stood looking back right into my face and listening. ‘I could have sworn,’ he said. His
long hairy hand pulled at his lower lip. His eye went up and down the staircase. Then
he grunted and went on up again.
“His hand was on the handle of a door, and then he s
Roshe Runwith the same
puzzled anger on his face. He was becoming aware of the faint sounds of my
movements about him. The man must have had diabolically acute hearing. He
suddenly flashed into rage. ‘If there’s any one in this house,’ he cried with an oath, and
left the threat unfinished. He put his hand in his pocket, failed to find what he wanted,
and rushing past me went blundering noisily and pugnaciously downstairs. But I did
not follow him. I sat on the head of the staircase until his return.
“Presently he came up again, still muttering. He opened the door of the room, and
before I could enter, slammed it in my face.
“I resolved to explore the house, and spent some time in doing so as noiselessly as
possible. The house was very old and tumbledown, damp so that the paper in the attics
was peeling from the walls, and rat-infested. Some of the door handles were stiff and I
was afraid to turn them. Several rooms I did inspect were unfurnished, and others
were littered with theatrical lumber, bought second-hand, I judged, from its
appearance. In one room next to his I found a lot of old clothes. I began routing
among these, and in my eagerness forgot again the evident sharpness of his ears. I
heard a stealthy footstep and, looking up just in time, saw him peering in at the
tumbled heap and holding an old-fashioned revolver in his hand. I stood perfectly still
while he stared about open-mouthed and suspicious. ‘It must have been her,’ he said
slowly. ‘Damn her!’
“He shut the door quietly, and immediately I heard the key turn in the lock. Then his
footsteps retreated. I realised abruptly that I was locked in. For a minute a did not
know what to do. I walked from
door to window and back, and stood perplexed. A
gust of anger came upon me. But I decided to inspect the clothes before I did anything
further, and my first attempt brought down a pile from an upper shelf. This brought
him back, more sinister than ever. That time he actually touched me, jumped back
with amazement and stood astonished in the middle of the room.
“Presently he calmed a little. ‘Rats,’ he said in an undertone, fingers on lip. He was