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"Why did you whistle?" I asked. "Surely sound here is not sound there!"
"You are right," he answered. "I whistled that you might know I called her. Not the whistle, but what the whistle meant reached her.--There is not a minute to lose: you must go!"
"I will at once!" I replied, and moved for the door.
"You will sleep to-night at my hostelry!" he said--not as a question, but in a tone of mild authority.
"My heart is with the children," I replied. "But if you insist----"
"I do insist. You can otherwise effect nothing.--I will go with you as far as the mirror, and see you off."
He rose. There came a sudden shock in the closet. Apparently the leopardess had flung herself against the heavy door. I looked at my companion.
"Come; come!" he said.
Ere we reached the door of the library, a howling yell came after us, mingled with the noise of claws that scored at the hard oak. I hesitated, and half turned.
"To think of her lying there alone," I murmured, "--with that terrible wound!"
"Nothing will ever close that wound," he answered, with a sigh. "It must eat into her heart! Annihilation itself is no death to evil. Only good where evil was, is evil dead. An evil thing must live with its evil until it chooses to be good. That alone is the slaying of evil."
I held my peace until a sound I did not understand overtook us.
"If she should break loose!" I cried.
"Make haste!" he rejoined. "I shall hurry down the moment you are gone, and I have disarranged the mirrors."
We ran, and reached the wooden chamber breathless. Mr. Raven seized the chains and adjusted the hood. Then he set the mirrors in their proper relation, and came beside me in front of the standing one. Already I saw the mountain range emerging from the mist.
Between us, wedging us asunder, darted, with the yell of a demon, the huge bulk of the spotted leopardess. She leaped through the mirror as through an open window, and settled at once into a low, even, swift gallop.
I cast a look of dismay at my companion, and sprang through to follow her. He came after me leisurely.
"You need not run," he called; "you cannot overtake her. This is our way."
As he spoke he turned in the opposite direction.
"She has more magic at her finger-tips than I care to know!" he added quietly.
"We must do what we can!" I said, and ran on, but sickening as I saw her dwindle in the distance, stopped, and went back to him.
"Doubtless we must," he answered. "But my wife has warned Mara, and she will do her part; you must sleep first: you have given me your word!"
"Nor do I mean to break it. But surely sleep is not the first thing! Surely, surely, action takes precedence of repose!"
"A man can do nothing he is not fit to do.--See! did I not tell you Mara would do her part?"
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