“I am afraid,” she said, “that you are not really fond of me.”
“Can’t you believe,” he asked hoarsely, “that I am really Everard—your husband? Look at me. Can’t you feel that you have loved me before?”
She shook her head a little sadly.
“No, you are not Everard,” she sighed; “but,” she added, her eyes lighting up, “you bring me love and happiness and life, and—”
A few seconds before, Dominey felt from his soul that he would have welcomed an earthquake, a thunderbolt, the crumbling of the floor beneath his feet to have been spared the torture of her sweet importunities. Yet nothing so horrible as this interruption which really came could ever have presented itself before his mind. Half in his arms, with her head thrown back, listening—he, too, horrified, convulsed for a moment even with real physical fear—they heard the silence of the night broken by that one awful cry, the cry of a man’s soul in torment, imprisoned in the jaws of a beast. They listened to it together until its echoes died away. Then what was, perhaps, the most astonishing thing of all, she nodded her head slowly, unperturbed, unterrified.
“You see,” she said, “I must go back. He will not let me stay here. He must think that you are Everard. It is only I who know that you are not.”
She slipped from the chair, kissed him, and, walking quite firmly across the floor, touched the spring and passed through the panel. Even then she turned around and waved a little good-bye to him. There was no sign of fear in her face; only a little dumb disappointment. The panel glided to and shut out the vision of her. Dominey held his head like a man who fears madness.
Dawn the next morning was heralded by only a thin line of red parting the masses of black-grey snow clouds which still hung low down in the east. The wind had dropped, and there was something ghostly about the still twilight as Dominey issued from the back regions and made his way through the untrodden snow round to the side of the house underneath Rosamund’s window. A little exclamation broke from his lips as he stood there. From the terraced walks, down the steps, and straight across the park to the corner of the Black Wood, were fresh tracks. The cry had been no fantasy. Somebody or something had passed from the Black Wood and back again to this spot in the night.
Dominey, curiously excited by his discovery, examined the footmarks eagerly, then followed them to the corner of the wood. Here and there they puzzled him. They were neither like human footsteps nor the track of any known animal. At the edge of the wood they seemed to vanish into the heart of a great mass of brambles, from which here and there the snow had been shaken off. There was no sign of any pathway; if ever there had been one, the neglect of years had obliterated it. Bracken, brambles, shrubs and