Somehow as Dirk thought thus he grew afraid; it seemed to him as though he shared that place with another presence, an evil and malignant presence. Never in his life before had he troubled over or been troubled by tales of spirits, yet now he remembered Montalvo’s remark about a ghost, and of a surety he felt as though one were with him there. In this strange and new alarm he sought for comfort and could think of none save that which an old and simple pastor had recommended to him in all hours of doubt and danger, namely, if it could be had, to clasp a Bible to his heart and pray.
Well, both things were easy. Raising himself in bed, in a moment he had taken the book from its hiding-place and closed the panel. Then pressing it against his breast between himself and the mattress he lay down again, and it would seem that the charm worked, for presently he was asleep.
Yet Dirk dreamed a very evil dream. He dreamed that a tall black figure leaned over him, and that a long white hand was stretched out to his bed-head where it wandered to and fro, till at last he heard the panel slide home with a rattling noise.
Then it seemed to him that he woke, and that his eyes met two eyes bent down over him, eyes which searched him as though they would read the very secrets of his heart. He did not stir, he could not, but lo! in this dream of his the figure straightened itself and glided away, appearing and disappearing as it crossed the bars of moonlight until it vanished by the door.
A while later and Dirk woke up in truth, to find that although the night was cold enough the sweat ran in big drops from his brow and body. But now strangely enough his fear was gone, and, knowing that he had but dreamed a dream, he turned over, touched the Bible on his breast, and fell sleeping like a child, to be awakened only by the light of the rising winter sun pouring on his face.
Then Dirk remembered that dream of the bygone night, and his heart grew heavy, for it seemed to him that this vision of a dark woman searching his face with those dreadful eyes was a portent of evil not far away.
THE BETROTHAL OF LYSBETH
On the following morning when Montalvo entered his private room after breakfast, he found a lady awaiting him, in whom, notwithstanding the long cloak and veil she wore, he had little difficulty in recognising Black Meg. In fact Black Meg had been waiting some while, and being a person of industrious habits she had not neglected to use her time to the best advantage.