He then applied his own eye to the keyhole. "I see something black," said he, "I think he suspects."
While he hesitated, they became conscious of a pungent vapour stealing through the now open keyhole.
"Hallo!" said Green, "what is this?"
Fullalove observed coolly that Mr. Skinner's lungs must he peculiarly made if he could breathe in that atmosphere. "If you want to see him alive, let me open the door."
"There's something amiss here," said Green gravely.
At that Fullalove whipped out a tool no bigger than a nutcracker, forced the edge in, and sent the door flying open. The room or den was full of an acrid vapour, and close to them sat he they sought motionless.
"Keep the lady back," cried Green, and threw the vivid light of his bull's eye on a strange, grotesque, and ghastly scene. The floor was covered with bright sovereigns that glittered in the lamp-light. On the table was an open book, and a candle quite burnt down: the grease had run into a circle.
And, as was that grease to the expired light, so was the thing that sat there in human form to the Noah Skinner they had come to seek. Dead this many a day of charcoal fumes, but preserved from decomposition by those very fumes, sat Noah Skinner, dried into bones and leather waiting for them with his own Hard Cash, and with theirs; for, creeping awestruck round that mummified figure seated dead on his pool of sovereigns, they soon noticed in his left hand a paper: it was discoloured by the vapour, and part hid by the dead thumb; but thus much shone out clear and amazing, that it was a banker's receipt to David Dodd, Esq., for L. 14,010, drawn at Barkington, and signed for Richard Hardie by Noah Skinner. Julia had drawn back, and was hiding her face; but soon curiosity struggled with awe in the others: they peeped at the Receipt: they touched the weird figure. Its yellow skin sounded like a drum, and its joints creaked like a puppets. At last Compton suggested that Edward Dodd ought to secure that valuable document. "No no," said Edward: "it is too like robbing the dead."