Strange Conflict

Strange Conflict by Dennis Wheatley

Book: Strange Conflict by Dennis Wheatley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dennis Wheatley
provided a quiet domestic scene which failed to give him the sort of opportunity that he was seeking.
    After visiting several he entered a bedroom in which a little girl was tossing sleeplessly, tortured with ear-ache. A few passes over her were sufficient to relieve the painand send her to sleep, upon which her astral rose from her body in the form of a middle-aged man with distinguished features; who proved at once to be ‘aware’, as before moving off to attend to his own affairs he thanked the Duke most courteously for his kindness.
    In another flat de Richleau found an elderly woman with a nasty wound in her shoulder which had been caused by the splinter of an anti-aircraft shell. He sent her to sleep also, but her astral proved to be a dull, almost sightless replica of herself which stood naked and ugly, peering at him suspiciously; upon which he promptly left her and returned to see how Captain Fennimere was getting on.
    It proved that the Duke had judged his time well, as the Captain’s charming guest was in the process of dressing and the Captain, who was not in the room, returned shortly afterwards with a mirror which he held for her while she tidied her hair. After she had put herself to rights they had a whisky-and-soda and a cigarette apiece, ate some biscuits and embraced with care so that the lady’s make-up should not suffer in the process. De Richleau observed with some surprise that as the Captain saw her to the hall door he did not put on his cap and coat but let the girl pass out and stood there smiling ‘good-night’ as she went down in the lift.
    â€˜This is strangely ungallant conduct in a naval man,’ thought the Duke, ‘and he certainly does not deserve his good fortune.’ A moment later, however, he realised that he had misjudged the Captain most unfairly, as the lift did not descend to the ground-floor but stopped two floors below, and the girl got out. Prompted by idle curiosity, de Richleau slid down after her and followed her through the door of a flat which was obviously her home. In the drawing-room an elderly man was sitting reading, and the Duke was considerably amused to hear the Captain’s girl friend say brightly as she came in:
    â€˜Hullo, Daddy! I do hope you weren’t anxious about me but my taxi took simply ages getting across London in the black-out. Anyhow, Muriel and I spent hours practising on each other with those beastly bandages so I think we’ve both got a good chance of passing our First-Aid exam, tomorrow.’
    â€˜First-Aid,’ murmured the Duke inaudibly. ‘First-Aid,indeed—you little minx!’ Then he left the lovely liar to pass through the ceiling and the flat above into Captain Fennimere’s abode.
    The Captain was partially undressed and splashing about at the fixed wash-basin in his bathroom. Five minutes later he was in bed and, apparently untroubled by any pangs of conscience over his illicit affair with his neighbour’s daughter or by anxieties over Britain’s shipping losses, he was very soon asleep.
    As he began to snore gently, his astral rose through the bedclothes and de Richleau saw at once that the Captain had reached a much more advanced state than the Admiral. Fennimere’s astral immediately took the form of an extremely good-looking woman with a broad forehead and well-modelled chin which denoted intelligence and determination. She was dressed in flowing garments not unlike those that de Richleau himself was wearing and her dark hair was done high on her head in hundreds of small curls, as was the fashion in Roman times.
    The Duke turned his face away so that he should not be recognised, but after one swift glance in his direction the Captain’s astral made a swift and purposeful exit. From what followed, the Duke knew that they were journeying back in time. When the mist cleared, the lady with the flowing robes was walking in the garden of a Roman villa surrounded by

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