Bobby stepped back, remembering his last thought before drifting into the trance-like sleep. She seemed to know what was in his mind.
“But when I knocked you were sleeping so soundly.”
“Too soundly, perhaps.”
“Come. We’re growing imaginative,” Graham said. “Howells would take care of himself. He’ll probably give us the deuce for disturbing him, but to satisfy you, Katherine, we’ll wake him up.”
“If you can,” she whispered.
They entered the main hall. Light came through the stair well from the lower floor. Graham walked to the rail and glanced down. Bobby followed him. On the table by the fireplace the cards were arranged in neat piles. A strong draft blew cigarette smoke up to them.
“Paredes,” Graham said, amazed, “is still downstairs. The front door’s open. He’s probably in the court.”
“It must be very late,” Bobby said.
“Half-past two. I looked at my watch. The same time as last night.”
With a gesture of resolution she led the way into the corridor. Bobby shrank from the damp and musty atmosphere of the narrow passage.
“Why do you come, Katherine?” he asked.
“I have to know, as I had to know last night.”
Graham raised his hand and knocked at the door which again was locked on the inside. The echoes chattered back at them. Graham knocked again. With a passionate revolt Katherine raised her hands, too, and pounded at the panels. Suddenly she gave up. She let her hands fall listlessly.
“It’s no use.”
“Howells! Howells!” Graham called. “Why don’t you answer?”
“When he boasted to-night,” Katherine whispered, “the murderer heard him.”
“Suppose he’s gone down to the library?” Graham said.
Bobby gave Katherine the candle.
“No. He’d have stayed. We’ve got to break in here. We’ve got to find out.”
Graham placed his powerful shoulder against the door. The lock strained. Bobby added his weight. With a splintering of wood the door flew open, precipitating them across the threshold. Through the darkness Graham sprang for the opposite door.
“It’s locked,” he called, “and the key’s on this side.”
Bobby took the candle from Katherine and forced himself to approach the bed. The flame flickered a little in the breeze which stole past the curtain of the open window. It shook across the body of Howells, fully clothed with his head on the stained pillow. His face, intricately lined, was as peaceful as Silas Blackburn’s had been. Its level smile persisted.
Bobby caught his breath.
He set the candle on the bureau.
“It’s no use. We must look at the back of his head.”
“The back of his head!” Katherine echoed.
“It’s illegal,” Graham said.
“Look!” Bobby cried. “We’ve got to look!”