The Lair of the White Worm HTML version

19. An Enemy In The Dark
Adam Salton went for a walk before returning to Lesser Hill; he felt that it might be well,
not only to steady his nerves, shaken by the horrible scene, but to get his thoughts into
some sort of order, so as to be ready to enter on the matter with Sir Nathaniel. He was a
little embarrassed as to telling his uncle, for affairs had so vastly progressed beyond his
original view that he felt a little doubtful as to what would be the old gentleman's attitude
when he should hear of the strange events for the first time. Mr. Salton would certainly
not be satisfied at being treated as an outsider with regard to such things, most of which
had points of contact with the inmates of his own house. It was with an immense sense of
relief that Adam heard that his uncle had telegraphed to the housekeeper that he was
detained by business at Walsall, where he would remain for the night; and that he would
be back in the morning in time for lunch.
When Adam got home after his walk, he found Sir Nathaniel just going to bed. He did
not say anything to him then of what had happened, but contented himself with arranging
that they would walk together in the early morning, as he had much to say that would
require serious attention.
Strangely enough he slept well, and awoke at dawn with his mind clear and his nerves in
their usual unshaken condition. The maid brought up, with his early morning cup of tea, a
note which had been found in the letter-box. It was from Lady Arabella, and was
evidently intended to put him on his guard as to what he should say about the previous
He read it over carefully several times, before he was satisfied that he had taken in its full
"I cannot go to bed until I have written to you, so you must forgive me if I disturb you,
and at an unseemly time. Indeed, you must also forgive me if, in trying to do what is
right, I err in saying too much or too little. The fact is that I am quite upset and unnerved
by all that has happened in this terrible night. I find it difficult even to write; my hands
shake so that they are not under control, and I am trembling all over with memory of the
horrors we saw enacted before our eyes. I am grieved beyond measure that I should be,
however remotely, a cause of this horror coming on you. Forgive me if you can, and do
not think too hardly of me. This I ask with confidence, for since we shared together the
danger--the very pangs--of death, I feel that we should be to one another something more
than mere friends, that I may lean on you and trust you, assured that your sympathy and
pity are for me. You really must let me thank you for the friendliness, the help, the
confidence, the real aid at a time of deadly danger and deadly fear which you showed me.
That awful man--I shall see him for ever in my dreams. His black, malignant face will
shut out all memory of sunshine and happiness. I shall eternally see his evil eyes as he
threw himself into that well-hole in a vain effort to escape from the consequences of his