She held out two handfuls of diamonds, and began to sing in a high, cracked voice, while she let them rain through her fingers.
“But listen!” I cried suddenly.
She ceased at once, and stood with her face half turned to the darkness behind her, her arms rigid at her sides, the gems dropping as her hand slowly unclasped them. Below, where the tunnel ran down into darkness, a voice hailed—
“’Metta! Is that ’Metta?”
It was the voice of Dr. Beauregard. The poor creature gazed at me helplessly and ran for the stairway. But her feet sank in the loose heap of jewels; she stumbled; and, as she picked herself up, I saw that she was too late; for already a light shone up from the tunnel below, and before she could gain the exit the Doctor stood there, lifting a torch, in the light of which I saw Mr. Rogers close behind his shoulder.
I do not think he would have hurt her. But as the torch flared in her face and lit up the shining heap of jewels, she threw up both hands and doubled back screaming. I believed that she called to me to hide. I put out a hand to catch her by the skirt, seeing that she ran madly; but the thin muslin tore in my clutch.
On the ledge, against the sky, the voice seemed to overtake and steady her for a second; but too late. With a choking cry, she put out both hands against the void, and toppled forward; and in the entrance was nothing but the blue, empty sky.
“Glass? My dear madam, pardon my remissness; he is dead. Rosa brought me the news before we sat down to table.”
I opened my eyes. In the words, as I came back to consciousness, I found nothing remarkable, nor for a few seconds did it surprise me that the dark gallery had changed into a panelled, lighted room, with candles shining on a long, white table, and on flowers and crystal decanters, and dishes heaped with fruit. The candles were shaded, and from the sofa where I lay I saw across the cloth the faces of Miss Belcher and Captain Branscome intent on the Doctor. He was leaning forward from the head of the table and speaking to Plinny, who sat with her back to me, darkly silhouetted against the light. Mr. Rogers, on Plinny’s left, had turned his chair sideways and was listening too; and at the lower end of the board a tall epergue of silver partially hid the form of Mr. Goodfellow.
“Yes, indeed, I ought to have told you,” went on the Doctor’s voice. “But really no recovery could be expected. The man’s heart was utterly diseased.”
His gaze, travelling past Plinny, wandered as if casually towards me, where I lay in the penumbra. I felt it coming, and closed my eyes; and on the instant my brain cleared.
Yes; Glass was dead, of course, poisoned by this man as ruthlessly as these my friends would be poisoned if I cried out no warning. . . . Or perhaps it had happened already.