Alice was thrilled with a strange terror, and did not speak or move; and her sister slipped her hand softly under her bolster, and withdrew it. Then Una stood for while by the hearth, and stretched her hand up to the mantelpiece, from which she took a little bit of chalk, and Alice thought she saw her place it in the fingers of a long yellow hand that was stealthily introduced from her own chamber-door to receive it; and Una paused in the dark recess of the door, and smiled over her shoulder toward her sister, and then glided into her room, closing the doors.
Almost freezing with terror, Alice rose and glided after her, and stood in her chamber, screaming——
“Una, Una, in heaven’s name what troubles you?”
But Una seemed to have been sound asleep in her bed, and raised herself with a start, and looking upon her with a peevish surprise, said——
“What does Alice seek here?”
“You were in my room, Una, dear; you seem disturbed and troubled.”
“Dreams, Alice. My dreams crossing your brain; only dreams—dreams. Get you to bed, and sleep.”
And to bed she went, but not to sleep. She lay awake more than an hour; and then Una emerged once more from her room. This time she was fully dressed, and had her cloak and thick shoes on, as their rattle on the floor plainly discovered. She had a little bundle tied up in a handkerchief in her hand, and her hood was drawn about her head; and thus equipped, as it seemed, for a journey, she came and stood at the foot of Alice’s bed, and stared on her with a look so soulless and terrible that her senses almost forsook her. Then she turned and went back into her own chamber.
She may have returned; but Alice thought not—at least she did not see her. But she lay in great excitement and perturbation; and was terrified, about an hour later, by a knock at her chamber door—not that opening into Una’s room, but upon the little passage from the stone screw staircase. She sprang from her bed; but the door was secured on the inside, and she felt relieved. The knock was repeated, and she heard some one laughing softly on the outside.
The morning came at last; that dreadful night was over. But Una! Where was Una?
Alice never saw her more. On the head of her empty bed were traced in chalk the words—Ultor De Lacy, Ultor O’Donnell. And Alice found beneath her own pillow the little purse of embroidery she had seen in Una’s hand. It was her little parting token, and bore the simple legend—“Una’s love!”
De Lacy’s rage and horror were boundless. He charged the priest, in frantic language, with having exposed his child, by his cowardice and neglect, to the machinations of the Fiend, and raved and blasphemed like a man demented.