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Famous Modern Ghost Stories (Various authors) online
"That feeling still clings about my fingers, and I shiver when I recall it.
"I combed her, I handled, I know not how, that hair of ice. I bound and unbound it; I plaited it as one plaits a horse's mane. She sighed, bent her head, seemed happy.
"Suddenly she said, 'Thank you!' tore the comb from my hands, and fled through the door which I had noticed was half opened.
"Left alone, I had for a few seconds the hazy feeling one feels in waking up from a nightmare. Then I recovered myself. I ran to the window and broke the shutters by my furious assault.
"A stream of light poured in. I rushed to the door through which that being had gone. I found it locked and immovable.
"Then a fever of flight seized on me, a panic, the true panic of battle. I quickly grasped the three packages of letters from the open desk; I crossed the room running, I took the steps of the stairway four at a time. I found myself outside, I don't know how, and seeing my horse close by, I mounted in one leap and left at a full gallop.
"I didn't stop till I reached Rouen and drew up in front of my house. Having thrown the reins to my orderly, I flew to my room and locked myself in to think.
"Then for an hour I asked myself whether I had not been the victim of an hallucination. Certainly I must have had one of those nervous shocks, one of those brain disorders such as give rise to miracles, to which the supernatural owes its strength.
"And I had almost concluded that it was a vision, an illusion of my senses, when I came near to the window. My eyes by chance looked down. My tunic was covered with hairs, long woman's hairs which had entangled themselves around the buttons!
"I took them off one by one and threw them out of the window with trembling fingers.
"I then called my orderly. I felt too perturbed, too moved, to go and see my friend on that day. Besides, I needed to think over what I should tell him.
"I had his letters delivered to him. He gave a receipt to the soldier. He inquired after me and was told that I was not well. I had had a sunstroke, or something. He seemed distressed.
"I went to see him the next day, early in the morning, bent on telling him the truth. He had gone out the evening before and had not come back.
"I returned the same day, but he had not been seen. I waited a week. He did not come back. I notified the police. They searched for him everywhere, but no one could find any trace of his passing or of his retreat.
"A careful search was made in the deserted manor. No suspicious clue was discovered.
"There was no sign that a woman had been concealed there.
"The inquest gave no result, and so the search went no further.
"And in fifty-six years I have learned nothing more. I never found out the truth."