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A Haunted House

Whatever hour you woke there was a door shunting. From room to room
they went, hand in hand, lifting here, opening there, making sure—a
ghostly couple.
"Here we left it," she said. And he added, "Oh, but here too!" "It's up-
stairs," she murmured. "And in the garden," he whispered "Quietly,"
they said, "or we shall wake them."
But it wasn't that you woke us. Oh, no. "They're looking for it; they're
drawing the curtain," one might say, and so read on a page or two. "Now
they've found it," one would be certain, stopping the pencil on the mar-
gin. And then, tired of reading, one might rise and see for oneself, the
house all empty, the doors standing open, only the wood pigeons bub-
bling with content and the hum of the threshing machine sounding from
the farm. "What did I come in here for? What did I want to find?" My
hands were empty. "Perhaps it's upstairs then?" The apples were in the
loft. And so down again, the garden still as ever, only the book had
slipped into the grass.
But they had found it in the drawing room. Not that one could ever
see them. The window panes reflected apples, reflected roses; all the
leaves were green in the glass. If they moved in the drawing room, the
apple only turned its yellow side. Yet, the moment after, if the door was
opened, spread about the floor, hung upon the walls, pendant from the
ceiling—what? My hands were empty. The shadow of a thrush crossed
the carpet; from the deepest wells of silence the wood pigeon drew its
bubble of sound. "Safe, safe, safe," the pulse of the house beat softly. "The
treasure buried; the room… " the pulse stopped short. Oh, was that the
buried treasure?
A moment later the light had faded. Out in the garden then? But the
trees spun darkness for a wandering beam of sun. So fine, so rare, coolly
sunk beneath the surface the beam I sought always burnt behind the
glass. Death was the glass; death was between us; coming to the woman
first, hundreds of years ago, leaving the house, sealing all the windows;
the rooms were darkened. He left it, left her, went North, went East, saw
the stars turned in the Southern sky; sought the house, found it dropped
beneath the Downs. "Safe, safe, safe," the pulse of the house beat gladly.
"The Treasure yours."
The wind roars up the avenue. Trees stoop and bend this way and
that. Moonbeams splash and spill wildly in the rain. But the beam of the
lamp falls straight from the window. The candle burns stiff and still.
Wandering through the house, opening the windows, whispering not to
wake us, the ghostly couple seek their joy.
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