The House on the Borderland
8. After The Attack
"IT WAS NOW about three a.m., and, presently, the Eastern sky began to pale with the
coming of dawn. Gradually, the day came, and, by its light, I scanned the gardens,
earnestly; but nowhere could I see any signs of the brutes. I leant over, and glanced down
to the foot of the wall, to see whether the body of the Thing I had shot the night before
was still there. It was gone. I supposed that others of the monsters had removed it during
the night. "Then, I went down on to the roof, and crossed over to the gap from which the
coping stone had fallen. Reaching it, I looked over. Yes, there was the stone, as I had
seen it last; but there was no appearance of anything beneath it; nor could I see the
creatures I had killed, after its fall. Evidently, they also had been taken away. I turned,
and went down to my study. There, I sat down, wearily. I was thoroughly tired. It was
quite light now; though the sun's rays were not, as yet, perceptibly hot. A clock chimed
the hour of four.
"I awoke, with a start, and looked round, hurriedly. The clock in the corner, indicated that
it was three o'clock. It was already afternoon. I must have slept for nearly eleven hours.
"With a jerky movement, I sat forward in the chair, and listened. The house was perfectly
silent. Slowly, I stood up, and yawned. I felt desperately tired, still, and sat down again;
wondering what it was that had waked me.
"It must have been the clock striking, I concluded, presently; and was commencing to
doze off, when a sudden noise brought me back, once more, to life. It was the sound of a
step, as of a person moving cautiously down the corridor, towards my study. In an
instant, I was on my feet, and grasping my rifle. Noiselessly, I waited. Had the creatures
broken in, whilst I slept? Even as I questioned, the steps reached my door, halted
momentarily, and then continued down the passage. Silently, I tiptoed to the doorway,
and peeped out. Then, I experienced such a feeling of relief, as must a reprieved criminal-
-it was my sister. She was going towards the stairs.
"I stepped into the hall, and was about to call to her, when it occurred to me, that it was
very queer she should have crept past my door, in that stealthy manner. I was puzzled,
and, for one brief moment, the thought occupied my mind, that it was not she, but some
fresh mystery of the house. Then, as I caught a glimpse of her old petticoat, the thought
passed as quickly as it had come, and I half laughed. There could be no mistaking that
ancient garment. Yet, I wondered what she was doing; and, remembering her condition of
mind, on the previous day, I felt that it might be best to follow, quietly--taking care not to
alarm her--and see what she was going to do. If she behaved rationally, well and good; if
not, I should have to take steps to restrain her. I could run no unnecessary risks, under the
danger that threatened us.
"Quickly, I reached the head of the stairs, and paused a moment. Then, I heard a sound
that sent me leaping down, at a mad rate--it was the rattle of bolts being unshot. That
foolish sister of mine was actually unbarring the back door.