The two men returned to the room and silence fell once more. Outside on the damp balcony in the growing darkness Desmond was fighting down the impulse to rush in and stake all in one desperate attempt to rescue the girl from her persecutors. But he was learning caution; and he knew he must bide his time.
Some five minutes elapsed during which Desmond could detect no definite sound from the red lacquer room except the occasional low murmur of voices. Then, suddenly, there came a high, quavering cry from the girl.
Desmond raised himself quickly erect, his ear turned so as to catch every sound from the room. The girl wailed again, a plaintive, tortured cry that seemed to issue forth unwillingly from her.
"My God!" said Desmond to himself, "I can't stand this!"
His head was level with the sill of the window which was fortunately broad. Getting a good grip on the rough cement with his hands, he hoisted himself up on to the sill, by the sheer force of his arms alone, sat poised there for an instant, then very lightly and without any noise, clambered through the window and into the room. Even as he did so, the girl cried out again.
"I can't! I can't!" she wailed.
Every nerve in Desmond 's body was tingling with rage. The blood was hotly throbbing against his temples and he was literally quivering all over with fury. But he held himself in check. This time he must not fail. Both those men were armed, he knew. What chance could he, unarmed as he was, have against them? He must wait, wait, that they might not escape their punishment.
Steadying the black silk curtains with his hands, he looked through the narrow chink where the two panels met. And this was what he saw.