Part 1 out of 3
THE WIND IN THE ROSE-BUSH
And Other Stories Of The Supernatural
By Mary Wilkins
The Wind in the Rose-bush
The Shadows on the Wall
The Southwest Chamber
The Vacant Lot
The Lost Ghost
THE WIND IN THE ROSE-BUSH
Ford Village has no railroad station, being on the other side of
the river from Porter's Falls, and accessible only by the ford
which gives it its name, and a ferry line.
The ferry-boat was waiting when Rebecca Flint got off the train
with her bag and lunch basket. When she and her small trunk were
safely embarked she sat stiff and straight and calm in the ferry-
boat as it shot swiftly and smoothly across stream. There was a
horse attached to a light country wagon on board, and he pawed the
deck uneasily. His owner stood near, with a wary eye upon him,
although he was chewing, with as dully reflective an expression as
a cow. Beside Rebecca sat a woman of about her own age, who kept
looking at her with furtive curiosity; her husband, short and stout
and saturnine, stood near her. Rebecca paid, no attention to
either of them. She was tall and spare and pale, the type of a
spinster, yet with rudimentary lines and expressions of matronhood.
She all unconsciously held her shawl, rolled up in a canvas bag, on
her left hip, as if it had been a child. She wore a settled frown
of dissent at life, but it was the frown of a mother who regarded
life as a froward child, rather than as an overwhelming fate.
The other woman continued staring at her; she was mildly stupid,
except for an over-developed curiosity which made her at times
sharp beyond belief. Her eyes glittered, red spots came on her
flaccid cheeks; she kept opening her mouth to speak, making little
abortive motions. Finally she could endure it no longer; she
nudged Rebecca boldly.
"A pleasant day," said she.
Rebecca looked at her and nodded coldly.
"Yes, very," she assented.
"Have you come far?"
"I have come from Michigan."
"Oh!" said the woman, with awe. "It's a long way," she remarked
"Yes, it is," replied Rebecca, conclusively.
Still the other woman was not daunted; there was something which
she determined to know, possibly roused thereto by a vague sense of
incongruity in the other's appearance. "It's a long ways to come
and leave a family," she remarked with painful slyness.
"I ain't got any family to leave," returned Rebecca shortly.
"Then you ain't--"
"No, I ain't."
"Oh!" said the woman.
Rebecca looked straight ahead at the race of the river.
It was a long ferry. Finally Rebecca herself waxed unexpectedly
loquacious. She turned to the other woman and inquired if she knew
John Dent's widow who lived in Ford Village. "Her husband died
about three years ago," said she, by way of detail.
The woman started violently. She turned pale, then she flushed;
she cast a strange glance at her husband, who was regarding both
women with a sort of stolid keenness.
"Yes, I guess I do," faltered the woman finally.
"Well, his first wife was my sister," said Rebecca with the air of
one imparting important intelligence.
"Was she?" responded the other woman feebly. She glanced at her
husband with an expression of doubt and terror, and he shook his
"I'm going to see her, and take my niece Agnes home with me," said
Then the woman gave such a violent start that she noticed it.
"What is the matter?" she asked.
"Nothin', I guess," replied the woman, with eyes on her husband,
who was slowly shaking his head, like a Chinese toy.
"Is my niece sick?" asked Rebecca with quick suspicion.
"No, she ain't sick," replied the woman with alacrity, then she
caught her breath with a gasp.
"When did you see her?"
"Let me see; I ain't seen her for some little time," replied the
woman. Then she caught her breath again.
"She ought to have grown up real pretty, if she takes after my
sister. She was a real pretty woman," Rebecca said wistfully.
"Yes, I guess she did grow up pretty," replied the woman in a
"What kind of a woman is the second wife?"
The woman glanced at her husband's warning face. She continued to
gaze at him while she replied in a choking voice to Rebecca:
"I--guess she's a nice woman," she replied. "I--don't know, I--
guess so. I--don't see much of her."
"I felt kind of hurt that John married again so quick," said
Rebecca; "but I suppose he wanted his house kept, and Agnes wanted
care. I wasn't so situated that I could take her when her mother
died. I had my own mother to care for, and I was school-teaching.
Now mother has gone, and my uncle died six months ago and left me
quite a little property, and I've given up my school, and I've come
for Agnes. I guess she'll be glad to go with me, though I suppose
her stepmother is a good woman, and has always done for her."
The man's warning shake at his wife was fairly portentous.
"I guess so," said she.
"John always wrote that she was a beautiful woman," said Rebecca.
Then the ferry-boat grated on the shore.
John Dent's widow had sent a horse and wagon to meet her sister-in-
law. When the woman and her husband went down the road, on which
Rebecca in the wagon with her trunk soon passed them, she said
"Seems as if I'd ought to have told her, Thomas."
"Let her find it out herself," replied the man. "Don't you go to
burnin' your fingers in other folks' puddin', Maria."
"Do you s'pose she'll see anything?" asked the woman with a
spasmodic shudder and a terrified roll of her eyes.
"See!" returned her husband with stolid scorn. "Better be sure
there's anything to see."
"Oh, Thomas, they say--"
"Lord, ain't you found out that what they say is mostly lies?"
"But if it should be true, and she's a nervous woman, she might be
scared enough to lose her wits," said his wife, staring uneasily
after Rebecca's erect figure in the wagon disappearing over the
crest of the hilly road.
"Wits that so easy upset ain't worth much," declared the man. "You
keep out of it, Maria."
Rebecca in the meantime rode on in the wagon, beside a flaxen-
headed boy, who looked, to her understanding, not very bright. She
asked him a question, and he paid no attention. She repeated it,
and he responded with a bewildered and incoherent grunt. Then she
let him alone, after making sure that he knew how to drive
They had traveled about half a mile, passed the village square, and
gone a short distance beyond, when the boy drew up with a sudden
Whoa! before a very prosperous-looking house. It had been one of
the aboriginal cottages of the vicinity, small and white, with a
roof extending on one side over a piazza, and a tiny "L" jutting
out in the rear, on the right hand. Now the cottage was
transformed by dormer windows, a bay window on the piazzaless side,
a carved railing down the front steps, and a modern hard-wood door.
"Is this John Dent's house?" asked Rebecca.
The boy was as sparing of speech as a philosopher. His only
response was in flinging the reins over the horse's back,
stretching out one foot to the shaft, and leaping out of the wagon,
then going around to the rear for the trunk. Rebecca got out and
went toward the house. Its white paint had a new gloss; its blinds
were an immaculate apple green; the lawn was trimmed as smooth as
velvet, and it was dotted with scrupulous groups of hydrangeas and
"I always understood that John Dent was well-to-do," Rebecca
reflected comfortably. "I guess Agnes will have considerable.
I've got enough, but it will come in handy for her schooling. She
can have advantages."
The boy dragged the trunk up the fine gravel-walk, but before he
reached the steps leading up to the piazza, for the house stood on
a terrace, the front door opened and a fair, frizzled head of a
very large and handsome woman appeared. She held up her black silk
skirt, disclosing voluminous ruffles of starched embroidery, and
waited for Rebecca. She smiled placidly, her pink, double-chinned
face widened and dimpled, but her blue eyes were wary and
calculating. She extended her hand as Rebecca climbed the steps.
"This is Miss Flint, I suppose," said she.
"Yes, ma'am," replied Rebecca, noticing with bewilderment a curious
expression compounded of fear and defiance on the other's face.
"Your letter only arrived this morning," said Mrs. Dent, in a
steady voice. Her great face was a uniform pink, and her china-
blue eyes were at once aggressive and veiled with secrecy.
"Yes, I hardly thought you'd get my letter," replied Rebecca. "I
felt as if I could not wait to hear from you before I came. I
supposed you would be so situated that you could have me a little
while without putting you out too much, from what John used to
write me about his circumstances, and when I had that money so
unexpected I felt as if I must come for Agnes. I suppose you will
be willing to give her up. You know she's my own blood, and of
course she's no relation to you, though you must have got attached
to her. I know from her picture what a sweet girl she must be, and
John always said she looked like her own mother, and Grace was a
beautiful woman, if she was my sister."
Rebecca stopped and stared at the other woman in amazement and
alarm. The great handsome blonde creature stood speechless, livid,
gasping, with her hand to her heart, her lips parted in a horrible
caricature of a smile.
"Are you sick!" cried Rebecca, drawing near. "Don't you want me to
get you some water!"
Then Mrs. Dent recovered herself with a great effort. "It is
nothing," she said. "I am subject to--spells. I am over it now.
Won't you come in, Miss Flint?"
As she spoke, the beautiful deep-rose colour suffused her face, her
blue eyes met her visitor's with the opaqueness of turquoise--with
a revelation of blue, but a concealment of all behind.
Rebecca followed her hostess in, and the boy, who had waited
quiescently, climbed the steps with the trunk. But before they
entered the door a strange thing happened. On the upper terrace
close to the piazza-post, grew a great rose-bush, and on it, late
in the season though it was, one small red, perfect rose.
Rebecca looked at it, and the other woman extended her hand with a
quick gesture. "Don't you pick that rose!" she brusquely cried.
Rebecca drew herself up with stiff dignity.
"I ain't in the habit of picking other folks' roses without leave,"
As Rebecca spoke she started violently, and lost sight of her
resentment, for something singular happened. Suddenly the rose-
bush was agitated violently as if by a gust of wind, yet it was a
remarkably still day. Not a leaf of the hydrangea standing on the
terrace close to the rose trembled.
"What on earth--" began Rebecca, then she stopped with a gasp at
the sight of the other woman's face. Although a face, it gave
somehow the impression of a desperately clutched hand of secrecy.
"Come in!" said she in a harsh voice, which seemed to come forth
from her chest with no intervention of the organs of speech. "Come
into the house. I'm getting cold out here."
"What makes that rose-bush blow so when their isn't any wind?"
asked Rebecca, trembling with vague horror, yet resolute.
"I don't see as it is blowing," returned the woman calmly. And as
she spoke, indeed, the bush was quiet.
"It was blowing," declared Rebecca.
"It isn't now," said Mrs. Dent. "I can't try to account for
everything that blows out-of-doors. I have too much to do."
She spoke scornfully and confidently, with defiant, unflinching
eyes, first on the bush, then on Rebecca, and led the way into the
"It looked queer," persisted Rebecca, but she followed, and also
the boy with the trunk.
Rebecca entered an interior, prosperous, even elegant, according to
her simple ideas. There were Brussels carpets, lace curtains, and
plenty of brilliant upholstery and polished wood.
"You're real nicely situated," remarked Rebecca, after she had
become a little accustomed to her new surroundings and the two
women were seated at the tea-table.
Mrs. Dent stared with a hard complacency from behind her silver-
plated service. "Yes, I be," said she.
"You got all the things new?" said Rebecca hesitatingly, with a
jealous memory of her dead sister's bridal furnishings.
"Yes," said Mrs. Dent; "I was never one to want dead folks' things,
and I had money enough of my own, so I wasn't beholden to John. I
had the old duds put up at auction. They didn't bring much."
"I suppose you saved some for Agnes. She'll want some of her poor
mother's things when she is grown up," said Rebecca with some
The defiant stare of Mrs. Dent's blue eyes waxed more intense.
"There's a few things up garret," said she.
"She'll be likely to value them," remarked Rebecca. As she spoke
she glanced at the window. "Isn't it most time for her to be
coming home?" she asked.
"Most time," answered Mrs. Dent carelessly; "but when she gets over
to Addie Slocum's she never knows when to come home."
"Is Addie Slocum her intimate friend?"
"Intimate as any."
"Maybe we can have her come out to see Agnes when she's living with
me," said Rebecca wistfully. "I suppose she'll be likely to be
homesick at first."
"Most likely," answered Mrs. Dent.
"Does she call you mother?" Rebecca asked.
"No, she calls me Aunt Emeline," replied the other woman shortly.
"When did you say you were going home?"
"In about a week, I thought, if she can be ready to go so soon,"
answered Rebecca with a surprised look.
She reflected that she would not remain a day longer than she could
help after such an inhospitable look and question.
"Oh, as far as that goes," said Mrs. Dent, "it wouldn't make any
difference about her being ready. You could go home whenever you
felt that you must, and she could come afterward."
"Why not? She's a big girl now, and you don't have to change
"My niece will go home when I do, and not travel alone; and if I
can't wait here for her, in the house that used to be her mother's
and my sister's home, I'll go and board somewhere," returned
Rebecca with warmth.
"Oh, you can stay here as long as you want to. You're welcome,"
said Mrs. Dent.
Then Rebecca started. "There she is!" she declared in a trembling,
exultant voice. Nobody knew how she longed to see the girl.
"She isn't as late as I thought she'd be," said Mrs. Dent, and
again that curious, subtle change passed over her face, and again
it settled into that stony impassiveness.
Rebecca stared at the door, waiting for it to open. "Where is
she?" she asked presently.
"I guess she's stopped to take off her hat in the entry," suggested
Rebecca waited. "Why don't she come? It can't take her all this
time to take off her hat."
For answer Mrs. Dent rose with a stiff jerk and threw open the
"Agnes!" she called. "Agnes!" Then she turned and eyed Rebecca.
"She ain't there."
"I saw her pass the window," said Rebecca in bewilderment.
"You must have been mistaken."
"I know I did," persisted Rebecca.
"You couldn't have."
"I did. I saw first a shadow go over the ceiling, then I saw her
in the glass there"--she pointed to a mirror over the sideboard
opposite--"and then the shadow passed the window."
"How did she look in the glass?"
"Little and light-haired, with the light hair kind of tossing over
"You couldn't have seen her."
"Was that like Agnes?"
"Like enough; but of course you didn't see her. You've been
thinking so much about her that you thought you did."
"You thought YOU did."
"I thought I saw a shadow pass the window, but I must have been
mistaken. She didn't come in, or we would have seen her before
now. I knew it was too early for her to get home from Addie
When Rebecca went to bed Agnes had not returned. Rebecca had
resolved that she would not retire until the girl came, but she was
very tired, and she reasoned with herself that she was foolish.
Besides, Mrs. Dent suggested that Agnes might go to the church
social with Addie Slocum. When Rebecca suggested that she be sent
for and told that her aunt had come, Mrs. Dent laughed meaningly.
"I guess you'll find out that a young girl ain't so ready to leave
a sociable, where there's boys, to see her aunt," said she.
"She's too young," said Rebecca incredulously and indignantly.
"She's sixteen," replied Mrs. Dent; "and she's always been great
for the boys."
"She's going to school four years after I get her before she thinks
of boys," declared Rebecca.
"We'll see," laughed the other woman.
After Rebecca went to bed, she lay awake a long time listening for
the sound of girlish laughter and a boy's voice under her window;
then she fell asleep.
The next morning she was down early. Mrs. Dent, who kept no
servants, was busily preparing breakfast.
"Don't Agnes help you about breakfast?" asked Rebecca.
"No, I let her lay," replied Mrs. Dent shortly.
"What time did she get home last night?"
"She didn't get home."
"She didn't get home. She stayed with Addie. She often does."
"Without sending you word?"
"Oh, she knew I wouldn't worry."
"When will she be home?"
"Oh, I guess she'll be along pretty soon."
Rebecca was uneasy, but she tried to conceal it, for she knew of no
good reason for uneasiness. What was there to occasion alarm in
the fact of one young girl staying overnight with another? She
could not eat much breakfast. Afterward she went out on the little
piazza, although her hostess strove furtively to stop her.
"Why don't you go out back of the house? It's real pretty--a view
over the river," she said.
"I guess I'll go out here," replied Rebecca. She had a purpose: to
watch for the absent girl.
Presently Rebecca came hustling into the house through the sitting-
room, into the kitchen where Mrs. Dent was cooking.
"That rose-bush!" she gasped.
Mrs. Dent turned and faced her.
"What of it?"
"What of it?"
"There isn't a mite of wind this morning."
Mrs. Dent turned with an inimitable toss of her fair head. "If you
think I can spend my time puzzling over such nonsense as--" she
began, but Rebecca interrupted her with a cry and a rush to the
"There she is now!" she cried. She flung the door wide open, and
curiously enough a breeze came in and her own gray hair tossed, and
a paper blew off the table to the floor with a loud rustle, but
there was nobody in sight.
"There's nobody here," Rebecca said.
She looked blankly at the other woman, who brought her rolling-pin
down on a slab of pie-crust with a thud.
"I didn't hear anybody," she said calmly.
"I SAW SOMEBODY PASS THAT WINDOW!"
"You were mistaken again."
"I KNOW I saw somebody."
"You couldn't have. Please shut that door."
Rebecca shut the door. She sat down beside the window and looked
out on the autumnal yard, with its little curve of footpath to the
"What smells so strong of roses in this room?" she said presently.
She sniffed hard.
"I don't smell anything but these nutmegs."
"It is not nutmeg."
"I don't smell anything else."
"Where do you suppose Agnes is?"
"Oh, perhaps she has gone over the ferry to Porter's Falls with
Addie. She often does. Addie's got an aunt over there, and
Addie's got a cousin, a real pretty boy."
"You suppose she's gone over there?"
"Mebbe. I shouldn't wonder."
"When should she be home?"
"Oh, not before afternoon."
Rebecca waited with all the patience she could muster. She kept
reassuring herself, telling herself that it was all natural, that
the other woman could not help it, but she made up her mind that if
Agnes did not return that afternoon she should be sent for.
When it was four o'clock she started up with resolution. She had
been furtively watching the onyx clock on the sitting-room mantel;
she had timed herself. She had said that if Agnes was not home by
that time she should demand that she be sent for. She rose and
stood before Mrs. Dent, who looked up coolly from her embroidery.
"I've waited just as long as I'm going to," she said. "I've come
'way from Michigan to see my own sister's daughter and take her
home with me. I've been here ever since yesterday--twenty-four
hours--and I haven't seen her. Now I'm going to. I want her sent
Mrs. Dent folded her embroidery and rose.
"Well, I don't blame you," she said. "It is high time she came
home. I'll go right over and get her myself."
Rebecca heaved a sigh of relief. She hardly knew what she had
suspected or feared, but she knew that her position had been one of
antagonism if not accusation, and she was sensible of relief.
"I wish you would," she said gratefully, and went back to her
chair, while Mrs. Dent got her shawl and her little white head-tie.
"I wouldn't trouble you, but I do feel as if I couldn't wait any
longer to see her," she remarked apologetically.
"Oh, it ain't any trouble at all," said Mrs. Dent as she went out.
"I don't blame you; you have waited long enough."
Rebecca sat at the window watching breathlessly until Mrs. Dent
came stepping through the yard alone. She ran to the door and saw,
hardly noticing it this time, that the rose-bush was again
violently agitated, yet with no wind evident elsewhere.
"Where is she?" she cried.
Mrs. Dent laughed with stiff lips as she came up the steps over the
terrace. "Girls will be girls," said she. "She's gone with Addie
to Lincoln. Addie's got an uncle who's conductor on the train, and
lives there, and he got 'em passes, and they're goin' to stay to
Addie's Aunt Margaret's a few days. Mrs. Slocum said Agnes didn't
have time to come over and ask me before the train went, but she
took it on herself to say it would be all right, and--"
"Why hadn't she been over to tell you?" Rebecca was angry, though
not suspicious. She even saw no reason for her anger.
"Oh, she was putting up grapes. She was coming over just as soon
as she got the black off her hands. She heard I had company, and
her hands were a sight. She was holding them over sulphur
"You say she's going to stay a few days?" repeated Rebecca dazedly.
"Yes; till Thursday, Mrs. Slocum said."
"How far is Lincoln from here?"
"About fifty miles. It'll be a real treat to her. Mrs. Slocum's
sister is a real nice woman."
"It is goin' to make it pretty late about my goin' home."
"If you don't feel as if you could wait, I'll get her ready and
send her on just as soon as I can," Mrs. Dent said sweetly.
"I'm going to wait," said Rebecca grimly.
The two women sat down again, and Mrs. Dent took up her embroidery.
"Is there any sewing I can do for her?" Rebecca asked finally in a
desperate way. "If I can get her sewing along some--"
Mrs. Dent arose with alacrity and fetched a mass of white from the
closet. "Here," she said, "if you want to sew the lace on this
nightgown. I was going to put her to it, but she'll be glad enough
to get rid of it. She ought to have this and one more before she
goes. I don't like to send her away without some good
Rebecca snatched at the little white garment and sewed feverishly.
That night she wakened from a deep sleep a little after midnight
and lay a minute trying to collect her faculties and explain to
herself what she was listening to. At last she discovered that it
was the then popular strains of "The Maiden's Prayer" floating up
through the floor from the piano in the sitting-room below. She
jumped up, threw a shawl over her nightgown, and hurried downstairs
trembling. There was nobody in the sitting-room; the piano was
silent. She ran to Mrs. Dent's bedroom and called hysterically:
"What is it?" asked Mrs. Dent's voice from the bed. The voice was
stern, but had a note of consciousness in it.
"Who--who was that playing 'The Maiden's Prayer' in the sitting-
room, on the piano?"
"I didn't hear anybody."
"There was some one."
"I didn't hear anything."
"I tell you there was some one. But--THERE AIN'T ANYBODY THERE."
"I didn't hear anything."
"I did--somebody playing 'The Maiden's Prayer' on the piano. Has
Agnes got home? I WANT TO KNOW."
"Of course Agnes hasn't got home," answered Mrs. Dent with rising
inflection. "Be you gone crazy over that girl? The last boat from
Porter's Falls was in before we went to bed. Of course she ain't
"You were dreaming."
"I wasn't; I was broad awake."
Rebecca went back to her chamber and kept her lamp burning all
The next morning her eyes upon Mrs. Dent were wary and blazing with
suppressed excitement. She kept opening her mouth as if to speak,
then frowning, and setting her lips hard. After breakfast she went
upstairs, and came down presently with her coat and bonnet.
"Now, Emeline," she said, "I want to know where the Slocums live."
Mrs. Dent gave a strange, long, half-lidded glance at her. She was
finishing her coffee.
"Why?" she asked.
"I'm going over there and find out if they have heard anything from
her daughter and Agnes since they went away. I don't like what I
heard last night."
"You must have been dreaming."
"It don't make any odds whether I was or not. Does she play 'The
Maiden's Prayer' on the piano? I want to know."
"What if she does? She plays it a little, I believe. I don't
know. She don't half play it, anyhow; she ain't got an ear."
"That wasn't half played last night. I don't like such things
happening. I ain't superstitious, but I don't like it. I'm going.
Where do the Slocum's live?"
"You go down the road over the bridge past the old grist mill, then
you turn to the left; it's the only house for half a mile. You can
t miss it. It has a barn with a ship in full sail on the cupola."
"Well, I'm going. I don't feel easy."
About two hours later Rebecca returned. There were red spots on
her cheeks. She looked wild. "I've been there," she said, and
there isn't a soul at home. Something HAS happened."
"What has happened?"
"I don't know. Something. I had a warning last night. There
wasn't a soul there. They've been sent for to Lincoln."
"Did you see anybody to ask?" asked Mrs. Dent with thinly concealed
"I asked the woman that lives on the turn of the road. She's stone
deaf. I suppose you know. She listened while I screamed at her to
know where the Slocums were, and then she said, 'Mrs. Smith don't
live here.' I didn't see anybody on the road, and that's the only
house. What do you suppose it means?"
"I don't suppose it means much of anything," replied Mrs. Dent
coolly. "Mr. Slocum is conductor on the railroad, and he'd be away
anyway, and Mrs. Slocum often goes early when he does, to spend the
day with her sister in Porter's Falls. She'd be more likely to go
away than Addie."
"And you don't think anything has happened?" Rebecca asked with
diminishing distrust before the reasonableness of it.
Rebecca went upstairs to lay aside her coat and bonnet. But she
came hurrying back with them still on.
"Who's been in my room?" she gasped. Her face was pale as ashes.
Mrs. Dent also paled as she regarded her.
"What do you mean?" she asked slowly.
"I found when I went upstairs that--little nightgown of--Agnes's
on--the bed, laid out. It was--LAID OUT. The sleeves were folded
across the bosom, and there was that little red rose between them.
Emeline, what is it? Emeline, what's the matter? Oh!"
Mrs. Dent was struggling for breath in great, choking gasps. She
clung to the back of a chair. Rebecca, trembling herself so she
could scarcely keep on her feet, got her some water.
As soon as she recovered herself Mrs. Dent regarded her with eyes
full of the strangest mixture of fear and horror and hostility.
"What do you mean talking so?" she said in a hard voice.
"It IS THERE."
"Nonsense. You threw it down and it fell that way."
"It was folded in my bureau drawer."
"It couldn't have been."
"Who picked that red rose?"
"Look on the bush," Mrs. Dent replied shortly.
Rebecca looked at her; her mouth gaped. She hurried out of the
room. When she came back her eyes seemed to protrude. (She had in
the meantime hastened upstairs, and come down with tottering steps,
clinging to the banisters.)
"Now I want to know what all this means?" she demanded.
"What what means?"
"The rose is on the bush, and it's gone from the bed in my room!
Is this house haunted, or what?"
"I don't know anything about a house being haunted. I don't
believe in such things. Be you crazy?" Mrs. Dent spoke with
gathering force. The colour flashed back to her cheeks.
"No," said Rebecca shortly. "I ain't crazy yet, but I shall be if
this keeps on much longer. I'm going to find out where that girl
is before night."
Mrs. Dent eyed her.
"What be you going to do?"
"I'm going to Lincoln."
A faint triumphant smile overspread Mrs. Dent's large face.
"You can't," said she; "there ain't any train."
"No; there ain't any afternoon train from the Falls to Lincoln."
"Then I'm going over to the Slocums' again to-night."
However, Rebecca did not go; such a rain came up as deterred even
her resolution, and she had only her best dresses with her. Then
in the evening came the letter from the Michigan village which she
had left nearly a week ago. It was from her cousin, a single
woman, who had come to keep her house while she was away. It was a
pleasant unexciting letter enough, all the first of it, and related
mostly how she missed Rebecca; how she hoped she was having
pleasant weather and kept her health; and how her friend, Mrs.
Greenaway, had come to stay with her since she had felt lonesome
the first night in the house; how she hoped Rebecca would have no
objections to this, although nothing had been said about it, since
she had not realized that she might be nervous alone. The cousin
was painfully conscientious, hence the letter. Rebecca smiled in
spite of her disturbed mind as she read it, then her eye caught the
postscript. That was in a different hand, purporting to be written
by the friend, Mrs. Hannah Greenaway, informing her that the cousin
had fallen down the cellar stairs and broken her hip, and was in a
dangerous condition, and begging Rebecca to return at once, as she
herself was rheumatic and unable to nurse her properly, and no one
else could be obtained.
Rebecca looked at Mrs. Dent, who had come to her room with the
letter quite late; it was half-past nine, and she had gone upstairs
for the night.
"Where did this come from?" she asked.
"Mr. Amblecrom brought it," she replied.
"The postmaster. He often brings the letters that come on the late
mail. He knows I ain't anybody to send. He brought yours about
your coming. He said he and his wife came over on the ferry-boat
"I remember him," Rebecca replied shortly. "There's bad news in
Mrs. Dent's face took on an expression of serious inquiry.
"Yes, my Cousin Harriet has fallen down the cellar stairs--they
were always dangerous--and she's broken her hip, and I've got to
take the first train home to-morrow."
"You don't say so. I'm dreadfully sorry."
"No, you ain't sorry!" said Rebecca, with a look as if she leaped.
"You're glad. I don't know why, but you're glad. You've wanted to
get rid of me for some reason ever since I came. I don't know why.
You're a strange woman. Now you've got your way, and I hope you're
"How you talk."
Mrs. Dent spoke in a faintly injured voice, but there was a light
in her eyes.
"I talk the way it is. Well, I'm going to-morrow morning, and I
want you, just as soon as Agnes Dent comes home, to send her out to
me. Don't you wait for anything. You pack what clothes she's got,
and don't wait even to mend them, and you buy her ticket. I'll
leave the money, and you send her along. She don't have to change
cars. You start her off, when she gets home, on the next train!"
"Very well," replied the other woman. She had an expression of
"Mind you do it."
"Very well, Rebecca."
Rebecca started on her journey the next morning. When she arrived,
two days later, she found her cousin in perfect health. She found,
moreover, that the friend had not written the postscript in the
cousin's letter. Rebecca would have returned to Ford Village the
next morning, but the fatigue and nervous strain had been too much
for her. She was not able to move from her bed. She had a species
of low fever induced by anxiety and fatigue. But she could write,
and she did, to the Slocums, and she received no answer. She also
wrote to Mrs. Dent; she even sent numerous telegrams, with no
response. Finally she wrote to the postmaster, and an answer
arrived by the first possible mail. The letter was short, curt,
and to the purpose. Mr. Amblecrom, the postmaster, was a man of
few words, and especially wary as to his expressions in a letter.
"Dear madam," he wrote, "your favour rec'ed. No Slocums in Ford's
Village. All dead. Addie ten years ago, her mother two years
later, her father five. House vacant. Mrs. John Dent said to have
neglected stepdaughter. Girl was sick. Medicine not given. Talk
of taking action. Not enough evidence. House said to be haunted.
Strange sights and sounds. Your niece, Agnes Dent, died a year
ago, about this time.
THE SHADOWS ON THE WALL
"Henry had words with Edward in the study the night before Edward
died," said Caroline Glynn.
She was elderly, tall, and harshly thin, with a hard colourlessness
of face. She spoke not with acrimony, but with grave severity.
Rebecca Ann Glynn, younger, stouter and rosy of face between her
crinkling puffs of gray hair, gasped, by way of assent. She sat in
a wide flounce of black silk in the corner of the sofa, and rolled
terrified eyes from her sister Caroline to her sister Mrs. Stephen
Brigham, who had been Emma Glynn, the one beauty of the family.
She was beautiful still, with a large, splendid, full-blown beauty;
she filled a great rocking-chair with her superb bulk of
femininity, and swayed gently back and forth, her black silks
whispering and her black frills fluttering. Even the shock of
death (for her brother Edward lay dead in the house,) could not
disturb her outward serenity of demeanour. She was grieved over
the loss of her brother: he had been the youngest, and she had been
fond of him, but never had Emma Brigham lost sight of her own
importance amidst the waters of tribulation. She was always awake
to the consciousness of her own stability in the midst of
vicissitudes and the splendour of her permanent bearing.
But even her expression of masterly placidity changed before her
sister Caroline's announcement and her sister Rebecca Ann's gasp of
terror and distress in response.
"I think Henry might have controlled his temper, when poor Edward
was so near his end," said she with an asperity which disturbed
slightly the roseate curves of her beautiful mouth.
"Of course he did not KNOW," murmured Rebecca Ann in a faint tone
strangely out of keeping with her appearance.
One involuntarily looked again to be sure that such a feeble pipe
came from that full-swelling chest.
"Of course he did not know it," said Caroline quickly. She turned
on her sister with a strange sharp look of suspicion. "How could
he have known it?" said she. Then she shrank as if from the
other's possible answer. "Of course you and I both know he could
not," said she conclusively, but her pale face was paler than it
had been before.
Rebecca gasped again. The married sister, Mrs. Emma Brigham, was
now sitting up straight in her chair; she had ceased rocking, and
was eyeing them both intently with a sudden accentuation of family
likeness in her face. Given one common intensity of emotion and
similar lines showed forth, and the three sisters of one race were
"What do you mean?" said she impartially to them both. Then she,
too, seemed to shrink before a possible answer. She even laughed
an evasive sort of laugh. "I guess you don't mean anything," said
she, but her face wore still the expression of shrinking horror.
"Nobody means anything," said Caroline firmly. She rose and
crossed the room toward the door with grim decisiveness.
"Where are you going?" asked Mrs. Brigham.
"I have something to see to," replied Caroline, and the others at
once knew by her tone that she had some solemn and sad duty to
perform in the chamber of death.
"Oh," said Mrs. Brigham.
After the door had closed behind Caroline, she turned to Rebecca.
"Did Henry have many words with him?" she asked.
"They were talking very loud," replied Rebecca evasively, yet with
an answering gleam of ready response to the other's curiosity in
the quick lift of her soft blue eyes.
Mrs. Brigham looked at her. She had not resumed rocking. She
still sat up straight with a slight knitting of intensity on her
fair forehead, between the pretty rippling curves of her auburn
"Did you--hear anything?" she asked in a low voice with a glance
toward the door.
"I was just across the hall in the south parlour, and that door was
open and this door ajar," replied Rebecca with a slight flush.
"Then you must have--"
"I couldn't help it."
"Most of it."
"What was it?"
"The old story."
"I suppose Henry was mad, as he always was, because Edward was
living on here for nothing, when he had wasted all the money father
Rebecca nodded with a fearful glance at the door.
When Emma spoke again her voice was still more hushed. "I know how
he felt," said she. "He had always been so prudent himself, and
worked hard at his profession, and there Edward had never done
anything but spend, and it must have looked to him as if Edward was
living at his expense, but he wasn't."
"No, he wasn't."
"It was the way father left the property--that all the children
should have a home here--and he left money enough to buy the food
and all if we had all come home."
"And Edward had a right here according to the terms of father's
will, and Henry ought to have remembered it."
"Yes, he ought."
"Did he say hard things?"
"Pretty hard from what I heard."
"I heard him tell Edward that he had no business here at all, and
he thought he had better go away."
"What did Edward say?"
"That he would stay here as long as he lived and afterward, too, if
he was a mind to, and he would like to see Henry get him out; and
"Then he laughed."
"What did Henry say."
"I didn't hear him say anything, but--"
"I saw him when he came out of this room."
"He looked mad?"
"You've seen him when he looked so."
Emma nodded; the expression of horror on her face had deepened.
"Do you remember that time he killed the cat because she had
Then Caroline reentered the room. She went up to the stove in
which a wood fire was burning--it was a cold, gloomy day of fall--
and she warmed her hands, which were reddened from recent washing
in cold water.
Mrs. Brigham looked at her and hesitated. She glanced at the door,
which was still ajar, as it did not easily shut, being still
swollen with the damp weather of the summer. She rose and pushed
it together with a sharp thud which jarred the house. Rebecca
started painfully with a half exclamation. Caroline looked at her
"It is time you controlled your nerves, Rebecca," said she.
"I can't help it," replied Rebecca with almost a wail. "I am
nervous. There's enough to make me so, the Lord knows."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Caroline with her old air of
sharp suspicion, and something between challenge and dread of its
"Nothing," said she.
"Then I wouldn't keep speaking in such a fashion."
Emma, returning from the closed door, said imperiously that it
ought to be fixed, it shut so hard.
"It will shrink enough after we have had the fire a few days,"
replied Caroline. "If anything is done to it it will be too small;
there will be a crack at the sill."
"I think Henry ought to be ashamed of himself for talking as he did
to Edward," said Mrs. Brigham abruptly, but in an almost inaudible
"Hush!" said Caroline, with a glance of actual fear at the closed
"Nobody can hear with the door shut."
"He must have heard it shut, and--"
"Well, I can say what I want to before he comes down, and I am not
afraid of him."
"I don't know who is afraid of him! What reason is there for
anybody to be afraid of Henry?" demanded Caroline.
Mrs. Brigham trembled before her sister's look. Rebecca gasped
again. "There isn't any reason, of course. Why should there be?"
"I wouldn't speak so, then. Somebody might overhear you and think
it was queer. Miranda Joy is in the south parlour sewing, you
"I thought she went upstairs to stitch on the machine."
"She did, but she has come down again."
"Well, she can't hear.
"I say again I think Henry ought to be ashamed of himself. I
shouldn't think he'd ever get over it, having words with poor
Edward the very night before he died. Edward was enough sight
better disposition than Henry, with all his faults. I always
thought a great deal of poor Edward, myself."
Mrs. Brigham passed a large fluff of handkerchief across her eyes;
Rebecca sobbed outright.
"Rebecca," said Caroline admonishingly, keeping her mouth stiff and
"I never heard him speak a cross word, unless he spoke cross to
Henry that last night. I don't know, but he did from what Rebecca
overheard," said Emma.
"Not so much cross as sort of soft, and sweet, and aggravating,"
"He never raised his voice," said Caroline; "but he had his way."
"He had a right to in this case."
"Yes, he did."
"He had as much of a right here as Henry," sobbed Rebecca, "and now
he's gone, and he will never be in this home that poor father left
him and the rest of us again."
"What do you really think ailed Edward?" asked Emma in hardly more
than a whisper. She did not look at her sister.
Caroline sat down in a nearby armchair, and clutched the arms
convulsively until her thin knuckles whitened.
"I told you," said she.
Rebecca held her handkerchief over her mouth, and looked at them
above it with terrified, streaming eyes.
"I know you said that he had terrible pains in his stomach, and had
spasms, but what do you think made him have them?"
"Henry called it gastric trouble. You know Edward has always had
Mrs. Brigham hesitated a moment. "Was there any talk of an--
examination?" said she.
Then Caroline turned on her fiercely.
"No," said she in a terrible voice. "No."
The three sisters' souls seemed to meet on one common ground of
terrified understanding though their eyes. The old-fashioned latch
of the door was heard to rattle, and a push from without made the
door shake ineffectually. "It's Henry," Rebecca sighed rather than
whispered. Mrs. Brigham settled herself after a noiseless rush
across the floor into her rocking-chair again, and was swaying back
and forth with her head comfortably leaning back, when the door at
last yielded and Henry Glynn entered. He cast a covertly sharp,
comprehensive glance at Mrs. Brigham with her elaborate calm; at
Rebecca quietly huddled in the corner of the sofa with her
handkerchief to her face and only one small reddened ear as
attentive as a dog's uncovered and revealing her alertness for his
presence; at Caroline sitting with a strained composure in her
armchair by the stove. She met his eyes quite firmly with a look
of inscrutable fear, and defiance of the fear and of him.
Henry Glynn looked more like this sister than the others. Both had
the same hard delicacy of form and feature, both were tall and
almost emaciated, both had a sparse growth of gray blond hair far
back from high intellectual foreheads, both had an almost noble
aquilinity of feature. They confronted each other with the
pitiless immovability of two statues in whose marble lineaments
emotions were fixed for all eternity.
Then Henry Glynn smiled and the smile transformed his face. He
looked suddenly years younger, and an almost boyish recklessness
and irresolution appeared in his face. He flung himself into a
chair with a gesture which was bewildering from its incongruity
with his general appearance. He leaned his head back, flung one
leg over the other, and looked laughingly at Mrs. Brigham.
"I declare, Emma, you grow younger every year," he said.
She flushed a little, and her placid mouth widened at the corners.
She was susceptible to praise.
"Our thoughts to-day ought to belong to the one of us who will
NEVER grow older," said Caroline in a hard voice.
Henry looked at her, still smiling. "Of course, we none of us
forget that," said he, in a deep, gentle voice, "but we have to
speak to the living, Caroline, and I have not seen Emma for a long
time, and the living are as dear as the dead."
"Not to me," said Caroline.
She rose, and went abruptly out of the room again. Rebecca also
rose and hurried after her, sobbing loudly.
Henry looked slowly after them.
"Caroline is completely unstrung," said he. Mrs. Brigham rocked.
A confidence in him inspired by his manner was stealing over her.
Out of that confidence she spoke quite easily and naturally.
"His death was very sudden," said she.
Henry's eyelids quivered slightly but his gaze was unswerving.
"Yes," said he; "it was very sudden. He was sick only a few
"What did you call it?"
"You did not think of an examination?"
"There was no need. I am perfectly certain as to the cause of his
Suddenly Mrs. Brigham felt a creep as of some live horror over her
very soul. Her flesh prickled with cold, before an inflection of
his voice. She rose, tottering on weak knees.
"Where are you going?" asked Henry in a strange, breathless voice.
Mrs. Brigham said something incoherent about some sewing which she
had to do, some black for the funeral, and was out of the room.
She went up to the front chamber which she occupied. Caroline was
there. She went close to her and took her hands, and the two
sisters looked at each other.
"Don't speak, don't, I won't have it!" said Caroline finally in an
"I won't," replied Emma.
That afternoon the three sisters were in the study, the large front
room on the ground floor across the hall from the south parlour,
when the dusk deepened.
Mrs. Brigham was hemming some black material. She sat close to the
west window for the waning light. At last she laid her work on her
"It's no use, I cannot see to sew another stitch until we have a
light," said she.
Caroline, who was writing some letters at the table, turned to
Rebecca, in her usual place on the sofa.
"Rebecca, you had better get a lamp," she said.
Rebecca started up; even in the dusk her face showed her agitation.
"It doesn't seem to me that we need a lamp quite yet," she said in
a piteous, pleading voice like a child's.
"Yes, we do," returned Mrs. Brigham peremptorily. "We must have a
light. I must finish this to-night or I can't go to the funeral,
and I can't see to sew another stitch."
"Caroline can see to write letters, and she is farther from the
window than you are," said Rebecca.
"Are you trying to save kerosene or are you lazy, Rebecca Glynn?"
cried Mrs. Brigham. "I can go and get the light myself, but I have
this work all in my lap."
Caroline's pen stopped scratching.
"Rebecca, we must have the light," said she.
"Had we better have it in here?" asked Rebecca weakly.
"Of course! Why not?" cried Caroline sternly.
"I am sure I don't want to take my sewing into the other room, when
it is all cleaned up for to-morrow," said Mrs. Brigham.
"Why, I never heard such a to-do about lighting a lamp."
Rebecca rose and left the room. Presently she entered with a lamp--
a large one with a white porcelain shade. She set it on a table,
an old-fashioned card-table which was placed against the opposite
wall from the window. That wall was clear of bookcases and books,
which were only on three sides of the room. That opposite wall was
taken up with three doors, the one small space being occupied by
the table. Above the table on the old-fashioned paper, of a white
satin gloss, traversed by an indeterminate green scroll, hung quite
high a small gilt and black-framed ivory miniature taken in her
girlhood of the mother of the family. When the lamp was set on the
table beneath it, the tiny pretty face painted on the ivory seemed
to gleam out with a look of intelligence.
"What have you put that lamp over there for?" asked Mrs. Brigham,
with more of impatience than her voice usually revealed. "Why
didn't you set it in the hall and have done with it. Neither
Caroline nor I can see if it is on that table."
"I thought perhaps you would move," replied Rebecca hoarsely.
"If I do move, we can't both sit at that table. Caroline has her
paper all spread around. Why don't you set the lamp on the study
table in the middle of the room, then we can both see?"
Rebecca hesitated. Her face was very pale. She looked with an
appeal that was fairly agonizing at her sister Caroline.
"Why don't you put the lamp on this table, as she says?" asked
Caroline, almost fiercely. "Why do you act so, Rebecca?"
"I should think you WOULD ask her that," said Mrs. Brigham. "She
doesn't act like herself at all."
Rebecca took the lamp and set it on the table in the middle of the
room without another word. Then she turned her back upon it
quickly and seated herself on the sofa, and placed a hand over her
eyes as if to shade them, and remained so.
"Does the light hurt your eyes, and is that the reason why you
didn't want the lamp?" asked Mrs. Brigham kindly.
"I always like to sit in the dark," replied Rebecca chokingly.
Then she snatched her handkerchief hastily from her pocket and
began to weep. Caroline continued to write, Mrs. Brigham to sew.
Suddenly Mrs. Brigham as she sewed glanced at the opposite wall.
The glance became a steady stare. She looked intently, her work
suspended in her hands. Then she looked away again and took a few
more stitches, then she looked again, and again turned to her task.
At last she laid her work in her lap and stared concentratedly.
She looked from the wall around the room, taking note of the
various objects; she looked at the wall long and intently. Then
she turned to her sisters.
"What IS that?" said she.
"What?" asked Caroline harshly; her pen scratched loudly across the
Rebecca gave one of her convulsive gasps.
"That strange shadow on the wall," replied Mrs. Brigham.
Rebecca sat with her face hidden: Caroline dipped her pen in the
"Why don't you turn around and look?" asked Mrs. Brigham in a
wondering and somewhat aggrieved way.
"I am in a hurry to finish this letter, if Mrs. Wilson Ebbit is
going to get word in time to come to the funeral," replied Caroline
Mrs. Brigham rose, her work slipping to the floor, and she began
walking around the room, moving various articles of furniture, with
her eyes on the shadow.
Then suddenly she shrieked out:
"Look at this awful shadow! What is it? Caroline, look, look!
Rebecca, look! WHAT IS IT?"
All Mrs. Brigham's triumphant placidity was gone. Her handsome
face was livid with horror. She stood stiffly pointing at the
"Look!" said she, pointing her finger at it. "Look! What is it?"
Then Rebecca burst out in a wild wail after a shuddering glance at
"Oh, Caroline, there it is again! There it is again!"
"Caroline Glynn, you look!" said Mrs. Brigham. "Look! What is
that dreadful shadow?"
Caroline rose, turned, and stood confronting the wall.
"How should I know?" she said.
"It has been there every night since he died," cried Rebecca.
"Yes. He died Thursday and this is Saturday; that makes three
nights," said Caroline rigidly. She stood as if holding herself
calm with a vise of concentrated will.
"It--it looks like--like--" stammered Mrs. Brigham in a tone of
"I know what it looks like well enough," said Caroline. "I've got
eyes in my head."
"It looks like Edward," burst out Rebecca in a sort of frenzy of
"Yes, it does," assented Mrs. Brigham, whose horror-stricken tone
matched her sister's, "only-- Oh, it is awful! What is it,
"I ask you again, how should I know?" replied Caroline. "I see it
there like you. How should I know any more than you?"
"It MUST be something in the room," said Mrs. Brigham, staring
"We moved everything in the room the first night it came," said
Rebecca; "it is not anything in the room."
Caroline turned upon her with a sort of fury. "Of course it is
something in the room," said she. "How you act! What do you mean
by talking so? Of course it is something in the room."
"Of course, it is," agreed Mrs. Brigham, looking at Caroline
suspiciously. "Of course it must be. It is only a coincidence.
It just happens so. Perhaps it is that fold of the window curtain
that makes it. It must be something in the room."
"It is not anything in the room," repeated Rebecca with obstinate
The door opened suddenly and Henry Glynn entered. He began to
speak, then his eyes followed the direction of the others'. He
stood stock still staring at the shadow on the wall. It was life
size and stretched across the white parallelogram of a door, half
across the wall space on which the picture hung.
"What is that?" he demanded in a strange voice.
"It must be due to something in the room, Mrs. Brigham said
"It is not due to anything in the room," said Rebecca again with
the shrill insistency of terror.
"How you act, Rebecca Glynn," said Caroline.
Henry Glynn stood and stared a moment longer. His face showed a
gamut of emotions--horror, conviction, then furious incredulity.
Suddenly he began hastening hither and thither about the room. He
moved the furniture with fierce jerks, turning ever to see the
effect upon the shadow on the wall. Not a line of its terrible
"It must be something in the room!" he declared in a voice which
seemed to snap like a lash.
His face changed. The inmost secrecy of his nature seemed evident
until one almost lost sight of his lineaments. Rebecca stood close
to her sofa, regarding him with woeful, fascinated eyes. Mrs.
Brigham clutched Caroline's hand. They both stood in a corner out
of his way. For a few moments he raged about the room like a caged
wild animal. He moved every piece of furniture; when the moving of
a piece did not affect the shadow, he flung it to the floor, the
Then suddenly he desisted. He laughed and began straightening the
furniture which he had flung down.
"What an absurdity," he said easily. "Such a to-do about a
"That's so," assented Mrs. Brigham, in a scared voice which she
tried to make natural. As she spoke she lifted a chair near her.
"I think you have broken the chair that Edward was so fond of,"
Terror and wrath were struggling for expression on her face. Her
mouth was set, her eyes shrinking. Henry lifted the chair with a
show of anxiety.
"Just as good as ever," he said pleasantly. He laughed again,
looking at his sisters. "Did I scare you?" he said. "I should
think you might be used to me by this time. You know my way of
wanting to leap to the bottom of a mystery, and that shadow does
look--queer, like--and I thought if there was any way of accounting
for it I would like to without any delay."
"You don't seem to have succeeded," remarked Caroline dryly, with a
slight glance at the wall.
Henry's eyes followed hers and he quivered perceptibly.
"Oh, there is no accounting for shadows," he said, and he laughed
again. "A man is a fool to try to account for shadows."
Then the supper bell rang, and they all left the room, but Henry
kept his back to the wall, as did, indeed, the others.
Mrs. Brigham pressed close to Caroline as she crossed the hall.
"He looked like a demon!" she breathed in her ear.
Henry led the way with an alert motion like a boy; Rebecca brought
up the rear; she could scarcely walk, her knees trembled so.
"I can't sit in that room again this evening," she whispered to
Caroline after supper.
"Very well, we will sit in the south room," replied Caroline. "I
think we will sit in the south parlour," she said aloud; "it isn't
as damp as the study, and I have a cold."
So they all sat in the south room with their sewing. Henry read
the newspaper, his chair drawn close to the lamp on the table.
About nine o'clock he rose abruptly and crossed the hall to the
study. The three sisters looked at one another. Mrs. Brigham
rose, folded her rustling skirts compactly around her, and began
tiptoeing toward the door.
"What are you going to do?" inquired Rebecca agitatedly.
"I am going to see what he is about," replied Mrs. Brigham
She pointed as she spoke to the study door across the hall; it was
ajar. Henry had striven to pull it together behind him, but it had
somehow swollen beyond the limit with curious speed. It was still
ajar and a streak of light showed from top to bottom. The hall
lamp was not lit.
"You had better stay where you are," said Caroline with guarded
"I am going to see," repeated Mrs. Brigham firmly.
Then she folded her skirts so tightly that her bulk with its
swelling curves was revealed in a black silk sheath, and she went
with a slow toddle across the hall to the study door. She stood
there, her eye at the crack.
In the south room Rebecca stopped sewing and sat watching with
dilated eyes. Caroline sewed steadily. What Mrs. Brigham,
standing at the crack in the study door, saw was this:
Henry Glynn, evidently reasoning that the source of the strange
shadow must be between the table on which the lamp stood and the
wall, was making systematic passes and thrusts all over and through
the intervening space with an old sword which had belonged to his
father. Not an inch was left unpierced. He seemed to have divided
the space into mathematical sections. He brandished the sword with
a sort of cold fury and calculation; the blade gave out flashes of
light, the shadow remained unmoved. Mrs. Brigham, watching, felt
herself cold with horror.
Finally Henry ceased and stood with the sword in hand and raised as
if to strike, surveying the shadow on the wall threateningly. Mrs.
Brigham toddled back across the hall and shut the south room door
behind her before she related what she had seen.
"He looked like a demon!" she said again. "Have you got any of
that old wine in the house, Caroline? I don't feel as if I could
stand much more."
Indeed, she looked overcome. Her handsome placid face was worn and
strained and pale.
"Yes, there's plenty," said Caroline; "you can have some when you
go to bed."
"I think we had all better take some," said Mrs. Brigham. "Oh, my
God, Caroline, what--"
"Don't ask and don't speak," said Caroline.
"No, I am not going to," replied Mrs. Brigham; "but--"
Rebecca moaned aloud.
"What are you doing that for?" asked Caroline harshly.
"Poor Edward," returned Rebecca.
"That is all you have to groan for," said Caroline. "There is
"I am going to bed," said Mrs. Brigham. "I sha'n't be able to be
at the funeral if I don't."
Soon the three sisters went to their chambers and the south parlour
was deserted. Caroline called to Henry in the study to put out the
light before he came upstairs. They had been gone about an hour
when he came into the room bringing the lamp which had stood in the
study. He set it on the table and waited a few minutes, pacing up
and down. His face was terrible, his fair complexion showed livid;
his blue eyes seemed dark blanks of awful reflections.
Then he took the lamp up and returned to the library. He set the
lamp on the centre table, and the shadow sprang out on the wall.
Again he studied the furniture and moved it about, but
deliberately, with none of his former frenzy. Nothing affected the
shadow. Then he returned to the south room with the lamp and again
waited. Again he returned to the study and placed the lamp on the
table, and the shadow sprang out upon the wall. It was midnight
before he went upstairs. Mrs. Brigham and the other sisters, who
could not sleep, heard him.
The next day was the funeral. That evening the family sat in the
south room. Some relatives were with them. Nobody entered the
study until Henry carried a lamp in there after the others had
retired for the night. He saw again the shadow on the wall leap to
an awful life before the light.
The next morning at breakfast Henry Glynn announced that he had to
go to the city for three days. The sisters looked at him with
surprise. He very seldom left home, and just now his practice had
been neglected on account of Edward's death. He was a physician.
"How can you leave your patients now?" asked Mrs. Brigham
"I don't know how to, but there is no other way," replied Henry
easily. "I have had a telegram from Doctor Mitford."
"Consultation?" inquired Mrs. Brigham.
"I have business," replied Henry.
Doctor Mitford was an old classmate of his who lived in a
neighbouring city and who occasionally called upon him in the case
of a consultation.
After he had gone Mrs. Brigham said to Caroline that after all
Henry had not said that he was going to consult with Doctor
Mitford, and she thought it very strange.
"Everything is very strange," said Rebecca with a shudder.
"What do you mean?" inquired Caroline sharply.
"Nothing," replied Rebecca.
Nobody entered the library that day, nor the next, nor the next.
The third day Henry was expected home, but he did not arrive and
the last train from the city had come.
"I call it pretty queer work," said Mrs. Brigham. "The idea of a
doctor leaving his patients for three days anyhow, at such a time
as this, and I know he has some very sick ones; he said so. And
the idea of a consultation lasting three days! There is no sense
in it, and NOW he has not come. I don't understand it, for my
"I don't either," said Rebecca.
They were all in the south parlour. There was no light in the
study opposite, and the door was ajar.
Presently Mrs. Brigham rose--she could not have told why; something
seemed to impel her, some will outside her own. She went out of
the room, again wrapping her rustling skirts around that she might
pass noiselessly, and began pushing at the swollen door of the
"She has not got any lamp," said Rebecca in a shaking voice.
Caroline, who was writing letters, rose again, took a lamp (there
were two in the room) and followed her sister. Rebecca had risen,
but she stood trembling, not venturing to follow.
The doorbell rang, but the others did not hear it; it was on the
south door on the other side of the house from the study. Rebecca,
after hesitating until the bell rang the second time, went to the
door; she remembered that the servant was out.
Caroline and her sister Emma entered the study. Caroline set the
lamp on the table. They looked at the wall. "Oh, my God," gasped
Mrs. Brigham, "there are--there are TWO--shadows." The sisters
stood clutching each other, staring at the awful things on the
wall. Then Rebecca came in, staggering, with a telegram in her
hand. "Here is--a telegram," she gasped. "Henry is--dead."
Close to the village street stood the one-story house in which
Luella Miller, who had an evil name in the village, had dwelt. She
had been dead for years, yet there were those in the village who,
in spite of the clearer light which comes on a vantage-point from a
long-past danger, half believed in the tale which they had heard
from their childhood. In their hearts, although they scarcely
would have owned it, was a survival of the wild horror and frenzied
fear of their ancestors who had dwelt in the same age with Luella
Miller. Young people even would stare with a shudder at the old
house as they passed, and children never played around it as was
their wont around an untenanted building. Not a window in the old
Miller house was broken: the panes reflected the morning sunlight
in patches of emerald and blue, and the latch of the sagging front
door was never lifted, although no bolt secured it. Since Luella
Miller had been carried out of it, the house had had no tenant
except one friendless old soul who had no choice between that and
the far-off shelter of the open sky. This old woman, who had
survived her kindred and friends, lived in the house one week, then
one morning no smoke came out of the chimney, and a body of
neighbours, a score strong, entered and found her dead in her bed.
There were dark whispers as to the cause of her death, and there
were those who testified to an expression of fear so exalted that
it showed forth the state of the departing soul upon the dead face.
The old woman had been hale and hearty when she entered the house,
and in seven days she was dead; it seemed that she had fallen a
victim to some uncanny power. The minister talked in the pulpit
with covert severity against the sin of superstition; still the
belief prevailed. Not a soul in the village but would have chosen
the almshouse rather than that dwelling. No vagrant, if he heard
the tale, would seek shelter beneath that old roof, unhallowed by
nearly half a century of superstitious fear.
There was only one person in the village who had actually known
Luella Miller. That person was a woman well over eighty, but a
marvel of vitality and unextinct youth. Straight as an arrow, with
the spring of one recently let loose from the bow of life, she
moved about the streets, and she always went to church, rain or
shine. She had never married, and had lived alone for years in a
house across the road from Luella Miller's.
This woman had none of the garrulousness of age, but never in all
her life had she ever held her tongue for any will save her own,
and she never spared the truth when she essayed to present it. She
it was who bore testimony to the life, evil, though possibly
wittingly or designedly so, of Luella Miller, and to her personal
appearance. When this old woman spoke--and she had the gift of
description, although her thoughts were clothed in the rude
vernacular of her native village--one could seem to see Luella
Miller as she had really looked. According to this woman, Lydia
Anderson by name, Luella Miller had been a beauty of a type rather
unusual in New England. She had been a slight, pliant sort of
creature, as ready with a strong yielding to fate and as
unbreakable as a willow. She had glimmering lengths of straight,
fair hair, which she wore softly looped round a long, lovely face.
She had blue eyes full of soft pleading, little slender, clinging
hands, and a wonderful grace of motion and attitude.
"Luella Miller used to sit in a way nobody else could if they sat
up and studied a week of Sundays," said Lydia Anderson, "and it was
a sight to see her walk. If one of them willows over there on the
edge of the brook could start up and get its roots free of the
ground, and move off, it would go just the way Luella Miller used
to. She had a green shot silk she used to wear, too, and a hat
with green ribbon streamers, and a lace veil blowing across her
face and out sideways, and a green ribbon flyin' from her waist.
That was what she came out bride in when she married Erastus
Miller. Her name before she was married was Hill. There was
always a sight of "l's" in her name, married or single. Erastus
Miller was good lookin', too, better lookin' than Luella.
Sometimes I used to think that Luella wa'n't so handsome after all.
Erastus just about worshiped her. I used to know him pretty well.
He lived next door to me, and we went to school together. Folks
used to say he was waitin' on me, but he wa'n't. I never thought
he was except once or twice when he said things that some girls
might have suspected meant somethin'. That was before Luella came
here to teach the district school. It was funny how she came to
get it, for folks said she hadn't any education, and that one of
the big girls, Lottie Henderson, used to do all the teachin' for
her, while she sat back and did embroidery work on a cambric
pocket-handkerchief. Lottie Henderson was a real smart girl, a
splendid scholar, and she just set her eyes by Luella, as all the
girls did. Lottie would have made a real smart woman, but she died
when Luella had been here about a year--just faded away and died:
nobody knew what aided her. She dragged herself to that
schoolhouse and helped Luella teach till the very last minute. The
committee all knew how Luella didn't do much of the work herself,
but they winked at it. It wa'n't long after Lottie died that
Erastus married her. I always thought he hurried it up because she
wa'n't fit to teach. One of the big boys used to help her after
Lottie died, but he hadn't much government, and the school didn't
do very well, and Luella might have had to give it up, for the
committee couldn't have shut their eyes to things much longer. The
boy that helped her was a real honest, innocent sort of fellow, and
he was a good scholar, too. Folks said he overstudied, and that
was the reason he was took crazy the year after Luella married, but
I don't know. And I don't know what made Erastus Miller go into
consumption of the blood the year after he was married: consumption
wa'n't in his family. He just grew weaker and weaker, and went
almost bent double when he tried to wait on Luella, and he spoke
feeble, like an old man. He worked terrible hard till the last
trying to save up a little to leave Luella. I've seen him out in
the worst storms on a wood-sled--he used to cut and sell wood--and
he was hunched up on top lookin' more dead than alive. Once I
couldn't stand it: I went over and helped him pitch some wood on
the cart--I was always strong in my arms. I wouldn't stop for all
he told me to, and I guess he was glad enough for the help. That
was only a week before he died. He fell on the kitchen floor while
he was gettin' breakfast. He always got the breakfast and let
Luella lay abed. He did all the sweepin' and the washin' and the
ironin' and most of the cookin'. He couldn't bear to have Luella
lift her finger, and she let him do for her. She lived like a
queen for all the work she did. She didn't even do her sewin'.
She said it made her shoulder ache to sew, and poor Erastus's
sister Lily used to do all her sewin'. She wa'n't able to, either;
she was never strong in her back, but she did it beautifully. She
had to, to suit Luella, she was so dreadful particular. I never
saw anythin' like the fagottin' and hemstitchin' that Lily Miller
did for Luella. She made all Luella's weddin' outfit, and that
green silk dress, after Maria Babbit cut it. Maria she cut it for
nothin', and she did a lot more cuttin' and fittin' for nothin' for
Luella, too. Lily Miller went to live with Luella after Erastus
died. She gave up her home, though she was real attached to it and
wa'n't a mite afraid to stay alone. She rented it and she went to
live with Luella right away after the funeral."
Then this old woman, Lydia Anderson, who remembered Luella Miller,
would go on to relate the story of Lily Miller. It seemed that on
the removal of Lily Miller to the house of her dead brother, to
live with his widow, the village people first began to talk. This
Lily Miller had been hardly past her first youth, and a most robust
and blooming woman, rosy-cheeked, with curls of strong, black hair
overshadowing round, candid temples and bright dark eyes. It was
not six months after she had taken up her residence with her
sister-in-law that her rosy colour faded and her pretty curves
became wan hollows. White shadows began to show in the black rings
of her hair, and the light died out of her eyes, her features
sharpened, and there were pathetic lines at her mouth, which yet
wore always an expression of utter sweetness and even happiness.
She was devoted to her sister; there was no doubt that she loved
her with her whole heart, and was perfectly content in her service.
It was her sole anxiety lest she should die and leave her alone.
"The way Lily Miller used to talk about Luella was enough to make
you mad and enough to make you cry," said Lydia Anderson. "I've
been in there sometimes toward the last when she was too feeble to
cook and carried her some blanc-mange or custard--somethin' I
thought she might relish, and she'd thank me, and when I asked her
how she was, say she felt better than she did yesterday, and asked
me if I didn't think she looked better, dreadful pitiful, and say
poor Luella had an awful time takin' care of her and doin' the
work--she wa'n't strong enough to do anythin'--when all the time
Luella wa'n't liftin' her finger and poor Lily didn't get any care
except what the neighbours gave her, and Luella eat up everythin'
that was carried in for Lily. I had it real straight that she did.
Luella used to just sit and cry and do nothin'. She did act real
fond of Lily, and she pined away considerable, too. There was
those that thought she'd go into a decline herself. But after Lily
died, her Aunt Abby Mixter came, and then Luella picked up and grew
as fat and rosy as ever. But poor Aunt Abby begun to droop just
the way Lily had, and I guess somebody wrote to her married
daughter, Mrs. Sam Abbot, who lived in Barre, for she wrote her
mother that she must leave right away and come and make her a
visit, but Aunt Abby wouldn't go. I can see her now. She was a
real good-lookin' woman, tall and large, with a big, square face
and a high forehead that looked of itself kind of benevolent and
good. She just tended out on Luella as if she had been a baby, and
when her married daughter sent for her she wouldn't stir one inch.
She'd always thought a lot of her daughter, too, but she said
Luella needed her and her married daughter didn't. Her daughter
kept writin' and writin', but it didn't do any good. Finally she
came, and when she saw how bad her mother looked, she broke down
and cried and all but went on her knees to have her come away. She
spoke her mind out to Luella, too. She told her that she'd killed
her husband and everybody that had anythin' to do with her, and
she'd thank her to leave her mother alone. Luella went into
hysterics, and Aunt Abby was so frightened that she called me after
her daughter went. Mrs. Sam Abbot she went away fairly cryin' out
loud in the buggy, the neighbours heard her, and well she might,
for she never saw her mother again alive. I went in that night
when Aunt Abby called for me, standin' in the door with her little
green-checked shawl over her head. I can see her now. 'Do come
over here, Miss Anderson,' she sung out, kind of gasping for
breath. I didn't stop for anythin'. I put over as fast as I
could, and when I got there, there was Luella laughin' and cryin'
all together, and Aunt Abby trying to hush her, and all the time
she herself was white as a sheet and shakin' so she could hardly
stand. 'For the land sakes, Mrs. Mixter,' says I, 'you look worse
than she does. You ain't fit to be up out of your bed.'
"'Oh, there ain't anythin' the matter with me,' says she. Then she
went on talkin' to Luella. 'There, there, don't, don't, poor
little lamb,' says she. 'Aunt Abby is here. She ain't goin' away
and leave you. Don't, poor little lamb.'
"'Do leave her with me, Mrs. Mixter, and you get back to bed,' says
I, for Aunt Abby had been layin' down considerable lately, though
somehow she contrived to do the work.
"'I'm well enough,' says she. 'Don't you think she had better have
the doctor, Miss Anderson?'
"'The doctor,' says I, 'I think YOU had better have the doctor. I
think you need him much worse than some folks I could mention.'
And I looked right straight at Luella Miller laughin' and cryin'
and goin' on as if she was the centre of all creation. All the
time she was actin' so--seemed as if she was too sick to sense
anythin'--she was keepin' a sharp lookout as to how we took it out
of the corner of one eye. I see her. You could never cheat me
about Luella Miller. Finally I got real mad and I run home and I
got a bottle of valerian I had, and I poured some boilin' hot water
on a handful of catnip, and I mixed up that catnip tea with most
half a wineglass of valerian, and I went with it over to Luella's.
I marched right up to Luella, a-holdin' out of that cup, all
smokin'. 'Now,' says I, 'Luella Miller, 'YOU SWALLER THIS!'
"'What is--what is it, oh, what is it?' she sort of screeches out.
Then she goes off a-laughin' enough to kill.
"'Poor lamb, poor little lamb,' says Aunt Abby, standin' over her,
all kind of tottery, and tryin' to bathe her head with camphor.
"'YOU SWALLER THIS RIGHT DOWN,' says I. And I didn't waste any
ceremony. I just took hold of Luella Miller's chin and I tipped
her head back, and I caught her mouth open with laughin', and I
clapped that cup to her lips, and I fairly hollered at her:
'Swaller, swaller, swaller!' and she gulped it right down. She had
to, and I guess it did her good. Anyhow, she stopped cryin' and
laughin' and let me put her to bed, and she went to sleep like a
baby inside of half an hour. That was more than poor Aunt Abby
did. She lay awake all that night and I stayed with her, though
she tried not to have me; said she wa'n't sick enough for watchers.
But I stayed, and I made some good cornmeal gruel and I fed her a
teaspoon every little while all night long. It seemed to me as if
she was jest dyin' from bein' all wore out. In the mornin' as soon
as it was light I run over to the Bisbees and sent Johnny Bisbee
for the doctor. I told him to tell the doctor to hurry, and he
come pretty quick. Poor Aunt Abby didn't seem to know much of
anythin' when he got there. You couldn't hardly tell she breathed,
she was so used up. When the doctor had gone, Luella came into the
room lookin' like a baby in her ruffled nightgown. I can see her
now. Her eyes were as blue and her face all pink and white like a
blossom, and she looked at Aunt Abby in the bed sort of innocent
and surprised. 'Why,' says she, 'Aunt Abby ain't got up yet?'
"'No, she ain't,' says I, pretty short.
"'I thought I didn't smell the coffee,' says Luella.
"'Coffee,' says I. 'I guess if you have coffee this mornin' you'll
make it yourself.'
"'I never made the coffee in all my life,' says she, dreadful
astonished. 'Erastus always made the coffee as long as he lived,
and then Lily she made it, and then Aunt Abby made it. I don't
believe I CAN make the coffee, Miss Anderson.'
"'You can make it or go without, jest as you please,' says I.
"'Ain't Aunt Abby goin' to get up?' says she.
"'I guess she won't get up,' says I, 'sick as she is.' I was
gettin' madder and madder. There was somethin' about that little
pink-and-white thing standin' there and talkin' about coffee, when
she had killed so many better folks than she was, and had jest
killed another, that made me feel 'most as if I wished somebody
would up and kill her before she had a chance to do any more harm.