Pale, incredibly beautiful, it was a tapestry of flickering fire, the warp and weft an intermesh of rainbow colors. Those pastel strands of color locked and interlocked, swam, threaded and spun like so many individual life lines. They were an infinity of beads, emotions, the silken countenance of time, the swirling skin of space— They were all things to all men, and above all else, they were beautiful.
Four—Dear Bob. Why did I ever—And this Ardis. I know why he’s so familiar. Why he almost speaks my thoughts. He’s probably some— Five—Nice young man who plays tennis in real life. Distorted by a dream. Yes.
The old man chuckled again, then held out the binoculars. “You’re an unusual boy, Christian. First person that ever said a kind word for old Father Satan. First person that ever had the decency to pay the old man a visit. I’ll return the favor. Here!”
Then, quite abruptly, Peel forgot his watch and stared at the desk calendar before Hoss. This was like a punch in the ribs. He swallowed and said: “Is that date quite right, inspector?”
Keep cool, you confounded idiot. There’s more at stake than three lost days. He lectured to himself in swift silence to give his nerves time to calm. You know you’re a match for anyone. People don’t know how to think. A man with a logical mind can cope with anything. Wait for more data.
With a graceful gesture, Peel ran sensitive fingers across his crisp beard and mustache. “My story is this, “ he continued, “the four whom I accuse desired to murder Lady Sutton. Motive? A craving for the ultimate in emotional sensation. They were utterly depraved and degenerate. The only reason I was part of their devilish clique was to protect my wife as much as possible. On Thursday night I learned of their plans for the first time. I refused to permit them to continue and threatened to reveal all to Lady Sutton. Evidently they were prepared for this. My wine was drugged and I was rendered unconscious. I have a faint recollection of being lifted and carried somewhere by the two men and—that’s all I know of the murder.”