His glance hadn’t wavered from the wall above the stained pillow. There was movement there. Then he saw. A hand protruded from the blackness of the panelling where they had sounded and measured without success. In the ashen, unnatural light from the snow the long fingers of the hand were like the feelers of a gigantic reptile. They wavered feebly, and he became convinced that the hand was immaterial, that it was unattached to any body. If that was so it couldn’t be the hand of Katherine. At least he had proved that Robinson and Rawlins had been wrong about her. That sense of victory stripped him of his paralyzing fear. It loosed the tight band about his throat. He called. He could prove the immaterial nature of the repulsive hand wavering from the wall.
Crying out, he sprang to his feet. He flung himself across the bed. With both of his own hands he grasped the slender, inquisitive fingers which wavered above the stained pillow, and once more his throat tightened. He couldn’t cry out again.
THE CEDARS IS LEFT TO ITS SHADOWS
Straightway Bobby repented the alarm he had, perhaps too impulsively, given. For the hand protruding from the wall was, indeed, flesh and blood, and with the knowledge came back his fear for Katherine, conquering his first relief. A sick revulsion swept him. He remembered the evidence found in Katherine’s room, and her refusal to answer questions. Could Paredes and the officers have been right? Was it conceivably her hand struggling weakly in his grasp?
The door from the corridor crashed open. Rawlins burst through. Graham ran after him. From the private stairway arose the sound of the district attorney’s hurrying footsteps.
“What is it? What have you got?” Rawlins shouted.
Graham cried out:
“You’re all right, Bobby?”
The candle which the detective carried gleamed on the slender fingers, showing Bobby that they had been inserted through an opening in the wall. He couldn’t understand, for time after time each one of the panels had been sounded and examined. Beyond, he could see dimly the dark clothing of the person who, with a stealth in itself suggestive of abnormal crime, had made use of such a device. As Rawlins hurried up he wondered if it wouldn’t be the better course to free his prisoner, to cry out, urging an escape.
Already it was too late. The detective and Graham had seen, and clearly they had no doubt that he held the one responsible for two brutal murders and for the confusing mysteries that had capped them.
“Looks like a lady’s hand,” Rawlins called. “Don’t let go, young fellow.”
He unlocked the door to the private hallway. Graham and he dashed out. In Bobby’s uncertain grasp the hand twitched.
Robinson’s voice reached him through the opening.
“Let go, Mr. Blackburn. You’ve done your share, the Lord knows. You’ve caught the beast with the goods.”