Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 312 pages of information about Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts.

“You have some pretty theories to-night,” I sneered.  “Perhaps you’ll go on to tell me which of us two has been Elaine’s husband, feeding daintily in Lennox Gardens, clothed in purple and fine linen, while the other—­”

He interrupted me by picking up his revolver and striding to the fireplace again.

“So be it, since you will have it so.  Kill me,” he added, with a queer look, “and perhaps you may go back to Lennox Gardens and enjoy all these things in my place.”

I took my station.  Both revolvers were levelled now.  I took sight along mine at his detested face.  It was white but curiously eager—­ hopeful even.  I lowered my arm, scanning his face still; and still scanning it, set my weapon down on the table.

“I believe you are mad,” said I slowly.  “But one thing I see—­that, mad or not, you’re in earnest.  For some reason you want me to kill you; therefore that shall wait.  For some reason it is torture to you to live and do without me:  well, I’ll try you with that.  It will do me good to hurt you a bit.”  I slipped the revolver into my pocket and tapped it.  “Though I don’t understand them, I won’t quarrel with your sentiments so long as you suffer from them.  When that fails, I’ll find another opportunity for this.  Good night.”  I stepped to the door.  “Reggie!”

I shut the door on his cry:  crossed the corridor, and climbing out through the window, let myself drop into the lane.

As my feet touched the snow a revolver-shot rang out in the room behind me.

I caught at the frozen sill to steady myself:  and crouching there, listened.  Surely the report must have alarmed the house!  I waited for the sound of footsteps:  waited for three minutes—­perhaps longer.  None came.  To be sure, the room stood well apart from the house:  but it was incredible that the report should have awakened no one!  My own ears still rang with it.

Still no footsteps came.  The horse in the stable close by was still shuffling his hoof on the cobbles.  No other sound . . .

Very stealthily I hoisted myself up on the sill again, listened, dropped inside, and tip-toed my way to the door.  The candles were still burning in the Room of Mirrors.  And by the light of them, as I entered, Gervase stepped to meet me.

“Ah, it’s you,” I stammered.  “I heard—­that is, I thought—­”

And with that I saw—­recognised with a catch of the breath—­that the figure I spoke to was not Gervase, but my own reflected image, stepping forward with pale face and ghastly from a mirror.  Yet a moment before I could have sworn it was Gervase.

Gervase lay stretched on the hearthrug with his hand towards the fire.  I caught up a candle, and bent over him.  His features were not to be recognised.

As I straightened myself up, with the candle in my hand, for an instant those features, obliterated in the flesh, gazed at me in a ring, a hundred times repeated behind a hundred candles.  And again, at a second glance, I saw that the face was not Gervase’s but my own.

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Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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