Tuesday, August 3, 2010

THE IDOL HOUSE OF ASTARTE 23 - Agatha Christie - short stories

"'Surely she has not gone to bed,' said Richard Haydon. "Violet Mannering shook her head. "'Oh, no,' she said. 'I saw her going off in that direction about a quarter of an hour ago.' She pointed as she spoke towards the grove of trees that showed black and shadowy in the moonlight. "'I wonder what she is up to,' said Richard Haydon, 'some devilment, I swear. Let's go and sec.' "Te all trooped off together, somewhat curious as to what Miss Ashley had been up to. Yet I, for one, felt a curious reluctance to enter that dark foreboding belt of trees. Something stronger than myself seemed to be holding me hack and urging me not to enter. I felt more definitely con-vinccd than ever of the essential evilness of the spot. I think that some of the others experienced the same sensations that ! did, though they would have been loath to admit it. The trees were so closely planted that thc moonlight could not penetrate. There were a dozen soft sounds all round us, whisperings and sighings. Thc feeling was eerie in the extreme, and by common consent we all kept close together. "Suddenly we came out into thc open clearing in the middle of the grove and stood rooted to the spot in amaze-rncnt, for there, on the threshold of the Idol House, stood a shimmering figure wrapped tightly round in diaphanous gauze and with two crescent horns rising from the dark masses of her hair. "'My God!' said Richard Haydon, and the sweat sprang ut on his brow. "But Violet Mannering was sharper. ""7hy, it's Diana,' she exclaimed. 'Ydhat has she done to herself? Oh, she looks quite different somehow!' "The figure in the doorway raised her hands. She took a tcp forward and chanted in a high sweet voice. "'I am the Priestess of Astarte,' she crooned. 'Beware how ou approach me, for I hold death in my hand.'


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