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seemed to sweep over the floor at a bound
sometimes it crept with slow, continuous
rustlings that just wavered on the verge of
absolute silence.

Her feet still rooted to the spot on which
she stood, Sarah turned her head slowly, inch
by inch, towards the door of the Myrtle
Room. A moment before, while she was as
yet unconscious of the faint sound moving to
and fro within it, she had been drawing her
breath heavily and quickly. She might have
been dead now, her bosom was so still, her
breathing so noiseless. The same mysterious
change came over her face which had altered
it when the darkness began to gather in the
little parlour at Truro. The same fearful
look of inquiry which she had then fixed on
the vacant corner of the room, was in her
eyes now, as they slowly turned on the

"Mistress!" she whispered. "Am I too
late? Are you there before me?"

The stealthily-rustling sound paused
renewed itselfdied away again faintly; away
at the lower end of the room.

Her eyes still remaining fixed on the Myrtle
Room, strained, and opened wider and wider
opened as if they would look through the very
door itselfopened as if they were watching
for the opaque wood to turn transparent, and
show what was behind it.

"Over the lonesome floor, over the lonesome
floorhow light it moves!" she whispered
again. "Mistress! does the shroud
they buried you in rustle no louder than

The sound stopped againthen suddenly
advanced at one stealthy sweep, close to the
inside of the door.

If she could have moved at that moment;
if she could have looked down to the line
of open space between the bottom of the
door and the flooring below, when the faintly
rustling sound came nearest to her, she might
have seen the insignificant cause that produced
it lying self-betrayed under the door,
partly outside, partly inside, in the shape of
a fragment of faded red paper from the wall
of the Myrtle Room. Time and damp had
loosened the paper all round the apartment.
Two or three yards of it had been torn off
by the builder, while he was examining the
wallssometimes in large pieces, sometimes
in small pieces, just as it happened to come
awayand had been thrown down by him
on the bare, boarded floor, to become the
sport of the wind, whenever it happened to
blow through the broken panes of glass in
the window. If she had only moved! If
she had only looked down for one little second
of time! But she was past moving and past
looking: the paroxysm of superstitious horror
that possessed her, held her still in every
limb and every feature. She never started,
she uttered no cry, when the rustling noise
came nearest. The one outward sign which
showed how the terror of its approach shook
her to the very soul, expressed itself only in
the changed action of her right hand, in
which she still held the keys. At the instant
when the wind wafted the fragment of
paper closest to the door, her fingers lost their
power of contraction, and became as nerveless
and helpless as if she had fainted. The heavy
bunch of keys slipped from her suddenly-loosened
grasp, dropped at her side on the
outer edge of the landing, rolled off through
a gap in the broken banister, and fell on the
stone pavement below, with a crash which
made the sleeping echoes shriek again, as if
they were sentient beings writhing under the
torture of sound!

The crash of the falling keys, ringing and
ringing again through the stillness, woke her,
as it were, to instant consciousness of present
events and present perils. She started,
staggered backward, and raised both her hands
wildly to her headpaused so for a few
secondsthen made for the top of the stairs
with the purpose of descending into the hall
to recover the keys.

Before she had advanced three paces, the
shrill sound of a woman's scream came from
the door of communication at the opposite
end of the hall. The scream was twice
repeated at a greater distance off, and was
followed by a confused noise of rapidly
advancing voices and footsteps.

She staggered desperately a few paces
farther, and reached the first of the row of
doors that opened on the landing. There
Nature sank exhausted: her knees gave way
under herher breath, her sight, her hearing
all seemed to fail her together at the same
instantand she dropped down senseless on
the floor at the head of the stairs.


I LIVE in a suburban village, which fast
begins to be a town. London bubbles up
here and there all along our line of railway.
We have improvement commissioners,
gas-lamps always alight when there is no moon,
and postmen with red coats. We have our
squabbles about church-rates, and boast a
newspaper, which, by the way, is quite able
to boast for itself. In summer we have our
cricket-club (the match between Little Toddlecombe
and Ourselves is a marked æra
in the history of cricket); we have our
boating, too, for we live near the river; now
and then we have dancing and evening parties.
Still, I required in the winter something
more; when behold Hullah, like a ripe
plum, jumped into my mouth: a music-class
was formed A.D. eighteen hundred and fifty-five.

I am a shy man, and I understood from a
very reliable quarter that ladies were about
to join the class. I drew back. How was I
to stand up and to be looked at, worst of all,
to be heard, by those fair creatures?
However, I ventured. In my first attempts at