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Famous Modern Ghost Stories (Various authors) online
The Shadows on the Wall
Rebecca hesitated. Her face was very pale. She looked with an appeal that was fairly agonizing at her sister Caroline.
"Why don't you put the lamp on this table, as she says?" asked Caroline, almost fiercely. "Why do you act so, Rebecca?"
Rebecca took the lamp and set it on the table in the middle of the room without another word. Then she seated herself on the sofa and placed a hand over her eyes as if to shade them, and remained so.
"Does the light hurt your eyes, and is that the reason why you didn't want the lamp?" asked Mrs. Brigham kindly.
"I always like to sit in the dark," replied Rebecca chokingly. Then she snatched her handkerchief hastily from her pocket and began to weep. Caroline continued to write, Mrs. Brigham to sew.
Suddenly Mrs. Brigham as she sewed glanced at the opposite wall. The glance became a steady stare. She looked intently, her work suspended in her hands. Then she looked away again and took a few more stitches, then she looked again, and again turned to her task. At last she laid her work in her lap and stared concentratedly. She looked from the wall round the room, taking note of the various objects. Then she turned to her sisters.
"What _is_ that?" said she.
"What?" asked Caroline harshly.
"That strange shadow on the wall," replied Mrs. Brigham.
Rebecca sat with her face hidden; Caroline dipped her pen in the inkstand.
"Why don't you turn around and look?" asked Mrs. Brigham in a wondering and somewhat aggrieved way.
"I am in a hurry to finish this letter," replied Caroline shortly.
Mrs. Brigham rose, her work slipping to the floor, and began walking round the room, moving various articles of furniture, with her eyes on the shadow.
Then suddenly she shrieked out:
"Look at this awful shadow! What is it? Caroline, look, look! Rebecca, look! What is it?"
All Mrs. Brigham's triumphant placidity was gone. Her handsome face was livid with horror. She stood stiffly pointing at the shadow.
Then after a shuddering glance at the wall Rebecca burst out in a wild wail.
"Oh, Caroline, there it is again, there it is again!"
"Caroline Glynn, you look!" said Mrs. Brigham. "Look! What is that dreadful shadow?"
Caroline rose, turned, and stood confronting the wall.
"How should I know?" she said.
"It has been there every night since he died!" cried Rebecca.
"Yes; he died Thursday and this is Saturday; that makes three nights," said Caroline rigidly. She stood as if holding her calm with a vise of concentrated will.
"It--it looks like--like--" stammered Mrs. Brigham in a tone of intense horror.
"I know what it looks like well enough," said Caroline. "I've got eyes in my head."
"It looks like Edward," burst out Rebecca in a sort of frenzy of fear. "Only----"
"Yes, it does," assented Mrs. Brigham, whose horror-stricken tone matched her sisters', "only--Oh, it is awful! What is it, Caroline?"
"I ask you again, how should I know?" replied Caroline. "I see it there like you. How should I know any more than you?"
"It _must_ be something in the room," said Mrs. Brigham, staring wildly around.
"We moved everything in the room the first night it came," said Rebecca; "it is not anything in the room."
Caroline turned upon her with a sort of fury. "Of course it is something in the room," said she. "How you act! What do you mean talking so? Of course it is something in the room."
"Of course it is," agreed Mrs. Brigham, looking at Caroline suspiciously. "It must be something in the room."
"It is not anything in the room," repeated Rebecca with obstinate horror.
The door opened suddenly and Henry Glynn entered. He began to speak, then his eyes followed the direction of the others. He stood staring at the shadow on the wall.