It was a roughly dressed, rough-looking denizen of the low quarter into which I had strayed. His arms were beneath my neck, raising my head, and he was looking into my face with an expression of great concern upon his own good-natured one.
“I thought you were dead!” I could make out amid the stream of his dialect, but the remainder of his speech was beyond my understanding.
“Help me!” I muttered, reaching for his hand.
He understood the gesture, for he assisted me to my feet, and, after I had leaned weakly against the wall of a house for a minute or two, I found that I could stand unassisted.
I looked round in bewilderment.
“Where am I?” I asked, still bound by that first memory of New York.
“In Sous-le-Cap, m’sieur,” answered the man.
I felt in my pocket for my watch and drew it out. It was strange that the men had not robbed me, but I suppose they had become terrified at their work and had run off. However, I did not think of that at the time.
I think my action was an automatic one, the natural refuge for a perplexed man. But the sight of the time brought back my memory, and the events of the day rushed back into my mind with a force that seemed to send an accession of new strength through my limbs.
It was a few minutes past eight. And the boat sailed at nine. I must have lain stunned in Sous-le-Cap Street for an hour and a half, at least, and only the supreme necessity of awakening, realized through unconsciousness, had saved me from dying under the snows.
I found that I could walk, and having explained to the man that I wished to go to the chateau, was taken by him to the top of a winding road near at hand, from which I could see my destination at no great distance from me.
Dismissing my friendly guide, and sending him back rejoicing with liberal largesse, I hurried as quickly as I could make my way along the ramparts, past the frowning, ancient cannon skirting the park, until I burst into the chateau at half past the hour.
I must have presented a dreadful spectacle, for my hair and collar were matted with blood, and I saw the guests stare and shrink from me. The clerk came toward me and stopped me at the entrance to the elevator.
“Where as Miss Hewlett?” I gasped.
“Didn’t you meet her? She left here nearly an hour ago.”
I caught him by the arm, and I think he imagined that I was going to seize him by the throat also, for he backed away from me, and I saw a look of fear come into his eyes. The elevator attendant came running between us.
“Your friend——” he began.
“My friend?” I cried.
“He came for her and said that you had met with an accident,” the clerk continued. “She went with him at once. He took her away in a sleigh. I was sure that you had missed her when you came in.”
But already I was half-way across the hall and running for the door. I raced wildly across the court and toward the terrace.