This was my first expedition of the kind; and now that my goal was actually in sight I became conscious of a sort of exultation hard to describe. My companion, on the contrary, seemed to have become icily cool. When next she spoke, her voice had a businesslike ring, which revealed the fact that she was no amateur at this class og work.
“Wait here,” she directed. “I am going to pass all around the house, and I will rejoin you.”
I could see her but dimly, and she moved off as silent as an Indian deer-stalker, leaving me alone there crouching at the extreme edge of the thicket. I looked out over a small wilderness of unkempt flower-beds; so much it was just possible to perceive. The plants in many instances had spread on to the pathways and contested survival with the flourishing weeds. All was wild—deserted—eerie.
A sense of dampness assailed me, and I raised my eyes to the low-lying building wherein no light showed, no sign of life was evident. The nearer wing presented a verandah apparently overgrown by some climbing plant, the nature of which it was impossible to determine in the darkness.
The zest for the nocturnal operation which temporarily had thrilled me succumbed now to loneliness. With keen anxiety I awaited the return of my more experienced accomplice. The situation was grotesque, utterly bizarre; but even my sense of humour could not save me from the growing dread which this seemingly deserted place poured into my heart.
When upon the right I heard a faint rustling I started, and grasped the revolver in my pocket.
“Not a sound!” came in Carneta’s voice. “Keep just inside the bushes and come this way. There is something I want to show you.”
The various profuse growths rendered concealment simple enough—if indeed any other concealment were necessary than that which the strangely black night afforded. Just within the evil-smelling thicket we made a half circuit of the building, and stopped.
“Look!” whispered Carneta.
The word was unnecessary, for I was staring fixedly in the direction of that which evidently had occasioned her uneasiness.
It was a small square window, so low-set that I assumed it to be that of a cellar, and heavily cross-barred.
From it, out upon a tangled patch of vegetation, shone a dull red light!
“There’s no other light in the place,” my companion whispered. “For God’s sake, what can it be?”
My mind supplied no explanation. The idea that it might be a dark room no doubt was suggested by the assumed role of Carneta; but I knew that idea to be absurd. The red light meant something else.
Evidently the commencing of operations before all lights were out was irregular, for Carneta said slowly—
“We must wait and watch the light. There was formerly a moat around the Gate House; that must be the window of a dungeon.”