Page:Harris Dickson--The black wolf's breed.djvu/237

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

While sitting there beside the spring, gazing listlessly into its placid depths, an uncanny figure made its way through a breach in the bastion, and stood before me. At first I confess I was startled, the wild uncouth thing, bent and decrepit, with hair of long and tangled gray, fiery sunken eyes, seemed born of another world than this. He bent his gaze with searching scrutiny full upon me.

The lad whispered: "It's old mad Michel; he lives up there," pointing to a tumbled down tower, "and believes himself the Count—the Count, and him long dead lying yonder in the well."

The boy shuddered and crossed himself.

The old man gazed steadily at me for some moments then bowing low, he cried:

"Hail! Son of d'Artin! Hast come to view thine own again? Let us into the walls."

"Let us go, Monsieur, quick," urged the lad, tugging at my coat, "it is late."

The dusk in fact was coming on apace and climbing shadows crept round the grotesque masonry. Unheeding the lad's fear, I was strongly impelled to talk with the daft creature. It was an impulse born not wholly of idle curiosity. I felt strangely moved.

"What do you want of me, old man?" I asked.

"I am Henri d'Artin, by murder's hand laid low; I would tell you much."

"Let us go, Monsieur, let us go. He speaks of unholy things," the boy pleaded fearfully. Meeting no