So hurried was the progress they made, that it was scarcely possible to exchange many words as they went; a kind of breathless anxiety was upon them, and in the speed they disregarded every obstacle, which would, at any other time, have probably prevented them from taking the direct road they sought.
It was difficult on the outside of the wall to say exactly which was the precise spot which it might be supposed the body had fallen on; but, by following the wall in its entire length, surely they would come upon it.
They did so; but, to their surprise, they got from its commencement to its further extremity without finding any dead body, or even any symptoms of one having lain there.
At some parts close to the wall there grew a kind of heath, and, consequently, the traces of blood would be lost among it, if it so happened that at the precise spot at which the strange being had seemed to topple over, such vegetation had existed. This was to be ascertained; but now, after traversing the whole length of the wall twice, they came to a halt, and looked wonderingly in each other’s faces.
“There is nothing here,” said Harry.
“Nothing,” added his brother.
“It could not have been a delusion,” at length said Mr. Marchdale, with a shudder.
“A delusion?” exclaimed the brother! “That is not possible; we all saw it.”
“Then what terrible explanation can we give?”
“By heavens! I know not,” exclaimed Henry. “This adventure surpasses all belief, and but for the great interest we have in it, I should regard it with a world of curiosity.”
“It is too dreadful,” said George; “for God’s sake, Henry, let us return to ascertain if poor Flora is killed.”
“My senses,” said Henry, “were all so much absorbed in gazing at that horrible form, that I never once looked towards her further than to see that she was, to appearance, dead. God help her! poor—poor, beautiful Flora. This is, indeed, a sad, sad fate for you to come to. Flora—Flora—”
“Do not weep, Henry,” said George. “Rather let us now hasten home, where we may find that tears are premature. She may yet be living and restored to us.”
“And,” said Mr. Marchdale, “she may be able to give us some account of this dreadful visitation.”
“True—true,” exclaimed Henry; “we will hasten home.”
They now turned their steps homeward, and as they went they much blamed themselves for all leaving home together, and with terror pictured what might occur in their absence to those who were now totally unprotected.
“It was a rash impulse of us all to come in pursuit of this dreadful figure,” remarked Mr. Marchdale; “but do not torment yourself, Henry. There may be no reason for your fears.”
At the pace they went, they very soon reached the ancient house, and when they came in sight of it, they saw lights flashing from the windows, and the shadows of faces moving to and fro, indicating that the whole household was up, and in a state of alarm.