The House on the Borderland HTML version

10. The Time Of Waiting
"THE SUN was now warm, and shining brightly, forming a wondrous contrast to the
dark and dismal cellars; and it was with comparatively light feelings, that I made my way
up to the tower, to survey the gardens. There, I found everything quiet, and, after a few
minutes, went down to Mary's room. "Here, having knocked, and received a reply, I
unlocked the door. My sister was sitting, quietly, on the bed; as though waiting. She
seemed quite herself again, and made no attempt to move away, as I approached; yet, I
observed that she scanned my face, anxiously, as though in doubt, and but half assured in
her mind that there was nothing to fear from me.
"To my questions, as to how she felt, she replied, sanely enough, that she was hungry,
and would like to go down to prepare breakfast, if I did not mind. For a minute, I
meditated whether it would be safe to let her out. Finally, I told her she might go, on
condition that she promised not to attempt to leave the house, or meddle with any of the
outer doors. At my mention of the doors, a sudden look of fright crossed her face; but she
said nothing, save to give the required promise, and then left the room, silently.
"Crossing the floor, I approached Pepper. He had waked as I entered; but, beyond a slight
yelp of pleasure, and a soft rapping with his tail, had kept quiet. Now, as I patted him, he
made an attempt to stand up, and succeeded, only to fall back on his side, with a little
yowl of pain.
"I spoke to him, and bade him lie still. I was greatly delighted with his improvement, and
also with the natural kindness of my sister's heart, in taking such good care of him, in
spite of her condition of mind. After a while, I left him, and went downstairs, to my
"In a little time, Mary appeared, carrying a tray on which smoked a hot breakfast. As she
entered the room, I saw her gaze fasten on the props that supported the study door; her
lips tightened, and I thought she paled, slightly; but that was all. Putting the tray down at
my elbow, she was leaving the room, quietly, when I called her back. She came, it
seemed, a little timidly, as though startled; and I noted that her hand clutched at her
apron, nervously.
" 'Come, Mary,' I said. 'Cheer up! Things look brighter. I've seen none of the creatures
since yesterday morning, early.'
"She looked at me, in a curiously puzzled manner; as though not comprehending. Then,
intelligence swept into her eyes, and fear; but she said nothing, beyond an unintelligible
murmur of acquiescence. After that, I kept silence; it was evident that any reference to
the Swine-things, was more than her shaken nerves could bear.
"Breakfast over, I went up to the tower. Here, during the greater part of the day, I
maintained a strict watch over the gardens. Once or twice, I went down to the basement,