I ran downstairs and looked in the sitting room. Not there! Then I looked in all the
other rooms of the house, with an ever-growing fear chilling my heart. Finally, I
came to the hall door and found it open. It was not wide open, but the catch of
the lock had not caught. The people of the house are careful to lock the door
every night, so I feared that Lucy must have gone out as she was. There was no
time to think of what might happen. A vague over-mastering fear obscured all
I took a big, heavy shawl and ran out. The clock was striking one as I was in the
Crescent, and there was not a soul in sight. I ran along the North Terrace, but
could see no sign of the white figure which I expected. At the edge of the West
Cliff above the pier I looked across the harbour to the East Cliff, in the hope or
fear, I don't know which, of seeing Lucy in our favorite seat.
There was a bright full moon, with heavy black, driving clouds, which threw the
whole scene into a fleeting diorama of light and shade as they sailed across. For
a moment or two I could see nothing, as the shadow of a cloud obscured St.
Mary's Church and all around it. Then as the cloud passed I could see the ruins
of the abbey coming into view, and as the edge of a narrow band of light as
sharp as a sword-cut moved along, the church and churchyard became gradually
visible. Whatever my expectation was, it was not disappointed, for there, on our
favorite seat, the silver light of the moon struck a half-reclining figure, snowy
white. The coming of the cloud was too quick for me to see much, for shadow
shut down on light almost immediately, but it seemed to me as though something
dark stood behind the seat where the white figure shone, and bent over it. What it
was, whether man or beast, I could not tell.
I did not wait to catch another glance, but flew down the steep steps to the pier
and along by the fish-market to the bridge, which was the only way to reach the
East Cliff. The town seemed as dead, for not a soul did I see. I rejoiced that it
was so, for I wanted no witness of poor Lucy's condition. The time and distance
seemed endless, and my knees trembled and my breath came laboured as I
toiled up the endless steps to the abbey. I must have gone fast, and yet it
seemed to me as if my feet were weighted with lead, and as though every joint in
my body were rusty.
When I got almost to the top I could see the seat and the white figure, for I was
now close enough to distinguish it even through the spells of shadow. There was
undoubtedly something, long and black, bending over the half-reclining white
figure. I called in fright, "Lucy! Lucy!" and something raised a head, and from
where I was I could see a white face and red, gleaming eyes.
Lucy did not answer, and I ran on to the entrance of the churchyard. As I entered,
the church was between me and the seat, and for a minute or so I lost sight of
her. When I came in view again the cloud had passed, and the moonlight struck
so brilliantly that I could see Lucy half reclining with her head lying over the back
of the seat. She was quite alone, and there was not a sign of any living thing
When I bent over her I could see that she was still asleep. Her lips were parted,
and she was breathing, not softly as usual with her, but in long, heavy gasps, as
though striving to get her lungs full at every breath. As I came close, she put up