J. S. Le Fanu's Ghostly Tales, Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 120 pages of information about J. S. Le Fanu's Ghostly Tales, Volume 4.
to accompany him into a public house, which lay close by the spot where the encounter had taken place.  Connell, however, previously to entering the room, had announced his determination to take nothing more than the strictest temperance would warrant.  But oh! who can describe the inveterate tenacity with which a drunkard’s habits cling to him through life.  He may repent—­he may reform—­he may look with actual abhorrence upon his past profligacy; but amid all this reformation and compunction, who can tell the moment in which the base and ruinous propensity may not recur, triumphing over resolution, remorse, shame, everything, and prostrating its victim once more in all that is destructive and revolting in that fatal vice.

The wretched man left the place in a state of utter intoxication.  He was brought home nearly insensible, and placed in his bed, where he lay in the deep calm lethargy of drunkenness.  The younger part of the family retired to rest much after their usual hour; but the poor wife remained up sitting by the fire, too much grieved and shocked at the recurrence of what she had so little expected, to settle to rest; fatigue, however, at length overcame her, and she sunk gradually into an uneasy slumber.  She could not tell how long she had remained in this state, when she awakened, and immediately on opening her eyes, she perceived by the faint red light of the smouldering turf embers, two persons, one of whom she recognized as her husband noiselessly gliding out of the room.

“Pat, darling, where are you going?” said she.  There was no answer—­the door closed after them; but in a moment she was startled and terrified by a loud and heavy crash, as if some ponderous body had been hurled down the stair.  Much alarmed, she started up, and going to the head of the staircase, she called repeatedly upon her husband, but in vain.  She returned to the room, and with the assistance of her daughter, whom I had occasion to mention before, she succeeded in finding and lighting a candle, with which she hurried again to the head of the staircase.  At the bottom lay what seemed to be a bundle of clothes, heaped together, motionless, lifeless—­it was her husband.  In going down the stairs, for what purpose can never now be known, he had fallen helplessly and violently to the bottom, and coming head foremost, the spine at the neck had been dislocated by the shock, and instant death must have ensued.  The body lay upon that landing-place to which his dream had referred.  It is scarcely worth endeavouring to clear up a single point in a narrative where all is mystery; yet I could not help suspecting that the second figure which had been seen in the room by Connell’s wife on the night of his death, might have been no other than his own shadow.  I suggested this solution of the difficulty; but she told me that the unknown person had been considerably in advance of the other, and on reaching the door, had turned back as if to communicate

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J. S. Le Fanu's Ghostly Tales, Volume 4 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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