6. CHAPTER VI
No answer. To go on ringing was useless and out of place. The old
woman was, of course, at home, but she was suspicious and alone. He
had some knowledge of her habits . . . and once more he put his ear to
the door. Either his senses were peculiarly keen (which it is
difficult to suppose), or the sound was really very distinct. Anyway,
he suddenly heard something like the cautious touch of a hand on the
lock and the rustle of a skirt at the very door. someone was standing
stealthily close to the lock and just as he was doing on the outside
was secretly listening within, and seemed to have her ear to the door.
. . . He moved a little on purpose and muttered something aloud that
he might not have the appearance of hiding, then rang a third time,
but quietly, soberly, and without impatience, Recalling it afterwards,
that moment stood out in his mind vividly, distinctly, for ever; he
could not make out how he had had such cunning, for his mind was as it
were clouded at moments and he was almost unconscious of his body.
. . . An instant later he heard the latch unfastened.