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Unformatted text preview: little, if at all, and was gentle and rather shy.
Mrs. Rice was what is called a woman of
character. She was tall, with a deep voice
and a masterful manner, but she had a
sense of humour and was good company.
Her life was clearly bound up in that of
Harold had spent some pleasant hours
in the company of mother and daughter, but they did not attempt to monopolise
him and relations remained friendly and unexacting between them.
The other people in the hotel had not
aroused Harold's notice. Usually they
were hikers, or members of a motorcoach
tour. They stayed a night or two and then
went on. He had hardly noticed any one
else -- until this afternoon.
They came up the path from the lake
very slowly and it just happened that at
the moment when Harold's attention was
attracted to them, a cloud came over the
sun. He shivered a little.
Then he stared. Surely there was something
odd about these two women? They
had long, curved noses, like birds, and their
faces, which were curiously alike, were
quite immobile. Over their shoulders they
wore loose cloaks that flapped in the wind
like the wings of two big birds.
Harold thought to himself.
"They are like birds --M he added
almost without volition, "birds of ill omen."
The women came straight up on the
terrace and passed close by him. They
were not young -- perhaps nearer fifty than forty, and the resemblance between them
was so close that they were obviously
sisters. Their expression was forbidding.
As they passed Harold the eyes of both of
them rested on him for a minute. It was a
curious, appraising glance--almost inhuman. Harold's impression of evil grew stronger.
He noticed the hand of one of the two
sisters, a long claw-like hand.... Although
the sun had come out, he shivered once
"Horrible creatures. Like birds of
prey. . . w
He was distracted from these imaginings
by the emergence of Mrs. Rice from the
hotel. He jumped up and drew forward a
chair. With a word of thanks she sat down
and, as usual, began to knit vigorously.
"Did you see those two women who just
went into the hotel ?"
"With cloaks on ? Yes, I passed them."
"Extraordinary creatures, didn't you think ?"
"Well—yes, perhaps they are rather
odd. They only arrived yesterday, I think.
Very alike — they must be twins."
"I may be fanciful, but I distinctly felt
there was something evil about them."
"How curious. I must look at them more
closely and see if I agree with you."
She added: "We'll find out from the
concierge who they are. Not English, I
Mrs. Rice glanced at her watch. She said:
"Tea-time. I wonder if you'd mind going
in and ringing the bell, Mr. Waring ?"
"Certainly, Mrs. Rice."
He did so and then as he returned to his
seat he asked:
"Where's your daughter this afternoon ?"
"Elsie? We went for a walk together.
Part of the way...
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