“But I don’t know anything about that. The poor man is dead, and if he glued his harness, it’s for him to give account of, not me. I couldn’t think what he wanted that rope for, but I felt mad. The rope wasn’t worth much, but it was his helping himself to it, without leave or license, that riled me, and there were my clean clothes all down in the dirt—there they are now, you can see ’em there—and I knew I’d got to wash ’em over.
“So I made up my mind I’d got spunk enough, and I’d go right over there and tell Simon Basset I wanted my rope. So I took off my apron and clapped it over my shoulders—I’ve had a little rheumatism lately, and the wind’s kind of cold to-day—and I run over there.
“I—don’t know what came over me. When I got to the house, a chill struck all through my bones. I trembled like a leaf. I felt as if something had happened. I thought, at first, I’d turn around and go home, and then I thought I wouldn’t be so silly, that it was just nerves, and nothing had happened. I went round to the side door, and I didn’t see him puttering around anywhere, so I peeked into the wood-shed. I thought if I saw my rope there I’d just take it, and run home and say nothing to nobody.
“But I didn’t see it, so I went back to the door and knocked. I knocked three times, and nobody came. Then I opened the door a crack, and hollered—’Mr. Basset!’ says I, ‘Mr. Basset!’
“I called a number of times, then I got out of patience. I thought he’d gone away somewhere, and I might as well go in and see if I couldn’t find my rope. So I opened the door wide and stepped in.
“It was awful still in there—somehow the stillness seemed to hit my ears. It was just like a tomb. That dreadful horror came over me again. I felt the cold stealing down my back. I made up my mind I’d just peek into the kitchen, and if I didn’t see my rope, I wouldn’t look any farther; I’d go home.
“So—the kitchen door was ajar, and I pushed it, and it swung open, and—I looked, and there—there!”
Suddenly the woman’s shrill monologue was intensified by hysteria. She pointed wildly, as if she saw again the awful sight which she had seen through that open door.
“There, there!” she shrieked—“there! He was—there—oh—Willy—the doctor—Jerome Edwards—Willy—oh, there, there!” She caught her breath with choking sobs, she laughed, and the laugh ended in a wailing scream; she clutched her throat, she struggled, she was beside herself for the time, run off her track of reason by her panic-stricken nerves.
Two pale, chattering women, nearly as hysterical as she, led her, weeping shrilly all the way, into the house, and the crowd dispersed; some, whose curiosity was not yet satisfied, to seek the scene of the tragedy, some to return home with the news. Two men of the latter, walking along the village street, discussed the amount of the property left by the dead man. “It’s as much as fifty thousand dollars,” said one.