The After House (Chapter 10, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 10

Exactly what occurred during Elsa Lee's visit to her brother-in-law's
cabin I have never learned. He was sober, I know, and somewhat dazed,
with no recollection whatever of the previous night, except a hazy
idea that he had quarreled with Richardson.

Jones and I waited outside. He suggested that we have prayers over
the bodies when we placed them in the boat, and I agreed to read the
burial service from the Episcopal Prayer Book. The voices from Turner's
cabin came steadily, Miss Lee's low tones, Turner's heavy bass only
now and then. Once I heard her give a startled exclamation, and both
Jones and I leaped to the door. But the next moment she was talking
again quietly.

Ten minutes--fifteen--passed. I grew restless and took to wandering
about the cabin. Mrs. Johns came to the door opposite, and asked to
have tea sent down to the stewardess. I called the request up the
companionway, unwilling to leave the cabin for a moment. When I came
back, Jones was standing at the door of Vail's cabin, looking in. His
face was pale.

"Look there!" he said hoarsely. "Look at the bell. He must have
tried to push the button!"

I stared in. Williams had put the cabin to rights, as nearly as
he could. The soaked mattress was gone, and a clean linen sheet
was spread over the bunk. Poor Vail's clothing, as he had taken it
off the night before, hung on a mahogany stand beside the bed, and
above, almost concealed by his coat, was the bell. Jones's eyes
were fixed on the darkish smear, over and around the bell, on the
white paint.

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