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Title: The Shadow of a Shade
Author: Tom Hood
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0605881.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
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The Shadow of a Shade
Tom Hood



My sister Lettie has lived with me ever since I had a home of my own.
She was my little housekeeper before I married. Now she is my wife's
constant companion, and the 'darling auntie' of my children, who go to
her for comfort, advice, and aid in all their little troubles and
perplexities.

But, though she has a comfortable home, and loving hearts around her,
she wears a grave, melancholy look on her face, which puzzles
acquaintances and grieves friends.

A disappointment! Yes, the old story of a lost lover is the reason for
Lattie's looks. She has had good offers often; but since she lost the
first love of her heart she has never indulged in the happy dream of
loving and being loved.

George Mason was a cousin of my wife's--a sailor by profession. He and
Lettie met one another at our wedding, and fell in love at first
sight. George's father had seen service before him on the great
mysterious sea, and had been especially known as a good Arctic sailor,
having shared in more than one expedition in search of the North Pole
and the North-West Passage.

It was not a matter of surprise to me, therefore, when George
volunteered to go out in the Pioneer, which was being fitted out for a
cruise in search of Franklin and his missing expedition.

There was a fascination about such an undertaking that I felt I could
not have resisted had I been in his place. Of course, Lettie did not
like the idea at all, but he silenced her by telling her that men who
volunteered for Arctic search were never lost sight of, and that he
should not make as much advance in his profession in a dozen years as
he would in the year or so of this expedition.

I cannot say that Lettie, even after this, was quite satisfied with
the notion of his going, but, at all events, she did not argue against
it any longer. But the grave look, which is now habitual with her, but
was a rare thing in her young and happy days, passed over her face
sometimes when she thought no one was looking.

My younger brother, Harry, was at this time an academy student. He was
only a beginner then.

Now he is pretty well known in the art world, and his pictures command
fair prices. Like all beginners in art, he was full of fancies and
theories. He would have been a pre-Raphaelite, only pre-Raphaelism had
not been invented then. His peculiar craze was for what he styled the
Venetian School. Now, it chanced that George had a fine Italian-
looking head, and Harry persuaded him to sit to him for his portrait.
It was a fair likeness, but a very moderate work of art. The
background was so very dark, and George's naval costume so very deep
in colour, that the face came out too white and staring. It was a
three-quarter picture; but only one hand showed in it, leaning on the
hilt of a sword. As George said, he looked much more like the
commander of a Venetian galley than a modern mate.

However, the picture pleased Lettie, who did not care much about art
provided the resemblance was good. So the picture was duly framed--in
a tremendously heavy frame, of Harry's ordering--and hung up in the
dining-room.

And now the time for George's departure was growing nearer. The
Pioneer was nearly ready to sail, and her crew only waited orders. The
officers grew acquainted with each other before sailing, which was an
advantage. George took up very warmly with the surgeon, Vincent
Grieve, and, with my permission, brought him to dinner once or twice.

'Poor chap, he has no friends nearer than the Highlands, and it's
precious lonely work.'.'Bring him by all means, George! You know that
any friends of yours will be welcome here.'

So Vincent Grieve came. I am bound to say I was not favourably
impressed by him, and almost wished I had not consented to his coming.
He was a tall, pale, fair young man, with a hard Scotch face and a
cold, grey eye. There was something in his expression, too, that was
unpleasant--something cruel or crafty, or both.

I considered that it was very bad taste for him to pay such marked
attention to Lettie, coming, as he did, as the friend of her fiancÚ.
He kept by her constantly and anticipated George in all the little
attentions which a lover delights to pay. I think George was a little
put out about it, though he said nothing, attributing his friend's
offence to lack of breeding.

Lettie did not like it at all. She knew that she was not to have
George with her much longer, and she was anxious to have him to
herself as much as possible. But as Grieve was her lover's friend she
bore the infliction with the best possible patience.

The surgeon did not seem to perceive in the least that he was
interfering where he had no business. He was quite self-possessed and
happy, with one exception. The portrait of George seemed to annoy him.
He had uttered a little impatient exclamation when he first saw it
which drew my attention to him; and I noticed that he tried to avoid
looking at it. At last, when dinner came, he was told to sit exactly
facing the picture. He hesitated for an instant and then sat down, but
almost immediately rose again.

'It's very childish and that sort of thing,' he stammered, 'but I
cannot sit opposite that picture.'

'It is not high art,' I said, 'and may irritate a critical eye.'

'I know nothing about art,' he answered, 'but it is one of those
unpleasant pictures whose eyes follow you about the room. I have an
inherited horror of such pictures. My mother married against her
father's will, and when I was born she was so ill she was hardly
expected to live.

When she was sufficiently recovered to speak without delirious
rambling she implored them to remove a picture of my grandfather that
hung in the room, and which she vowed made threatening faces at her.
It's superstitious, but constitutional--I have a horror of such
paintings!'

I believe George thought this was a ruse of his friend's to get a seat
next to Lettie; but I felt sure it was not, for I had seen the alarmed
expression of his face.

At night, when George and his friend were leaving, I took an
opportunity to ask the former, half in a joke, if he should bring the
surgeon to see us again. George made a very hearty assertion to the
contrary, adding that he was pleasant enough company among men at an
inn, or on board ship, but not where ladies were concerned.

But the mischief was done. Vincent Grieve took advantage of the
introduction and did not wait to be invited again. He called the next
day, and nearly ever' day after. He was a more frequent visitor than
George now, for George was obliged to attend to his duties, and they
kept him on board the Pioneer pretty constantly, whereas the surgeon,
having seen to the supply of drugs, etc., was pretty well at liberty.
Lettie avoided him as much as possible, but he generally brought, or
professed to bring, some little message from George to her, so that he
had an excuse for asking to see her.

On the occasion of his last visit--the day before the Pioneer sailed--
Lettie came to me in great distress. The young cub had actually the
audacity to tell her he loved her. He knew, he said, about her
engagement to George, but that did not prevent another man from loving
her too. A man could no more help falling in love than he could help
taking a fever. Lettie stood upon her dignity and rebuked him
severely; but he told her he could see no harm in telling her of his
passion, though he knew it was a hopeless one.

'A thousand things may happen,' he said at last, 'to bring your
engagement with George Mason to an end. Then perhaps you will not
forget that another loves you!'

I was very angry, and was forthwith going to give him my opinion on
his conduct, when Lettie told me he was gone, that she had bade him go
and had forbidden him the house. She only told me in order to protect
herself, for she did not intend to say anything to George, for fear it
should lead to a duel or some other violence.

That was the last we saw of Vincent Grieve before the Pioneer sailed.

George came the same evening, and was with us till daybreak, when he
had to tear himself away and join his ship.

After shaking hands with him at the door, in the cold, grey, drizzly
dawn, I turned back into the dining-room, where poor Lettie was
sobbing on the sofa.

I could not help starting when I looked at George's portrait, which
hung above her. The strange light of daybreak could hardly account fur
the extraordinary pallor of the face. I went close to it and looked
hard at it. I saw that it was covered with moisture, and imagined that
I hat possibly made it look so pale. As for the moisture, I supposed
poor Lettie had been kissing the beloved's portrait, and that the
moisture was caused by her tears.

It was not till a long time after, when I was jestingly telling Harry
how his picture had been caressed, that I learnt the error of my
conjecture. Lettie assured me most solemnly that I was mistaken in
supposing she had kissed it.

'It was the varnish blooming, I expect,' said Harry. And thus the
subject was dismissed, for I said no more, though I knew well enough,
in spite of my not being an artist, that the bloom of varnish was
quite another sort of thing.

The Pioneer sailed. We received--or, rater, Lettie received--two
letters from George, which he had taken the opportunity of sending by
homeward-bound whalers. In the second he said it was hardly likely he
should have an opportunity of sending another, as they were sailing
into high latitudes--into the solitary sea, to which none but
expedition ships ever penetrated. They were all in high spirits, he
said, for they had encountered very little ice and hoped to find clear
water further north than usual. Moreover, he added, Grieve had held a
sinecure so far, for there had not been a single case of illness on
board.

Then came a long silence, and a year crept away very slowly for poor
Lettie. Once we heard of the expedition from the papers. They were
reported as pushing on and progressing favourably by a wandering tribe
of Esquimaux with whom the captain of a Russian vessel fell in. They
had laid the ship up for the winter, and were taking the boats on
sledges, and believed they had met with traces of the lost crews that
seemed to show they were on the right track.

The winter passed again, and spring came. It was a balmy, bright
spring such as we get occasionally, even in this changeable and
uncertain climate of ours.

One evening we were sitting in the dining-room with the window open,
for, although we had long given up fires, the room was so oppressively
warm that we were glad of the breath of the cool evening breeze.

Lettie was working. Poor child, though she never murmured, she was
evidently pining at George's long absence. Harry was leaning out of
the window, studying the evening effect on the fruit blossom, which
was wonderfully early and plentiful, the season was so mild. I was
sitting at the table, near the lamp, reading the paper.

Suddenly there swept into the room a chill. It was not a gust of cold
wind, for the curtain by the open window did not swerve in the least.
But the deathly cold pervaded the room--came, and was gone in an
instant. Lettie shuddered, as I did, with the intense icy feeling.

She looked up. 'How curiously cold it has got all in a minute,' she
said.

'We are having a taste of poor George's Polar weather,' I said with a
smile.

At the same moment I instinctively glanced towards his portrait. What
I saw struck me dumb, A rush of blood, at fever heat, dispelled the
numbing influence of the chill breath that had seemed to freeze me.

I have said the lamp was lighted; but it was only that I might read
with comfort, for the violet twilight was still so full of sunset that
the room was not dark. But as I looked at the picture I saw it had
undergone a strange change. I saw it as plainly as possible. It was no
delusion, coined for the eye by the brain.

I saw, in the place of George's head, a ginning skull! I stared at it
hard; but it was no trick of fancy. I could see the hollow orbits, the
gleaming teeth, the fleshless cheekbones--it was the head of death!

Without saying a word, I rose from my chair and walked straight up to
the painting. As I drew nearer a sort of mist seemed to pass before
it; and as I stood close to it, I saw only the face of George. The
spectral skull had vanished.

'Poor George!' I said unconsciously.

Lettie looked up. The tone of my voice had alarmed her, the expression
of my face did not reassure her.

'What do you mean? Have you heard anything? Oh, Robert, in mercy tell
me!'

She got up and came over to me and, laying her hands on my arm, looked
up into my face imploringly.

'No, my dear; how should I hear? Only I could not help thinking of the
privation and discomfort he must have gone through. I was reminded of
it by the cold--'

'Cold!' said Harry, who had left the window by this time. 'Cold! what
on earth are you talking about? Cold, such an evening as this! You
must have had a touch of ague, I should think.'

'Both Lettie and I felt it bitterly cold a minute or two ago. Did not
you feel it?'

'Not a bit; and as I was three parts out of the window I ought to have
felt it if anyone did.'

It was curious, but that strange chill had been felt only in the room.
It was not the night wind, but some supernatural breath connected with
the dread apparition I had seen. It was, indeed, the chill of polar
winter--the icy shadow of the frozen North.

'What is the day of the month, Harry?' I asked.

'Today--the 23 rd, I think,' he answered; then added, taking up the
newspaper I had been reading: 'Yes, here you are. Tuesday, February
the 23 rd, if the Daily News tells truth, which I suppose it does.
Newspapers can afford to tell the truth about dates, whatever they may
do about art.' Harry had been rather roughly handled by the critic of
a morning paper for one of his pictures a few days before, and he was
a little angry with journalism generally.

Presently Lettie left the mom, and I told Harry what I had felt and
seen, and told him to take note of the date, for I feared that some
mischance had befallen George.

I'll put it down in my pocket-book, Bob. But you and Lettie must have
had a touch of the cold shivers, and your stomach or fancy misled
you--they're the same thing, you know. Besides, as regards the
picture, there's nothing in that! There is a skull there, of course.
As Tennyson says:

Any face, however full, Padded round with flesh and fat, Is but
modelled on a skull.

The skull's there--just as in even good figure-subject the nude is
there under the costumes. You fancy that is a mere coat of paint.
Nothing of the kind! Art lives, sir! That is just as much a real head
as yours is with all the muscles and bones, just the same. That's what
makes the difference between art and rubbish.'

This was a favourite theory of Harry's, who had not yet developed from
the dreamer into the worker. As I did not care to argue with him, I
allowed the subject to drop after we had written down the date in our
pocket-books. Lettie sent down word presently that she did not feel
well and had gone to bed. My wife came down presently and asked what
had happened. She had been up with the children and had gone in to see
what was the matter with Lettie.

'I think it was very imprudent to sit with the window open, dear. I
know the evenings are warm, but the night air strikes cold at times--
at any rate, Lettie seems to have caught a violent cold, for she is
shivering very much. I am afraid she has got a chill from the open
windows.'

I did not say anything to her then, except that both Lettie and I had
felt a sudden coldness; for I did not care to enter into an
explanation again, for I could see Harry was inclined to laugh at me
for being so superstitious.

At night, however, in our own room, I told my wife what had occurred,
and what my apprehensions were. She was so upset and alarmed that I
almost repented having done so.

The next morning Lettie was better again, and as we did not either of
us refer to the events of the preceding night the circumstance
appeared to be forgotten by us all.

But from that day I was ever inwardly dreading the arrival of bad
news. And at last it came, as I expected.

One morning, just as I was coming downstairs to breakfast, there came
a knock at the door, and Harry made his appearance. It was a very
early visit from him, for he generally used to spend his mornings at
the studio, and drop in on his way home at night.

He was looking pale and agitated.

'Lettie's not down, is she, yet?' he asked; and then, before I could
answer, added another question:

'What newspaper do you take?'

'The Daily News,' I answered. 'Why?'

'She's not down?'

'No.'

'Thank God! Look here!'

He took a paper from his pocket and gave it to me, pointing out a
short paragraph at the bottom of one of the columns.

I knew what was coming the moment he spoke about Lettie.

The paragraph was headed, 'Fatal Accident to one of the Officers of
the Pioneer Expedition Ship'. It stated that news had been received at
the Admiralty stating that the expedition had failed to find the
missing crews, but had come upon some traces of them. Want of stores
and necessaries had compelled them to turn back without following
those traces up; but the commander was anxious, as soon as the ship
could be refitted, to go out and take up the trail where he left it.
An unfortunate accident had deprived him of one of his most promising
officers, Lieutenant Mason, who was precipitated from an iceberg and
killed while out shooting with the surgeon. He was beloved by all, and
his death had flung a gloom over the gallant little troop of
explorers.

'It's not in the News today, thank goodness, Bob,' said Harry, who had
been searching that paper while I was reading the one he brought--'but
you must keep a sharp look-out for some days and not let Lettie see it
when it appears, as it is certain to do sooner or later.'

Then we both of us looked at each other with tears in our eyes. 'Poor
George!--poor Lettie!' we sighed softly.

'But she must be told at some time or other?' I said despairingly.

'I suppose so,' said Harry; 'but it would kill her to come on it
suddenly like this. Where's your wife?'

She was with the children, but I sent up for her and told her the ill-
tidings.

She had a hard struggle to conceal her emotion, for Lettie's sake. But
the tears would flow in spite of her efforts.

How shall I ever find courage to tell her?' she asked, 'Hush!' said
Harry, suddenly grasping her arm and looking towards the door.

I turned. There stood Lettie, with her face pale as death, with her
lips apart, and with a blind look about her eyes. She had come in
without our hearing her. We never learnt how much of the story she had
overheard; but it was enough to tell her the worst. We all sprang
towards her; but she only waved us away, turned round, and went
upstairs again without saying a word. My wife hastened up after her
and found her on her knees by the bed, insensible.

'The doctor was sent for, and restoratives were promptly administered.
She came to herself again, but lay dangerously ill for some weeks from
the shock.

It was about a month after she was well enough to come downstairs
again that I saw in the paper an announcement of the arrival of the
Pioneer. The news had no interest for any of us now, so I said nothing
about it. The mere mention of the vessel's name would have caused the
poor girl pain.

One afternoon shortly after this, as I was writing a letter, there
came a loud knock at the front door. I looked up from my writing and
listened; for the voice which enquired if I was in sounded strange,
but yet not altogether unfamiliar. As I looked up, puzzling whose it
could he, my eye rested accidentally upon poor George's portrait. Was
I dreaming or awake?

I have told you that the one hand was resting on a sword. I could see
now distinctly that the forefinger was raised, as if in warning. I
looked at it hard, to assure myself it was no fancy, and then I
perceived, standing out bright and distinct on the pale face, two
large drops, as if of blood.

I walked up to it, expecting the appearance to vanish, as the skull
had done. It did not vanish; but the uplifted finger resolved itself
into a little white moth which had settled on the canvas. The red
drops were fluid, and certainly not blood, though I was at a loss for
the time to account for them.

The moth seemed to be in a torpid state, so I took it off the picture
and placed it under an inverted wine-glass on the mantelpiece. All
this took less time to do than to describe. As I turned from the
mantelpiece the servant brought in a card, saying the gentleman was
waiting in the hall to know if I would see him.

On the card was the name of 'Vincent Grieve, of the exploring vessel
Pioneer'.

'Thank Heaven, Lettie is out,' thought I; and then added aloud to the
servant, 'Show him in here; and Jane, if your mistress and Miss Lettie
come in before the gentleman goes, tell them I have someone with me on
business and do not wish to be disturbed.'

I went to the door to meet Grieve. As he crossed the threshold, and
before he could have seen the portrait, he stopped, shuddered and
turned white, even to his thin lips.

'Cover that picture before I come in,' he said hurriedly, in a low
voice. 'You remember the effect it had upon me. Now, with the memory
of poor Mason, it would be worse than ever.'

I could understand his feelings better now than at first; for I had
come to look on the picture with some awe myself. So I took the cloth
off a little round table that stood under the window and hung it over
the portrait.

When I had done so Grieve came in. He was greatly altered. He was
thinner and paler than ever; hollow-eyed and hollow-checked. He had
acquired a strange stoop, too, and his eyes had lost the crafty look
for a look of terror, like that of a hunted beast. I noticed that he
kept glancing sideways every instant, as if unconsciously. It looked
as if he heard someone behind him.

I had never liked the man; but now I felt an insurmountable repugnance
to him--so great a repugnance that, when I came to think of it, I felt
pleased that the incident of covering the picture at his request had
led to my not shaking hands with him.

I felt that I could not speak otherwise than coldly to him; indeed, I
had to speak with painful plainness.

I told him that, of course, I was glad to see him back, but that I
could not ask him to continue to visit us. I should be glad to hear
the particulars of poor George's death, but that I could not let him
see my sister, and hinted, as delicately as I could, at the
impropriety of which he had been guilty when he last visited.

He took it all very quietly, only giving a long, wean sigh when I told
him I must beg him not to repeat his visit. He looked so weak and ill
that I was obliged to ask him to take a glass of wine---an offer which
he seemed to accept with great pleasure.

I got out the sherry and biscuits and placed them on the table between
us, and he took a glass and drank it off greedily.

It was not without some difficulty that I could get him to tell me of
George's death. He related, with evident reluctance, how they had gone
out to shoot a white bear which they had seen on an iceberg stranded
along the shore. The top of the berg was ridged like the roof of a
house, sloping down on one side to the edge of a tremendous
overhanging precipice. They had scrambled along the ridge in order to
get nearer the game, when George incautiously ventured on the sloping
side.

'I called out to him', said Grieve, 'and begged him to come back, but
too late. The surface was as smooth and slippery as glass. He tried to
turn back, but slipped and fell. And then began a horrible scene.
Slowly, slowly, but with ever-increasing motion, he began to slide
down towards the edge. There was nothing to grasp at--no irregularity
or projection on the smooth face of the ice. I tore off my coat, and
hastily attaching it to the stock of my gun, pushed the latter towards
him; but it did not reach far enough. Before I could lengthen it, by
tying my cravat to it, he had slid yet further away, and more quickly.
I shouted in agony; but there was no one within hearing.

He, too, saw his fate was sealed; and he could only tell me to bring
his last farewell to you, and--and to her!'--Here Grieve's voice
broke--'and it was all over! He clung to the edge of the precipice
instinctively for one second, and was gone!'

Just as Grieve uttered the last word, his jaw fell; his eyeballs
seemed ready to start from his head; he sprang to his feet, pointed at
something behind me, and then flinging up his arms, fell, with a
scream, as if he had been shot. He was seized with an epileptic fit.

I instinctively looked behind me as I hurried to raise him from the
floor. The cloth had fallen from the picture, where the face of
George, made paler than ever by the gouts of red, looked sternly down.

I rang the bell. Luckily, Harry had come in; and, when the servant
told him what was the matter, he came in and assisted me in restoring
Grieve to consciousness. Of course, I covered the painting up again.

When he was quite himself again, Grieve told me he was subject to fits
occasionally.

He seemed very anxious to learn if he had said or done anything
extraordinary while he was in the fit, and appeared reassured when I
said he had not. He apologized for the trouble he had given, and said
as soon as he was strong enough he would take his leave. He was
leaning on the mantelpiece as he said this. The little white moth
caught his eye.

'So you have had someone else from the Pioneer here before me?' he
said, nervously.

I answered in the negative, asking what made him think so.

'Why, this little white moth is never found in such southern
latitudes. It is one of the last signs of life northward. Where did
you get it?'

'I caught it here, in this room,' I answered.

'That is very strange. I never heard of such a thing before. We shall
hear of showers of blood soon, I should not wonder.'

'What do you mean?' I asked.

'Oh, these little fellows emit little drops of a red-looking fluid at
certain seasons, and sometimes so plentifully that the superstitious
think it is a shower of blood. I have seen the snow quite stained in
places. Take care of it, it is a rarity in the south.'

I noticed, after he left, which he did almost immediately, that there
was a drop of red fluid on the marble under the wine-glass. The blood-
stain on the picture was accounted for; but how came the moth here?

And there was another strange thing about the man, which I had
scarcely been able to assure myself of in the room, where there were
cross-lights, but about which there was no possible mistake, when I
saw him walking away up the street.

'Harry, here--quick!' I called to my brother, who at once came to the
window. 'You're an artist, tell me, is there anything strange about
that man?'

'No; nothing that I can see,' said Harry, but then suddenly, in an
altered tone, added, 'Yes, there is. By Jove, he has a double shadow!'

That was the explanation of his sidelong glances, of the habitual
stoop. There was a something always at his side, which none could see,
but which east a shadow.

He turned, presently, and saw us at the window. Instantly, he crossed
the road to the shady side of the street. I told Harry all that had
passed, and we agreed that it would be as well not to say a word to
Lettie.

Two days later, when I returned from a visit to Harry's studio, I
found the whole house in confusion.

I learnt from Lettie that while my wife was upstairs, Grieve had
called, had not waited for the servant to announce him, but had walked
straight into the dining-room, where Lettie was sitting.

She noticed that he avoided looking at the picture, and, to make sure
of not seeing it, had seated himself on the sofa just beneath it. He
had then, in spite of Lettie's angry remonstrances, renewed his offer
of love, strengthening it finally by assuring her that poor George
with his dying breath had implored him to seek her, and watch over
her, and marry her.

'I was so indignant I hardly knew how to answer him,' said Lettie.
'When, suddenly, just as he uttered the last words, there came a twang
like the breaking of a guitar--and--I hardly know how to describe it--
but the portrait had fallen, and the corner of the heavy frame had
struck him on the head, cutting it open, and rendering him
insensible.'.They had carried him upstairs, by the direction of the
doctor, for whom my wife at once sent on hearing what had occurred. He
was laid on the couch in my dressing-room, where I went to see him. I
intended to reproach him for coming to the house, despite my
prohibition, but I found him delirious. The doctor said it was a queer
case; for, though the blow was a severe one, it was hardly enough to
account for the symptoms of brain-fever. When he learnt that Grieve
had but just returned in the Pioneer from the North, he said it was
possible that the privation and hardship had told on his constitution
and sown the seeds of the malady.

We sent for a nurse, who was to sit up with him, by the doctor's
directions.

The rest of my story is soon told. In the middle of the night I was
roused by a loud scream. I slipped on my clothes, and rushed out to
find the nurse, with Lettie in her arms, in a faint. We carried her
into her room, and then the nurse explained the mystery to us.

It appears that about midnight Grieve sat up in bed, and began to
talk. And he said such terrible things that the nurse became alarmed.
Nor was she much reassured when she became aware that the light of her
single candle flung what seemed to be two shadows of the sick man on
the wall.

Terrified beyond measure, she had crept into Lettie's room, and
confided her fears to her; and Lettie, who was a courageous and kindly
girl, dressed herself, and said she would sit with her.

She, too, saw the double shadow--but what she heard was far more
terrible.

Grieve was sitting up in bed, gazing at the unseen figure to which the
shadow belonged. In a voice that trembled with emotion, he begged the
haunting spirit to leave him, and prayed its forgiveness.

'You know the crime was not premeditated. It was a sudden temptation
of the devil that made me strike the blow, and fling you over the
precipice. It was the devil tempting me with the recollection of her
exquisite face--of the tender love that might have been mine, but for
you. But she will not listen to me. See, she turns away from me, as if
she knew I was your murderer, George Mason!'

It was Lettie who repeated in a horrified whisper this awful
confession.

I could see it all now! As I was about to tell Lettie of the many
strange things I had concealed from her, the nurse, who had gone to
see her patient, came running back in alarm.

Vincent Grieve had disappeared. He had risen in his delirious terror,
had opened the window, and leaped out. Two days later his body was
found in the river.

A curtain hangs now before poor George's portrait, though it is no
longer connected with any supernatural marvels; and never, since the
night of Vincent Grieve's death, have we seen aught of that most
mysterious haunting presence--the Shadow of a Shade.



THE END



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