1:09 pm - Thursday April 26, 2018

The Lady in Black-by Eleanor H Porter-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name: The Lady in Black

Written by:Eleanor H Porter

Category:fiction, short novel, Classics

Page 1:

The house was very still. In the little room over the porch the Lady in Black sat alone. Near her a child’s white dress lay across a chair, and on the floor at her feet a tiny pair of shoes, stubbed at the toes, lay where an apparently hasty hand had thrown them. A doll, head downward, hung over a chair-back, and a toy soldier with drawn sword dominated the little stand by the bed. And everywhere was silence–the peculiar silence that comes only to a room where the clock has ceased to tick.

The clock–such a foolish little clock of filigree gilt–stood on the shelf at the foot of the bed; and as the Lady in Black looked at it she remembered the wave of anger that had surged over her when she had thrust out her hand and silenced it that night three months before. It had seemed so monstrous to her that the pulse in that senseless thing of gilt should throb on unheeding while below, on the little white bed, that other pulse was so pitiably still. Hence she had thrust out her hand and stopped it. It had been silent ever since–and it should remain silent, too. Of what possible use were the hours it would tick away now? As if anything mattered, with little Kathleen lying out there white and still under the black earth!

“Muvver!”

The Lady in Black stirred restlessly, and glanced toward the closed door. Behind it she knew was a little lad with wide blue eyes and a dimpling mouth who wanted her; but she wished he would not call her by that name. It only reminded her of those other little lips–silent now.

“Muvver!” The voice was more insistent.

The Lady in Black did not answer. He might go away, she thought, if she did not reply.

There was a short silence, then the door-knob rattled and turned half around under the touch of plainly unskilled fingers. The next moment the door swung slowly back on its hinges and revealed at full length the little figure in the Russian suit.

“Pe-eek!” It was a gurgling cry of joyful discovery, but it was followed almost instantly by silence. The black-garbed, unsmiling woman did not invite approach, and the boy fell back at his first step. He hesitated, then spoke, tentatively, “I’s–here.”

It was, perhaps, the worst thing he could have said. To the Lady in Black it was a yet more bitter reminder of that other one who was not there. She gave a sharp cry and covered her face with her hands.

“Bobby, Bobby, how can you taunt me with it?” she moaned, in a frenzy of unreasoning grief. “Go away–go away! I want to be alone–alone!”

All the brightness fled from the boy’s face. His mouth was no longer dimpled, and his eyes showed a grieved hurt in their depths. Very slowly he turned away. At the top of the stairs he stopped and looked back. The door was still open, and the Lady in Black still sat with her hands over her face. He waited, but she did not move; then, with a half-stifled sob, he dropped on the top step and began to bump down the stairs, one at a time.

Long minutes afterward the Lady in Black raised her head and saw him through the window. He was down in the yard with his father, having a frolic under the apple tree.

A frolic!

The Lady in Black looked at them with somber eyes, and her mouth hardened at the corners. Bobby down there in the yard could laugh and dance and frolic. Bobby had some one to play with him, some one to love him and care for him; while out there on the hillside Kathleen was alone–all alone. Kathleen had no one–

With a little cry the Lady in Black sprang to her feet and hurried into her own room. Her hands shook as she pinned on her hat and shrouded herself in the long folds of her black veil; but her step was firm as she swept downstairs and out through the hall.

The man under the apple tree rose hurriedly and came forward.

“Helen, dearest,–not again, to-day!” he begged. “Darling, it can’t do any good!”

“But she’s alone–all alone. You don’t seem to think! No one thinks–no one knows how I feel. You don’t understand–if you did, you’d come with me. You wouldn’t ask me to stay–here!” choked the woman.

“I have been with you, dear,” said the man gently. “I ‘ve been with you to-day, and every day, almost, since–since she left us. But it can’t do any good–this constant brooding over her grave. It only makes additional sorrow for you, for me, and for Bobby. Bobby is–here, you know, dear!”

“No, no, don’t say it,” sobbed the woman wildly. “You don’t understand–you don’t understand!” And she turned and hurried away, a tall black shadow of grief, followed by the anguished eyes of the man, and the wistful puzzled eyes of the boy.

It was not a long walk to the tree-embowered plot of ground where the marble shafts and slabs glistened in the sunlight, and the Lady in Black knew the way; yet she stumbled and reached out blindly, and she fell, as if exhausted, before a little stone marked “Kathleen.” Near her a gray-haired woman, with her hands full of pink and white roses, watched her sympathetically. She hesitated, and opened her lips as if she would speak, then she turned slowly and began to arrange her flowers on a grave near by.

At the slight stir the Lady in Black raised her head. For a time she watched in silence; then she threw back her veil and spoke.

“You care, too,” she said softly. “You understand. I’ve seen you here before, I’m sure. And was yours–a little girl?”

Filed in: Essays, Fantasy, Fiction, Short Novel

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