Five Nights at the Five Pines (2024)

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Title: Five Nights at the Five Pines

Author: Harriet A. Gaul

Release date: May 3, 2024 [eBook #73520]

Language: English

Original publication: New York: The Century Co, 1922

Credits: Susan E., David E. Brown, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)


Five Nights at the Five Pines (1)

Five Nights at the Five Pines (2)



Five Nights at the Five Pines (3)


Copyright, 1922, by
The Century Co.




I The House of the Five Pines 3
II Mattie “Charles T. Smith” 24
III The Winkle-man and the Will 41
IV The Boycott 51
VThe Shoals of Yesterday 65
VI Lobster-Pots 76
VII The First Night at Five Pines 89
VIII A Message from Mattie 103
IX The Second Night 118
X The Cat or the Captain 134
XI The Third Night 149
XII The Little Coffin 162
XIII The Séance of Horns 178
XIV The Fourth Night 191
XV Beach-Plums 207
XVI The Fifth Night 225
XVII Dawn 231
XVIII The Disappearance of Mrs. Dove 247
XIX I Hide the Ghost 260
XX Jezebel 273







A SEA of yellow sand rose, wave on wave,around us. High hills, carved by thebitter salt winds into tawny breakers, rearedtowering heads, peak upon peak. Likecombers that never burst into spray, theirstatic curves remained suspended above us,their tops bent back upon the leeward side,menacing, but never engulfing, the deep poolsof purple shadows that lay beneath them.The sand was mauve in the hollows, and blackupon white were the cupped dunes hung overtheir own heights. They were like water thatdid not move, or mountains with no vegetation.They did not support as much life upontheir surface as that which crawls upon thefloor of the ocean. They were naked and unashamedas the day when they were tossed up[4]out of the bed of the sea. Only tufts of sharpgreen grass clung to some of the slopes, theirsilhouettes flattened out before them like thepin-feathers of a young bird, inadequate andscant, accentuating the barrenness of the saffronsand.

Centuries ago some gigantic upheaval ofNeptune had forced this long ridge out of theshielding water, to lie prone in the sight of thesun, like a prehistoric sea-monster forever dryingits hide. More isolated than an island,the head of the cape, with the town in its jaws,fought the encroaching sea, which thunderedupon it in constant endeavor to separate itfrom the tail, extending a hundred miles to themainland. From the height on which westood, the line of ocean far away was darkblue, following in a frothy scallop the indentationsof the coast. The sound of the surfcame to us like a repeated threat. It couldbend the cape, but never break it, twist andturn it, change the currents and the sand-bars,and toss back upon its shore the wreckage ofsuch vessels as men essayed to sail in, butthe sand-dunes continued to bask blandly.Sometimes they shifted, but so silently andgradually that they seemed not so much to[5]move as to vanish. To-day there would bea dune in the way of our path to the sea, sosteep as to make a barrier, impossible to scale.To-morrow the force of the wind upon itssurface, and the strength of the far-away tidewhich continually seeped its roots, would haveleveled it. The very footsteps one followed,trying to trace a track across the waste, wouldhave melted away.

On this desert each traveler must be his ownguide and climb to some eminence whichtopped all others, to get his bearings from thestrip of deep blue that marked the ocean’s rim.Nor could he say to himself, securely, “Here iseast,” although he looked out on the Atlantic.Land played a trick upon the wayfarer whotrusted it, and turned its back upon the sea,and curled up like a snail, so that the insideof the cape, where the town lay behind us inits green verdure, faced south, and the outsidesea, where the sun set, curved west and north.The glory of light in the afternoon struck firstupon the hills and was reflected back fromthe sheltered bay to the little fishing-village.

The path from the woods, by which youentered the dunes, lost itself to sight underthe foliage of the scrub-oak trees, and unless[6]you had tied a white rag to the last branch,marking the point where you climbed up outof the forest, you would never find it again.There were many foot-paths through thethicket which separated the hamlet on the insideof the horn from the immense dry sea-bed,but none of them were visible, once you hadleft them. By day you must mark the entranceto the desert of your own footsteps, bynight it was useless to look for them.

This must have been the place, I thought,where Dorothy Bradford was lost. Brave asthe Pilgrim Fathers were, they had notloitered here after dark to look for William’syoung wife! They had conscientiouslyattended to their laundry work, on that firstNovember day when the Mayflower landed,and, having finished their domestic duties,waited no longer for any scatterbrain of theparty who had been foolish enough to venturefrom the fold, but weighed anchor withoutfinding her and put off for Plymouth Rock!

As I looked about me at the profoundgrandeur of space, it seemed to me that I understoodwhy Dorothy had not hurried backto the boat. She had embarked upon theMayflower, a bride, strange to the ways of[7]men and of marriage, and for sixty-threedays the stern-faced Puritans had been heronly companions and the rolling sea herentire horizon. Her quarters must have becomea prison to her before the voyage wasover. When at last this finger of land, reachinginto the Atlantic, had beckoned to themariners, her heart must have sung like acaged canary, even as mine responded whenfirst I saw the cape. Did she linger with theother virtuous housewives at the first spring,to wash her husband’s dirty linen? Not she!I liked to think that in glad escape she ranfrom all those stuff gowns and starched kerchiefs,through the woods, chasing the scarlet-wingedblackbirds on and on, picking the wintergreenberries and ravenously eating them,gathering her arms full of bright autumnleaves, feeding her hungry eyes on the vividcolor of growing things and her starved soul,at last, upon the dunes. It was not the Indianswho prevented Dorothy Bradford fromreturning to the ship; it was her own heart.If Indians saw her, they must have fallen ontheir red knees in the sand and worshiped herfor a sprite of limitless space, running pastthem with gay branches clasped to her gray[8]dress and a wreath of waxy bayberries on herfair young head. It was her wayward feetthat forbade her from following further thefortunes of the Pilgrims. No doubt, fromsome high point on the dunes she watchedthem sail away, and laughed, taking off hershoes upon the sand and dancing, fleeing further.That is what I would have done. Thatis what I wanted to do now. Somethingstarving in my heart found food here; a hardnessthat had been growing within me for twoyears dissolved, as my mind relaxed, and thetroubles that had driven me here appeared insignificant.The tired spirit of hope that hadbeen driven deeper and deeper down beneaththe weight of disillusion began to bubble up.There might be a way of regaining the nicebalance of life, after all, if one could weighit every afternoon upon the sand-dunes!

Ruth and I were sitting on a pyramid,where we had brought a picnic lunch, andwere watching her children play in the hollows.

“Do people get lost here nowadays?” Iasked her.

“The natives never come here,” she answered;“at least, not for fun. They onlyfollow the wagon-track to the coast-guard station[9]on ‘the outside,’ and that is about all thesummer people do. It is three miles acrossthe soft sand to the sea, and most people getdiscouraged and turn back before they reachthe further shore. But enough children andstrangers have been lost here in recent yearsto scare away the others! The townspeoplesay the dunes are haunted, and that at nightstrange shapes flit across the sand, spirits ofthose who have never been found. They willnot come near the white fields at moonlight,when they are wrapped in mystery. Thelandmarks are not permanent. Every stormchanges them, just as it changes the shoals on‘the outside.’ The sailors are more afraid ofthis neck of land than any one else. Do yousee how far distant the big steamers keep?”She pointed out to me a thin line of smoke onthe horizon. “Hundreds of ships have runaground off here in less than that many years.There are lighthouses at every point now, butthe bed of the sea moves constantly. Thatis why they call this coast the ‘Graveyard ofthe Cape.’”

“Have there been any wrecks since you havelived here?”

Ruth’s eyes darkened. “A year ago a fleet[10]of fishing-vessels were caught in a sudden tempestand half of them were lost. Eleven menwere drowned, all from this town! Star Harborraises her sons upon the sandy flats of thebay at her doorway, and when they grow oldenough they sail away from her, and sheknows that one day, sooner or later, they willfail to return. In the meantime the mothersdo not bring their boys out here on the dunes toplay, as we do our children from the cities.It is too much like dancing on their owngraves! They try to forget the dunes arehere, and walk up and down the front streetof the village.”

“I do not want to forget them,” said I.“They mean something to me, Ruth, somethingthat I have needed for a long time.”

Ruth smiled at me fondly, without replying.We had known each other for a long time.

“It is like the touch of a hand on the heart,”I tried to explain, “or like a song heard outsidea window in the dark—or a flaming embroideryon a stucco wall.”

The sun shone down upon the tawny sand,illuminating the dunes with so blinding a radiancethat description was futile. The effectof so much heat and light was soothing and[11]restful, and at the same time stimulating.The body drank up enough electricity,through contact with the sand, to renew itsyouth and send the worn years reeling backward.The children were shouting and slidingdown the inside of a crater below us,transposing their winter sports to the summertime,climbing up the opposite slope, only toshoot down again on the seats of their rompers,laughing and crawling up, and repeating thegame, in ecstasy of abandonment.

“I would like to do that, too,” said I.

Ruth smiled. “You would get sand in yoursneakers.”

“Sneakers!” I scoffed.

“And wear holes in your silk stockings.”

“Silk stockings! No one should wearstockings out here. They should run barefootbefore the wind, and leap from peak to peak.It is absurd, in the face of this vast emptiness,to wear clothes at all!”

“So many people feel that way,” said Ruth,dryly.

But I refused to be rebuffed.

“We need it, Ruth,” I cried. “We, whoare cooped up in cities, are starving for thisvery thing—space and sunlight, air and[12]warmth. Not the suffocating heat of thearea-ways, but the glow that glances off thesun-kissed sand. Our eyes are blind withgray pavements and white asphalt, stone andcement, nothing but colors as hard as the substancewe tread on. We hunger for blue andfor purple, for the sea and the seacoast shadows,for green that is brighter than burnt sod,and for living red and yellow. The cravingfor earth under our feet is still natural to us.It is what has made possible the barefoot cultof the people who choose to get up in themorning and run around in the dew, and the‘back to all fours’ cult of those who put theirhands down on the floor and prance like atrained bear. And the ‘stand on your head’cult, who pick out a cushion which best suitstheir psychic soul and balance themselves withtheir feet in the air for hours at a time. Perhapsit is true that it is stimulating to thebrain. But Ruth, joking aside, there must bea fundamental reason for all of this ‘simplelife’ movement—the elemental need for relaxation,which is what this sort of exercise givesto the worn human machine. I am going togive up my apartment in New York and pitcha tent on the sand-dunes!”

[13]Ruth laughed.

I thought that probably she would point outto me how impractical I was. But she didnot. She seemed to be weighing the matter,taking me more seriously than I took myself.Ruth had a penetrating quality of sympathywith another’s trouble that made of it animmediate problem for her to solve and forthe sufferer to relinquish. I had come uphere a week ago, for no other reason than thatlife had reached the stage with me where Ihad to run away from the confusion of myown ménage. I needed another line of vision,another angle from which to approach it, andI considered it worth taking the long dulljourney up the cape to get my friend’s pointof view. All that quiet August afternoon,while we had watched her children playing onthe sand-dunes, we had been talking over lifeand our place in it as only two women canwho had known each other since childhoodand have managed to keep friends, althoughboth of them are married. Our conversationhad been mostly about New York, from whichI was escaping, and that offshoot of societywhich has its roots among actors and producersand its branches in the motion-picture[14]studios. Ruth was far removed from thisforcing frame, spending her winters, morehappily, in Charleston, and her summers onCape Cod, so that I thought I could get fromher the calm point of view and the fresh focusthat I needed.

“Well, if you want to live here and get backto nature by way of the sand-dunes, by allmeans do so,” she was saying dispassionately;“that would be saner than running on all foursand standing on your head in the city. Butdon’t pitch a tent out here! It has been demonstratedthat hurricanes have an antipathyfor canvas. Buy a house in town, and at leasthave shingles over your head and runningwater in the kitchen. Even the birds refuseto drink from the rank pools in this desert.There is alkali on the surface and quicksandsalong the edges of the ponds. I’ll show youa house in Star Harbor that has been waitingfor years for some one like you to come alongand take a chance on moving into it.”

She stood up and, giving a long “Woo-ooh!”through her hands to the turbulentyoung ones, led me back over the dunes tothe green edge of the woods.

“There,” she said, pointing over the tree-tops[15] to the town that nestled at the edge of theencircled bay, “do you see five pine-trees standingup higher than all the others? That is theplace.”

I saw below me a mass of scrubby oaks andstunted pines, which wore out to a thin edgeon the shore where the fishing-village huddled.The bright white paint of the cottages, withthe sun at their backs, picked them outdistinctly from the blue bay beyond them, andone house, larger than any of the others, thrustit* sloping roof into prominence beside a rowof pines.

“That!” I exclaimed. “But how large itis—for only my husband and myself! Wewould rattle around in it. We haven’tenough furniture!”

I was alarmed at the expansive turn ofRuth’s imagination. Even if you have putyourself in the power of a friend’s advice, orperhaps just because of that, you are notready to admit that she, with one slash ofunprejudiced judgment, has cut the knotwhich you have been patiently trying tountangle.

“Furniture!” scoffed Ruth. “If that is allthat is worrying you—There is more furniture[16]in that house than any other house onCape Cod. That is a captain’s place, oldCaptain Jeremiah Hawes, and he broughthome fine mahogany from wherever hedropped anchor. In his day they sailed toEngland for their Chippendale and to Chinafor a set of dishes.”

“What good would that do me?”

“You don’t seem to understand,” Ruthexplained patiently; “it all goes together.There is hardly a house sold in Star Harborbut what the furniture is included in the deal.You get whatever the house contains, whenyou buy it.”

We were retracing the path through thewoods by which we had entered the dunesearlier in the day. The children ran beforeus, playing wood-tag from tree to tree,exploring “fairy circles,” and stopping fromtime to time to let us catch up with them,when they would drop completely out ofsight among the blueberry-bushes. Thesegrew so thick at our feet that you could pullthe berries off by the handful and munch themas you strolled along.

“Tell me more about the house,” I begged.[17]My mouth was full of blueberries, but mymind was full of plans.

“It was built over a hundred years ago, byships’ carpenters who came down here all theway from Boston. They don’t know how todo that kind of cabinet-work any more. Thesoil in the yard was hauled here by the wagon-loadfrom ten miles down the cape to make thegarden—no sea sand left there to sprout burrs!The Old Captain knew what he wanted andwhere to get it. He made what was, in thosedays, a fortune. He was master of a fleet offishing-vessels, and used to make yearlyvoyages to the banks of Newfoundland forcod and to Iceland for sperm-oil whales. Apair of his big iron testing-kettles are stilldown in his wharf-shed, and the house is fullof valuable maps and charts. Not that anyone has ever seen them.”

“Why not? How long has it been vacant?”

“It has never been vacant at all! That’sthe trouble. After old Captain Hawes andhis wife died, their son, whom every one callsthe ‘New Captain,’ lived on there in the housefor years, along with the same woman who hadalways been a servant to his mother. He died[18]after we came here, five years ago, underpeculiar circ*mstances, but she still lives on,behind closed shutters.”

“Is the house for sale?”

“It’s been for sale ever since the NewCaptain died, but the old woman who lives init won’t let any one inside the door to lookat it.”

“I’d take it without seeing it, if it’s all yousay it is,” I answered. “Why don’t they putthe old woman out?”

Ruth shrugged, as one who would suggestthat no outsider could hope to understand howbusiness was managed on the cape.

“Let’s go and see it on our way home,”I suggested.

“All right; we can send the children on.”

They were scampering through the brushahead of us, chasing limp-winged yellowbutterflies and spilling their precious garneredblueberries as they ran. Their bare legs,covered with sand from the dunes andscratched by the briers of the woods, stood thestrain of the long walk better than ours, intheir flimsy stockings and hot rubber-soledshoes. I wanted to sit on a log in the shadywoods and rest, but no one else seemed tired[19]and the thought of the old house lured me on tohurry to its doorstep.

It needed only that difficulty of gettingpossession to make me sure that this was thevery house for which I had been waiting all mylife. I knew, too, that the romance of thesituation would be the deciding point in anyopposition that I might well expect to meetfrom my husband, who was still in New York.Jasper was a fiction-writer, at present aspiringto be a playwright, and it was true that heneeded for his work an atmosphere that hecould people with the phantoms of his ownmind, rather than the disturbing congestion ofthe apartment where we now lived. In settingout to follow Ruth’s advice and buy ahouse on Cape Cod, I felt that I was doingmy best not only for myself and the sort offamily life that I felt would naturally follow,but for my husband and his exacting career.I realized that it would be for both of us asolution of the philosophy of living. Jasperhad reached that stage in the beginning ofsuccess when it seemed to his friends that hewas working too hard and playing too hard,squandering his talents upon Carthaginiangods who would only burn him up in the end.

[20]I had been following Ruth in silence, forthe way through the wood was hard, but nowwe came into the outskirts of the fishing-villageand, crossing the single railroad track that ranthe length of the cape, struck the easy treadof the boardwalks. There were only twostreets in Star Harbor, front and back, and,sending the children on to Ruth’s house by theback way, their pockets oozing with blueberries,we emerged to the front street andfaced the bay, just as the Pond-Lily Man waspassing.

He was returning from his day’s work,peddling pond-lilies up and down the cape onhis bicycle, a great basket of them drippingfrom his arm now, their luscious white headsclosed, although not wilted; and he offeredthem all to Ruth hopefully, to get rid ofthem.

“Pond-lilies,” he repeated automatically, ashe saw us coming into sight. “Pond-lilies.Five cents a bunch!”

He was a thin little man with a tired face,apologetic, but stubborn about his trade, sellinghis flowers with a mildness and a persistencethat was deceptive.

Ruth bought them all, only asking if he[21]would, as a favor, carry them up to her cottage.

“As a favor,” he replied; “this time!”

“Pond-lilies! Pond-lilies!” he called again,as he started off, seeming to forget that wehad purchased the entire stock.

“Poor thing,” said Ruth; “that cry is a habitwith him. He must do it in his sleep. Heused to be a parson of some sort, but his‘health failed him’ and that’s the way he supportshis family. They say his children allget out in a flat-bottomed boat on Pink Pond,down the cape, and pick them for him everymorning before it is light.”

“They work hard up here,” said I, feelingrather inadequate to the occasion, which wasso tremendously local.

“They do,” replied Ruth, with her usualsympathy and few words.

We paused to rest a moment by the bay.The water sparkled happily, with none ofthe menace that shrouded the deep blue of theocean which we had left on “the outside”beyond the dunes. Here were merry littlewhite-caps, as innocent as the children whoplayed upon the flats, and before us thefishing-boats, riding at anchor, had no moreflavor of adventure than so many rocking-horses.[22] The sunlight, mirrored from thebright waves, shone upon houses at the water’sedge with a glow that turned the glass of thewindows into flame and burnished the brassknockers on the doors. The white paint glistenedas if it had been varnished that veryafternoon, and the green blinds and the redroses climbing on the cottages were raised intone to the height of the color of ornaments ona Christmas-tree. The whole village had theaspect of a gaily painted toy. The dust of theroad was rose-tinted. The leaves of the treeslooked as if they had been scrubbed andpolished, and the sails of the vessels on the baywere as white as the clouds that skipped acrossthe bright blue sky.

It was the contrast between this radiantshimmer of sea and cloud, this flicker of sunshineand dazzle of window-pane, this greenof the short trimmed grass and crimson of theflowers, that caused my amazement when Ifirst saw the house that was to be mine. Iwas bewildered by its drab melancholy, and Iwould have turned away, had not an innercourage urged me on. For it seemed to me,that August afternoon, that I had come toa crossroads in my married life, and it was in[23]the mood of a weary traveler approaching awayside shrine that I turned through thehedge at last and beheld the House of theFive Pines.



THE old mansion stood back from theroad along the bay in a field of high,burnt grass. Drooping dahlias and fadedold-fashioned pinks and poppies bordered thehalf-obscured flagstones which led to a fan-toppeddoor. It was so long since the househad been painted that it had the appearanceof having turned white with age, or somethingmore, some terror that had struck it overnight.Wooden blinds, blanched by the salt wind toa dull peaco*ck-blue, hung disjointedly fromthe great square-paned windows. A low roofsloped forward to the eaves of the first story,its austere expanse interrupted by a pointedgable above the kitchen. Beneath the dormer-windowwas a second closed and shuttereddoor.

At some period, already lost in obscurity, awing had been thrust back into the neglectedgarden behind the house, and over its gray[25]shingles stood the five pine-trees which we hadseen from the sand-dunes. Old Captain JeremiahHawes had planted them for a wind-break,and during a century they had raisedtheir gaunt necks, waiting to be guillotinedby the winter storms. Faithfully trying toprotect their trust from the ravages of wind-drivenspray and stinging sand, they extendedtheir tattered arms in sighing protest abovethe worn old house.

We went wonderingly up the flagging andknocked at the small door of the “porch.”There was no answer. We knocked again,staring, as is the way of strangers, to each sideof us and endeavoring to peer through thegreen shutter. We had to jerk ourselves backand look quickly upward when the dormer-windowover our heads went rattling up andan old woman craned her neck out.

“That’s Mattie,” whispered Ruth, “Mattie‘Charles T. Smith’!”

Gray wisps of hair framed a face thin andbrown as a stalk of seaweed, with sharp eyes,like those of a hungry cat, above a narrowmouth. The creature did not ask us what wewanted; she knew. Her perception was clairvoyant.Long experience in dealing with[26]house-hunters made her understand what wehad come for without the formality of any explanation.We brushed straight past the firsthalf of what would ordinarily have been theprocedure of conversation, and I came to thegist of what was uppermost in my mind andMattie’s.

“Why won’t you let any one in?” I asked,bluntly.

Ruth looked at me in some surprise.

Mattie put up a long thin arm to keep thewindow from falling on her shoulders. “Idunno as I need to say,” she answered me,directly.

“What?” said Ruth. My friend, beingcomplacent-minded, had not followed theargument so fast.

But Mattie did not repeat herself. She andI understood each other. She kept on gazingstraight at me in that piercing way which Iknew instinctively had driven many a purchaserfrom her inscrutable doorway.

“Will you let me in if I get a permit fromthe agent?” I insisted.

“That depends,” replied Mattie.

Her lean body withdrew from the frame ofthe upper gable, her eyes still holding mine,[27]until her face gradually disappeared into thegloom of the room behind her. The last thingI saw were two veined hands gradually loweringthe sash, and the last sound was a littleclick as it shut.

Ruth, having brought me to see the house,was murmuring words of apologetic responsibility.But I did not feel daunted.

“I think I will take it, anyway,” I said,“just for the view.”

From the doorstep of the House of the FivePines we faced the bay across the road, wheremany little fishing-boats were anchored, andwhite sails, rounding the lighthouse-point,made a home-coming procession into StarHarbor. Remembering Mattie “Charles T.Smith” at her upper window, I wondered ifshe, too, saw the picture as I did and loved itthe same way. But Mattie would have seenfar more—not only what lay before us, but theships that “used to be” and the wharf of oldCaptain Jeremiah Hawes, the piles of whichwere left on the beach now, like teeth of someburied sea-monster protruding from the sand.She would have counted the drying-frameshung with salt cod in pungent rows upon thebank of the shore lot, and she would have seen[28]the burly fishermen themselves, who used totramp back from the flats to the “Big House”for their breakfast. She had been a part ofthat former life which was gone, and now, likean old hull on the flats, she was waiting forthat last great storm that was to sweep herout to sea. Sympathy for her made me almostwish to abandon my own project beforeit was begun, and yet it seemed to me that herlife was almost over and that the House of theFive Pines needed the youth that we couldbring it as much as we needed the shelter itcould offer us. I brushed aside the thoughtof Mattie as if it were a cobweb that clung tomy face in the woods.

“Take me to the trustee, or whoever controlsthe place,” I begged my friend; “let’s see whatcan be done!”

“Now?” asked Ruth.

We had turned reluctantly through thehedge into the road.

“Why not?” I answered. “I’m going backto New York to-morrow.”

“You can’t do things so quickly aroundhere.”

She must have noticed my disappointment,for she added, “There are no telephones or[29]street-cars, and whenever you go to see people,the first three times you call they always happento be out.”

“Don’t be lazy,” I urged, so full of my ownenthusiasm that I had no mercy on plump andpretty Ruth. “How far is it to this man’soffice?”

“Office? He doesn’t have any office. Hishouse is at the other end of town.”

Clang-kilang! Clang-kilang!

The clamor of bell-ringing finished our argument.

Down the boardwalk, to meet us, hobbleda strange figure. Supporting a great copperbell, which he swung with a short stroke of hisstumpy right arm, was a stodgy man dressedin a tight, faded, sailor’s suit, a straw hat onhis bald head, fringed with red hair, and aflorid face that at present was all open mouthand teeth and tongue. He was the town crier.

In front of the deserted House of the FivePines he stopped and, holding a printeddodger high in the air, read off it, in stentoriantones, “Hi Yi, Gu Jay, Be Boom BeeBoy!”

“Whatever in the world is he trying to say?”I gasped.

[30]“I don’t know,” said Ruth. “Nobody everknows. You can’t understand him.”

“But what does he do that for?”

“Why,” smiled Ruth, “that’s the way weget the news around. If there is a meeting inthe town hall, you give the town crier a dollar,and he goes up and down the boardwalk andrings his bell.”

“But if no one can understand him?”

“Oh, they ask each other afterward. Theman who sends the crier out always knows.He tells some one, who tells the next, so thatoften the news travels faster than the crierdoes and you know what it is beforehand.”

“It’s well you do!”

“Yes,” Ruth agreed, “because for the mostpart he gives out the notices in front of avacant lot. And if you ask him to repeat, heis furious with you. I’ll show you. ODave,” she called after him, “what is thenews?”

The town crier turned upon the sweet-manneredcity woman like an angry child onhis partner in a game of croquet who has notobeyed the rules. He clanged down his bellinsolently, and kept on clanging it up anddown as he turned on his heel and strode away.

[31]Ruth laughed. “You see!” she said.

“I see.”

“He is the last town crier in America. Weare very proud of him!”

“I should think you would be,” I replied.It seemed to me that I understood why therace had become extinct. I would have tradedhim for a telephone.

We walked slowly down the village street.To the right of us the fishermen’s cottages,behind their white picket-fences and green,well-tended squares of lawn, made patches ofpaint as gay as the quilts that hung airing ontheir clothes-lines. They looked as if eachone had been done over with what was left inthe bottom of the can after their owners hadfinished painting their boats. On the side ofthe street toward the bay freshly tarred netswere spread to dry upon low bushes, dorieswere dragged up and turned over, and stragglingwharves, with their long line of storm-bentbuildings, stretched their necks out intothe flats. We passed a great, ugly cold-storagehouse, which had superseded the privateindustry of the old days, the companywhich owned it controlling all of the seines inthe bay, for whom the fishermen rose at four[32]to pull up the nets which had once been theirs.

“You can’t buy fresh fish in Star Harbornow,” Ruth was saying; “it all goes to Bostonon ice and comes back again on the train.”

Down the steep roadways beside the wharvesone caught sight of tall-masted schooners, anchoredto unload, and the dead herring thrownfrom the packing-houses to the beach, rottingin the stale tidewater, made an unwholesomestench. In front of the fish-houses swarthyPortuguese sat drowsing in the sun. Theirday’s work had begun with the trip to theseines at dawn and had ended with their bigbreakfast at noon. Their children swarmedabout them in the streets, quarreling over ice-creamcones, which they shared, lick for lick,with their dogs. On the corner near the governmentwharf we had to turn into the road toavoid a crowd of noisy middies who weretaking up all the sidewalk, laughing likeschoolboys at recess, enjoying their two hours’leave from the big destroyer anchored in theharbor. They had no contact with the townexcept through mild flirtation with the girls,and no festivity while on shore greater thaneating pop-corn on the curb, but they seemedto feel satisfied that they were “seeing the[33]world” and were quite hilarious about it.They were as much a part of the port as thePortuguese sailors, and more vital to it thanthe stray artists whom we had seen, absorbedeach in his own canvas, which he had pitchedin some picturesque—and cool—spot along thewater-front.

Passing through a neighborhood where thelittle shops filled their fly-specked windowswith shell souvenirs for visitors, we turned upan alleyway and entered the yard of a housebuilt squarely behind the row of front storebuildings. In this neighborhood they did notmind because they had no view of the sea.They were tired of looking at it and were morethan glad to be shut off from its sharp windin the winter.

Judge Bell was sitting on the open porchthat ran around three sides of his pink houselike the deck of a ship. He was perfectly contentwith the location.

“We have come to see you,” I began, “aboutbuying the House of the Five Pines.”

The judge marked the book he was readingand laid it down, looking at us mildly, withoutsurprise.

“I’ll do all I can for you,” he replied, with[34]what seemed to me undue emphasis on the“can.” “Won’t you come up and set down?We might talk it over, anyway.”

“Talk it over!” I repeated impatiently,rocking violently in one of his big chairs.“How much is it, and how soon can I get it?”

I felt Ruth and the judge exchangingglances over my head.

“It ain’t quite so simple as that,” he saidquietly, weighing me, as all these Cape Codpeople do, with unveiled, appraising eyes.“Two thousand dollars is all I’m asking forit now, as trustee—”

“I thought it was three!” Ruth could nothelp exclaiming. “I was told you were holdingit for three.”

“I’m holding it,”—his big leathery facebroke into the lines of a smile—“for Mattie‘Charles T. Smith’ to move out. That’s allI’m holding it for. I could ’a’ sold it fivetimes a year in the last five years, if it hadn’tbeen for her. And it’s gettin’ a name now.I’d be glad to be rid of it.” He passed hisheavy hand over his face speculatively, andheld his lower jaw down as he weighed meonce more. “I’d be real glad to get shet withthe whole deal!”

[35]“I’ll take it,” said I.

Even Ruth looked startled. She rememberedwhat I did not, in my sudden enthusiasm;that I had yet to get my husband’s consentto living here—and the money. But itseemed so ridiculously cheap that I was alreadyin that cold real-estate sweat whichbreaks out on the novice in his first venturefor fear that some one else, between night andmorning or while he goes for his lunch,will get the treasure that he has set his hearton.

“How soon can you get Mattie ‘Charles T.Smith’ out?” I asked nervously.

The judge’s lower jaw went up with a snap.

“I don’t know,” he said, tapping the armsof his chair with his hammerhead fingers, “asI can ever get her out.”

“You mean as long as she lives?”

“As long as she lives, certainly—and afterthat, maybe never.”

He got up and spit over the porch-rail.

As he did so I picked up the book thathe had knocked to the floor—“Brewster’sNatural Magic,” edited in London in 1838.It was full of diagrams of necromancy andopen at a chapter on phantom ships. I[36]showed the title to Ruth surreptitiously. Shenodded.

“They are all that way up here,” she said.

But the shrewd old judge had heard her.

“I’ll let you read that book,” he said, “ifyou can understand it.”

“I’d like to,” I answered, to cover my embarrassment.“But I do understand you.You mean that her influence would remain.”

“I mean more than that.”

I would have liked nothing better than tohave started the judge talking on “naturalmagic,” but just for this one afternoon itseemed as if we ought to keep to real estate.If I lived here, I could come back and talk tohim again on psychic subjects.

“You think, then, that Mattie has someclaim on the place?”

“No legal claim, no. But there is claimsand claims. The claims on parents that childrenhave, and the claims on children that parentshave. And the claims of them that arenot the true children of their parents, butadopted. Maybe not legally; but morally,yes. If people take children and bring themup, like Captain Jeremiah Hawes done, thatmakes them have some obligation toward[37]them, doesn’t it? And then there are theclaims that married people have on each other,and the people that ain’t married, and Isometimes think that the people that ain’tlegally married have more claim on each otherthan people who are, just on account of that.It puts it up to the individual. And if theindividual fails, it is more of a moral breakdownthan if the law fails. For the law isonly responsible to man, but man, he isresponsible to God. Do you follow me?”

“All the way,” I said.

The judge got up and spit over the rail ofthe porch again.

“As I was sayin’, Mattie ain’t got no legalclaim to the House of the Five Pines, and Icould put her out in a minute if I was a mindto. I expect I could have done it five yearsago, when the New Captain died, onlyit seemed the town would have to take care ofher all the rest of her natural days. We’vesaved five years’ board on her at the poor-farmnow, and it looks as if she might livequite a while longer. Plenty of ’em get to bea hundred around here, and she ain’t overseventy; not any older than I am, likely. Atleast, she didn’t used to be when she was[38]young!” He sighed, as if suddenly feeling theweight of his days. “And the town, as a town,don’t hanker after the responsibility of takingon Mattie ‘Charles T. Smith.’”

“Why do they call her that?” interruptedRuth. “Is that her name?”

“That’s as good a name as any for a personwho ain’t got one of her own. Charles T.Smith was the vessel old Captain Hawes wassailin’ in, the time he picked her up out of thesea.”

“Picked her up out of the sea!” we both exclaimed.

“Didn’t you ever hear about that?” heasked. “Well it’s so common known aroundhere there’s no need in my concealing it fromyou.

“Captain Hawes was up on the GrandBanks fishing, along in the fifties, and had allhis small boats out from the ship when ahurricane struck him. The sea was standingright up on its legs. Just as he was trying toget back his men, and letting all the cod go todo it, too, there he see a big sloop right on topof him, almost riding over him, on the crest ofa wave as high as that dune back there. Highand solid like that, and yellow. But instead[39]of comin’ over on him, like he fully expectedan’ was praying against, the vessel slippedback. By the time he rode the crest, thereshe was diving stern down into the bottom ofthe trough. And she never come up again.The only thing that come up was this hereMattie. Sebastian Sikes, he was out in asmall boat still, and he leaned over andgrabbed her up, a little girl, tied to a life-preserver.The captain was for letting her goadrift again when he come ashore, but Mis’Hawes wouldn’t let him. She said as longas Mattie was the only thing he salvaged outof the whole voyage, the Lord He meant theyshould keep her.

“The child couldn’t even speak the languageat first. They thought it must bePortuguese she was jabberin’, but the sailorsthey said no, they wouldn’t claim it neither.So they come to think afterward it might havebeen French, her being picked up there offNewfoundland, and all them French sailorscoming out that way from Quebec. But bythe time somebody had thought of that, she hadforgot how to speak it, anyway. She was onlyabout five. The missis had her baptized‘Matilda,’ after a black slave her father had[40]brought home to Maine when she was a girlherself, up to Wiscasset. But ‘Mattie’ itcame to be, and ‘Charles T. Smith,’ afterthe ship that saved her.”

“And didn’t he leave her anything in hiswill, after all that?”

“Neither Jeremiah Hawes nor his wife leftany will,” replied Judge Bell. “The onlywill there is is the one the New Captain made.It’s up to Caleb Snow’s place.”

“Can I see it?”

“You can if he ain’t out winkling.” Thejudge picked up his “Natural Magic” as if hehoped that we were going.

“What’s ‘winkling’?” I whispered to Ruth,as we turned away.

“Oh, nothing important—something thechildren do out on the flats, gathering littleshell-fish they use for bait.”

“He’ll be in if the tide ain’t out,” the judgecalled after us.



WE found the man who gathers winklessitting on the floor of the sail-loft.Caleb Snow combined the resources of real estatewith the independence of a fisherman,and sent his daughter to the State normal-schoolon the proceeds. When one can go outon the flats at low tide and pick up a livingwith a pronged stick, why worry about rents?Judge Bell, himself too busy attending séancesto give the matter his best thought, had persuadedCaleb Snow to handle the House ofthe Five Pines. We wondered if the Winkle-Manwould take any interest in either it or us.

“Judge Bell told us that we might ask youto show us the will of the late CaptainHawes,” I began.

“You mean the New Captain.”

Caleb went on with the deft mending of thegreat tarred net, in the center of which he wasbent like some old spider. He was a little[42]man, and he made us feel even taller than wewere as he peered up at us in the dusk of thelow-beamed room, shadowed by the hangingsails and paraphernalia of ships which obscuredthe lights from the dusty windows.

“It’s up in the loft,” he said wiping hisgreasy hands on the seat of his overalls.

“Can’t we go up there?”

“Can ye?” he answered. He walked slowlyover to a steep ladder that led up into a blackhole and began to mount. Near the top heturned around and called down to us:

“I ain’t a-goin’ to bring it below, not forno one!”

I started after him.

“Isn’t there any light up there?” askedRuth cravenly, from the bottom rung.

For answer he swung open a pair of doubledoors, and the glory of the afternoon sunshinestreamed in upon us. Gold and bronze thewater fell in the long lines of the incoming tide.Deep blue shadows pooled the mirroredsurface beneath the boats that were anchoredalong the shore. The radiance of the bayfilled the dark corners of the sail-loft like ablessing.

Caleb Snow bent over an old safe under[43]the eaves and presently lifted out a manuscriptin a long envelope.

“I don’t show this to many folks,” he said;“it wouldn’t do.”

“Will you read it to us?”

“Oh, no.” He thrust it into my hands soquickly that I wondered if he were afraid of it,or if it was that he simply could not read.

Ruth and I sat down on the lid of an old sea-chestand carefully examined the document.First there were the usual unintelligible legalclauses, and then the sum of the whole text—thatthe New Captain bequeathed the proceedsof his entire estate to found a home for strayanimals, especially cats.

“Why cats?” I turned to Caleb.

“Well, she allus had ’em,” he explained,“Mattie ‘Charles T. Smith.’ She used totake ’em in when the summer people wentaway and left ’em on the beach. Wild like,they get, and dangerous. She had him taughtto notice ’em. That’s why.”

Poor Mattie! Her example had trained hisonly virtue to her own detriment. There wasnot a word about the New Captain’s leavingany of his money to her, nor even a stick offurniture. I read further.

[44]“It is my wish that Mattie ‘Charles T.Smith’ sit in the room with my body for a weekafter I die, thereby fulfilling a last solemntrust.”

“Why did he say that?” I gasped.

Caleb Snow was sitting in the upper doorway,with his legs hanging out, whittling ata piece of wood.

“Well, you see, he died once before andcome to life again, and this time he didn’twant to disappoint nobody.”


“He simply stretched out dead one day, likehe had heart-failure, and after Mattie had gotthe old crape out of the chest and tacked it onthe door, and the undertaker was there goingabout his business, the New Captain come toagain. It was the coffin turned the trick.He wouldn’t let ’em put him into it. He hadan awful hate towards coffins after that. Saidcoffin-makers was a low form of life. Hetook up some foreign religion and read booksto prove it by. Claimed undertakers wouldbe caterpillars in their next life, crawling ontheir bellies and never coming out of their owncocoons. I bet he don’t stay in his, neither!”

[45]“Nonsense,” said I; “those things don’thappen twice.”

“If things happen once that hadn’t oughtto happen at all, they got a right to happentwice,” said Caleb doggedly, “or three or fourtimes, for that matter!”

“But he was cataleptic.”

“Call him anything you like.” Caleb wenton whittling. “All I know is, he was so scairthe would be buried alive, he made Mattiepromise she would watch him for a week.”

“And did she do it?”

“Yep. It was two years after the firsttime that he died the second time, and they hadit all planned out. She sat there in the backroom, with the shutters closed, and never tookher eyes off him. Folks would go in and outand offer her a cup of tea once in a while,but she let on as how she didn’t knowthem. She never was a hand to speak to anyone before that, and after that she never hasspoke to any one at all. If you ask her anything,like I’m obliged to, strictly business,she looks as if she didn’t have it on her mindwhat you was talking about. Nor on anythingelse, for that matter. It turned her.”

[46]“I should think it would!” said Ruth andI together.

“Yep,” Caleb continued, “he was dead allright when they took him out. Leastwise, asdead as he will ever get. I didn’t see him;nobody went to the funeral except Judge Bell,but he O. K.’d it. An’ if Mattie decided hewas beyond recall, why he was; that settles it.For if he had been only halfway, like the othertime, she would ’a’ fetched him back herself.”

He gave us a look profoundly mysterious.

“You think, then, that Mattie has the powerto raise people from the dead?”

“Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to have itsaid I say so,” he evaded. “Not humans,maybe, but cats! I’ve seen her take a deadcat up off the beach in her apron, drowned orstarved, no difference to her, and the next daythere it would be, lapping up milk on the doorstep.”He paused a minute to let us weighthis, and then he added, “An’ cats ain’t theonly things that has nine lives.”

Ruth and I stared blankly at him and ateach other, and back to the faded ink-writtenpages of the New Captain’s will.

“Did Mattie ever show this—power—in anyother way?”

[47]“I don’t know,” replied Caleb testily. “Idon’t know her at all. Nobody does. Shedon’t go around where folks are.”

“Didn’t she ever attend church?”

“Not her! She’s got a system of her own.Her and the New Captain got it up together.The Old Captain and his wife was regularmembers, but down to the public library Mis’Katy says the New Captain used to ask forbooks that a Christian would ’a’ been ashamedto be seen carrying up the street under hisarm.”

“Occultism, probably.”

“The judge can tell you. He understandsthem things.”

“Is he a spiritualist?”

“Not precisely, but leanin’. Goes to theFirst Baptist on Sunday mornings, and allover the cape week-days, to parlor meetings.It was the New Captain started him off, too.The judge, he thinks if he keeps after it, he’llget a message from him, and he’s real worried,waitin’. But Mattie—she goes around in theyard, even, talking out loud to the cap’n, as ifhe was right there, diggin’ in the garden.”

“Lots of people talk to themselves.”

“To themselves, yes! I know they do. But[48]Turtle’s boy—he takes the groceries, and he isthe only one that will go in there now—he sayssometimes it’s more than he can stand. Hejest puts the stuff down on the step and runsaway. She gets that cross-eyed girl next doorto go on errands for her. All that familyis—” he tapped his head significantly, “anddon’t know the difference.”

“You mean that Mattie is crazy?” I askedindignantly. “She’s no more crazy than youor me.”

Ruth smiled then at the look Caleb gave me.It was as much as to say that he had suspectedI was right along, and that now I hadadmitted it.

“She only appears to us to act,” my frienddefended me, “as any one might who hadalways lived in one place and felt she had aright to stay there. Especially, because sheis out of contact with life and does not knowany longer how to take it up. There is nothingweak-minded in the course she is pursuing.”

“No mind at all,” Caleb contradicted her.

But there was something important thatI wanted to find out.

[49]“Why,” I asked, “didn’t the New Captainleave Mattie anything in his will?”

Caleb co*cked one eye at the thing that hewas whittling.

“He was past the place.”

“You mean that there was a time when hewould have left her his money?”

“There was a time when he would havemarried her—only his mother wouldn’t lethim.”

Somehow the idea of the rugged CaptainHawes, a sailor in his youth and a terrifyingfigure in his old age, a recluse around whomstrange tales had been woven by his townspeople,did not seem like a man who could havebeen prevented by his mother from marryingan orphan girl.

“You can laugh,” Caleb scolded us; “younever saw her!”

“Old Jeremiah Hawes’ wife?”

“Her!” Caleb jabbed with his jack-knifeas he spoke, as if he wished that it was the oldlady he had under his blade.

“But I don’t see why the New Captaincould not have married Mattie after his motherdied. They must have lived a long time together[50]in the House of the Five Pines afterthat.”

“Forty years is all. Same reason that hedidn’t leave her nothin’. He was past theplace where he wanted to.”

Caleb had finished what he was whittlingnow, and, as if he knew that Ruth carried allsuch things home to her children, he handed itto her with an apologetic smile. It was thehull of a little fishing-boat, with two masts anda rudder all in place.

We thanked him and backed out down theladder.

Looking at the toy in the sunlight, Ruthexclaimed. The name of that fatal ship whichhad brought the little half-drowned Frenchchild to the sterile land of her adoption hadbeen carved by the Winkle-Man upon thistiny model—Charles T. Smith.

“It must have looked just like that!” I cried.

“It’s like Caleb,” said Ruth, with her slow,fond smile.



“I ’M going home to-day,” I announced toRuth after breakfast the next morning, “tosecure Jasper’s consent to buying the Houseof the Five Pines. I’ll go round on theback street now, while you are busy, and getmy washing from Mrs. Dove, so that I canpack it.”

As I passed the big old house it looked soinnocent that I scoffed at the stories that ithad gathered to itself, as a ship gathers barnacles.“All I need to do is to have itpainted,” I thought, “and I will have thefinest place on the cape. I’ll see how much itwill cost to have a few things done.”

I turned into Turtle’s store, and after asearch found the proprietor out in the backroom making himself an ice-cream cone. Iasked him if he knew any one whom I couldget to paint a house.

[52]“What house?” he parried, as if it madeall the difference in the world.

“The House of the Five Pines.”

“What do you want to paint that for?”

I tried to keep my temper. “I’m going tobuy it.”

“Well, you’ll probably never move in,” washis reply. “I wouldn’t waste no paint on it.”

As I turned out of his hostile door I bumpedinto a man coming in with open pails of whitelead in each hand.

“Can you give me an estimate on a house—theHouse of the Five Pines?”

He looked from me to Mr. Turtle. “Why,I don’t do no painting,” he replied.

“What’s that?” I pointed to the evidencehe had forgotten he was carrying.

“Well, hardly any,” he corrected; “just alittle now and then to oblige a friend, whenI ain’t busy.”

Ruth had warned me of this. The independentson of the Puritan Fathers on CapeCod will only work as a favor, and out ofkindness charges you more than if he weredrawing union wages.

“What do you do when you are busy?”


[53]“Wouldn’t you have time in the fall?”

“In the fall I won’t be here,” he answered,with a relieved sigh.

Mr. Turtle gave a guffaw, but when Ilooked at him sharply he was methodically cuttinga piece of cheese. “Will you have asample?” he asked me, holding a sliver out tome on the end of a knife.

I slammed the screen-door.

As soon as I arrived in the hospitable back-yardof Mrs. Dove, I asked her what waswrong with them, or with me, that they shouldrebuff me so. Stout and red-faced withexertion, she was laboriously washing on abench under the trees and kept on splashingthe suds. Being the only laundry in town,she could not waste time on explanations.Mrs. Dove contracted to do the summerpeople’s clothing by the dozen, and, countingalmost everything that was given her as notrightfully within that dozen, supplied herselfwith sufficient funds to hibernate for thewinter. During the dull season she preparedfor the next year’s trade by making rag-rugsand mats with button-eyed cats, the patternsfor which had traditionally been brought backfrom Newfoundland by the sailors. After[54]she had listened to my story and hung upthe stockings, she took the clothes-pins out ofher mouth long enough to answer.

“You’ll have a hard time all right, gettingany one to go near the place. They’re allagainst it.”

“But why?”

“Well, it has a bad name around here.”

That was what the judge had said. Thatwas the reason he was willing to sell itcheap.

“Do you mean it is haunted?”

Mrs. Dove held a child’s rompers up to thesunlight, soaped a spot on the seat, and rubbedhard again.

“Well, not ghosts, precisely, but there’salways been strange goings-on there, thingsa person could not understand and that neverhas been explained. All the men is down onit, because the New Captain didn’t hire noneof them to work on the wing he built.”

“But that was years ago!”

“Fifty, maybe. The house was put up inthe first place by ships’ carpenters fromBoston, and there’s some is still jealous ofthat. Still, when the New Captain added toit, seems as if he might have hired folks around[55]here. Instead of that he was so stingy thathe built it all himself, him and Mattie. Hehad her working around there just like a man.Pretty near killed her carrying lumber. I’d’a’ seen myself hammerin’ and climbing up anddown ladders for any of them Haweses!”

“Did she really do that?”

“She did anything he said. Anything atall! From the time that he used to chase herbarefooted in and out of the drying-frameson the shore lot where the cod was spread,she just worshiped him. And what good didit do her? Mis’ Hawes was so set against herthat she made her life a torment, trying tokeep her busy and away from him.”

“Why wouldn’t she let him marry her?”

“How did you know about that? Oh, youseen Caleb Snow! People that talk all thetime has to say something. I bet the judgedidn’t mention it!”

“He said that Mattie was picked up outof the sea.”

“Oh, as for that!”

“And that Mrs. Hawes came from Maine.”

“Did he? Well, she did, then. And shealways thought there was nothing good enoughfor her in Star Harbor. There was hardly a[56]family on Cape Cod that she would associatewith. Her father was one of them old sea-captains,pirates, I call them, who took slavesup there in his own vessels, and she justnaturally had it in her to make Mattie intoa slave of her own. She would no more havelet her son marry that orphan girl than if shewas a nigg*r. I was a child then myself, andI used to hear her hollerin’ at Mattie. Shewas bedridden the last six years, and she usedto lie by the window, downstairs in the frontroom, and call out to people passing in thestreet. Stone deaf, Mis’ Hawes was, and soas she could hear the sound of her own voiceshe used to shout loud enough to call thehands in off the ships in the harbor. Yes,ma’am, her lightest whisper could be heard allover the bay.”

“Did she live longer than her husband?”

“Oh, years and years! He went down withthe White Wren—they got his body off thepoint. It was after that she had the strokeand was so mean to Mattie and the New Captain.They was young people then, and justthe age. She wouldn’t let him have a pennyof the Old Captain’s fortune. I suppose itwas because she wouldn’t give him any cash to[57]do it with that he had to build the new winghimself. She was dead set against it. Butit served her right. Mattie got so wore outwith it that she had to go to a hospital inBoston and get laid up for a while. Some sayshe fell off the roof, but I used to be rightaround there watchin’ them half the time andI never see her fall off any roof. And Mis’Hawes, she had a miserable time of it whileMattie was gone. Once you get dependingon any one, it’s them that is the masters.

“I don’t believe Mattie ever would ’a’come back after that, she was so long away,only one day the New Captain hitched up hishorse and went and fetched her. His mothersimply couldn’t do without her anotherminute. It was winter and there was noships plying. The harbor was ice from hereway over to the lighthouse-point; I rememberit. And we didn’t have trains clear down thecape in those times. So what did the NewCaptain do but drive all the way down to Bostonand back in his square box-buggy. He wasgone days and days. I saw them cominghome that night, the horse’s coat all roughedup and sweaty and his breath steaming into thecold, like smoke, the side-curtains drawn tight[58]shut and the lamps lit. I was bringing backour cow, and I drew to one side of the roadto let them pass, and I could hear her whimpering-likeinside. He must have thought apowerful sight of Mattie to have made thatjourney for her.”

“Were they happy after that?”

“Not that anybody knows of. There wasold Mis’ Hawes so set against his marryingher that she would fly into a passion if shesaw you was even so much as thinking ofsuch a thing; and yet, what could she doabout it? Or what did she even know aboutit, shut up in one room? Yes, ma’am, there’sbeen strange goings-on in that house, andthere is still. That’s why the men they won’tgo near it. When the New Captain wantedthe roof shingled or the pipes mended fromtime to time, he had to do it himself.”

“Well, I’m not going to paint the housemyself,” I said. “After I get in and haveit all opened up, they will feel differentlyabout it.” I held up my chin defiantly.

“That is, if you ever get in,” rejoined Mrs.Dove.

I walked on down the back street with my[59]clean white skirts, that she had washed, overmy arm, and thought things over.

To every house, as to every human being,is granted two sorts of life, physical and spiritual.These wear out. To renew the physicallife, all that is needed is a few shingles anda can of white lead and a thorough overhaulingof the drains. The regeneration of the spiritualis more complex, requiring a change ofoccupant. The deterioration of a familywithin the walls of a house leaves an aromaof decay that only the complete relinquishmentof the last surviving occupant can dissipate.Even then, the new tenant, in order to beexempt from the influence of past psychologicalexperiences, must be unaware of them.I was learning too much about the Houseof the Five Pines. I determined that Iwould inquire no further, but brush theserevelations from my mind and make a cleanbeginning. I would go back to New Yorknow, remembering the house only in its externalaspect, impressing that alone upon myhusband and forestalling his reaction to theside of the situation that lent itself to fiction,which was his profession, by not telling him[60]all of these legends that I had recently unearthed.Jasper was more sensitive to suchsuggestions than myself, and I felt that if heknew what I did we should have no peace.To protect myself from exhaustive argumentand speculation, it would be wiser to repeatnothing.

The road where I was walking led acrossthe rear of the premises of the House ofthe Five Pines, which extended ablock, from what was always called the“Front Street” to the “Back Street.” Fromhere one had a view of the garden and thefour-foot brick walls that held up the preciousearth hauled from such a distance. Thecentury’s growth of the five pine-trees hadburst open the wall along one side, and theirroots, extending into the next yard, had beenruthlessly chopped off. I hoped that thesenew neighbors would not extend their animosityto me. The land sloped gradually downfrom the house until it rose again in a woodedhill on the further side of Back Street. Thisincline had necessitated the placing of piles,topped with inverted tin pans, as they are incountry corn-bins, to hold up the rear of thecaptain’s wing. The space thus formed beneath[61]the house, called the “under,” was filledwith the rubbish of years. There were nodoors at the back of the house, nor did thisone-story addition have any entrance. Therewas a big chimney in the center of the end-walland windows on either side. No barnsor outbuildings fringed the road. The needsof seafaring folk demanded that they keeptheir properties in sheds upon their wharves.

At first there was no sign of Mattie, butas I lingered in Back Street, lost in speculation,a little old woman came around the sideof the mysterious house. She was draggingtwo heavy oars behind her which she proppedagainst a tree, and, setting down a wicker fish-basketbeside them, lifted out a live greenlobster.

She wore a yellow oilskin hat, with the brimbent down around her withered face, and adirty sailor’s middy over a bedraggled skirt.Holding her freshly-caught lobster in a waythat would have been precarious to mostpeople, she talked to it like a pet, and asI continued to watch her, fascinated, shecarried it tenderly away. I wondered ifshe would drop it into boiling water, which wasits natural destiny, or take it into the[62]kitchen and feed it a saucer of milk. Shedid not appear again, but realizing that frombehind some shutter she might be observingme, I became self-conscious and moved on.

Judge Bell was leaning against the door ofthe Winkle-Man’s loft and greeted me like anold friend as I passed. I knew that he hadstrolled up there this morning to find out whathad transpired after I left him the day before.

“Are you going to take the house?” heasked.

“I hope so. I’m going back home thisafternoon and tell my husband about it.”

“Oh, ye’ve got a husband, have ye?” saidCaleb, appearing with his winkle-fork in hishand.

“What would I want that big house for ifI didn’t have any husband?”

“Give it up! What do you want it foranyway? The judge and me have give upwondering what summer people wants anythingfor, ain’t we, judge?”

Judge Bell would not answer; he was afraidCaleb was going to spoil the sale.

“They always pick out the worst ramshackledown-at-the-heels places that they can get fornothin’, and talks about the ‘possibilities’ of[63]’em, like a revivalist prayin’ over a sinner,until you would think the blessed old rat-trapwas something!”

“The House of the Five Pines isn’t a rat-trap,”said the judge, touchily.

“No, it ain’t,” grinned Caleb, shouldering hislong fork and picking up his bait-bucket.“It’s a man-trap!”

He slouched off down the bank.

“Don’t you worry,” I reassured the judge,who was looking sour. “I’ll take the houseif I possibly can. You put your mind on gettingMattie moved out of it, and I’ll writeyou.”

I told Ruth about my interviews when Ireached the cottage. “You’ve found out moreabout that house in the last twenty-four hours,”she replied in her leisurely way, “than I’veever heard in the five years I’ve lived here. Ionly pray you will take it now. The town-peoplewon’t like it if you don’t; you’ve gottheir hopes aroused.”

“I have my own aroused,” I replied. “Ihave more hope now for the future than Ihave had for the last six months.”

Ruth saw me off cheerfully on the afternoontrain, but I knew that in her kind heart[64]were forebodings as to what might happen inmy life before she could see me again. Herwhole family would migrate soon now, andour winters would be spent in cities too farapart for us to help each other. If she couldhave known how much I was going to need her,she would never have left Star Harbor.



AFTER I had been back in New York fora month I had about decided that Mrs.Dove was right.

Jasper had greeted my idea about buyingthe house with enthusiasm, but, when it cameto details, with a stubborn refusal to face thefacts and sign a check. To my entreatiesthat he go down and look at it, or write toJudge Bell about it, or arrange to move theresoon, I was constantly met with, “Wait tillafter the play.”

We lived in four rooms in the old arcadenear Columbus Circle which we had originallychosen because artists lived there, and at thattime I had thought of myself as an artist. Idid, in truth, have some flair for it, and a littleeducation, which had been laboriously acquiredat the School of Design associated with theCarnegie Technical Schools. Two years of[66]marriage had seen the dwindling away of myaspirations by attrition. The one room thatwe had which possessed a window facing north,which by any stretch of good-will might havebeen called a studio, had been given up forour common sleeping-room, and Jasper, becauseof the constant necessity of his professionto keep late hours, was never out of beduntil long after the sun had slid around to thecourt. I bore fate no grudge because of this.It was quite true, as he often pointed out to me,that I could paint out-of-doors or in some oneelse’s studio, but the day that I felt free todo this never came. When, after two yearsof married life, our finances still necessitatedthe curtailment of every extravagance, paintsand canvas seemed one of the most plausiblethings to do without. It was only whenprompted by the exhibition of some womanpainter, who had evidently managed thesethings better, my husband would ask me whyI did not paint any more, that I suffered momentarily.For the rest of the time his ownwork seemed to me much more important.

This was the night at last that my husband’splay was to go on, the plot of which he had[67]developed from a mystery that I had suggestedone morning a year ago, when I usedto wake up so happily, full of ideas. I didnot rise as exuberantly now. I hated to getup at all. Our studio was crowded withthings and with people that we did not wantfrom morning until night, and from nightuntil morning again. It had become my chiefduty to sort out all the component parts of ourménage, producing just the influences thatwould further the work of my husband andsuppressing all others. To-day I had beenanswering questions constantly on the telephone,from complaints about the box-office,with which I had nothing at all to do, to reproachesfrom the ingénue because she couldnot find the author. It seemed to me, thinkingit over while pressing out the dress I wasgoing to wear, that Myrtle was spending altogethertoo much time looking for my husband.Just because he wrote the play and she wasacting in it was no reason that I could see whyshe should lunch with him every day. I sometimeswished that all of these young girls whothought it was part of their education to flirtwith him could have the pleasure of getting[68]him his breakfast every day, as I did, and ofwaiting up for him for a thousand and onenights.

I did not reproach Jasper; I loved him toomuch for that. When one is jealous it is thecontortions of a member of his own sex, ofwhom he is suspicious, not the dear one uponwhom he is dependent for happiness. Awoman will drop her best friend to save herhusband, without letting him know she hasdone so.

I blamed the city in which we worked formost of the confusion. Had we lived in someother place, it would have been in a saner way.And Jasper could have lived anywhere hechose; he carried his earning capacity in hisimagination. Nowhere are conditions so madas in New York, so enticingly witless. Inthis arcade building, cut up in its old age intoso-called living apartments, with ricketybridges connecting passages that had no architecturalrelation to each other, whispersfollowed one in bleak corridors and intrigueloafed on the stairs. We had outgrown unconventional(which is the same as inconvenient)housekeeping. Jasper was gettingbored and I was becoming querulous before[69]our married life had been given any opportunityto expand. Dogs were not allowed in ourarcade; children would have been a scandal.

Thinking of the big rooms in that cool,quiet house on the cape during the hot monthof September, I could not help longing to bethere, and I had written several times to thejudge. Thus I knew that Mattie “Charles T.Smith” had once more refused to vacate, andunless we were coming up there immediately,the judge would not evict her before spring.

“We ought to decide something,” I was sayingto myself, when I heard my husband comingdown the hall, and my heart forgot forebodings.I hurried to hide the ironing-board,there still being a pretense between us that itwas not necessary to do these things, and puton the tea-kettle.

Jasper was tall and angular, with wispylight hair always in disorder above a high foreheadand gray eyes wide open in happy excitement.He looked straight into life, eager tounderstand it, and never seemed to know whenit came back at him, hitting him in the face.He had that fortunate quality of making peopletake him seriously, even his jokes. In aworld eager to give him what he wanted, I[70]was proud that he still chose me, and prayedthat he might continue.

He was pathetically glad to get some hottea, assuring me that the play was rotten, thatthe manager was a pig, and that none of theactors knew their business. He had been withthem all day.

“Jasper,” I said, after I had given him allthe telephone messages, to which he paid noheed at all, “have you any idea of taking thathouse on Cape Cod this fall?”

Jasper went on looking through his papersas if he had not heard me.

“Where is that correction I made last nightfor Myrtle?” he asked.

“I’m sure I don’t know.”

“Well, what—” he began impatiently, andthen, turning on me, he read in my face, Isuppose, how much the House of the FivePines had come to mean to me.

“Now, see here,” he finished more kindly, “Ican’t think about houses to-day; you know Ican’t. Ask me to-morrow.”

“All right, dear; I’ll ask you to-morrow.Have you got my seat for to-night?”


“Yes, a ticket to get in with. I suppose[71]I’ll have to have a pass of some sort, won’t I?I don’t want to stand up behind the stage.”

“Why, I’m sorry; I never thought of it.I’ll run up to the theater before I come backand get you something.”

“You won’t have time; you’re going out fordinner, aren’t you?”

“I was.”

“Well, go ahead. I’ll see about the ticketsomehow. Don’t bother.”

I smiled a little ruefully after he had gone.Why did I think I had to have any more childthan just him? I had always supposed thatwhen a man’s play was produced his wife hada box and all her friends gathered around herwith congratulations, and that the wives of theactors were all arrayed, family style, to seethem come on. But it did not develop thatway among the members of “the profession” asI knew them. The wives were mostly stayingat home with the children, or lived outside thecity and couldn’t afford to come in, or franklyhad another engagement. They were “notexpected.”

It was raining when I crowded my way intothe foyer and begged a seat for “The Shoalsof Yesterday” from the man at the window.[72]He gave me the best he had, without any comment,and I took off my rubbers and laid downmy umbrella in the balcony. From this pointI was as interested as if I did not know everyline that was to be said—almost every gesture.After the first act I relaxed and enjoyed it.

The play went of its own volition, developingan amazing independent vitality whichwithstood the surprising shocks administeredto it by the actors. I smiled benignly whenthe audience sat tense, and wept when I sawthem burst into laughter.

Jasper’s hurried hand-pressure, when hefound me, and his whispered “Is everythingall right out here, dear?” made me feel that I,too, had some part in it, outside of its originalconception, which of course every one had forgotten.As a watcher of the first performance,alert to catch any criticism that might be useful,I sat up all night with the play that I hadtended from infancy. When the curtain wentup upon “The Shoals of Yesterday,” it was amanuscript from our apartment; when theasbestos went down, it was upon a Broadwaysuccess.

I found my way back to the dressing-rooms[73]and met Jasper coming along with a crowd ofactors, Myrtle crowding close. She wore anorange-feathered toque, which set off her lighthair like a flame, and a sealskin wrap, drawntight around her slim, lightly clothed body.She was one of those competent blond girlswho know not only how to make their ownclothes but how to get some one to buy them,so that they will not have to, and how to wearthem after they get them. It is vanity whichforces them into bizarre conquests. I couldnot tell whether her absorption of Jasper’stime had in it elements that would ever cometo hurt me, or whether she was simply usinghim to further her own advancement. Probablyshe did not know herself.

“Isn’t he a bright little boy?” She pettedhim and hung upon his neck. “We’re goingto take him out and buy him a supper, so weare; him’s hungry.”

I knew perfectly well that it would be Jasperwho would pay for the supper, but at thatmoment I could not bear any one ill-will. Ieven recognized that, for Myrtle, this wasgenerosity. It would have been more like herto have spoken of the play in terms of herself.

[74]“It went awfully well,” I said to him overtheir heads. I thought he would be waitingfor some word from me.

But he did not reply. He was laughingand talking with the whole group. In thatintimate moment he was not aware of me inthe way that I was of him. Something insideme withdrew, so that I saw myself standingthere, waiting. I became embarrassed.

“Shall I go on home?” I asked.

Jasper looked relieved.

“I’ll be right along,” he assured me.

I went out with my umbrella and tried tocall a taxi. But there were not enough; therenever are when it rains, and a single womanhas no chance at all. Men were running upthe street a block and jumping into them anddriving down to the awning with the doorhalf-open looking for their girls or their wivesalong the sidewalk. I wished that some onewas looking for me. A hand closed over minewhere I held the handle of the umbrella and apleasant voice said:

“Can I take you home?”

I looked up into the eyes of a bald-headedman I had never seen before, who was smilingat me as if he had known me something more[75]than all my life. I jerked away and hurrieddown the street. After that I somehow didnot dare even to take a car; I walked home;in fact, I ran. And all the way I kept thinking:“Why doesn’t Jasper take any bettercare of me? Why doesn’t he care what happensto me? That’s it; he doesn’t care.”

It is a dangerous thing to pity oneself whenone’s husband is out with another woman.

“All I can have to eat is what is left over inthe ice-box,” I said, raising the lid and holdingthe lettuce in one hand while I felt around inthe dark for the bottle of milk. But therewas no milk. And I had to laugh at myselfthen or cry, and so I laughed, a very little, andwent to bed.

When Jasper came in it was so late that Ipretended that I did not hear him.



GETTING up and out of the apartmentbefore my husband was awake, I boughtall the morning papers at the nearest kioskand carried them back to my breakfast-table.At least I would know first, for my wakefulness,what the edict of the critics was. I hatedto read what I knew in my heart to be theirimmature and sometimes even silly opinions,but such is the power of the press over thetheaters that I could not wait for my coffee toboil before I unfolded the first sheet. Thesesophisticated young writers, many of whom Iknew and whose opinions I respected less onthat account, wielded the power of life ordeath over their subjects, the playwrights, whostruggled in the arena of life for their approvaland were never safe from their august“thumbs down.” Sometimes I thought theolder men, who should have known better,were the most irresponsible. Bored out of all[77]possibility of forming any constructive opinionof a first night, they waited only to see thatevery actor came on as advertised, and thenscuttled back to their typewriters to pound offsomething, anything that would leave themfree for half an hour’s game in the back of thenewspaper office before going home. Whathad they done to us and to our play, to thecross-section of life which we had labored overall summer?

They were better than I had expected—probablybecause it was in September and thedramatic critics were not yet jaded. Possibly,fresh from the mountains, with the sunburnnot yet worn off, they had actually been to seethe play and had had a good time meeting oneanother in the lobby and comparing mileage.At any rate, their remarks were universallygood-natured, if not profound, and their intentionsbeyond cavil. They had one criticismin common—they did not like our ingénue,and I could not blame them any for that.

Will Turnball, on the “Gazette,” said thatMyrtle Manners had done all she could toruin it, but fortunately the play did not dependupon her for its success. He was notaware that it was the playwright who was[78]himself dependent upon her, who put her interestsabove any one else’s in the cast. Iremembered that Turnball knew the girl, andwondered if he had said that deliberately andperhaps on my account. One never knowswhere an obscure sense of chivalry is going tocrop out in a modern knight. We were oldfriends. He had read “The Shoals of Yesterday”beforehand, one happy day in themiddle of last summer, when we were all downat ’Sconset together over a Sunday. And, atthe time, he had objected to Myrtle Mannerstaking that part. He had said she was atrouble-maker, but Jasper, having only recentlysecured his contract with Burton, whowas going to produce the play, did not feellike stepping in and dictating the cast. I hadstupidly sustained him. And now Turnball,knowing that what he said could not fail tomake Myrtle angry, had nevertheless goneout of his way to say it. I smiled at the reactionI knew would follow, and picked upthe next paper.

I was surprised to find that the man on the“Tribune” agreed with him. I did not knowthis critic at all. And the “Globe” said:

“‘The Shoals of Yesterday,’ the new play[79]by Jasper Curdy, well-known short-storywriter, opened last night at the Lyric withgreat success.... When so many girls areout of work this fall, why hire Myrtle Manners?”

I finished my breakfast with the feeling thatI had been revenged.

Jasper had not chosen her, I came to hisdefense. The manager picked her out, Burtonhimself, for no better reason than that herfather played baseball with him on the high-schoolteam back in Plainfield, New Jersey,and she had come to him with a letter and asob-story and a pair of blue eyes. She wasambitious, she had told him, and she wanted towork hard. Well, she understood herself; shewas all of ambitious, but who was to do thehard work was more doubtful. She wasnever up at the hour of the day when most ofthe hard work is done. To do Jasper justice,he had not seen the girl until the first rehearsal,although she had hardly been out of his sightsince. Discontented with the part as it wasoriginally written, Myrtle had insisted onchanges in it until the whole fabric of the playwas endangered. The part of ingénue wasnot originally important, but her insistence,[80]and Jasper’s willingness to please her, hadaltered it until it threatened the lead. Thereforeit had come about that Gaya Jones, whowas creating the difficult part of a societycrook, was herself becoming restless. Therewas no need of antagonizing Gaya. She hadstarted out at the beginning of the rehearsalswith all the good-will in the world, and workedup her character with her usual dependableartistry. If she had her lines cut and MyrtleManners had hers made increasingly important,there was going to be grave trouble. Ihad looked for Gaya in vain in the crowd whowere going out for supper last night. Probably,like myself, she had gone home alone.I wished her better luck in her ice-box than Ihad found in mine.

Now that the play had been launched Iwondered if these two women, upon whoseacting it depended, would become reconciledto each other.

The telephone interrupted my forebodingwith a new fear.

“O Mrs. Curdy? Myrtle talking. Haveyou seen the papers? Is Jasper up? Isn’the? Why, he went home awfully early. Healways does, doesn’t he? Broke up the[81]party; so sorry you couldn’t go along! Isuppose you’ve read what the papers sayabout me? I got up to find out; might aswell go back to bed again! Some of themwere grand, but the ‘Tribune’—Wait tillJasper reads what that awful man said in the‘Tribune.’ And the ‘Gazette’! I don’t believethey sent any one over at all! Thatmust have been written at the desk by theoffice-boy! The ‘Globe’ was grouchy, too,but I know why that was; that Jones whowrites their stuff is married, you know, andhe’s sore at me. Last night, when we were allhaving supper, it was this way—”

I put my hand over the receiver so that Iwould not have to listen to her story about thesupper. I knew perfectly well that dramaticcritics were not loitering around restaurantsafter plays; they had to get their reviewswritten before twelve o’clock.

“No, Jasper isn’t up yet,” I replied, takingmy hand away just in time to hear her insistentquestion. “All right.”

But the sunshine had been taken out of theroom for me, as if a blind had been drawn.Was this what we had been working for—this?Failure might have drawn us together,[82]might have made us need each other more—ordid I not mean that it would have made myhusband need me just a little? But now hewas forever a part of a production—as long as“The Shoals of Yesterday” should live, itsslave and its nurse. Nor did I want it to dieprecisely, nor quarrel with my bread andbutter, but, like many another, wanted successwithout the price of success, and fame withoutthe penalty. If, after the production, Jasperhad to spend all of his time mollifying thisgirl, if he had to get right up out of bed toanswer her demands, what had he gained? Iwas so tired of the whole circle of my life!Tired of plays and of writers, of actors andof stages, of newspapers and of telephones.The list ran on in my mind like a stanza ofWalt Whitman. I could think of just asmany nouns as he could, and of all of them Iwas tired. The thought of leaving New Yorkaltogether was to my mind like a fresh breezeon a sultry noon. There was nothing more todetain Jasper. Why not go?

I looked about the room where I was sittingwith eyes suddenly grown cold to it. Therewas a hinge loose on the gate-legged table thathad once been our pride, so that a wing would[83]go down if one kicked it. The leather cushionon the big davenport in the windows was wornwhite. The curtains were half-dirty and stuckto the screen. The silver needed cleaning.The painted chairs, which furnished that intimate“arty” touch, were like a woman whohas slept in her rouge without washing herface and needed touching up. The living-roomwas too near. I wanted rooms where toleave one was not to look back into it continually,rooms from which there was some escape,that did not merge into one another.Particularly desirable to me at that momentwas a separate kitchen, incorrigibly isolated.I felt that I would not care if it were in thebasem*nt or in another building, if only I didnot have to see the grapefruit rinds on thekitchen sink while I was eating my egg.

That house on the cape! Two thousanddollars! The price of a car, and Jasper hadsaid he was going to get a car—to take Myrtleout in, probably. I decided right then thatif he bought a car, instead of a house, I wouldnever ride in it. (But I knew that I lied,even as I did so.) It seemed to me that ourlife here was ended. More real was theHouse of the Five Pines, the sand-dunes and[84]the sea, the little road and the vessels in theharbor. They were enduring; they had beenthere before us and would indifferently outlastour brief sojourn, if we lived with them therest of our lives. They were the sum of thehopes of simple men and the fabric of theirdreams. I could hear the voices of the childrenwho would run around in that great yard, if itwere ever mine, and smell the hollyhocks thatagain would bloom in orderly rows against thefreshly painted house.

I took the mail in from the janitor—a letterfrom Star Harbor.

Dear Madam:

Mattie “Charles T. Smith” was drowned yesterdaywhile taking up her lobster-pots. I know that youwill feel sorry for her demise, but Providence has nowmade clear the way for you to have the house youwanted. Please advise, as I would like to close thedeal.

Yours truly,
John Bell.

I sat quite still, with the letter trembling inmy hand.

Mattie had gone back to the sea, back tothat ancient mother of hers out of whose armsshe had been taken.

[85]I knew the place where the lobster-potswere put out. A long row from Mattie’swharf, over in one shallow pool of the baybehind the stone breakwater, where childrenplayed on the flats at low tide and the horseshoe-crabsheld carnival. No cottages werenear this spot, no fishermen’s houses stoodup on the bank, for deep-pooled marshesstretched behind it and to one side and beyondthe breakwater was nothing but sand and mosquitoes.The breakwater itself was too lonelya walk for any one but lovers, who have thenocturnal habits of the cat, but who do notpatrol distant beaches to see the sunrise. Andno other person would ever have been in shoutingdistance of the place where Mattie musthave been drowned. I could see it all as itmust have been. An early morning; fieryclouds veiling the rising sun, turning the wholebay to heliotrope and silver; fishing-vessels atanchor, their crews still asleep; sea-gullsflapping up lazily to roost again on pile tops,each one a gargoyle in the morning mist; anda little old woman rowing a heavy boat to hertraps, standing to tug at the slippery line.An extra pull that drew her over the edge; astagger to recover her balance as she floundered;[86]a cry that no one heard on those desolateflats; a boat left rocking, half-full of water;and an old withered body, found when thetide went out, caught fast in the lobster-pots.

Mattie “Charles T. Smith”! Cast upon themercy of these hard fisher-folk and in the endsnatched back by the sea, which alwaysclaims its own! At least, and I was glad forit, she had been spared the ignominy of beingturned out of her home by me or any of mykind. The manner of her going was like theway of her living—an accident of fate, asilence, and a mystery.

Jasper startled me, coming into the roomin his bath-robe, asking for coffee. “Oh,let’s see the papers.”

I had forgotten the papers. I pushed themall toward him and went out to make freshtoast.

The letter lay there. I did not knowwhether to show it to him or not. For thefirst time in our married life I was afraid.I wanted so passionately to have him go awaywith me, to have a place in which to be togetheralone, a home, and yet at the sametime I knew that he would have to choose it forhimself or the project would be futile. Ihated to be refused, and I would not force a[87]decision. Had he risen on this morning of hisgreat success thinking only of that little actressand what it would mean to her, or had he, afterall, created this thing for our own future—forme?

“You’re burning it!” called Jasper.

I hurried in with the toast.

“What are you crying for?”

“I’m not.”

“You’re up too early. Nerves. Youought to take more rest.”

I watched him miserably while he ate andlooked through all the newspapers.

“That’s fine,” he said. “That settles that!The old boys certainly were nice to me!—Betterthan I deserve! Looks as if we weregoing to have money in the bank!”

Then he picked up the letter.

“Read it,” I whispered. But I could notbear to see him, and I got up and would haverun away. He caught me in the doorway and,his arms around me, kissed away my fears.

“I’m glad the old woman’s drowned!”he cried.

“Oh no, don’t say that!”

“Aren’t you?”

“But don’t put it that way!”

[88]“What way? What’s the difference whatway we put it, so long as she’s out of it andwe can get the house!”

“Shall we get it?”

“Do you want it?”

I broke down then and wept upon hisshoulder.

“Don’t cry,” he kept saying, “don’t cry.All you need is sleep. We’ll go up there andget rested. That’s the best news this morning.Why didn’t you tell me right away?”

“I didn’t know whether you’d be interested.”

Jasper laughed, and, through my tears, Ilaughed, too.

“Don’t get any funny ideas in your head,”he said. “You know very well that—”

It was too hard to say. I spared him.

“What I need is not sleep, Jasper,” Iwhispered; “it’s just—you.”

He looked at me quickly, with his chinthrown up, and did not smile. Then hegathered me close to him, as if he had not seenme for a long, long time.

“If that is all you want,” he said; “if thatis all you want!”

And that was all I wanted.



IT was only a matter of two weeks beforewe rounded up our affairs in New York,packed the furniture that had sufficed us in thestudio in the arcade, and took the long ridedown the cape on the afternoon train fromBoston. It was early October, and traffic wasall going the other way. Hardly a passengerwas left on the sooty little local when, afterdark, it panted in exhausted and threw us outwith the mail-bags, covered with sand anddust.

In August when I had been at Star Harbormany people had met the train, summer boardersand jeering natives had made of this anevening’s diversion; but now only the baggage-masterwas on duty. The ticket-office wasclosed, and the conductor picked up a lanternand walked away up the dark road. No onejumped to take our bags or to force upon usa ride in either a station-barge or a jitney,[90]and after standing on the platform until werealized that we might wait there all nightwithout any interference, we picked up ourthings and sought the front street.

If we had arrived only a little earlier, bydaylight, I would have insisted on going rightup to the House of the Five Pines, but nowsupper was an immediate necessity. No onecan wax enthusiastic about even his first homeon an empty stomach.

The “Sailor’s Rest” was lighted up, althoughthe doors were shut and there were nolonger any chairs out on the sidewalk. Itwas not the custom here for the hotel to hangexpectant on the arrival of the train. At thisseason of the year only the townspeople cameand went on the accommodation, and theyhurried home to eat with their own families.If we had been a schooner, now, putting in atLong Wharf, our host might have laid acouple of extra plates for the captain and themate. He was deeply engrossed in hiswinter’s occupation of cataloguing stamps,which he had spread out all over the desk.

“Can we get something to eat here?” askedJasper.

[91]“I don’t know,” replied Alf, without lookingat us. Then he got up slowly, as ifannoyed at the interruption, and tiptoed outfrom behind his barricade.

“Don’t breathe on them,” he warned us, andwent out through a swinging door.

The room we were in was big and clean, withhanging oil-lamps, a new linoleum, and shiningbrass spittoons. We shook the cinders offour coats carefully, so as not to blow awayany of the postage-stamps, and sank down intwo chairs. I had expected Jasper to saysomething caustic, but his writer’s sense hadbegun to reassert itself and he was sniffing theair like a hound. I saw that I had been rightin bringing him up here.

“Supper’s all over,” said Alf, “and thegirls is gone home, but you can have someclams and some coffee, if that will help youout any.”

We couldn’t drink the coffee, but thesteamed clams and a big loaf of Portuguesebread as full of holes as a Swiss cheese weredevoured before we spoke another word. Bythat time our host had put away his stampcollection and had joined us in the empty[92]dining-room. He showed symptoms of ahesitant curiosity as to whether we were expectingto stay all night.

“We are going up to the House of the FivePines,” I informed him. “We’re the peoplewho bought it.”

“Are you?” His relief at our not wantinga bed at his “Sailor’s Rest” was mingled withskepticism. “To-night?”

I was very firm about to-night. Jasperdid not say anything. I think he would havepreferred to stay where he was, but did notlike to say so. As the two men were silent,and rather sententiously smoked their pipes,I continued, “I want to sleep under my ownroof.”

“If you can sleep!” said Alf.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s none of my business, but if Iwas just picking out a place to get a goodnight’s rest, it wouldn’t be the House ofthe Five Pines.”

“You think there is something wrong withit?”

“I know gosh-darn well there is! Pardonme. Wrong as rain. Of course I’m justtelling you this out of friendliness.”

[93]“You haven’t told us anything yet,” remindedJasper.

“I ain’t got anything much to tell.”

“Then we might as well be going.”

This was only a bluff, and I thought thatJasper had misjudged his man. I was exasperatedbecause, without any pretense ofbeing able to understand anybody, I knew thatI could have had the whole story out of him.

“Ghosts are everywhere,” I remarked expansively.“We have them where we camefrom. I’m used to them.”

“I suppose you’re used to people dyingtwo or three times and coming to life again,ain’t you?”

“Why? Do you think the old captain isstill alive?”

“The ‘New Captain’!” he contradicted me;it seems as if I never could learn this title.“Well, if it ain’t him, who is it that’s slidingright through the house, vanishing into ablank wall that has no doors? People that’sbeen abroad at midnight has seen some oneturning in off the back street, cutting acrossthe lawn, but never coming out on the front.”

“Who’s seen him doing that?”

“Brown’s boy. Not that I say he seen him;[94]but I say he says he seen him! Of course Iknow that all them Browns ain’t reliable; toomuch fish eating, it makes them that way!”

“Does it?” asked Jasper, all interest.

Alf would not answer him, but went ondirecting his conversation to me. “Put ’emback on meat and they come around all right.The ‘town home’ over on the back street isfull of crazy people the only thing that’s thematter with is too much herring. Scientificallyspeaking, it overkeys up the brain.”

Having explained, he relapsed into silence,allowing us to sift the evidence.

“But did this Brown boy see a ghost whileMattie was alive?”

“I don’t know as he did, but if he did hewouldn’t have been likely to circulate itaround. He ain’t so foolish as all that!”

“Poor Mattie! Every one was afraid ofher.”

“Not of her exactly, but if you was to sayof her power, I’d partly agree. Suppose,as happened, a boy was to come out fromswimming under her wharf, by mistake—Lordknows he wouldn’t ’a’ come up there on purpose—andshe was to look at him through aknot-hole in the floor—just look, mind you,[95]and not say a word—and he was to go homeand die of a chill, what would you think?”

“I’d think he caught cold in his bathing-suit.”

“Bathing-suit!” Alf scorned the word, asif the probability that the boy did not haveone on refuted my suggestion.

“But,” I insisted, “she was drowned, in theend, naturally enough, like anybody else.”

“Was she?”

“Why not?”

“Well, would any one else that was raisedaround here and could row a boat out to thelighthouse-point and swim two miles back,as easy as you could walk across the street,upset in ten feet of water and get drowned,if they didn’t want to?”

“You think Mattie ‘Charles T. Smith’drowned herself?” I exclaimed in horror.The thought, freighted with terrible responsibility,was too dreadful to accept.

“She was going to get turned out of herhouse, wasn’t she? And she wasn’t onspeaking terms with a town that she wouldhave to accept the crust of charity from.There’s some as says she was crazy, and thatwas why she fell out of her boat, but me, I[96]claim it was the most sensible thing she everdone.”

The subject had become so depressing thatI was more than ready to discontinue it.Jasper was restlessly picking up our bags.

“Let’s go,” said he. “How about the key?”

“We’ll have to go to Judge Bell and getit,” I was beginning, but Alf interrupted me.

“Oh, it ain’t locked! Don’t worry, nobodywould steal anything out of that house; theywouldn’t go near it.” He wished us good-nightin a tone that suggested that it wasnothing to him if we chose to be murdered inour beds, but kindly insisted on lending usmatches and candles and a can of kerosene.

We went happily up the boardwalk, armin arm, and in five minutes turned into ourown yard and opened the front door.

Jasper threw his electric flash on the whitepaneling of a narrow hall, with stairs runningup between the walls. As he did so, somethingrushed past us through the entry andout into the dark.

I shrank back against the wall and pointedafter it. A starving “miau” came floatingback. It was a cat that had been shut up[97]in the House of the Five Pines ever sinceMattie’s death.

We laughed, remembering how, in his will,the New Captain had desired to found ahome for stray animals, but we were botha little shaken. We lit all the lamps thatwe could find and, with the aid of their brightcircle, looked into the shadows to discoverwhat we could about the house that we hadpurchased without entering. Never havingbeen inside the door, it would have been ajust rebuke to our ignorance if we had beenbadly disappointed. But fate had been capriciouslykind. The bargain was better thanwe had dared to dream.

Each room was large and high, with whitewoodwork and panels beneath the square-panedwindows, and the furniture was of theperiod of the house, a hundred years old,much of it mahogany. We would have towait until morning to justify an impressionof it. The household belongings were alljust as Mattie had left them—curtains andrugs, dishes and kitchen-utensils, even food.I knew that I would never eat any of thefood.

[98]Some of the rooms were in the sort of disorderthat comes through disuse, but the kitchenlooked as if Mattie had lived there, andgave us an uncomfortable sense of intruding.Nothing remained of her now in the housewhere she had spent so many years but herfeeling that she ought to continue there, andthat permeated the place like a live presence,a protest in every room. She seemed notonly at war with us, but in a surer and moresubtle way fighting against some other presence,also unseen, but strongly felt. It madeus aware that we had allied ourselves with herenemy and that the captain gloated over ourarrival. I could not pretend to understandthis antagonism, because I knew that theywere held to have been lovers, but I felt that itwas antecedent to his death and to his will—tobe, in fact, the cause of that cryptic document.I began to fear that the peace whichwe had come so far to find was not waitingus. We would have to introduce that noteourselves into the symphony of the Houseof the Five Pines.

Jasper was thinking of architecture.

“Have you noticed,” he asked, “that noneof the rooms are in their right places?”

[99]I saw what he meant. The kitchen was tothe right of the hall, in the part of the housecalled the “porch,” and behind it had beenbuilt the “captain’s wing,” which was simplya large living-room, one story high, hardlypretentious enough to have caused so muchjealousy. To the left of the hall, the frontroom was a bedroom, the same room, doubtless,from which the bedridden “Old Mis’Hawes” used to shout at passers-by on thestreet. Behind the bedroom was the dining-room,evidently seldom used, for it had noaccess to the kitchen except through the fronthall. Upstairs the rooms in the main partof the house were divided as if a child had laidthem out with blocks, each one leading intothe next. To the right of the stairs was theroom over the kitchen, with its dormer-windowfacing the sea, the very window from whichMattie had leaned on the only occasion thatI had ever seen her. This room was habitable,and here we decided to spend the night.

“Nothing can keep me awake,” yawnedJasper, and we both thought of Alf’s pessimismwhen we had left him at the Sailor’sRest.

I was sorry that what my husband said[100]would undoubtedly be true. I have alwaysfound that in the more elusive moments of lifethe male partner escapes much responsibilityand untold anxiety by simply being asleep.

We stood at the dormer-window and lookedout on the dark bay, where the little boats,at anchor, were rocking so gently and so unaware,until we had won a measure of thatquiet which we had been searching for, andthen we said a thankful and a wishful prayerfor our new life in this house before we blewout the candle. We thought that it was themost intimate spot that any one had everchosen for a home and that this was the firstof many evenings that we would stand therein the window together, looking out to star-riseon the sea.

As a matter of fact, we never stood theretogether again.

Jasper was so exhausted that he went tosleep without turning over, but I was tootired to shut my eyes. I stared into the darknessuntil it became vivid, and when the coldOctober moonlight checkered the walls, throughthe small-paned windows, the little room wasalive again.

There were five doors. The walls had[101]been painted a dark blue, and each of thesedoors shot out into significance like the whitemarble slabs of a tomb. None of themwould stay shut. Their iron latches clickedwith every stray gust of the night, andfirst one and then another would swinggently open. I gave up trying to closethem and let them bang as they would. Theyhad rattled for a hundred years; why not onenight more? On the inside of the room twodoors marked either side of a blind white chimney-shelf,one of them opening into the upperhall and the other into a small hall bedroom.On the outer wall opposite, two small doorsopened into closets under the eaves, and betweenthem a third topped the kitchen-stairs,which pitched down steeply, like a ship’s companionway.The wooden bed, with highpainted headboard decorated with a medallionof carnations, stood against the back wall,facing the dormer-window. The bureau andthe wash-stand matched its faded blue, andthe chair-backs held gold spread-eagles, halfobliterated. In one corner was an old sea-chestwith rope handles. I got up out of bedto see what was in it. There was nothing.

All of the stories of the sea that I had ever[102]heard came drifting back to me, borne in uponthe waves of moonlight. Things halfheard and never understood became moretrue than reality. A clock far away strucka long hour.

I was looking at the five white doors andthe bright window and thinking that the wallat the head of the bed was the only blank wallin the room, when I felt as if I were beingpushed. Or as if the headboard were graduallybending. Certainly, the bed was comingdown on me!

I sat up quickly and watched. The highwooden headboard bulged. As I looked itsprang back into place again. This was repeated.

I tried to call out.

The headboard bowed once more. I sprangup and pushed it back with my bare handsand beat upon it.


My throat was paralyzed with terror andmade no sound.



WITH my frantic demonstration of humanantagonism, the pressure on theheadboard was removed. Whatever hadcaused it ceased its malign exertion. Themenace had withdrawn.

In the morning I woke up numb and coldat the foot of the bed, where I must havecrawled for safety, although I could remembernothing about it.

Jasper said it was the best night’s sleephe ever had had.

I tried to tell him what had happened.“What I had dreamed,” he called it, and Icould not make him take the matter seriously.He had awakened refreshed and full of enthusiasm,only complaining that there was noshower and seriously considering taking aplunge into the ocean, until I had to give up mymegrims to enter into an argument about thechances there were for and against pneumonia[104]for one who was not accustomed to swimmingin October. I persuaded him to go aroundand examine the furniture while I found somethingto eat, and while I was trying to accomplishthis I realized ruefully that I hadsucceeded too well in sparing my husband thepsychic reaction that I had been subjected toduring the night. He had not been preparedfor it, and my fright had no significance tohim. Consequently, I received no sympathy.This was what I had wanted, to guard againstour both falling prey to hallucinations, but Ihad not foreseen in how defenceless a positionit was going to place me. I determined thatif anything like the night’s performance everhappened again, I would explain to Jasperevery detail that had led up to the phenomenonand let him solve it as he would. Two headswould be immeasurably better than one, if wehad to smoke out the ghost. I would soonerhave found rats in that house, as the Winkle-Manhad suggested, than a bending wall.

Jasper had discovered a Chippendale chairin the old lady’s bedroom, and a three-corneredcupboard in the room behind it, full ofCanton china, and he would speak of nothingelse.

[105]“A regular gold mine!” he kept saying.“Gee! I wish Thompson could see this!”(Thompson was a collector he knew in NewYork.) And then, later, when the full forceof the value of his possessions had come to him:“I wouldn’t let Thompson see this for anything.”

We had known that whatever was in thehouse went with it, but we had not expectedmuch. No one had been inside the door forso many years that it had no reputation forcontaining antiques, as had so many of the oldhouses of Star Harbor, and it had escaped theweeding out and selling off that leaves to mostof them in this generation only the mid-Victorianwalnut and the modern white ironbed. The House of the Five Pines still heldits original Colonial furniture—great horse-hairsofas and mahogany chests of drawers,hand-made chairs and rope-strung beds, andchests full of homespun linen and intricatelypatched quilts. It would take weeks to inventoryall of it. As a before-breakfast sport,it had to be abandoned. We were so pleasedwith ourselves for our foresight, as we choseto term it, in acquiring a house with such unspoiledplunder that we almost forgot to eat.[106]But finally our appetites could withstand thezest of the salt air no longer.

We laid out the breakfast on the clean redcloth of the kitchen-table, under the windownext the shuttered door, and were babblinglike happy children when our celebration wascut short by the arrival of a boy on a bicycle.

He knocked timidly at the porch door, andheld out a telegram at arm’s length.

“I’ve got to go back to New York,” saidJasper, reading it; “they want me for theplay.”

“But you can’t!” I cried; “we’ve justcome!”

“I know.” Jasper was absently folding thepaper up into a tiny yellow square, withoutlooking at me.

“They told you they were all through withyou.”

“I know it.”

“Who signed the telegram?”

“Why,—Tyrrell Burton.” He handed itto me.

Trouble again. Have fired M. M. Must changepart or Gaya walks out on us. For God’s sake comeand help me.


[107]Tyrrell Burton was the manager. It wasall perfectly evident; it might even have beenforeseen. Myrtle Manners and Gaya Joneshad jumped at each other’s throat the secondJasper had left the city, and Tyrrell was tryingto keep the better of the two. He knewthat Myrtle’s part must be rewritten—it hadbecome so top-heavy in her favor—and a newactress would want to start fresh, with the rôlemore as it was first written. I was ashamed.My first thought had been that Myrtle hadtelegraphed for Jasper and that he was foldingup the telegram so that I could not see it. Ihoped he had not read my thoughts.

“Well?” he asked, impatiently.

In reaction, the tears had sprung into myeyes, and I stood there on the doorstep of ourhouse and the threshold of our new life thatwas to be lived in it, crying. I had not yethad a chance to drink a cup of coffee and I hadbeen up for hours.

Why is it that, no matter how bravely weface the future, how we seemingly have forgottenand, by every effort of the will andmind, have forgiven, still the thing we dreadlies smoldering deep within us, a subdued butnever an extinguished fire, ready at the first[108]suspicion to leap into devouring flame? I hadfailed myself and my own faith more thanJasper.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

He did not more than half understand me.He had not been thinking of me and my relationshipto him; his mind had been racing tothe problem of what in the world to do nextwith “The Shoals of Yesterday.”

“Well, if that is the way you feel about it,”he began, “I won’t go.”

“You must.”

The boy, tired of listening, swung his legover the bicycle.

“Any answer?”

“Yes, wait. There is only one train,Jasper. Take it. Write out an answer forthe boy. I’ll get you started.”

There it was. I had to force Jasper toanswer this urgent summons, had to pack hisbag and hurry him off and appear glad to seehim go, when all the time I was furious withthe fate that took him and the power therewas in material circ*mstances to keep usseparated. Once in a year or so comes a gladday to each of us when he can control destiny,when the thing that he has set his heart on[109]doing is accomplished between sunrise andsunset and his spiritual house is set in order,as it habitually pretends to be. This was notone of the days.

After he had gone I set myself to findingout what was the matter with the headboard.I went up to the little bedroom over thekitchen, where we had spent the night, and preparedto move the furniture. There neverwas a house in which one tenant can followanother without changing every stick in it, andI had a particularly urgent reason for beginningon the bed.

Subconsciously, perhaps, I was looking forit; at least, I was not surprised when I foundit. Behind the headboard was another door.

This door was little and low, and had ahand-made brass latch that sprang open whenI tried it. Stooping down, I found myselfin a long blind closet under the eaves, wherethe roof of the ell that made the big roombehind the kitchen was fastened to the oldhouse. We had not supposed there was aroom above the one below, which was theone that the New Captain had added for hisown uses, but now I began to see, comingout of the darkness, the outlines of another[110]door in a second wall, from which one woulddraw the conclusion that it must open onan attic-chamber. I tried it, but the latchwould not lift up; it was fastened on the inside.

I listened. There was no sound within.But suddenly there swept over me the remembranceof the night before. As vividly asif it were again occurring, I felt the pressurethat had been thrown against my headboard,and I knew that it had been directed by someforce struggling to get out of this room intomine. Overcome by horror, but with feet sofascinated by an uncanny attraction that theyalmost refused to carry me away, I crept outof the cubbyhole and fled down the stairs, outinto the sunlight.

My first thought was of Ruth. If Ruthwere only here! But in the six weeks that Ihad been in New York she had packed hertrunks and gone. There was no use in askingsympathy of the Winkle-Man, or Alf, or anyof those townsmen who had so generously,and so thoroughly, insisted on warning menot to move in. My troubles were mostpeculiarly my own. And Jasper had gone.

The thought of Jasper and the cold Octobersunshine revived my courage. Jasper[111]would have laughed. I could see the wayhe would have opened the door and madecopy of it for future use in fiction. It wouldmean a great deal to him, the little doorwayunder the eaves; he would be glad we had it.To his observation that none of the roomswere in their right places, he could now addthe fact that there was one room which didnot belong to the house at all. It would bedepriving him of a pleasure for me to havethe first delight of opening the door and discoveringwhat lay beyond. I would save ituntil he came back—a day or two, at most—andwe would lift up the latch together.

I walked around to the back of the houseand looked up. Now I could see clearly howthe roof of the captain’s wing had been built.It was quite high enough to admit of a loftbeneath the ridge-pole and was lighted bya skylight. I noticed, too, while I was in theyard, the accumulation of cast-off lumber thatfilled the “under.” Everything that had beenthrown out in the last fifty years had beenleft here, instead of being taken to the “towndump” on the sand-dunes. There were runglesschairs and stepless ladders, oil-stoves anda spinning-wheel, two rowboats and half a[112]dozen mattresses. I determined to have themremoved that day. There might be no cellarand no attic to the House of the Five Pines,but that was no reason why the family refuseshould lie out in plain sight under the house.

A high two-wheeled cart was going downthe back street, and in my innocence I thoughtthat this would be just the thing to secure forhauling away the rubbish.

I do not know to this day what those bluewagons are used for. The ones that I haveseen have always been empty, with an insolentdriver in a flannel shirt staring at the peoplehe passes like an emperor in a Roman chariot.I would like to ride in one some time; it wouldbe a restoring experience to get that superiorattitude toward pedestrians. A chauffeur ina Rolls-Royce in a traffic jam does not achievesuch aplomb. There is a superstition on CapeCod that these carts are built for the sandroads over the dunes, but the only vehiclesthat I have ever met on those desolate tracksare the buggies of the life-saving crew, amiablyplodding back and forth.

I called out to the driver:

“Yoo-hoo! Wait a minute!”

He looked at me, but kept on driving past.


Even if he were one of the Portuguese, hecould not have misunderstood the meaning ofthat call; the children of every continent havehailed each other by that syllable since beforespeech was invented.

But my stoical friend never hesitated. Infact, as I started to run after him, he pickedup his whip and, standing up in the sand-wagon,laid such a blow on the horse’s backthat he jumped up and down without makingany headway. I could hear the fellow swearingat him, urging him by all the saints tohurry. He must have thought that I was thereincarnation of Mattie, or was warned byhis guiding angel to have no traffic with anywoman queer enough to live in the House ofthe Five Pines.

In the village I had no better luck. Peoplewere too used to a display of skeletons in theirown yards to take any interest in mine or,having disposed of theirs, felt no further civicresponsibility. Money could not hire anynative of the cape to crawl under the houseand drag out that heavy stuff. They onlyworked “for a friend” or out of curiosity,which I failed to arouse. By noon I began to[114]think of Mrs. Dove’s ominous prediction thatI never would get any one to help me at theHouse of the Five Pines, and saw that thiswas going to resolve itself into another littlejob for Jasper on his return. I had promisedto have everything in order for him, but ifmy settling was going to be limited to whatI could do with my own hands, the agreementwas nil. It is difficult enough anywhere to beginhousekeeping after a move. One alwaysfinds he has the trunks, but not the keys, anda dozen eggs, without any frying-pan; butan efficiency expert would have quailed at myundertaking. I had to arrange not only myown belongings, when by the grace of the baggagemen’sstrike and the cape train theyshould have arrived, but the offscourings of afamily which had tenanted an eight-roomhouse for generations. New Englandersnever throw away anything! This I had todo without any means of locomotion exceptmy own legs, carrying everything from atack-hammer to a can of beans, cooking withoutany gas, washing without any hot water,and, for candle-power, using wax instead ofelectricity.

I stopped at the Sailor’s Rest for lunch,[115]remembering to shut the door quietly so asnot to disturb the stamps. As I came in, Alfwas saying,

“Nicaragua, four, six, and eight—pink—eighty-four.”It sounded like the echo of afootball game.

“Did you sleep well?” he asked.

“Fine,” I lied.

“Go right in to dinner.” He waved hishand. “It’s better than what you got herelast night—beef!”

I hoped he hadn’t ordered it on my account.

“Alf,” said I, interrupting him between theChile greens and yellows, “Is there any atticto that house of mine?”

“Nope,” he replied, “they ain’t. Theynever was. They don’t have ’em around here.”

That was what I wanted to find out. Theroom over the captain’s wing had never beenheard of by the townspeople.

“They don’t build the roofs that high,” heexplained, anxious to defend the architectureof the cape from ignorant criticism, “on accountof the wind. It would rip ’em rightoff, take a big tempest.”

“What do they do with their old furniture,then?”

[116]“Use it.”

“Or throw it under the house?”

“Don’t you go worrying about what’s underthe house,” said Alf. “You got enough toworry about with what’s in it.”

I did not like to hear him say that. Bythis time I had come to realize that what thenatives thought about the house was probablymore than true. I wished that they wouldstop talking about it and putting curses on it.I ate my boiled beef in chastened silence andwandered on home.

This seemed as good a time as any to unpackJasper’s books and papers and get readyfor his return, because I knew that he wouldbegin on a new manuscript before he pausedto cut the grass. I would have his things inorder, at least. There was a high bookcaseover a desk that looked as if it would be usefulif I cleaned off some of the shelves. Istood on a chair and began taking down theold books.

From the first volume that I held in myhand fluttered a letter. I might have absentlydropped it into the scrap-basket, but leaningdown to get it, the address arrested my attention:

[117]To the new missus.

That might be me.

I opened it, and, on a piece of ruled pad-paper,read:

I would a been here yet if it hadn’t a been for you.

It did not take any signature to makeme know that this cryptic message was leftby Mattie.

Alf was right; I had enough to worry aboutwith what was in the house.



SO Mattie had committed suicide.

The knowledge changed the day for me,altered the whole circ*mstance of our movingin, made a mist of what had before been asclear as sunlight, forced me from the relationshipof a buyer into the moral position of amurderer. It seemed hardly possible that onecould, with no intent of evil, be the sole causeof such a tragedy! And we had been franklyglad, had almost laughed, when we had foundthat she was dead! Never was I further fromhilarity than that second evening in our newhome, when I stood at the great window lookingat the bit of sea through the pine-trees, thenote from Mattie crumpled in my hand.

The sun had set behind the sand-dunes andthe bay was liquid red with the reflection.It had lost the quality of water and had becomeblood. So must it have looked to Mattie,not once but many times during the years[119]that she had tended the terrible “Mis’ Hawes,”after she had grown out of being the barefootgirl whom the boy had chased through thedrying-frames. There was no cod spread outto the salt winds now. The whole industry hadvanished as completely as the owners of it,and, to take the place of these persons indigenousto the sea, was only myself, a strangersleeping in their beds, one who could onlyguess out their histories and who knew nothingof their thwarted ambitions and theirdreams.

Tell me your dreams!... But your dream is you.

We are our dreams—and the dream is all!

What had Mattie’s reveries been during allthose twilights when she must have stood at thissame window with the New Captain and, afterhim, alone? However dreary, they could nothave included the possibility of being drivenforth. It had been left for me, in my presumptuousselfishness, to add that cataclysm.Now I was the one to be alone here. Wasit to be the lot of some woman always to beleft at this window at sunset, to face the growingshadows in solitude? Would it be thatway with me, too?

[120]Some Puritanical instinct in me, deeper-rootedthan the casual conscience of the MiddleWest where I had been born, tracing backto forefathers whose stern necessities of doctrinewere related to this atmosphere, made mewonder if the justice which ought to be metedout to me, the murderer of Mattie, would bethat, for some reason still obscure, my husbandwould never return and fate would force meto change places with the woman whose houseI had usurped and leave me stranded there.

I checked myself. This was no mood withwhich to meet the night. That life hadstripped Mattie at last even of her dwelling,leaving her body as bereft as her soul, was noprecedent for me to follow, or I would end, asshe had, in the bottom of the bay. I wasgrateful to her that she had not chosen thehouse for her act of renunciation. If herrevenge upon me had taken the form of hangingherself, so that I would have unexpectedlycome upon her body, swinging from thekitchen-rafters, in the dark—I put thatthought away, too, and tried to occupy myself.

The sunset, flaming through the windowsthat faced the west, now made a red light everywherethat touched into form the tall bookcase[121]where I had found the message fromMattie, burnished the gold in a Chinese cabinetbrought back by some seafarer, and fellsoftly upon the ivory mantel at the end ofthe room. I made a fire with driftwood whichlay piled in a rough box, had my tea in frontof it, and then began again on thebooks. There was no likelihood that morenotes would tumble out of them, unless itshould be a will, or maybe an old tintypeor a valentine. I shook each volume carefully.

There are people who can straighten up alibrary or turn a vacuum-cleaner on a bookcasein a hurry, but to me it is a labor thattime forgets. There is always a clipping tobe cut from a stale newspaper, or a reviewthat has not been read before, or old acquaintancesamong long-closed volumes that lureone on, page by page. It takes me hoursto go over a five-foot bookshelf with a dust-rag.And to-night was no exception. Particularlyfascinating were the books of the NewCaptain on esoteric philosophy. There wasno getting away from them; here was the“foreign religion” he and Mattie had embracedand the “books to prove it by.”

[122]There was nothing modern. One greattome was Madame Blavatsky’s “Isis Unveiled,”Eastern theosophy set forth in defiantterms to a skeptical audience of 1875. Luckily,I had read it before, or I should havebeen reading it yet. I was already informedas to the writings on the Temple of Karnacthat were identical with those on the wallsof a ruin in Yucatan, proving that the religiousrites of Asia and America were thesame in the days before the Pyramids, whenAtlantis was a continent in the middle ofthe ocean and the British Isles were under thesea. I wished that the New Captain had hearda certain lecture that I had recently hearddelivered by a savant, who claimed that thesecret of how to cut a canal from the Mediterraneanto the Indian Ocean was well understoodby the Magi of the Orient and that itwas only due to international politics that ithad never been attempted. Because, forsooth,it would incidentally cause the Sahara to bepartially inundated and to “bloom like a rose,”but that the redistribution of the waters of theworld would engulf all of England. PoorEngland! As if she, like myself, did not haveenough trouble with what was in her house,[123]without being swamped by what was under it!However, this erudite lecturer had just beenreleased from a sanitarium, we learned afterward,and to it he was shortly returned, theMecca of most of those who follow worlds toofar.

Blavatsky’s story of the ball of fire whichturned itself into a cat and frisked aroundthe room, before floating up the chimney, wasmarked. It could have happened in this veryroom. There was a white sheet of paperpinned to the wall opposite me, with a roundblack disk on it, that might have been therewhen she wished to go into a trance. I feltthat if I looked at it long enough I might seemeans by which Mattie aided concentrationa ball of fire turning into a cat. I wonderedwhat they would have thought of Hudson’sdrummer, who, although locked up in a cell,played upon his drum which was left behind inhis lodging-house to keep awake the enemieswho had thrown him into jail? Or of ConanDoyle’s poltergeists who threw pebbles at theman seeking shelter in a bomb-cellar? Butthey had manifestations of their own, no doubt,and perhaps I should come across some recordof them, although they had worked out their[124]philosophy before the days when one couldsimply seize a pencil and write upon a rollof wall-paper facts dictated by one’s “control.”

Mattie and the New Captain had had noopportunity to be influenced by the greatmass of post-war spiritualistic literature. Thefragments from which they formed their codewere bits of gold for which they had to washmany cold streams of Calvinistic thought.They must have gloated over each discoverylike misers. I could see them sitting herein this room on a winter evening, the shuttersclosed, the lean fire crackling, the two headsbent beneath the oil-lamp, exclaiming oversome nugget of wisdom which would corroboratetheir own experiences. Those werethe times when “old Mis’ Hawes” must havecalled and bellowed and pounded on the floorwithout getting Mattie to answer any summonsto the front bedroom on the other side of thehouse.

Mattie and the New Captain may not haveknown anything about photographing fairies,or the S. P. R., or the S. P. C. A., for thatmatter, but cats they knew. I had found thesaucers of seven of them in the kitchen and[125]strings on all the chairs, as if Mattie had sometimestied them up. There was a book on theshelves about a cat: “The World of Wonders,or Divers Developments Showing the ThoroughTriumph of Animal Magnetism in NewEngland, Illustrated by the Power of Previsionin Matilda Fox,” published in Bostonin 1838. It was enlivened with pen-and-inkdrawings showing Mrs. Matilda Fox beinghypnotized by a feather, with the cat in her lap,which, according to the text, licked her neckuntil it sent her spirit soaring from her bodyin aërial journeys to distant lands. As faras I had time to read I could not ascertainwhether the author was in earnest or whetherhe was trying to ridicule animal magnetism,but I could not help wondering if the book hadnot had some influence on the legacy in favorof a home for cats, which had defraudedMattie. If any one could be put in a tranceby the manipulation of the tongue of a cat,perhaps she had not been entirely altruisticin her harboring of the creatures. Certainly,the one who had rushed wildly out of the houseas we came in was glad to make its escape.Where were the rest of the cats that belonged[126]to the saucers? Catching fish on the beach inthe moonlight, possibly, and hypnotizing sand-pipers.

The books that told of cataleptic sleepwere all well worn. The New Captain livedin the days when the subject of a wanderingmesmerist would allow himself to be stretchedout in a village drugstore window, remaininginert between two chairs for days at a time,while the curious glued their eyes to the glassand tried to stay there long enough to see himmove or catch a confederate sneaking in tofeed him. But this sleep was only the imperfectimitation of the somnambulance whichthe East Indians had practised for centuries.Theirs was true life-in-death, when the heartceased to beat and the body grew cold, andyet, to a disciple of the occult, there was away of reviving it. The theory of vampiresrose from this phenomenon, and that ofcatalepsy, for if a tomb were opened andthe corpse found without decay it was easyenough to ascribe the wilting of a child, in themeantime, to the thirst of the absent spiritfor blood to satisfy its coffined body. Morepersons would have lived for longer periodsif, instead of making sure of death by driving[127]a stake through the possessed one’s heart,they had made sure of life by breathing intohis mouth and unwinding the tight shroud.The ancient Orientals understood this. Theholy fakirs permitted themselves to be buriedand dug up again, to the glory of God, onlymaking sure beforehand that their bodies werenot interred in ground infested with white ants.But the New Captain had the Puritan’srespect for life and death. He dreaded thathe would come to life again in an iron-boundbox, or he would not have despised undertakersor written into the will which we had seen at theWinkle-Man’s the clause about Mattie spendinga week beside his body. He must havethought it was only due to her that he had beencalled back before from the first of the sevenplanes, and that his celestial passport wasspurious unless she signed it. Poor Mattie!No one had sat beside her after her tiredspirit had freed itself.

I picked up another book.

French, this time. It was called “LesSecrets du Petit Albert,” and dealt withnecromancy of the eighteenth century. Therewas also a French book on astrology, illustratedwith crude drawings of the sacred[128]signs of the zodiac and diagrams of potentnumbers. Another one, “Le Dragon Rouge,ou L’Art de Commander les Esprits Célestes,”was not more than three by four inches, andhalf an inch thick. Its brittle yellow pageswere bound in worn calfskin, and gave explicitdirections how to conjure up the deviland how to send him back to his own kingdomwhen one had done with him. My scantschool French could barely master the archaicforms, but I gave Mattie full credit forbeing able to read all the volumes stored onher top shelf. Her ancestry was traditionallyFrench, according to the judge’s story, forshe had been picked up from a ship just offQuebec, and the grooves of her mind wouldrun easily to the mother-tongue. A reclusewill master a foreign language for the mentalexercise it affords. Perhaps in some othernook of the house I should find her Frenchgrammar, but here, indeed, were books thatsome one must have been able to read,—asignificant part of their highly specializedlibrary.

I began reading aloud from “Le DragonRouge”:

“Je te conjure, O Esprit! Deparoitre dans[129]la minute par la force du grand Adonay, parEloim, par Ariel, par Jehovam, par Agla,Tagla, Mathon, Oarios, Almouzin, Arios,Menbrot, Varios, Pithona, Magots, Silphae,Cabost, Salamandre, Tabots, Gnomus Terrae,Coelis, Godens, Aqua, Gingua, Janua, Etituamus,Zariatnatmik, A. E. A. J. A. T. M. O.A. A. M. V. P. M. S. C. T. G. T. C. G.A. J. E. Z.”

[“I conjure thee, O Spirit, to appearinstantly through the will of the greatAdonay”—etc.]

The little magic book then went on to saythat if this were repeated twice, Luciferwould appear immediately. I thought perhapsit would be just as well to discontinuereading.

Had they actually attempted materializationup here in this very room in the old houseon the tip end of the cape? There was nothingagainst it. If it were possible anywhereto conjure up the shades of the dead, or thedevils themselves, this was as apt a place asany—a hamlet at the tip of a barren capethat extended into the ocean a hundred andforty miles, a house separated from that hamletby its bad repute, as well as its location, a[130]room cut off from the rest of the house, andtwo people in it who had no contact withrealities, to whom each was the other’s worldand this world not all. If any one wasable to cut through the opaque cloud of dogmasurrounding metaphysical subjects to aglimpse of realities beyond, I believed thatMattie had done so. And then, I realizedthat I had come by a circuitous path of myown to the very same conclusion that all thetownspeople had long since come to—thatMattie was clairvoyant.

Would that help her now? Did she knowwhere her spirit would dwell more accuratelythan those who were orthodox? Couldshe return the more easily from Stygianshores? Or was that power of previsiononly a mortal faculty that passed with herpassing and that, while it was able to call upothers from the further world, could not bringback itself?

There was a story of an old nurse of minethat I wished I had forgotten—how she wasonce governess in a house where a strangeforeign gentleman had intercourse with spirits;how he used to talk to them as he walkedabout the rooms—and was happy in their[131]friendship and sullen when they would notappear.

“That was all right for him,” she used tosay; “but after he left, the spirits that hehad called up to amuse him still hungaround. That they did, and I could neverget rid of them. Try as I would,—paint,paper, or insect-powder,—every dark nightwhen I was alone one or the other of themwould brush up against me and stay justwhere I could never quite see it until dawn.”

It was a dark night and I was alone. Isincerely hoped that whatever had been conjuredup by Mattie would not brush pastme. At any rate, I had no mind to sleepupstairs again in that little gabled room.I did not argue with myself about the headboard;it was too late at night for that. Iopened up a folding sofa in the room thatI was in, where the New Captain must haveslept many times, and lay down. The soundof the full tide on the rising, answering thequestioning of the Five Pines trees, made alullaby.

It was with a shock and the feeling that Ihad been asleep a long time that I woke up,hearing some one coming down the stairs.[132]The little kitchen-stairs, it must be, thatpitched down from the upper room like aladder, for the main stairs were too far awayfor me to have heard any footfall on them.And this was not the clumping step of a full-sizedman. This was the stealthy, soundlesstread of a body without weight. But stillit was unmistakable.

I sat up in chilled terror, gathering thebed-clothes around me with that involuntarygesture known to all women surprised in theirsleep, and waited for whoever it was to comethrough the kitchen into my room.

But no one entered my room.

At the foot of the stairs some one tried adoor, rattled a latch, and went back up again.For a brave second I thought I would leapout of bed and run and push the bolt on thekitchen door, but before I managed to startI heard the footsteps coming down upon me.This time they would keep on, I thought; butagain slowly, laboriously, they went back up,and every time they lost themselves upstairsit seemed as if I heard the weight of a personthrown against a door. Or did it go throughthe door and then throw its weight againstit? I strained to listen. Then the steps[133]would come down again. The inside doorof the eaves closet upstairs was locked. I hadleft it the way I had found it, but the stepsseemed not to be within that secret room to-night,but without, as if last night a presencehad been struggling to get through the closetinto my room and now was trying to get back.Tortured, restless footsteps going up and downthe stairs, up and down, up and down.

Every time they reached the bottom andtried the kitchen door, I swooned with terror.When they rattled the latch and went backup again I clutched my knees and did notbreathe till they returned.

At co*ckcrow they ceased of their ownvolition, and, my will released, my body fellexhausted.



WHEN I awoke the sun was shining inthe windows on both sides of the studywhere I had gone to bed, the neighbor’schickens were clucking through my back-yard,and the boats on the bay were putting up theirsails. The past night seemed unreal.

The door at the foot of the kitchencompanionway was not only wide open, butfastened back with a brick. I had forgottenthat. Then how could I have heard some onetrying the latch? And upstairs the little roomwas just as I had left it, not a thing disturbed.No one could have thrown himselfa*gainst the small eaves-closet door from thisside, because the bed was still in front of it,and no one could have been shut in on theother side and at the same time be pacingup and down steps. I went into the upperhall and looked at the big main stairs. Had[135]any one been climbing them? But if any onehad, I should have hardly been able to hearhim, away off in the wing behind the kitchen.Perhaps I could persuade the judge to cometo the house and practise going up and downthe flight of stairs, while I listened from thestudy.

I had been reading too much last nightin the old vellum-bound books of occultsciences. Without understanding the mannerof doing so, I had evidently hypnotized myselfinto the condition in which the thing that Ithought probable seemed to be true. I hadmade up my mind that Mattie was a clairvoyantand could materialize spirits and thatthose spirits might still linger in the house;thereupon I myself had materialized one,unconsciously. The first night I had half-expectedto hear or see something uncanny,and it had followed that I had. Thesemanifestations were due to the influence uponme of what I had heard about the House ofthe Five Pines, and to nothing else. Jasperhad not known all the harrowing stories thatwere in circulation, and so he had not seenthe moving headboard. If he had been withme on the second night he doubtless would[136]not have heard footsteps. It was all perfectlysimple when you understand psychology; thatwas it, to keep a firm hold on yourself, not tobe carried away by imaginings.

And then I defended myself that any oneleft alone in a big house like that would behearing things at night and that I was nomore weak-minded than the rest.

After breakfast I began again upon thesettling.

One of the features of the House of theFive Pines was that everything in it wasincluded in the sale. Perhaps because therewere no heirs, or because Judge Bell, as thetrustee, was not grasping; perhaps, and mostprobable of all, because the townspeople hadsuch a dread of it that they would take nothingfrom it. The family linen still was packedaway in the big sea-chest—homespun sheetsand thin yellow blankets, pillow-cases withcrocheted lace. The family china remained inthe cupboard behind the front hall—firestonepitchers and teapots, in pink and faded purple,luster bowls, and white plates as heavy as dumbbells, each with a gold leaf in the center; andin a corner cupboard in the dining-room wasalmost a full set of willow-ware, with all the[137]lids unbroken on the little rice-cups. The bigmahogany bureaus, and there were at least twoin each room, four drawers below and threelittle ones above, contained the clothing of twogenerations of Haweses. This meant more inthe Old Captain’s family than the usual sixtyyears; it meant a hundred, for two more generationscould easily have been born in the oldhomestead if “Mis’ Hawes” had not beenso set against the New Captain’s marriage.Her brass-handled high-boy held calico dressesand muslin underwear, yellow and stiff withstarch, that Mattie had neither disposed ofnor used. Upstairs there was apparel thatmust have dated back past the era of the NewCaptain into that of his father, Jeremiah.In Mattie’s room was less than in the others.She had found herself at the end of her lifewith barely a change of linen.

In the study two doors at either side ofthe finely carved mantel opened into closets.One was filled with shelves on which werepapers and magazines that had been storedfor twenty years. The other was filled withthe out-of-door clothes of the New Captain—aworn cardigan jacket, and a thick bluecoat with brass buttons, two felt hats, and a[138]yellow oilskin. A red shawl hung on a hookat the end of the closet. I took it down to seeif there were moths in it, then dropped itand backed away. The hook that I had liftedthe shawl from was an old iron latch. Thewhole end of the closet was a wall-papercovered door.

I was afraid. The flat sealed door mightopen on the latch, or it might not. It mightbe fastened on the other side. I could nottell. But I did not want to know what wason the other side. I did not want to stayhere any longer.

I fled out to the sunlight and around tothe back of the house. There was nothingvisible; I had known that all the time. Thewall-paper covered door inside must leadeither up or down. Down, there was nothingbut space beneath the house, the “under,” filledwith rubbish. Up—?

I remembered the footsteps of the nightbefore and knew now why the kitchen door andthe little one in the upper room had lookedso unmolested. Those steps that I had heardhad been traveling not the kitchen companionwaynor the main front stairway, but secretstairs built in this wall behind the chimney,[139]connecting with the room above. That waswhere the restless spirit had been promenading,just as it had been the first night, and thatwas where it still must be.

I could not wait for Jasper to return fromNew York to solve this mystery. Neither didI dare to face it alone nor put it off longer.I would go and get Judge Bell, and togetherwe would hurry back and find out who orwhat was living in my house.

But the Judge was not at home. Droppingdown on his front porch I thought of whatRuth had said to me last summer, that thefirst three times you attempted to call onany one that person was always out! Well,I could wait. I was in no rush to returnto the House of the Five Pines. I couldstay here all day, if necessary.

At noon Judge Bell’s Portuguese cook cameout and looked me over.

“The judge he won’t be back,” she volunteered.

“Why not?”

She only smirked without replying.

“Why not? Doesn’t he come for lunch?”

She stuck her second finger in the roof ofher mouth and looked away.

[140]“Not always, he don’t. Not to-day, anyhow.”

“Where is he?” I intended to follow him tohis lair, wherever it was, but Isabella seemedto think I was prying.

“I ain’t to say where he went,” she answered,twisting one bare foot over the other. “Hesays if anybody asts me I don’ know.”

“And don’t you?” I could not resist.

But she only stuck her finger further intoher mouth until I was afraid that she wouldchoke. I saw that I was tempting her to beunfaithful to a trust, and dropped the matter.The judge must have gone off down the capeto a séance, leaving orders with Isabella touphold the majesty of the law.

My next stop was the Sailor’s Rest.

I hoped to find Alf there. He would notbe so stanch an ally as the judge in thisemergency, because he believed in ghosts himselfand could scarcely be convincing in hisreassurances. But he might be persuaded tobreak open those doors for me, and I wouldrepay him by promising to look over all theantique correspondence tucked away in thepigeonholes of the desk for stamps. Theremight well be some rare ones left at the House[141]of the Five Pines. I opened the office doorcarefully this time, remembering not to raisea draft that would blow his collection away.

Behind the ledger sat a strange girl in ageorgette waist, dressed to take tickets at amotion-picture window, who informed mefirmly that “Mr. Alfred had gone to Boston.”

To Boston! It was then that I realizedhow dear Alf was to me.

I turned sadly into the dining-room andtried to eat the beef-hash. One could followthe developments of the hotel’s cuisine bylunching there daily. First the roast and thenthe stew, then the hash, and then the soup—justlike home. And fresh clams every day,—unlessthey were the same clams! Afterlunch I loitered around the lobby for an hour,trying to pick out some one among thestrangers who came in and out at infrequentintervals who would be likely to go back tothe House of the Five Pines with me willingly,as a matter of course, without asking too manypertinent questions. I planned what I wouldsay and what the man thus addressed wouldanswer.

I would say, “There is a door at my housethat is locked on the further side of a secret[142]closet behind the bed that I want to open,and another one downstairs, in—” Howabsurd! If it were only one door it mightnot sound so preposterous.

I might begin: “My husband is in NewYork, and I want you to come up to myhouse and open a door of a secret room—”No, that was worse yet. To a beginning likethat a man would only say, “Indeed?” andwalk off; or he might reply, “Thanks awfully!”

There was no use in accosting any one.They all looked as if they would turn andrun. If only some summer people were here—adventurousartists, or intrepid college boys,or those Herculean chauffeurs that haunt thesoda-fountains while their grande dames takea siesta! But there was no one.

Finally I remembered the Winkle-Man, andhurried up there.

I was surprised to find outside that the windhad turned, the sun had gone, and a storm wascoming up—a “hurricane,” as they call it onthe cape. A fisherman knocked into me,hurrying down to the beach to drag his doryup beyond the rising. Outside of the point,where the lighthouse stood, one could seea procession of ships coming in, a whole[143]line of them. I counted seven sweeping upthe tip of the cape, like toys drawn by childrenalong the nursery floor. They seemed to ridethe sand rather than the sea, their sails appearingabove that treacherous neck which lay betweenthem and me. Their barometers musthave registered this storm hours ago, for theywere converging from all the far-off fishing-banks.The bay was black. Near shore thesailors were stripping their canvas, letting outtheir anchors, or tying up to the wharves.There was a bustle and a stir in the harbor likethe confusion of a house whose occupants runwildly into one another while they slam thewindows. I ought to go up to the House ofthe Five Pines and shut mine.

The tide was far out. Beyond the half-mileof yellow beach it beat a frothy, impatient tattooupon the water-line. When it came in itwould sweep up with a rush, covering thegreen seaweed and the little rills with white-cappedwaves, pounding far up against thebreakwaters, setting the ships rocking andstraining at their ropes, carrying away everythingthat it could pry loose. Now it waswaiting, getting ready, lashing itself into afury of anticipation. There was a feeling of[144]suspense to the air itself, cold in an under-stratumthat came across the sea, hot abovewhere it hung over the torpid land. It seemedas if you could feel the wind on your face, butnot a leaf stirred. People were hasteninginto their homes, even as the boats were scurryinginto the harbor. No one wanted to beabroad when the storm struck.

The Winkle-Man’s loft was deserted. Isaw him far out upon the flats, still picking uphis winkles with his pronged fork, hurrying toget all he could before the tide covered them,knowing with the accuracy of an alarm-clockwhen that would be. Should I wait for him?He might not come back, for he did not livein this shack and where his home was I did notknow. I stood wondering what to do, whensuddenly down the street came a horse andwagon, the boy beating the beast to make it goeven faster, although it was galloping up anddown in the shafts and the stones were rattlingout of the road. The dust flew into myface when they flashed by. Then, as quickly,the whole fantastic equipage stopped.

“Whoa!” yelled the boy. You could hearhim up and down the street.

He jumped over the back of the seat and[145]threw something—a great box, as nearly as Icould make out—into the road, and then, turningthe wagon on two wheels, came careeningback again, still beating the horse as he wentpast me, standing up and lashing it with thewhip, cursing like a sailor, and vanishing inhis own cloud.

All this to get back before it rained?

I looked down the street to where the boxlay in the middle of the road, and then I sawthat he had dropped it in front of my house.It was my box he had delivered, and his hurryhad not been entirely because of the storm.I suppose I might expect to have all my packagesdropped in the road by fleeing roguestoo craven to go near the dwelling.

Vexed with him for being such a fool, knowingI could not leave my belongings there inthe street through a hurricane that might developinto a three days’ storm, yet still havingno one to help me, I ran up the path as thefirst drops came down on my head and, gettingan old wheelbarrow out of the yard, hoisted theheavy thing into it and pushed it up to thedoor. It was a box of books, packed in myhusband’s sketchy manner, with openings betweenthe boards on top through which newspapers[146]showed. Not the sort of covering towithstand a northwest storm! And it wasvery heavy. A bitter gust drove a flying handfulof straw up the street and whirled it roundand round in the yard till it caught in the topsof the pine-trees like a crow’s-nest. Theybent and swayed and squeaked under thehigh wind. A sheet of solid rain swept acrossthe bay like a curtain just as I succeededin shoving the box of books over the thresholdand shut the door behind me.

Something had come in with me. It eyedme from under the stove. There was theskinny cat that had bounded out of the housewith our arrival and had never been seen since!Tired with my futile trip, overwrought withthe approaching storm, angry over my struggleswith the box, I leaped upon the creatureas if it was the cause of all my troubles.

“Get out! You can’t stay here! I don’twant you! Scat!”

But the cat thought otherwise.

It leaped past my clutch, scamperingthrough the kitchen and on into the studybeyond. I followed fast. The room washalf-dark with the storm that beat around it;[147]the rain made a cannonade upon the roofand blinded the windows with a steady downpour.The whole house shook. The fivepine-trees outside bent beneath the onslaughtas if they would snap and crash down uponme. I knew that the old shingles must beleaking, but first of all I must get that cat,I must put that horrible beast out!

As if it knew my thoughts it jumped uponthe mantel and raised its back at me. Itseyes were green in its small head and its tailwaved high above it. It did not seem to be acat at all, but the reincarnation of some sinisterspirit, tantalizing and defiant, aloof, and atthe same time inexorable. I was so excitedthat I picked up the poker and would havestruck it dead. But it dodged and leapedaway—into the coat-closet, and I after it. Imade a lunge with the poker, missed the cat,and struck the latch of the forbidden door.It flew open. The cat sprang—and disappeared.I followed. As I found myselfclimbing steep steps hand over hand in a blackhole, I had time to think, like a drowningman, that anyway I had the poker, and ifit was the captain hiding up there, he must[148]be an old man and I could knock him down.I did not want to be locked in the house ina hurricane with a black cat and God knowswhat. I wanted to find out.

What I found was more of a shock thanwhat I was ready to meet.



THIS was a child’s room; there wereplaythings on the floor.

The rain fell heavily on the low roof,blanketing the skylight and making the loft sodark that for a few seconds I could not see.

A sound came from a far corner. High-strungwith terror, I thought it was some witlesscreature who had been concealed up herefor many years, waiting for death to unburdenit from a life that could never growold.

It moved—and I saw it was the cat.

Again I could have killed it, but instead Isank down on the floor and began to laughand cry.

“Come here, Cat! I won’t hurt you.We’re all mad together.”

But the cat mistrusted me. She slunkaway, and for a while watched me very carefully,until, deciding that I had lost interest in[150]her, she sat up and licked her tail. I wonderedif this was her regular abode and if itwas she whom I had heard walking above meat night, and, if so, how she managed an entrancewhen the doors were closed. Perhapsshe was feline by day and by night was psychic.But she was not a confidential cat. Somethingfell coldly on my hand. I looked up.The skylight was leaking.

I could distinguish the furniture in the loftnow. I saw a wash-bowl on a little stand,and put it under the loose-paned glass in theroof beneath which a pool was spreading.There was a low bureau in the room and ashort turned bed, painted green, with a quiltthrown over one end, two little hand-madechairs, and one of those solid wooden rocking-horses,awesomely brave in the dusk. Anopen sea-chest held picture-books and paintsand bent lead soldiers, and strewn upon thefloor were quahaug-shells and a string ofbuoys. The room appeared as if its ownerhad just stepped out, and once more I tooka cautious look around, behind me and in allthe corners. Running my hand over thequilt I found that the dust of years was thickupon it. This attic had not been lived in[151]recently. Its disturbed face was only thekind of confusion that is left after some onehas died whose belongings are too precious totouch.

I opened one of the drawers of the cherrybureau and discovered that it was full of theclothes of a little boy, of a period so long agothat I could not fathom the mystery of whohe might have been. Tears came to my eyesas I unfolded the little ruffled shirts made byhand out of faded anchor-printed calico, andpicked up the knitted stockings. This hadbeen a real child; there were real holes in thestockings.

My theory that it was the captain who wasliving up here was exploded. Like a percussion-capunder a railroad train it had goneoff when I blundered into the room. Nothingremained of it now but a wan smileand a sensation of relief. I only regrettedthat I had not broken open both doors behindmy bed after the first night and rid my mindof the obsession at once. I walked acrossthe room to the door at the far end and foundit was not locked after all, only that the rustylatch was stuck. Forcing it up, I found myself,[152]as I had expected, in the eaves closet,where the little door ahead of me led into Mattie’sroom. I would have to go down the otherway and move the bed in order to open it,but I felt assured that no one had been beforeme and escaped by retreating through here.I peered up and down the black length of thecloset, whose floor was the adjacent edge ofthe roof of the old part of the house. Obviouslyno one was concealed. But fromthe rain that filtered in and the shaking of theattic beneath the storm, I felt that draftsalone might have caused the bending ofthe wall. Wind was sure to be playing tagat midnight in this space between two partitions,and a neurasthenic imagination couldsupply the rest.

I only wished that I had all those miserablehours back that I had wasted during the day,wrestling with the mystery. The best theorythat I had evolved was that the New Captainhad not died at all, but that Mattie, watchinghim during that legendary week, had managedto raise him out of his cataleptic sleep,and, although the townspeople thought he hadbeen buried, she had kept his life a secret forthe last five years. She could easily have[153]hidden him in this unknown room. Thatwould explain why she was so loath to showthe house to any one. It would also explainwhy she refused to move out and why, in theend, she committed suicide rather than do so.Not daring to abandon him and have himdiscovered by the next occupant, an eventwhich would end by their both being incarceratedin the same poor-house, she had done awaywith herself. The significance of this movewould have been that Mattie was no longerdependent on the New Captain nor enchainedto him by the spirit, as she was always reportedto have been. Loving him, she wouldnever have deserted him. But thinking ofhim in the rôle of a cataleptic old man, resuscitatedafter his second death, it was plausibleto suppose that he would be so loathsome asto have worn out all her emotions, even faithfulness.He must have been no more than acrazy man, shut up in that loft, and love,though as strong as Mattie’s had been, cannotlive forever on mere remembrance. So,according to my solution, she had at last forsakenhim, after having provisioned himbeforehand, as for a siege. It had been onlythe short length of a month after her drowning[154]that we had moved in, and during thattime no one else had been near the place.After my arrival, perhaps as before, he hadlain quiet all day. By night he had prowledaround trying to get out.

It was a grand theory—while it lasted.I did not analyse the flaws in it, now I hadgiven it up. Another night did that!

However, so many things had been solvedby my heroic journey into the unknown andthe unknowable, and I was so interested inthem, that I forgot the rest. Here was thecrux of the building of the captain’s wing,the reason for not hiring workmen in thetown, and why Mattie alone had helped tocarry lumber and worked until she fell exhaustedfrom her own roof. Without dwellingon the secret room that had become anursery, considering that room in its originalaspect as part of the passageway betweenMattie’s room and the New Captain’s, herewas cause enough for not wanting any outsidehelp. Mrs. Dove had been wrong in herconclusion that because he had employed novillage carpenters they had afterward boycottedhim. He would never have given themthe opportunity. Also, the architectural[155]idiosyncrasies of that room were her excusefor not showing the house when the judgehad tried to sell it. A person who wouldbuy it as I had, without going inside the door,was an exception. There were not manywhose need was so urgent; most house-shopperswould have poked behind her bed and priedinto all the closets before the deal was closed.

Mattie had managed to keep this room hiddenall her life. Alf, at the Sailor’s Rest, hadtold me squarely that there was no attic, andhe knew as much as any one else in the townabout the House of the Five Pines. Old Mis’Hawes had died without knowing that afterMattie had plumped up her pillows and thrustthe brass warming-pan into her bed, andtaken her candle and gone upstairs, she wasable to come down again and spend the eveningwith the New Captain. I would keep thesecret, too, partly out of loyalty to Mattie,who had bequeathed it to me, and partlybecause it would be a lark to have it knownonly to my dear one. I could hear Jasper’sexclamation of pleased surprise when, somenight after he had tucked me in, I appearedagain through his study-closet. It wouldbe a game for winter evenings.

[156]I let myself down the steep steps behind thechimney and, going through the study and thekitchen, came up into Mattie’s room. Shovingthe bed away from the little door in theeaves closet, I opened it and walked straightback into the attic-chamber. That was theway of it—a complete loop through the house!

Mattie’s room was to be mine for no otherreason than its mysterious means of egress.If I had any servants or any visiting relatives,I would put them in the two big bedroomson the other side of the upper hall and turnthe hall bedroom into a bath-room. But ifI ever had any babies, if we ever had, I knewwhere I would put them. There was a roomnext mine waiting for some child to play withthe wall-eyed rocking-horse and sleep in thelittle turned bed. Dormer-windows could becut on both sides and running water bebrought up, and such a nursery would bloombeneath the old roof that the art magazineswould send up representatives to take picturesof it. I could hardly restrain my impatienceto begin to make it ready, although as yet therewas no need for it. For the first time sincewe moved into the house I was happy andcontented.

[157]I was in the mood to write Jasper a longand intimate letter, telling him of my hopesfor our life up here and how the House of theFive Pines was all ready for us. Of myhallucinations about the attic I said, “Nothingwas locked in the room but my own fears.”

The tide had turned, and from my windowat the big desk in the lower room I watchedthe lines of foaming spray licking up thebeach. There was no longer any horizon betweensea and sky. All was one blur of movinggray water, picked out with breakingwhite-caps and roaring as it fought to engulfthe land. I thought, as I often had before:suppose the tide does not pause at thecrest and retreat into the ocean, but keepson creeping up and over, over the bank andover the road, over the hedge and over thehouse. However, as always, it halted in itsrace, pawed upon the stone breakwater, andI knew that by morning it would have slunkout again, and that children would be wadingwhere waves had been, and Caleb Snow wouldbe picking up winkles. Living was like that;the tide of our passions turns. The New Captainhad built this double room for the greatstorm that had swept through his life, bearing[158]away the barricades of his traditions; but itsforce was spent now, and the skeleton laidas bare as a fish-bone on the sandy flats wherestrangers walked.

As I sat at the desk I smelled coffee cooking.The impression was so strong that Iwent into the kitchen and walked over to thestove to shove back the coffee-pot that Ifancied had been left there since morning.The fire must have caught on a smolderingcoal and the grounds were boiling up. Butthe coffee-pot was not on the stove. I foundit still on the shelf, and the coffee was safe inthe can. The odor must have come from out-of-doors.

I was too tired to figure the matter out, andended by making some for myself, and goingto bed. This was my third night at theHouse of the Five Pines, and I retired peacefully,in confidence, without any disturbinginhibitions. Everything had been solved.

I had shut the door in the secret stairs inthe study-closet and fastened it with a piece ofwire. In Mattie’s room I dropped downon the bed where I had shoved it across thefloor that afternoon. Afterward I rose andpushed the bureau in front of the little door.[159]I do not know what subconscious motive impelledthis, but a woman who is living alonein a house with nine known rooms, none ofwhich are in their right places, and threestairs, front, back, and secret, ought to beforgiven for locking up what she can.

Rain fell in wearied gusts; the worst wasover. The wind, still high, blew dense cloudsacross the face of the moon and carried them onagain over the sea, so that the waste was momentarilyillumined. Whenever the veils ofmist were torn aside the oval mirror in itsframe above my bureau reflected the moonlight.I watched it for a long time on myway to sleep.

At exactly twelve o’clock I found myselfsitting up in bed.

There was moonlight in the room, that fellin quivering patches on the bed-quilt andlightened up the dark walls, throwing intorelief all the five white doors. But there wasalso another light, on the ceiling, that movedsteadily up and down. Forcing my hypnotizedglance away from it, I turned to thehaunted door and the bureau that I had placedin front of it, and saw with sickening understandingthat the mirror above it was swaying[160]on its hinges, swinging back and forth.This caused the moonlight reflected from thewater to dance like a sun-spot. The glassturned as if it were being pushed and couldnot keep its balance. I crawled over to it andput my hand out to steady it, and the wholething turned.

As I drew back, the pressure on the otherside of the wall withdrew. I could hear footstepsreceding until they fell away down whatI now knew was the stairway at the otherend of the secret room. I had heard themthe night before and I was sure. Whateverwas in there had given up trying to get out atthis side and was going back to try and getout of the door in the study-closet. I hadwired that; the footsteps would return.

There was no use in trying to convincemyself for the third time that this phenomenonwas caused by the cat. I had put her outin the rain. And if I were mistaken, ifafter all, I had locked her up in the loft,could the weight of a cat shake a wall so thata mirror would swing on its hinges? Thiswas the footstep of something larger than acat and, Heaven help me, smaller than a man!

I heard it coming back, stealthily, walking[161]softly, picking a barefooted course across theupper chamber toward the thin partitionsthat separated its room from mine. I knewthat in a second more it would try one doorand then the other, and that the whole wallwould shake and give and the mirror I wasclutching would tip again and throw fantasticlights. I heard it lift the latch.



IN the morning I was lying on the floorwhere I had fainted, between the bureauand the bed.

Was it going to turn out that I could notlive in the House of the Five Pines after all,that I should never be at peace with it?Would there be another manifestation thenext night, and another the night after, untilmy mind was gone? I felt that it was goingnow.

At midnight I could not help but thinkthat what I heard was caused by ghosts; byday I refused to accept anything supernaturaland forced myself to a material explanation.

Did I, or did I not, lock the cat inside thehaunted room?

There was only one way to find out. Iunwired the door and climbed up again, andfound in the sunlight that there was nothingmore alive in the attic than the rocking-horse.[163]Opening the eaves closet, a shaft of lightdisclosed a hole in one end large enough toadmit a cat, granting that she could climb tothe roof by means of one of the pine-trees.But cats do not prowl around in the rain.

Why had I been so certain that the NewCaptain had not preceded me through theeaves closet the day before? While I wascoming up the stairs he could have pushedthe little door wide enough open to crawlout under the bed and put the bed back again.He might do it another time, or half a dozentimes a day, until I put a nail into it, playinghide-and-seek up one stairway and down theother. He could have crept up the secretstairs and been hiding in the attic at the verytime that I wired up the door at the foot.

This time I tried to make the fasteningmore secure, but found that the flimsypartition had warped with the wet weather;and I ended by locking the outside door of thecoat-closet with a key that I managed to fitto it after trying each one in the house. Thetwo doors of the eaves closet upstairs I nailedsecurely from my side.

“Now get out if you can,” I said aloud.I felt like some one who steps up on the stage[164]and ties the hands of the magician. At thesame time I realized perfectly that if whateverwas not there in the attic when I fastenedit up could get in later, it could also getout.

I went back to the theory that I heldyesterday.

One thing troubled me. Why, if the NewCaptain was living, had he permitted his willto be found? He could have hidden it, orhave had Mattie dispose of it, so as to preventit* working against himself. By the termsthat he had drawn up the house was to be sold;nothing could be more inconvenient to onewho was trying to hide in it. Unless he deliberatelyplanned to have it sold for the maliciouspurpose of driving out Mattie! He hadbequeathed her nothing. If the house passedinto other hands, she would inevitably beforced out; while he, as long as he livedfurtively between two walls, was safe. Orperhaps he meant to make himself manifestafter she had gone. Perhaps that was what hewas trying to convey.

Why had he come to hate her? YesterdayI was sure that it was she who had tired ofhim, wearied of a liaison with a daft person,[165]glad to go; to-day I was convinced that itwas he who had grown restless under the oppressionof her management. In doubt thatdeath would release him from her spell, fearingto survive another cataleptic burial, he hadcunningly drawn up this document whichwould rid him of her.

To test this hypothesis would be to ascertainbeyond a doubt whether or not the NewCaptain was actually buried. There was avault in the cemetery in the Hawes name, butunless I investigated the interior I wouldnever feel sure that the old rogue was in it.I determined to make the judge show me theNew Captain’s coffin.

On my way through the town I sent atelegram to Jasper, paralleling my letter andcontradicting the substance of it:

Don’t like house. May give it up.

That would prepare him, should I decideto leave.

The judge was at home, but “busy.”Would I wait? I would, I assured Isabella.

The age of leisure has not vanished fromthe earth; it has taken the “accommodation”train, gone down the cape, and stopped off[166]at Star Harbor. While my host finishedwashing his Ford, or whatever he was loiteringover, I had full time to recognize theoddity of my behavior. Judge Bell himselfwas not so surprised to receive me as I was tobe there. And yet a canny sense of the valueof silence kept me from straightway breakingdown and confessing the details of thesleepless nights which had led up to mydemand. I felt, self-consciously, that, havingbought the House of the Five Pines inspite of warnings, it had become so much myhouse and my mystery that I had no rightto complain. If I confided in the judge,he would not try to help me. He would takemy ghosts to his bosom as just so muchcorroborative evidence of his own pet psychicformulas. The time to explain was after Ihad solved my problems.

So when my host finally appeared I onlysaid that I wanted to be sure the New Captainwas in his coffin, and the judge replied thathe could not blame me much for that.

“Are you sorry you bought the place?” heasked, switching the late asters with his caneas we crossed the downs.

“I’m sorry that we had to turn Mattie out.”

[167]The message in the book I did not mention.

“Some one would have bought it,” thejudge declared, speaking officially, andthen he added, as his own thought, “Shewas done with life, anyway, long ago.”

The cemetery lay on one side of a lowhill, behind the roof-tops of the town. Thegravestones were small, and sheep nibbled thegrass between them, so that as we approachedit looked like nothing more than a pasturesprinkled with boulders.

A late, traveling circus had pitched its tentsat the foot of the slope, and we were silent aswe threaded our way through the rough-lookingprofessionals who were standingaround in the sun, trying to dry out afterlast night’s storm. Men were shaving, theirpocket-mirrors hung upon a tree; women werecombing their hair or sitting smoking, half-dressed,in the open. A charred fire showedwhere their breakfast had been cooked, andthe open flap of a tent exposed their sleeping-quarters,with some of the ill-favored crewstill under the blankets.

The elephant, as large as a monument, hadbeen led down to the brook.

“We’ll have to hurry or we won’t get back[168]in time for the parade,” the judge said. “Ihear they are going to have a parade.”

He was as pleased as a child, and stoppedand patted the elephant.

I could hear the caravan’s laughter behindus when we reached the old Hawes tomb.From the edge of the graveyard the circusband was tuning up. Grief was taking aholiday.

The judge unlocked the gate of the ironfence around the vault, and then he unlockedthe grating and we went down two steps intothe damp interior. The sunlight from theopen door behind us flooded the cellar-likeaperture, making its contents crudely visible.The stone walls gave out no hint of horror.Only an aroma of melancholy filled the resting-placeof this strange family who hadonce been a dynamic force in their corner ofthe world and were now become a row ofrusty boxes.

I saw the coffin marked with the brassplate of old Captain Jeremiah Hawes, andthe coffin of “Mis’ Hawes,” his wife, and,on the lowest tier, that of the New Captain.

“Where is Mattie?” I asked.

The judge waved his hand ambiguously[169]toward the bay. I took it to mean that shehad not been honored with the sanctuary ofthe family vault. In the end, she was nota Hawes. Without saying anything more,it seemed as if we understood each other.Mattie had been buried in unhallowed ground.

Not that the New Captain was ever anythingmore than an infidel. I was indignantwhen I realized how much better he had faredthan she. Some one, probably the judge, hadwhite-washed his soul in spite of his preferencesand given him a Christian burial.With Mattie things were different, in deatheven as in life. I did not dare to inquire anyfurther for fear I would learn that they hadtaken her poor drowned body and thrown itunder a heap of stones at a crossroads.Customs of the Old World and superstitionsof the New lingered in this neck of NewEngland where, not too many years ago, forlornold women had been burned as witches.

The New Captain’s great iron box wasstrong and solid; it did not look as if anythingcould get out of it or ever had. The judgeand I stood staring at it.

“I saw him myself,” the judge said, “beforethe lid was fastened down, and he had been[170]lying in that room a week then, like he askedto in his will. He was dead all right; youdidn’t need to look at him.”

“Was there a funeral service?”

“You bet there was. The Old Captain’sparson saw to that—Brother Jimps—gonenow, too. There was some talk against it.The new minister he said he wouldn’t ’a’done it, but I knew enough not to ask him.”

The judge chuckled over his grim recollections.

“Yes, I saw the thing was all done properat the time; but I guess it wouldn’t be goingoutside of my rights any if I was to openthe coffin now and set your mind at rest.”

“Please don’t!”

“I brought a chisel—”

“Stop! No wonder she was queer.”



“Oh, yes, she was queer all right. But then,she always was. You don’t want me to openit?”

It struck me that there was a great deal ofthe inquisitive little boy left in the old judge,but I did not have the courage to gratify him.

[171]“Let’s go,” I answered. “I’ve seen everythingI need.”

It was at this precise moment that I caughtsight of a small coffin. It did not lie in stateon the stone shelves on each side of the vault,but was pushed back into a dark corner.

“What’s that?” I asked sharply.

The old judge did not answer.

“Did the Old Captain have another child?Did the New Captain have a brother—or asister?”

The judge stood in the open doorway, hisface turned toward the downs. I couldhardly hear his words when at length heanswered.

“That is his son.”

Not understanding, I looked at him andthen at the little coffin; and then at him again.


“The New Captain’s. He never had anybrothers nor any sisters.”

“But,” I protested, “I did not know he hada child.”

“Nobody else knows it.”

He drew me outside and locked up thegrating with his large, hand-made, iron key.

[172]We walked away in silence. But it wasmore than I could stand.

“Did he live in the house?” I asked, at last.

“I don’t know anything about it,” answeredthe judge unhappily. “I was hoping youwouldn’t ask.” There was upon his face anoldness and discouragement with life that Ihad never seen there before. “I was his bestfriend, and his only friend at the end, and henever told me anything about it. The daywe buried his mother, old Mis’ Hawes, I sawthat little coffin in the vault, just like youdid, only there weren’t so much dust on itthen. I was staring down at it, after the otherpallbearers had gone. The New Captainseen me.

“‘What are you looking at? Come on!’said he. And I said, ‘Who is that?’ and hesaid, ‘That’s my son; now you know whoit is.’

“That’s all he ever said and all I ever askedhim, and I never mentioned it to any one sincethen.”

A great comprehension suddenly came tome, and I was dazed with what was whirlingthrough my mind. I would have acknowledgedthe finding of the loft to him, except,[173]from the way the judge had dealt with thematter all these years, I realized that he preferredto be left in ignorance. What he hadnever inquired into he did not want to know.I did not attempt to intimate to him how muchthe discovery of the little coffin meant to me.It was one secret more added to the burden ofthe House of the Five Pines, but one mysteryless.

After a while I asked, “How long ago wasthat, judge?”

And he answered, “Mis’ Hawes died in theearly eighties.”

A whiff of vault-like air seemed to passover my heart. I was back once more in thedark loft, with the rain beating down on theroof. That was the period when boys worefluted calico shirts.

The judge and I walked slowly down theslope between the headstones and the crosses.On one grave was a carved stone lamb, anda stray live one had lain down beside it.Milk-bottles blossoming with petunias andlard-pails filled with earth in which bloomedyellow nasturtiums made a brave display.Tall Lorraine crosses, with Portuguese names[174]carved in the weathered wood, were lettered inred and gold. The wreaths were of beads,such as they use in the Western Islands, fromwhich far lands the fishers had brought thecustoms of their forefathers. Many littlemounds were enclosed with a low woodenfence, marked with a headboard at oneend, as if an open-bottomed crib had beenset down on the grass. Here and there anold musket stuck into the ground or a cheapflag, faded since last Decoration Day, showedthat from this village, too, our country hadtaken toll in the fighting of its wars. Someof the soldiers’ graves were dated 1777.

At one side of the hill, where the grassdwindled away into the encroaching sand, wasa sort of potters’ field, with unpainted pinecrosses of uniform size. Thinking that perhapsit was a military section, I bent downand read the names.

David Lester, Lost at sea, 1856.... JoLippa, aged 19. Lost on the Veronica, offthe Great Banks, 1890.... Capt. MilesLongsworth, 1790-1830. Drowned with sixof his crew on an Iceland Voyage....Samuel Polk, 1880-1915. Lost at Sea.

A group of them would bear the same dates,[175]as if half a dozen had been drowned in thesame disaster.

“What does it mean?” I asked.

“They are all sailors,” replied the judge,gravely, “who were lost at sea. When theirbodies are not recovered, their families feelbetter if they can give them a grave with theothers on the hill. Sometimes we have thefuneral, too, if many have gone down together.Last year there was eleven on one vessel.”

I remembered what Ruth had told me aboutwrecks and the “graveyard of the cape.”

“But I would rather have my boy’s crosshere,” I vowed, “than there!”—with a gestureback toward the Hawes’s big vault. “Passers-byat least may know what these sailors’ namesare and that they once have lived.”

The old judge bowed his head.

I put my hand in his rough hand and ledhim on. “I’m sorry,” I said.

He smiled at me a little in a far-off way,as if it were some one else he were smilingat. I could not bear to watch his face. Thepeculiarities that his isolated life had cultivateddid not separate us so much now. Heseemed pathetically human and, like all of us,needing sympathy, struggling forlornly against[176]the obstacles that his own limitations hadcreated. It no longer seemed strange thathe was attempting divination and second sight,trying to wrest the undiscoverable from themute unknown. After all, he might be theonly one of us whose philosophy was right.

Materialism fell away from me in thatsand-swept graveyard where only the graysheep moved among the symbols of the dead.Objectivity lost its grip; the subjective wasthe only reality. I recalled what the Hindusbelieved: that this world was an unnecessarytorment, valuable only for the acquiring ofgrace, which might as well be accomplishedby sitting upon a pillar; that the only truthwas the life of the spirit, which had begunwith the spinning of the Wheel and wouldendure so long as it revolved. The asceticsof all religions had preached nearly the samething, in terms understandable to their owngeneration and their own race. The impulseof the soul, confined in its body’s prison, toreach out to souls which had left theirs butwhich still hovered near, was the only pastimeworth an adult’s serious attention.

Out on the daisy-covered downs where therain-washed sunlight blinded one to the immediate[177]vista, where the reluctant storm-cloudsoverhead moved in white masses throughthe brilliant sky and banked themselves uponthe ocean’s rim, the strength of the judge’sspiritualism subdued my worldliness. In anew meekness and dependence of will I didnot want to lose sight of him. And I hadno impulse whatever to return to the Houseof the Five Pines.

As we came near the circus grounds theline of skinny horses and the tarnished animal-wagon,the weary clown and the dusty elephant,were already winding their way tothe village. The judge began to hurry.

“What are you going to do this afternoon?”I asked.

He looked as uncomfortable as his Isabella.

“Why, to tell the truth, I—I’m busy,” hestumbled.

“Judge, are you going to the circus?”

“No, I ain’t.”

“Well, whatever it is, I’m going to do it,too.”

“Do you mean that?” His eyes penetratedmine as a seer who would probe the faith ofa novitiate. “All right. Be around to myhouse at two-thirty. I’ll take you to aséance.”



TWO-THIRTY found me on the porch ofthe judge’s house again, picking up amodern magazine of the occultists which laythere on the table. This time, because I wouldhave liked to read it, the judge showed up onthe minute.

“You can take it home with you,” he said,noting my disappointment.

Was he glad of a proselyte, I wondered.

The townspeople stared when we appearedon the front street together, but then, theyalways stared at me. I had not asked wherewe were going—to one of the rickety store-buildingson the water-front, I fancied, insome back room over tidewater.

Instead, we turned off at the railroad trackand skirting the town dump, where, on abriery height, the refuse of the entire populationwas spread out to breed mosquitoes,took a little path through the marshy woods at[179]the base of the sand-dunes, and followed ittwo miles. Blueberry-bushes at our feetgrew green and high, rid of their prolific harvest.Wintergreen berries were turning red,anticipating frost. The leaves of the sumacwere wine-colored, and the dark racemes hunglike tassels heavy with their glutinous ripenedseeds. Goldenrod and purple asters riotedalong the path, and tiger-lilies bordered theblack ponds. Scarlet-winged blackbirds flittedthrough the low branches of the oaks, andwild canaries dived from sight. Bayberryand sassafras made the air sweet, and thebrown pine-cones crunched under foot. TheOctober sunshine, released after yesterday’sstorm, danced between the interlacings of thewild grape-vine, which covered the undergrowthwith its mocking pattern.

The soil of the woods was shallow, and thetrees, sending their roots too quickly intosterile sea sand, shriveled and died beforethey had reached maturity, so that the forestwas half-new and half as dead as if it hadbeen burned. Growth here was quick andalmost tropical, a glad green and a fast sunsetof color, and then stale brown stalks. Thedunes, bearing down upon the woods from[180]the ocean on the far side of the cape, sparednothing. Little by little they covered thetrees—first a soft pile of sand, no larger thana child would play with, heaped upon the surfaceroots, then a half-hill, out of which thefighting trunks protruded, and at last a hardplateau, with the remnants of the highestbranches thrusting futile twigs, barren ofleaves, up into the mocking sun. The sandsuffocated the pines and buried them, so that,climbing up out of the swampy valley intothe immensity of the yellow dunes, we walkedupon buried forests.

“How far?” I asked the judge. I supposedthat we would trudge on to the sea.

“Not far,” he answered.

To my surprise, he turned to the rightalong the crest of the last great dune abovethe tree-tops, then slid back, down an unbrokenhill into the woods once more, and I feltthe roof of a hut under my feet. Here wasa hermitage, not on the path where wanderingsteps would ever find it, but hidden in thisspot accessible only to those who knew theway.

The top of the low cabin hidden under thetrees was half-buried in the sand of the dune[181]behind it. We slid down off the roof andknocked at the front door. A colored manopened it cautiously, bowed gravely, and letus in. We found ourselves in a darkenedroom with five other persons, who were quietlywaiting for us, sitting in a half-circle on thebare floor.

A colored man on Cape Cod is as exotica growth as mistletoe. Where this one dark-skinnedman had come from I could not guess;why he stayed was easier to imagine. Hispower as the representative of another racewas as unquestioned as a white man’s is inan African jungle or a Chinese in Alaska.He was not so old as to have lost the use ofhis keenest faculties, nor so young as to under-estimatethem. He was small of stature, withan intellectual face and quick-moving light-palmedhands. He wore a white tight-fittingjersey and high-turned corduroy trousers.The great toes of his bare feet were separated,like those of an ape. He seemed like a mixtureof a cave-man and the motion-pictureconception of a cave-man; as if, knowing thevalue of his picturesqueness, he not so muchcultivated as accepted it. There were nochairs or tables; the bunk was covered with[182]boughs and fastened to the wall, but there wasa very capable-looking blue-flame oil-stoveand also a phonograph. The windows on eitherside were shielded with curtains of yellow-batikedcheese-cloth that our host must havepurloined from an art-student.

“He’s educated,” whispered the judge,motioning me to join the circle seated on thesandy floor.

“I can see that,” I answered.

The men who had met here were all matter-of-factand uncompromisingly solid. Onewas a captain of a fishing-vessel, another a“gob” off one of our cruisers, a third I recognizedas the proprietor of the “Bee-hive”general store. The other two were Portuguese.The store proprietor kept talkingabout having to get back at five to let “Will”go home for supper. The captain was garrulouslyexplaining about other séances hehad attended, better ones, which statementwas heartily argued by the sailor-boy, whoclaimed he had attended them from Maineto Panama, and never found any one asgood as this here colored man. One of thePortuguese kept asking over and over again,“Do you see anything new for me?” in a hopeless[183]voice, and the other one continually urgedhim to “shut up.”

The medium began to speak.

“This is very unusual,” he said, “to givea séance by daylight. I only agreed to itto please our friend here of the navy, who hasbeen an inspiration to me in his enthusiasmand who was most anxious to get into contactwith his dear ones once more before he leftus for foreign waters. I trust all will gowell, as usual. You will pardon me while Idarken the room.”

I was left gasping. He spoke with theaccent of Harvard, in the manner of an Englishdrawing-room. I had half-expected someAfrican voodoo revelations. Now I did notknow what to expect.

The judge smiled at me.

The medium went outside the hut and closedthe wooden shutters. Instantly we wereplunged into impenetrable dark. I could justsee the circle of strained faces as he reëntered,closed the door, and bolted it. I had notknown that a séance would be like this. “Takehold of hands,” he commanded, and I graspedthat of the judge on my right and, on myleft, the horny palm of the sailor.

[184]“Don’t be afraid, little girl,” whispered the“gob.” “This is going to be good.”

Then the phonograph began to play, andto my overstrained nerves the ordinary xylophonerecord, put on with a soft needleand some attachment which made it repeatfor half an hour, sounded like a far-off echoof the jungle days which this son of theAfrican tribes was trying to reproduce. Hehad seated himself on a stool with his backto the wall before us and half a dozen longmegaphones at his feet.

“Watch the horns,” he drawled in a sing-songvoice. “Ebenezer is a long time coming.”

But I could not see them now; I could seenothing. Only a white blur marked theplace where his body might still be; I couldnot swear to it. Then a voice began to singwith the phonograph, an unmistakable negrovoice, rising and wailing with a maudlinsentimental cadence, without pause and withoutwords. I wanted to scream out, “Stopsinging! Stop that music! I can’t think.”And then I had just wit enough left to realizethat that was precisely what he wanted—wewere being hypnotized. I felt my mind oozingout into the blackness and only knew, because[185]of the tightened grip on my hands ofthe judge and of the sailor, that my bodywas left behind. Something touched me onthe shoulder.

“Look out, there’s the horn! Don’t yousee it?” Some one whispered.

I strained my eyes above my head, but Icould see nothing.

“There it goes!” This was the judge’sexcited comment.

Still I could see nothing. The mediumcontinued to sing.

“It’s flying around the room,” breathedthe captain.

What did they mean was flying around theroom? It was most aggravating. Was itsupposed to be the horn that was flying aroundthe room?

“It’s stopped in front of you, judge,”whispered the sailor.

I felt the judge’s hand tighten on mine.“Is that you, Ebenezer?” he asked, quaveringly.

And the voice, a throaty disguise of thevoice of the medium, answered: “This isEbenezer. What can I do for you? Howde do, how de do, folks!” It seemed to come[186]from all over the room at once, now abovemy head, now across from me. “How de do,how de do to-day!”

“Fine,” some one answered.

“Ebenezer, how about that money youpromised me?” the sailor began, trying toforce his personality upon the control. ButEbenezer would have none of him. “This isMattie, this is Mattie,” it was whispering.

What? I had not been listening accurately.It had never crossed my mind that this farcecould be directed toward me.

“Ask it something,” urged the judge in afierce whisper.

“You ask,” I whispered back.

“Aw, who is Mattie?” the disappointedsailor growled under his breath.

But the excitement of the quest had caughtme at last, and I was panting for the nextwords from that strange, disembodied voice.

“This is Mattie,” it repeated, fainter now.“Doesn’t anybody want to speak to Mattie?”

“Where are you, Mattie?” demanded thejudge.

There was a dreadful silence.

“They never answer that,” whispered theship-captain. “You’d better try something[187]else.” Then, addressing the spirit of Mattiedirectly, the captain asked: “Who do youwant to speak to? Can you tell?”

“To the woman,” wailed the voice.

“To you,” they all hissed at me.

“What do you want?” I besought it.

“You must leave.”

“Leave where?”

“The house.”

A murmur of opposition went around thecircle. Enmeshed in a bad dream as I was,I was grateful to them for their loyalty. Theywould not have me put out. And then anothermeaning to these words made my fleshcreep. The judge at the same moment askedthe question that was trembling on my lips.

“What house?”

“The house of th-three—seven—”

“It’s trying to say it,” he assured me;“they can’t get numbers very well. Yes,Mattie?”

But the control had been seized by anotherspirit and, with a great pounding of thetrumpet on the floor, announced: “Is thecaptain here? Is the captain here? I amJacques Davit who went down on the DollyB.

[188]This was a great strong masculine spirit. Ihad no hope of hearing from Mattie now.

The captain sat up stiffly and was swearingunder his breath. “Gosh willikins, I’m a sonof a— Jacques Davit! Hello, Jack!”

“Too bad,” murmured the judge to me.“Wait, we’ll get her again.”

“I’m out o’ luck all around!” said my horny-handedcolleague in deep disgust.

One of the Portuguese kept repeating:“Do you see any change for me? Do you seeany change for me?”

I could not keep my mind on what the controlwas perpetrating in the name of Jacques.Like the veriest devotee among them I wishedto get hold of Mattie again.

“Get Mattie back,” I whispered to thejudge.

And immediately the masculine toneschanged to the light fluttering voice that hadbeen hers. “Five pines, five pines, five pines,”it repeated rapidly, like a telephone-operator.

“Mattie,” I demanded, no longer surprisedat my own voice, “what is in that secret room?”

“Huh?” interrupted the sailor, graspingmy hand harder.

[189]I felt that every one in the circle was strainingfor the answer. The phrase “secret room”had won instant coöperation. We bent forwardin abysmal darkness, listening throughthe silence, till even the sand blown down onthe roof grated on our raw nerves. The phonographhad stopped playing. Then oneword hung in the air like a floating feather:


That was all. As if the circle had been cutwith a sharp knife, every one dropped handsand pushed back from the others. Some onerushed over to the door and unbolted it, andthe light struck in across the floor.

The horns lay in a disordered heap at thefoot of the medium, who was slowly runninghis fingers through his kinky hair, as if comingback to life. The men stood up and breathedhard, without looking at one another.

“What was it she asked?” the Portuguesewas saying; but no one answered him. Nordid they look at me. They made me feelguilty, an accomplice to some dark deed theydid not understand. No more did I understandit, I wanted to scream at them! Thejudge was taking money out of his pocket,[190]and handed five one-dollar bills to the coloredman, who had revived enough by now to takeup a general collection.

“Good-by,” said the sailor genially. “Ididn’t find out nothin’, but it was worth it,anyway, to be in on that. Say, he’s good,ain’t he?” He followed me to the door.“Say,” he whispered, “if anything, you know,turns up, let me know, will you? I’d takeit as a favor. I’m off from three to five,short leave. See you to-morrow, corner ofLong Wharf.”

I smiled hysterically. These were strangedays for me. I had been at a séance, andmade a date with a sailor!



JUDGE BELL and I climbed up theshifting cliff of sand and paused at thetop, out of breath.

While we had been in the cabin holding theséance, a fog had risen. The sun was hiddenbehind a gray bank, barely causing a brighterpatch of mother-of-pearl in the western sky,where feathery clouds were heaped high, oneupon the other, like the soft silken cushionsof the fairy princess’s bed. Mist sweptaround the top of the dunes and filled thehollows. Lakes of fog spread themselves atour feet, deceptively solidifying the cratersbetween the hills into opaque pools of silver.Vapor eddied in slow masses backward andforward, disclosing the dunes and hiding themagain at the will of the sluggish wind.Outlines were dim; the blue of the ocean hadbecome invisible. Distances were so distortedthat it seemed as if in three strides one might[192]reach the outside shore, where the surf wasroaring.

The rain of yesterday had pounded everytrack out of the wet dark sand, leaving itimprinted with a wind-stamped water-mark.The grass-topped pyramid where Ruth and Ihad played with the children last summerwas dissolved. There was no formation inall that desolate region which bore any resemblanceto it. The dunes must have challengedthe sea to a wild race during the hurricane,with a gale driving the bitter sand so swiftlythat whole hills were moved. The poundingof the breakers was reminiscent of the orgythey had indulged in during the storm, crashingas clearly across the waste as if we werelistening where the foam fell. Our dampclothes clung to us, and our faces became wetand our lips tasted salt.

I turned to the silent judge, whose ruggedfigure, buffeted by many tempests of the soulas well as of the sea, stood staunchly besideme in the dusk, a strong defense. His introspectivevision penetrated further than theeye could follow.

“Who do you think was speaking to us,back there in the hut?” I asked.

[193]“Why, Mattie,” he answered in a surprisedtone.

“But I do not understand it.”

Judge Bell smiled slowly, making no reply.He did not expect me to understand.

We descended from the dripping dunes atthe place where the judge had left his handkerchieftied to a tree-top to mark the paththat dipped into the thicket. The groaningof a fog-horn at the coast-guard stationfollowed us, and the tidal breeze laid an icyhand upon our backs.

The way home was traversed quickly, forit was downhill most of the distance. Whenwe drew near the railroad tracks I caughtthe judge by his coat.

“Judge,” I said, “I was going to theSailor’s Rest, because I can’t stay in theHouse of the Five Pines any longer, but ifyou will come up and spend the night there,too, I will go back. I hadn’t intended to tellyou, but—there are very strange manifestationsin that old house, far more amazingthan what we saw this afternoon, and youought to know about them. You owe it toyourself not to miss them; it is research work.[194]I’ll stay there once more if you will. Canyou come?”

The judge’s face glowed like a scientistabout to resolve the atmosphere into itscomponent parts.

“I’ll come,” he swore. “I’ll be there;watch out for me!”

“Well, then, now!”

“No,” he insisted, “not right away. I’vegot to go home first—the cow—but I’ll beback. Depend on me!”

He started off on a dog-trot up the railroadtrack, making a short-cut through theback of the town. Reluctantly I turnedaway toward my own house and sat downon the step. It did not seem worth whileto go in and unpack any more of Jasper’sthings. I might never live there.

While light lasted I lingered outside andlooked at the quiet bay and the fishermenreturning from their boats. They wore highred rubber boots and gray flannel shirtsopen at the throat. Barefooted children indenim overalls came running to meet themon the boardwalk, and tugged at their brownhands and begged for rides upon their shoulders....And I had thought that some[195]day children might be running down ourflagging—but now, I did not know.

I could see the old arcade grinning at me,were I forced to go back to New York, andthe sign in the corridors leaped into maliciousletters, “Dogs and children not allowed.”I remembered the sort of man who returnedthere at night, stepping languidly out of ayellow cab, light-wood cane under one armwhile he paid the driver, nothing waiting forhim but a fresh bunch of bills under his door.And those other ne’er-do-well tenants, hatlessand unpressed, affecting sandals to save socks,having nothing in common with their sportyneighbors but the garbage-pail on the fire-escape.After three days of the promisedland, must I go back to that?

Why didn’t the judge come?

I went inside and lit the lamps, becauseI dared not let the house grow dark beforeentering, then sank down by the window androcked nervously, watching the street. Butwhat I saw was not the stalwart figure of myold friend approaching through the eveninghaze, but the grotesque contour of the towncrier, preceded by his bell.

Clang, clang, clankety-clang! He swung[196]the big brass tongue as if all the world werewaiting for his message.

In front of the House of the Five Pineshe stopped short and with his back to it, readout to the bay: “Burr ... buzz....Sheriff’s auction ... Long Nook Road ...Monday....”

He swung his bell again and hobbled upthe street. It was late for the town crierto be abroad and he was in a hurry.

“That will be the next thing,” I thought;“that will happen to me. Some day the bell-manwill be going up and down the boardwalkadvertising another house for sale, andthat one will be mine.”

The idea was so discouraging that I triedto think of something not so lugubrious.Where was the judge? I picked up themagazine that he had thrust upon me earlierin the day and began to read it.

The cover had a large eye in the centerfrom which shot orange rays, and underneathwere symbols I did not understand. Thepaper was cheap but well printed, one ofthose ventures in sect literature which, likethose dedicated to social propaganda, arealways coming and going on the market and[197]sending out subscription-blanks with everyissue. The advertisem*nts were, for the mostpart, how to get fat and how to get thin,where to send words for songs and how tosell motion-picture scenarios. The editorialmatter was equally erratic. One eruditearticle held my interest: a savant had writtenof the “aura” that surrounds a person. Thisis the light which exudes from his body, anexcrescence imperceptible to the agnosticoutside the realm of “truth,” but plainlyvisible to the initiate. The aura was supposedto radiate various distances, dependingon the magnetism of the subject, and its huechanged with the individual. Red was thecolor of youth and exuberance, blue designatedthe purist, purple betrayed sex passion, andyellow surrounded the intellectual. Pinkand heliotrope were the auras of the artistic;green was the halo of genius. In life thiscolor might not be evident, but after death,the body being expressed in highly magnetizedatoms, the color of the aura was quite clear,being, in fact, the sole attribute of the apparition.That is, instead of being visited by thesubject reincarnated in mortal form, youbeheld his astral color. Understanding his[198]temperament in life, you recognized him bythe aura which represented him. Althoughmost difficult to discern with the naked eye,this aura could easily be photographed, andphotographs were reproduced on the nextpage—shadowy outlines of nude figures.Much space was devoted to the female aura,posed in interesting silhouette with a wavywater-line around it, like the coast upon amap. The subjects’ names were given. Itwas hoped that later they would be able toreproduce the aura of a specter, to print acolored photograph of light alone.

I shut the magazine. It had made fascinatingreading, but I would have to procurethe observations of more than one savant tobe convinced. I began to see how profounda study the psychic might become, and whyMattie and the New Captain had spent alltheir time on it and gathered together so manybooks on the occult. It was not so simpleas I had supposed when I knew nothing atall about it. Did the judge believe this? Iwished that he would come.

It was nine o’clock.

If only this gnawing in my fa*gged brainto discover the cause of my nocturnal obsessions[199]had taken some other form of elucidation!Why did I force my addled intellectto prove or disprove this theory ofspiritism, this revived dogma of the DarkAges, culled from all religions? I had neversubjected Christianity to such severe criticism.After childhood, one ceases to question thecode of morality under which he has beenbrought up; it is his then, for better or forworse. To argue is to lose the nuance of faith.Would a child, I wondered, brought up inthe House of the Five Pines, take ghosts aseasily as I took Jonah? He certainly wouldnot grow up into materialism by believingthat the age of miracles was past. He wouldtake the supernatural as a matter of course.One could hear the family arguing at thebreakfast-table:

“I heard something last night; it must havebeen grandmother.”

And another child, with its mouth full ofgrapefruit: “No, great-grandmother. I sawher.”

And the bobbed-hair one: “It couldn’thave been Grandmother Brown, because theaura was yellow, and she never had anythingin her bean.”

[200]Then they would go roller-skating, leavingthe subleties of color emanations to solve ordissolve themselves.

But I had not been brought up that way.I had plunged into this atmosphere unprepared.I never felt more ancient than atthat moment, when I realized that I was tooold to learn.

What was keeping the judge?

It was ten o’clock.

I got up and looked out of the window.The street was quiet and dark as the waterbeyond it. Cold stars shone feebly throughthe clouds above the bay, and the revolvingplanet at the lighthouse on Long Pointblinked every minute. From the highlandsanother light shone steadily, and at theentrance to the harbor a bell-buoy swungsadly back and forth. The waves, rockingthe floating tongue, set it ringing louder asthey rose in strength, and let it die away againto the tinkle of a tea-bell. I was glad the fog-hornswere not groaning in the harbor. Ihate fog-horns.

No man ever knows the weariness of awoman who waits for him. No man has everexperienced to the full the hours when the[201]night grows longest, when the mind catchesat the faintest sound in the thoroughfareand listens to the ebb of footsteps that afterall were not quite the ones expected. Because,universally, it is the woman who is in thehouse and the man who is outside, he hasmissed for centuries the finest form of torturedevised by the unthinking and the tardy andthe dissipated for those who must sit at thewindow. There is no use in saying afterward,“Why did you wait up?” and the tired reply,“I won’t again.” She will do so again, goadedby forebodings that grow with the minutes,and she will keep on sitting up for him untilthe end of life, when, if there is any justice, theman will go first into the meandering meadowsand on the banks of the last river wait for acycle or two.

Every far-away sound attaches profoundsignificance to itself—a piano, a child crying,a window being raised; and the night seemsfull of freight-trains chugging up a grade,although you never hear an engine all daylong. I have heard the whistle of steamboatsin inland cities. But worse is that rattle andbang up the street, that clinking of bottlesand running feet, that continued panting of[202]the engine which it is not worth while to shutoff, by which you know that you have sat uptill the milk is being delivered and that it istoo late!

Why did the judge not come? It wasafter eleven o’clock.

I wished that it was Jasper for whom Iwas waiting, for more reasons than the obviousone. Jasper would prove that the phenomenawhich had harassed the House of theFive Pines were not psychic; Judge Bellwould prove that they were.

A hand on the window-pane! On the outsideof the window-pane was a hand. Therewas no body to it, but in the lower cornerof the window where I sat a hand wasfeeling around. It was a small hand. Itknocked.

At the sound of flesh on glass my heartrebelled; it ceased functioning altogether.

The hand knocked again, impatiently.Then a voice was added.

“Let me in! Anybody home?”

Something about the homely words releaseda spring, and my heart jumped.

“Who is it?”

[203]“Me! Open the door!”

I unlatched the kitchen shutter and peeredout. A diminutive youngster, too short tobe visible above the window-sash, was comingaround from the side of the captain’s wing.

“Gee, I pretty near went away again,only I saw the window was lighted.”

“Why didn’t you go to the door?”

“I did! The front door.”

That was why I had not heard him.

“I would have gone,” the boy continued,still full of his own troubles, “only he giveme the quarter before I came.”

“The judge?” I interrupted.

“No, Isabella; he broke his arm.”

“He broke his arm?”

“Cranking his Ford.” The boy made awindmill motion. “He was just startingout.”

“Coming here?”

“I don’t know. My mother said likely—Sheleave me come to tell you, but she saidit was just as well.”

“Just as well?”

“Yes, she was helpin’ over there to-night;everybody is. He said to tell you if you wasafraid to stay here alone all night, to come[204]back down to his house with me; but mymother says she wouldn’t if she was you, andanyway, there ain’t room.”

For a moment I was too stunned to be angry.Then I thought I might as well take the mattereasily. The child had no idea what hewas repeating.

“Tell the judge it will be all right,” Ianswered. “And tell your mother— Don’ttell your mother anything!”

He had admitted receiving his quarter, andhe had frightened me so badly that I wouldnot offer him more. He backed away and slidthrough the hedge, and then he ran.

However, I did not immediately reënter thehouse. With my cape wrapped round me Istood outside, wondering what to do.

It was too late to go anywhere. Alf lockedup the Sailor’s Rest at the respectable hourof ten, and every cottage in the village wasdark by half-past. Even before that theywould have given me scant welcome, for Icould tell from the remarks repeated by theboy that I had fallen heir to the suspicion inwhich they held Mattie. The judge’s home,my natural refuge, was full of sickness andof gossips, of bandages and hostility. I was[205]furious with the judge for breaking his arm.Why didn’t he install a self-starter?

I considered the possibility of finding myway to the Winkle-Man’s or to Mrs. Dove’s,my old laundress, but as I never had takenthem into my confidence before, it was literallytoo late to begin. I could not imagineliving in the town longer than to-morrowmorning if I was found in the position ofbegging lodging from door to door. And Ihad not actually made up my mind to abandonthe place altogether; the instinct for home-makingwas too strong.

The night was damp and foggy, but stillI lingered in the yard.

The old house fairly yawned with peace.Such a quiet, innocent, companionable house!The five pine-trees swept the roof with therhythm of the sea in their misty branches.

My chance glance clung to them.

There was a red light in the tops of thetrees.

The red light came from the skylight—theskylight of my house—in the roof of the loft.The red light was shining from the littlesecret room.

Could it be a fire? No flames crackled up[206]through the rotten shingles.... Some one—?There had not been a sound to-night.

The red light made a glowing rectangle sobright that the roof was invisible. It had theeffect of being suspended high in space, likea phantasmagoric banner of the witches. Theoutlines of four panes of glass made a blackcross upon it.

“The attribute of the apparition.... Theaura of youth is red,” said the savant.

I did not stay to take any photographs.I fled.

Like the boy before me, I backed out ofthe yard, stumbled through the hedge, andthen ran. Turning to look back, I saw thatthe skylight still burned on redly through thebranches of the pines.

I spent the night under an old dory on thebeach.



DID you ever wake up looking at the insideof a boat?

My impulse to sit up came to an abruptfinish with a stunning blow on the head, wherethe seat struck me across the eyes. I layblinking at it. The roof of the interiorrounded over me securely, resting upon thebeach on one gunwale and on the other sideleaving a tipped-up opening under which Ihad crawled. Through this slit I could seewaves curling up at the water’s edge andwas glad that whoever owned the dory hadpulled it well beyond the rising. Had itstood where the tide reached it I would havebeen under it just the same.

I was wondering how I had come thereand why, when two mammoth feet crunchedacross the sand toward me. Before I hadtime to slide out of my retreat, great handsturned the dory over and I was gazing into[208]the face of a fisherman. He held a pair ofbleached oars under one arm and from hishairy fist dripped a punctured bait-bucket.

“Gosh!” was all he said.

He set down his pail, dropped his oars,and, wiping his hands across his mouth, sizedme up with unmixed disapproval in whichthere was no particle of respect.

I tried to twist my damp hair out of myface, but the pins had fallen from it and werelost, and my dress, drenched with sea salt,clung to me like the shriveled skin of a deadfish. I staggered to my feet, not knowinghow to explain myself.

But by this time the fisherman had his ownline of attack well in hand.

“Where’s your partner?” he asked rudely.


“You don’t sleep down here on the beachalone, do you?”

The hot blood rushed to my colorless face,and for the first time that dreadful foggymorning I felt warm. Who or what did thecreature think I was?

“You do not understand!”

He was pushing the dory across the beachwith great sweeping pulls along one side.[209]“Oh,” he grunted, between jerks, “I—think—I—do!”

The evil imagination of these people wastoo much for me to cope with. I couldneither forestall nor refute it. I stoodwretchedly watching him, without trying tosay a word in my defense.

Prow in the water, he turned back accusingly.“You been here before,” he sneered;“night after night.”

“I haven’t!”

“I seen the marks in the sand!” His bruteeyes leered at me. “What’s your name?”

“I live in the House of the Five Pines,”I answered, with all the dignity that five hours’sleep on a wet beach could put into my limpmanner. “I’m the woman who bought it.”

With one foot in the dory, he looked meup and down.

“I thought as much!”

He pushed out into the bay.

I was sorry then that I had told him whoI was. I ought to have answered, “MaudSmith,” or something. I was only addingto the ill-repute that surrounded that lucklessdwelling and any one who set his footwithin it. Last night insinuations had been[210]made about my having asked the judge tostay with me; this morning a vile constructionhad been placed upon my sleeping on thebeach. For innocence and charity and sweetfaith in each other, let me commend thecountry mind! It is as willing to wallow inscandal as a pig in mud.

After the fisherman’s appraisal I dared notface any one without going back to the houseand cleaning up. Ghost or no, some sort oftoilet would have to be made before I wasready to face the world. I felt shaken anddegraded, and as willing as any one else tobelieve the worst about myself. Perhaps mytraveling clothes would restore my self-respect.

I was leaving.

The green-shuttered door of the kitchenwas open, as I had left it last night, and,turning up the broken flagging, the houseseemed so beseechingly friendly that I washalf-ashamed of my mood of hatred. I waseven willing to believe that the trouble waswith me, instead of with the house. It wasnot its fault that hateful mysteries had attachedthemselves to it with the grafting[211]on of the captain’s wing. Probably the oldhouse resented the secret room and theapparitions as much as I did, for in its youthit had been highly respected, holding its headabove all the other houses on the cape. Ifelt the same sort of pity for it that I had formyself after my recent experience on thebeach.

“We’re both old ruins,” I said to the Houseof the Five Pines. “We ought to stick together.”

Everything within was just as I had leftit, the door of the closet downstairs lockedand the one upstairs nailed. I felt like adeserter all the time I packed my trunk.With tears in my eyes and a heavy pain inmy heart, I went out of the front door, whichJasper and I had opened so hopefully, andclosed it after me.

On the flagging was the boy from the telegraph-office,snapping a yellow envelope atthe tall grass as he loitered along.

“Is that for me?” I ripped it open beforeI paused to sign.

Don’t give up house. Am returning Saturday morning.Wait.


[212]And this was Friday! Our trains wouldpass each other.

Well, if I were out of my mind, as I morethan half-suspected, one night more or lesswould not make any difference. A sanatoriumwas very much like a jail. I put my hat andbag inside the door and wandered off to thinkit over. This might be my last day offreedom.

I had no impulse to call on the judge. Hecould not help me solve anything, because hispoint of view was too much like mine. Moreover,I was still angry with him in an unreasonableway because he had failed me last night.Why hadn’t he arrived quietly, as he hadpromised, instead of getting into a scrape whichnecessitated explanations to the whole town?He had no right to break his arm!

I took the back street and followed it tothe edge of the village, and there, in frontof Mrs. Dove’s cottage, met her coming outof the white picket-gate with a tin pail onher arm. She smiled as if the world werejust as usual and I one of her best friends.I was so surprised and grateful to meet someone who still considered me a normal humanbeing that I could have kissed her.

[213]“Do you want to join me?” asked Mrs.Dove. “I’m going to pick beach-plums. Ifyou are going to be a regular householder uphere, you ought to learn where to findthem.”

“What do you do with them after you getthem?”

I was already suiting my step to hers.


“Will you put mine up for me?”

“Why, the idea! Anybody can do it.There’s no trick to beach-plums.”

“But I want you to come down to the houseto-night, and we’ll do them together.”

“Down to your house?” Mrs. Dove lookedat me strangely.

“There’s a good range in the House of theFive Pines,” I hastened to add, “and everythingis convenient.”

She opened her mouth and closed it againwithout speaking.

“You can stay all night with me,” I hurriedon, before she had the courage to refuse,“and we can work all evening.”

Mrs. Dove was flustered, but at last hadan excuse. “Why, I don’t know whatever inthe world Will would say!” she answered, “I[214]ain’t used to going out nights, unless it’s tonurse somebody—”

I took hold of both of her hands, much toher embarrassment. “Mrs. Dove,” I said,“pretend you are nursing me. The truth is,I’m afraid to stay alone. To-morrow myhusband will return. I’ll promise you, thisis the very last night.”

She drew back like a shy girl. “If that’sthe case, I guess Will will leave me comeover.”

I drew a breath of relief. That settled that.I began to enjoy the scenery.

We had passed the last straggling house,and, following the pike down the cape, hadcome to a high, wide part of it where the duneswere covered with coarse grass and borderedlittle fresh-water lakes. Leaving the mainroad for a path between the rushes, we cameto a height which commanded a view of thesea in all directions—before us, to the left,where the backbone of the cape turned east tothe mainland, and behind us, where it roundednorthwest toward the outside lighthouse.Three miles of moors separated us from itsdeep blue, but it looked almost as close asthe bay on our immediate right. At our feet[215]was a fourth bit of water, Pink Pond, wherelilies were cut in the summer and ice in thewinter, a bright blue sheet bordered with tallbrown cat-tails. Far away, on the outsidesea, jetties of suspended smoke marked thepassing of an invisible ocean liner; near athand, in the bay, rocked the fishing-boats; andat the entrance to Star Harbor a governmentcruiser was turning its gray nose northward.

I remembered my sailor, whom I had promisedto meet at three o’clock this afternoon,but even as I wished that I might in some waytake advantage of his eagerness to help mesmoke burst out of the black funnels and thecruiser glided past the point. The sailorwould have to pursue his investigations of thepsychic in some other port.

“Pretty, ain’t it?” said Mrs. Dove. “Thebeach-plums is further on.”

We found them growing on a hillside onstunted trees no larger than bushes, as wildand untended as a patch of blackberries whosebriers were all around us and hindered ourprogress. They were a hard, cherry-sizedfruit all shades of ripening-red and purple,thick upon each tree, but the trees wereseparated by clumps of sassafras and the low[216]brittle bayberry whose pale wax clusters areused for candle-making. I tasted a beach-plumand found it juicy and tart, but almostall pit.

“The green ones is good, too,” Mrs. Doveadvised me. “They make it jell.”

The day was as warm as Indian summer,now that the early fog had melted, and themoist heat, oozing up from the humid ground,was soothing to my tired body. The convolutionsof my brain seemed to uncoil andextend themselves into a flat surface, like apiece of table-linen laid in the sun to bleach.I did not pick as many beach-plums, perhaps,as Mrs. Dove, but I was more benefited bythe day’s work. I began to feel revived andalmost normal.

“I brought lunch along,” announced mywonderful companion. She pulled somepaper-wrapped packages out of her capaciouspockets, and we sat on a rock and ate lobster-sandwichesand muffins spread with sweetbutter till I was ashamed. It seemed a longtime since I had tasted anything that I ate.I felt so grateful that I wanted to cry. Mrs.Dove sensed my mood and my need, and keptright on mothering me.

[217]“We’ll put the plums on as soon as weget back,” she said, “and have some jam forsupper, maybe, or to-morrow when your husbandcomes, anyway. He’ll enjoy them;mine always does.”

It was hard to tell her that to-morrow Iwas going to leave, her plans sounded sopleasant.

“That house is funny, Mrs. Dove,” I said;“I don’t know whether I will live in it.”

“I thought you’d come to that!” she answered.

And another time, when we were pickingplums, I tried again to explain to her howthings stood, because I felt that if she weregoing to be any help to me she must know thetruth about the House of the Five Pines, inso far as that was possible.

“I know what you heard crying in the captain’sbuggy, that night you told me aboutwhen he brought Mattie home.”

And she said, “I’ve often wondered.”

“There’s a secret room in the loft of thecaptain’s wing; it’s a child’s room.”

“You don’t say!”

“That’s why he wouldn’t ask any men tohelp him build it.”

[218]“I wouldn’t be surprised.”

She bore with me in that patient way whichcountry women have of greeting life, expectingnothing and counting extraordinary circ*mstancesas merely phases of the conditionsthey have always known. Something likechildren, to whom all things are strange andequally incredible.

“How many have you in that poke?” shechanged the subject. And when I held upthe juice-stained bag to show her, “We’llkeep on till we get a gallon.”

We said no more, and nothing was heardbut the thud of the beach-plums as the fruitfell into her pail. I was so drowsy I did notpick very fast.

“I bet they hated each other,” Mrs. Dovesaid, unexpectedly.

I had been thinking about Mattie and theNew Captain, too; I thought of little else.But the intensity of her remark, coming asit did out of nothing and cutting the stillafternoon like a curse, surprised me.

“Nobody could keep it up,” she went ondeliberately, giving me the sum of her silentrumination, “a secret like that. Alwaysguarding, always watching, always afraid the[219]other one would do something to give it away!Between watching it and each other theymust have been wore out. Beats me howold Mis’ Hawes never got on to it. She must’a’ been dead.”

“It died before she did; I saw the littlecoffin in the vault.”

“How did it die?”

“I don’t know.”

“What did you go over to the cemetery for?”

“To see if the captain was in his coffin.”

“Was he?”

“Yes,—that is, the coffin was there; Ididn’t open it.”

“I would ’a’!” said Mrs. Dove.

It struck me that she had put her fingeron two weak parts of the story. I was restingon the belief that I knew all there wasto know about the history of Mattie’s life,but it was true that I had not looked insideany of the coffins, and it was equally truethat I did not know—yet—how the childmet his death.

I was well enough informed in occultismby now to realize that this spectral apparitionhad not put in its last appearance. It wouldkeep on coming, like Hamlet’s ghost, until its[220]tragedy was explained. That was what waskeeping it near this plane, hovering aboutthe scene of its death till it had made itselfunderstood. Not until the evil done to itin life had been revenged could its spirit moveon into the higher astral regions and be atpeace with the infinite. As long as I did notknow how the child had died, I might be sureof phantoms.

“Poor Mattie!” sighed Mrs. Dove.

“Her coffin wasn’t there,” said I.

“Of course not!”

“Where did they bury her?”

“They didn’t bury her.”

But before my horror had reached articulationshe added, absent-mindedly, “They neverfound her.”

I put my bag of beach-plums down andbegan to reconstruct my ideas. What hadbeen told me and what I had imagined wereconfused in my mind.

“Do you mean to say,” I asked, “that theynever found Mattie out there on the flats,caught in the lobster-pots after the tide hadgone out?”

“Law!” said Mrs. Dove, “She went outwith it. They scarcely ever gets ’em back[221]from behind the breakwater. The currentis too strong.”

I wondered why the judge had not told methat. He must have been thinking of somethingelse when I asked him where Mattiewas. I remembered his wide gesture towardthe bay, which I had misconstrued into meaningthat she had been buried in some placeother than the family vault. Evidently I wasthe only one who knew she had committedsuicide. I had never told any one of the noteI had found in the bookcase, and I was gladnow that I had not. Her message was safewith me. I resolved that I would have a tombstoneerected for Mattie in that part of thecemetery which is sacred to those who are lostat sea.

At four o’clock we walked back to Mrs.Dove’s house and gained her husband’s consentto her staying all night with me. We askedMr. Dove if he wanted to come, too, but hescorned the idea. And Mrs. Dove did noturge it, I noticed; she seemed to think thatthis was something we had planned by ourselvesand that no men-folks were wanted.She divided the beach-plums scrupulously inhalf, in spite of my protest, and soon had my[222]share simmering upon the range. The Houseof the Five Pines relaxed and became filledwith good smells and homelike noises and madea pretense of being all that a house should be.

Mrs. Dove ran from room to room, exclaimingwith enthusiasm over what she found,just as Jasper and I had done. She was sopleased with everything that she restored mycourage.

“You never in the world are going to givethis up,” she said. “I won’t let you.”

The secret stairs did not interest her halfas much as the Canton china and the patchworkquilts.

“I never knew Mis’ Hawes had thatpattern,” she would say; or, “It’s a wonderthey never put that out on the line!” Icould see that she was going to relish tellingthe rest of the town what the House of theFive Pines contained. She was stealing amarch on them.

“Didn’t you ever come here?” I asked.

She was scandalized at the suggestion.

“Nobody did. Not since old MotherHawes died, anyway. And before that wejust used to talk to her through the window.That was her room, that nice one across the[223]hall in front of the dining-room. Shall wesleep there?”

I showed her Mattie’s little room upstairs.

“But this is the hired girl’s bedroom,” sheobjected. “With all them grand rooms furnishedwith mahogany, I don’t see why youshould pick this one out for yourself.”

I confessed to her my attachment for thelittle room in the loft behind it and my feelingthat if I did decide to stay here, this wasthe very part of the house I would want.

“You never can tell about people,” saidMrs. Dove.

She was more moved by the reason for mydesire to stay in the old house than she hadbeen by any of the mysteries.

“I would never have thought it of you,”she kept saying. And when she took thebeach-plum jelly off the stove and hung it upin a bag to drip overnight, she added: “It’sjust as well you are learning how to make this.They like lots of it. I know. I raisedseven.”

We let the cat in and went to bed. As Isettled down behind the portly back of Mrs.Dove, I reassured myself with the thoughtthat in the morning Jasper would surely be[224]here and that, no matter what might happen,this would be my last night in the House ofthe Five Pines.

One never knows.



MY sense of security was so natural thathousekeeping was my last thought.I fell to thinking of how I would have madeover the room if I had decided to stay in thehouse. The dark walls would have to bepainted lighter and the stuffy feather-bedchanged for new box-springs. I turned overand over, trying to find a place that wasneither on the hard edge of the frame of thebed nor directly under my comfortable companion.

It was not easy to be neurasthenic when inthe society of Mrs. Dove, even if she wasasleep. To look at her and hear her quietbreathing was like watching a peaceful baby.All the repose of the country was embodiedin her relaxed form, from the tired hand restingon the patchwork quilt, to the head indulgingin its one vanity of hair-curlers. I waswishing that Mrs. Dove had stayed at the[226]house on the four preceding nights when, unconsciously,I drifted off into dreams. Nothinguntoward could happen, I thought, whenMrs. Dove was near. What I had needed wasanother woman to keep the vigil with me.

The house was too still.

I woke up thinking that I heard something,but there was not a sound.

The tide was out and there was no noiseof waves lapping the beach. There was nowind and no murmur in the pine-trees. ThenI heard what I had heard before. Some onewas crying!

Mrs. Dove slept on beside me, the highmound of the bed-clothes rising regularlywith her deep inhalations. If only I couldsleep like that! But in spite of the fact thatI had gone to bed in peace and was restedfrom my day in the sunlight, although I hadbeen thinking happy domestic thoughts dearto the heart of contented women and farremoved from overwrought nervous hallucinations,still I could not deceive myself—I heardcrying! They were weeping softly, in asmothered way, as if they were trying not tobe heard, as if they knew well they must[227]not allow themselves to be heard, butas if their grief had passed beyond humancontrol.

At the sound all my scant and preciousreserve of courage was dissipated. The calmrepose of spirit that I had been developingduring the day was gone. The unearthlymanifestation played on my chilled heart. Iwas appalled.

It was such a wailing suffocated cry!Like some one in a nightmare, or a childstruggling in its sleep—or a child shut up ina room!... That was it!

I tried not to comprehend the meaning ofthis horror. I wanted to hide under the bed-clothes,but a voice rose above the weeping.I raised my cowardly head to be sure thatwhat I was straining to listen to was there....It was like the séance. I did not believe init, but I heard it just the same. The toneswere not unlike those last faint whispers Ihad heard in that eery hut on the sand-dunes.It was a woman’s voice, frightened andtrembling and shut away from me by twopartitions, but still I understood it.

“No— No— You can’t go! He wouldkill you if you ever got out.”

[228]The cry was distraught and agonized,terrified as only a mother bird’s is when theyoung robin hops out of the nest to the branchand a cat crouches under the tree, or of alioness whose cub is facing a coiled snake atthe mouth of her deep cave.

Some one moaned. I looked sharply atMrs. Dove, but she was sleeping. Had Iuttered that despairing sigh myself, or wasit only a fitful gust in the tops of the fivepine-trees?

Again there was wild weeping, and oncemore, barely distinguishable, “Don’t go!Don’t go!

But even that thwarted mother-love, defeatedin life and restless in death, could nothold back the elusive footsteps. I heard themstart, as they always had, to cross the roomand try the doors and go up and down thestairs.

Suddenly I remembered that after I hadshown the secret way behind the chimney toMrs. Dove I had not wired or locked thedoors again. I had left everything open,thinking she might want to go up there, andafterward we had forgotten. Guilt overwhelmedme. Something urged me to go[229]immediately and lock the downstairs closet.I felt that I had to do this thing as much asif some one were telling me to and urgingme not to put it off. There was barely timeif I was to turn the key before twelve o’clock.And at the same time I felt that nothing Icould do would make any difference, thatwhat was about to happen had happened thatway before. Afraid, but drawn on despitemyself, I slipped out of bed and down throughthe kitchen to the captain’s room.

There I stopped. Some one was in theroom. I could not see any one in theroom, but I knew some one was there. Themoonlight flooded every corner of it and thegiant pine-trees outside cast great shadowsthat ran like bars across the floor. Thecloset door was partly open, and a faint redlight shone through. But that there was somethingalive in the room I felt so sure that Idared not take another step. I was equallyunable to go forward or to retreat. ThenI heard soft steps descending the chimney,heard them distinctly, as I had heard themthat night when I had slept down here in thisroom, only now I knew them for what theywere.

[230]I strained to hear the latch lifted, but didnot. This was my fault. I had left the dooropen and it would slip out. Its mother wouldnot want it to get out!

I tried to call a warning, but it was toolate. Something brushed across the red crackof the doorway, something that was no morethan an ugly gesture, a hiss, or a blackshadow. There was the sound of impact anda blow, a body falling, a moan, a door banging.Then all was still.

The red aura had vanished.

Murder!” I screamed.

I staggered back to the kitchen companionway,gasping and calling out, “Help! Help!Murder!”

A light was descending the stairs and Mrs.Dove was behind it. She stood on the stepin her starched white night-dress, holding acandle high above her curl-papers.

“Murder!” I sobbed, and threw myself ather feet.

“Why, dearie,” said Mrs. Dove, “I didn’thear nothing.”



Four by the clock.

Four by the clock. And yet not day;

But the great world rolls and wheels away,

With its cities on land and its ships at sea,

Into the dawn that is to be.

Only the lamp in the anchored bark

Sends its glimmer across the dark,

And the heavy breathing of the sea

Is the only sound that comes to me.


AT dawn I leaned over and blew out thekitchen-lamp.

All night we had sat there shivering, withthe wick burning down on the table betweenus, not daring to go upstairs again nor evento move. There had not been another sound,unless it was the well-nigh inaudible drip ofthe beach-plum jelly where it hung in a cheese-clothbag above a yellow bowl.

Mrs. Dove was asleep now, her poor tired[232]head upon her bare arms on the table. Inthe growing light I saw a shawl upon a hook,which all night had looked to me like a personhanging there, and I took it down and laidit around her shoulders. Outside the fogstill shrouded the bay, so that nothing wasvisible. The faint outlines of houses alongthe shore grew momentarily more solid. Thelights of early risers began to appear inthe windows. Star Harbor had slept rightthrough the tragedy of the House of the FivePines as it had been sleeping for almostfifty years.

Determined to be ready to leave as soon asmy husband returned, I went back up thekitchen companionway to Mattie’s room todress. The bed-clothes were tossed wildlyover the foot, where Mrs. Dove had thrownthem when she had dived for the candle andmade her hurried exit, but the rest of the roomwas as I had left it. I pulled the bureauaway from the little door and tried it. It wasstill nailed tight. When I came down againMrs. Dove was bending over the fire in therange.

“Get me a few kindlings, will you, dearie?”were the first words she said.

[233]Without answering, I got them. Then shelooked up and saw I had my hat on.

“Why, wherever in the world are yougoing?” she asked.


“Don’t you do a thing,” she admonished,“until you have something to eat.”

“How about yourself?” I tried to mustera smile.

“What, me? I’m all right. Don’t worryabout me.”

She looked all right. She had found askirt somewhere and tucked the shawl intothe belt of it, and put a mob-cap on over hercurlers and gone to housekeeping. Howcould she be so methodical after all that hadhappened? I sat down meekly in a tall-backedrocking-chair beside the red-clothedtable, too weak to resist her ordered comfort,and before I could check myself I had fallenasleep.

The hands of the banjo-clock on the wallwere at ten when I sat up. Mrs. Dovewas pouring hot jelly into a row of glasses.

“It turned out fine,” she said. “Do youwant a taste?”

I put my finger tentatively into the sticky[234]saucer and suddenly woke up, realizing thathere was something delicious that I had nevertried before and that doubtless life still heldmany new sensations if one had wit enoughto enjoy them. But I had not. Housekeeping,jelly-making, were nothing to methis morning. I had only one impulse, onethought, one purpose—to leave.

The black cat came miawing around for herbreakfast. It seemed strange to me that afterI had put her out in the storm that nightshe should keep coming back.

“Which of your nine lives are you living,kitty?” I asked, endeavoring to give her acaress which she avoided. The cat had neveradmitted that I lived in her house.

“It might have been her you heard,” saidMrs. Dove, pouring out a saucer of milk.

“If it was, she and Mattie are the samething.”

“What do you mean?” asked Mrs. Dovesharply.

But I was too worn out to explain.

“I don’t know anything about such things,”said Mrs. Dove impatiently, “and don’t yougo thinking that you do, either. All I knowis that if you had put the cat down cellar,[235]you could be sure it wasn’t her prowlingaround.”

“Cellar? Why, there is no cellar.”

“Isn’t there?” asked Mrs. Dove. “Wheredid you think you was going to put the jelly?”

“I hadn’t thought.”

The captain’s wing had so much space beneathit that, were it not for the rubbishstored there, a cow could have walked underthe floor without grazing her horns. The restof the house stood on open brick piles.

“Don’t put away the beach-plum jelly atall,” I said. “I’ll take it back to New Yorkwith me.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure till I saw myhusband.”

Mrs. Dove belonged to a different generation.

“It’s time to meet him now,” I replied.“Will you be here when I come back? Wesha’n’t stay any longer than we have to, butI know he will want to see things for himself.I’d like my husband to know you, Mrs. Dove;you’ve been so kind!”

Mrs. Dove blushed. “I’ll just finish uphere,” she answered. “I ain’t in any hurry.”

She stood in the doorway, smiling comfortably,[236]as I walked off. She looked like partof the house as she lingered there, motherlyand pleasant, more congenial to it than Mattiehad ever been or I would ever have become.

“There is no use,” I thought, “in putting aforeign waif or a city woman in a CapeCod house. It simply refuses to assimilatethem. It was a grand adventure—but it isover!”

The Winkle-Man was mending his nets inthe sail-loft when I passed. He came to thedoorway and called to me.

“Say, how about them vines and shrubs youasked me to get for you? Do you want’em to-day? It’s time to get ’em in beforefrost.”

“I’m leaving,” I confessed. “I’m givingup the house.”

Caleb Snow nodded understandingly.

“I been hearing things,” he suggested.

“What have you heard?”

“Well, that you was sleeping down on thebeach the other night.”

So it was all over town!

“What else?”

“And that the judge broke his arm.”

“Well, what of that?”

[237]“‘What of that?’” repeated Caleb. “That’swhat I says to ’em: ‘What of it?’”

They all must have been discussing me.

“I says,” Caleb continued, anxious to informme of his defense in my behalf, “thatI didn’t blame you none.” He held out hishand gravely. “You show your good senseby leaving.”

“And will you say good-by to the judge forme?” I asked. I felt all choked up.

“Sure! Say, come back next summer andvisit that lady friend of yours; that’s the wayto do it—visit! I never could see what anybodywanted to buy one of them old housesfor.”

A long whistle sounded.

“That’s your train,” said the Winkle-Man.“Oh, no hurry! It lets off steam five milesdown the cape.”

I began to run, and passed other peopledoing the same thing. Half a dozen of usturned simultaneously at the crossing andarrived out of breath on the platform. Therewas so little to do in Star Harbor that it waseasy to miss the only excitement. One gotentirely out of the habit of keeping engagements.

[238]There were two Fords drawn up, an oldwhite horse and phaëton, the station-barge,and a two-wheeled wagon. A short-sleevedboy in one of the jitneys kept honking hishorn, trying to hasten trade. The baggage-masterimportantly pushed his truck alongsidethe track, and some loafers, who hadbeen sitting on their heels against the station,stood up. A sea-captain spit out his plugof tobacco and wiped off his face with a redhandkerchief. We were all ready.

With a great grinding of brakes and shoutingof orders the cape train rounded the curveand drew up at the end of the line. Theengineer leaned out of the cab and begana conversation where he had left off yesterdaywith one of the yardmen. The mail anda bundle of newspapers were thrown outand snatched away. A clinking of milk-canssounded from the baggage-car. Jasper wasswinging off the last platform, and I rushedtoward him, suddenly and unexpectedly dissolvedin tears.

He looked so different from any one whomI had seen in five days that he seemed a magnificentstranger. He waved his hat, droppedhis luggage, and ran to meet me. When I felt[239]his rough, tweed coat against my face, I couldhardly look up into his eyes. It was too muchto believe that this was my husband.

“Jasper,” I said, “I nearly died while youwere gone.”

“So did I,” said Jasper, keeping his armaround me and gathering up suit-cases withthe other hand. “Horrible in the city! Idon’t see why people live there.”

He looked fa*gged, and I realized that hehad been working hard and fast to get backhere the sooner. He had never understoodthat I was not going to stay.

“I brought the typewriter.” He pointedout a square black box. “All ready to go towork again. I suppose you’ve got thingsfixed?”

“No,” I answered helplessly. “Thingsaren’t ready at all.” Hating to disillusionhim, yet knowing I must get rid of my burdensomehow, I threw down three more words.“Not even lunch!”

“Not even lunch?”

The full significance of a disastrous domesticbreakdown finally overwhelmed him. “Whatdo you mean, my darling? What is the matterup there at the House of the Five Pines?”

[240]So I told him, sitting down on the emptytruck on the sunny platform after the crowdhad scattered, for I thought he might as wellknow before going any further. There wasno need in carrying suit-cases and typewritersup the street, only to lug them back. Theafternoon train would leave at three, and Iintended to take it.

Jasper listened in silence, giving me closeattention and now and then a little pat onthe arm or a sympathetic squeeze. Toward theend, as I came to the part about the séanceand the aura and the fourth and fifth nights,I could see that he wanted to interrupt meand was barely able to restrain himself tillI had finished. Then he jumped off thetruck, laughed, and said,

“Now I’ll tell you what is the matter withyou.”

And because I looked so doubtful and pathetic,I suppose, he hastened to add, “Oh, it’snothing much, but it all works out so easily; itdoesn’t take a psychoanalyst to understandit!”

“What is it, then?”

“Self-hypnotism! No, don’t be angry!”—forI had turned away in disgust; I had really[241]thought he might elucidate the mystery. “Itis a pure case of materialization from thesubconscious mind, drawing an image of thesubconscious across the threshold of consciousnessand reproducing it in sound, or motion,or color, or some other tangible form. It isthe same thing that the spiritualists take forevidence of the return of the dead, but it isactually only the return, or the recall, ofdead thoughts.”

“I wouldn’t use the word ‘actually,’ if Iwere you,” I said.

“No, but wait. I have been listening toyou for half an hour, and, while it was veryinteresting, you must see, my dear—” Jasperlooked into my eyes so earnestly that I almostlaughed, for I knew he thought I was on theverge of insanity and I had a dreadful temptationto convince him of it by giggling hystericallyand not listening at all. “You mustsee,” he repeated, “that these manifestations,these nightly hallucinations, follow a regularsequence. First you fill yourself up on thetraditions of the house before you enter it.You do not share them with any one, noteven me, and the first night you are subjectedto a sort of dream about the headboard moving.[242]I was here that night, but I did notsee it. Then you read a lot of stuff aboutmaterialization, and when you try to go tosleep your disordered brain conjures up footsteps.”

“My what?” I demanded.

Jasper did not bother to contradict his outrageousstatement.

“The third night, after you had discoveredthe secret room, you materialize the child whoyou have decided lived in it. The fourthnight, after you read about auras, you contriveone of your own in the skylight. The fifthnight you conjure up the scene of the murderwhich was suggested to you by that fraudover there on the sand-dunes. By the way,I’m going over there and have that placeraided. He’s a fake. He knew all aboutyou. He’s the same colored man that cameup on the train with us last Monday.

“The only thing I’m not sure about is thecat. There is something tremendously psychicabout a cat. I haven’t gone into the scienceof the occult very extensively, but I wouldnot pretend to say that there is nothing in it.The theory of reincarnation is just as plausiblea theory of what becomes of the spirit as any[243]other, so far as I know. Personally, I don’tbelieve or disbelieve anything.”

“I have heard you say so before,” I interrupted,“but you do believe in the cat.” Iwas glad to point out to him that his logicwas not invulnerable. “There is not a soulliving who is not superstitious about something.Call it what you like. Say I amcrazy and that the cat is ‘actually’ the soul ofa woman who is drowned. It is all the sameto me. But as the cat is left over from therégime of Mattie, her soul must have beenreincarnated before she died, which is spinningthe ‘wheel of life’ a little fast, isn’tit?”

Jasper grinned.

“If we are going to walk back to the Houseof the Five Pines,” I finished more amiably,“we had better start, or we shall miss the afternoontrain.”

We left the luggage, the new suit-case thatJasper had invested in and the typewriterthat he had carried for three hundred miles,and walked off up the street. He told methen about his play that he had been workingover, and I tried to renew my interest in NewYork. Myrtle had been dropped unconditionally[244]and ignominiously, much to herchagrin. She had attempted to get an interviewwith my husband for the purpose ofbeing reinstated by him over the expressedwishes of the manager, but he had succeededin avoiding her devices and had at last leftthe city without seeing her at all. (“And Iam dragging him back there!” I said tomyself.) Gaya Jones had persuaded Burtonto try a young friend of hers in the part ofingénue, and the two were doing such excellentteam-work that the play was swingingin triumph through its difficult first six weeksand was billed to last all winter.

“I’m glad I’m through with it,” finishedJasper. “It’s funny how sick you get of athing, even a good thing, before you finishgrinding it out. I had no idea plays wereso difficult. Writing them is all right, butit’s a life job to get rid of them. I’m goingto settle down here and write a long novel.I’ve got it all worked out.” He began to tellme the beginning. “It will take me all winter,and I’m not going back to New York atall. I’m tired of that crowd. Quiet is whata person needs. Christmas on the cape!How will that be?”

[245]I stared at him mutely.

“What is the matter with you, my dear?”he asked. “You’ve told me what is the matterwith the house, but that’s nothing. If youthink anything is wrong with me—anythinghas happened,” he went on lamely, “thatwould make any difference between us—why,you are wasting your worries. Everythingis just as I have told you, my darling, andeverything is all right. I want to be withyou, and I am glad you found this place. Wecan afford to live anywhere we please as longas ‘The Shoals of Yesterday’ lasts. Whydo you try and create obstacles?”

And I, who had been struggling for thisvery opportunity, who had withstood the cityand endured the country to this end, that wemight have a home together where we wantedit, was now the one to refuse what I hadlonged for when it lay in the palm of my hand.

“I’m sorry, Jasper,” I said. “I’m terriblysorry. I know I was the one to bringyou up here, and now I won’t stay. Butall I can say is that I am sorry, and that Iwon’t stay. You take a look at the houseyourself.”

He took one long look inside the kitchen[246]door and stopped short. Then with anexclamation of horror, he dove out of sight.By the time I stood where he had been standing,no one was there.



A YAWNING hole was in the center ofthe kitchen floor.

“Jasper,” I called, “where are you?”

“Here!” answered a far-off voice.

The kitchen oilcloth had been torn up androlled to one side, exposing a trap-door. Ileaned over the edge and peered into a pit.

“Are you there, Jasper?”


“Is Mrs. Dove there?”


“Anybody else?”

“No, nobody but me; come on down.”

But on learning that he was safe, my fearsleaped to the finding of Mrs. Dove. If itwas she who had opened up that trap-door,or if some one had unfastened it from underneath,I was terror-stricken. What hadburst forth, and what had happened to her?

“Mrs. Dove!” I called out. “O Mrs.Dove!”

[248]There was chowder scorching in the bottomof a kettle on the stove, which she must haveforgotten. I ran through the house, lookinginto corners and stairways for her and cryingeverywhere, “Mrs. Dove!”

But there was no one in them; the roomswere so quiet that they seemed to have beendeserted for a long time.

Jasper’s voice followed me. “Come here!”he kept shouting.

I let myself backward through the trap-doorin the kitchen floor and felt the top rungof a ladder under my feet. The next rungwas gone, and I slid. Jasper caught me.

We were in a circular underground room,like a dry cistern, about twelve feet across,with plastered sides and a damp earth floor.The first thing I saw was a mattress, strewnwith clothing, overalls, shirts, and trousers.On a hanging shelf were quantities of cans,some of them empty. A portable stove withdozens of boxes of condensed cubes showedhow cooking had been done. I rememberedthe coffee I had smelled, not made by humanhands. There was a can of oil and a pailhalf-full of water. I picked up a ship’slantern with a red bull’s-eye.

[249]“The aura,” said I, handing it to Jasper.

“The what?”

“The aura.”

But he had never seen it; the red lightmeant nothing to him.

“Look!” he said; “he got out that way!”

In the gloom I made out double woodendoors halfway up the further wall of theround room, one of which was open, butthrough which came no light. I followed hislead up over a box that had been placed beneaththem, and found myself in the “under.”We crawled out from behind a boat whichconcealed and darkened the entrance, anddiscovered that we were banked in on everyside by the stuff that had been stored there.

“What is it all about?” asked Jasper.

“I hardly know myself,” said I, “but thosedoors must have been in plain sight at the backof the house, if they were there before thecaptain’s wing was built. The rubbish thrownin here from year to year has covered themup. Perhaps they used that place for something.”

“Some one is using it now, all right,” saidJasper. “Who do you think it is?”

“Oh, don’t ask me.”

[250]I doubled up in a heap on an old wheelbarrow.Neither of us could stand upright,or we would have bumped our heads on theflooring. Jasper was leaning over me, uncertainwhat to do.

“Go and find Mrs. Dove!” I wept. “Rundown to her house on the back street; shemay have gone there, if she got away at all.And bring her husband back with you.” Ipointed out the direction from beneath thehouse. “Run! We’ve got to find her.Hurry!”

Jasper, with a perplexed glance at the chaoshe was leaving, dashed off down the yard. IfI had had my wits about me, I should neverhave sent him. He had no sooner left than Iheard something moving. Peeping betweenthe heaps of piled-up furniture, I saw two legsvanishing upward at the further end of the“under.”

“Mrs. Dove!” I called wildly. But Mrs.Dove did not wear red rubber boots.

I began crawling over to where they haddisappeared, and found a well defined path inthat direction, as if the broken beds and oldchests had been drawn aside to make it possiblefor some one, crouching, to reach the[251]further end of the “under” without being seen.

Standing upright at last, in the higher partbeneath the chimney, I suddenly realized thatI had raised myself much too far. What wasI looking at? My head had passed the floorand my eyes were on a level with the captain’sroom. There was the old rosewood desk andthe cat asleep in the rocking-chair. Wheelingabout, I confronted the back entrance tothe secret stairs.

I had stood up directly under the chimney-closet,whose whole floor was lifted againstthe wall. There it was, to one side, with thehasp that had fastened it from underneathhanging loosely. In the hasp was an openpadlock.

I had no time to wonder how it came tobe that way or why I had never noticed itbefore. Some one had just opened this doorand gone through it. He was still going.I could hear him on the secret stairs.

We were not so far behind the ghost asI had thought. I swung myself up into theopening, but could climb no further. Horrorheld me and gripped me from above and frombelow. What was I chasing? What wouldI find? I slammed the trap at my feet, which[252]comprised the entire floor of the closet, and,stepping on it firmly, wired shut the door ofthe secret stairs. It would be futile to lockthe door of the closet that led into the captain’sroom. I wondered how many times thatstrong looking copper wire had been unfastenedand fastened again, while I remainedoblivious beyond the further door. As Iwound the wire around the hook all was silent,but when I had finished and had withdrawnI heard footsteps crossing overhead. I ranthrough the kitchen, skirting the great rolled-upoilcloth and avoiding the opening in thefloor, and climbed the kitchen companionwaythree steps at a time. I must be sure that thelittle door above was still nailed shut, and as adouble precaution I shoved the bureau oncemore in front of it.

“If you can’t get out by night,” I muttered,“you won’t get out by day!”

The footsteps came to the inside door ofthe eaves closet, tried the latch, shook it furiously,and, leaning against it, shoved withmortal might. But the mirror of the bureaudid not move, the door on the further sideof the eaves closet held, and the frail partitionremained firm. I heard the footsteps[253]start the other way, and ran down to watchresults.

In the kitchen doorway two men were standing,open-jawed. I did not even pause to seewho they were, but dashed on into thecaptain’s room, and was in time to see thelatch of the secret door raised stealthily, thendropped, then clicked again. Some onerattled and shook it, but it would notopen.

I smiled grimly.

“It’s different, isn’t it,” I said, “whensome one wires it up after you get in?You’re human, you are; you can’t get out ofthere any more than I could!”

“Who are you talking to?” asked the judge.It was he who had arrived with his arm in asling, and Alf had followed him.

“I don’t know,” said I. “Wait a while andwe will all find out.”

They seemed in doubt as to how to takethis information.

“What’s up?” asked Alf, pointing to thekitchen floor.

“You can see,” I answered.

“I see the door open to the round cellar, butwhat for?”

[254]“You know as much about it as I do! Whywould any one build a round cellar?”

“So the sand can’t wedge off the corners.You know,” Alf reminded me, “I told youthey didn’t build cellars on the cape. Well,they don’t, not regular ones, but that’s thekind they do build. Round, like a well underthe kitchen, to keep food cool.”

“Sure,” said the judge, seeing the doubtin my eyes. “All the good houses have them.I’ve got one myself.”

“I never heard of such a thing,” said I.“But then,” I added, “there are so many thingsI never heard of.”

“That reminds me,” said the judge. “Iheard you was leaving. We came to saygood-by.”

“I haven’t got time to go just now,” Ianswered.

“I brought this back.” The judge showedme a wooden sign he was carrying—“ForSale. Enquire Within.”

Much good it had ever done any one toenquire within!

“I’m glad we got here when we did,” saidAlf. “Looks as if we was in on the killin’.”

I winced. I was strung so taut that every[255]word vibrated on naked nerves. I could hearthe footsteps over my head, pacing back andforth, as they always did, trying one door andthen the other, and I knew, with namelessdread, that whatever they were, this wouldbe the last hour they would walk that floor.

“What became of Mrs. Dove?” asked thejudge.

“Oh,” I broke down, “I don’t know! Iwish I knew!”

He picked up the great iron poker thathad once mounted the secret stairs with meand weighed it speculatively.

“I guess that’s all right,” he said, “for aone-armed man to handle.”

Jasper came running back across the yardwith Will Dove, who carried a shotgun, andCaleb Snow, whom they had annexed with hiswinkle-fork.

“Did you find any one?” shouted Jasper.

We motioned to him to be quiet and pointedto the room above.

“How about Mrs. Dove?” I asked anxiously.

“Oh, she’s all right,” said her husband;“she’s to home.”

The men fell silent, listening to the ominous[256]footsteps that crossed and recrossed the ceiling.

Will Dove began to whisper. “My wife,she thought”—we all drew closer together—“shehad to find a place to put the beach-plumjelly—she’s like that! She looked allover the rooms, and then decided she wouldrip up the kitchen oilcloth and see what wasbelow. And there it was—the door to theround cellar! While she was taking up thetacks she kept hearing noises, so she thoughtshe must be right and kept on going. Maybeit was rats running around. She ain’t afraidof rats.

“The trap wasn’t locked, just covered over,and she jerked it up and was going down,when she see a man in there.

“‘Who’s that?’ she yelled.

“He never answered, but he disappeared!He wasn’t there any more! She looked down,and lit a candle and held it over, but he wasgone. She could see where he had been livin’,but it was empty.

“That was too much for her. My wifeain’t afraid of rats or men, but that cellar wastoo much for her. She cleared out by thekitchen door, and run all the way home. I[257]can tell you I was scairt myself, the way shelooked when she come pantin’ in. She ain’ta hand to carry on; I never seen her that way;and when she said there was something wrongover here—why, I believed her. I was justthinkin’ about puttin’ my hat on, when he,”indicating Jasper, “showed up! Then themissus she had another fit. She says it musthave been the captain livin’ down in the roundcellar the last five years, ever since he wassupposed to be dead, and if it was, he wasa crazy man by this time, and it was alltom-foolishness to leave the lady here inthe house with him loose. And if it wasn’tthe captain, it wouldn’t be anything that wecould catch anyhow, but for the Lord’s saketo hurry!”

As he stopped whispering the footsteps upstairsceased. There was a new sound.Something was being dragged across thefloor.

We did not stand and talk about it anylonger. The judge seized the poker andvanished up the kitchen companionway.

“Even a man with a broken arm can guarda door that’s nailed tight shut,” he called back.

Will Dove made for the front door.

[258]“I’ll watch outside,” he said. “I’ve gota gun.”

The other three men fell into a single file.Jasper flourished a gourd that had hung overthe sink; Alf had a great glass paperweight;Caleb Snow came last, with his winkle-forkahead of him.

“Good-by,” said Jasper. “I may never seeyou again!”

I laughed, and to my own ears it had ahorrid sound.

“It’s more likely,” I answered, “that youwon’t see anything up there.”

Simultaneously they turned and frownedat me, as if they did not like the strangenessof my remark. Jasper leaned down andwhispered,

“Steady, dear!”

But what I said was true.

I unwired the door, and as they crept upthe secret stairs fear fastened my feet to thespot on which I stood.

The dragging and pushing noise increased.There was the crash of glass, and before anyone realized what was happening a blackshadow slid down off the roof. I ran to thewindow and saw a little old man pick himself[259]up off the ground and crawl quickly underthe house.

At the same time Will Dove’s gun wentoff, wildly. He had aimed for the skylight,and knocked off two shingles.

“Quit that!” called one of the men above.They were rushing about the empty room,wrenching open the doors of the eaves closet,trying to mount through the hole in the roofand getting in each other’s way.

I let myself down the ladder into the roundcellar just as the ghost came scrambling intoit by the outside door.

The little scuttling figure wilted down ina heap at my feet upon the earthen floor.Confronted by me, when he thought he hadreached a haven, the pitiful thing collapsed.Raising hunted eyes, clawing at my skirt withskinny hands, he moaned in a queer thin voice,“Save me!”

The oilskin hat fell back from the creature’shead, and there was the scraggly, drawn-back,wispy gray hair of a woman. I had seen thatface and heard that voice before, and in spiteof the flannel shirt and rubber boots, in spiteof the fact that she was drowned, I knew thatI looked at Mattie!



I  COULD hear the men above me, likebloodhounds on the trail.

Will Dove, following his shot, had rushedoff down the back street, hoping to find whathe had aimed at. I drew down the cellardoors which opened beneath the house andlocked them, just as Alf began to prowlaround the “under.”

“Stay here!” I whispered.

Mounting the ladder, I shut the trap-doorbefore the judge had time to negotiate thekitchen companionway.

“There is no one in the round cellar,” I lied.

And he was saying, “No one enteredMattie’s room.”

“Look over on the back street,” I advised,and so got rid of him.

To every one I met I gave the same word;“I saw him jump off the roof and escape thatway,” pointing in the direction Will Dove hadtaken, and seeing his retreating figure yelling[261]and brandishing the shotgun they did notlose any time in following. The house wassoon cleared.

Only to Jasper did I say, at a moment whenno one heard me, “Wait, I’ve caught theghost!”

But as soon as I had said it I regrettedconfiding in him. Unequal to facing thehorror alone, he immediately set up a shoutafter the last man in sight, “Hi, wait aminute!”

Luckily the Winkle-Man did not hear himand kept on going. He had tripped on hislong fork two or three times and was desperatelytrying to catch up.

“Before they return,” said I, “look here!”And I opened the trap and led Jasper downthe ladder.

A huddled figure lay prone upon the earthwhere it had fallen, as if it had not moved sinceI had left.


“Stop!” I cried, for Jasper would havewrenched the creature to its feet. “Can’t yousee?” I turned the lifeless body over andtried to raise it from the damp floor. “Helpme lift her on the mattress!”

[262]Jasper caught hold of the limp form, andat the feel of the light body in his strong armsexclaimed again, “What—what is it?”

“It’s Mattie,” said I. “Don’t you understand?Mattie ‘Charles T. Smith.’”

“She’s not dead?” he asked.

“I hope not!”

I bathed her face with water from the pailand made her limbs lie comfortably.

“I think we had better leave her here till shecomes to,” I said. “I don’t want all thosem*n pursuing her.”

“Just as you say,” he answered. He wasnonplussed and confused, willing to let memanage matters any way I wanted to. “Supposeyou stay down here and watch, and I’llgo up to the door and head them off if theycome back. If you want anything, call.I’ll be right near.”

Jasper went up the ladder again, and I satdown beside the prostrate form of Mattie andwaited for her return to consciousness.

The round cellar was dark now. Earlydusk was stealing the light of the short autumnday, and except for the shaft of strained sunshinethat seeped through the trap-door thepit was dark. I opened the doors into the[263]“under,” but only a faint ray filtered in frombehind the boat.

“How gloomy it always must have been!”I thought. “If it had not been for that outsidedoor, she would not even have had air.I suppose it was when she was going for waterto the spring in the woods that the half-wittedchild saw her and told people it wasthe New Captain. That was what she wantedevery one to think! She has always countedon that.... She must have gone out of herethrough the ‘under’ and up the stairs to thesecret room every night. But why?”

“I went because I always went,” said Mattie.

Had I been talking aloud or had she answeredmy unspoken thought? Startled, Ilooked at the prone figure of the haggardwoman in the tattered overalls and saw shehad not even opened her eyes but was lyingin the same exhausted position in which we haddropped her—that not a muscle moved, exceptfor the faint breathing of her flat chest andher trembling jaw. She was speaking, ortrying to speak again, and I leaned over her inthe dark to catch every precious word. Itwas as if I listened to the unrelated utterancesof an oracle. No one could tell whether[264]Mattie would recover from this wanton chaseor live through her devastating imprisonment.Each syllable, I thought, might be her last,and whatever clue she gave was important.

The house above me, where Jasper satwaiting on the doorstep, was so silent that Ithought perhaps he might be able to hear hertalking. I took hold of one of Mattie’s claw-likehands and stroked it gently.

“I went—up there,” the fluttering voicerepeated, “because I always went. Everynight of my life I spent in that room—eversince—it happened.”

“Yes, Mattie,” I whispered, trying not tofrighten her.

“Jerry was a beautiful boy,” murmuredMattie. “Jerry—we named him for hisgrandfather—but his grandmother never knewit. Don’t you think his grandmother wouldhave liked to know it?”

“Yes, Mattie.”

“You would never have forgotten him ifyou had ever seen him.”

“I shall never forget him now,” I saidsoftly.

“No one ever saw him.”

The burden of her life came back to her[265]as she regained consciousness completely.Tears trickled down her withered cheeksbeneath her closed veined lids.

“No one ever saw him,” she repeated.

I was crying.

It was Mattie who sat up weakly and laidher thin arm around my shaking shoulders,the mood of motherliness so strong in herthat she could protect even her worst enemy.

“Don’t take on,” she said; “it can’t behelped. It never could be helped.”

But I wept on and would not be comforted.For the five nights that I had spent listeningto her presentation of her story, and the fivedays I had wondered whether it were true,and for all the empty days of Mattie’s life,and the lost opportunity of her neighborsand the lonely people whom she served, tearsof contrition coursed unchecked.

“Mattie,” I sobbed, “what can I do for you,what can I do for you?”

She answered my question strangely.

“I’m ready to go,” she said.

I thought she meant that she was preparedto die.

Jasper could not stand the sound of cryingany longer and had descended the ladder.[266]When she saw him she looked worried, swungher two feet in their absurd boots to the floor,and stood up shakily.

“You can take me to the town home now,”she said, with a brave little swagger.

Jasper and I were too surprised to speak.

At the amazement on our faces she becamedisconcerted herself. A new terror assailedher.

“Or is it the jail you will take me to, eh?Is it against the law to be a ghost?” Shestaggered back against the white-washed wall.

Jasper caught her in his arms.

“Here,” he cried to me, “let’s get her outof this! Put her in bed, for Heaven’s sake.We’ve been down in this cave long enough!”

“Where are you taking me?” she implored.

“To your own room,” said I; “to the gabledroom over the kitchen, where you belong.”

Between us we managed her, and as I laidher down once more and stripped off thecaptain’s ridiculous old clothes, and dressedher in a decent nightgown and tucked her inbetween the linen sheets with a hot-waterbottle, she said brokenly,

“Seems as if I couldn’t stand havin’ yousleep in my bed.”

[267]“I know. It won’t be that way any more,I promise you.”

Jasper went back to his vigil on the doorstep.

Mattie looked from me to the bureau andthe nailed-up door.

“You’ve changed things,” she mumbleddrowsily, and then; “my, but you are a bravewoman!”

I smiled, and she smiled, too.

“I thought you would leave the house afterthe first time,” she continued. “I didn’tmean to do it before you come—not when Iwrote that note. I never meant to botheryou. Did you get a letter from me in abook?”


“But afterward, when I knew you wasasleep in my room, the both of you, I justgave way and threw myself against the littledoor. I didn’t care if you found me andsettled things then and there, but you didn’tdo nothing. You never did.”

“No,” I answered, “I didn’t think youwere anything—but my imagination.”

Mattie turned her face from me.

“You didn’t imagine nothing,” she replied.

[268]My heart stood still.

“I didn’t make anything up. I just wentover and over it, like I always done, in mymind. Seems as if I never thought of anythingelse ever since.”

“Then the only psychic thing,” said I, moreto myself than to her, “was thought-transference.”

I fell silent, but Mattie knew what was inmy mind.

“That last night—” she began, and seemedto strangle.

“Hush, Mattie, it’s all right; nobody believesanything about that fifth night but me,and I’m your friend!”

Her eyes burned into mine, beseechingly.

“I believe you are.” And then her feeblefingers began to pick at the basket-pattern inthe quilt. “I never had none,” she said, atlength.

“Mattie,” I tried to make her understand,“you have me now to take care of you, andyou can have this room and stay here as longas you live.”

“I can still work,” said Mattie, with a tiredsigh.

“No, I don’t mean that. I don’t want you[269]to work for me. I just want you to be hereand be one of us, and—if you can—be happy.”

Mattie shook her head as if she hardly believedme.

“That is,” I added, “if you are willing tolet me and my husband live here, too.”

Her answer surprised me.

“Have you any children?”

I looked at her and hesitated, blushing tothe roots of my hair.

“Why, no.”

“I’d be more glad to stay,” said Mattie,“if you had some children. Oh, don’t go away!I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings afteryou’ve been so kind to me, and all. I onlymeant there’s plenty of room in the housefor all of us, and room for more than us, too....Because it always seemed to me, whenpeople were married and everything was easyfor them, and everybody knew it and wasglad, and would bring them presents—wedding-presentsand silver spoons for christenings—andthey could show the little dressesall around—well, I don’t understand it, that’sall, them not having any.... You mustexcuse me.”

I wished that Jasper had heard what she[270]said, just as she said it, for I never couldrepeat it to him in the same way, althoughI went right downstairs and tried.

We sat for a long time on the doorsteptalking it over and reconstructing our lives tosuit new necessities. Building our livesaround the house, one might have called it,instead of building a house around our lives.It was easy to do that, with a home like theHouse of the Five Pines. A life built aroundthe way we had been living hitherto wouldhave been as difficult as growing ivy on amoving-van.

“The only disappointment is our room,”I said. “I have given it back to Mattie.”

“Well, there are three other bedrooms upstairs,”replied Jasper, “and one down.”

Probably he would never understandhow much that little room, where so manythings had happened, had come to mean tome.

“The nursery is all ready,” I continued,following my own train of thought; “and anurse is living with us who not only will neverleave, but fairly begs that we give her somethingto rock to sleep.”

My husband smiled, and put his hand over[271]mine as we lingered there in our doorway, inthe starlight.

Our intimate conversation was interruptedby Caleb Snow and Judge Bell, who cameback tired and discouraged from the chase onwhich I had sent them. Will Dove haddropped off at his own house on the way backfrom the woods, and Alf had been obliged togive up the hunt long ago and go back to theSailor’s Rest for supper.

“So it was Mattie!” said the judge, tryingto cover his disappointment. “I thought soall the time.”

“Yes, you did!” The Winkle-Man waxedindignant. “You didn’t know no more whoit was than the rest of us.”

“Didn’t I keep telling Will Dove not tofire that gun off in the woods?”

“Sure! You says that he couldn’t hitnothin’ with nothin’; that’s what you says!”

“Well, I meant that it was either Mattieor her ghost.”

“I don’t know what you meant,” said Caleb,“but when I told him to quit shootin’ I meantI was gosh-darned afraid he was goin’ to hitme.”

[272]They continued their argument as theywent down the street, and Jasper and I satand smiled. They were not half so surprisedas I thought they would be. They had livedtoo close to the sea to be much amazed at anything.If we wanted to keep Mattie and takecare of her, they had no objections. The waysof city people were inexplicable, but as we hadtaken the burden of decision off their hands,they were glad to be relieved. The future ofMattie “Charles T. Smith” would not restwith the town council and the town home, norwould her financial needs embarrass the tax-payers.They eased their conscience by sayingwe would not be bothered very long.Consoling us and congratulating themselves,they went off arguing. It was something,after the trouble of their long evening’s huntthrough the woods, to have the glory ofspreading the news.



“BUT what made her do it?” asked Jasper.

We had gone into the house and prepareda supper, and as it was the first mealeither of us had eaten since early morning,we were sitting a long time at the kitchentable. The oil-lamp shed a cosy radianceover the blue china on the red checkered cloth,and a bowl of golden-rod between four brasscandlesticks added a touch of festivity to ourlate repast. We had begun our home-making.

“She wanted to frighten us away,” I answered.

“Do you think she was here, all those weeksbefore we moved in, after they thought shewas drowned?”

“She never left the house, I fancy; shemoved into the cellar. You see, Jasper, shealways thought the place belonged to her.[274]All her life she had known no other home,no other way of living, except here. Shecould not allow herself to be evicted, becauseshe had nowhere to go. The New Captainleft her nothing to live on, and she had noearning capacity. You heard how those mentalked. She would have become an unwelcomepublic charge, and she had suffered toomuch from the townspeople to tolerate havingthem support her. She preferred death.”

“Well, then, why didn’t she really drownherself, instead of just pretending she did?”

“Ah, that is different,” I answered; “thatleads us out of practical speculation into therealms of psychology. She was not that kindof person.”

I had thought so much about Mattie thatit seemed to me she was perfectly apparentin her motives and sane in her actions.

“To each one who takes his own life theremust be five who go to the brink of deathand, looking over its fearful abyss, retreatagain and let their bark drift on the tide withoutthem. It has never been demonstratedthat people who take their lives in their ownhands do better with it than God. The[275]wreckage of one’s life is mostly caused byself. Mattie was the sort of person who doesnot take any sinful initiative, but to whomlife is a whiphandle. The crimes of thosearound her made her what she was. In othercirc*mstances she would have been what isknown as ‘a good woman.’ The old motherwho refused to let them marry might havehad enough determination to have committedsuicide if she had wanted to, but not Mattie.Or the New Captain might have taken hisown life, for he took Mattie’s life and spoiledit, and her son’s—and willed her home awayfrom her in his evil legacy after he had nofurther use for it himself.”

Jasper motioned for me not to speak soloud.

“Do you still believe—about the boy—whatyou told me coming from the train?”

“More than ever,” I answered sadly.

We did not want to question Mattie. Wefelt that the repose due her spirit was asimportant as that which must resuscitate herweakened body, if she was ever to be a normalhuman being again. And so for months, allthe time that we were getting ready for winter[276]on the cape, we learned nothing more abouther story.

The walking up and down of the first threenights was self-evident, as was the bendingwall and the swinging mirror; the aura hadbeen created by her natural need for lightand the fact that her only lantern happenedto be red. That I had only seen the aura onthe night I read the occult magazine was nother responsibility; she must have always hadthe lantern with her when she went up to thesecret room. It was the boy who arrivedwith the message from the judge that temptedme outside, where I happened to see the redlight shining through the skylight. Theséance was more readily understandable whenone day Mattie happened to mention casuallythat she was afraid to go to the spring forwater because once, when she was masquerading,she had met a colored man there lateat night who asked her questions. Therogue had not known who she was, but hehad doubtless followed her and guessedenough to piece out a plausible spirit for hiscontrol to interpret at the séance.

It was not until one quiet evening the following[277]winter, when we three sat in front ofthe blazing fire in the captain’s chimney, aswas our custom, that Mattie brought up thesubject of the fifth night. We had beensnow-bound for a week, and the white frostsparkled on the crust of the drifts when Iopened the door upon the starlight and letin Mattie’s cat. The creature had been huntingfish too long on the icy shore and wasstiff with cold, despairing in its dumb wayof regaining our hospitality before it frozeto death on the doorstep. It bounded intothe house like a bad omen, as it had done thatday before the hurricane, and dashed throughthe kitchen and into Mattie’s arms, leapingupon her before she could straighten herselfup in her chair and shake off her firesidedoze. She tumbled the cat back to the hearthand looked at it reproachfully.

“That’s the way you done, Jezebel, thatnight you seen me through the crack in thedoor,” she said. “You jumped at me as Iwas carrying my lantern down them steepsteps and knocked me over. I had hardlytime”—she turned to us with her wistfulcrinkled smile—“to get back down through[278]the trap-door. I thought sure you wouldcatch me.”

“I didn’t try,” said I, and Jasper laiddown his book and leaned forward intently tolisten. “I thought it part of the manifestations—theway that the New Captain murderedhis son.”

There was an acute silence, broken by thepine-logs crackling higher in the fireplace.

Mattie put her hands across her eyes toshield them from the blaze.

“It was,” she whispered.

The fire died down again. We waited.But she said no more. After a while she rose,as if weary of her own thoughts, and said shewould go up now to her room. At the doorwayshe turned back to us.

“Only I never intended to tell you,” shefaltered. “I never meant it to go so far, notso far as that. That was what I didn’t wantyou to know.”

So we always pretended that we did notknow.

The part that Jezebel played was one ofthose coincidences of life which make oftragedy a greater drama in the living thanthe presentation of it can ever be.

[279]If you are ever in Star Harbor the Houseof the Five Pines will be pointed out to youas one of the show places.

There is a high, well trimmed box-hedgealong the street, but if you look through thegate you will see the wide, close-cut lawn, withits old-fashioned rose-garden and the sun-dialon one side, and on the other the children’splayground, with the slide and the seesaw andthe little fountain they love for the birds’ bath.The flagging to the green-shuttered portal isjust as it used to be, but both the doors withtheir brass knockers stand wide open. Againstthe clean white house hollyhocks paint theirgay faces and lean upon the kitchen lovingly.Ruffled dotted-muslin curtains at all the square-panedwindows show that people live within towhom no detail of housekeeping is too muchtrouble. You cannot see the garage that hasbeen built beneath the captain’s wing in placeof the “under” filled with rubbish, but if youwill walk along the back street, after you havefinished staring in from the front, you willnotice the driveway that curves past the newentrance cut in the rear, behind the hall, andyou will see the playhouse made out of a boat.The children will be there, romping, taking[280]turns riding their old hand-made rocking-horse;and the loving arbiter of all their quarrels isthat little gray-haired woman in the soft blackdress who sits knitting peacefully in the shadowof the five pines.


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Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

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