There was some strange sound in the room. He had dozed in a chair. Some strange sound, or had he imagined it? He sat up tensely and listened. It was her breathing, a harsh and laboured sound. He stepped quickly to the bed and looked and then ran into the passage and called loudly, “Effie! Effie!”
Frightening, terrible, agonising. He was kneeling on one side of the bed, Effie at the other. The extreme moment was come to her that lay between them. She was moaning. He bowed his face into his hands. The sound of her moaning was terrible to him. That inhabitant of this her body had done its preparations and now stood at the door in the darkness, very frightened. It wanted to go back. It had been very accustomed to being here. It could not go back. It did not want to shut the door. The door was shutting. It stood and shrank and whimpered there.
Oh, terrible! Beyond endurance, agonising. It was old Mrs. Perch that stood there whimpering, shrinking, upon the threshold of that huge abyss, wide as space, dark as night. It was no spirit. It was just that very feeble Mrs. Perch with her fumbling hands and her moving lips. Look here, Young Perch would never allow her even to cross a road without him! How in pity was she to take this frightful step? He twisted up all his emotions into an appeal of tremendous intensity. “Young Perch! Come here! Your mother! Young Perch, come here!”
Telling it, once, to Nona, he said, “I don’t know what happened. They talk about self-hypnotism. Perhaps it was that. I know I made a most frightful effort saying ‘Young Perch.’ I had to. I could see her—that poor terrified thing. Something had to be done. Some one had to go to her. I said it like in a nightmare, bursting to get out of it, ’Young Perch. Come here.’ Anyway, there it is, Nona. I heard them. It was imagination, of course. But I heard them.”
He heard, “Now then, Mother! Don’t be frightened. Here I am, Mother. Come on, Mother. One step, Mother. Only one. I can’t reach you. You must take just one step. Look, Mother, here’s my hand. Can’t you see my hand?”
“It’s so dark, Freddie.”
“It’s not, Mother. It’s only dark where you are. It’s light here. Don’t cry, Mother. Don’t be frightened. It’s all right. It’s quite all right.”