He filled a wine-glass and passed the bottle to Cecil.
“You’re about in the same state,” he remarked, looking at him keenly. “Why the devil is it that when one doesn’t require it, wine will go to the head too quickly, and when one wants to use it to borrow a little courage and a little forgetfulness, the stuff goes down like water. Drink, Cecil, a wine-glass of it. Drink it off, like this.”
Forrest drained his wine-glass and set it down. Then he rose to his feet. His cheeks were still colourless, but there was an added glitter in his eyes.
“Come, young man,” he said, “you have only to fancy that you are one of your own ancestors. I fancy those dark-looking ruffians, who scowl down on us from the walls there, would not have thought so much of flinging an enemy into the sea. It is a wise man who wrote that self-preservation was the first law of nature. Come, Cecil, remember that. It is the first law of nature that we are obeying. Ring the bell first, and see that there are no servants about the place.”
Cecil obeyed, ringing the bell once or twice. No one came. They stepped out into the hall. The emptiness of the house seemed almost apparent. There was not a sound anywhere.
“The servants’ wing is right over the stables, a long way off,” Cecil remarked. “They could never hear a bell there that rang from any of the living-rooms.”
“So much the better,” he said. “Come along to the library. I have everything ready there.”
They crossed the hall and entered the room to which Forrest pointed. Their footsteps seemed to awake echoes upon the stone floor. The hall, too, was all unlit save for the lamp which Forrest was carrying. Cecil peered nervously about into the shadows.
“It’s a ghostly house this of yours,” Forrest said grumblingly, as they closed the door behind them. “I shall be thankful to get back to my rooms in town and walk down Piccadilly once more. What’s that outside?”
“The wind,” Cecil answered. “I thought it was going to be a rough night.”
The window had been left open at the top, and the roar of the wind across the open places came into the room like muffled thunder. The lamp which Forrest carried was blown out, and the two men were left in darkness.
“Shut the window, for Heaven’s sake, man!” Forrest ordered sharply. “Here!”
He took an electric torch from his pocket, and both men drew a little breath of relief as the light flashed out. Cecil climbed on to a chair and closed the window. Forrest glanced at the clock.
“It’s quite late enough,” he said. “It should be high tide in a quarter of an hour, and the sea in that little cove of yours is twenty feet deep. Come along and work this door.”
“Have you got everything?” Cecil asked nervously.
“I have the chloroform,” Forrest answered, touching a small bottle in his waistcoat pocket. “We don’t need anything else. He hasn’t the strength of a rabbit, and you and I can carry him down the passage. If he struggles there’s no one to hear him.”