To think, there i was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved suddenly in the bed, as if startled.
His room was as black as the pitch of darkness, so i knew he could not see the opening of the door, and i kept pushing it on steadily, steadily. I was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped on the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in the bed, crying out-
I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He just sat there, listening. Presently I hear a groan, I knew it was a groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or grief, it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe.
I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in his bed. His fears had been growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not.
He had been saying to himself-"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney-it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or "it is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp. Yes, he has been trying to comfort himself: but he had found it all in vain.
When I waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, i resolved to open a very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it until a single dim ray shot out from the crevice and fell upon the vulture eye