My breath caught in my throat. What manner of devilry had been set loose from the Adell estate? If Cross was telling the truth, and I had no reason to doubt him, then what ever affected Manuel Dison had now also affected Miss Mary and myself. But, what was it?
I wracked my brain, trying to come up with some plausible explanation, but there was none. I mentally retraced my steps and actions. A small fragment began to make sense, at least I had an explanation for why the sun had affected me the way it did on my journey home. If my pupils had been even half as dilated as Miss Mary’s had, I would still have had the need to shield my face from the sunlight beating down.
Cross, whose face had been so distant through all my recounted story, struggled to his feet. Leaving me on the sofa, he made his way to my desk, scribbled something on a piece of paper and then left the sitting room without saying a word. In the moments that followed, I heard the front door of my rooms open and close. Alone with nothing but all the worst thoughts of what had happened to me and what may still happen to me, I sat in silence, most of my breath still caught in my throat.
The occasional night noise found its way into the sitting room, but, otherwise, no sound could I hear until Cross returned. He moved through the sitting room, taking a moment to part the curtains of the window that looked out at the darkened street. There seemed to be a lightness in his step, as if the pain from his injuries were nothing, as if having his head smashed in and nearly being burned up in a fire wasn’t important. There was something about his lack of concern that frightened me, not so much for anything that might happen to me, but, perhaps it meant that his inattention to himself might lead him to do something reckless, something dangerous, something self-destructive even.
“Where did you go?” I chanced, while he was distracted looking out the window.
“Just to have a message delivered.” His back tensed slightly when I first spoke, like my voice had startled him, like he had forgotten I was even there.
“At this hour?” Granted I knew not the exact hour of night, but I assumed it was late, as I heard no sound of people passing the window.
“Well, of course the message won’t actually be delivered until tomorrow morning, but, I do so hate waiting until the last minute to get things started.” He was still staring out the window, as if he expected to find something out in the dark, as if he expected to find someone.
“What was the message?”
“Oh, just a whim,” still facing the window, he waved his hand behind him to illustrate the insignificance of the note. “Just a whim.”
“Yes, but what was the message for?”
This time he spun on his heel to face me. His expression was one of animated excitement. “Answers, my dear chap, answers. We really must get to the bottom of this mystery.”