The Best Ghost Stories HTML version

The Interval
By Vincent O'Sullivan
From The Boston Evening Transcript
Mrs. Wilton passed through a little alley leading from one of the gates which are around
Regent's Park, and came out on the wide and quiet street. She walked along slowly,
peering anxiously from side to side so as not to overlook the number. She pulled her furs
closer round her; after her years in India this London damp seemed very harsh. Still, it
was not a fog to-day. A dense haze, gray and tinged ruddy, lay between the houses,
sometimes blowing with a little wet kiss against the face. Mrs. Wilton's hair and
eyelashes and her furs were powdered with tiny drops. But there was nothing in the
weather to blur the sight; she could see the faces of people some distance off and read the
signs on the shops.
Before the door of a dealer in antiques and second-hand furniture she paused and looked
through the shabby uncleaned window at an unassorted heap of things, many of them of
great value. She read the Polish name fastened on the pane in white letters.
"Yes; this is the place."
She opened the door, which met her entrance with an ill-tempered jangle. From
somewhere in the black depths of the shop the dealer came forward. He had a clammy
white face, with a sparse black beard, and wore a skull cap and spectacles. Mrs. Wilton
spoke to him in a low voice.
A look of complicity, of cunning, perhaps of irony, passed through the dealer's cynical
and sad eyes. But he bowed gravely and respectfully.
"Yes, she is here, madam. Whether she will see you or not I do not know. She is not
always well; she has her moods. And then, we have to be so careful. The police—Not
that they would touch a lady like you. But the poor alien has not much chance these
Mrs. Wilton followed him to the back of the shop, where there was a winding staircase.
She knocked over a few things in her passage and stooped to pick them up, but the dealer
kept muttering, "It does not matter—surely it does not matter." He lit a candle.
"You must go up these stairs. They are very dark; be careful. When you come to a door,
open it and go straight in."
He stood at the foot of the stairs holding the light high above his head and she ascended.