Chapter XIII: Awaking From the Trance
The first unexpected words may always startle a hearer; but when the
shock is over, the listener's reason has asserted itself, and he can
judge of the manner, as well as of the matter, of speech. Thus it was
on this occasion. With intelligence now alert, I could not doubt of the
simple sincerity of Margaret's next question.
"What have you two men been talking about all this time, Mr. Ross? I
suppose, Mr. Corbeck has been telling you all his adventures in finding
the lamps. I hope you will tell me too, some day, Mr. Corbeck; but that
must not be till my poor Father is better. He would like, I am sure, to
tell me all about these things himself; or to be present when I heard
them." She glanced sharply from one to the other. "Oh, that was what
you were saying as I came in? All right! I shall wait; but I hope it
won't be long. The continuance of Father's condition is, I feel,
breaking me down. A little while ago I felt that my nerves were giving
out; so I determined to go out for a walk in the Park. I am sure it
will do me good. I want you, if you will, Mr. Ross, to be with Father
whilst I am away. I shall feel secure then."
I rose with alacrity, rejoicing that the poor girl was going out, even
for half an hour. She was looking terribly wearied and haggard; and the
sight of her pale cheeks made my heart ache. I went to the sick-room;
and sat down in my usual place. Mrs. Grant was then on duty; we had not
found it necessary to have more than one person in the room during the
day. When I came in, she took occasion to go about some household duty.
The blinds were up, but the north aspect of the room softened the hot
glare of the sunlight without.
I sat for a long time thinking over all that Mr. Corbeck had told me;
and weaving its wonders into the tissue of strange things which had come
to pass since I had entered the house. At times I was inclined to
doubt; to doubt everything and every one; to doubt even the evidences of
my own five senses. The warnings of the skilled detective kept coming
back to my mind. He had put down Mr. Corbeck as a clever liar, and a
confederate of Miss Trelawny. Of Margaret! That settled it! Face to
face with such a proposition as that, doubt vanished. Each time when
her image, her name, the merest thought of her, came before my mind,
each event stood out stark as a living fact. My life upon her faith!
I was recalled from my reverie, which was fast becoming a dream of love,
in a startling manner. A voice came from the bed; a deep, strong,
masterful voice. The first note of it called up like a clarion my eyes
and my ears. The sick man was awake and speaking!
"Who are you? What are you doing here?"
Whatever ideas any of us had ever formed of his waking, I am quite sure
that none of us expected to see him start up all awake and full master
of himself. I was so surprised that I answered almost mechanically:
"Ross is my name. I have been watching by you!" He looked surprised
for an instant, and then I could see that his habit of judging for
himself came into play.
"Watching by me! How do you mean? Why watching by me?" His eye had
now lit on his heavily bandaged wrist. He went on in a different tone;
less aggressive, more genial, as of one accepting facts:
"Are you a doctor?" I felt myself almost smiling as I answered; the
relief from the long pressure of anxiety regarding his life was
beginning to tell:
"Then why are you here? If you are not a doctor, what are you?" His
tone was again more dictatorial. Thought is quick; the whole train of
reasoning on which my answer must be based flooded through my brain
before the words could leave my lips. Margaret! I must think of
Margaret! This was her father, who as yet knew nothing of me; even of
my very existence. He would be naturally curious, if not anxious, to
know why I amongst men had been chosen as his daughter's friend on the
occasion of his illness. Fathers are naturally a little jealous in such
matters as a daughter's choice, and in the undeclared state of my love
for Margaret I must do nothing which could ultimately embarrass her.
"I am a Barrister. It is not, however, in that capacity I am here; but
simply as a friend of your daughter. It was probably her knowledge of
my being a lawyer which first determined her to ask me to come when she
thought you had been murdered. Afterwards she was good enough to
consider me to be a friend, and to allow me to remain in accordance with
your expressed wish that someone should remain to watch."
Mr. Trelawny was manifestly a man of quick thought, and of few words.
He gazed at me keenly as I spoke, and his piercing eyes seemed to read
my thought. To my relief he said no more on the subject just then,
seeming to accept my words in simple faith. There was evidently in his
own mind some cause for the acceptance deeper than my own knowledge.
His eyes flashed, and there was an unconscious movement of the mouth--it
could hardly be called a twitch--which betokened satisfaction. He was
following out some train of reasoning in his own mind. Suddenly he
"She thought I had been murdered! Was that last night?"
"No! four days ago." He seemed surprised. Whilst he had been speaking
the first time he had sat up in bed; now he made a movement as though he
would jump out. With an effort, however, he restrained himself; leaning
back on his pillows he said quietly:
"Tell me all about it! All you know! Every detail! Omit nothing! But
stay; first lock the door! I want to know, before I see anyone, exactly
how things stand."
Somehow his last words made my heart leap. "Anyone!" He evidently
accepted me, then, as an exception. In my present state of feeling for
his daughter, this was a comforting thought. I felt exultant as I went
over to the door and softly turned the key. When I came back I found
him sitting up again. He said:
Accordingly, I told him every detail, even of the slightest which I
could remember, of what had happened from the moment of my arrival at
the house. Of course I said nothing of my feeling towards Margaret, and
spoke only concerning those things already within his own knowledge.
With regard to Corbeck, I simply said that he had brought back some
lamps of which he had been in quest. Then I proceeded to tell him fully
of their loss, and of their re-discovery in the house.
He listened with a self-control which, under the circumstances, was to
me little less than marvellous. It was impassiveness, for at times his
eyes would flash or blaze, and the strong fingers of his uninjured hand
would grip the sheet, pulling it into far-extending wrinkles. This was
most noticeable when I told him of the return of Corbeck, and the
finding of the lamps in the boudoir. At times he spoke, but only a few
words, and as if unconsciously in emotional comment. The mysterious
parts, those which had most puzzled us, seemed to have no special
interest for him; he seemed to know them already. The utmost concern he
showed was when I told him of Daw's shooting. His muttered comment:
'stupid ass!" together with a quick glance across the room at the
injured cabinet, marked the measure of his disgust. As I told him of
his daughter's harrowing anxiety for him, of her unending care and
devotion, of the tender love which she had shown, he seemed much moved.
There was a sort of veiled surprise in his unconscious whisper:
When I had finished my narration, bringing matters up to the moment when
Miss Trelawny had gone out for her walk--I thought of her as "Miss
Trelawny', not as 'Margaret' now, in the presence of her father--he
remained silent for quite a long time. It was probably two or three
minutes; but it seemed interminable. All at once he turned and said to
"Now tell me all about yourself!" This was something of a floorer; I
felt myself grow red-hot. Mr. Trelawny's eyes were upon me; they were
now calm and inquiring, but never ceasing in their soul-searching
scrutiny. There was just a suspicion of a smile on the mouth which,
though it added to my embarrassment, gave me a certain measure of
relief. I was, however, face to face with difficulty; and the habit of
my life stood me in good stead. I looked him straight in the eyes as I
"My name, as I told you, is Ross, Malcolm Ross. I am by profession a
Barrister. I was made a Q. C. in the last year of the Queen's reign. I
have been fairly successful in my work." To my relief he said:
"Yes, I know. I have always heard well of you! Where and when did you
"First at the Hay's in Belgrave Square, ten days ago. Then at a picnic
up the river with Lady Strathconnell. We went from Windsor to Cookham.
Mar--Miss Trelawny was in my boat. I scull a little, and I had my own
boat at Windsor. We had a good deal of conversation--naturally."
"Naturally!" there was just a suspicion of something sardonic in the
tone of acquiescence; but there was no other intimation of his feeling.
I began to think that as I was in the presence of a strong man, I should
show something of my own strength. My friends, and sometimes my
opponents, say that I am a strong man. In my present circumstances, not
to be absolutely truthful would be to be weak. So I stood up to the
difficulty before me; always bearing in mind, however, that my words
might affect Margaret's happiness through her love for her father. I
"In conversation at a place and time and amid surroundings so pleasing,
and in a solitude inviting to confidence, I got a glimpse of her inner
life. Such a glimpse as a man of my years and experience may get from a
young girl!" The father's face grew graver as I went on; but he said
nothing. I was committed now to a definite line of speech, and went on
with such mastery of my mind as I could exercise. The occasion might be
fraught with serious consequences to me too.
"I could not but see that there was over her spirit a sense of
loneliness which was habitual to her. I thought I understood it; I am
myself an only child. I ventured to encourage her to speak to me
freely; and was happy enough to succeed. A sort of confidence became
established between us." There was something in the father's face which
made me add hurriedly:
"Nothing was said by her, sir, as you can well imagine, which was not
right and proper. She only told me in the impulsive way of one longing
to give voice to thoughts long carefully concealed, of her yearning to
be closer to the father whom she loved; more en rapport with him; more
in his confidence; closer within the circle of his sympathies. Oh,
believe me, sir, that it was all good! All that a father's heart could
hope or wish for! It was all loyal! That she spoke it to me was
perhaps because I was almost a stranger with whom there was no previous
barrier to confidence."
Here I paused. It was hard to go on; and I feared lest I might, in my
zeal, do Margaret a disservice. The relief of the strain came from her
"Sir, Miss Trelawny is very sweet and beautiful! She is young; and her
mind is like crystal! Her sympathy is a joy! I am not an old man, and
my affections were not engaged. They never had been till then. I hope
I may say as much, even to a father!" My eyes involuntarily dropped.
When I raised them again Mr. Trelawny was still gazing at me keenly.
All the kindliness of his nature seemed to wreath itself in a smile as
he held out his hand and said:
"Malcolm Ross, I have always heard of you as a fearless and honourable
gentleman. I am glad my girl has such a friend! Go on!"
My heart leaped. The first step to the winning of Margaret's father was
gained. I dare say I was somewhat more effusive in my words and my
manner as I went on. I certainly felt that way.
"One thing we gain as we grow older: to use our age judiciously! I
have had much experience. I have fought for it and worked for it all my
life; and I felt that I was justified in using it. I ventured to ask
Miss Trelawny to count on me as a friend; to let me serve her should
occasion arise. She promised me that she would. I had little idea that
my chance of serving her should come so soon or in such a way; but that
very night you were stricken down. In her desolation and anxiety she
sent for me!" I paused. He continued to look at me as I went on:
"When your letter of instructions was found, I offered my services.
They were accepted, as you know."
"And these days, how did they pass for you?" The question startled me.
There was in it something of Margaret's own voice and manner; something
so greatly resembling her lighter moments that it brought out all the
masculinity in me. I felt more sure of my ground now as I said:
"These days, sir, despite all their harrowing anxiety, despite all the
pain they held for the girl whom I grew to love more and more with each
passing hour, have been the happiest of my life!" He kept silence for a
long time; so long that, as I waited for him to speak, with my heart
beating, I began to wonder if my frankness had been too effusive. At
last he said:
"I suppose it is hard to say so much vicariously. Her poor mother
should have heard you; it would have made her heart glad!" Then a
shadow swept across his face; and he went on more hurriedly.
"But are you quite sure of all this?"
"I know my own heart, sir; or, at least, I think I do!"
"No! no!" he answered, "I don't mean you. That is all right! But you
spoke of my girl's affection for me... and yet...! And yet she
has been living here, in my house, a whole year... Still, she spoke
to you of her loneliness--her desolation. I never--it grieves me to say
it, but it is true--I never saw sign of such affection towards myself in
all the year!..." His voice trembled away into sad, reminiscent
"Then, sir," I said, "I have been privileged to see more in a few days
than you in her whole lifetime!" My words seemed to call him up from
himself; and I thought that it was with pleasure as well as surprise
that he said:
"I had no idea of it. I thought that she was indifferent to me. That
what seemed like the neglect of her youth was revenging itself on me.
That she was cold of heart... It is a joy unspeakable to me that her
mother's daughter loves me too!" Unconsciously he sank back upon his
pillow, lost in memories of the past.
How he must have loved her mother! It was the love of her mother's
child, rather than the love of his own daughter, that appealed to him.
My heart went out to him in a great wave of sympathy and kindliness. I
began to understand. To understand the passion of these two great,
silent, reserved natures, that successfully concealed the burning hunger
for the other's love! It did not surprise me when presently he murmured
"Margaret, my child! Tender, and thoughtful, and strong, and true, and
brave! Like her dear mother! like her dear mother!"
And then to the very depths of my heart I rejoiced that I had spoken so
Presently Mr. Trelawny said:
"Four days! The sixteenth! Then this is the twentieth of July?" I
nodded affirmation; he went on:
"So I have been lying in a trance for four days. It is not the first
time. I was in a trance once under strange conditions for three days;
and never even suspected it till I was told of the lapse of time. I
shall tell you all about it some day, if you care to hear."
That made me thrill with pleasure. That he, Margaret's father, would so
take me into his confidence made it possible... The business-like,
every-day alertness of his voice as he spoke next quite recalled me:
"I had better get up now. When Margaret comes in, tell her yourself
that I am all right. It will avoid any shock! And will you tell
Corbeck that I would like to see him as soon as I can. I want to see
those lamps, and hear all about them!"
His attitude towards me filled me with delight. There was a possible
father-in-law aspect that would have raised me from a death-bed. I was
hurrying away to carry out his wishes; when, however, my hand was on the
key of the door, his voice recalled me:
I did not like to hear him say "Mr." After he knew of my friendship
with his daughter he had called me Malcolm Ross; and this obvious return
to formality not only pained, but filled me with apprehension. It must
be something about Margaret. I thought of her as "Margaret" and not as
"Miss Trelawny", now that there was danger of losing her. I know now
what I felt then: that I was determined to fight for her rather than
lose her. I came back, unconsciously holding myself erect. Mr.
Trelawny, the keen observer of men, seemed to read my thought; his face,
which was set in a new anxiety, relaxed as he said:
"Sit down a minute; it is better that we speak now than later. We are
both men, and men of the world. All this about my daughter is very new
to me, and very sudden; and I want to know exactly how and where I
stand. Mind, I am making no objection; but as a father I have duties
which are grave, and may prove to be painful. I--I"--he seemed slightly
at a loss how to begin, and this gave me hope--"I suppose I am to take
it, from what you have said to me of your feelings towards my girl, that
it is in your mind to be a suitor for her hand, later on?" I answered
"Absolutely! Firm and fixed; it was my intention the evening after I
had been with her on the river, to seek you, of course after a proper
and respectful interval, and to ask you if I might approach her on the
subject. Events forced me into closer relationship more quickly than I
had to hope would be possible; but that first purpose has remained fresh
in my heart, and has grown in intensity, and multiplied itself with
every hour which has passed since then." His face seemed to soften as
he looked at me; the memory of his own youth was coming back to him
instinctively. After a pause he said:
"I suppose I may take it, too, Malcolm Ross"--the return to the
familiarity of address swept through me with a glorious thrill--"that as
yet you have not made any protestation to my daughter?"
"Not in words, sir." The arriere pensee of my phrase struck me, not by
its own humour, but through the grave, kindly smile on the father's
face. There was a pleasant sarcasm in his comment:
"Not in words! That is dangerous! She might have doubted words, or
even disbelieved them."
I felt myself blushing to the roots of my hair as I went on:
"The duty of delicacy in her defenceless position; my respect for her
father--I did not know you then, sir, as yourself, but only as her
father--restrained me. But even had not these barriers existed, I should
not have dared in the presence of such grief and anxiety to have
declared myself. Mr. Trelawny, I assure you on my word of honour that
your daughter and I are as yet, on her part, but friends and nothing
more!" Once again he held out his hands, and we clasped each other
warmly. Then he said heartily:
"I am satisfied, Malcolm Ross. Of course, I take it that until I have
seen her and have given you permission, you will not make any
declaration to my daughter--in words," he added, with an indulgent smile.
But his face became stern again as he went on:
"Time presses; and I have to think of some matters so urgent and so
strange that I dare not lose an hour. Otherwise I should not have been
prepared to enter, at so short a notice and to so new a friend, on the
subject of my daughter's settlement in life, and of her future
happiness." There was a dignity and a certain proudness in his manner
which impressed me much.
"I shall respect your wishes, sir!" I said as I went back and opened the
door. I heard him lock it behind me.
When I told Mr. Corbeck that Mr. Trelawny had quite recovered, he began
to dance about like a wild man. But he suddenly stopped, and asked me
to be careful not to draw any inferences, at all events at first, when
in the future speaking of the finding of the lamps, or of the first
visits to the tomb. This was in case Mr. Trelawny should speak to me on
the subject; "as, of course, he will," he added, with a sidelong look at
me which meant knowledge of the affairs of my heart. I agreed to this,
feeling that it was quite right. I did not quite understand why; but I
knew that Mr. Trelawny was a peculiar man. In no case could one make a
mistake by being reticent. Reticence is a quality which a strong man
The manner in which the others of the house took the news of the
recovery varied much. Mrs. Grant wept with emotion; then she hurried
off to see if she could do anything personally, and to set the house in
order for "Master", as she always called him. The Nurse's face fell:
she was deprived of an interesting case. But the disappointment was
only momentary; and she rejoiced that the trouble was over. She was
ready to come to the patient the moment she should be wanted; but in the
meantime she occupied herself in packing her portmanteau.
I took Sergeant Daw into the study, so that we should be alone when I
told him the news. It surprised even his iron self-control when I told
him the method of the waking. I was myself surprised in turn by his
"And how did he explain the first attack? He was unconscious when the
second was made."
Up to that moment the nature of the attack, which was the cause of my
coming to the house, had never even crossed my mind, except when I had
simply narrated the various occurrences in sequence to Mr. Trelawny.
The Detective did not seem to think much of my answer:
"Do you know, it never occurred to me to ask him!" The professional
instinct was strong in the man, and seemed to supersede everything else.
"That is why so few cases are ever followed out," he said, "unless our
people are in them. Your amateur detective neer hunts down to the
death. As for ordinary people, the moment things begin to mend, and the
strain of suspense is off them, they drop the matter in hand. It is
like sea-sickness," he added philosophically after a pause; "the moment
you touch the shore you never give it a thought, but run off to the
buffet to feed! Well, Mr. Ross, I'm glad the case is over; for over it
is, so far as I am concerned. I suppose that Mr. Trelawny knows his own
business; and that now he is well again, he will take it up himself.
Perhaps, however, he will not do anything. As he seemed to expect
something to happen, but did not ask for protection from the police in
any way, I take it that he don't want them to interfere with an eye to
punishment. We'll be told officially, I suppose, that it was an
accident, or sleep-walking, or something of the kind, to satisfy the
conscience of our Record Department; and that will be the end. As for
me, I tell you frankly, sir, that it will be the saving of me. I verily
believe I was beginning to get dotty over it all. There were too many
mysteries, that aren't in my line, for me to be really satisfied as to
either facts or the causes of them. Now I'll be able to wash my hands
of it, and get back to clean, wholesome, criminal work. Of course, sir,
I'll be glad to know if you ever do light on a cause of any kind. And
I'll be grateful if you can ever tell me how the man was dragged out of
bed when the cat bit him, and who used the knife the second time. For
master Silvio could never have done it by himself. But there! I keep
thinking of it still. I must look out and keep a check on myself, or I
shall think of it when I have to keep my mind on other things!"
When Margaret returned from her walk, I met her in the hall. She was
still pale and sad; somehow, I had expected to see her radiant after her
walk. The moment she saw me her eyes brightened, and she looked at me
"You have some good news for me?" she said. "Is Father better?"
"He is! Why did you think so?"
"I saw it in your face. I must go to him at once." She was hurrying
away when I stopped her.
"He said he would send for you the moment he was dressed."
"He said he would send for me!" she repeated in amazement. "Then he is
awake again, and conscious? I had no idea he was so well as that! O
She sat down on the nearest chair and began to cry. I felt overcome
myself. The sight of her joy and emotion, the mention of my own name in
such a way and at such a time, the rush of glorious possibilities all
coming together, quite unmanned me. She saw my emotion, and seemed to
understand. She put out her hand. I held it hard, and kissed it. Such
moments as these, the opportunities of lovers, are gifts of the gods! Up
to this instant, though I knew I loved her, and though I believed she
returned my affection, I had had only hope. Now, however, the
self-surrender manifest in her willingness to let me squeeze her hand,
the ardour of her pressure in return, and the glorious flush of love in
her beautiful, deep, dark eyes as she lifted them to mine, were all the
eloquences which the most impatient or exacting lover could expect or
No word was spoken; none was needed. Even had I not been pledged to
verbal silence, words would have been poor and dull to express what we
felt. Hand in hand, like two little children, we went up the staircase
and waited on the landing, till the summons from Mr. Trelawny should
I whispered in her ear--it was nicer than speaking aloud and at a greater
distance--how her father had awakened, and what he had said; and all
that had passed between us, except when she herself had been the subject
Presently a bell rang from the room. Margaret slipped from me, and
looked back with warning finger on lip. She went over to her father's
door and knocked softly.
"Come in!" said the strong voice.
"It is I, Father!" The voice was tremulous with love and hope.
There was a quick step inside the room; the door was hurriedly thrown
open, and in an instant Margaret, who had sprung forward, was clasped in
her father's arms. There was little speech; only a few broken phrases.
"Father! Dear, dear Father!"
"My child! Margaret! My dear, dear child!"
"O Father, Father! At last! At last!"
Here the father and daughter went into the room together, and the door