The Shadows on the Wall

Mary E. Wilkins (Freeman)

From The Wind in the Rose-Bush and Other Stories (Doubleday, Page & Company; New York: 1903)

“Henry had words with Edward in the study the night before Edward died,” said Caroline Glynn.

She was elderly, tall, and harshly thin, with a hard colourlessness of face. She spoke not with acrimony, but with grave severity. Rebecca Ann Glynn, younger, stouter and rosy of face between her crinkling puffs of gray hair, gasped, by way of assent. She sat in a wide flounce of black silk in the corner of the sofa, and rolled terrified eyes from her sister Caroline to her sister Mrs. Stephen Brigham, who had been Emma Glynn, the one beauty of the family. She was beautiful still, with a large, splendid, full-blown beauty; she filled a great rocking-chair with her superb bulk of femininity, and swayed gently back and forth, her black silks whispering and her black frills fluttering. Even the shock of death (for her brother Edward lay dead in the house,) could not disturb her outward serenity of demeanour. She was grieved over the loss of her brother: he had been the youngest, and she had been fond of him, but never had Emma Brigham lost sight of her own importance amidst the waters of tribulation. She was always awake to the consciousness of her own stability in the midst of vicissitudes and the splendour of her permanent bearing.

But even her expression of masterly placidity changed before her sister Caroline's announcement and her sister Rebecca Ann's gasp of terror and distress in response.

“I think Henry might have controlled his temper, when poor Edward was so near his end,” said she with an asperity which disturbed slightly the roseate curves of her beautiful mouth.

“Of course he did not know,” murmured Rebecca Ann in a faint tone strangely out of keeping with her appearance.

One involuntarily looked again to be sure that such a feeble pipe came from that full-swelling chest.

“Of course he did not know it,” said Caroline quickly. She turned on her sister with a strange sharp look of suspicion. “How could he have known it?” said she. Then she shrank as if from the other's possible answer. “Of course you and I both know he could not,” said she conclusively, but her pale face was paler than it had been before.

Rebecca gasped again. The married sister, Mrs. Emma Brigham, was now sitting up straight in her chair; she had ceased rocking, and was eyeing them both intently with a sudden accentuation of family likeness in her face. Given one common intensity of emotion and similar lines showed forth, and the three sisters of one race were evident.

“What do you mean?” said she impartially to them both. Then she, too, seemed to shrink before a possible answer. She even laughed an evasive sort of laugh. “I guess you don't mean anything,” said she, but her face wore still the expression of shrinking horror.

“Nobody means anything,” said Caroline firmly. She rose and crossed the room toward the door with grim decisiveness.

“Where are you going?” asked Mrs. Brigham.

“I have something to see to,” replied Caroline, and the others at once knew by her tone that she had some solemn and sad duty to perform in the chamber of death.

“Oh,” said Mrs. Brigham.

After the door had closed behind Caroline, she turned to Rebecca.

“Did Henry have many words with him?” she asked.

“They were talking very loud,” replied Rebecca evasively, yet with an answering gleam of ready response to the other's curiosity in the quick lift of her soft blue eyes.

Mrs. Brigham looked at her. She had not resumed rocking. She still sat up straight with a slight knitting of intensity on her fair forehead, between the pretty rippling curves of her auburn hair.

“Did you — hear anything?” she asked in a low voice with a glance toward the door.

“I was just across the hall in the south parlour, and that door was open and this door ajar,” replied Rebecca with a slight flush.

“Then you must have —”

“I couldn't help it.”

“Everything?”

“Most of it.”

“What was it?”

“The old story.”

“I suppose Henry was mad, as he always was, because Edward was living on here for nothing, when he had wasted all the money father left him.”

Rebecca nodded with a fearful glance at the door.

When Emma spoke again her voice was still more hushed. “I know how he felt,” said she. “He had always been so prudent himself, and worked hard at his profession, and there Edward had never done anything but spend, and it must have looked to him as if Edward was living at his expense, but he wasn't.”

“No, he wasn't.”

“It was the way father left the property — that all the children should have a home here — and he left money enough to buy the food and all if we had all come home.”

“Yes.”

“And Edward had a right here according to the terms of father's will, and Henry ought to have remembered it.”

“Yes, he ought.”

“Did he say hard things?”

“Pretty hard from what I heard.”

“What?”

“I heard him tell Edward that he had no business here at all, and he thought he had better go away.”

“What did Edward say?”

“That he would stay here as long as he lived and afterward, too, if he was a mind to, and he would like to see Henry get him out; and then —”

“What?”

“Then he laughed.”

“What did Henry say.”

“I didn't hear him say anything, but —”

“But what?”

“I saw him when he came out of this room.”

“He looked mad?”

“You've seen him when he looked so.”

Emma nodded; the expression of horror on her face had deepened.

“Do you remember that time he killed the cat because she had scratched him?”

“Yes. Don't!”

Then Caroline reëntered the room. She went up to the stove in which a wood fire was burning — it was a cold, gloomy day of fall — and she warmed her hands, which were reddened from recent washing in cold water.

Mrs. Brigham looked at her and hesitated. She glanced at the door, which was still ajar, as it did not easily shut, being still swollen with the damp weather of the summer. She rose and pushed it together with a sharp thud which jarred the house. Rebecca started painfully with a half exclamation. Caroline looked at her disapprovingly.

“It is time you controlled your nerves, Rebecca,” said she.

“I can't help it,” replied Rebecca with almost a wail. “I am nervous. There's enough to make me so, the Lord knows.”

“What do you mean by that?” asked Caroline with her old air of sharp suspicion, and something between challenge and dread of its being met.

Rebecca shrank.

“Nothing,” said she.

“Then I wouldn't keep speaking in such a fashion.”

Emma, returning from the closed door, said imperiously that it ought to be fixed, it shut so hard.

“It will shrink enough after we have had the fire a few days,” replied Caroline. “If anything is done to it it will be too small; there will be a crack at the sill.”

“I think Henry ought to be ashamed of himself for talking as he did to Edward,” said Mrs. Brigham abruptly, but in an almost inaudible voice.

“Hush!” said Caroline, with a glance of actual fear at the closed door.

“Nobody can hear with the door shut.”

“He must have heard it shut, and —”

“Well, I can say what I want to before he comes down, and I am not afraid of him.”

“I don't know who is afraid of him! What reason is there for anybody to be afraid of Henry?” demanded Caroline.

Mrs. Brigham trembled before her sister's look. Rebecca gasped again. “There isn't any reason, of course. Why should there be?”

“I wouldn't speak so, then. Somebody might overhear you and think it was queer. Miranda Joy is in the south parlour sewing, you know.”

“I thought she went upstairs to stitch on the machine.”

“She did, but she has come down again.”

“Well, she can't hear.”

“I say again I think Henry ought to be ashamed of himself. I shouldn't think he'd ever get over it, having words with poor Edward the very night before he died. Edward was enough sight better disposition than Henry, with all his faults. I always thought a great deal of poor Edward, myself.”

Mrs. Brigham passed a large fluff of handkerchief across her eyes; Rebecca sobbed outright.

“Rebecca,” said Caroline admonishingly, keeping her mouth stiff and swallowing determinately.

“I never heard him speak a cross word, unless he spoke cross to Henry that last night. I don't know, but he did from what Rebecca overheard,” said Emma.

“Not so much cross as sort of soft, and sweet, and aggravating,” sniffled Rebecca.

“He never raised his voice,” said Caroline; “but he had his way.”

“He had a right to in this case.”

“Yes, he did.”

“He had as much of a right here as Henry,” sobbed Rebecca, “and now he's gone, and he will never be in this home that poor father left him and the rest of us again.”

“What do you really think ailed Edward?” asked Emma in hardly more than a whisper. She did not look at her sister.

Caroline sat down in a nearby armchair, and clutched the arms convulsively until her thin knuckles whitened.

“I told you,” said she.

Rebecca held her handkerchief over her mouth, and looked at them above it with terrified, streaming eyes.

“I know you said that he had terrible pains in his stomach, and had spasms, but what do you think made him have them?”

“Henry called it gastric trouble. You know Edward has always had dyspepsia.”

Mrs. Brigham hesitated a moment. “Was there any talk of an — examination?” said she.

Then Caroline turned on her fiercely.

“No,” said she in a terrible voice. “No.”

The three sisters' souls seemed to meet on one common ground of terrified understanding through their eyes. The old-fashioned latch of the door was heard to rattle, and a push from without made the door shake ineffectually. “It's Henry,” Rebecca sighed rather than whispered. Mrs. Brigham settled herself after a noiseless rush across the floor into her rocking-chair again, and was swaying back and forth with her head comfortably leaning back, when the door at last yielded and Henry Glynn entered. He cast a covertly sharp, comprehensive glance at Mrs. Brigham with her elaborate calm; at Rebecca quietly huddled in the corner of the sofa with her handkerchief to her face and only one small reddened ear as attentive as a dog's uncovered and revealing her alertness for his presence; at Caroline sitting with a strained composure in her armchair by the stove. She met his eyes quite firmly with a look of inscrutable fear, and defiance of the fear and of him.

Henry Glynn looked more like this sister than the others. Both had the same hard delicacy of form and feature, both were tall and almost emaciated, both had a sparse growth of gray blond hair far back from high intellectual foreheads, both had an almost noble aquilinity of feature. They confronted each other with the pitiless immovability of two statues in whose marble lineaments emotions were fixed for all eternity.

Then Henry Glynn smiled and the smile transformed his face. He looked suddenly years younger, and an almost boyish recklessness and irresolution appeared in his face. He flung himself into a chair with a gesture which was bewildering from its incongruity with his general appearance. He leaned his head back, flung one leg over the other, and looked laughingly at Mrs. Brigham.

“I declare, Emma, you grow younger every year,” he said.

She flushed a little, and her placid mouth widened at the corners. She was susceptible to praise.

“Our thoughts to-day ought to belong to the one of us who will never grow older,” said Caroline in a hard voice.

Henry looked at her, still smiling. “Of course, we none of us forget that,” said he, in a deep, gentle voice, “but we have to speak to the living, Caroline, and I have not seen Emma for a long time, and the living are as dear as the dead.”

“Not to me,” said Caroline.

She rose, and went abruptly out of the room again. Rebecca also rose and hurried after her, sobbing loudly.

Henry looked slowly after them.

“Caroline is completely unstrung,” said he.

Mrs. Brigham rocked. A confidence in him inspired by his manner was stealing over her. Out of that confidence she spoke quite easily and naturally.

“His death was very sudden,” said she.

Henry's eyelids quivered slightly but his gaze was unswerving.

“Yes,” said he; “it was very sudden. He was sick only a few hours.”

“What did you call it?”

“Gastric.”

“You did not think of an examination?”

“There was no need. I am perfectly certain as to the cause of his death.”

Suddenly Mrs. Brigham felt a creep as of some live horror over her very soul. Her flesh prickled with cold, before an inflection of his voice. She rose, tottering on weak knees.

“Where are you going?” asked Henry in a strange, breathless voice.

Mrs. Brigham said something incoherent about some sewing which she had to do, some black for the funeral, and was out of the room. She went up to the front chamber which she occupied. Caroline was there. She went close to her and took her hands, and the two sisters looked at each other.

“Don't speak, don't, I won't have it!” said Caroline finally in an awful whisper.

“I won't,” replied Emma.

That afternoon the three sisters were in the study, the large front room on the ground floor across the hall from the south parlour, when the dusk deepened.

Mrs. Brigham was hemming some black material. She sat close to the west window for the waning light. At last she laid her work on her lap.

“It's no use, I cannot see to sew another stitch until we have a light,” said she.

Caroline, who was writing some letters at the table, turned to Rebecca, in her usual place on the sofa.

“Rebecca, you had better get a lamp,” she said.

Rebecca started up; even in the dusk her face showed her agitation.

“It doesn't seem to me that we need a lamp quite yet,” she said in a piteous, pleading voice like a child's.

“Yes, we do,” returned Mrs. Brigham peremptorily. “We must have a light. I must finish this to-night or I can't go to the funeral, and I can't see to sew another stitch.”

“Caroline can see to write letters, and she is farther from the window than you are,” said Rebecca.

“Are you trying to save kerosene or are you lazy, Rebecca Glynn?” cried Mrs. Brigham. “I can go and get the light myself, but I have this work all in my lap.”

Caroline's pen stopped scratching.

“Rebecca, we must have the light,” said she.

“Had we better have it in here?” asked Rebecca weakly.

“Of course! Why not?” cried Caroline sternly.

“I am sure I don't want to take my sewing into the other room, when it is all cleaned up for to-morrow,” said Mrs. Brigham.

“Why, I never heard such a to-do about lighting a lamp.”

Rebecca rose and left the room. Presently she entered with a lamp — a large one with a white porcelain shade. She set it on a table, an old-fashioned card-table which was placed against the opposite wall from the window. That wall was clear of bookcases and books, which were only on three sides of the room. That opposite wall was taken up with three doors, the one small space being occupied by the table. Above the table on the old-fashioned paper, of a white satin gloss, traversed by an indeterminate green scroll, hung quite high a small gilt and black-framed ivory miniature taken in her girlhood of the mother of the family. When the lamp was set on the table beneath it, the tiny pretty face painted on the ivory seemed to gleam out with a look of intelligence.

“What have you put that lamp over there for?” asked Mrs. Brigham, with more of impatience than her voice usually revealed. “Why didn't you set it in the hall and have done with it. Neither Caroline nor I can see if it is on that table.”

“I thought perhaps you would move,” replied Rebecca hoarsely.

“If I do move, we can't both sit at that table. Caroline has her paper all spread around. Why don't you set the lamp on the study table in the middle of the room, then we can both see?”

Rebecca hesitated. Her face was very pale. She looked with an appeal that was fairly agonizing at her sister Caroline.

“Why don't you put the lamp on this table, as she says?” asked Caroline, almost fiercely. “Why do you act so, Rebecca?”

“I should think you would ask her that,” said Mrs. Brigham. “She doesn't act like herself at all.”

Rebecca took the lamp and set it on the table in the middle of the room without another word. Then she turned her back upon it quickly and seated herself on the sofa, and placed a hand over her eyes as if to shade them, and remained so.

“Does the light hurt your eyes, and is that the reason why you didn't want the lamp?” asked Mrs. Brigham kindly.

“I always like to sit in the dark,” replied Rebecca chokingly. Then she snatched her handkerchief hastily from her pocket and began to weep. Caroline continued to write, Mrs. Brigham to sew.

Suddenly Mrs. Brigham as she sewed glanced at the opposite wall. The glance became a steady stare. She looked intently, her work suspended in her hands. Then she looked away again and took a few more stitches, then she looked again, and again turned to her task. At last she laid her work in her lap and stared concentratedly. She looked from the wall around the room, taking note of the various objects; she looked at the wall long and intently. Then she turned to her sisters.

“What is that?” said she.

“What?” asked Caroline harshly; her pen scratched loudly across the paper.

Rebecca gave one of her convulsive gasps.

“That strange shadow on the wall,” replied Mrs. Brigham.

Rebecca sat with her face hidden: Caroline dipped her pen in the inkstand.

“Why don't you turn around and look?” asked Mrs. Brigham in a wondering and somewhat aggrieved way.

“I am in a hurry to finish this letter, if Mrs. Wilson Ebbit is going to get word in time to come to the funeral,” replied Caroline shortly.

Mrs. Brigham rose, her work slipping to the floor, and she began walking around the room, moving various articles of furniture, with her eyes on the shadow.

Then suddenly she shrieked out:

“Look at this awful shadow! What is it? Caroline, look, look! Rebecca, look! What is it?

All Mrs. Brigham's triumphant placidity was gone. Her handsome face was livid with horror. She stood stiffly pointing at the shadow.

“Look!” said she, pointing her finger at it. “Look! What is it?”

Then Rebecca burst out in a wild wail after a shuddering glance at the wall:

“Oh, Caroline, there it is again! There it is again!”

“Caroline Glynn, you look!” said Mrs. Brigham. “Look! What is that dreadful shadow?”

Caroline rose, turned, and stood confronting the wall.

“How should I know?” she said.

“It has been there every night since he died,” cried Rebecca.

“Every night?”

“Yes. He died Thursday and this is Saturday; that makes three nights,” said Caroline rigidly. She stood as if holding herself calm with a vise of concentrated will.

“It — it looks like — like —” stammered Mrs. Brigham in a tone of intense horror.

“I know what it looks like well enough,” said Caroline. “I've got eyes in my head.”

“It looks like Edward,” burst out Rebecca in a sort of frenzy of fear. “Only —”

“Yes, it does,” assented Mrs. Brigham, whose horror-stricken tone matched her sister's, “only — Oh, it is awful! What is it, Caroline?”

“I ask you again, how should I know?” replied Caroline. “I see it there like you. How should I know any more than you?”

“It must be something in the room,” said Mrs. Brigham, staring wildly around.

“We moved everything in the room the first night it came,” said Rebecca; “it is not anything in the room.”

Caroline turned upon her with a sort of fury. “Of course it is something in the room,” said she. “How you act! What do you mean by talking so? Of course it is something in the room.”

“Of course, it is,” agreed Mrs. Brigham, looking at Caroline suspiciously. “Of course it must be. It is only a coincidence. It just happens so. Perhaps it is that fold of the window curtain that makes it. It must be something in the room.”

“It is not anything in the room,” repeated Rebecca with obstinate horror.

The door opened suddenly and Henry Glynn entered. He began to speak, then his eyes followed the direction of the others'. He stood stock still staring at the shadow on the wall. It was life size and stretched across the white parallelogram of a door, half across the wall space on which the picture hung.

“What is that?” he demanded in a strange voice.

“It must be due to something in the room,” Mrs. Brigham said faintly.

“It is not due to anything in the room,” said Rebecca again with the shrill insistency of terror.

“How you act, Rebecca Glynn,” said Caroline.

Henry Glynn stood and stared a moment longer. His face showed a gamut of emotions — horror, conviction, then furious incredulity. Suddenly he began hastening hither and thither about the room. He moved the furniture with fierce jerks, turning ever to see the effect upon the shadow on the wall. Not a line of its terrible outlines wavered.

“It must be something in the room!” he declared in a voice which seemed to snap like a lash.

His face changed. The inmost secrecy of his nature seemed evident until one almost lost sight of his lineaments. Rebecca stood close to her sofa, regarding him with woeful, fascinated eyes. Mrs. Brigham clutched Caroline's hand. They both stood in a corner out of his way. For a few moments he raged about the room like a caged wild animal. He moved every piece of furniture; when the moving of a piece did not affect the shadow, he flung it to the floor, the sisters watching.

Then suddenly he desisted. He laughed and began straightening the furniture which he had flung down.

“What an absurdity,” he said easily. “Such a to-do about a shadow.”

“That's so,” assented Mrs. Brigham, in a scared voice which she tried to make natural. As she spoke she lifted a chair near her.

“I think you have broken the chair that Edward was so fond of,” said Caroline.

Terror and wrath were struggling for expression on her face. Her mouth was set, her eyes shrinking. Henry lifted the chair with a show of anxiety.

“Just as good as ever,” he said pleasantly. He laughed again, looking at his sisters. “Did I scare you?” he said. “I should think you might be used to me by this time. You know my way of wanting to leap to the bottom of a mystery, and that shadow does look — queer, like — and I thought if there was any way of accounting for it I would like to without any delay.”

“You don't seem to have succeeded,” remarked Caroline dryly, with a slight glance at the wall.

Henry's eyes followed hers and he quivered perceptibly.

“Oh, there is no accounting for shadows,” he said, and he laughed again. “A man is a fool to try to account for shadows.”

Then the supper bell rang, and they all left the room, but Henry kept his back to the wall, as did, indeed, the others.

Mrs. Brigham pressed close to Caroline as she crossed the hall. “He looked like a demon!” she breathed in her ear.

Henry led the way with an alert motion like a boy; Rebecca brought up the rear; she could scarcely walk, her knees trembled so.

“I can't sit in that room again this evening,” she whispered to Caroline after supper.

“Very well, we will sit in the south room,” replied Caroline. “I think we will sit in the south parlour,” she said aloud; “it isn't as damp as the study, and I have a cold.”

So they all sat in the south room with their sewing. Henry read the newspaper, his chair drawn close to the lamp on the table. About nine o'clock he rose abruptly and crossed the hall to the study. The three sisters looked at one another. Mrs. Brigham rose, folded her rustling skirts compactly around her, and began tiptoeing toward the door.

“What are you going to do?” inquired Rebecca agitatedly.

“I am going to see what he is about,” replied Mrs. Brigham cautiously.

She pointed as she spoke to the study door across the hall; it was ajar. Henry had striven to pull it together behind him, but it had somehow swollen beyond the limit with curious speed. It was still ajar and a streak of light showed from top to bottom. The hall lamp was not lit.

“You had better stay where you are,” said Caroline with guarded sharpness.

“I am going to see,” repeated Mrs. Brigham firmly.

Then she folded her skirts so tightly that her bulk with its swelling curves was revealed in a black silk sheath, and she went with a slow toddle across the hall to the study door. She stood there, her eye at the crack.

In the south room Rebecca stopped sewing and sat watching with dilated eyes. Caroline sewed steadily. What Mrs. Brigham, standing at the crack in the study door, saw was this:

Henry Glynn, evidently reasoning that the source of the strange shadow must be between the table on which the lamp stood and the wall, was making systematic passes and thrusts all over and through the intervening space with an old sword which had belonged to his father. Not an inch was left unpierced. He seemed to have divided the space into mathematical sections. He brandished the sword with a sort of cold fury and calculation; the blade gave out flashes of light, the shadow remained unmoved. Mrs. Brigham, watching, felt herself cold with horror.

Finally Henry ceased and stood with the sword in hand and raised as if to strike, surveying the shadow on the wall threateningly. Mrs. Brigham toddled back across the hall and shut the south room door behind her before she related what she had seen.

“He looked like a demon!” she said again. “Have you got any of that old wine in the house, Caroline? I don't feel as if I could stand much more.”

Indeed, she looked overcome. Her handsome placid face was worn and strained and pale.

“Yes, there's plenty,” said Caroline; “you can have some when you go to bed.”

“I think we had all better take some,” said Mrs. Brigham. “Oh, my God, Caroline, what —”

“Don't ask and don't speak,” said Caroline.

“No, I am not going to,” replied Mrs. Brigham; “but —”

Rebecca moaned aloud.

“What are you doing that for?” asked Caroline harshly.

“Poor Edward,” returned Rebecca.

“That is all you have to groan for,” said Caroline. “There is nothing else.”

“I am going to bed,” said Mrs. Brigham. “I sha'n't be able to be at the funeral if I don't.”

Soon the three sisters went to their chambers and the south parlour was deserted. Caroline called to Henry in the study to put out the light before he came upstairs. They had been gone about an hour when he came into the room bringing the lamp which had stood in the study. He set it on the table and waited a few minutes, pacing up and down. His face was terrible, his fair complexion showed livid; his blue eyes seemed dark blanks of awful reflections.

Then he took the lamp up and returned to the library. He set the lamp on the centre table, and the shadow sprang out on the wall. Again he studied the furniture and moved it about, but deliberately, with none of his former frenzy. Nothing affected the shadow. Then he returned to the south room with the lamp and again waited. Again he returned to the study and placed the lamp on the table, and the shadow sprang out upon the wall. It was midnight before he went upstairs. Mrs. Brigham and the other sisters, who could not sleep, heard him.

The next day was the funeral. That evening the family sat in the south room. Some relatives were with them. Nobody entered the study until Henry carried a lamp in there after the others had retired for the night. He saw again the shadow on the wall leap to an awful life before the light.

The next morning at breakfast Henry Glynn announced that he had to go to the city for three days. The sisters looked at him with surprise. He very seldom left home, and just now his practice had been neglected on account of Edward's death. He was a physician.

“How can you leave your patients now?” asked Mrs. Brigham wonderingly.

“I don't know how to, but there is no other way,” replied Henry easily. “I have had a telegram from Doctor Mitford.”

“Consultation?” inquired Mrs. Brigham.

“I have business,” replied Henry.

Doctor Mitford was an old classmate of his who lived in a neighbouring city and who occasionally called upon him in the case of a consultation.

After he had gone Mrs. Brigham said to Caroline that after all Henry had not said that he was going to consult with Doctor Mitford, and she thought it very strange.

“Everything is very strange,” said Rebecca with a shudder.

“What do you mean?” inquired Caroline sharply.

“Nothing,” replied Rebecca.

Nobody entered the library that day, nor the next, nor the next. The third day Henry was expected home, but he did not arrive and the last train from the city had come.

“I call it pretty queer work,” said Mrs. Brigham. “The idea of a doctor leaving his patients for three days anyhow, at such a time as this, and I know he has some very sick ones; he said so. And the idea of a consultation lasting three days! There is no sense in it, and now he has not come. I don't understand it, for my part.”

“I don't either,” said Rebecca.

They were all in the south parlour. There was no light in the study opposite, and the door was ajar.

Presently Mrs. Brigham rose — she could not have told why; something seemed to impel her, some will outside her own. She went out of the room, again wrapping her rustling skirts around that she might pass noiselessly, and began pushing at the swollen door of the study.

“She has not got any lamp,” said Rebecca in a shaking voice.

Caroline, who was writing letters, rose again, took a lamp (there were two in the room) and followed her sister. Rebecca had risen, but she stood trembling, not venturing to follow.

The doorbell rang, but the others did not hear it; it was on the south door on the other side of the house from the study. Rebecca, after hesitating until the bell rang the second time, went to the door; she remembered that the servant was out.

Caroline and her sister Emma entered the study. Caroline set the lamp on the table. They looked at the wall. “Oh, my God,” gasped Mrs. Brigham, “there are — there are two — shadows.” The sisters stood clutching each other, staring at the awful things on the wall. Then Rebecca came in, staggering, with a telegram in her hand. “Here is — a telegram,” she gasped. “Henry is — dead.”