We stepped into the hall or vestibule, and Madame shut the door, and I thought I heard the key turn in it. We were in total darkness.
‘Where are the lights, Madame—where are the people?’ I asked, more awake than I had been.
‘’Tis pass three o’clock, cheaile, bote there is always light here.’ She was groping at the side; and in a moment more lighted a lucifer match, and so a bedroom candle.
We were in a flagged lobby, under an archway at the right, and at the left of which opened long flagged passages, lost in darkness; a winding stair, barely wide enough to admit Madame, dragging her box, led upward under a doorway, in a corner at the right.
’Come, dear cheaile, take your bag; don’t mind the rugs, they are safe enough.’
‘But where are we to go? There is no one!’ I said, looking round in wonder. It certainly was a strange reception at an hotel.
’Never mind, my dear cheaile. They know me here, and I have always the same room ready when I write for it. Follow me quaitely.’
So she mounted, carrying the candle. The stair was steep, and the march long. We halted at the second landing, and entered a gaunt, grimy passage. All the way up we had not heard a single sound of life, nor seen a human being, nor so much as passed a gaslight.
’Viola! here ‘tis, my dear old room. Enter, dearest Maud.’
And so I did. The room was large and lofty, but shabby and dismal. There was a tall four-post bed, with its foot beside the window, hung with dark-green curtains, of some plush or velvet texture, that looked like a dusty pall. The remaining furniture was scant and old, and a ravelled square of threadbare carpet covered a patch of floor at the bedside. The room was grim and large, and had a cold, vault-like atmosphere, as if long uninhabited; but there were cinders in the grate and under it. The imperfect light of our mutton-fat candle made all this look still more comfortless.
Madame placed the candle on the chimneypiece, locked the door, and put the key in her pocket.
’I always do so in ‘otel’ said she, with a wink at me.
And, then with a long ‘ha!’ expressive of fatigue and relief, she threw herself into a chair.
’So ‘ere we are at last!’ said she; ’I’m glad. There’s your bed, Maud. Mine is in the dressing-room.’
She took the candle, and I went in with her. A shabby press bed, a chair, and table were all its furniture; it was rather a closet than a dressing-room, and had no door except that through which we had entered. So we returned, and very tired, wondering, I sat down on the side of my bed and yawned.
‘I hope they will call us in time for the packet,’ I said.
‘Oh yes, they never fail,’ she answered, looking steadfastly on her box, which she was diligently uncording.
Uninviting as was my bed, I was longing to lie down in it; and having made those ablutions which our journey rendered necessary, I at length lay down, having first religiously stuck my talismanic pin, with the head of sealing-wax, into the bolster.