"Then, my friend," said Strangwise to Bellward, "after dinner you shall try your hand on this obstinate fool. But first we'll take him upstairs."
He was close beside Desmond and as he finished speaking he suddenly caught him by the throat and forced him back into the chair to which Barbara had been tethered. To struggle was useless, and Desmond suffered them to bind his arms and feet to the arms and legs of the chair. Then the two men picked him up, chair and all, and bore him from the room upstairs to the third floor. There they carried him into a dark room where they left him, turning the key in the lock as they went away.
For a long time after the retreating footsteps of Strangwise and Bellward had died away, Desmond sat listless, preoccupied with his thoughts. They were somber enough. The sinister atmosphere of the house, weighing upon him, seemed to deepen his depression.
About his own position he was not concerned at all. This is not an example of unselfishness it is simply an instance of the force of discipline which trains a man to reckon the cause as everything and himself as naught. And Desmond was haunted by the awful conviction that he had at length reached the end of his tether and that nothing could now redeem the ignominious failure he had made of his mission.
He had sacrificed Barbara Mackwayte; he had sacrificed Nur-el-Din; he had not even been clever enough to save his own skin. And Strangwise, spy and murderer, had escaped and was now free to reorganize his band after he had put Barbara and Desmond out of the way.
The thought was so unbearable that it stung Desmond into action. Strangwise should not get the better of him, he resolved, and he had yet this brief interval of being alone in which he might devise some scheme to rescue Barbara and secure the arrest of Strangwise and his accomplices. But how?
He raised his head and looked round the room. The curtains had not been drawn and enough light came into the room from the outside to enable him to distinguish the outlines of the furniture. It was a bedroom, furnished in rather a massive style, with some kind of thick, soft carpet into, which the feet sank.
Desmond tested his bonds. He was very skillfully tied up. He fancied that with a little manipulation he might contrive to loosen the rope round his right arm, for one of the knots had caught in the folds of his coat. The thongs round his left arm and two legs were, however, so tight that he thought he had but little chance of ridding himself of them, even should he get his right arm free; for the knots were tied at the back under the seat of the chair in such a way that he could not reach them.