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The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Emma Frances Dawson

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The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Emma Frances Dawson
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Author(s): Emma Frances Dawson
Date Published: 2009/12
Page Count: 196
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-037-2
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-038-9

A highly regarded collection of ghostly fiction

The author of this collection of the eerie and bizarre was an American poet, author, translator and musician of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite her many talents she attempted just one foray into the other world of supernatural fiction and the result was this book, The Itinerant House and Other Stories. Whilst its quality is undisputed, in its original edition it has become something of a rarity and is highly sought after by aficionados of the genre. So it is particularly gratifying that Leonaur is able to offer this new edition for modern readers. Within the ten tales inside its covers readers you will discover well crafted accounts of the strange and unearthly including, 'Are the Dead Dead?,’ 'A Gracious Visitation', 'Singed Moths' and other gripping yarns to be read beside a warm fire on a cold, dark night. Available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket. 

A long-drawn sigh, which sounded close by me, made me look up. Bravely as I had tried to think only of the words I wrote, I was startled. My dog crouched at my feet and barked. Had I left the front door on the latch? I rushed to see. Turning in the hall with the feeling of being watched, I saw a woman’s head peering round a distant door. There was a familiar look about her. Thinking it must be one of the club, I started toward her, but she drew back and closed the door, which she held against me.<br>
Was she afraid of me? I laughed, a little nervously, wrenched it open—but no one was in sight! I called, no answer, but, glancing up, saw the same head hanging over the banisters upstairs, and part of her dress. I was struck with something so wicked in her look that my little Spitz ran cowering and whining to the street-door. But, thinking I ought to explain my presence there, I went upstairs. To my surprise, the woman, without waiting for me, passed down the long hall and turned a corner.<br>
I hurried after, thinking I might have frightened her, if she were a nervous member, and, in my haste, nearly fell through to the lower story, for at the turning yawned an opening where stairs had been taken down. My dress caught on a nail in the floor, and held me back just in time. As I freed my skirt, I saw that from the hall-window, just beyond the pitfall, my house could be seen better than from downstairs. A smothered chuckle, followed by a cry of rage, made me look down. The woman was watching me from below. There must be some other flight, I thought, yet found none, and went to the lower room, but she had hidden.<br>
My verses, dropped as I ran out, were torn into shreds, and strewed on the floor. Thinking it was one of my dog’s tricks, I felt I ought not to have brought him, that I must wait and excuse myself to her. I turned to look for him. What was this fluffy mass by the hall-door? Not my gay little comrade? This poor creature in spasms! Some evil power was at work here. Even that cruel-faced woman would be welcome company. I called. No reply. I tried to open the outer door, but it seemed barred by the rusty, large lock, to which there was no key.<br>
I strove to be brave. I went through the lower part. The back door was fast. I thought she must have fled that way. It was awful to be alone there! I saw nothing strange, but felt as if dogged, doors opening behind me as soon as I closed them. I tried to think it was caused by the jar of my steps and the uneven flooring, but I felt the Bible was right to forbid the calling of spirits. Had not the Ghost Club brought all this horror upon me? It made no odds that they had been searching to prove there was no such thing. There was the ugly story of the hanged man, whose body was dissected and his skull ground to dust; yet in the night the bits were seen to join, one by one, till the man was whole, and went out of the door.<br>
I went back to the front room. Trying to forget my fears, I raised the gauze screen from the portrait over the mantel. It was not unlike the face of the strange woman! In my vexation toward her, I flung the veil against it again. The next instant, my elbows were fiercely gripped from behind. I was rushed swiftly toward the window I had opened when I first came in.<br>
My heart nearly stopped beating. Years of torture seemed crowded into that one moment. I was to be thrown out, to fall from that great height to the street. I shrieked in hopeless terror. I was suddenly cast on the floor, and, when I could look round, I saw that woman near the door, with her hard face turned as if to listen.<br>
Someone was on the steps. She glided out, and was upstairs, as the front door, forced by stronger hand than mine, opened, and, to my deep relief and joy, the pale young man came in. Braced by the relief of his coming, then I could talk to him. He only nodded once in a while, but his eyes again held mine. To my questions about the woman, he shook his head, and seemed surprised when I said, “She was here last night.”<br>
So she had gone when he went out. I did not wonder she was jealous, as I stood there, hardly conscious of anything but the charm of his presence, and the scent of the bit of breath-of-heaven and blood-red pink he wore. And he—he kept the club rule of silence. But I thought I knew what he was thinking. I had not slept since I had last seen him. I passed the night watching, as I lay in bed, the old house looming dim and large against the starry sky,—or, half-dozing, dreamed of flitting lights in the windows and echoing strains of music.<br>
I had not slept for thinking of him. Fancying what bliss his kisses might be, waked me as fully as a real draught of wine. Heaven help me! And he knew it—he knew it; his eyes told me that.<br>
Those wonderful eyes! They seemed so near and dear a part of myself, that I forgot we were, as the world goes, strangers. Surely we had known each other for eternities. I forgot that it was not a woman’s part to woo. I thought only of my love—my love, fierce as the wind, resistless as the sea, wide-spreading as the sky! I lost my senses.<br>
“Where have you been all these years?” I cried. “We must have known each other before, for I love you, I love you, and it is no new feeling. My life has been a dream, a nightmare—at last I am awake! Do not leave me again, for I could not bear it. Stay! Stay!”<br>
“Oh, if it might only be!” he murmured.<br>
He came nearer, bent over as if to kiss me, when a white hand was laid on his shoulder. He turned in amazement. She stood beside him.<br>
“You!” he groaned, with a gesture of despair, and reeled back. He grew, if possible, more bloodless than ever. I could see him tremble. Dismay and dread in his face, and a hunted look came into his eyes.<br>
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