Stories of the Supernatural
2. The Shadows On The Wall
"Henry had words with Edward in the study the night before Edward died," said
She was elderly, tall, and harshly thin, with a hard colourlessness of face. She
spoke not with acrimony, but with grave severity. Rebecca Ann Glynn, younger,
stouter and rosy of face between her crinkling puffs of gray hair, gasped, by way
of assent. She sat in a wide flounce of black silk in the corner of the sofa, and
rolled terrified eyes from her sister Caroline to her sister Mrs. Stephen Brigham,
who had been Emma Glynn, the one beauty of the family. She was beautiful still,
with a large, splendid, full-blown beauty; she filled a great rocking-chair with her
superb bulk of femininity, and swayed gently back and forth, her black silks
whispering and her black frills fluttering. Even the shock of death (for her brother
Edward lay dead in the house,) could not disturb her outward serenity of
demeanour. She was grieved over the loss of her brother: he had been the
youngest, and she had been fond of him, but never had Emma Brigham lost sight
of her own importance amidst the waters of tribulation. She was always awake to
the consciousness of her own stability in the midst of vicissitudes and the
splendour of her permanent bearing.
But even her expression of masterly placidity changed before her sister
Caroline's announcement and her sister Rebecca Ann's gasp of terror and
distress in response.
"I think Henry might have controlled his temper, when poor Edward was so near
his end," said she with an asperity which disturbed slightly the roseate curves of
her beautiful mouth.
"Of course he did not KNOW," murmured Rebecca Ann in a faint tone strangely
out of keeping with her appearance.
One involuntarily looked again to be sure that such a feeble pipe came from that
"Of course he did not know it," said Caroline quickly. She turned on her sister
with a strange sharp look of suspicion. "How could he have known it?" said she.
Then she shrank as if from the other's possible answer. "Of course you and I
both know he could not," said she conclusively, but her pale face was paler than
it had been before.
Rebecca gasped again. The married sister, Mrs. Emma Brigham, was now sitting
up straight in her chair; she had ceased rocking, and was eyeing them both
intently with a sudden accentuation of family likeness in her face. Given one
common intensity of emotion and similar lines showed forth, and the three sisters
of one race were evident.
"What do you mean?" said she impartially to them both. Then she, too, seemed
to shrink before a possible answer. She even laughed an evasive sort of laugh. "I
guess you don't mean anything," said she, but her face wore still the expression
of shrinking horror.
"Nobody means anything," said Caroline firmly. She rose and crossed the room
toward the door with grim decisiveness.