“And she’s come in a shroud,” said the servant who had been in hysterics, “and there was spots of blood upon it, and that means that the one who dies will be murdered; and there was a knife in her hand, and that means that ’twill be done by a knife.”
It would be impossible to describe the effect this girl’s words made. She made the ghost very real to many, and the calamity which she was supposed to foretell seemed certain to come to pass. I looked at Gertrude Forrest and Ethel Gray, who, wrapped in their dressing-gowns, stood side by side, and I saw that both of them were terribly moved.
Voltaire and Kaffar were both there, but they uttered no word. They, too, seemed to believe in the reality of the apparition.
After a great deal of questioning on the part of the lady guests, and many soothing replies on the part of the men, something like quietness was at length restored, and many of the braver ones began to return to their rooms, until Tom and I were left alone in the servants’ hall. We again questioned the servants, but with the same result, and then we went quietly up-stairs. Arriving at the landing, we saw Miss Forrest and Miss Gray leaving Mrs. Temple at the door of her room. Tom hurried to Miss Gray, and took her by the hand, while I, nothing loth, spoke to Miss Forrest.
“There’s surely some trick in this,” I said to her.
I felt her hand tremble in mine as she spoke. “I do not know. It seems terribly real, and I have heard of such strange things.”
“But you are not afraid? If you are, I shall be up all night, and will be so happy to help you.”
I thought I felt a gentle pressure of her hand, but I was not sure; but I know that her look made me very happy as she, together with Edith Gray, entered her room a few minutes after.
When they had gone, I said to Tom, “I am not going to bed to-night.”
“No?” said Tom. “Well, I’ll stay up with you.”
“This ghost affair is nonsense, Tom. I hope you will not find any valuables gone to-morrow.”
“Real or not,” said Tom, gaily, “I’m glad it came.”
“It gave me nerve to pop the question,” he replied. “I told my little girl just now—for she is mine now—that she wanted a strong man to protect such a weak little darling.”
“She said that she knew of no one, whom she liked, that cared enough for her to protect her. So I told her I did, and then—well, what followed was perfectly satisfactory.”
I congratulated him on his audacity, and then we spent the night in wandering about the first floor of the house, trying to find the ghost, but in vain; and when the morning came, and we all tried to laugh at the ghost, I felt that there was a deep, sinister meaning in it all, and wondered what the end would be.
THE COMING OF THE NIGHT