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were of the nature of barks. Although I say I dreamed this, I am not at all sure I did not actually see it taking place. The purse was drawn from my trousers pocket ; something was taken out of it. I distinctly heard the chink of money, and then the purse was returned to where it was before. My watch and chain were taken, the studs out of my shirt, the links from my wrist-bands. My pocket-book was treated as my purse had been-something was taken out of it, and the book returned. My keys were taken. My dressing-bag was taken from the rack, opened, and articles were taken out of it, though I could not see what articles they were. was replaced on the rack, the keys in my pocket.”
“Didn't you see the face of the person who did all this ? "
“That was the curious part of it. I tried to, but I failed. It seemed to me that the face was hidden by a veil. ”
"The thing was simple enough. We shall have to look for your young gentleman friend."
“Wait till I have finished. The thing- I say the thing because, in my dream, I was strongly, nay, horribly under the impression that I was at the mercy of some sort of animal, some creature of the ape or monkey tribe.”
“There, certainly, you dreamed."
“You think so ? Still, wait a moment. The thing, whatever it was, when it had robbed me, opened my shirt at the breast, and, deliberately tearing my skin with what seemed to me to be its talons, put its mouth to the wound, and, gathering my flesh between its teeth, bit me to the bone. Here is sufficient evidence to prove that then, at least, I did not dream."
Unbuttoning my shirt I showed Mr. Davis the open cicatrice.
“The pain was so intense that it awoke me. I sprang to my feet. I saw the thing."
" You saw it?"
"I saw it. It was crouching at the other end of the carriage. The door was open. I saw it for an instant as it leaped into the night.”
“At what rate do you suppose the train was travelling ?”
"The carriage blinds were drawn. The train had just left Newton Abbot. The creature must have been biting me when the train was tually drawn up at the platform. It leaped out of the carriage as train was restarting.” And you say you saw the face ?" did.
s the face of a devil.”
to see how it goes ?"
“I wish I were, my lad, but I am not. It was the face of a devil -so hideous a face that the only detail I was able to grasp was that it had a pair of eyes which gleamed at me like burning coals."
“Where was the young gentleman ?” “He had disappeared.”
“Precisely. And I suppose you did not only dream you had been robbed ?"
“I had been robbed of everything which was of the slightest value, except eighteen shillings-exactly that sum had been left in my purse.'
“Now, perhaps you will give me the description of the young gentleman and his flask.”
“ I swear it was not he who robbed me."
“The possibility is that he was disguised. To my eye it seems unreasonable to suppose that he should have removed his disguise while engaged in the very act of robbing you. Anyhow, you give me his description, and I shouldn't be surprised if I was able to lay my finger on him on the spot."
I described him—the well-knit young man, with his merry eyes, his slight moustache, his graceful manners.
“If he was a thief, then I am no judge of character. There was something about him which, to my eyes, marked him as emphatically a gentleman."
The detective only smiled.
“The first thing I shall have to do will be to telegraph all over the country a list of the stolen property. Then I may possibly treat myself to a little private think. Your story is rather a curious one, Mr. Fountain ; and then later in the day I may want to say a word or two to you again-I shall find you here ?"
I said that he would. When he had gone I sat down and wrote a letter. When I had finished the letter I went along the corridor towards the front door of the hotel.
As I was going I saw in front of me a figure—the figure of a man. He was standing still, and his back was turned my way. But something about him struck me with such a sudden force of recognition that, stopping short, I stared. I suppose I must, unconsciously, have uttered some sort of exclamation, because the instant I stopped short, with a quick movement he wheeled right round. We faced each other.
“ You !" I exclaimed.
I hurried forward with a cry of recognition. He advanced, as I thought, to greet me. But he had only taken a step or two in my direction when he turned into a room upon his right, and, shutting the door behind him, disappeared.
· The man in the train !” I told myself.
If I had had any doubt upon the subject his sudden disappearance would have cleared my doubt away. If he was anxious to avoid a meeting with me all the more reason why I should seek an interview with him. I went to the door of the room which he had entered and, without the slightest hesitation, I turned the handle. The room was empty—there could be no doubt of that. It was an ordinary hotel sitting-room, own brother to the one which I occupied myself, and, as I saw at a glance, contained no article of furniture behind which a person could be concealed. But at the other side of the room was another door.
“My gentleman,” I said, “has gone through that.”
Crossing the room, again I turned the handle. This time without result—the door was locked. I rapped against the panels. Instantly someone addressed me from within.
The voice, to my surprise, and also somewhat to my discomfiture, was a woman's.
“Excuse me, but might I say one word to the gentleman who has just entered the room ?”
“ What's that? Who are you?"
The door opened. A woman appeared—the lady whom the waiter had said he believed was a Mrs. Jaynes, and who had advanced that curious theory about a mask being made to imitate the human face. She had a dressing jacket on, and her glorious hair was flowing loose over her shoulders. I was so surprised to see her that for a moment I was tongue-tied. The surprise seemed to be mutual, for, with a pretty air of bewilderment, stepping back into the room she partially closed the door.
“I thought it was the waiter. May I ask, sir, what it is you want ?"
“I beg ten thousand pardons ; but might I just have one word with your husband ?”.
“With whom, sir?" “Your husband.” “My husband ?” Again throwing the door wide open she stood and stared at me.
“I refer, madam, to the gentleman whom I just saw enter the room.”
“I don't know if you intend an impertinence, sir, or merely a
Her lip curled, her eyes flashed-it was plain she was offended.
“I just saw, madam, in the corridor a gentleman with whom I travelled yesterday from London. I advanced to meet him. As I did so he turned into your sitting-room. When I followed him I found it empty, so I took it for granted he had come in here.”
“You are mistaken, sir. I know no gentleman in the hotel. As for my husband, my husband has been dead three years."
I could not contradict her, yet it was certain I had seen the stranger turn into the outer room. I told her so.
“ If any man entered my sitting-room-which was an unwarrantable liberty to take-he must be in it now. Except yourself no one has come near my bedroom. I have had the door locked, and, as you see, I have been dressing. Are you sure you have not been dreaming?"
If I had been dreaming I had been dreaming with my eyes wide open ; and yet, if I had seen the man enter the room—and I could have sworn I had—where was he now? She offered, with scathing irony, to let me examine her own apartment. Indeed, she opened the door so wide that I could see all over it from where I stood. It was plain enough that, with the exception of herself, it had no occupant.
And yet, I asked myself, as I retreated with my tail a little between my legs, how could I have been mistaken? The only hypothesis I could hit upon was, that my thoughts had been so deeply engaged upon the matter that they had made me the victim of hallucination. Perhaps my nervous system had temporarily been disorganised by my misadventures of the day before. And yet-and this was the final conclusion to which I came upon the matter-if I had not seen my fellow-passenger standing in front of me, a creature of flesh and blood, I would never trust the evidence of my eyes again. The most ardent ghost-seer never saw a ghost in the middle of the day.
I went for a walk towards Babbicombe. My nerves might be a little out of order—though not to the extent of seeing things which were non-existent, and it was quite possible that fresh air and exercise might do them good. I lunched at Babbicombe, spending the afternoon, as the weather was so fine, upon the seashore, in company with my thoughts, a pipe, and a book. But as the day wore on a sea mist stole over the land, and as I returned Torquaywards it was already growing dusk. I went back by way of the seafront. As I was passing Hesketh Crescent I stood for a moment looking out into the gloom which was gathering over the sea. As I
looked I heard, or I thought that I heard, a sound just behind me. As I heard it the blood seemed to run cold in my veins, and I had to clutch at the coping of the sea-wall to prevent my knees from giving way from under me. It was the sound which I had heard in my dream in the train, and which had seemed to come from the creature which was robbing me, the cry or bark of some wild beast. It came once, one short, quick, gasping bark, then all was still. I looked round, fearing to see I know not what. Nothing was in sight. Yet, although nothing could be seen, I felt that there was something there. But, as the silence continued, I began to laugh at myself beneath my breath. I had not supposed that I was such a coward to be frightened at less than a shadow! Moving away from the walk, I was about to resume my walk, when it came again, the choking, breathless bark—so close to me that I seemed to feel the warm breath upon my cheek. Looking swiftly round, I saw, almost touching mine, the face of the creature which I had seen, but only for an instant, in the train.
II. “ Are you ill?” "I
am a little tired.” “ You look as though you had seen a ghost. I am sure you are not well.”
I did not feel well. I felt as though I had seen a ghost, and something worse than a ghost ! I had found my way back to the hotel-how I scarcely knew. The first person I met was Mrs. Jaynes. She was in the garden, which ran all round the building. My appearance seemed to occasion her anxiety.
“I am sure you are not well! Do sit down! Let me get you something to drink.” “ Thanks. I think I will go to my own room.
I have not been very well lately. A little upsets me.”
She seemed reluctant to let me go. Her solicitude was flattering ; though if there had been a little less of it I should have been equally content. She even offered me her arm. That I laughingly declined. I was not quite in such a piteous plight as to be in need of that. At last I escaped her. As I entered my sitting-room someone rose to greet me. It was Mr. Davis.
“Mr. Fountain, are you not well ?” My appearance seemed to strike him as it had struck the lady.
“I have had a shock. Will you ring the bell and order me some brandy?”.