Orpheus in Mayfair and Other Short Stories HTML version

The Shadow Of A Midnight
A Ghost Story
It was nine o'clock in the evening. Sasha, the maid, had brought in the samovar
and placed it at the head of the long table. Marie Nikolaevna, our hostess,
poured out the tea. Her husband was playing Vindt with his daughter, the doctor,
and his son-in-law in another corner of the room. And Jameson, who had just
finished his Russian lesson--he was working for the Civil Service examination--
was reading the last number of the Rouskoe Slovo.
"Have you found anything interesting, Frantz Frantzovitch?" said Marie
Nikolaevna to Jameson, as she handed him a glass of tea.
"Yes, I have," answered the Englishman, looking up. His eyes had a clear
dreaminess about them, which generally belongs only to fanatics or visionaries,
and I had no reason to believe that Jameson, who seemed to be common sense
personified, was either one or the other. "At least," he continued, "it interests me.
And it's odd--very odd."
"What is it?" asked Marie Nikolaevna.
"Well, to tell you what it is would mean a long story which you wouldn't believe,"
said Jameson; "only it's odd--very odd."
"Tell us the story," I said.
"As you won't believe a word of it," Jameson repeated, "it's not much use my
telling it."
We insisted on hearing the story, so Jameson lit a cigarette, and began:--
"Two years ago," he said, "I was at Heidelberg, at the University, and I made
friends with a young fellow called Braun. His parents were German, but he had
lived five or six years in America, and he was practically an American. I made his
acquaintance by chance at a lecture, when I first arrived, and he helped me in a
number of ways. He was an energetic and kind-hearted fellow, and we became
great friends. He was a student, but he did not belong to any Korps or
Bursenschaft, he was working hard then. Afterwards he became an engineer.
When the summer Semester came to an end, we both stayed on at Heidelberg.
One day Braun suggested that we should go for a walking tour and explore the
country. I was only too pleased, and we started. It was glorious weather, and we
enjoyed ourselves hugely. On the third night after we had started we arrived at a
village called Salzheim. It was a picturesque little place, and there was a curious
old church in it with some interesting tombs and relics of the Thirty Years War.
But the inn where we put up for the night was even more picturesque than the
church. It had been a convent for nuns, only the greater part of it had been burnt,
and only a quaint gabled house, and a kind of tower covered with ivy, which I
suppose had once been the belfry, remained. We had an excellent supper and
went to bed early. We had been given two bedrooms, which were airy and clean,
and altogether we were satisfied. My bedroom opened into Braun's, which was
beyond it, and had no other door of its own. It was a hot night in July, and Braun
asked me to leave the door open. I did--we opened both the windows. Braun
went to bed and fell asleep almost directly, for very soon I heard his snores.