It was close on ten o'clock when I awoke next morning. My long tramp of the previous day had tired me more than I thought. Nevertheless, I was annoyed at oversleeping myself, and astonished that Francis had not called me earlier. I knew how anxious he was about the proposed meeting with his brother, and fancied that his impatience would have drawn him to my room at dawn. Apparently he was less curious concerning the interview than I thought. Yet, leaving him out of the question, I ought certainly to have been roused by Strent or his daughter, and determined to reprove them for such neglect. After all, an inn is an inn, and one has a right to attentions for which one pays. Judging from the landlord's looks, I did not think my bill would err on the side of cheapness. These thoughts passed through my mind as I hastily dressed myself. Opening the window, I looked out on the marshes, golden in the sunshine. A keen wind was blowing from the sea, and the smell of brine struck into the heavy atmosphere of my bedroom. An absolute stillness prevailed both inside and out. I felt as though I had awakened in the spellbound palace of the sleeping beauty. An inn, of all places, should be full of bustle and noise, but there was something uncanny in the silence which reigned in this marsh-locked hostel. It hinted trouble, and I felt uneasy. In no very good temper I descended to the dining room, with the intention of apologizing to Francis for my tardy appearance and of rating the landlord for his negligence. To my astonishment, neither Francis nor anyone else was seen, and the room was in precisely the same condition as on the previous night. The fire was unlighted, the table not set out for breakfast, even the window blinds were down. For the moment I was sick with apprehension, as it was impossible to conjecture the reason of this neglect and absence of human life. The stillness was as absolute as had prevailed upstairs, and when I rang the bell it echoed throughout the house as though mocking my efforts to summon landlord, maid, or friend. Twice, thrice, I pulled the bell-rope without result; then, somewhat unnerved by the silence in which I found myself, went to the back part of the premises. Here the condition of things was the same as in the dining room. The kitchen was empty, nor were there any signs of fire or of food. I explored the whole of the ground floor and found nobody. The conclusion forced itself upon me that Strent and his daughter had left the inn during the night. What was the meaning of this sudden flight? What reason could be sufficiently powerful to force them to vacate the premises? Asking myself these questions I entered room after room, but in none of them did I find any answer. The front door was bolted and barred, the back entrance was in the same condition, and there was no key in either lock. I considered the features of the case, and saw that the air was full of mystery, perhaps of--but no, in that lonely house I could not bring myself to utter that terrible word.