“And well that it is…” I said as I shoveled the last bit of earth over the fragments of that shattered stone.
I gazed at Jones. His lip was aquiver. It was odd to see such a tall man so contorted by fear.
“Take courage…what can they do…they have no flesh.”
“Is there something you want to tell me Fred?”
He stared into the middle distance for an inordinate period.
“It’s not true.” He said so faintly that I could barely discern the words among the woodland noises.
“What’s not true?”
“That they do not have flesh.”
I laughed heartily and slapped him on the back.
“You take that Crowley fellow far too seriously. The man is a charlatan… a con artist. Thrilling conversationalist when he’s in a pleasant mood… but damn it man! He’s as unemployed as I and utterly lacking in inheritance. Charms and perversions have long been the trade of loafers the world over.”
Jones shook his head. “No…no…I saw them..”
I laughed again. This was a welcome break from the monotony of musing on my failures. “My man we have spent too many nights on the moors. I myself have had strange nauseas and fancies and I was born here. This desolate house is no place for an opium hound like yourself.”
“I have not touched the stuff in three years. I’m quite sane Roderick…a bit too sane really…a certain sleep has left me. I must say…I do not fancy the light of dawn.”
His words had a certain poetic quality that made them settle in my brain most oddly. I was momentarily dumbfounded.
“Look! Opium or no opium all this hullabaloo with spirits and orders and the like. These are fantasies. I mean we entered into this for the fun of it for the distraction…to rid ourselves of moneyed dissipation and now…it’s gone too far…we must quit this place Freddy. Let’s go to Spain …Italy even.”
“He is in Italy.”
“Perdurabo and his chief…”
I had no idea what he was talking about nor did I have time to question him because just then I turned round to glance back towards the house. A figure was dashing towards us across the moors.
“What on earth…!”
I took out my binoculars. It was Beatrice! Her red locks all akilter my revolver in her hand…I’d never seen her run so fast.
I lowered the glass and just stood and stared while Jones leaned against a tree.
In the span of a quarter hour the diminutive figure reached us. To my great surprise I saw that she was barefoot.
I stared as she collapsed a few steps in front of me breathing heavily.
I leaned down and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Betty…betty what is it?”
And odd sort of half groan half whimper came from the quivering nightgown that lay before me.
“Roderick…” She hissed…. “Roderick…the house…the singing…”
“Beg your pardon?”
I felt a hand on my shoulder. Wheeling round I saw Jones face wear a somber tight lipped expression that sent shivers throughout my frame.
It was unbearably hot and humid. The grim face that the hand on my shoulder possessed belonged to Graham Hoyt. His words were quite at odds with his bearing. “Are you coming to dinner?”
I rose from my folding chair and followed Hoyt to the mess tent.
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