Arthur would not leave Skene. He spent long hours by himself in the country and Susie and the doctor had no idea what he did. Several days went by. At last Susie decided to make one more attempt. It was late at night, and they sat with open windows in the sitting-room of the inn.
“Arthur, you must tell us what you are going to do,” she said. “It is useless to stay here. We are all ill and nervous. We want you to come away with us tomorrow.”
“You can go if you like,” he said. “I shall remain till that man is dead.”
“It is madness to talk like that. You can do nothing.”
“I have made up my mind.”
‘The law can offer you no help and what else can you do?” “If I can do nothing else, I shall kill him myself.” She could think of nothing to say, and for a while they remained in silence. It was so still in the room, as though it was empty. Suddenly there was a loud rattle of thunder. It was so loud that it seemed to be above their heads.
The lamp went out so suddenly that Susie was a little frightened. They were in total darkness. The night was very black, and they could not see the window which opened on to the back yard.
Suddenly Susie’s heart sank, and she sprang up.
‘There’s someone in the room.”
She had just uttered these words when she heard Arthur fling himself upon the intruder. She knew at once, by an intuition, that it was Haddo. But how had he come in? What did he want? She tried to cry out, but no sound came from her throat. Dr. Porhoet did not move. He made no sound. She knew that an awful struggle was going on. It was a struggle to the death between two men who hated one another but the most terrible part of it was that nothing was heard. She tried to do something but she could not move. They struggled silently, hand to hand, and Arthur knew that his strength was greater. He clenched his teeth
and tightened his muscles. It seemed for hours that they struggled.
All at once Haddo collapsed and they fell heavily to the ground. Arthur seized the huge throat and dug his fingers into it; he was strangling him, strangling the life out of him. He knew now that his enemy was in his power at last. He wanted light so that he could see the horror on that fat face, and the deadly fear in his eyes. He forgot everything; he was mad with rage and anger, and hate and sorrow. And at last all was still, and he knew that his enemy was dead. He put one hand over the heart. It would never beat again. The man was stone dead. Arthur got up and straightened himself. Susie heard him, and at last she could speak.
“Arthur, what have you done?”
“I’ve killed him,” he said hoarsely.
“O God, what shall we do?”
Arthur began to laugh aloud, hysterically, and in the darkness his laugh was terrifying.
‘For God’s sake let us have some light.”
“I’ve found the matches,” said Dr. Porhoet; He lit the lamp and held it forward. They looked down on the floor to see the man who lay there dead. Susie gave a sudden cry of horror.
There was no one there.
Arthur stepped back in terrified surprise. There was no one in the room, living or dead, except the three friends. Susie’s self control left her and she sobbed as though her heart would break. Arthur took her hand.
“It’s all right,” he said. “You need not be afraid. We’re going now to Skene.”
She sprang up to her feet, as though to get away from him. “No, I can’t. I’m frightened.”
“We must see what it means. We have no time to lose, or the morning will be upon us before we get back.” She tried to stop him.
“Oh, for God’s sake, don’t go, Arthur. Something awful may await you there. Don’t risk your life.