Mr. Fentolin laughed softly, a little contemptuously.
“Presentiments,” he scoffed, “are the excuses of cowards. Don’t be afraid, Florence. Remember always that I look ahead. Do you think that I could stay here contented with what you call my compensations —my art, the study of beautiful things, the calm epicureanism of the sedate and simple life? You know very well that I could not do that. The craving for other things is in my heart and blood. The excitement which I cannot have in one way, I must find in another, and I think that before many nights have passed, I shall lie on my pillow and hear the guns roar, hear the footsteps of the great armies of the world moving into battle. It is for that I live, Florence.”
She took up her knitting again. Her eyes were fixed upon the sky-line. Twice she opened her lips, but twice no words came.
“You understand?” he whispered. “You begin to understand, don’t you?”
She looked at him only for a moment and back at her work.
“I suppose so,” she sighed.
In the middle of that night Hamel sat up in bed, awakened with a sudden start by some sound, only the faintest echo of which remained in his consciousness. His nerves were tingling with a sense of excitement. He sat up in bed and listened. Suddenly it came again —a long, low moan of pain, stifled at the end as though repressed by some outside agency. He leaped from his bed, hurried on a few clothes, and stepped out on to the landing. The cry had seemed to him to come from the further end of the long corridor—in the direction, indeed, of the room where Mr. Dunster lay. He made his way there, walking on tiptoe, although his feet fell noiselessly upon the thick carpet. A single light was burning from a bracket in the wall, insufficient to illuminate the empty spaces, but enough to keep him from stumbling. The corridor towards the south end gradually widened, terminating in a splendid high window with stained glass, a broad seat, and a table. On the right, the end room was Mr. Dunster’s apartment, and on the left a flight of stairs led to the floor above. Hamel stood quite still, listening. There was a light in the room, as he could see from under the door, but there was no sound of any one moving. Hamel listened intently, every sense strained. Then the sound of a stair creaking behind diverted his attention. He looked quickly around. Gerald was descending. The boy’s face was white, and his eyes were filled with fear. Hamel stepped softly back from the door and met him at the foot of the stairs.
“Did you hear that cry?” he whispered.
“It woke me up. What do you suppose it was?” Hamel shook his head.
“Some one in pain,” he replied. “I don’t understand it. It came from this room.”
“You know who sleeps there?” Gerald asked hoarsely.