He dropped the pillow, and lifted his terrible right arm to brush her from him, as he might have brushed an insect from him.
Even as he raised the arm a frightful distortion seized on his face. As if with an invisible hand, it dragged down the brow and the eyelid on the right; it dragged down the mouth on the same side. His arm fell helpless; his whole body, on the side under the arm, gave way. He dropped on the floor, like a man shot dead.
Hester Dethridge pounced on his prostrate body—knelt on his broad breast—and fastened her ten fingers on his throat.
* * * * *
The shock of the fall woke Anne on the instant. She started up—looked round—and saw a gap in the wall at the head of her bed, and the candle-light glimmering in the next room. Panic-stricken; doubting, for the moment, if she were in her right mind, she drew back, waiting—listening—looking. She saw nothing but the glimmering light in the room; she heard nothing but a hoarse gasping, as of some person laboring for breath. The sound ceased. There was an interval of silence. Then the head of Hester Dethridge rose slowly into sight through the gap in the wall—rose with the glittering light of madness in the eyes, and looked at her.
She flew to the open window, and screamed for help.
Sir Patrick’s voice answered her, from the road in front of the cottage.
“Wait for me, for God’s sake!” she cried.
She fled from the room, and rushed down the stairs. In another moment, she had opened the door, and was out in the front garden.
As she ran to the gate, she heard the voice of a strange man on the other side of it. Sir Patrick called to her encouragingly. “The police man is with us,” he said. “He patrols the garden at night—he has a key.” As he spoke the gate was opened from the outside. She saw Sir Patrick, Arnold, and the policeman. She staggered toward them as they came in—she was just able to say, “Up stairs!” before her senses failed her. Sir Patrick saved her from falling. He placed her on the bench in the garden, and waited by her, while Arnold and the policeman hurried into the cottage.
“Where first?” asked Arnold.
“The room the lady called from,” said the policeman
They mounted the stairs, and entered Anne’s room. The gap in the wall was instantly observed by both of them. They looked through it.
Geoffrey Delamayn’s dead body lay on the floor. Hester Dethridge was kneeling at his head, praying.
A MORNING CALL.
THE newspapers have announced the return of Lord and Lady Holchester to their residence in London, after an absence on the continent of more than six months.
It is the height of the season. All day long, within the canonical hours, the door of Holchester House is perpetually opening to receive visitors. The vast majority leave their cards, and go away again. Certain privileged individuals only, get out of their carriages, and enter the house.