piece that was to be hers. It had been
exquisitely furnished for poor little Rosamund; all
seventeenth century walnut wood, Bokhara rugs,
thick silk curtains, deep blue with purple linings,
and a big, rich bed covered with a purple counterpane embroidered in blue.
One thing Marston insisted on: that he should
sleep on Rosamund's side of the bed, and Pauline in
his own old place. He didn't want to see Pauline's
body where Rosamund's had been. Of course he
had to lie about it and pretend he had always slept
on the side next the window.
I can, see Pauline going about in that room, looking at
everything; looking at herself, her black,
white and vermilion, in the
glass that had
held Rosamund's pure
rose and gold;
where Rosamund's dresses
used to hang,
sniffing up the
scent of Rosamund, not caring, covering it
with her own
abominably)--I can see him getting more miserable
and at the same time more excited as the wedding
evening went on. He took her to the play to fill up
the time, or perhaps to get her out of Rosamund's
rooms; God knows. I can see them sitting in the
stalls, bored and restless, starting up and going out
before the thing was half over, and coming back to
that house in Curzon Street before eleven o'clock.
It wasn't much past eleven when he went to her
I told you her door was at right angles to his, and
the landing was narrow, so that anybody standing
by Pauline's door must have been seen the minute
he opened his. He hadn't even to cross the landing
to get to her.
Well, Marston swears that there was nothing
there when he opened his own door; but when he
came to Pauline's he saw Rosamund standing up
before it; and, he said, "She wouldn't let me in."
Her arms were stretched out, barring the passage.
Oh yes, he saw her face, Rosamund's face; I gathered
that it was utterly sweet, and utterly inexorable.
He couldn't pass her.
So he turned into his own room, backing, he says,
so that he could keep looking at her. And when he
stood on the threshold of his own door she wasn't
No, he wasn't frightened. He couldn't tell me
what he felt; but he left his door open all night because he couldn't bear to
shut it on her. And he
made no other attempt to go in to Pauline; he was
so convinced that the phantasm of Rosamund would
come again and stop him.
I don't know what sort of excuse he made to Pauline the next
morning. He said she was very stiff and
sulky all day; and no wonder. He was still infatuated with her, and I don't
think that the phantasm of Rosamund had put him off Pauline in the
least. In fact, he persuaded himself that the thing
was nothing but a hallucination, due, no doubt, to
Anyhow, he didn't expect to see it at the door
again the next night.
Yes. It was there. Only, this time, he said, it
drew aside to let him pass. It smiled at him, as if
it were saying, "Go in, if you must; you'll see what'll
He had no sense that it had followed him into the
room; he felt certain that, this time, it would let
It was when he approached Pauline's bed, which
had been Rosamund's bed, that she appeared again,
standing between it and him, and stretching out her
arms to keep him back.
All that Pauline could see was her bridegroom
backing and backing, then standing there, fixed, and
the look on his face. That in itself was enough to
She said, "What's the matter with you, Edward?"
He didn't move.
"What are you standing there for? Why don't
you come to bed?"
Then Marston seems to have lost his head and
blurted it out:
"I can't. I can't."
"Can't what?" said Pauline from the bed.
"Can't sleep with you. She won't let me."
"Rosamund. My wife. She's there."
"What on earth are you talking about?"
"She's there, I tell you. She won't let me. She's
pushing me back."
He says Pauline must have thought he was drunk
or something. Remember, she 8aw nothing but Edward, his face, and his mysterious
must have, looked very drunk.
She sat up in bed, with her hard,' black eyes blazing away at
him, and told him to leave the room
that minute. Which he did.
The next day she had it out with him. I gathered that she kept on
talking about the "state" he
"You came to my room, Edward, in a disgraceful
I suppose Marston said he was sorry; but he
couldn't help it; he wasn't drunk. He stuck to it
that Rosamund was there. He had seen her. And
Pauline said, if he wasn't drunk then he must be
mad, and he said meekly, "Perhaps I am mad."
That set her off, and she broke out in a fury. He
was no more mad than she was; but he didn't care
for her; he was making ridiculous excuses; shamming, to put her off. There was
some other woman.
Marston asked her what on earth she supposed
he'd married her for. Then she burst out crying
and said she didn't know.
Then he seems to have made it up with Pauline.
He managed to make her believe he wasn't lying,
that he really had seen something, and between
them they arrived at a rational explanation of the
appearance. He had been overworking Rosamund's phantasm was nothing but a
his exhausted brain.
This theory carried him on till bed-time. Then,
he says, he began to wonder what would happen,
what Rosamund's phantasm would do next. Each
morning his passion for Pauline had come back
again, increased by frustration, and it worked itself
up crescendo, towards night. Supposing he had seen
Rosamund. He might see her again. He had become suddenly subject to
hallucinations. But as
long as you knew you were hallucinated you were
So what they agreed to do that night was by way
of precaution, in case the thing came again. It
might even be sufficient in itself to prevent his seeing
Instead of going in to Pauline he was to get into
the room before she did, and she was to come to him
there. That, they said, would break the spell. To
make him feel even safer he meant to be in bed
before Pauline came.
Well, he got into the room all right.
It was when he tried to get into bed that--he.
saw her (I mean Rosamund).
She was lying there, in his place next the window,
her own place, lying in her immature childlike
beauty and sleeping, the firm full bow of her mouth
softened by sleep. She was perfect in every detail,
the lashes of her shut eyelids golden on her white
cheeks, the solid gold of her square fringe shining,
and the great braided golden rope of her hair flung back on the pillow.
He knelt down by the bed and pressed his forehead into the
bedclothes, close to her side. He
declared he could feel her breathe.
He stayed there for the twenty minutes Pauline
took to undress and come to him. He says the minutes stretched out like hours.
Pauline found him
still kneeling with his face pressed into the bedclothes. When he got up he
She asked him what he was doing and why he
wasn't in bed. And he said, "It's no use. I can't.
But somehow he couldn't tell her that Rosamund
was there. Rosamund was too sacred; he couldn't
talk about her. He only said:
"You'd better sleep in my room to-night."
He was staring down at the place in the bed
where he still saw Rosamund. Pauline couldn't
have seen anything but the bedclothes, the sheet
smoothed above an invisible breast, and the hollow
in the pillow. She said she'd do nothing of the sort.
She wasn't going to be frightened out of her own
room. He could do as he liked.
He couldn't leave them there; he couldn't leave
Pauline with Rosamund, and he couldn't leave
Rosamund with Pauline. So he sat up in a chair
with his back turned to the bed. No. He didn't
make any attempt to go back. He says he knew
she was still lying there, guarding his place, which
was her place. The odd thing is that he wasn't
in the least disturbed or frightened or surprised. He
took the whole thing as a matter of course. And
presently he dozed off into a sleep.
A scream woke him and the sound of a violent
body leaping out of the bed and thudding on to its
feet. He switched on the light and saw the bedclothes flung back and Pauline
standing on the floor
with her mouth open.
He went to her and held her. She was cold to
the touch and shaking with terror, and her jaws
dropped as if she was palsied.
She said, "Edward, there's something in the
He glanced again at the bed. It was empty.
"There isn't," he said. "Look."
He stripped the bed to the foot-rail, so that she
"There was something."
"Do you see it?"
"No. I felt it."
She told him. First something had come swinging, smack across her
face. A thick, heavy rope of
woman's hair. It had waked her. Then she had put
out her hands and felt the body. A woman's body,
soft and horrible; her fingers had sunk in the shallow
breasts. Then she had screamed and jumped.
And she couldn't stay in the room. The room,
she said, was "beastly."
She slept in Marston's room, in his small single
bed, and he sat up with her all night, on a chair.
She believed now that he had really seen something, and she
remembered that the library was
beastly, too. Haunted by something. She supposed that was what she had felt.
Very well. Two
rooms in the house were haunted; their bedroom and
the library. They would just have to avoid those
two rooms. She had made up her mind, you see,
that it was nothing but a case of an ordinary
haunted house; the sort of thing you're always
hearing about and never believe in till it happens
to yourself. Marston didn't like to point out to her
that the house hadn't been haunted till she came
The following night, the fourth night, she was to
sleep in the spare room on the top floor, next to the
servants, and Marston in his own room.
But Marston didn't sleep. He kept on wondering
whether he would or would not go up to Pauline's
room. That made him horribly restless, and instead
of undressing and going to bed, he sat up on a chair
with a book. He wasn't nervous; but he had a
queer feeling that something was going to happen,
and that he must be ready for it, and that he'd
better be dressed.
It must have been soon after midnight when he
heard the door-knob turning very slowly and softly.
The door opened behind him and Pauline came in,
moving without a sound, and stood before him. It
gave him a shock; for he had been thinking of
Rosamund, and when he heard the door-knob turn
it was the phantasm of Rosamund that he expected to see coming in. He says, for
the first minute, it was this appearance of Pauline that struck
him as the uncanny and unnatural thing.
She had nothing, absolutely nothing on but a
transparent white chiffony sort of dressing-gown.
She was trying to undo it. He could see her hands
shaking as her fingers fumbled with the fastenings.
He got up suddenly, and they just stood there
before each other, saying nothing, staring at each
other. He was fascinated by her, by the sheer
glamour of her body, gleaming white through the
thin stuff, and by the movement of her fingers. I
think I've said she was a beautiful woman, and her
beauty at that moment was overpowering.
And still he stared at her without saying anything.
It sounds as if their silence lasted quite a long time,
but in reality it couldn't have been more than some
fraction of a second.
Then she began. "Oh, Edward, for God's sake
say something. Oughtn't I to have come?"
And she went on without waiting for an answer.
"Are you thinking of her? Because, if--if you are,
I'm not going to let her drive you away from me.
. . . I'm not going to. . . . She'll keep on coming as
long as we don't---- Can't you see that this is the
way to stop it . . . ? When you take me in your
She slipped off the loose sleeves of the chiffon
thing and it fell to her feet. Marston says he heard
a queer sound, something between a groan and a
grunt, and was amazed to find that it came from
He hadn't touched her yet--mind you, it went
quicker than it takes to tell, it was still an affair of
the fraction of a second--they were holding out
their arms to each other, when the door opened
again without a sound, and, without visible passage,
the phantasm was there. It came incredibly fast,
and thin at first, like a shaft of light sliding between
them. It didn't do anything; there was no beating
of hands, only, as it took on its full form, its perfect
likeness of flesh and blood, it made its presence felt
like a push, a force, driving them asunder.
Pauline hadn't seen it yet. She thought it was
Marston who was beating her back. She cried out:
"Oh, don't, don't push me away!" She stooped below the phantasm's guard and
clung to his knees,
writhing and crying. For a moment it was a struggle
between her moving flesh and that still, supernatural
And in that moment Marston realized that he
hated Pauline. She was fighting Rosamund with
her gross flesh and blood, taking a mean advantage
of her embodied state to beat down the heavenly,
He called to her to let go.
"It's not I," he shouted. "Can't you see her?"
Then, suddenly, she saw, and let go, and dropped,
crouching on the floor and trying to cover herself.
This time she had given no cry.
The phantasm gave way; it moved slowly towards
the door, and as it went it looked back over its
shoulder at Marston, it trailed a hand, signalling to
him to come.
He went out after it, hardly aware of Pauline's
naked body that still writhed there, clutching at his
feet as they passed, and drew itself after him, likea
worm, like a beast, along the floor.
She must have got up at once and followed them
out on to the landing; for, as he went down the
stairs behind the phantasm, he could see Pauline's
face, distorted with lust and terror, peering at them
above the stairhead. She saw them descend
the last flight, and cross the hall at the bottom
and go into the library. The door shut behind
Something happened in there. Marston never
told me precisely what it was, and I didn't ask him.
Anyhow, that finished it.
The next day Pauline ran away to her own people. She couldn't
stay in Marston's house because it
was haunted by Rosamund, and he wouldn't leave it
for the same reason.
And she never came back; for she was not only
afraid of Rosamund, she was afraid of Marston.
And if she had come it wouldn't have been any good.
Marston was convinced that, as often as he attempted to get to Pauline,
something would stop
him. Pauline certainly felt that, if Rosamund were
pushed to it, she might show herself in some still
more sinister and terrifying form. She knew when
she was beaten.
And there was more in it than that. I believe he
tried to explain it to her; said he had married her
on the assumption that Rosamund was dead, but
that now he knew she was alive; she was, as he put
it, "there." He tried to make her see that if he had
Rosamund he couldn't have her. Rosamund's presence in the world
annulled their contract.
You see I'm convinced that something did happen
that night in the library. I say, he never told me
precisely what it was, but he once let something out.
We were discussing one of Pauline's love-affairs
(after the separation she gave him endless grounds.
"Poor Pauline," he said, "she thinks she's so
"Well," I said, "wasn't she?"
Then he burst out. "No. She doesn't know what
passion is. None of you know. You haven't the
faintest conception. You'd have to get rid of your
bodies first. I didn't know until----"
He stopped himself. I think he was going to say,
"until Rosamund came back and showed me." For
he leaned forward and whispered: "It isn't a localized affair at all. If you
So I don't think it was just faithfulness to a revived memory. I
take it there had been, behind
that shut door, some experience, some terrible and
exquisite contact. More penetrating than sight or
touch. More--more extensive: passion at all points
Perhaps the supreme moment of it, the ecstasy,
only came when her phantasm had disappeared.
He couldn't go back to Pauline after that.