“One evening I was passing through this room to my bedroom, with a lamp—there is no gas in Meridian. I stopped as usual before the portrait, which seemed in the lamplight to have a new expression, not easily named, but distinctly uncanny. It interested but did not disturb me. I moved the lamp from one side to the other and observed the effects of the altered light. While so engaged I felt an impulse to turn round. As I did so I saw a man moving across the room directly toward me! As soon as he came near enough for the lamplight to illuminate the face I saw that it was Dr. Mannering himself; it was as if the portrait were walking!
“‘I beg your pardon,’ I said, somewhat coldly, ’but if you knocked I did not hear.’
“He passed me, within an arm’s length, lifted his right forefinger, as in warning, and without a word went on out of the room, though I observed his exit no more than I had observed his entrance.
“Of course, I need not tell you that this was what you will call an hallucination and I call an apparition. That room had only two doors, of which one was locked; the other led into a bedroom, from which there was no exit. My feeling on realizing this is not an important part of the incident.
“Doubtless this seems to you a very commonplace ’ghost story’—one constructed on the regular lines laid down by the old masters of the art. If that were so I should not have related it, even if it were true. The man was not dead; I met him to-day in Union street. He passed me in a crowd.”
Hawver had finished his story and both men were silent. Dr. Frayley absently drummed on the table with his fingers.
“Did he say anything to-day?” he asked—“anything from which you inferred that he was not dead?”
Hawver stared and did not reply.
“Perhaps,” continued Frayley, “he made a sign, a gesture—lifted a finger, as in warning. It’s a trick he had—a habit when saying something serious—announcing the result of a diagnosis, for example.”
“Yes, he did—just as his apparition had done. But, good God! did you ever know him?”
Hawver was apparently growing nervous.
“I knew him. I have read his book, as will every physician some day. It is one of the most striking and important of the century’s contributions to medical science. Yes, I knew him; I attended him in an illness three years ago. He died.”
Hawver sprang from his chair, manifestly disturbed. He strode forward and back across the room; then approached his friend, and in a voice not altogether steady, said: “Doctor, have you anything to say to me—as a physician?”
“No, Hawver; you are the healthiest man I ever knew. As a friend I advise you to go to your room. You play the violin like an angel. Play it; play something light and lively. Get this cursed bad business off your mind.”
The next day Hawver was found dead in his room, the violin at his neck, the bow upon the strings, his music open before him at Chopin’s funeral march.