The Shadows on the Wall (V)

“What is that?” he demanded in a strange voice. “It must be due to something in the room,” Mrs. Brigham said faintly. 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 upon his face, 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.  photo naaaaa_zpsbdf90994.gif Then suddenly he desisted. He laughed. “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 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. 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 parlor,” 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 round 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. As she spoke she pointed 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. Mrs. Brigham 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…
BY MARY E. WILKINS FREEMAN

Anuncios

The Shadows on the Wall (IV)

Then Henry Glynn smiled and the smile transformed his face. He looked suddenly years younger, and an almost boyish recklessness 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.

 photo natuch_zps83979b7c.gif

“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.

Mrs. Brigham was hemming some black material. 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. “I can’t see to sew another stitch.”

Rebecca rose and left the room. Presently she entered with a lamp. She set it on the table, an old-fashioned card-table which was placed against the opposite wall from the window. That opposite wall was taken up with three doors; the one small space was occupied by the table.

“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?”….
BY MARY E. WILKINS FREEMAN

 

The Shadows on the Wall (III)

Then Henry Glynn smiled and the smile transformed his face. He looked suddenly years younger, and an almost boyish recklessness 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.

 photo nattty_zps46b30e5f.gif

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.

Mrs. Brigham was hemming some black material. 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. “I can’t see to sew another stitch.”

Rebecca rose and left the room. Presently she entered with a lamp. She set it on the table, an old-fashioned card-table which was placed against the opposite wall from the window. That opposite wall was taken up with three doors; the one small space was occupied by the table.

“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?”…

The Shadows on the Wall (II)

“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.”

 photo nattyy_zpscbf7ce85.gif

“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 reentered the room; she went up to the stove, in which a wood fire was burning–it was a cold, gloomy day of fall–and she warmed her hands, which were reddened from recent washing in cold water.

Mrs. Brigham looked at her and hesitated. She glanced at the door, which was still ajar; 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,” she said.

Mrs. Brigham, 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.

“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. 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 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.”

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

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

“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 uncovered reddened ear as attentive as a dog’s, and 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 aquilinity of feature. They confronted each other with the pitiless immovability of two statues in whose marble lineaments emotions were fixed for all eternity…

BY MARY E. WILKINS FREEMAN

 

The Shadows on the Wall (I)

BY MARY E. WILKINS FREEMAN

From _The Wind in the Rose-bush_, by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. Copyright by Harper and Brothers. By permission of the publishers and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.

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

She spoke not with acrimony, but with grave severity. Rebecca Ann Glynn 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. The latter 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 demeanor.

 photo naty4_zps21ec7ded.gif

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,” she said 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.

“Of course he did not know it,” said Caroline quickly. She turned on her sister with a strange, sharp look of suspicion. Then she shrank as if from the other’s possible answer.

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.

“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.

“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.

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–ever hear anything?” she asked in a low voice with a glance toward the door.

“I was just across the hall in the south parlor, 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. “It must have looked to him as if Edward was living at his expense, but he wasn’t.”

“No, he wasn’t.”

“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.”….

Happy New Year!

We’ve reached the end of another year
Where Christmas time is growing near
Friends and family we hold so dear
Will soon feel the warmth of holiday cheer.

 photo natyy_zps382cb503.jpg

Is Santa single? Or is he married to Ms. Kringle? Is it the wedding bells that jingle? Or is it the reindeer as they mingle?
The brightest starts start to twinkle
As young hearts being to tingle.

This is a very special time
For children of all ages and kind
To ask for whatever comes to their mind
And to see if Rudolph’s nose really shines!

Santa’s laugh is so unique and so profound
It makes his belly jiggle around
As he lands his sleigh down on the ground
He tiptoes up to the rooftops without making a sound.

He gets out his list
And starts checking it twice
Who has been naughty?
Who has been nice?

Santa’s philosophy as another year leaves; always believe that New Year’s resolutions can be achieved.
Keep the faith; always believe in yourself and maybe someday
You’ll get to meet the elves.

© Colleen P. Beaudoin