Famous Modern Ghost Stories HTML version
The Woman at Seven Brothers
BY WILBUR DANIEL STEELE
From Land's End, by Wilbur Daniel Steele. Copyright, 1908, by Harper and Brothers. By
permission of the publishers and Wilbur Daniel Steele.
I tell you sir, I was innocent. I didn't know any more about the world at twenty-two than
some do at twelve. My uncle and aunt in Duxbury brought me up strict; I studied hard in
high school, I worked hard after hours, and I went to church twice on Sundays, and I can't
see it's right to put me in a place like this, with crazy people. Oh yes, I know they're
crazy—you can't tell me. As for what they said in court about finding her with her
husband, that's the Inspector's lie, sir, because he's down on me, and wants to make it
look like my fault.
No, sir, I can't say as I thought she was handsome—not at first. For one thing, her lips
were too thin and white, and her color was bad. I'll tell you a fact, sir; that first day I
came off to the Light I was sitting on my cot in the store-room (that's where the assistant
keeper sleeps at the Seven Brothers), as lonesome as I could be, away from home for the
first time, and the water all around me, and, even though it was a calm day, pounding
enough on the ledge to send a kind of a woom-woom-woom whining up through all that
solid rock of the tower. And when old Fedderson poked his head down from the living-
room with the sunshine above making a kind of bright frame around his hair and
whiskers, to give me a cheery, "Make yourself to home, son!" I remember I said to
myself: "He's all right. I'll get along with him. But his wife's enough to sour milk." That
was queer, because she was so much under him in age—'long about twenty-eight or so,
and him nearer fifty. But that's what I said, sir.
Of course that feeling wore off, same as any feeling will wear off sooner or later in a
place like the Seven Brothers. Cooped up in a place like that you come to know folks so
well that you forget what they do look like. There was a long time I never noticed her,
any more than you'd notice the cat. We used to sit of an evening around the table, as if
you were Fedderson there, and me here, and her somewhere back there, in the rocker,
knitting. Fedderson would be working on his Jacob's-ladder, and I'd be reading. He'd
been working on that Jacob's-ladder a year, I guess, and every time the Inspector came
off with the tender he was so astonished to see how good that ladder was that the old man
would go to work and make it better. That's all he lived for.
If I was reading, as I say, I daren't take my eyes off the book, or Fedderson had me. And
then he'd begin—what the Inspector said about him. How surprised the member of the
board had been, that time, to see everything so clean about the light. What the Inspector
had said about Fedderson's being stuck here in a second-class light—best keeper on the
coast. And so on and so on, till either he or I had to go aloft and have a look at the wicks.