I am particular in thus setting it down, because it was an experience that all of us under that roof had to undergo. You had to fight it, shut your mind against it, oppose your will to it like a stone wall, refuse to let it master you. Then, as if defeated, it would go as suddenly, as inexplicably, as it had come.
That’s what I did then, more by instinct than reason. But I was exhausted when I finally got back to sleep.
THE DEAR LITTLE GOD!
When we went over Hynds House the next morning and took stock, I began to entertain very, very peculiar feelings toward Great-Aunt Sophronisba Scarlett, who, it would appear, had given me a white elephant which I could neither hire out for its keep, nor yet sell out of hand. I had to live in Hynds House, and Hynds House as it stood wasn’t to be lived in.
The rain had ceased, and from the outside jungle came innumerable calls of birds, and fresh and woodsy odors; but the whole aspect of the place was grim and forbidding. At the back, where there wasn’t such an overgrowth, the lane had been closed, barricaded with barbed-wire entanglements, and fairly bristled with thistles and “No Trespassing” signs.
“All this house needs is a mortuary tablet set up over the front door.”
But Alicia demurred.
“I’m not a bit disheartened,” she declared stoutly. “There’s just one thing to be done to this house—first make it beautiful, and then make it pay. It can be done. It’s going to be done. It’s got to be done. And when it’s done—we’ll have a home. Vision it as it’s going to be, Sophy—rosewood and mahogany and walnut, old brass and china and prints and portraits, the sort of things we’ve only been able to dream of up to now. Why, this house has been waiting for us! We were born to come here and make it over: it’s our house!” Alicia, has the gay courage of the Irish.
The heavy iron knocker on the front door resounded clamorously.
“Uncle Adam thinks we’ve been ha’nted out of existence, and he’s hammering to wake the dead,” said I.
But it wasn’t Uncle Adam to whom we opened the door. An enormous, square-shouldered man stood there, looking from me to Alicia with bright, keen blue eyes behind glasses. He was so big, so magnificently proportioned, that he held one’s attention, at first, by mere size. Then one had time to observe that although he hadn’t the sleek and careful grooming of successful New Yorkers, he wore his clothes as, say, Coeur de Lion must have worn mail. He hadn’t the brisk business manner, either; but there radiated from him an assured authority, as of one used to having his orders obeyed without question. No one could pass him over with a casual eye. I have known people who hated him frankly and heartily; I have known people who adored him. I have never known any one who was lukewarm where he was concerned.