How long the great silence lasted neither could have said. It lay like a spell for awhile, and like a spell it passed.
Merryon moved at last, moved and looked down into his wife’s eyes.
They met his instantly without a hint of shrinking; they even smiled. “It must be nearly bedtime,” she said. “You are not going to be busy to-night?”
“Not to-night,” he said.
“Then don’t let’s sit up any longer, darling,” she said. “We can’t either of us afford to lose our beauty sleep.”
She rose with him, still with her shining eyes lifted to his, still with that brave gaiety sparkling in their depths. She gave his arm a tight little squeeze. “My, Billikins, how you’ve grown!” she said, admiringly. “You always were—pretty big. But to-night you’re just—titanic!”
He smiled and touched her cheek, not speaking.
“You fill the world,” she said.
He bent once more to kiss her. “You fill my heart,” he said.
They went round the bungalow together to see to the fastenings of doors and windows. The khitmutgar had gone to his own quarters for the night, and they were quite alone. The drip, drip, drip of the rain was still the only sound, save when the far cry of a prowling jackal came weirdly through the night.
“It’s more gruesome than usual somehow,” said Puck, still fast clinging to her husband’s arm. “I’m not a bit frightened, darling, only sort of creepy at the back. But there’s nobody here but you and me, is there?”
“Nobody,” said Merryon.
“And will you please come and see if there are any snakes or scorpions before I begin to undress?” she said. “The very fact of looking under my bed makes my hair stand on end.”
He went with her and made a thorough investigation, finding nothing.
“That’s all right,” she said, with a sigh of relief. “And yet, somehow, I feel as if something is waiting round the corner to pounce out on us. Is it Fate, do you think? Or just my silly fancy?”
“I think it is probably your startled nerves, dear,” he said, smiling a little.
She assented with a half-suppressed shudder. “But I’m sure something will happen directly,” she said. “I’m sure. I’m sure.”
“Well, I shall only be in the next room if it does,” he said.
He was about to leave her, but she sprang after him, clinging to his arm. “And you won’t be late, will you?” she pleaded. “I can’t sleep without you. Ah, what is that? What is it? What is it?”
Her voice rose almost to a shriek. A sudden loud knocking had broken through the endless patter of the rain.
Merryon’s face changed a very little. The iron-grey eyes became stony, quite expressionless. He stood a moment listening. Then, “Stay here!” he said, his voice very level and composed. “Yes, Puck, I wish it. Stay here!”