Jenkins, standing in the excavation, broke into torrential speech.
“Mr. Robinson! I can’t work with the light. It makes the stones seem to move. It throws too many shadows. I seem to see people behind you, and I’m afraid to look.”
Nothing aggressive survived in Rawlins’s voice.
“We can work well enough without it, sir.”
Robinson snapped off the light. The darkness descended eagerly upon them. Above the noise of the spades in the soft earth Bobby heard indefinite stirrings. In the graveyard at such an hour the supernatural legend of the Cedars assumed an inescapable probability. Bobby wished for some way to stop the task on which they were engaged. He felt instinctively it would be better not to tamper with the mystery of Silas Blackburn’s return.
Bobby grew rigid.
“There it is again,” Graham breathed.
A low keening came from the thicket. It increased in power a trifle, then drifted into silence.
It wasn’t the wind. It was like the moaning Bobby had heard at the stagnant lake that afternoon, like the cries Graham and he had suffered in the old room. Seeming at first to come from a distance, it achieved a sense of intimacy. It was like an escape of sorrow from the dismantled tombs.
Bobby turned to Katherine. He couldn’t see her for the darkness. He reached out. She was not there.
“Katherine,” he called softly.
Her hand stole into his. He had been afraid that the forest had taken her. Under the reassurance of her handclasp he tried to make himself believe there was actually a woman near by, if not Maria, some one who had a definite purpose there.
Robinson flashed on his light. Old Blackburn whimpered:
“The Cedars is at its tricks again, and there’s nothing we can do.”
“It was like a lost soul,” Katherine sighed. “It seemed to cry from this place.”
“It must be traced,” Bobby said.
“Then tell me its direction certainly,” Robinson challenged. “We’d flounder in the thicket. A waste of time. Let us get through here. Hurry, Rawlins!”
The light showed Bobby that the detective and Jenkins had nearly finished. He shrank from the first hard sound of metal against metal.
It came. After a moment the light shone on the dull face of the casket which was streaked with dirt.
Jenkins rested on his spade. He groaned. It occurred to Bobby that the man couldn’t have worked hard enough in this cold air to have started the perspiration that streamed down his wrinkled face.
“It would be a tough job to lift it out,” Rawlins said.
“No need,” Robinson answered. “Get the soil away from the edges.”
He bent over, passing a screw driver to the detective.
“Take off the top plate. That will let us see all we want.”
Jenkins climbed out.
“I shan’t look. I don’t dare look.”