At length he looked up into the face, blurred
in the half-light.
When he had finished with the pedestal he pulled himself up between the
outstretched arms, and perhaps a trifle hurriedly now, as he saw the
face more distinctly, began to pass the cloth over the arms and back.
Then, quick as the strike of a snake, the arms crushed him against the
stone breast. He could not move; he could not cry out; he could not
breathe. The statue, seen from the level of the pedestal, had changed
its whole expression. Hate glowed in its eyes; menace lived in every
line of its face. The arms tightened slowly, inexorably; then, as
quickly as they had closed, unclasped; and Simpkins half-slid, half-fell
to the floor.
When the breath came back into his lungs and he found himself unharmed,
he choked back the cry on his lips, for in that same moment a suspicion
floated half-formed through his brain. He forced himself to climb up on
the pedestal again, and made a careful inspection of the statue--but
from behind this time.
The arms were metal, enameled to the smoothness of the body, and
jointed, though the joints were almost invisible. The statue was one of
those marvelous creations of the ancient priests, and once, no doubt, it
had stood behind the veil in some Egyptian temple to tempt and to punish
the curiosity of the neophyte.