“Very like,” said Feltram.
Sir Bale had remarked, ever since they had begun their walk from the shore, that Feltram seemed to undergo a gloomy change. Sharper, grimmer, wilder grew his features, and shadow after shadow darkened his face wickedly.
The solitude and grandeur of the forest, and the repulsive gloom of his companion’s countenance and demeanour, communicated a tone of anxiety to Sir Bale; and they stood still, side by side, in total silence for a time, looking toward the forest glades; between themselves and which, on the level sward of the valley, stood many a noble tree and fantastic group of forked birch and thorn, in the irregular formations into which Nature had thrown them.
“Now you stand between the letters. Cast your eyes on the stone,” said Feltram suddenly, and his low stern tones almost startled the Baronet.
Looking round, he perceived that he had so placed himself that his point of vision was exactly from between the two great letters, now half-obliterated, which he had been scrutinizing just as he turned about to look toward the forest of Cloostedd.
“Yes, so I am,” said Sir Bale.
There was within him an excitement and misgiving, akin to the sensation of a man going into battle, and which corresponded with the pale and sombre frown which Feltram wore, and the manifest change which had come over him.
“Look on the stone steadily for a time, and tell me if you see a black mark, about the size of your hand, anywhere upon its surface,” said Feltram.
Sir Bale affected no airs of scepticism now; his imagination was stirred, and a sense of some unknown reality at the bottom of that which he had affected to treat before as illusion, inspired a strange interest in the experiment.
“Do you see it?” asked Feltram.
Sir Bale was watching patiently, but he had observed nothing of the kind.
Sharper, darker, more eager grew the face of Philip Feltram, as his eyes traversed the surface of that huge horizontal block.
“Now?” asked Feltram again.
No, he had seen nothing.
Feltram was growing manifestly uneasy, angry almost; he walked away a little, and back again, and then two or three times round the tree, with his hands shut, and treading the ground like a man trying to warm his feet, and so impatiently he returned, and looked again on the stone.
Sir Bale was still looking, and very soon said, drawing his brows together and looking hard,
“Ha!—yes—hush. There it is, by Jove!—wait—yes—there; it is growing quite plain.”
It seemed not as if a shadow fell upon the stone, but rather as if the stone became semi-transparent, and just under its surface was something dark—a hand, he thought it—and darker and darker it grew, as if coming up toward the surface, and after some little wavering, it fixed itself movelessly, pointing, as he thought, toward the forest.