Dill looked down at the steps, then back at the girl. “You're sure this is okay?”
“Of course. It's not like you've broken in or anything, is it?”She scooped up his hand and led him downward.
“I thought you said I couldn't shake your hand?”
Catherine paused to stare at his huge hand in her own. “That's right, I did. How odd. People can't usually touch me at all.”
“Catherine! Who is this...gentleman?” The voice belonged to a woman. Dill recognised his mother's expectation of authority in the tone. It must be something to do with ladies of a certain age and children.
He followed the sound but could see nothing in the gloom. He'd have to wait until his eyes became adjusted to the darkness. In the meantime he gave a little wave. “Hi. The name's Dill Turling. You must be Catherine's aunt?”
The woman ignored him. “How dare you bring people here. Haven't I warned you about rave robbers?”
He says he's not a robber. Lady Waters. He says he just needs to get to the manor without the strangers seeing him.”
“The bobbies? He must be a bad sort if the bobbies want him.”
“I'm not, I promise.” Dill's vision was starting to kick in. He could make out the woman as a vague white blob, Catherine, too. There was a third he assumed was her brother. “I'm entirely innocent of everything but they'll cart me off because I look different.”
“Look different?” The pale blob moved closer. “You do. What's wrong with your face?”
“I haven't eaten anything recently.”
“There's another thing, Lady Waters.” Catherine squeezed his hand. “He can feel me.”
Dill hastened to speak “Only her hand. No funny business or nothing.”
“Good heavens.” The blob came closer still, resolving into the image of a woman in her fifties with coiffured hair and wire-rim pince-nez. He could see the outlines of her skull beneath her pale skin. Through her pale skin.
“Good heavens!” She pulled Catherine out of his grip. “Come away, darling, this man is dead.”