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A Fluttered Dovecote
written by "Browne, Gordon, 1858-1932"
... There was something so still, and tall, and ghastly about the figure, seen there in the gloom, that I could not stir, neither could poor Clara, as we held tightly by one another while the thing glided softly into the room, closed the door, and stood there staring. If I could only have sunk through the floor, I would not have cared. One moment I thought of rushing into one of the empty beds in the room; but I restrained myself, because there were no clothes upon them in which to bury oneself. The next moment I was for jumping out of the window to Achille; but it was too far; and we neither of us dared to go into hysterics and scream for help. So that we stood, frightened to death, till Clara sank down at my feet and buried her face in my lap, while I stood staring at the figure, which now came closer and closer as I walked away, Clara shuffling upon her knees to keep up to me. For a moment I thought that it might have been a teacher en déshabille; but the horrible silence soon showed that it was not. And at last, when I felt that I could bear no more, but must scream, having been walked right up to the wall by the hideous thing, it spoke, and the words seemed to act upon us both like magic, sending the blood coursing through our veins, making our hearts throb, and a warm glow to return where a moment before all was frozen and chilling; for just as I was sinking—feeling myself gliding slowly down upon kneeling Clara—I started up, for it said, in a loud, thrilling whisper— “What are you two a-doing of?” Then it sneezed. Of course it was Patty Smith, who had pretended to be asleep, and watched all the time, following us along the passage, and thoroughly upsetting all one’s plans again. She could see plainly enough that we had the window open, and knew pretty well what was taking place; so we had to make a virtue of necessity, and tell her, in as few words as possible, all about it. Not that I think she would have told t...

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