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Arthur would not leave the little village of Venning. Neither Susie nor
the doctor could get him to make any decision. None of them spoke of the
night which they had spent in the woods of Skene; but it coloured all
their thoughts, and they were not free for a single moment from the
ghastly memory of it. They seemed still to hear the sound of that
passionate weeping. Arthur was moody. When he was with them, he spoke
little; he opposed a stubborn resistance to their efforts at diverting
his mind. He spent long hours by himself, in the country, and they had no
idea what he did. Susie was terribly anxious. He had lost his balance so
completely that she was prepared for any rashness. She divined that his
hatred of Haddo was no longer within the bounds of reason. The desire for
vengeance filled him entirely, so that he was capable of any violence.
Several days went by.
At last, in concert with Dr PorhoŽt, she determined to make one more
attempt. It was late at night, and they sat with open windows in the
sitting-room of the inn. There was a singular oppressiveness in the air
which suggested that a thunderstorm was at hand. Susie prayed for it; for
she ascribed to the peculiar heat of the last few days much of Arthur's
'Arthur, you _must_ tell us what you are going to do,' she said. 'It
is useless to stay here. We are all so ill and nervous that we cannot
consider anything rationally. We want you to come away with us tomorrow.'
'You can go if you choose,' he said. 'I shall remain till that man is
'It is madness to talk like that. You can do nothing. You are only making
yourself worse by staying here.'
'I have quite made up my mind.'
'The law can offer you no help, and what else can you do?'
She asked the question, meaning if possible to get from him some hint of
his intentions; but the grimness of his answer, though it only confirmed
her vague suspicions, startled her.
'If I can do nothing else, I shall shoot him like a dog.'
She could think of nothing to say, and for a while they remained in
silence. Then he got up.
'I think I should prefer it if you went,' he said. 'You can only hamper
'I shall stay here as long as you do.'
'Because if you do anything, I shall be compromised. I may be arrested. I
think the fear of that may restrain you.'
He looked at her steadily. She met his eyes with a calmness which
showed that she meant exactly what she said, and he turned uneasily
away. A silence even greater than before fell upon them. They did not
move. It was so still in the room that it might have been empty. The
breathlessness of the air increased, so that it was horribly oppressive.
Suddenly there was a loud rattle of thunder, and a flash of lightning
tore across the heavy clouds. Susie thanked Heaven for the storm which
would give presently a welcome freshness. She felt excessively ill at
ease, and it was a relief to ascribe her sensation to a state of the
atmosphere. Again the thunder rolled. It was so loud that it seemed to
be immediately above their heads. And the wind rose suddenly and swept
with a long moan through the trees that surrounded the house. It was a
sound so human that it might have come from the souls of dead men
suffering hopeless torments of regret.
The lamp went out, so suddenly that Susie was vaguely frightened. It gave
one flicker, and they were in total darkness. It seemed as though someone
had leaned over the chimney and blown it out. The night was very black,
and they could not see the window which opened on to the country. The
darkness was so peculiar that for a moment no one stirred.
Then Susie heard Dr PorhoŽt slip his hand across the table to find
matches, but it seemed that they were not there. Again a loud peal of
thunder startled them, but the rain would not fall. They panted for fresh
air. On a sudden Susie's heart gave a bound, and she sprang up.
'There's someone in the room.'
The words were no sooner out of her mouth than she heard Arthur fling
himself upon the intruder. She knew at once, with the certainty of an
intuition, that it was Haddo. But how had he come in? What did he want?
She tried to cry out, but no sound came from her throat. Dr PorhoŽt
seemed bound to his chair. He did not move. He made no sound. She knew
that an awful struggle was proceeding. It was a struggle to the death
between two men who hated one another, but the most terrible part of it
was that nothing was heard. They were perfectly noiseless. She tried to
do something, but she could not stir. And Arthur's heart exulted, for his
enemy was in his grasp, under his hands, and he would not let him go
while life was in him. He clenched his teeth and tightened his straining
muscles. Susie heard his laboured breathing, but she only heard the
breathing of one man. She wondered in abject terror what that could mean.
They struggled silently, hand to hand, and Arthur knew that his strength
was greater. He had made up his mind what to do and directed all his
energy to a definite end. His enemy was extraordinarily powerful, but
Arthur appeared to create some strength from the sheer force of his will.
It seemed for hours that they struggled. He could not bear him down.
Suddenly, he knew that the other was frightened and sought to escape from
him. Arthur tightened his grasp; for nothing in the world now would he
ever loosen his hold. He took a deep, quick breath, and then put out all
his strength in a tremendous effort. They swayed from side to side.
Arthur felt as if his muscles were being torn from the bones, he could
not continue for more than a moment longer; but the agony that flashed
across his mind at the thought of failure braced him to a sudden angry
jerk. All at once Haddo collapsed, and they fell heavily to the ground.
Arthur was breathing more quickly now. He thought that if he could keep
on for one instant longer, he would be safe. He threw all his weight on
the form that rolled beneath him, and bore down furiously on the man's
arm. He twisted it sharply, with all his might, and felt it give way. He
gave a low cry of triumph; the arm was broken. And now his enemy was
seized with panic; he struggled madly, he wanted only to get away from
those long hands that were killing him. They seemed to be of iron. Arthur
seized the huge bullock throat and dug his fingers into it, and they sunk
into the heavy rolls of fat; and he flung the whole weight of his body
into them. He exulted, for he knew that his enemy was in his power at
last; he was strangling him, strangling the life out of him. He wanted
light so that he might see the horror of that vast face, and the deadly
fear, and the staring eyes. And still he pressed with those iron hands.
And now the movements were strangely convulsive. His victim writhed in
the agony of death. His struggles were desperate, but the avenging hands
held him as in a vice. And then the movements grew spasmodic, and then
they grew weaker. Still the hands pressed upon the gigantic throat, and
Arthur forgot everything. He was mad with rage and fury and hate and
sorrow. He thought of Margaret's anguish and of her fiendish torture, and
he wished the man had ten lives so that he might take them one by one.
And at last all was still, and that vast mass of flesh was motionless,
and he knew that his enemy was dead. He loosened his grasp and slipped
one hand over the heart. It would never beat again. The man was stone
dead. Arthur got up and straightened himself. The darkness was intense
still, and he could see nothing. Susie heard him, and at length she was
able to speak.
'Arthur what have you done?'
'I've killed him,' he said hoarsely.
'O God, what shall we do?'
Arthur began to laugh aloud, hysterically, and in the darkness his
hilarity was terrifying.
'For God's sake let us have some light.'
'I've found the matches,' said Dr PorhoŽt.
He seemed to awake suddenly from his long stupor. He struck one, and it
would not light. He struck another, and Susie took off the globe and the
chimney as he kindled the wick. Then he held up the lamp, and they saw
Arthur looking at them. His face was ghastly. The sweat ran off his
forehead in great beads, and his eyes were bloodshot. He trembled in
every limb. Then Dr PorhoŽt advanced with the lamp and held it forward.
They looked down on the floor for the man who lay there dead. Susie gave
a sudden cry of horror.
There was no one there.
Arthur stepped back in terrified surprise. There was no one in the room,
living or dead, but the three friends. The ground sank under Susie's
feet, she felt horribly ill, and she fainted. When she awoke, seeming
difficultly to emerge from an eternal night, Arthur was holding down her
'Bend down,' he said. 'Bend down.'
All that had happened came back to her, and she burst into tears. Her
self-control deserted her, and, clinging to him for protection, she
sobbed as though her heart would break. She was shaking from head to
foot. The strangeness of this last horror had overcome her, and she could
have shrieked with fright.
'It's all right,' he said. 'You need not be afraid.'
'Oh, what does it mean?'
'You must pluck up courage. We're going now to Skene.'
She sprang to her feet, as though to get away from him; her heart beat
'No, I can't; I'm frightened.'
'We must see what it means. We have no time to lose, or the morning will
be upon us before we get back.'
Then she sought to prevent him.
'Oh, for God's sake, don't go, Arthur. Something awful may await you
there. Don't risk your life.'
'There is no danger. I tell you the man is dead.'
'If anything happened to you ...'
She stopped, trying to restrain her sobs; she dared not go on. But he
seemed to know what was in her mind.
'I will take no risks, because of you. I know that whether I live or die
is not a--matter of indifference to you.'
She looked up and saw that his eyes were fixed upon her gravely. She
reddened. A curious feeling came into her heart.
'I will go with you wherever you choose,' she said humbly.
They stepped out into the night. And now, without rain, the storm had
passed away, and the stars were shining. They walked quickly. Arthur
went in front of them. Dr PorhoŽt and Susie followed him, side by side,
and they had to hasten their steps in order not to be left behind. It
seemed to them that the horror of the night was passed, and there was
a fragrancy in the air which was wonderfully refreshing. The sky was
beautiful. And at last they came to Skene. Arthur led them again to the
opening in the palisade, and he took Susie's hand. Presently they stood
in the place from which a few days before they had seen the house. As
then, it stood in massive blackness against the night and, as then, the
attic windows shone out with brilliant lights. Susie started, for she
had expected that the whole place would be in darkness.
'There is no danger, I promise you,' said Arthur gently. 'We are going to
find out the meaning of all this mystery.'
He began to walk towards the house.
'Have you a weapon of some sort?' asked the doctor.
Arthur handed him a revolver.
'Take this. It will reassure you, but you will have no need of it. I
bought it the other day when--I had other plans.'
Susie gave a little shudder. They reached the drive and walked to the
great portico which adorned the facade of the house. Arthur tried the
handle, but it would not open.
'Will you wait here?' he said. 'I can get through one of the windows, and
I will let you in.'
He left them. They stood quietly there, with anxious hearts; they could
not guess what they would see. They were afraid that something would
happen to Arthur, and Susie regretted that she had not insisted on going
with him. Suddenly she remembered that awful moment when the light of the
lamp had been thrown where all expected to see a body, and there was
'What do you think it meant?' she cried suddenly. 'What is the
'Perhaps we shall see now,' answered the doctor.
Arthur still lingered, and she could not imagine what had become of him.
All sorts of horrible fancies passed through her mind, and she dreaded
she knew not what. At last they heard a footstep inside the house, and
the door was opened.
'I was convinced that nobody slept here, but I was obliged to make sure.
I had some difficulty in getting in.'
Susie hesitated to enter. She did not know what horrors awaited her, and
the darkness was terrifying.
'I cannot see,' she said.
'I've brought a torch,' said Arthur.
He pressed a button, and a narrow ray of bright light was cast upon the
floor. Dr PorhoŽt and Susie went in. Arthur carefully closed the door,
and flashed the light of his torch all round them. They stood in a large
hall, the floor of which was scattered with the skins of lions that Haddo
on his celebrated expedition had killed in Africa. There were perhaps
a dozen, and their number gave a wild, barbaric note. A great oak
staircase led to the upper floors.
'We must go through all the rooms,' said Arthur.
He did not expect to find Haddo till they came to the lighted attics, but
it seemed needful nevertheless to pass right through the house on their
way. A flash of his torch had shown him that the walls of the hall were
decorated with all manner of armour, ancient swords of Eastern handiwork,
barbaric weapons from central Africa, savage implements of medieval
warfare; and an idea came to him. He took down a huge battle-axe and
swung it in his hand.
Silently, holding their breath as though they feared to wake the dead,
they went into the first room. They saw it difficultly with their scant
light, since the thin shaft of brilliancy, emphasising acutely the
surrounding darkness, revealed it only piece by piece. It was a large
room, evidently unused, for the furniture was covered with holland, and
there was a mustiness about it which suggested that the windows were
seldom opened. As in many old houses, the rooms led not from a passage
but into one another, and they walked through many till they came back
into the hall. They had all a desolate, uninhabited air. Their sombreness
was increased by the oak with which they were panelled. There was
panelling in the hall too, and on the stairs that led broadly to the
top of the house. As they ascended, Arthur stopped for one moment and
passed his hand over the polished wood.
'It would burn like tinder,' he said.
They went through the rooms on the first floor, and they were as empty
and as cheerless. Presently they came to that which had been Margaret's.
In a bowl were dead flowers. Her brushes were still on the toilet table.
But it was a gloomy chamber, with its dark oak, and, so comfortless that
Susie shuddered. Arthur stood for a time and looked at it, but he said
nothing. They found themselves again on the stairs and they went to the
second storey. But here they seemed to be at the top of the house.
'How does one get up to the attics?' said Arthur, looking about him with
He paused for a while to think. Then he nodded his head.
'There must be some steps leading out of one of the rooms.'
They went on. And now the ceilings were much lower, with heavy beams,
and there was no furniture at all. The emptiness seemed to make
everything more terrifying. They felt that they were on the threshold
of a great mystery, and Susie's heart began to beat fast. Arthur
conducted his examination with the greatest method; he walked round
each room carefully, looking for a door that might lead to a staircase;
but there was no sign of one.
'What will you do if you can't find the way up?' asked Susie.
'I shall find the way up,' he answered.
They came to the staircase once more and had discovered nothing. They
looked at one another helplessly.
'It's quite clear there is a way,' said Arthur, with impatience. 'There
must be something in the nature of a hidden door somewhere or other.'
He leaned against the balustrade and meditated. The light of his lantern
threw a narrow ray upon the opposite wall.
'I feel certain it must be in one of the rooms at the end of the house.
That seems the most natural place to put a means of ascent to the
They went back, and again he examined the panelling of a small room that
had outside walls on three sides of it. It was the only room that did not
lead into another.
'It must be here,' he said.
Presently he gave a little laugh, for he saw that a small door was
concealed by the woodwork. He pressed it where he thought there might be
a spring, and it flew open. Their torch showed them a narrow wooden
staircase. They walked up and found themselves in front of a door. Arthur
tried it, but it was locked. He smiled grimly.
'Will you get back a little,' he said.
He lifted his axe and swung it down upon the latch. The handle was
shattered, but the lock did not yield. He shook his head. As he paused
for a moment, an there was a complete silence, Susie distinctly heard a
slight noise. She put her hand on Arthur's arm to call his attention to
it, and with strained ears they listened. There was something alive on
the other side of the door. They heard its curious sound: it was not that
of a human voice, it was not the crying of an animal, it was
It was the sort of gibber, hoarse and rapid, and it filled them with an
icy terror because it was so weird and so unnatural.
'Come away, Arthur,' said Susie. 'Come away.'
'There's some living thing in there,' he answered.
He did not know why the sound horrified him. The sweat broke out on his
'Something awful will happen to us,' whispered Susie, shaking with
'The only thing is to break the door down.'
The horrid gibbering was drowned by the noise he made. Quickly, without
pausing, he began to hack at the oak door with all his might. In rapid
succession his heavy blows rained down, and the sound echoed through the
empty house. There was a crash, and the door swung back. They had been so
long in almost total darkness that they were blinded for an instant by
the dazzling light. And then instinctively they started back, for, as the
door opened, a wave of heat came out upon them so that they could hardly
breathe. The place was like an oven.
They entered. It was lit by enormous lamps, the light of which was
increased by reflectors, and warmed by a great furnace. They could not
understand why so intense a heat was necessary. The narrow windows were
closed. Dr PorhoŽt caught sight of a thermometer and was astounded at the
temperature it indicated. The room was used evidently as a laboratory. On
broad tables were test-tubes, basins and baths of white porcelain,
measuring-glasses, and utensils of all sorts; but the surprising thing
was the great scale upon which everything was. Neither Arthur nor Dr
PorhoŽt had ever seen such gigantic measures nor such large test-tubes.
There were rows of bottles, like those in the dispensary of a hospital,
each containing great quantities of a different chemical. The three
friends stood in silence. The emptiness of the room contrasted so oddly
with its appearance of being in immediate use that it was uncanny. Susie
felt that he who worked there was in the midst of his labours, and might
return at any moment; he could have only gone for an instant into another
chamber in order to see the progress of some experiment. It was quite
silent. Whatever had made those vague, unearthly noises was hushed by
The door was closed between this room and the next. Arthur opened it, and
they found themselves in a long, low attic, ceiled with great rafters, as
brilliantly lit and as hot as the first. Here too were broad tables laden
with retorts, instruments for heating, huge test-tubes, and all manner of
vessels. The furnace that warmed it gave a steady heat. Arthur's gaze
travelled slowly from table to table, and he wondered what Haddo's
experiments had really been. The air was heavy with an extraordinary
odour: it was not musty, like that of the closed rooms through which they
had passed, but singularly pungent, disagreeable and sickly. He asked
himself what it could spring from. Then his eyes fell upon a huge
receptacle that stood on the table nearest to the furnace. It was covered
with a white cloth. He took it off. The vessel was about four feet high,
round, and shaped somewhat like a washing tub, but it was made of glass
more than an inch thick. In it a spherical mass, a little larger than a
football, of a peculiar, livid colour. The surface was smooth, but rather
coarsely grained, and over it ran a dense system of blood-vessels. It
reminded the two medical men of those huge tumours which are preserved in
spirit in hospital museums. Susie looked at it with an incomprehensible
disgust. Suddenly she gave a cry.
'Good God, it's moving!'
Arthur put his hand on her arm quickly to quieten her and bent down with
irresistible curiosity. They saw that it was a mass of flesh unlike that
of any human being; and it pulsated regularly. The movement was quite
distinct, up and down, like the delicate heaving of a woman's breast when
she is asleep. Arthur touched the thing with one finger and it shrank
'Its quite warm,' he said.
He turned it over, and it remained in the position in which he had placed
it, as if there were neither top nor bottom to it. But they could see
now, irregularly placed on one side, a few short hairs. They were just
like human hairs.
'Is it alive?' whispered Susie, struck with horror and amazement.
Arthur seemed fascinated. He could not take his eyes off the loathsome
thing. He watched it slowly heave with even motion.
'What can it mean?' he asked.
He looked at Dr PorhoŽt with pale startled face. A thought was coming to
him, but a thought so unnatural, extravagant, and terrible that he pushed
it from him with a movement of both hands, as though it were a material
thing. Then all three turned around abruptly with a start, for they heard
again the wild gibbering which had first shocked their ears. In the
wonder of this revolting object they had forgotten all the rest. The
sound seemed extraordinarily near, and Susie drew back instinctively, for
it appeared to come from her very side.
'There's nothing here,' said Arthur. 'It must be in the next room.'
'Oh, Arthur, let us go,' cried Susie. 'I'm afraid to see what may be in
store for us. It is nothing to us; and what we see may poison our sleep
She looked appealingly at Dr PorhoŽt. He was white and anxious. The heat
of that place had made the sweat break out on his forehead.
'I have seen enough. I want to see no more,' he said.
'Then you may go, both of you,' answered Arthur. 'I do not wish to force
you to see anything. But I shall go on. Whatever it is, I wish to find
'But Haddo? Supposing he is there, waiting? Perhaps you are only walking
into a trap that he has set for you.'
'I am convinced that Haddo is dead.'
Again that unintelligible jargon, unhuman and shrill, fell upon their
ears, and Arthur stepped forward. Susie did not hesitate. She was
prepared to follow him anywhere. He opened the door, and there was a
sudden quiet. Whatever made those sounds was there. It was a larger room
than any on the others and much higher, for it ran along the whole front
of the house. The powerful lamps showed every corner of it at once, but,
above, the beams of the open ceiling were dark with shadow. And here the
nauseous odour, which had struck them before, was so overpowering that
for a while they could not go in. It was indescribably foul. Even Arthur
thought it would make him sick, and he looked at the windows to see if it
was possible to open them; but it seemed they were hermetically closed.
The extreme warmth made the air more overpowering. There were four
furnaces here, and they were all alight. In order to give out more heat
and to burn slowly, the fronts of them were open, and one could see that
they were filled with glowing coke.
The room was furnished no differently from the others, but to the various
instruments for chemical operations on a large scale were added all
manner of electrical appliances. Several books were lying about, and one
had been left open face downwards on the edge of a table. But what
immediately attracted their attention was a row of those large glass
vessels like that which they had seen in the adjoining room. Each was
covered with a white cloth. They hesitated a moment, for they knew that
here they were face to face with the great enigma. At last Arthur pulled
away the cloth from one. None of them spoke. They stared with astonished
eyes. For here, too, was a strange mass of flesh, almost as large as a
new-born child, but there was in it the beginnings of something ghastly
human. It was shaped vaguely like an infant, but the legs were joined
together so that it looked like a mummy rolled up in its coverings.
There were neither feet nor knees. The trunk was formless, but there
was a curious thickening on each side; it was as if a modeller had meant
to make a figure with the arms loosely bent, but had left the work
unfinished so that they were still one with the body. There was something
that resembled a human head, covered with long golden hair, but it was
horrible; it was an uncouth mass, without eyes or nose or mouth. The
colour was a kind of sickly pink, and it was almost transparent. There
was a very slight movement in it, rhythmical and slow. It was living too.
Then quickly Arthur removed the covering from all the other jars but one;
and in a flash of the eyes they saw abominations so awful that Susie had
to clench her fists in order not to scream. There was one monstrous thing
in which the limbs approached nearly to the human. It was extraordinarily
heaped up, with fat tiny arms, little bloated legs, and an absurd squat
body, so that it looked like a Chinese mandarin in porcelain. In another
the trunk was almost like that of a human child, except that it was
patched strangely with red and grey. But the terror of it was that
at the neck it branched hideously, and there were two distinct heads,
monstrously large, but duly provided with all their features. The
features were a caricature of humanity so shameful that one could hardly
bear to look. And as the light fell on it, the eyes of each head opened
slowly. They had no pigment in them, but were pink, like the eyes of
white rabbits; and they stared for a moment with an odd, unseeing glance.
Then they were shut again, and what was curiously terrifying was that the
movements were not quite simultaneous; the eyelids of one head fell
slowly just before those of the other. And in another place was a ghastly
monster in which it seemed that two bodies had been dreadfully entangled
with one another. It was a creature of nightmare, with four arms and four
legs, and this one actually moved. With a peculiar motion it crawled
along the bottom of the great receptacle in which it was kept, towards
the three persons who looked at it. It seemed to wonder what they did.
Susie started back with fright, as it raised itself on its four legs and
tried to reach up to them.
Susie turned away and hid her face. She could not look at those ghastly
counterfeits of humanity. She was terrified and ashamed.
'Do you understand what this means?' said Dr PorhoŽt to Arthur, in an
awed voice. 'It means that he has discovered the secret of life.'
'Was it for these vile monstrosities that Margaret was sacrificed in all
The two men looked at one another with sad, wondering eyes.
'Don't you remember that he talked of the manufacture of human beings?
It's these misshapen things that he's succeeding in producing,' said the
'There is one more that we haven't seen,' said Arthur.
He pointed to the covering which still hid the largest of the vases. He
had a feeling that it contained the most fearful of all these monsters;
and it was not without an effort that he drew the cloth away. But no
sooner had he done this than something sprang up, so that instinctively
he started back, and it began to gibber in piercing tones. These were the
unearthly sounds that they had heard. It was not a voice, it was a kind
of raucous crying, hoarse yet shrill, uneven like the barking of a dog,
and appalling. The sounds came forth in rapid succession, angrily, as
though the being that uttered them sought to express itself in furious
words. It was mad with passion and beat against the glass walls of its
prison with clenched fists. For the hands were human hands, and the
body, though much larger, was of the shape of a new-born child. The
creature must have stood about four feet high. The head was horribly
misshapen. The skull was enormous, smooth and distended like that of a
hydrocephalic, and the forehead protruded over the face hideously. The
features were almost unformed, preternaturally small under the great,
overhanging brow; and they had an expression of fiendish malignity.
The tiny, misshapen countenance writhed with convulsive fury, and from
the mouth poured out a foaming spume. It raised its voice higher and
higher, shrieking senseless gibberish in its rage. Then it began to hurl
its whole body madly against the glass walls and to beat its head. It
appeared to have a sudden incomprehensible hatred for the three
strangers. It was trying to fly at them. The toothless gums moved
spasmodically, and it threw its face into horrible grimaces. That
nameless, loathsome abortion was the nearest that Oliver Haddo had
come to the human form.
'Come away,' said Arthur. 'We must not look at this.'
He quickly flung the covering over the jar.
'Yes, for God's sake let us go,' said Susie.
'We haven't done yet,' answered Arthur. 'We haven't found the author of
He looked at the room in which they were, but there was no door except
that by which they had entered. Then he uttered a startled cry, and
stepping forward fell on his knee.
On the other side of the long tables heaped up with instruments, hidden
so that at first they had not seen him, Oliver Haddo lay on the floor,
dead. His blue eyes were staring wide, and they seemed larger than they
had ever been. They kept still the expression of terror which they had
worn in the moment of his agony, and his heavy face was distorted with
deadly fear. It was purple and dark, and the eyes were injected with
'He died of suffocation,' whispered Dr PorhoŽt.
Arthur pointed to the neck. There could be seen on it distinctly the
marks of the avenging fingers that had strangled the life out of him. It
was impossible to hesitate.
'I told you that I had killed him,' said Arthur.
Then he remembered something more. He took hold of the right arm. He was
convinced that it had been broken during that desperate struggle in the
darkness. He felt it carefully and listened. He heard plainly the two
parts of the bone rub against one another. The dead man's arm was broken
just in the place where he had broken it. Arthur stood up. He took one
last look at his enemy. That vast mass of flesh lay heaped up on the
floor in horrible disorder.
'Now that you have seen, will you come away?' said Susie, interrupting
The words seemed to bring him suddenly to himself.
'Yes, we must go quickly.'
They turned away and with hurried steps walked through those bright
attics till they came to the stairs.
'Now go down and wait for me at the door,' said Arthur. 'I will follow
'What are you going to do?' asked Susie.
'Never mind. Do as I tell you. I have not finished here yet.'
They went down the great oak staircase and waited in the hall. They
wondered what Arthur was about. Presently he came running down.
'Be quick!' he cried. 'We have no time to lose.'
'What have you done, Arthur?'
There's no time to tell you now.'
He hurried them out and slammed the door behind him. He took Susie's
'Now we must run. Come.'
She did not know what his haste signified, but her heart beat furiously.
He dragged her along. Dr PorhoŽt hurried on behind them. Arthur plunged
into the wood. He would not leave them time to breathe.
'You must be quick,' he said.
At last they came to the opening in the fence, and he helped them to get
through. Then he carefully replaced the wooden paling and, taking Susie's
arm began to walk rapidly towards their inn.
'I'm frightfully tired,' she said. 'I simply can't go so fast.'
'You must. Presently you can rest as long as you like.'
They walked very quickly for a while. Now and then Arthur looked back.
The night was still quite dark, and the stars shone out in their myriads.
At last he slackened their pace.
'Now you can go more slowly,' he said.
Susie saw the smiling glance that he gave her. His eyes were full of
tenderness. He put his arm affectionately round her shoulders to support
'I'm afraid you're quite exhausted, poor thing,' he said. 'I'm sorry to
have had to hustle you so much.'
'It doesn't matter at all.'
She leaned against him comfortably. With that protecting arm about her,
she felt capable of any fatigue. Dr PorhoŽt stopped.
'You must really let me roll myself a cigarette,' he said.
'You may do whatever you like,' answered Arthur.
There was a different ring in his voice now, and it was soft with a
good-humour that they had not heard in it for many months. He appeared
singularly relieved. Susie was ready to forget the terrible past and
give herself over to the happiness that seemed at last in store for her.
They began to saunter slowly on. And now they could take pleasure in the
exquisite night. The air was very suave, odorous with the heather that
was all about them, and there was an enchanting peace in that scene which
wonderfully soothed their weariness. It was dark still, but they knew the
dawn was at hand, and Susie rejoiced in the approaching day. In the east
the azure of the night began to thin away into pale amethyst, and the
trees seemed gradually to stand out from the darkness in a ghostly
beauty. Suddenly birds began to sing all around them in a splendid
chorus. From their feet a lark sprang up with a rustle of wings and,
mounting proudly upon the air, chanted blithe canticles to greet the
morning. They stood upon a little hill.
'Let us wait here and see the sun rise,' said Susie.
'As you will.'
They stood all three of them, and Susie took in deep, joyful breaths of
the sweet air of dawn. The whole land, spread at her feet, was clothed in
the purple dimness that heralds day, and she exulted in its beauty. But
she noticed that Arthur, unlike herself and Dr PorhoŽt, did not look
toward the east. His eyes were fixed steadily upon the place from which
they had come. What did he look for in the darkness of the west? She
turned round, and a cry broke from her lips, for the shadows there were
lurid with a deep red glow.
'It looks like a fire,' she said.
'It is. Skene is burning like tinder.'
And as he spoke it seemed that the roof fell in, for suddenly vast flames
sprang up, rising high into the still night air; and they saw that the
house they had just left was blazing furiously. It was a magnificent
sight from the distant hill on which they stood to watch the fire as it
soared and sank, as it shot scarlet tongues along like strange Titanic
monsters, as it raged from room to room. Skene was burning. It was beyond
the reach of human help. In a little while there would be no trace of all
those crimes and all those horrors. Now it was one mass of flame. It
looked like some primeval furnace, where the gods might work unheard-of
'Arthur, what have you done?' asked Susie, in a tone that was hardly
He did not answer directly. He put his arm about her shoulder again, so
that she was obliged to turn round.
'Look, the sun is rising.'
In the east, a long ray of light climbed up the sky, and the sun, yellow
and round, appeared upon the face of the earth.
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