The Confession of Charles Linkworth by E. F. Benson
Dr. Teesdale had occasion to attend the condemned man once or
twice during the week before his execution, and found him, as is
often the case, when his last hope of life has vanished, quiet and
perfectly resigned to his fate, and not seeming to look forward with
any dread to the morning that each hour that passed brought nearer
and nearer. The bitterness of death appeared to be over for him: it
was done with when he was told that his appeal was refused. But for
those days while hope was not yet quite abandoned, the wretched man
had drunk of death daily. In all his experience the doctor had never
seen a man so wildly and passionately tenacious of life, nor one so
strongly knit to this material world by the sheer animal lust of
living. Then the news that hope could no longer be entertained was
told him, and his spirit passed out of the grip of that agony of
torture and suspense, and accepted the inevitable with indifference.
Yet the change was so extraordinary that it seemed to the doctor
rather that the news had completely stunned his powers of feeling,
and he was below the numbed surface, still knit into material things
as strongly as ever. He had fainted when the result was told him, and
Dr. Teesdale had been called in to attend him. But the fit was but
transient, and he came out of it into full consciousness of what had
The murder had been a deed of peculiar horror, and there was
nothing of sympathy in the mind of the public towards the
perpetrator. Charles Linkworth, who now lay under capital sentence,
was the keeper of a small stationery store in Sheffield, and there
lived with him his wife and mother. The latter was the victim of his
atrocious crime; the motive of it being to get possession of the sum
of five hundred pounds, which was this woman's property. Linkworth,
as came out at the trial, was in debt to the extent of a hundred
pounds at the time, and during his wife's absence from home on a
visit to relations, he strangled his mother, and during the night
buried the body in the small back-garden of his house. On his wife's
return, he had a sufficiently plausible tale to account for the elder
Mrs. Linkworth's disappearance, for there had been constant jarrings
and bickerings between him and his mother for the last year or two,
and she had more than once threatened to withdraw herself and the
eight shillings a week which she contributed to household expenses,
and purchase an annuity with her money. It was true, also, that
during the younger Mrs. Linkworth's absence from home, mother and son
had had a violent quarrel arising originally from some trivial point
in household management, and that in consequence of this, she had
actually drawn her money out of the bank, intending to leave
Sheffield next day and settle in London, where she had friends. That
evening she told him this, and during the night he killed her.
His next step, before his wife's return, was logical and sound. He
packed up all his mother's possessions and took them to the station,
from which he saw them despatched to town by passenger train, and in
the evening he asked several friends in to supper, and told them of
his mother's departure. He did not (logically also, and in accordance
with what they probably already knew) feign regret, but said that he
and she had never got on well together, and that the cause of peace
and quietness was furthered by her going. He told the same story to
his wife on her return, identical in every detail, adding, however,
that the quarrel had been a violent one, and that his mother had not
even left him her address. This again was wisely thought of: it would
prevent his wife from writing to her. She appeared to accept his
story completely: indeed there was nothing strange or suspicious
For a while he behaved with the composure and astuteness which
most criminals possess up to a certain point, the lack of which,
after that, is generally the cause of their detection. He did not,
for instance, immediately pay off his debts, but took into his house
a young man as lodger, who occupied his mother's room, and he
dismissed the assistant in his shop, and did the entire serving
himself. This gave the impression of economy, and at the same time he
openly spoke of the great improvement in his trade, and not till a
month had passed did he cash any of the bank-notes which he had found
in a locked drawer in his mother's room. Then he changed two notes of
fifty pounds and paid off his creditors.
At that point his astuteness and composure failed him. He opened a
deposit account at a local bank with four more fifty-pound notes,
instead of being patient, and increasing his balance at the savings
bank pound by pound, and he got uneasy about that which he had buried
deep enough for security in the back-garden. Thinking to render
himself safer in this regard, he ordered a cartload of slag and stone
fragments, and with the help of his lodger employed the summer
evenings when work was over in building a sort of rockery over the
spot. Then came the chance circumstance which really set match to
this dangerous train. There was a fire in the lost luggage office at
King's Cross Station (from which he ought to have claimed his
mother's property) and one of the two boxes was partially burned. The
company was liable for compensation, and his mother's name on her
linen, and a letter with the Sheffield address on it, led to the
arrival of a purely official and formal notice, stating that the
company were prepared to consider claims. It was directed to Mrs.
Linkworth's and Charles Linkworth's wife received and read it.
It seemed a sufficiently harmless document, but it was endorsed
with his death-warrant. For he could give no explanation at all of
the fact of the boxes still lying at King's Cross Station, beyond
suggesting that some accident had happened to his mother. Clearly he
had to put the matter in the hands of the police, with a view to
tracing her movements, and if it proved that she was dead, claiming
her property, which she had already drawn out of the bank. Such at
least was the course urged on him by his wife and lodger, in whose
presence the communication from the railway officials was read out,
and it was impossible to refuse to take it. Then the silent,
uncreaking machinery of justice, characteristic of England, began to
move forward. Quiet men lounged about Smith Street, visited banks,
observed the supposed increase in trade, and from a house near by
looked into the garden where ferns were already flourishing on the
rockery. Then came the arrest and the trial, which did not last very
long, and on a certain Saturday night the verdict. Smart women in
large hats had made the court bright with colour, and in all the
crowd there was not one who felt any sympathy with the young
athletic-looking man who was condemned. Many of the audience were
elderly and respectable mothers, and the crime had been an outrage on
motherhood, and they listened to the unfolding of the flawless
evidence with strong approval. They thrilled a little when the judge
put on the awful and ludicrous little black cap, and spoke the
sentence appointed by God.
Linkworth went to pay the penalty for the atrocious deed, which no
one who had heard the evidence could possibly doubt that he had done
with the same indifference as had marked his entire demeanour since
he knew his appeal had failed. The prison chaplain who had attended
him had done his utmost to get him to confess, but his efforts had
been quite ineffectual, and to the last he asserted, though without
protestation, his innocence. On a bright September morning, when the
sun shone warm on the terrible little procession that crossed the
prison yard to the shed where was erected the apparatus of death,
justice was done, and Dr. Teesdale was satisfied that life was
immediately extinct. He had been present on the scaffold, had watched
the bolt drawn, and the hooded and pinioned figure drop into the pit.
He had heard the chunk and creak of the rope as the sudden weight
came on to it, and looking down he had seen the queer twitchings of
the hanged body. They had lasted but a second for the execution had
been perfectly satisfactory.
An hour later he made the post-mortem examination and found that
his view had been correct: the vertebrae of the spine had been broken
at the neck, and death must have been absolutely instantaneous. It
was hardly necessary even to make that little piece of dissection
that proved this, but for the sake of form he did so. And at that
moment he had a very curious and vivid mental impression that the
spirit of the dead man was close beside him, as if it still dwelt in
the broken habitation of its body. But there was no question at all
that the body was dead: it had been dead an hour. Then followed
another little circumstance that at the first seemed insignificant
though curious also. One of the warders entered, and asked if the
rope which had been used an hour ago, and was the hangman's
perquisite, had by mistake been brought into the mortuary with the
body. But there was no trace of it, and it seemed to have vanished
altogether, though it a singular thing to be lost: it was not here;
it was not on the scaffold. And though the disappearance was of no
particular moment it was quite inexplicable.
Dr. Teesdale was a bachelor and a man of independent means, and
lived in a tall-windowed and commodious house in Bedford Square,
where a plain cook of surpassing excellence looked after his food,
and her husband his person. There was no need for him to practise a
profession at all, and he performed his work at the prison for the
sake of the study of the minds of criminals.
Most crime--the transgression, that is, of the rule of conduct
which the human race has framed for the sake of its own
preservation--he held to be either the result of some abnormality, of
the brain or of starvation. Crimes of theft, for instance, he would
by no means refer to one head; often it is true they were the result
of actual want, but more often dictated by some obscure disease of
the brain. In marked cases it was labelled as kleptomania, but he was
convinced there were many others which did not fall directly under
the dictation of physical need. More especially was this the case
where the crime in question involved also some deed of violence, and
he mentally placed underneath this heading, as he went home that
evening, the criminal at whose last moments he had been present that
morning. The crime had been abominable, the need of money not so very
pressing, and the very abomination and unnaturalness of the murder
inclined him to consider the murderer as lunatic rather than
criminal. He had been, as far as was known, a man of quiet and kindly
disposition, a good husband, a sociable neighbour. And then he had
committed a crime, just one, which put him outside all pales. So
monstrous a deed, whether perpetrated by a sane man or a mad one, was
intolerable; there was no use for the doer of it on this planet at
all. But somehow the doctor felt that he would have been more at one
with the execution of justice, if the dead man had confessed. It was
morally certain that he was guilty, but he wished that when there was
no longer any hope for him he had endorsed the verdict himself.
He dined alone that evening, and after dinner sat in his study
which adjoined the dining-room, and feeling disinclined to read, sat
in his great red chair opposite the fireplace, and let his mind graze
where it would. At once almost, it went back to the curious sensation
he had experienced that morning, of feeling that the spirit of
Linkworth was present in the mortuary, though life had been extinct
for an hour. It was not the first time, especially in cases of sudden
death, that he had felt a similar conviction, though perhaps it had
never been quite so unmistakable as it had been to-day. Yet the
feeling, to his mind, was quite probably formed on a natural and
The spirit--it may be remarked that he was a believer in the
doctrine of future life, and the non-extinction of the soul with the
death of the body--was very likely unable or unwilling to quit at
once and altogether the earthly habitation, very likely it lingered
there, earth-bound, for a while.
In his leisure hours Dr. Teesdale was a considerable student of
the occult, for like most advanced and proficient physicians, he
clearly recognised how narrow was the boundary of separation between
soul and body, how tremendous the influence of the intangible was
over material things, and it presented no difficulty to his mind that
a disembodied spirit should be able to communicate directly with
those who still were bounded by the finite and material.
His meditations, which were beginning to group themselves into
definite sequence, were interrupted at this moment. On his desk near
at hand stood his telephone, and the bell rang, not with its usual
metallic insistence, but very faintly, as if the current was weak, or
the mechanism impaired. However, it certainly was ringing, and he got
up and took the combined ear and mouth-piece off its hook.
"Yes, yes," he said, "who is it?"
There was a whisper in reply almost inaudible, and quite
"I can't hear you," he said.
Again the whisper sounded, but with no greater distinctness. Then
it ceased altogether.
He stood there, for some half minute or so, waiting for it to be
renewed, but beyond the usual chuckling and croaking, which showed,
however, that he was in communication with some other instrument,
there was silence. Then he replaced the receiver, rang up the
Exchange, and gave his number.
"Can you tell me what number rang me up just now?" he asked.
There was a short pause, then it was given him. It was the number
of the prison, where he was doctor.
"Put me on to it, please," he said.
This was done.
"You rang me up just now," he said down the tube. "Yes; I am
Doctor Teesdale. What is it? I could not hear what you said."
The voice came back quite clear and intelligible.
"Some mistake, sir," it said. "We haven't rung you up."
"But the Exchange tells me you did, three minutes ago."
"Mistake at the Exchange, sir," said the voice.
"Very odd. Well, good-night. Warder Draycott, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir; good-night, sir."
Dr. Teesdale went back to his big arm-chair, still less inclined
to read. He let his thoughts wander on for a while, without giving
them definite direction, but ever and again his mind kept coming back
to that strange little incident of the telephone. Often and often he
had been rung up by some mistake, often and often he had been put on
to the wrong number by the Exchange, but there was something in this
very subdued ringing of the telephone bell, and the unintelligible
whisperings at the other end that suggested a very curious train of
reflection to his mind, and soon he found himself pacing up and down
his room, with his thoughts eagerly feeding on a most unusual
"But it's impossible," he said, aloud.
He went down as usual to the prison next morning, and once again
he was strangely beset with the feeling that there was some unseen
presence there. He had before now had some odd psychical experiences,
and knew that he was a "sensitive"--one, that is, who is capable,
under certain circumstances, of receiving supernormal impressions,
and of having glimpses of the unseen world that lies about us. And
this morning the presence of which he was conscious was that of the
man who had been executed yesterday morning. It was local, and he
felt it most strongly in the little prison yard, and as he passed the
door of the condemned cell. So strong was it there that he would not
have been surprised if the figure of the man had been visible to him,
and as he passed through the door at the end of the passage, he
turned round, actually expecting to see it. All the time, too, he was
aware of a profound horror at his heart; this unseen presence
strangely disturbed him. And the poor soul, he felt, wanted something
done for it. Not for a moment did he doubt that this impression of
his was objective, it was no imaginative phantom of his own invention
that made itself so real. The spirit of Linkworth was there.
He passed into the infirmary, and for a couple of hours busied
himself with his work. But all the time he was aware that the same
invisible presence was near him, though its force was manifestly less
here than in those places which had been more intimately associated
with the man. Finally, before he left, in order to test his theory he
looked into the execution shed. But next moment with a face suddenly
stricken pale, he came out again, closing the door hastily. At the
top of the steps stood a figure hooded and pinioned, but hazy of
outline and only faintly visible.
But it was visible, there was no mistake about it.
Dr. Teesdale was a man of good nerve, and he recovered himself
almost immediately, ashamed of his temporary panic. The terror that
had blanched his face was chiefly the effect of startled nerves, not
of terrified heart, and yet deeply interested as he was in psychical
phenomena, he could not command himself sufficiently to go back
there. Or rather he commanded himself, but his muscles refused to act
on the message. If this poor earth-bound spirit had any communication
to make to him, he certainly much preferred that it should be made at
a distance. As far as he could understand, its range was
circumscribed. It haunted the prison yard, the condemned cell, the
execution shed, it was more faintly felt in the infirmary. Then a
further point suggested itself to his mind, and he went back to his
room and sent for Warder Draycott, who had answered him on the
telephone last night.
"You are quite sure," he asked, "that nobody rang me up last
night, just before I rang you up?"
There was a certain hesitation in the man's manner which the
"I don't see how it could be possible, sir," he said. "I had been
sitting close by the telephone for half an hour before, and again
before that. I must have seen him, if anyone had been to the
"And you saw no one?" said the doctor with a slight emphasis.
The man became more markedly ill at ease.
"No, sir, I saw no one," he said, with the same emphasis.
Dr. Teesdale looked away from him.
"But you had perhaps the impression that there was some one
there?" he asked, carelessly, as if it was a point of no
Clearly Warder Draycott had something on his mind, which he found
it hard to speak of.
"Well, sir, if you put it like that," he began. "But you would
tell me I was half asleep, or had eaten something that disagreed with
me at my supper."
The doctor dropped his careless manner.
"I should do nothing of the kind," he said, "any more than you
would tell me that I had dropped asleep last night, when I heard my
telephone bell ring. Mind you, Draycott, it did not ring as usual, I
could only just hear it ringing, though it was close to me. And I
could only hear a whisper when I put my ear to it. But when you spoke
I heard you quite distinctly. Now I believe there was
something--somebody--at this end of the telephone. You were here,
and though you saw no one, you, too, felt there was someone
The man nodded.
"I'm not a nervous man, sir," he said, "and I don't deal in
fancies. But there was something there. It was hovering about the
instrument, and it wasn't the wind, because there wasn't a breath of
wind stirring, and the night was warm. And I shut the window to make
certain. But it went about the room, sir, for an hour or more. It
rustled the leaves of the telephone book, and it ruffled my hair when
it came close to me. And it was bitter cold, sir."
The doctor looked him straight in the face.
"Did it remind you of what had been done yesterday morning?" he
Again the man hesitated.
"Yes, sir," he said at length. "Convict Charles Linkworth."
Dr. Teesdale nodded reassuringly.
"That's it," he said. "Now, are you on duty to-night?"
"Yes, sir, I wish I wasn't."
"I know how you feel, I have felt exactly the same myself. Now
whatever this is, it seems to want to communicate with me. By the
way, did you have any disturbance in the prison last night?"
"Yes, sir, there was half a dozen men who had the nightmare.
Yelling and screaming they were, and quiet men too, usually. It
happens sometimes the night after an execution. I've known it before,
though nothing like what it was last night."
"I see. Now, if this--this thing you can't see wants to get at the
telephone again to-night, give it every chance. It will probably come
about the same time. I can't tell you why, but that usually happens.
So unless you must, don't be in this room where the telephone is,
just for an hour to give it plenty of time between half-past nine and
half-past ten. I will be ready for it at the other end. Supposing I
am rung up, I will, when it has finished, ring you up to make sure
that I was not being called in--in the usual way."
"And there is nothing to be afraid of, sir!" asked the man.
Dr. Teesdale remembered his own moment of terror this morning, but
he spoke quite sincerely.
"I am sure there is nothing to be afraid of," he said,
Dr. Teesdale had a dinner engagement that night, which he broke,
and was sitting alone in his study by half past-nine. In the present
state of human ignorance as to the law which governs the movements of
spirits severed from the body, he could not tell the warder why it
was that their visits are so often periodic, timed to punctuality
according to our scheme of hours, but in scenes of tabulated
instances of the appearance of revenants, especially if the soul was
in sore need of help, as might be the case here, he found that they
came at the same hour of day or night. As a rule, too, their power of
making themselves seen or heard or felt grew greater for some little
while after death, subsequently growing weaker as they became less
earth-bound, or often after that ceasing altogether, and he was
prepared to-night for a less indistinct impression. The spirit
apparently for the early hours of its disembodiment is weak, like a
moth newly broken out from its chrysalis--and then suddenly the
telephone bell rang, not so faintly as the night before, but still
not with its ordinary imperative tone.
Dr. Teesdale instantly got up, put the receiver to his ear. And
what he heard was heartbroken sobbing, strong spasms that seemed to
tear the weeper.
He waited for a little before speaking, himself cold with some
nameless fear, and yet profoundly moved to help, if he was able.
"Yes, yes," he said at length, hearing his own voice tremble. "I
am Dr. Teesdale. What can I do for you? And who are you?" he added,
though he felt that it was a needless question.
Slowly the sobbing died down, the whispers took its place, still
broken by crying.
"I want to tell, sir--I want to tell--I must tell."
"Yes, tell me, what is it?" said the doctor.
"No, not you--another gentleman, who used to come to see me. Will
you speak to him what I say to you?--I can't make him hear me or see
"Who are you?" asked Dr. Teesdale suddenly.
"Charles Linkworth. I thought you knew. I am very miserable. I
can't leave the prison--and it is cold. Will you send for the other
"Do you mean the chaplain?" asked Dr. Teesdale.
"Yes, the chaplain. He read the service when I went across the
yard yesterday. I shan't be so miserable when I have told."
The doctor hesitated a moment. This was a strange story that he
would have to tell Mr. Dawkins, the prison chaplain, that at the other end of the
telephone was the spirit of the man executed yesterday. And yet he
soberly believed that it was so, that this unhappy spirit was in
misery and wanted to "tell." There was no need to ask what he wanted
"Yes, I will ask him to come here," he said at length.
"Thank you, sir, a thousand times. You will make him come, won't
The voice was growing fainter.
"It must be to-morrow night," it said. "I can't speak longer now.
I have to go to see--oh, my God, my God."
The sobs broke out afresh, sounding fainter and fainter. But it
was in a frenzy of terrified interest that Dr. Teesdale spoke.
"To see what?" he cried. "Tell me what you are doing, what is
happening to you?"
"I can't tell you; I mayn't tell you," said the voice very faint.
"That is part--" and it died away altogether.
Dr. Teesdale waited a little, but there was no further sound of
any kind, except the chuckling and croaking of the instrument. He put
the receiver on to its hook again, and then became aware for the
first time that his forehead was streaming with some cold dew of
horror. His ears sang; his heart beat very quick and faint, and he
sat down to recover himself. Once or twice he asked himself if it was
possible that some terrible joke was being played on him, but he knew
that could not be so; he felt perfectly sure that he had been
speaking with a soul in torment of contrition for the terrible and
irremediable act it had committed. It was no delusion of his senses,
either; here in this comfortable room of his in Bedford Square, with
London cheerfully roaring round him, he had spoken with the spirit of
But he had no time (nor indeed inclination, for somehow his soul
sat shuddering within him) to indulge in meditation. First of all he
rang up the prison.
"Warder Draycott?" he asked.
There was a perceptible tremor in the man's voice as he
"Yes, sir. Is it Dr. Teesdale?"
"Yes. Has anything happened here with you?"
Twice it seemed that the man tried to speak and could not. At the
third attempt the words came "Yes, sir. He has been here. I saw him
go into the room where the telephone is."
"Ah! Did you speak to him?"
"No, sir: I sweated and prayed. And there's half a dozen men as
have been screaming in their sleep to-night. But it's quiet again
now. I think he has gone into the execution shed."
"Yes. Well, I think there will be no more disturbance now. By the
way, please give me Mr. Dawkins's home address."
This was given him, and Dr. Teesdale proceeded to write to the
chaplain, asking him to dine with him on the following night. But
suddenly he found that he could not write at his accustomed desk,
with the telephone standing close to him, and he went upstairs to the
drawing-room which he seldom used, except when he entertained his
friends. There he recaptured the serenity of his nerves, and could
control his hand. The note simply asked Mr. Dawkins to dine with him
next night, when he wished to tell him a very strange history and ask
his help. "Even if you have any other engagement," he concluded, "I
seriously request you to give it up. To-night, I did the same.
"I should bitterly have regretted it if I had not."
Next night accordingly, the two sat at their dinner in the
doctor's dining-room, and when they were left to their cigarettes and
coffee the doctor spoke.
"You must not think me mad, my dear Dawkins," he said, "when you
hear what I have got to tell you."
Mr. Dawkins laughed.
"I will certainly promise not to do that," he said.
"Good. Last night and the night before, a little later in the
evening than this, I spoke through the telephone with the spirit of
the man we saw executed two days ago. Charles Linkworth."
The chaplain did not laugh. He pushed back his chair, looking
"Teesdale," he said, "is it to tell me this--I don't want to be
rude--but this bogey-tale that you have brought me here this
"Yes. You have not heard half of it. He asked me last night to get
hold of you. He wants to tell you something. We can guess, I think,
what it is."
Dawkins got up.
"Please let me hear no more of it," he said. "The dead do not
return. In what state or under what condition they exist has not been
revealed to us. But they have done with all material things."
"But I must tell you more," said the doctor. "Two nights ago I was
rung up, but very faintly, and could only hear whispers. I instantly
inquired where the call came from and was told it came from the
prison. I rang up the prison, and Warder Draycott told me that nobody
had rung me up. He, too, was conscious of a presence."
"I think that man drinks," said Dawkins, sharply.
The doctor paused a moment.
"My dear fellow, you should not say that sort of thing," he said.
"He is one of the steadiest men we have got. And if he drinks, why
not I also?"
The chaplain sat down again.
"You must forgive me," he said, "but I can't go into this. These
are dangerous matters to meddle with. Besides, how do you know it is
not a hoax?"
"Played by whom?" asked the doctor. "Hark!"
The telephone bell suddenly rang. It was clearly audible to the
"Don't you hear it?" he said.
"The telephone bell ringing."
"I hear no bell," said the chaplain, rather angrily. "There is no
The doctor did not answer, but went through into his study, and
turned on the lights. Then he took the receiver and mouthpiece off
"Yes?" he said, in a voice that trembled. "Who is it? Yes: Mr.
Dawkins is here. I will try and get him to speak to you." He went
back into the other room.
"Dawkins," he said, "there is a soul in agony. I pray you to
listen. For God's sake come and listen."
The chaplain hesitated a moment.
"As you will," he said.
He took up the receiver and put it to his ear.
"I am Mr. Dawkins," he said.
"I can hear nothing whatever," he said at length. "Ah, there was
something there. The faintest whisper."
"Ah, try to hear, try to hear!" said the doctor.
Again the chaplain listened. Suddenly he laid the instrument down,
"Something--somebody said, 'I killed her, I confess it. I want to
be forgiven.' It's a hoax, my dear Teesdale. Somebody knowing your
spiritualistic leanings is playing a very grim joke on you. I can't
Dr. Teesdale took up the receiver.
"I am Dr. Teesdale," he said. "Can you give Mr. Dawkins some sign
that it is you?"
Then he laid it down again.
"He says he thinks he can," he said. "We must wait."
The evening was again very warm, and the window into the paved
yard at the back of the house was open. For five minutes or so the
two men stood in silence, waiting, and nothing happened. Then the
"I think that is sufficiently conclusive," he said.
Even as he spoke a very cold draught of air suddenly blew into the
room, making the papers on the desk rustle. Dr. Teesdale went to the
window and closed it.
"Did you feel that?" he asked.
"Yes, a breath of air. Chilly."
Once again in the closed room it stirred again.
"And did you feel that?" asked the doctor.
The chaplain nodded. He felt his heart hammering in his throat
"Defend us from all peril and danger of this coming night," he
"Something is coming!" said the doctor.
As he spoke it came. In the centre of the room not three yards
away from them stood the figure of a man with his head bent over on
to his shoulder, so that the face was not visible. Then he took his
head in both his hands and raised it like a weight, and looked them
in the face. The eyes and tongue protruded, a livid mark was round
the neck. Then there came a sharp rattle on the boards of the floor,
and the figure was no longer there. But on the floor there lay a new
For a long while neither spoke. The sweat poured off the doctor's
face, and the chaplain's white lips whispered prayers. Then by a huge
effort the doctor pulled himself together. He pointed at the
"It has been missing since the execution," he said.
Then again the telephone bell rang. This time the chaplain needed
no prompting. He went to it at once and the ringing ceased. For a
while he listened in silence.
"Charles Linkworth," he said at length, "in the sight of God, in
whose presence you stand, are you truly sorry for your sin?"
Some answer inaudible to the doctor came, and the chaplain closed
his eyes. And Dr. Teesdale knelt as he heard the words of the
At the close there was silence again.
"I can hear nothing more," said the chaplain, replacing the
Presently the doctor's man-servant came in with the tray of
spirits and syphon. Dr. Teesdale pointed without looking to where the
apparition had been.
"Take the rope that is there and burn it, Parker," he said.
There was a moment's silence.
"There is no rope, sir," said Parker.