The old man patted Katherine’s shoulder.
“Why, what you crying for, Katy? Always seems something to scare you lately.”
He jerked his thumb again toward the lighted windows.
“You ain’t told me yet what’s going on in the old room.”
Bobby’s laugh was dazed, questioning.
“They’re trying to account for your murder there.”
His grandfather looked at him with blank amazement.
“You out of your head?”
“No,” Katherine cried. “We saw you lying there, cold and still. I—I found you.”
“You’ve not forgotten, Katherine,” Bobby said breathlessly, “that he moved afterward.”
Silas Blackburn took his hand from Katherine’s shoulder.
“Trying to scare me? What’s the matter with you? Some scheme to get my money?”
“You slept in the old room the other night?” Bobby asked helplessly.
“No, I didn’t sleep there,” his grandfather whined. “I went in and lay down, but I didn’t sleep. I defy anybody to sleep in that room. What you talking about? It’s cold here. This court was always damp. I want to go in. Is there a fire in the hall? We’ll light one, while you tell me what’s ailin’ you.”
He turned, and grasped the door knob. They followed him into the hall, shaking the snow from their coats.
Paredes sat alone by the fire, languidly engaged in the solitaire which exerted so potent a fascination for him. He didn’t turn at their entrance. It wasn’t until Bobby called out that he moved.
Bobby’s tone must have suggested the abnormal, for Paredes sprang to his feet, knocking over the table. The cards fell lightly to the floor, straying as far as the hearth. His hands caught at the back of his chair. He remained in an awkward position, rigid, white-faced, staring at the newcomer.
“I told you all,” he whispered, “that the court was full of ghosts.”
Silas Blackburn walked to the fire, and stood with his back to the smouldering logs. In this light he had the pallor of death—the lack of colour Bobby remembered beneath the glass of the coffin. The old man, always so intolerant and authoritative, was no longer sure of himself.
“Why do you talk about ghosts?” he whined. “I—I wish I hadn’t waked up.”
Paredes sank back in his chair.
“Waked up!” he echoed in an awe-struck voice.
Bobby took a trivial interest, as one will turn to small things during the most vital moments, in the reflection that twice within twenty-four hours the Panamanian had been startled from his cold reserve.
“Waked up!” Paredes repeated.
His voice rose.
“At what time? Do you remember the time?”
“Not exactly. Sometime after noon.”
Bobby guessed the object of Paredes’s question. He knew it had been about noon when they had seen the coffin covered in the restless, wind-swept cemetery.