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The Hollow Needle

1. The Shot
Raymonde listened. The noise was repeated twice over, clearly enough to be
distinguished from the medley of vague sounds that formed the great silence of the night
and yet too faintly to enable her to tell whether it was near or far, within the walls of the
big country- house, or outside, among the murky recesses of the park.
She rose softly. Her window was half open: she flung it back wide. The moonlight lay
over a peaceful landscape of lawns and thickets, against which the straggling ruins of the
old abbey stood out in tragic outlines, truncated columns, mutilated arches, fragments of
porches and shreds of flying buttresses. A light breeze hovered over the face of things,
gliding noiselessly through the bare motionless branches of the trees, but shaking the tiny
budding leaves of the shrubs.
And, suddenly, she heard the same sound again. It was on the left and on the floor below
her, in the living rooms, therefore, that occupied the left wing of the house. Brave and
plucky though she was, the girl felt afraid. She slipped on her dressing gown and took the
matches.
"Raymonde--Raymonde!"
A voice as low as a breath was calling to her from the next room, the door of which had
not been closed. She was feeling her way there, when Suzanne, her cousin, came out of
the room and fell into her arms:
"Raymonde--is that you? Did you hear--?"
"Yes. So you're not asleep?"
"I suppose the dog woke me--some time ago. But he's not barking now. What time is it?"
"About four."
"Listen! Surely, some one's walking in the drawing room!"
"There's no danger, your father is down there, Suzanne."
"But there is danger for him. His room is next to the boudoir."
"M. Daval is there too--"
"At the other end of the house. He could never hear."
 
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