With a cry, I started back, and shook Milly furiously from her trance.
‘Look! look!’ I cried. But the apparition or illusion was gone.
I clung so fast to Milly’s arm, cowering behind her, that she could not rise.
‘Milly! Milly! Milly! Milly!’ I went on crying, like one struck with idiotcy, and unable to say anything else.
In a panic, Milly, who had seen nothing, and could conjecture nothing of the cause of my terror, jumped up, and clinging to one another, we huddled together into the corner of the room, I still crying wildly, ’Milly! Milly! Milly!’ and nothing else.
‘What is it—where is it—what do you see?’ cried Milly, clinging to me as I did to her.
‘It will come again; it will come; oh, heaven!’
‘What—what is it, Maud?’
‘The face! the face!’ I cried. ‘Oh, Milly! Milly! Milly!’
We heard a step softly approaching the open door, and, in a horrible sauve qui peut, we rushed and stumbled together toward the light by Uncle Silas’s bed. But old Wyat’s voice and figure reassured us.
‘Milly,’ I said, so soon as, pale and very faint, I reached my apartment, ’no power on earth shall ever tempt me to enter that room again after dark.’
‘Why, Maud dear, what, in Heaven’s name, did you see?’ said Milly, scarcely less terrified.
’Oh, I can’t; I can’t; I can’t, Milly. Never ask me. It is haunted. The room is haunted horribly.’
‘Was it Charke?’ whispered Milly, looking over her shoulder, all aghast.
‘No, no—don’t ask me; a fiend in a worse shape.’ I was relieved at last by a long fit of weeping; and all night good Mary Quince sat by me, and Milly slept by my side. Starting and screaming, and drugged with sal-volatile, I got through that night of supernatural terror, and saw the blessed light of heaven again.
Doctor Jolks, when he came to see my uncle in the morning, visited me also. He pronounced me very hysterical, made minute enquiries respecting my hours and diet, asked what I had had for dinner yesterday. There was something a little comforting in his cool and confident pooh-poohing of the ghost theory. The result was, a regimen which excluded tea, and imposed chocolate and porter, earlier hours, and I forget all beside; and he undertook to promise that, if I would but observe his directions, I should never see a ghost again.
A few days’ time saw me much better. Doctor Jolks was so contemptuously sturdy and positive on the point, that I began to have comfortable doubts about the reality of my ghost; and having still a horror indescribable of the illusion, if such it were, the room in which it appeared, and everything concerning it, I would neither speak, nor, so far as I could, think of it.
So, though Bartram-Haugh was gloomy as well as beautiful, and some of its associations awful, and the solitude that reigned there sometimes almost terrible, yet early hours, bracing exercise, and the fine air that predominates that region, soon restored my nerves to a healthier tone.