He suddenly rose to his feet, pushed his chair back and walked to the window, which opened level with the ground. He threw it up and listened. The others came over and joined him. There was nothing to be heard but the distant hooting of an owl, and farther away the barking of some farmhouse dog. Lord Ashleigh stood there with straining eyes, gazing out across the park.
“There was something here,” he muttered, “something which has gone. What’s that? Quest, your eyes are younger than mine. Can you see anything underneath that tree?”
Quest peered out into the grey darkness.
“I fancied I saw something moving in the shadow of that oak,” he muttered. “Wait.”
He crossed the terrace, swung down on to the path, across a lawn, over a wire fence and into the park itself. All the time he kept his eyes fixed on a certain spot. When at last he reached the tree, there was nothing there. He looked all around him. He stood and listened for several moments. A more utterly peaceful night it would be hard to imagine. Slowly he made his way back to the house.
“I imagine we are all a little nervous to-night,” he remarked. “There’s nothing doing out there.”
They strolled about for an hour or more, looking into different rooms, showing their guest the finest pictures, even taking him down into the wonderful cellars. They parted early, but Quest stood, for a few moments before retiring, gazing about him with an air almost of awe. His great room, as large as an apartment in an Italian palace, was lit by a dozen wax candles in silver candlesticks. His four-poster was supported by pillars of black oak, carved into strange forms, and surmounted by the Ashleigh coronet and coat of arms. He threw his windows open wide and stood for a moment looking out across the park, more clearly visible now by the light of the slowly rising moon. There was scarcely a breeze stirring, scarcely a sound even from the animal world. Nevertheless, Quest, too, as reluctantly he made his preparations for retiring for the night, was conscious of that queer sensation of unimagined and impalpable danger.
LOST IN LONDON
Quest, notwithstanding the unusual nature of his surroundings, slept that night as only a tired and healthy man can. He was awakened the next morning by the quiet movements of a man-servant who had brought back his clothes carefully brushed and pressed. He sat up in bed and discovered a small china tea equipage by his side.
“What’s this?” he enquired.
“Your tea, sir.”
Quest drank half a cupful without protest.
“Your bath is ready at any time, sir.”
“I’m coming right along,” Quest replied, jumping out of bed.