It may be said, and with truth, that so far I have recorded little but subjective terror,
possibly easily explained by my occupancy of an isolated house, plus a few unimportant
incidents, capable of various interpretations. But the fear was, and is today as I look back,
a real thing. As real - and as difficult to describe - as a chill, for instance. A severe mental
chill it was, indeed.
I went upstairs finally to a restless night, and rose early, after only an hour or so of sleep.
One thing I was determined on - to find out, if possible, the connection between the terror
and the telephone. I breakfasted early, and was dressing to go to the village when I had a
visitor, no other than Miss Emily herself. She looked fluttered and perturbed at the
unceremonious hour of her visit - she was the soul of convention - and explained,
between breaths as it were, that she had come to apologize for the day before. She had
hardly slept. I must forgive her. She had been very nervous since her brother's death, and
small things upset her.
How much of what I say of Miss Emily depends on my later knowledge, I wonder? Did I
notice then that she was watching me furtively, or is it only on looking back that I recall
it? I do recall it - the hall door open and a vista of smiling garden beyond, and silhouetted
against the sunshine, Miss Emily's frail figure and searching, slightly uplifted face. There
was something in her eyes that I had not seen before - a sort of exaltation. She was not,
that morning, the Miss Emily who ran a finger along her baseboards to see if we dusted
She had walked out, and it had exhausted her. She breathed in little gasps.
"I think," she said at last, "that I must telephone for Mr. Staley, I am never very strong in
"Please let me call him, for you, Miss Emily." I am not a young woman, and she was at
least sixty-five. But, because she was so small and frail, I felt almost a motherly anxiety
for her that morning.
"I think I should like to do it, if you don't mind. We are old friends. He always comes
promptly when I call him."
She went back alone, and I waited in the doorway. When she came out, she was smiling,
and there was more color in her face.
"He is coming at once. He is always very thoughtful for me."
Now, without any warning, something that had been seething since her breathless arrival
took shape in my mind, and became - suspicion. What if it had been Miss Emily who had