Andrew thumbed through the pages of his notebook. Why was it so wretchedly hard to concentrate tonight? He silently cursed the swimming letters that refused to organize themselves coherantly on the page.
A light knock sounded on the oaken door of his study. Andrew nearly leaped to his feet in relief. Anything to fill the silence of the evening!
Antrin, his faithful servant for the past ten years, entered the room, closing the door behind him. A gust of wind entered with him, filling the room with a dark, suspenseful air. Antrin looked about him as if afraid of being caught by something.
"What is it, man?" Andrew demanded, but softly, for he suddenly felt as uneasy as Antrin.
"Perhaps you've heard about the uproar in town?" Antrin folded his hands behind his back and spoke in a secretive tone. "The entire police force is preparing to storm the asylum there."
Andrew pressed his eyes closed and shook his head. He had reasons for not wanting to hear about any asylum. His thoughts whispered that this surely had nothing to do with his Beth. Surely Beth was safe in a beautiful asylum in the country somewhere.
"It seemed that one of their most dangerous lunatics escaped and murdered half the staff." Antrin's hands refused to stay behind his back. They reappeared and plucked at the buttons on the front of his coat.
Andrew shook his notebook impatiently and pretended to immerse himself in its pages. "Why are you telling me this, Antrin?"
"Well, I wouldn't have bothered you, sir, but I just received a message from a woman at the asylum...the matron of the children's ward, as a matter of fact."
Andrew's throat tightened.
"She said you wouldn't know her, sir, but that she once received a package from a mutual acquaintance. And that she was to notify you if...if...Sir? Are you well, sir?" Antrin started forward with concern.
Andrew flung his book aside and leaped to his feet. "Get my coat, Antrin! Quick! Oh, God, let her still be alive!"