Blair shot a quick look at him, as though Craig in his knowledge were uncanny. Apparently, the address had been a secret which he thought we did not know.
I managed to find an officer and dispatch him for the Rapports. A hospital orderly, I thought, would serve to get Dr. Vaughn.
THE SERPENT’S TOOTH
I had scarcely returned to the ward when, suddenly, an unnatural strength seemed to be infused into Veda.
She had risen in bed.
“It shall not catch me!” she cried in a new paroxysm of nameless terror. “No—no—it is pursuing me. I am never out of its grasp. I have been thought six feet underground—I know it. There it is again—still driving me—still driving me!
“Will it never stop? Will no one stop it? Save me! It—is the death thought!”
She had risen convulsively and had drawn back in abject, cowering terror. What was it she saw? Evidently it was very real and very awful. It pursued her relentlessly.
As she lay there, rolling her eyes about, she caught sight of us and recognized us for the first time, although she had been calling for us.
“They had the thought on you, too, Professor Kennedy,” she almost screamed. “Hour after hour, Rapport and the rest repeated over and over again, ‘Why does not some one kill him? Why does he not die?’ They knew you—even when I brought you to the Red Lodge. They thought you were a spy.”
I turned to Kennedy. He had advanced and was leaning over to catch every word. Blair was standing behind me and she had not seen her husband yet. A quick glance showed me that he was trembling from head to foot like a leaf, as though he, too, were pursued by the nameless terror.
“What did they do?” Kennedy asked in a low tone.
Fearfully, gripping the bars of the iron bed, as though they were some tangible support for her mind, she answered: “They would get together. ‘Now, all of you,’ they said, ’unite yourselves in thought against our enemy, against Kennedy, that he must leave off persecuting us. He is ripe for destruction!’”
Kennedy glanced sidewise at me, with a significant look.
“God grant,” she implored, “that none haunt me for what I have done in my ignorance!”
Just then the door opened and my messenger entered, accompanied by Dr. Vaughn.
I had turned to catch the expression on Blair’s face just in time. It was a look of abject appeal.
Before Dr. Vaughn could ask a question, or fairly take in the situation, Kennedy had faced him.
“What was the purpose of all that elaborate mummery out at the Red Lodge?” asked Kennedy pointblank.
I think I looked at Craig in no less amazement than Vaughn. In spite of the dramatic scenes through which we had passed, the spell of the occult had not fallen on him for an instant.