He rose to his feet and continued his inquiry. Of course she had expected him to look about. One couldn’t help seeing, unless one were blind. He would have cut off a hand before opening one of the dressing-table drawers. But Marette herself had told him to hide behind the curtains if it became necessary, and it was an excusable caution for him to look behind those curtains now, to see what sort of hiding-place he had. He returned to the door first and listened. There was still no sound from below. Then he drew the curtains apart, as Marette had drawn them. Only he looked longer. He would tell her about it when she returned, if the act needed an apology.
His impression was a man’s impression. What he saw was a billowing, filmy mass of soft stuff, and out of it there greeted him the faintest possible scent of lilac sachet powder. He closed the curtains with a deep breath of utter joy and of consternation. The two emotions were a jumble to him. The shoes, all that mass of soft stuff behind the curtains, were exquisitely feminine. The breath of perfume had come to him straight out of a woman’s soul. There were seduction and witchery to it. He saw Marette, an enrapturing vision of loveliness, floating before his eyes in that sacred and mysterious vestment of which he had stolen a half-frightened glimpse. In white—the white, cobwebby thing of laces and embroidery that had hung straight before his eyes—in white— with her glorious black hair, her violet eyes, her—
And then it was that the incongruity of the thing, the almost sheer impossibility of it, clashed in upon his vision. Yet his faith was not shaken. Marette Radisson was of the North. He could not disbelieve that, even in the face of these amazing things that confronted him.
Suddenly he heard a sound that was like the explosion of a gun under his feet. It was the opening and closing of the hall door— but mostly the closing. The slam of it shook the house and rattled the glass in the windows. Kedsty had returned, and he was in a rage. Kent extinguished the light so that the room was in darkness. Then he went to the door. He could hear the quick, heavy tread of Kedsty’s feet After that came the closing of a second door, followed by the rumble of Kedsty’s voice. Kent was disappointed.
The Inspector of Police and Marette were in a room too far distant for him to distinguish what was said. But he knew that Kedsty had returned to barracks and had discovered what had happened there. After an interval his voice was a steady rumble. It rose higher. He heard the crash of a chair. Then the voice ceased, and after it came the tramping of Kedsty’s feet. Not once did he catch the sound of Marette’s voice, but he was sure that in the interval of silence she was talking. Then Kedsty’s voice broke forth more furiously than before. Kent’s fingers dug into the sill of the door. Each moment added to his conviction that Marette was in danger. It was not physical