested me. "You would say that the birth must have occurred in that
house; and in this way, one might suppose that the house to have become
_en rapport_, if I can use the word in that way, with the Forces that
produced the tragedy?"

"Yes," replied Carnacki. "This is, supposing we take the suggestion of
the Sigsand MS., to account for the phenomenon."

"There may be other houses--" I began.

"There are," said Carnacki; and stood up.

"Out you go," he said, genially, using the recognized formula. And in
five minutes we were on the Embankment, going thoughtfully to our
various homes.

No. 6


Carnacki had just returned to Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. I was aware of this
interesting fact by reason of the curt and quaintly worded postcard
which I was rereading, and by which I was requested to present myself
at his house not later than seven o'clock on that evening. Mr. Carnacki
had, as I and the others of his strictly limited circle of friends
knew, been away in Kent for the past three weeks; but beyond that, we
had no knowledge. Carnacki was genially secretive and curt, and spoke
only when he was ready to speak. When this stage arrived, I and his
three other friends--Jessop, Arkright, and Taylor--would receive a card
or a wire, asking us to call. Not one of us ever willingly missed, for
after a thoroughly sensible little dinner Carnacki would snuggle down
into his big armchair, light his pipe, and wait whilst we arranged
ourselves comfortably in our accustomed seats and nooks. Then he would
begin to talk.

Upon this particular night I was the first to arrive and found
Carnacki sitting, quietly smoking over a paper. He stood up, shook me
firmly by the hand, pointed to a chair, and sat down again, never
having uttered a word.

For my part, I said nothing either. I knew the man too well to bother him
with questions or the weather, and so took a seat and a cigarette.
Presently the three others turned up and after that we spent a
comfortable and busy hour at dinner.

Dinner over, Carnacki snugged himself down into his great chair, as I
have said was his habit, filled his pipe and puffed for awhile, his gaze
directed thoughtfully at the fire. The rest of us, if I may so express
it, made ourselves cozy, each after his own particular manner. A minute
or so later Carnacki began to speak, ignoring any preliminary remarks,
and going straight to the subject of the story we knew he had to tell:

"I have just come back from Sir Alfred Jarnock's place at Burtontree, in
South Kent," he began, without removing his gaze from the fire. "Most
extraordinary things have been happening down there lately and Mr. George
Jarnock, the eldest son, wired to ask me to run over and see whether I
could help to clear matters up a bit. I went.

"When I got there, I found that they have an old Chapel attached to the
castle which has had quite a distinguished reputation for being what is
popularly termed 'haunted.' They have been rather proud of this, as I
managed to discover, until quite lately when something very disagreeable
occurred, which served to remind them that family ghosts are not always
content, as I might say, to remain purely ornamental.

"It sounds almost laughable, I know, to hear of a long-respected
supernatural phenomenon growing unexpectedly dangerous; and in this case,
the tale of the haunting was considered as little more than an old myth,
except after nightfall, when possibly it became more plausible seeming.

"But however this may be, there is no doubt at all but that what I might
term the Haunting Essence which lived in the place, had become suddenly
dangerous--deadly dangerous too, the old butler being nearly stabbed to
death one night in the Chapel, with a peculiar old dagger.

"It is, in fact, this dagger which is popularly supposed to 'haunt' the
Chapel. At least, there has been always a story handed down in the family
that this dagger would attack any enemy who should dare to venture into
the Chapel, after nightfall. But, of course, this had been taken with
just about the same amount of seriousness that people take most ghost
tales, and that is not usually of a worryingly _real_ nature. I mean that
most people never quite know how much or how little they believe of
matters ab-human or ab-normal, and generally they never have an
opportunity to learn. And, indeed, as you are all aware, I am as big a
skeptic concerning the truth of ghost tales as any man you are likely to
meet; only I am what I might term an unprejudiced skeptic. I am not given
to either believing or disbelieving things 'on principle,' as I have
found many idiots prone to be, and what is more, some of them not ashamed
to boast of the insane fact. I view all reported 'hauntings' as unproven
until I have examined into them, and I am bound to admit that ninety-nine
cases in a hundred turn out to be sheer bosh and fancy. But the
hundredth! Well, if it were not for the hundredth, I should have few
stories to tell you--eh?

"Of course, after the attack on the butler, it became evident that there
was at least 'something' in the old story concerning the dagger, and I
found everyone in a half belief that the queer old weapon did really
strike the butler, either by the aid of some inherent force, which I
found them peculiarly unable to explain, or else in the hand of some
invisible thing or monster of the Outer World!

"From considerable experience, I knew that it was much more likely that
the butler had been 'knifed' by some vicious and quite material human!

"Naturally, the first thing to do, was to test this probability of human
agency, and I set to work to make a pretty drastic examination of the
people who knew most about the tragedy.

"The result of this examination, both pleased and surprised me, for
it left me with very good reasons for belief that I had come upon one
of those extraordinary rare 'true manifestations' of the extrusion of
a Force from the Outside. In more popular phraseology--a genuine case
of haunting.

"These are the facts: On the previous Sunday evening but one, Sir Alfred
Jarnock's household had attended family service, as usual, in the Chapel.
You see, the Rector goes over to officiate twice each Sunday, after
concluding his duties at the public Church about three miles away.

"At the end of the service in the Chapel, Sir Alfred Jarnock, his
son Mr. George Jarnock, and the Rector had stood for a couple of
minutes, talking, whilst old Bellett the butler went 'round, putting
out the candles.

"Suddenly, the Rector remembered that he had left his small prayer book
on the Communion table in the morning; he turned, and asked the butler to
get it for him before he blew out the chancel candles.

"Now I have particularly called your attention to this because it is
important in that it provides witnesses in a most fortunate manner at an
extraordinary moment. You see, the Rector's turning to speak to Bellett
had naturally caused both Sir Alfred Jarnock and his son to glance in the
direction of the butler, and it was at this identical instant and whilst
all three were looking at him, that the old butler was stabbed--there,
full in the candlelight, before their eyes.

"I took the opportunity to call early upon the Rector, after I had
questioned Mr. George Jarnock, who replied to my queries in place of Sir
Alfred Jarnock, for the older man was in a nervous and shaken condition
as a result of the happening, and his son wished him to avoid dwelling
upon the scene as much as possible.

"The Rector's version was clear and vivid, and he had evidently received
the astonishment of his life. He pictured to me the whole
affair--Bellett, up at the chancel gate, going for the prayer book, and
absolutely alone; and then the _blow_, out of the Void, he described it;
and the _force_ prodigious--the old man being driven headlong into the
body of the Chapel. Like the kick of a great horse, the Rector said, his
benevolent old eyes bright and intense with the effort he had actually
witnessed, in defiance of all that he had hitherto believed.

"When I left him, he went back to the writing which he had put aside when
I appeared. I feel sure that he was developing the first unorthodox
sermon that he had ever evolved. He was a dear old chap, and I should
certainly like to have heard it.

"The last man I visited was the butler. He was, of course, in a
frightfully weak and shaken condition, but he could tell me nothing that
did not point to there being a Power abroad in the Chapel. He told the
same tale, in every minute particle, that I had learned from the others.
He had been just going up to put out the altar candles and fetch the
Rector's book, when something struck him an enormous blow high up on the
left breast and he was driven headlong into the aisle.

"Examination had shown that he had been stabbed by the dagger--of which I
will tell you more in a moment--that hung always above the altar. The
weapon had entered, fortunately some inches above the heart, just under
the collarbone, which had been broken by the stupendous force of the
blow, the dagger itself being driven clean through the body, and out
through the scapula behind.

"The poor old fellow could not talk much, and I soon left him; but what
he had told me was sufficient to make it unmistakable that no living
person had been within yards of him when he was attacked; and, as I knew,
this fact was verified by three capable and responsible witnesses,
independent of Bellett himself.

"The thing now was to search the Chapel, which is small and extremely
old. It is very massively built, and entered through only one door, which
leads out of the castle itself, and the key of which is kept by Sir
Alfred Jarnock, the butler having no duplicate.

"The shape of the Chapel is oblong, and the altar is railed off after the
usual fashion. There are two tombs in the body of the place; but none in
the chancel, which is bare, except for the tall candlesticks, and the
chancel rail, beyond which is the undraped altar of solid marble, upon
which stand four small candlesticks, two at each end.

"Above the altar hangs the 'waeful dagger,' as I had learned it was
named. I fancy the term has been taken from an old vellum, which
describes the dagger and its supposed abnormal properties. I took the
dagger down, and examined it minutely and with method. The blade is ten
inches long, two inches broad at the base, and tapering to a rounded but
sharp point, rather peculiar. It is double-edged.

"The metal sheath is curious for having a crosspiece, which, taken with
the fact that the sheath itself is continued three parts up the hilt of
the dagger (in a most inconvenient fashion), gives it the appearance of a
cross. That this is not unintentional is shown by an engraving of the
Christ crucified upon one side, whilst upon the other, in Latin, is the
inscription: 'Vengeance is Mine, I will Repay.' A quaint and rather
terrible conjunction of ideas. Upon the blade of the dagger is graven in
old English capitals: I WATCH. I STRIKE. On the butt of the hilt there is
carved deeply a Pentacle.

"This is a pretty accurate description of the peculiar old weapon that
has had the curious and uncomfortable reputation of being able (either of
its own accord or in the hand of something invisible) to strike
murderously any enemy of the Jarnock family who may chance to enter the
Chapel after nightfall. I may tell you here and now, that before I left,
I had very good reason to put certain doubts behind me; for I tested the
deadliness of the thing myself.

"As you know, however, at this point of my investigation, I was still at
that stage where I considered the existence of a supernatural Force
unproven. In the meanwhile, I treated the Chapel drastically, sounding
and scrutinizing the walls and floor, dealing with them almost foot by
foot, and particularly examining the two tombs.

"At the end of this search, I had in a ladder, and made a close survey of
the groined roof. I passed three days in this fashion, and by the evening
of the third day I had proved to my entire satisfaction that there is no
place in the whole of that Chapel where any living being could have
hidden, and also that the only way of ingress and egress to and from the
Chapel is through the doorway which leads into the castle, the door of
which was always kept locked, and the key kept by Sir Alfred Jarnock
himself, as I have told you. I mean, of course, that this doorway is the
only entrance practicable to material people.

"Yes, as you will see, even had I discovered some other opening, secret
or otherwise, it would not have helped at all to explain the mystery of
the incredible attack, in a normal fashion. For the butler, as you know,
was struck in full sight of the Rector, Sir Jarnock and his son. And old
Bellett himself knew that no living person had touched him.... _'Out of
the Void,'_ the Rector had described the inhumanly brutal attack. 'Out of
the Void!' A strange feeling it gives one--eh?

"And this is the thing that I had been called in to bottom!

"After considerable thought, I decided on a plan of action. I proposed to
Sir Alfred Jarnock that I should spend a night in the Chapel, and keep a
constant watch upon the dagger. But to this, the old knight--a little,
wizened, nervous man--would not listen for a moment. He, at least, I felt
assured had no doubt of the reality of some dangerous supernatural Force
a roam at night in the Chapel. He informed me that it had been his habit
every evening to lock the Chapel door, so that no one might foolishly or
heedlessly run the risk of any peril that it might hold at night, and
that he could not allow me to attempt such a thing after what had
happened to the butler.

"I could see that Sir Alfred Jarnock was very much in earnest, and would
evidently have held himself to blame had he allowed me to make the
experiment and any harm come to me; so I said nothing in argument; and
presently, pleading the fatigue of his years and health, he said
goodnight, and left me; having given me the impression of being a polite
but rather superstitious, old gentleman.

"That night, however, whilst I was undressing, I saw how I might achieve
the thing I wished, and be able to enter the Chapel after dark, without
making Sir Alfred Jarnock nervous. On the morrow, when I borrowed the
key, I would take an impression, and have a duplicate made. Then, with my
private key, I could do just what I liked.

"In the morning I carried out my idea. I borrowed the key, as I wanted to
take a photograph of the chancel by daylight. When I had done this I
locked up the Chapel and handed the key to Sir Alfred Jarnock, having
first taken an impression in soap. I had brought out the exposed
plate--in its slide--with me; but the camera I had left exactly as it
was, as I wanted to take a second photograph of the chancel that night,
from the same position.

"I took the dark slide into Burtontree, also the cake of soap with the
impress. The soap I left with the local ironmonger, who was something of
a locksmith and promised to let me have my duplicate, finished, if I
would call in two hours. This I did, having in the meanwhile found out a
photographer where I developed the plate, and left it to dry, telling him
I would call next day. At the end of the two hours I went for my key and
found it ready, much to my satisfaction. Then I returned to the castle.

"After dinner that evening, I played billiards with young Jarnock for
a couple of hours. Then I had a cup of coffee and went off to my
room, telling him I was feeling awfully tired. He nodded and told me
he felt the same way. I was glad, for I wanted the house to settle as
soon as possible.

"I locked the door of my room, then from under the bed--where I had
hidden them earlier in the evening--I drew out several fine pieces of
plate armor, which I had removed from the armory. There was also a shirt
of chain mail, with a sort of quilted hood of mail to go over the head.

"I buckled on the plate armor, and found it extraordinarily
uncomfortable, and over all I drew on the chain mail. I know nothing
about armor, but from what I have learned since, I must have put on parts
of two suits. Anyway, I felt beastly, clamped and clumsy and unable to
move my arms and legs naturally. But I knew that the thing I was thinking
of doing called for some sort of protection for my body. Over the armor I
pulled on my dressing gown and shoved my revolver into one of the side
pockets--and my repeating flash-light into the other. My dark lantern I
carried in my hand.

"As soon as I was ready I went out into the passage and listened. I had
been some considerable time making my preparations and I found that now
the big hall and staircase were in darkness and all the house seemed
quiet. I stepped back and closed and locked my door. Then, very slowly
and silently I went downstairs to the hall and turned into the passage
that led to the Chapel.

"I reached the door and tried my key. It fitted perfectly and a moment
later I was in the Chapel, with the door locked behind me, and all about
me the utter dree silence of the place, with just the faint showings of
the outlines of the stained, leaded windows, making the darkness and
lonesomeness almost the more apparent.

"Now it would be silly to say I did not feel queer. I felt very queer
indeed. You just try, any of you, to imagine yourself standing there in
the dark silence and remembering not only the legend that was attached to
the place, but what had really happened to the old butler only a little
while gone, I can tell you, as I stood there, I could believe that
something invisible was coming toward me in the air of the Chapel. Yet, I
had got to go through with the business, and I just took hold of my
little bit of courage and set to work.

"First of all I switched on my light, then I began a careful tour of the
place; examining every corner and nook. I found nothing unusual. At the
chancel gate I held up my lamp and flashed the light at the dagger. It
hung there, right enough, above the altar, but I remember thinking of the
word 'demure,' as I looked at it. However, I pushed the thought away, for
what I was doing needed no addition of uncomfortable thoughts.

"I completed the tour of the place, with a constantly growing awareness
of its utter chill and unkind desolation--an atmosphere of cold
dismalness seemed to be everywhere, and the quiet was abominable.

"At the conclusion of my search I walked across to where I had left my
camera focused upon the chancel. From the satchel that I had put beneath
the tripod I took out a dark slide and inserted it in the camera, drawing
the shutter. After that I uncapped the lens, pulled out my flashlight
apparatus, and pressed the trigger. There was an intense, brilliant
flash, that made the whole of the interior of the Chapel jump into sight,
and disappear as quickly. Then, in the light from my lantern, I inserted
the shutter into the slide, and reversed the slide, so as to have a fresh
plate ready to expose at any time.

"After I had done this I shut off my lantern and sat down in one of the
pews near to my camera. I cannot say what I expected to happen, but I had
an extraordinary feeling, almost a conviction, that something peculiar or
horrible would soon occur. It was, you know, as if I knew.

"An hour passed, of absolute silence. The time I knew by the far-off,
faint chime of a dock that had been erected over the stables. I was
beastly cold, for the whole place is without any kind of heating pipes or
furnace, as I had noticed during my search, so that the temperature was
sufficiently uncomfortable to suit my frame of mind. I felt like a kind
of human periwinkle encased in boilerplate and frozen with cold and funk.
And, you know, somehow the dark about me seemed to press coldly against
my face. I cannot say whether any of you have ever had the feeling, but
if you have, you will know just how disgustingly unnerving it is. And
then, all at once, I had a horrible sense that something was moving in
the place. It was not that I could hear anything but I had a kind of
intuitive knowledge that something had stirred in the darkness. Can you
imagine how I felt?

"Suddenly my courage went. I put up my mailed arms over my face. I
wanted to protect it. I had got a sudden sickening feeling that something
was hovering over me in the dark. Talk about fright! I could have shouted
if I had not been afraid of the noise.... And then, abruptly, I heard
something. Away up the aisle, there sounded a dull clang of metal, as it
might be the tread of a mailed heel upon the stone of the aisle. I sat
immovable. I was fighting with all my strength to get back my courage. I
could not take my arms down from over my face, but I knew that I was
getting hold of the gritty part of me again. And suddenly I made a mighty
effort and lowered my arms. I held my face up in the darkness. And, I
tell you, I respect myself for the act, because I thought truly at that
moment that I was going to die. But I think, just then, by the slow
revulsion of feeling which had assisted my effort, I was less sick, in
that instant, at the thought of having to die, than at the knowledge of
the utter weak cowardice that had so unexpectedly shaken me all to bits,
for a time.

"Do I make myself clear? You understand, I feel sure, that the sense of
respect, which I spoke of, is not really unhealthy egotism; because, you
see, I am not blind to the state of mind which helped me. I mean that if
I had uncovered my face by a sheer effort of will, unhelped by any
revulsion of feeling, I should have done a thing much more worthy of
mention. But, even as it was, there were elements in the act, worthy of
respect. You follow me, don't you?

"And, you know, nothing touched me, after all! So that, in a little
while, I had got back a bit to my normal, and felt steady enough to go
through with the business without any more funking.

"I daresay a couple of minutes passed, and then, away up near the
chancel, there came again that clang, as though an armored foot stepped
cautiously. By Jove! but it made me stiffen. And suddenly the thought
came that the sound I heard might be the rattle of the dagger above the
altar. It was not a particularly sensible notion, for the sound was far
too heavy and resonant for such a cause. Yet, as can be easily
understood, my reason was bound to submit somewhat to my fancy at such a
time. I remember now, that the idea of that insensate thing becoming
animate, and attacking me, did not occur to me with any sense of
possibility or reality. I thought rather, in a vague way, of some
invisible monster of outer space fumbling at the dagger. I remembered
the old Rector's description of the attack on the butler.... _of the
void_. And he had described the stupendous force of the blow as being
'like the kick of a great horse.' You can see how uncomfortably my
thoughts were running.

"I felt 'round swiftly and cautiously for my lantern. I found it close to
me, on the pew seat, and with a sudden, jerky movement, I switched on the
light. I flashed it up the aisle, to and fro across the chancel, but I
could see nothing to frighten me. I turned quickly, and sent the jet of
light darting across and across the rear end of the Chapel; then on each
side of me, before and behind, up at the roof and down at the marble
floor, but nowhere was there any visible thing to put me in fear, not a
thing that need have set my flesh thrilling; just the quiet Chapel, cold,
and eternally silent. You know the feeling.

"I had been standing, whilst I sent the light about the Chapel, but now I
pulled out my revolver, and then, with a tremendous effort of will,
switched off the light, and sat down again in the darkness, to continue
my constant watch.

"It seemed to me that quite half an hour, or even more, must have passed,
after this, during which no sound had broken the intense stillness. I had
grown less nervously tense, for the flashing of the light 'round the
place had made me feel less out of all bounds of the normal--it had
given me something of that unreasoned sense of safety that a nervous
child obtains at night, by covering its head up with the bedclothes. This
just about illustrates the completely human illogicalness of the workings
of my feelings; for, as you know, whatever Creature, Thing, or Being it
was that had made that extraordinary and horrible attack on the old
butler, it had certainly not been visible.

"And so you must picture me sitting there in the dark; clumsy with armor,
and with my revolver in one hand, and nursing my lantern, ready, with the
other. And then it was, after this little time of partial relief from
intense nervousness, that there came a fresh strain on me; for somewhere
in the utter quiet of the Chapel, I thought I heard something. I
listened, tense and rigid, my heart booming just a little in my ears for
a moment; then I thought I heard it again. I felt sure that something had
moved at the top of the aisle. I strained in the darkness, to hark; and
my eyes showed me blackness within blackness, wherever I glanced, so that
I took no heed of what they told me; for even if I looked at the dim loom
of the stained window at the top of the chancel, my sight gave me the
shapes of vague shadows passing noiseless and ghostly across, constantly.
There was a time of almost peculiar silence, horrible to me, as I felt
just then. And suddenly I seemed to hear a sound again, nearer to me, and
repeated, infinitely stealthy. It was as if a vast, soft tread were
coming slowly down the aisle.

"Can you imagine how I felt? I do not think you can. I did not move, any
more than the stone effigies on the two tombs; but sat there,
_stiffened_. I fancied now, that I heard the tread all about the Chapel.
And then, you know, I was just as sure in a moment that I could not hear
it--that I had never heard it.

"Some particularly long minutes passed, about this time; but I think my
nerves must have quieted a bit; for I remember being sufficiently aware
of my feelings, to realize that the muscles of my shoulders _ached_, with
the way that they must have been contracted, as I sat there, hunching
myself, rigid. Mind you, I was still in a disgusting funk; but what I
might call the 'imminent sense of danger' seemed to have eased from
around me; at any rate, I felt, in some curious fashion, that there was a
respite--a temporary cessation of malignity from about me. It is
impossible to word my feelings more clearly to you, for I cannot see them
more clearly than this, myself.

"Yet, you must not picture me as sitting there, free from strain; for the
nerve tension was so great that my heart action was a little out of
normal control, the blood beat making a dull booming at times in my ears,
with the result that I had the sensation that I could not hear acutely.
This is a simply beastly feeling, especially under such circumstances.

"I was sitting like this, listening, as I might say with body and soul,
when suddenly I got that hideous conviction again that something was
moving in the air of the place. The feeling seemed to stiffen me, as I
sat, and my head appeared to tighten, as if all the scalp had grown
_tense_. This was so real, that I suffered an actual pain, most peculiar
and at the same time intense; the whole head pained. I had a fierce
desire to cover my face again with my mailed arms, but I fought it off.
If I had given way then to that, I should simply have bunked straight out
of the place. I sat and sweated coldly (that's the bald truth), with the
'creep' busy at my spine....

"And then, abruptly, once more I thought I heard the sound of that huge,
soft tread on the aisle, and this time closer to me. There was an awful
little silence, during which I had the feeling that something enormous
was bending over toward me, from the aisle.... And then, through the
booming of the blood in my ears, there came a slight sound from the
place where my camera stood--a disagreeable sort of slithering sound, and
then a sharp tap. I had the lantern ready in my left hand, and now I
snapped it on, desperately, and shone it straight above me, for I had a
conviction that there was something there. But I saw nothing. Immediately
I flashed the light at the camera, and along the aisle, but again there
was nothing visible. I wheeled 'round, shooting the beam of light in a
great circle about the place; to and fro I shone it, jerking it here and
there, but it showed me nothing.

"I had stood up the instant that I had seen that there was nothing in
sight over me, and now I determined to visit the chancel, and see whether
the dagger had been touched. I stepped out of the pew into the aisle, and
here I came to an abrupt pause, for an almost invincible, sick repugnance
was fighting me back from the upper part of the Chapel. A constant, queer
prickling went up and down my spine, and a dull ache took me in the small
of the back, as I fought with myself to conquer this sudden new feeling
of terror and horror. I tell you, that no one who has not been through
these kinds of experiences, has any idea of the sheer, actual physical
pain attendant upon, and resulting from, the intense nerve strain that
ghostly fright sets up in the human system. I stood there feeling
positively ill. But I got myself in hand, as it were, in about half a
minute, and then I went, walking, I expect, as jerky as a mechanical tin
man, and switching the light from side to side, before and behind, and
over my head continually. And the hand that held my revolver sweated so
much, that the thing fairly slipped in my fist. Does not sound very
heroic, does it?

"I passed through the short chancel, and reached the step that led up to
the small gate in the chancel rail. I threw the beam from my lantern
upon the dagger. Yes, I thought, it's all right. Abruptly, it seemed to
me that there was something wanting, and I leaned forward over the
chancel gate to peer, holding the light high. My suspicion was hideously
correct. _The dagger had gone._ Only the cross-shaped sheath hung there
above the altar.

"In a sudden, frightened flash of imagination, I pictured the thing
adrift in the Chapel, moving here and there, as though of its own
volition; for whatever Force wielded it, was certainly beyond
visibility. I turned my head stiffly over to the left, glancing
frightenedly behind me, and flashing the light to help my eyes. In the
same instant I was struck a tremendous blow over the left breast, and
hurled backward from the chancel rail, into the aisle, my armor clanging
loudly in the horrible silence. I landed on my back, and slithered along
on the polished marble. My shoulder struck the corner of a pew front,
and brought me up, half stunned. I scrambled to my feet, horribly sick
and shaken; but the fear that was on me, making little of that at the
moment. I was minus both revolver and lantern, and utterly bewildered as
to just where I was standing. I bowed my head, and made a scrambling run
in the complete darkness and dashed into a pew. I jumped back,
staggering, got my bearings a little, and raced down the center of the
aisle, putting my mailed arms over my face. I plunged into my camera,
hurling it among the pews. I crashed into the font, and reeled back.
Then I was at the exit. I fumbled madly in my dressing gown pocket for
the key. I found it and scraped at the door, feverishly, for the
keyhole. I found the keyhole, turned the key, burst the door open, and
was into the passage. I slammed the door and leant hard against it,
gasping, whilst I felt crazily again for the keyhole, this time to lock
the door upon what was in the Chapel. I succeeded, and began to feel my
way stupidly along the wall of the corridor. Presently I had come to the
big hall, and so in a little to my room.

"In my room, I sat for a while, until I had steadied down something
to the normal. After a time I commenced to strip off the armor. I saw
then that both the chain mail and the plate armor had been pierced
over the breast. And, suddenly, it came home to me that the Thing had
struck for my heart.

"Stripping rapidly, I found that the skin of the breast over the heart
had just been cut sufficiently to allow a little blood to stain my shirt,
nothing more. Only, the whole breast was badly bruised and intensely
painful. You can imagine what would have happened if I had not worn the
armor. In any case, it is a marvel that I was not knocked senseless.

"I did not go to bed at all that night, but sat upon the edge, thinking,
and waiting for the dawn; for I had to remove my litter before Sir Alfred
Jarnock should enter, if I were to hide from him the fact that I had
managed a duplicate key.

"So soon as the pale light of the morning had strengthened sufficiently
to show me the various details of my room, I made my way quietly down to
the Chapel. Very silently, and with tense nerves, I opened the door. The
chill light of the dawn made distinct the whole place--everything seeming
instinct with a ghostly, unearthly quiet. Can you get the feeling? I
waited several minutes at the door, allowing the morning to grow, and
likewise my courage, I suppose. Presently the rising sun threw an odd
beam right in through the big, East window, making colored sunshine all
the length of the Chapel. And then, with a tremendous effort, I forced
myself to enter.

"I went up the aisle to where I had overthrown my camera in the darkness.
The legs of the tripod were sticking up from the interior of a pew, and I
expected to find the machine smashed to pieces; yet, beyond that the
ground glass was broken, there was no real damage done.

"I replaced the camera in the position from which I had taken the
previous photography; but the slide containing the plate I had exposed by
flashlight I removed and put into one of my side pockets, regretting that
I had not taken a second flash picture at the instant when I heard those
strange sounds up in the chancel.

"Having tidied my photographic apparatus, I went to the chancel to
recover my lantern and revolver, which had both--as you know--been
knocked from my hands when I was stabbed. I found the lantern lying,
hopelessly bent, with smashed lens, just under the pulpit. My revolver I
must have held until my shoulder struck the pew, for it was lying there
in the aisle, just about where I believe I cannoned into the pew corner.
It was quite undamaged.

"Having secured these two articles, I walked up to the chancel rail to
see whether the dagger had returned, or been returned, to its sheath
above the altar. Before, however, I reached the chancel rail, I had a
slight shock; for there on the floor of the chancel, about a yard away
from where I had been struck, lay the dagger, quiet and demure upon the
polished marble pavement. I wonder whether you will, any of you,
understand the nervousness that took me at the sight of the thing. With a
sudden, unreasoned action, I jumped forward and put my foot on it, to
hold it there. Can you understand? Do you? And, you know, I could not
stoop down and pick it up with my hands for quite a minute, I should
think. Afterward, when I had done so, however, and handled it a little,
this feeling passed away and my Reason (and also, I expect, the daylight)
made me feel that I had been a little bit of an ass. Quite natural,
though, I assure you! Yet it was a new kind of fear to me. I'm taking no
notice of the cheap joke about the ass! I am talking about the
curiousness of learning in that moment a new shade or quality of fear
that had hitherto been outside of my knowledge or imagination. Does it
interest you?

"I examined the dagger, minutely, turning it over and over in my hands
and never--as I suddenly discovered--holding it loosely. It was as if I
were subconsciously surprised that it lay quiet in my hands. Yet even
this feeling passed, largely, after a short while. The curious weapon
showed no signs of the blow, except that the dull color--of the blade was
slightly brighter on the rounded point that had cut through the armor.

"Presently, when I had made an end of staring at the dagger, I went up
the chancel step and in through the little gate. Then, kneeling upon the
altar, I replaced the dagger in its sheath, and came outside of the rail
again, closing the gate after me and feeling awarely uncomfortable
because the horrible old weapon was back again in its accustomed place. I
suppose, without analyzing my feelings very deeply, I had an unreasoned
and only half-conscious belief that there was a greater probability of
danger when the dagger hung in its five century resting place than when
it was out of it! Yet, somehow I don't think this is a very good
explanation, when I remember the _demure_ look the thing seemed to have
when I saw it lying on the floor of the chancel. Only I know this, that
when I had replaced the dagger I had quite a touch of nerves and I
stopped only to pick up my lantern from where I had placed it whilst I
examined the weapon, after which I went down the quiet aisle at a pretty
quick walk, and so got out of the place.

"That the nerve tension had been considerable, I realized, when I had
locked the door behind me. I felt no inclination now to think of old Sir
Alfred as a hypochondriac because he had taken such hyperseeming
precautions regarding the Chapel. I had a sudden wonder as to whether he
might not have some knowledge of a long prior tragedy in which the
dagger had been concerned.

"I returned to my room, washed, shaved and dressed, after which I read
awhile. Then I went downstairs and got the acting butler to give me some
sandwiches and a cup of coffee.

"Half an hour later I was heading for Burtontree, as hard as I could
walk; for a sudden idea had come to me, which I was anxious to test. I
reached the town a little before eight thirty, and found the local
photographer with his shutters still up. I did not wait, but knocked
until he appeared with his coat off, evidently in the act of dealing with
his breakfast. In a few words I made clear that I wanted the use of his
dark room immediately, and this he at once placed at my disposal.

"I had brought with me the slide which contained the plate that I had
used with the flashlight, and as soon as I was ready I set to work to
develop. Yet, it was not the plate which I had exposed, that I first put
into the solution, but the second plate, which had been ready in the
camera during all the time of my waiting in the darkness. You see, the
lens had been uncapped all that while, so that the whole chancel had
been, as it were, under observation.

"You all know something of my experiments in 'Lightless Photography,'
that is, appreciating light. It was X-ray work that started me in that
direction. Yet, you must understand, though I was attempting to develop
this 'unexposed' plate, I had no definite idea of results--nothing more
than a vague hope that it might show me something.

"Yet, because of the possibilities, it was with the most intense and
absorbing interest that I watched the plate under the action of the
developer. Presently I saw a faint smudge of black appear in the upper
part, and after that others, indistinct and wavering of outline. I held
the negative up to the light. The marks were rather small, and were
almost entirely confined to one end of the plate, but as I have said,
lacked definiteness. Yet, such as they were, they were sufficient to make
me very excited and I shoved the thing quickly back into the solution.

"For some minutes further I watched it, lifting it out once or twice to
make a more exact scrutiny, but could not imagine what the markings might
represent, until suddenly it occurred to me that in one of two places
they certainly had shapes suggestive of a cross hilted dagger. Yet, the
shapes were sufficiently indefinite to make me careful not to let myself
be overimpressed by the uncomfortable resemblance, though I must confess,
the very thought was sufficient to set some odd thrills adrift in me.

"I carried development a little further, then put the negative into the
hypo, and commenced work upon the other plate. This came up nicely, and
very soon I had a really decent negative that appeared similar in every
respect (except for the difference of lighting) to the negative I had
taken during the previous day. I fixed the plate, then having washed both
it and the 'unexposed' one for a few minutes under the tap, I put them
into methylated spirits for fifteen minutes, after which I carried them
into the photographer's kitchen and dried them in the oven.

"Whilst the two plates were drying the photographer and I made an
enlargement from the negative I had taken by daylight. Then we did the
same with the two that I had just developed, washing them as quickly as
possible, for I was not troubling about the permanency of the prints, and
drying them with spirits.

"When this was done I took them to the window and made a thorough
examination, commencing with the one that appeared to show shadowy
daggers in several places. Yet, though it was now enlarged, I was still
unable to feel convinced that the marks truly represented anything
abnormal; and because of this, I put it on one side, determined not to
let my imagination play too large a part in constructing weapons out of
the indefinite outlines.

"I took up the two other enlargements, both of the chancel, as you will
remember, and commenced to compare them. For some minutes I examined them
without being able to distinguish any difference in the scene they
portrayed, and then abruptly, I saw something in which they varied. In
the second enlargement--the one made from the flashlight negative--the
dagger was not in its sheath. Yet, I had felt sure it was there but a few
minutes before I took the photograph.

"After this discovery I began to compare the two enlargements in a very
different manner from my previous scrutiny. I borrowed a pair of calipers
from the photographer and with these I carried out a most methodical and
exact comparison of the details shown in the two photographs.

"Suddenly I came upon something that set me all tingling with excitement.
I threw the calipers down, paid the photographer, and walked out through
the shop into the street. The three enlargements I took with me, making
them into a roll as I went. At the corner of the street I had the luck to
get a cab and was soon back at the castle.

"I hurried up to my room and put the photographs way; then I went down to
see whether I could find Sir Alfred Jarnock; but Mr. George Jarnock, who
met me, told me that his father was too unwell to rise and would prefer
that no one entered the Chapel unless he were about.

"Young Jarnock made a half apologetic excuse for his father; remarking
that Sir Alfred Jarnock was perhaps inclined to be a little over careful;
but that, considering what had happened, we must agree that the need for
his carefulness had been justified. He added, also, that even before the
horrible attack on the butler his father had been just as particular,
always keeping the key and never allowing the door to be unlocked except
when the place was in use for Divine Service, and for an hour each
forenoon when the cleaners were in.

"To all this I nodded understandingly; but when, presently, the young
man left me I took my duplicate key and made for the door of the Chapel.
I went in and locked it behind me, after which I carried out some
intensely interesting and rather weird experiments. These proved
successful to such an extent that I came out of the place in a perfect
fever of excitement. I inquired for Mr. George Jarnock and was told that
he was in the morning room.

"'Come along,' I said, when I had found him. 'Please give me a lift. I've
something exceedingly strange to show you.'

"He was palpably very much puzzled, but came quickly. As we strode along
he asked me a score of questions, to all of which I just shook my head,
asking him to wait a little.

"I led the way to the Armory. Here I suggested that he should take one
side of a dummy, dressed in half plate armor, whilst I took the other.
He nodded, though obviously vastly bewildered, and together we carried
the thing to the Chapel door. When he saw me take out my key and open
the way for us he appeared even more astonished, but held himself in,
evidently waiting for me to explain. We entered the Chapel and I locked
the door behind us, after which we carted the armored dummy up the aisle
to the gate of the chancel rail where we put it down upon its round,
wooden stand.

"'Stand back!' I shouted suddenly as young Jarnock made a movement to
open the gate. 'My God, man! you mustn't do that!'

"Do what?" he asked, half-startled and half-irritated by my words
and manner.

"One minute," I said. "Just stand to the side a moment, and watch."

He stepped to the left whilst I took the dummy in my arms and turned it
to face the altar, so that it stood close to the gate. Then, standing
well away on the right side, I pressed the back of the thing so that it
leant forward a little upon the gate, which flew open. In the same
instant, the dummy was struck a tremendous blow that hurled it into the
aisle, the armor rattling and clanging upon the polished marble floor.

"Good God!" shouted young Jarnock, and ran back from the chancel rail,
his face very white.

"Come and look at the thing," I said, and led the way to where the dummy
lay, its armored upper limbs all splayed adrift in queer contortions. I
stooped over it and pointed. There, driven right through the thick steel
breastplate, was the 'waeful dagger.'

"Good God!" said young Jarnock again. "Good God! It's the dagger! The
thing's been stabbed, same as Bellett!"

"Yes," I replied, and saw him glance swiftly toward the entrance of
the Chapel. But I will do him the justice to say that he never
budged an inch.

"Come and see how it was done," I said, and led the way back to the
chancel rail. From the wall to the left of the altar I took down a long,
curiously ornamented, iron instrument, not unlike a short spear. The
sharp end of this I inserted in a hole in the left-hand gatepost of the
chancel gateway. I lifted hard, and a section of the post, from the floor
upward, bent inward toward the altar, as though hinged at the bottom.
Down it went, leaving the remaining part of the post standing. As I bent
the movable portion lower there came a quick click and a section of the
floor slid to one side, showing a long, shallow cavity, sufficient to
enclose the post. I put my weight to the lever and hove the post down
into the niche. Immediately there was a sharp clang, as some catch
snicked in, and held it against the powerful operating spring.

I went over now to the dummy, and after a few minute's work managed to
wrench the dagger loose out of the armor. I brought the old weapon and
placed its hilt in a hole near the top of the post where it fitted
loosely, the point upward. After that I went again to the lever and gave
another strong heave, and the post descended about a foot, to the bottom
of the cavity, catching there with another clang. I withdrew the lever
and the narrow strip of floor slid back, covering post and dagger, and
looking no different from the surrounding surface.

Then I shut the chancel gate, and we both stood well to one side. I
took the spear-like lever, and gave the gate a little push, so that it
opened. Instantly there was a loud thud, and something sang through the
air, striking the bottom wall of the Chapel. It was the dagger. I
showed Jarnock then that the other half of the post had sprung back
into place, making the whole post as thick as the one upon the
right-hand side of the gate.

"There!" I said, turning to the young man and tapping the divided post.
"There's the 'invisible' thing that used the dagger, but who the deuce is
the person who sets the trap?" I looked at him keenly as I spoke.

"My father is the only one who has a key," he said. "So it's practically
impossible for anyone to get in and meddle."

I looked at him again, but it was obvious that he had not yet reached out
to any conclusion.

"See here, Mr. Jarnock," I said, perhaps rather curter than I should have
done, considering what I had to say. "Are you quite sure that Sir Alfred
is quite balanced--mentally?"

"He looked at me, half frightenedly and flushing a little. I realized
then how badly I put it.

"'I--I don't know,' he replied, after a slight pause and was then silent,
except for one or two incoherent half remarks.

"'Tell the truth,' I said. 'Haven't you suspected something, now and
again? You needn't be afraid to tell me.'

"'Well,' he answered slowly, 'I'll admit I've thought Father a little--a
little strange, perhaps, at times. But I've always tried to think I was
mistaken. I've always hoped no one else would see it. You see, I'm very
fond of the old guvnor.'

"I nodded.

"'Quite right, too,' I said. 'There's not the least need to make any kind
of scandal about this. We must do something, though, but in a quiet way.
No fuss, you know. I should go and have a chat with your father, and tell
him we've found out about this thing.' I touched the divided post.

"Young Jarnock seemed very grateful for my advice and after shaking my
hand pretty hard, took my key, and let himself out of the Chapel. He came
back in about an hour, looking rather upset. He told me that my
conclusions were perfectly correct. It was Sir Alfred Jarnock who had set
the trap, both on the night that the butler was nearly killed, and on the
past night. Indeed, it seemed that the old gentleman had set it every
night for many years. He had learnt of its existence from an old
manuscript book in the Castle library. It had been planned and used in an
earlier age as a protection for the gold vessels of the ritual, which
were, it seemed, kept in a hidden recess at the back of the altar.

"This recess Sir Alfred Jarnock had utilized, secretly, to store his
wife's jewelry. She had died some twelve years back, and the young man
told me that his father had never seemed quite himself since.

"I mentioned to young Jarnock how puzzled I was that the trap had been
set _before_ the service, on the night that the butler was struck; for,
if I understood him aright, his father had been in the habit of setting
the trap late every night and unsetting it each morning before anyone
entered the Chapel. He replied that his father, in a fit of temporary
forgetfulness (natural enough in his neurotic condition), must have set
it too early and hence what had so nearly proved a tragedy.

"That is about all there is to tell. The old man is not (so far as I
could learn), really insane in the popularly accepted sense of the word.
He is extremely neurotic and has developed into a hypochondriac, the
whole condition probably brought about by the shock and sorrow resultant
on the death of his wife, leading to years of sad broodings and to
overmuch of his own company and thoughts. Indeed, young Jarnock told me
that his father would sometimes pray for hours together, alone in the
Chapel." Carnacki made an end of speaking and leant forward for a spill.

"But you've never told us just _how_ you discovered the secret of the
divided post and all that," I said, speaking for the four of us.

"Oh, that!" replied Carnacki, puffing vigorously at his pipe. "I
found--on comparing the--photos, that the one--taken in the--daytime,
showed a thicker left-hand gatepost, than the one taken at night by the
flashlight. That put me on to the track. I saw at once that there might
be some mechanical dodge at the back of the whole queer business and
nothing at all of an abnormal nature. I examined the post and the rest
was simple enough, you know.

"By the way," he continued, rising and going to the mantelpiece, "you may
be interested to have a look at the so-called 'waeful dagger.' Young
Jarnock was kind enough to present it to me, as a little memento of my

He handed it 'round to us and whilst we examined it, stood silent before
the fire, puffing meditatively at his pipe.

"Jarnock and I made the trap so that it won't work," he remarked after a
few moments. "I've got the dagger, as you see, and old Bellett's getting
about again, so that the whole business can be hushed up, decently. All
the same I fancy the Chapel will never lose its reputation as a dangerous
place. Should be pretty safe now to keep valuables in."

"There's two things you haven't explained yet," I said. "What do you
think caused the two clangey sounds when you were in the Chapel in the
dark? And do you believe the soft tready sounds were real, or only a
fancy, with your being so worked up and tense?"

"Don't know for certain about the clangs," replied Carnacki.

"I've puzzled quite a bit about them. I can only think that the spring
which worked the post must have 'given' a trifle, slipped you know, in
the catch. If it did, under such a tension, it would make a bit of a
ringing noise. And a little sound goes a long way in the middle of the
night when you're thinking of 'ghostesses.' You can understand that--eh?"

"Yes," I agreed. "And the other sounds?"

"Well, the same thing--I mean the extraordinary quietness--may help to
explain these a bit. They may have been some usual enough sound that
would never have been noticed under ordinary conditions, or they may have
been only fancy. It is just impossible to say. They were disgustingly
real to me. As for the slithery noise, I am pretty sure that one of the
tripod legs of my camera must have slipped a few inches: if it did so, it
may easily have jolted the lens cap off the baseboard, which would
account for that queer little tap which I heard directly after."

"How do you account for the dagger being in its place above the altar
when you first examined it that night?" I asked. "How could it be there,
when at that very moment it was set in the trap?"

"That was my mistake," replied Carnacki. "The dagger could not possibly
have been in its sheath at the time, though I thought it was. You see,
the curious cross-hilted sheath gave the appearance of the complete
weapon, as you can understand. The hilt of the dagger protrudes very
little above the continued portion of the sheath--a most inconvenient
arrangement for drawing quickly!" He nodded sagely at the lot of us and
yawned, then glanced at the clock.

"Out you go!" he said, in friendly fashion, using the recognized formula.
"I want a sleep."

We rose, shook him by the hand, and went out presently into the night and
the quiet of the Embankment, and so to our homes.

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