The Circular Staircase
Mary Roberts Rinehart

Part 5 out of 5

nothing but that Arnold's legitimate child was at Richfield, and
imploring her to recognize him. She was dying: the boy was an
Armstrong, and entitled to his father's share of the estate. The
papers were in her trunk at Sunnyside, with letters from the dead
man that would prove what she said. She was going; she would not
be judged by earthly laws; and somewhere else perhaps Lucy would
plead for her. It was she who had crept down the circular
staircase, drawn by a magnet, that night Mr. Jamieson had heard
some one there. Pursued, she had fled madly, anywhere--through
the first door she came to. She had fallen down the clothes
chute, and been saved by the basket beneath. I could have cried
with relief; then it had not been Gertrude, after all!

That was the story. Sad and tragic though it was, the very
telling of it seemed to relieve the dying woman. She did not
know that Thomas was dead, and I did not tell her. I
promised to look after little Lucien, and sat with her until the
intervals of consciousness grew shorter and finally ceased
altogether. She died that night.



As I drove rapidly up to the house from Casanova Station in the
hack, I saw the detective Burns loitering across the street from
the Walker place. So Jamieson was putting the screws on--lightly
now, but ready to give them a twist or two, I felt certain, very

The house was quiet. Two steps of the circular staircase had
been pried off, without result, and beyond a second message from
Gertrude, that Halsey insisted on coming home and they would
arrive that night, there was nothing new. Mr. Jamieson, having
failed to locate the secret room, had gone to the village. I
learned afterwards that he called at Doctor Walker's, under
pretense of an attack of acute indigestion, and before he left,
had inquired about the evening trains to the city. He said he
had wasted a lot of time on the case, and a good bit of the
mystery was in my imagination! The doctor was under
the impression that the house was guarded day and night. Well,
give a place a reputation like that, and you don't need a guard
at all,--thus Jamieson. And sure enough, late in the afternoon,
the two private detectives, accompanied by Mr. Jamieson, walked
down the main street of Casanova and took a city-bound train.

That they got off at the next station and walked back again to
Sunnyside at dusk, was not known at the time. Personally, I knew
nothing of either move; I had other things to absorb me at that

Liddy brought me some tea while I rested after my trip, and on
the tray was a small book from the Casanova library. It was
called The Unseen World and had a cheerful cover on which a
half-dozen sheeted figures linked hands around a headstone.

At this point in my story, Halsey always says: "Trust a woman to
add two and two together, and make six." To which I retort that
if two and two plus X make six, then to discover the unknown
quantity is the simplest thing in the world. That a houseful of
detectives missed it entirely was because they were busy trying
to prove that two and two make four.

The depression due to my visit to the hospital left me at the
prospect of seeing Halsey again that night. It was about five
o'clock when Liddy left me for a nap before dinner, having put me
into a gray silk dressing-gown and a pair of slippers. I
listened to her retreating footsteps, and as soon as she was
safely below stairs, I went up to the trunk-room. The place had
not been disturbed, and I proceeded at once to try to discover
the entrance to the hidden room. The openings on either side, as
I have said, showed nothing but perhaps three feet of brick wall.

There was no sign of an entrance--no levers, no hinges, to give a
hint. Either the mantel or the roof, I decided, and after a
half-hour at the mantel, productive of absolutely no result, I
decided to try the roof.

I am not fond of a height. The few occasions on which I have
climbed a step-ladder have always left me dizzy and weak in the
knees. The top of the Washington monument is as impossible to me
as the elevation of the presidential chair. And yet--I climbed
out on to the Sunnyside roof without a second's hesitation. Like
a dog on a scent, like my bearskin progenitor, with his spear and
his wild boar, to me now there was the lust of the chase, the
frenzy of pursuit, the dust of battle. I got quite a little
of the latter on me as I climbed from the unfinished ball-room
out through a window to the roof of the east wing of the
building, which was only two stories in height.

Once out there, access to the top of the main building was
rendered easy--at least it looked easy--by a small vertical iron
ladder, fastened to the wall outside of the ball-room, and
perhaps twelve feet high. The twelve feet looked short from
below, but they were difficult to climb. I gathered my silk gown
around me, and succeeded finally in making the top of the ladder.

Once there, however, I was completely out of breath. I sat down,
my feet on the top rung, and put my hair pins in more securely,
while the wind bellowed my dressing-gown out like a sail. I had
torn a great strip of the silk loose, and now I ruthlessly
finished the destruction of my gown by jerking it free and tying
it around my head.

From far below the smallest sounds came up with peculiar
distinctness. I could hear the paper boy whistling down the
drive, and I heard something else. I heard the thud of a stone,
and a spit, followed by a long and startled meiou from Beulah.
I forgot my fear of a height, and advanced boldly almost to
the edge of the roof.

It was half-past six by that time, and growing dusk.

"You boy, down there!" I called.

The paper boy turned and looked around. Then, seeing nobody, he
raised his eyes. It was a moment before he located me: when he
did, he stood for one moment as if paralyzed, then he gave a
horrible yell, and dropping his papers, bolted across the lawn to
the road without stopping to look around. Once he fell, and his
impetus was so great that he turned an involuntary somersault.
He was up and off again without any perceptible pause, and he
leaped the hedge--which I am sure under ordinary stress would
have been a feat for a man.

I am glad in this way to settle the Gray Lady story, which is
still a choice morsel in Casanova. I believe the moral deduced
by the village was that it is always unlucky to throw a stone at
a black cat.

With Johnny Sweeny a cloud of dust down the road, and the dinner-
hour approaching, I hurried on with my investigations. Luckily,
the roof was flat, and I was able to go over every inch of it.
But the result was disappointing; no trap-door revealed
itself, no glass window; nothing but a couple of pipes two inches
across, and standing perhaps eighteen inches high and three feet
apart, with a cap to prevent rain from entering and raised to
permit the passage of air. I picked up a pebble from the roof
and dropped it down, listening with my ear at one of the pipes.
I could hear it strike on something with a sharp, metallic sound,
but it was impossible for me to tell how far it had gone.

I gave up finally and went down the ladder again, getting in
through the ball-room window without being observed. I went back
at once to the trunk-room, and, sitting down on a box, I gave my
mind, as consistently as I could, to the problem before me. If
the pipes in the roof were ventilators to the secret room, and
there was no trap-door above, the entrance was probably in one of
the two rooms between which it lay--unless, indeed, the room had
been built, and the opening then closed with a brick and mortar

The mantel fascinated me. Made of wood and carved, the more I
looked the more I wondered that I had not noticed before the
absurdity of such a mantel in such a place. It was covered with
scrolls and panels, and finally, by the merest accident, I
pushed one of the panels to the side. It moved easily, revealing
a small brass knob.

It is not necessary to detail the fluctuations of hope and
despair, and not a little fear of what lay beyond, with which I
twisted and turned the knob. It moved, but nothing seemed to
happen, and then I discovered the trouble. I pushed the knob
vigorously to one side, and the whole mantel swung loose from the
wall almost a foot, revealing a cavernous space beyond.

I took a long breath, closed the door from the trunk-room into
the hall--thank Heaven, I did not lock it--and pulling the
mantel-door wide open, I stepped into the chimney-room. I had
time to get a hazy view of a small portable safe, a common wooden
table and a chair--then the mantel door swung to, and clicked
behind me. I stood quite still for a moment, in the darkness,
unable to comprehend what had happened. Then I turned and beat
furiously at the door with my fists. It was closed and locked
again, and my fingers in the darkness slid over a smooth wooden
surface without a sign of a knob.

I was furiously angry--at myself, at the mantel door, at
everything. I did not fear suffocation; before the thought
had come to me I had already seen a gleam of light from the two
small ventilating pipes in the roof. They supplied air, but
nothing else. The room itself was shrouded in blackness.

I sat down in the stiff-backed chair and tried to remember how
many days one could live without food and water. When that grew
monotonous and rather painful, I got up and, according to the
time-honored rule for people shut in unknown and ink-black
prisons, I felt my way around--it was small enough, goodness
knows. I felt nothing but a splintery surface of boards, and in
endeavoring to get back to the chair, something struck me full in
the face, and fell with the noise of a thousand explosions to the
ground. When I had gathered up my nerves again, I found it had
been the bulb of a swinging electric light, and that had it not
been for the accident, I might have starved to death in an
illuminated sepulcher.

I must have dozed off. I am sure I did not faint. I was never
more composed in my life. I remember planning, if I were not
discovered, who would have my things. I knew Liddy would want my
heliotrope poplin, and she's a fright in lavender. Once or twice
I heard mice in the partitions, and so I sat on the table,
with my feet on the chair. I imagined I could hear the search
going on through the house, and once some one came into the
trunk-room; I could distinctly hear footsteps.

"In the chimney! In the chimney!" I called with all my might,
and was rewarded by a piercing shriek from Liddy and the slam of
the trunk-room door.

I felt easier after that, although the room was oppressively hot
and enervating. I had no doubt the search for me would now come
in the right direction, and after a little, I dropped into a
doze. How long I slept I do not know.

It must have been several hours, for I had been tired from a busy
day, and I wakened stiff from my awkward position. I could not
remember where I was for a few minutes, and my head felt heavy
and congested. Gradually I roused to my surroundings, and to the
fact that in spite of the ventilators, the air was bad and
growing worse. I was breathing long, gasping respirations, and
my face was damp and clammy. I must have been there a long time,
and the searchers were probably hunting outside the house,
dredging the creek, or beating the woodland. I knew that another
hour or two would find me unconscious, and with my inability
to cry out would go my only chance of rescue. It was the
combination of bad air and heat, probably, for some inadequate
ventilation was coming through the pipes. I tried to retain my
consciousness by walking the length of the room and back, over
and over, but I had not the strength to keep it up, so I sat down
on the table again, my back against the wall.

The house was very still. Once my straining ears seemed to catch
a footfall beneath me, possibly in my own room. I groped for the
chair from the table, and pounded with it frantically on the
floor. But nothing happened: I realized bitterly that if the
sound was heard at all, no doubt it was classed with the other
rappings that had so alarmed us recently.

It was impossible to judge the flight of time. I measured five
minutes by counting my pulse, allowing seventy-two beats to the
minute. But it took eternities, and toward the last I found it
hard to count; my head was confused.

And then--I heard sounds from below me, in the house. There was
a peculiar throbbing, vibrating noise that I felt rather than
heard, much like the pulsing beat of fire engines in the city.
For one awful moment I thought the house was on fire, and every
drop of blood in my body gathered around my heart; then I
knew. It was the engine of the automobile, and Halsey had come
back. Hope sprang up afresh. Halsey's clear head and Gertrude's
intuition might do what Liddy's hysteria and three detectives had
failed in.

After a time I thought I had been right. There was certainly
something going on down below; doors were slamming, people were
hurrying through the halls, and certain high notes of excited
voices penetrated to me shrilly. I hoped they were coming
closer, but after a time the sounds died away below, and I was
left to the silence and heat, to the weight of the darkness, to
the oppression of walls that seemed to close in on me and stifle

The first warning I had was a stealthy fumbling at the lock of
the mantel-door. With my mouth open to scream, I stopped.
Perhaps the situation had rendered me acute, perhaps it was
instinctive. Whatever it was, I sat without moving, and some one
outside, in absolute stillness, ran his fingers over the carving
of the mantel and--found the panel.

Now the sounds below redoubled: from the clatter and jarring I
knew that several people were running up the stairs, and as
the sounds approached, I could even hear what they said.

"Watch the end staircases!" Jamieson was shouting. "Damnation--
there's no light here!" And then a second later. "All together
now. One--two--three--"

The door into the trunk-room had been locked from the inside. At
the second that it gave, opening against the wall with a crash
and evidently tumbling somebody into the room, the stealthy
fingers beyond the mantel-door gave the knob the proper impetus,
and--the door swung open, and closed again. Only--and Liddy
always screams and puts her fingers in her ears at this point--
only now I was not alone in the chimney room. There was some one
else in the darkness, some one who breathed hard, and who was so
close I could have touched him with my hand.

I was in a paralysis of terror. Outside there were excited
voices and incredulous oaths. The trunks were being jerked
around in a frantic search, the windows were thrown open, only to
show a sheer drop of forty feet. And the man in the room with me
leaned against the mantel-door and listened. His pursuers were
plainly baffled: I heard him draw a long breath, and turn to
grope his way through the blackness. Then--he touched my hand,
cold, clammy, death-like.

A hand in an empty room! He drew in his breath, the sharp
intaking of horror that fills lungs suddenly collapsed. Beyond
jerking his hand away instantly, he made no movement. I think
absolute terror had him by the throat. Then he stepped back,
without turning, retreating foot by foot from The Dread in the
corner, and I do not think he breathed.

Then, with the relief of space between us, I screamed, ear-
splittingly, madly, and they heard me outside.

"In the chimney!" I shrieked. "Behind the mantel! The mantel!"

With an oath the figure hurled itself across the room at me, and
I screamed again. In his blind fury he had missed me; I heard
him strike the wall. That one time I eluded him; I was across
the room, and I had got the chair. He stood for a second,
listening, then--he made another rush, and I struck out with my
weapon. I think it stunned him, for I had a second's respite
when I could hear him breathing, and some one shouted outside:

"We--Can't--get--in. How--does--it--open?"

But the man in the room had changed his tactics. I knew he was
creeping on me, inch by inch, and I could not tell from where.
And then--he caught me. He held his hand over my mouth, and I
bit him. I was helpless, strangling,--and some one was trying to
break in the mantel from outside. It began to yield somewhere,
for a thin wedge of yellowish light was reflected on the opposite
wall. When he saw that, my assailant dropped me with a curse;
then--the opposite wall swung open noiselessly, closed again
without a sound, and I was alone. The intruder was gone.

"In the next room!" I called wildly. "The next room!" But the
sound of blows on the mantel drowned my voice. By the time I had
made them understand, a couple of minutes had elapsed. The
pursuit was taken up then, by all except Alex, who was determined
to liberate me. When I stepped out into the trunk-room, a free
woman again, I could hear the chase far below.

I must say, for all Alex's anxiety to set me free, he paid little
enough attention to my plight. He jumped through the opening
into the secret room, and picked up the portable safe.

"I am going to put this in Mr. Halsey's room, Miss Innes,"
he said, "and I shall send one of the detectives to guard it."

I hardly heard him. I wanted to laugh and cry in the same
breath--to crawl into bed and have a cup of tea, and scold Liddy,
and do any of the thousand natural things that I had never
expected to do again. And the air! The touch of the cool night
air on my face!

As Alex and I reached the second floor, Mr. Jamieson met us. He
was grave and quiet, and he nodded comprehendingly when he saw
the safe.

"Will you come with me for a moment, Miss Innes?" he asked
soberly, and on my assenting, he led the way to the east wing.
There were lights moving around below, and some of the maids were
standing gaping down. They screamed when they saw me, and drew
back to let me pass. There was a sort of hush over the scene;
Alex, behind me, muttered something I could not hear, and brushed
past me without ceremony. Then I realized that a man was lying
doubled up at the foot of the staircase, and that Alex was
stooping over him.

As I came slowly down, Winters stepped back, and Alex
straightened himself, looking at me across the body with
impenetrable eyes. In his hand he held a shaggy gray wig, and
before me on the floor lay the man whose headstone stood in
Casanova churchyard--Paul Armstrong.

Winters told the story in a dozen words. In his headlong flight
down the circular staircase, with Winters just behind, Paul
Armstrong had pitched forward violently, struck his head against
the door to the east veranda, and probably broken his neck. He
had died as Winters reached him.

As the detective finished, I saw Halsey, pale and shaken, in the
card-room doorway, and for the first time that night I lost my
self-control. I put my arms around my boy, and for a moment he
had to support me. A second later, over Halsey's shoulder, I saw
something that turned my emotion into other channels, for, behind
him, in the shadowy card-room, were Gertrude and Alex, the
gardener, and--there is no use mincing matters--he was kissing

I was unable to speak. Twice I opened my mouth: then I turned
Halsey around and pointed. They were quite unconscious of us;
her head was on his shoulder, his face against her hair. As it
happened, it was Mr. Jamieson who broke up the tableau.

He stepped over to Alex and touched him on the arm.

"And now," he said quietly, "how long are you and I to play
OUR little comedy, Mr. Bailey?"



Of Doctor Walker's sensational escape that night to South
America, of the recovery of over a million dollars in cash and
securities in the safe from the chimney room--the papers have
kept the public well informed. Of my share in discovering the
secret chamber they have been singularly silent. The inner
history has never been told. Mr. Jamieson got all kinds of
credit, and some of it he deserved, but if Jack Bailey, as Alex,
had not traced Halsey and insisted on the disinterring of Paul
Armstrong's casket, if he had not suspected the truth from the
start, where would the detective have been?

When Halsey learned the truth, he insisted on going the next
morning, weak as he was, to Louise, and by night she was at
Sunnyside, under Gertrude's particular care, while her mother had
gone to Barbara Fitzhugh's.

What Halsey said to Mrs. Armstrong I never knew, but that he was
considerate and chivalrous I feel confident. It was Halsey's way
always with women.

He and Louise had no conversation together until that night.
Gertrude and Alex--I mean Jack--had gone for a walk, although it
was nine o'clock, and anybody but a pair of young geese would
have known that dew was falling, and that it is next to
impossible to get rid of a summer cold.

At half after nine, growing weary of my own company, I went down-
stairs to find the young people. At the door of the living-room
I paused. Gertrude and Jack had returned and were there, sitting
together on a divan, with only one lamp lighted. They did not
see or hear me, and I beat a hasty retreat to the library. But
here again I was driven back. Louise was sitting in a deep
chair, looking the happiest I had ever seen her, with Halsey on
the arm of the chair, holding her close.

It was no place for an elderly spinster. I retired to my up-
stairs sitting-room and got out Eliza Klinefelter's lavender
slippers. Ah, well, the foster motherhood would soon have to be
put away in camphor again.

The next day, by degrees, I got the whole story.

Paul Armstrong had a besetting evil--the love of money. Common
enough, but he loved money, not for what it would buy, but for
its own sake. An examination of the books showed no
irregularities in the past year since John had been cashier, but
before that, in the time of Anderson, the old cashier, who had
died, much strange juggling had been done with the records. The
railroad in New Mexico had apparently drained the banker's
private fortune, and he determined to retrieve it by one stroke.
This was nothing less than the looting of the bank's securities,
turning them into money, and making his escape.

But the law has long arms. Paul Armstrong evidently studied the
situation carefully. Just as the only good Indian is a dead
Indian, so the only safe defaulter is a dead defaulter. He
decided to die, to all appearances, and when the hue and cry
subsided, he would be able to enjoy his money almost anywhere he

The first necessity was an accomplice. The connivance of Doctor
Walker was suggested by his love for Louise. The man was
unscrupulous, and with the girl as a bait, Paul Armstrong soon
had him fast. The plan was apparently the acme of
simplicity: a small town in the west, an attack of heart disease,
a body from a medical college dissecting-room shipped in a trunk
to Doctor Walker by a colleague in San Francisco, and palmed off
for the supposed dead banker. What was simpler?

The woman, Nina Carrington, was the cog that slipped. What she
only suspected, what she really knew, we never learned. She was
a chambermaid in the hotel at C--, and it was evidently her
intention to blackmail Doctor Walker. His position at that time
was uncomfortable: to pay the woman to keep quiet would be
confession. He denied the whole thing, and she went to Halsey.

It was this that had taken Halsey to the doctor the night he
disappeared. He accused the doctor of the deception, and,
crossing the lawn, had said something cruel to Louise. Then,
furious at her apparent connivance, he had started for the
station. Doctor Walker and Paul Armstrong--the latter still lame
where I had shot him--hurried across to the embankment, certain
only of one thing. Halsey must not tell the detective what he
suspected until the money had been removed from the chimney-
room. They stepped into the road in front of the car to stop
it, and fate played into their hands. The car struck the train,
and they had only to dispose of the unconscious figure in the
road. This they did as I have told. For three days Halsey lay
in the box car, tied hand and foot, suffering tortures of thirst,
delirious at times, and discovered by a tramp at Johnsville only
in time to save his life.

To go back to Paul Armstrong. At the last moment his plans had
been frustrated. Sunnyside, with its hoard in the chimney-room,
had been rented without his knowledge! Attempts to dislodge me
having failed, he was driven to breaking into his own house. The
ladder in the chute, the burning of the stable and the entrance
through the card-room window--all were in the course of a
desperate attempt to get into the chimney-room.

Louise and her mother had, from the first, been the great
stumbling-blocks. The plan had been to send Louise away until it
was too late for her to interfere, but she came back to the hotel
at C-- just at the wrong time. There was a terrible scene. The
girl was told that something of the kind was necessary, that
the bank was about to close and her stepfather would either avoid
arrest and disgrace in this way, or kill himself. Fanny
Armstrong was a weakling, but Louise was more difficult to
manage. She had no love for her stepfather, but her devotion to
her mother was entire, self-sacrificing. Forced into
acquiescence by her mother's appeals, overwhelmed by the
situation, the girl consented and fled.

From somewhere in Colorado she sent an anonymous telegram to Jack
Bailey at the Traders' Bank. Trapped as she was, she did not
want to see an innocent man arrested. The telegram, received on
Thursday, had sent the cashier to the bank that night in a

Louise arrived at Sunnyside and found the house rented. Not
knowing what to do, she sent for Arnold at the Greenwood Club,
and told him a little, not all. She told him that there was
something wrong, and that the bank was about to close. That his
father was responsible. Of the conspiracy she said nothing. To
her surprise, Arnold already knew, through Bailey that night,
that things were not right. Moreover, he suspected what Louise
did not, that the money was hidden at Sunnyside. He had a scrap
of paper that indicated a concealed room somewhere.

His inherited cupidity was aroused. Eager to get
Halsey and Jack Bailey out of the house, he went up to the
east entry, and in the billiard-room gave the cashier what he had
refused earlier in the evening--the address of Paul Armstrong in
California and a telegram which had been forwarded to the club
for Bailey, from Doctor Walker. It was in response to one Bailey
had sent, and it said that Paul Armstrong was very ill.

Bailey was almost desperate. He decided to go west and find Paul
Armstrong, and to force him to disgorge. But the catastrophe at
the bank occurred sooner than he had expected. On the moment of
starting west, at Andrews Station, where Mr. Jamieson had located
the car, he read that the bank had closed, and, going back,
surrendered himself.

John Bailey had known Paul Armstrong intimately. He did not
believe that the money was gone; in fact, it was hardly possible
in the interval since the securities had been taken. Where was
it? And from some chance remark let fall some months earlier by
Arnold Armstrong at a dinner, Bailey felt sure there was a hidden
room at Sunnyside. He tried to see the architect of the
building, but, like the contractor, if he knew of the such a room
refused any information. It was Halsey's idea that John
Bailey come to the house as a gardener, and pursue his
investigations as he could. His smooth upper lip had been
sufficient disguise, with his change of clothes, and a hair-cut
by a country barber.

So it was Alex, Jack Bailey, who had been our ghost. Not only
had he alarmed--Louise and himself, he admitted--on the circular
staircase, but he had dug the hole in the trunk-room wall, and
later sent Eliza into hysteria. The note Liddy had found in
Gertrude's scrap-basket was from him, and it was he who had
startled me into unconsciousness by the clothes chute, and, with
Gertrude's help, had carried me to Louise's room. Gertrude, I
learned, had watched all night beside me, in an extremity of
anxiety about me.

That old Thomas had seen his master, and thought he had seen the
Sunnyside ghost, there could be no doubt. Of that story of
Thomas', about seeing Jack Bailey in the footpath between the
club and Sunnyside, the night Liddy and I heard the noise on the
circular staircase--that, too, was right. On the night before
Arnold Armstrong was murdered, Jack Bailey had made his first
attempt to search for the secret room. He secured Arnold's keys
from his room at the club and got into the house, armed with a
golf-stick for sounding the walls. He ran against the hamper at
the head of the stairs, caught his cuff-link in it, and dropped
the golf-stick with a crash. He was glad enough to get away
an alarm being raised, and he took the "owl" train to town.

The oddest thing to me was that Mr. Jamieson had known for some
time that Alex was Jack Bailey. But the face of the pseudo-
gardener was very queer indeed, when that night, in the card-
room, the detective turned to him and said:

"How long are you and I going to play our little comedy, MR.

Well, it is all over now. Paul Armstrong rests in Casanova
churchyard, and this time there is no mistake. I went to the
funeral, because I wanted to be sure he was really buried, and I
looked at the step of the shaft where I had sat that night, and
wondered if it was all real. Sunnyside is for sale--no, I shall
not buy it. Little Lucien Armstrong is living with his step-
grandmother, and she is recovering gradually from troubles that
had extended over the entire period of her second marriage.
Anne Watson lies not far from the man she killed, and who as
surely caused her death. Thomas, the fourth victim of the
conspiracy, is buried on the hill. With Nina Carrington,
five lives were sacrificed in the course of this grim conspiracy.

There will be two weddings before long, and Liddy has asked for
my heliotrope poplin to wear to the church. I knew she would.
She has wanted it for three years, and she was quite ugly the
time I spilled coffee on it. We are very quiet, just the two of
us. Liddy still clings to her ghost theory, and points to my wet
and muddy boots in the trunk-room as proof. I am gray, I admit,
but I haven't felt as well in a dozen years. Sometimes, when I
am bored, I ring for Liddy, and we talk things over. When Warner
married Rosie, Liddy sniffed and said what I took for
faithfulness in Rosie had been nothing but mawkishness. I have
not yet outlived Liddy's contempt because I gave them silver
knives and forks as a wedding gift.

So we sit and talk, and sometimes Liddy threatens to leave, and
often I discharge her, but we stay together somehow. I am
talking of renting a house next year, and Liddy says to be sure
there is no ghost. To be perfectly frank, I never really lived
until that summer. Time has passed since I began this story.
My neighbors are packing up for another summer. Liddy is having
the awnings put up, and the window boxes filled. Liddy or no
Liddy, I shall advertise to-morrow for a house in the country,
and I don't care if it has a Circular Staircase.


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