He yawned, recalling snatches of books he had read and one or two scientific reports of such cases. He climbed into bed and blew out his candle. His drowsiness thickened. In his dulled mind one recollection remained—the picture of Howells coldly challenging him with his level smile to make a secret entrance of the old bedroom in a murderous effort to escape the penalty of the earlier crime. And Howells had been right. His death would give Bobby a chance. The destruction of the evidence, the bringing into the case of a broader-minded man, a man without a carefully constructed theory—all that would help Bobby, might save him. Howells, moreover, had indicated that he had so far withheld his evidence. But that was probably a bait.
In his drowsy way Bobby hated more powerfully than before this detective who, with a serene malevolence, made him writhe in his net. Thought ceased. He drifted into a trance-like sleep. He swung in the black pit again, fighting out against crushing odds. The darkness thundered as though informing him that graver forces than any he had ever imagined had definitely grasped him. Then he understood. He was in a black cell, and the thundering was the steady advance of men along an iron floor to take him—
He flung out his hands. He sat upright, opening his eyes. The blackness assumed the familiar, yielding quality of the night. The thunder, the footfalls, became a hurried knocking at his door.
“Bobby! You’re there—” It was Katherine. Her tone made the night as frightening as the blackness of the pit.
“What’s the matter?”
“You’re there. I didn’t know. Get up. Hartley’s putting some clothes on. Hurry! The house is so dark—so strange.”
“Tell me what’s happened.”
She didn’t answer at first. He struck a match, lighted his candle, threw on a dressing gown, and stepped to the door. Katherine shrank against the wall, hiding her eyes from the light of his candle. He thought it odd she should wear the dress in which she had appeared at dinner. But it seemed indifferently fastened, and her hair was in disorder. Graham stepped from his room.
“What is it?” Bobby demanded.
“You wouldn’t wake up, Bobby. You were so hard to wake.” The idea seemed to fill her mind. She repeated it several times.
“It’s nothing,” Graham said. “Go back to your room, Katherine. She’s fanciful—”
She lowered her hands. Her eyes were full of terror. “No. We have to go to that room as I went last night, as we went to-day.”
Graham tried to quiet her. “We’ll go to satisfy you.”
Her voice hardened. “I know. I was asleep. It woke me up, stealing in across the court again.”
Bobby grasped her arm. “You came out and aroused up at once?”
She shook her head. “I—I couldn’t find my dressing gown. This dress was by the bed. I put it on, but I couldn’t seem to fasten it.”