And as I trotted back to the Hall, I found a symbol in my dress for the drama of the night. It was, I thought, all artificial and unreal, now that I looked back upon it in the blaze of a brilliant August morning. Beginning with the foolishness of a dance at that time of year—even a “tennis-dance” as they called it—the subsequent theatrical quality of the night’s adventure seemed to me, just then, altogether garish and fantastic. I began to wonder how far I had dramatised and distorted the actual events by the exercise of a romantic imagination? In the sweet freshness of the familiar day, I found myself exceedingly inclined to be rational. Also, I was aware of being quite unusually hungry.
The front door of the Hall was standing wide open, and save for a glimpse of the discreet John very busy in his shirt-sleeves, I saw no one about. I was glad to reach my room unobserved. I knew that my feeling was unreasonable, but entering that sedate house, under the blaze of the morning sun, I was ashamed of my tawdry dress. A sense of dissipation and revelry seemed to hang about me—and of an uncivilised dirtiness.
A cold bath and a change of clothes, however, fully restored my self-respect; and when I was summoned by the welcome sound of a booming gong, the balance of sensation was kicking the other beam. My sleep in the open had left me finally with a feeling of superiority. I was inclined to despise the feeble, stuffy creatures who had been shut up in a house all night.
I knew the topography of the house fairly well after my night’s experience of it, and inferred the breakfast-room without any difficulty. But when I reached the door I stood and listened in considerable astonishment. Luckily, I was not tempted to make the jaunty entrance my mood prompted. I had not seen a soul as I had made my way from my room in the north wing down into the Hall. The place seemed to be absolutely deserted. And, now, in the breakfast-room an almost breathless silence was broken only by the slow grumbling of one monotonous voice, undulating about the limited range of a minor third, and proceeding with the steady fluency of a lunatic’s muttering. I suppose I ought to have guessed the reasonable origin of those sounds, but I didn’t, not even when the muttering fell to a pause and was succeeded by a subdued chorus, that conveyed the effect of a score of people giving a concerted but strongly-repressed groan. After that the first voice began again, but this time it was not allowed to mumble unsupported. A murmured chant followed and caricatured it, repeating as far as I could make out the same sequence of sounds. They began “Ah! Fah! Chah! Hen....” That continued for something like a minute before it came to a ragged close with another groan. Then for a few seconds the original voice continued its grumbling, and was followed by an immense quiet.