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ФОРУМ » 2 этаж: Фильмы с участием Роберта » "The Haunted Airman"/Преследователь Тобби Джагга » Книга "Преследователь Тоби Джагга" Денниса Уитли (Здесь можно скачать и прочитать книгу на английском языке)
Книга "Преследователь Тоби Джагга" Денниса Уитли
MilaДата: Пятница, 05.06.2009, 23:10 | Сообщение # 1
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Деннис Уитли
"Преследователь Тоби Джагга" (The Haunting of Toby Jugg).

ссылка на скачивание книги на английском языке: http://www.filehoster.ru/files/cw0479

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:34 | Сообщение # 2
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CHAPTER 1

Monday, 4th May
I feel that the time has come when I must endeavour to face facts. These past few nights I have been frightened scared stiff really terrified. Ten months ago I was a sane, strong, healthy man; now I am weak, irresolute and, I fear, on the verge of going mad.
Perhaps I am only imagining things. But if I set down all that is happening here or rather, that which I believe to be happening when I look at what I have written again next day, I shall at least know that I haven't dreamed the whole horrible business overnight.
That is why I have decided to start keeping a journal. In it I intend not only to give an account of these strange experiences of which I have recently been the victim, but also make an attempt to rationalise them. If I can somehow argue matters out with myself until I reach a logical conclusion as to what lies at the bottom of my fears, I shall, perhaps, be able to face them better and save my sanity.
I used to enjoy writing essays, and the work involved in setting down my thoughts coherently should help a lot to keep my mind free from aimless, agonising dread of the night to come. I shall not write in the evenings, though, as the accursed shadows in this big room are apt to make me jumpy near sundown, and might lead me to exaggerate the facts. I'll work on it in the mornings, or afternoons, when the good, clean daylight, streaming in through the broad windows, makes me feel more like the man I used to be.
It is not so long ago since my friends nicknamed me "The Viking', partly, of course, on account of my appearance, but also because I was credited with having a kind of 'devil-may-care' courage with which everyone is not blessed. I wonder what they would think if they had seen me as I was last night a gibbering nervous wreck frantic with fear of some ghastly thing that was hidden from me only by the blackout
Still, fear of physical danger and of this sort of thing are entirely different matters. Some of my brother officers who were hard put to it to prevent themselves showing how badly they had the jitters would probably laugh at me now; while others braver than myself, and there were plenty of them, might be every bit as scared as I am. It would depend on their individual degree of susceptibility to the supernatural.
If anyone had suggested to me a few months ago that I was a psychic type myself, I should certainly have denied it. But I must admit to being so now, as the only alternative is that I really am going nutty. Rightly or wrongly I believe that I am being haunted by some form of devil and I don't mean the sort that comes from knocking back too much Scotch. I mean one of those forces of Evil that are said to have been let loose in the world after Satan and his host were defeated by the Archangel Michael and cast down out of Heaven.
That sounds old-fashioned stuff, I know; but either something of that kind did actually happen when the world was young, or it didn't. There is no middle way about it. And, if it did, there has been no revelation since to the effect that these age long enemies of man have been withdrawn to another sphere, or that their infernal Master has ceased from his efforts to corrupt and destroy the seed of Adam.
Satan has become rather a figure of fun these days, or, at worst, a bogyman with whom wicked old women sometimes frighten children; but, all the same, he still remains our ultimate expression for the most concentrated form of Evil, and everything else that is evil must in a greater or lesser degree partake of his attributes. Therefore, in endeavouring to get to grips with my own problem, it may be worth speculating on him a little, and on the reasons for the apparent decline in his powers.
In this year of Grace save the mark; I should have said this year of worldwide death and destruction, 1942 how many people, I wonder, believe in the Devil? I mean as a definite personality with hoofs and horns and a barbed tail, waving a pitchfork and breathing brimstone over everything? I suppose a few very religious rather backward people do; lonely, timid spinsters living in remote country districts, particularly in Scotland and down here in Wales, and the older generation of peasants in Central and Southern Europe.
I can't myself. I think that all those accounts of monks and other characters coming face to face with the Devil in the Middle Ages were, as old Gibbon put it: 'The product of an empty stomach on an empty brain'; or else deliberate lying. In those days religion played such a large part in everybody's life that people thought of Heaven and Hell as only just round the corner; so the easiest way to obtain a little cheap notoriety was to come down one morning with your shirt on inside out, and declare to a wide-eyed audience that the Devil had visited you in the middle of the night with some tempting proposition.
On the other hand one can never be certain absolutely certain that all such records are the ravings of unbalanced minds or pure invention. After all, why do we disbelieve them? Mainly, I think, because it seems improbable that such a V.I.P. as the Prince of Evil could be bothered to torment, or accept the homage of, quiet ordinary people.
But his demons were said to be legion, and it may be that they sometimes assumed their master's form when appearing to the Godly, or attending a witches' sabbath as the guest of honour. That may be the explanation; for, while it must remain an open question whether any human being has even seen the Devil, it seems impossible to doubt the existence of demons. Cases of demonic possession still occur from time to time, as any Roman Catholic priest will testify; and during the Middle Ages such happenings were regarded as almost everyday affairs.
The reason for their much greater frequency in the past is not far to seek. Life was so very different then, and everyone was so much more concerned with the things of the spirit. Whether they were in a state of grace or not was of vital importance to people, because they were daily reminded at morning prayers and evening Bible readings as well as during the whole of every Sunday that, should they meet with a sudden death, they would get no second chance, but have to give an account of their acts to date when hauled naked and trembling before their Creator.
Such constant preoccupation with thoughts of miracles and martyrs, angels and demons, must have made their minds much more open to supernatural influences than ours are today. It is, therefore, one thing to be a bit sceptical about the accounts of Old Nick putting in a personal appearance and quite another to brush aside as trash the whole vast literature dealing with Christian mysticism.
There are innumerable accounts of people who became so obsessed with the question of the Life to Come that they gave themselves up to a special devotion to their favourite Saints, and as a result of their wholehearted fervour developed miraculous powers of their own. And of others, the bad hats and natural rebels, who dabbled in witchcraft, Satanism and alchemy. It is certainly incontestable that there was hardly a village in Europe where someone or other was not credited with the power to cast spells and bring calamity on their enemies by ill wishing them. The bulk of testimony to such happenings is overwhelming, and it simply is not credible that for hundreds of generations the whole population of Christendom was fooled by a succession of liars and lunatics.
Of course, in these days, there are plenty of sceptics who regard all accounts of occult phenomena as bunkum; and due either to people imagining things when in an abnormal condition, or to the machinations of rogues and charlatans who make a dubious living out of tricking the credulous.
But the opinions of such bigoted materialists do not prove anything. They are simply the outcome of the present widespread lack of Faith. It is only natural that people brought up, as I was, to believe that there are no such places as Heaven and Hell should be strongly prejudiced against any evidence which might convince them of the existence of some fearsome Otherworld, inhabited by mysterious forces and the spirits of the dead. To accept it would compel them to abandon their comfortable philosophy or lack of one. They would begin to get the wind up at the thought that they must have souls themselves, and the frightening question of what might happen to them when they die.
The extraordinary decline in the practice of all religions during the past thirty years no doubt accounts for the comparatively few people who now ever pause to ponder such questions seriously. Yet it would be absurd to assume that a fundamental change has taken place in the composition of human beings, and that because great numbers of them rarely think about their souls they no longer have them.
Moreover, the age of materialism has brought us no new answers to such riddles as: What took place 'in the beginning', and what is meant by 'the end of time', or, how did it come about that life started on our own small planet? Yet the more we learn of the universe the more apparent it becomes that everything in it is regulated by unchanging laws, and that chemical conditions alone are incapable of producing any form of life whatsoever.
Yet the origin of these mysteries has been questioned only in recent times. Previously, in every country and in every age since the beginning of recorded history, it has been the first article in the creed of man that the Creation was the work of a Supreme Intelligence. In addition, all religions also held in common that the souls of men were immortal, and that the unceasing struggle for them between the eternally warring forces of Good and Evil was all part of the Great Plan.
World wide tradition asserts that these beliefs were based on a series of Divine revelations made for man's guidance; and, all modern thought having failed to produce any other tenable theory, it seems difficult, if not impossible, to reject them.
But to accept them carries with it an awe-inspiring thought; for it then becomes unthinkable that in the past hundred years or so any part of this vast and complex system can have altered. Therefore, although the Devil may no longer appear to people even if he ever did so in person he cannot have become inactive, and his power for evil must remain as potent as of old.
No one has ever denied him intelligence, so it is reasonable to assume that he is clever enough to adapt his methods to suit every advance in modern thought. If wars, revolutions, the mushroom growth of the herd mentality and their resulting miseries can be attributed to a supremely evil intelligence working secretly upon the greed, fears and follies of man, he has good reason to congratulate himself on the monstrous reaping of hate and violence that his sowing has brought him in the past quarter of a century. In fact, if looked at from that point of view, it seems that the general decline of religion since the end of the Victorian era has enormously facilitated the Devil's age long task of replacing order by chaos and, at last, entering into his Principality of this World as the Lord of Misrule.
Even to suggest that he is now taking a personal interest in myself would be atrociously conceited; but, unless I am suffering from delusions, I can only suppose that either I or this room have recently become a focus for the activities of one of his innumerable lesser satellites. How otherwise can one possibly explain the shadow; or the stark terror that has gripped me, holding me rigid in a paralysis of fear, on each of the five occasions that I have seen it and, God forbid, may do so again tonight?

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bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:36 | Сообщение # 3
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CHAPTER 2

Tuesday, 5th May
I could not write anything this morning. I tried to as soon as I was alone, but my hand shook so much that it would not hold the pencil firmly. Then, at half past eleven, I had to go out with Deb.
It has been a lovely day and the bright sunshine in the garden restored me a little. Those sharp black eyes of Deb's don't miss much, though, and it is hardly surprising that she noticed how haggard I look.
'I haf begome quite vorried about you,' she remarked. 'I cennot t'ink vot is de metter mid you des pars' few tays. You haf develop' a nervous twitch an' you look zo peeky.'
That is an absurd exaggeration of her accent, so I shall not attempt further renderings of it. As she is quite an intelligent woman, and has been a refugee here since 1933, she actually speaks pretty good English for a German Jewess.
Naturally I don't want to put the idea into her head that I've got bats in the belfry, so I did my best to pull myself together, and simply said:
'You know quite well that I've been sleeping badly lately. I'm only looking a bit off-colour because I had another restless night'
What a masterpiece of understatement! With the aid of a triple bromide I got off all right; but I woke about half past one, and I knew instantly that the Thing was outside the window again.
I wonder if I can bring myself to describe it? Anyhow, I must try. But first I must explain how it comes about that I know it to be there in spite of the blackout.
Down here in Wales people are supposed to observe the A.R.P. regulations as strictly as elsewhere, but we are over three miles from the village, and there is no one to enforce them. I don't think the Boche has ever dropped a bomb within thirty or forty miles of Llanferdrack, so when I came down here after two and a half years of war I found that everyone had got pretty slack about such matters.
The room I occupy used to be the library it still is for that matter and I was glad that Helmuth had chosen it for me, as it makes a splendidly spacious bed sitting room, and as I am very fond of reading I like being surrounded with rows and rows of books. It must be close on forty feet long and has big bay windows at both ends. Those to the south have a glorious view over miles of wild countryside, and the middle one, being a glass panelled door, gives me easy access to the garden.
All six windows of the room were originally furnished only with brocade pelmets, and hanging drapes that do not draw. On the garden side blackout curtains were added soon after the beginning of the war, but as the room was rarely used it was evidently not considered worthwhile to do anything about the north windows, because they cannot be seen from outside the building and look out on to a courtyard.
When Helmuth had the room prepared for me last March, as a glorified bed-sit, I suppose material was already getting scarce; so instead of having proper curtains fitted to each of the three windows on the courtyard side he had a big piece of brown stuff rigged up, which is drawn right across the bay at night. But it is a good six inches too short, so when there is a bright moon its light seeps in underneath and forms a broad band along the floor.
It is that damned strip of moonlight that gives me such appalling jitters. Actually it is three strips, as the mullions between the windows throw great black shadows that divide it into sections. Of course it is not the moonlight itself that unnerves me but No! It's no good. I can't do it. I've broken out in a muck sweat at the very thought of what I see. I must think of something else.
Madagascar! There was good news today on the wireless. It is cheering to know that despite all Hitler can do we still have enough punch left, and a long enough arm, to land a blow so far afield. Ever since those filthy little yellow men overran Malaya it has been quite on the cards that they would have a go at South Africa, and if the Vichy French had let them occupy the island it would have made a perfect base from which to launch an invasion of the Union.
Thank goodness it looks now as if we have put paid to that one in advance. The report says that at dawn today British naval and military forces arrived off the northwest coast of the island, landed in Courier Bay, and proceeded inland across the neck of the isthmus towards the naval base at Diego Suarez.
Well, good luck to them. How I wish I were there, instead of here! Of course, naval aircraft must have been used to cover the landing; slow, unwieldy old kites compared with the types I used to fly. Still, I'd cheerfully take up even a Gladiator against the enemy, rather than have to face this loathsome, inhuman thing that haunts the courtyard, and has recently been trying to find its way into this room.
How do I know that? I cannot say. But something inside myself tells me positively that it is so. That something can only be a super sensory apparatus which, to give it is medical name, is called man's higher consciousness; but old-fashioned people would say it was my spirit or soul that, knowing itself to be in danger, sends me these frantic warnings.
As I was brought up to be an atheist, the last thing I should have admitted to, up to the age of eighteen, was that I had a soul; but since then my horizons have broadened a lot; and only yesterday, on arguing matters out with myself, I reached the conclusion that, logically, one must accept the eternal verities. That too, even in these materialistic times, is still a fundamental belief held by the vast majority of educated, as well as uneducated, people.
Judging by those I met during the two and a half years that I was free of Helmuth's tutelage, genuine atheists must be very rare. Most of the young men I knew were pretty hard cases they had to be or they would have cracked under the strain but most of them became quite offended when sometimes, for the fun of getting up an argument, I suggested that they had no souls. To have agreed with me would have been to degrade themselves to the level of animals or rather, a bag of salts and a few buckets of water kept going only by a series of chemical reactions and, in their heart of hearts, they were convinced that they possessed some intrinsic quality which lifts mankind above all other species of creation.

ПЕРЕВОД
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That makes it all the more curious that most people these days rarely think about their souls. But, I suppose, if they did for any length of time it would interfere with the innumerable petty interests of their daily lives.
Nearly everybody will readily admit that they believe in some form of afterlife. But they take it for granted that God cannot possibly be the sort of jealous, sacrifice loving, tyrannical potentate depicted in the Old Testament, and that the fiery furnace version of Hell was kept going by the Churches only as a convenient means of blackmailing the laity. When they do think of such matters they visualise the Creator as a nice old gentleman with a long white beard, who invariably speaks English, and confidently anticipate that when their time is up here they will be given a pretty reasonable deal as a start off in some new existence.
As for the Devil, they never give a thought to him at all except when it comes to discussing possible costumes for the Four Arts Ball. Neither, I confess, did I, until I suddenly found myself in the situation of a rabbit who sees a ferret with red eyes and bared teeth coming after him.
One thing is certain. In these days, the vast majority of people live out their lives without bothering to propitiate the Deity, yet nothing of this kind ever catches up with them. Sooner or later, though, they have all got to die; and, maybe, when they do they will meet with a rude awakening. If so, perhaps I really ought to consider myself fortunate in being forced to thrash out these problems now.
All the same I would give anything, at the moment, to be one of those countless thousands who are entirely wrapped up in fighting Hitler, or even a charwoman scrubbing floors and queuing up for rations. But I am not. I am either going nuts or, long before my proper time, I have been brought face to face with the grim things that come and go on the borders of eternal night.
Later
I broke off to write again to Julia. I know that war charities and her billetees must keep her frightfully busy, and at the best of times she was never good about writing regularly; but I do think that she might have replied by now to the letter I wrote her early in April. That was just after the two consecutive nights upon which I first 'saw things'. I said nothing about that but asked her to come down to see me, because I wanted to talk it over with her. She is the only person I know with whom I could discuss such matters without her getting the idea that I am going mad. But after those two nights the visitations ceased, so I began to think that I must have been suffering from nightmares until things started to happen again at the beginning of this month.
Why I didn't follow up my first letter with another, several days ago, I now cannot think; but I suppose this business has made my wits a bit woolly. Anyhow, this time I haven't minced matters. I told her bluntly that I believe this place to be haunted and that I am scared out of my wits. I asked her to keep that under her hat and to come down here as a matter of the utmost urgency. With luck she'll be here tomorrow; but I've still got to get through tonight. I must try not to think of that, though; so I had better keep my mind busy trying to prove to myself that I really am still sane.
I wonder why it is that, apart from practising Spiritualists on the one hand and professional fortune-tellers on the other, it is rare to hear of anyone these days who can claim to have had any actual experience of the supernatural?
The falling off in the practice of religion no doubt explains it to some extent; but I am inclined to think that the general decline in psychic perception is more largely due to modern conditions, in which the daily fight for existence compels the vast majority to occupy themselves almost exclusively with material matters.
In its waking state the human brain normally picks up and registers the thoughts conveyed by any voice within its range of hearing. Experiments have shown that while in a hypnotic sleep it will also react to orders whispered in too low a tone for it to catch when awake. And mental telepathy, examples of which are known to most people, show that it is capable of picking up thoughts which have not been sent out by the human voice at all. It is therefore clear that part of the brain consists of a radio receiving set.
But a radio will pick up from the ether only the signals given out on the wavelength to which it is adjusted. And anyone can appreciate how vastly different the mentality of modern man must be from that of his counterpart of a thousand, or even a hundred, years ago.
Perforce the minds of men and women of all ages have been largely filled with their daily occupations: food, sex, family and home; but to these in modern times have been added an immense variety of anxieties and distractions.
To begin with, people are now much more generally looked up to for their money than for their real worth, so more of their time is given to endeavouring to make a good income. Moreover, in order to give the appearance of being well off, it is the rule rather than the exception for them to take advantage of the modern credit system and live on anticipated earnings, so their worry over money is all the greater.
In the past the majority never left the towns or villages in which they were born; now a great part of the population shifts to new places of abode every few years, either on account of a change in employment or fluctuation in fortune. Each move brings the anxieties attendant on finding and furnishing new living accommodation.
Clothes were formerly mainly for utility and the same garments were often worn for years at a stretch; now even the masses regard a certain smartness of appearance as a necessity, but fashions are constantly changing and the average woman spends hundreds of hours each year harassed by the question as to how she can best dress well yet continue to live within her means.
The superseding of individual craftsmanship by the manufacture of machine made goods has robbed the working classes of their security of employment. In the old days every youngster was brought up to a trade and a good honest workman could always be sure of keeping a roof over his head; now, in peacetime, the unemployed are numbered by the million, and for them there is the crushing anxiety that if they cannot somehow manage to find the rent they will be thrown out in the street.
Even the people who have jobs never know how long they will be able to keep them; strikes, lockouts, foreign competition, new inventions, financial crises all matters over which they have little or no control are an ever-present menace to the security of managements and workers alike.
Then there are the countless time occupying distractions that our forefathers never knew: a newspaper every morning to fill the mind with fresh ideas, cheap travel bringing the seaside within easy reach of every home, games taught at school and sport developed into a vast national industry, cinemas, theatres and concert halls in every town, radio programmes blaring forth night and day, limitless fiction and cheap magazines, crossword puzzles and football pools and now, of course, this accursed war.
Up to Napoleonic times, at least, comparatively small professional navies and armies did all the fighting that was necessary, while the bulk of the people continued undisturbed in their normal occupations; but now war disrupts the lives of whole populations and involves everyone in countless new activities, anxieties and tribulations, so that their minds become more heavily drugged than ever with what they consider to be the imperative necessity of the moment.
I have not been endeavouring to prove to myself that in the past people, on the whole, lived happier lives, although I think a good case could be made for that, and certainly for one that they enjoyed a far greater measure of security before the industrial, revolution took them from the land.
I have simply set down my reasons for believing that up to about a hundred years ago they had ample time for quiet reflection and, in consequence, thought much more about the mystery of creation, of good and evil, and of the things of the spirit generally; so that the receiving apparatus of their minds was automatically tuned in to pick up those strange vibrations that come from the other side. Whereas most moderns seldom have the leisure to contemplate the eternal, and on the rare occasions that they do their apparatus is to ill tuned, from lack of use, that it fails to register anything. And that it is this which accounts for so few people of the present century having met with any psychic experience.
Yet there are still occasions when some people suddenly find themselves tuned in to some dark station of the Otherworld. That is entirely contrary to all that I was brought up to believe. But I have got to believe it now. Somehow I have got to convince myself of that absolutely. I must otherwise I shall end up in a straitjacket.
The light is failing now. I had better ring for Taffy to draw the curtains. I wonder if Julia will come tomorrow? But, idiot that I am, how can she? My letter can't possibly get to her at Queensclere until Thursday morning. That means I have two more nights to face before there can be any hope of getting me away from here.
Oh, God! How can I bear it?

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:47 | Сообщение # 4
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CHAPTER 3

Wednesday, 6th May
I got quite a pleasant surprise when I looked in the mirror to shave this morning. My face was always on the thin side but it has lost that lean, drawn look it had yesterday; my grey eyes are bright again and the heavy pouches underneath them have entirely disappeared. They always say that the recuperative powers of youth are remarkable, and it is certainly wonderful what a good night's sleep has done for me.
Deb refuses to allow me to take more than one triple bromide, even when I have had a succession of bad nights; but last night I grabbed the bottle from her and swallowed a couple before she could stop me. Whether it was the effect of the double dose, or that the brute that haunts the courtyard decided to have a go at some other window, I don't know; but I slept like a log from ten o'clock right round till eight thirty, and I am feeling a new man in consequence.
It is another lovely day, too. What fun it would be if I could go for a climb up the mountain; but that is out of the question Helmuth used to take me climbing up in Scotland when I was a boy, and I loved it. He had promised to take me to Switzerland, and I was bitterly disappointed in 1939 when he decided that we had better go to Mull again instead, owing to the uncertainty of the European situation. As usual, he proved right, and the outbreak of war occurred while we were up there.
That last summer holiday was fun all the same, even though it differed little from its predecessors. There are grouse and quite good deerstalking on the island, and mackerel fishing round the coast. Having our own boat always enabled us to go on exciting expeditions, and we got in some thrilling climbs on the mainland. I expect Helmuth misses his climbing too, but these days he is always so occupied with the estate, and gingering up the tenants to do better in the 'Grow More Food' campaign, that he doesn't get much time for anything else.
I don't know why I am rambling on like this, but I find it a pleasant occupation to put down my thoughts just as they come into my head. I only wish that they were all such pleasant ones. Unfortunately, I find it impossible to keep the bad ones out of my mind for long, and I am still damnably worried about myself.
What is more, I started this journal for a purpose, and I must not let the fact that nothing happened last night lull me into a false sense of security. I have still got to convince myself that I am perfectly normal, and that there really are other 'gaps in the curtain' through which people sometimes catch a glimpse of the unknown, as well as the one which has opened to disclose such a monstrous thing to me.
I think any reasonable person would agree that, while it is fair enough to question the validity of any particular supernatural manifestation, there is far too much evidence of the existence of occult forces to maintain that they are nothing but a product of man's imagination. To do so means not only the denial of a great part of the Gospels and all other sacred literature, as well as countless well authenticated records of miraculous happenings in historic times the admission of any single one of which as fully proven automatically proves the whole case; it also implies a wilful disregard of modern scientific investigation into the qualities and capabilities of the brain, soul, mind, spirit or whatever one chooses to call it that animates every human being and gives to each a unique personality.
But before I use the words 'soul' or 'spirit' again, perhaps I had better attempt to define what I mean by them. I take them as designating not only the something extra to the physical body that all religions teach lives on after we die, but also that part of our consciousness which leaves us in no doubt whether a course is right or wrong, and, at times, enables us to become perceptive of sights, sounds and smells outside the range of our normal senses.
Although scientists have not yet obtained conclusive proof that the soul survives after death, they have gone a long way towards it. Emotions can now be registered and emanations invisible to the human eye can be photographed, showing that while alive we radiate an intangible something which disappears at death. People's hearts have stopped beating during operations; others have been drowned or asphyxiated, and they have been pronounced physically dead; yet scientific treatment has brought them to life again. For a brief space something must have gone out of them but, on its home again being rendered tenable, it returned.
That means that, quite apart from faith and wishful thinking, there is a good case for survival; and there is a far better one for the existence of supernormal powers in the living.
Thought transference is, I suppose, the simplest form in which the non-physical manifests itself, and with some people it is almost a day-to-day occurrence. Married couples who have lived in unity for a number of years often find that anticipating one another's thoughts becomes almost a habit; and it is by no means unusual for friends who have not seen one another for a long time to write to the other on the same day.
Death warnings are also far from unusual. I remember reading a book by the great French scientist Camille Flammarion, in which he recorded scores of cases of people who, while employed in some quite normal occupation, suddenly broke off to exclaim that they felt convinced that a near relative had died, and the following day brought confirmation of their second sight.
Then there are the many instances in which for no explicable reason people wake up in the middle of the night with a feeling that something is wrong, and on going downstairs find that the house is on fire; although the sound of crackling and the smell of smoke could not possibly have been perceptible to their normal senses, even if they had been awake.
Again, there is scarcely ever a big railway disaster or liner lost at sea without someone who should have travelled on the train or ship having decided not to do so at the last moment. When questioned such people often assert that they had every intention of travelling and that having failed to do so caused them considerable inconvenience by upsetting longstanding arrangements; yet, on reaching the station or dock, they felt an imperative compulsion to postpone their journey.
Everyone must have heard of the case of that type by which the late Marquess of Dufferin and Ava escaped being dashed to death in a falling lift, while en post as British Ambassador in Paris. In that affair the unmistakably psychic nature of the warning was underlined by the fact of its having been conveyed to him by seeing an apparition. He vouched for that himself, and one can hardly question the veracity of such a man as the late Lord Dufferin.
From Saul's grim transactions with the Witch of Endor to the strange events preceding the death of the late Mr. Justice Macarthy, history, both ancient and modern, gives innumerable instances of people seeing ghosts, many of which in recent times have been authenticated by doctors, magistrates and other trustworthy witnesses.
But why should I labour the point? It can be only because my unsettled mind craves so desperately for further support to a conviction that it has already formed. I really have no doubt that apparitions are at times seen by people who have never attempted to contact occult forces, or have even given them a thought.
It is possible that, owing to my present poor state of health, I may recently have become the victim of hallucinations. I admit that. But of one fact I am positive. I was perfectly sane and healthy when I was a boy, and at the age of eight I saw a ghost myself.
Must stop now time for me to go out for my airing.

Afternoon
I have few dislikes in the way of food and do not take much interest in it, although my large frame calls for quite a bit of stoking up, so I have a very hearty appetite. Generally I demolish anything that is put in front of me and hardly notice what I am eating.
But I must say that I enjoyed my lunch today. Of course, down here in Wales, apart from tea and sugar, no one even pretends to accept rationing. The home farm provides us with as much meat, poultry, butter, cream and eggs as we could wish for; the lake gives us fish and the garden an abundance of fruit and vegetables. If we did not use the stuff that is brought in the outdoor staff would only sell it to the local tradesmen so what the hell! I lunched off duck and green peas followed by the first hothouse strawberries with plenty of fresh cream.
Anyhow, I'm feeling good better than I have at any time since the recurrence of the trouble, which was on the night of the 30th of April. In fact, I am feeling so much fitter than I did yesterday that I have decided that I am now capable of making myself describe the Thing that makes me doubt my sanity.
I have already given an account of the inadequate blackout arrangements in this room, and of how the moonlight coming through the windows of the north bay throws three broad bands of silvery radiance on the floor, this side of the curtain that cuts off the arc of the bay at night.
I should add that after the second of the two visitations, early in April, I asked both Deb and Helmuth to have the curtain lengthened so that it reached the floor. Deb said with some asperity that she had neither the necessary material nor the coupons to get any, and that anyway it was not her job, so I had better get Helmuth to give instructions about it to the housekeeper. My Great-aunt Sarah, has lived here most of her life and her companion, Miss Nettlefold, does the housekeeping for us. Helmuth said that he would speak to her about it; but either he is so busy that he forgot, or else it is she who has forgotten to do anything about it.

On May the 1stthat was the morning after the second bout began I reminded Helmuth of his promise; but still nothing has been done. Perhaps I chose a bad moment to bother him, as he seemed very offhand. He said he always slept with the curtains of his room drawn back, so that when there was a moon it often shone right in on him, and he really could not believe that a little strip of moonlight on the floor could cause me any serious inconvenience.
Since then I have not liked to mention the matter to him again, as I don't see how I can press for the job to be done unless I give the real reason why I am so anxious to have those extra six inches put on the curtain; and nothing would induce me to tell him that.
I have spent hours wondering how I could lengthen it myself; but the snag is that there is nothing here I could use except some of the cushion covers, the bed linen or my underclothes, and if I started cutting any of those up it would be taken as a sign that I was crazy.
So the curtain is unaltered and the moon still throws those three damnable splodges of light across the floor. The gap between the floor and the curtain is not much more than six inches, but as the light comes in at an angle the bands it makes are very much wider, and they reach to within four feet of my bed.
Thank God they come no nearer, or I should probably lose my nerve completely and scream the house down. Even as it is, it is all I can do to prevent myself from yelling for help. I would, if I were certain that whoever came to my assistance would see the same thing as I do. But the hellish part of it is that they might not. Then I should know that what I see is only a figment of my imagination, and that I really am going mad. Perhaps that is the case, but if so I am determined not to let anyone suspect it as long as I have a will of my own.
Now for the apparently absurd and mortifying truth. I have allowed myself to be reduced to a nervous wreck simply through seeing a shadow. But what makes it? And why does it dance its devil dance on that accursed band of moonlight?
There are no trees in the courtyard, so it cannot be a waving branch that throws that animated black patch. It cannot be a person or a bird, as it is not the right shape, and its movements are unlike those that either would make. Yet something does. Something that comes out of the night and climbs up on to my windowsill, so that its dark bulk is silhouetted by the moon.
Owing to the comparative narrowness of the band of light I can never see the whole shadow at one time; but it seems to be thrown by a large ball like body with a number of waving limbs. To be honest, I have come to the conclusion that it is an octopus.
I know it must sound as if I am a raving lunatic, to say that I believe an octopus is trying to get in at my window; but there it is. Unless I tell the truth to myself the whole point of keeping this journal is lost, and to continue it would be futile. As, too, I have never even seen the Thing itself, it must appear as if I am a pretty wet type to allow myself to be frightened by a shadow, however inexplicable its presence where no shadow should be, and however sinister its form and movements; but that is very far from being the worst part of the business.
The terrifying thing is, that the brute is not only haunting but hunting me. It moves up and down, up and down; in stealthy little runs, floundering from one windowsill to another and back again. And I know that in a blind, fumbling way it is trying to get in.
Yet even that is not the ultimate horror. It cannot possibly be a real octopus; a beast that one could slash at with a knife, and, if one were strong enough, blind and kill. It must be some intangible malefic force that has succeeded in materialising itself in hideous animal form.
Of that I am certain. For the sight of its shadow does not fill me with a normal, healthy fear; it makes my eyes start from my head and my limbs become weak as water. Its effect upon me is both different and worse than if I were brought face to face with a man-eating tiger. That is why I am positive that it can only be something unutterably evil.
Once I wake and see that unholy weaving pattern of darkness, furtively moving to and fro across the silvery band of light, I simply cannot drag my eyes away from it. Sometimes I try to force myself to ignore it, but I never succeed for more than a moment. I long to put my head under the bedclothes; but I dare not. If I did the Thing might get in while I was not looking, and be upon me before I even had a chance to scream for help.
So I am compelled to lie there sweating with terror, my gaze riveted upon it and dreading every moment to hear one of the windowpanes crack under its pressure; until at last the moon goes down and its foul shadow is blotted out. Only then can I relax. Sometimes, if I am lucky, towards morning I fall into the troubled sleep of mental exhaustion; at others my tired brain revolves round endless futile speculations, until the pale light of dawn creeps beneath the curtain.
But what is the Thing? Why does it come? Is it a Satanic entity that has battened and waxed strong upon thought forms, thrown out at the time of some abominable crime committed long ago in the nearby ruin? If so, why is it not content to remain there haunting the scene of the crime? Why should it leave its lair and try to invade this modern house? Or can it be a monster that has been deliberately ordered up out of the Pit to attack me? If so, again why? And by whom?
Surely pretty well anyone would be more worthy of the Devil's attention than I am in my present state? Yet I know that it is I, and no one else, that the brute is out to get. Sometimes its shadow blurs and quivers a little, and I know then, just as surely as I know that my name is Toby Jugg, that it is trembling with a kind of repulsive lust. Some chord deep in my subconscious vibrates to the waves it sends out, and my flesh creeps anew from the positive knowledge that it is activated by one single, all absorbing thought the urge to wrap itself about my body, suck out my soul and destroy me utterly. But why? Why? Why? Why me? Why me? Why me?
Later
Half an hour ago I had worked myself up into such a state that I could not go on. I am feeling a bit steadier now, and in the meantime I have reconsidered a few points.
Firstly; can the brute conceivably be an honest to God flesh and muscle octopus that lives in the lake? As the lake is very deep in places, and it apparently surfaces only at night, it might have inhabited a rocky cave on the lake bottom for years without anyone being any the wiser. The Loch Ness monster is said to lead that sort of existence and is spotted coming up for air only once in a blue moon. And this creature may not be a true octopus, but another unknown species of primitive lake dweller.
As against that, octopi are normally ocean dwellers, and I have never heard of one being seen in a river or lake. Llanferdrack is in Radnor, and on the eastern slope of the Cambrian mountains over forty miles from the sea so how could it have got here? I don't know the age to which octopi live, but such low forms of creation often survive to great ages. If octopi do, this one might have been caught generations ago and brought here by one of the old Lords Llanferdrack. But captive octopi that are kept in aquariums have to be supplied with saltwater, and the lake is fresh. Moreover, it seems highly improbable that any species of octopi is capable of coming up out of the water and crawling any distance on land.
On balance, I suppose this theory is remotely possible, but only if the brute is some form of missing link; and I regard that as most unlikely.
My original idea, that the brute is a Satanic entity and owes its origin to some dark deed that took place long ago in the ruins, seems far more plausible. This hideous modern house was built only in the 1890's and it backs on to the southern side of the original Llanferdrack Castle. Some of the rooms in the Castle are still more or less habitable. In fact they are hardly less so than those of the house, as the latter has never been modernised and lacks most of the amenities we still have to use oil lamps, and coal or wood for cooking as well as the fires, neither electricity or gas ever having been laid on.
But the part of the Castle that is still in fair preservation overlooks the lake, and abuts on the east wing of the house, in which Great-aunt Sarah has her quarters; whereas the west wing, where I am installed, backs on to the ruined Keep. The library is separated from it only by the courtyard, so it seems a fair bet that my enemy has his lair in one of the dark, rat infested dungeons beneath it, where in ancient times unfortunate wretches were tortured to death.
My second new theory is based on the assumption that, although the Lord of Evil is said to be intelligent, it does not necessarily follow that his lesser minions are so too. Indeed, tradition has it that they are cunning and persistent but far from clever, and have often been tricked by the wit of man.
Thus, to the lower forms of Satanic energy one soul may appear as desirable meat as any other. If so, this foulness that comes by night is probably incapable of distinguishing between myself and a country bumpkin like my servant Taffyor, for that matter, between my very ordinary personality and the heroic spirit of Mr. Churchill. Perhaps it just gropes and gropes, patiently and tirelessly seeking for a suitable victim, and my present parlous state, together with the mental loneliness that afflicts me here, renders me peculiarly vulnerable to such an attack.
For the first time in my life I have real cause to regret that I was brought up as what the Church would term a heretic. If I had not broken away from the domination of Helmuth when I did I would still know next to nothing of religious matters; but during the two and a half years that I was free of his influence I read quite extensively to acquire information on what he would term 'the superstitions of the ignorant masses'.
It was a perfectly natural reaction that I should interest myself in the one and only subject which had previously been barred to me; and the fact that it was he who had inculcated in me the habit of serious reading gives a cynically humorous twist to the first use I made of my freedom to read what I wished.
Unfortunately, it is by no means easy to make up later for an almost complete lack of the type of knowledge that most children imbibe at their mother's knee, and all through a normal adolescence; so I find myself far from well equipped to reason out these questions, the answers to which may mean for me the difference between having to admit to myself that I am going mad and finding a logical basis upon which to retain my faith in my sanity. Nevertheless, I mean to stick to it; and I shall attempt to analyse the evidence supporting my belief that I saw a ghost when I was a small boy, first thing tomorrow.
Tomorrow! But first I have to get through tonight. So far this month I have had to face that ghastly ordeal four nights out of six. Last night I was blessed with a respite. Dare I hope to be granted one for two nights running?
No; I fear there is little chance of that. This month the attacks have been of much longer duration than they were on those first two nights early in April; and each time the Thing comes it seems more determined to get at me. During those early visits it came and went at intervals, so they seem to have been only in the nature of a reconnaissance. But now the attack is on in earnest. Although I cannot hear it I know, instinctively, that it keeps throwing its weight against the windowpanes with ever increasing violence. I would to God I could believe that its failure to appear last night could be taken as a sign that it has decided to abandon its efforts; but I cannot.
Last night, too, I managed to snatch that extra triple bromide from Deb, so perhaps the brute did come, but the double dose was sufficient to prevent is malefic influence from waking me. Deb will take good care that I get no chance to trick her tonight, so I had better try to resign myself to another night of hell.
I wonder whether I shall be awake or asleep when it comes? On four occasions my subconscious has registered the malefic force that the brute radiates, causing me to wake suddenly from a sound sleep and, on starting up, to find it there. On the other two I have been awake already.
I hardly know which is the worst. In the first case there is the appalling shock of being called on to face another ordeal unexpectedly, while in the second there is the added terror of anticipation that I suffer during those awful moments before I can bring myself to look round and actually see the shadow. I think the latter is really the more horrible of the two.
At such times I suddenly become conscious that a dank, raw chill is gradually pervading the room, and it becomes very silent as silent as the grave. Then I get a definite physical reaction just as definite as a whiff of rotting fish making one want to vomit. I know then, for certain, that my fears are justified that this incredibly evil Thing has clambered up on to the windowsill, and is once more searching for a way to get in. Instinctively my eyes turn towards the floor, and there is the big, black, undulating shadow that it causes, sprawled across the band of moonlight.
I feel my heart beating like a sledgehammer, and I have to bite my tongue to prevent myself from letting out an hysterical scream. I would give everything I possess to be free, if only for two minutes, from the physical bonds that hold me; but I know that, short of rousing the house, there is no alternative to my continuing to lie there suffering the agonies of the damned.
If, at the first warning touch of that awful cold, I could only spring from my bed and rush from the room! If I could only sit up, press a switch, and flood the room with light! If, even, I could only reach out and turn on my radio gramophone! But such acts are all beyond my capabilities. Even in the daytime I am unable to rise unaided from my chair, and by night I am a prisoner in my bed!
What ill have I ever done to anyone, that I should be condemned to this now that my back is broken, and partial paralysis makes me a helpless cripple?

 
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CHAPTER 4

Thursday, 7th May
Nothing happened again last night, thank God; and Julia should be here today. Even if it means upsetting Helmuth, and a certain amount of inconvenience, I am sure she will have me moved when she hears what I have to say.
I shall try to persuade her to let me go back with her to Queensclere. She'll oppose that because of the number of air raids that they get down there in Kent; but, war or no war, it would be lovely to be living in the same house with her again.
Writing that reminds me that yesterday I had meant to go into the matter of the ghost that I saw when I was a small boy, but put off doing so because I suddenly decided that I felt up to setting down on paper a description of the Thing that is haunting me here. That affair took place not very long after I first went to live with Julia, and her knowing all about it is one of the things which will enable me to talk to her of my present plight, without giving her the idea that I've gone nuts.
I always think of this ghost as 'my burglar', because that is what I believed it to be at the time; and no doubt I should have continued to believe that up to this very day had it not been for a quite unexpected encounter several years later; but I will record that in its proper place.
At the age of eight years and four months I lost both my father and grandfather. They were killed together in October 1929, having gone up in the prototype of a new airliner to inspect her performance for themselves; but something went wrong with the wretched kite and she crashed.
I never knew my mother, as she died in giving me birth. From her picture and all accounts she must have been very lovely, and she was a rising film star when my father first met her in Hollywood, but she gave up her career when she married him. She was an American of Norwegian extraction and I evidently take after her. My hair and moustache are a shade darker than the red gold curl of hers that we found in a locket among father's things; but I have her large grey eyes and straight features. Like her, I am tall and strongly built, and her Norwegian blood must have come through very strongly, as my friends in the R.A.F. nicknamed me 'The Viking'.
Anyway, my father's death left me an orphan. Whether I have any living relatives on my mother's side I have no idea. I have never heard of any, so she may have been an orphan too. On my father's side, my grandmother had been dead for years and grandfather had only one sister, my Great-aunt Sarah. She never married, as her fiancé, young Llanferdrack, who owned this place, was drowned just before the happy day; and she has lived here mourning him in seclusion most of her life. But the poor old thing's romance going wrong unhinged her mind and she is a harmless halfwit, so there was never any question of my being placed in her charge.
Apart from Great-aunt Sarah my only living relative is my father's younger brother, Uncle Paul; so the trustees decided that I should go to live with him. I have since gathered that there was quite a bit of argument about it, because Uncle Paul was regarded as the black sheep of the family, and neither my grandfather nor father approved of him at all; but naturally, I knew nothing of that at the time, and he offered to have me. I think the thing that really decided the trustees to accept his offer was that about a year earlier he had married and at last appeared to be settling down.
All this seems quite irrelevant to the affair I started out to write about; but having begun this journal I find it rather soothing just to ramble on, setting down any thoughts and memories that come into my head, and, after all, it is only for my own edification, so why shouldn't I write anything I damn' well choose?
To continue, then. After the double funeral Uncle Paul took me down to his house at Kew and presented me to Julia. Of course, as his wife she was my aunt by marriage, but I never called her aunt, because she said the first evening she would rather that I didn't. She said that when I was grown up there wouldn't really be much difference in our ages and that she felt much too young to be an aunt to anybody; so she would much prefer that I thought of her as a big sister.
I found that a bit surprising, as she seemed very grownup to me; but it made things rather cosy, and she was quite the loveliest person I had ever seen. When she tucked me up in bed that night she kissed me, and having no female relatives I was not accustomed to that sort of thing.
Father used to go abroad a great deal on business trips and even when he was at home I didn't see much of him. I was still too young for him to have me downstairs when he was entertaining and on most days when he got back from the city he just dashed upstairs to my nursery for a few minutes, then changed and went out; so my world practically consisted of dear old Nanny Trotter and other nannies and their children that we met in the park.
Of course there was Miss Stiggins too, a dry old spinster who came to give me lessons every morning, but she never kissed me and I don't suppose that it would have registered if she had; whereas the first kiss from Julia remained an unforgettable landmark in my young life. Her lips were as soft as swansdown against my cheek and she smelled of some delicious perfume; from that moment I absolutely worshipped her.
Julia was then twenty and had been married nearly a year. Uncle Paul met her in Rome, and although she was an Italian she already spoke English so well that she did not seem like a foreigner, and her faint accent made her speech only more fascinating to listen to. She was medium tall and very slim.
Her eyes were black with long lashes and she had the warm, rich colouring of the south. Her face was a long oval, her lips full and very red. She wore her dark hair parted in the middle and it fell smoothly to her shoulders, curling at the ends.
That first night, I remember, she was wearing a dress of oyster satin with a long, full skirt that swayed gently as she walked; as did also her pendant diamond earrings, which were the only jewels she had on. All her movements were smooth and graceful, and when she laughed it was lazily, her red lips opening to show two rows of strong little white teeth. I was still as innocent as a newborn babe and to me she seemed like an angel a dark angel come to life out of a storybook.
But I must get back to the matter of my 'burglar'. I had been living with Uncle Paul and Julia for about two months when the affair occurred. Their house at Kew seemed very strange to me at first, because it was so different from those in which I had been brought up; but Julia had a flair for decoration and I found her bright, modern rooms exciting after the much bigger but rather sombre ones to which I was accustomed.
The Willows was a suburban villa of the type that was built by the thousand during Queen Victoria 's reign; a square three storied building standing in its own small garden and one of a row of similar middleclass homes. Its front door opened on to a narrow hall with two rooms on each side of it, then continued on the left as a passage to the kitchen and on the right as a staircase leading straight up to the floors above. From the hall you could see the little half landing where the stairs made a hairpin bend, then disappeared from sight. On the first floor there were four bedrooms and a bathroom, and another flight of stairs immediately above the lower ones led up to the servants' rooms and box room at the top of the house.
Two months is a long time when one is only eight, so to me the tragedy that had deprived me of my father and grandfather was already ancient history. As I have said, I saw very little of my father, and of my grandfather I saw even less. They were to me Olympian figures who, apart from brief routine visits, impinged upon my consciousness only when they descended from their grown up heaven either to admonish me if I had been naughty or give me lovely presents.
Nanny Trotter told me that they had both gone to live with my beautiful mother in Jerusalem the Golden, which I took to be a still more remote paradise than that they had presumably enjoyed down here. She made it quite clear that they would never return and it did not take me very long to get accustomed to the idea that I should not see either of them again. Grandfather's beard had rather a nice smell, which I think was due to lavender water, and father had a jolly laugh; but I cannot honestly say that I missed either of them very much.
Besides, there were a thousand new interests to fill my small mind and, above all, Julia. She did not seem to have any friends in the neighbourhood although people often came down from London to spend the evening with her and Uncle Paul so she let me be with her for a large part of every day. Nanny Trotter had been installed at Kew to look after me, of course, but Miss Stiggins had been sacked, as it had been decided that I should go to a prep, school after Christmas and that until then I need not do any lessons.
Julia took me shopping with her which was very exciting, as I had hardly ever been in a shop before and to the cinema, and several times up to London, where we lunched in restaurants and afterwards went to look at all sorts of lovely things in Bond Street. So with all these thrilling new experiences I had not a moment left to brood.
I record all this simply to show that when I saw the burglar I was not grieving for my father and full of morbid thoughts about death. I was a normal, healthy small boy having the time of his life and without a care in the world.
It happened about a fortnight before Christmas on one of Nanny Trotter's nights out. Julia had let me stay up a little later than usual and it was nearly seven o'clock before she packed me off to my bath with a promise that, as a treat, she would bring me up some orange jelly with my milk and biscuits.
I went up the first flight of stairs as usual, at a run, then turned the hairpin bend and took the next flight two at a time. I had the banisters on my left but was heading half right, as my room was the first on that side of the landing. As this was in December it was, of course, already dark; but the light on the landing in front of me had not yet been switched on, so it was lit only by the faint glow coming up from the hall below. I was still two steps from the top of the flight when something made me glance to my left.
As I was then only a little chap my head was not much above the level of the nearest banister rail and below the further one which served the flight of stairs running up to the second floor. What I saw stopped me dead in my tracks. For a moment I remained there, paralysed by sheer terror.
There was the figure of a man just opposite me on the upper stairs. He was crouching down as though attempting to hide; but he had one white hand on the further banister rail. That gave the impression that he was poised there ready to make an instant dash up the stairs if discovered.
The horrifying thing about it was that as he crouched there his head was below his hand and on a level with my own. He was peering at me from between the banisters and his face was less than twelve inches from mine. The light was too dim for me to see his features clearly but his face was large, round and flabby with small dark pits for eyes. He made not the slightest sound or movement but just remained there staring at me with the sort of bestial ferocity that one might have expected to see on the face of Jack the Ripper.
What broke the tension after that awful, age long moment I have no idea. Perhaps he moved first; or it may be that my heart, having temporarily stopped, started again, so that in an automatic reaction I let our a terrified yell. As I screamed and jerked myself away I caught just a glimpse of him, still crouched almost double, gliding swiftly up the stairs.
I use the word 'gliding' because when I was questioned afterwards I could not recall having heard his footsteps, or, indeed, any noise at all. Had I been older that would certainly have struck me as queer, since the dark outline of the figure had been squat but bulky, and, even if he was wearing rubber soled shoes, a heavy man could hardly take a flight of stairs at the run without his footfalls being audible. At the time, and for long afterwards,
I simply assumed that any noise he made must have been drowned by the sounds of my own wild flight.
Scared out of my wits, I bounded towards the half landing, swerved round the bend of the stairs and literally flung myself down the lower flight to arrive sprawling in the hall, still gasping and yelling.
Almost simultaneously, like a scene in a French farce, three of the doors opened. Julia came running from her sitting room, Uncle Paul from his study with a friend of his who happened to be with him, and Florae, the little housemaid, from the dining room, where she was laying the table for dinner. To complete the party, Cook arrived a second later from the kitchen still clutching a saucepan.
As they picked me up I shouted: There's a man upstairs! A burglar! A burglar!'
Then, trembling with shock and excitement, I burst into tears and flung myself into Julia's arms.
The two men armed themselves with golf clubs and went upstairs. The women remained clustered about me in the hall anxiously listening for sounds of strife, but the only ones that reached us were the faint opening and shutting of doors.
Uncle Paul and his friend seemed to be away a long time, but at last they rejoined us. They said that they had searched every room, looked under all the beds and in all the cupboards, but they had not found the burglar, and as far as they could judge nothing had been taken or disturbed; so I must have imagined him.
'But I saw him!' I cried, repudiating the suggestion with indignation. 'He's a horrid, bald old man! He glared at me through the banisters and I thought he was going to spring at me. If he's not there now he must have got out on to the roof.'
Their attempts to reassure me were in vain. I flatly refused to go to bed until further search had been made. The burglar could not have come down the back' stairs because there weren't any, so I feared that he must be lurking somewhere and might come creeping into my room while the grownups were having dinner.
To quiet my fears the attics and roof were searched; but without result The moon had risen and in its light there was no place on the sloping tiles of that small, square house where a man could have remained hidden. As the gaps between the roof of The Willows and those of the houses on either side of it were far too wide for any man to jump, the only other possibility was that the burglar had got out of one of the second floor windows and shinned down a drainpipe. I insisted that he must have done so and was, perhaps, hiding outside, waiting to return when we were all asleep.
Julia made the two men go out into the garden with torches. There were flowerbeds all round the house and anyone coming down a drainpipe must have landed on one, but there was not a footmark to be seen on any of them.
My tears had long since dried, but I was still very excited and nothing could shake my conviction that I had seen a murderous looking thug crouching on the stairs. However, nothing more could be done about it, so I allowed myself to be taken up to bed while Florrie got a special supper that Julia ate with me; then she read me to sleep.
Next morning, of course, the whole affair was gone into again, but no fresh light was thrown upon it, and with the approach of Christmas I ceased to think about it any more. It was not until nearly eleven years later that there came a sequel to this strange affair.
One day just as I was leaving the mess at Biggin Hill, after lunch, a trim looking W.A.A.F. came up to me and said: 'Hello, Master Toby! Don't you remember me?'
She was rather a pert looking blonde of about thirty, and her face was vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place her.
'I'm Florrie Meddows,' she said. 'I was housemaid at The Willows when you were a little boy. My, sir, how you've grown! But I would have known you anywhere. How's Mr. and Mrs. Jugg; in the pink, I hope?'
Of course, I recalled her then and we talked for a bit of old times. After a while she asked: 'Did you ever see any more spooks at The Willows?'
'Spooks!' I echoed. 'What on earth do you mean?'
'Why, ghosts, of course. Surely you remember the night when you scared us all stiff by insisting that you had seen a ghost?'
'You're mixing me up with someone else,' I laughed. 'I've never seen a ghost in my life.'
She shook her head. 'No, it was you all right. You came yelling downstairs fit to wake the dead. But I remember now, you thought it was a burglar; and I suppose your aunt, not wanting to frighten you, never told you different.'
At that the whole episode came back to my mind as clearly as though it had happened only the day before. 'I've certainly always thought it was a burglar,' I agreed in great surprise. 'Whatever makes you think it was a ghost?1
'Well, a human being couldn't have flown out of the window,' Florrie countered, 'or disappeared like that without leaving a single trace, could he? Besides, your uncle and aunt may not have let on to you about it, but they were nuts about Spiritualism. There was hardly a night when they had friends down from London that they didn't go in for table turning, wall rapping, and all that It wasn't none of my business, and Cook and me just used to laugh about it, thinking them a bit cranky, till the night you gave us all such a fright That made us think very different, knowing what we did; and we were both so scared that we gave notice first thing next morning. We'd have sacrificed our money and left there and then if it hadn't been for letting Mrs. Jugg down over Christmas, and her promising not to hold any more séances while we were in the house. If it was a burglar you saw, Master Toby, then I'm a policeman and Hitler's my Aunt Fanny. No good ever comes of calling on the spirits, and it was through them doing that some horrid thing started to haunt the house.'

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:49 | Сообщение # 6
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CHAPTER 5

Friday, 8th May
Another quiet night, although rather a restless one, owing to Julia never having turned up yesterday evening, as I hoped she would. Perhaps she decided to put off her visit till today and then stay over the weekend.
Fortunately, I became so interested in writing the account of my 'burglar' that I continued at it after dinner, and that occupied my mind enough to prevent my fretting over her non-appearance until Deb settled me down for the night.
I had better finish it off now. Actually, there is little more to tell; and I find it difficult to doubt that Florrie Meddows' explanation of the vanishing without trace of the figure that I saw must be the true one.
People do not tell children ghost stories or give them books about ghouls and vampires to read. Tales of witches who turn princes into frogs and giants who carry off princesses yes; but anything to do with the afterlife or the supernatural is taboo. Therefore, at the age of eight and a half I can scarcely have known what the word 'ghost' implied, hence my immediate assumption that the thing I saw was a man.
It is this, I think, that gives the occurrence peculiar and outstanding weight as proof that astral bodies are at times visible to humans. Everyone else in that house knew what was going on there, so, if any of them had seen what I did, one might fairly argue that thinking about the séances had played Old Harry with their nerves, and that they had imagined it. But I could not possibly have done so, because before one can make a mental concept of anything it is essential to have some basic knowledge of it, and in my case this was entirely lacking.
The next time I saw Julia I tackled her about it. At first she hedged and pretended to have forgotten the whole affair; but when I told her about my meeting with Florrie she shrugged and said with her lazy smile:
'Of course it was an astral, darling. It's quite true that when you first came to us at The Willows we used to hold séances now and then. But only for fun; and after you saw your "burglar" we were much too frightened ever to hold one again. When Paul had searched the house we knew that it couldn't have been a man who had scared you, and the only possible explanation was that one of our controls must be hovering about in visual form. Naturally, as you were only a child, we concealed the truth from you and tried to make you forget the fright you'd had as quickly as we could. I don't mind admitting now that we were pretty scared ourselves, and I was thankful that we had already arranged to move from The Willows soon after Christmas.'
I tried to get her to tell me about the séances they had held, but she insisted that there was really nothing to tell, as she hadn't proved a very good medium and, apart from the totally unexpected appearance of my burglar, the results had been disappointing; so I did not press her. The important point is that she fully confirmed all that Florrie had said.
I'm glad that I took the trouble to write all this out, as recalling the affair in detail makes me as nearly certain as anyone can be, that I did seen supernatural manifestation when I was a healthy, innocent child; and that gives real, solid support to my belief that I am not imagining things now.
However, the fact that I have good grounds for supposing that apparitions do appear to humans raises again the question of Good and Evil; and I would like to clear my mind a bit on that. It is an axiom that nothing happens without a cause; so who pulls the wires behind the scenes? Is it always the Devil, or sometimes God? What is the object of such operations? And can humans really command spirits to do their will?
If the manifestation occurs without our seeking it, is some power beyond earth attempting to influence us, or could it have been sent by some evilly disposed human? Again, if through a medium, or the exercise of our own will employed in some ancient mystery, we provoke the supernatural occurrence, is it, in the first place, really a response from some loved one who has passed over and, in the second, a minor entity compelled to obey us; or, in both cases, have the forces of Evil accepted our rash invitation to emerge from some dark and hideous cavern of the underworld?
All these questions seethe in my tired brain when I cannot sleep at night, and fear that at any moment instinct may again make my flesh begin to creep at the approach of the Thing in the courtyard.
At least, as a starting point, I feel justified in assuming that the Otherworld must be another dimension of this one, and that its denizens have the power, given suitable conditions, to impinge upon our consciousness.
There seems, too, no reason to suppose that the will of a spirit in a physical body is necessarily weaker than that of a spirit in limbo. So the former may prove equal to forcing the latter to do its bidding; and that, no doubt, is the secret of the supernormal powers with which all the great occultists have been credited. From the same premises, though, should the disembodied entity prove stronger than the will of the living person who has conjured it up, woe betide the occultist; for it would then be he who would find himself the slave of some strange, potent, and almost certainly malignant force.
By worldly and academic standards Florrie Meddows is a person of the lower orders and mean intelligence; yet surely she voiced the sound sense and clear vision so often inherited through many generations of humble folk when she said to me: 'No good ever comes of calling on the spirits.'
However cautious and intelligent a seeker after occult power may be, or one who endeavours to gain information by consulting a professional psychic, it does not seem to me that they possess any yardstick with which to measure the results that they obtain. How can they possibly tell if the entities they contact are good or evil, or be certain that they are not being deceived by malicious spirits and led on to their ultimate ruin?
In my own case, God knows, I have not deliberately tempted Providence by seeking to probe these dark secrets, but
Later
I had to stop writing this morning because Deb came in. She doesn't often do so, between eleven and one on a wet day, but as it had stopped raining by a quarter to twelve she wanted me to take my daily turn round the garden before lunch; so that she would be free this afternoon to have tea with the village schoolmaster, who is a friend of hers.
Her unexpected appearance gave me furiously to think. I am most anxious that no one should learn about this journal in case they get the idea that I've got a screw loose and Deb, Taffy and Helmuth are all liable to barge in here without warning from time to time. I have been writing in an old exercise book, and if they notice that I've taken to scribbling as a habit one of them is bound to ask what I am writing about. Then if I said that I was trying my hand at a short story, or something like that, they would be certain to want to read it.
While I was being wheeled round the garden I decided that I would tear out the sheets that I have covered so far and hide them between the leaves of my stamp albums. In future I shall write on single sheets, using one of the albums as a writing block, and as each is finished conceal it with the others. Then, if anyone conies in while I am on the job they will think that I am making notes of the stamps I want to complete some of my sets.
This plan also provides a means of hiding the script when I am out. Nobody has any excuse for opening the albums, so it is extremely unlikely that anyone will come upon these sheets there unless, of course, something happens to me.
That brings me to another point. I started this journal simply with the idea of putting down my recent strange experiences in black and white, so that I could consider them more objectively. At least, that is what I thought; but I believe that, all the time, I also had it in the back of my mind that since I am menaced by some intangible form of danger, should I fall victim to it I would like to leave behind a record of all that has occurred…
My stamp collection is of considerable value, so if anything did happen to me these notes are certain to be found; and the odds are that they would be found by Julia, which is what I want.
Of course it is absurd; really, even to suggest that I might be taken away from here in a straitjacket, or die in a fit one night. Still, if fate has decreed some such horror for me I would like Julia to know that I did not succumb to it tamely, but fought it with all my might.
On the face of it the simplest way of achieving my object would be to keep these papers in a packet addressed to her, but if I did that it might be tampered with, or deliberately destroyed. Why should I fear that? I'm darned if I know. Such groundless suspicions are said to be a sign of madness. Perhaps I am going mad. Oh, God, I wish I knew!
Saturday, 9th May
Still no sign of Julia! It really is extraordinary! Even if she were ill I feel sure that, on receiving my last letter, she would send me some kind of message. The only possible explanation for her failure either to come here or write to me is that she must have been away from Queensclere for some days, and that my letter has not yet caught up with her or that she is an air raid casualty, which God forbid; but that is hardly likely as, were it so, Uncle Paul or one of the servants would have let us know of it by telegram.
If she had been coming yesterday it was a fair bet that she would have arrived in time for dinner; so when she didn't, instead of writing any more of this I wrote to her again, in the hope that if my earlier letter is still chasing her round the country this last one will catch her on her return to Queensclere. In it I did not mince matters, but spilled the whole story.
I had an untroubled night again the fourth in succession and I am now beginning to hope that I may remain immune from further attack until the end of the month. That proved to be the case in April, and it looks as if the Thing's activity is in some way dependent on the moon being either at, or near, full. During the dark quarter there is, naturally, no moonlight to throw the shadow; but I have never seen it while the moon was in her first or third quarters; neither have I felt the brute's presence at such times. So, now that the moon is on the wane, I am crossing thumbs that I'll be free of my accursed visitor for a bit. At present, though, the above is still only a theory, so I am certainly not going to start counting my chickens as yet.
Last night I thought a lot more about ways of ensuring that this record should reach Julia in the event of my apparently crazy forebodings taking concrete form. After all, some reason that I know nothing of may prevent her coming this week, or next; and tonight, or any night, the Thing may come again and-and succeed in forcing its way in. So I mean to keep at this journal until she does come or… And, in the last case, I am now convinced that using the stamp album offers a better prospect of achieving my end than any other means at my disposal.
If anything did happen to me, all my personal effects would become the property of Uncle Paul, as my next of kin; so it would be Julia who, sooner or later, would go through them, and all the odds are against anyone examining the albums before they came into her hands.
It would fall to Taffy's lot to pack up my things. He is the head gardener's son, and promoted to an indoor post as my body servant only because of the present shortage of manpower, and the fact that his slightly deformed feet make him ineligible for National Service.
Taffy's strength lies in his muscles, not in his head; but the small, dark eyes set in his moonlike face suggest a certain slyness, and I wouldn't put it past him to pinch my cufflinks if he thought he could get away with it. But I doubt if it would even occur to him to monkey with my stamps. He wouldn't know which ones were worth taking, and he would be frightened at the risk involved to anyone who knows nothing about such things trying to turn them into money. Even if curiosity led him to glance through the albums and he came upon these pages I very much doubt if he would bother to read them.
If he did, though, I believe he is the one person here who would really sympathise with me. The farm people round about in these Welsh hills are still pretty primitive. Taffy must have heard plenty of tales of hobgoblins, and of old women putting a murrain on their neighbour's cattle. More 'sophisticated' people might laugh at me for being frightened of a shadow, but Taffy Morgan wouldn't.
Deb would certainly laugh; or, more probably, regard my 'ravings' with cynical disdain. I have to have massage for my back every day, and Helmuth says that, with the war on, we are lucky to have got a professional nurse who is also a highly skilled masseuse to come and live down here in the back of beyond. All the same, I would gladly have put up with a little less skill from someone a bit more human and cheerful. She is a good looking girl, or, rather, woman, but one of those thin faced, brainy Jewesses who are not given to laughter and consider that 'Life is real, life is earnest'.
There is no race further removed from the mystic than the Jews of these days; and those whom education has lifted out of bondage to the Mammon of Unrighteousness give their minds to art or politics. Sister Deborah Kain is the latter type. She is, not unnaturally, a fanatical anti Nazi and, I suspect holds most advanced views on political reform.
She is so reticent by nature that I really know very little about her, except that her father was a University professor. I feel sure that she is much too respectable to be dishonest; and as she has already looked through my stamps several times with me, there could be no reason other than an impulse to steal which might cause her to open the albums after well, after the sort of thing that I prefer not to contemplate.
As for Helmuth, it is most unlikely that he would even give a thought to my stamps. By the Grace of God he despises stamp collecting. He admitted on one occasion, with a superior air, that as a hobby for young people it has the merit of teaching them a modicum of geography without tears; but more than once when I have had my albums out he has said: 'Hello! Wasting your time again with those silly little bits of coloured paper?'
I find it strange that such an intelligent man should be so intolerant of any pursuit requiring a certain amount of knowledge, discrimination and exactitude; but Helmuth has other queer gaps in his, generally speaking, quite remarkable mentality. As it happens now, this one is particularly fortunate for me, as he is the last person whom I would wish to see these pages. In fact, I might as well be honest with myself and admit that the real reason why I am so anxious to prevent Deb or Taffy finding them is because they might tell Helmuth what I am up to.
If I were asked to explain why I am so averse to Helmuth knowing what is going on in my mind, I couldn't give a reason other than my natural anxiety that neither he nor anyone else should have grounds for suspecting that I may be going mad. Yet several times recently it has seemed to me that he looks at me now with a queer, searching expression, as if he already knows that something is wrong, and is trying to read my thoughts.
My feeling may be a genuine instinct, or it may be due to the fact that half a lifetime in his company has bred in me a spontaneous urge to protect myself from the uncanny knack he has of ferreting out my secrets; but, whatever its cause, an inner voice insistently warns me to keep from him even an inkling of my present mental state.
Anyway, the chance of his coming upon the script whether I am here or not is now extremely remote; and I am inclined to think that it was his contempt for philately which led me subconsciously to choose the albums as a hiding place for it. Even in an idle moment he would find something more congenial to him with which to occupy his mind than my stamps, so he will never glance at them casually; and he certainly would not stoop to petty pilfering.
There is nothing petty about Helmuth. His mind is extremely subtle and his motives for doing or saying things are often so elusive that it is very difficult to form an accurate estimate of his real beliefs and character. Sometimes he gives the impression of having the most lofty ideals, at others his cynicism appears positively brutal; but he always 'thinks big'. In all the years we have been together I have never known him do otherwise, and if he wanted to rob the family he would devise some scheme which, by comparison, would make the proceeds from stealing my stamps look like robbing the poor box.
All this about preventing anyone here tumbling to it that I am writing a journal has put me right off my stroke again; but, on looking back, I see that I got so far as recording my youthful experience with the 'burglar'.
I cannot state definitely that he was an 'evil' manifestation. He certainly looked horrid enough. However, I certainly did not feel what one might term 'the presence of evil' at the time. My reaction was simply that of a small boy who suddenly comes face to face with a brutal criminal and, fearing physical violence, flees in panic to the protection of friendly grownups.
In considering the matter it is worth remembering that, because certain human beings have the misfortune to be incredibly ugly or hideously deformed, it does not in the least follow that they are evil. Again, the apparition seen by Lord Dufferin had most repulsive features, yet it saved his life; and so, to him, it played the part of a guardian angel. Therefore I think one must keep an open mind about my burglar.
There was really nothing to suggest that he was an emissary from the Devil. Yet I have good grounds for believing that forces of a definitely Satanic nature do, at times, impinge upon man's consciousness. The Thing that comes to my window arouses in me a fear and nausea of such a special kind that they alone seem enough to indicate that it can have its origin only in Hell; but I have been leading the abnormal life of a sick man for so many weary months that I am now tortured by doubts about the soundness of my judgment; and it was not the thing that makes the shadow that I had in mind. I was thinking of the only other experience of the occult with which I met while still in full health and unquestionably sane.
On that occasion I did not see anything at all. I only felt it; so the bigoted sceptic would be more inclined than ever to assert that my imagination was playing me tricks. I can only vouch for my belief that quite suddenly and inexplicably I found myself in the immediate vicinity of what I can but describe as disembodied evil.
It is a commonplace for people to speak of houses having a good or bad 'atmosphere'; and every house agent knows that this intangible factor plays a very large part in determining whether empty properties are snapped up quickly or remain on his books for many months. In the majority of cases it seems reasonable to suppose that such atmospheres are created by the happiness or unhappiness of the previous tenants; and that they have left something of their healthy, cheerful mentalities or mean, base natures behind. But in exceptionally bad cases such atmospheres are openly termed 'hauntings', and are attributed to suicides, murders and other evil acts which have taken place, sometimes centuries ago.
Both explanations are, of course, further evidence for the existence of the supernatural in our midst; since it is really no more inexplicable that the spirit of a murderer should haunt the scene of his crime than that a happy, carefree family of still living people should leave behind them a feeling of sunshine and laughter. Neither can be explained by any human attribute that the psychologists have yet succeeded in codifying for insertion in medical textbooks; so they can be only manifestations of that something we all possess which is quite independent of the physical body.
Recalling in detail this other psychic experience of my youth will, I am sure, further strengthen my hold on the belief that I am still as sane now as I was then.
It happened soon after the beginning of the first summer term that I spent in the senior house at Weylands. That was in 1937, so I was very nearly sixteen at the time.

Later
Most people have heard of Weylands Abbey and it is only natural that opinion should be very sharply divided on the methods of education in practice there. Elderly people who have a bigoted prejudice in favour of the old Public School system, with its birchings, daily chapel and enforced games, go purple in the face at the very mention of the place. Others, with ultramodern views, maintain that Weylands represents a new system of enlightened education which must, eventually, become universal, if future generations of children are to be brought up free of all the complexes and inhibitions that are the secret impetus behind most kinds of unhappiness and crime.
Weylands is in Cumberland, and the school takes it name from the ruins of the ancient Abbey that stands nearly in the centre of its vast private park. The school itself is about a mile from the Abbey and consists of a big, ugly mansion erected in Victorian times by a wealthy Lancashire cotton goods manufacturer; but it has since been completely modernised and considerably added to. In the stone of the pseudo Gothic arch over its front porch are carved the words DO WHAT THOU WILT SHALL BE THE WHOLE OF THE LAW, and that gives the clue to the theory on which the system of education at Weylands was based.
There were no classes or teaching in the accepted sense, but a large part of each day was given to study hours. Every pupil could take whichever subjects he or she liked best for of course it was coeducational and they were given books suitable to their age to read about it, then, when they felt inclined, they discussed what they had read with the masters and mistresses.
In the recreation hours there were no organised games, as that would have entailed captains of sides and obedience to them. Instead there was tennis, golf, swimming, squash and other sports for those who liked them; those who didn't could go for a walk, laze about or even go to bed if they preferred to do so.
The only penalty for not getting up at the usual hour in the morning was that, when you did, you had to make your own bed; and the only penalty for being late for meals was that you missed them, or anyhow the first course. When newcomers got the hang of the thing they sometimes decided to live on their tuck for a bit and not get up at all; but they soon got bored with doing nothing and fell into the normal routine of their own free will.
In the junior house there were separate dormitories for girls and boys; but in the senior houses the sexes were not segregated and every one had separate cubicles. We were encouraged to express our own individualities by their furnishing and decoration and there was no bar to a chap visiting a girl's cubicle or vice versa.
Whether all the parents were fully aware of the sort of thing that went on I rather doubt; but they may have been as, logically, it was simply part of the same system. We were taught that sex was a normal, healthy appetite, similar to a desire for food; and that the indulgences of it were only antisocial when jealousy entered into a sex relationship; so we must never give way to that emotion, or strive to prevent those who had given us pleasure giving pleasure to others if they felt so inclined.
Even in the lower house sex had no secrets from us, and we read the books on social hygiene that were put in our way with as much, but no more, interest than we read Kipling's Jungle Tales. The elder girls all willingly submitted themselves to a special routine whereby Matron and the resident Doctor took steps to ensure against their getting themselves into trouble, so there was never any bother of that kind.
We were really amoral rather than immoral and cases of excess were very rare. The fact that we could have a romp for the asking at any time we felt like one reduced the thing to a matter of no more importance than going for a swim, so most of us often went quite long periods without indulging ourselves at all. Anyhow, I must admit that, at the time, I accepted everything to do with our sex life at Weylands as perfectly normal.
Sundays there were marked by a choice of going for a picnic, or attending a private cinema show in the afternoons, and in the evenings a dance in what had been the chapel of the original house. No religious ceremony was ever held and Scripture was the one subject in which there were no facilities for learning. We were taught that all religion was a product of the Dark Ages, when the development of the individual was retarded by a multitude of absurd taboos and superstitions.
Newcomers who had already received a certain amount of religious instruction were referred to pityingly as 'poor little savages' and soon laughed out of their beliefs. In order to encourage them in developing a contempt for the symbol before which the ignorant masses still bowed down all the doormats had a crucifix woven into them, so that we all trod on it every time we went in or out.
I need scarcely add that there was no prohibition on our swearing and blaspheming to our hearts' content, and the obscenities which used to issue from the mouths of some of the smaller children were, at times, remarkable; but most of them soon grew out of that, and I don't think the older pupils were any more foulmouthed than their contemporaries at other schools.
Naturally there were no exams or end of term reports at Weylands, as the theory was that we were there to develop our individualities, not our brains. Nevertheless, the staff had its own methods of interesting us in all the essential subjects and it was rare for anyone to leave without having absorbed the rudiments of a fair, general education. Moreover, in those who possessed an instinctive thirst for knowledge the theory of no compulsion and a free choice of subjects worked wonders. Many of them left equipped far in advance of their age on their special lines, and have since become noted intellectuals.
Looking back on the way we were allowed to behave shouting, blaspheming, throwing things about, teaching the girls tricks or being taught by them, lazing away mornings in bed and taking afternoons off to go birds' nesting it now seems almost incredible that an English school should have been conducted on such lines. But it was; and such is the adaptability of children that, after we had been there a few weeks, none of us thought it the least strange.
On the contrary, we thanked our Stars not God that our parents were sufficiently enlightened to choose such a school for us. We took pride in the fact that we were not like the miserable, ignorant, backward children that we met in the holidays, but a race apart, who had sloughed off all silly superstitions, were troubled by no stupid inhibitions about sex and, while still in our teens, were the masters of our fate, like grownup men and women.
I see now that I have rambled on over several sheets about Weylands, which was certainly not my intention. I really started out only to make it clear that at a school run on those lines there was nothing at all to prevent my spending a night out if I wished. The chaps and girls often used to go out on moonlight picnics and not return till the small hours of the morning; so I did not even think twice about it when it occurred to me that it would be rather fun to spend the night with Uncle Paul and Julia.
I see that it's later than I thought. I must leave it till tomorrow to record the damnably unnerving experience I met with on my way over to them.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:51 | Сообщение # 7
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CHAPTER 6

Sunday, 10th May
We do not go in for Sunday services here at Llanferdrack, any more than they did at Weylands; and for the first time in my life I am inclined to wish that we did. The fact that I was brought up to despise all organised religion has never before caused me any regret; but, in view of my recent nightmares the term will serve although I'd give a packet to be able to think they are really only that I believe I should derive quite a lot of comfort from hearing the swell of a church organ and the murmur of voices joined in prayer.
The Church has lost nearly all her temporal power and most of her ancient wisdom, yet she still remains the only avowed champion in arms against the Devil. Probably her loss of vitality can be accounted for by the fact that comparatively few of her ministers seem to believe in the Devil these days, so they don't give their energies to fighting him any more. But the principles she represents remain unaltered, so anyone who seeks protection through her from the things that menace the spirit should be safe at least, that is, if they have faith.
Any attempt to secure Divine protection which was made half-heartedly would obviously be futile; and I am by no means certain that I could bring myself to pronounce the Creed or whatever it is that people do when they are confirmed with genuine belief in what I was saying. One does not have to be educated at Weylands to have honest doubts about some bits of Christian dogma.
In any case it is a waste of time for me even to think about the matter. If I sent for the local vicar, and asked him to prepare me for confirmation, Helmuth would immediately conclude that my mind had become unhinged; and giving him that impression is the one thing I mean to avoid at all costs.
I don't think I have mentioned that Helmuth was the German master at Weylands. He is not, of course, a German himself, but a Czech, and his full name is Doctor Helmuth Lisicky.
That brings us back to Weylands, and I must explain now how it was that Uncle Paul and Julia happened to be in the vicinity on the night that I was scared out of my wits.
The school is situated in one of the most desolate parts of Cumberland. It is lovely country, but there isn't an hotel, or even a comfortable inn, within twenty miles; and when the place first started that made it awkward for parents who wanted to come down in term time to see their young.
In consequence, the school authorities built a sort of bungalow village at the southern end of the park. It consists of about a dozen comfortable cottages, having from four to six rooms apiece, and a Clubhouse with rooms at the back for visiting chauffeurs and a permanent staff. Parents can write to the bursar and book one of the cottages for a night or two if they wish, and meals are provided for them in the Clubhouse during their stay.
Old boys were also accommodated there, as Weylands was very keen about keeping in touch with her exscholars, and some of them came down quite frequently. As a matter of fact the ramifications of Weylands resulted in a much closer community than is the case with most schools; perhaps because the new system of education practised there formed almost a cult.
Pupils were never accepted after the age of ten, in case they had already formed old-fashioned prejudices to a degree that might make them a disruptive influence; and each one had to be personally recommended by parents who had had a child at the school themselves for at least a year. So it was rather like a club; and sometimes parents who knew one another used to arrange to come down together and share one of the larger bungalows.
Anyhow, Uncle Paul and Julia had arranged to come down for a couple of nights right at the beginning of the summer term, because I had not seen them for some months owing to their having been abroad; and I knew that they had been allotted one of the smaller bungalows, where they would be alone. Naturally I had been looking forward to seeing them, but they did not expect to arrive until just in time for dinner, so in the normal course of events I should not have done so till the following day.
Actually it was not until I was just about to go to bed that I suddenly had the bright idea of paying them a surprise visit. It had been raining, but the rain had stopped, and it was a warm night with the moon showing now and then between scudding clouds, so the idea of a walk seemed rather pleasant. Still, the bungalows were right at the far end of the great park, over two miles away from the school, and I didn't much relish the thought of the long tramp back after midnight, particularly as it might come on to rain again. The solution to that was easy: I could pop a pair of pyjamas and a toothbrush into my attaché case, and after a lovely long chinwag with my visitors, spend the rest of the night in the spare room of their bungalow.
I didn't hurry myself about setting out, as I thought that after dinner they would probably remain in the Clubhouse talking to some of the other visitors till about half past ten, so it was getting on for that when I put on my mac and let myself out of the school by one of its side doors.
Long winding drives led off from the house to the three gates of the park and the one I took passed fairly near to the ruins of the old Abbey, which was situated about halfway between the school and the bungalows. I was as fit and cheerful as any carefree youngster of nearly sixteen could be, and as I stepped out at a brisk pace I distinctly remember that I was humming jazz tunes to myself.
The drive approached the Abbey to within about four hundred yards, then curved away in a wide bend that made nearly a half circle round it. By taking a short cut across the bend one passed within a hundred yards of the Abbey and saved quite a considerable distance. The only thing against it was that the ground was rather rough and scored every few yards with little ditches; but I had often taken the short cut in the daytime and, as the moon gave enough light to see by, I did so now.
I must have covered nearly a quarter of a mile and had the Abbey on my immediate right when I happened to glance in that direction. If I hadn't been so occupied in watching my step I should probably have noticed it before, but I suddenly saw the glow of a misty, reddish light in the middle of the ruins.
I was not so much surprised as intrigued, because it was common knowledge at Weylands that, soon after the place was started, the school authorities had converted the crypt of the Abbey into a Masonic Temple.
It was the one and only place that was out of bounds to us, and none of the masters would ever tell us anything about it, with the result that there was quite a lot of casual speculation as to what it was like inside, and what went on there.
All I had been able to gather from some of the older chaps was that it had no connection with British Masonry, but was a Lodge of the Grand Orient, as Continental Masonry is called, and that Fellowship of it gave one lots of pull in the political and. financial worlds. The masters were all believed to be Fellows, and pupils who had proved satisfactory were given a special course during their last term to prepare them for initiation before they left.
These initiation ceremonies always took place the night after the end of term, so the rest of us, having already gone down, had no opportunity immediately afterwards to try to get out of the initiates what it was all about; and when they came back on visits as old boys they proved as cagey as the masters. No doubt I should have been initiated myself in due course if I hadn't run away from Weylands before the end of my last term but that is another story.
In view of all this, the sight of the red glow in the middle of the ruins naturally aroused my curiosity, but I hesitated at the thought of trying to find out what it was on account of the risk I should be running if I went much nearer. There were no punishments of any kind at Weylands but, of course, one could be expelled, and it had been made quite clear that such a fate would overtake any of us if we were caught snooping round the Abbey. Still, the very fact that it held the one and only secret that we were 'not considered old enough to know' made it all the more tantalising.
I knew that I could not get right into the Abbey, even if I had been prepared to expose myself to almost certain discovery, as a six foot high wire mesh fence had been erected all round it; but I thought that if I went as far as the fence I should be able to get a peep at the place from which the light was coming and find out what was going on there. For a minute or two I stood there undecided, staring at the red mist. Then the moon went behind a big bank of cloud, plunging the park in darkness, and feeling that there was very little chance of my being spotted for the next ten minutes, I began to walk cautiously forward.
As I advanced the light waxed and waned at irregular intervals, almost disappearing for a time, then suddenly flaring up again. At first I thought that it must be caused by a bonfire; but I could not be certain, as one of the great masses of masonry which formed the roofless shell of the church stood between the centre of the glow and my line of advance.
In order to get a better view I altered my course a little, until I came opposite a big gap in the ruin, and could see through a broken archway into the body of the church. I saw then that an imposing portico had been erected in the middle of the nave, presumably over a stairway leading down to the crypt. In it were framed a big pair of wrought iron gates. They were backed with some opaque substance which might have been frosted glass. The dull red glow was coming through them; and its intermittent flare-ups were caused by dark figures that emerged out of the shadows every few moments, pushing one side of the gates open to pass through into the brightly lit interior of the portico.
I was still too far off to identify any of the figures, but the silhouettes of two out of the five I saw looked as if they were those of women. This intrigued me greatly, as I had once heard a rumour that the mistresses attended certain of the ceremonies, and that the pick of the girls were made associates on leaving, at the same time as the eldest chaps received their initiation; so with the idea of settling the point I decided to advance as far as the wire mesh fence. It stood only about twenty yards from the broken wall of the ruin, and on the far side of the ancient cemetery of the Abbey, which I had already entered.
The ground there was very rough, being broken with grassy mounds and, here and there, old gravestones half buried in the coarse grass; but having been brought up to despise all superstition it never even occurred to me that it was the sort of place in which I might meet a ghost. I was about halfway across it when I suddenly noticed that the moon looked like coming out again from behind the bank of cloud. That threw me into a bit of a flap, as I realised that if one of the people passing through the church happened to glance in my direction I was near enough now for them to spot me by its light; so I hastily looked round for cover.
Some thirty feet away I saw an old, boxlike stone tomb, considerably bigger than most of the others, and I hurriedly made in that direction with the idea of crouching down behind it. Unnoticed by me my shoelace must have come undone, for I stepped on it just as I reached the tomb, tripped and lurched forward.
Instinctively I threw out my hands to save myself. They landed with all my weight behind them on the bevelled edge of the slab of stone that formed the flat top of the tomb. It was centuries old and may have been cracked already, or countless winters may have weakened it where there was a flaw in the centre of the stone. It gave under the sudden pressure and several large fragments collapsed inwards, leaving nearly half the tomb gaping open.
For a second my heart was in my mouth. But the bits of stone had not far to fall and their subsidence made only a faint slither, followed by a thump so gentle that it could not possibly have attracted the attention of anyone inside the Abbey. Thanking my stars that my mishap had had no worse results, I turned about and knelt to retie my shoelace.
Suddenly without rhyme or reason I had the feeling that somebody was standing just behind me. The warning came to my brain as sharply, as unexpectedly and as imperatively, as the sudden shrilling of a telephone bell in an empty house.
In a flash I swivelled round, expecting to find myself face to face with I don't really know who or what; certainly not a master, but someone or something that was regarding me with a fixed, hostile stare. With a gasp of relief I realised that I had been mistaken. There was nobody there; not a thing.
The moon had just come out from behind the cloudbank, and now lit the scene with a clear, cold radiance. The shadows that it cast were sharp and black upon the ground. By it I could distinctly see the jagged edge of the broken lid of the tomb behind which I had been kneeling and, fifteen yards away, the stout wire mesh fence that had been put up round the ruins as an additional precaution against unauthorised persons getting into them. The body of the church had become a pool of darkness splashed with irregular patches of silver light. The red glow still showed faintly from the double gates, but the figures I had seen must have been those of latecomers to the meeting, as there was now neither sight nor sound to show that there was a living thing within a mile of me.
Inclined to laugh now at the fright I had given myself, I knelt down again to do up my shoe. I had hardly twisted the ends into a bow before the same horrid feeling assailed me. I could have sworn that someone was overlooking me from behind; that a pair of eyes were boring right through my back.
A swift glance over my shoulder confirmed my previous scrutiny of the place. There was nothing there. Absolutely nothing but the gravestones glinting whitely in the moonlight.
My fumbling fingers sought to tie the knot, but they trembled so much that they could not hold the laces in position. I tried to steady them, telling myself again and again that there was nothing of which to be afraid. If there was, I argued desperately, I could not possibly have failed to see it, because the full moon made the place almost as light as if it had been day.
Yet, fight as I would, I could not throw off the feeling. Instead, every second it grew worse. Shivers ran through me. The hair on the back of my neck began to prickle and rise like the hackles of a dog. A still, small voice somewhere in my mind now kept on insisting that the unseen presence behind me was something monstrous something that meant to strike me down and do me deadly harm.
Being in such eerie surroundings within an hour or so of midnight would have been enough to lay most boys of my age open to a fit of the jitters, but the scepticism I had imbibed at Weylands had toughened me against such superstitious fears. I swore to myself that I would not give way to this childish, idiotic attack of funk, for which there was not the faintest base or cause, and that I would retie my shoelace before I looked round again if it was the last thing I ever did.
How long that silent, weaponless battle lasted, I have no idea. Probably no more than a few seconds, although it seemed an age. I only know that I failed to tie the shoelace.
My eyes were starting from their sockets, the palms of my hands were damp, and I could feel my heart pounding against my ribs. It was suddenly borne in upon me that not for all the money in the world would I turn round again, from fear now of what I might see there. I knew, with a certainty that brooks no argument, that in another second it would be too late to escape. Something outside all human experience something beyond belief unholy, loathsome, terrifying was in the very act of launching itself upon me where I knelt. My will broke. I sprang to my feet and fled.
Stark fear lent wings to my feet. Lurching, bounding, tripping over old grave mounds, stumbling in ditches, I raced away from the ruins as though all the devils in Hell were after me. Somehow I got back on to the drive, but I did not pause there. I only blessed its even surface that enabled me to run the faster. Panting, gasping, sobbing for breath, I pelted along it as fast as my legs would carry me, and I did not even notice in which direction I was going until, with unutterable relief, I glimpsed the friendly lights of the bungalows shining through the trees. With a last spurt I dashed straight for the cottage where I expected to find Julia and Uncle Paul, hurled myself at its front door, which was only on the latch, and flung myself inside. There was no answer to my choking cry, and the whole place was in darkness.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:51 | Сообщение # 8
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CHAPTER 7

Monday, 11th May
I got so worked up writing this account yesterday that I forgot the time until Helmuth came in on his daily visit. He always spends an hour or two with me between tea and dinner, when we talk of this and that and discuss the war news.
Yesterday evening I took special pains to study him closely and tried to regard him as if he were someone whom I had never met before.
He is a fine-looking man and must be very nearly as tall as I am, which is six feet three in my socks. His shoulders are a good bit broader than mine and his whole frame is more powerful. I think, too, that if one were called on to describe Helmuth's outstanding quality by a single adjective, 'powerful' is the word one would choose.
He cannot be more than thirty-eight or nine, although his hair having gone prematurely white makes him look a good bit older. It is very thick, and he wears it rather long and brushed straight back, which gives his head a massive, leonine appearance. But even if he were bald the breadth of his forehead would still give him a commanding look, and it would take a brave man to challenge those strange light-coloured eyes of his. To say that they were yellow would give a false impression of them as that makes one think of biliousness, from which he certainly does not suffer. Actually, I suppose they are pale tawny.
His nose is a formidable hook; rather fleshy but more Roman than Jewish; although the fact that his ears are set low on his skull suggests that he may have a dash of Jewish blood acquired two or three generations back. His mouth is his only bad feature. It is too thin and in repose would be taken as a certain sign that he has a cruel nature; but his smile is so quick and friendly that it immediately cancels out any such idea.
His vitality is so great that he rarely keeps still for long, and as he strode up and down in front of the big open fireplace, shooting out ideas on all sorts of subjects, I found it exceedingly difficult to form any definite impression of what really lies behind that constantly animated, lion like mask. The interest that he never fails to show in everything that concerns me personally, as well as the running of the estate, is perfectly natural; and, whenever he is with me, the idea that he would lend himself to anything that would cause me harm seems perfectly absurd.
Nevertheless, after he had gone I was very thankful that I have taken to writing this on loose sheets inside the cover of one of my stamp albums. The dodge worked perfectly. Although his entrance came as a surprise I was able to complete the sentence I was writing, then calmly shut the album up and put it aside; while, to my secret amusement, he remarked: 'Ha! Ha! I see you have started playing with some of your old kindergarten toys again.'
In recounting my horrible experience at Weylands, I see that I had got to the point where I burst into the cottage that Uncle Paul and Julia had been allotted, to find that they were not there and that the whole place was in darkness; so there is still quite a bit to tell about that unforgettable night.
I was still panting like a grampus and sweating like a pig; quite as much from the awful fright I had had as from the fact that I had just run a mile. Finding the place dark, silent and untenanted unnerved me afresh although that is hardly an accurate description of what I felt, as my nerve had completely gone already.
For a moment I was near bursting into tears, but I choked them back and then a particle of sense seeped through into my fright befuddled brain. Grabbing at the switches I snapped on the lights in the hall and sitting room. After I had done that I began to feel a trifle less scared, but I was still very far from being my own man «I was trembling from head to foot and a succession of shudders ran through my whole body. On stumbling into the sitting room I caught sight of myself in the mirror over the mantelpiece. The pupils of my eyes looked twice their normal size, my lips were grey, my face as white as a sheet and dripping with perspiration.
It was quite a time before I succeeded in pulling myself together. The sight of some of Julia's belongings scattered about the room showed that my visitors had arrived as arranged, earlier that evening, so I could assume that they must still be over at the Clubhouse, yarning with some of the other people there, or taking part in a game of cards. The Club was only a couple of hundred yards down the road but, much as I craved human companionship, nothing would have induced me to go out into the dark again. As soon as I got a bit of a grip on myself I made up ' the fire and settled down by it in an armchair to await their return.
I tried not to think of the abominable thing from which I had such a narrow escape; but the thought of it kept coming back and filling me with waves of nausea. Then, as I couldn't get it out of my mind, I endeavoured to face it squarely and see if there wasn't some possible explanation to the affair that my panic had caused me to overlook.
When I had come into the bungalow I had felt terribly cold, in spite of my long run, but as the fire warmed me up I began to feel physically better and my brain started to tick over again.
It occurred to me that the school authorities might know about whatever it was that lurked in the vicinity of the Abbey, and it was for that reason they had put the place out of bounds to us. But I dismissed the idea almost immediately. I was no longer a child, but a well grown youth of nearly sixteen, and I felt that if entering the territory of the horror could have such an utterly devastating effect on me, its effect on a fully fledged adult could be little less shattering. Yet, as I had verified for myself less than an hour before, the masters did go to the ruins at night to attend their Masonic meetings, and so too, I now believed, did some of the mistresses. It seemed incredible that they should deliberately expose themselves to the sort of experience that I had had; so the theory that they had put the place out of bounds on that account was not tenable.
It seemed certain, too, that the unseen presence could have no connection with anything that took place at the meetings in the crypt. I mean, I have little doubt now that my having seen the 'burglar' at The Willows was the result of the séances that were held there. Of course I was not aware of that explanation when I was at Weylands, because I had not yet run into Florrie Meddows. But by the time I was sixteen I had read quite a few ghost stories, and heard tell of séances at which spirits were said to blow trumpets and that sort of thing. So it did cross my mind for a moment that the Masonic meetings might have something to do with the occult; but only for a moment. It was so obviously absurd to think of the masters at Weylands dabbling in spiritualism.
They were all dyed in the wool materialists, and if one does not believe in God one cannot believe in the Devil, or the existence of any supernatural beings; so the last thing they would have done was to meet for the purpose of calling on the spirits. They would have laughed at the very idea; and, anyhow, I had heard enough about the Fellowship to know that it was a very down-to-earth affair. It was no secret that its object was to ensure mutual cooperation in worldly matters, so that by assisting one another all its members could achieve wealth and position; and, of course, it was owing to its activities that Weylands was such an immensely rich institution.
Then, as I sat warming myself in front of the fire, a new thought struck me. I recalled that tripping on my shoelace had caused me to fall forward and clutch at the top of the tomb, and that under the sudden pressure it had given way. Perhaps my having opened the grave had enabled something to escape from it.
The more I thought about it, the more certain I felt that I had hit upon the right solution. A year or so earlier I had read Dracula and, at the time, I had taken all the stuff about vampires and the undead as pure invention; now I thought of it again in a very different light.
The gaping tomb had been behind me as I knelt; and when I swivelled round I had looked across it and all round it, but not down into it. About half the stone lid had remained intact and the open portion of the grave, into which the rest of the lid had fallen, had been obscured by deep shadow. It seemed possible that I had aroused some horrid, corpselike thing that had been lying there in a state of suspended animation. Or perhaps, by some ancient mystery, the soul of an evil abbot had been imprisoned with his body in the grave just as in the Arabian Nights the powerful Djinn had been sealed up in a bottle and I had released a diabolical force that had been straining to get free for centuries, so that it could exact vengeance on humanity.
Such bizarre ideas were a world away from the atheism which we were taught to regard as enlightenment at Weylands. But human instincts and old traditions die hard; and most of us, while ready enough to sneer at religion, still retained a sneaking feeling that there might be something in the tales of ghosts and haunted houses we had heard. In any case, after what I had been through myself that night, no explanation of it sounded too fantastic. I was still vaguely speculating upon what sort of horror it could have been that had come up at me out of the grave when, mentally and physically exhausted as I was, I fell asleep.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:52 | Сообщение # 9
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CHAPTER 8

Tuesday, 12th May
Last night I had the horrors again. I saw the shadow, but it was mixed up with all sorts of other beastliness in a nightmare. I do not mean that I actually had another visitation of the sort that I first had early in April, and almost persuaded myself were nightmares until their recurrence at the beginning of this month. I mean a genuine bad dream.
It must have been due to the vividness of the recollections that I conjured up yesterday, while writing an account of my terrifying experience at Weylands. Anyhow I dreamed that I was there again among the graves of the long dead monks, and that the Thing that has recently been haunting me was chasing me towards the red glow that came from the wrought iron gates.
Although the beast was behind me as I ran, I seemed to have eyes in the back of my head, for I could see it as it leapt from mound to mound in my tracks. Its body was the big, round, multi limbed patch of blackness that I always see, but it had the caricature of a human face and the face was Helmuth's, with his eyes multiplied to ten times their normal size and his fleshy nose changed into a great curved beak.
Julia was there too. She was standing by the glowing gates calmly watching the brute hunt me, and she made not the slightest move to come to my assistance when I screamed to her for help.
I suppose her appearance in my dream, and the callous attitude she displayed, are to be accounted for by a subconscious projection of the black fits of depression that I get from the thought that she seems to have abandoned me in my present plight. Why she did not arrive over the weekend, or at least answer my letter, I simply cannot think.
Of course, the only possible explanation is that she is no longer at Queensclere and has not had my letters yet. I know that she would come here on the very first train if she was aware of what I am up against. So it seems futile to write to her again. I can only thank God that we are now entering the dark quarter of the moon which means I'll be safe for a bit, and pray that one of my letters catches up with her in the next few days, as it surely must.
Yesterday the village barber came to cut my hair. I am afraid I have always been a bit casual about my appearance, and I often got ticked off for letting my hair grow too long when I was in the ranks of the R.A.F., and later too, during my year's training as a Pilot Officer. Once I became operational no one bothered me about it any more as we Fighter boys still had a bit of a halo round our heads even those of us who had come in only for the tail end of the Battle of Britain and we rather prided ourselves in going about dressed any old how, our caps on the backs of our heads and the top buttons of our tunics undone. It was all rather childish, I suppose, but in an inverse way it had the same sort of effect that super smartness has on the Brigade of Guards, and added quite a bit to our morale.
Still, as my hair is unusually silky for its reddish colour and dead straight, it is apt to fall forward over my forehead and bother me when it gets too long; so every few weeks I kick myself into sending for the local clipper wielder, and submit myself to his inartistic ministrations.
It is raining today, so as I have a clear morning in front of me I'll polish off my account of that affair at Weylands. I see that I had got to the point where I had fallen asleep in the cottage while waiting for Julia and Uncle Paul to return.
I was woken by the sound of the sitting room door opening with a rattle, then being swiftly shut again. The lights were still on but the fire had gone out, so I must have been asleep for a considerable time. I felt very cold, and shivered as I stood up. The memory of the night's earlier events was just flooding back to me when I heard voices outside in the hall. Someone was muttering something, then Julia's voice came to me quite distinctly as she said:
'So that's why the lights were on! What on earth can Toby be doing here? Thank goodness he's asleep and didn't see me like this. Quick, pull yourself together, now! It's up to you to hold the fort, while I do something to my face.'
Instinctively I had moved towards the door, and she had scarcely finished speaking when I pulled it open. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of her back as she hurried into her bedroom, but I found myself looking straight at Uncle Paul.
He was leaning against the wall on the other side of the narrow hallway; and it was clear that Julia's admonition, to pull himself together, had not been given without good reason. He was as drunk as an owl.
Uncle Paul must have been about thirty-seven then. He is a biggish man with red hair and a 'Guards' moustache, brushed stiffly up. He has a ruddy face and pale, rather poppy, blue eyes. Brains have never been his long suit, and he is a weak rather than a bad man. The 'Demon Drink', alas, has always been his failing, and it was the cause of most of the scrapes that he got himself into with my grandfather, when he was younger.
After he married Julia he took a pull on himself. At least, as she is the dominant partner I suppose she made him toe the line. But he continued to have lapses now and then, and it was by no means the first time that I had seen him when he had had one over the eight. Fortunately he is the friendly type of drunk; and as he had always been kind to me in a casual sort of way it made no difference to the mild affection I felt for him.
Bringing himself upright with a shove of his broad shoulders, he grinned at me and said:' 'Lo, old man! How-how are you?'
'I'm all right, thanks, Uncle,' I replied, 'but you're looking a bit partworn. You seem to have been making a night of it.'
"That's it,' he hiccupped. 'Li'le party.'
'It must have been a pretty rough one,' I smiled, as I took in the details of his dishevelled appearance. There were grease stains down one of the lapels of his dinner jacket, his collar was a crumpled rag, his bow tie had disappeared, and there were obvious marks of lipstick all round his mouth. I had never seen him in such a state when tight before.
'That's it; li'le party,' he repeated. 'Was a bit rough. Played Kiss in the ring.'
I had no idea that the parents who were up for a visit indulged in either high jinks or childish games at the Clubhouse in the evenings; but when one is in the middle teens one is still constantly learning unexpected things about the behaviour of grown ups, so I made no comment.
For a moment we remained silent, just smiling inanely at one another, then he said: 'Lesh go into th' sitting room have a drink.'
He had obviously had far more than he could carry already, but it was not my place to tell him so. Accordingly I stood aside and he lurched through the doorway. There were whisky, glasses and a siphon on a small side table. Swaying slightly, he walked over to it and, with a deliberation that did not prevent him spilling some of the stuff, mixed himself a stiff peg.
Having gulped half of it, he muttered: Tha's better,' then relapsed into another longish silence, during which he stared at the carpet.
At length he looked up and asked: 'What you doin' here thish time o'night? Wash game, old man?'
I had no intention of discussing the matter uppermost in my mind with Uncle Paul while he was in that condition; so I simply said: 'I knew you and Julia were arriving this evening, so I thought 1 would slip over and see you. While I was waiting for you to come in I fell asleep in front of the fire.'
'I shee,' he nodded ponderously. 'I shee. Well, here's all th' besht,' and he swallowed the rest of his drink.
A moment later Julia came hurrying in. She had changed into a dressing gown, and evidently done her best to put her face to rights; but I was much more shocked by her appearance than I had been by that of Uncle Paul.
Her dark eyes looked bigger than I had ever seen them, and her face was dead white, so that the patches of fresh rouge stood out on her cheeks like the dabs of paint on those of a Dutch doll. Her full red lips were swollen excessively and broken in places, as though they had been savagely bitten, and a heavy coating of powder failed to hide an ugly scratch that ran from beneath her left ear right down across her throat.
'Good Lord! What on earth has been happening to you?' I exclaimed in alarm.
She did not kiss me, but bent her head and laid her icy cheek against mine for a second; then she said:
'Toby, darling; don't be upset. I'm quite all right, but we've had a frightful time tonight. Has Paul told you about it?'
'Only that you had been hitting it up at a party,' I muttered, 'and that you played kiss in the ring.'
'Paul!' she said sharply, turning to her husband. 'Get up at once, and go to bed.'
My uncle had lowered himself into an armchair and closed his eyes; he was already half asleep. At the sound of her voice he blinked, lumbered to his feet, and with a vague wave of his hand by way of good night, walked unsteadily out of the room.
'I've never seen him as tight as that before,' I said, as he jerked the door to behind him.
'No, thank goodness,' Julia agreed, with a sigh. 'He doesn't often get really stinking. It's a mercy, though, that he didn't kill the two of us tonight. If I'd realised now far gone he was, I would never have let him drive the car.'
'You had a smash, then?'
'Of course! How else do you think I came to get my face in such a mess?'
'I thought you had been down at the Club all this time.'
'If Paul gave you that impression you must have misunderstood him. He is in no state to know what he is saying. We had a few drinks at the Club before we started, and by now he's probably forgotten most of what happened after that.'
'Oh, you poor darling!' I cried, taking her hand. 'Are you quite sure that you're not badly hurt?'
She shook her head. 'No. I'm all right. He drove us into a ditch, and when I was thrown sideways I hit my mouth against something. I've got a few bruises, but nothing to worry about.' Drawing me down on to the settee beside her, she went on:
'As we're coming up here, Paul thought that he would like to see some old friends of his who live about twenty miles away. We wrote and proposed ourselves for dinner. They wrote back and said they would love to have us if we didn't mind a scratch meal at the end of a children's party, as it was their eldest girl's birthday. When we arrived the party was still in full swing. There were quite a number of other grownups there and we must have stood about drinking cocktails for a couple of hours at least.
'It was ten o'clock by the time the children packed up, and close on eleven before we sat down to supper. Afterwards, somebody suggested that we should play the children's games. What with our steady cocktail drinking and the champagne at supper, we were all a bit lit up by then, and just ripe to let ourselves go at any sort of nonsense. We played kiss in the ring, blind man’s buff, postman's knock, and all the rest of it.
'You know how time flies when one is fooling like that, and I didn't notice the amount that Paul was putting away. It wasn't until we were in the car that I realised that he was carrying such a skinful, and, of course, he insisted that he was quite all right until he ran off the road and nearly turned the car over. We had a most frightful job getting it out of the ditch, and I'm feeling an absolute wreck; so be a dear and don't keep me up longer than you can help. Just tell me why you came here tonight; then I must get to bed.'
Obviously it was no time to tell her about the thing that I had released from the tomb, and, anyhow, I did not feel much like a long heart to heart by then, as the room seemed to have got colder than ever since they had come in. I just told her I had only come over for a lark, then we went to see if the bed in the spare, room was made up.
The curtains there had not been drawn, and to my surprise I saw that it was already morning. The sun was shining and the trees were casting long shadows in the early light. By it, poor Julia looked more haggard than ever; but she smiled at me and said something about it being a perfect May Day morn, then she left me.
By the greatest of luck I had instinctively grabbed up my attaché case when I fled as I should have been terrified of going back for it, even in broad daylight, yet afraid to leave it there in case someone found it, and that led to my being expelled so I was able to put on my pyjamas and get some proper sleep.
I woke a little after ten, and on going into the sitting room found one of the Club servants there, tidying up. There was a kitchenette in each bungalow and it was part of their job to cook breakfast on the premises for visitors; so I asked the woman to get me some. Then I telephoned the school to let them know where I was, in case they thought I had met with an accident, and had a bath.
Julia came in just as I was finishing my breakfast. She was looking slightly better, although she could not have had blacker shadows under her eyes if she had been out on the binge for a week, and it was evident that the car having run off the road had shaken her really badly. While she drank two large cups of tea in quick succession she gave me further details of the awful time they had had getting it out of the ditch. Apparently it had rained again in the middle of the night and the mud had absolutely ruined her evening clothes.
Uncle Paul was still sleeping it off, and she said that she did not mean to wake him until it was time to dress for lunch. That meant we had a good hour before us, and the sitting room was now warm and cosy, so I launched out on an account of my own ordeal the previous night.
When I had done, Julia could offer no explanation. At first she made a half-hearted attempt to persuade me that I must have imagined it; but in the face of my positive conviction to the contrary, she was far too sympathetic a person to insist on that; and, eventually, she agreed with me that I must have released some horrible supernatural force by breaking open the grave.
We discussed if we ought not to try to do something about it; but the idea of getting a priest to exorcise the place would have been received at Weylands about as frostily as a tart at one of Queen Victoria's tea parties; and even to mention the matter would have meant disclosing the fact that I had broken the one and only rule in the place; so we decided that we had better not say anything about it to anybody.
Unlike the affair of the burglar, there is no sequel to throw further light on the matter. Unlike that, too, it made a lasting impression on me. The first I had accepted as a natural fright and the eager interests of childhood soon blanketed it in my mind; but that was far from being the case after my midnight fit of terror near the Abbey. For weeks afterwards I dreamed of it every few nights. I used to wake up moaning, struggling and bathed in a cold sweat. It was not till end of term came, bringing the excitements of the holidays, that those beastly dreams grew more infrequent and finally ceased altogether.
Yet I never forgot the feeling that contact with unseen evil gave me; and my reason for describing my experience at Weylands so fully is to make it quite clear that I cannot be mistaken now. In spite of the passing of the years I recognised it again instantly that first night, now just on six weeks ago, when I woke to find the full moon streaming in under the curtain and saw upon the band of light that abominable, undulating shadow.
Five times since then I have known the same awful sensation; a second time early in April, and four times early this month. Soon after the cessation of both bouts, when my nerves have had a chance to settle down again, I have debated with myself endlessly whether it can be some form of nightmare that afflicts me, or a type of periodic lunacy. If it were not for that earlier contact of mine with disembodied evil in the Abbey cemetery, I might still be hesitant about definitely rejecting both those theories. But I am now fully convinced that it can be neither. I am not suffering from nightmares, and I am not going mad. But I may yet be driven mad if I am forced to remain here during another full moon and these Satanic attacks upon me develop again with renewed force.
Evening
Helmuth has just left me. The mystery of Julia's silence is now explained, but in a manner that fills me with new distress and apprehension. He asked me if I had heard from her lately, and on my saying that I hadn't, he said:
'I don't suppose you are likely to for a bit. I had a letter from your Uncle Paul today, in which he says that she was near having a breakdown from war strain and her doctor has ordered her complete rest. So he got special permission from the security people for them to reside in the banned area on the west coast of Scotland, and a week ago he took her up to the house on Mull. Even if she feels up to writing, all letters coming out of the area are held up for ten days or more in the censor's office; so don't be surprised if you don't hear from her for another two or three weeks.'
Three weeks! A new moon is due on the 17th, and on the 25th she will enter the quarter in which she becomes such a menace to me. I had counted on Julia arranging for me to be moved from here long before that. What am I to do? How can I save myself? If only I could get back the full use of my legs for a single hour!

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:54 | Сообщение # 10
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CHAPTER 11

Saturday, 16th May
I wrote nothing yesterday, as I spent a good part of the day reading over what I have so far written. It seems an awful woffal, without any proper sequence, and practically nothing about who I am or how I came to be associated with Helmuth.
Of course, I started these notes solely with the idea of trying to get certain things clear in my own mind; but, on finding that scribbling down my thoughts just as they arose helped to keep them off the 'horror', I began to let myself ramble on about this and that. Then I began to think of this script as a sort of personal testament that I hoped would reach Julia if anything happened to me. But I see that I have covered pages and pages with stuff that she already knows about which seems a pointless thing to have done. Still, I am not sorry about that now, as a new theory to account for what is happening here occurred to me last night; and, in view of that, this journal may yet serve a different and, more practical purpose. If it does, most of what I have so far written will not, after all, have been a waste of time.
My new line of thought inclines me to believe that Helmuth is not mad, but either on his own account or in association with others has hatched a diabolical plot the object of which is to drive me insane.
I have not a tittle of evidence to support this new theory, but it is, I believe, an axiom that the basis of all crime is motive and opportunity and both are present in my case.
It was rereading the last paragraph I wrote on Thursday that gave me this idea. There is more than a grain of truth in the old saying 'Money is the root of all Evil', and in my life and sanity are vested a great fortune.
Should anything prevent my coming into my inheritance, at the end of next month, there are quite a number of people who would benefit. Not directly, perhaps, but by continuing to enjoy the control of my grandfather's wealth, and all the opportunities that gives for amassing riches themselves. Therefore it is by no means inconceivable that one, or more, of them would like to ensure that I shall never assume the reins of power in the vast commercial Empire that old Albert Jugg built up.
I do not fear murder, because scientific crime investigation has made it extremely difficult to get away with murder in these days. The sudden death of anyone so potentially rich as myself would be certain to arouse widespread comment in the press. A flock of reporters would arrive to get the story. Each of them would question everybody here in the hope of picking up some 'human interest' line that their colleagues had missed; and they are a bright lot of boys. If one of them tumbled on the least suspicious circumstance it would result in Scotland Yard being tipped off to look into matters. Besides, Julia would call the police in at once if there were the smallest thing to suggest that my death had been due to foul play. So I do not believe that any secret enemies I may have would dare to risk it
An even stranger argument against it is that my death would result in the dissolution of the estate. Great sums would pass to the nation and to various charities; some individuals would benefit, of course, but Helmuth is not among them; and most of the other Trustees would lose on balance, because once the estate was wound up they would cease to enjoy their present lucrative and powerful stewardships.
On the other hand, should I become insane, those who are now responsible for handling the Jugg millions will firstly escape being called upon in a few weeks' time to give an account of the uses to which those millions have been put during my minority and, secondly, continue in undisputed control of them for as long as I remain a candidate for a straitjacket.
Once I was certified it would mean a life sentence. It is said to be difficult to get a chit from the Board of Lunacy, but it must be a darn' sight more difficult to get the chit rescinded. If I am right, and there is a conspiracy to put me in a loony bin, one can be quite certain that, in the event of its coming off, the conspirators will find it an easy wicket to prevent my getting out again.
Well, there is the motive. As for opportunity: here I am, a semi paralysed hulk, cut off from communication with the outside world, and completely in the power of an ambitious man who has succeeded in getting himself made one of the controllers of the Jugg millions.
Perhaps my imagination really has run away with me now; but, all the same, I have decided to make this journal a very different document from anything that might have resulted from my earlier intentions. I mean to tell the whole story from the beginning; then, even if these sheets of paper never reach Julia, but fall into the hands of any honest person, they may yet be produced as evidence of my fundamental sanity, and perhaps assist in bringing my enemies to justice.
I shall not start on this new departure today, though. In fact I should not have made any entry at all, had I not been anxious to get down my latest ideas on what lies behind Helmuth's secret moves against me. Yesterday, after tea, I succeeded in finding a book on Hypnotism in the library, here, and I am already deep in it, so I may not have much time for writing during the next few days.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:56 | Сообщение # 11
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CHAPTER 13

Monday, 18th May
I have finished Dr. Bramwells book on Hypnotism and reread some parts of it several times, so I have now got a pretty good grasp on the theory of the business. It remains to be seen whether I can apply it in practice. The fact that I succeeded with those two chaps in the Mess at Nether Wallop cannot be taken as an indication, since they lent themselves willingly to the experiment, whereas here I must attempt it without the cooperation of my subject.
Dr. Bramwell says that although it is not impossible to hypnotise a person against his will, it is very difficult to do so. Unfortunately he gives no information about the relative difficulty of hypnotising a person without their knowledge; and the two are obviously very different matters. In the first case, the subject having refused to play naturally sets up a strong mental resistance if he is seized, his eyes held open, and the experiment proceeded with; in the second, it seems to me that if the subject can be caught unawares, and proves susceptible, he might be got under, with comparative ease and provided, of course, that the operator could catch the subject's glance and hold it for long enough to do the trick without him suspecting what was being attempted.
Normally such a problem does not arise, as doctors who treat patients under hypnosis naturally never do so without first having obtained their consent, except sometimes in the case of lunatics, and then to have their eyes held open is presumably the usual method. But for me, success or failure depends entirely on whether I catch my subject napping.
As Taffy is far slower witted than Deb I shall start on him, and I have decided that the best time to make the attempt is when he is giving me my before dinner bath. He has to lift me in and out of it, but I am still capable of washing myself except for my lower limbs. While he is waiting to do my feet and ankles he always stands at the foot of the bath. If I say something to him he looks straight at me, but otherwise he just remains there with a vacant look on his round face; and it certainly provides the best opportunity for a prolonged attempt without risk of interruption, as no one will butt in on us and I have never known Taffy move from his habitual position until our routine is completed.
In glancing over the pages I wrote yesterday, I see that I omitted to mention what provision my grandfather had made in his will for the possibility that both my father and I might predecease him, or that both of us might die before I reached the age of twenty-one.
Here again, in the main, the old gentleman displayed his dominating desire that, even if there was no Jugg at the head of it, the Empire he had created should survive and prosper. As a gesture to Charity he left a million to the Benevolent Fund for his employees that he had already founded in his lifetime, and a further half million to the Seamen's Homes; but the great bulk of his fortune was willed back to the Companies out of which it had come, to be divided amongst them in proportion to the value of the holding that he had in each and the sums concerned added to their reserves, thus enormously strengthening them against the hazards of slumps, strikes, and periods of restricted trading.
The effect of my death, therefore, would be to send up the value of the shares in all the Jug controlled companies by several points. That would make big stockholders like Embledon, Rootham and a number of others potentially richer by several thousand pounds; but in view of their long association with the combine, it is most unlikely that they would cash in on their holdings on that account. So there is no one who would derive an immediate and really worthwhile benefit from knocking me off.
Before leaving the subject of the will and the Trust I should like to put it on record that, up to the outbreak of the war, I never had the least reason to suppose that any of the Trustees were neglecting their duties, and that I recall with gratitude the personal interest they all showed in me.
From time to time in the holidays each of them asked me to their houses, or took me out to lunch, and put me through a friendly catechism designed to satisfy themselves that I was happy, healthy and making reasonable progress with my studies. Of course, it was part of their responsibility to make sure that I was being groomed for industrial stardom, but they did it very nicely.
As I adored Julia, regarded Uncle Paul as a good natured stooge, and enjoyed ample opportunity for self expression at Weylands, the only complaints I ever made were that I was seldom given the chance to be with other young people in the holidays, and was expected to continue my studies under Helmuth with as much enthusiasm as I did in term time.
In various fashions peculiar to each they laughed that off; the gist of their refrain being that I must think of myself as a young royalty, whose duty it was to fit himself for the great power he would wield when he grew up, and that since it was necessary for me to acquire a working knowledge of a far wider range of subjects than the average boy, I must grin and bear it, if some of them had to be taken in the holidays with the result that the time I could spend just idling about with other youngsters was heavily curtailed.
As a matter of fact Julia had already sold me that one as soon as I settled down with her at Kew; and I give her full marks for the way she handled me. Her line was that the better educated I became the more enjoyment I should get out of my great wealth when I grew up; so I must not look on lessons as a bore but as a necessary preparation to the appreciation of a thousand delights to come.
She, too, encouraged me to look upon myself as different from other children, and no doubt it was in order to prevent me from realising that I was not that she kept me away from them; but, on the other hand, she checked any tendency in me to become swollen headed by decreeing that, until I was seventeen, I should always be known in the household as 'Master' Toby, instead of the servants addressing me by the title I had inherited, that I should never give orders to any of them without her permission, and that my pocket money should not exceed the average amount given to boys of my age.
I do not think that my brain is in any way out of the ordinary, but Julia and Helmuth between them certainly induced me to make the best of it, as I found when I went into the R.A.F. that my general knowledge far exceeded that of the great majority of the junior officers with whom I mixed. The secret of this, I am sure, is that I was never forced to continue at any subject until I got stale and tired of it.
At Weylands, of course, one was allowed a free choice of work, but the fault of the system is that, despite the cleverness of the masters in inducing the pupils to acquire at least a smattering of the subjects that attract them least, most of them do leave with some pretty thin patches in their education, and Helmuth was taken on especially to thicken up the more faulty parts of mine, during the holidays. Even so he managed to do it without arousing in me a permanent prejudice against work, by sandwiching short spells at the uncongenial tasks between much longer ones on such fascinating matters as early voyages of discovery, Chinese art, the transmutation of metals, the causes of revolutions, the strange fish that live at great depths, and so on.
It strikes me only now, as a point of interest, that by the time I was fifteen I was already able to talk quite intelligently with all my Trustees except that old human calculating machine, Robertson their hobbies and favourite recreations. Obviously Helmuth must have found out what those were and deliberately coached me in them although that never occurred to me at the time but it is no wonder that they were all so well satisfied with him as a tutor for me; and no doubt it was his use of me, over a period of years, to convey to them something of his own wide knowledge and varied interests that made it easy for Iswick and Uncle Paul to persuade the others that he would be a good man to replace Sir Stanley Wellard on the Board.
But I owe just as much to Julia as to Helmuth, since he did not become the dominant influence in my life until I was thirteen.
My sojourn at Kew lasted only a little over three months, and with it ended that happy, exciting period of exploring a new world of restaurants, cinemas and shops instead of doing lessons. The Trustees agreed that Uncle Paul must be furnished with the means to bring me up in the sort of surroundings that I should have enjoyed had not my father died. After he became a widower, he had returned to live in Kensington Palace Gardens, and at Queensclere, with my grandfather; so it was in these two big houses that I had spent my childhood and would, presumably, have continued to live had my father survived the accident. In consequence, soon after Christmas, the contents of the little suburban villa were packed up and we transferred ourselves to Millionaires' Row. Then, a fortnight or so later, I was sent as a dayboy to the nearby prep school in Orme Square.
So far as I can judge, the teaching there was excellent but limited, of course, to a normal curriculum; and, as Julia remained my guiding star, I am sure that I picked up more useful miscellaneous knowledge in my evenings, outings, weekends and holidays with her than I did in my hours spent at lessons. But I attended the school in Orme Square only for a year. In the autumn of 1930 Julia told me about Weylands.
At the time she could not have known very much about the place herself, but some friends of hers had two boys there. After giving me a rough idea of the system, she said that it did seem to offer special opportunities for anyone who really liked learning things, as she was sure I did; so, if she sent me there, would I promise to work reasonably hard and not let her down with the Trustees by lazing about the whole time.
Like any other boy of nine and a half I was most averse to the idea of leaving home; but I knew there was no escaping a move in the near future to a prep school in the country, to get me used to being a boarder before I was sent to a public school. It seemed that my guardian angel had found a way of saving me from the worst, as she assured me that at this newfangled place there were no prefects, no bullying and no enforced games. So I duly promised not to let her down, and off to Weylands I went in January 1931.
Looking back from my present standpoint I do not think one can possibly defend Weylands as an institution. It is a terrible thing to bring children up as atheists just how terrible no one can fully appreciate until, like myself, they find themselves pursued by some creature of the Devil.
Then the tacit encouragement of the young to indulge in immorality must be a bad thing. Their freedom to experiment in sex without reproach may save a few of them from later developing secret complexes and abnormalities, but I believe that for every one it saves it robs a hundred who, if subject to the usual prohibitions, would turn out quite normal of their illusions.
It certainly did me; and that goes, too, for every other’ senior pupil, male or female, that I knew at all well there. We had all eaten too greedily of the tree of knowledge, and although appetite remained there was no longer any mystery surrounding the fruit. Both sexes had discovered too early that the other, like itself, had feet of clay; so when we went out into the world nothing was left to us but a cold, cynical seeking after partners in pleasure. Never could any of us hope to be carried away with the sort of mad, self sacrificing, glorious intoxication of which we had read in books. All too late we were conscious that for us, in connection with a member of the opposite sex, three great words must for ever remain meaningless glamour, romance, love.
Again, the whole conception of teaching people that they should develop their own ego, irrespective of every other consideration, is all wrong. It makes them hard, selfish, greedy, aggressive and incapable of cooperation in a time of crisis. When I went into the R.A.F. I knew nothing of the team spirit, except that at Weylands it had been sneeringly defined as 'a conception typical of the human herd mentality, as it excuses the timorous from emerging from the mass and accepting personal responsibility'. What utter tripe!
In view of the opinions I aired during my early days in uniform I must have appeared to my companions the most bumptious, self centred young cad; and I marvel now that they were so good natured as to do no more than laugh at me. But I was always a pretty quick learner and it did not take me long to find out the worthlessness of the Weylands definition of the 'team spirit'. In a Fighter Squadron your life and the lives of your friends depended on it. If we had started to play for our own hands instead of for our side, when opposed to a superior enemy formation, the lot of us would have been hurtling down in flames within a matter of minutes.
Had there been no war, I would probably still believe that the Weylands creed embodied the highest achievement in logical human thinking; but I know now that much, if not all, of it is false. Nevertheless, I believe that I acquired far more academic knowledge there than I would have at any school where it was forced upon me, to be learned parrot fashion as an alternative to receiving punishment; and I can look back on my schooldays as happy ones which is more than a lot of chaps can say.
All that I owe to Julia; and I certainly do not hold her responsible for anything I may have missed through the bad elements of the Weylands system, for I am convinced that of those she cannot have known enough to appreciate their possible results.
Helmuth was not at Weylands when I first went there. He did not arrive until the summer of 1933, and during his first year I had little to do with him. It was my backwardness in languages that brought about our special association. Naturally, for my future it was considered important that I should be able to speak French, German and Spanish fluently: but I was much more interested in chemistry, engineering, history and geography, so gave hardly any time to the uncongenial business of trying to master foreign tongues.
My Spanish was not too bad, as it resembles Italian, and Julia had taught me from the age of eight to speak her own soft brand of that; but she was worried by my lack of progress in the other two, and decided that the best way to get me on was to have someone who would talk them to me in the holidays. In. consequence it was arranged that Helmuth should spend the August of 1934 with us at Queensclere.
Looking back, I can see now that he took great pains to make himself agreeable to us all. He was about thirty seven then, and his strong personality was already fully developed. There was no trace in his manner of the retiring diffidence often displayed by private tutors; but the ideas he threw out were always well calculated to appeal to Uncle Paul and Julia.
My uncle's main interest has always been horses. Helmuth, as I have learnt since, dislikes all animals and considers horses stupid brutes; but he threw himself into helping Uncle Paul arrange the local horse show at Queensclere that summer, as though they were his ruling passion.
With Julia he had a more congenial row to hoe, as he really likes and understands period furniture and she was then busy planning a new decor for some of the rooms at Kensington Palace Gardens. He not only helped her find many of the pieces but got them for her much cheaper than she could have done herself; and that was a big feather in his cap with Uncle Paul as well as Julia, since the Trustees gave them a good allowance to keep the two houses up, but were always a bit sticky about weighing out additional sums for such things as antique furniture.
So far as I was concerned Helmuth played his cards most skilfully. He announced at once that we would have no set lessons and would not bother with books at least, not grammars and dreary set pieces of translation but he would like me to read one or two that I should find amusing, with the aid of a dictionary.
One, I remember, was Dr. Madrus's unexpurgated translation of the Arabian Nights in French, and another an edition of Casanova's Memoirs in German. Both gave vivid pictures of life in an age totally different from our own, as well as being spiced with a wealth of bawdy stories, so they held my interest and induced me to acquire extensive vocabularies in a very short time. For the rest, Helmuth always talked to me when we were alone in French or German, repeating in English any bits I didn't get, so without any great effort on my part I was soon able to gabble my thoughts in both languages.
It is hardly surprising that he was asked to stay, on through September, and to come to us again for the Christmas holidays. By the time we were due to go back to Weylands at the end of January I could speak colloquial French and German with considerable fluency, so Helmuth thought of another way in which he could make himself useful. He said he thought that, now I was rising fourteen, it would be a good thing for me to go over some of the factories I was one day to control; so it was arranged that part of his Easter holidays should be spent taking me on a tour round the most important ones.
On our return from it, Julia broke the news to me that she and Uncle Paul were anxious to make a long tour through the United States that summer, so they had asked Helmuth to look after me. Naturally I was disappointed at first that I should not be spending my holidays with them; but the pill was gilded by the news that they had taken a little house on Mull that had excellent shooting, for Helmuth and myself; and the present of a brace of Purdy’s, which enabled me to have visions of doing terrific execution among the grouse.
That outlines the first five years that I spent with Helmuth 'as my guide, philosopher and friend'; and the others differed from it only in detail. With each year this viper, that the unsuspecting Julia had nurtured in her bosom, became more deeply entrenched in her regard and in my uncle's confidence, so that latterly they did nothing without consulting him; while I tamely accepted his authority, partly from habit and partly because he was clever enough to refrain from attempting to make me do anything he knew that I would really have hated. Nevertheless, our wills did clash eventually.
By the spring of 1939 Helmuth had established himself so firmly as the arbiter of my fate that no one even thought of contesting his opinion when he announced that, instead of my going up to Cambridge, as my father had done, at the beginning of 1940, he felt that I would derive much more benefit from being taken by a suitable mentor on a two year tour of Europe, which would include a stay of a few weeks in the Ruhr, the Saar, Hamburg, Turin and each of the other great industrial centres.
The last point was especially calculated to appeal to the Trustees, and when it emerged that Helmuth was willing to resign his mastership at Weylands to act as my cicerone, they not only jumped at the idea but urged that the tour should be extended to two and a half years, so that the last six months of my minority might be spent visiting the industrial zones of the United States. It was even urged that we should make an earlier start, and, as my eighteenth birthday was in June, set out on our travels soon after the ending of the summer term. However, the authorities at Weylands were unwilling to release Helmuth before the end of the year, and many Weyland pupils stayed up till they were nearly nineteen, so it was agreed that we should put in a final autumn term there.
But things did not turn out according to plan. We were still up on Mull in the first week of September when the war broke out. I told Helmuth that Sunday night that in the morning I proposed to take the first train south from Oban, and, on reaching London, volunteer for the R.A.F.
There was the hell of a row. Apparently it had never occurred to him that I might react to the news like that. But he soon got his bearings and, once he had recovered his temper, he began to produce all sorts of well reasoned arguments in favour of my holding my hand for a bit.
His first line was that it would be silly to rush into the ranks when, just as in the last war, every well educated youngster would, in due course, be needed as a junior officer. Then he said that this time the Government was better prepared, and did not need volunteers, as they had already arranged to call up such men as they required by classes. Finally he urged that so much had gone into fitting me to hold great responsibilities that my life was not my own to throw away; the least I could do was to submit the matter to my Trustees and hear what they had to say, before jeopardising all the hopes that they had placed in me.
Thinking things over a few weeks later I came to the conclusion that none of these arguments had weighed with me in the least. I was a strong, healthy young man of eighteen and a bit, with a very fair knowledge of aircraft design and engineering. I knew perfectly well what I ought to do, and what I wanted to do. Yet I did not do it.
Helmuth's will proved stronger than mine. The battle between us went on for over a week. Again and again I tried to screw my courage up to the point of defying him and walking out. Several times I was on the verge of slipping out at night and making off in the motorboat to the mainland. Yet I could never quite bring myself to do either.
I feel certain now that it was neither his reasoning nor my ingrained respect for his authority which was the paramount factor in keeping me there against my will. It was the silent, compelling power that at times lies behind the steady regard of his tawny eyes. He used a form of hypnotism to bind me like a spell.
I wonder what luck I'll have when I try that out on Taffy this evening. If I succeed I'll be out of here by the end of the week. I have got to be; the new moon rises on Thursday.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:57 | Сообщение # 12
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CHAPTER 14

Tuesday, 19th May
It was no good. I have never before realised how difficult it is to catch a person's glance and hold it for any length of time. Taffy was engaged for his strength not his brain. He is only about five feet ten, but broad and long armed, like a gorilla. His hair is dark and curly, and his eyes are small; but his face is as round as a full moon, and he has a curiously feminine quality. He stood there, docile as usual, at the foot of the bath, for a full ten minutes while I was soaping myself, but every time I said something to him to attract his attention he just looked at me for a second, then looked quickly away again.
At last, in desperation, I said to him: 'Taffy, have you ever tried staring anyone out?'
'No, indeed, Sir Toby,' he replied. 'What would I want to be doing a thing like that?'
'For fun,' I said. 'Come on; look straight at me and let's see which of us can make the other blink first.'
'Fun it is, is it?' he repeated with a sheepish grin; and for a moment his round brown eyes peeped at me from beneath the dark, curling lashes that many a girl would envy. But almost at once he dropped his glance, gave an embarrassed laugh, and muttered: 'A strange game it is, and I no good at it.'
I felt that it might arouse the oaf's suspicions and a permanent resistance if I persisted further, at the time; so I chucked up the attempt and ate my dinner in a very bad humour. But I am hoping that I'll catch him napping some time today. A good chance is bound to present itself sooner or later; the trouble is that I have no time to waste.
After dinner last night, to take my mind off my failure with Taffy, instead of switching my radio off at the end of the nine o'clock news I listened to a broadcast on the war. I must confess that I haven't been taking very much interest in the war of late, owing to preoccupation with my own troubles; but hearing this commentator quite cheered me up, as it seems that in this past week or so things haven't been going too badly for us.
The best bit of news is that General Alexander has succeeded in extricating all that was left of our army from Burma. It must have been hell for them all these months, fighting desperate rearguard actions in that ghastly country against enormously superior forces and it is a miracle that they were not surrounded and cut to pieces.
It was Alexander, I remember, who assumed command in the last phase of Dunkirk, after Gort had gone home, and was himself the last man to leave the beach there. I think he must be a really great General, as any fool can make a breakthrough if the odds are in his favour and he has plenty of supplies, but it requires military genius of the first order to conduct a successful retreat with war weary troops who are short of everything. Now that he is back across the Chindwin, on the Indo Burmese frontier, it should be easier to get supplies and reinforcements up to him; so let's hope that he will be able to hang on there and prevent those filthy little Japs from swarming down into India.
The Ruskies are still getting the worst of it in the south, and the Germans claim to have driven them from their last foothold in the Crimea; but the success of Marshal Timoshenko's counteroffensive against Kharkov more than makes up for that. Those Russian battles are on a scale that make our little set tos in Libya look like backyard brawls, and they must be costing the Nazis tens of thousands of casualties a week. If only the Russians can keep it up they will yet bleed Hitler's Reich to death.
This morning's bulletin was cheering, too. Yesterday Coastal Command put on another good show. Our bombers caught the Prinz Eugen off Norway, slammed several torpedoes into her, and raked the decks of her escorting destroyers with cannon fire. God, what wouldn't I give to be able to fly again!
As must be obvious to anyone who, knowing nothing of me comes upon this journal and has read so far, I got the better of Helmuth in the end. During those last three weeks on Mull, as he was constantly with me, his influence proved so strong that all my efforts to throw it off were in vain; and I was still in the same state when, on September the 24th, we returned to Weylands.
For the first week of the term I continued to be a bit befuddled and half persuaded by his arguments; but about a fortnight earlier old Wellard had died, and I imagine that Helmuth was already hard at it, intriguing with Uncle Paul and Iswick to get himself appointed to the vacant Trusteeship. Anyhow, on October 1st he was summoned to a meeting of the Trustees in London. After I had spent twenty four hours without seeing him my mind began to clear, and the next night I decided to make a bolt for it.
Getting away presented no difficulties. I packed into one small suitcase some spare underclothes and a few personal belongings; then, having read a book till about half past three in the morning,
I quietly carried the case downstairs and strapped it on to the back of the first bicycle that I came upon in the staff bike shed. As it was seven miles to the station I had to take an unauthorised loan of the bike; but I knew that it would be returned in due course, since I meant to leave it in the station cloakroom and post the ticket for it to the school bursar.
At the station I slipped the ticked into an envelope that I had all ready for it, and at the same time posted a note that I had written to Julia, asking her to do her best to stop Helmuth trying to find me, and telling her that she was not to worry about me, as I should be very well looked after at the place to which I was going, and that I would write to her within the course of the next few weeks. Then, twenty minutes later, the milk train came in and took me to Carlisle.
As I was still technically a schoolboy I thought it possible that when my absence was discovered a hue and cry would start after me, and I was uncertain what powers the authorities might have to send me back, so I had already decided to take evasive action. London was the place they would naturally expect me to head for, so, instead, I took the train from Carlisle up to Glasgow. That afternoon I went to the City Recruiting Office there and volunteered for the R.A.F.
My age was then eighteen and three months, but I could have passed for a year older had I wished, as I was both tall and well built; also I was, as the police descriptions term it, 'A person of good address', so I had little fear of being rejected. But I did not mean to sign on in my own name, as it was quite on the cards that in another few hours the police would be looking for me, and the thought that I might be caught out in that part of the business made me go pretty hot under the collar.
I knew that I would have to show my identity card and there was no disguising the Weylands address, as it had been issued to me there the previous May; but my name had been inserted simply as JUGG, ALBERT, A., with no 'Sir' or 'Bart.' in a bracket behind it to give away my title, and the previous evening I had added the letters LER to both the block letter surname and my scrawled signature. It was a bit of a risk to take, as the card informs one that any alteration of it is punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both; but I felt that if I could get away with it the odds would be all against anyone up in Glasgow associating the missing heir to millions, Sir Toby Jugg, with Aircraftsman Albert Jugglerand get away with it I did.
I found those first few weeks in the R.A.F. extraordinarily exciting. A high proportion of my fellow recruits were Glasgow mechanics, but there were also clerks, salesmen, colonials, farmers, small tradesmen and other types, most of whom had previously been entirely outside my ken.
The life, too, was utterly different from anything I had ever known; although I did not find it as hard as I had expected, for we were excellently fed and very well looked after. No doubt the routine and restrictions inseparable from communal life under discipline would have palled after a bit, but to start with, for me, everything held the glamour of strangeness, and every new face I encountered held a thrilling real life story of effort and achievement or failure, which could usually be heard over a can of beer.
During the ten week that I was in the ranks I had no chance to get bored with any one set of companions, as in less than two months the grading system caused me to be transferred from one hutted camp to another four times. It takes a lot of people to keep an aircraft in the air, so out of the many who offered themselves comparatively few possessed the qualifications and had the luck to be graded for operational training: the others had to be content to serve as ground crews, signallers, clerks, tradesmen and in all the scores of jobs without the conscientious performance of which the operational people could not have functioned. But my youth, health, keenness and high standard of education led to my being picked as one of the lucky ones; and it was that which resulted in the discovery of my true identity.
My one object when I volunteered had been to become a fighter pilot, and constant application coupled with the O.K. from half dozen medical boards and selection committees had got me as far as this fourth station. When I had been there about ten days it came to my turn to be summoned for a personal interview with the Station Commander.
He asked me a few questions, glanced through my papers, and said: 'I see, Juggler, that you have made a pretty good showing, so far; and that your Flight Commander considers your possibilities to be above the average. I think he is right; so I propose to recommend you for a commission. You may not get it, but at all events you will be given your chance on transfer as a Cadet to Receiving Wing.'
I suppose the good man expected me to blush, stammer my thanks, salute smartly and float out as though my elation was so great as to render me airborne already. But my surprise was only equalled by my consternation, as I knew that if I let him have his way the next step was that somebody would be demanding a copy of my birth certificate. In consequence, I blurted out, a little awkwardly, that I did not want a commission; I wanted to become a Sergeant Pilot.
He went a shade redder in the face and said a trifle huffily: 'I cannot compel you, of course; but, presumably, you joined the Royal Air Force with the object of serving your country to the best of your ability. If, in the opinion of officers such as myself, who are practised in forming judgments of this kind, you are considered to have the fundamental qualities required for commissioned rank, you must surely see that it is your duty to accept our decision and do your best to obtain it.'
Before I could reply, another officer, a Flight Lieutenant who was sitting at a side table, stood up and said: 'D'you mind if I handle this, sir? I think I know the answer.'
The Group Captain looked a bit puzzled, but nodded his assent, and the Flight Lieutenant beckoned me to follow him into the next room.
As soon as the door was closed behind us he motioned me to a chair and offered me a cigarette. He was a lean, bronzed faced, tough looking little man of about thirty, with very blue eyes. When we had lit up, he grinned at me and said: 'I take it the birth certificate is the snag, isn't it Sir Toby?'
What the hell could I say? I knew I was caught out. It transpired that until the outbreak of war he had been a test pilot at Juggernauts the Jugg combine's biggest aircraft plant; and that he had recognised me from having met me on a visit that I paid to the factory with Helmuth in 1938.
I had watched the papers carefully, and no report of my disappearance had so far been published in them; so I took it that Julia had shown my letter to the Trustees and they thought it wiser to wait for me to reappear in my own time than to start a scandal by having me publicly hunted. But somebody on the Board must have talked, as Flight Lieutenant Roper had heard that I had run away from school in a letter he had had from a friend in his old firm.
He put it to me that I was in a jam. Sooner or later I was bound to be rumbled, and it might happen in circumstances where my CO. had no alternative but to send me for court martial on a charge of having made a false declaration to the recruiting authorities; and following that there might be a civil prosecution for having faked my identity card. He said that, as my motive had clearly been a patriotic one, he did not think either court would take a very serious view of the matter; but one could not be certain of that, as they could not afford to give the press a chance to publish the fact that anyone had been caught out breaking wartime security measures and allowed to get away with it and, I being who I was, it was certain the press would make it a headline story. So he thought that instead of going on as I was and risking anything like that I should be much wiser to let him try to sort matters out.
I was still afraid that once the Trustees found out where I was they would endeavour to regain control of me; but Roper said that since I had managed to get into the R.A.F. and was over eighteen, it was quite certain that the Air Ministry would never agree to release me for the purpose of being sent back to school; so I accepted his very kind offer. We agreed that he should tell the Group Captain that I had asked for a fortnight to think over the question of the commission, and in the meantime he would put my case in confidence to an Air Marshal who was a personal friend of his.
Between them they did the trick. On the 11th of December I received orders to proceed to London and report at Adastral House. On the 12th I signed a lot of papers there, with the result that Aircraftsman Juggler was released from the service and for about five minutes I became a civilian; after which I was sworn in again under my proper name and left the building with orders to get into a civilian suit, post my uniform and kit to the R.A.F. Depot in Hallham Street, and go on leave till further notice.
Down at Queensclere Julia and Uncle Paul killed the fatted calf for me; and when Helmuth. came south just before Christmas he showed not the slightest trace of ill will at my having got the better of him. In fact he said that, while he had felt it to be his duty to keep me out of harm's way if he possibly could till I was called up, he thought the initiative I had shown did me great credit; so we quite naturally fell into our old friendly relationship.
As he had resigned his position at Weylands and there could now be no question of his taking me abroad, his co Trustees asked him if he would like to take over the Llanferdrack estates, since it was felt that with an able man to administer them the farms, villages and forests here could make a much bigger contribution to the war. The idea of having his own small kingdom evidently appealed to him, and by a curious coincidence he left Queensclere to start his new job the same day as I left on Air Ministry orders to report at Reception Wing as one of the new intake of Cadets.
That was the beginning of months of arduous training; first at the I.T.W.; scores of lectures, hundreds of tests, then the E.F.T.S.; more lectures, more tests, solo flying, formation flying, night flying, all through the spring of the phoney war, then all through that desperate summer while Hitler smashed his way to Calais and the Loire, and on into the autumn while the Battle of Britain raged overhead.
Sometimes we saw bits of the battle fought out in the distant skies. The crowd I was training with were pretty good by then; again and again we begged to be transferred to 10 Group, or even a fighter station outside it where there might be some chance of our joining in; but the authorities were adamant.
How we raved against the old boys at the Air Ministry, with their rows of ribbons and scrambled eggs, when we learned how exhausted our first line pilots were becoming, and were not allowed to go to their relief.
But those veterans of the last great war were right. They must have been just as worried as we were, but they knew from experience that a pilot's chance of survival in combat is in exact relation to the perfection, or otherwise, of his training; and they had the guts to reject the temptation even at a time of crisis to reduce by a single day the schedules of training that had been laid down in peacetime. Had they allowed us to go in three parts trained half of us would have been massacred, and it was their refusal to be panicked into doing so that gave the R.A.F. dominance over the Luftwaffe in the following year.
So we had to go on with our lessons and pretend to ignore the fact that any night the invasion might come and find us still not on the operational list.
But at last the great day came, and I was one of the lucky ones, as I was posted to Biggin Hill, right in the thick of it. My third time up I got my first Heinkel III. Her escort had been dispersed and she was trying to sneak home alone. I was on my way in, and hadn't much juice left, but just enough to turn and go after her. It was touch and go. I opened up at 300 yards and gave her two bursts, but nothing seemed to happen. As I circled and came in again some bullets from her spattered through my aircraft. I wasn't hit, but my engine began to stutter. I let her have all I'd got, but a moment later I began to lost height rapidly. I was mad with rage at the thought that I would have to make a forced landing and let her get away; but just as I was coming down in a field outside Maidstone I caught sight of her again. I had got her after all and she was a swirl of flame and smoke just about to crash among some trees half a mile away.
Then two days later I got an Me. 109. But there is no point in writing all this. It's a good thing to sit and think of, though.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:57 | Сообщение # 13
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CHAPTER 15

Wednesday, 20th May
I have had no luck with Taffy yet; and am beginning to fear that, short of giving him a direct order to stand dead still and stare at me, I never shall. I don't want to do that, but I have got to get a letter past Helmuth somehow and can think of no way to do so other than by making Taffy act as my unconscious agent. Unfortunately I am up against the time factor, so if I fail to pull it off today I'll have to risk an all or nothing attempt on him tomorrow.
According to Dr. Bramwell, however difficult persons are to hypnotise, once they have been got under it is always much easier to get them under a second time. So I had hoped to try Taffy out once or twice with simple tests before actually giving him a letter; but there is not now a sufficient margin of time left to take any chances. If I can get him under I shall have to make the most of the opportunity.
In consequence, most of the time I have spent indoors today has gone in writing a letter to have ready to give Taffy should my efforts to put him under control prove successful. I have given Julia full particulars about the haunting to which I have been subject, and have implored her to come to my rescue at once; but I have said nothing about Helmuth being at the bottom of it. She has shown such faith in his abilities and his apparent devotion to me, for such a long time past, that I feel it would be unwise to make any accusation against him in a letter.
When she recalls my 'burglar' and my horrible experience of the broken tomb at Weylands, I am sure she will not think that I am appealing to her without real cause now; and knowing Helmuth's apparent scepticism about such matters she will take that as my reason for asking her to arrange for my removal; but if I told her in addition that I believe he is deliberately attempting to drive me insane, I fear she would begin to wonder if I were not so already.
It will be time enough to tell her the sickening truth about him when she gets here. However, I've made it clear that I have already sounded him about my being moved, and that he is very averse to it, so she must come prepared to meet with, and overrule, his opposition. I even went so far as to suggest that she should bring with her a chit from Uncle Paul, authorising her to take me away.
That line will prove a bit of a bombshell to her, as on no previous occasion has it ever been necessary even to consider giving Helmuth a direct order concerning me. She may put it down to my being terribly overwrought, or read into it that I have told Helmuth about my 'spooks', and since he does not (?) believe in such things, we have quarrelled violently. Whichever way she takes it will be all to the good as in the first sense it would stress the gravity of my condition, and, in the second, prepare her for ructions between Helmuth and myself on her arrival.
I doubt very much if she will bring a chit from Uncle Paul, as it is a hundred to one that she will think it a fantastic idea, and quite unnecessary. Ah" the same, I hope she does, as Helmuth seems determined to keep me here and may take a highhanded line with her. But Uncle Paul is still my Guardian and I believe that even Helmuth would think twice about refusing to accept his written order.
I urged on Julia that, even if she did not bring a chit from Uncle Paul with her, she must speak to him about my letter and at least secure his verbal consent to my immediate removal, as then Helmuth would not be able to postpone the issue by saying that he must consult Uncle Paul before the matter could be finally decided.
To stress the vital importance of quashing any proposal on Helmuth's part about postponement, I pointed out to her that the full moon is due again on the 30th, so, judging by the previous bouts, I shall be in acute danger again from about the 27th on, although there is no guarantee at all that these damnable attacks may not start even earlier.
It is already the 20th, and I have yet to get this letter off; so I said that when she does get it she must act without a moment's delay, tell Uncle Paul any damn' thing she liked, and come down here with his authority to take me away, if possible before the 25th.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 10:58 | Сообщение # 14
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CHAPTER 16

Thursday, 21st May
Last night proved a milestone in my silent battle against Helmuth. While I was in my bath I had another crack at Taffy but, as on the two previous occasions, without result; until I suddenly thought of a new line of attack. I pretended that I had got something in my eye and, holding it open, asked him to fish the offending body out.
As there was nothing there he naturally could not find it, but he had to keep peering down into my eyes and I stared up at his. After we had had our glances locked like that for a few moments, with only about nine inches between our faces, I said softly:
'Taffy, you're looking very tired. You are tired, Taffy, aren't you very tired?'
As he did not reply, I went on: 'I think you had better go to sleep, Taffy. A sleep would do you good. Go to sleep, Taffy. Close your eyes.'
Imagine my elation when his eyelids drooped and those lovely dark eyelashes of his fell like two little fans upon his cheeks. I took his hands and stroked them gently, as, according to Bramwell, a lot of hypnotists have found that touch helps the thought waves to flow to the subject.
My wheeled chair was standing beside the bath, so I made him sit down in it and relax. Then I asked him a few simple questions, such as where he had been born, if he had had a nickname when he was at school, if he would have liked to be a gardener like his father or preferred being with me, and so on; all of which he answered between half closed lips in a toneless voice, but without hesitation.
Next, I told him to stretch his right arm straight out from the shoulder, and hold it there. In a normal state the average person can hold their arm out at right angles to their body without showing fatigue for about three minutes, then their hand begins to droop. They can keep lifting it, but each time they do so it starts to sag again almost at once; and after about five minutes the pain of keeping their arm extended becomes too much for them.
Under hypnosis the muscles hardly seem to tire at all, and Bramwells book cites instances where subjects have remained with their arms outstretched for long periods, even when heavy weights have been attached to their wrists trebling the normal strain. I sat in the bath watching Taffy while I slowly counted five hundred. That must have been a good eight minutes, and his arm was still as rigid as when he had first stretched it out in obedience to my order. I needed no further proof that I had him properly under.
Then, to my fury, I suddenly remembered that I had not got the letter to Julia with me; it was still in the top drawer of my bedside table.
Yet, having at last succeeded with Taffy, I simply could not bring myself to abandon the opportunity of using him, so long as there was the least chance of my being able to do so.
When I have had my evening bath I am not dressed again, but put to bed; Deb gives my back a quarter of an hour's massage while Taffy gets me a cocktail; then my dinner is brought to me there. Sometimes Deb is ready, waiting for me, when I get back from the bathroom, but at others she is a few minutes late.
It is certain that both she and Taffy have instructions to take any letters I may give them for the post to Helmuth, so if I gave one to Taffy in front of her the odds are she would mention it to Helmuth and it would be taken from Taffy before he had a chance to get down to the village with it. Moreover, I am exceedingly anxious to keep secret the fact that I can hypnotise people, and Deb might have guessed the reason why Taffy's face was looking so wooden and expressionless if she had seen him as he was when with me in the bathroom last night.
So it came to a race against time. The second after I realised my blunder in leaving the letter behind, I saw that if I could get back to my room before Deb came in to massage me, I should still be able to pull the cat out of the bag; but if she got there first I would have to abandon my plan for the time being.
One of the most maddening things about being semi paralysed is its effect when one wants to do something in a frantic hurry. Had I had the use of my lower limbs I would have been out of that bath in a jiffy, given myself ten seconds' rub with the towel, pulled on my dressing gown and been back in my room under the minute. As it was I had to submit to the infuriatingly slow ministrations of Taffy; and the fact that he was still under my hypnotic control did not help matters; on the contrary, it seemed to slow him up.
At last he had me back in my chair and began to wheel me along the corridor. He was still acting like an automaton, and I did not want to wake him while there was a chance that things might be all right; because I knew that, at best, I would have only a few minutes to work in, and that might not be enough to get him under again. But I was worried stiff what construction Deb would put upon it if she saw him like that. Halfway down the passage a sudden inspiration came to me, and I said.
'If Sister Kain is in my room when we enter it, Taffy, you are to wake up. Directly you see Sister Kain you are to wake up, d'you understand? and you are to forget all that has happened in the past twenty minutes.'
'Yes, Sir Toby,' he muttered obediently, and at that moment we reached my door.
I suppose if I had been accustomed to hypnotising people I should have said that to him earlier. Anyhow, thank goodness I did say it before we entered my room, as Deb was there.
It was a bitter disappointment. Afterwards, on glancing at the clock, I realised that it was not Deb being unusually early that had caused me to miss the boat, but our being unusually late. In the excitement of trying to beat her to it I had quite forgotten the time I had spent in putting Taffy through the tests, and including the eight or nine minutes for which I made him hold out his arm, they must have taken up the best part of a quarter of an hour.
Still, although I was stalemated last night, I am immensely heartened by this success. Now I have had Taffy under I feel confident that I can get him under again. Moreover it means a lot to know that he reacts to posthypnotic suggestion. It was an anxious moment as he wheeled me across to my bed and I screwed my neck round to get a glimpse of his face as soon as I could. He was wide awake, and went about his duties quite normally, without indicating by a word or look that he had just passed through an unusual experience. I feel confident now that, provided no entirely unforeseen piece of misfortune upsets my plans, I shall be able to get my letter away by him tonight.
Now I will set down the little more there is to tell of my personal history, and so be finished with it.
I continued to be a fully operational G.D. officer in the R.A.F. up to July the 10th, 1941, the date on which I was shot down for good. I had, of course, been shot down several times before, as was the case with nearly everyone who flew consistently for any length of time in the early years of the war. Once a Jerry followed me in and shot me up when I was flying too low to dare to bale out, so I had to crash land on a reservoir. That was not funny, as I darn' nearly drowned; but if I had to make a choice, I'd rather go through that again than repeat my only experience of baling out over the North Sea. Fortunately that was in mid May, as it was seven hours before they found me, and had it been earlier in the year I should have died of cold; I was blue when I was pulled out of the Drink, and if my strength had not enabled me to go on flailing my limbs for the last hour or two, I would have died of it anyhow.
My bag was 14 Jerrys and 7 probables, more than half of them being scored during my first ten weeks as an operational pilot. After that it got more difficult, as we had given the Luftwaffe a bloody nose, and they went over to the defensive. My D.F.C. came through in May, and I was promoted to Flight Lieutenant just before I got my packet.
As I did not hold the rank for six months I am no longer officially entitled to it. In air such cases if an officer 'goes sick' which covers everything from appendicitis to having his eyes shot out or being burnt to a living skeleton and is unable to perform his duties for more than three weeks, he is automatically deprived of the rank he has held and reduced by one ring.
Of course, the idea is to save money on their pensions. I am one of the fortunate ones to whom it does not matter, but by now there must be thousands of poor fellows to whom those extra few pounds a month would make an enormous difference. As the ruling applies to all three Services it is pretty obvious that it was inspired by the Treasury; and, if only I had the use of my legs again, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to have five minutes behind a haystack with the mean minded little Whitehall rat who thought that one up.
After the excitement of flying and the fun of singsongs in the Mess, and sometimes going with a crowd of good fellows for an evening's bust to the towns near the various airfields at which I was stationed, I got awfully browned off in hospital; but once it had been broken to me that there was very little chance of my ever walking again I did my best to resign myself to my fate.
I was operated on five times and, within the limits they set themselves, the surgeons were successful, as they managed to repair a certain amount of the damage. In fact I owe it to them that I can sit up for two or three hours at a stretch without discomfort instead of having to be wheeled about on my back the whole time; but to get me on my feet again proved beyond them. A long term policy of rest and massage was, in the end, all that they had left to suggest; so, after nine months of living in an atmosphere of iodoform, I was, at my own request, boarded and invalided from the Service.
The problem of what was to happen to me had already been settled. I should greatly have preferred to go to Queensclere, but Kent is constantly the scene of enemy ops; and, although I was quite prepared to stay put during air raids, Julia and Uncle Paul would have thought it imperative to get me down to a shelter every time a siren sounded, so I could not decently make myself such a burden to them. The same applied to London. Helmuth had been running Llanferdrack for over two years then, and he had the care of me all through my teens. One could have searched Britain and not found a place more suitable for anyone in my condition; and Helmuth as good as said he would be deeply hurt if I did not allow him to look after me.
I wonder, now, if he had already hatched this devilish plot to drive me insane once he succeeded in getting me down here?
Anyhow, on March the 14th last I arrived at Llanferdrack, and was duly installed with all the honours of a war scarred hero. For the first fortnight I enjoyed the change of scene and the freedom from hospital routine enormously; then things began to happen. But I have already gone into that.
Perhaps I should add for the sake of anyone who, never having known me, may one day find and read this journal, that my hair and moustache still retain one of those fluffy affairs that many of us grew in the R.A.F. are red. My face is freckled, my eyes are grey, my teeth are a bit uneven but white and strong. My shoulders continued to develop even while I was in hospital, and I swing a pair of Indian clubs for ten minutes every morning, so the upper part of my body is that of a minor Hercules; and if I couldn't wring a python's neck I could guarantee to give it one hell of a pain there for the rest of its life. I will eat and drink pretty well anything, but I am allergic to oysters, cauliflower, almond icing and pink gin. I was always keen on outdoor sports, but I now thank God that I have always loved reading too. My sex life started early but, in all other respects, was, up to the time of the crash, perfectly normal unless it can be considered abnormal that I have never been in love. I am white inside as well as out, I hope but I am not free, and I am not yet twenty one. That, then, is all about me; and also all the speculations regarding the plot of which I believe myself to be the victim, that I have to make for the present. So, for the future, the entries in this journal will consist of little more than day today jottings, recording the development of the battle I am waging to retain my sanity and regain my freedom.
Later
This evening I put Taffy into a trance again without difficulty. I gave him my letter and told him that after dinner he was to go down to the village on his pushbike and post it; and that he was not to mention the matter either before or afterwards to anyone.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:00 | Сообщение # 15
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CHAPTER 17

Friday, 22nd May
I am furious. That oaf Taffy bogged it. But I suppose it was partly my fault, as I ought to have realised that the letter needed a stamp and that the village post office would have already shut for the night when I gave Taffy my letter.
Naturally I was anxious to get confirmation as soon as possible that he had actually sent it off, so as soon as Deb had left us this morning and he started to dress me, I said: 'Look at me, Taffy,' and in a moment I had him under. It is as simple as that now, and 1 have only to point the two first fingers of my right hand at his eyes, then lower them slightly, for his eyes to shut.
To my amazement he immediately burst into tears. Of course, in his normal state he does not remember my having given him the letter, but directly I put him into a trance his subconscious again made him fully aware of that, and the fact that he had been unable to carry out my instructions.
Apparently, what happened was as follows: He had his supper with the other servants as usual, then, although he had no memory of my handing him a letter, it suddenly came into his mind that he had one, with orders to go down to the village and post it, and, when he looked in his pocket, it was there.
But it was not stamped, and realising that he would not be able to buy a stamp in the village at that time of night, he asked the other members of the staff if any of them could lend him one. Unfortunately none of them were able to do so, but Helmuth's man, Konrad, said at once: 'There are always plenty in the office, and I am going up there now to take the Doctor his evening coffee, so I will get you one.'
A few minutes later he came downstairs again and told Taffy that the Doctor wanted to see him about something, and at the same time would give him the stamp for his letter.
Taffy went up all unsuspecting, but as soon as he reached Helmuth's room, Helmuth said: 'I hear you have a letter you wish to post. Is it one of your own or one of Sir Toby's?'
That put the wretched Taffy in a first class fix. His subconscious mind reiterated the instructions I had given him, that he was to tell no one about my letter, while in his conscious mind he knew quite well that he had standing orders that he was to bring every letter I gave him to post to Helmuth.
Apparently he stood there in miserable indecision saying nothing for a few moments. Helmuth then got up from his desk, glared at poor Taffy, seized him by the shoulders, shook him violently, took my letter from his pocket, and threw him out of the room with the warning that if he was caught in any further attempt to smuggle letters out for me it would result in his instant dismissal.
Angry as I was, I could not help feeling sorry for Taffy as he stood there with the tears running down his fat face; so I told him that it was not his fault that things had gone wrong, and woke him up.
Later
I think the fates must have decided that I was due for a little something to cheer me up, after the rotten setback I suffered this morning. Anyhow, just before Deb came to fetch me in for tea I caught one of the pike. He is not a very big chap, as they go, only a ten pounder; but I sent a message to Cook asking her to stuff and bake him for dinner, and I've told Taffy to get me up half a bottle of Moselle.
As a matter of fact, I darn' nearly missed him, as when he took the bait my mind was on very different matters. I had been trying to work out the implications of this Taffy business and decide on my next move.
I wish I knew for certain the role that Konrad played. Did he inadvertently arouse Helmuth's suspicions by specifically naming Taffy, instead of just saying: 'Please may I borrow a stamp for one of the servants?' Or was he deliberately responsible for what followed? Perhaps, though, even the unusualness of the request would be enough to set that quick brain of Helmuth's ticking over.
I don't know what the arrangements are about the staff's outgoing mail here, but presumably it goes down to the village in the carrier's cart each morning with that from upstairs, and if the servants are short of stamps they give the carrier the money to get them at the same time as they give him their letters.
Anyhow, as the servants in this part of the world live at such a slow tempo, it would be quite exceptional for any of them to have correspondence that they felt to be of such urgency that it could not wait until morning. That may have occurred to Helmuth, and caused him to ask which of them was in such a hurry to get a letter in the post overnight. Then when Konrad replied 'Taffy Morgan' Helmuth guessed the rest.
On the other hand Konrad is Helmuth's man, body and soul. He looked after him for all those years at Weylands; in fact, he came over from Czechoslovakia with him in 1933 and has been in his service ever since. So it is quite probable that he is in Helmuth's confidence about what is going on here, anyhow to some extent. If so, he probably smelt a rat directly Taffy asked for the loan of a stamp; especially if Taffy gave it away as he very likely did that he meant to go down to the village with the letter there and then. Konrad would certainly have thought that worth reporting if he is acting as Helmuth's spy, and it was easy as winking for him to do so without Taffy suspecting his intention.
I wouldn't mind betting that is what happened; and that Helmuth is using Konrad to keep him informed of any gossip that may go on below stairs which might jeopardise his secret intentions regarding myself. He would then be in a position to think up an excuse to sack anyone who seemed to be getting too inquisitive, before they found out enough to become dangerous to him. The way that servants get to know things is amazing, and Helmuth is too shrewd to neglect taking precautions against the truth leaking out through them.
Konrad would be just the man for such a job. He comes from Ruthenia, the eastern tip of Czechoslovakia that reaches out towards the Ukraine, and he is a typical Slav; big, fair and boisterous, with a hearty laugh that deceives people, until they come to know him well and find out how cunning he is below the surface. He is cruel, too, and there has never been any love lost between him and myself since the day I caught him torturing Julia's pet monkey, at Queensclere.
Helmuth tried to laugh the matter off, and said that I was exaggerating, but Julia was so mad about it that she barred Konrad the house for the rest of that holiday, and instead of continuing to live like a fighting cock with the rest of the servants he had to do the best he could for himself in the village.
One thing emerges from this catastrophe over my letter last night; it will be useless to attempt to get Taffy to take another. Helmuth scared him out of his wits, and as that was due to his having sought to evade the censorship of my mail that Helmuth has set up, his fright will crystallise a definite centre of resistance in his mind.
A hypnotist can make his subjects perform any physical feat that their bodies are capable of enduring and many mental feats which are far beyond their normal capabilities, provided he has their full and by full I mean their subconscious as well as their conscious cooperation. He can also make them do most things to which they are indifferent or even mildly antagonistic according to the depth of trance state in which he is able to plunge them. But if they are strongly opposed to doing something, either on moral grounds or through fear of the consequences, that resistance remains permanently active in their subconscious, and it is next to impossible for the hypnotist to overcome it.
So there we are. Having got Taffy just where I wanted him, it is a sad blow that I should no longer be able to make him perform the one service that is of such paramount importance to me. I may be able to use him in some other way; but I have got to think again about a means of establishing some form of lifeline by which I might haul myself to safety from the menace that, Devil impelled like the Gadarene swine of old, is now rushing upon me.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:00 | Сообщение # 16
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CHAPTER 18

Saturday, 23rd May
I have had a showdown with Helmuth. Ever since I came to Llanferdrack in the middle of March he has devoted an hour or so to visiting me between tea and dinner, except on the few occasions when he has been away on business.
Now and then we see one another at other times of the day, should we chance to meet in the gardens or the hall; but I am allowed to be up and about in my wheeled chair only between ten and twelve thirty, and between three and five o'clock, and those are the busiest hours of his day; so, should we meet during them, we rarely exchange more than a greeting.
On his evening visits he tell me of the latest problems that have arisen regarding the estate and any news he has had from mutual friends of ours, and we discuss the progress of the war and such books as either of us happens to be reading. His mind is so active and his comments so provocative of new ideas that I have always looked forward to his visits as a mental tonic even when I have felt at times that he was secretly trying to probe my reactions to things about which he would not ask me openly. That is, I looked forward to them up till a week ago; but since I became convinced of the hideous treachery that he is practising towards me I have found it difficult to tolerate his presence in my room.
To let him know what I know or at least suspect him of on a basis of sound reasoning prematurely seemed to me both pointless and stupid; so I have done my damnedest to conceal the change of my mental attitude towards him, and to continue to show the same animated interest in his sparkling discourse as I have done in the past.
But yesterday evening some devil got into me and I was seized with a sudden feeling of recklessness. He was standing in the south bay window with his back towards me, his legs apart, his broad shoulders squared and his hands thrust deep in the pockets of his plus fours. He was wearing a suit of ginger tweed, and I don't know why but country clothes always seem to accentuate his foreignness. In evening dress he looks tremendously distinguished and might easily be taken for the 13th Earl of something, but the dash of Jewish blood that he got from somewhere always comes out when he is wearing country things, and he never looks quite right in them.
As he looked out over the vista of garden, woods and mountains, which seemed more beautiful than ever softened by the evening light, he remarked with a cynical humour which showed that he was not thinking of the view: 'From the past week's communiqués about the fighting on the Kerch peninsula it is quite impossible to say who holds it now, or even to form an estimate whether the Germans or the Russians are the biggest liars.'
Instead of replying I suddenly flung at him:
'Helmuth! What the blazes d'you mean by interfering with my mail?'
For a second he remained absolutely motionless, then he whipped round with a broad grin on his face. 'So Taffy told you about last night, eh?'
I had given vent to my accumulated rancour, and it had not even occurred to me that he would assume that I could have known about his stopping my letters only through Taffy having blown the gaff to me that morning. I saw now that was all to the good, as I could have it out with him on this single issue. I need make no mention of the secret stranglehold that I knew him to have been working to secure on me for the past two months, unless it suited my book. So I snapped:
'Of course Taffy told me! He is my servant and it was his duty to do so. And you'll kindly desist from further threats to sack him, or I'll know the reason why!'
The sardonic grin remained on Helmuth's face, and his tawny eyes flickered with amusement. 'If you addressed defaulters in that tone when you were a Flight Lieutenant you must have been the terror of your Station.'
His gibe added to my wrath, and I retorted angrily: 'I'll not have you bully my servants!'
The grin suddenly disappeared, and he said in the harsh voice that now alone makes his Czech accent perceptible: 'They are not your servants. Except for your Great aunt Sarah's people, everyone here has been engaged by me. I pay them and I allocate their duties to them. If they do not give satisfaction I shall dismiss them, with or without a character, as I see fit. Also, I bully no one. I simply give my orders and take whatever steps appear necessary to ensure their being carried out.'
'The staff here are paid by the Trust,' I countered, 'and you are only its agent.'
'Why seek to split straws? At Llanferdrack, for all practical purposes, I am the Trust; and you know it.'
'On the contrary, you are no more than its representative,' I said firmly. 'The Board put you in charge here, but it can equally well remove you.'
He smiled again, and his glance held open mockery as he enquired: 'Are you thinking of asking them to do so?'
I knew that he had me there, for the time being anyway; so I reverted to my original attack. 'Even if you do regard yourself as answerable to no one here, that still does not give you the right to intercept my private correspondence.'
'I disagree about that.' With surprising suddenness his tone became quite reasonable. 'You have at least admitted yourself that I represent the interests of the Board. In my view it is against their interests, and yours, for them to see such letters as you have taken to writing lately.'
This was an admission that he had intercepted more than one; but I hedged a bit, hoping that he would commit himself further, and said: 'I have not written to the Board since I came here, and my letter last night was to Julia.'
He shrugged his broad shoulders. 'I know it. But what is the difference? If Julia received these letters of yours she would show them to Paul and he would tell the other Trustees about their contents. Besides, I do not wish Julia to be worried either. Your friends have quite enough anxieties these days without being burdened with additional ones concerning you.'
'For how long have you been stopping my letters?' I demanded.
'Since the beginning of April,' he admitted blandly.
'And what possible reason can you give as an excuse for ever having done so?'
'My dear Toby!' He looked away from me for a moment, then an expression of hypocritical pity came over his face, and he went on: 'Surely you must realise that for the past six weeks your conduct has been, well to say the least of it queer.'
'In what way?' I cut in.
'It would be distressing to go into that,' he parried. 'In any case, soon after you came here it was quite apparent to me that your injury had affected your mind.'
'Such a thing was never even hinted at by the doctors.'
'Ah, but none of them knew you as intimately as I do, Toby. Besides, the symptoms were only just beginning to show when you arrived here in March. I decided at once that if you became worse the best course I could pursue was to conceal it for as long as possible. That is why I started to open your letters; and later, to account for your not getting any replies from Julia, I invented a story about her having been ill and gone up to Mull.'
I stared at him, almost taken in by his glib explanation, as he continued: 'I have been most terribly concerned for you; but, as I had accepted the responsibility of having you under my care, I felt that it would be cowardly to off shoulder that responsibility on to others so long as there seemed any chance of your getting better. And to have let your letters reach their destination would have amounted to the same thing.'
It sounded terribly plausible but I knew damn' well that he was lying. All the same I felt that there was nothing to be gained by telling him so. That he had been holding up my mail was bound to come out sooner or later; in fact he must have known that there was a good chance of Taffy's confessing to me his failure to post my letter the previous night, giving the reason, and at the same time blurting it out that for weeks past he had been under orders to take all my letters to the office; and if I had just learned about that it would have been unnatural for me to refrain from making a protest. But to let Helmuth know yet that I believe his interference with my mail to be a move in a criminal plot of the most revolting baseness would have been to give valuable information to the enemy. So, instead, I endeavoured to get him in a cleft stick by saying:
'Since you were already under the impression that I was becoming unbalanced before you read my letters to Julia, I take it that their contents fully convinced you of it?'
He nodded.
'Then why the hell didn't you do all you could to save me from suffering those terrors that I described to her?'
'What could I do?' He spread out his thick, powerful hands in a gesture of helplessness. 'There is no way in which I can prevent your being subject to these hallucinations.'
The time was not ripe to challenge his assertion that my attacks are hallucinations; so I let that pass and cracked in on the target at which I had been aiming:
'You admit that you were fully aware of the circumstances that caused this queerness that you say you noticed in me, yet you ask what you could have done about it. You could have had me put in another room; you could have got me an electric torch; you could have had that damn' blackout curtain lengthened; you could have got me a night nurse or stayed up with me yourself; you could have made arrangements to have me moved from here!'
Then I added, with a guile that matched his own: 'I cannot understand your refusal of my requests at all, Helmuth. If I did not know so well how devoted you are to me, I should almost be tempted to think that you have become so occupied with running the estate that you have no time left to give a thought to me once you are outside this room.'
'Toby, Toby!' He shook his leonine head and looked at me reproachfully. 'Those are just the sort of ideas which first convinced me that you are no longer your old self, and suffering from a type of persecution mania. But surely you see that my hands are tied. If I agreed to any of these things that you suggest it would mean a departure from the normal routine that we arranged when you first came here, and that would be fatal.'
'Why?' I asked.
'Because it would draw the attention of the staff to the fact that, at times, your mind becomes unhinged. Don't you understand yet what it is from which I have been endeavouring to protect you? If anyone but myself is given cause to think that you have become mental the matter will be taken out of my hands. Your own letters were positively damning, and you know how servants talk. If by any channel it leaks through to the Board that you have become abnormal, and are "seeing things", they will send brain specialists down here to examine you. In your present state that could have only one result you would be put into a mental home. Even a short period in such a place might affect you for the rest of your life; and as it could not possibly be kept secret, it would have the most disastrous results on the confidence that all your future business associates would otherwise place in you.'
For a moment I found myself completely bewildered. Could he possibly be speaking the truth? Was I, after all, going out of my mind? Were the attacks really no more than figments of my imagination? Had he noticed the early symptoms of madness in me and ever since been loyally striving to prevent anyone else guessing my condition? Had I shamefully misjudged him?
I have not an atom of proof that he is really plotting against me. My whole theory was based on his interference with my mail and, his refusal of all my requests which, in my belief, would have enabled me either to evade or lessen the effect of the attacks. And he had now explained his conduct in both matters.
A little feebly I said: 'Surely you could find an excuse to have me moved to another room without arousing Deb's suspicions that I have gone crackers?'
He passed a hand wearily over his mane of prematurely white hair. 'I'm afraid not, Toby. If only there were another room that was equally suitable I would do so gladly, but as we agreed when we talked of it before, there isn't.'
'At least you could get me a torch,' I hazarded desperately.
'There are none to be had.' His voice took on an impatient note.
'Then get the blackout curtain lengthened. Please, Helmuth, please.' All the snap had gone out of me now and I found that I was pleading with him.
'No,' he said firmly. 'Deb is a shrewd young woman. If that curtain is lengthened now she will realise that you must have insisted on it, and attribute your insistence to the moon having an upsetting effect on you. After that she would need only to pick up another hint or two from your behaviour to guess the truth. Besides, the length of the curtain makes no real difference. What you think you see is nothing but the product of your own imagination, so you would believe you saw it just the same if you occupied a bedroom at the Ritz in London or a mud hut in Timbuktu. All I can do is to prevent others from suspecting your affliction for a time, and in that way give you a chance to recover from it before rumours of your condition reach the Board and bring about a danger of your being certified.'
So, on the face of it, he and I seemed to be dreading that the same grim fate might overtake me; and, if he was to be believed, he was doing his best to save me from it. For a minute or two he went on to reproach me, with what I felt to be commendable forbearance, for having written to Julia so fully about my fears, yet not having said one word of them to him.
I could only repeat that, knowing how busy he was, I had not wanted to worry him. The discussion ended by his urging me to do my utmost to keep my imagination under control; and my promising that I would not write any more letters which would, cause my friends grave anxiety and endanger my own freedom, by giving grounds for the belief that I am going mad.
Later
I am not going to keep my promise to Helmuth.
Last night, after he left me, I was fully convinced that my suspicions of him were unfounded, that I have been the victim of hallucinations, and that he was doing his best to prevent anyone knowing about my mental state so that if it proved no more than a phase I might have a chance to snap out of it without anyone being the wiser. This morning, when I wrote the last entry here, my mind was not quite clear and still partially under the strong influence that he exerts. Now, I am sure that all he said was a pack of clever lies, and am more certain than ever that he is plotting against me.
In order to excuse himself for having held up my letters, he stated his belief that my injury has affected my brain. I did not prompt him to any such theory; he produced it spontaneously entirely off his own bat. That shows which way his mind is working. He knows from my letters that I fear I may be driven insane. He would like to see me insane. So, as a further step towards his object, he tells me that he believes me to be insane already. That, so far, is his sole contribution towards helping me to preserve my sanity.
Let us assume that I have shown signs of mental derangement. What would a true friend, who noticed this and was responsible for me, do? As soon as he was certain that I really was becoming abnormal he would call in the best doctor he could get to advise about my treatment; and, in the meantime, if he realised that any special circumstances were connected with my queerness and tended to increase it, he would at once do all he could to counteract those circumstances. Helmuth has (lone neither of these things, but the exact contrary.
If he does believe me mad he is guilty, not only of denying me such help as he has it in his own power to give, but also of deliberately preventing me from sending out letters which would have led to my receiving proper medical attention. If he does not believe me mad his stopping of my letters is inexcusable, and his suggestion that I am mad a deliberate attempt to make me think that is so. Therefore, whichever way one looks at it, there can be no doubt that he is acting in accordance with a secret design flagrantly contrary to my interests.
The amazing thing is that it has taken me the best part of twenty-four hours to throw off his influence and fully reconvince myself of his enmity. Before, I was going almost entirely on suspicion, but now that I realise the true implications of our showdown I feel that he has convicted himself out of his own mouth. It is an advance of sorts, as it stresses my danger; but, now that time is so precious, those twenty-four hours were a high price to pay merely for a clearing of the mist through which I had already seen the red light glowing.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:01 | Сообщение # 17
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CHAPTER 19

Sunday, 24th May
A good break this morning. Quite unexpected and very cheering indeed, now that any further possibility of using Taffy to post a letter for me has been ruled out.
1 settled that point quite definitely while I was having my bath last night. Without the least difficulty I put Taffy under, but a moment later he began to blubber and plead with me not to make him do anything contrary to 'the Doctor's' orders. It was just as I feared; Helmuth's treatment of him on Thursday evening has set up such a strong resistance complex in his mind that it would need powers far greater than mine to overcome it; so if I forced the issue his fears would prove stronger than my influence and send him scuttling to Helmuth the moment he was out of my sight.
If I could have got him into a really deep trance I might, perhaps, have overcome his resistance, as I could then have worked on a level of his consciousness so far down as to be still unaffected by Helmuth's prohibitions. But, for one thing. I am still only an amateur hypnotist and, for another, in some types particularly in simple ones, I gather from Bramwell it is often very difficult to get down to the deep levels. Anyway, my efforts to get down to Taffy's failed entirely.
In such a case the only means of overcoming the resistance is to talk to the subject when he is fully conscious, explain the whole matter and endeavour to argue him round. If one succeeds, that is the end of the opposition, and, in my case, it would then be unnecessary to hypnotise Taffy further, as he would do as I wish without.
The snag is that Taffy is far too frightened of Helmuth, and the prospect of losing his job, for me to be able to persuade him to help me with his eyes open. He would, I think, take the risk if I could offer him a good fat wad of cash as a bonus if he is lucky, or compensation if he got the sack; but it would have to be the equivalent of several months' wages, and I have not even a fiver or the means of getting one.
Still, my failure with him last night was more than compensated for by my surprising success this morning. As soon as Deb had settled me in the garden I told her that I had got a fly in my eye, and asked her to fish it out. I had intended only a tentative attempt to test her susceptibility; but the trick worked both more swiftly and more effectively than it did with Taffy. The moment I widened my eyes and projected my will through them that her mind should empty itself and that she should become drowsy her dark eyes became quite limpid, as though they had suddenly gone sightless, and her eyelids drooped languorously.
I have never thought of her as physically attractive before. She is certainly a handsome piece, but perhaps it was the hardness of her expression, and the intense, serious manner in which she takes everything, which have put me off. But to see her strong features softened and relaxed into a sort of dreamy, yearning look came as quite a shock to me, and I suddenly realised that if only she let herself go she could be a passionate and seductive young woman.
I doubt if my mind was occupied with that thought for more than a couple of seconds, but even that was enough for her to make a partial recovery and almost snap out of it. The change in her expression gave me an instant's warning, so I swiftly concentrated again with all the power of my will; then I had only to touch her forehead lightly with my fingers and murmur 'Sleep, Deb' to have her right under.
It was only then that I recalled a passage in Dr. Bramwell's book where he states that, generally speaking, intellectual types prove much easier subjects than the less complex minds usually found among manual workers. He offers no explanation for this, but adds that he has known many cases in which people with a high standard of education have scoffed at hypnotism, yet, on agreeing to a trial, have gone into a trance almost immediately.
The relative lack of resistance in Deb compared with Taffy certainly proved his point, and I rated myself for having not taken more notice of it at the time; but Deb's surface hardness had naturally led me to assume that she would prove difficult. As it was, the unexpected success of the test caught me unprepared, as I had no letter ready to give her.
Unfortunately, too, as it is Sunday afternoon she has gone down to have tea with her friend the schoolmaster in the village.
There was no chance to get a letter written, put her in a trance again after lunch and give it to her to post before she left; and I shall not see her again until she comes in to settle me down for the night. I could put her under and send her off to the village with a letter then, but I fear it is too big a risk to take, as if Helmuth spotted her going out at that late hour he would think it strange and be almost certain to question her. So, anxious as I am to get the letter off, I feel that I must curb my impatience till tomorrow morning. If I do the trick directly we get out into the garden she can hop on her bike right away with practically no risk at all of being intercepted.
All I could do this morning was to take measures which should ensure her ready submission to me in the future. While she was still under I said:
'From now on, Deb, whenever I look straight in your face you are to meet my glance and keep your eyes fixed on mine. When I raise my right hand and point my two fingers at your eyes you will close them, and fall asleep. In your waking state you will not remember that I have hypnotised you. Now, when you wake you will remember only that you have just removed a small fly from my right eye. Wake up.'
It worked like a charm. After thirty seconds she opened her eyes; said: 'Your eye may continue to smart for a little, but don't rub it,' and she even wiped the handkerchief that she had got out to fish with for the fly, before putting it back in her pocket.
Later
I have written my letter, but this one is not to Julia. Time is getting short, and after careful thought I decided that I should do better to attempt to secure more direct action than she is really in a position to take.
If Julia were my Guardian and could give a positive order to Helmuth, I would not have hesitated for a second. But she is not, and Helmuth might take the line with her that 'in my present state' he cannot accept the responsibility for allowing her to remove me from his care.
Uncle Paul, on the other hand, is my legal Guardian, and if he says that he is going to take me away Helmuth cannot possibly refuse to let him.
The snag about this change of my plan, by which I have decided to rely on my uncle, is twofold. Firstly, I cannot discuss the whole matter with him as I could have with Julia; secondly, he is a much weaker character than she, and so, normally, more liable to be browbeaten by Helmuth. But he has got the authority, and I think I know a way by which I can force him to use it.
Unfortunately, the way I mean to play it precludes me from asking him to bring Julia with him; so that I could, as it were, 'have the best of both worlds'. As he is certain to show her my letter, she may come with him anyhow, and in some ways I shall be very glad if she does; but I should find it a bit embarrassing to say in her presence what I mean to say to him, and it would be a bit awkward for him too; so with that in view I didn't feel that I could decently ask him to make it a family party.
In my letter I said nothing at all of the Horror, about my correspondence with Julia having been suppressed, of my suspicions of Helmuth, or of wanting to leave Llanferdrack. I simply told Uncle Paul that I had recently been considering certain financial, arrangements that I intend to make immediately on attaining my majority, and that as time was now short I proposed to send instructions for the drafting of the necessary documents to the lawyers in the course of the next few days.
I added that I really ought to have thought the matter out much earlier, and apologised for the fact that my not having done so now compelled me to ask him to come to see me at such short notice. Lastly I said I thought it important that he should come down and let me have his comments on my proposals before I actually sent them off, as they would materially affect his own income.
If that does not bring him rattling down to Wales within twenty-four hours of receiving my letter, nothing will.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:02 | Сообщение # 18
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CHAPTER 20

Monday, 25th May
It is 'all Sir Garnet now', as the Victorians used to say. At least, I think so; as after I had done the trick Deb went off on her mission like a lamb.
At about a quarter past ten this morning I put the 'fluence on her and gave her my letter to Uncle Paul, with instructions that she was to set off with it on her bike at once, and that if she met anyone she knew on the way she was not to stop and talk to them, but to confine herself to a friendly greeting, and push on as if she were in a hurry. That ought to ensure that she is not deflected from her purpose, even if she happens to run into Helmuth.
I also made certain that there should be no breakdown this time owing to her hunting for a stamp for the letter before she set off. That risk gave me a nasty moment when I thought about it last night, but the solution proved simple. I took an unused two penny halfpenny out of my own collection and stuck it on the envelope. It temporarily spoils the set, but who cares! If that little stamp gets me out of this jam I'll be able to replace it with a two penny blue Mauritius this time next month, if I want to. How queer the old Queen's Head would look in the middle of a set of modern British! But by jove, I'll do that, even if it costs me a couple of thousand pounds, as a permanent memento of having got the better of my enemy.
Later
I am worried, and don't know what to think. Can Deb possibly have been fooling me, both today and yesterday? I should be tempted to think so if it were not for the fact that she almost entirely lacks a sense of humour.
The joke would certainly be on me if she realised yesterday that I was attempting to hypnotise her without knowing it, and let me think that I had succeeded for the fun of quietly watching me make an idiot of myself. But Deb is not that sort of girl; she is a very serious minded German Jewess and she simply has not got it in her. What is more, she is no actress, and I would bet my last cent that on both occasions I put her into a trance.
All the same, her behaviour is a puzzle, and I wish to goodness that I knew more about the workings of the brain of a person who has received an order while under hypnosis; but I wasn't able to gather very much from Dr. Bramwell on that.
It seemed to me that all sorts of complications might arise if I had sent either Taffy or Deb down to the village while still in a trance, so, in both cases, after having given them their instructions I woke them up. Taffy said nothing, but on waking Deb this morning she remarked: 'You won't need anything for the next hour or so, will you, as I have a job to do?'
From that I could only infer that, as a result of my order given while she was under not to tell anyone what she was about to do, her reaction on waking was that she must keep it secret even from me.
She was back by midday, as I caught a glimpse of her at her window; but I did not see her again until she came to fetch me in to wash before lunch, and I thought it a bit risky to delay our usual programme then by putting her under for a direct check on whether she had done her stuff. Naturally I was on tenterhooks to find out, but, as I was so uncertain about the drill, I thought it wiser not to ask her direct; so I said:
'Did you see anyone you knew in the village?'
'Only Mrs. Evans of the Lodge,' she replied, 'but I did not stop to speak to her.'
That sounded pretty good, so I went on cautiously: 'I suppose. the little post office shop was crowded as usual?'
'Yes,' she nodded; then she quickly contradicted herself. 'No. I'm sorry. I was thinking of something else. I really don't know, as I didn't go there.'
At that, I had to leave matters for the moment; but it is certainly very puzzling. Since I woke her out of her trance before she left here one would assume that she must have been fully conscious while in the village and that on her return she would know that she had posted a letter for me; but evidently that is not the case. Perhaps the hypnosis has the effect of isolating everything connected with certain ideas imposed on the subconscious, in an otherwise normally functioning brain. On the other hand, it is possible that as Deb was not in a trance while she was in the village the initial reason for her going there never emerged into her conscious mind, and she still has my letter in her pocket.
I shall soon know now, as my rest hour is nearly up, and at three o'clock Deb will be coming in to take me out to the garden again.

Evening
All is well. Deb posted the letter and, what is more, although she has seen Helmuth since, she said nothing to him about it.
I put her under directly she came to collect me this afternoon, and it now seems clear that an order given to anyone under hypnosis does create a kind of blank spot in their conscious mind. Unless circumstances over which they have no control prevent them, they carry out the order at the appropriate time without knowing why they are doing so and as soon as the thing is done they forget it. At least, that is what appears to have happened in this case.
While I had Deb under it occurred to me that it would be interesting, and perhaps useful, to find out a bit more about her. So I made her wheel me out to the summerhouse, where I knew that we should be safe from interruption, then told her to sit down, relax and tell me about herself.
There ensued the most extraordinary conversation in which I have ever participated. Deb did most of the talking, while I just put in a question now and then or helped her with a few words when she seemed to find difficulty in expressing her thoughts. I told her to talk in German, as I thought that would be easier for her, and for the best part of two hours she spoke in a monotonous, toneless voice, revealing her inmost thoughts and beliefs.
I must confess that I felt rather a cad prying into her secrets by such unscrupulous means; but this taking to pieces of a human being proved absolutely fascinating, and in my present situation I feel fully justified in taking any steps that may strengthen my hand against Helmuth.
The first thing that emerged is that she is in love with him. Apparently he made a play for her soon after she arrived here and she fell for him right away. She is thirty, and has never cared much for young men. Helmuth is forty-five and a fine specimen of manhood; besides which his outsize brain gives him an additional attraction for any woman as intellectually inclined as Deb.
She was seduced when she was seventeen by a medical student who was a lodger in her father's house, and has had a number of affairs since; she is by no means the prude that her thin-lipped, hard little face led me to believe. In fact, the glimpse that I caught of this other side to her when I asked her to fish the fly out of my eye was truly revealing. I did not go into the details of the matter, but I am sure that Helmuth met with little trouble in making her his mistress.
However, for the past few weeks the affaire had not been going at all well. Helmuth has been neglecting her, and it is for that reason she has been encouraging Owen Gruffydd, the village schoolmaster. It struck me as pathetic that she should attempt to make Helmuth jealous, and particularly of anyone like that.
Helmuth's sex life is in the true Weylands tradition, and if she told him outright that she was thinking of going to bed with Gruffydd he would probably say: 'Why not? I hope you enjoy yourself.' As it is I doubt if her poor little ruse has even registered with him. If it has I can imagine him chuckling to himself at the thought of anyone attempting to set up a small-time teacher as his rival. Helmuth evidently felt like a little amusement, but is now tired of her, and nothing she can do will get him back unless he feels the urge again, and then he is capable of taking her off a better man than Gruffydd, whether she likes it or not.
Gruffydd seems to be a respectable type, and he wants her to marry him. I can understand that, as although Deb might look pretty small game in Bond Street she must appear quite a glamour girl to anyone who lives down here in the back of beyond. She does not love him, but they have tastes in common and the marriage would give her security; so she is toying with the idea. The trouble is that she is still in love with Helmuth and determined to get him back if she can although she knows that the odds are all against it leading to anything permanent but, meanwhile, Gruffydd is pressing her for an answer; and, as his 'old Mum' is fighting tooth and nail against his marrying a Jewess, Deb may lose him altogether unless she grabs him while he is all steamed up about her. So she is in a bit of a jam at the moment.
I learned quite a lot about her early life and it turns out that she is really a Russian, although she was born in Germany. Her family were Russian Jews living in Kiev until 1905. That was the year of the abortive revolution, and as many of the nihilists who staged it were Jews it was followed by an exceptionally fierce pogrom.
In those days it was quite an ordinary occurrence for a sotnia of Cossacks to gallop their ponies into a ghetto, apply their knouts lustily to the backs of anyone who came in their way, and loot a few of the richer houses. It was done by order and just the simple Czarist way of keeping the Children of Israel from getting above themselves. But this time the authorities had got really angry and were marching hundreds of these wretched people off to Siberia; so Deb's family decided to get out while the going was good, and the whole issue migrated to Leipzic. She was born seven years later.
In the first great war most of her uncles and cousins fought for Germany; but when the real Russian revolution came in 1917 they all deserted, or got themselves out of the army, as soon as they could, and went back to Russia to join the Bolsheviks. Deb's father seems to have been both cleverer and better educated than the rest of his clan. In the dozen years he had lived in Germany he had taken several degrees, and by the outbreak of the 1914 war he was already a junior professor at Leipzic University. So he and. his wife decided to remain and bring up their children as good Germans.
Despite Germany 's defeat, and the chaos and hunger that succeeded it, between 1918 and 1933 the Kain family prospered. When Hitler came to power the old boy was a leading light on his subject and much revered by his colleagues; his eldest son was a doctor, his second son reading for the law, two daughters were married, while Deb, who was then twenty-one, was getting on well with her training as a professional nurse, and engaged to a bright young journalist.
From 1930 on, while the Nazi boys were getting control of first one thing, then another, the Kains suffered a certain amount of unpleasantness, although nothing compared with what the old folks had known during their youth in Russia. But after Hitler became Chancellor things began to happen.
It was the usual sordid and horrifying story, beginning with ostracisation and ending with violence. The old professor died of a heart attack, after having had his trousers pulled off and being chased ignominiously down the street by a pack of young hooligans. A Nazi truncheon smashed the nose and pincenez of the doctor brother, blinding him in one eye; but all the same he was frogmarched along the gutters for a quarter of a mile before they flung him into a prison van, and he finally disappeared, presumably to a concentration camp.
Within a few months the whole family were dead, in prison or in hiding. Deb appears to have been the only lucky one, if you can call it lucky to survive seeing your fiancé caught in a bierhalle, hustled into a corner and used as a target for several hundred bottles, while your own arms are held behind you and you are forced to look on. Anyway, she got away to England.
I asked her how she managed it and she replied: 'The Party got me out.'
At that I was a little mystified, as we had been talking of the Germany of 1933, and in that connection, to me, 'The Party' signified the Nazis. But a brief question to her soon cleared the mystery up. Her two brothers and her fiancé were all members of the 'Communist' Party, and it was the Moscow run Communist Underground that got her by devious means across the German frontier.
She had been provided with a letter to a Miss Smith, who runs a private nursing home, and a nursing service for outpatients, at Hampstead. On reaching London she presented her letter and was taken on. For the first two years she worked in the home, until she had completed her training; then she was put on the regular roster for small outside jobs alternating with periods of duty in the home. Now she is one of the senior Sisters and either has charge of a floor in the home when in London or goes out to jobs such as this, where the pay and responsibility are high.
I remarked that while the pay might be good here my case was a routine one involving no danger to life, so there was little responsibility attached to it; and added that, since she had such cause to hate the Nazis, I found it surprising that she had not seized the opportunity to help in the fight against them, by volunteering for active service with one of the military organisations on the outbreak of war.
Her reply came as tonelessly as everything else she had said, but it positively made me blink. She said: 'I could not do that because if I had I should have been making a contribution to the British war effort.'
I pondered that one for a moment, then I recalled the fact that, although she was a Jewess and an anti Nazi, she had been brought up as a German, so I hazarded: 'I suppose you still have pleasant memories of your childhood in Germany, and so have a sentimental reluctance to see the Germans defeated?'
'No,' came the answer. 'I have long outgrown all such stupid sentimentality, and I am an Internationalist. I feel no obligation to either country.'
Again I remained silent for a bit, to think that one over. In the early years of this war I had seen enough to know that among her race her attitude could not be uncommon. The coast resorts in south-western England and towns like Maidenhead were packed with Jews. No doubt some of them are doing valuable war work, but how is it there is always such a high proportion of Jews in the 'safe' places where there is still good food and soft living to be had?
I met a few Jews in the R.A.F., and they weren't a bit like that; so I think there is good reason to believe that the British Jews are pulling their weight; but I am sure that does not go for the majority of the Jewish refugees to whom we have given asylum. After all, we are fighting their battle, so one would have thought that they would be only too willing to accept a full share of our dangers, privations and discomforts; but many of them are not.
I said to Deb: 'If you had remained in Germany I suppose it is a hundred to one that you would have died like your sisters from ill treatment and starvation in a Nazi concentration camp. As it was you succeeded in getting to England, where for the best part of ten years you have had the full protection of British justice, and been free to live where you chose and earn your living in any way you like, with absolute security from any form of discrimination, oppression or persecution. Don't you really feel that you owe this country something for that; and that instead of taking cushy jobs like this you ought to have offered your services when the first call went out for nurses for the forces?'
'I could not,' she said. 'I was under orders not to do so.'
'Whose orders?'
'The orders of the Party. The Soviet Union had entered into an alliance with Germany. It was not for me to question the wisdom of Comrade Stalin and the Politbureau. The order came to us all that we must do nothing to aid Britain in her war against Germany.'
I stared at the expressionless face in front of me. I suppose I should have realised a few minutes earlier that, if Deb's brothers and fiancé had been active Communists and 'the Party' had smuggled her out of Germany, the odds were that she was a member of it, too. But I hadn't; and, as far as I knew, I had never met a real dyed in the wool Red who owned a Party ticket before.
'I see,' I said slowly. 'But how about your own feelings? I can understand your having felt a certain loyalty to the Comrades who saved you from the Nazis, but doesn't the ten years of security that we gave you mean anything to you at all?'
'I had to live somewhere,' she replied. 'I would have gone to Russia if I had been allowed to, but I was ordered to come here. The British Government is Capitalist and Imperialist; it is the keystone of resistance to world rule by the Proletariat, and more Comrades were needed to work for its overthrow.'
At that, I began to wonder if I ought not to do something about Comrade Deborah Kain, and try to find a way to tip off our security people that she is one of the secret enemies in our midst. But on second thoughts I realised that it would be futile. The British Union, as the Fascist Party calls itself, has been banned, and its leaders live on such fat as is left in the land on the Isle of Man; but not the Communists. They are our gallant allies and are still permitted to share our dangers and ferment strikes, when and where they like. This is a free country even if the Home Office is run by a collection of lunatics who are incapable of understanding that Fascism and Communism differ only in being two sides of the same penny and Deb is legally just as much entitled to her opinion as I am, even if she would like to kill the King and have Churchill thrown into a concentration camp.
Still, on the off chance that some day somebody at the top may see the red light, and the information then prove useful, I asked her: 'From whom do you receive your orders?'
'From Miss Smith,' came her reply.
'Who gives her hers?'
'I don't know.'
As I expected, they are still working on the old cell system. But what a clever racket. An expensive nursing organisation must get lots of calls from important people who have had operations or gone sick. Bright girls like Deb can be sent out to look after them. No one suspects a trained nurse; papers are left about and telephone calls made in their presence. The Reds must pick up quite a lot of useful information on the way the war is going, and the industrial situation, like that.
'Are all the nurses in your organisation Party Comrades?' I enquired.
'Oh, no; at least I don't think so. Owing to the war there is a great shortage of private nurses, so in these days Miss Smith takes on anyone she can get.'
From that it appears that I have been honoured. No doubt Miss 'Smith' decided that as I am potentially a great industrial magnate it would be worth sending one of her ewe lambs to look after me; but if she hopes to pick up anything "worth while about the Jugg aircraft plants I fear she is going to be disappointed.
However, as a matter of interest I asked Deb if she had learned anything worth reporting since she had been in Wales.
'Only about Owen Gruffydd,' she said. 'He is Labour and wants to stand for Parliament after the war. He is very Left and has the right ideas already. If I marry him I am sure that I could make something of him. The fact that he had joined the Party would be kept secret; and it is part of the plan that we should get as many Comrades as possible elected under the Labour ticket. Besides, if he got in I should meet a lot of his fellow members. I took out naturalisation papers in 1938, so I am already a British subject, and I could work on them to get me nominated by the Labour Central Office as their candidate for another constituency. I am quite as intelligent as most of the men I have met, and I am sure I could get myself elected, if only I were given a chance as the official Labour candidate in a good industrial area.'
That was the end of our conversation. I had always thought Deb to be a hard, capable, superficially intelligent little go getter, but I was far from realising the height of her ambitions or the depths of her perfidy. This last revelation took me so aback that I could think of nothing else to ask her, so after a few moments I told her to forget all she had said, and woke her from her trance.
Then I closed my own eyes, in order to avoid looking at her, and said I felt like a nap. But I didn't go to sleep. I sat there feeling shattered and sick just as though I had found a toad in my bed.

 
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CHAPTER 21

Tuesday, 26th May
I had a fright last night a very nasty fright. For the past few days the weather has been patchy, with mostly bright, sunny mornings, then getting overcast in the afternoons; and on both Sunday and Monday evenings we had showers of rain. In consequence, although there was a new moon on Saturday, cloudy skies saved me from seeing its light until last night.
I would not have seen it then but for the fact that I had lobster for dinner. I was not, thank God, woken by my subconscious, shrilling a warning to me that the Horror was approaching, but by an attack of indigestion, which aroused me into sudden wakefulness about one o'clock.
In the old days I used to be able to eat anything with impunity, but since my crash ruled out all exercise except the little I get from swinging a pair of Indian clubs for a quarter of an hour every morning my digestion is not what it was. I suppose I ought to be more careful what I eat, but I never seem to think about it till the damage is done. Anyhow, the lobster woke me and there was that damnable band of moonlight on the floor.
It is three weeks now since I have seen it, and it gave me a frightful shock. It has been said truly enough that 'time is the great healer', and this long immunity from attack had certainly healed, or at least dulled, the awful impression that the visitations of the Thing made on my mind. Seeing that broad strip of moonlight again, with the two sinister black bars across it made by the shadow of the piers between the windows, had the same effect upon me as if someone had suddenly ripped the bandages from a hideous wound I had received some time ago, exposing it again all raw and bleeding.
But I am glad now that lobster chanced to be the main dish last night and that I ate too much of it. In spite of my having told myself repeatedly that time was slipping away, and that I must not let myself be lulled into a false sense of security during the dark period of the moon, that is just what I have done. Not altogether, perhaps, as the fate that menaces me has never been far from my thoughts, but I feel now that I ought to have made more strenuous efforts either to secure help or to escape from Llanferdrack. What other line I could have tried that I have not yet attempted I still cannot think; but there it is. I cannot help cursing myself now for the time I have given to fruitless speculations on this and that, instead of concentrating entirely on the all important problem of saving myself.
Last night was a blessed warning, arousing me anew to my danger as sharply as the sounding of an air raid siren, and I am wondering now if the lobster for dinner with my resulting indigestion was, after all, pure chance. Providence is said to work in strange ways, and, although I haven't mentioned it in this journal,, since early this month I have been praying for protection.
Until then I hadn't said a prayer since old Nanny Trotter left, when I went to Weylands. She taught me my prayers and always made me say them, however tired I was; but I don't think that any child prays from choice, and I was as pleased to stop praying as I was to cease from washing my neck, when other boys at Weylands told me that the first was 'not done' and the second optional.
Even when I was a fighter pilot I never called on God to help me. In those days I was fully convinced that it was a calm head, a clear eye and a steady hand that did the trick. It was you or the Jerry and the best man won, with no darn' nonsense about Divine intervention. At least, that was how I saw it then.
But, once I had argued it out with myself to the conclusion that the Thing in the courtyard is, and can only be, a creature of the Devil, it seemed logical to fall back on God. In view of my past neglect of Him I didn't feel that I was entitled to hope for very much, but the Christian teaching is that His mercy is infinite; so night and morning, and sometimes at odd periods of the day, I began to pray.
At first I felt very self conscious and awkward about it; particularly as I could not go down on my knees, and to pray sitting in my chair or lying on my back in bed seemed disrespectful; but after a bit I decided that if God was taking any notice of me at all He wouldn't let that make any difference, seeing how things are with me. So, although it may sound a bit farfetched, it isn't really at all improbable that Cook may have been guided to her choice of giving us lobster for dinner last night in response to my prayers for guidance and protection.
I don't quite know why, but I am inclined to believe that God may giant us guidance and warnings but expects us to fight our own battles and protect ourselves; except, perhaps, in dire extremity when the dice are weighted too heavily against us. Anyhow, having seen the red light, whether it was a Heaven-sent one or not, I made up my mind early this morning that I must take immediate action.
My letter to Uncle Paul was posted only yesterday. It should be in London this morning, but there is no afternoon delivery at Queensclere, so even if it is now on its way down into Kent he won't get it till tomorrow. When he does get it I think he will come here as soon as he can, but Thursday is the earliest that I can reasonably expect him; and if he has engagements that he feels he cannot break he may not arrive till the weekend. Looking at the matter from his point of view, he would be quite justified in feeling that I could hardly be in such an almighty hurry to get the new financial schemes I mentioned off to the lawyers without giving him a few days' grace.
On the other side of the picture the moon will be full again on Saturday the 30th; but my danger period starts well before that. Last time the attacks occurred nightly from the 30th April to the 4th of May, with a blank only on the 2nd, when the moon was actually full; but that was because it was a night of heavy cloud and the moon never came through. So, judging by the previous bout, I'll be in danger from Thursday night on. But if the nights remain clear the attacks may start before that perhaps on Wednesday, or even tonight.
I ought to have worked all this out before, or anyway yesterday when I was so cockahoop at having got my letter off to Uncle Paul. Then, I more or less counted on his jumping into a train on Wednesday; or, anyhow, getting here on Thursday. But I feel sure now that there must be some subtle influence at work which has obscured my judgment in such matters and made me over sanguine about the success of my plans.
My fright last night has entirely dissipated the feeling of temporary security that seems to have accumulated like fleecy clouds of cotton wool round my brain. I realise now that it would be crazy to count on Uncle Paul turning up before the trouble starts again. He may or he may not; but I am not going to stay and chance it. I am going to get out tonight, or at least have a damn' good try.
If I can hypnotise Deb to a degree at which she will post a letter for me and remember nothing about it afterwards, and send her into a trance deep enough for her to reveal her dirty little schemes against poor old Britain, I see no reason why I should not make her come and fetch me in my chair in the middle of the night and wheel me out of the house.
Once outside, Comrade Kain can damn' well keep on wheeling me along the King's highway; and if round about dawn she drops with fatigue it won't cause me any pain and grief at all. In fact I rather like the idea that this earnest little disciple of Papa Marx and Uncle Lenin should have to go to bed for a week, to recover from the effort of saving Flight Lieutenant Sir Toby Jugg, D.F.C., R.A.F.V.R., from the Devil.
Later
This journal has been a good friend to me. When I made the first entries in an old exercise book my nerves were stretched to breaking point, and forcing myself to make a logical analysis of my thoughts did a lot to keep me sane. Since then, writing it, besides providing what may yet prove a valuable record of events here, has whiled away many an hour of my dreary invalid existence. But I hope that this will be my last entry in it. All is set fair for tonight. Deb has her 'Sealed Orders' (not to be opened until 0045 hours 27.5.42). That is actually what it comes to, as my instructions, verbally issued this afternoon, are sealed up in her subconscious, which will not release them to her conscious mind until a quarter to one in the morning.
Even Helmuth keeps fairly early hours here in the country. He usually goes up to bed about eleven o'clock, so by one I can count on the coast being clear. As Deb will have to get up and dress it is unlikely that she will come for me till a bit after one, and it will take another twenty minutes or so for her to get me dressed. Usually Taffy does that, but. with my help Deb will manage somehow. Although I cannot stand, even for a moment, the strength of my arms is fortunately so great that I can support my dead weight by clinging to one of the posts of this big four poster bed, and if Deb holds my chair steady I'll be able to heave myself off the bed into it. So I plan to make my breakout about half past one in the morning, which should give me six and a half hours clear before my escape is discovered.
With my fright last night still vivid in my mind, it occurred to me that I would ordinarily have to lie here in the dark between ten o'clock and one, and that if there was a moon again the Thing might seize this last chance to attack me; so I put my blessed gift to good use again when Deb came in to settle me down. Having completed the usual ritual, she was just about to pick up my Aladdin lamp and carry it off with her, but I caught her eye, put her under, and said:
'Leave the lamp where it is, Deb. You may go now, and you will not wake until you have turned the angle of the corridor. When you wake you will have forgotten that you have left the lamp burning here.'
As she reached the door I called her back, on the sudden thought that it might be as well to do a final checkup. I made her repeat the instructions about tonight and she had the whole thing clear; so it is now only a matter of killing time until one o'clock.
That is why I am making this final entry. I am in much more of a flap than I ever was before going out on an operational sortie, and this is the best means I can think of to occupy my mind. My idea of making her leave the lamp is therefore now proving a double blessing, as I have never before been able to read or write after ten o'clock.
After Deb had gone I said prayers for the success of my venture, but one can't keep on praying for very long; at least, I can't, as I find that I start to repeat myself, which begins to make it monotonous and seems rather pointless. However, I had a new line tonight, in additional supplications that all should go well with my escape.
It suddenly struck me that it was soon after I first started to pray that I remembered Squadron Leader Cooper telling me that I had hypnotic eyes; and it was that which led to my present prospect of getting the better of Helmuth. I think now that memory must have come to me as a direct answer to prayer, and that, seeing my utter helplessness, God has granted me the swift development of this strange power for my defence against the machinations of the Devil.
It is certainly little short of miraculous that within a few days I should have acquired such an ascendancy over Deb as to make her reveal to me her most jealously guarded secrets. She has never disguised the fact that her sympathies are with the Left, but that is a very different matter from admitting that she is a Communist agent actively working against Britain.
The idea that a foreigner like Deb is eligible to become a Member of Parliament, and actually laying long term plans to do so, positively horrifies me. Can we do nothing to prevent such a monstrous perversion in the representation of the British people? Is Party backing, superficial intelligence and a glib tongue really all that is required, irrespective of race or creed, to gain a place in that august assembly where Walpole and Chatham, the younger Pitt, Wellington, Joe Chamberlain, and now Churchill have thundered forth the tale of Britain's defiance, courage and integrity?
I suppose it is. If Deb's husband was already a Labour member, and the people who run the Labour Party Office were unaware that she was secretly a Communist, they might well agree to her nomination as a Labour candidate.
Gruffydd won't stand much chance of getting in if the country sends back the Conservatives at the next election with a large majority; but it would not surprise me at all if, after the war, there is a big landslide towards Labour. In any case, now that Liberal representation is so small, Labour is H.M.'s Opposition, and the swing of the pendulum is bound to bring them in within the next ten years; so Deb might easily get a seat by the time she is forty-five. And by then how many other Communists will there be who have infiltrated into the House on a Labour ticket?
What is the answer to that sort of thing? One cannot prevent British Communists from using the Labour Party as a stalking horse, and we don't want, to close the doors against foreigners settling here. Neither, shades of Disraeli, do we want to discriminate against our own Jews. Incidentally, his family had been resident in London for nearly a hundred years before he first went to sit at Westminster. But the laws governing the qualifications for election to Parliament were made in a different age, and I think they need bringing up to date. At least we could check this infiltration of foreigners into the House by passing a law that no man or woman whose parents were not British born should be eligible to become an M.P. And perhaps even more important to prevent their being appointed to high executive posts under the Government, make a minimum residence of twenty-five years in Great Britain an essential requirement to secure nationalisation.
Is that reactionary? I don't think so. 'Reactionary' is just the parrot cry howled at anyone these days who has the courage to think and act as did our forefathers who made the Empire.
Of course, if such a law was passed the joke would be on me, because my mother was born an American, so I should not be eligible for Parliament myself. But I would willingly surrender my present right to stand if it helped to ensure that Britain should continue to be ruled by the British.
Thank God it is just on one o'clock. Letting off all this hot air has filled in the time nicely. Deb should be here any minute now.
Later
It is two o'clock and Deb has not come. What the hell can have gone wrong? Perhaps an order given to subjects under hypnosis is not enough to rouse them from a natural sleep. I ought to have thought of that and ordered her to remain awake. She may come yet, but I doubt it. Anyhow, thank God I've got the lamp. I've turned it down a bit to economise the oil, so with luck it should last me till the moon has set.
 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:03 | Сообщение # 20
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CHAPTER 22

Wednesday, 27th May
Deb never turned up, and there was a bit of a contretemps this morning. When she came into my room she was naturally not in a trance state and she saw the lamp still on my bedside table. I imagine Helmuth must have more or less threatened to flay her alive if he ever found out that she had failed to remove it, as she went into a frightful flap.
I managed to laugh the matter off and she thinks that she forgot it through a normal lapse of memory; but she remarked rather sinisterly: 'I can't think what came over me last night.'
Later, in the garden, I put her under, and got the low down on why she had failed to carry out my orders.
It appears that after she had tucked me up she decided that the time had come for her to have a showdown with Helmuth, so she went along to his study. With the idea of making him jealous she told him that she didn't care for him any more and was going to get engaged to Owen Gruffydd.
Helmuth's reaction to that was just what I could have told her it would be. After half an hour’s talk over a couple of glasses of port he took her along to her room and seduced her afresh. She, poor mutt, imagines that she has pulled off her big trick and won him back to her because he could not bear the thought of losing her to another man. But I'd bet my bottom dollar that the real setup is that Helmuth does not really give a damn for her; it simply provided him with a little cynical amusement, and flattered his sense Of power, to dispose of Gruffydd with a snap of his fingers, and make her his mistress again in spite of the fact that she had told him that she now loved someone else.
It would be interesting to see what happens during the next few weeks, if I were going to remain here but I hope to Heaven that I'm not. My forecast would be that Helmuth would derive a lot of fun from proceeding to neglect her again until she went back to Gruffydd; perhaps he would even let her get engaged, then he would seduce her once more, and so on, until the wretched woman became half crazy with misery and despair. As it is I hope to make my exit tonight, and so break up the whole party.
To continue about last night. At a quarter to one Deb's mind clicked over and she suddenly realised that she had to come and get me out of the house, so she got out of bed and started to dress. Unfortunately Helmuth was still there, and at first he could not make out what the devil had got into her, as she flatly refused either to answer his questions or obey him when he told her to come back to bed, but simply went on dressing without uttering a word. Then he jumped to the conclusion that she must have dropped off to sleep and was sleepwalking.
As far as I can make out, he took her by the shoulders, imposed his will upon her and, his hypnotic powers being stronger than mine, woke her up. Luckily for me she accepted the explanation that she had been sleepwalking, although she has never known herself do such a thing before, and immediately he brought her out of her trance she naturally lost all memory of the orders I had given her. So things might have turned out worse, as it seems that neither of them suspect the real reason for her apparently strange behaviour.
Unless I am entirely wrong in my assessment of Helmuth's psychology, I don't think that he will spend the night with her again until he can get a fresh kick out of once more believing himself to have brought her to heel against her will. I don't think, either, that she is such a fool as to betray her own weakness by asking him to do so as early as tonight, and, even if she does, I can see him beginning the process of twisting her tail by making some excuse to refuse her.
So I think the odds are all against my being held up by the same sort of hitch two nights running, and while I and Deb under I laid on the operation again for 0045 hours on the 28th May, 1942.
Thursday, 28th May
A bitter disappointment. Everything went according to plan. Deb arrived and got me dressed. With her help I struggled into my chair. She wheeled me down the passage and across the hall to the front door; then she left me sitting there for a moment while she went forward to unlock it. As the door swung open Helmuth's voice came from the stairs behind me:
'Good evening, Toby. Or should I say good morning?'
My heart missed a beat. There came the sound of his footfalls on the parquet, and he went on in a sneering tone:
'You must love the moon a great deal not to be able to resist the temptation of going out into the garden to see her. But it is not good for you to be up at this time of night. Perhaps, though, I can arrange to have your blackout curtain shortened, so that you can see a little more moonlight from your bed.'
There was nothing to say. I sat there dumb with misery; but the threat made me break out in a slight sweat.
Meanwhile, Deb had propped open the front door and turned back towards me. It was clear from her wide eyes and blank expression that she had neither seen nor heard Helmuth, and she stepped up to my chair with the obvious intention of wheeling me out of the house.
He was beside me by that time, and I saw that his eyes were cold with fury. Suddenly he raised his open hand and struck her with it hard across the face.
'Stop that!' I yelled. "The shock may kill her! She's in a trance!'
Deb gave a whimpering cry; her eyes seemed to start from her head and she staggered back. For a moment she stood with one hand on her heart, gasping and swaying drunkenly, then she sagged at the knees and fell full length on the floor.
Ignoring her, Helmuth swung on me. 'So that's the game you've been playing, you young fiend!'
'Never mind me!' I snapped. 'You look after your girlfriend, or you'll have a corpse on your hands.'
He continued to mouth at me furiously. 'I suspected as much last night; but I simply could not believe it. Who the hell taught you how to hypnotise people?'
'Is it likely that I'd tell you?*
'I will make you!' He grabbed my shoulder and began to shake me.
But in that he made a stupid blunder. I am much stronger in the arms than he is. I grabbed his wrist, pulled it down against my stomach and twisted, at the same time throwing my weight forward on to it. He was jerked round and forced right over sideways. His mouth fell open and there was a gleam of fear in his tawny eyes as I said:
'I'll tell you nothing.' Then I flung him from me, adding: 'Now for God's sake, try to revive that woman.'
Almost snarling with rage, he turned, grasped Deb under the armpits, heaved her into a nearby chair, and forced her head down between her knees. After a minute or so she began to groan. Then she gave a shudder, looked up at us, and muttered with a puzzled frown: 'Was machen wirhier?'
'You little fool!' Helmuth rasped at her in German. 'You allowed him to hypnotise you; and with your help he nearly got away. Get along to your room. I'll come and talk to you presently.'
Deb stared at me, her black eyes distended with surprise and anger. She was about to say something, but Helmuth cut her short. Grabbing her by the arm, he pulled her to her feet and gave her a swift push in the direction of our corridor. Suddenly bursting into a passion of tears, she staggered away across the hall.
He waited until she had disappeared, then slammed the front, door and turned on me. 'Now, Toby; I've had enough of your nonsense for one night. I'm going to wheel you back to your room and put you to bed.'
'Oh, no, you don't,' I said, as a vision of the Horror doing its devil dance on the band of moonlight flashed into my mind. 'I prefer to spend the night here.'
'You can't do that,' he replied, and I felt my will weaken as his glance held mine.
With an effort I pulled my eyes away from his, concentrated on looking at my own knees and muttered: 'I'm damn' well going to. If you lay a hand on me I swear I'll strangle you.'
The threat gave him pause. For over a minute there continued an absolute and highly pregnant silence, while our wills fought without our glances meeting. Then he broke off the engagement, turned abruptly, and marched angrily away from me.
As the sound of his footsteps receded I sighed with relief. I thought I had won that round, and that he had gone off to blackguard the wretched Deb. But he hadn't. He had gone to rouse Konrad, his Ruthenian manservant.
Bitter disappointment at my failure to escape, and excitement over my scene with Helmuth, did not make me feel a bit like sleep at the moment. But he had left all the lights on in the hall, and twenty minutes or so after he had taken himself off I was vaguely wondering if I would be able to get any sleep at all in their glare, when I heard footsteps returning.
Evidently Helmuth had given his man instructions beforehand; neither of them said a word, and they ran at me simultaneously. The attack came from my immediate rear, so I could make no preparations to meet it. They seized the chair rail behind my shoulders, swung me round, and rushed me across the hall. I tried to grab, first a table, next a doorknob, then some window curtains. But they were too quick for me. Before I could get a firm grasp on anything they had raced me down the corridor back to my room.
There, a prolonged scuffle took place, while I hampered their efforts to undress me by every means in my power. But the two of them, together, were able to break every hold that I could get on them or my clothes, and at last they succeeded in getting me into bed. By then all three of us were scratched, bruised, weary and breathless with cursing. Still panting from his exertions, Helmuth picked up the lamp and, without another word, they left me.
However, my fight for time was not in vain. It had been just after half past one when Helmuth caught Deb and me in the hall. His angry exchanges with me, getting her out of her faint, going to find Konrad, waiting until he had pulled on some clothes and then returning with him, had occupied half an hour; and the struggle I put up when they undressed me had accounted for a further three-quarter. So by the time they slammed the door behind them and left me in the dark it was getting on for three in the morning; and the moon had gone down behind the ruins of the old Castle.
I was still much too excited to think of going to sleep; and, disappointed as I was at the failure of my plan, I knew worrying about that was futile, so I tried to concentrate on the future and figure out what chances remained of making any new moves.
Tonight the moon will be within two nights of full: so, unless the sky is overcast, I shall be really up against it. Think as I would I could find only three lines of thought which shed faint rays of light in the blackness of the general picture.
Firstly, Uncle Paul should have had my letter yesterday, Wednesday, morning; so it seemed a possibility that he might arrive here this afternoon. But I knew it was more likely that he would not come down until the weekend, so, fortunately, as it has turned out, I did not put too much hope in that.
Secondly, there was Deb. I realised that since she now knew I had been hypnotising her, that was bound to set up a strong resistance in the future. But I had gained such a much greater degree of dominance over her subconscious than I ever did over Taffy's that I hoped I might still be able to put her into a trance and make some use of her. I counted it a certainty that Helmuth would take adequate precautions against her helping me in another attempt to escape probably by locking my door each night and keeping the key himself but I thought that I might get her to send off telegrams to Julia and Uncle Paul, saying that I was ill and urging them to come at once; and also to get hold of a torch for me somehow, or smuggle me in some candles, so that I could counter the moonlight tonight.
Thirdly, I decided that as a second string it would be well worth while to have another go at Taffy. I regarded it as unlikely that I should be able to overcome his resistance to taking messages, and that even if I could he would probably be subject to some form of subconscious reaction which would result in his giving my telegrams to Helmuth; so it would be better not to attempt that. But it seemed possible that I might succeed in using him to procure me a torch or candles.
I was still turning over such projects in my mind when I dropped off to sleep; but, alas, nearly all those hopes have since been disappointed.
Taffy called me as usual and began the morning routine, but Deb did not put in an appearance: so, after a bit, I asked him as casually as I could what had become of her.
His fat face flushed and he looked sheepishly away from me as he replied: 'She'll not be coming to you any more, Sir Toby. It is packing her trunk she is, now. For the Doctor has sacked her this very day, whatever.'
That was bad news and, in view of it, I thought I had better get to work on Taffy without delay, so I told him to look at me; but he shook his head and muttered: 'Come you, Sir Toby, don't ask me that. It is the evil eye you have, as the Doctor was telling me, himself, but ten minutes since.'
'What nonsense!' I exclaimed, and I managed to raise a laugh of sorts. 'You must have misunderstood him; or more probably he was pulling your leg.'
'No indeed, Sir Toby,' he replied resentfully. 'It is the truth he was telling; and myself has been a victim to your wickedness. It was not right in you to give me that letter and me knowing nothing of it. The look in your eyes is uncanny, right enough, and the Doctor has warned me not to look at you. I would be glad if I could now go from here to my brother Davey's in Cardiff. Indeed, go I would this very day, if I were skilled in the engineering, as he is. But the fees at the technical school are high for poor people; so it is stay here I must till I have more money put by.'
I think that was the longest speech I have ever heard Taffy make, and after I had got over my first feeling of anger I was glad that he had blown off steam, as it told me where I stood. Helmuth had sacked Deb, and aroused Taffy's superstitious fears as an impregnable barrier against my hypnotising him. That put paid to any hope of getting telegrams despatched, or securing a light for tonight, through either of them.
Controlling my annoyance as well as I could, I told Taffy that the Doctor got queer ideas at times, and that no doubt his strange assertions about me this morning were to be attributed to the fact that we had had a disagreement the previous night. I added that he had no cause whatever to be frightened of me, and that in the long run he would find it paid much better to carry out my wishes than the Doctor's, particularly if he wanted to be an engineer, as I could easily get him free training in one of the Jugg factories.
His expression became a little less stolid at that, and he could not resist stealing a quick glance at me to see if I meant it; but he is still as nervous as a cat and it would obviously be futile to try to tempt him with any definite proposition on those lines at the moment.
Having brought me my breakfast tray, Taffy left me; and soon afterwards Helmuth came in. I gave him no greeting and throughout the interview did nothing to disguise the feelings of distrust and aversion with which I have now come to regard him. I said very little, so he did most of the talking, and somewhat to my surprise after last night, he continues to maintain the attitude of a fond Guardian who is doing his best for a troublesome ward in very difficult circumstances. How he reconciles that with his actions, and some of the remarks he made, I can't think, but that is certainly the impression he endeavoured to give.
He opened up by saying that he really could not allow me any opportunity to repeat the disgraceful scene that I had made the previous night, and had been forced to take certain precautions against my doing so.
In the first place he had sacked Deb, which was most inconvenient; but it was clear that I had 'got at her', to a degree in which she had come so much under my influence that she could no longer be trusted with the care of me in my 'unbalanced state'.'
Secondly, he knew that to a lesser degree I had 'got at' Taffy, so it had been necessary that morning to put certain ideas into his head which would prevent me from 'corrupting' him further. This had resulted in his giving notice, and only with some difficulty had he been persuaded to stay on. His replacement in due course was now desirable and would be a simple matter; but with Deb gone it would have been extremely inconvenient if Taffy had insisted on walking out on us that morning.
I could not help being amused at the thought that Helmuth had nearly overreached himself to the point of having me left on his hands without trained assistance of any kind; but I pulled my thoughts back to what he was saying.
He continued to the effect that, in spite of the picture he had administered to Taffy, he could not regard him as a strong enough personality to be entirely relied on. Therefore he was not prepared to let him take me out into the garden, or even to dress me and lift me into my wheelchair. So, until fresh arrangements can be made, I must remain in bed.
That was a nasty one; as, while Taffy had been holding the bowl for me to shave, half an hour earlier, it had occurred to me that when he took me outside for my airing I could send him back into the house for something, and set off down the drive on my own. I probably would not have got far before I was overtaken, but there was just a chance that I might have escaped that way; and now I cannot even attempt it.
'How long do you intend to hold me a prisoner in my bed?' I asked gruffly.
He shrugged. 'It all depends whether a suitable new nurse is available, and if so how long she takes to get here. I have already wired the Home that supplied Deb to send someone to replace her, so you may not have to remain cooped up here for more than a few days.'
His strong teeth showed in a sudden grin as he went on: 'As a matter of fact I am not altogether sorry about Deb's departure, as I was getting very bored with her. The Matron of the Home from which she came is an old friend of mine and knows my requirements. She will, I am sure, pick me out a young woman who is not only reliable but also a good looker. In this dreary hole ' it will be fun to have someone fresh to sleep with.'
I said stonily that when he started his tricks I hoped she would stick a knife into him, but he only laughed and replied:
'These girls aren't that type. But I wouldn't mind if they were; it would add to my amusement to reduce anyone who tried that to abject submission afterwards,' and he walked out of the room.
So here I am, still in bed, although it is now past midday, and I am feeling far from good. Last night's catastrophe was the worst damnable luck, and Helmuth's new measures this morning have deprived me of practically all my remaining chances of my escaping having to spend another night here.
In the whole pack there is now only one card left which, if it turned up, might yet save me from that ordeal. It is Uncle Paul. I dare not pin my faith on his arriving this afternoon, yet I dare not think of what awaits me if he doesn't. I must not think of that. I must not give way to morbid anticipation. I must keep my whole mind concentrated on seeking ways by which I may yet defeat Helmuth.

Later
Helmuth has just been in again. He flung two letters on the bed and said: 'There's your post.'
A glance was enough to show that one was an official communication from some Government department, as it had O.H.M.S. on it; and that the other envelope was in Uncle Paul's writing. The first was unopened, the second had been slit across the top.
With a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I picked up Uncle Paul's letter. As he writes to me only once in a blue moon I felt sure that it must be an answer to mine, and for it to have got here so quickly showed that he must have replied by return of post; but the fact that he had written could only mean that he was not coming down today, at all events; and Helmuth having brought it to me was an even more certain indication that it could not contain news I should be pleased to have.
I took the letter from its envelope, but before I had a chance to read it Helmuth said: 'From this it is clear that you hypnotised that weak minded slut, Deborah Kain, into posting a letter for you, although you promised me last week that you would make no further attempts to get in touch with your relatives. It is most distressing that you should recently have displayed such dislike and distrust of me, Toby, but I have been appointed to look after you while you are here; and you may as well understand once and for all that I intend to continue to deal with your malady in the way I think best, whether you like it or not. And I shall not allow this proposed visit by your uncle to make the least difference to my plans.'
With an angry shake of his mane of white hair he turned and marched out of the room, leaving me a prey to the most mixed sensations.
For a moment I almost believed again that he was honestly concerned for me; that he has no hand in this devilry but really thinks me to be the victim of hallucinations and is doing his best to protect me from being publicly branded as insane. His conduct is explicable on those grounds. Yet my instinct flatly rejects such an explanation. I feel positive that he is developing a plot to drive me mad. And in the midst of these conflicting thoughts was that of my immense relief when Helmuth had spoken of my uncle's 'proposed visit'.
Swiftly I opened the letter out and skimmed through it. Uncle Paul said how much he appreciated my thought of wishing to consult him before I finally settled my new financial arrangements. He would be, delighted to come down and discuss them with me. But lawyers always took months over the completion of such matters, anyway; so he felt sure I would agree that a day or two either way would make no material difference. He could not come down at the weekend because they had old Archie Althwaite and his wife coming to stay; and on Tuesday and Wednesday he had to attend an important sale of bloodstock, at which he was disposing of a few of his own brood mares. So the earliest he could make it was Thursday, June the 4th. Julia was down with a nasty go of summer 'flu, which had driven her to bed; but she sent her fondest love, etc.
Once more I had that empty feeling under the solar plexus. To me, next Thursday is not a week, but a whole lifetime, away. These next five days, while the moon glares down with her maximum intensity, may mean to me all the difference between sanity and madness; between life as a cripple it is true, but one still able to enjoy the things of the spirit and a living death, in which the mind is the wretched plaything of distorted emotions and terrifying visions.
What shall I do? Where can I turn for help? Yesterday, or the day before, when I was out in the garden I could have forced Deb to set off with me down the road, or to wheel me through the woods until we came to a farmhouse. But I didn't. I must have been crazy! Perhaps Helmuth is right, and I have softening of the brain.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:04 | Сообщение # 21
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CHAPTER 23

Friday, 29th May
What a night! At the time I thought it the worst so far; but, viewing the whole series in retrospect this afternoon, I am sure that the attack was not as intense as that on April the 30th, or as prolonged as on at least two other occasions. Yet in some ways it was more terrifying, as there were certain new developments which now make me frightened not only for, but also of, myself.
At a few minutes to ten Taffy came in to settle me down for the night. As he has always assisted Deb to do the job in the past he knows the drill, and that I am allowed one triple bromide if my back is paining me. I had planned to snatch the bottle from him, but when I asked him for it he said in his singsong voice:
'A sleeping tablet, is it? See you, Sir Toby, the Doctor said you would not be needing one of those things tonight. And that naught is to be done here now without himself giving the word for it.'
I knew then that Helmuth had been at him again, and that it would be no good arguing. All the same I did, because I was so desperate at the thought of what the next few hours might bring. I even pleaded with him; but it was useless. He said he had orders not to talk to me apart from answering simple questions, and he kept his glance averted from my face the whole time, so obviously he still fears that I may ill wish him.
An impulse came to me to cling on to him when he picked up the lamp; but had I done so the odds were that it would have upset or got smashed in the resulting struggle, and we both would have been burned to death. With an effort I checked the impulse and, in a strangled voice, answered his goodnight.
The moon was already up, and the radiance from the band of it on the floor lit the room with a faint misty twilight. It was not enough to see anything distinctly, but as my eyes got accustomed to the greyness I could make out darker patches which I knew to be pieces of furniture. Having nothing else to occupy my mind, I kept staring at them, trying to make out their proper outline, but after a time, instead of solidifying, the black patches seemed to waver, grow larger and assume strange shapes.
That was simply the effect of eyestrain, and I knew that I must be imagining things, which was a bad thing to do at the very beginning of my ordeal. So I took myself to task, shut my eyes, prayed very earnestly for several minutes, then did my damnedest to get to sleep.
Of course, I couldn't. It was utterly hopeless, and how long I continued the attempt I don't know. Anyhow, at length I gave it up, opened my eyes again and lay staring at the ceiling.
It seemed that I remained doing that for an interminable time. At first I could now and then hear distant noises, but gradually they became more infrequent until the house was very quiet. Then, I suppose because I was no longer trying to go to sleep, I dropped off; but only into a light doze.
I was roused from it by a quickening of my heart. I suddenly became conscious that it was hammering in my chest, and that the blood was pulsing more swiftly through my body. Yet my face had gone cold. It was almost as though, while I had been dozing, the temperature of the room had dropped to zero, and that the icy air was congealing into a thin rim of frost on my cheeks, nose and forehead.
Very slowly, knowing yet dreading what I should see, I turned my head and squinted at the floor below the blackout curtain. There was the shadow of the Thing, in the centre panel of the broad moonlit strip.
It was not moving but quite still, as if the beast had pressed itself up against the window and was peering in. I have never seen it still before, and was able to get a better idea of its shape than I had previously. As I see only its shadow simply a black outline without depth it is extremely difficult to visualise the beast itself. I have no means of telling if it has eyes, a beak, a snout, or is a faceless thing like a starfish, only, instead of being flat, having a big round body from which its tentacles, project.
I don't think now, though, that this evil entity can have the form of an octopus, as they have eight tentacles, whereas it has only six. Moreover, an octopus's tentacles come out from under its body, and those of the Thing seem to be joined to it about two thirds of the way up. Then again, an octopus's tentacles are smooth, apart from the suckers on the undersides, whereas the shadow outline of these is always a little blurred, as though they might be covered with hair.
For several minutes the Thing remained as I had first seen it, and might have been a gargoyle carved out of stone, except for the fact that the ball like body undulated slightly, showing that it was really pulsing with horrid life. I, too, remained dead still, instinctively fearing that if I made the least movement it might provoke it into some form of terrifying activity.
Suddenly my heart seemed to leap up into my throat. Without a flicker of warning it had sprung to life and, with incredible fury, was flailing its limbs against the window, trying to smash its way in.
I clenched my hands until the nails dug into my palms the red marks are still there this afternoon and gritted my teeth. The attack must have lasted well over a quarter of an hour, and every moment I feared that the windowpane would give way under the brute's weight.
At last it stopped its violent thrashing and, instead, began its devil dance to and fro, to and fro, from one windowsill to another, blindly, persistently, seeking some crack or weakness in the barrier which might give it a better chance to break through.
In spite of the intense cold the sweat was pouring off me, and once I caught myself groaning aloud with terror. I prayed and prayed, frantically begging God to intervene and put an end to my torment, but my prayers met with no response.
I forced myself to close my eyes, first while I counted ten, then while I counted twenty; but every second while I had them shut I was terrified that when I opened them I would find that the Horror had got into the room.
Still, I kept at it, as a test of my own willpower, and I managed to get up to thirty-five. Then, when I let out my breath with a gasp and looked again, I saw that the brute had ceased its dancing and was crouching once more in the corner of the centre window. For a while nothing happened, yet I was vaguely conscious that I was becoming subject to a new form of apprehension, although I could not determine what the basis of the fresh fear could be.
Suddenly I knew. The Thing had a will and it was pitting it against mine. It was trying to hypnotise me. ' I have never known any sound to come from it before, and it may be that I imagined this. All I can say is that it seemed to me as if it was making a faint tapping on the window the sort of tapping that the beak of a bird might make against thick plate glass. But the tapping was in a persistent rhythm long, long short, short, short long, long, short, short, short; and those dashes and dots translated themselves in my brain as 'You must let me in. You must let me in.'
I shivered anew with stark horror, but there was no escaping the sounds; or, rather, the refrain that trilled like a clear little silvery voice in my mind. I stuffed my fingers in my ears, but it still came through.
Then the tapping changed to a new morse rhythm, and the silvery voice said to me gently but firmly: 'Tomorrow night, you will tell Taffy to leave the. window open. Tomorrow night, you will tell Taffy to leave the window open.'
It was exactly the same technique as I had used with Deb, when I had said to her: 'You will wake up at a quarter to one, dress yourself and come to me,' over and over again, to impress it firmly in her subconscious.
Once more the rhythm changed, this time to 'Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep.' And the thing that terrifies me most of all is that I did go to sleep.
Later
My new nurse arrived this afternoon. Her name is Cardew. She seems a pleasant, friendly sort of girl, but I shouldn't call her a real good looker. In fact she does not seem at all the type that Helmuth was expecting his Matron friend to send him. She is a hefty wench with a freckled face, blue eyes and a broad nose that inclines to turn up a trifle.
As Helmuth was out when she got here, Taffy brought her straight in to me, without even giving her a chance to tidy herself; so she was still wearing a suit of old tweeds and the heavy brogues in which she had travelled down. Her light brown hair is naturally fluffy and had got a bit windswept; so her general turnout put the thought into my mind that she ought to be swinging a hockey stick. I doubt if she is any older than I am, so my first impression of her is that she is a nice, healthy English hoyden, not overburdened with brains but the sort that has been brought up to believe in God and the King, and marries respectably to build bonnie babies for the Empire.
Anyhow, she shows promise of being a more cheerful companion than Deb, and I am glad that she arrived when Helmuth was out. As soon as he gets hold of her it is certain that he will put all sorts of ideas about me into her head; but, at least, she saw me for the first time without prejudice.
Later
I have been worrying myself stiff all day about this new development of the Horror attempting to hypnotise me. I don't think it can possibly have succeeded in doing so yet for two reasons. Firstly, I am certain that I did not go into a trance while it was urging me to tell Taffy to leave the window open; secondly, I can remember the attempt perfectly clearly, which, presumably, I should not be able to do if the brute had managed to dominate my subconscious. On the other hand, 1 did fall asleep at its order, and while it was still at the window which I should not previously have believed to be even remotely possible. So, in a way, it must have succeeded in getting some sort of control over my mind.
The only precaution I can think of against my giving way to a sudden impulse to obey its order tonight is to tie a handkerchief round my wrist. The sight of that should, I trust, be enough to pull me up with a jerk if I find myself apparently talking at random. But it is damnably unnerving.
I have found out why my new nurse is not the hard faced, good looking type of bitch that Helmuth expected his friend to send here for his amusement. Apparently the Matron had no hand in her selection. She got his telegram yesterday afternoon and nominated a Nurse Jollef for the job, then went off for a long weekend in the country. This morning Jollef fell downstairs and sprained her ankle, so the Deputy Matron picked Cardew to come here instead.
All I hope is that Helmuth does not decide to send her back to London and ask for a substitute more to his taste, as she is young and friendly. If Helmuth does not poison her mind too much against me there seems a chance that I may be able to make her my secret ally. In any case she should be much easier to get round than Deb.
I have pulled a fast one on her already by telling her that I always take one sleeping tablet, and that the bottle is left beside my bed in case I wake in pain during the night and need another; so she put the bottle in the top drawer of my bedside table. As soon as she had left the room to get my hot water bottle I slipped four more tablets out of it; so even if she meets Helmuth on the way back and he tells her to collect it, I'll be able to cheat the Horror tonight at all events that is, provided that I don't suddenly get a blackout and tell Taffy to open the window.
Here they come to settle me down.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:06 | Сообщение # 22
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CHAPTER 24

Saturday, 30th May
It is mid afternoon, and I am still feeling like death. Five sleeping tablets proved an overdose. It did the trick all right, as within twenty minutes of my lamp being taken away I was 'out', and I remained in complete oblivion for the best part of twelve hours. This morning they had the hell of a job to get me round, and it seems that if I hadn't the constitution of an ox I should probably have kicked the bucket.
Nurse Cardew may be young, but she can be tough enough when she likes. Naturally such an episode occurring immediately on her arrival was a bit hard on her, as it reflects on her professional competence, and she gave me a terrific raspberry.
Perhaps it was bad strategy on my part to put her in a position where, through no fault of her own, she appears to have stepped off on the wrong foot. It will certainly make it far more difficult now for me to win her sympathy and possible help. But what the devil was I to do? So long as the moon remains near full, every night means for me a new crisis in a most hideous battle. I simply cannot afford to think of long term policies; I just have to seize on any means that offer to escape immediate danger.
Later
At tea time I managed to get myself partially back into Nurse Cardew's good graces. Apparently the name 'Jugg' is not quite such a bell ringer as I have always imagined; she had never heard of it before she was sent down here, and knew nothing about me at all. She asked in what sort of accident I had broken my back, and when I told her that I had been shot down she became much more matey. Her only brother a Lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm was shot down too; but that happened nearly a year ago in the Eastern Mediterranean; and as he was reported 'missing, presumed dead' it's a hundred to one against the poor girl ever seeing him again.
Like myself, she is an orphan and, now that her brother has gone, she has no close relatives. Her father was a Naval Officer. He and her mother were both drowned in a yachting fatality when she was three, and she and her brother were brought up by an aunt who lives at Dawlish, in Devonshire. I gather they have very little money, but she doesn't seem to mind that, as she says that up to the time Johnny that is her brother got his packet, she found life enormous fun; and she is beginning to again, now that she doesn't think quite so often about his never coming home.
I have always been distinctly allergic to this hearty attitude to life, and I still cannot believe that I should find it 'tremendous, fun' to go up to London with half dozen other young people on an excursion ticket, for the sake of an afternoon's shop window gazing, a 'Club' dance of some sort at one of the lesser hotels and supper in the small hours at Lyons Corner House. Still, on the debit side I must admit that, apart from my time in the R.A.F., my own youth was extraordinarily barren of hilarity; so perhaps being surrounded by riches really has very little bearing on the amount of enjoyment that one can get, and that it depends much more on an attitude of mind.
Owing to the Naval influence in Sally’s that is, Nurse Cardew's family, she went into the W.R.N.S. at the beginning of the war. Incidentally, she is older than I am, by just over a year, although I would never have thought it from either her appearance or conversation. But she was blown up by a landmine in the Plymouth blitz and, in consequence, invalided from the Service.
She is quite all right again now, unless she hears something go off with a loud bang. Apparently a bursting motor tyre, or even a child popping a paper bag, is enough to do it; but any noise resembling an explosion still shatters her completely. She dives for the nearest cover which, as she told me with a loud guffaw, usually means under the table, then bursts into a flood of tears and makes a general nuisance of herself for the next two hours. That is why, since the Wrens decided that she was no longer 100 per cent reliable for any regular duty, she had herself trained as a private nurse and has been taking jobs in country areas where bombs rarely fall.
Her nursing qualifications are pretty slender; she makes no secret of that. She went in for nursing only because she felt that she could not remain idle after she was boarded out of the Wrens, and she didn't much like the idea of going into a factory.
As she cannot do shorthand she could not have got anything but a stooge job in an office, whereas she did know a bit about massage from having been taught by a half Swedish cousin of hers, who used to come and stay at Dawlish. So she did a course in first aid, swatted up a few books on this and that concerning the most general types of ailments, and got taken on by Miss Smith for sending to patients in the country where massage was the principal requirement. Her last case was an old Colonel with a game leg, up in Shropshire, and two days after her return to London a new throw of the dice sent her here.
It is nice to have someone fresh to talk to, however mediocre their mentality, and over tea we got on like a house on fire; but, unfortunately, later this evening I blotted it again.
Helmuth has spared me his evening visits since we had our showdown; so when Sally came in, about six o'clock, to ask if she might borrow a book from the library, I let her browse for a few moments, while concluding a paragraph of this, then opened up our conversation again.
Most regrettably, as it turned out, I chose the subject of Helmuth as a lead in. I asked her what she thought of him.
While still searching the shelves for something readable, she said: 'He's terribly distinguished looking, isn't he?'
"The Roebuck probably thinks of the Lion that way till he takes a big jump and fixes his claws in her back,' I remarked acidly.
'Am I supposed to be the Roebuck in this analogy?' she enquired.
'You might be,' I murmured, 'and while Dr. Lisicky's eyes and hair give him some resemblance to the King of Beasts, you can take it from me that there is nothing kingly about his mind; it is as low as that of any reptile.'
She straightened herself a little, but continued to keep her back turned, as she replied: 'I gathered from Dr. Lisicky this morning that you have recently taken an acute dislike to him. That sort of twist in the mentality of a permanent invalid against the person who is looking after them does sometimes occur; but you should do your best to fight it. Personally, from what little I have so far seen of the Doctor, I think him a most intelligent and charming man; and I am not going to encourage your morbid ideas by letting you say such horrid things to me about him.'
Like an idiot, I did not see the red light, but plunged in further with a sneer: 'Since you think him "distinguished looking, intelligent and charming" it's pretty clear that he is well on the way to getting you where he wants you already. But I warn you that he has the morals of a sewer rat. He made your predecessor his mistress, drove her half crazy with neglect, then, when a respectable fellow wanted to marry her, he started to sleep with her again for the fun of busting up her engagement.'
Suddenly Nurse Cardew swung round on me; her blue eyes were hard and her freckled face flushed.
'Listen to me, Toby Jugg!' she exclaimed angrily. 'At teatime this afternoon I thought I was going to like you, and I'm still prepared to do so; but we had better get matters straight before we go any further. When I took on this job I was not told that you were a mental case, and I don't believe that, strictly speaking, you are one. But Dr. Lisicky warned me last night that you've got a mind like a cesspool, and that your letters have to be censored because of the obscenities you put in them. What you have just said of him is obviously a wicked and disgusting lie. I'm not narrow minded but I don't like filth and I don't like slander; so for the future you will kindly refrain from both in my presence, or I'll chuck up the case and go back to London.'
'Okay!' I snapped. 'I won't sully your shell like ears again. But if you prefer to believe Dr. Helmuth Lisicky rather than me, it will be your own fault if you get yourself seduced.'
At that she flounced out of the room, and a few minutes later I was regretting that I had put her back up. Personally I don't give a damn if Helmuth makes her his mistress, but it seemed only fair to warn her of the sort of man he is. Where I was stupid was in putting it so bluntly, and in losing my temper with her because she wouldn't believe me.
In normal circumstances I should have handled the business much more tactfully; but the truth is that my nerves are in absolute shreds, so that I am hardly responsible for what I am saying, and my temper is as liable to snap as the over taut string of a violin. But how could it be otherwise, seeing what I may have to face tonight?

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:07 | Сообщение # 23
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CHAPTER 26

Tuesday, 2nd June
I am still here. I could not bring myself to write anything yesterday. I was too utterly depressed and mentally exhausted. My only remaining hope is that I may manage to hang out somehow till Uncle Paul arrives on Thursday.
On Sunday night everything went according to plan; but my luck was too good to last. Taffy came for me, dressed me, took me along to the bathroom, waited there with me for nearly three hours, then got me out of the house with no more noise than a first class burglar would have made getting in. The moon was still up and for the first time in many weeks I was glad to see it, as it lit the way for us through the grounds and for the first mile or more down the road. We reached the station by a quarter to five, and had to wait outside it for three-quarter of an hour, as it was not open; but soon after 5.30 the staff of three made their appearance and began the day's routine. Taffy is a bit suspicious of the Post Office, and he keeps his savings in an old cigarette tin concealed somewhere in his room, so we were able to buy two tickets to London, and went on to the platform.
At 5.55 a milk train came through. Why, oh why, didn't we take it? I must have been crazy not to. But everything was going so perfectly that it seemed much more sensible to wait for the 6.20, that does not dither round the loop line but goes direct to the junction.
We were the only people on the platform, and the whistling of the solitary porter was the only sound that broke the stillness of the post dawn hour. Suddenly I caught the hum of a car engine driven all out. Next moment it roared up to the station entrance. There was a brief commotion and the noise of running footsteps, then Helmuth and Nurse Cardew shot out of the booking office and came dashing towards us.
At the sight of them I knew the game was up. The train was nearly due, but even if it had come in at that moment I could not have got Taffy to heave me into it. From fear of Helmuth, he had already taken to his heels.
All the same I meant to make a fight for it; and, anyway, it seemed a bit hard that his panic should cost him the compensation I had promised him for the loss of his job; so I shouted after him:
'Come back, Taffy! Come back, you fool! Don't go without your cheque!'
That halted him, and he came ambling back with a hangdog look on his face, just as Helmuth and Nurse Cardew reached me.
She was in her nurse's uniform but had evidently dressed in a hurry, as her fluffy brown hair was sticking out untidily from under her cap and she had odd stockings on her long legs. Probably it was knowing about that which made her young face so flushed and angry. Without a word she grasped the back rail of my chair, and swivelling it round made to wheel me off the station. But I was too quick for her. Stretching out a hand, I grabbed the iron railing at the back of the platform and brought her up with a jerk.
'Now, Toby!' said Helmuth a bit breathlessly. 'Please don't make a scene. You've already given us an awful fright. Don't add to our distress by making an exhibition of yourself.'
'If there is any scene it will be your fault,' I retorted. 'I am about to take the train to London; and you have no right to stop me.'
Although the platform had been empty a few minutes earlier, a little crowd began to gather with mysterious suddenness. The porter, two soldiers, a land girl, a leading aircraftsman and a little group of children had all appeared from nowhere and were eyeing us with speculative interest.
'You are in no fit state to travel,' Helmuth said sharply.
Striving to keep as calm as I could, I denied that, and a wordy battle ensued in which both of us rapidly became more heated. We were still arguing when the train came clanking in.
The little crowd had increased to over a dozen people and it was now further swollen by others getting out of the train. Seeing it there actually in the station made me desperate. If I could have only covered those few yards and heaved myself into a carriage it meant safety, freedom and sanity; whereas to let Helmuth take me back to Llanferdrack threatened imprisonment, terror and madness. He caught the gleam in my eye and endeavoured to bring matters to a swift conclusion. Grabbing my wrist, he strove to break my grasp of the railing, while Nurse Cardew pushed on my chair from behind with all her weight.
'Help! Help!' I shouted to the crowd. 'I want to get on the train to London, and these people have no right to stop me.'
An elderly Major, who had arrived on the train, stepped forward and said rather hesitantly to Helmuth: 'Look here! This is none of my business, but I really don't think you ought to use violence towards a cripple.'
Helmuth let go my wrist and turned to him; but I got in first. 'I appeal to you, sir,' I cried. 'I am an exofficer wounded in the war; but I am perfectly fit to travel, and these people are endeavouring to detain me against my will.'
'That is only partially true!' Helmuth said quickly. "This poor
young man was shot down nearly a year ago. But the injury to his
spine has affected his brain. I am a doctor and '
'A Doctor of Philosophy!' I cut in, but he ignored the sneer, and went on:
'He is in my care, and escaped from Llanferdrack Castle last night. I assure you that he is not fit to travel, and that I am only doing my duty in restraining him from doing so. It would be dangerous both for himself and others, as he is subject to fits of insanity.'
"That's a lie!' I declared, and Taffy came unexpectedly to my assistance by adding:
'Right you. The young gentleman's as sane as myself, is it. And it is a good master he is, too.'
As the Major looked from one to another of us doubtfully, Helmuth brought up his reserves. With a gesture towards Nurse Cardew he said:
"This lady is a professional nurse. Since you appear to doubt me, she will tell you that she has seen the patient in such a violent state that she had to threaten to have him put into a straitjacket.'
She confirmed his statement at once, and added: 'Two nights ago he was screaming obscenities and attacked the Doctor.'
All these exchanges had taken place in less than a couple of minutes; but the train was overdue to leave, and the guard, who was standing on the fringe of the crowd, blew his whistle.
The Major gave me a pitying look and said: 'I'm very sorry, but I really don't think I can interfere.' Then he saluted politely and turned away.
I thrust my hand in my pocket, pulled out the cheque and the letter for my bank manager, held them out to Taffy and cried: 'Here you are! Quick, man! Jump on the train!'
As Taffy snatched them Helmuth grasped him by the arm and snapped: 'Give that to me!'
I don't know if he realised that it was a cheque or thought that it was a letter that I was trying to get off to somebody without his knowing its contents, but his act was the last straw that made me lose my temper completely.
'Damn you!' I yelled. 'Let him go. That's my money to do as I like with. He's earned it by doing his best to get me out of your filthy clutches. If you take that cheque from him I'll call the police in and have you arrested for theft.'
But Taffy had already wrenched himself away and jumped on the moving train.
To give him the papers I had had to let go the railing and Nurse Cardew seized the opportunity to start pushing me along the platform. Further resistance now that the train had gone was pointless; but, having finally lost my temper, I continued to shout abuse at Helmuth all the way to the car.
Only when they had got me into it, and were tying my wheelchair on to the grid behind, did it suddenly dawn upon me that, by my outburst, I had provided Helmuth with invaluable fresh evidence that he could use in seeking to prove me insane, as a score of people must have heard me raving at him.
That thought, coming on top of my bitter disappointment, was more than I could bear. I broke down and wept.

Later
I had to stop writing a quarter of an hour ago, as the memory of the ignominious manner in which I was brought back here, after my attempted flight, made me start crying again.
Really it is too absurd that a grown man like myself should give way to tears, but I suppose it is because my nerves have been reduced to shreds, and the appalling strain of knowing that my situation is going from bad to worse.
The worst factor is the way in which Helmuth is steadily gaining ground towards his secret objective, of collecting enough evidence about my disturbed mental state to get me certified as a lunatic. But in addition, there are the various changes that have resulted in the past week from my two attempts to escape.
Taffy was a great stupid oaf with a streak of low cunning and greed in his makeup; but on the whole he wasn't a bad sort, and, normally, he was willing, cheerful and friendly. His departure was admittedly my own fault, but I am paying for it now pretty heavily, as his place has been taken by Helmuth's man Konrad. There has never been any love lost between us at the best of times and, quite apart from the fact that I dislike him touching me anyhow, whenever Nurse Cardew is not with us he takes an obvious delight in handling me roughly.
Deb, too, was very far from being a gay and lovable companion, and my new nurse is no better. I am sure she could be, but the trouble is that I set off on the wrong foot with her the very night she arrived, by taking that overdose of sleeping tablets; and since then she has seen little but the worst side of me. Unfortunately, I find it practically impossible to conceal any longer my hatred for Helmuth, and she has already developed a strong admiration for him; so she regards me as an ungrateful young brute, and whenever his name crops up we snap at one another.
She obviously does not like it here; which is quite understandable, seeing that she expected a quiet life looking after a simple spinal case, and now she finds she is in charge of someone whom she believes to be a dangerous lunatic. In addition, my latest escapade has made her work much more exacting, as she now has to come upstairs to me a dozen or more times every day.
When they got me back here, Helmuth again played the role of Uriah Heep and pretended to be greatly distressed about me. But his concern took the form of actually and officially making me a prisoner.
Hating him as I do, I could not help feeling a sneaking admiration for the way he did it, as in achieving his secret object he killed two birds with one stone. On the drive back he declared that some means must be devised to prevent me from escaping again, in case I did myself an injury, and devilishly led Nurse Cardew into discussing with him how best this might be done.
As I have twice succeeded in securing aid for an intended getaway and might, perhaps, corrupt another of the servants to help me in a third attempt, their problem really amounted to what arrangements could be made so that I would need more than one person's assistance to get out of the house without their knowing?
Helmuth was driving and Nurse Cardew sitting in the back with me. By that time I had more or less recovered from my weeping fit and I cut in sarcastically:
'Why don't you take me down to one of the dungeons and chain me to the wall? That's what they used to do to the poor wretches in Bedlam, isn't it?'
That brought a shocked protest from them both, and assurances that they were only trying to protect me from the possibility of something awful happening to me as a result of my own folly.
Then Nurse Cardew said a piece of her own which left me undecided if I ought to curse or kiss her. The gist of her remarks were: (1) She thought the best thing would be for her to take away my chair at nights, as two people would be needed to carry me, and even then it would be difficult for them to get me very far without it. (2) That was, unless the Doctor would agree to moving me to an upstairs room; as in that case, even in my chair, no one person would be able to get me down the stairs. (3) In any case, it was clear that I had a phobia about my present room, and she had always understood that in mental cases the cause of the phobia should never be referred to, and eliminated as far as possible. Therefore, she felt most strongly that I ought to be moved.
For the moment Helmuth did not reply, as he was just driving up to the front of the house. While they got me out of the car and into my chair, my brain was working furiously. The previous afternoon I had considered the possibility of hypnotising Nurse Cardew if Taffy failed me, and now, quite unconsciously, she was suggesting measures which would render any success in that direction futile, as well as actively cooperating with Helmuth in seeking means to make certain that I should not get away again. On the other hand, if she managed to persuade him to move me to another room it seemed that she would be rendering me an inestimable service.
I felt sure that he would refuse, and that if he did it would cost him a lot in her estimation; even, perhaps, convince her that he was deliberately persecuting me by keeping me there; in which case I might soon be able to win her over completely. So it looked as if whichever way things went I stood in to gain on the outcome.
But Helmuth wriggled out of the spot she had unconsciously put him on very neatly. When we were inside the hall he said:
'For your own protection, Toby, I shall adopt Nurse Cardew's suggestion. There is a room in the old part of the Castle on the first floor, abutting on to the chapel. It has a little terrace of its own, so if we put you there it will be unnecessary to carry you down to the garden for your airings; and tucked away in the east wing of the Castle you won't even see any of the servants, except my man Konrad, so you will not be under the temptation to try to bribe one of them.'
As he spoke I caught just the suggestion of a malicious gleam in his tawny eyes, and I knew then that to make me a real prisoner had been his aim the whole time. If he had bluntly suggested doing so that might have shocked and estranged Nurse Cardew, but he had skilfully led her into practically suggesting it herself, and had then made capital out of his willingness to pander to my phobia about being moved from my old room. So here I am.
After breakfast yesterday several of the staff were mobilised to move furniture, and by midday I was installed with all my belongings in my new quarters. It is a big square room with a vaulted ceiling, a large open fireplace and two arched doorways framing stout oak doors that have iron scrollwork and huge bolts on them. One of them leads to a spiral stone staircase, up which I was carried in my chair with considerable difficulty; the other leads to the terrace, which is about twenty-five feet across and shaped like the quarter segment of a circle. It lies in an angle of the Castle, its two straight sides being formed by the outer wall of this room and the wall of another, to which there is no entrance; the curved side is castellated, and this part of the battlements has a fine view over the lake, which lies about fifteen feet below it.
The room is not in bad condition; a little plaster has flaked off the ceiling and here and there the wainscoting that lines the walls has been stained by patches of damp, but the fire which is being lit daily to air it will soon dry them out; and now that it has been furnished with such pieces as they could get up the narrow, spiral stairs, it is quite comfortable. All the same, it gives one a somewhat eerie feeling to have been lifted out of a late Victorian setting and dumped down in another overnight that is still redolent of the Middle Ages.
The thing about my old room that I miss most is the big south window. Here there is no window at all; at least, not in the modern sense. Instead, a large iron grating, about six feet long and three deep, let into the east wall, serves to provide the room with plenty of daylight and an ample supply of fresh air. As the grill is not fitted with glass, a blind, or even curtains, the wind whistling through it must make the place an icehouse in winter; but, fortunately, we are now in high summer, so that does not worry me at the moment. No blackout is needed, as the grill is not in an outer wall, but in that beyond which lies the partially ruined chapel. If I were able to stand I could look down through it into the chapel, but as its lower ledge is about five feet six from the floor I can see only on an upward angle some of the groined rafters of the decaying roof, and the tops of the upright baulks of timber which have been wedged under them to prevent it falling in.
Since I have been here I have been wondering a lot what Helmuth's motive can be in agreeing to my removal from the library. At first I was tremendously elated at the thought that, at last, I had escaped from the vicinity of the courtyard and that damnable band of moonlight; but, somehow, I cannot bring myself to feel any permanent sense of security on account of my move.
The courtyard is on the far side of the chapel from the lake, but that is no great distance; and the idea has begun to prey upon my mind that the Thing, having some horrible form of intelligence, may know of my move and follow me here or Helmuth may have some way of telling it where I am.
If it does seek me out here, and climb up the chapel wall to the grating, I shall be forced to look on it for the first, time face to face that is, if there is moonlight filtering through the broken roof of the chapel. When Nurse Cardew and Konrad left me last night I had a bad half hour fearing that might happen; but to my ' great relief the weather changed, it began to rain gently and the moon could not get through the clouds.
There is another thing that has been worrying me all day. Just as I was dropping off to sleep last night, at about eleven o'clock, I heard footsteps. They were light and clear, and sounded as if someone was descending a stone staircase behind the head of my bed.
At the time I thought nothing of it. But this morning I suddenly realised that the wall behind my bed head is an outer wall of the Castle, and I am certain that there is no staircase there.
Can those footsteps be the first indication of some fresh manifestation of Evil to which Helmuth is about to subject me? Is that why he put me in this room? They cannot have been made by any human agency, unless they are some curious echo. Perhaps that is the explanation. Pray God it is, for my nerves are strained to breaking point already.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:08 | Сообщение # 24
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CHAPTER 27

Wednesday, 3rd June
I slept badly last night, but, thank God, had no actual trouble. It was stormy again and the moonlight only showed fitfully now and then through the grating.
This morning I managed to get a look through it down into the chapel but, in doing so, I got myself into a bit of a mess, which ended with surprising and terrifically exciting results.
As I have mentioned before, my shoulders and arms are very strong. After I had had my airing on the battlements I wheeled myself up to the grating, sideways on, and stretched up my right hand as high as it would go. I was just able to get a firm grip on the ledge and, exerting all my strength, pulled myself up until I could grasp the iron grill with my left hand; then I shifted the right to a firmer hold and, hanging there, peered through.
The chapel is both long and lofty in fact it is as big as the average country church. Its floor is a good twenty-five feet below me as, to give it additional height, the old builders sank it about twelve feet into the ground. Actually, I suppose they excavated the whole site for the Castle to that depth or more, and instead of making cellars and dungeons out of this bit, carried the walls and pillars of the chapel straight up from the foundations.
It must have been a damp and cheerless place to worship in, as its floor is well below the level of the lake, which runs parallel to its south wall and only about forty feet away, but our ancestors don't seem to have minded damp and cold as much as we do.
The roof is about fifteen feet above my head, and is not as badly damaged as I expected. There are a few big rents in it, but they are all this end. Looking down from the grill I was directly facing the altar, and the whole of the far half of the roof over the chancel and a good part of the nave is intact.
There are now no pews in the chapel, as it has not been used for many years; but there are a number of large, stone boxlike graves with effigies of chaps in armour, and their ladies, on them, as the Lords of Llanferdrack were always buried here. Parts of four out of the six pillars, which were the main support of the roof, have crumbled away, and it has been shored up in places with wooden scaffolding. It looks, too, as if its disintegration has been arrested, as there is no debris littering the stone floor. In fact the whole place is as clean as if it had been swept out yesterday, which seems rather surprising. I was just wondering why anyone should bother to keep it in such good order when my chair slipped from under my feet, and I found myself stranded, like a fly on the wall, clinging to the grating.
It was a quarter of an hour before Nurse Cardew came in and found me like that. She promptly pushed my chair back and got me down into it, while scolding me for taking such a risk of injuring myself. I simply laughed at her and said that I could have hung on there for an hour or more without serious discomfort, had I wished.
She looked me straight in the eye and said: 'I don't believe it unless you were taking some of the weight on your feet.'
I said I didn't think that I had been, not perceptibly, anyhow; upon which she told me to put my hands on her shoulders and try to stand up.
I tried, and I couldn't manage it. But she is amazingly strong for a girl, and she practically lifted me into an upright position. With one hand grasping the grating and the other round her neck we found that I could just remain erect for a moment of two.
Nurse Cardew says that is a sure sign that my back is mending; and that although we must go very carefully, if I practise standing like that for a short time every day, until I can take the whole of my own weight, there is a real chance that I may eventually be able to walk again. I gather that I should be doing well if I could walk from one room to another unaided by this time next year but, to me, even such a modest prospect is wildly exciting.
Besides, once I can manage a dozen steps they would let me have crutches. They daren't as things are, for if a crutch slipped I should go flat on my face, or on my back, and if my head struck something hard I might kill myself. But if I was strong enough to recover my balance there would be no danger of that, and with the aid of crutches I could get about all over the place.
This really is terrific, and Nurse Cardew seemed as pleased as I was. She has a nice smile that lights up her freckled face, and really makes her quite pretty while it lasts. But like a fool I spoilt the whole thing by asking her if she managed to keep Helmuth in his place last night; and got the tart answer to 'Mind your own business.'
I knew that she had had dinner with him because she told me she was going to yesterday afternoon. She asked me if I minded having my evening massage a little earlier than usual, so that she would have longer to change out of uniform. Naturally I agreed; I could hardly have done otherwise, and I forbore to make any comment.
However, a few minutes after having snapped me up this morning she resumed the subject of her own accord. She said:
'I do wish you would try to get these horrid ideas about Dr. Lisicky out of your head. It was kind of him to ask me to have dinner with him, and I hope he does again. He couldn't have been more charming, and the pre-war atmosphere of candlelight and wine made a nice change for me from the routine of having my meals served on a tray in the small library.'
There was nothing much I could say to that which would not have led to another row, so I let it pass. I wish, though, that she had been here as a fly on the wall when Helmuth was discussing the replacement of Deb, and had heard him say that it would be 'fun to have someone fresh to sleep with', as I am quite sure that he would never bother to ask her to dine with him unless he had designs on her.
As she is so young Helmuth may have decided that the best policy is not to rush his fences. On the other hand it may be a case of 'still waters run deep'. No girl can be a nurse and remain ignorant of sex, and this one looks healthy enough to have the usual urges of her age. If she had been 'educated' at Weylands she would be a veteran by this time. Still, I don't believe, somehow, that she is that kind.
Those queer footsteps came again last night, and I heard them twice; first at eleven o'clock, as before, and, as I was wakeful, again about one o'clock. The second time they were going back up the stairs. Yet there cannot be any staircase there. It hardly seems possible that the Thing could make that sort of noise yet it gave me a slight fit of the jitters. Thank God tomorrow is
Thursday. Unless Fate plays me some scurvy trick to prevent Uncle Paul turning up, within twenty-four hours now I'll be a free man again.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:09 | Сообщение # 25
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CHAPTER 28

Thursday, 4th June
Last night it was calm with a clear sky, so for the first time I saw the full effect of a bright moon in this room. Praises be, there is no thick bar of it on the floor, as there was downstairs, for it does not shine in direct through the grating. It comes through the holes in the chapel roof, then filters through here filling the room with a soft radiance; but it was not strong enough to throw a shadow of the crisscross bars of the grill.
As the appearance of the Horror is so tied up in my mind with moonlight, I was naturally in a pretty nervous state; and when the footsteps came again at eleven o'clock I broke out into a sweat. But nothing happened and after a bit I managed to get off to sleep.
This morning, while I was sitting in the sunshine on my terrace, I went over in my mind what I mean to say to Uncle Paul. As he has always been very decent to me I dislike the idea of being tough with him; but I am afraid that is the only way I can make certain of getting him to stand up to Helmuth.
I have always been rather sorry for my uncle, as in the natural course of events he should have come in for his share of the Jugg millions and be a rich man in his own right. But that he did not, and will be almost entirely dependent on me after I attain my majority, is largely his own fault. His early life, before he married Julia, was really rather a shocking record of weakness and stupidity.
When he came down from Cambridge in 1917, my grandfather secured him a commission in the Welsh Guards; but early in 1919 he got tight one night at the Berkeley, and struck a waiter, who was trying to persuade him to go home. Naturally that led to a pretty nasty stink and I gather that he narrowly escaped being cashiered; but they let him off with sending in his papers. The old man sent him to South Africa for a couple of years, to be out of the way while he sowed the rest of his wild oats, then brought him home in 1921, and put him into the offices of our Newcastle shipyards.
There he got involved with a typist and his father had to pay a tidy sum to prevent an action for breach of promise being brought. He was transferred to London after that, so that an eye could be kept on him, but that didn't do much good. He was always at the races instead of the office, and in the next few years my grandfather had to pay up his racing debts on three occasions.
Then he got into the hands of a real top line cardsharper; one of the chaps who do things on the grand scale with a nice little house in Mayfair, run a perfectly straight game for a whole season and take just one mug for a ride in a big way at the end of it. In the season of 1925 Uncle Paul was the mug selected, and in an all-night session he was stung for seven thousand pounds.
It all appeared perfectly aboveboard, as there were scores of other gamblers who were prepared to swear to the honesty of the crook. My grandfather paid again, but that was the end. Uncle Paul was sent abroad with a thousand a year, payable monthly, and told that in the future he could go bankrupt or go to prison, but he would not get another cent.
In 1928 he married Julia. I have no doubt that he was in love with her on account of her bewitching beauty; but, in addition, she is connected with the noble Roman house of Colona, and I think he thought that a respectable marriage would put him right with his father. But it didn't. Albert Abel I would not even receive them; and Julia has no money of her own, so they took the Willows and settled down there in the hope that the old man would relent.
That is where Uncle Paul was unlucky. Before sufficient time had elapsed for his father really to appreciate that he had turned over a new leaf the air crash put an end to his chances. So poor Uncle Paul's own income is still no more than it was when he had the little house at Kew.

Later
Uncle Paul has been and is now on his way back to London. He arrived in time to lunch with Helmuth and immediately afterwards Helmuth brought him up here. Perhaps it is the result of having lived for three years in an area
constantly subject to air raids, but I thought Uncle Paul was looking a lot older. He can't be much more than forty-three, but his red hair has got a lot of grey in it now and the pouches under his eyes are heavier than ever, so he might easily be taken for fifty. All the same, his ruddy face does not look unhealthy, and he greeted me with his usual hearty manner.
'Hello, old boy! It's grand to see you again. Wish I could have come down before, but this cussed war keeps me so fearfully busy. Never realised in the old days that serious farming took up so much time; still, we must all do what we can, eh?'
Helmuth was standing in the doorway, looking like a benevolent Bishop. I had feared that I might have considerable trouble getting rid of him; but not a bit of it. With a smile, he said: 'I'm sure you would like to have a talk with your uncle alone, so I will leave you now.' And off he went. I heard his footsteps echoing on the stone stairs, so I am quite sure that he did not linger to listen through the keyhole to what I had to say about him.
Meanwhile Uncle Paul was saying how Julia had sent me her fondest love, and that when he had shown her my letter she had wanted to come too; but that he hadn't let her because last week1 she was in bed for several days with a nasty go of summer 'flu and, although she is up again now, he didn't think she was really fit enough to make such a tiring journey.
In view of the way I meant to deal with my uncle I was by no means sorry that she had not come; but I was a bit perturbed by the apparent indifference with which Helmuth had left us on our own, and debarred himself from the possibility of butting in on us at a critical juncture. It argued enormous self-confidence on his part, or else that he had already anticipated me and fixed Uncle Paul over lunch. So, after we had exchanged platitudes for a bit, I sought to test the situation by saying:
'I don't know if Helmuth has mentioned it to you, Uncle, but he and I haven't been on awfully good terms lately.'
'I say, old boy! I'm fearfully sorry to hear that.' Uncle Paul looked a shade uncomfortable, but he had not answered my question, so I persisted:
'He and I hold distinctly different views as to the state of my health; and I was wondering if by any chance he had suggested to you that the injury to my spine might now be having an unfortunate effect on my brain?'
Uncle Paul looked really uncomfortable at that, and began to shuffle his large feet about, as he replied: 'To tell you the truth, old man, he did say something to that effect. Nothing definite, you know; but just that recently you seemed to be getting some rather potty ideas into your head. If I'd taken what he said seriously I'd have been damn' worried fearfully upset. But I didn't; and anyone with half an eye can see that you're as fit as a two year old.'
'Thanks, Uncle,' I said quietly. 'I'm glad you feel that, because one of the reasons why I asked you to come down was to make a request which you may think rather unreasonable. I know it will sound to you like an invalid's whim, and one that is going to cause quite a lot of needless trouble; but I have given the matter very careful consideration and I am absolutely set on it. I don't like being here at Llanferdrack, and I want you to make immediate arrangements for my removal.'
Evidently Helmuth had briefed him on that one, as he produced all the arguments against it that Helmuth had used to me. I let him ramble on for a couple of minutes, then I said:
'All right, let's leave that for a minute, while I put up to you another idea. You will consider this one much more startling, but I have excellent reasons for making my request. I want you to sack Helmuth.'
His pale blue eyes fairly popped out of his head. 'Sack Helmuth!' he repeated. 'My dear old boy, you can't be serious. I mean, what's he done?'
'What he's done,' I said, 'is to make himself a sort of Himmler, so far as I am concerned. He has got this bee in his bonnet that I am going nuts, so he is now treating me as if I were an escaped Borstal boy of fifteen. And I won't bloody well have it! Do you know that during the past month or more he has had the impertinence to stop all my letters to Julia?'
He nodded. 'Yes, he told me that. He was afraid it would upset us if we knew that well, you know what I mean. Got the idea that you were going gaga, or something.'
'Look, Uncle.' I caught his glance and held it. 'I am as sane as I ever I was; but if I were going gaga who are the first people who ought to be informed of that?'
'Myself and Julia,' he admitted a bit sheepishly.
'Right, then,' I cracked in. 'Helmuth has exceeded his duties and abused his position. I am now making a formal request to you as my Guardian that you should sack him.'
'But I can't, old man. It just isn't on, you know. With the best will in the world I couldn't do that. You seem to forget that he is a Trustee.'
'What about it?' I retorted. 'In just over a fortnight I shall attain my majority. On June the twentieth the Board of Trustees will cease to have any further function. The whole outfit has to cash in to me, then it goes up in smoke. It is you, Uncle, who seem to have forgotten that.'
He gave me an unhappy glance from beneath his red eyebrows. 'Of course, Toby old boy, I quite see what you mean. But, all the same, after all these years we can't just kick Helmuth out. It wouldn't be playing the game.'
My tone was acid as I remarked: 'After nearly a year as a helpless cripple, I am no longer interested in games. Helmuth is endeavouring to keep me here against my will, and I am not going to stand for it. I want to leave Llanferdrack, and leave at the earliest possible moment.'
'But hang it, old chap! We've just been into that and you couldn't be better situated than you are here as long as there is a war on.'
Feeling that I had now got to make him face up to the issue, I said firmly: "That is beside the point. I want to get out, and I'm going to get out. If you're afraid to sack Helmuth leave it to me, and I'll do it myself in a fortnight's time. But either he goes, or you take me with you when you leave. Now, what about it^'
For a moment he sat in miserable silence, then he muttered: 'Toby, this isn't like you. I'm really beginning to be afraid that there is something in what Helmuth said, and that you're no longer quite all right in the upper storey.'
I hadn't wanted to discuss the implications of that idea with him, as if Helmuth does succeed in getting me into a loopy bin I may never get out; but Helmuth may have already put that possibility into his head, so on second thoughts I decided that it would be best to put all the cards on the table, and bluff for all I was worth that I was completely confident that even if I was certified I would manage to regain my freedom later. I gave him a calm, steady smile, and threw the cat among the pigeons.
'You know perfectly well, Uncle, that you have never talked to a saner man than I am at this moment. Since Helmut has given you the idea that I am going nuts, there is something else I've got to tell you. It is my considered opinion that for criminal ends he has been deliberately trying to create that impression.'
'Oh, come, old man! That's a frightful thing to say about a chap. After all, he is one of us even if he is a Czech. And why in the world should he?'
'Because he wants to keep his hold over me. You know as well as I do that he and Iswick are virtually running the Board of Trustees at the moment. If it could be shown that I am unfitted to take over, they would go on running it. And that's what they want. That might benefit certain innocent parties too, Uncle; such as yourself but only for a time.'
'What the hell are you driving at?' he protested.
I shrugged, and put up my big bluff. 'Simply this. If Helmuth could get me certified you, as well as he, would continue to enjoy the directors' fees and other perks that you get from being a Trustee. But, clever as Helmuth is, he could not succeed in stalling me out of my inheritance indefinitely. Sooner or later the doctors are going to agree that I am fit to handle my affairs. Once that happens the balloon goes up. I'll be Jugg of Juggernauts and all the rest of the caboodle. For those who have stood by me nothing will be too good, but God help anyone who has lent Helmuth a hand, either actively or passively, to play his dirty game.'
I felt the time had come to be really tough; so after a moment's pause I went on: 'One way and another you've been jolly decent to me, Uncle Paul, and I'm very grateful to you; but you haven't been ill rewarded for giving me a home. The Trustees agreed that I should be brought up in the sort of surroundings I should have enjoyed if my father had still been alive. Queensclere and Kensington Palace Gardens were kept on, and you were allowed twenty thousand a year to maintain them as a suitable background
for me. I couldn't have cost you much more than a twentieth of that, and the rest was yours to play around with as you liked.
'For thirteen years you have lived like a Prince on my money. You have had your hunters, your racing stable, your shooting, and trips to Deauville and the South of France whenever you felt that way inclined. I don't grudge you one moment of the fun you've had. All I want to know this afternoon is if you wish it to go on?'
He stared at me, his mouth, under his brushed up Guards moustache, a little agape. Then he stammered: 'Isis this what you meant when you asked me to come down to see you about future financial arrangements?'
"That's it, Uncle,' I said. 'Until quite recently I have always had it in mind that, when I come of age, I would make a settlement to ensure that you and Julia should have everything in reason that you wanted for the rest of your lives. I'd still like to do that; but I'm in a spot. You may think some of my present views a little eccentric, but you know darned well that I am not insane. If anyone has gone a bit haywire it is Helmuth. But you have got ' to side with either him or me. I am appealing to you now as my legal Guardian; and if you do as I wish you are going to be in clover; not for a few months only but for good and all.
'If you prefer to shelve your responsibility and leave me in his hands, one fine morning you are going to wake up to find yourself stark naked in the breeze. Because from the moment I do get control of the Jugg millions you are going to be right back where you were thirteen years ago; and, as God is my witness, you shall never see another penny of them.'
I suppose it was pretty brutal, and I could never have put it so bluntly if Julia had been with him. Afterwards, I felt an awful cad about it, but not at the time; and it had a most curious effect on him. He hunched his shoulders and almost cowered away from me, as though he was a dog that I had been giving a beating. Then, when I'd done, he gave a slight shudder, and sighed:
'You mean that, Toby, don't you? Perhaps old Albert Abel was right to leave you the Jugg Empire, lock, stock and barrel, although you were only a kid. Perhaps, even then, he sensed that you had something of himself in you and would make a go of it. I believe you will, too, if you're ever able to get about again. Anyway he was right about me. There was too much money for me to have gambled it all away; but cads like Iswick would have had the breeches off me within a couple of years. They won't off you, though. When you were speaking just now it might have been your grandfather browbeating some wretched competitor into selling out. I had no idea you could be so hard.'
'I'm not being hard,' I countered. 'I'm only being logical. I'm up against it, and I'm simply using such weapons as I possess; that's all. I know you're frightened of Helmuth; everybody is; that's why I have to go the limit to get you on my side; otherwise I would never have put it the way I did.'
He nodded. 'I see your point, old man. Lot in it, too. Mind, I don't believe for a minute that you're right about Helmuth. He honestly thinks you've gone a bit queer, and that the fewer people who get to know about it the better. As he has been stopping your letters, and you couldn't let us know how you felt about wanting to leave Llanferdrack, I suppose there's quite a case for your having tried to escape on your own. But that nice young nurse of yours tells me that you've created merry hell here more than once, and used the most fearful language.'
'True enough,' I admitted. 'And wouldn't you, if you were treated like a prisoner? I'm not even allowed in the garden now; and look at this room. Can you possibly imagine anything more like a cell in the Bastille?'
'I could get Helmuth to alter all that,' he offered, a little more cheerfully, 'but as you say yourself, he's a tough proposition. I'm afraid it would take a greater nerve than I've got to sack him. Even if that were justified, which I don't think it is. And as the Trustees placed you in his care, I don't at all like the idea of telling him that I've made other plans for you.'
'You are going to, though; aren't you?' I insisted, striving to keep the anxiety out of my voice. 'Getting him to ease up the prison routine is not enough. I am relying on you to get me out of his clutches at once, and for good.'
'Yes, old man. I quite see that.' He stood up and, thrusting his hands into his trouser pockets, began to pace agitatedly back and forth, evidently wondering how best he could set about the unpleasant task I had forced upon him. After a few turns, he stopped in his tracks and faced me:
'Look here, Toby, I can't tackle Helmuth alone. He's too fast for me. In any argument over you he'd win in a canter. You know that. You must give me a day or two to get a bit of help for the job.'
'What sort of help?' I asked suspiciously.
'Well, if I called a meeting of the Trustees, exclusive of
Helmuth, and they '
'No good,' I cut him short. 'It would take at least a week to get them together. I can't wait that long.'
'AH right, old man, all right. But I could have a word with one or two of them and get their backing. Iswick and Roberts are both still in London. Besides, I simply must talk to Julia about it. She'll fearfully upset, as she has always taken such a good view of Helmuth. But she's much cleverer than I am, and once she realises that you're dead set on being moved she'll think of some way of doing the trick neatly.'
I saw that if I forced him to act there and then he would only make a mess of things, so with considerable reluctance I said:
'Very well then. But the best I can do is to give you forty-eight hours. I hate to put it this way, Uncle, but I really did mean all I said a little while back. So, for your own sake as well as mine, don't let Iswick, or anyone, argue you round into doing nothing. I'm pretty well at the end of my tether, and if you haven't got me away from here by the weekend I shall consider that you have deliberately let me down. Is that clear?'
'Yes, old man.' Uncle Paul nodded vigorously. 'You've made it as plain as a pikestaff. Not giving me much time to work in, though, are you? I'd meant to stay here the night; but since you're in such a desperate hurry, perhaps I'd better travel back to London this evening.'
'I think that would be an excellent idea,' I agreed. 'As a matter of fact I meant to suggest it; because as things are I think it would be a very bad thing for you to spend the evening with Helmuth. Seeing that it's a fine afternoon, he is almost certain to be out at this hour; so if you telephone for a car at once you may be able to get away without even seeing him. Anyway, I'm sure you'd be well advised to avoid a long session with him tonight. He's a persuasive devil, and drinking a couple of bottles of Cockburn’s '12 with him after dinner might cost you a five figure income.'
He laughed, a little weakly. 'By gad, Toby, you've got a darned unpleasant sense of humour; but it's just like your grandfather's.'
'I wasn't being funny,' I said quietly.
After that we said goodbye, and he hurried off to order a car, and get his things repacked while waiting for it.
An hour and a half later Helmuth came in. He gave me a searching look and said: 'What's happened to your uncle? Why did he rush off like that?'
'How would I know?' I replied with a bland smile. 'He said something about not being able to stay the night because he had urgent business in London.'
A cat like grin spread over Helmuth's face and he gave a sudden sardonic laugh. 'If you think that your Uncle Paul is capable of removing you from my care, you are making a big mistake. Kill or cure, I mean to see this matter through; and you still have a lot to learn about my powers for asserting my will.' Then he turned on his heel and marched out of the room.
In spite of what he said, there was something in his manner which told me that he was both annoyed, and a little rattled, at Uncle Paul having sidestepped him. And I am pretty confident that I have really scared my uncle into taking action. So, although I'm very far from being out of the wood, I feel tonight that I can at least see a ray of daylight.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:10 | Сообщение # 26
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CHAPTER 29

Friday, 5th June
I have solved the mystery of the footsteps. Doing so shook me to the core. I break out into a muck sweat when I recall the terror that engulfed me as a result of my curiosity overcoming my fears.
It was the knowledge that the odds are now on my being out of here before the weekend is over that had restored my nerve and tempted me into opening this Pandora's box. When I heard those steps on the stairs again last night at the usual hour, I plucked up all my courage and rapped with my knuckles sharply on the wainscoting behind the head of my bed.
The steps halted for a moment, then went on. I rapped again. They halted again; then there came a weird creaking sound.
It is now seven nights since the moon was full, so tomorrow she will be passing into her last quarter. The light she gives is already nowhere near as bright as it was. It does no more than make the grating stand out as a luminous patch in the middle of the wall, and dilute the darkness with a faint greyness. I could barely discern the outline of my bedside table, and the wall beyond it was a solid patch of blackness until, as the creaking sounded, it was split by a long, thin ribbon of light.
I held my breath and my heart began to thump. I wished to God that I had let sleeping dogs lie, but by then it was too late to do anything except curse myself for a fool.
A bony hand suddenly emerged from the strip of light. I saw it plainly. I cowered back. My teeth clenched in an instinctive effort to check the scream that rose to my throat.
It was a small hand; but the fingers were very long and the knuckles very pronounced. It seemed to claw at the nearest edge of the lighted strip. The creaking recommenced. The strip of light widened. I realised then that a panel in the wainscoting was being forced back. I wondered frantically what frightful thing I had so wantonly summoned to me. Something, 1 knew, was about to emerge from behind the panel into the room. Was the hand human or the limb of some ghastly, satanic entity, that had its origin in the Pit?
I was so overcome with fear as to what I might see next that I shut my eyes. The creaking ceased and was followed by a rustling sound. Then there was a faint clatter and a shuffling on the floor, only a yard from my bed. My eyes started open and I saw a vague grey figure leaning forward to peer at me. I shrunk away; thrusting out my hands to protect myself and moaning with terror.
Suddenly the figure laughed a high-pitched, unnatural, eerie cackle. The sound seemed to turn my blood to water. Then its voice came brittle but human, with a childlike treble note:
'Why, it's Toby Jugg. What are you doing up here?'
With a gasp of ineffable relief, I realised that this midnight visitor was only my poor, old, half-witted Great-aunt Sarah; and that the outer wall of the Castle must contain a secret stairway that she uses for some purpose of her own each night.
'God, what a fright you gave me!' I exclaimed, with a semi hysterical laugh. Then I levered myself up in the bed with my hands, till I was sitting propped against the pillows, to get a better look at her.
She had left her candle on the steps behind the opening of the panel through which she had come. By its light I could see now that she was wrapped in a long pale blue dressing gown, the skirts of which trailed on the floor. Her scant hair hung in grey wisps about her thin face, and her eyes gleamed with a bright, feverish light. As I took in the macabre figure that she cut I felt that I had no reason to be ashamed of the panic with which I had been seized at the first glimpse of her. Despite the fact that she entirely lacked the aura of Evil that had made my flesh creep with the coming of the Shadow, she was infinitely nearer to the ghost of tradition, and I am sure that on coming face to face with such an apparition at dead of night plenty of people far braver than I am would have lost their nerve.
Picking up her candlestick and holding the light aloft, so that she could see me better, she repeated in her shrill treble: 'What are you doing up here, Toby Jugg?'
Since my arrival at Llanferdrack I had seen her only about half a dozen times with her companion, in the garden; and, although I had exchanged a few words with the latter, she had never spoken to me herself, so I was surprised that she even knew who I was. Evidently the old girl was not entirely gaga, and as I wanted to find out what she was up to, I said as gently as I could:
'Dr. Lisicky had me moved up here a few days ago, Aunt Sarah. I'm living here now. You don't mind that, do you? But what are you doing? Why do you go down those stairs every night at eleven o'clock?'
'To dig my tunnel,' she replied at once. Then a sudden look of fear came into her eyes and she clapped a skinny hand over her mouth, like a child who realises that it has inadvertently let out a secret.
'Why are you digging a tunnel?' I asked quietly.
'You won't tell you won't tell! Please, Toby Jugg, please! Nettie must never know. She would stop me. He's waiting for me there. I am his only hope. You won't tell Nettie please, please!' Her words came tumbling out in a spate of apprehension. By 'Nettie' I guessed that she meant her old sourpuss of a companion, Miss Nettelfold.
'I wouldn't dream of telling anyone,' I assured her. 'But now you've told me about the tunnel there is no reason why you shouldn't share the rest of your secret with me, is there? Where does your tunnel go to; and who is "he"?'
'Why, he is Lancelot, of course.' Her eyes widened with surprise at my ignorance. 'Surely you know that she is keeping him a prisoner there, at the bottom of the lake?'
Bit by bit I got the whole story of the strange fancies that for many years have obsessed the poor old madwoman's brain.
The bare facts I already knew. When she was a girl of twenty she fell in love with the last Lord Llanferdrack, and he with her. She was many years younger than her only brother my grandfather so although he was not then the multimillionaire that he afterwards became, he had already amassed a considerable fortune. Nevertheless, the Llanferdracks were a proud old feudal family, and the young lord's mother was most averse to his marrying the sister of a jumped-up Yorkshire industrialist, so there was considerable opposition to the match.
All this happened well over forty years ago, and in Queen Victoria 's time young people were kept on a pretty tight rein; so for a while the lovers had great difficulty in even meeting in secret, and every possible pressure was put on young Lancelot Llanferdrack to make him give Great-aunt Sarah up. Probably it was that opposition which made them madder than ever about one another. Anyhow, they wouldn't give in, and eventually Albert Abel took matters in hand. He came down here to see old Lady Llanferdrack and, somehow, succeeded in fixing matters for his sister. The engagement was formally announced, and little Sarah Jugg was asked down to meet her fiancé’s family in the ancestral home.
She had been here only a few days when the most appalling tragedy occurred. They were out in a punt on the lake and Lancelot was fishing. He missed his footing and went in head down. It seems that he must have got caught in the weeds at the bottom of that first plunge, for he never came up. He simply disappeared before her eyes. The lake is very deep in parts and they never recovered his body.
The shock turned her brain. Against all reason she insisted that he would come up sooner or later, and that she must remain near the lake until he did. All efforts to persuade her to leave the district were in vain; and eventually Albert Abel bought the Castle from Lady Llanferdrack, so that poor Great-aunt Sarah could have her wish and live by the lake for the rest of her days.
That is where fact ends and the strange weaving of her own imagination begins. Perhaps her fiancé’s name having been Lancelot is the basis of the fancies that years of brooding over her tragedy have built up in her mind; or it may be that local tradition has it that this lake in the Welsh mountains is the original one of the Arthurian legend.
In any case, she believes that the Lady of the Lake lives in it and, being jealous of her, snatched Lancelot from her arms. She is convinced that he is still alive, but a prisoner at the bottom of the lake, and that her missions is to rescue him. This apparently can be done only by digging a tunnel, over half a mile long, through the foundations of the Castle and right out beneath the dead centre of the lake; then Lancelot will do a little digging on his own account, and having made a hole in its bottom over her tunnel, will escape through it to live with her happily ever after.
I asked her how far she still had to go, what the tunnel was like, and various other questions. It seems that it is only large enough to crawl through, and that she shores it up as she goes along with odd bits of floorboard and roofing that she collects from some of the rooms in the Castle that have been allowed to fall into ruin.
But progress is slow, and she does not get far enough to need a new roof prop more than about once in six weeks. It was the wizard Merlin who put her on to this idea for rescuing her lover, and he told her that the whole thing would prove a flop if she used a tool of any kind, or even a bit of stick to dig with, and that each night she must take ever scrap of dirt she removes out under her clothes; so it is a kind of labour of Hercules, and the poor old thing is doing the whole job with her bare hands.
Merlin also put another snag in it. He said that she must not arouse the Lady of the Lake 's suspicions by digging straight towards the centre of the lake; instead the tunnel must go the whole length of the chapel, then out as far as the bridge and, only there, turn in towards its final objective. On four occasions, too, while burrowing alongside the chapel, she came up against impenetrable walls of stone in the foundations, and after years of wasted work had to start again practically from the beginning.
That has worried her a lot, as she is a bit uncertain now in which direction she really is going; but she thinks it is all right, as she can hear Lancelot's voice calling to her and encouraging her more clearly than she could a few years ago. He is being very good and patient about the long delay in getting him out, and he must certainly be a knight sans peur et sans reproche, as he still refuses even to kiss the hand of the black-haired Circe who has made him her captive in spite of the fact that she comes and waggles herself at him nightly. At least, that's what he tells Great-aunt Sarah, and who am I to disbelieve him?
I should have thought that after the dark enchantress had put in her first twenty years attempting, every evening, to vamp Lancelot without success, she would have gone a bit stale on the type, and started looking around for a more responsive beau; but evidently she and my great-aunt are running about neck to neck in this terrific endurance contest.
After talking to the old girl for about half an hour I had got the whole pathetic business out of her. By then she was obviously anxious to get along down to her digging, so I once more promised that I wouldn't give her secret away, and, closing the secret panel carefully behind her, she left me.
So far, today has been one of the pleasantest that I have had for a long time. My quadrant of private terrace faces south southeast, so it gets full sunshine till well past midday, and all the morning I sat out there with Sally. I call Nurse Cardew Sally now, as she says she prefers it.
After we had been out there a little while she asked me if I thought it would be terribly unprofessional if she sunbathed; and you had something of himself in you and would make a go of it. I believe you will, too, if you're ever able to get about again. Anyway he was right about me. There was too much money for me to have gambled it all away; but cads like Iswick would have had the breeches off me within a couple of years. They won't off you, though. When you were speaking just now it might have been your grandfather browbeating some wretched competitor into selling out. I had no idea you could be so hard.'
'I'm not being hard,' I countered. 'I'm only being logical. I'm up against it, and I'm simply using such weapons as I possess; that's all. I know you're frightened of Helmuth; everybody is; that's why I have to go the limit to get you on my side; otherwise I would never have put it the way I did.'
He nodded. 'I see your point, old man. Lot in it, too. Mind, I don't believe for a minute that you're right about Helmuth. He honestly thinks you've gone a bit queer, and that the fewer people who get to know about it the better. As he has been stopping your letters, and you couldn't let us know how you felt about wanting to leave Llanferdrack, I suppose there's quite a case for your having tried to escape on your own. But that nice young nurse of yours tells me that you've created merry hell here more than once, and used the most fearful language.'
'True enough,' I admitted. 'And wouldn't you, if you were treated like a prisoner? I'm not even allowed in the garden now; and look at this room. Can you possibly imagine anything more like a cell in the Bastille?'
'I could get Helmuth to alter all that,' he offered, a little more cheerfully, 'but as you say yourself, he's a tough proposition. I'm afraid it would take a greater nerve than I've got to sack him. Even if that were justified, which I don't think it is. And as the Trustees placed you in his care, I don't at all like the idea of telling him that I've made other plans for you.'
'You are going to, though; aren't you?' I insisted, striving to keep the anxiety out of my voice. 'Getting him to ease up the prison routine is not enough. I am relying on you to get me out of his clutches at once, and for good.'
'Yes, old man. I quite see that.' He stood up and, thrusting his hands into his trouser pockets, began to pace agitatedly back and
I said 'Of course not'; so she went in and changed into a frightfully fetching bathing dress white satin with no back and darned little front which she said she had bought at Antibes the summer before the war. She is a Junoesque wench, and it would take a man of my size to pick her up and spank her, but she has one hell of a good figure.
Before I had had a chance to take in this eyeful properly she started in to get my upper things off, and she stripped me to the waist, so that I could sunbathe too. Then she lay down on a rug near my chair and we spent the next two hours talking all sorts of nonsense.
But, of course, the thing that has really made such a difference to my outlook is my talk with Uncle Paul yesterday. I am certain that I scared the pants off him, and convinced him that he will practically be selling matches in the gutter unless he gets me out of this before I am a couple of days older.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:10 | Сообщение # 27
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CHAPTER 30

Saturday, 6th June
Another lovely morning and more sunbathing with Sally on the terrace. After we had been chatting for a while I asked her if she really and truly believed that I was nuts, and would be prepared to take her oath to that effect in a court of law.
She looked up at me from where she was lying on her rug, and her nice freckled face was intensely serious as she replied:
'I'd hate to do that, but I'm afraid I'd have to, Toby. Of course, you're not out of your mind at all frequently, but very few mental people are all the time. I wouldn't have believed that you were mental at all if I hadn't seen you as you were last week, and known about your quite unreasoned hatred of Dr. Lisicky.'
'Surely,' I said, controlling my voice as carefully as I could, 'the riots you saw me create downstairs in the library, and after my escape, could easily be accounted for as outbursts of temper, due to the frustration felt by an invalid who believes that an undue restraint is being put upon him?'
She pulled hard on her cigarette. 'But that's just the trouble, Toby. You imagine that an undue restraint is being put upon you; but it isn't really so.'
'Are you absolutely convinced of that?'
'Absolutely. There is nothing whatever about the arrangements here, or Dr. Lisicky's treatment of you, to suggest that you are being persecuted. Yet you think you are. So I'm afraid there is no escaping the fact that you are suffering from a form of persecution mania.'
'All right, then,' I said after a moment. 'Naturally, I don't agree about that; but we'll let it pass. Do you think that my state would justify putting me in an asylum?'
'Oh, please, let's not talk about it,' she begged. 'Tell me about some of the exciting times you had when you were in the R.A.F.'
'No, Sally. I want you to answer my question,' I insisted.
'Well then,' she said in rather a small voice, 'if you must know, I think it might. That is, if these bouts of yours continue. You see, nearly all lunacy is periodic, and yours seems to take the classic form, in which the subject is affected by the moon. Dr. Lisicky says that you are perfectly normal during the rest of the month, but suffer from these outbreaks whenever the moon is near full. This last time you raved, used the most filthy language which I am sure you would never do in front of me when you are your real self wept and became violent.'
'And that,' I cut in, bitterly, 'is just what mad people do, isn't it?'
She nodded. 'I'm afraid it is. So you see, if you go on getting these attacks every month, it may become necessary to put you under restraint while they last. But that would be only for a few days each time, of course. And please don't worry yourself about it, because that sort of mental trouble is perfectly curable, and I'm sure that you'll be quite all right again in a few months.'
'Thanks, Sally,' I said. 'I'm very grateful to you for being honest with me. Now we'll talk of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings or of anything else that you like'; and we did for the rest of the morning.
All the same, I am damnably disturbed by what she said. She may admire Helmuth, but I am positive that she is not under his thumb to the extent of deliberately deceiving me on his instructions. She was speaking from her own convictions, and with considerable reluctance. I am certain of that, and it has given me furiously to think.
Of course she knows nothing of the huge financial interests that are involved in this question of my sanity or madness; and she knows nothing about the Horror which is the prime cause of my outbursts. But did I really see that Shadow or did I only think I did, owing to my mind having become subject to the malefic influence of the moon?
I can't help wishing now that I had never raised the matter with Sally and forced her to answer my questions.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:13 | Сообщение # 28
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CHAPTER 31

Monday, 8th June
This journal has served an admirable purpose. Keeping it has helped to distract my thoughts from my anxieties for many hours during the past five weeks, but to continue it further is now pointless; so I am making this last entry simply to round it off neatly.
Some day, when I am quite well again mentally I mean I may read it through with interest and, I think, astonishment at the extraordinary thoughts that have recently agitated my poor mind; so it is worth the trouble of giving it a proper ending.
During the past forty-eight hours a lot has happened. Just before teatime on Saturday Uncle Paul returned, as he had promised, and he brought Julia with him. They had tea with me; over it they told me that they had already had a talk with Helmuth, and that he had said that he would not raise the slightest objection to their taking me away with them. He was sorry that I wished to remove myself from his care, and considered that I should be very ill-advised to do so, but if I decided to take that course I was perfectly free to go when and where I liked.
Naturally, at the time, I thought he was putting on a hypocritical act, to cover as best he could his inability to defy the Trustees openly. But I was greatly relieved to think that the matter was already settled and that I had in the end achieved my victory with so little trouble.
After tea Uncle Paul left Julia and I together, and we settled down to a real heart to heart.
She was looking as lovely as ever, and it seems impossible to believe that she is thirty-three. She has hardly changed at all since she reached the height of her beauty, and I don't think a stranger would take her for more than twenty-six, or seven. When I was a little boy I never understood why the angels in the Scripture books that Nanny Trotter used to read me were invariably portrayed as fair; and after I first saw Julia I always used to think of her as my dark angel.
Her big eyes and her hair which she has always worn in her own style, smoothly curling to her shoulders are as black as night, and her flawless skin has the matt whiteness of magnolia petals. She might well have sat as the model for a Madonna by one of the old masters, and perhaps one of her Colonna ancestresses did when the Italian school of painting was at its height. The only unsaintly thing about her is the exceptional fullness of her red lips. That makes her beauty rather startling, but even more subtly devastating, as it gives her a warm, human touch.
She began by reproaching me very gently for the way I had treated Uncle Paul. She said that I should have known that he would at once take all possible steps to safeguard my happiness, without my threatening to reduce him to penury. And that I must have known that would mean poverty for her too; so, after all we had been to one another, how could I even contemplate such a mean and ruthless act against two people who had given me their love?
I felt terribly guilty and embarrassed, but I tried to explain the dire necessity I had been under to get myself removed from Llanferdrack at all costs; and I began to tell her about the Horror.
After a bit she said: 'Please, darling, don't harass yourself further by reviving these horrid memories. I know all about it already. Helmuth gave me your letters the ones he stopped because he didn't want me to have fits about you before I came upstairs. I read them all, and I have them here.' Upon which she produced them from her bag.
'Then, if you know that part of the story,' I said quickly, 'you must understand how imperative I felt it to get away.'
She nodded, but a sad look came into her eyes. 'I do understand, darling. You must have been through a terrible time. But the thing that worries us all so much is that there has never been any suggestion before that this place is haunted; and we are afraid that you would have seen or thought you saw this terrifying apparition, during the periods of the full moon, if you had been with us at Queensclere, or anywhere else.'
'Then you don't believe that I really saw anything at all?' I challenged her.
'I wouldn't say that,' she replied thoughtfully. 'Helmuth does not believe in the Supernatural, but I do. I've never seen an apparition myself, but I am certain that the "burglar" that you saw when we were down at Kew was one. Perhaps you are more psychic than I am, and so more receptive to such influences.'
'I've never regarded myself as a psychic type,' I admitted. 'But you remember that business of the Abbot's grave at Weylands. After that horrible experience I described my sensations to you, and I had exactly the same feelings of cold, repulsion and stark terror down in the library here.'
'That could have been caused by a recurrence in your memory of the Weylands affair.' She took out a cigarette. I lit it for her, and she went on: 'I'll tell you what makes me doubt if you really did see anything. When Helmuth and your nurse were telling us all about it, before I came up, they described the night just a week ago when you started bawling barrack room choruses at the top of your voice, and they ran into your room. You pointed wildly to the bottom of the blackout curtain and yelled: "Look! Look! Do you call that an hallucination?" But neither of them saw anything; and I should have thought one or other of them would have, had there been anything to see.'
'Perhaps neither of them is psychic,' I argued a little weakly.
"That might be the explanation,' she shrugged, 'but I don't think so. I have been at séances where trumpets and tambourines have floated in the air, and others where the medium has emitted large quantities of ectoplasm; and it is not just one or two people who see such manifestations, but the whole audience and sometimes some of them are convinced sceptics before the séance starts.'
For quite a time we argued round the matter. She pointed out that although Great-aunt Sarah and Miss Nettelfold had lived here for a lifetime, no complaint had ever been made by them to the Trustees that Llanferdrack had a family horror which periodically gave trouble; and that although servants were usually the first to get the wind up about such things, none of the staff here had ever given notice on the grounds that the place had a bad atmosphere.
So, eventually, I was forced to agree that such evidence as we had to go on all pointed to the Shadow having no existence outside my imagination.
About seven o'clock Julia left me to go and change; but she said that she would have her dinner sent up on a tray with mine, so that we could dine together.
I think most beautiful women look their best in evening dress, and although Julia is a sight to gladden the heart in anything, she is certainly of the type whose proper setting is satin and pearls rather tan tweeds. She looked absolutely ravishing.
We had a couple of cocktails apiece, split a bottle of Burgundy and rounded things off with some Kummel. By the time we had finished I was feeling so good that I was almost resigned to the thought that I had gone a bit mental provided I could get away from Llanferdrack, and there was a decent hope of my being cured pretty quickly. But I was still of the opinion that Helmuth's conduct needed a lot of explaining, and when Konrad had carried away our dinner trays I started in on the subject.
We went into the whole business piece by piece: the letters, the blackout curtains, my telephone extension; the refusal to leave me my lamp, or get me a torch, or move my radio; or let me have more than one sleeping tablet; Helmuth's arbitrary treatment of Taffy, his stopping me from getting into the train and, finally, his virtually making me a prisoner in this old part of the Castle.
Looked at in retrospect, I must honestly confess that there was really very little to it all, if one once accepts the following premise:
(1) That shortly after my arrival here Helmuth began to suspect
that my injury and eight months in hospital had, to some degree,
affected the balance of my mind.
(2) That he at once began to keep me under observation and
opened my mail as part of the process.
(3) That, on finding his fears confirmed, he considered it his duty to my relations to save them from worry, and his duty to myself to take all possible steps to prevent the knowledge leaking out and prejudicing my future.
(4) That he hoped the rest and a regular routine would put me right, and decided that nothing must be done which would encourage me to believe that I was suffering from anything worse than nightmares.
The above is the gist of how he had put it to Julia, and as she passed it on to me. After thrashing the matter out we fell silent for a bit; then she suddenly said:
'Besides, what possible motive could he have for adopting such an extraordinary attitude towards you? I mean, trying to make things worse for you instead of better, as you still seem to half suspect?'
I was surprised that Uncle Paul had said nothing to her about my theory that there was a conspiracy to drive me insane; but perhaps he had thought it too farfetched to mention. I told her my ideas on that and her eyes widened in amazement as she listened.
'But Toby!' she exclaimed at last. 'How could you think such base thoughts of a man who has given some of the best years of his life to developing your mind and character? This is the first time that I have ever been ashamed of you.'
'Oh, come!' I protested a bit uncomfortably. 'After all, he was damn' well paid for what he did.'
She shook her head. 'One can't pay for care and affection with money, darling. Perhaps, though, I am being a little hard on you. To talk to, you are so perfectly normal that I forget about your not being quite well in your mind. It is only when you produce ideas like that of turning Paul and myself out into the street, or this one that Helmuth wants to lock you up and rob you, that I suddenly realise how right he is about your no longer being your real self.'
'All the same,' I argued, 'you must admit that the Trustees would stand to gain if a Board of Lunacy ruled that I was unfitted to inherit.'
'Not sufficiently to provide a motive for them to enter into a criminal conspiracy,' she countered. 'You seem to forget that most of them are immensely rich already. Paul, of course, is an exception, but he knows as well as I do that if you come into your money you will make a most generous provision for him; and Smith and Roberts don't stand to lose anything, because they are professional advisers and would go on drawing their fees just the same, whatever happens.'
"That still leaves Iswick and Helmuth.'
She laughed. 'Really, Toby darling, you're being too silly. We may all look on Harry Iswick as an awful little bounder, but he is as clever as a cartload of monkeys. In the past ten years he has made a fortune on his own account, and his interest in the Jugg combine is only a sideline with him now. I know that for a fact. As for Helmuth, surely you see that he has much more to lose than to gain from your being put in a home. Big business isn't really his line of country, so it is unlikely that he would be able to improve his position much by continuing as a Trustee. Whereas, with you in possession of your millions, he would have every right to expect you to find a suitable use for his abilities, at a handsome remuneration, in recognition of all he has done for you in the past. I give you my word, sweet, that this conspiracy idea is absolutely fantastic'
There seemed no answer to her arguments, and reviewing them again, now that I no longer have her glowing presence before me, I still don't think there is. But accepting them brought me face to face with the question of Helmuth, and I asked her what she thought I ought to do about him.
'Sleep on it, darling,' she advised me, 'and see how you feel about it in the morning. If you find that you really cannot rid yourself of this awful prejudice that you have built up in your mind against him, I think it would be better to let sleeping dogs lie. Later, perhaps, you will feel differently; then you can let him know how sorry you are that you suspected him so unjustly. But he is terribly fond of you, and must be feeling very hurt at the moment.
'So if all I have said has convinced you that you are in the wrong, the generous thing would be for you to let me bring him up to you tomorrow. You needn't eat humble pie, or be embarrassed about it; but must say that you realise now that you have not been quite yourself lately, and have given him a lot of unnecessary trouble. That's quite enough. He'll understand; and I am sure it would please him a lot to know that you bear him no ill will before you leave here.'
It was late when she left me, but I lay awake thinking about it a long time after she had gone. I came to the conclusion that in many respects Helmuth had shown very poor psychology in his treatment of me, and that the arbitrary way in which he had handled matters was enough to make anyone who was slightly mental develop a persecution complex, but that my conspiracy idea was the wildest nonsense, and that there was not one atom of proof to show that he had not acted throughout in what he believed to be my best interests.
In consequence, on Sunday morning I told Julia that I would like to see Helmuth, and later we had a grand reconciliation on my sunny terrace.
For such entertaining as my grandfather had to do, he bought anything that was going cheap in the City, in big parcels of forty or fifty cases at a time; so the cellar he left was not distinguished for either its variety or quality. But in the past thirteen years Uncle Paul has spared no pains to make up for those deficiencies, and soon after the war broke out he had a large part of the Queensclere and London cellars moved down here as a precaution against their being blitzed. So for us to celebrate he was able to order up a magnum of Krug, Private Cuvee 1926, and I don't think I have ever tasted better champagne in my life.
Everything went off remarkably easily. I said my piece and Helmuth met me more than halfway. He admitted that many of his acts must have seemed highhanded and even tyrannical, but he had been dominated by the one thought of preventing it from leaking out that I had become mental.
As he explained, it is just like a man going bankrupt; however unlucky he may have been, and even if he pays up one pound in the pound afterwards and gets an honourable discharge, it always prejudices his future commercial undertakings. So with mental trouble, the effect would be little short of disastrous to me as the head of the Jugg enterprises if it ever became known that I had once suffered from hallucinations.
He went on to say that he had moved me from downstairs only with the greatest reluctance, because he was most loath to give the servants grounds for talk; but that after my attempts to get away he had felt that to do so was the lesser evil. And that when he had decided to move me he had chosen this room because it was one of those furthest removed from the servants' quarters, so they were less likely to hear me if further attacks led to a renewal of my singing and shouting. He added, too, that he found it a considerably inconvenience to be deprived of Konrad's services, but he knew that the fellow could be trusted not to blab, so he had willingly given him up to me, rather than risk letting a new man, who might later prove untrustworthy, into our secret.
We went on then to discuss what should be done with me. Julia said that she would willingly have me at Queensclere; but the difficulty about that is that the house is occupied by the Army, and she and Uncle Paul have been allowed to retain only what amounts to a flat of half dozen rooms on the first floor. So, apart from the question of air raids, and the business of getting me down to a shelter which they insisted would have to be done if I went therein the event of my having further attacks it would be practically impossible to prevent the officers who are billeted in the house from learning about my condition.
Kensington Palace Gardens is out, because it has now been taken over to provide additional accommodation for the Soviet Embassy; so, of my own properties, that left only the little house on Mull. And if I were put into a nursing home it is a certainty, that the secret of my affliction would get out.
I suggested that a small house should be bought for me in Devonshire or Cornwall, but they all seemed to think that it would be practically impossible to find anything suitable at the present time, as every available property in the 'safe' areas had been taken over to house evacuees; and even if we could find one it raises the problem of who is going to run it and look after me.
Of course, the same thing applies to Mull, but eventually Helmuth offered to throw up his work here and take me up there. That was very decent of him, and it seemed a possible solution for the next few months. But it would be far from attractive as a permanency, as to have to winter there would be incredibly depressing and grim; and even during the summer we would have none of the good things, such as the garden produce, that we enjoy down here. Still, it seemed the best thing we could think of when lunchtime came, so they left me to think it over.
When they joined me again about three o'clock, Julia put it to me that, since I was now reconciled to Helmuth, did I really still feel so strongly about leaving Llanferdrack? She pointed out that, so far, I had been subject to attacks only while down in the library, and that now I had been moved I might not be afflicted with them any more. The advantages of Llanferdrack over Mull needed no stressing, and my acceptance of Helmuth's offer would mean sabotaging much of the fine war effort that he has built up here during the past two and a half years. Therefore, didn't I think that I could bring myself to stay on here for a time at least anyhow until the next full moon period and if it transpired that the attacks did recur, then I could always be removed at once.
Actually, while I had been eating my lunch, I had been thinking on much the same lines myself; so I agreed.
We then went into the question of my birthday and it was decided that, in present circumstances, it would not be a good thing to have the Trustees down here on the 20th. If Iswick, Roberts and the rest got the least suspicion that I was not quite normal they might consider it their duty to have me examined by a committee of brain specialists before agreeing to hand over.
In consequence Uncle Paul is going to inform the others that I hope to be fit enough to make a short visit to London in the latter part of July; so I have suggested that the whole business presents and everything shall be put off for a month, as it will be much more convenient' for them to meet me there.
It was agreed, too, that I should remain in this room; partly for the original reason that Helmuth put me here, and partly because there is no other except the library, downstairs which is at all suitable. Actually, this big chamber with its vaulted roof is not without its attractions. Even in summer it would ordinarily be a bit chilly, but every afternoon a fire is lit for me in the great open fireplace, and in the evenings its glow on the wainscoting and old stone makes the place rather cosy.
And I have come to love my little private terrace with its view over the lake. The only real snag is that it would require too much effort to get me to the nearest bathroom every evening; so I have to have my tub in an old-fashioned hipbath, for which Konrad has to boil up large kettles of water on the open fire. But, after all, the types who occupied this room for hundreds of years managed quite well that way; and lots of our chaps in the Western Desert, and elsewhere, are not lucky enough to get a bath at all.
Julia and Uncle Paul returned to London this morning, and Helmuth went with them, just for the night, as he has to attend a Board Meeting of one of the Companies tomorrow. Before they left we had a final chat, and Helmuth promised that as soon as the moon begins to wax again he will come in to me every night, round about midnight, to see that I am all right. If I am not, he will make arrangements to take me up to Mull as soon as possible, and, in the meantime, he will help me to fight my trouble.
He is a tower of strength, and I have been terribly unjust to him. He was absolutely right to keep me here and showed his true fondness for me in doing so. Only here am I really safe from prying eyes and whispering tongues. Here we can keep the secret of my miserable affliction safely concealed until I am well again.
We all feel now, though, that the change of room may do the trick. Regaining confidence in Helmuth has helped me enormously to regain it in myself, and I do not believe that there is the least danger of my becoming a mental case permanently. Therefore I am able to end this journal on an optimistic note; and, now that I really do know where I stand, there is no point in continuing it further.

 
bigsidДата: Суббота, 06.06.2009, 11:15 | Сообщение # 29
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CHAPTER 33

Thursday, 11th June
I am profoundly disturbed. That is putting it mildly. I had another long talk with Helmuth yesterday evening and he told me a lot more about the Weylands Brotherhood. In view of the importance of this conversation I shall strive for the utmost accuracy in recording it.
As soon as he had settled himself comfortably in front of the fire, I said: 'Last night you were saying that there is a royal road to acquiring power. I'd be terribly interested to hear about it.'
'So you've thought things over and are inclined to regard my proposition favourably, eh?'
As I was curious to learn more, I saw no point in denying that, so I let it pass, and he went on:
'I am glad for both our sakes; and if what I said last night intrigued you, I am sure that what I have to say now will intrigue you to an infinitely greater degree. Power is the thing that men have craved more than any other, all through the ages. Now tell me, what would you say were the four most powerful forces in the world?'
I thought for a moment, then said: 'Faith, Love, Hunger and Money.'
'Wrong,' he declared. "They are the Elements Air, Earth, Fire and Water. If you can control those you can do anything.'
I nodded. 'I suppose Science is gradually succeeding in that. Gas and electricity are forms of fire; we harness rivers and the tides; and the Backroom boys of the R.A.F. are tackling the problem of dispersing fog.'
'Oh, Science plods along,' his tone was faintly contemptuous, 'but all those types of control require elaborate machinery to operate them. I was referring to the control of the elements by the human will.'
He saw my puzzled look, and added: 'For example, Jesus Christ walked upon the water.'
Never before had I heard him mention Christ's name except in connection with some sneer; and I said in surprise: 'But I thought you didn't believe in Him?'
'As a God, I don't,' came the quick reply, 'but there is no reason to doubt that he was an historic Personage, and that he had "power". However, there are innumerable other examples of the sort of thing I mean. There are well authenticated accounts of Indian Fakirs who have mastered the art of levitation; that is, defeating gravity by remaining suspended in midair. The witchdoctors of the North American Indians could walk on red hot embers without burning the soles of their feet. The juju men of Africa can bring rain when it suits their purpose.'
'Do you seriously mean that the members of the Brotherhood can perform such extraordinary feats?'
'Some of us can. But each feat requires long and exhausting training, and after all, what point is there in devoting years to learning such tricks? They are really rather childish, and have no practical value except to impress the vulgar; and we are not interested in attempting to attract the multitude. Most of us prefer to devote our energies to more subtle tasks, and use the special powers that we acquire in support of our worldly activities. If you think for a moment what that means, in conjunction with brains, wealth and influence, you will be able to appreciate, far better than you could yesterday, that not only will the Brotherhood survive the general destruction of the upper classes in this country, but eventually dominate it.'
'Ah this is so staggering,' I murmured, 'that you must forgive me if I haven't quite gripped it yet. Accepting what you say about the Brotherhood's powers to perform miracles, I still don't see how they can be applied to further your ends in modern political and commercial life.'
'Don't you!' he laughed. "Then I'll give you a few examples,
You have already stumbled on the fringe of the matter yourself
by using hypnotism to impose your will on people. You didn't
get far with Taffy, but for an amateur you were amazingly successful with Deb. Properly trained you could use it with considerable effect on many of your future business associates. The trained will can also read thoughts, and confer good or bad health on the operator's friends or enemies. It can '
'Could both my mental state and the injury to my spine be cured?' I interrupted. 'That is, if I become a member of the Brotherhood?'
He nodded. "The first would be simple. That was what I meant when I promised that if the attacks occurred again I would help you to fight them. You need have no further worries on that score. Your spine presents a more difficult problem, because it is a, physical injury. If a man has a limb shot off, no power, however great, can enable him to grow another in its place. But the will can perform incredible feats of healing; and I am reasonably confident that within a few months we could enable you to walk again.'
'I would give a lot to be able to do that,' I sighed. 'I have often wondered if anything could be done for me by faith healing.'
'This is much more than that,' he smiled, 'and far more potent, as it brings into play certain ancient laws which are entirely unknown to the ordinary faith healer. But I was telling you of some of the feats that the human will can perform when properly directed. Quite apart from the use of hypnotism it can put thoughts and impulses into other people's heads. It can attract women and dissipate their moral scruples, so that they surrender without even realising that they are acting entirely contrary to their original intentions. Given certain aids and great concentration of will, one can foresee glimpses of the future.
'By similar means one can also see what is going on through walls or at a distance. That is how I found out that you were preparing to escape with Deb's help, and was able to come down to the hall just as you were leaving. I should have found out that you were about to escape with Taffy too, if I had had my mental eye on you; but that night I was occupied with other matters. By projecting the will one can influence people through their dreams, and one can also ill wish them. As a last resort one can even cause them to decline and die. Those are only some of the weapons possessed by the members of the Brotherhood; and it is prepared to use them all in order to overcome such opposition as it encounters.'
I was silent for a moment; my brain whirling with the appalling thoughts he had conjured up. At length I said:
'Hypnotism, faith healing, thought reading and other mental processes where the operator imposes his will face to face with the subject, are recognised by the medical world and explainable by the direct human contact that takes place. But to see what is happening at a distance, to influence people's dreams, to be able to ill wish them and send them death, are surely powers which can be acquired only through God or the Devil.'
He shrugged. "That is an old fashioned way of putting it.'
'Perhaps it is,' I muttered. 'But you don't deny it; although you have always told me that you do not believe in either.'
'One may reject the teaching of the Bible, yet accept the fact that forces outside this world govern everything in it.'
Suddenly Helmuth stood up; his tawny eyes gleamed with a strange light and his foreign accent became more marked as he went on:
"The secret of willing down power, or, if you prefer it, setting great supernatural forces in motion on one's own behalf, has been known to the initiate from time immemorial. Generation by generation it has been handed down, and today this priceless knowledge is the greatest asset of the Brotherhood. To become an initiate one must take the oath of obedience, subscribe to certain tenets of faith and master various complicated rituals. Those rituals are the jealously guarded secret of the chosen few; but, once you have become adept at them, you can operate the forces which we term Supernatural, because they are beyond all normal experience; and, through them, achieve your ambitions and desires. Such power is infinitely greater than any that wealth alone can bring, and in the name of the Brotherhood I offer it to you.'
I collected my wits as quickly as I could, and said: 'To become one of such a gifted company would be a great honour; anybody could see that. But the whole thing is so astonishing so extraordinary so, well, so utterly fantastic by all ordinary standards, that I am still very much at sea.'
He grinned at me. 'Yes. It is hardly surprising that you should feel a bit bowled over on first learning the magnitude of the powers that the Brotherhood possesses. But now that you know the truth about it, if there are any questions you want to ask, fire away.'
Controlling my voice with an effort, I replied: 'You have already answered the one that interests me most: that about the possibilities of getting back my health. But there is one other thing I would like to know. To put it bluntly, what is it going to cost for me to become a member?'
'I thought I told you yesterday.' He raised the well marked dark eyebrows that contrast so strangely with his mane of white hair. 'In that way it is the same as joining a Religious Order. You would make over to the Brotherhood everything you possess. But there the resemblance ends; because the fact that you had done so would always be kept secret, and you would not be required to take a vow of poverty; so for all practical purposes you would continue in the full enjoyment of your fortune.'
'Isn't that a bit too much to ask?' I protested rather meekly. 'I mean, there can't be many new initiates who have more than a few thousand to make over; so why should the Brotherhood require the whole of the Jugg millions to accept me?'
With a wave of his hand he brushed the question aside. 'My dear Toby! The amount that an initiate can contribute in worldly wealth does not enter into the matter. Some who have practically nothing of a cash value to offer are accepted on account of their intelligence, or the promise they show in some other direction. You cannot expect an exception to be made for you in the rules of a foundation that has existed unchanged for countless centuries. It could not be considered even if you were the King of England.'
'I see,' I said, still very humbly. 'I only enquired because of my grandfather.'
'What has he to do with it?' Helmuth frowned.
I endeavoured to look as worried as I could. 'He made all this money; and he went to extraordinary lengths to leave his fortune to me intact even to spending a considerable portion of his income during the latter part of his life in insuring against death duties. In view of that I am wondering if I really have the right to part with the control of it.'
Helmuth took the scruple I had raised quite seriously. 'I see your point,' he said. 'But I am sure that, on consideration, you will feel that he would approve your surrendering the lesser power that his wealth can give you for the greater power that has now been placed within your grasp. Anyhow, the last thing I would wish is to influence you into doing anything against your conscience. There is no immediate hurry. Think it over, and we'll talk about it again tomorrow.'
So I succeeded in stalling him without arousing his suspicions. To fight for a little time seemed the only possible line that I could take. Had I, refused point blank I would not even have gained these few hours to prepare myself to face a renewal of his hostility. But at last the naked truth is out. Helmuth is a Satanist.

 
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CHAPTER 35

Saturday, 13th June
I have entered on my fight. Helmuth's allusion to the Gestapo was more apt than he knew. In France, Holland, Norway, and lots of other places, there are hundreds of men of the Allied Nations and women too, who are being put through the mill by those, human beasts in black uniforms. Day after day they are appallingly maltreated and made to suffer the most degrading indignities. They have no hope of rescue or reprieve, but they don't give in lightly. Some of them crack before the finish; but many of them stick it out to the bitter end, and carry with them to an unknown grave the secrets that might aid the enemy.
One likes to think that none of us are given more to bear than c we can manage to sustain provided that we muster the greatest degree of fortitude of which we are capable; and that then we are overcome by a merciful oblivion. Perhaps it is like drowning, in which people usually come to the surface several times before they sink for good and all. I went under last night; but I've come up again this morning, and I still have a bit of kick left in me. Perhaps, though, that is due to Sally.
Yesterday's entry took me a long time to write; because I wanted to make it as complete and detailed as possible, in order that it may prove the more damning as an indictment of Helmuth if it ever reaches the hands of someone who is prepared to call him to account. When it was done I had not the energy left to set down my reactions, and they were too depressing to be of interest, anyhow.
It is clear beyond all doubt that he is a Satanist, and that when he spoke of 'conditioning' me he was referring to the Thing that menaced me from the courtyard. It can only be a manifestation of embodied Evil, that he called up with the deliberate intention of undermining my mental control. And, as he also spoke of performing mysterious rituals with the most monstrous intent, I spent most of the afternoon and evening in abject wretchedness, wondering what further horrors the future held for me.
The one thing that did bring me a ray of comfort, though, was the thought that the operation of his Satanic powers appeared to be dependent on bright moonlight; and we are still in the dark period of the month. The last full moon was on the 30th of May, so the new moon will not rise until the 20th; and, even after that, it will not reach the degree of brightness that I have come to regard as dangerous until several days later.
Alas for my hopes. Late last night they were shattered, in part at least. I had been buoying myself up with the idea that I could count on a minimum of ten clear days before Helmuth would be able to resume his ghastly 'conditioning' of me. God knows, my attempts to escape have so far ended in the most pitiful fiascos, but it is said that 'hope springs eternal in the human breast', and it did in mine, to the extent of desperately searching my mind for a way to make yet another attempt before he could get to work on me in earnest.
I am still doing that, as my belief that I shall not have to face the final crisis until towards the end of the month has been confirmed. But I am not to be given any peaceful respite to plan in; and it is now a question as to if I shall even be able to hang on to my sanity till then, let alone succeed in a last desperate bid to escape.
Yesterday evening I waited for Helmuth with mixed feelings of angry defiance and nervous apprehension, but he did not come at his usual time; nor did he come after dinner. Naturally, I could settle to nothing, and those hours seemed to drag interminably. At last Sally and Konrad settled me down for the night and I was left in the dark, still wondering why he had not come for his answer.
At length I dropped into a light sleep, but a little before midnight I was roused by hearing the creak of the hinges on the heavy oak door. And there he was, framed in its entrance, the light from the lamp he was carrying glinting on his mane of white hair and powerful features.
Having closed the door and set the lamp down, he said quietly: 'Well, Toby. What have you decided?'
Gripping the sides of the bed with my hands, I heaved myself up into a sitting position, and replied: 'To put a counterproposition to you.'
He shook his head. 'I am not interested.'
'I think you will be,' I insisted, 'when you hear what it is. I can quite understand what led you to join the Brotherhood and to work for it all these years. You love power and you are an ambitious man; but no good will come to you through seeking it this way. It is well known that the Devil always lets down his followers in the end. You would do far better to abandon the whole thing and find other channels for your energies. I can enable you to do that. If you will agree to have me sent to Queensclere, and to resign from the Board of Trustees, I will sign a document which we will have legally witnessed, promising to pay you the sum of half a million pounds, within one month of my twenty-first birthday.'
With a laugh of contempt he brushed my attempt to bribe him aside. 'Really, my dear Toby, you must take me for a fool. I hold. a high position in the Brotherhood, and its interests are identical with mine. Why should I be content with less than a thirtieth part of your fortune when I can have the whole of it for the taking? We need the control of your money to further the great work upon which we are engaged, and we mean to have it. The only question is, will you give it to us and thereby save yourself; or must we go to the trouble of taking it from you and, in the process, turn you from a man into a filthy, grovelling animal?'
'Get back to hell, where you belong!' I shouted at him.
He was careful to keep his distance, in case I grabbed him, pulled him to me, and attempted to strangle him; but he sat down just out of my reach on the end of the bed, and said:
'Since you insist upon it I must teach you a lesson. As you have rightly assumed, the irresistible force which we of the Brotherhood invoke is known to the vulgar as "the Devil"; but much of my personal power is derived through the agency of the moon. You will already have guessed that from your experiences down in the library on bright moonlit nights. If you remain adamant in your decision, I shall have to perform a solemn ritual to Our Lady Astoroth, when the moon is full again towards the end of the month. Once I have invoked her there will be no going back on that. All who have studied the esoteric doctrine agree that her appearance must be terrible beyond belief; for no man who has ever looked upon her face has been able afterwards even to recall his own name.
'But I still hope that extreme measure will not be necessary; and there are many other recourses of the Great Art known to me which do not require the propitiation of the Queen of the Dark Heaven.
'It may interest you to know that just as all Roman Catholics profess a special devotion to either their name saint or some other, so all members of the Brotherhood place themselves under the protection of one of the Princes who form the entourage of the Ancient of Days. Incidentally, he is so called because he is infinitely older than any of the false gods invented since by man. He existed before Earth was created, and was given it as his Province; so he is the true Lord of This World, and everyone in it owes him allegiance. For countless thousands of years primitive man knew no other Deity, and all the cults which have developed in historic times are heresies.
'Traces of the ancient religion are still clearly to be seen in the fact that all, so called, savage races are divided into tribes, each of which regards itself as related through remote ancestry with one of the Princes of the Satanic hierarchy, and venerates his symbol in the form of a totem. The Wolf, Leopard, Scorpion, Hyena and Serpent are examples of these; and today we who perpetuate the age old mysteries also associate ourselves with one or other of these powerful entities. My own totem is the Spider.'
I could not suppress a start, and my hands clenched spasmodically. I now knew what it was that had thrown the Shadow. That round body and the six hairy, tentacle like legs had been those of a spider without a doubt; but a spider the like of which has never been recorded in this world. The big tarantulas of the Amazon were like flies to a bumble bee in comparison with it. Each leg must have measured at least two feet, when fully extended, and its body had been the size of a fish kettle. Leaving aside its super natural aspect it would have proved a most formidable beast for any man to tackle.
Helmuth smiled as he saw my face whiten. 'My mention of spiders seems to call up disconcerting memories for you. If you tremble and sweat at the thought of a shadow what would you do if you were brought face to face with the Great Spider in the flesh?
"That is what he is, you know; the Great Spider. But I forgot. You would not know that as all nonhuman forms of life have only group souls their collective astral is always much bigger than the species it represents. The Great Hound is as big as a horse, and the Great Rat as a panther.
'I will tell you another thing, Toby. If one has materialised an astral and wishes it to solidify, one must nurture it on rotting offal, excrement or blood. Once it has taken sufficient sustenance to form a fleshy body of its own, it can look after itself; but it still needs and seeks food. Spiders are by nature bloodsucking animals and when the Great Spider has assumed material form he would not hesitate to attack a child or a cripple, Toby to satiate his lust for blood. What would you do if, one night, I let him into your room?'
I was sweating in earnest now; but I tried to put a bold face on matters, by muttering: 'I'd tear the brute limb from limb with my naked hands; I'd smash it to a pulp.'
He shook his head. 'Oh no you wouldn't. You might try, but you would not succeed. The Great Spider only borrows his coat of flesh. For him it is a fluid substance to which he gives form by his will; and he is indestructible. Your grip could squeeze but not injure his body, and if you tore off one of his legs it would immediately join itself on to him again.'
After pausing to let his horrible conception sink into my mind, Helmuth took a piece of candle from his pocket. It appeared to be made of black wax and was only about two inches long. He placed it in the centre of an ashtray which was well out of my reach, and said:
'I think that one night, before I call upon Our Lady Astoroth to destroy your mind utterly, I must introduce you to the Great Spider. I would not let him kill you, of course, but his embrace might bring you to your senses, or, alternatively, render an invocation to the Moon Goddess unnecessary. But to start with I will perform a minor magic for your edification.
'You will, no doubt, recall the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. He piped all the rats out of the city, and then, because the citizens would not pay him the promised fee, he lured away their children. That is not fiction. It is an account of an actual happening in the remote past that has come down to us through folklore. The Pipe was a Mage, and one of considerable power, since he was able to entice the children of a whole township from their parents; but what concerns us is that his totem was the Rat, and it was that which enabled him to order the rats to follow him.
'But to return to ourselves. As I have already told you, my totem is the Spider. All spiders of every kind are my little brothers, and they will do my bidding.'
He lit the piece of black candle, and went on: "This is made out of bear's grease, sulphur, pitch and the fat of a toad. To use such ingredients in making a candle may sound to you the most childish nonsense, but, believe me, it is not. All material substances have astral qualities and when consumed by fire procure certain results owing to immutable laws which govern the relation of the natural to the supernatural. You will probably find the smell somewhat nauseating, but it will burn for some forty minutes and give you enough light to see by. I am now about to leave you. When I get back to my room I intend to send all my little brothers who inhabit the old ruin to pay you a visit. I hope the experience will prove to you that I am not to be trifled with further.'
A moment later he had picked up his lamp and gone. I was quite calm, but as I stared round the room I felt extremely uncomfortable. All he had said had seemed quite logical at the time, but a swift reaction now made me feel that much of it was the product of a distorted brain. It seemed impossible that he really had the power to summon all the spiders in the Castle to plague me; yet I had seen the shadow of the Great Spider, and felt the sickening, soul shaking waves of evil that radiated from it. That vile memory was real enough, and if he could materialise a demon such as that, where lay the limit to his potency for working these hideous miracles?
The candle burned with a steady blue flame, casting long shadows on the walls that reached up to merge into the darkness that still obscured the high, vaulted ceiling. The stench that came from the melting fat was most repulsive, and after a minute or two the fumes of the sulphur made my eyes water and got into my throat, making me cough.
Anxiously, I peered from side to side, watching for the first sign of movement which would indicate that he was succeeding in carrying out his fantastic threat. I gave a swift glance at my bedside clock. The hands stood at fourteen minutes to one; it had been just on twenty to one when he left me. Another minute passed; another and another; still nothing happened.
I tried to figure out how long it would take for Helmuth to get back to his room and perform the incantation, then for the spiders to reach me; but two of those three factors were imponderables; so the answer might be anything from ten minutes to half an hour. All the same, I felt that a quarter of an hour should really be enough for him to set moving any spiders that were in my immediate vicinity; and when the minute hand of my clock had passed five to one I began to hope that either he had tried to hypnotise me into seeing what he wished me to see, and failed, or had attempted a ritual which had proved too much for him.
As each additional minute ticked away I grew slightly more optimistic; yet I did not relax my vigilance. Quite automatically I had dropped into the old, familiar, steady head roll that was part of the drill for a Fighter Pilot when searching the skies for enemy aircraft. My glance went down to the floor at my left, slowly upwards, across the opposite wall, down to the floor at my right, and back again across the bed. Now and then the beastly sulphur fumes caused me to break the rhythm in a fit of coughing, and each time that happened I looked at the clock. At one minute to one I saw the first spider.
It was a small red one; but there was no mistaking what it was, as it was actually on the clock and stood out clearly against the white clock face.
After that things began to happen quickly. I spotted another, of the kind that have a tiny round body and very long legs, on the left hand bottom corner of my counterpane. A third ran swiftly across my bedside table and disappeared behind my cigarette box. There came a little 'plop' on my pillow, and jerking round my head I saw that a big, hairy, compact brute had fallen there from the ceiling. I made a swipe at it, and in doing so dislodged another that had just appeared over the edge of the bed. A tickling at the back of my neck caused me to clap my hand to it and at that moment a newcomer ran up the other sleeve of my pyjama jacket.
Within another minute the place was swarming with them. Minute little insects; things whose leg span would have covered half a crown; round bodied, oval bodied, waspwaisted, long legged, short legged, some hairy, some smooth, black, red, greyish brown and mottled with nasty whitish spots; they came in scores, in hundreds, from every corner of the room, until the bed, the table and myself were spotted with them as thickly as a summer night's sky is with stars.
Frantically I beat at them to try and drive them off. Here and there my slaps caught and killed one, causing it to fold up in a little ball and roll away; but the great majority were agile enough to evade my nailing hands, or seemed to protect themselves by taking cover in the folds of the bedclothes. In a dozen places at once I could feel them crawling over me; they ran across my face and got tangled in my hair.
There was nothing supernatural about them but, all the same, it was a beastly experience, as the irritation never ceased for a second and there was something loathsome about the feel of their cold little bodies coming in contact with one's skin. Somehow, too, the longer it lasted the worse it became. For the first few minutes my mind was fully occupied by my angry attempts to fight off the little pests; but it suddenly dawned upon me that my efforts were both futile and exhausting. There were too many and too agile, and for all my wild slapping I had not succeeded in hitting more than a dozen or two. So I gave up, and endeavoured to remain still. But I found I simply couldn't for more than a few seconds at a time. It was then that my nerve began to give way.
I suppose it was pretty wet of me to allow a lot of harmless little insects to have that effect; but it was partly the impossibility of sitting still while they crawled all over me and the equal impossibility of getting rid of them; and partly, I think, the horribly disturbing knowledge of how they came to be there. Anyhow, after a quarter of an hour, that seemed to last half the night, I broke down, and began to weep with rage and distress.
Helmuth came in a few minutes later, to see how I was taking things, and he must have been extremely gratified by what he saw.
The stinking bit of black candle had burnt down to a quarter of an inch. He snuffed it, put the heel in his pocket, then went over to the terrace door and opened it wide for a few moments till the rush of cool air had driven most of the smell out of the room. Next he pronounced several sentences of what sounded like gibberish, but were, I suppose, a magical formula from some dead language. On that his legion of spiders immediately left me and scuttled away out of sight through the cracks in the wainscoting.
Holding his lamp aloft, he looked at me and said: 'Perhaps after tonight's experience I shall find you in a more reasonable frame of mind tomorrow. If not, I shall have to give you a sharper lesson. There is one family of spiders living in the ruins that I refrained from sending. They are not poisonous but their bite is painful, and if I send them to you in the dark you will find it most unpleasant. You might think that over before you go to sleep.'
When he had gone I did think it over; and I was, and am, still determined to resist. Spider bites can be most unpleasant, but I can hardly believe that they will prove more painful than would a beating with thin steel rods by a gang of Gestapo toughs. And, so long as my mind remains unimpaired, I mean to stick any pain that Helmuth may inflict on me to the limit of my will.
Nevertheless, at the time, my nerves were still in a parlous state; and, having already given way to tears, I let myself go again in a flood of self pity. It was in that state that Sally found me.
I did not hear her come in, as my head was half buried in the pillow and my sobs drowned the sound of her footfalls. It was her voice, saying 'What is it, Toby? Whatever is the matter?' that made me start up and find her already leaning over me.
She was standing right beside my bed holding a torch. It dazzled me for a moment, but I could just make out that she was in a dressing gown and had her fluffy brown hair done up in a lot of little plaits. They stuck out absurdly, like a spiky halo, but made her look very young and rather pretty.
'What is it?' she repeated gently. 'Why are you crying like this? Have you had some awful nightmare? I've just had one about you. It was horrid. You were in bed here, and there was a great black thing over your face. I couldn't see what it was, but I knew that you were suffocating. When I woke I was so worried that I felt I must come up and see if you were all right.'
'I I had a nightmare too,' I gulped. It seemed the only thing to say. I could not possibly expect her to believe that Helmuth had done a Pied Piper of Hamelin on me with all the spiders in the place; but I snuffled out that I had dreamed that a horde of them was swarming all over me.
'There, there,' she murmured. 'It's all over now, and you'll soon forget it. But I'm very glad I followed my impulse to come up, all the same.'
Then she perched herself on the edge of the bed, drew my head down on her breast, and made comforting noises to me as though I were a small boy who had hurt himself.
By that time I had practically got control of myself again; but I must confess that I didn't hurry to show it. Perhaps Weylands made me rather a hard, self reliant type; anyhow, circumstances have never before arisen in which I have been comforted by a girl. It was an entirely new experience and I found it remarkably pleasant.
After a bit I could no longer disguise the fact that I was feeling better; so she said she was going to send me to sleep. She has marvellous hands; strong yet slim, and very sensitive as I already knew from her giving me my massage treatments. Having made me comfortable on my pillows, she started to stroke my forehead with a touch as light as swansdown. In no time at all I had forgotten about Helmuth and felt a gentle relaxation steal over me; a few moments later I was sleeping like a top.
Later
This morning Sally and I said nothing to one another about last night. I had half a mind to thank her for her kindness, but shyness got the better of me; and she probably refrained from mentioning the matter out of tactfulness, feeling that I wouldn't like it recalled that a girl had found me in tears.
All the same it did come up this afternoon. I was sitting in my wheelchair looking through one of my stamp albums I have five altogether, and two of them are now completely interleaved with these sheets, but this was one of the others and I found I was out of cigarettes. As Sally was near my bedside table I asked her to pass me the big silver box on it, so that I could refill my case. She did so, and opened it as she handed it to me. There was a dead spider inside.
'That's funny,' she said. 'When I was making your bed with Konrad this morning I found three dead spiders in it, and here's another. I wonder how it got inside the box?'
I knew the answer to that one. The box had been open when Helmuth had come in to me at midnight. Later, while slapping at the little brutes, I had evidently hit this one as my hand caught the lid and smacked it shut.
But, without waiting for me to reply, she went on: 'It was queer finding three of them in your bed, too. I've never seen any there before. Perhaps a nest of them has hatched out behind the wainscot. Anyhow I'm sure it must have been one of them running over your face that gave you that horrid dream.'
An almost overwhelming impulse urged me to tell her the truth; but I managed to fight it down. I'm very glad I did now, as a few dead spiders would not have been enough to convince her that I hadn't dreamed the whole thing, and that it was simply my old prejudice against Helmuth reasserting itself in my sleep.
All the same, I count her having found the spiders a great piece of good fortune, as it is one item of concrete evidence; and, although it may cost me pretty dear, if the next few days produce others the time may not be far off when I can spill the whole story and she will have to believe me. Sally is 100 per cent honest; I am sure of that; and if only I can convince her of the facts she will be 100 per cent for me. I have got to, for in her now lies my only hope.
As it was, I said: 'Yes, you're right. I can still feel the little devils crawling over my skin. But that doesn't explain your dream about me; how do you account for that?'
She shrugged. 'Perhaps I was worrying about you before I went to sleep. For a permanent invalid you are a wonderfully cheerful person, and in the early part of the week you were right on top of your form; but the past two days you've gone right off the boil. Naturally I've felt rather concerned about that.'
'I'm very grateful to you, Sally,' I said. 'And I'm particularly grateful to you for your kindness to me last night.'
Then an idea came to me, so I added: 'I think I can explain why I've been a bit under the weather recently. I sometimes get premonitions, and I had one about this spider dream that shook me up so. I've a feeling, too, that I'm in for another tonight. Would it be asking too much of you to sit up with a book this evening, and come in to see me round about twelve o'clock?'
She gave me a queer, half humorous, half annoyed look, then said a trifle sharply: 'Nothing doing, Toby Jugg. You were genuinely upset when I came in to you last night; but for a good ten minutes before I sent you to sleep you were shamming. Midnight visiting is not in the contract, and the proper relations between nurse and patient are going to be maintained. You needn't tell me that you never knew a mother's care, either; because I've1 heard that one before.'
I was so taken aback that I could not think what to answer. She was right, of course, but I had no idea that she had spotted my manoeuvre. Evidently she thinks I was making up to her with ulterior motives; but she is quite wrong there. It was only that I have been rather starved of human affection and found comfort in the warmth of her evident concern for me. Since she assumes that by asking her to come to me again tonight I was contemplating making a pass at her, I find it distinctly humiliating that she should have shown so very plainly that she thinks me too poor a fish to bother with. Still, I suppose one can't blame her really what healthy girl would want to start an affaire with a poor devil of a cripple?

 
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