Wondering, Sahwah stared after them, and as she looked a great, nameless dread took possession of her, and she experienced exactly the same peculiar sensation she had felt in the train coming down, a feeling of prescience and foreboding, of brooding evil. It gripped her heart with cold hands and she changed her intention of going to Nyoda’s room and asking what was the matter with Veronica. Suddenly she felt that Nyoda would not know. All her heart cried out in love and loyalty to Veronica. The others must not find out what she had seen to-night. Veronica had simply gone out to take a walk in the moonlight; possibly she had a headache or was unable to sleep. It was a trick of the eyes that she had thought someone had been with her in the road; the distance and the waving shadows had deceived her. Why shouldn’t Veronica steal out quietly and go for a walk if she wanted to? What time was it, anyway, eleven? Twelve? Sahwah switched on the light and looked at her watch. It was half past two.
She shivered as the freshening breeze came in through the window and became conscious that her bare feet were cold on the polished floor. She jumped into bed to get warm, intending to get up again and watch until Veronica returned, but the warmth of the bed sent a delicious languor through her limbs; she yawned once, twice; her eyes began to ache in the moonlight and she closed them to shut it out.
Presently she opened them again and there was the sun shining in on the bed. Moonlight and all its spells had fled. Had she dreamed that about Veronica last night? Resolutely she sprang from bed and tiptoed down the hall to Veronica’s door. The tall clock on the stair landing showed a quarter to six. The door was half ajar and she peeped in. Veronica was in bed, sound asleep, her long lashes sweeping her ruddy cheek, her lips curved in a smile, like a baby’s. Her clothes were on the chair beside the bed, and they did not look as if they had been disturbed in the night.
Sahwah laughed in relief and the fear went out of her heart.
“I dreamed it,” she said to herself, and went back to bed for another nap before six o’clock, which was the official rising hour at Carver House.
“M-a-r-r-k t-i-m-e, m-a-h-k!”
Sixteen pairs of feet rose and fell with a soft thudding rhythm on the hard dirt road.
“One—two—three—four! One—two—three—four! F-or-r-r-d H’n-c-h!"
The double line of fours wavered for a moment and then strode forward uncertainly, some on the left foot, some on the right.
“HALT!” shouted the drill sergeant in a voice bristling with disgust.
The company halted.
“What does ‘Forward Hunch’ mean?” whispered Hinpoha to Sahwah, who stood beside her.
Sahwah shook her head.
“No talking in the ranks!” came the stern order from up front. Hinpoha subsided.