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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online
CASE IX - THE ROOM BEYOND. AN ACCOUNT OF THE HAUNTINGS AT HENNERSLEY, NEAR AYR
I never spoke of these things to my relatives, partly because I was ashamed of my cowardice, and partly because I dreaded a fresh rebuke. How I suffered! and how I ridiculed my sufferings in the mornings, when every trace of darkness was obliterated, and amid the radiant bloom of the trees I thought only of heliotrope and sunbeams.
One afternoon my search for the abode of the genii led me to the wingless side of the house, a side I rarely visited. At the foot of the ivy-covered walls and straight in their centre was laid a wide bed of flowers, every one of which was white. But why white? Again and again I asked myself this question, but I dared not broach it to my relatives. A garden all white was assuredly an enigma--and to every enigma there is undoubtedly a key. Was this garden, which was all white, in any way connected with the sunbeams and heliotrope? Was it another of the mysteries God concealed from little girls? Could this be the home of the genii? This latter idea had no sooner entered my head than it became a conviction. Of course! There was no doubt whatever--it was the home of the genii.
The white petals were now a source of peculiar interest to me. I was fascinated: the minutes sped by and still I was there. It was not until the sun had disappeared in the far-distant horizon, and the grim shadows of twilight were creeping out upon me from the neighbouring trees and bushes, that I awoke from my reverie--and fled!
That night--unable to sleep through the excitement caused by my discovery of the home of the genii--I lay awake, my whole thoughts concentrated in one soul-absorbing desire, the passionate desire to see the fairy of Hennersley--I had never heard of ghosts--and hear its story. My bedroom was half-way down the corridor leading from the head of the main staircase to the extremity of the wing.
After I said good-night I did not see my aunts again till the morning--they never by any chance visited me after I was in bed. Hence I knew, when I had retired for the night, I should not see a human face nor hear a human voice for nearly twelve hours. This--when I thought of the genii with its golden beams of light and scent of heliotrope--did not trouble me; it was only when my thoughts would not run in this channel that I felt any fear, and that fear was not of the darkness itself, but of what the darkness suggested.
On this particular night, for the first few hours, I was sublimely happy, and then a strange restlessness seized me. I was obsessed with a wish to see the flower-garden. For some minutes, stimulated by a dread of what my aunts would think of such a violation of conventionality on the part of a child, I combated furiously with the desire; but at length the longing was so great, so utterly and wholly irresistible, that I succumbed, and, getting quietly out of bed, made my way noiselessly into the corridor.
All was dark and still--stiller than I had ever known it before. Without any hesitation I plunged forward, in the direction of the wingless side of the house, where there was a long, narrow, stained window that commanded an immediate prospect of the white garden.
I had seldom looked out of it, as up to the present this side of the house had little attraction for me; but all was changed now; and, as I felt my way cautiously along the corridor, a thousand and one fanciful notions of what I might see surged through my brain.