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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 can see her now as I saw her then--tall, and slender, with masses of golden hair, waved artistically aside from a low forehead of snowy white; finely-pencilled brows, and long eyes of the most lustrous violet; a straight, delicately-moulded nose, a firm, beautifully-proportioned chin, and a bewitching mouth. At her bosom was a bunch of heliotrope, which, deftly undoing, she raised to her nose and then laughingly held out to me. I was charmed; I took a step forward towards her. The instant I did so, a wild look of terror distorted her face, she waved me back, something jarred against my knee, and, in the place of the room, I saw only the blurred outline of trees through the yellow window-panes.
Bitterly disappointed, but absolutely sure that what I had seen was objective, I retraced my steps to my bedroom and passed the remainder of the night in sound sleep.
After breakfast, however, unable to restrain my curiosity longer, I sought Miss Amelia, who was easier to approach than her sister, and, managing after several efforts to screw up courage, blurted out the story of my nocturnal escapade.
My aunt listened in silence. She was always gentle, but on this occasion she surpassed herself.
"I am not going to scold you, Esther," she said, smoothing out my curls. "After what you have seen it is useless to conceal the truth from you. God perhaps intends you to know all. Years ago, Esther, this house was not as you see it now. It had two wings, and, in the one that no longer exists was the bedroom you saw in your vision. We called it the Green Room because everything in it was green, your Aunt Alicia--an aunt you have never heard of--who slept there, having a peculiar fancy for that colour.
"Alicia was our youngest sister, and we all loved her dearly. She was just as you describe her--beautiful as a fairy, with golden hair, and violet eyes, and she always wore a bunch of heliotrope in her dress.
"One night, Esther, one lovely, calm, midsummer night, forty years ago, this house was broken into by burglars. They got in through the Green Room window, which was always left open during the warm weather. We--my mother, your Aunt Deborah, and I--were awakened by a loud shriek for help. Recognising Alicia's voice, we instantly flew out of bed, and, summoning the servants, tore to the Green Room as fast as we could.
"To our horror, Esther, the door was locked, and before we could break the lock the ruffians had murdered her! They escaped through the window and were never caught. My mother, your great-grandmother, had that part of the house pulled down, and on the site of it she planted the white garden.
"Though Alicia's earthly body died, and was taken from us, her beautiful spirit remains with us here. It follows us about in the daytime in the form of a sunbeam, whilst occasionally, at night, it assumes her earthly shape. The house is what is generally termed haunted, and, no doubt, some people would be afraid to live in it. But that, Esther, is because they do not understand spirits--your Aunt Deborah and I do."
"Do you think, auntie," I asked with a thrill of joy, "do you think it at all likely that I shall see Aunt Alicia again to-night?"
Aunt Amelia shook her head gently. "No, my dear," she said slowly, "I think it will be impossible, because you are going home this afternoon."