Beyond all measure astonished by the strange occurrences which had passed with so
much violence and rapidity, the locksmith gazed upon the shuddering figure in the chair
like one half stupefied, and would have gazed much longer, had not his tongue been
loosened by compassion and humanity.
'You are ill,' said Gabriel. 'Let me call some neighbour in.'
'Not for the world,' she rejoined, motioning to him with her trembling hand, and holding
her face averted. 'It is enough that you have been by, to see this.'
'Nay, more than enough--or less,' said Gabriel.
'Be it so,' she returned. 'As you like. Ask me no questions, I entreat you.'
'Neighbour,' said the locksmith, after a pause. 'Is this fair, or reasonable, or just to
yourself? Is it like you, who have known me so long and sought my advice in all
matters--like you, who from a girl have had a strong mind and a staunch heart?'
'I have need of them,' she replied. 'I am growing old, both in years and care. Perhaps
that, and too much trial, have made them weaker than they used to be. Do not speak to
'How can I see what I have seen, and hold my peace!' returned the locksmith. 'Who was
that man, and why has his coming made this change in you?'
She was silent, but held to the chair as though to save herself from falling on the
'I take the licence of an old acquaintance, Mary,' said the locksmith, 'who has ever had a
warm regard for you, and maybe has tried to prove it when he could. Who is this ill-
favoured man, and what has he to do with you? Who is this ghost, that is only seen in
the black nights and bad weather? How does he know, and why does he haunt, this
house, whispering through chinks and crevices, as if there was that between him and
you, which neither durst so much as speak aloud of? Who is he?'
'You do well to say he haunts this house,' returned the widow, faintly. 'His shadow has
been upon it and me, in light and darkness, at noonday and midnight. And now, at last,
he has come in the body!'
'But he wouldn't have gone in the body,' returned the locksmith with some irritation, 'if
you had left my arms and legs at liberty. What riddle is this?'