The other inmates of the house held aloof from him. Once a day O’Hara came in to see to the wound, but he maintained a well-nigh complete silence over his work, and answered questions only with a brief yes or no. Sometimes he did not answer them at all. The old Michel came twice daily, but this strange being had quite plainly been frightened into dumbness, and there was nothing to be got out of him. He shambled hastily about the place, his one scared eye upon the man in bed, and as soon as possible fled away, closing the door behind him. Sometimes Michel brought in the meals, sometimes his wife, a creature so like him that the two might well have passed for twin survivors of some unknown race; sometimes—thrice altogether in that first week—Coira O’Hara brought the tray, and she was as silent as the others.
So Ste. Marie was left alone to get through the interminable days as best he might, and ever afterward the week remained in his memory as a sort of nightmare. Lying idle in his bed, he evolved many surprising and fantastic schemes for escape, for getting word to the outside world of his presence here, and one by one he gave them up in disgust as their impossibility forced itself upon him. Plans and schemes were useless while he lay bedridden, unfamiliar even with the house wherein he dwelt, with the garden and park that surrounded it.
As for aid from any of the inmates of the place, that was to be laughed at. They were engaged together in a scheme so desperate that failure must mean utter ruin to them all. He sometimes wondered if the two servants could be bribed. Avarice unmistakable gleamed from their little, glittering, ratlike eyes, but he was sure that they would sell out for no small sum, and in so far as he could remember there had been in his pockets, when he came here, not more than five or six louis. Doubtless the old Michel had managed to abstract those in his daily offices about the room, for Ste. Marie knew that the clothes hung in a closet across from his bed. He had seen them there once when the closet-door was open.
Any help that might come to him must come from outside—and what help was to be expected there? Over and over again he reminded himself of how little Richard Hartley knew. He might suspect Stewart of complicity in this new disappearance, but how was he to find out anything definite? How was any one to do so?
It was at such times as this, when brain and nerves were strained and worn almost to breaking-point, that Ste. Marie had occasion to be grateful for the Southern blood that was in him, the strong tinge of fatalism which is common alike to Latin and to Oriental. It rescued him more than once from something like nervous breakdown, calmed him suddenly, lifted his burdens from outwearied shoulders, and left him in peace to wait until some action should be possible. Then, in such hours, he would fall to thinking of the girl for whose sake, in whose cause, he lay bedridden,