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Famous Modern Ghost Stories (Various authors) online
The Woman at Seven Brothers
It was fierce, sir, fierce! And yet those arms never trembled. I had to look around at her. Her eyes were still looking into mine, so deep and deep, and her red lips were still smiling with that queer, sleepy droop; the only thing was that tears were raining down her cheeks--big, glowing round, jewel tears. It wasn't human, sir. It was like a dream.
"Pretty arms," she sighed, and then, as if those words had broken something in her heart, there came a great sob bursting from her lips. To hear it drove me mad. I reached to drag her away, but she was too quick, sir; she cringed from me and slipped out from between my hands. It was like she faded away, sir, and went down in a bundle, nursing her poor arms and mourning over them with those terrible, broken sobs.
The sound of them took the manhood out of me--you'd have been the same, sir. I knelt down beside her on the floor and covered my face.
"Please!" I moaned. "Please! Please!" That's all I could say. I wanted her to forgive me. I reached out a hand, blind, for forgiveness, and I couldn't find her anywhere. I had hurt her so, and she was afraid of me, of _me_, sir, who loved her so deep it drove me crazy.
I could see her down the stair, though it was dim and my eyes were filled with tears. I stumbled after her, crying, "Please! Please!" The little wicks I'd lit were blowing in the wind from the door and smoking the glass beside them black. One went out. I pleaded with them, the same as I would plead with a human being. I said I'd be back in a second. I promised. And I went on down the stair, crying like a baby because I'd hurt her, and she was afraid of me--of _me_, sir.
She had gone into her room. The door was closed against me and I could hear her sobbing beyond it, broken-hearted. My heart was broken too. I beat on the door with my palms. I begged her to forgive me. I told her I loved her. And all the answer was that sobbing in the dark.
And then I lifted the latch and went in, groping, pleading. "Dearest--please! Because I love you!"
I heard her speak down near the floor. There wasn't any anger in her voice; nothing but sadness and despair.
"No," said she. "You don't love me, Ray. You never have."
"I do! I have!"
"No, no," said she, as if she was tired out.
"Where are you?" I was groping for her. I thought, and lit a match. She had got to the door and was standing there as if ready to fly. I went toward her, and she made me stop. She took my breath away. "I hurt your arms," said I, in a dream.
"No," said she, hardly moving her lips. She held them out to the match's light for me to look and there was never a scar on them--not even that soft, golden down was singed, sir. "You can't hurt my body," said she, sad as anything. "Only my heart, Ray; my poor heart."
I tell you again, she took my breath away. I lit another match. "How can you be so beautiful?" I wondered.
She answered in riddles--but oh, the sadness of her, sir.
"Because," said she, "I've always so wanted to be."
"How come your eyes so heavy?" said I.
"Because I've seen so many things I never dreamed of," said she.
"How come your hair so thick?"
"It's the seaweed makes it thick," said she smiling queer, queer.
"How come seaweed there?"