3. And Where Was I When All This
The intensity of the question, the compelling, self-forgetful passion of the man,
had a startling effect upon the crowd of people huddled before him. With one
accord, and without stopping to pick their way, they made for the open doorway,
knocking the smaller pieces of furniture about and creating havoc generally.
Some fled the house; others stopped to peer in again from behind the folds of the
curtain which had been only partially torn from its fastenings. Miss Weeks was
the only one to stand her ground.
When the room was quite cleared and the noise abated (it was a frightful
experience to see how little the judge had been affected by all this hubbub of
combined movement and sound), she stepped within the line of his vision and
lifted her feeble and ineffectual hand in an effort to attract his attention to herself.
But he did not notice her, any more than he had noticed the others. Still looking
in the one direction, he cried aloud in troubled tones:
"She stood there! the woman stood there and I saw her! Where is she now?"
"She is no longer in the house," came in gentle reply from the only one in or out
of the room courageous enough to speak. "She went out when she saw us
coming. We knew that she had no right to be here. That is why we intruded
ourselves, sir. We did not like the looks of her, and so followed her in to prevent
The expletive fell unconsciously. He seemed to be trying to adjust himself to
some mental experience he could neither share with others nor explain to
"She was here, then?--a woman with a little child? It wasn't an illusion, a--."
Memory was coming back and with it a realisation of his position. Stopping short,
he gazed down from his great height upon the trembling little body of whose
identity he had but a vague idea, and thundered out in great indignation:
"How dared you! How dared she!" Then as his mind regained its full poise, "And
how, even if you had the temerity to venture an entrance here, did you manage
to pass my gates? They are never open. Bela sees to that."
He may have observed the pallor which blanched her small, tense features as
this name fell so naturally from his lips, or some instinct of his own may have led
him to suspect tragedy where all was so abnormally still, for, as she watched,
she saw his eyes, fixed up to now upon her face, leave it and pass furtively and
with many hesitations from object to object, towards that spot behind him, where
lay the source of her great terror, if not of his. So lingeringly and with such dread
was this done, that she could barely hold back her weak woman's scream in the
intensity of her suspense. She knew just where his glances fell without following
them with her own. She saw them pass the door where so many faces yet
peered in (he saw them not), and creep along the wall beyond, inch by inch,