As for Homopoulo, hitherto so irreproachably imperturbable, I had rarely seen a man in such a state of passive panic. His dark face was blanched to the hue of dirty parchment and his forehead dewed with cold perspiration. I mentally predicted an early resignation in the household of Sir Lionel Barton. Homopoulo might be an excellent butler, but his superstitious Greek nature was clearly incapable of sustaining existence beneath the same roof with a family ghost, hoary though the specter’s antiquity might be.
Where the skeleton shadows of the fruit trees lay beneath me on the fresh green turf my fancy persistently fashioned a black-clad figure flitting from tree to tree. Sleep indeed was impossible. Once I thought I detected the howling of the distant leopards.
Somewhere on the floor above me, Nayland Smith, I knew, at that moment would be restlessly pacing his room, the exact situation of which I could not identify, because of the quaint, rambling passages whereby one approached it. It was in regard to Karamaneh, however, that my misgivings were the keenest. Already her position had been strange enough, in those unfamiliar surroundings, but what tremors must have been hers now in the still watches of the night, following the ghostly manifestations which had so dramatically interrupted Nayland Smith’s story, I dared not imagine. She had been allotted an apartment somewhere upon the ground floor, and Mrs. Oram, whose motherly interest in the girl had touched me deeply, had gone with her to her room, where no doubt her presence had done much to restore the girl’s courage.
Graywater Park stood upon a well-wooded slope, and, to the southwest, starting above the trees almost like a giant Spanish priest, showed a solitary tower. With a vague and indefinite interest I watched it. It was Monkswell, an uninhabited place belonging to Sir Lionel’s estate and dating, in part, to the days of King John. Flicking the ash from my cigarette, I studied the ancient tower wondering idly what deeds had had their setting within its shadows, since the Angevin monarch, in whose reign it saw the light, had signed the Magna Charta.
This was a perfect night, and very still. Nothing stirred, within or without Greywater Park. Yet I was conscious of a definite disquietude which I could only suppose to be ascribable to the weird events of the evening, but which seemed rather to increase than to diminish.
I tossed the end of my cigarette out into the darkness, determined to turn in, although I had never felt more wide awake in my life. One parting glance I cast into the skeleton orchard and was on the point of standing up, when—although no breezed stirred—a shower of ivy leaves rained down upon my head!
Brushing them away irritably, I looked up—and a second shower dropped fully upon my face and filled my eyes with dust. I drew back, checking an exclamation. What with the depth of the embrasure, due to the great thickness of the wall, and the leafy tangle above the window, I could see for no great distance up the face of the building; but a faint sound of rustling and stumbling which proceeded from somewhere above me proclaimed that some one, or something, was climbing either up or down the wall of the corner tower in which I was housed!