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HOMECOMING JUDY RYALL heard the ring at the front door bell as she was moving from the kitchen to the sitting-room of the flat. She stopped in the tiny hall. The only light came from the sitting-room, but the door was nearly closed, and in the hall it was very dull. It wasn't a long, steady ring; just brief and halfhearted, as if someone had touched the bell and then snatched a finger away. Judy stood listening, her heart thumping. Fear was an ugly thing; and by night it had become her constant companion. She could not fully understand it. It came whenever Alec was away. He was now, on another of his mysterious errands. She hated it. She hated his being away, but more than anything she hated the fear which crept upon her with the night's darkness. She knew of no reason for it; she tried to laugh at it, but could only hold it at bay during daylight. It always came on the wings of the dusk. The bell did not ring again, but there was an unfamiliar sound; a panting sound. She could picture a dog, lying down after a long, exciting run; that was it, someone was panting. Then she heard a different sound; the faintest ting at the bell, it could hardly be called a ring. Then came tapping, not sharp or hard, but mufHed and slow. The panting came, also.
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