The House on the Borderland
2. The Plain Of Silence
"I AM an old man. I live here in this ancient house, surrounded by huge, unkempt
gardens. "The peasantry, who inhabit the wilderness beyond, say that I am mad. That is
because I will have nothing to do with them. I live here alone with my old sister, who is
also my housekeeper. We keep no servants--I hate them. I have one friend, a dog; yes, I
would sooner have old Pepper than the rest of Creation together. He, at least, understands
me--and has sense enough to leave me alone when I am in my dark moods.
"I have decided to start a kind of diary; it may enable me to record some of the thoughts
and feelings that I cannot express to any one; but, beyond this, I am anxious to make
some record of the strange things that I have heard and seen, during many years of
loneliness, in this weird old building.
"For a couple of centuries, this house has had a reputation, a bad one, and, until I bought
it, for more than eighty years no one had lived here; consequently, I got the old place at a
ridiculously low figure.
"I am not superstitious; but I have ceased to deny that things happen in this old house--
things that I cannot explain; and, therefore, I must needs ease my mind, by writing down
an account of them, to the best of my ability; though, should this, my diary, ever be read
when I am gone, the readers will but shake their heads, and be the more convinced that I
"This house, how ancient it is! though its age strikes one less, perhaps, than the
quaintness of its structure, which is curious and fantastic to the last degree. Little curved
towers and pinnacles, with outlines suggestive of leaping flames, predominate; while the
body of the building is in the form of a circle.
"I have heard that there is an old story, told amongst the country people, to the effect that
the devil built the place. However, that is as may be. True or not, I neither know nor care,
save as it may have helped to cheapen it, ere I came.
"I must have been here some ten years, before I saw sufficient to warrant any belief in the
stories, current in the neighbourhood, about this house. It is true that I had, on at least a
dozen occasions, seen, vaguely, things that puzzled me, and, perhaps, had felt more than I
had seen. Then, as the years passed, bringing age upon me, I became often aware of
something unseen, yet unmistakably present, in the empty rooms and corridors. Still, it
was, as I have said, many years before I saw any real manifestations of the, so called,
"It was not Hallowe'en. If I were telling a story for amusement's sake, I should probably
place it on that night of nights; but this is a true record of my own experiences, and I
would not put pen to paper to amuse any one. No. It was after midnight on the morning of