He had plenty of time--the paper did
not go to press until two. Relieved, he glanced toward Mrs. Athelstone
again. How still she was! She was taking an unreasonably long time about
coming to! The shadows in the room began to creep in on him again, and
to oppress him with a vague fear, now that he was sitting inactive. He
got up, but just then the woman stirred, and he settled down again.
Slowly she recovered consciousness and looked about her. Her eyes sought
out Simpkins last, and as they rested on him a flash of anger lit them
up. Simpkins returned their stare unflinchingly. They had quite lost
their power over him.
"So you're a thief, Simpkins--and I thought you looked so honest," she
began at last, contempt in her voice.
"Not at all," Simpkins answered, relieved and grateful that she had only
suspected him of being a thief, that there had been no tears, no
pleadings, no hysterics; "I'm nothing of the sort. I'm just your clerk."
"Then, what are you doing here at this time of night? And why did you
attack me? Why have you bound me?"
"I'll be perfectly frank, Mrs. Athelstone." (Simpkins always prefaced
a piece of duplicity by asseverating his innocence of guile.) "I've
blundered on something in there," and he motioned vaguely toward the
coffin, "that is reason enough for binding you and turning you over
to the police, sorry as I should be to take such a step.