“He hesitated a bit outside a particular cell; but at last he drove in the key and kicked open the door.
“‘My God!’ he says, ‘he’s dancing still!’
“My heart was thumpin’, I tell you, as I looked over his shoulder. What did we see? What you well understand, sir; but, for all it was no more than that, we knew as well as if it was shouted in our ears that it was him, dancin’. It went round by the walls and drew towards us, and as it stole near I screamed out, ‘An Eddy on the Floor!’ and seized and dragged the Major out and clapped to the door behind us.
“‘Oh!’ I said, ‘in another moment it would have had us’.
“He looked at me gloomily.
“‘Johnson’, he said, ’I’m not to be frighted or coerced. He may dance, but he shall dance alone. Get a screwdriver and some screws and fasten up this trap. No one from this time looks into this cell.’
“I did as he bid me, sweatin’; and I swear all the time I wrought I dreaded a hand would come through the trap and clutch mine.
“On one pretex’ or another, from that day till the night you meddled with it, he kep’ that cell as close shut as a tomb. And he went his ways, discardin’ the past from that time forth. Now and again a over-sensitive prisoner in the next cell would complain of feelin’ uncomfortable. If possible, he would be removed to another; if not, he was damd for his fancies. And so it might be goin’ on to now, if you hadn’t pried and interfered. I don’t blame you at this moment, sir. Likely you were an instrument in the hands of Providence; only, as the instrument, you must now take the burden of the truth on your own shoulders. I am a dying man, but I cannot die till I have confessed. Per’aps you may find it in your hart some day to give up a prayer for me—but it must be for the Major as well.
“Your obedient servant,
* * * * *
What comment of my own can I append to this wild narrative? Professionally, and apart from personal experiences, I should rule it the composition of an epileptic. That a noted journalist, nameless as he was and is to me, however nomadic in habit, could disappear from human ken, and his fellows rest content to leave him unaccounted for, seems a tax upon credulity so stupendous that I cannot seriously endorse the statement.
Yet, also—there is that little matter of my personal experience.
On a day early in the summer of the present year Miss Dinah Groom was found lying dead off a field-path of the little obscure Wiltshire village which she had named her “rest and be thankful.” At the date of her decease she was not an old woman, though any one marking her white hair and much-furrowed features might have supposed her one. The hair, however, was ample in quantity, the wrinkles rather so many under-scores of energy than evidences of senility;