Suddenly she sat up in her bed. She had heard—yes, surely—Hetty’s voice. It seemed to come from outside, close below her window— Hetty’s ordinary voice, with no distress in it, speaking some words she could not catch. She listened. Actual sound or illusion, it was not repeated. She climbed out of bed and drew the curtain aside. Bright moonlight lay spread all about the house and, beyond, the fenland faded away to an unseen horizon as through veils of gold and silver, asleep, no creature stirring on the face of it.
She let drop the corner of the curtain and on the instant caught it back again. A dark form, quick and noiseless, slipped past the shadow by the yard-gate. It was Rag the mastiff, left unchained at night: and as he padded across the yard in the full moonlight, Molly saw that he was wagging his tail.
She watched him to his kennel; stepped to her door, lifted the latch cautiously and stole once more along the passage to Hetty’s room.
“Hetty!” she whispered. “Hetty dear! Were you calling? Is anything wrong?” She shook the door gently. No answer came. Mr. Wesley had left the key in the lock after turning it on the outside: and still whispering to her sister, Molly wrenched it round, little by little. No one stirred below-stairs: no one answered within. She pushed the door open an inch or two, then wider, pausing as it creaked. A draught of the warm night wind met her as she slipped into the room, and—her fingers trembling and missing their hold—the door fell to behind her, almost with a slam.
She stood still, her heart in her mouth. In her ears the noise was loud enough to awake the house. But as the seconds dragged by and still no sound came from her father’s room, “Hetty!” she whispered again.
Her eyes were on the bed as she whispered it, and in the pale light the bed was patently empty. Still she did not comprehend. Her eyes wandered from it to the open window.
When she spoke again it was with the same low whisper, but a whisper which broke as she breathed it to follow where it might not reach.
“What have they done to you? My darling, God watch over you now!”
She crept back to her room and lay shivering, waiting for the dawn.
In a chilly dawn, high among the mountains to the north of Berar, two Britons were wandering with an Indian attendant. They came like spectres, in curling wreaths of mist that magnified their stature; and daylight cowed each with the first glimpse of his comrade’s face, yellow with hunger and glassy-eyed with lack of sleep. They were, in fact, hopelessly lost. They had spent the night huddled together on a narrow ledge, listening hour by hour to the sound of water tumbling over unknown precipices; and now they moved with painful cramped limbs, yet listlessly, being past hope to escape or to see another dawn.