'You shut your mouth,' and for a second I thought there would be trouble. But there wasn't Madge ran out of the room and up to bed; she told me later she took two sleeping-pills. Yancey said, 'God help me, I started this.' Then he turned around and almost ran out of the room; anyway, he went.
"The rest of us followed more slowly. I was in as bad a state as Madge; I can't defend myself. In the upstairs hall on my way to my room I looked out of a window facing north over the beach. The mist had cleared; the moon was shining. But all I could think of was poor Commodore Maynard with his head battered in.
"We'd had rather a lot of wine at dinner, and whisky in the library afterwards. I hoped it would put me to sleep, but of course it didn't. I was wide awake—and worse.
"My room is on the south-western angle at the back of the house, above a weapons-and-trophy-room behind the library on the ground floor. When Mr. Maynard's elder brother partly rebuilt and modernized the Hall in the late nineteen-forties, he added a private bathroom to every bedroom, and put an air-conditioner in one window of every bedroom. That air-conditioner is necessary, or at night the mosquitoes would drive you crazy.
"Yes, I was in a state. I had some sleeping-tablets of my own; not the heavy kind Madge uses but some lighter stuff, called Dormez-Vous, you can buy without a prescription at any drugstore.
"I had locked the door. I took two pills; I got undressed; I paced the floor, smoking cigarettes. It would take about half an hour for the pills to work, if they worked at all. Meanwhile, every creak and crack of the woodwork brought fancies I oughtn't to have had. I picked up the bedside book; it was called Sea-Island Ghosts.
"I threw that book across the room, and scared myself with the noise it made when it hit the wall. At about one o'clock I thought I might be feeling drowsy. My watch has a luminous dial." Camilla held up her left wrist to show the gold band. "I put it on the bedside table. I turned out the overhead light, crawled into bed, turned out the bedside lamp, and hoped for the best.
"Well, the pills worked—after a fashion. I lost consciousness, at least. There were dreams of some kind. Then my eyes were open again.
"This, it developed later, was at half-past three in the morning. I didn't turn on the light or look at my watch. My eyes were open, yes. But I was confused and only half conscious, with the fears pretty well dulled.
"The moon had set. What drew me to the window it's impossible to say. That room has two windows above the back garden, with the air-conditioner blocking the lower part of the left-hand one. In bare feet and pajamas I blundered over to the right-hand window. I looked out and then down.
"The weapons-room below has a big French window, two leaves to the window, opening on the garden. What I could just barely see in such a light made me push up the bedroom window; it slid smoothly and without noise. The leaves of the big French window, below me and to my left, had been pushed or drawn partway outward. There was somebody standing in the aperture between them."
Captain Ashcroft shifted in his chair and struck two fingers on the edge of the table.
"I've asked you before, ma'am . . . !"
"I know you have; they all have. But what can I say?"
"It was a man, or at least I suppose it was: who else can it have been? He stood sideways, facing to the left away from me. I have an idea, rightly or wrongly, there was some kind of stocking-mask over his head and face. He didn't move; I couldn't tell whether he was going out or coming in. That's all the description I can give."
"Did you think it was a ghost or a burglar?"
"I didn't stop to think; I wasn't that coherent. All the fears rushed back, and I panicked. I grabbed up robe and slippers, turning on every light I could reach. Then I ran down the hall and hammered at Madge's door.
"Possibly I should have gone to one of the men first. It wasn't a