But only for a moment. Fear fought with her, and by a
mighty effort she half shook herself free.
[Illustration: "Suddenly she felt him coming, and turned."]
Simpkins found himself struggling desperately now to regain his
advantage. Already his greater strength was telling, when the lamp
crashed over, leaving them in darkness, and he felt the blow of a heavy
body striking his back. Claws dug through his clothes, deep into his
flesh. Something was at his head now, biting and tearing, and the warm
blood was trickling down into his eyes. A stealthy paw reached round
for his throat. He could feel its silken surface passing over his bare
flesh, the unsheathing of its steel to strike, and, as it sank into
his throat, he seized it, loosening, to do this, his hold on Mrs.
Athelstone, quite careless of her in the pain and menace of that moment.
Still clutching the great black cat, though it bit and tore at his
hands, he gained his feet. In the darkness he could see nothing but two
blazing eyes, and not until the last spark died in them did his fingers
relax. Then, with a savage joy, he threw the limp body against the altar
of Isis, and turned to see what had become of Mrs. Athelstone. She lay
quite still where he had left her, a huddled heap of white upon the
Simpkins righted and lit the overturned lamp and lifted the unconscious
woman into a chair.