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Bat Wing

17.
Night Of The Full Moon
I stood at Harley's open window--looking down in the Tudor garden. The moon,
like a silver mirror, hung in a cloudless sky. Over an hour had elapsed since I had
heard Pedro making his nightly rounds. Nothing whatever of an unusual nature
had occurred, and although Harley and I had listened for any sound of nocturnal
footsteps, our vigilance had passed unrewarded. Harley, unrolling the Chinese
ladder, had set out upon a secret tour of the grounds, warning me that it must be
a long business, since the brilliance of the moonlight rendered it necessary that
he should make a wide detour, in order to avoid possible observation from the
windows. I had wished to join him, but:
"I count it most important that one of us should remain in the house," he had
replied.
As a result, here was I at the open window, questioning the shadows to right and
left of me, and every moment expecting to see Harley reappear. I wondered what
discoveries he would make. It would not have surprised me to learn that there
were lights in many windows of Cray's Folly to-night.
Although, when we had rejoined the ladies for half an hour, after leaving Colonel
Menendez's room, there had been no overt reference to the menace overhanging
the house, yet, as we separated for the night, I had detected again in Val
Beverley's eyes that look of repressed fear.
I wondered now, as I gazed down into the moon-bathed gardens, if Harley and I
were the only wakeful members of the household at that hour. I should have
been prepared to wager that there were others. I thought of the strange footsteps
which so often passed Miss Beverley's room, and I discovered this thought to be
an uncomfortable one.
Normally, I was sceptical enough, but on this night of the full moon as I stood
there at the window, the horrors which Colonel Menendez had related to us grew
very real in my eyes, and I thought that the mysteries of Voodoo might conceal
strange and ghastly truths, "The scientific employment of darkness against light."
Colin Camber's words leapt unbidden to my mind; and, such is the magic of
moonlight, they became invested with a new and a deeper significance. Strange,
that theories which one rejects whilst the sun is shining should assume a spectral
shape in the light of the moon.
Such were my musings, when suddenly I heard a faint sound as of footsteps
crunching upon gravel. I leaned farther out of the window, listening intently. I
could not believe that Harley would be guilty of such an indiscretion as this, yet
who else could be walking upon the path below?
As I watched, craning from the window, a tall figure appeared, and, slowly
crossing the gravel path, descended the moss-grown steps to the Tudor garden.
It was Colonel Menendez!
He was bare-headed, but fully dressed as I had seen him in the smoking- room;
and not yet grasping the portent of his appearance at that hour, but merely
wondering why he had not yet retired, I continued to watch him. As I did so,
 
 
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