dawn," said he, "and there was blood on your forehead and lips."
It was very slowly I recovered my memory of my experience. "You believe now," said the old man, "that the room is haunted?" He spoke no longer as one who greets an intruder, but as one who grieves for a broken friend.
"Yes," said I; "the room is haunted."
"And you have seen it. And we, who have lived here all our lives, have never set eyes upon it. Because we have never dared. … Tell us, is it truly the old earl who——"
"No," said I; "it is not."
"I told you so," said the old lady, with the glass in her hand. "It is his poor young countess who was frightened ——"
"It is not," I said. "There is neither ghost of earl nor ghost of countess in that room, there is no ghost there at all; but worse, far worse ——"
"Well?" they said.
"The worst of all the things that haunt poor mortal man," said I; "and that is, in all its nakedness—Fear! Fear that will not have light nor sound, that will not bear with reason, that deafens and darkens and overwhelms. It followed me through the corridor, it fought against me in the room——"
I stopped abruptly. There was an interval of silence. My hand went up to my bandages.
Then the man with the shade sighed and spoke. "That is it," said he. "I knew that was it. A power of darkness. To put such a curse upon a woman! It lurks there always. You can feel it even in the daytime, even of a bright summer's day, in the hangings, in the curtains,