‘Killed him,’ he answered. ’With a gun?
‘No — with my hands,’ and that was all he would say of it.
He lay facing a black curtain that covered a corner. Now and then I heard a singular sound in the room — like some faint, far, night cry such as I have heard often in the deep woods. It was so weird I felt some wonder of it. Presently I could tell it came from behind the curtain where, also, I heard an odd rustle like that of wings.
I sat in a reverie, looking at the silent man before me, and in the midst of it he pulled a cord that hung near him and a bell rang.
‘Luncheon!’ he said to the old butler who entered immediately.
Then he rose and showed me odd things, carved out of wood, by his own hand as he told me, and with a delicate art. He looked at one tiny thing and laid it aside quickly.
‘Can’t bear to look at it now,’ he said.
‘Gibbet?’ I enquired.
‘Gibbet,’ he answered.
It was a little figure bound hand and foot and hanging from the gallows tree.
‘Burn it!’ he said, turning to the old servant and putting it in his hands. Luncheon had been set between us, the while, and as we were eating it the butler opened a big couch and threw snowy sheets of linen over it and silken covers that rustled as they fell.
‘You will sleep there,’ said my host as his servant laid the pillows, ’and well I hope.
I thought I had better go to my own lodgings.
‘Too late — too late,’ said he, and I, leg-weary and half-asleep, accepted his proffer of hospitality. Then, having eaten, he left me and I got into bed after turning the lights out Something woke me in the dark of the night. There was a rustling sound in the room. I raised my head a bit and listened. It was the black curtain that hung in the corner. I imagined somebody striking it violently. I saw a white figure standing near me in the darkness. It moved away as I looked at it. A cold wind was blowing upon my face. I lay a long time listening and by and by I could hear the deep voice of Trumbull as if he were groaning and muttering in his sleep. When it began to come light I saw the breeze from an open window was stirring the curtain of silk in the corner. I got out of bed and, peering behind the curtain, saw only a great white owl, caged and staring out of wide eyes that gleamed fiery in the dim light. I went to bed again, sleeping until my host woke me in the late morning.
After breakfasting I went to the chalet. The postman had been there but he had brought no letter from Hope. I waited about home, expecting to hear from her, all that day, only to see it end in bitter disappointment.