THE STILL FORM IN THE HOUSE

It stood where four roads met–a square building of two storeys, with
white-washed walls and a high slate roof. The fence, and the once trim
garden, had vanished with the turnpike gate; and a jungle of gooseberry
bushes, interspersed with brambles, shut off the house from the roads.
And only by courtesy could these be so-called, for time and neglect had
almost obliterated them.

On all sides stretched a flat expanse of reaped fields, bleak-looking
and barren in the waning November twilight. Mists gathered thickly over
ditch and hedge and stubbled furrow a constant dripping could be heard
in the clumps of trees looming here and there in the fog.

Through the kitchen-garden jungle a narrow, crooked path led up to the
door where two rough stones ascended to a broken threshold. Indeed, the
whole house appeared ragged in its poverty. Many of the windows were
stuffed up with rags; walls, cracked and askew, exuded green slime;
moss interspersed with lichen, filled in the crevices of the slates
upon the roof. A dog would scarcely have sought such a kennel, yet a
dim light in the left-hand window of the lower storey shewed that this
kennel was inhabited. There sat within–a woman and a child.

The outer decay but typified the poverty of the interior. Plaster had
fallen from walls and ceiling, and both were cracked in all directions.
No carpet covered the warped floor, and the pinched fire in the rusty
grate gave but scanty warmth to the small apartment. A deal table,
without a cloth, two deal chairs, and a three-legged stool–these
formed the sole furniture. On the blistered black mantelshelf a few
cups and saucers of thick delf ranged themselves, and their gay pinks
and blues were the only cheerful note in the prevailing misery.

The elder of these two outcasts sat by the bare table; a tallow candle
of the cheapest description stuck in a bottle shed a feeble tight, by
which she sewed furiously at a flannel shirt. Stab, click, click, stab,
she toiled in mad haste as though working for a wager. Intent on her
labour, she had no looks to spare for the ten-year-old boy who crouched
by the fire; not that he heeded her neglect, for a brown toy horse took
up all his attention, and he was perfectly happy in managing what was,
to him, an unruly steed.

From the likeness between these two, the most casual observer would
have pronounced them mother and son. She had once been beautiful,
this slender woman, with her fair hair and blue eyes, but trouble and
destitution had robbed her of a delicate loveliness which could have
thriven only under congenial circumstances. In those faded eyes, now
feverishly glittering, there lurked and expression of dread telling
of a mind ill at ease. Dainty garments would have well become her
fairness, but she was clothed, rather than dressed, in a black stuff
gown without even a linen collar to relieve its lustreless aspect.
Poverty had made her careless of her appearance, heedless of the
respect due to herself, and her sole aim, apparently, was the speedy
completion of the shirt at which she incessantly wrought.

The boy was a small copy of his mother, with the same fair hair and
blue eyes but his face had more colour, his figure was more rounded,
and he was clothed with a care which shewed the forethought and the
love of a mother even in the direst poverty.

After some twenty minutes of silence, broken only by the clicking of
the needle and the low chatter of the child, signs of exhaustion began
to show themselves in the worker. Before long, big, hot tears fell on
the grey flannel, and she opened her mouth with an hysterical gasp.
Slowly and more slowly did the seamstress ply her needle, until at
last, with a strangled sob, she flung back her head. “Oh, Heavens!”
was her moan, and it seemed to be wrung from the very depths of her
suffering heart. The child, with a nervous cry, looked up, trembling
violently.

“What is it mother? Is father coming?”

“No, thank Heaven!” said the mother, fiercely. “Do you want him?”

So white did the boy’s face become that his eyes shewed black as pitch
balls. The question seemed to strike him like a blow, and he hurled
himself forward to bury his head in the woman’s lap. “Don’t–don’t let
him come!” he sobbed, with unrestrained passion.

“Why do you speak of him, then?” cried the mother, angrily, just as
she might have addressed a person of her own age. “Never mention your
father, Gilbert. He has gone out of your life–out of mine. He is dead
to you–and to me.”

“I am glad,” sobbed the boy, shaking with nervous excitement. “Are you
sure, quite sure, mother, he will never come back again?”

“Who is sure of anything?” muttered the woman, gloomily. “He is out of
prison now; at any time he may track us down. But he shall not I get
you, my boy,” and she strained the child to her breast. “I would kill
him first!”

“I would kill him, too–kill him, too!” panted Gilbert, brokenly. “Oh,
mother, mother! I hate him! I hate him!” and he burst into tears.

“Hush, hush, my baby!” soothed the mother. “Never think of him. He will
not get you. No, no.”

But the boy continued to sob convulsively, and it required all her arts
to pacify him. She knew from experience what the end of this outbreak
would be if it continued beyond a point. The lad was precocious and
neurotic, quite undisciplined, taking colour from his surroundings,
tone from the atmosphere in which he chanced to be; and as the fit
took him, could be angel or demon. But in ten minutes the mother had
succeeded in soothing him sufficiently to send him back to his play.
Then she recommenced her work, and as the needle flew through the
coarse stuff she thought of her husband.

“The brute! The hound!” so ran her thoughts. “It is his work. If Gilbert
should see him again he would die or go mad, or fall into one of his
trances. In any case he would be lost to me. Ah!” she broke out aloud,
pushing the hair from her lined forehead. “How long will it last?”

There was no answer to the despairing question, and she went on sewing,
listening the while to the prattle of her lad.

“Stand still. Brownie!” the child was saying. “You aren’t galloping
over the big green of Bedford-park. Do you remember your nice stable by
this there, Brownie, and the pretty rooms? I don’t like this house any
more than you do. Mother was happy in our pretty cottage, so was I, so
was my Brownie.”

“Mother will never be happy again,” murmured the woman, savagely
stabbing the flannel as though she were stabbing the man of whom she
was thinking. “Ruin and disaster. Disaster and ruin! Why are such men
created?”

Gilbert took no notice. “Do you remember the red houses, Brownie, and
the railway? I took you there often for a trot. It was just three years
ago. Trot now!”

“Aye, just three years!” cried the woman. “Years of agony, pain, shame
and disgrace. Why doesn’t he die!” and she bit off the end of a thread
viciously.

“Mother,” said the boy, unexpectedly, “I’m hungry. Give me something to
eat.”

The woman opened a cupboard and brought out a small loaf, a bundle of
victuals, and a tiny packet of tea, precious as gold to her poverty.
In silence she boiled the kettle and brewed a cup; in silence she set
the food before the hungry child. But when he began to eat her feelings
proved too much for her. She burst into fierce words.

“Eat the bread of charity, Gilbert!” she said in a loud, hard voice,
and still speaking as though to a person of her own age. “The loaf only
is paid for by our own money. I got the bones and the meat from Miss
Cass at the Hall. She took me for a beggar in spite of the work I have
done for her. And she is right, I am a beggar–so are you–and your
father—- There, there! Don’t look so scared. We will not speak of
him.”

Then the boy did a strange thing. With a sudden pounce he seized a
sharp-pointed, buck-handled knife used for cutting the bread, and,
raising it in the air, looked at his mother with fierce eyes.

“If my father takes me away from you,” he said, shrilly, “I’ll stick
this into him. I will, mother!”

With an ejaculation of terror she snatched the knife out of his small
hands, clenched now so wickedly. “Heaven forgive me,” she thought,
laying it down on the table. “My hatred comes out in him. I may lead
him into danger. Heaven keep his father out of his way. I should see
a doctor.” She glanced round the room and laughed bitterly. “Oh,
Heavens'” she broke out aloud. “See a doctor. I can’t pay, and ask him
in this hovel! Charity? No, no. I’ll earn my bread, if I die in the
earning.” And she fell as fiercely as before to her sewing.

Gilbert, now himself again, ate slowly and with much enjoyment. At
intervals he fed the horse which he had brought to the table with him.
His mother watched him, pondering over his late outburst so terribly
suggestive of the latent instincts in the child. She knew well the
reason of it, though she would not acknowledge so much even to herself.
Her husband had treated her brutally, and the high-spirited creature
had resented his behaviour with passionate hatred. She had taught her
child to detest his father.

It was a wild night. The wind beat against the crazy building till it
creaked in all its loosened joints. Still the woman went on sewing, and
the boy continued to eat. A miserable silence settled down upon them.

Suddenly the mother raised her hand, and the child stopped eating with
an expression of terror on his white face.

The woman listened, wild eyed–not in vain. From some distance came the
sound of a dragging footstep. There was a drag, a halt, and then again
a drag, as though some wounded animal were writhing its way to a place
of safety. The outcast knew the sound of that halting gait only two
well. So did the boy.

“It’s father!” he cried, shrilly. A look of mingled terror, repulsion,
hatred, took possession of his white face.

“Hush!” said the woman, imperatively, and left the room. For a moment
Gilbert sat quietly listening; then his small hand slipped along the
table to grasp the buck-handled knife. Trembling with excitement, he
watched the door; he could hear without his mother’s taunting voice.

“Come in, Mark Jenner. I know you are standing there in the darkness.
Enter, and see the state to which your wickedness has reduced your wife
and child. Come in, you lying scoundrel, you brute, you thief!”

In answer to this invitation came a growl as of an angry animal. Then
the footsteps dragged themselves nearer and halted at the door. There
ensued the sound of taunts and curses. And almost immediately after
this exchange of courtesies between husband and wife, who had been
parted for three years, the door opened to admit a thick-set man, whose
face, in spite of its cunning, was not devoid of refinement. He was in
rags and soaking with the wet.

Gilbert stared at this half-forgotten father who had been so long a
stranger. Then the fierce inherited hatred woke suddenly within him. In
deadly silence he launched himself forward, knife in hand, and struck
at his father. Though taken by surprise, the man had about him some of
the swiftness of the wild beast which is always prepared for danger,
and he warded off the blow with one hand. But the keen blade had cut
him across the knuckles, and as the blood spurted he uttered an oath of
terror and of pain. For a moment he made as if to fling himself on his
small assailant; then he paused, with a look of fear. For the child,
passing suddenly from motion to stillness, stood, apparently in a
cataleptic trance, with rigid limbs and eyes widely staring. His mother
swept down on him with the swoop of a striking falcon, and had him in
her arms before her husband could recover himself.

“You have seen him like this before,” she said, “so you know he will
remain in the trance for some time. I will take him to bed.”

“It is you who have put him up to this,” cried the man in a shaking
voice.

Mrs. Jenner laughed. “Heaven put him up to it,” she said, hysterically.
“This hatred of you dates too far back. You had better ask a doctor to
explain. I cannot; but I know what I know. Wait till I have put him to
bed, then I will come back to hear how you have hunted me down, and
why. I thought I was free from gaol-birds,” she finished, bitterly, and
passed out of the room and up the stairs.

Mr. Jenner gave a savage ejaculation. Then he shuffled forward to
the fire, warmed himself, and proceeded to attack the food. In an
incredibly short space of time there was not a crumb left on the table,
and he was still hungry.

“If I only had a smoke!” he growled, squeezing his hands together.
“But I have nothing, not even a welcome. Ah, well, there are those
who will pay for this!” He took a well-worn pocket-book out of his
breast-pocket. “My fortune lies in here; but it is not safe while he is
about.”

The reflection seemed to make him uneasy, and he glanced round the poor
room, looking for a place where he might hide his treasure. His eyes
fell on the brown horse, and he chuckled.

“She’ll always keep that for Gilbert,” he said, “and it’s not likely to
be lost. I’ll put it in there.”

Having assured himself that his wife was upstairs, he proceeded to
carry out his plan. The toy was made of rags, painted and moulded
to the shape of a horse. So he made an incision in the belly, and,
thrusting in his finger, formed a hole. Then, with a hasty glance
round, he opened the red pocket-book and produced therefrom a Bill of
Exchange, which he folded up into a compass as small as possible. This
he thrust into the hole, pulled the interior stuffing over it, and
using his wife’s needle, sewed up the hole with considerable despatch
and dexterity. A few white threads were still sufficiently noticeable
to arouse suspicion, so he rubbed his hand on the sooty grate and
blackened the rent. So neatly was all this done that no one would have
guessed that the toy had been opened.

Jenner laughed, and tossed the horse on to the table where the child
had left it. “That’s all right,” he said. “She’ll never part with
anything belonging to the boy.”

He looked over the table to see if any food remained. Finding none, he
swore a little and sat down by the fire, upon which he had heaped all
the fuel he could find. There he brooded, chin in hand, thinking of his
past, dreading the days to come.

In a quarter of an hour Mrs. Jenner returned. She looked at the empty
table, at the heaped up fuel in the grate, and finally her gaze of
loathing and of scorn fell upon the figure by the fire.

“Still the same selfish brute,” she said, resuming her seat and her
work. “My child and I are almost starving, almost without a fire; yet
you devour our small portion and burn our sticks. And why not? What do
our pains matter to you, so long as you are comfortable?”

“I have had more discomfort than you,” grumbled her husband, avoiding
her contemptuous eyes. “Had you been in prison—-”

“I would never have come near those whom I had disgraced,” she finished
swiftly, and went on with her stitching.

The culprit writhed.

“Lizzie,” he said, “do not be too hard on me. I have sinned, but I have
been punished. You might forgive me now.”

“Never!” said the wife, curtly, and the expression of her eyes told him
that she fully meant what she said.

“How hard women can be.”

“Women,” remarked Mrs. Jenner, shifting the work on her knee, “are
what men make them. You behaved to me like the brute that you are; you
cannot blame me, then, if I treat you according to your nature. I live
for our child–to make amends for what you have done. Therefore, I have
an object in life. Had I not, I would gladly die; and I would gain
death–a shameful death–by killing you.”

The terrible intensity of her gaze made the guilty wretch shiver. “I
will make it up to you,” he said, feebly.

“Not you. You will go on just the same–that is if I will let you–and
that I don’t intend to do.”

“I shall have money soon–plenty of money.”

“What! Are you going to steal again? I want none of your ill-gotten
gains. This house is poor, but it is honest. I earn the food my child
and I eat, or I beg it; but stealing? No, I leave that to you. Why have
you come here?”

“I thought we might come together again and live a new life.”

Mrs. Jenner threw aside her work and sprang up. “I would rather die,”
she said, in a voice of intense hatred. “You treated me like a dog; you
struck me; you starved me; you were unfaithful to me. I would rather
die.”

“It was the drink,” Jenner pleaded. “I was all right when I was sober.”

“And were you ever sober?” demanded the woman, bitterly. “Not you. In
spite of all my care you lay in the mire and wallowed like the pig you
are.”

“This is a nice welcome,” grumbled the man, beginning to lose his
temper.

“What did you expect? Tears and kisses, and the killing of the fatted
calf? No, my man; I have been a fool too long. I am no fool now. You
have hunted me down; how, I know not. But you don’t stay here. You go.
And, this time you go–for ever.”

“My rights as a husband and a father—-”

“A criminal has no rights,” interrupted his wife. “Think of the past,”
she went on in a loud, hard voice. “Think of it, and then wonder at
your audacity in coming here to face me–me whom you have ruined.”

“I don’t want to think of the past–and I won’t. Leave it alone. It’s
dead and done with.”

“Yes, but the consequences remain. Look at this house–your work. See
my withered looks–your work. Think of the child and his mysterious
illness–your work. You forget all that you have done. I do not; and I
intend to refresh your memory.”

Jenner turned sullen. There was no chance of escaping from this, save
by going out again into the storm, and he was much too comfortable
where he was. So of the two evils he chose the lesser; and even in this
his selfish regard for his own comfort shewed itself. “Go on, then,” he
growled, sullenly.

The woman returned to her seat, and averting her eyes she began to
speak in a low, monotonous voice, rising ever and growing more excited
as she went through the story of shame and sorrow.

“Let me begin at the beginning, when I was governess to Mr. Cass’s
little girl; then I was happy and respected. I was pretty, too, and
admired. Mr. Cass was a merchant in the city, trading in Spanish
wines—-”

“What’s the use of telling me all this?” broke in Jenner, impatiently.
“It is all state. I was a clerk in Cass’s office; I met you at his
house when I was there on business, and I married you—-”

“Yes, you married me,” she cried, fiercely. “The more fool I for being
taken by your good looks and your plausible tongue. For my sake it was
that Mr. Cass raised you to a higher position and gave you a larger
salary. We lived in Bloomsbury, and there, ten years ago, Gilbert was
born; but not until you had broken my heart and ruined my life.”

“Come now, I was kind to you when I was sober.”

“And were you ever sober? No; you poor, weak fool. Because you had a
good voice and musical talents you were led away by pleasure, and for
months before Gilbert was born you behaved towards me in a way no woman
could forgive. I was high-spirited, and I resented your conduct–your
dissipation and your unfaithfulness.”

“You were always on your high horse, if that is what you mean.”

“I had every reason to be on my high horse, you brute. Remember the
birth of Gilbert–how I suffered–how you were drunk the whole time.
And when I got better I found that Mr. Cass had dismissed you for
appropriating money.”

Jenner sneered. “Cass made a great fuss about nothing.”

“You know as well as I do what Mr. Cass is. His mother was Spanish, and
he had a fiery temper. He had treated you well, and you repaid him by
taking what belonged to him. He dismissed you, but for my sake, because
I had been his child’s governess, he did not prosecute you.”

“Ah! I always thought you and Mr. Cass were great friends.”

“That was your own foul mind,” cried the woman, contemptuously. “Mr.
Cass was an honourable man. If it had been his partner, Marshall, now,
then perhaps–yes.”

“I know all about Marshall, thank you, Lizzie,” he said, chuckling, and
his eyes wandered to the brown horse on the table.

“Thinking of your association with him, I suppose?” she sneered. “He
took you up simply on account of your voice, and then dropped you when
he found out what a drunkard you were.”

“Yes, he did,” said Jenner, between his teeth. “And I swore to be
revenged on him; and some day I will. If you care to listen, I’ll
tell—-”

“I wish to hear nothing,” she interrupted. “Mr. Marshall is not a man I
admire–a dissipated rake, that’s what he is. Still, he is Mr. Cass’s
partner, and for the sake of Mr. Cass I wish to hear nothing against
him. Besides, he is going to marry Miss Cass.”

“What–Inez Cass-the sister of my old master?” cried Jenner, looking up.

“Yes. Do you know of any reason why he should not?”

“No,” said the man, slowly; “but I wish I had known that two hours ago.”

“Why two hours?”

“Oh, you don’t want to hear anything against Marshall, so I won’t tell.”

His wife glanced contemptuously at him. “I suppose you mean blackmail,”
she said. “Blackmail Miss Cass and Mr. Marshall, if you like, and
go back to gaol if it pleases you. I have done with you and your
wickedness.”

“We’ll see about that,” he cried.

“Don’t interrupt me, please,” his wife said, with an imperative wave of
her hand. “I want to go on with my story.”

“I don’t want to hear any more.”

“But you shall hear to the end. Listen, Mr. Cass dismissed you for
dishonesty, and you took to the stage on the strength of your voice.
You know the life you led me. I forgave you over and over again for
the child’s sake. But it was all of no use. Then at last drink spoilt
your voice, and you could get no engagements and Mr. Marshall, although
you did not deserve it, got you a situation in that moneylender’s
office–I forget the name–the—-”

“Old Julian Roper.”

“Yes, Julian Roper. You got the situation four years ago, and for a
time things went well; then you broke out again and stole money from
your new employer. He was not so lenient as Mr. Cass, and he had you
put in gaol for three years.”

“Well; I’m out now.”

“You are,” said his wife, and there was intense hatred in her voice.
“Out to see how I have sunk. After your imprisonment your creditors
sold up the house and furniture in Bedford-park; I was turned out on
the streets with my child. Mr. Cass got me a place as governess; then
it came out that I was the wife of a convict, and I lost the situation.
I was driven from one engagement to another. Finally I came down here
to ask charity from Mr. Cass. He would have done much for me, but for
his sister. Inez is one of your cold, cruel women who kick the fallen.
She blamed me for being your wife, and she set her brother against me.
All I could get was this tumble-down hovel, where I live rent free. I
earn my bread by sewing for the people in the village two miles on.
Sometimes Miss Cass insults me by sending me broken victuals–you have
just eaten some–and I am so poor that I accept the scraps. Such is my
life, but I would rather live it than go with you.”

“I don’t want you to go with me,” said the man, rising. “I want to make
you happy by giving you money.”

“Have you any? And, if so, where did you get it?”

“I have none just yet, but I soon shall have. At the present moment I
am the possessor of two coppers”–he produced them. “But in a week I
shall have hundreds.”

“And then you will go to gaol again,” said his wife. “No, thank you,
I don’t want to have anything to do with you. I have suffered quite
enough at your hands. How could I live with you when the child hates
you so?”

“That’s all your fault!”

“Not altogether, as I said before. His hatred of you is pre-natal; but
I have fostered that hatred until–well, you saw how he received you
to-night.”

“You are pitiless,” he said, hoarsely.

“I am what you have made me. Do you think I would allow my child to
love you who have treated his mother so ill? He will never look upon
you save with loathing and hate. I would die for the boy; it is the
strongest passion of my nature, this love for him. Do you think I would
share that love with you? No; Gilbert hates you–he always will–and as
I said before, I have done my utmost to foster his hate. Oh, I thought
I was sate from you here. Who told you of my hiding-place?”

“Marshall,” said Jenner, sulkily.

“Ah you have seen him. And did he speak to you–a gaol-bird?”

“Yes, he did. I made him speak to me.”

His wife looked curiously at him and significantly. “It is as I
thought,” she said. “You know something about him, and you have come
down to blackmail him or Miss Cass. Well, go and do it, and get back
into gaol if you can. I should be glad to see you in prison again. As
it is, out you go–now!”

“I have no money–no shelter.”

“I will give you five shillings,” she said. “With that you can go to
the village inn–it is only two miles away.”

Jenner took out his red pocket-book and laid it on the table near the
window. “I have a pencil and paper in this,” he said. “What you lend me
I will give you an I.O.U. for. I don’t want your money.”

“I decline,” said his wife, turning from the open window, out of which
she had been leaning. “Once the money passes into your hands it becomes
too vile for me to touch again. Wait here, and I will get you the five
shillings.”

He sprang forward, almost beside himself, and seized her wrist. “You
wretch–I’ll give you a thrashing for this.”

Mrs. Jenner shook off his hand, new to the fireplace and snatched up
the poker. “You lay a finger on me, and I’ll kill you,” she cried,
wildly. “You foul beast–your very touch is poison. I am not the woman
I was to put up with your brutality. Stand back, you gaol-bird.”

He backed towards the open window, and began to whimper. “Don’t be such
a virago,” he said. “I don’t want to touch you. If you will give me the
money I will go away. But you have lost the chance of a fortune,” he
boasted, shaking the red pocket-book. “I can get hundreds–hundreds.”

“In the usual way,” she said, and laid down the poker. “Then you will
be locked up again. I hope you will.”

“Can I not take leave of the child?”

“No, unless you want him to try and kill you again. Besides, he is in a
trance; he will waken as suddenly as he fell into it. But I hope, for
your sake, that you will be out of the house before he recovers his
senses.”

“Do you think–”

“I don’t think–I know. All his life Gilbert will hate you. He is
highly neurotic, and when he gets besides himself he will do things as
mad as would an hysterical woman. He is not to be trusted–no more am
I–so beware of us both, and place the sea between yourself and us.”

“A very good idea,” he said, coolly. “I’ll emigrate.”

“Do. Go to Sydney–which was formerly Botany Bay. That ought to suit
you,” she taunted. “Stop there,” she snatched up the poker again, “or I
will not answer for myself.”

Her husband laid down the buck-handled knife and placed it on the table
beside the pocket-book. He had taken it up with an oath when his wife
goaded him with her tongue. “Get the five, shillings,” he said, sulkily.

“It is upstairs.” Still carrying the poker, Mrs. Jenner moved towards
the inner door. “I can tell you so much, for you will never find my
hiding-place. Wait here.”

When she had gone her husband remained by the table with his hand on
the red pocket-book. His eyes sought the brown horse. “I must take you
with me, too,” he muttered. “I shall never see her or the child again.
It is better so; I hope she won’t be long.” And he waited in sulky
silence.

Suddenly there was the cry of a human being in pain. The light was
extinguished, and the mists closed thicker round the ruined building;
it might be to hide the sight within the room. Could the wails only
have spoken they would have shouted “Murder!” with most miraculous
voice. But the age of miracles being past, the walls were dumb, and
there was no clamour to greet the horror of this deed done in darkness.
But the mists wrapped themselves round the place of death, and a
profound silence shut down on the desolate country.

It was broken at last by the sound of light footsteps. Along the
disused road a woman carrying a child in her arms tore along at a
furious rate. She did not know where she was going; she had no goal.
All that she desired was to get away from the thing which lay in the
darkness of that poor room. Horror was behind her; danger before. And
she ran on, on through the mists and the gloom, pursued by the Furies.
Like hounds on the track, they drove her along the lonely roads until
the mists swallowed her up; and these, growing ever more dense, blotted
out the woman, blotted out the country, blotted out the Turnpike House.
But what they could not blot out was that silent room where a dead man
lay. Better had they done so; better had they obliterated that evidence
of evil from the face of the earth. But what had been done in the
darkness had yet to be shewn in the light; and then–but the woman fled
on wearied feet, fled, ever fled through the gloom, and the friendly
mists covered her escape.

And so did the ruined Turnpike-House become possessed of its legend.
For many a long year the horror of it was discussed beside winter
fires. The place was haunted, and the ghost had walked first upon that
very night, when the woman, bearing the child, had fled away into the
darkness.