The door opened. Bobby from his hiding place could see Paredes on the threshold, yawning and holding a cigarette in his fingers.
“Here you are,” he said drowsily. “I’ve just been in the court. It made me seek company. That court’s too damp, Mr. Detective.”
His laugh was lackadaisical.
“When the sun leaves it, the court seems full of, unfriendly things—what the ignorant would call, ghosts. I’m Spanish and I know.”
The detective grunted.
“Funny!” Paredes went on. “Observation doesn’t seem to interest you. I’d rather fancied it might.”
He yawned again and put his cigarette to his lips. Puffing placidly, he turned and left.
“What do you suppose he means by that?” the detective said to Graham.
Without waiting for an answer he followed Paredes from the room. Graham went after him. Bobby threw back the rug and arose. For a moment he was as curious as the others as to Paredes’s intention. He slipped across the dining room. The hall was deserted. The front door stood open. From the court came Paredes’s voice, even, languid, wholly without expression:
“Mean to tell me you don’t react to the proximity of unaccountable forces here, Mr. Howells?”
The detective’s laugh was disagreeable.
“You trying to make a fool of me? That isn’t healthy.”
As Bobby hurried across the hall and up the stairs he heard Paredes answer:
“You should speak to Doctor Groom. He says this place is too crowded by the unpleasant past—”
Bobby climbed out of hearing. He entered his bedroom and locked the door. He resented Paredes’s words and attitude which he defined as studied to draw humour out of a tragic and desperate situation. He thought of them in no other way. His tired mind dismissed them. He threw himself on the bed, muttering:
“If I run away I’m done for. If I stay I’m done for.”
He took a fierce twisted joy in one phase of the situation.
“If I was there last night,” he thought, “Howells will never find out how I got into the room, because, no matter what trap he sets, I can’t tell him.”
His leaden weariness closed his eyes. For a few minutes he slept again.
Once more it was a voice that awakened him—this time a woman’s, raised in a scream. He sprang up, flung open the door, and stumbled into the corridor. Katherine stood there, holding her dressing gown about her with trembling hands. The face she turned to Bobby was white and panic-stricken. She beckoned, and he followed her to the main hall. The others came tearing up the stairs—Graham, Paredes, the detective, and the black and gigantic doctor.
In answer to their quick questions she whispered breathlessly:
“I heard. It was just like last night. It came across the court and stole in at my window.”
She shook. She stretched out her hands in a terrified appeal.