As the hour was now ten o’clock, Esther immediately retired and, after crying herself to sleep, slept until morning. Jane entered the room about half an hour after her sister, engaged in prayer and then retired, without disturbing her.
For the next four days Esther seemed to be suffering from some secret sorrow. She could not remain in the house, but was continually on the street, or at some of the neighbors’ houses, and every night she cried herself to sleep.
Of course her woe-begone appearance was noticed by the family, but they refrained from questioning her, for the simple reason that they supposed she and Bob had quarrelled; and as they did not approve of the attachment between him and Esther, they were rather glad that his visits had ceased, and gave no further attention to the matter, supposing that she would be herself again in a week or two. Bob’s continued absence from the cottage—for he used to be there every other day—strengthened them in the belief that they were right in their supposition, and so they let the matter rest.
The haunted house.
Supper is just over. Dan and Olive are in the parlor. Jane is up stairs in her room, talking to Esther who has retired early; it being only seven o’clock, she asks Esther: “How long she is going to continue to worry herself about Bob?”
Not receiving a reply, she puts on her heavy sack and remarks: “I am going over to see Miss Porter, and will soon return; it is so damp and foggy to-night that, I declare, it makes me feel sleepy too. I think I will follow your example, and retire early. Good night, I suppose you will be asleep by the time I get back;” and off she goes.
As the night is so very damp and disagreeable, all begin to feel sleepy long before half-past eight, and go up to their rooms.
Before Dan goes up stairs, he takes the bucket and brings some fresh water from the pump—which he, as usual, places on the kitchen table—taking a large tin dipper about half full up to his room for the children to drink during the night.
It is now about fifteen minutes to nine. Jane has just returned from her visit, and has gone to her room, which is in the front of the house, near the stairway, and directly next to Dan and Olive’s room. She finds Esther crying, as usual, for the girl has actually cried herself to sleep every night since the fatal ride. After getting into bed, she says: “Oh, my, I forgot to put the lamp out,” rises immediately and extinguishes the light, remarks to Esther that “it is very dark,” bumps her head against the bed post, and finally settles herself down for a good sleep.
Esther, who has just stopped crying, remarks to Jane that “this is a wretched night,” and says, “somehow I can’t get to sleep.”
“No wonder,” says Jane, “you went to bed too early.”