The House on the Borderland
I PUT DOWN the Manuscript, and glanced across at Tonnison: he was sitting, staring out
into the dark. I waited a minute; then I spoke. "Well?" I said.
He turned, slowly, and looked at me. His thoughts seemed to have gone out of him into a
"Was he mad?" I asked, and indicated the MS., with a half nod.
Tonnison stared at me, unseeingly, a moment; then, his wits came back to him, and,
suddenly, he comprehended my question.
"No!" he said.
I opened my lips, to offer a contradictory opinion; for my sense of the saneness of things,
would not allow me to take the story literally; then I shut them again, without saying
anything. Somehow, the certainty in Tonnison's voice affected my doubts. I felt, all at
once, less assured; though I was by no means convinced as yet.
After a few moments' silence, Tonnison rose, stiffly, and began to undress. He seemed
disinclined to talk; so I said nothing; but followed his example. I was weary; though still
full of the story I had just read.
Somehow, as I rolled into my blankets, there crept into my mind a memory of the old
gardens, as we had seen them. I remembered the odd fear that the place had conjured up
in our hearts; and it grew upon me, with conviction, that Tonnison was right.
It was very late when we rose--nearly midday; for the greater part of the night had been
spent in reading the MS.
Tonnison was grumpy, and I felt out of sorts. It was a somewhat dismal day, and there
was a touch of chilliness in the air. There was no mention of going out fishing on either
of our parts. We got dinner, and, after that, just sat and smoked in silence.
Presently, Tonnison asked for the Manuscript: I handed it to him, and he spent most of
the afternoon in reading it through by himself.
It was while he was thus employed, that a thought came to me:--
"What do you say to having another look at--?" I nodded my head down stream.
Tonnison looked up. "Nothing!" he said, abruptly; and, somehow, I was less annoyed,
than relieved, at his answer.