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Can Such Things Be? by Ambrose Bierce

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Nothing could exceed the sudden ferocity with which he thrust this
indignant remonstrance into the ear of his guest. It was as if he
had struck him on the side of the head with a steel gauntlet. It was
a protest, but it was a challenge. To be mistaken for a coward--to
be played for a Modoc: these two expressions are one. Sometimes it
is a Chinaman. Do you play me for a Chinaman? is a question
frequently addressed to the ear of the suddenly dead.

Mr. Beeson's buffet produced no effect, and after a moment's pause,
during which the wind thundered in the chimney like the sound of
clods upon a coffin, he resumed:

"But, as you say, it is wearing me out. I feel that the life of the
last two years has been a mistake--a mistake that corrects itself;
you see how. The grave! No; there is no one to dig it. The ground
is frozen, too. But you are very welcome. You may say at Bentley's-
-but that is not important. It was very tough to cut: they braid
silk into their pigtails. Kwaagh."

Mr. Beeson was speaking with his eyes shut, and he wandered. His
last word was a snore. A moment later he drew a long breath, opened
his eyes with an effort, made a single remark, and fell into a deep
sleep. What he said was this:

"They are swiping my dust!"

Then the aged stranger, who had not uttered one word since his
arrival, arose from his seat and deliberately laid off his outer
clothing, looking as angular in his flannels as the late Signorina
Festorazzi, an Irish woman, six feet in height, and weighing fifty-
six pounds, who used to exhibit herself in her chemise to the people
of San Francisco. He then crept into one of the "bunks," having
first placed a revolver in easy reach, according to the custom of the
country. This revolver he took from a shelf, and it was the one
which Mr. Beeson had mentioned as that for which he had returned to
the Gulch two years before.

In a few moments Mr. Beeson awoke, and seeing that his guest had
retired he did likewise. But before doing so he approached the long,
plaited wisp of pagan hair and gave it a powerful tug, to assure
himself that it was fast and firm. The two beds--mere shelves
covered with blankets not overclean--faced each other from opposite
sides of the room, the little square trapdoor that had given access
to the Chinaman's grave being midway between. This, by the way, was
crossed by a double row of spike-heads. In his resistance to the
supernatural, Mr. Beeson had not disdained the use of material

The fire was now low, the flames burning bluely and petulantly, with
occasional flashes, projecting spectral shadows on the walls--shadows
that moved mysteriously about, now dividing, now uniting. The shadow
of the pendent queue, however, kept moodily apart, near the roof at
the further end of the room, looking like a note of admiration. The
song of the pines outside had now risen to the dignity of a triumphal
hymn. In the pauses the silence was dreadful.

It was during one of these intervals that the trap in the floor began
to lift. Slowly and steadily it rose, and slowly and steadily rose
the swaddled head of the old man in the bunk to observe it. Then,
with a clap that shook the house to its foundation, it was thrown
clean back, where it lay with its unsightly spikes pointing
threateningly upward. Mr. Beeson awoke, and without rising, pressed
his fingers into his eyes. He shuddered; his teeth chattered. His
guest was now reclining on one elbow, watching the proceedings with
the goggles that glowed like lamps.

Suddenly a howling gust of wind swooped down the chimney, scattering
ashes and smoke in all directions, for a moment obscuring everything.
When the firelight again illuminated the room there was seen, sitting
gingerly on the edge of a stool by the hearthside, a swarthy little
man of prepossessing appearance and dressed with faultless taste,
nodding to the old man with a friendly and engaging smile. "From San
Francisco, evidently," thought Mr. Beeson, who having somewhat
recovered from his fright was groping his way to a solution of the
evening's events.

But now another actor appeared upon the scene. Out of the square
black hole in the middle of the floor protruded the head of the
departed Chinaman, his glassy eyes turned upward in their angular
slits and fastened on the dangling queue above with a look of
yearning unspeakable. Mr. Beeson groaned, and again spread his hands
upon his face. A mild odor of opium pervaded the place. The
phantom, clad only in a short blue tunic quilted and silken but
covered with grave-mold, rose slowly, as if pushed by a weak spiral
spring. Its knees were at the level of the floor, when with a quick
upward impulse like the silent leaping of a flame it grasped the
queue with both hands, drew up its body and took the tip in its
horrible yellow teeth. To this it clung in a seeming frenzy,
grimacing ghastly, surging and plunging from side to side in its
efforts to disengage its property from the beam, but uttering no
sound. It was like a corpse artificially convulsed by means of a
galvanic battery. The contrast between its superhuman activity and
its silence was no less than hideous!

Mr. Beeson cowered in his bed. The swarthy little gentleman
uncrossed his legs, beat an impatient tattoo with the toe of his boot
and consulted a heavy gold watch. The old man sat erect and quietly
laid hold of the revolver.


Like a body cut from the gallows the Chinaman plumped into the black
hole below, carrying his tail in his teeth. The trapdoor turned
over, shutting down with a snap. The swarthy little gentleman from
San Francisco sprang nimbly from his perch, caught something in the
air with his hat, as a boy catches a butterfly, and vanished into the
chimney as if drawn up by suction.

From away somewhere in the outer darkness floated in through the open
door a faint, far cry--a long, sobbing wail, as of a child death-
strangled in the desert, or a lost soul borne away by the Adversary.
It may have been the coyote.

In the early days of the following spring a party of miners on their
way to new diggings passed along the Gulch, and straying through the
deserted shanties found in one of them the body of Hiram Beeson,
stretched upon a bunk, with a bullet hole through the heart. The
ball had evidently been fired from the opposite side of the room, for
in one of the oaken beams overhead was a shallow blue dint, where it
had struck a knot and been deflected downward to the breast of its
victim. Strongly attached to the same beam was what appeared to be
an end of a rope of braided horsehair, which had been cut by the
bullet in its passage to the knot. Nothing else of interest was
noted, excepting a suit of moldy and incongruous clothing, several
articles of which were afterward identified by respectable witnesses
as those in which certain deceased citizens of Deadman's had been
buried years before. But it is not easy to understand how that could
be, unless, indeed, the garments had been worn as a disguise by Death
himself--which is hardly credible.


Many years ago, on my way from Hongkong to New York, I assed a week
in San Francisco. A long time had gone by since I had been in that
city, during which my ventures in the Orient had prospered beyond my
hope; I was rich and could afford to revisit my own country to renew
my friendship with such of the companions of my youth as still lived
and remembered me with the old affection. Chief of these, I hoped,
was Mohun Dampier, an old schoolmate with whom I had held a desultory
correspondence which had long ceased, as is the way of correspondence
between men. You may have observed that the indisposition to write a
merely social letter is in the ratio of the square of the distance
between you and your correspondent. It is a law.

I remembered Dampier as a handsome, strong young fellow of scholarly
tastes, with an aversion to work and a marked indifference to many of
the things that the world cares for, including wealth, of which,
however, he had inherited enough to put him beyond the reach of want.
In his family, one of the oldest and most aristocratic in the
country, it was, I think, a matter of pride that no member of it had
ever been in trade nor politics, nor suffered any kind of
distinction. Mohun was a trifle sentimental, and had in him a
singular element of superstition, which led him to the study of all
manner of occult subjects, although his sane mental health
safeguarded him against fantastic and perilous faiths. He made
daring incursions into the realm of the unreal without renouncing his
residence in the partly surveyed and charted region of what we are
pleased to call certitude.

The night of my visit to him was stormy. The Californian winter was
on, and the incessant rain plashed in the deserted streets, or,
lifted by irregular gusts of wind, was hurled against the houses with
incredible fury. With no small difficulty my cabman found the right
place, away out toward the ocean beach, in a sparsely populated
suburb. The dwelling, a rather ugly one, apparently, stood in the
center of its grounds, which as nearly as I could make out in the
gloom were destitute of either flowers or grass. Three or four
trees, writhing and moaning in the torment of the tempest, appeared
to be trying to escape from their dismal environment and take the
chance of finding a better one out at sea. The house was a two-story
brick structure with a tower, a story higher, at one corner. In a
window of that was the only visible light. Something in the
appearance of the place made me shudder, a performance that may have
been assisted by a rill of rain-water down my back as I scuttled to
cover in the doorway.

In answer to my note apprising him of my wish to call, Dampier had
written, "Don't ring--open the door and come up." I did so. The
staircase was dimly lighted by a single gas-jet at the top of the
second flight. I managed to reach the landing without disaster and
entered by an open door into the lighted square room of the tower.
Dampier came forward in gown and slippers to receive me, giving me
the greeting that I wished, and if I had held a thought that it might
more fitly have been accorded me at the front door the first look at
him dispelled any sense of his inhospitality.

He was not the same. Hardly past middle age, he had gone gray and
had acquired a pronounced stoop. His figure was thin and angular,
his face deeply lined, his complexion dead-white, without a touch of
color. His eyes, unnaturally large, glowed with a fire that was
almost uncanny.

He seated me, proffered a cigar, and with grave and obvious sincerity
assured me of the pleasure that it gave him to meet me. Some
unimportant conversation followed, but all the while I was dominated
by a melancholy sense of the great change in him. This he must have
perceived, for he suddenly said with a bright enough smile, "You are
disappointed in me--non sum qualis eram."

I hardly knew what to reply, but managed to say: "Why, really, I
don't know: your Latin is about the same."

He brightened again. "No," he said, "being a dead language, it grows
in appropriateness. But please have the patience to wait: where I
am going there is perhaps a better tongue. Will you care to have a
message in it?"

The smile faded as he spoke, and as he concluded he was looking into
my eyes with a gravity that distressed me. Yet I would not surrender
myself to his mood, nor permit him to see how deeply his prescience
of death affected me.

"I fancy that it will be long," I said, "before human speech will
cease to serve our need; and then the need, with its possibilities of
service, will have passed."

He made no reply, and I too was silent, for the talk had taken a
dispiriting turn, yet I knew not how to give it a more agreeable
character. Suddenly, in a pause of the storm, when the dead silence
was almost startling by contrast with the previous uproar, I heard a
gentle tapping, which appeared to come from the wall behind my chair.
The sound was such as might have been made by a human hand, not as
upon a door by one asking admittance, but rather, I thought, as an
agreed signal, an assurance of someone's presence in an adjoining
room; most of us, I fancy, have had more experience of such
communications than we should care to relate. I glanced at Dampier.
If possibly there was something of amusement in the look he did not
observe it. He appeared to have forgotten my presence, and was
staring at the wall behind me with an expression in his eyes that I
am unable to name, although my memory of it is as vivid to-day as was
my sense of it then. The situation was embarrassing; I rose to take
my leave. At this he seemed to recover himself.

"Please be seated," he said; "it is nothing--no one is there."

But the tapping was repeated, and with the same gentle, slow
insistence as before.

"Pardon me," I said, "it is late. May I call to-morrow?"

He smiled--a little mechanically, I thought. "It is very delicate of
you," said he, "but quite needless. Really, this is the only room in
the tower, and no one is there. At least--" He left the sentence
incomplete, rose, and threw up a window, the only opening in the wall
from which the sound seemed to come. "See."

Not clearly knowing what else to do I followed him to the window and
looked out. A street-lamp some little distance away gave enough
light through the murk of the rain that was again falling in torrents
to make it entirely plain that "no one was there." In truth there
was nothing but the sheer blank wall of the tower.

Dampier closed the window and signing me to my seat resumed his own.

The incident was not in itself particularly mysterious; any one of a
dozen explanations was possible (though none has occurred to me), yet
it impressed me strangely, the more, perhaps, from my friend's effort
to reassure me, which seemed to dignify it with a certain
significance and importance. He had proved that no one was there,
but in that fact lay all the interest; and he proffered no
explanation. His silence was irritating and made me resentful.

"My good friend," I said, somewhat ironically, I fear, "I am not
disposed to question your right to harbor as many spooks as you find
agreeable to your taste and consistent with your notions of
companionship; that is no business of mine. But being just a plain
man of affairs, mostly of this world, I find spooks needless to my
peace and comfort. I am going to my hotel, where my fellow-guests
are still in the flesh."

It was not a very civil speech, but he manifested no feeling about
it. "Kindly remain," he said. "I am grateful for your presence
here. What you have heard to-night I believe myself to have heard
twice before. Now I KNOW it was no illusion. That is much to me--
more than you know. Have a fresh cigar and a good stock of patience
while I tell you the story."

The rain was now falling more steadily, with a low, monotonous
susurration, interrupted at long intervals by the sudden slashing of
the boughs of the trees as the wind rose and failed. The night was
well advanced, but both sympathy and curiosity held me a willing
listener to my friend's monologue, which I did not interrupt by a
single word from beginning to end.

"Ten years ago," he said, "I occupied a ground-floor apartment in one
of a row of houses, all alike, away at the other end of the town, on
what we call Rincon Hill. This had been the best quarter of San
Francisco, but had fallen into neglect and decay, partly because the
primitive character of its domestic architecture no longer suited the
maturing tastes of our wealthy citizens, partly because certain
public improvements had made a wreck of it. The row of dwellings in
one of which I lived stood a little way back from the street, each
having a miniature garden, separated from its neighbors by low iron
fences and bisected with mathematical precision by a box-bordered
gravel walk from gate to door.

"One morning as I was leaving my lodging I observed a young girl
entering the adjoining garden on the left. It was a warm day in
June, and she was lightly gowned in white. From her shoulders hung a
broad straw hat profusely decorated with flowers and wonderfully
beribboned in the fashion of the time. My attention was not long
held by the exquisite simplicity of her costume, for no one could
look at her face and think of anything earthly. Do not fear; I shall
not profane it by description; it was beautiful exceedingly. All
that I had ever seen or dreamed of loveliness was in that matchless
living picture by the hand of the Divine Artist. So deeply did it
move me that, without a thought of the impropriety of the act, I
unconsciously bared my head, as a devout Catholic or well-bred
Protestant uncovers before an image of the Blessed Virgin. The
maiden showed no displeasure; she merely turned her glorious dark
eyes upon me with a look that made me catch my breath, and without
other recognition of my act passed into the house. For a moment I
stood motionless, hat in hand, painfully conscious of my rudeness,
yet so dominated by the emotion inspired by that vision of
incomparable beauty that my penitence was less poignant than it
should have been. Then I went my way, leaving my heart behind. In
the natural course of things I should probably have remained away
until nightfall, but by the middle of the afternoon I was back in the
little garden, affecting an interest in the few foolish flowers that
I had never before observed. My hope was vain; she did not appear.

"To a night of unrest succeeded a day of expectation and
disappointment, but on the day after, as I wandered aimlessly about
the neighborhood, I met her. Of course I did not repeat my folly of
uncovering, nor venture by even so much as too long a look to
manifest an interest in her; yet my heart was beating audibly. I
trembled and consciously colored as she turned her big black eyes
upon me with a look of obvious recognition entirely devoid of
boldness or coquetry.

"I will not weary you with particulars; many times afterward I met
the maiden, yet never either addressed her or sought to fix her
attention. Nor did I take any action toward making her acquaintance.
Perhaps my forbearance, requiring so supreme an effort of self-
denial, will not be entirely clear to you. That I was heels over
head in love is true, but who can overcome his habit of thought, or
reconstruct his character?

"I was what some foolish persons are pleased to call, and others,
more foolish, are pleased to be called--an aristocrat; and despite
her beauty, her charms and graces, the girl was not of my class. I
had learned her name--which it is needless to speak--and something of
her family. She was an orphan, a dependent niece of the impossible
elderly fat woman in whose lodging-house she lived. My income was
small and I lacked the talent for marrying; it is perhaps a gift. An
alliance with that family would condemn me to its manner of life,
part me from my books and studies, and in a social sense reduce me to
the ranks. It is easy to deprecate such considerations as these and
I have not retained myself for the defense. Let judgment be entered
against me, but in strict justice all my ancestors for generations
should be made co-defendants and I be permitted to plead in
mitigation of punishment the imperious mandate of heredity. To a
mesalliance of that kind every globule of my ancestral blood spoke in
opposition. In brief, my tastes, habits, instinct, with whatever of
reason my love had left me--all fought against it. Moreover, I was
an irreclaimable sentimentalist, and found a subtle charm in an
impersonal and spiritual relation which acquaintance might vulgarize
and marriage would certainly dispel. No woman, I argued, is what
this lovely creature seems. Love is a delicious dream; why should I
bring about my own awakening?

"The course dictated by all this sense and sentiment was obvious.
Honor, pride, prudence, preservation of my ideals--all commanded me
to go away, but for that I was too weak. The utmost that I could do
by a mighty effort of will was to cease meeting the girl, and that I
did. I even avoided the chance encounters of the garden, leaving my
lodging only when I knew that she had gone to her music lessons, and
returning after nightfall. Yet all the while I was as one in a
trance, indulging the most fascinating fancies and ordering my entire
intellectual life in accordance with my dream. Ah, my friend, as one
whose actions have a traceable relation to reason, you cannot know
the fool's paradise in which I lived.

"One evening the devil put it into my head to be an unspeakable
idiot. By apparently careless and purposeless questioning I learned
from my gossipy landlady that the young woman's bedroom adjoined my
own, a party-wall between. Yielding to a sudden and coarse impulse I
gently rapped on the wall. There was no response, naturally, but I
was in no mood to accept a rebuke. A madness was upon me and I
repeated the folly, the offense, but again ineffectually, and I had
the decency to desist.

"An hour later, while absorbed in some of my infernal studies, I
heard, or thought I heard, my signal answered. Flinging down my
books I sprang to the wall and as steadily as my beating heart would
permit gave three slow taps upon it. This time the response was
distinct, unmistakable: one, two, three--an exact repetition of my
signal. That was all I could elicit, but it was enough--too much.

"The next evening, and for many evenings afterward, that folly went
on, I always having 'the last word.' During the whole period I was
deliriously happy, but with the perversity of my nature I persevered
in my resolution not to see her. Then, as I should have expected, I
got no further answers. 'She is disgusted,' I said to myself, 'with
what she thinks my timidity in making no more definite advances'; and
I resolved to seek her and make her acquaintance and--what? I did
not know, nor do I now know, what might have come of it. I know only
that I passed days and days trying to meet her, and all in vain; she
was invisible as well as inaudible. I haunted the streets where we
had met, but she did not come. From my window I watched the garden
in front of her house, but she passed neither in nor out. I fell
into the deepest dejection, believing that she had gone away, yet
took no steps to resolve my doubt by inquiry of my landlady, to whom,
indeed, I had taken an unconquerable aversion from her having once
spoken of the girl with less of reverence than I thought befitting.

"There came a fateful night. Worn out with emotion, irresolution and
despondency, I had retired early and fallen into such sleep as was
still possible to me. In the middle of the night something--some
malign power bent upon the wrecking of my peace forever--caused me to
open my eyes and sit up, wide awake and listening intently for I knew
not what. Then I thought I heard a faint tapping on the wall--the
mere ghost of the familiar signal. In a few moments it was repeated:
one, two, three--no louder than before, but addressing a sense alert
and strained to receive it. I was about to reply when the Adversary
of Peace again intervened in my affairs with a rascally suggestion of
retaliation. She had long and cruelly ignored me; now I would ignore
her. Incredible fatuity--may God forgive it! All the rest of the
night I lay awake, fortifying my obstinacy with shameless
justifications and--listening.

"Late the next morning, as I was leaving the house, I met my
landlady, entering.

"'Good morning, Mr. Dampier,' she said. 'Have you heard the news?'

"I replied in words that I had heard no news; in manner, that I did
not care to hear any. The manner escaped her observation.

"'About the sick young lady next door,' she babbled on. 'What! you
did not know? Why, she has been ill for weeks. And now--'

"I almost sprang upon her. 'And now,' I cried, 'now what?'

"'She is dead.'

"That is not the whole story. In the middle of the night, as I
learned later, the patient, awakening from a long stupor after a week
of delirium, had asked--it was her last utterance--that her bed be
moved to the opposite side of the room. Those in attendance had
thought the request a vagary of her delirium, but had complied. And
there the poor passing soul had exerted its failing will to restore a
broken connection--a golden thread of sentiment between its innocence
and a monstrous baseness owning a blind, brutal allegiance to the Law
of Self.

"What reparation could I make? Are there masses that can be said for
the repose of souls that are abroad such nights as this--spirits
'blown about by the viewless winds'--coming in the storm and darkness
with signs and portents, hints of memory and presages of doom?

"This is the third visitation. On the first occasion I was too
skeptical to do more than verify by natural methods the character of
the incident; on the second, I responded to the signal after it had
been several times repeated, but without result. To-night's
recurrence completes the 'fatal triad' expounded by Parapelius
Necromantius. There is no more to tell."

When Dampier had finished his story I could think of nothing relevant
that I cared to say, and to question him would have been a hideous
impertinence. I rose and bade him good night in a way to convey to
him a sense of my sympathy, which he silently acknowledged by a
pressure of the hand. That night, alone with his sorrow and remorse,
he passed into the Unknown.


In the summer of 1874 I was in Liverpool, whither I had gone on
business for the mercantile house of Bronson & Jarrett, New York. I
am William Jarrett; my partner was Zenas Bronson. The firm failed
last year, and unable to endure the fall from affluence to poverty he

Having finished my business, and feeling the lassitude and exhaustion
incident to its dispatch, I felt that a protracted sea voyage would
be both agreeable and beneficial, so instead of embarking for my
return on one of the many fine passenger steamers I booked for New
York on the sailing vessel Morrow, upon which I had shipped a large
and valuable invoice of the goods I had bought. The Morrow was an
English ship with, of course, but little accommodation for
passengers, of whom there were only myself, a young woman and her
servant, who was a middle-aged negress. I thought it singular that a
traveling English girl should be so attended, but she afterward
explained to me that the woman had been left with her family by a man
and his wife from South Carolina, both of whom had died on the same
day at the house of the young lady's father in Devonshire--a
circumstance in itself sufficiently uncommon to remain rather
distinctly in my memory, even had it not afterward transpired in
conversation with the young lady that the name of the man was William
Jarrett, the same as my own. I knew that a branch of my family had
settled in South Carolina, but of them and their history I was

The Morrow sailed from the mouth of the Mersey on the 15th of June
and for several weeks we had fair breezes and unclouded skies. The
skipper, an admirable seaman but nothing more, favored us with very
little of his society, except at his table; and the young woman, Miss
Janette Harford, and I became very well acquainted. We were, in
truth, nearly always together, and being of an introspective turn of
mind I often endeavored to analyze and define the novel feeling with
which she inspired me--a secret, subtle, but powerful attraction
which constantly impelled me to seek her; but the attempt was
hopeless. I could only be sure that at least it was not love.
Having assured myself of this and being certain that she was quite as
whole-hearted, I ventured one evening (I remember it was on the 3d of
July) as we sat on deck to ask her, laughingly, if she could assist
me to resolve my psychological doubt.

For a moment she was silent, with averted face, and I began to fear I
had been extremely rude and indelicate; then she fixed her eyes
gravely on my own. In an instant my mind was dominated by as strange
a fancy as ever entered human consciousness. It seemed as if she
were looking at me, not WITH, but THROUGH, those eyes--from an
immeasurable distance behind them--and that a number of other
persons, men, women and children, upon whose faces I caught strangely
familiar evanescent expressions, clustered about her, struggling with
gentle eagerness to look at me through the same orbs. Ship, ocean,
sky--all had vanished. I was conscious of nothing but the figures in
this extraordinary and fantastic scene. Then all at once darkness
fell upon me, and anon from out of it, as to one who grows accustomed
by degrees to a dimmer light, my former surroundings of deck and mast
and cordage slowly resolved themselves. Miss Harford had closed her
eyes and was leaning back in her chair, apparently asleep, the book
she had been reading open in her lap. Impelled by surely I cannot
say what motive, I glanced at the top of the page; it was a copy of
that rare and curious work, "Denneker's Meditations," and the lady's
index finger rested on this passage:

"To sundry it is given to be drawn away, and to be apart from the
body for a season; for, as concerning rills which would flow across
each other the weaker is borne along by the stronger, so there be
certain of kin whose paths intersecting, their souls do bear company,
the while their bodies go fore-appointed ways, unknowing."

Miss Harford arose, shuddering; the sun had sunk below the horizon,
but it was not cold. There was not a breath of wind; there were no
clouds in the sky, yet not a star was visible. A hurried tramping
sounded on the deck; the captain, summoned from below, joined the
first officer, who stood looking at the barometer. "Good God!" I
heard him exclaim.

An hour later the form of Janette Harford, invisible in the darkness
and spray, was torn from my grasp by the cruel vortex of the sinking
ship, and I fainted in the cordage of the floating mast to which I
had lashed myself.

It was by lamplight that I awoke. I lay in a berth amid the familiar
surroundings of the stateroom of a steamer. On a couch opposite sat
a man, half undressed for bed, reading a book. I recognized the face
of my friend Gordon Doyle, whom I had met in Liverpool on the day of
my embarkation, when he was himself about to sail on the steamer City
of Prague, on which he had urged me to accompany him.

After some moments I now spoke his name. He simply said, "Well," and
turned a leaf in his book without removing his eyes from the page.

"Doyle," I repeated, "did they save HER?"

He now deigned to look at me and smiled as if amused. He evidently
thought me but half awake.

"Her? Whom do you mean?"

"Janette Harford."

His amusement turned to amazement; he stared at me fixedly, saying

"You will tell me after a while," I continued; "I suppose you will
tell me after a while."

A moment later I asked: "What ship is this?"

Doyle stared again. "The steamer City of Prague, bound from
Liverpool to New York, three weeks out with a broken shaft.
Principal passenger, Mr. Gordon Doyle; ditto lunatic, Mr. William
Jarrett. These two distinguished travelers embarked together, but
they are about to part, it being the resolute intention of the former
to pitch the latter overboard."

I sat bolt upright. "Do you mean to say that I have been for three
weeks a passenger on this steamer?"

"Yes, pretty nearly; this is the 3d of July."

"Have I been ill?"

"Right as a trivet all the time, and punctual at your meals."

"My God! Doyle, there is some mystery here; do have the goodness to
be serious. Was I not rescued from the wreck of the ship Morrow?"

Doyle changed color, and approaching me, laid his fingers on my
wrist. A moment later, "What do you know of Janette Harford?" he
asked very calmly.

"First tell me what YOU know of her?"

Mr. Doyle gazed at me for some moments as if thinking what to do,
then seating himself again on the couch, said:

"Why should I not? I am engaged to marry Janette Harford, whom I met
a year ago in London. Her family, one of the wealthiest in
Devonshire, cut up rough about it, and we eloped--are eloping rather,
for on the day that you and I walked to the landing stage to go
aboard this steamer she and her faithful servant, a negress, passed
us, driving to the ship Morrow. She would not consent to go in the
same vessel with me, and it had been deemed best that she take a
sailing vessel in order to avoid observation and lessen the risk of
detection. I am now alarmed lest this cursed breaking of our
machinery may detain us so long that the Morrow will get to New York
before us, and the poor girl will not know where to go."

I lay still in my berth--so still I hardly breathed. But the subject
was evidently not displeasing to Doyle, and after a short pause he

"By the way, she is only an adopted daughter of the Harfords. Her
mother was killed at their place by being thrown from a horse while
hunting, and her father, mad with grief, made away with himself the
same day. No one ever claimed the child, and after a reasonable time
they adopted her. She has grown up in the belief that she is their

"Doyle, what book are you reading?"

"Oh, it's called 'Denneker's Meditations.' It's a rum lot, Janette
gave it to me; she happened to have two copies. Want to see it?"

He tossed me the volume, which opened as it fell. On one of the
exposed pages was a marked passage:

"To sundry it is given to be drawn away, and to be apart from the
body for a season; for, as concerning rills which would flow across
each other the weaker is borne along by the stronger, so there be
certain of kin whose paths intersecting, their souls do bear company,
the while their bodies go fore-appointed ways, unknowing."

"She had--she has--a singular taste in reading," I managed to say,
mastering my agitation.

"Yes. And now perhaps you will have the kindness to explain how you
knew her name and that of the ship she sailed in."

"You talked of her in your sleep," I said.

A week later we were towed into the port of New York. But the Morrow
was never heard from.



It is well known that the old Manton house is haunted. In all the
rural district near about, and even in the town of Marshall, a mile
away, not one person of unbiased mind entertains a doubt of it;
incredulity is confined to those opinionated persons who will be
called "cranks" as soon as the useful word shall have penetrated the
intellectual demesne of the Marshall Advance. The evidence that the
house is haunted is of two kinds: the testimony of disinterested
witnesses who have had ocular proof, and that of the house itself.
The former may be disregarded and ruled out on any of the various
grounds of objection which may be urged against it by the ingenious;
but facts within the observation of all are material and controlling.

In the first place, the Manton house has been unoccupied by mortals
for more than ten years, and with its outbuildings is slowly falling
into decay--a circumstance which in itself the judicious will hardly
venture to ignore. It stands a little way off the loneliest reach of
the Marshall and Harriston road, in an opening which was once a farm
and is still disfigured with strips of rotting fence and half covered
with brambles overrunning a stony and sterile soil long unacquainted
with the plow. The house itself is in tolerably good condition,
though badly weather-stained and in dire need of attention from the
glazier, the smaller male population of the region having attested in
the manner of its kind its disapproval of dwelling without dwellers.
It is two stories in height, nearly square, its front pierced by a
single doorway flanked on each side by a window boarded up to the
very top. Corresponding windows above, not protected, serve to admit
light and rain to the rooms of the upper floor. Grass and weeds grow
pretty rankly all about, and a few shade trees, somewhat the worse
for wind, and leaning all in one direction, seem to be making a
concerted effort to run away. In short, as the Marshall town
humorist explained in the columns of the Advance, "the proposition
that the Manton house is badly haunted is the only logical conclusion
from the premises." The fact that in this dwelling Mr. Manton
thought it expedient one night some ten years ago to rise and cut the
throats of his wife and two small children, removing at once to
another part of the country, has no doubt done its share in directing
public attention to the fitness of the place for supernatural

To this house, one summer evening, came four men in a wagon. Three
of them promptly alighted, and the one who had been driving hitched
the team to the only remaining post of what had been a fence. The
fourth remained seated in the wagon. "Come," said one of his
companions, approaching him, while the others moved away in the
direction of the dwelling--"this is the place."

The man addressed did not move. "By God!" he said harshly, "this is
a trick, and it looks to me as if you were in it."

"Perhaps I am," the other said, looking him straight in the face and
speaking in a tone which had something of contempt in it. "You will
remember, however, that the choice of place was with your own assent
left to the other side. Of course if you are afraid of spooks--"

"I am afraid of nothing," the man interrupted with another oath, and
sprang to the ground. The two then joined the others at the door,
which one of them had already opened with some difficulty, caused by
rust of lock and hinge. All entered. Inside it was dark, but the
man who had unlocked the door produced a candle and matches and made
a light. He then unlocked a door on their right as they stood in the
passage. This gave them entrance to a large, square room that the
candle but dimly lighted. The floor had a thick carpeting of dust,
which partly muffled their footfalls. Cobwebs were in the angles of
the walls and depended from the ceiling like strips of rotting lace,
making undulatory movements in the disturbed air. The room had two
windows in adjoining sides, but from neither could anything be seen
except the rough inner surfaces of boards a few inches from the
glass. There was no fireplace, no furniture; there was nothing:
besides the cobwebs and the dust, the four men were the only objects
there which were not a part of the structure.

Strange enough they looked in the yellow light of the candle. The
one who had so reluctantly alighted was especially spectacular--he
might have been called sensational. He was of middle age, heavily
built, deep chested and broad shouldered. Looking at his figure, one
would have said that he had a giant's strength; at his features, that
he would use it like a giant. He was clean shaven, his hair rather
closely cropped and gray. His low forehead was seamed with wrinkles
above the eyes, and over the nose these became vertical. The heavy
black brows followed the same law, saved from meeting only by an
upward turn at what would otherwise have been the point of contact.
Deeply sunken beneath these, glowed in the obscure light a pair of
eyes of uncertain color, but obviously enough too small. There was
something forbidding in their expression, which was not bettered by
the cruel mouth and wide jaw. The nose was well enough, as noses go;
one does not expect much of noses. All that was sinister in the
man's face seemed accentuated by an unnatural pallor--he appeared
altogether bloodless.

The appearance of the other men was sufficiently commonplace: they
were such persons as one meets and forgets that he met. All were
younger than the man described, between whom and the eldest of the
others, who stood apart, there was apparently no kindly feeling.
They avoided looking at each other.

"Gentlemen," said the man holding the candle and keys, "I believe
everything is right. Are you ready, Mr. Rosser?"

The man standing apart from the group bowed and smiled.

"And you, Mr. Grossmith?"

The heavy man bowed and scowled.

"You will be pleased to remove your outer clothing."

Their hats, coats, waistcoats and neckwear were soon removed and
thrown outside the door, in the passage. The man with the candle now
nodded, and the fourth man--he who had urged Grossmith to leave the
wagon--produced from the pocket of his overcoat two long, murderous-
looking bowie-knives, which he drew now from their leather scabbards.

"They are exactly alike," he said, presenting one to each of the two
principals--for by this time the dullest observer would have
understood the nature of this meeting. It was to be a duel to the

Each combatant took a knife, examined it critically near the candle
and tested the strength of blade and handle across his lifted knee.
Their persons were then searched in turn, each by the second of the

"If it is agreeable to you, Mr. Grossmith," said the man holding the
light, "you will place yourself in that corner."

He indicated the angle of the room farthest from the door, whither
Grossmith retired, his second parting from him with a grasp of the
hand which had nothing of cordiality in it. In the angle nearest the
door Mr. Rosser stationed himself, and after a whispered consultation
his second left him, joining the other near the door. At that moment
the candle was suddenly extinguished, leaving all in profound
darkness. This may have been done by a draught from the opened door;
whatever the cause, the effect was startling.

"Gentlemen," said a voice which sounded strangely unfamiliar in the
altered condition affecting the relations of the senses--"gentlemen,
you will not move until you hear the closing of the outer door."

A sound of trampling ensued, then the closing of the inner door; and
finally the outer one closed with a concussion which shook the entire

A few minutes afterward a belated farmer's boy met a light wagon
which was being driven furiously toward the town of Marshall. He
declared that behind the two figures on the front seat stood a third,
with its hands upon the bowed shoulders of the others, who appeared
to struggle vainly to free themselves from its grasp. This figure,
unlike the others, was clad in white, and had undoubtedly boarded the
wagon as it passed the haunted house. As the lad could boast a
considerable former experience with the supernatural thereabouts his
word had the weight justly due to the testimony of an expert. The
story (in connection with the next day's events) eventually appeared
in the Advance, with some slight literary embellishments and a
concluding intimation that the gentlemen referred to would be allowed
the use of the paper's columns for their version of the night's
adventure. But the privilege remained without a claimant.


The events that led up to this "duel in the dark" were simple enough.
One evening three young men of the town of Marshall were sitting in a
quiet corner of the porch of the village hotel, smoking and
discussing such matters as three educated young men of a Southern
village would naturally find interesting. Their names were King,
Sancher and Rosser. At a little distance, within easy hearing, but
taking no part in the conversation, sat a fourth. He was a stranger
to the others. They merely knew that on his arrival by the stage-
coach that afternoon he had written in the hotel register the name
Robert Grossmith. He had not been observed to speak to anyone except
the hotel clerk. He seemed, indeed, singularly fond of his own
company--or, as the PERSONNEL of the Advance expressed it, "grossly
addicted to evil associations." But then it should be said in
justice to the stranger that the PERSONNEL was himself of a too
convivial disposition fairly to judge one differently gifted, and
had, moreover, experienced a slight rebuff in an effort at an

"I hate any kind of deformity in a woman," said King, "whether
natural or--acquired. I have a theory that any physical defect has
its correlative mental and moral defect."

"I infer, then," said Rosser, gravely, "that a lady lacking the moral
advantage of a nose would find the struggle to become Mrs. King an
arduous enterprise."

"Of course you may put it that way," was the reply; "but, seriously,
I once threw over a most charming girl on learning quite accidentally
that she had suffered amputation of a toe. My conduct was brutal if
you like, but if I had married that girl I should have been miserable
for life and should have made her so."

"Whereas," said Sancher, with a light laugh, "by marrying a gentleman
of more liberal views she escaped with a parted throat."

"Ah, you know to whom I refer. Yes, she married Manton, but I don't
know about his liberality; I'm not sure but he cut her throat because
he discovered that she lacked that excellent thing in woman, the
middle toe of the right foot."

"Look at that chap!" said Rosser in a low voice, his eyes fixed upon
the stranger.

That chap was obviously listening intently to the conversation.

"Damn his impudence!" muttered King--"what ought we to do?"

"That's an easy one," Rosser replied, rising. "Sir," he continued,
addressing the stranger, "I think it would be better if you would
remove your chair to the other end of the veranda. The presence of
gentlemen is evidently an unfamiliar situation to you."

The man sprang to his feet and strode forward with clenched hands,
his face white with rage. All were now standing. Sancher stepped
between the belligerents.

"You are hasty and unjust," he said to Rosser; "this gentleman has
done nothing to deserve such language."

But Rosser would not withdraw a word. By the custom of the country
and the time there could be but one outcome to the quarrel.

"I demand the satisfaction due to a gentleman," said the stranger,
who had become more calm. "I have not an acquaintance in this
region. Perhaps you, sir," bowing to Sancher, "will be kind enough
to represent me in this matter."

Sancher accepted the trust--somewhat reluctantly it must be
confessed, for the man's appearance and manner were not at all to his
liking. King, who during the colloquy had hardly removed his eyes
from the stranger's face and had not spoken a word, consented with a
nod to act for Rosser, and the upshot of it was that, the principals
having retired, a meeting was arranged for the next evening. The
nature of the arrangements has been already disclosed. The duel with
knives in a dark room was once a commoner feature of Southwestern
life than it is likely to be again. How thin a veneering of
"chivalry" covered the essential brutality of the code under which
such encounters were possible we shall see.


In the blaze of a midsummer noonday the old Manton house was hardly
true to its traditions. It was of the earth, earthy. The sunshine
caressed it warmly and affectionately, with evident disregard of its
bad reputation. The grass greening all the expanse in its front
seemed to grow, not rankly, but with a natural and joyous exuberance,
and the weeds blossomed quite like plants. Full of charming lights
and shadows and populous with pleasant-voiced birds, the neglected
shade trees no longer struggled to run away, but bent reverently
beneath their burdens of sun and song. Even in the glassless upper
windows was an expression of peace and contentment, due to the light
within. Over the stony fields the visible heat danced with a lively
tremor incompatible with the gravity which is an attribute of the

Such was the aspect under which the place presented itself to Sheriff
Adams and two other men who had come out from Marshall to look at it.
One of these men was Mr. King, the sheriff's deputy; the other, whose
name was Brewer, was a brother of the late Mrs. Manton. Under a
beneficent law of the State relating to property which has been for a
certain period abandoned by an owner whose residence cannot be
ascertained, the sheriff was legal custodian of the Manton farm and
appurtenances thereunto belonging. His present visit was in mere
perfunctory compliance with some order of a court in which Mr. Brewer
had an action to get possession of the property as heir to his
deceased sister. By a mere coincidence, the visit was made on the
day after the night that Deputy King had unlocked the house for
another and very different purpose. His presence now was not of his
own choosing: he had been ordered to accompany his superior and at
the moment could think of nothing more prudent than simulated
alacrity in obedience to the command.

Carelessly opening the front door, which to his surprise was not
locked, the sheriff was amazed to see, lying on the floor of the
passage into which it opened, a confused heap of men's apparel.
Examination showed it to consist of two hats, and the same number of
coats, waistcoats and scarves, all in a remarkably good state of
preservation, albeit somewhat defiled by the dust in which they lay.
Mr. Brewer was equally astonished, but Mr. King's emotion is not of
record. With a new and lively interest in his own actions the
sheriff now unlatched and pushed open a door on the right, and the
three entered. The room was apparently vacant--no; as their eyes
became accustomed to the dimmer light something was visible in the
farthest angle of the wall. It was a human figure--that of a man
crouching close in the corner. Something in the attitude made the
intruders halt when they had barely passed the threshold. The figure
more and more clearly defined itself. The man was upon one knee, his
back in the angle of the wall, his shoulders elevated to the level of
his ears, his hands before his face, palms outward, the fingers
spread and crooked like claws; the white face turned upward on the
retracted neck had an expression of unutterable fright, the mouth
half open, the eyes incredibly expanded. He was stone dead. Yet,
with the exception of a bowie-knife, which had evidently fallen from
his own hand, not another object was in the room.

In thick dust that covered the floor were some confused footprints
near the door and along the wall through which it opened. Along one
of the adjoining walls, too, past the boarded-up windows, was the
trail made by the man himself in reaching his corner. Instinctively
in approaching the body the three men followed that trail. The
sheriff grasped one of the outthrown arms; it was as rigid as iron,
and the application of a gentle force rocked the entire body without
altering the relation of its parts. Brewer, pale with excitement,
gazed intently into the distorted face. "God of mercy!" he suddenly
cried, "it is Manton!"

"You are right," said King, with an evident attempt at calmness: "I
knew Manton. He then wore a full beard and his hair long, but this
is he."

He might have added: "I recognized him when he challenged Rosser. I
told Rosser and Sancher who he was before we played him this horrible
trick. When Rosser left this dark room at our heels, forgetting his
outer clothing in the excitement, and driving away with us in his
shirt sleeves--all through the discreditable proceedings we knew whom
we were dealing with, murderer and coward that he was!"

But nothing of this did Mr. King say. With his better light he was
trying to penetrate the mystery of the man's death. That he had not
once moved from the corner where he had been stationed; that his
posture was that of neither attack nor defense; that he had dropped
his weapon; that he had obviously perished of sheer horror of
something that he saw--these were circumstances which Mr. King's
disturbed intelligence could not rightly comprehend.

Groping in intellectual darkness for a clew to his maze of doubt, his
gaze, directed mechanically downward in the way of one who ponders
momentous matters, fell upon something which, there, in the light of
day and in the presence of living companions, affected him with
terror. In the dust of years that lay thick upon the floor--leading
from the door by which they had entered, straight across the room to
within a yard of Manton's crouching corpse--were three parallel lines
of footprints--light but definite impressions of bare feet, the outer
ones those of small children, the inner a woman's. From the point at
which they ended they did not return; they pointed all one way.
Brewer, who had observed them at the same moment, was leaning forward
in an attitude of rapt attention, horribly pale.

"Look at that!" he cried, pointing with both hands at the nearest
print of the woman's right foot, where she had apparently stopped and
stood. "The middle toe is missing--it was Gertrude!"

Gertrude was the late Mrs. Manton, sister to Mr. Brewer.


John Mortonson was dead: his lines in "the tragedy 'Man'" had all
been spoken and he had left the stage.

The body rested in a fine mahogany coffin fitted with a plate of
glass. All arrangements for the funeral had been so well attended to
that had the deceased known he would doubtless have approved. The
face, as it showed under the glass, was not disagreeable to look
upon: it bore a faint smile, and as the death had been painless, had
not been distorted beyond the repairing power of the undertaker. At
two o'clock of the afternoon the friends were to assemble to pay
their last tribute of respect to one who had no further need of
friends and respect. The surviving members of the family came
severally every few minutes to the casket and wept above the placid
features beneath the glass. This did them no good; it did no good to
John Mortonson; but in the presence of death reason and philosophy
are silent.

As the hour of two approached the friends began to arrive and after
offering such consolation to the stricken relatives as the
proprieties of the occasion required, solemnly seated themselves
about the room with an augmented consciousness of their importance in
the scheme funereal. Then the minister came, and in that
overshadowing presence the lesser lights went into eclipse. His
entrance was followed by that of the widow, whose lamentations filled
the room. She approached the casket and after leaning her face
against the cold glass for a moment was gently led to a seat near her
daughter. Mournfully and low the man of God began his eulogy of the
dead, and his doleful voice, mingled with the sobbing which it was
its purpose to stimulate and sustain, rose and fell, seemed to come
and go, like the sound of a sullen sea. The gloomy day grew darker
as he spoke; a curtain of cloud underspread the sky and a few drops
of rain fell audibly. It seemed as if all nature were weeping for
John Mortonson.

When the minister had finished his eulogy with prayer a hymn was sung
and the pall-bearers took their places beside the bier. As the last
notes of the hymn died away the widow ran to the coffin, cast herself
upon it and sobbed hysterically. Gradually, however, she yielded to
dissuasion, becoming more composed; and as the minister was in the
act of leading her away her eyes sought the face of the dead beneath
the glass. She threw up her arms and with a shriek fell backward

The mourners sprang forward to the coffin, the friends followed, and
as the clock on the mantel solemnly struck three all were staring
down upon the face of John Mortonson, deceased.

They turned away, sick and faint. One man, trying in his terror to
escape the awful sight, stumbled against the coffin so heavily as to
knock away one of its frail supports. The coffin fell to the floor,
the glass was shattered to bits by the concussion.

From the opening crawled John Mortonson's cat, which lazily leapt to
the floor, sat up, tranquilly wiped its crimson muzzle with a
forepaw, then walked with dignity from the room.


For a part of the distance between Auburn and Newcastle the road--
first on one side of a creek and then on the other--occupies the
whole bottom of the ravine, being partly cut out of the steep
hillside, and partly built up with bowlders removed from the creek-
bed by the miners. The hills are wooded, the course of the ravine is
sinuous. In a dark night careful driving is required in order not to
go off into the water. The night that I have in memory was dark, the
creek a torrent, swollen by a recent storm. I had driven up from
Newcastle and was within about a mile of Auburn in the darkest and
narrowest part of the ravine, looking intently ahead of my horse for
the roadway. Suddenly I saw a man almost under the animal's nose,
and reined in with a jerk that came near setting the creature upon
its haunches.

"I beg your pardon," I said; "I did not see you, sir."

"You could hardly be expected to see me," the man replied, civilly,
approaching the side of the vehicle; "and the noise of the creek
prevented my hearing you."

I at once recognized the voice, although five years had passed since
I had heard it. I was not particularly well pleased to hear it now.

"You are Dr. Dorrimore, I think," said I.

"Yes; and you are my good friend Mr. Manrich. I am more than glad to
see you--the excess," he added, with a light laugh, "being due to the
fact that I am going your way, and naturally expect an invitation to
ride with you."

"Which I extend with all my heart."

That was not altogether true.

Dr. Dorrimore thanked me as he seated himself beside me, and I drove
cautiously forward, as before. Doubtless it is fancy, but it seems
to me now that the remaining distance was made in a chill fog; that I
was uncomfortably cold; that the way was longer than ever before, and
the town, when we reached it, cheerless, forbidding, and desolate.
It must have been early in the evening, yet I do not recollect a
light in any of the houses nor a living thing in the streets.
Dorrimore explained at some length how he happened to be there, and
where he had been during the years that had elapsed since I had seen
him. I recall the fact of the narrative, but none of the facts
narrated. He had been in foreign countries and had returned--this is
all that my memory retains, and this I already knew. As to myself I
cannot remember that I spoke a word, though doubtless I did. Of one
thing I am distinctly conscious: the man's presence at my side was
strangely distasteful and disquieting--so much so that when I at last
pulled up under the lights of the Putnam House I experienced a sense
of having escaped some spiritual peril of a nature peculiarly
forbidding. This sense of relief was somewhat modified by the
discovery that Dr. Dorrimore was living at the same hotel.


In partial explanation of my feelings regarding Dr. Dorrimore I will
relate briefly the circumstances under which I had met him some years
before. One evening a half-dozen men of whom I was one were sitting
in the library of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. The
conversation had turned to the subject of sleight-of-hand and the
feats of the prestidigitateurs, one of whom was then exhibiting at a
local theatre.

"These fellows are pretenders in a double sense," said one of the
party; "they can do nothing which it is worth one's while to be made
a dupe by. The humblest wayside juggler in India could mystify them
to the verge of lunacy."

"For example, how?" asked another, lighting a cigar.

"For example, by all their common and familiar performances--throwing
large objects into the air which never come down; causing plants to
sprout, grow visibly and blossom, in bare ground chosen by
spectators; putting a man into a wicker basket, piercing him through
and through with a sword while he shrieks and bleeds, and then--the
basket being opened nothing is there; tossing the free end of a
silken ladder into the air, mounting it and disappearing."

"Nonsense!" I said, rather uncivilly, I fear. "You surely do not
believe such things?"

"Certainly not: I have seen them too often."

"But I do," said a journalist of considerable local fame as a
picturesque reporter. "I have so frequently related them that
nothing but observation could shake my conviction. Why, gentlemen, I
have my own word for it."

Nobody laughed--all were looking at something behind me. Turning in
my seat I saw a man in evening dress who had just entered the room.
He was exceedingly dark, almost swarthy, with a thin face, black-
bearded to the lips, an abundance of coarse black hair in some
disorder, a high nose and eyes that glittered with as soulless an
expression as those of a cobra. One of the group rose and introduced
him as Dr. Dorrimore, of Calcutta. As each of us was presented in
turn he acknowledged the fact with a profound bow in the Oriental
manner, but with nothing of Oriental gravity. His smile impressed me
as cynical and a trifle contemptuous. His whole demeanor I can
describe only as disagreeably engaging.

His presence led the conversation into other channels. He said
little--I do not recall anything of what he did say. I thought his
voice singularly rich and melodious, but it affected me in the same
way as his eyes and smile. In a few minutes I rose to go. He also
rose and put on his overcoat.

"Mr. Manrich," he said, "I am going your way."

"The devil you are!" I thought. "How do you know which way I am
going?" Then I said, "I shall be pleased to have your company."

We left the building together. No cabs were in sight, the street
cars had gone to bed, there was a full moon and the cool night air
was delightful; we walked up the California street hill. I took that
direction thinking he would naturally wish to take another, toward
one of the hotels.

"You do not believe what is told of the Hindu jugglers," he said

"How do you know that?" I asked.

Without replying he laid his hand lightly upon my arm and with the
other pointed to the stone sidewalk directly in front. There, almost
at our feet, lay the dead body of a man, the face upturned and white
in the moonlight! A sword whose hilt sparkled with gems stood fixed
and upright in the breast; a pool of blood had collected on the
stones of the sidewalk.

I was startled and terrified--not only by what I saw, but by the
circumstances under which I saw it. Repeatedly during our ascent of
the hill my eyes, I thought, had traversed the whole reach of that
sidewalk, from street to street. How could they have been insensible
to this dreadful object now so conspicuous in the white moonlight?

As my dazed faculties cleared I observed that the body was in evening
dress; the overcoat thrown wide open revealed the dress-coat, the
white tie, the broad expanse of shirt front pierced by the sword.
And--horrible revelation!--the face, except for its pallor, was that
of my companion! It was to the minutest detail of dress and feature
Dr. Dorrimore himself. Bewildered and horrified, I turned to look
for the living man. He was nowhere visible, and with an added terror
I retired from the place, down the hill in the direction whence I had
come. I had taken but a few strides when a strong grasp upon my
shoulder arrested me. I came near crying out with terror: the dead
man, the sword still fixed in his breast, stood beside me! Pulling
out the sword with his disengaged hand, he flung it from him, the
moonlight glinting upon the jewels of its hilt and the unsullied
steel of its blade. It fell with a clang upon the sidewalk ahead
and--vanished! The man, swarthy as before, relaxed his grasp upon my
shoulder and looked at me with the same cynical regard that I had
observed on first meeting him. The dead have not that look--it
partly restored me, and turning my head backward, I saw the smooth
white expanse of sidewalk, unbroken from street to street.

"What is all this nonsense, you devil?" I demanded, fiercely enough,
though weak and trembling in every limb.

"It is what some are pleased to call jugglery," he answered, with a
light, hard laugh.

He turned down Dupont street and I saw him no more until we met in
the Auburn ravine.


On the day after my second meeting with Dr. Dorrimore I did not see
him: the clerk in the Putnam House explained that a slight illness
confined him to his rooms. That afternoon at the railway station I
was surprised and made happy by the unexpected arrival of Miss
Margaret Corray and her mother, from Oakland.

This is not a love story. I am no storyteller, and love as it is
cannot be portrayed in a literature dominated and enthralled by the
debasing tyranny which "sentences letters" in the name of the Young
Girl. Under the Young Girl's blighting reign--or rather under the
rule of those false Ministers of the Censure who have appointed
themselves to the custody of her welfare--love

veils her sacred fires,
And, unaware, Morality expires,

famished upon the sifted meal and distilled water of a prudish

Let it suffice that Miss Corray and I were engaged in marriage. She
and her mother went to the hotel at which I lived, and for two weeks
I saw her daily. That I was happy needs hardly be said; the only bar
to my perfect enjoyment of those golden days was the presence of Dr.
Dorrimore, whom I had felt compelled to introduce to the ladies.

By them he was evidently held in favor. What could I say? I knew
absolutely nothing to his discredit. His manners were those of a
cultivated and considerate gentleman; and to women a man's manner is
the man. On one or two occasions when I saw Miss Corray walking with
him I was furious, and once had the indiscretion to protest. Asked
for reasons, I had none to give and fancied I saw in her expression a
shade of contempt for the vagaries of a jealous mind. In time I grew
morose and consciously disagreeable, and resolved in my madness to
return to San Francisco the next day. Of this, however, I said


There was at Auburn an old, abandoned cemetery. It was nearly in the
heart of the town, yet by night it was as gruesome a place as the
most dismal of human moods could crave. The railings about the plats
were prostrate, decayed, or altogether gone. Many of the graves were
sunken, from others grew sturdy pines, whose roots had committed
unspeakable sin. The headstones were fallen and broken across;
brambles overran the ground; the fence was mostly gone, and cows and
pigs wandered there at will; the place was a dishonor to the living,
a calumny on the dead, a blasphemy against God.

The evening of the day on which I had taken my madman's resolution to
depart in anger from all that was dear to me found me in that
congenial spot. The light of the half moon fell ghostly through the
foliage of trees in spots and patches, revealing much that was
unsightly, and the black shadows seemed conspiracies withholding to
the proper time revelations of darker import. Passing along what had
been a gravel path, I saw emerging from shadow the figure of Dr.
Dorrimore. I was myself in shadow, and stood still with clenched
hands and set teeth, trying to control the impulse to leap upon and
strangle him. A moment later a second figure joined him and clung to
his arm. It was Margaret Corray!

I cannot rightly relate what occurred. I know that I sprang forward,
bent upon murder; I know that I was found in the gray of the morning,
bruised and bloody, with finger marks upon my throat. I was taken to
the Putnam House, where for days I lay in a delirium. All this I
know, for I have been told. And of my own knowledge I know that when
consciousness returned with convalescence I sent for the clerk of the

"Are Mrs. Corray and her daughter still here?" I asked.

"What name did you say?"


"Nobody of that name has been here."

"I beg you will not trifle with me," I said petulantly. "You see
that I am all right now; tell me the truth."

"I give you my word," he replied with evident sincerity, "we have had
no guests of that name."

His words stupefied me. I lay for a few moments in silence; then I
asked: "Where is Dr. Dorrimore?"

"He left on the morning of your fight and has not been heard of
since. It was a rough deal he gave you."


Such are the facts of this case. Margaret Corray is now my wife.
She has never seen Auburn, and during the weeks whose history as it
shaped itself in my brain I have endeavored to relate, was living at
her home in Oakland, wondering where her lover was and why he did not
write. The other day I saw in the Baltimore Sun the following

"Professor Valentine Dorrimore, the hypnotist, had a large audience
last night. The lecturer, who has lived most of his life in India,
gave some marvelous exhibitions of his power, hypnotizing anyone who
chose to submit himself to the experiment, by merely looking at him.
In fact, he twice hypnotized the entire audience (reporters alone
exempted), making all entertain the most extraordinary illusions.
The most valuable feature of the lecture was the disclosure of the
methods of the Hindu jugglers in their famous performances, familiar
in the mouths of travelers. The professor declares that these
thaumaturgists have acquired such skill in the art which he learned
at their feet that they perform their miracles by simply throwing the
'spectators' into a state of hypnosis and telling them what to see
and hear. His assertion that a peculiarly susceptible subject may be
kept in the realm of the unreal for weeks, months, and even years,
dominated by whatever delusions and hallucinations the operator may
from time to time suggest, is a trifle disquieting."


"The exact time? Good God! my friend, why do you insist? One would
think--but what does it matter; it is easily bedtime--isn't that near
enough? But, here, if you must set your watch, take mine and see for

With that he detached his watch--a tremendously heavy, old-fashioned
one--from the chain, and handed it to me; then turned away, and
walking across the room to a shelf of books, began an examination of
their backs. His agitation and evident distress surprised me; they
appeared reasonless. Having set my watch by his, I stepped over to
where he stood and said, "Thank you."

As he took his timepiece and reattached it to the guard I observed
that his hands were unsteady. With a tact upon which I greatly
prided myself, I sauntered carelessly to the sideboard and took some
brandy and water; then, begging his pardon for my thoughtlessness,
asked him to have some and went back to my seat by the fire, leaving
him to help himself, as was our custom. He did so and presently
joined me at the hearth, as tranquil as ever.

This odd little incident occurred in my apartment, where John Bartine
was passing an evening. We had dined together at the club, had come
home in a cab and--in short, everything had been done in the most
prosaic way; and why John Bartine should break in upon the natural
and established order of things to make himself spectacular with a
display of emotion, apparently for his own entertainment, I could
nowise understand. The more I thought of it, while his brilliant
conversational gifts were commending themselves to my inattention,
the more curious I grew, and of course had no difficulty in
persuading myself that my curiosity was friendly solicitude. That is
the disguise that curiosity usually assumes to evade resentment. So
I ruined one of the finest sentences of his disregarded monologue by
cutting it short without ceremony.

"John Bartine," I said, "you must try to forgive me if I am wrong,
but with the light that I have at present I cannot concede your right
to go all to pieces when asked the time o' night. I cannot admit
that it is proper to experience a mysterious reluctance to look your
own watch in the face and to cherish in my presence, without
explanation, painful emotions which are denied to me, and which are
none of my business."

To this ridiculous speech Bartine made no immediate reply, but sat
looking gravely into the fire. Fearing that I had offended I was
about to apologize and beg him to think no more about the matter,
when looking me calmly in the eyes he said:

"My dear fellow, the levity of your manner does not at all disguise
the hideous impudence of your demand; but happily I had already
decided to tell you what you wish to know, and no manifestation of
your unworthiness to hear it shall alter my decision. Be good enough
to give me your attention and you shall hear all about the matter.

"This watch," he said, "had been in my family for three generations
before it fell to me. Its original owner, for whom it was made, was
my great-grandfather, Bramwell Olcott Bartine, a wealthy planter of
Colonial Virginia, and as stanch a Tory as ever lay awake nights
contriving new kinds of maledictions for the head of Mr. Washington,
and new methods of aiding and abetting good King George. One day
this worthy gentleman had the deep misfortune to perform for his
cause a service of capital importance which was not recognized as
legitimate by those who suffered its disadvantages. It does not
matter what it was, but among its minor consequences was my excellent
ancestor's arrest one night in his own house by a party of Mr.
Washington's rebels. He was permitted to say farewell to his weeping
family, and was then marched away into the darkness which swallowed
him up forever. Not the slenderest clew to his fate was ever found.
After the war the most diligent inquiry and the offer of large
rewards failed to turn up any of his captors or any fact concerning
his disappearance. He had disappeared, and that was all."

Something in Bartine's manner that was not in his words--I hardly
knew what it was--prompted me to ask:

"What is your view of the matter--of the justice of it?"

"My view of it," he flamed out, bringing his clenched hand down upon
the table as if he had been in a public house dicing with
blackguards--"my view of it is that it was a characteristically
dastardly assassination by that damned traitor, Washington, and his
ragamuffin rebels!"

For some minutes nothing was said: Bartine was recovering his
temper, and I waited. Then I said:

"Was that all?"

"No--there was something else. A few weeks after my great-
grandfather's arrest his watch was found lying on the porch at the
front door of his dwelling. It was wrapped in a sheet of letter
paper bearing the name of Rupert Bartine, his only son, my
grandfather. I am wearing that watch."

Bartine paused. His usually restless black eyes were staring fixedly
into the grate, a point of red light in each, reflected from the
glowing coals. He seemed to have forgotten me. A sudden threshing
of the branches of a tree outside one of the windows, and almost at
the same instant a rattle of rain against the glass, recalled him to
a sense of his surroundings. A storm had risen, heralded by a single
gust of wind, and in a few moments the steady plash of the water on
the pavement was distinctly heard. I hardly know why I relate this
incident; it seemed somehow to have a certain significance and
relevancy which I am unable now to discern. It at least added an
element of seriousness, almost solemnity. Bartine resumed:

"I have a singular feeling toward this watch--a kind of affection for
it; I like to have it about me, though partly from its weight, and
partly for a reason I shall now explain, I seldom carry it. The
reason is this: Every evening when I have it with me I feel an
unaccountable desire to open and consult it, even if I can think of
no reason for wishing to know the time. But if I yield to it, the
moment my eyes rest upon the dial I am filled with a mysterious
apprehension--a sense of imminent calamity. And this is the more
insupportable the nearer it is to eleven o'clock--by this watch, no
matter what the actual hour may be. After the hands have registered
eleven the desire to look is gone; I am entirely indifferent. Then I
can consult the thing as often as I like, with no more emotion than
you feel in looking at your own. Naturally I have trained myself not
to look at that watch in the evening before eleven; nothing could
induce me. Your insistence this evening upset me a trifle. I felt
very much as I suppose an opium-eater might feel if his yearning for
his special and particular kind of hell were re-enforced by
opportunity and advice.

"Now that is my story, and I have told it in the interest of your
trumpery science; but if on any evening hereafter you observe me
wearing this damnable watch, and you have the thoughtfulness to ask
me the hour, I shall beg leave to put you to the inconvenience of
being knocked down."

His humor did not amuse me. I could see that in relating his
delusion he was again somewhat disturbed. His concluding smile was
positively ghastly, and his eyes had resumed something more than
their old restlessness; they shifted hither and thither about the
room with apparent aimlessness and I fancied had taken on a wild
expression, such as is sometimes observed in cases of dementia.
Perhaps this was my own imagination, but at any rate I was now
persuaded that my friend was afflicted with a most singular and
interesting monomania. Without, I trust, any abatement of my
affectionate solicitude for him as a friend, I began to regard him as
a patient, rich in possibilities of profitable study. Why not? Had
he not described his delusion in the interest of science? Ah, poor
fellow, he was doing more for science than he knew: not only his
story but himself was in evidence. I should cure him if I could, of
course, but first I should make a little experiment in psychology--
nay, the experiment itself might be a step in his restoration.

"That is very frank and friendly of you, Bartine," I said cordially,
"and I'm rather proud of your confidence. It is all very odd,
certainly. Do you mind showing me the watch?"

He detached it from his waistcoat, chain and all, and passed it to me
without a word. The case was of gold, very thick and strong, and
singularly engraved. After closely examining the dial and observing
that it was nearly twelve o'clock, I opened it at the back and was
interested to observe an inner case of ivory, upon which was painted
a miniature portrait in that exquisite and delicate manner which was
in vogue during the eighteenth century.

"Why, bless my soul!" I exclaimed, feeling a sharp artistic delight--
"how under the sun did you get that done? I thought miniature
painting on ivory was a lost art."

"That," he replied, gravely smiling, "is not I; it is my excellent
great-grandfather, the late Bramwell Olcott Bartine, Esquire, of
Virginia. He was younger then than later--about my age, in fact. It
is said to resemble me; do you think so?"

"Resemble you? I should say so! Barring the costume, which I
supposed you to have assumed out of compliment to the art--or for
vraisemblance, so to say--and the no mustache, that portrait is you
in every feature, line, and expression."

No more was said at that time. Bartine took a book from the table
and began reading. I heard outside the incessant plash of the rain
in the street. There were occasional hurried footfalls on the
sidewalks; and once a slower, heavier tread seemed to cease at my
door--a policeman, I thought, seeking shelter in the doorway. The
boughs of the trees tapped significantly on the window panes, as if
asking for admittance. I remember it all through these years and
years of a wiser, graver life.

Seeing myself unobserved, I took the old-fashioned key that dangled
from the chain and quickly turned back the hands of the watch a full
hour; then, closing the case, I handed Bartine his property and saw
him replace it on his person.

"I think you said," I began, with assumed carelessness, "that after
eleven the sight of the dial no longer affects you. As it is now
nearly twelve"--looking at my own timepiece--"perhaps, if you don't
resent my pursuit of proof, you will look at it now."

He smiled good-humoredly, pulled out the watch again, opened it, and
instantly sprang to his feet with a cry that Heaven has not had the
mercy to permit me to forget! His eyes, their blackness strikingly
intensified by the pallor of his face, were fixed upon the watch,
which he clutched in both hands. For some time he remained in that
attitude without uttering another sound; then, in a voice that I
should not have recognized as his, he said:

"Damn you! it is two minutes to eleven!"

I was not unprepared for some such outbreak, and without rising
replied, calmly enough:

"I beg your pardon; I must have misread your watch in setting my own
by it."

He shut the case with a sharp snap and put the watch in his pocket.
He looked at me and made an attempt to smile, but his lower lip
quivered and he seemed unable to close his mouth. His hands, also,
were shaking, and he thrust them, clenched, into the pockets of his
sack-coat. The courageous spirit was manifestly endeavoring to
subdue the coward body. The effort was too great; he began to sway
from side to side, as from vertigo, and before I could spring from my
chair to support him his knees gave way and he pitched awkwardly
forward and fell upon his face. I sprang to assist him to rise; but
when John Bartine rises we shall all rise.

The post-mortem examination disclosed nothing; every organ was normal
and sound. But when the body had been prepared for burial a faint
dark circle was seen to have developed around the neck; at least I
was so assured by several persons who said they saw it, but of my own
knowledge I cannot say if that was true.

Nor can I set limitations to the law of heredity. I do not know that
in the spiritual world a sentiment or emotion may not survive the
heart that held it, and seek expression in a kindred life, ages
removed. Surely, if I were to guess at the fate of Bramwell Olcott
Bartine, I should guess that he was hanged at eleven o'clock in the
evening, and that he had been allowed several hours in which to
prepare for the change.

As to John Bartine, my friend, my patient for five minutes, and--
Heaven forgive me!--my victim for eternity, there is no more to say.
He is buried, and his watch with him--I saw to that. May God rest
his soul in Paradise, and the soul of his Virginian ancestor, if,
indeed, they are two souls.



By the light of a tallow candle which had been placed on one end of a
rough table a man was reading something written in a book. It was an
old account book, greatly worn; and the writing was not, apparently,
very legible, for the man sometimes held the page close to the flame
of the candle to get a stronger light on it. The shadow of the book
would then throw into obscurity a half of the room, darkening a
number of faces and figures; for besides the reader, eight other men
were present. Seven of them sat against the rough log walls, silent,
motionless, and the room being small, not very far from the table.
By extending an arm any one of them could have touched the eighth
man, who lay on the table, face upward, partly covered by a sheet,
his arms at his sides. He was dead.

The man with the book was not reading aloud, and no one spoke; all
seemed to be waiting for something to occur; the dead man only was
without expectation. From the blank darkness outside came in,
through the aperture that served for a window, all the ever
unfamiliar noises of night in the wilderness--the long nameless note
of a distant coyote; the stilly pulsing thrill of tireless insects in
trees; strange cries of night birds, so different from those of the
birds of day; the drone of great blundering beetles, and all that
mysterious chorus of small sounds that seem always to have been but
half heard when they have suddenly ceased, as if conscious of an
indiscretion. But nothing of all this was noted in that company; its
members were not overmuch addicted to idle interest in matters of no
practical importance; that was obvious in every line of their rugged
faces--obvious even in the dim light of the single candle. They were
evidently men of the vicinity--farmers and woodsmen.

The person reading was a trifle different; one would have said of him
that he was of the world, worldly, albeit there was that in his
attire which attested a certain fellowship with the organisms of his
environment. His coat would hardly have passed muster in San
Francisco; his foot-gear was not of urban origin, and the hat that
lay by him on the floor (he was the only one uncovered) was such that
if one had considered it as an article of mere personal adornment he
would have missed its meaning. In countenance the man was rather
prepossessing, with just a hint of sternness; though that he may have
assumed or cultivated, as appropriate to one in authority. For he
was a coroner. It was by virtue of his office that he had possession
of the book in which he was reading; it had been found among the dead
man's effects--in his cabin, where the inquest was now taking place.

When the coroner had finished reading he put the book into his breast
pocket. At that moment the door was pushed open and a young man
entered. He, clearly, was not of mountain birth and breeding: he
was clad as those who dwell in cities. His clothing was dusty,
however, as from travel. He had, in fact, been riding hard to attend
the inquest.

The coroner nodded; no one else greeted him.

"We have waited for you," said the coroner. "It is necessary to have
done with this business to-night."

The young man smiled. "I am sorry to have kept you," he said. "I
went away, not to evade your summons, but to post to my newspaper an
account of what I suppose I am called back to relate."

The coroner smiled.

"The account that you posted to your newspaper," he said, "differs,
probably, from that which you will give here under oath."

"That," replied the other, rather hotly and with a visible flush, "is
as you please. I used manifold paper and have a copy of what I sent.
It was not written as news, for it is incredible, but as fiction. It
may go as a part of my testimony under oath."

"But you say it is incredible."

"That is nothing to you, sir, if I also swear that it is true."

The coroner was silent for a time, his eyes upon the floor. The men
about the sides of the cabin talked in whispers, but seldom withdrew
their gaze from the face of the corpse. Presently the coroner lifted
his eyes and said: "We will resume the inquest."

The men removed their hats. The witness was sworn.

"What is your name?" the coroner asked.

"William Harker."



"You knew the deceased, Hugh Morgan?"


"You were with him when he died?"

"Near him."

"How did that happen--your presence, I mean?"

"I was visiting him at this place to shoot and fish. A part of my
purpose, however, was to study him and his odd, solitary way of life.
He seemed a good model for a character in fiction. I sometimes write

"I sometimes read them."

"Thank you."

"Stories in general--not yours."

Some of the jurors laughed. Against a sombre background humor shows
high lights. Soldiers in the intervals of battle laugh easily, and a
jest in the death chamber conquers by surprise.

"Relate the circumstances of this man's death," said the coroner.
"You may use any notes or memoranda that you please."

The witness understood. Pulling a manuscript from his breast pocket
he held it near the candle and turning the leaves until he found the
passage that he wanted began to read.


" . . . The sun had hardly risen when we left the house. We were
looking for quail, each with a shotgun, but we had only one dog.
Morgan said that our best ground was beyond a certain ridge that he
pointed out, and we crossed it by a trail through the chaparral. On
the other side was comparatively level ground, thickly covered with
wild oats. As we emerged from the chaparral Morgan was but a few
yards in advance. Suddenly we heard, at a little distance to our
right and partly in front, a noise as of some animal thrashing about
in the bushes, which we could see were violently agitated.

"'We've started a deer,' I said. 'I wish we had brought a rifle.'

"Morgan, who had stopped and was intently watching the agitated
chaparral, said nothing, but had cocked both barrels of his gun and
was holding it in readiness to aim. I thought him a trifle excited,
which surprised me, for he had a reputation for exceptional coolness,
even in moments of sudden and imminent peril.

"'O, come,' I said. 'You are not going to fill up a deer with quail-
shot, are you?'

"Still he did not reply; but catching a sight of his face as he
turned it slightly toward me I was struck by the intensity of his
look. Then I understood that we had serious business in hand and my
first conjecture was that we had 'jumped' a grizzly. I advanced to
Morgan's side, cocking my piece as I moved.

"The bushes were now quiet and the sounds had ceased, but Morgan was
as attentive to the place as before.

"'What is it? What the devil is it?' I asked.

"'That Damned Thing!' he replied, without turning his head. His
voice was husky and unnatural. He trembled visibly.

"I was about to speak further, when I observed the wild oats near the
place of the disturbance moving in the most inexplicable way. I can
hardly describe it. It seemed as if stirred by a streak of wind,
which not only bent it, but pressed it down--crushed it so that it
did not rise; and this movement was slowly prolonging itself directly
toward us.

"Nothing that I had ever seen had affected me so strangely as this
unfamiliar and unaccountable phenomenon, yet I am unable to recall
any sense of fear. I remember--and tell it here because, singularly
enough, I recollected it then--that once in looking carelessly out of
an open window I momentarily mistook a small tree close at hand for
one of a group of larger trees at a little distance away. It looked
the same size as the others, but being more distinctly and sharply
defined in mass and detail seemed out of harmony with them. It was a
mere falsification of the law of aerial perspective, but it startled,
almost terrified me. We so rely upon the orderly operation of
familiar natural laws that any seeming suspension of them is noted as
a menace to our safety, a warning of unthinkable calamity. So now
the apparently causeless movement of the herbage and the slow,
undeviating approach of the line of disturbance were distinctly
disquieting. My companion appeared actually frightened, and I could
hardly credit my senses when I saw him suddenly throw his gun to his
shoulder and fire both barrels at the agitated grain! Before the
smoke of the discharge had cleared away I heard a loud savage cry--a
scream like that of a wild animal--and flinging his gun upon the
ground Morgan sprang away and ran swiftly from the spot. At the same
instant I was thrown violently to the ground by the impact of
something unseen in the smoke--some soft, heavy substance that seemed
thrown against me with great force.

"Before I could get upon my feet and recover my gun, which seemed to
have been struck from my hands, I heard Morgan crying out as if in
mortal agony, and mingling with his cries were such hoarse, savage
sounds as one hears from fighting dogs. Inexpressibly terrified, I
struggled to my feet and looked in the direction of Morgan's retreat;
and may Heaven in mercy spare me from another sight like that! At a
distance of less than thirty yards was my friend, down upon one knee,
his head thrown back at a frightful angle, hatless, his long hair in
disorder and his whole body in violent movement from side to side,
backward and forward. His right arm was lifted and seemed to lack
the hand--at least, I could see none. The other arm was invisible.
At times, as my memory now reports this extraordinary scene, I could
discern but a part of his body; it was as if he had been partly
blotted out--I cannot otherwise express it--then a shifting of his
position would bring it all into view again.

"All this must have occurred within a few seconds, yet in that time
Morgan assumed all the postures of a determined wrestler vanquished
by superior weight and strength. I saw nothing but him, and him not
always distinctly. During the entire incident his shouts and curses
were heard, as if through an enveloping uproar of such sounds of rage
and fury as I had never heard from the throat of man or brute!

"For a moment only I stood irresolute, then throwing down my gun I
ran forward to my friend's assistance. I had a vague belief that he
was suffering from a fit, or some form of convulsion. Before I could
reach his side he was down and quiet. All sounds had ceased, but
with a feeling of such terror as even these awful events had not
inspired I now saw again the mysterious movement of the wild oats,
prolonging itself from the trampled area about the prostrate man
toward the edge of a wood. It was only when it had reached the wood
that I was able to withdraw my eyes and look at my companion. He was


The coroner rose from his seat and stood beside the dead man.
Lifting an edge of the sheet he pulled it away, exposing the entire
body, altogether naked and showing in the candle-light a claylike
yellow. It had, however, broad maculations of bluish black,
obviously caused by extravasated blood from contusions. The chest
and sides looked as if they had been beaten with a bludgeon. There
were dreadful lacerations; the skin was torn in strips and shreds.

The coroner moved round to the end of the table and undid a silk
handkerchief which had been passed under the chin and knotted on the
top of the head. When the handkerchief was drawn away it exposed
what had been the throat. Some of the jurors who had risen to get a
better view repented their curiosity and turned away their faces.
Witness Harker went to the open window and leaned out across the
sill, faint and sick. Dropping the handkerchief upon the dead man's
neck the coroner stepped to an angle of the room and from a pile of
clothing produced one garment after another, each of which he held up
a moment for inspection. All were torn, and stiff with blood. The
jurors did not make a closer inspection. They seemed rather
uninterested. They had, in truth, seen all this before; the only
thing that was new to them being Harker's testimony.

"Gentlemen," the coroner said, "we have no more evidence, I think.
Your duty has been already explained to you; if there is nothing you
wish to ask you may go outside and consider your verdict."

The foreman rose--a tall, bearded man of sixty, coarsely clad.

"I should like to ask one question, Mr. Coroner," he said. "What
asylum did this yer last witness escape from?"

"Mr. Harker," said the coroner, gravely and tranquilly, "from what
asylum did you last escape?"

Harker flushed crimson again, but said nothing, and the seven jurors
rose and solemnly filed out of the cabin.

"If you have done insulting me, sir," said Harker, as soon as he and
the officer were left alone with the dead man, "I suppose I am at
liberty to go?"


Harker started to leave, but paused, with his hand on the door latch.
The habit of his profession was strong in him--stronger than his
sense of personal dignity. He turned about and said:

"The book that you have there--I recognize it as Morgan's diary. You
seemed greatly interested in it; you read in it while I was
testifying. May I see it? The public would like--"

"The book will cut no figure in this matter," replied the official,
slipping it into his coat pocket; "all the entries in it were made
before the writer's death."

As Harker passed out of the house the jury reentered and stood about
the table, on which the now covered corpse showed under the sheet
with sharp definition. The foreman seated himself near the candle,
produced from his breast pocket a pencil and scrap of paper and wrote
rather laboriously the following verdict, which with various degrees
of effort all signed:

"We, the jury, do find that the remains come to their death at the
hands of a mountain lion, but some of us thinks, all the same, they
had fits."


In the diary of the late Hugh Morgan are certain interesting entries
having, possibly, a scientific value as suggestions. At the inquest
upon his body the book was not put in evidence; possibly the coroner
thought it not worth while to confuse the jury. The date of the
first of the entries mentioned cannot be ascertained; the upper part
of the leaf is torn away; the part of the entry remaining follows:

" . . . would run in a half-circle, keeping his head turned always
toward the centre, and again he would stand still, barking furiously.
At last he ran away into the brush as fast as he could go. I thought
at first that he had gone mad, but on returning to the house found no
other alteration in his manner than what was obviously due to fear of

"Can a dog see with his nose? Do odors impress some cerebral centre
with images of the thing that emitted them? . . .

"Sept. 2.--Looking at the stars last night as they rose above the
crest of the ridge east of the house, I observed them successively
disappear--from left to right. Each was eclipsed but an instant, and
only a few at the same time, but along the entire length of the ridge
all that were within a degree or two of the crest were blotted out.
It was as if something had passed along between me and them; but I
could not see it, and the stars were not thick enough to define its
outline. Ugh! I don't like this." . . .

Several weeks' entries are missing, three leaves being torn from the

"Sept. 27.--It has been about here again--I find evidences of its
presence every day. I watched again all last night in the same
cover, gun in hand, double-charged with buckshot. In the morning the
fresh footprints were there, as before. Yet I would have sworn that
I did not sleep--indeed, I hardly sleep at all. It is terrible,
insupportable! If these amazing experiences are real I shall go mad;
if they are fanciful I am mad already.

"Oct. 3.--I shall not go--it shall not drive me away. No, this is MY
house, MY land. God hates a coward . . .

"Oct. 5.--I can stand it no longer; I have invited Harker to pass a
few weeks with me--he has a level head. I can judge from his manner
if he thinks me mad.

"Oct. 7.--I have the solution of the mystery; it came to me last
night--suddenly, as by revelation. How simple--how terribly simple!

"There are sounds that we cannot hear. At either end of the scale
are notes that stir no chord of that imperfect instrument, the human
ear. They are too high or too grave. I have observed a flock of
blackbirds occupying an entire tree-top--the tops of several trees--
and all in full song. Suddenly--in a moment--at absolutely the same
instant--all spring into the air and fly away. How? They could not
all see one another--whole tree-tops intervened. At no point could a
leader have been visible to all. There must have been a signal of
warning or command, high and shrill above the din, but by me unheard.
I have observed, too, the same simultaneous flight when all were
silent, among not only blackbirds, but other birds--quail, for
example, widely separated by bushes--even on opposite sides of a

"It is known to seamen that a school of whales basking or sporting on
the surface of the ocean, miles apart, with the convexity of the
earth between, will sometimes dive at the same instant--all gone out
of sight in a moment. The signal has been sounded--too grave for the
ear of the sailor at the masthead and his comrades on the deck--who
nevertheless feel its vibrations in the ship as the stones of a
cathedral are stirred by the bass of the organ.

"As with sounds, so with colors. At each end of the solar spectrum
the chemist can detect the presence of what are known as 'actinic'
rays. They represent colors--integral colors in the composition of
light--which we are unable to discern. The human eye is an imperfect
instrument; its range is but a few octaves of the real 'chromatic
scale.' I am not mad; there are colors that we cannot see.

"And, God help me! the Damned Thing is of such a color!"


In the heart of Haita the illusions of youth had not been supplanted
by those of age and experience. His thoughts were pure and pleasant,
for his life was simple and his soul devoid of ambition. He rose
with the sun and went forth to pray at the shrine of Hastur, the god
of shepherds, who heard and was pleased. After performance of this
pious rite Haita unbarred the gate of the fold and with a cheerful
mind drove his flock afield, eating his morning meal of curds and oat
cake as he went, occasionally pausing to add a few berries, cold with
dew, or to drink of the waters that came away from the hills to join

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