badezimmer klein fliesen ideen

badezimmer klein fliesen ideen

‘the haunting of hill house’ – by shirleyjackson. no live organism can continue for long toexist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed,by some, to dream. hill house, not sane, stood by itself againstits hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might standfor eighty more. within, walls continued upright, bricks metneatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the woodand stone of hill house, and whatever walked there, walked alone. dr. john montague was a doctor of philosophy;he had taken his degree in anthropology, feeling

obscurely that in this field he might comeclosest to his true vocation, the analysis of supernatural manifestations. he was scrupulous about the use of his titlebecause, his investigations being so utterly unscientific, he hoped to borrow an air ofrespectability, even scholarly authority, from his education. it had cost him a good deal, in money andpride, since he was not a begging man, to rent hill house for three months, but he expectedabsolutely to be compensated for his pains by the sensation following upon the publicationof his definitive work on the causes and effects of psychic disturbances in a house commonlyknown as "haunted."

he had been looking for an honestly hauntedhouse all his life. when he heard of hill house he had been atfirst doubtful, then hopeful, then indefatigable; he was not the man to let go of hill houseonce he had found it. dr. montague's intentions with regard to hillhouse derived from the methods of the intrepid nineteenth-century ghost hunters; he was goingto go and live in hill house and see what happened there. it was his intention, at first, to followthe example of the anonymous lady who went to stay at ballechin house and ran a summer-longhouse party for skeptics and believers, with croquet and ghost-watching as the outstandingattractions, but skeptics, believers, and

good croquet players are harder to come bytoday; dr. montague was forced to engage assistants. perhaps the leisurely ways of victorian lifelent themselves more agreeably to the devices of psychic investigation, or perhaps the painstakingdocumentation of phenomena has largely gone out as a means of determining actuality; atany rate, dr. montague had not only to engage assistants but to search for them. because he thought of himself as careful andconscientious, he spent considerable time looking for his assistants. he combed the records of the psychic societies,the back files of sensational newspapers, the reports of parapsychologists, and assembleda list of names of people who had, in one

way or another, at one time or another, nomatter how briefly or dubiously, been involved in abnormal events. from his list he first eliminated the namesof people who were dead. when he had then crossed off the names ofthose who seemed to him publicity-seekers, of subnormal intelligence, or unsuitable becauseof a clear tendency to take the center of the stage, he had a list of perhaps a dozennames. each of these people, then, received a letterfrom dr. montague extending an invitation to spend all or part of a summer at a comfortablecountry house, old, but perfectly equipped with plumbing, electricity, central heating,and clean mattresses.

the purpose of their stay, the letters statedclearly, was to observe and explore the generated various unsavory stories which had been circulated about the house for most of its eighty yearsof existence. dr. montague's letters did not say openlythat hill house was haunted, because dr. montague was a man of science and until he had actuallyexperienced a psychic manifestation in hill house he would not trust his luck too far. consequently his letters had a certain ambiguousdignity calculated to catch at the imagination of a very special sort of reader. to his dozen letters, dr. montague had fourreplies, the other eight or so candidates

having presumably moved and left no forwardingaddress, or possibly having lost interest in the supernormal, or even, perhaps, neverhaving existed at all. to the four who replied, dr. montague wroteagain, naming a specific day when the house would be officially regarded as ready foroccupancy, and enclosing detailed directions for reaching it, since, as he was forced toexplain, information about finding the house was extremely difficult to get, particularlyfrom the rural community which surrounded it. on the day before he was to leave for hillhouse, dr. montague was persuaded to take into his select company a representative ofa family who owned the house, and a telegram

arrived from one of his candidates, backingout with a clearly manufactured excuse. another never came or wrote, perhaps becauseof some pressing personal problem which had intervened. the other two came. 2 eleanor vance was thirty-two years old whenshe came to hill house. the only person in the world she genuinelyhated, now that her mother was dead, was her sister. she disliked her brother-in-law and her five-year-oldniece, and she had no friends. this was owing largely to the eleven yearsshe had spent caring for her invalid mother,

which had left her with some proficiency asa nurse and an inability to face strong sunlight without blinking. she could not remember ever being truly happyin her adult life; her years with her mother had been built up devotedly around small guiltsand small reproaches, constant weariness, and unending despair. without ever wanting to become reserved andshy, she had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for herto talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkwardinability to find words. her name had turned up on dr. montague's listbecause one day, when she was twelve years

old and her sister was eighteen, and theirfather had been dead for not quite a month, showers of stones had fallen on their house,without any warning or any indication of purpose or reason, dropping from the ceilings rollingloudly down the walls, breaking windows and pattering maddeningly on the roof. the stones continued intermittently for threedays, during which time eleanor and her sister were less unnerved by the stones than by theneighbors and sightseers who gathered daily outside the front door, and by their mother'sblind, hysterical insistence that all of this was due to malicious, backbiting people onthe block who had had it in for her ever since she came.

after three days eleanor and her sister wereremoved to the house of a friend, and the stones stopped falling, nor did they everreturn, although eleanor and her sister and her mother went back to living in the house,and the feud with the entire neighborhood was never ended. the story had been forgotten by everyone exceptthe people dr. montague consulted; it had certainly been forgotten by eleanor and hersister, each of whom had supposed at the time that the other was responsible. during the whole underside of her life, eversince her first memory, eleanor had been waiting for something like hill house.

caring for her mother, lifting a cross oldlady from her chair to her bed, setting out endless little trays of soup and oatmeal,steeling herself to the filthy laundry, eleanor had held fast to the belief that someday somethingwould happen. she had accepted the invitation to hill houseby return mail, although her brother-in-law had insisted upon calling a couple of peopleto make sure that this doctor fellow was not aiming to introduce eleanor to savage ritesnot unconnected with matters eleanor's sister deemed it improper for an unmarried youngwoman to know. perhaps, eleanor's sister whispered in theprivacy of the marital bedroom, perhaps dr. montague—if that reallywas his name, afterall—perhaps this dr. montagueused these

women for some—well— know—experiments, the way they do. eleanor's sister dwelt richly upon experimentsshe had heard these generated by abc amber lit converter, did. eleanor had no such ideas, or, having them,was not afraid. eleanor, in short, would have gone anywhere. theodora—that was as much name as she used;her sketches were signed "theo" and on her apartment door and the window of her shopand her telephone listing and her pale stationery and the bottom of the lovely photograph ofher which stood on the mantel, the name was always only theodora—theodora was not atall like eleanor.

duty and conscience were, for theodora, attributeswhich belonged properly to girl scouts. theodora's world was one of delight and softcolors; she had come onto dr. montague's list because—going laughing into the laboratory,bringing with her a rush of floral perfume—she had somehow been able, amused and excitedover her own incredible skill, to identify correctly eighteen cards out of twenty, fifteencards out of twenty, nineteen cards out of twenty, held up by an assistant out of sightand hearing. the name of theodora shone in the recordsof the laboratory and so came inevitably to dr. montague's attention. theodora had been entertained by dr. montague'sfirst letter and answered it out of curiosity

(perhaps the wakened knowledge in theodorawhich told her the names of symbols on cards held out of sight urged her on her way towardhill house), and yet fully intended to decline the invitation. yet—perhaps the stirring, urgent sense again—whendr. montague's confirming letter arrived, theodora had been tempted and had somehowplunged blindly, wantonly, into a violent quarrel with the friend with whom she sharedan apartment. things were said on both sides which onlytime could eradicate; theodora had deliberately and heartlessly smashed the lovely littlefigurine her friend had carved of her, and her friend had cruelly ripped to shreds thevolume of alfred de musset which had been

a birthday present from theodora, taking particularpains with the page which bore theodora's loving, teasing inscription. these acts were of course unforgettable, andbefore they could laugh over them together time would have to go by; theodora had writtenthat night, accepting dr. montague's invitation, and departed in cold silence the next day. luke sanderson was a liar. he was also a thief. his aunt, who was the owner of hill house,was fond of pointing out that her nephew had the best education, the best clothes, thebest taste, and the worst companions of anyone

she had ever known; she would have leapedat any chance to put him safely away for a few weeks. the family lawyer was prevailed upon to persuadedr. montague that the house could on no account be rented to him for his, purposes withoutthe confining presence of a member of the family during his stay, and perhaps at theirfirst meeting the doctor perceived in luke a kind of strength, or catlike instinct forself-preservation, which made him almost as anxious as mrs. sanderson to have luke withhim in the house. at any rate, luke was amused, his aunt grateful,and dr. montague more than satisfied. mrs. sanderson told the family lawyer thatat any rate there was really nothing in the

house luke could steal. the old silver there was of some value, shetold the lawyer, but it represented an almost insuperable difficulty for luke: it requiredenergy to steal it and transform it into money. mrs. sanderson did luke an injustice. luke was not at all likely to make off withthe family silver, or dr. montague's watch, or theodora's bracelet; his dishonesty waslargely confined to taking petty cash from his aunt's pocketbook and cheating at cards. he was also apt to sell the watches and cigarettecases given him, fondly and with pretty blushes, by his aunt's friends.

someday luke would inherit hill house, buthe had never thought to find himself living in it. 3 "i just don't think she should take thecar, is all," eleanor's brother-in-law said stubbornly. "it's half my car," eleanor said. "i helped pay for it." "i just don't think she should take it, isall," her brother-in-law said. he appealed to his wife. "it isn't fair she should have the use ofit for the whole summer, and us have to do

without." generated "carrie drives it all the time, and i never even take it out of the garage," eleanor said. "besides, you'll be in the mountains all summer,and you can't use itthere . carrie, you know you won't use the car in the mountains. "but suppose poor little linnie got sick orsomething? and we needed a car to get her to a doctor?" "i mean to take it." "suppose evencarrie got sick?

suppose we couldn't get a doctor and neededto go to a hospital?" "i want it. i mean to take it." "i don't think so." carrie spoke slowly, deliberately. "we don't know where you're going, do we? you haven't seen fit to tell us very muchabout all this, have you? i don't think i can see my way clear to lettingyou borrow my car." "it's half my car."

"no," carrie said. "you may not." "right." eleanor's brother-in-law nodded. ".we need it, like carrie says." carrie smiled slightly. "i'd never forgive myself, eleanor, if i lentyou the car and something happened. how do we know we can trust this doctor fellow? you're still a young woman, after all, andthe car is worth a good deal of money."

"well, now, carrie, idid call homer in thecredit office, and he said this fellow was in good standing at some college or other—"carrie said, still smiling, "of course, there isevery reason to suppose that he is a decentman. but eleanor does not choose to tell us whereshe is going, or how to reach her if we want the car back; something could happen, andwe might never know. even if eleanor," she went on delicately,addressing her teacup, "even ifeleanor is prepared to run off to the ends of the earthat the invitation of any man, there isstill no reason why she should be permitted to takemy car with her." "suppose poor little linnie got sick, up therein the mountains, with ,nobody around?

no doctor?" "in any case, eleanor, i am sure that i amdoing what mother would have thought best. mother had confidence in me and would certainlynever have approved my letting you run wild, going off heaven knows where, in my car." "or suppose eveni got sick, up there in—""i am sure mother would have agreed with me, eleanor." "besides," eleanor's brother-in-law said,struck by a sudden idea, "how do we know she'd bring it back in good condition?" generated there has to be a first time for everything,

eleanor told herself. she got out of the taxi, very early in themorning, trembling because by now, perhaps, her sister and her brother-in-law might bestirring with the first faint proddings of suspicion; she took her suitcase quickly outof the taxi while the driver lifted out the cardboard carton which had been on the frontseat. eleanor overtipped him, wondering if her sisterand brother-in-law were following, were perhaps even now turning into the street and tellingeach other, "there she is, just as we thought, the thief, there she is"; she turned in hasteto go into the huge city garage where their car was kept, glancing nervously toward theends of the street.

she crashed into a very little lady, sendingpackages in all directions, and saw with dismay a bag upset and break on the sidewalk, spillingout a broken piece of cheesecake, tomato slices, a hard roll. "damn you damn you!" the little lady screamed,her face pushed up close to eleanor's. "i was taking it home, damn you damn you!" "i'm so sorry," eleanor said; she bent down,but it did not seem possible to scoop up the fragments of tomato and cheesecake and shovethem somehow back into the broken bag. the old lady was scowling down and snatchingupher other packages before eleanor could reach them, and at last eleanor rose, smilingin convulsive apology.

"i'm really so sorry," she said. "damn you," the little old lady said, butmore quietly. "i was taking it home for my little lunch. and now, thanks toyou —" "perhaps i couldpay?" eleanor took hold of her pocketbook, and thelittle lady stood very still and thought. "i couldn't take money, just like that," shesaid at last. "i didn't buy the things, you see. they were left over." she snapped her lips angrily.

"you should have seen the ham they had," shesaid, "but someone else gotthat . and the chocolate cake. and the potato salad. and the little candies in the little paperdishes. i was too late oneverything . and now…" she and eleanor both glanced down at the messon the sidewalk, and the little lady said, "so you see, i couldn't just take money, notmoney just from your hand, not for something that was left over." "may i buy you something to replace this,then?

i'm in a terrible hurry, but if we could findsome place that's open—" the little old lady smiled wickedly. "i've still gotthis , anyway," she said, andshe hugged one package tight. "you may pay my taxi fare home," she said. "then no oneelse will be likely to knock medown." "gladly," eleanor said and turned to the taxidriver, who had been waiting, interested. "can you take this lady home?" she asked. "a couple of dollars will do it," the littlelady said, "not including the tip for this gentleman, of course.

being as small asi am," she explained daintily,"it's quite a hazard, quite a hazard indeed, people knocking you down. still, it's a genuine pleasure to find oneas willing as you to make up for it. sometimes the people who knock you down neverturn once to look." with eleanor's help she climbed into the taxiwith her packages, and eleanor took two dollars and a fifty-cent piece from her pocketbookand handed them to the little lady, who clutched them tight in her tiny hand. "all right, sweetheart," the taxi driver said,"where do we go?" the little lady chuckled.

"i'll tell you after we start," she said,and then, to eleanor, "good luck to you, dearie. watch out from now on how you go knockingpeople down." generated "good-by," eleanor said, "and i'm really very sorry." "that's fine, then," the little lady said,waving at her as the taxi pulled away from the curb. "i'll be praying for you, dearie." well, eleanor thought, staring after the taxi,there's one person, anyway, who will be praying for me.

one person anyway. 4 it was the first genuinely shining day ofsummer, a time of year which brought eleanor always to aching memories of her early childhood,when it had seemed to be summer all the time; she could not remember a winter before herfather's death on a cold wet day. she had taken to wondering lately, duringthese swiftcounted years, what had been done with all those wasted summer days; how couldshe have spent them so wantonly? i am foolish, she told herself early everysummer, i am very foolish; i am grown up now and know the values of things. nothing is ever really wasted, she believedsensibly, even one's childhood, and then each

year, one summer morning, the warm wind wouldcome down the city street where she walked and she would be touched with the little coldthought: i have let more time go by. yet this morning, driving the little car whichshe and her sister owned together, apprehensive lest they might still realize that she hadcome after all and just taken it away, going docilely along the street, following the linesof traffic, stopping when she was bidden and turning when she could, she smiled out atthe sunlight slanting along the street and thought, i am going, i am going, i have finallytaken a step. always before, when she had her sister's permissionto drive the little car, she had gone cautiously, moving with extreme care to avoid even theslightest scratch or mar which might irritate

her sister, but today, with her carton onthe back seat and her suitcase on the floor, her gloves and pocketbook and light coat onthe seat beside her, the car belonged entirely to her, a little contained world all her own;i am really going, she thought. at the last traffic light in the city, beforeshe turned to go onto the great highway out of town, she stopped, waiting, and slid dr.montague's letter out of her pocketbook. i will not even need a map, she thought; hemust be a very careful man. "…route 39 to ashton," the letter said,"and then turn left onto route 5 going west. follow this for a little less than thirtymiles, and you will come to the small village of hillsdale.

go through hillsdale to the corner with agas station on the left and a church on the right, and turn left here onto what seemsto be a narrow country road; you will be going up into the hills and the road is very poor. follow this road to the end—about six miles—andyou will come to the gates of hill house. i am making these directions so detailed becauseit is inadvisable to stop in hillsdale to ask your way. the people there are rude to strangers andopenly hostile to anyone inquiring about hill house. "i am very happy that you will be joiningus in hill house, and will take great pleasure

in making your acquaintance on thursday thetwenty-first of june…" the light changed; she turned onto the highwayand was free of the city. no one, she thought, can catch me now; theydon't even know which way i'm going. she had never driven far alone before. the notion of dividing her lovely journeyinto miles and hours was silly; she saw it, bringing her car with precision between theline on the road and the line of trees beside the road, as a passage of moments, each onenew, carrying her along with them, taking her down a path of incredible novelty to anew place. the journey itself was her positive action,her destination vague, unimagined, perhaps

nonexistent. she meant to savor each turn of her traveling,loving the road and the generated by abc amber lit converter, and the houses and the small ugly towns, teasing herself with the notion that she mighttake it into her head to stop just anywhere and never leave again. she might pull her car to the side of thehighway—although that was not allowed, she told herself, she would be punished if shereally did—and leave it behind while she wandered off past the trees into the soft,welcoming country beyond. she might wander till she was exhausted, chasingbutterflies or following a stream, and then

come at nightfall to the hut of some poorwoodcutter who would offer her shelter; she might make her home forever in east barringtonor desmond or the incorporated village of berk; she might never leave the road at all,but just hurry on and on until the wheels of the car were worn to nothing and she hadcome to the end of the world. and, she thought, i might just go along tohill house, where i am expected and where i am being given shelter and room and boardand a small token salary in consideration of forsaking my commitments and involvementsin the city and running away to see the world. i wonder what dr. montague is like. i wonder what hill house is like.

i wonder who else will be there. she was well away from the city now, watchingfor the turning onto route 39, that magic thread of road dr. montague had chosen forher, out of all the roads in the world, to bring her safely to him and to hill house;no other road could lead her from where she was to where she wanted to be. dr montague was confirmed, made infallible;under the sign which pointed the way to route 39 was another sign saying: ashton, 121 miles. the road, her intimate friend now, turnedand dipped, going around turns where surprises waited—once a cow, regarding her over afence, once an incurious dog—down into hollows

where small towns lay, past fields and orchards. on the main street of one village she passeda vast house, pillared and walled, with shutters over the windows and a pair of stone lionsguarding the steps, and she thought that perhaps she might live there, dusting the lions eachmorning and patting their heads good night. time is beginning this morning in june, sheassured herself, but it is a time that is strangely new and of itself, in these fewseconds i have lived a lifetime in a house with two lions in front. every morning i swept the porch and dustedthe lions, and every evening i patted their heads good night, and once a week i washedtheir faces and manes and paws with warm water

and soda and cleaned between their teeth witha swab. inside the house the rooms were tall and clearwith shining floors and polished windows. a little dainty old lady took care of me,moving starchily with a silver tea service on a tray and bringing me a glass of elderberrywine each evening for my health's sake. i took my dinner alone in the long, quietdining room at the gleaming table, and between the tall windows the white paneling of thewalls shone in the candlelight; i dined upon a bird, and radishes from the garden, andhomemade plum jam. when i slept it was under a canopy of whiteorgandy, and a nightlight guarded me from the hall.

people bowed to me on the streets of the townbecause everyone was very proud of my lions. when i died.. she had left the town far behind by now, andwas going past dirty, closed lunch stands and torn signs. there had been a fair somewhere near hereonce, long ago, with motorcycle races; the signs still carried fragments of words. dare, one of them read, and another, evil,and she laughed at herself, perceiving how she sought out omens everywhere; the wordis daredevil, eleanor, daredevil drivers, and she slowed her car because she was drivingtoo fast and might reach hill house too soon.

at one spot she stopped altogether besidethe road to stare in disbelief and wonder. along the road for perhaps a quarter of amile she had been passing and admiring a row of splendid tended oleanders, blooming pinkand white in a steady row. now she had come to the gateway they protected,and past the gateway the trees continued. the gateway was no more than a pair of ruinedstone pillars, with a road leading away between them into empty fields. she could see that the oleander trees cutaway from the road and ran up each side of a great square, and she could see all theway to the farther side of the square, which was a line of oleander trees seemingly goingalong a little river.

inside the oleander square generated by abcamber lit converter, there was nothing, no house, no building,nothing but the straight road going across and ending at the stream. now what was here, she wondered, what washere and is gone, or what was going to be here and never came? was it going to be a house or a garden oran orchard; were they driven away forever or are they coming back? oleanders are poisonous, she remembered; couldthey be here guarding something? will i, she thought, will i get out of mycar and go between the ruined gates and then,

once i am in the magic oleander square, findthat i have wandered into a fairyland, protected poisonously from the eyes of people passing? once i have stepped between the magic gateposts,will i find myself through the protective barrier, the spell broken? i will go into a sweet garden, with fountainsand low benches and roses trained over arbors, and find one path—jeweled, perhaps, withrubies and emeralds, soft enough for a king's daughter to walk upon with her little sandaledfeet—and it will lead me directly to the palace which lies under a spell. i will walk up low stone steps past stonelions guarding and into a courtyard where

a fountain plays and the queen waits, weeping,for the princess to return. she will drop her embroidery when she seesme, and cry out to the palace servants—stirring at last after their long sleep—to preparea great feast, because the enchantment is ended and the palace is itself again. and we shall live happily ever after. no, of course, she thought, turning to starther car again, once the palace becomes visible and the spell is broken, thewhole spell willbe broken and all this countryside outside the oleanders will return to its proper form,fading away, towns and signs and cows, into a soft green picture from a fairy tale.

then, coming down from the hills there willbe a prince riding, bright in green and silver with a hundred bowmen riding behind him, pennantsstirring, horses tossing, jewels flashing… she laughed and turned to smile good-by atthe magic oleanders. another day, she told them, another day i'llcome back and break your spell. she stopped for lunch after she had drivena hundred miles and a mile. she found a country restaurant which advertiseditself as an old mill and found herself seated, incredibly, upon a balcony over a dashingstream, looking down upon wet rocks and the intoxicating sparkle of moving water, witha cut-glass bowl of cottage cheese on the table before her, and corn sticks in a napkin.

because this was a time and a land where enchantmentswere swiftly made and broken she wanted to linger over her lunch, knowing that hill housealways waited for her at the end of her day. the only other people in the dining room werea family party, a mother and father with a small boy and girl, and they talked to oneanother softly and gently, and once the little girl turned and regarded eleanor with frankcuriosity and, after a minute, smiled. the lights from the stream below touched theceiling and the polished tables and glanced along the little girl's curls, and the littlegirl's mother said, "she wants her cup of stars." eleanor looked up, surprised; the little girlwas sliding back in her chair, sullenly refusing

her milk, while her father frowned and herbrother giggled and her mother said calmly, "she wants her cup of stars." indeed yes, eleanor thought; indeed, so doi; a cup of stars, of course. "her little cup," the mother was explaining,smiling apologetically at the waitress, who was thunderstruck at the thought that themill's good country milk was not rich enough for the little girl. "it has stars in the bottom, and she alwaysdrinks her milk from it at home. she calls it her cup of stars because shecan see the stars while she drinks her milk." the waitress nodded, unconvinced, and themother told the little girl, "you'll have

your milk from your cup of stars tonight whenwe get home. but just for now, just to be a very good littlegirl, will you take a little milk from this glass?" generated don't do it, eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they havetrapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again;don't do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling,wholly comprehending smile[ and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. brave girl, eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.

"you're spoiling her," the father said. "she ought not to be allowed these whims." "just this once," the mother said. she put down the glass of milk and touchedthe little girl gently on the hand. "eat your ice cream," she said. when they left, the little girl waved good-byto eleanor, and eleanor waved back, sitting in joyful loneliness to finish her coffeewhile the gay stream tumbled along below her. i have not very much, farther to go, eleanorthought; i am more than halfway there. journey's end, she thought, and far back inher mind, sparkling like the little stream,

a tag end of a tune danced through her head,bringing distantly a word or so; "in delay there lies no plenty," she thought, "in delaythere lies no plenty." she nearly stopped forever just outside ashton,because she came to a tiny cottage buried in a garden. i could live there all alone, she thought,slowing the car to look down the winding garden path to the small blue front door with, perfectly,a white cat on the step. no one would ever find me there, either, behindall those roses, and just to make sure i would plant oleanders by the road. i will light a fire in the cool evenings andtoast apples at my own hearth.

i will raise white cats and sew white curtainsfor the windows and sometimes come out of my door to go to the store to buy cinnamonand tea and thread. people will come to me to have their fortunestold, and i will brew love potions for sad maidens; i will have a robin…but the cottagewas far behind, and it was time to look for her new road, so carefully charted by dr.montague. "turn left onto route 5 going west," his lettersaid, and, as efficiently and promptly as though he had been guiding her from some spotfar away, moving her car with controls in his hands, it was done; she was on route 5going west, and her journey was nearly done. in spite of what he said, though, she thought,i will stop in hillsdale for a minute, just

for a cup of coffee, because i cannot bearto have my long trip end so soon. it was not really disobeying, anyway; theletter said it was inadvisable to stop in hillsdale to ask the way, not forbidden tostop for coffee, and perhaps if i don't mention hill house i will not be doing wrong. anyway, she thought obscurely; it's my lastchance. hillsdale was upon her before she knew it,a tangled, disorderly mess of dirty houses and crooked streets. it was small; once she had come onto the mainstreet she could see the corner at the end with the gas station and the church.

there seemed to be only one place to stopfor coffee, and that was an unattractive diner, but eleanor was bound to stop in hillsdaleand so she brought her car to the broken curb in front of the diner and got out. after a minute's thought, with a silent nodto hillsdale, she locked the car, mindful of her suitcase on the floor and the cartonon the back seat. i will not spend long in hillsdale, she thought,looking up and down the street, which managed, even in the sunlight, to be dark and ugly. a dog slept uneasily in the shade againsta wall, a woman stood in a doorway across the street and looked at eleanor, and twoyoung boys lounged against a fence, elaborately

silent. eleanor, who was afraid of strange dogs andjeering women and young hoodlums, went quickly into the diner, clutching her pocketbook andher car keys. inside, she found a counter with a chinless,tired girl behind it, and a man sitting at the end eating. she wondered briefly how hungry he must havebeen to come in here at all, when she looked at the gray counter and the smeared glassbowl over a plate of doughnuts. "coffee," she said to the girl behind thecounter, and the girl turned wearily and tumbled down a cup from the piles on the shelves;i will have to drink this coffee because i

said i was going to, eleanor told herselfsternly, but next time i will listen to dr. montague. generated there was some elaborate joke going on between the man eating and the girl behind the counter;when she set eleanor's coffee down she glanced at him and half-smiled, and he shrugged, andthen the girl laughed. eleanor looked up, but the girl was examiningher fingernails and the man was wiping his plate with bread. perhaps eleanor's coffee was poisoned; itcertainly looked it. determined to plumb the village of hillsdaleto its lowest depths, eleanor said to the

girl, "i'll have one of those doughnuts too,please," and the girl, glancing sideways at the man, slid one of the doughnuts onto adish and set it down in front of eleanor and laughed when, she caught another look fromthe man. "this is a pretty little town," eleanor saidto the girl. "what is it called?" the girl stared at her; perhaps no one hadever before had the audacity to call hillsdale a pretty little town; after a moment the girllooked again at the man, as though calling for confirmation, and said, "hillsdale." "have you lived here long?"

eleanor asked. i'm not going to mention hill house, she assureddr. montague far away, i just want to waste a little time. "yeah," the girl said. "it must be pleasant, living in a small townlike this. i come from the city." "yeah?" "do you like it here?" "it's all right," the girl said.

she looked again at the man, who was listeningcarefully. "not much to do." "how large a town is it?" "pretty small. you want more coffee?" this was addressed to the man, who was rattlinghis cup against his saucer, and eleanor took a first, shuddering sip of her own coffeeand wondered how he could possibly want more. "do you have a lot of visitors around here?"she asked when the girl had filled the coffee cup and gone back to lounge against the shelves.

"tourists, i mean?" "what for?" for a minute the girl flashed at her, fromwhat might have been an emptiness greater than any eleanor had ever known. "why would anybody comehere ?" she lookedsullenly at the man and added, "there's not even a movie. "but the hills are so pretty. mostly, with small out-of-the-way towns likethis one, you'll find city people who have come and built themselves homes up in thehills.

for privacy." the girl laughed shortly. "nothere they don't." "or remodeling old houses—" "privacy," thegirl said, and laughed again. "it just seems surprising," eleanor said,feeling the man looking at her. generated "yeah," the girl said. "if they'd put in a movie, even." "i thought," eleanor said carefully, "thati might even look around. old houses are usually cheap, you know, andit's fun to make them over."

"not around here," the girl said. "then," eleanor said, "there are no old housesaround here? back in the hills?" "nope." the man rose, taking change from his pocket,and spoke for the first time. "peopleleave this town," he said. "they don'tcome here." when the door closed behind him the girl turnedher flat eyes back to eleanor, almost resentfully, as though eleanor with her chatter had driventhe man away.

"he was right," she said finally. "they go away, the lucky ones." "why don'tyou run away?" eleanor asked her, and the girl shrugged. "would i be any better off?" she asked. she took eleanor's money without interestand returned the change. then, with another of her quick flashes, sheglanced at the empty plates at the end of the counter and almost smiled. "he comes in every day," she said.

when eleanor smiled back and started to speak,the girl turned her back and busied herself with the cups on the shelves, and eleanor,feeling herself dismissed, rose gratefully from her coffee and took up her car keys andpocketbook. "good-by," eleanor said, and the girl, backstill turned, said, "good luck to you. i hope you find your house. 5 the road leading away from the gas stationand the church was very poor indeed, deeply rutted and rocky. eleanor's little car stumbled and bounced,reluctant to go farther into these unattractive hills, where the day seemed quickly drawingto an end under the thick, oppressive trees

on either side. they do not really seem to have much trafficon this road, eleanor thought wryly, turning the wheel quickly to avoid a particularlyvicious rock ahead; six miles of this will not do the car any good; and for the firsttime in hours she thought of her sister and laughed. by now they would surely know that she hadtaken the car and gone, but they would not know where; they would be telling each otherincredulously that they would never have suspected it of eleanor. i would never have suspected it of myself,she thought, laughing still; everything is

different, i am a new person, very far fromhome. "in delay there lies no plenty…present mirthhath present laughter…," and she gasped as the car cracked against a rock and reeledback across the road with an ominous scraping somewhere beneath, but then gathered itselftogether valiantly and resumed its dogged climb. the tree branches brushed against the windshield,and it grew steadily darker; hill house likes to make an entrance, she thought; i wonderif the sun ever shines along here. at last, with one final effort, the car cleareda tangle of dead leaves and small branches across the road, and came into a clearingby the gate of hill house.

why am i here? she thought helplessly andat once; why am i here? the gate was tall and ominous and heavy, setstrongly into a stone wall which went off through the trees. even from the car she could see the padlockand the chain that was twisted around and through the bars. beyond the gate she could see only that theroad continued, turned, shadowed on either side by the still, dark trees. generated since the gate was so clearly locked—locked and double-locked and chained and barred;who, she wondered, wants so badly to get in?—she

made no attempt to get out of her car, butpressed the horn, and the trees and the gate shuddered and withdrew slightly from the sound. after a minute she blew the horn again andthen saw a man coming toward her from inside the gate; he was as dark and unwelcoming asthe padlock, and before he moved toward the gate he peered through the bars at her, scowling. "whatyou want?" his voice was sharp, mean. "i want to come in, please. please unlock the gate."

"who say?" "why—" she faltered. "i'm supposed to come in," she said at last. "i am expected." or am i? she wondered suddenly; is this asfar as i go? "who by?" she knew, of course, that he was delightingin exceeding his authority, as though once he moved to unlock the gate he would losethe little temporary superiority he thought he had—and what superiority have i she wondered;i amoutside the gate, after all.

she could already see that losing her temper,which she did rarely because she was so afraid of being ineffectual, would only turn himaway, leaving her still outside the gate, railing futilely. she could even anticipate his innocence ifhe were reproved later for this arrogance—the maliciously vacant grin, the wide, blank eyes,the whining voice protesting that hewould have let her in, heplanned to let her in,but how could he be sure? he had his orders, didn't he? and he had to do what he was told?he'd bethe one to get in trouble, wouldn't he, if he let in someone wasn't supposed to be inside?

she could anticipate his shrug, and, picturinghim, laughed, perhaps the worst thing she could have done. eying her, he moved back from the gate. "you better come back later," he said, andturned his back with an air of virtuous triumph. "listen," she called after him, still tryingnot to sound angry, i am one of doctor montague's guests; he will be expecting me in the house—pleaselistento me!" he turned and grinned at her. "they couldn't rightly beexpecting you," hesaid, "seeing as you're the only one'scome , so far."

"do you mean that there's s no one in thehouse? "no onei know of. maybe my wife, getting it fixed up. so they couldn't be there exactlyexpectingyou, nowcould they?" she sat back against the car seat and closedher eyes. hill house, she thought, you're as hard toget into as heaven. "i suppose you know what you'reasking for,coming here? i suppose they told you, back in the city? youhear anything about this place?"

generated "i heard that i was invited here as a guest of doctor mon- tague's. when you open the gates i will go inside." "i'll open them; i'm going to open them. i just want to be sure you know what's waitingfor you in there. you ever been here before? one of the family, maybe?" he looked at her now, peering through thebars, his jeering face one more barrier, after padlock and chain.

"i can't let you in till i'msure , can i? what'd you say your name was?" she sighed. "eleanor vance." "not one of the family then, i guess. you ever hear anything about this place?" it's my chance, i suppose, she thought; i'mbeing given a last chance. i could turn my car around right here andnow in front of these gates and go away from here, and no one would blame me.

anyone has a right to run away. she put her head out through the car windowand said with fury, "my name is eleanor vance. i am expected in hill house. unlock those gates at once." "all right, allright ." deliberately, makinga wholly unnecessary display of fitting the key and turning it, he opened the padlockand loosened the chain and swung the gates just wide enough for the car to come through. eleanor moved the car slowly, but the alacritywith which he leaped to the side of the road made her think for a minute that he had perceivedthe fleeting impulse crossing her mind; she

laughed, and then stopped the car becausehe was coming toward her—safely, from the side. "you won't like it," he said. "you'll be sorry i ever opened that gate." "out of the way, please," she said. "you've held me up long enough." "you think they could get anyone else to openthis gate? you think anyone else'd stay around here thatlong, except me and my wife? you think we can't have things just aboutthe way we want them, long as we stay around

here and fix up the house and open the gatesfor all you city people think you know everything?" "please get away from my car." she dared not admit to herself that he frightenedher, for fear that he might perceive it; his nearness, leaning against the side of thecar, was ugly, and his enormous resentment puzzled her; she had certainly made him openthe gate for her, but did he think of the house and gardens inside as his own? a name from dr. montague's letter came intoher mind, and she asked curiously, "are you dudley, the caretaker?" "yes, i'm dudley, the caretaker."

he mimicked her. "who else you think would be around here?" the honest old family retainer, she thought,proud and loyal and thoroughly unpleasant. "you and your wife take care of the houseall alone?" "who else?" it was his boast, his curse, his refrain. she moved restlessly, afraid to draw awayfrom him too obviously, and yet wanting, with small motions of starting the car, to makehim stand aside. "i'm sure you'll be able to make us very comfortable,you and your wife," she said, putting a tone

of finality into her voice. "meanwhile, i'm very anxious to get to thehouse as soon as possible." generated he snickered disagreeably. "me, now," he said, "me, i don't hang aroundhere after dark." grinning, satisfied with himself, he stoodaway from the car, and eleanor was grateful, although awkward starting the car under hiseye; perhaps he will keep popping out at me all along the drive, she thought, a sneeringcheshire cat, yelling each time that i should be happy to find anyone willing to hang aroundthis place, until dark, anyway. to show that she was not at all affected bythe thought of the face of dudley the caretaker

between the trees she began to whistle, alittle annoyed to find that the same tune still ran through her head. "present mirth hath present laughter…" and she told herself crossly that she mustreally make an effort to think of something else; she was sure that the rest of the wordsmust be most unsuitable, to hide so stubbornly from her memory, and probably wholly disreputableto be caught singing on her arrival at hill over the trees, occasionally, between themand the hills, she caught glimpses of what must be the roofs, perhaps a tower, of hillhouse. they made houses so oddly back when hill housewas built, she thought; they put towers and

turrets and buttresses and wooden lace onthem, even sometimes gothic spires and gargoyles; nothing was ever left undecorated. perhaps hill house has a tower, or a secretchamber, or even a passageway going off into the hills and probably used by smugglers—althoughwhat could smugglers find to smuggle around these lonely hills? perhaps i will encounter a devilishly handsomesmuggler and… she turned her car onto the last stretch ofstraight drive leading her directly, face to face, to hill house and, moving withoutthought, pressed her foot on the brake to stall the car and sat, staring.

the house was vile. she shivered and thought, the words comingfreely into her mind, hill house is vile, it is diseased; get away from here at once. chapter 2 no human eye can isolate the unhappycoincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehowa maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turnedhill house into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of hill house seemed awake,with a watchfulness from the blank windows and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice. almost any house, caught unexpectedly or atan odd angle, can turn a deeply humorous look

on a watching person; even a mischievous littlechimney, or a dormer like a dimple, can catch up a beholder with a sense of fellowship;but a house arrogant and hating, never off guard, can only be evil. this house, which seemed somehow to have formeditself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fittingitself into its own construction of lines and angles, reared its great head back againstthe sky without concession to humanity. it was a house without kindness, never meantto be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. exorcism cannot alter the countenance of ahouse; hill house would stay as it was until

it was destroyed. i should have turned back at the gate, eleanorthought. the house had caught her with an atavisticturn in the pit of the stomach, and she looked along the lines of its roofs, fruitlesslyendeavoring to locate the badness, whatever dwelt there; her hands turned nervously coldso that she fumbled, trying to take out a cigarette, and beyond everything else shewas afraid, listening to the sick voice inside her which whispered,get away from here, getaway. but this is what i came so far to find, shetold herself, i can't go back. besides, he would laugh at me if i tried toget back out through that gate.

generated trying not to look up at the house—and she could not even have told its color, or itsstyle, or its size, except that it was enormous and dark, looking down over her—she startedthe car again, and drove up the last bit of driveway directly to the steps, which ledin a forthright, no-escape manner onto the veranda and aimed at the front door. the drive turned off on either side, to encirclethe house, and probably later she could take her car around and find a building of somekind to put it in; now she felt uneasily that she did not care to cut off her means of departuretoo completely. she turned the car just enough to move itoff to one side, out of the way of later arrivals—it

would be a pity, she thought grimly, for anyoneto get a first look at this house with anything so comforting as a human automobile parkedin front of it—and got out, taking her suitcase and her coat. well, she thought inadequately, here i am. it was an act of moral strength to lift herfoot and set it on the bottom step, and she thought that her deep unwillingness to touchhill house for the first time came directly from the vivid feeling that it was waitingfor her, evil, but patient. journeys end in lovers meeting, she thought,remembering her song at last, and laughed, standing on the steps of hill house, journeysend in lovers meeting, and she put her feet

down firmly and went up to the veranda andthe door. hill house came around her in a rush; shewas enshadowed, and the sound of her feet on the wood of the veranda was an outragein the utter silence, as though it had been a very long time since feet stamped acrossthe boards of hill house. she brought her hand up to the heavy ironknocker that had a child's face, determined to make more noise and yet more, so that hillhouse might be very sure she was there, and then the door opened without warning and shewas looking at a woman who, if like ever merited like, could only be the wife of the man atthe gate. "mrs. dudley?" she said, catching her breath.

"i'm eleanor vance. i'm expected." silently the woman stood aside. her apron was clean, her hair was neat, andyet she gave an indefinable air of dirtiness, quite in keeping with her husband, and thesuspicious sullenness of her face was a match for the malicious petulance of his. no, eleanor told herself, it's partly becauseeverything seems so dark around here, and partly because i expected that man's wifeto be ugly. if i hadn't seen hill house, would i be sounfair to these people?

they only take care of it, after all. the hall in which they stood was overfullof dark wood and weighty carving, dim under the heaviness of the staircase, which layback from the farther end. above there seemed to be another hallway,going the width of the house; she could see a wide landing and then, across the staircasewell, doors closed along the upper hail. on either side of her now were great doubledoors, carved with fruit and grain and living things; all the doors she could see in thishouse were closed. when she tried to speak, her voice was drownedin the dim stillness, and she had to try again to make a sound.

"can you take me to my room?" she asked atlast, gesturing toward her suitcase on the floor and watching the wavering reflectionof her hand going down and down into the deep shadows of the polished floor, "i gather i'mthe first one here. you—youdid say you were mrs. dudley?" i think i'm going to cry, she thought, likea child sobbing and wailing,i don't like it here… mrs. dudley turned and started up the stairs,and eleanor took up her suitcase and followed, hurrying after anything else alive in thishouse. no, she thought, i don't like it here.

mrs. dudley came to the top of the stairsand turned right, and eleanor saw that with some rare perception the builders of the househad given up any attempt at style—probably after realizing what the house was going tobe, whether they chose it or not—and had, on this second floor, set in a long, straighthail to accommodate the doors to the bedrooms; she had a quick impression of the buildersfinishing off the second and third stories of the house with a kind of indecent haste,eager to finish their work without embellishment and get out of there, following the simplestpossible pattern for the rooms. at the left end of the hail was a second staircase,generated probably going from servants' rooms on thethird floor down past the second to the service

rooms below; at the right end of the hailanother room had been set in, perhaps, since it was on the end, to get the maximum amountof sun and light. except for a continuation of the dark woodwork,and what looked like a series of poorly executed engravings arranged with unlovely exactnessalong the hail in either direction, nothing broke the straightness of the hail exceptthe series of doors, all closed. mrs. dudley crossed the hail and opened adoor, perhaps at random. "this is the blue room," she said. from the turn in the staircase eleanor assumedthat the room would be at the front of the house; sister anne, sister anne, she thought,and moved gratefully toward the light from

the room. "how nice," she said, standing in the doorway,but only from the sense that she must say something; it was not nice at all, and only. barely tolerable; it held enclosed the sameclashing disharmony that marked hill house throughout. mrs. dudley turned aside to let eleanor comein, and spoke, apparently to the wall. "i set dinner on the dining-room sideboardat six sharp," she said. "you can serve yourselves. i clear up in the morning.

i have breakfast ready for you at nine. that's the way i agreed to do. i can't keep the rooms up the way you'd like,but there's no one else you could get that would help me. i don't wait on people. what i agreed to, it doesn't mean i wait onpeople." eleanor nodded, standing uncertainly in thedoorway. "i don't stay after i set out dinner," mrs.dudley went on. "not after it begins to get dark.

i leave before dark comes." "i know," eleanor said. "we live over in the town, six miles away." "yes," eleanor said, remembering hillsdale. "so there won't be anyone around if you needhelp." "i understand." "we couldn't even hear you, in the night." "i don't suppose—" "no one could. no one lives any nearer than the town.

no one else will come any nearer than that." "i know," eleanor said tiredly. "in the night," mrs. dudley said, and smiledoutright. "in the dark," she said, and closed the doorbehind her. eleanor almost giggled, thinking of herselfcalling, "oh, mrs. dudley, i need your help in the dark," and then she shivered. generated 2 she stood alone beside her suitcase, her coat still hanging over her arm, thoroughlymiserable, telling herself helplessly, journeys end in lovers meeting, and wishing she couldgo home.

behind her lay the dark staircase and thepolished hallway and the great front door and mrs. dudley and dudley laughing at thegate and the padlocks and hillsdale and the cottage of flowers and the family at the innand the oleander garden and the house with the stone lions in front, and they had broughther, under dr. montague's unerring eye, to the blue room at hill house. it's awful, she thought, unwilling to move,since motion might imply acceptance, a gesture of moving in, it's awful and i don't wantto stay; but there was nowhere else to go; dr. montague's letter had brought her thisfar and could take her no farther. after a minute she sighed and shook her headand walked across to set her suitcase down

on the bed. here i am in the blue room of hill house,she said half aloud, although it was real enough, and beyond all question a blue room. there were blue dimity curtains over the twowindows, which looked out over the roof of the veranda onto the lawn, and a blue figuredrug on the floor, and a blue spread on the bed and a blue quilt at the foot. the walls, dark woodwork to shoulder height,were blue-figured paper above, with a design of tiny blue flowers, wreathed and gatheredand delicate. perhaps someone had once hoped to lightenthe air of the blue room in hill house with

a dainty wallpaper, not seeing how such ahope would evaporate in hill house, leaving only the faintest hint of its existence, likean almost inaudible, echo of sobbing far away…eleanor shook herself, turning to see the room complete. it had an unbelievably faulty design whichleft it chillingly wrong in all its dimensions, so that the walls seemed always in one directiona fraction longer than the eye could endure, and in another direction a fraction less thanthe barest possible tolerable length; this is where they want me tosleep , eleanor thoughtincredulously; what nightmares are waiting, shadowed, in those high corners—what breathof mindless fear will drift across my mouth…and shook herself again.really , she told herself,really, eleanor.

she opened her suitcase on the high bed and,slipping off her stiff city shoes with grateful relief, began to unpack, at the back of hermind the thoroughly female conviction that the best way to soothe a troubled mind isto put on comfortable shoes. yesterday, packing her suitcase in the cityshe had chosen clothes which she assumed would be suitable for wearing in an isolated countryhouse; she had even run out at the last minute and bought—excited at her own daring—twopairs of slacks, something she had not worn in more years than she could remember. mother would befurious , she had thought,packing the slacks down at the bottom of her suitcase so that she need not take them out,need never let anyone know she had them, in

case she lost her courage. now, in hill house, they no longer seemedso new; she unpacked carelessly, setting dresses crookedly on hangers, tossing the slacks into.the bottom drawer of the high marble-topped dresser, throwing her city shoes into a cornerof the great wardrobe. she was bored already with the books she hadbrought; i am probably not going to stay anyway, she thought, and closed her empty suitcaseand set it in the wardrobe corner; it won't take me five minutes to pack again. she discovered that she had been trying toput her suitcase down without making a sound and then realized that while she unpackedshe had been in her stocking feet, trying

to move as silently as possible, as thoughstillness were vital in hill house; she remembered that mrs. dudley had also walked without sound. when she stood still in the middle of theroom the pressing silence of hill house came back all around her. i am like a small creature swallowed wholeby a monster, she thought, and the monster feels my tiny little movements inside. "no," she said aloud, and the one word echoed. she went quickly across the room and pushedaside the blue dimity curtains, but the sunlight came only palely through the thick glass ofthe windows, and she could see only the roof

of the veranda and a stretch of the lawn beyond. somewhere down there was her little car, whichcould take her away again. journeys end in lovers meeting, she thought;it was my own choice to come. then she realized that she was afraid to goback across the room. generated she was standing with her back to the window, looking from the door to the wardrobe to thedresser to the bed, telling herself that she was not afraid at all, when she heard, farbelow, the sounds of a car door slamming and then quick footsteps, almost dancing, up thesteps and across the veranda, and then, shockingly, the crash of the great iron knocker comingdown.

why, she thought, there are other people coming;i am not going to be here all alone. almost laughing, she ran across the room andinto the hall, to look down the staircase into the hallway below. "thank heaven you're here," she' said, peeringthrough the dimness, "thank heaven somebody's here." she realized without surprise that she wasspeaking as though mrs. dudley could not hear her, although mrs. dudley stood, straightand pale, in the hall. "come on up," eleanor said, "you'll have tocarry your own suitcase." she was breathless and seemed unable to stoptalking, her usual shyness melted away by

relief. "my name's eleanor vance," she said, "andi'm so glad you're here." "i'm theodora. just theodora. thisbloody house—" "it's just as bad uphere. come on up. make her give you the room next to mine." theodora came up the heavy stairway aftermrs. dudley, looking incredulously at the stained-glass window on the landing, the marbleurn in a niche, the patterned carpet.

her suitcase was considerably larger thaneleanor's, and considerably more luxurious, and eleanor came forward to help her, gladthat her own things were safely put away out of sight. "wait till you see the bedrooms," eleanorsaid. "mine used to be the embalming room, i think." "it's the home i've always dreamed of," theodorasaid. "a little hideaway where i can be alone withmy thoughts. particularly if my thoughts happened to beabout murder or suicide or—" "green room," mrs. dudley said coldly, and eleanor sensed,with a quick turn of apprehension, that flippant

or critical talk about the house botheredmrs. dudley in some manner; maybe she thinks it can hear us, eleanor thought, and thenwas sorry she had thought it. perhaps she shivered, because theodora turnedwith a quick smile and touched her shoulder gently, reassuringly; she is charming, eleanorthought, smiling back, not at all the sort of person who belongs in this dreary, darkplace, but then, probably, i don't belong here either; i am not the sort of person forhill house but i can't think of anybody who would be. she laughed then, watching theodora's expressionas she stood in the doorway of the green room. "good lord," theodora said, looking sidewaysat eleanor.

"how perfectly enchanting. a positive bower." "i set dinner on the dining-room sideboardat six sharp," mrs. dudley said. that's the way i agreed to do." "you're frightened," theodora said, watchingeleanor. "i can't keep the rooms up the way you'd like,but there s no one else you could get that "it was just when i thought i was all alone,"eleanor said. "i don't stay after six not after it beginsto get dark." generated "i'm here now," theodora said, "so it's all

right." "we have a connecting bathroom," eleanor saidabsurdly. "the rooms are exactly alike." green dimity curtains hung over the windowsin theodora's room, the wallpaper was decked with green garlands, the bedspread and quiltwere green, the marble-topped dresser and the huge wardrobe were the same. "i've never seen such awful places in mylife," eleanor said, her voice rising. "like the very best hotels," theodora said,"or any good girl's camp." "i leave before dark comes," mrs. dudley wenton.

"no one can hear you if you scream in thenight," eleanor told theodora. she realized that she was clutching at thedoorknob and, under theodora's quizzical eye, unclenched her fingers and walked steadilyacross the room. "we'll have to find some way of opening thesewindows," she said. "so there won't be anyone around if you needhelp," mrs. dudley said. "we couldn't hear you, even in the night. no one could." "all right now?" theodora asked, and eleanor nodded.

"no one lives any nearer than the town. "you're probably just hungry," theodora said. "and i'm starved myself." she set her suitcase on the bed and slippedoff her shoes. "nothing," she said, "upsets me more thanbeing hungry; i snarl and snap and burst into tears." she lifted a pair of softly tailored slacksout of the suitcase. "in the night," mrs. dudley said. she smiled.

after a minute eleanor said, "she also walkswithout making a sound." "delightful old body." theodora turned, regarding her room. "i take it back, that about the best hotels,"she said. "it's a little bit like a boarding schooli went to for a while." "come and see mine," eleanor said. she opened the bathroom door and led the wayinto her blue room. "i was all unpacked and thinking about packingagain when you came. "poor baby.

you're certainly starving. alli could think of when i got a look at theplace from outside was what fun it would be to stand out there and watch it burn down. maybe before we leave…" "it was terrible, being here alone." "you should have seen that boarding schoolof mine during vacations." theodora went back into her own room and,with the sense of movement and sound in the two rooms, eleanor felt more cheerful. she straightened her clothes on the hangersin the wardrobe and set her books evenly on

the bed table. "you know," theodora called from the otherroom, "itis kind of like the first day at school; everything's ugly and strange, andyou don't know anybody, and you're afraid everyone's going to laugh at your clothes." generated eleanor, who had opened the dresser drawer to take out a pair of slacks, stopped andthen laughed and threw the slacks on the bed. "did i understand correctly," theodora wenton, "that mrs. dudley is not going to come if we scream in the night?" "it was not what she agreed to.

did you meet the amiable old retainer at thegate?" "we had a lovely chat. he said i couldn't come in and i said i couldand then i tried to run him down with my car but he jumped. look, do you think we have to sit around herein our rooms and wait? i'd like to change into something comfortable—unlesswe dress for dinner, do you think?" "i won't if you won't." "i won't ifyou won't. they can't fight both of us.

anyway, let's get out of here and go exploring;i would very much like to get this roof off from over my head." "it gets dark so early, in these hills, withall the trees . . eleanor went to the window again, but there was still sunlight slantingacross the lawn. "it won't be really dark for nearly an hour. i want to go outside and roll on the grass." eleanor chose a red sweater, thinking thatin this room in this house the red of the sweater and the red of the sandals boughtto match it would almost certainly be utterly at war with each other, although they hadbeen close enough yesterday in the city.

serves me right anyway, she thought, for wantingto wear such things; i never did before. but she looked oddly well, it seemed to heras she stood by the long mirror on the wardrobe door, almost comfortable. "do you have any idea who else is coming?"she asked. "or when?" "doctor montague," theodora said. i thought he'd be here before anyone else." "have you known doctor montague long?" "never met him," theodora said.

"have you?" "never. you almost ready?" "all ready." theodora came through the bathroom door intoeleanor's room; she is lovely, eleanor thought, turning to look; i wish i were lovely. theodora was wearing a vivid yellow shirt,and eleanor laughed and said, "you bring more light into this room than the window." theodora came over and regarded herself approvinglyin eleanor's mirror.

"i feel," she said, "that in this dreary placeit is our duty to look as bright as possible. i approve of your red sweater; the two ofus will be visible from one end of hill house to the other." still looking into the mirror, she asked,"i suppose doctor montague wrote to you?" "yes." eleanor was embarrassed. "i didn't know, at first, whether it was ajoke or not. but my brother-in-law checked up on him." "you know," theodora said slowly, "up untilthe last minute—when i got to the gates,

i guess—i never generated by abc amber litconverter, really thought therewould be a hill house. you don't go around expecting things likethis to happen." "but some of us go around hoping," eleanorsaid. theodora laughed and swung around before themirror and caught eleanor's hand. "fellow babe in the woods," she said, "let'sgo exploring." "we can't go far away from the house—" "ipromise not to go one step farther than you say. do you think we have to check in and out withmrs. dudley?"

"she probably watches every move we make,anyway; it's probably part of what she agreed to." "agreed to with whom, i wonder? count dracula?" "you thinkhe lives in hill house?" "i think he spends all his week ends here;i swear i saw bats in the woodwork downstairs. follow, follow." they ran downstairs, moving with color andlife against the dark woodwork and the clouded light of the stairs, their feet clattering,and mrs. dudley stood below and watched them

in silence. "we're going exploring, mrs. dudley," theodorasaid lightly. "we'll be outside somewhere." "but we'll be back soon," eleanor added. "i set dinner on the sideboard at six o'clock,"mrs. dudley explained. eleanor, tugging, got the great front dooropen; it was just as heavy as it looked, and she thought, we will really have to find someeasier way to get back in. "leave this open," she said over her shoulderto theodora. "it's terribly heavy.

get one of those big vases and prop it open." theodora wheeled one of the big stone vasesfrom the corner of the hall, and they stood it in the doorway and rested the door againstit. the fading sunlight outside was bright afterthe darkness of the house, and the air was fresh and sweet. behind them mrs. dudley moved the vase again,and the big door slammed shut. "lovable old thing," theodora said to theclosed door. for a moment her face was thin with anger,and eleanor thought, i hope she never looks at me like that, and was surprised, rememberingthat she was always shy with strangers, awkward

and timid, and yet had come in no more thanhalf an hour to think of theodora as close and vital, someone whose anger would be frightening. "i think," eleanor said hesitantly, and relaxed,because when she spoke theodora turned and smiled again, "i think that during the daylighthours when mrs. dudley is around i shall find myself some absorbing occupation far, farfrom the house. rolling the tennis court, perhaps. or tending the grapes in the hothouse." generated "perhaps you could help dudley with the gates." "or look for nameless graves in the nettlepatch."

they were standing by the rail of the veranda;from there they could see down the drive to the point where it turned among the treesagain, and down over the soft curve of the hills to the distant small line which mighthave been the main highway, the road back to the cities from which they had come. except for the wires which ran to the housefrom a spot among the trees, there was no evidence that hill house belonged in any wayto the rest of the world. eleanor turned and followed the veranda; itwent, apparently, all around the house. "oh, look," she said, turning the corner. behind the house the hills were piled in greatpressing masses, flooded with summer green

now, rich, and still. "it's why they called it hill house," eleanorsaid inadequately. "it's altogether victorian," theodora said. "they simply wallowed in this kind of greatbillowing overdone sort of thing and buried themselves in folds of velvet and tasselsand purple plush. anyone before them or after would have putthis house right up there ontop of those hills where it belongs, instead of snuggling itdown here." "if it were on top of the hill everyone couldsee it. i vote for keeping it well hidden where itis."

"all the time i'm here i'm going to be terrified,"theodora said, "thinking one of those hills will fall on us." "they don't fall on you. they just slide down, silently and secretly,rolling over you while you try to run away." "thank you," theodora said in a small voice. "what mrs. dudley has started you have completednicely. i shall pack and go home at once." believing her for a minute, eleanor turnedand stared, and then saw the amusement on her face and thought, she's much braver thani am.

unexpectedly—although it was later to becomea familiar note, a recognizable attribute of what was to mean "theodora" in eleanor'smind—theodora caught at eleanor's thought, and answered her. "don't be so afraid all the time," she saidand reached out to touch eleanor's cheek with one finger. "we never know where our courage is comingfrom." then, quickly, she ran down the steps andout onto the lawn between the tall grouped trees. "hurry," she called back, "i want to see ifthere's a brook somewhere."

"we can't go too far," eleanor said, following. like two children they ran across the grass,both welcoming the sudden openness of clear spaces after even a little time in hill house,their feet grateful for the grass after the solid floors; with an instinct almost animal,they followed the sound and smell of water. "over here," theodora said, "a little path." it led them tantalizingly closer to the soundof the water, doubling back and forth through the trees, giving them occasional glimpsesdown the hill to the driveway, leading them around out of sight of the house across arocky meadow, and always downhill. as they came away from the house and out ofthe trees to generated by abc amber lit converter, placeswhere the sunlight could still find them eleanor was easier, although she could see that thesun was dropping disturbingly closer to the heaped hills. she called to theodora, but theodora onlycalled back, "follow, follow," and ran down the path. suddenly she stopped, breathless and tottering,on the very edge of the brook, which had leaped up before her almost without warning; eleanor,coming more slowly behind, caught at her hand and held her back and then, laughing, theyfell together against the bank which sloped sharply down to the brook.

"they like to surprise you around here," theodorasaid, gasping. "serve you right if you went diving in," eleanorsaid. "running like that." "it's pretty, isn't it?" the water of the brook moved quickly in littlelighted ripples; on the other side the grass grew down to the edge of the water and yellowand blue flowers leaned their heads over; there was a rounded soft hill there, and perhapsmore meadow beyond, and, far away, the great hills, still catching the light of the sun. "it's pretty," theodora said with finality.

"i'm sure i've been here before," eleanorsaid. "in a book of fairy tales, perhaps." "i'm sure of it. can you skip rocks?" "this is where the princess comes to meetthe magic golden fish who is really a prince in disguise—" "he couldn't draw much water,that golden fish of yours; it can't be more than three inches deep." "there are stepping stones to go across, andlittlefish swimming, tiny ones—minnows?" "princes in disguise, all of them."

theodora stretched in the sun on the bank,and yawned. "tadpoles?" she suggested. "minnows. it's too late for tadpoles, silly, but i betwe can find frogs' eggs. i used to catch minnows in my hands and letthem go." "what a farmer's wife you might have made." "this is a place for picnics, with lunch besidethe brook and hard-boiled eggs." theodora laughed. "chicken salad and chocolate cake."

"lemonade in a thermos bottle. spilled salt." theodora rolled over luxuriously. "they're wrong about ants, you know. there were almost never ants. cows, maybe, but i don't think i everdid seean ant on a picnic." "was there always a bull in a field? did someone always say, 'but we can't go throughthat field; that's where the bull is'?" theodora opened one eye.

"did you use to have a comic uncle? everyone always laughed, whatever he said? and he used to tell you not to be afraid ofthe bull—if the bull came after you all you had to do was grab the ring through hisnose and swing him around your head?" eleanor tossed a pebble into the brook andwatched it sink clearly to the bottom. "did you have a lot of generated by abc amberlit converter, uncles?" "thousands. do you?"

after a minute eleanor said, "oh, yes. big ones and little ones and fat ones andthin ones-" "do you have an aunt edna?" "aunt muriel." "kind of thin? rimless glasses?" "a garnet brooch," eleanor said. "does she wear a kind of dark red dress tofamily parties?" "lace cuffs-" "then i think we must reallybe related," theodora said. "did you use to have braces on your teeth?"

"no. freckles." "i went to that private school where theymade me learn to curtsy." "i always had colds all winter long. my mother made me wear woollen stockings." "mymother made my brother take me to dances,and i used to curtsy like mad. my brother still hates me." "i fell down during the graduation procession." "i forgot my lines in the operetta."

"i used to write poetry." "yes," theodora said, "i'm positive we'rere cousins." she sat up, laughing, and then eleanor said,"be quiet; there's something moving over there." frozen, shoulders pressed together, they stared,watching the spot of hillside across the brook where the grass moved, watching somethingunseen move slowly across the bright green hill, chilling the sunlight and the dancinglittle brook. "what is it?" eleanor said in a breath, and theodora puta strong hand on her wrist. "it's gone," theodora said clearly, and thesun came back and it was warm again.

"it was a rabbit," theodora said. "i couldn't see it," eleanor said. "i saw it the minute you spoke," theodorasaid firmly. "it was a rabbit; it went over the hill andout of sight." "we've been away too long," eleanor said andlooked up anxiously at the sun touching the hilltops. she got up quickly and found that her legswere stiff from kneeling on the damp grass. generated "imagine two splendid old picnic-going girls like us," theodora said, "afraid of a rabbit."

eleanor leaned down and held out a hand tohelp her up. "we'd really better hurry back," she saidand, because she did not herself understand her compelling anxiety, added, "the othersmight be there by now." "we'll have to come back here for a picnicsoon," theodora said, following carefully up the path, which went steadily uphill. "we really must have a good old-fashionedpicnic down by the brook." "we can ask mrs. dudley to hard-boil someeggs." eleanor stopped on the path, not turning. "theodora," she said, "i don't think i can,you know.

i don't think i really will be able to doit." "eleanor." theodora put an arm across her shoulders. "would you let them separate us now? now that we've found out we're cousins?" chapter 3 the sun went down smoothly behindthe hills, slipping almost eagerly, at last, into the pillowy masses. there were already long shadows on the lawnas eleanor and theodora came up the path toward the side veranda of hill house, blessedlyhiding its mad face in the growing darkness.

"there's someone waiting there," eleanor said,walking more quickly, and so saw luke for the first time. journeys end in lovers meeting, she thought,and could only say inadequately, "are you looking for us?" he had come to the veranda rail, looking downat them in the dusk, and now he bowed with a deep welcoming gesture, "'these being dead,"'he said, "'then dead must i be.' ladies, if you are the ghostly inhabitantsof hill house, i am here forever." he's really kind of silly, eleanor thoughtsternly, and theodora said, "sorry we weren't here to meet you; we've been exploring."

"a sour old beldame with a face of curds welcomedus, thank you," he said. "'howdy-do,' she told me, 'i hope i see youalive when i come back in the morning and your dinner's on the sideboard.' saying which, she departed in a late-modelconvertible with first and second murderers." "mrs. dudley," theodora said. "first murderer must be dudley-at-the-gate;i suppose the other was count dracula. a wholesome family." "since we are listing our cast of characters,"he said, "my name is luke sanderson." eleanor was startled into speaking.

"then you're one of the family? the people who own hill house? not one of doctor montague's guests?" "i am one of the family; someday this statelypile will belong to me; until then, however, i am here as one of doctor montague's guests." theodora giggled. "we," she said, "are eleanor and theodora,two little girls who were planning a picnic generated down by the brook and got scared home by a rabbit."

"i go in mortal terror of rabbits," luke agreedpolitely. "may i come if i carry the picnic basket?" "you may bring your ukulele and strum to uswhile we eat chicken sandwiches. is doctor montague here?" "he's inside," luke said, "gloating over hishaunted house." they were silent for a minute, wanting tomove closer together, and then theodora said thinly, "it doesn't sound so funny, does it,now it's getting dark?" "ladies, welcome." and the great front door opened.

"come inside. i am doctor montague." 2 the four of them stood, for the first time,in the wide, dark entrance hall of hill house. around them the house steadied and locatedthem, above them the hills slept watchfully, small eddies of air and sound and movementstirred and waited and whispered, and the center of consciousness was somehow the smallspace where they stood, four separated people, and looked trustingly at one another. "i am very happy that everyone arrived safely,and on time," doctor montague said. "welcome, all of you, welcome to hill house—althoughperhaps that sentiment ought to come more

properly from you, my boy? in any case, welcome, welcome. luke, my boy, can you make a martini?" 3 dr. montague raised his glass and sippedhopefully, and sighed. "fair," he said. "only fair, my boy. to our success at hill house, however." "how would one reckon success, exactly, inan affair like this?" luke inquired curiously.

the doctor laughed. "put it, then," he said, "that i hope thatall of us will have an exciting visit and my book will rock my colleagues back on theirheels. i cannot call your visit a vacation, althoughto some it might seem so, because i am hopeful of your working—although work, of course,depends largely upon what is to be done, does it not? notes," he said with relief, as though fixingupon one unshakable solidity in a world of fog, "notes. we will take notes—to some, a not unbearabletask."

"so long as no one makes any puns about spiritsand spirits," theodora said, holding out her glass to luke to be filled. "spirits?" the doctor peered at her. "spirits? yes, indeed. of course, none ofus …" he hesitated, frowning. "certainly not," he said and took three quickagitated sips at his cocktail. "everything's so strange," eleanor said.

"i mean, this morning i was wondering whathill house would be like, and now i can't believe that it's real, and we're here." they were sitting in a small room, chosenby the doctor, who had led them into it, down a narrow corridor, fumbling a little at first,but then finding his way. it was not a cozy room, certainly. it had an generated by abc amber lit converter, unpleasantly high ceiling, and a narrow tiled fireplacewhich looked chill in spite of the fire which luke had lighted at once; the chairs in whichthey sat were rounded and slippery, and the light coming through the colored beaded shadesof the lamps sent shadows into the corners.

the overwhelming sense of the room was purple;beneath their feet the carpeting glowed in dim convoluted patterns, the walls were paperedand gilt, and a marble cupid beamed fatuously down at them from the mantel. when they were silent for a moment the quietweight of the house pressed down from all around them. eleanor, wondering if she were really hereat all, and not dreaming of hill house from some safe spot impossibly remote, looked slowlyand carefully around the room, telling herself that this was real, these things existed,from the tiles around the fireplace to the marble cupid; these people were going to beher friends.

the doctor was round and rosy and beardedand looked as though he might be more suitably established before a fire in a pleasant littlesitting room, with a cat on his knee and a rosy little wife to bring him jellied scones,and yet he was undeniably the dr. montague who had guided eleanor here, a little manboth knowledgeable and stubborn. across the fire from the doctor was theodora,who had gone unerringly to the most nearly comfortable chair, had wriggled herself intoit somehow with her legs over the arm and her head tucked in against the back; she waslike a cat, eleanor thought, and clearly a cat waiting for its dinner. luke was not still for a minute, but movedback and forth across the shadows, filling

glasses, stirring the fire, touching the marblecupid; he was bright in the firelight, and restless. they were all silent, looking into the fire,lazy after their several journeys, and eleanor thought, i am the fourth person in this room;i am one' of them; i belong. "since weare all here," luke said suddenly,as though there had been no pause in the conversation, "shouldn't we get acquainted? we know only names, so far. i know that it is eleanor, here, who is wearinga red sweater, and consequently it must be theodora who wears yellow—" "doctor montaguehas a beard," theodora said, "so you must

be luke." "and you are theodora," eleanor said, "becauseiam. an eleanor, she told herself triumphantly,who belongs, who is talking easily, who is sitting by the fire with her friends. "thereforeyou are wearing the red sweater,"theodora explained to her soberly. "i have no beard," luke said, "sohe must bedoctor montague." "ihave a beard," dr. montague said, pleased,and looked around at them with a happy beam. "my wife," he told them, "likesa man to weara beard. many women, on the other hand, find a bearddistasteful.

a clean-shaven man—you'll excuse me, myboy—never looks fully dressed, my wife tells me." he held out his glass to luke. "now that i know which of us is me," lukesaid, "let me identify myself further. i am, in private life—assuming that thisis public life and the rest of the worldis actually private—let me see, a bullfighter. yes. a bullfighter." "i love my love with a b," eleanor said inspite of herself, "because he is bearded."

"very true." luke nodded at her. "that makes me doctor montague. i live in bangkok, and my hobby is botheringwomen." "not at all," dr. montague protested, amused. "i live in belmont." generated theodora laughed and gave luke that quick, understanding glance she had earlier giveneleanor. eleanor, watching, thought wryly that it mightsometimes be oppressive to be for long around

one so immediately in tune, so perceptive,as theodora. "i am by profession an artist's model," eleanorsaid quickly, to silence her own thoughts. "i live a mad, abandoned life, draped in ashawl and going from garret to garret." "are you heartless and wanton?" luke asked. "or are you one of the fragile creatures whowill fall in love with a lord's son and pine away?" "losing all your beauty and coughing a gooddeal?" theodora added.

"i rather think i have a heart of gold," eleanorsaid reflectively. "at any rate, my affairs are the talk of thecafã©s." dear me, she thought. dear me. "alas," theodora said, "i am a lord'sdaughter. ordinarily i go clad in silk and lace and cloth of gold, but i have borrowed my maid'sfinery to appear among you. i may of course become so enamored of thecommon life that i will never go back, and the poor girl will have to get herself newclothes. and you, doctor montague?"

he smiled in the firelight. "a pilgrim. a wanderer." "truly a congenial little group," luke saidapprovingly. "destined to be inseparable friends, in fact. a courtesan, a pilgrim, a princess, and abullfighter. hill house has surely never seen our like." "i will give the honor to hill house," theodorasaid. "i have never seenits like."

she rose, carrying her glass, and went toexamine a bowl of glass flowers. "what did theycall this room, do you suppose?" "a parlor, perhaps," dr. montague said. "perhaps a boudoir. i thought we would be more comfortable inhere than in one of the other rooms. as a matter of fact, i think we ought to regardthis room as our center of operations, a kind of common room; it may not be cheerful—""ofcourse it's cheerful," theodora said staunchly. "there is nothing more exhilarating than maroonupholstery and oak paneling, and what is that in the corner there?

a sedan chair?" "tomorrow you will see theother rooms," thedoctor told her. "if we are going to have this for a rumpusroom," luke said, "i propose we move in something to sit on. i cannot perch for long on anything here;i skid," he said confidentially to eleanor. "tomorrow," the doctor said. "tomorrow, as a matter of fact, we will explorethe entire house and arrange things to please ourselves. and now, if you have all finished, i suggestthat we determine what mrs. dudley has done

about our dinner." theodora moved at once and then stopped, bewildered. "someone is going to have to lead me," shesaid. "i can't possibly tell where the dining roomis." she pointed. "thatdoor leads to the long passage and theninto the front hall," she said. generated the doctor chuckled. "wrong, my dear. that door leads to the conservatory."

he rose to lead the way. "ihave studied a map of the house," he saidcomplacently, "and i believe that we have only to go through the door here, down thepassage, into the front hall, and across the hall and through the billiard room to findthe dining room. not hard," he said, "once you get into practice." "why did they mix themselves up so?" theodora asked. "why so many little odd rooms?" "maybe they liked to hide from each other,"luke said.

"ican't understand why they wanted everythingso dark," theodora said. she and eleanor were following dr. montaguedown the passage, and luke came behind, lingering to look into the drawer of a narrow table,and wondering aloud to himself at the valance of cupid-heads and ribbon-bunches which toppedthe paneling in the dark hall. "some of these rooms are entirely inside rooms,"the doctor said from ahead of them. "no windows, no access to the outdoors atall. however, a series of enclosed rooms is notaltogether surprising in a house of this period, particularly when you recall that what windowsthey did have were heavily shrouded with hangings and draperies within, and shrubbery without.

ah." he opened the passage door and led them intothe front hall. "now," he said, considering the doorways opposite,two smaller doors flanking the great central double door; "now," he said, and selectedthe nearest. "the housedoes have its little oddities,"he continued, holding the door so that they might pass through into the dark room beyond. "luke, come and hold this open so i can findthe dining room." moving cautiously, he crossed the dark roomand opened a door, and they followed him into the pleasantest room they had seen so far,more pleasant, certainly, because of the lights

and the sight and smell of food. "i congratulate myself," he said, rubbinghis hands happily. "i have led you to civilization through theuncharted wastes of hill house." "we ought to make a practice of leaving everydoor wide open." theodora glanced nervously over her shoulder. "ihate this wandering around in the dark." "you'd have to prop them open with something,then," eleanor said. "every door in this house swings shut whenyou let go of it." "tomorrow," dr. montague said.

"i will make a note, door stops." he moved happily toward the sideboard, wheremrs. dudley had set a warming oven and an impressive row of covered dishes. the table was set for four, with a lavishdisplay of candles and damask and heavy silver. "no stinting, i see," luke said, taking upa fork with a gesture which would have confirmed his aunt's worst suspicions. "we get the company silver. "i think mrs. dudley is proud of the house,"eleanor said. "she doesn't intend to give us a poor table,at any rate," the doctor said, peering into

the warming oven. "this is an excellent arrangement, i think. it gets mrs. dudley well away from here beforedark and enables us to have our dinners without her uninviting company." "perhaps," luke said, regarding the platewhich he was filling generously, "perhaps i did good mrs. dudley—whymust i continueto think of her, perversely, asgood mrs. dudley?—perhaps i really did her an injustice. she said she hoped to find me alive in themorning, and our dinner was in the oven; now i suspect that she intended me to die of gluttony."

"what keeps her here?" eleanor asked dr. montague. "why do she and her husband stay on, alonein generated this house?" "as i understand it, the dudleys have takencare of hill house ever since anyone can remember; certainly the sandersons were happy enoughto keep them on. but tomorrow—" theodora giggled. "mrs. dudley is probably the only true survivingmember of the family to whom hill housereally belongs.i think she is only waiting untilall the sanderson heirs—that's you, luke—die

off in various horrible ways, and then shegets the house and the fortune in jewels buried in the cellar. or maybe she and dudley hoard their gold inthe secret chamber, or there's oil under the house." "there are no secret chambers in hill house,"the doctor said with finality. "naturally, that possibility has been suggestedbefore, and i think i may say with assurance that no such romantic devices exist here. but tomorrow—" "in any case, oil is definitelyold hat, nothing at all to discover on the property these days," luke told theodora.

"the very least mrs. dudley could murder mefor in cold blood is uranium." "or just the pure fun of it," theodora said. "yes," eleanor said, "but why are we here?" for a long minute the three of them lookedat her, theodora and luke curiously, the doctor gravely. then theodora said, "just whati was goingto ask. whyare we here? whatis wrong with hill house? what is going to happen?"

"tomorrow—" "no," theodora said, almostpetulantly. "we are three adult, intelligent people. we have all come a long way, doctor montague,to meet you here in hill house; eleanor wants to know why, and so do i." "me too," luke said. "why did you bring us here, doctor? why are you here yourself? how did you hear about hill house, and whydoes it have such a reputation and what really goes on here?

what is going tohappen ?" the doctor frownedunhappily. "i don't know," he said, and then, when theodoramade a quick, irritated gesture, he went on, "i know very little more about the house thanyou do, and naturally i intended to tell you everything i do know; as for what is goingtohappen , i will learn that when you do. but tomorrow is soon enough to talk aboutit, i think; daylight—" "not for me," theodora said. "i assure you," the doctor said, "that hillhouse will be quiet tonight. there is a pattern to these things, as thoughpsychic phenomena were subject to laws of a very particular sort."

"i really think we ought to talk it over tonight,"luke said. "we're not afraid," eleanor added. the doctor sighed again. "suppose," he said slowly, "you heard thestory of hill house and decided not to stay. how would you leave, tonight?" he looked around at them again, quickly. "the gates are locked. generated hill house has a reputation for insistent hospitality; it seemingly dislikes lettingits guests get away.

the last person who tried to leave hill housein darkness—it was eighteen years ago, i grant you—was killed at the turn in thedriveway, where his horse bolted and crushed him against the big tree. suppose i tell you about hill house, and oneof you wants to leave? tomorrow, at least, we could see that yougot safely to the village." "but we're not going to run away," theodorasaid. "i'm not, and eleanor isn't, and luke isn't." "stoutly, upon the ramparts," luke agreed. "you are a mutinous group of assistants.

after dinner, then. we will retire to our little boudoir for coffeeand a little of the good brandy luke has in his suitcase, and i will tell you all i knowabout hill house. now, however, let us talk about music, orpainting, or even politics." 4 "i had not decided," the doctor said, turningthe brandy in his glass, "how best to prepare the three of you for hill house. i certainly could not write you about it,and i am most unwilling now to influence your minds with its complete history before youhave had a chance to see for yourselves." they were back in the small parlor, warm andalmost sleepy.

theodora had abandoned any attempt at a chairand had put herself down on the hearthrug, cross-legged and drowsy. eleanor, wanting to sit on the hearthrug besideher, had not thought of it in time and had condemned herself to one of the slippery chairs,unwilling now to attract attention by moving and getting herself awkwardly down onto thefloor. mrs. dudley's good dinner and an hour's quietconversation had evaporated the faint air of unreality and constraint; they had begunto know one another, recognize individual voices and mannerisms, faces and laughter;eleanor thought with a little shock of surprise that she had been in hill house only for fouror five hours, and smiled a little at the

fire. she could feel the thin stem of her glassbetween her fingers, the stiff pressure of the chair against her back, the faint movementsof air through the room which were barely perceptible in small stirrings of tasselsand beads. darkness lay in the corners, and the marblecupid smiled down on them with chubby good humor. "what a time for a ghost story," theodorasaid. "if you please." the doctor was stiff.

"we are not children trying to frighten oneanother," he said. "sorry." theodora smiled up at him. "i'm just trying to get myself used to allof this." "let us," said the doctor, "exercise greatcaution in our language. preconceived notions of ghosts and apparitions—""'the disembodied hand in the soup," luke said helpfully. "my dear boy.if you please. i was trying to explain that our purpose here,since it is of a scientific and exploratory

nature, ought not to be affected, perhapseven warped, by half-remembered spooky stories which belong more properly to a—let me see—amarshmallow roast." pleased with himself, he looked around tobe sure that they were all amused. "as a matter of fact, my researches over thepast few years have led me to certain theories regarding psychic phenomena which i have now,for the first time, an opportunity of testing. ideally, of course, you ought not to knowanything about hill house. you should be ignorant and receptive." generated "and take notes," theodora murmured. "notes.

notes. however, i realize that it is most impracticalto leave you entirely without background information, largely because you are not people accustomedto meeting a situation without preparation." he beamed at them slyly. "you are three willful, spoiled children whoare prepared to nag me for your bedtime story." theodora giggled, and the doctor nodded ather happily. he rose and moved to stand by the fire inan unmistakable classroom pose; he seemed to feel the lack of a blackboard behind him,because once or twice he half turned, hand raised, as though looking for chalk to illustratea point.

"now,"' he said, "we will take up the historyof hill house." i wish i had a notebook and a pen, eleanorthought, just to make him feel at home. she glanced at theodora and luke and foundboth their faces fallen instinctively into a completely rapt classroom look; high earnestness,she thought; we have moved into another stage of our adventure. "you will recall," the doctor began, "thehouses described in leviticus as 'leprous,'tsaraas , or homer's phrase for the underworld:aidaodomos , the house of hades; i need not remind you, i think, that the concept of certainhouses as unclean or forbidden—perhaps sacred—is as old as the mind of man.

certainly there are spots which inevitablyattach to themselves an atmosphere of holiness and goodness; it might not then be too fancifulto say that some houses are born bad. hill house, whatever the cause, has been unfitfor human habitation for upwards of twenty years. what it was like before then, whether itspersonality was molded by the people who lived here, or the things they did, or whether itwas evil from its start are all questions i cannot answer. naturally i hope that we will all know a gooddeal more about hill house before we leave. no one knows, even, why some houses are calledhaunted."

"what elsecould you call hill house?" luke demanded. "well—disturbed, perhaps. leprous. sick. any of the popular euphemisms for insanity;a deranged house is a pretty conceit. there are popular theories, however, whichdiscount the eerie, the mysterious; there are people who will tell you that the disturbancesi am calling 'psychic' are actually the result of subterranean waters, or electric currents,or hallucinations caused by polluted air;

atmospheric pressure, sun spots, earth tremorsall have their advocates among the skeptical. people," the doctor said sadly, ''are alwaysso anxious to get things out into the open where they can put a name to them, even ameaningless name, so long as it has something of a scientific ring." he sighed, relaxing, and gave them a littlequizzical smile. "a haunted house," he said. "everyone laughs. i found myself telling my colleagues at theuniversity that i was going camping this summer." "i told people i was participating in a scientificexperiment," theodora said helpfully.

"without telling them where or what, of course." "presumably your friends feel less stronglyabout scientific experiments than mine. yes." "camping. at my age. and yetthat they believed. well." he straightened up again and fumbled at hisside, perhaps for a yardstick. "i first heard about hill house a year ago,from a former tenant.

he began by assuring me that he had left hillhouse because his family objected to living so far out in the country, and ended by sayingthat in his opinion the house ought to be burned down and the ground sowed with salt. i learned of other people who had rented hillhouse, and found that none of them had stayed more than a few days, certainly never thefull terms of their leases, giving reasons that ranged from the dampness of the location—notat all true, by the way; the house is very dry—to a pressing need to move elsewhere,for business reasons. that is, every tenant who has left hill househastily has made an effort to supply a rational reason for leaving, and yet every one of themhas left.

i tried, of course, to learn more from theseformer tenants, and yet in no case could i persuade them to generated by abc amber litconverter, discuss the house; they all seemed most unwillingto give me information and were, in fact, reluctant to recall the details of their severalstays. in only one opinion were they united. without exception, every person who has spentany length of time in this house urged me to stay as far away from it as possible. not one of the former tenants could bringhimself to admit that hill house was haunted, but when i visited hillsdale and looked upthe newspaper records—" "newspapers?"

"was there a scandal?" "oh, yes," the doctor said. "a perfectly splendid scandal, with a suicideand madness and lawsuits.then i learned that the local people had no doubts about the house. i heard a dozen different stories, of course—itis reallyunbelievably difficult to get accurate information about a haunted house; it wouldastonish you to know what i have gone through to learn only as much as i have—and as aresult i went to mrs. sanderson, luke's aunt, and arranged to rent hill house. she was most frank about its undesirability—""it's harder to burn down a house than you

think," luke said. "—but agreed to allow me a short lease tocarry out my researches, on condition that a member of the family be one of my party." "they hope," luke said solemnly, "that i willdissuade you from digging up the lovely old scandals." "there. now i have explained how i happen to be here,and why luke has come. as for you two ladies, we all know by nowthat you are here because i wrote you, and you accepted my invitation.

i hoped that each of you might, in her ownway, intensify the forces at work in the house; theodora has shown herself possessed of sometelepathic ability, and eleanor has in the past been intimately involved in poltergeistphenomena—" "i?" "of course." the doctor looked at her curiously. "many years ago, when you were a child. the stones—" eleanor frowned, and shookher head. her fingers trembled around the stem of herglass, and then she said, "that was the neighbors. my mother said the neighbors did that.

people are always jealous." "perhaps so." the doctor spoke quietly and smiled at eleanor. "the incident has been forgotten long ago,of course; i only mentioned it because that is why i wanted you in hill house." "wheni was a child," theodora said lazily,"—'many years ago,' doctor, as you put it so tactfully—i was whipped for throwinga brick through a greenhouse roof. i remember i thought about it for a long time,remembering the whipping but remembering also the lovely crash, and after thinking aboutit very seriously i went out and did it again."

"i don't remember very well," eleanor saiduncertainly to the doctor. "butwhy ?" theodora asked. "i mean, i can accept that hill house is supposedto be haunted, and you want us here, doctor montague, to help keep track of what happens—andi bet besides that you wouldn't at all like being herealone —but i just don't understand. it's a horrible old house, and if i rentedgenerated it i'd scream for my money back after onefast look at the front hall, but what'shere ? what really frightens people so?" "i will not put a name to what has no name,"the doctor said.

"i don't know." "they never even told me what was going on,"eleanor said urgently to the doctor. "my mother said it was the neighbors, theywere always' against us because she wouldn't mix with them. my mother—" luke interrupted her, slowlyand deliberately. "i think," he said) "that what we all wantis facts. something we can understand and put together." "first," the doctor said, "i am going to askyou all a question. do you want to leave?

do you advise that we pack up now and leavehill house to itself, and never have anything more to do with it?" he looked at eleanor, and eleanor put herhands together tight; it is another chance to get away, she was thinking, and she said,"no," and glanced with embarrassment at theodora. "i was kind of a baby this afternoon," sheexplained. "i did let myself get frightened." "she's not telling all the truth," theodorasaid loyally. "she wasn't any more frightened than i was;we scared each other to death over a rabbit." "horrible creatures, rabbits," luke said.

"i suppose we were all nervous this afternoon,anyway. it is a rude shock to turn that corner andget a clear look at hill house.'' "i thought he was going to send the car intoa tree," luke said. "i am really very brave now, in a warm roomwith a fire and company," theodora said. "i don't think we could leave now if we wantedto." eleanor had spoken before she realized clearlywhat she was going to say, or what it was going to sound like to the others; she sawthat they were staring at her, and laughed and added lamely, "mrs. dudley would neverforgive us." she wondered if they really believed thatthat was what she had meant to say, and thought,

perhaps it has us now, this house, perhapsit will not let us go. "let us have a little more brandy," the doctorsaid, "and i will tell you the story of hill house." he returned to his classroom position beforethe fireplace and began slowly, as one giving an account of kings long dead and wars longdone with; his voice was carefully unemotional. "hill house was built eighty-odd years ago,"he began. "it was built as a home for his family bya man named hugh crain, a country home where he hoped to see his children and grandchildrenlive in comfortable luxury, and where he fully expected to end his days in quiet.

unfortunately hill house was a sad house almostfrom the beginning; hugh crain's young wife died minutes before she first was to set eyeson the house, when the carriage bringing her here overturned in the driveway, and the ladywas brought—ah,lifeless , i believe is the phrase they use—into the home her husbandhad built for her. he was a sad and bitter man, hugh crain, leftwith two small daughters to bring up, but he did not leave hill house." "children grew up here?" eleanor asked incredulously generated by abcamber lit converter, the doctor smiled.

"the house is dry, as i said. there were no swamps to bring them fevers,the country air was thought to be beneficial to them, and the house itself was regardedas luxurious. i have no doubt that two small children couldplay here, lonely perhaps, but not unhappy." "i hope they went wading in the brook," theodorasaid. she stared deeply into the fire. "poor little things. i hope someone let them run in that meadowand pick wildflowers." "their father married again," the doctor wenton.

"twice more, as a matter of fact. he seems to have been unlucky in his wives. the second mrs. crain died of a fall, althoughi have been unable to ascertain how or why. her death seems to have been as tragicallyunexpected as her predecessor's. the third mrs. crain died of what they usedto call consumption, somewhere in europe; there is, somewhere in the library, a collectionof postcards sent to the two little girls left behind in hill house from their fatherand their stepmother traveling from one health resort to another. the little girls were left here with theirgoverness until their stepmother's death.

after that hugh crain declared his intentionof closing hill house and remaining abroad, and his daughters were sent to live with acousin of their mother's, and there they remained until they were grown "i hope mama's cousinwas a little jollier than old hugh," theodora said, still staring darkly into the fire. "it's not nice to think of children growingup like mushrooms, in the dark." "they felt differently," the doctor said. "the two sisters spent the rest of their livesquarreling over hill house. after all his high hopes of a dynasty centeredhere, hugh crain died somewhere in europe, shortly after his wife, and hill house wasleft jointly to the two sisters, who must

have been quite young ladies by then; theolder sister had, at any rate, made her debut into society." "and put up her hair, and learned to drinkchampagne and carry a fan…" "hill house was empty for a number of years,but kept always in readiness for the family; at first in expectation of hugh crain's return,and then, after his death, for either of the sisters who chose to live there. somewhere during this time it was apparentlyagreed between the two sisters that hill house should become the property of the older; theyounger sister had married—" "aha," theodora "theyounger sister married.

stole her sister's beau, i've no doubt." "it was said that the older sister was crossedin love," the doctor agreed, "although that is said of almost any lady who prefers, forwhatever reason, to live alone. at any rate, it was the older sister who cameback here to live. she seems to have resembled her father strongly;she lived here alone for a number of years, almost in seclusion, although the villageof hillsdale knew her. incredible as it may sound to you, she genuinelyloved hill house and looked upon it as her family home. she eventually took a girl from the villageto live with her, as a kind of companion;

so far as i can learn there seems to havebeen no strong feeling among the villagers about the house then, since old miss crain—asshe was inevitably known—hired her servants in the village, and it was thought a finething for her to take the village girl as a companion. old miss crain was in constant disagreementwith her sister over the house, the younger sister insisting that she had given up herclaim on the house in exchange for a number of family heirlooms, some of considerablevalue, which her sister then refused to give her. there were some jewels, several pieces ofantique furniture, and a set of gold-rimmed

dishes, which seemed to irritate the youngersister more than anything else. mrs. sanderson let me rummage through a boxof family papers, and so i have seen some of the letters miss crain received from hersister, and in all of them those dishes stand out as the recurrent sore subject. at any rate, the older sister died of pneumoniahere in the house, with only the little companion to help her—there were stories later ofa doctor called too late, of the old lady lying neglected upstairs while the youngerwoman dallied in the garden with some village lout, but i suspect that generated by abcamber lit converter, these are only scandalous inventions; i certainlycannot find that anything of the sort was

widely believed at the time, and in fact mostof the stories seem to stem directly from the poisonous vengefulness of the youngersister, who never rested in her anger." "i don't like the younger sister," theodorasaid. "first she stole her sister's lover, and thenshe tried to steal her sister's dishes. no, i don't like her." "hill house has an impressive list of tragediesconnected with it, but then, most old houses have. people have to live and diesomewhere , afterall, and a house can hardly stand for eighty years without seeing some of its inhabitantsdie within its walls.

after the death of the older sister, therewas a lawsuit over the house. the companion insisted that the house wasleft to her, but the younger sister and her husband maintained most violently that thehouse belonged legally to them and claimed that the companion had tricked the older sisterinto signing away property which she had always intended leaving to her sister. it was an unpleasant business, like all familyquarrels, and as in all family quarrels incredibly harsh and cruel things were said on eitherside. the companion swore in court—and here, ithink, is the first hint of hill house in its true personality—that the younger sistercame into the house at night and stole things.

when she was pressed to enlarge upon thisaccusation, she became very nervous and incoherent, and finally, forced to give some evidencefor her charge, said that a silver service was missing, and a valuable set of enamels,in addition to the famous set of gold-rimmed dishes, which would actually be a very difficultthing to steal, when you think about it. for her part, the younger sister went so faras to mention murder and demand an investigation into the death of old miss crain, bringingup the first hints of the stories of neglect and mismanagement. i cannot discover that these suggestions wereever taken seriously. there is no record whatever of any but themost formal notice of the older sister's death,

and certainly the villagers would have beenthe first to wonder if there had been any oddness about the death. the companion won her case at last, and could,in my opinion, have won a case for slander besides, and the house became legally hers,although the younger sister never gave up trying to get it. she kept after the unfortunate companion withletters and threats, made the wildest accusations against her everywhere, and in the local policerecords there is listed at least one occasion when the companion was forced to apply forpolice protection to prevent her enemy from attacking her with a broom.

the companion went in terror, seemingly; herhouse burgled at night—she never stopped insisting that they came and stole things-andi read one pathetic letter in which she complained that she had not spent a peaceful night inthe house since the death of her benefactor. oddly enough, sympathy around the villagewas almost entirely with the younger sister, perhaps because the companion, once a villagegirl, was now lady of the manor. the villagers believed—and still believe,i think—that the younger sister was defrauded of her inheritance by a scheming young woman. they did not believe that she would murderher friend, you see, but they were delighted to believe that she was dishonest, certainlybecause they were capable of dishonesty themselves

when opportunity arose. well, gossip is always a bad enemy. when the poor creature killed herself—""killed herself?" eleanor, shocked into speech, half rose. "she had to kill herself?" "you mean, was there another way of escapingher tormentor? she certainly did not seem to think so. it was accepted locally that she had chosensuicide because her guilty conscience drove her to it.

i am more inclined to believe that she wasone of those tenacious, unclever young women who can hold on desperately to what they believeis their own but cannot withstand, mentally, a constant nagging persecution; she had certainlyno weapons to fight back against the younger sister's campaign of hatred, her own friendsin the village had been turned against her, and she seems to have been maddened by theconviction that locks and bolts could not keep out the enemy who stole into her houseat night—" "she should have gone away," eleanor said. "left the house and run as far as she couldgo." "in effect, she did.

i really think the poor girl was hated todeath; she hanged herself, by the way. gossip generated by abc amber lit converter, says she hanged herself from the turret on thetower, but when you have a house like hill house with a tower and a turret, gossip wouldhardly allow you to hang yourself anywhere else. after her death, the house passed legallyinto the hands of the sanderson family, who were cousins of hers and in no way as vulnerableto the piercestins of the younger sister, who must have been a little demented herselfby that time. i heard from mrs. sanderson that when thefamily—it would have been her husband's

parents—first came to see the house, theyounger sister showed up to abuse them, standing on the road to howl at them as they went by,and found herself packed right off to the local police station. and that seems to be the end of the youngersister's part in the story: from the day the first sanderson sent her packing to the briefnotice of her death a few years later, she seems to have spent her time brooding silentlyover her wrongs, but far away from the sandersons. oddly enough in all her ranting, she insistedalways on one point—she had not, would not, come into this house at night, to steal orfor any other reason." "was anything ever really stolen?"

"as i told you, the companion was finallypressed into saying that one or two things seemed to be missing, but could not say forsure. as you can imagine, the story of the nightlyintruder did a good deal to enhance hill house's further reputation. moreover, the sandersons did not live hereat all. they spent a few days in the house, tellingthe villagers that they were preparing it for their immediate occupancy, and then abruptlycleared out, closing the house the way it stood. they told around the village that urgent businesstook them to live in the city, but the villagers

thought they knew better. no one has lived in the house since for morethan a few days at a time. it has been on the market, for sale or rent,ever since. well, that is a long story. i need more brandy." "those two poor little girls," eleanor said,looking into the fire. "i can't forget them, walking through thesedark rooms, trying to play dolls, maybe, in here or those bedrooms upstairs." "and so the old house has just been sittinghere."

luke put out a tentative finger and touchedthe marble cupid gingerly. "nothing in it touched, nothing used, nothinghere wanted by anyone any more, just sitting here thinking." "and waiting," eleanor said. "and waiting," the doctor confirmed. "essentially," he went on slowly, "the evilis the house itself, i think. it has enchained and destroyed its peopleand their lives, it is a place of contained ill will. well.

tomorrow you will see it all. the sandersons put in electricity and plumbingand a telephone when they first thought to live here, but otherwise nothing has beenchanged." "well," luke said after a little silence,"i'm sure we will all be very comfortable 5 eleanor found herself unexpectedly admiringher own feet. theodora dreamed over the fire just beyondthe tips of her toes, and eleanor thought with deep satisfaction that her feet werehandsome in their red sandals; what a complete and separate thing i am, she thought, goingfrom my red toes to the top of my head, individually an i, possessed of attributes belonging onlyto me.

i have red shoes, she thought—that goeswith being eleanor; i dislike lobster and sleep on my left side and crack my knuckleswhen i am nervous and save buttons. i am holding a brandy glass which is minebecause i am here and i am using it generated and i have a place in this room. i have red shoes and tomorrow i will wakeup and i will still be here. "i have red shoes," she said very softly,and theodora turned and smiled up at her. "ihad intended—" and the doctor looked aroundat them with bright, anxious optimism—"ihad intended to ask if you all played bridge?" "of course," eleanor said.

i play bridge, she thought; i used to havea cat named dancer; i can swim. "i'm afraid not," theodora said, and the otherthree turned and regarded her with frank dismay. "not at all?" the doctor asked. "i've been playing bridge twice a week foreleven years," eleanor said, "with my mother and her lawyer and his wife—i'msure youmust play as well asthat ." "maybe you could teach me?" "i'm quick at learning games." "oh, dear," the doctor said, and eleanor andluke laughed.

"we'll do something else instead," eleanorsaid; i can play bridge, she thought; i like apple pie with sour cream, and i drove hereby myself. "backgammon," the doctor said with bitterness. "i play a fair game of chess," luke said tothe doctor, who cheered at once. theodora set her mouth stubbornly. "i didn't suppose we came here to playgames," she said. "relaxation," the doctor said vaguely, andtheodora turned with a sullen shrug and stared again into the fire. "i'll get the chessmen, if you'll tell mewhere," luke said, and the doctor smiled.

"better let me go," he said. "i've studied a floor plan of the house, remember. if we let you go off wandering by yourselfwe'd very likely never find you again." as the door closed behind him luke gave theodoraa quick curious glance and then came over to stand by eleanor. "you're not nervous, are you? did that story frighten you?" eleanor shook her head emphatically, and lukesaid, "you looked pale." "i probably ought to be in bed," eleanor said.

"i'm not used to driving as far as i did today." "brandy," luke said. "it will make you sleep better. you too," he said to the back of theodora'shead. "thank you," theodora said coldly, not turning. "i rarely have trouble sleeping." luke grinned knowingly at eleanor, and thenturned as the doctor opened the door. "my wild imagination," the doctor said, settingdown the chess set. "what a house this is."

"did something happen?" generated the doctor shook his head. "we probably ought to agree, now, not to wanderaround the house alone," he said. "what happened?" "my own imagination," the doctor said firmly. "this table all right, luke?" "it's a lovely old chess set," luke said. "i wonder how the younger sister happenedto overlook it." "i can tell you one thing," the doctor said,"if itwas the younger sister sneaking around

this house at night, she had nerves of iron. it watches," he added suddenly. "the house. it watches every move you make." and then, "my own imagination, of course." in the light of the fire theodora's face wasstiff and sulky; she likes attention, eleanor thought wisely and, without thinking, movedand sat on the floor beside theodora. behind her she could hear the gentle soundof chessmen being set down on a board and the comfortable small movements of luke andthe doctor taking each other's measure, and

in the fire there were points of flame andlittle stirrings. she waited a minute for theodora to speak,and then said agreeably, "still hard to believe you're really here?" "i had no idea it would be so dull," theodorasaid. "we'll find plenty to do in the morning,"eleanor said. "at home there would be people around, andlots of talking and laughing and lights and excitement—" "i suppose i don't need suchthings," eleanor said, almost apologetically. "there never was much excitement for me. i had to stay with mother, of course.

and when she was asleep i kind of got usedto playing solitaire or listening to the radio. i never could bear to read in the eveningsbecause i had to read aloud to her for two hours every afternoon. love stories"—and she smiled a little, lookinginto the fire. but that's not all, she thought, astonishedat herself, that doesn't tell what it was like, even if i wanted to tell; why am i talking? "i'm terrible, aren't i?" theodora moved quickly and put her hand overeleanor's. "i sit here and grouch because there's nothingto amuse me; i'm very selfish.

tell me how horrible i am." and in the firelight her eyes shone with delight. "you're horrible," eleanor said obediently;theodora's hand on her own embarrassed her. she disliked being touched, and yet a smallphysical gesture seemed to be theodora's chosen way of expressing contrition, or pleasure,or sympathy; j wonder if my fingernails are clean, eleanor thought, and slid her handaway gently. "i am horrible," theodora said, good-humoredagain. "i'm horrible and beastly and no one can standme. there.

now tell me about yourself." "i'm horrible and beastly and no one can standme." "don't make fun of me. you're sweet and pleasant and everyone likesyou very much; luke has fallen madly in love with you, and i am jealous. now i want to know more about you. did you really take care of your mother formany years?" generated "yes," eleanor said. her fingernailswere dirty, and her hand wasbadly shaped and people made jokes about love

because sometimes it was funny. "eleven years, until she died three monthsago." "were you sorry when she died? should i say how sorryi am?" she wasn't very happy." "and neither were you?" "and neither was i." "but what about now? what did you do afterward, when you were freeat last?"

"i sold the house," eleanor said. "my sister and i each took whatever we wantedfrom it, small things; there was really nothing much except little things my mother had saved—myfather's watch, and some old jewelry. not at all like the sisters of hill house." "and you sold everything else?" "everything. just as soon as i could." "and then of course you started a gay, madfling that brought you inevitably to hill house?"

"not exactly." eleanor laughed. "but all those wasted years! did you go on a cruise, look for excitingyoung men, buy new clothes… "unfortunately," eleanor said dryly, "therewas not at all that much money. my sister put her share into the bank forher little girl's education. i did buy some clothes, to come to hill house." people like answering questions about themselves,she thought; what an odd pleasure it is. i would answer anything right now.

"what will you do when you go back? do you have a job?" "no, no job right now. i don't know what i'm going to do." "i know whati'll do." theodora stretched luxuriously. "i'll turn on every light in our apartmentand just bask." "what is your apartment like?" theodora shrugged.

"nice," she said. "we found an old place and fixed it up ourselves. one big room, and a couple of small bedrooms,nice kitchen—we painted it red and white and made over a lot of old furniture we dugup in junk shops—one really nice table, with a marble top. we both love doing over old things." "are you married?" there was a little silence, and then theodoralaughed quickly and said, "no." "sorry," eleanor said, horribly embarrassed.

"i didn't mean to be curious. generated "you're funny," theodora said and touched eleanor's cheek with her finger. there are lines by my eyes, eleanor thought,and turned her face away from the fire. "tell me where you live," theodora said. eleanor thought, looking down at her handswhich were badly shaped. we could have afforded a laundress, she thought;it wasn't fair. my hands are awful. "i have a little place of my own," she saidslowly.

"an apartment, like yours, only i live alone. smaller than yours, i'm sure. i'm still furnishing it—buying one thingat a time, you know, to make sure i get everything absolutely right. white curtains. i had to look for weeks before i found mylittle stone lions on each corner of the mantel, and i have a white cat and my books and recordsand pictures. everything has to be exactly the way i wantit, because there's only me to use it; once i had a blue cup with stars painted on theinside; when you looked down into a cup of

tea it was full of stars. i want a cup like that." "maybe one will turn up someday, in my shop,"theodora said. "then i can send it to you. someday you'll get a little package saying'to eleanor with love from her friend theodora,' and it will be a blue cup full of stars." "i would have stolen those gold-rimmed dishes,"eleanor said, laughing. "mate," luke said, and the doctor said, "ohdear, oh dear." "blind luck," luke said cheerfully.

"have you ladies fallen asleep there by thefire?" "just about," theodora said. luke came across the room and held out a handto each of them to help them up, and eleanor, moving awkwardly, almost fell; theodora rosein a quick motion and stretched and yawned. "theo is sleepy," she said. "i'll have to lead you upstairs," the doctorsaid. "tomorrow we must really start to learn ourway around. luke, will you screen the fire?" "had we better make sure that the doors arelocked?"

"i imagine that mrs. dudley locked the backdoor when she left, but what about the others?" "i hardly think we'll catch anyone breakingin," theodora said. "anyway, the little companion used to lockher doors, and what good did it do her?" "suppose we want to break out?" the doctor glanced quickly at eleanor andthen away. "i see no need for locking doors," he saidquietly. "there is certainly not much danger of burglarsfrom the village," luke said. "in any case," the doctor said, "i will notsleep for an hour or so yet; at my age an hour's reading before bedtime is essential,and i wisely brought pamela with me.

if any of you has trouble sleeping, i willread aloud to you. i never yet knew anyone who could not fallasleep with richardson being read aloud to him." talking quietly, he led them down the narrowhallway and through the great front hail and to the stairs. "i have often planned to try it on very smallchildren," he went on. eleanor followed theodora up the stairs; shehad not realized until now how worn she was, and each generated by abc amber lit converter, step was an effort.

she reminded herself naggingly that she wasin hill house, but even the blue room meant only, right now, the bed with the blue coverletand the blue quilt. "on the other hand," the doctor continuedbehind her, "a fielding novel comparable in length, although hardly in subject matter,would never do for very young children. i even have doubts about sterne—" theodorawent to the door of the green room and turned and smiled. "if you feel the least bit nervous," she saidto eleanor, "run right into my room." "i will," eleanor said earnestly. "thank you; good night."

"—and certainly not smollett. ladies, luke and i are here, on the otherside of the stairway—" "what color are your rooms?" eleanor asked, unable to resist. "yellow," the doctor said, surprised. "pink," luke said with a dainty gesture ofdistaste. "we're blue and green down here," theodorasaid. "i will be awake, reading," the doctor said. "i will leave my door ajar, so i will certainlyhear any sound.

good night. sleep well." "good night," luke said. "good night, all." as she closed the door of the blue room behindher eleanor thought wearily that it might be the darkness and oppression of hill housethat tired her so, and then it no longer mattered. the blue bed was unbelievably soft. odd, she thought sleepily, that the houseshould be so dreadful and yet in many respects so physically comfortable—the soft bed,the pleasant lawn, the good fire, the cooking

of mrs. dudley. the company too, she thought, and then thought,now i can think about them; i am all alone. why is luke here? but why ami here? journeys end in lovers meeting. they all saw that i was afraid. she shivered and sat up in bed to reach forthe quilt at the foot. then, half amused and half cold, she slippedout of bed and went, barefoot and silent, across the room to turn the key in the lockof the door; they won't know i locked it,

she thought, and went hastily back to bed. with the quilt pulled up around her she foundherself looking with quick apprehension at the window, shining palely in the darkness,and then at the door. i wish i had a sleeping pill to take, shethought, and looked again over her shoulder, compulsively, at the window, and then againat the door, and thought, is it moving? but i locked it; is it moving? i think, she decided concretely, that i wouldlike this better if i had the blankets over my head. hidden deep in the bed under the blankets,she giggled and was glad none of the others

could hear her. in the city she never slept with her headunder the covers; i have come all this way today, she thought. then she slept, secure; in the next room theodoraslept, smiling, with her light on. farther down the hail the doctor, readingpamela, lifted his head occasionally to listen, and once went to his door and stood for aminute, looking down the hail, before going back to his book. a nightlight shone at the top of the stairsover the pool of blackness which was the hail. luke slept, on his bedside table a flashlightand the lucky piece he always carried with

him. around them the house brooded, settling andstirring with a movement that was almost like a shudder. generated six miles away mrs. dudley awakened, looked at her clock, thought of hill house, and shuther eyes quickly. mrs. gloria sanderson, who owned hill houseand lived three hundred miles away from it, closed her detective story, yawned, and reachedup to turn off her light, wondering briefly if she had remembered to put the chain onthe front door. theodora's friend slept; so did the doctor'swife and eleanor's sister.

far away, in the trees over hill house, anowl cried out, and toward morning a thin, fine rain began, misty and dull. chapter 4 eleanor awakened to find the blueroom gray and colorless in the morning rain. she found that she had thrown the quilt offduring the night and had finished sleeping in her usual manner, with her head on thepillow: it was a surprise to find that she had slept until after eight, and she thoughtthat it was ironic that the first good night's sleep she had had in years had come to herin hill house. lying in the blue bed, looking up into thedim ceiling with its remote carved pattern, she asked herself, half asleep still, whatdid i do; did i make a fool of myself?

were they laughing at me? thinking quickly over the evening before,she could remember only that she had—must have—seemed foolishly, childishly contented,almost happy; had the others been amused to see that she was so simple? i said silly things, she told herself, andof course they noticed. today i will be more reserved, less openlygrateful to all of them for having me. then, awakening completely, she shook herhead and sighed. you are a very silly baby, eleanor, she toldherself, as she did every morning. the room came clearly alive around her; shewas in the blue room at hill house, the dimity

curtains were moving slightly at the window,and the wild splashing in the bathroom must be theodora, awake, sure to be dressed andready first, certain to be hungry. "good morning," eleanor called, and theodoraanswering, gasping, "good morning-through in a minute—i'll leave the tub filled foryou—are you starving? because i am." does she think i wouldn't bathe unless sheleft a full tub for me? eleanor wondered, and then was ashamed; icame here to stop thinking things like that, she told herself sternly and rolled out ofbed and went to the window. she looked out across the veranda roof tothe wide lawn below, with its bushes and little

clumps of trees wound around with mist. far down at the end of the lawn was the lineof trees which marked the path to the creek, although the prospect of a jolly picnic onthe grass was not, this morning, so appealing. it was clearly going to be wet all day, butit was a summer rain, deepening the green of the grass and the trees, sweetening andcleaning the air. it's charming, eleanor thought, surprisedat herself; she wondered if she was the first person ever to find hill house charming andthen thought, chilled, or do theyall think so, thefirst morning? she shivered, and found herself at the sametime unable to account for the excitement

she felt, which made it difficult to rememberwhy it was so odd to wake up happy in hill "i'llstarve to death." theodora pounded on the bathroom door, andeleanor snatched at her robe and hurried. "try to look like a stray sunbeam," theodoracalled out from her room. "it's such a dark day we've got to be a littlebrighter than usual." sing before breakfast you'll cry 'before night,eleanor told herself, because she had been singing softly, "in delay there lies no plenty.. "i thoughti was the lazy one," theodora saidcomplacently through the door, "but you're much,much worse.

lazy hardlybegins to describe you. youmust be clean enough now to come and havebreakfast." generated "mrs. dudley sets out breakfast at nine. what will she think when we show up brightand smiling?" "she will sob with disappointment. did anyone scream for her in the night, doyou suppose?" eleanor regarded a soapy leg critically. "i slept like a log," she said. "so did i.

if you are not ready in three minutes i willcome in and drown you. i want mybreakfast ." eleanor was thinkingthat it had been a very long time since she had dressed to look like a stray sunbeam,or been so hungry for breakfast, or arisen so aware, so conscious of herself, so deliberateand tender in her attentions; she even brushed her teeth with a niceness she could not rememberever feeling before. it is all the result of a good night's sleep,she thought; since mother died i must have been sleeping even more 'poorly than i realized. "aren't you readyyet ?" "coming, coming,"eleanor said, and ran to the door, remembered that it was still locked, and unlocked itsoftly.

theodora was waiting for her in the hall,vivid in the dullness in gaudy plaid; looking at theodora, it was not possible for eleanorto believe that she ever dressed or washed or moved or ate or slept or talked withoutenjoying every minute of what she was doing; perhaps theodora never cared at all what otherpeople thought of her. "do you realize that we may be another houror so justfinding the dining room?" theodora said. "but maybe they have left us a map—did youknow that luke and the doctor have been up for hours? i was talking to them from the window."

they have started without me, eleanor thought;tomorrow i will wake up earlier and be there to talk from the window too. they came to the foot of the stairs, and theodoracrossed the great dark hall and put her hand confidently to a door. "here," she said, but the door opened intoa dim, echoing room neither of them had seen before. "here," eleanor said, but the door she choseled onto the narrow passage to the little parlor where last night they had sat beforea fire. "it's across the hall fromthat ," theodorasaid, and turned, baffled.

"damnit," she said, and put her head backand shouted. "luke? doctor?" distantly they heard an answering shout, andtheodora moved to open another door. "if they think," she said over her shoulder,"that they are going to keep me forever in this filthy hall, trying one door after anotherto get to my breakfast—" "that's the right one, i think," eleanor said, "with the darkroom to go through, and then the dining room beyond." theodora shouted again, blundered againstsome light piece of furniture, cursed, and

then the door beyond was opened and the doctorsaid, "good morning." "foul, filthy house," theodora said, rubbingher knee. "good morning." "you will never believe this now, of course,"the doctor said, generated by abc amber lit converter,"but three minutes ago these doors were wide open. we left them open so you could find your way. we sat here and watched them swing shut justbefore you called. good morning."

"kippers," luke said from the table. "good morning. i hope you ladiesare the kipper kind." they had come through the darkness of onenight, they had met morning in hill house, and they were a family, greeting one anotherwith easy informality and going to the chairs they had used last night at dinner, theirown places at the table. "a fine big breakfast is what mrs. dudleycertainly agreed to set out at nine," luke said, waving a fork. "we had begun to wonder if you were the coffee-and-a-roll-in-bedtypes."

"we would have been here much sooner in anyother house," theodora said. "did you really leave all the doors open forus?" "that's how we knew you were coming," luketold her. "we saw the doors swing shut." "today we will nail all the doors open," theodorasaid. "i am going to pace this house until i canfind food ten times out often. i slept with my light on all night," she confidedto the doctor, "but nothing happened at all." "it was all very quiet," the doctor said. "did you watch over us all night?"

"until about three, whenpamela finally putme to sleep. there wasn't a sound until the rain startedsometime after two. one of you ladies called out in her sleeponce—" "that must have been me," theodora said shamelessly. "dreaming about the wicked sister at the gatesof hill house." "i dreamed about her too," eleanor said. she looked at the doctor and said suddenly,"it'sembarrassing . to think about being afraid, i mean." "we're all in it together, you know," theodorasaid.

"it's worse if you try not to show it," thedoctor said. "stuff yourself very full of kippers," lukesaid. "then it will be impossible to feel anythingat all." eleanor felt, as she had the day before, thatthe conversation was being skillfully guided away from the thought of fear, so very presentin her own mind. perhaps she was to be allowed to speak occasionallyfor all of them so that, quieting her, they quieted themselves and could leave the subjectbehind them; perhaps, vehicle for every kind of fear, she contained enough for all. they are like children, she thought crossly,daring each other to go first, ready to turn

and call names at whoever comes last; shepushed her plate away from her and sighed. "before i go to sleeptonight ," theodora wassaying to the doctor, "i want to be sure that i have seen every inch of this house. no more lying there wondering what is overmy head or under me. and wehave generated by abc amber lit converter, to open some windows and keep the doors openand stop feeling our way around." "little signs," luke suggested. "arrows pointing, reading this way out." "or dead end," eleanor said.

"or watch out for falling furniture," theodorasaid. "we'llmake them," she said to luke. "first we all explore the house," eleanorsaid, too quickly perhaps, because theodora turned and looked at her curiously. "i don't want to find myself left behind inan attic or something," eleanor added uncomfortably. "no one wants to leave you behind anywhere,"theodora said. "theni suggest," luke said, "that we firstof all finish off the coffee in the pot, and then go nervously from room to room, endeavoringto discover some rational plan to this house, and leaving doors open as we go.

i never thought," he said, shaking his headsadly, "that i would stand to inherit a house where i had to put up signs to find my wayaround." "we need to find out what to call the rooms,"theodora said. "suppose i told you, luke, that i would meetyou clandestinely in the second-best drawing room—how would you ever know where to findme?" "you could keep whistling till i got there,"luke offered. theodora shuddered. "you would hear me whistling, and callingyou, while you wandered from door to door, never opening the right one, and i would beinside, not able to find any way to get out—"

"and nothing to eat," eleanor said unkindly. theodora looked at her again. "and nothing to eat," she agreed after a minute. then, "it's the crazy house at the carnival,"she said. "rooms opening out of each other and doorsgoing everywhere at once and swinging shut when you come, and i bet that somewhere thereare mirrors that make you look all sideways and an air hose to blow up your skirts, andsomething that comes out of a dark passage and laughs in your face—" she was suddenlyquiet and picked up her cup so quickly that her coffee spilled.

"not as bad as all that," the doctor saideasily. "actually, the ground floor is laid out inwhat i might almost call concentric circles of rooms; at the center is the little parlorwhere we sat last night; around it, roughly, are a series of rooms—the billiard room,for instance, and a dismal little den entirely furnished in rosecolored satin—" "whereeleanor and i will go each morning with our needlework." "—and surrounding these—icall them the inside rooms because they are the ones with no direct way to the outside;they have no windows, you remember-surrounding these are the ring of outside rooms, the drawingroom, the library, the conservatory, the—" "no," theodora said, shaking her head.

"i am still lost back in the rose-coloredsatin." generated "and the veranda goes all around the house. there are doors opening onto the veranda fromthe drawing room, and the conservatory, and one sitting room. there is also a passage—" "stop, stop." theodora was laughing, but she shook her head. "it's a filthy,rotten house." the swinging door in the corner of the diningroom opened, and mrs. dudley stood, one hand holding the door open, looking without expressionat the breakfast table.

"i clear off at ten," mrs. dudley said. "good morning, mrs. dudley," luke said. mrs. dudley turned her eyes to him. "i clear off at ten," she said. "the dishes are supposed to be back on theshelves. i take them out again for lunch. i set out lunch at one, but first the disheshave to be back on the shelves." "of course, mrs. dudley." the doctor rose and put down his napkin.

"everybody ready?" he asked. under mrs. dudley's eye theodora deliberatelylifted her cup and finished the last of her coffee, then touched her mouth with her napkinand sat back. "splendid breakfast," she said conversationally. "do the dishes belong to the house?" "they belong on the shelves," mrs. dudleysaid. "and the glassware and the silver and thelinen? lovely old things." "the linen," mrs. dudley said, "belongs inthe linen drawers in the dining room.

the silver belongs in the silver chest. the glasses belong on the shelves." "we must be quite a bother to you," theodorasaid. mrs. dudley was silent. 'finally she said, "i clear up at ten. i set out lunch at one." theodora laughed and rose. "on," she said, "on, on. let us go and open doors."

they began reasonably enough with the dining-roomdoor, which they propped open with a heavy chair. the room beyond was the game room; the tableagainst which theodora had stumbled was a low inlaid chess table ("now, i could nothave overlooked that last night," the doctor said irritably), and at one end of the roomwere card tables and chairs, and a tall cabinet where the chessmen had been, with croquetballs and the cribbage board. "jolly spot to spend a carefree hour," lukesaid, standing in the doorway regarding the bleak room. the cold greens of the table tops were reflectedunhappily in the dark tiles around the fireplace;

the inevitable wood paneling was, here, notat all enlivened by a series of sporting prints which seemed entirely devoted to various methodsof doing wild animals to death, and over the mantel a deer-head looked down upon them inpatent embarrassment. "this is where they came to enjoy themselves,"theodora said, and her voice echoed shakily from the high ceiling. "they came here," she explained, "to relaxfrom the oppressive atmosphere of the rest of the house." the deer-head looked down on her mournfully. "those two little girls," she said.

"can weplease take down thatbeast up there?" generated "i think it's taken a fancy to you," luke "it's never taken its eyes off you since youcame in. let's get out of here." they propped the door open as they left, andcame out into the hall, which shone dully under the light from the open rooms. "when we find a room with a window," the doctorremarked, "we will open it; until then, let us be content with opening the front door." "you keep thinking of the little children,"eleanor said to theodora, "but i can't forget

that lonely little companion, walking aroundthese rooms, wondering who else was in the luke tugged the great front door open andwheeled the big vase to hold it; "fresh air," he said thankfully. the warm smell of rain and wet grass sweptinto the hall, and for a minute they stood in the open doorway, breathing air from outsidehill house. then the doctor said, "nowhere is somethingnone of you anticipated," and he opened a small door tucked in beside the tall frontdoor and stood back, smiling. "the library," he said. "in the tower."

"i can't go in there," eleanor said, surprisingherself, but she could not. she backed away, overwhelmed with the coldair of mold and earth which rushed at her. "my mother—" she said, not knowing whatshe wanted to tell them, and pressed herself against the wall. "indeed?" said the doctor, regarding her withinterest. "theo- dora?" theodora shrugged and stepped into the library;eleanor shivered. "luke?" said the doctor, but luke was alreadyinside. from where she stood eleanor could see onlya part of the circular wall of the library,

with a narrow iron staircase going up andperhaps, since it was the tower, up and up and up; eleanor shut her eyes, hearing thedoctor's voice distantly, hollow against the stone of the library walls. "can you see the little trapdoor up therein the shadows?" he was asking. "it leads out onto a little balcony, and ofcourse that's where she is commonly supposed to have hanged herself—the girl, you remember. a most suitable spot, certainly; more suitablefor suicides, i would think, than for books. she is supposed to have tied the rope ontothe iron railing and then just stepped—" "thanks," theodora said from within.

"i can visualize it perfectly, thank you. for myself, i would probably have anchoredthe rope onto the deer head in the game room, but i suppose she had' some sentimental attachmentto the tower; what a nice word 'attachment' is in that context, don't you think?" "delicious." it was luke's voice, louder; they were comingout of the library and back to the hall where eleanor waited. "i think that i will make this room into anight club. i will put the orchestra up there on the balcony,and dancing girls will come down that winding

iron staircase; the bar—" "eleanor," theodorasaid, "are you all right now? it's a perfectly awful room, and you wereright to stay out of it." eleanor stood away from the wall; her handswere cold and she wanted to cry, but she turned her back to the library door, which the doctorpropped open with a stack of books. "i don't think i'll do much reading whilei'm here," she said, trying to speak lightly. "not if the books smell like the library." "i hadn't noticed a smell," the doctor said. he looked inquiringly at luke, who shook hishead. "odd," generated by abc amber lit converter, the

doctor went on, "and just the kind of thingwe're looking for. make a note of it, my dear, and try to describeit exactly." theodora was puzzled. she stood in the hallway, turning, lookingback of her at the staircase and then around again at the front door. "are there two front doors?" she asked. "am i just mixed up?" the doctor smiled happily; he had clearlybeen hoping for some such question. "this is the only front door," he said.

"it is the one you came in yesterday." theodora frowned. "then why can't eleanor and i see the towerfrom our bedroom windows? our rooms look out over the front of the house,and yet—" the doctor laughed and clapped his hands. "at last," he said. "clever theodora. this is why i wanted you to see the houseby day. come, sit on the stairs while i tell you."

obediently they settled on the stairs, lookingup at the doctor, who took on his lecturing stance and began formally, "one of the peculiartraits of hill house is its design—" "crazy house at the carnival." "precisely. have you not wondered at ourextreme difficultyin finding our way around? an ordinary house would not have had the fourof us in such confusion for so long, and yet time after time we choose the wrong doors,the room we want eludes us. even i have had my troubles." he sighed and nodded.

"i daresay," he went on, "that old hugh cramexpected that someday hill house might become a showplace, like the winchester house incalifornia or the many octagon houses; he designed hill house himself, remember, and,i have told you before, he was a strange man. every angle"—and the doctor gestured towardthe doorway—"every angle is slightly wrong. hugh cram must have detested other peopleand their sensible squared-away houses, because he made his house to suit his mind. angles which you assume are the right anglesyou are accustomed to, and have every right to expect are true, are actually a fractionof a degree off in one direction or another. i am sure, for instance, that you believethat the stairs you are sitting on are level,

because you are not prepared for stairs whichare not level—" they moved uneasily, and theodora put out a quick hand to take holdof the balustrade, as though she felt she might be falling. "—are actually on a very slight slant towardthe central shaft; the doorways are all a very little bit off center—that may be,by the way, the reason the doors swing shut unless they are held; i wondered this morningwhether the approaching footsteps of you two ladies upset the delicate balance of the doors. of course the result of all these tiny aberrationsof measurement adds up to a fairly large distortion in the house as a whole.

theodora cannot see the tower from her bedroomwindow because the tower actually stands at the corner of the house. from theodora's bedroom window it is completelyinvisible, although from here it seems to be directly outside her room. the window of theodoras room is actually fifteenfeet to the left of where we are now." theodora spread her hands helplessly. "golly," she said. "i see," eleanor said. "the veranda roof is what misleads us.

i can look out my window and see the verandaroof and because i came directly into the house and up the stairs i assumed that thefront door was right below, although really—" generated "you see only the veranda roof," the doctor "the front door is far away; it and the towerare visible from the nursery, which is the big room at the end of the hallway; we willsee it later today. it is"-and his voice was saddened—"a masterpieceof architectural misdirection. the double stairway at chambord—" "theneverything is a little bit off center?" theodora asked uncertainly. "that's why it all feels so disjointed?"

"what happens when you go back to a real house?" "i mean—a—well—areal house?" "it must be like coming off shipboard," lukesaid. "after being here for a while your sense ofbalance could be so distorted that it would take you a while to lose your sea legs, oryour hill house legs. could it be," he asked the doctor, "that whatpeople have been assuming were supernatural manifestations were really only the resultof a slight loss of balance in the people who live here? the inner ear," he told theodora wisely.

"it must certainly affect people in some way,"the doctor said. "we have grown to trust blindly in our sensesof balance and reason, and i can see where the mind might fight wildly to preserve itsown familiar stable patterns against all evidence that it was leaning sideways." he turned away. "we have marvels still before us," he said,and they came down from the stairway and followed him, walking gingerly, testing the floorsas they moved. they went down the narrow passage to the littleparlor where they had sat the night before, and from there, leaving doors propped openbehind them, they moved into the outer circle

of rooms, which looked out onto the veranda. they pulled heavy draperies away from windowsand the light from outside came into hill they passed through a music room where a harpstood sternly apart from them, with never a jangle of strings to mark their footfalls. a grand piano stood tightly shut, with a candelabraabove, no candle ever touched by flame. a marble-topped table held wax flowers underglass, and the chairs were twig-thin and gilded. beyond this was the conservatory, with tallglass doors showing them the rain outside, and ferns growing damply around and over wickerfurniture. here it was uncomfortably moist, and theyleft it quickly, to come through an arched

doorway into the drawing room and stand, aghastand incredulous. "it's not there," theodora said, weak andlaughing. "i don't believe it's there." she shook her head. "eleanor, do you see it too?" "how…?" eleanor said helplessly. "i thought you would be pleased." the doctor was complacent.

one entire end of the drawing room was inpossession of a marble statuary piece; against the mauve stripes and flowered carpet it washuge and grotesque and somehow whitely naked; eleanor put her hands over her eyes, and theodoraclung to her. "i thought it might be intended for venusrising from the waves," the doctor said. ". , "not at all," said luke, finding hisvoice, it s saint francis curing the lepers." "no, no," eleanor said. "one of them is a dragon." "it's none of that," said theodora roundly;"it's a family portrait, you sillies. composite.anyone would know it at once; thatfigure in the center, that tall, undraped—good

heavens!—masculine one, that's old generated hugh, patting himself on the back becausehe built hill house, and his two attendant nymphs are his daughters. the one on the right who seems to be brandishingan ear of corn is actually telling about her lawsuit, and the other one, the little oneon the end, is the companion, and the one on theother end—" "is mrs. dudley, donefrom life," luke said. "and that grass stuff they're all standingon is really supposed to be the dining-room carpet, grown up a little. did anyone else notice that dining-room carpet?

it looks like a field of hay, and you canfeel it tickling your ankles. in back, that kind of overspreading apple-treekind of thing,that's —" "a symbol of the protection of the house, surely," dr. montaguesaid. "i'd hate to think it might fall on us," eleanorsaid. "since the house is so unbalanced, doctor,isn't there some chance of that?" "i have read that the statue was carefully,and at great expense, constructed to offset the uncertainty of the floor on which it stands. it was put in, at any rate, when the housewas built, and it has not fallen yet. it is possible, you know, that hugh cram admiredit, even found it lovely."

"it is also possible that he used it to scarehis children with," theodora said. "what a pretty room this would be withoutit." she turned, swinging. "a dancing room," she said, "for ladies infull skirts, and room enough for a full country dance. hugh cram, will you take a turn with me?"and she curtsied to the statue. "i believe he's going to accept," eleanorsaid, taking an involuntary step backward. "don't let him tread on your toes," the doctorsaid, and laughed. "remember what happened to don juan."

theodora touched the statue timidly, puttingher finger against the outstretched hand of one of the figures. "marble is always a shock," she said. "it never feels like you think it's goingto. i suppose a lifesize statue looks enough likea real person to make you expect to feel skin." then, turning again, and shimmering in thedim room, she waltzed alone, turning to bow to the statue. "at the end of the room," the doctor saidto eleanor and luke, "under those draperies, are doors leading onto the veranda; when theodorais heated from dancing she may step out into

the cooler air." he went the length of the room to pull asidethe heavy blue draperies and opened the doors. again the smell of the warm rain came in,and a burst of wind, so that a little breath seemed to move across the statue, and lighttouched the colored walls. "nothing in this house moves," eleanor said,"until you look away, and then you just catch something from the corner of your eye. look at the little figurines on the shelves;when we all had our backs turned they were dancing with theodora." "imove," theodora said, circling toward them.

"flowers under glass," luke said. "tassels. i am beginning to fancy this house." theodora pulled at eleanor's hair. "race you around the veranda," she said anddarted for the doors. eleanor, with no time for hesitation or thought,followed, and they ran out onto the veranda. eleanor, running and laughing, came arounda curve of the veranda to find theodora going in another door, and generated by abc amberlit converter, stopped, breathless.

they had come to the kitchen, and mrs. dudley,turning away from the sink, watched them silently. "mrs. dudley," theodora said politely, "we'vebeen exploring the house." mrs. dudley's eyes moved to the clock on theshelf over the stove. "it is half—past eleven," she said. "i-" "—set lunch on at one," theodora said. "we'd like to look over the kitchen, if wemay. we've seen all the other downstairs rooms,i think." mrs. dudley was still for a minute and then,moving her head acquiescently, turned and walked deliberately across the kitchen toa farther doorway.

when she opened it they could see the backstairs beyond, and mrs. dudley turned and closed the door behind her before she startedup. theodora cocked her head at the doorway andwaited a minute before she said, "i wonder if mrs. dudley has a soft spot in her heartfor me, i really do." "i suppose she's gone up to hang herself fromthe turret," eleanor said. "let's see what's for lunch while we're here." "don't joggle anything," theodora said. "you know perfectly well that the dishes belongon the shelves. do you think that woman really means to makeus a soufflã©?

here is certainly a soufflã© dish, and eggsand cheese—" "it's a nice kitchen," eleanor "in my mother's house the kitchen was darkand narrow, and nothing you cooked there ever had any taste or color." "what about your own kitchen?" theodora asked absently. "in your little apartment? eleanor, look at the doors." "i can't make a soufflã©," eleanor said. "look, eleanor.

there's the door onto the veranda, and anotherthat opens onto steps going down—to the cellar, i guess—and another over there goingonto the veranda again, and the one she used to go upstairs, and another one over there—""to the veranda again," eleanor said, opening "three doors going out onto the veranda fromone kitchen." "and the door to the butler's pantry and oninto the dining room. our good mrs. dudley likes doors, doesn'tshe? she can certainly"—and their eyes met—"getout fast in any direction if she wants to." eleanor turned abruptly and went back to theveranda. "i wonder if she had dudley cut extra doorsfor her.

i wonder how she likes working in a kitchenwhere a door in back of her might open without her knowing it. i wonder, actually, just what mrs. dudleyis in the habit of meeting in her kitchen so that she wants to make sure that she'llfind a way out no matter which direction she runs. i wonder—" "shut up," theodora said amiably. "a nervous cook can't make a good soufflã©,anyone knows that, and she's probably listening on the stairs. let us choose one of her doors and leave itopen behind us."

luke and the doctor were standing on the veranda,looking out over the lawn; the front door was oddly generated by abc amber lit converter, close, beyond them. behind the house, seeming almost overhead,the great hills were muted and dull in the rain. eleanor wandered along the veranda, thinkingthat she had never before known a house so completely surrounded. like a very tight belt, she thought; wouldthe house fly apart if the veranda came of!? she went what she thought must be the greatpart of the circle around the house, and then

she saw the tower. it rose up before her suddenly, almost withoutwarning, as she came around the curve of the veranda. it was made of gray stone, grotesquely solid,jammed hard against the wooden side of the house, with the insistent veranda holdingit there. hideous, she thought, and then thought thatif the house burned away someday the tower would still stand, gray and forbidding overthe ruins, warning people away from what was left of hill house, with perhaps a stone fallenhere and there, so owls and bats might fly in and out and nest among the books below.

halfway up windows began, thin angled slitsin the stone, and she wondered what it would be like, looking down from them, and wonderedthat she had not been able to enter the tower. i will never look down from those windows,she thought, and tried to imagine the narrow iron stairway going up and around inside. high on top was a conical wooden roof, toppedby a wooden spire. it must have been laughable in any. other house, but here in hill house it belonged,gleeful and expectant, awaiting perhaps a slight creature creeping out from the littlewindow onto the slanted roof, reaching up to the spire, knotting a rope.

"you'll fall," luke said, and eleanor gasped;she brought her eyes down with an effort and found that she was griping the veranda railtightly and leaning far backward. "don't trust your balance in my charming hillhouse," luke said, and eleanor breathed deeply, dizzy, and staggered. he caught her and held her while she triedto steady herself in the rocking world where the trees and the lawn seemed somehow tiltedsideways and the sky turned and swung. "eleanor?" theodora said nearby, and she heard the soundof the doctor's feet running along the veranda. "this damnable house," luke said.

"you have to watch it every minute." "eleanor?" said the doctor. "i'm all right," eleanor said, shaking herhead and standing unsteadily by herself. "i was leaning back to see the top of thetower and i got dizzy." "she was standing almost sideways when i caughther," luke said. "i've had that feeling once or twice thismorning," theodora said, "as though i was walking up the wall." "bring her back inside," the doctor said. "it's not so bad when you'reinside the house."

"i'm really all right," eleanor said, verymuch embarrassed, and she walked with deliberate steps along the veranda to the front door,which was closed. "i thought we left it open," she said witha little shake in her voice, and the doctor came past her and pushed the heavy door openagain. inside, the hall had returned to itself; allthe doors they had left open were neatly. closed. when the doctor opened the door into the gameroom they could see beyond him that the doors to the dining room were closed, and the littlestool they had used to prop one door open was neatly back in place against the wall.

in the boudoir and the drawing room, the parlorand the conservatory, the doors and windows were closed, the draperies pulled together,and the darkness back again. "it's mrs. dudley," theodora said, trailingafter the doctor and luke, who moved quickly from one room to the next, pushing doors wideopen again and propping them, sweeping drapes away from generated by abc amber lit converter, windows and letting in the warm, wet air. "mrs. dudley did it yesterday, as soon aseleanor and i were out of the way, because she'd rather shut them herself than come alongand find them shut by themselves because the doors belong shut and the windows belong shutand the dishes belong—" she began to laugh

foolishly, and the doctor turned and frownedat her with irritation. "mrs. dudley had better learn her place,"he said. "i will nail these doors open if i have to." he turned down the passageway to their littleparlor and sent the door swinging open with a crash. "losing my temper will not help," he said,and gave the door a vicious kick. "sherry in the parlor before lunch," lukesaid amiably. "ladies, enter" 2 "mrs. dudley," the doctorsaid, putting down his fork, "an admirable soufflã©."

mrs. dudley turned to regard him briefly andwent into the kitchen with an empty dish. the doctor sighed and moved his shoulderstiredly. "after my vigil last night, i feel the needof a rest this afternoon, and you," he said to eleanor, "would do well to lie down foran hour. perhaps a regular afternoon rest might bemore comfortable for all of us." "i see," said theodora, amused. "i must take an afternoon nap. it may look funny when i go home again, buti can always tell them that it was part of my schedule at hill house."

"perhaps we will have trouble sleeping atnight," the doctor said, and a little chill went around the table, darkening the lightof the silver and the bright colors of the china, a little cloud that drifted throughthe dining room and brought mrs. dudley after "it's five minutes of two," mrs. dudley said. 3 eleanor did not sleep during the afternoon,although she would have liked to; instead, she lay on theodora's bed in the green roomand watched theodora do her nails, chatting lazily, unwilling to let herself perceivethat she had followed theodora into the green room because she had not dared to be alone. "i love decorating myself," theodora said,regarding her hand affectionately.

"i'd like to paint myself all over." eleanor moved comfortably. "gold paint," she suggested, hardly thinking. with her eyes almost closed she could seetheodora only as a mass of color sitting on the floor. "nail polish and perfume and bath salts,"theodora said, as one telling the cities of the nile. "mascara. you don't think half enough of such things,eleanor."

eleanor laughed and closed her eyes altogether. "no time," she said. "well," theodora said with determination,"by the time i'm through with you, you will be a different generated by abc amber litconverter, person; i dislike being with women of no color." she laughed to show that she was teasing,and then went on, "i think i will put red polish on your toes." eleanor laughed too and held out her barefoot. after a minute, nearly asleep, she felt theodd cold little touch of the brush on her

toes, and shivered. "surely a famous courtesan like yourself isaccustomed to the ministrations of handmaidens," "your feet are dirty." shocked, eleanor sat up and looked; her feetweredirty, and her nails were painted bright red. "it's horrible ," she said to theodora, "it'swicked," wanting to cry. then, helplessly, she began to laugh at thelook on theodora's face. "i'll go and-wash my feet," she said. "golly." theodora sat on the floor beside the bed,staring.

"look," she said. "my feet are dirty, too, baby, honest.look." "anyway," eleanor said, "i hate having things done to me." "you're about as crazy as anyonei ever saw,"theodora said cheerfully. "i don't like to feel helpless," eleanor said. "my mother—" "your mother would have beendelighted to see you with your toenails painted red," theodora said. "they look nice." eleanor looked at her feet again.

"it's wicked," she said inadequately. "i mean—onmy feet. it makes me feel like i look like a fool." "you've got foolishness and wickedness somehowmixed up." theodora began to gather her equipment together. "anyway, i won't take it off and we'll bothwatch to see whether luke and the doctor look at your feet first." "no matter what i try to say, you make itsound foolish," eleanor said. "or wicked."

theodora looked up at her gravely. "i have a hunch," she said, "that you oughtto go home, eleanor." is she laughing at me? eleanor wondered; has she decided that i amnot fit to stay? "i don't want to go," she said, and theodoralooked at her again quickly and then away, and touched eleanor's toes softly. "the polish is dry," she said. "i'm an idiot. just something frightened me for a minute."

she stood up and stretched. "let's go look for the others," she said. 4 luke leaned himself wearily against thewall of the upstairs hall, his head resting against the gold frame of an engraving ofa ruin. "i keep thinking of this house as my own futureproperty," he said, "more now than i did before; i keep telling myself that it will belongto me someday, and i keep asking myself why." he gestured at the length of the hall. "if i had a passion for doors," he said, "orgilded clocks, or miniatures; if i wanted a turkish corner of my own, i would very likelyregard hill house as a generated by abc amber

lit converter, of beauty." "it's a handsome house," the doctor said staunchly. "it must have been thought of as elegant whenit was built." he started off down the hall, to the largeroom on the end which had once been the nursery. "now," he said, "we shall see the tower froma window"—and shivered as he passed through the door. then he turned and looked back curiously. "could there be a draft across that doorway?" "a draft?

in hill house?" "not unless you could manage to make one ofthose doors stay open." "come here one at a time, then," the doctorsaid, and theodora moved forward, grimacing as she passed the doorway. "like the doorway of a tomb," she said. "it's warm enough inside, though." luke came, hesitated in the cold spot, andthen moved quickly to get out of it, and eleanor, following, felt with incredulity the piercingcold that struck her between one step and the next; it was like passing through a wallof ice, she thought, and asked the doctor,

the doctor was patting his hands togetherwith delight. "you can keep your turkish corners, my boy,"he said. he reached out a hand and held it carefullyover the location of the cold. "theycannot explain this," he said. "the very essence of the tomb, as theodorapoints out. the cold spot in borley rectory only droppedeleven degrees," he went on complacently. "this, i should think, is considerably colder. the heart of the house." theodora and eleanor had moved to stand closertogether; although the nursery was warm, it

smelled musty and close, and the cold crossingthe doorway was almost tangible, visible as a barrier which must be crossed in order toget out. beyond the windows the gray stone of the towerpressed close; inside, the room was dark and the line of nursery animals painted alongthe wall seemed somehow not at all jolly, but as though they were trapped, or relatedto the dying deer in the sporting prints of the game room. the nursery, larger than the other bedrooms,had an indefinable air of neglect found nowhere else in hill house, and it crossed eleanor'smind that even mrs. dudley's diligent care might not bring her across that cold barrierany oftener than necessary.

luke had stepped back across the cold spotand was examining the hall carpet, then the walls, patting at the surfaces as though hopingto discover some cause for the odd cold. "itcouldn't be a draft," he said, lookingup at the doctor. "unless they've got a direct air line to thenorth pole. everything's solid, anyway." "i wonder who slept in the nursery," the doctorsaid ir- relevantly. "do you suppose they shut it up, once thechildren were gone?" "look," luke said, pointing. in either corner of the hall, over the nurserydoorway, two grinning heads were set; meant,

apparently, as gay decorations for the nurseryentrance, they were no more jolly or carefree than the animals inside. their separate stares, captured forever indistorted laughter, met and locked at the point of the hall where the vicious cold centered. "when you stand where they can look at you,"luke explained, "they freeze you." curiously, the doctor stepped down the hallto join him, looking up. "don't leave us alone in here," theodora said,and ran out of the nursery, pulling eleanor through the cold, which was like a fast slap,or a close cold breath. "a fine place to chill our beer," she said,and put out her tongue at the grinning faces.

generated "i must make a full account of this," the doctor said happily. "it doesn't seem like animpartial cold," eleanorsaid, awkward because she was not quite sure what she meant. "i felt it asdeliberate , as though somethingwanted to give me an unpleasant shock." "it's because of the faces, i suppose," thedoctor said; he was on his hands and knees, feeling along the floor. "measuring tape and thermometer," he toldhimself, "chalk for an outline; perhaps the cold intensifies at night?

everything is worse," he said, looking ateleanor, "if you think something is looking at you." luke stepped through the cold, with a shiver,and closed the door to the nursery; he came back to the others in the hall with a kindof leap, as though he thought he could escape the cold by not touching the floor. with the nursery door closed they realizedall at once how much darker it had become, and theodora said restlessly, "let's get downstairsto our parlor; i can feel those hills pushing in. "after five," luke said.

"cocktail time. i suppose," he said to the doctor, "you willtrust me to mix you a cocktail again tonight?" "too much vermouth," the doctor said, andfollowed them lingeringly, watching the nursery door over his shoulder. 5 "i propose," the doctor said, setting downhis napkin, "that we take our coffee in our little parlor. i find that fire very cheerful." "mrs. dudley's gone, so let's race aroundfast and get all those doors and windows open and take everything down from the shelves—""the house seems different when she's not

in it," eleanor said. "emptier." luke looked at her and nodded; he was arrangingthe coffee cups on a tray, and the doctor had already gone on, doggedly opening doorsand propping them. "each night i realize suddenly that we fourare alone here." "although mrs. dudley's not much good as faras company is concerned; it's funny," eleanor said, looking down at the dinner table, "idislike mrs. dudley as much as any of you, but my mother would never let me get up andleave a table looking like this until morning." "if she wants to leave before dark she hasto clear away in the morning," theodora said

without interest. "i'mcertainly not going to do it." "it's not nice to walk away and leave a dirtytable." "you couldn't get them back on the right shelvesanyway, and she'd have to do it all over again just to get your fingermarks off things." "if i just took the silverware and let itsoak—" generated by abc amber lit converter, "no,"theodora said, catching her hand. "do you want to go out into that kitchen allalone, with all those doors?" "no," eleanor said, setting down the handfulof forks she had gathered.

"i guess i don't, really." she lingered to look uneasily at the table,at the crumpled napkins and the drop of wine spilled by luke's place, and shook her head. "i don't know what my mother would say, though." "come on," theodora said. "they've left lights for us." the fire in the little parlor was bright,and theodora sat down beside the coffee tray while luke brought brandy from the cupboardwhere he had carefully set it away the night "we must be cheerful at all costs," he said.

"i'll challenge you again tonight, doctor." before dinner they had ransacked the otherdownstairs rooms for comfortable chairs and lamps, and now their little parlor was easilythe pleasantest room in the house. "hill house has really been very kind to us,"theodora said, giving eleanor her coffee, and eleanor sat down gratefully in a pillowy,overstuffed chair. "no dirty dishes for eleanor to wash, a pleasantevening in good company, and perhaps the sun shining again tomorrow." "we must plan our picnic," eleanor said. "i am going to get fat and lazy in hill house,"theodora went on.

her insistence on naming hill house troubledeleanor. it's as though she were saying it deliberately,eleanor thought, telling the house she knows its name, calling the house to tell it wherewe are; is it bravado? "hill house, hill house, hill house," theodorasaid softly, and smiled across at eleanor. "tell me," luke said politely to theodora,"since youare a princess, tell me about the political situation in your country." "very unsettled," theodora said. "i ran away because my father, who is of coursethe king, insists that i marry black michael, who is the pretender to the throne.

i, of course, cannot endure the sight of blackmichael, who wears one gold earring and beats his grooms with a riding crop." "a most unstable country," luke said. "how did you ever manage to get away?" "i fled in a hay wagon, disguised as a milkmaid. they never thought to look for me there, andi crossed the border with papers i forged myself in a woodcutter's hut." "and black michael will no doubt take overthe country now in acoup d'ã©tat? " "undoubtedly.

and he can have it." it's like waiting in a dentist's office, eleanorthought, watching them over her coffee cup; waiting in a dentist's office and listeningto other patients make brave jokes across the room, all of you certain to meet the dentistsooner or later. she looked up suddenly, aware of the doctornear her, and smiled uncertainly. "nervous?" the doctor asked, and eleanor nodded. generated "only because i wonder what's going to happen," she said. "so do i."

the doctor moved a chair and sat down besideher. "you have the feeling that something—whateverit is—is going to happen soon?" "yes. everything seems to be waiting." "andthey "—the doctor nodded at theodoraand luke, who were laughing at each other—"theymeet it intheir way; i wonder what it will do toall of us. i would have said a month ago that a situationlike this would never really come about, that we four would sit here together, in this house."hedoes not name it, eleanor noticed. "i've been waiting for a long time," he said.

"you think we are right to stay?" "right?" he said. "i think we are all incredibly silly to stay. i think that an atmosphere like this one canfind out the flaws and faults and weaknesses in all of us, and break us apart in a matterof days. we have only one defense, and that is runningaway. at least it can'tfollow us, can it? when we feel ourselves endangered we can leave,just as we came. and," he added dryly, "just as fast as wecan "but we are forewarned," eleanor said,

"and there are four of us together." "i have already mentioned this to luke andtheodora," he said. "promise me absolutely that you will leave,as fast as you can, if you begin to feel the house catching at you." "i promise," eleanor said, smiling. he is trying to make me feel braver, she thought,and was grateful. "it's all right, though," she told him. "really, it's all right." "i will feel no hesitation about sending youaway," he said, rising, "if it seems to be

necessary. luke?" he said. "will the ladies excuse us?" while they set up the chessboard and men theodorawandered, cup in hand, around the room, and eleanor thought, she moves like an animal,nervous and alert; she can't sit still while there is any scent of disturbance in the air;we are all uneasy. "come and sit by me,"' she said, and theodoracame, moving with grace, circling to a resting spot. she sat down in the chair the doctor had left,and leaned her head back tiredly; how lovely

she is, eleanor thought, how thoughtlessly,luckily lovely. "are you tired?" theodora turned her head, smiling. "i can't stand waiting much longer." "i was just thinking how relaxed you looked." "andi was just thinking of—when was it?day before yesterday?—and wondering how i could have brought myself to leave thereand come here. possibly i'm homesick." "already?"

"did you ever think about being homesick? if your home was hill house would you be homesickfor it? did those two little girls cry for their dark,grim house when they were taken away?" generated "i've never been away from anywhere," eleanor said carefully, "so i suppose i've never beenhomesick." "how about now? your little apartment?" "perhaps," eleanor said, looking into thefire, "i haven't had it long enough to believe it's my own."

"i want my own bed," theodora said, and eleanorthought, she is sulking again; when she is hungry or tired or bored she turns into ababy. "i'm sleepy," theodora said. "it's' after eleven," eleanor said, and asshe turned to glance at the chess game the doctor shouted with joyful triumph, and lukelaughed. "now, sir," the doctor said. "now, sir." "fairly beaten, i admit," luke said. he began to gather the chessmen and set themback into their box.

"any reason why i can't take a drop of brandyupstairs with me? to put myself to sleep, or give myself dutchcourage, or some such reason. acctally"-and he smiled over at theodora andeleanor-"i plan to stay up and read for a while." "are you still readingpamela ?' eleanor askedthe doctor. "volume two. i have three volumes to go, and then i shallbeginclarissa harlowe , i think. perhaps luke would care to borrow—" "no,thanks," luke said hastily. "i have a suitcase full of mystery stories."

the doctor turned to look around. "let me see," he said, "fire screened, lightsout. leave the doors for mrs. dudley to close inthe morning." tiredly, following one another, they wentup the great stairway, turning out lights behind them. "has everyone got a flashlight, by the way?" the doctor asked, and they nodded, more intentupon sleep than the waves of darkness which came after them up the stairs of hill house. "good night, everyone," eleanor said, openingthe door to the blue room.

"good night," theodora said. "good night," the doctor said. "sleep tight." 6 "coming, mother, coming," eleanor said,fumbling for the light. "it's all right, i'm coming."eleanor , sheheard,eleanor . "coming, coming," she shouted irritably, "just aminute , i'mcoming ." "eleanor?" generated then she thought, with a crashing shock which brought her awake, cold and shivering, outof bed and awake:i am in hill house. "what?" she cried out.

"what? theodora?" "eleanor? in here." "coming." no time for the light; she kicked a tableout of the way, wondering at the noise of it, and struggled briefly with the door ofthe connecting bathroom. that is not the table falling, she thought;my mother is knocking on the wall. it was blessedly light in theodora' s room,and theodora was sitting up in bed, her hair

tangled from sleep and her eyes wide withthe shock of awakening; i must look the same way, eleanor thought, and said, "i'm here,whatis it?"—and then heard, clearly for the first time, although she had been hearingit ever since she awakened. "whatis it?" she whispered. she sat down slowly on the foot of theodora'sbed, wondering at what seemed calmness in herself. now, she thought, now. it is only a noise, and terribly cold, terribly,terribly cold. it is a noise down the hall, far down at theend, near the nursery door, and terribly cold,not

my mother knocking on the wall. "something is knocking on the doors," theodorasaid in a tone of pure rationality. "that's all. and it's down near the other end of the hall. luke and the doctor are probably there already,to see what is going on." not at all like my mother knocking on thewall; i was dreaming again. "bang bang," theodora said. "bang," eleanor said, and giggled. i am calm, she thought, but so very cold;the noise is only a kind of banging on the

doors, one after another; is this what i wasso afraid about? "bang" is the best word for it; it soundslike something children do, not mothers knocking against the wall for help, and anyway lukeand the doctor are there; is this what they mean by cold chills going up and down yourback? because it is not pleasant; it starts in yourstomach and goes in. waves around and up and down again like somethingalive. like something alive. "theodora," she said, and closed her eyesand tightened her teeth together and wrapped her arms around herself, "it's getting closer."

"just a noise," theodora said, and moved nextto eleanor and sat tight against her. "it has an echo." it sounded, eleanor thought, like a hollownoise, a hollow bang, as though something were hitting the doors with an iron kettle,or an iron bar, or an iron glove. it pounded regularly for a minute, and thensuddenly more softly, and then again in a quick flurry, seeming to be going methodicallyfrom door to door at the end of the hall. distantly she thought she could hear the voicesof luke and the doctor, calling from somewhere below, and she thought,then they are not uphere with us at all , and heard the iron crashing against what must have been a door very close.

"maybe it will go on down the other side ofthe hall," theodora whispered, and eleanor thought that the oddest part of this indescribableexperience was that theodora should be having it too. "no," theodora said, and they heard the crashagainst the door across the hall. it was louder, it was deafening, it struckagainst the door next to them (did it move back and forth across the hall? did it goon feet along the carpet? did it lift a hand to the door?), and eleanor threw herself awayfrom the bed and ran to hold her hands against "go away," she shouted wildly. generated "go away, go away!"

there was complete silence, and eleanor thought,standing with her face against the door, now i've done it; it was looking for the roomwith someone inside. the cold crept and pinched at them, fillingand overflowing the room. anyone would have thought that the inhabitantsof hill house slept sweetly in this quiet, and then, so suddenly that eleanor wheeledaround, the sound of theodora's teeth chattering, and eleanor laughed. "you big baby," she said. "i'm cold," theodora said. "deadly cold."

"so am i." eleanor took the green quilt andthrew it around theodora, and took up theodora's warm dressing gown and put it on. "you warmer now?" "where's luke? where's the doctor?" "i don't know. are you warmer now?" "no." theodora shivered.

"in a minute i'll go out in the hall and callthem; are you—" it started again, as though it had been listening, waiting to hear theirvoices and what they said, to identify them, to know how well prepared they were againstit, waiting to hear if they were afraid. so suddenly that eleanor leaped back againstthe bed and theodora gasped and cried out, the iron crash came against their door, andboth of them lifted their eyes in horror, because the hammering was against the upperedge of the door, higher than either of them could reach, higher than luke or the doctorcould reach, and the sickening, degrading cold came in waves from whatever was outsidethe door. eleanor stood perfectly still and looked atthe door.

she did not quite know what to do, althoughshe believed that she was thinking coherently and was not unusually frightened, not morefrightened, certainly, than she had believed in her worst dreams she could be. the cold troubled her even more than the sounds;even theodora's warm robe was useless against the icy little curls of fingers on her back. the intelligent thing to do, perhaps, wasto walk over and open the door; that, perhaps, would belong with the doctor's views of purescientific inquiry. eleanor knew that, even if her feet wouldtake her as far as the door, her hand would not lift to the doorknob; impartially, remotely,she told herself that no one's hand would

touch that knob; it's not the work hands weremade for, she told herself. she had been rocking a little, each crashagainst the door pushing her a little backward, and now she was still because the noise wasfading. "i'm going to complain to the janitor aboutthe radiators," theodora said from behind "is it stopping?" "no," eleanor said, sick. it had found them. since eleanor would not open the door, itwas going to make its own way in. eleanor said aloud, "now i know why peoplescream, because i think i'm going to," and

theodora said, "i will if you will," and laughed,so that eleanor turned quickly back to the bed and they held each other, listening insilence. little pattings came from around the doorframe,small seeking sounds, feeling the edges of the door, trying to sneak a way in. the doorknob was fondled, and eleanor, whispering,asked, "is it locked?" and theodora nodded and then, wide-eyed, turned to stare at theconnecting bathroom door. "mine's locked too," eleanor said againsther ear, and theodora closed her eyes in relief. the little sticky generated by abc amber litconverter, sounds moved on around the doorframe and then,as though a fury caught whatever was outside,

the crashing came again, and eleanor and theodorasaw the wood of the door tremble and shake, and the door move against its hinges. "you can't get in," eleanor said wildly, andagain there was a silence, as though the house listened with attention to her words, understanding,cynically agreeing, content to wait. a thin little giggle came, in a breath ofair through the room, a little mad rising laugh, the smallest whisper of a laugh, andeleanor heard it all up and down her back, a little gloating laugh moving past them aroundthe house, and then she heard the doctor and luke calling from the stairs and, mercifully,it was over. when the real silence came, eleanor breathedshakily and moved stiffly.

"we've been clutching each other like a coupleof lost children," theodora said and untwined her arms from around eleanor's neck. "you're wearing my bathrobe." "i forgot mine. is it really over?" "for tonight, anyway." theodora spoke with certainty. "can't you tell? aren't you warm again?"

the sickening cold was gone, except for areminiscent little thrill of it down eleanor's back when she looked at the door. she began to pull at the tight knot she hadput in the bathrobe cord, and said, "intense cold is one of the symptoms of shock." "intense shock is one of the symptoms i'vegot," theodora said. "here come luke and the doctor." their voices were outside in the hall, speakingquickly, anxiously, and eleanor dropped theodora's robe on the bed and said, "for heaven's sake,don't let them knock on that door—one more knock would finish me"—and ran into herown room to get her own robe.

behind her she could hear theodora tellingthem to wait a minute, and then going to unlock the door, and then luke's voice saying pleasantlyto theodora, "why, you look as though you'd seen a ghost." when eleanor came back she noticed that bothluke and the doctor were dressed, and it occurred, to her that it might be a sound idea fromnow on; if that intense cold was going to come back at night it was going to find eleanorsleeping in a wool suit and a heavy sweater, and she didn't care what mrs. dudley was goingto say when she found that at least one of the lady guests was lying in one of the cleanbeds in heavy shoes and wool socks. "well," she asked, "how do you gentlemen likeliving in a haunted house?"

"it's perfectly fine," luke said, "perfectlyfine. it gives me an excuse to have a drink in themiddle of the night." he had the brandy bottle and glasses, andeleanor thought that they must make a companionable little group, the four of them, sitting aroundtheodora's room at four in the morning, drinking brandy. they spoke lightly, quickly, and gave oneanother fast, hidden, little curious glances, each of them wondering what secret terrorhad been tapped in the others, what changes might show in face or gesture, what unguardedweakness might have opened the way to ruin. "did anything happen in here while we wereoutside?" the doctor asked.

eleanor and theodora looked at each otherand laughed, honestly at last, without any edge of hysteria or fear. after a minute theodora said carefully, "nothingin particular. someone knocked on the door with a cannonball and then tried to get in and eat us, and started laughing its head off when wewouldn't open the door. but nothing really out of the way." generated curiously, eleanor went over and opened the door. "i thought the whole door was going to shatter,"she said, bewildered, "and there isn't even

a scratch on the wood, nor on any of the otherdoors; they're perfectly smooth." "how nice that it didn't mar the woodwork,"theodora said, holding her brandy glass out to luke. "i couldn't bear it if this dear old housegot hurt." she grinned at eleanor. "nellie here was going to scream." "so were you." "not at all; i only said so to keep you company. besides, mrs. dudley already said she wouldn'tcome.

and where wereyou , our manly defenders?" "we were chasing a dog," luke said. "at least, some animal like a dog." he stopped, and then went on reluctantly. "we followed it outside." theodora stared, and eleanor said, "you meanit wasinside ?" "i saw it run past my door," the doctor said, "just caught a glimpse ofit, slipping along. i woke luke and we followed it down the stairsand out into the garden and lost it somewhere back of the house."

"the front door was open?" "no," luke said. "the front door was closed. so were all the other doors. we checked." "we've been wandering around for quite a while,"the doctor said. "we never dreamed that you ladies were awakeuntil we heard your voices." he spoke gravely. "there is one thing we have not taken intoaccount," he said.

they looked at him, puzzled, and he explained,checking on his fingers in his lecture style. "first," he said, "luke and i were awakenedearlier than you ladies, clearly; we have been up and about, outside and in, for betterthan two hours, led on what you perhaps might allow me to call a wild-goose chase. second, neither of us"—he glanced inquiringlyat luke as he spoke—"heard any sound up here until your voices began. it was perfectly quiet. that is, the sound which hammered on yourdoor was not audible to us. when we gave up our vigil and decided to comeupstairs we apparently drove away whatever

was waiting outside your door. now, as we sit here together, all is quiet." "i still don't see what you mean," theodorasaid, frowning. "we must take precautions," he said. "against what? how?" "when luke and i are called outside, and youtwo are kept imprisoned inside, doesn't it begin to seem"—and his voice was very quiet—"doesn'tit begin to seem that the intention is, somehow, to separate us?"

chapter 5 looking at herself in the mirror,with the bright morning sunlight freshening even the blue room of hill generated by abcamber lit converter, house, eleanor thought, it is my second morningin hill house, and i am unbelievably happy. journeys end in lovers meeting; i have spentan all but sleepless night, i have told lies and made a fool of myself, and the very airtastes like wine. i have been frightened half out of my foolishwits, but i have somehow earned this joy; i have been waiting for it for so long. abandoning a lifelong belief that to namehappiness is to dissipate it, she smiled at herself in the mirror and told herself silently,you are happy, eleanor, you have finally been

given a part of your measure of happiness. looking away from her own face in the mirror,she thought blindly, journeys end in lovers meeting, lovers meeting. "luke?" it was theodora, calling outside in the hall. "you carried off one of my stockings lastnight, and you are a thieving cad, and i hope mrs. dudley can hear me." eleanor could hear luke, faintly, answering;he protested that a gentleman had a right to keep the favors bestowed upon him by alady, and he was absolutely certain that mrs.

dudley could hear every word. now theodora pounded on the connecting door. "are you awake? may i come in?" "come, of course," eleanor said, looking ather own face in the mirror. you deserve it, she told herself, you havespent your life earning it. theodora opened the door and said happily,"how pretty you look this morning, my nell. this curious life agrees with you." eleanor smiled at her; the life clearly agreedwith theodora too.

"we ought by rights to be walking around withdark circles under our eyes and a look of wild despair," theodora said, putting an armaround eleanor and looking into the mirror beside her, "and look at us—two blooming,fresh young lovelies." "i'm thirty-four years old," eleanor said,and wondered what obscure defiance made her add two years. "and you look about fourteen," theodora said. "come along; we've earned our breakfast." laughing, they raced down the great staircaseand found their way through the game room and into the dining room.

"good morning," luke said brightly. "and how did everyone sleep?" "delightfully, thank you," eleanor said. "like a baby." "there may have been a little noise," theodorasaid, "but one has to expect that in these old houses. doctor, what do we do this morning?" "hmm?" said the doctor, looking up. he alone looked tired, but his eyes were lightedwith the same brightness they found, all,

in one another; it is excitement, eleanorthought; we are all enjoying ourselves. "ballechin house," the doctor said, savoringhis words. "borley rectory. glamis castle. it is incredible to find oneself experiencingit, absolutely incredible. i could not have believed it. i begin to understand, dimly, the remote delightof your true medium. i think i shall have the marmalade, if youwould be so kind. thank you.

my wife will never believe me. food has a new flavor—do you find it so?" "it isn't just that mrs. dudley has surpassedherself, then; i was wondering," luke said. "i've been trying to remember," eleanor said. "about last night, i mean. i can rememberknowing that i generated byabc amber lit converter, was frightened, but i can't imagine actuallybeingfrightened—" "i remember the cold," theodora said, and shivered. "i think it's because it was so unreal byany pattern of thought i'm used to; i mean,

it just didn't make sense ." eleanor stoppedand laughed, embarrassed. "i agree," luke said. "i found myself this morningtelling myselfwhat had happened last night; the reverse of a bad dream, as a matter of fact, whereyou keep telling yourself that itdidn't really happen." "i thought it was exciting," theodora said. the doctor lifted a warning finger. "it is still perfectly possible that it isall caused by subterranean waters." "then more houses ought to be built over secretsprings," theodora said.

the doctor frowned. "this excitement troubles me," he said. "it is intoxicating, certainly, but mightit not also be dangerous? an effect of the atmosphere of hill house? the first sign that we have—as it were—fallenunder a spell?" "then i will be an enchanted princess," theodorasaid. "and yet," luke said, "if last night is atrue measure of hill house, we are not going to have much trouble; we were frightened,certainly, and found the experience unpleasant while it was going on, and yet i cannot rememberthat i felt in anyphysical danger; even theodora

telling that whatever was outside her doorwas coming to eat her did not really sound—" "i know what she meant," eleanor said, "becausei thought it was exactly the right word. the sense was that it wanted to consume us,take us into itself, make us a part of the house, maybe—oh, dear. i thought i knew what i was saying, but i'mdoing it very badly." "no physical danger exists," the doctor saidpositively. "no ghost in all the long histories of ghostshas ever hurt anyone physically. the only damage done is by the victim to himself. one cannot even say that the ghost attacksthe mind, because the mind, the conscious,

thinking mind, is invulnerable; in all ourconscious minds, as we sit here talking, there is not one iota of belief in ghosts. not one of us, even after last night, cansay the word 'ghost' without a little involuntary smile. no, the menace of the supernatural is thatit attacks where modern minds are weakest, where we have abandoned our protective armorof superstition and have no substitute defense. not one of us thinks rationally that whatran through the garden last night was a ghost, and what knocked on the door was a ghost;and yet there was certainly something going on in hill house last night, and the mind'sinstinctive refuge—self-doubt—is eliminated.

we cannot say, 'it was my imagination,' becausethree other people were there too." "i could say," eleanor put in, smiling, "'allthree of you are in my imagination; none of this is real.'" "if i thought you could really believe that,"the doctor said gravely, "i would turn you out of hill house this morning. you would be venturing far too close to thestate of mind which would welcome the perils of hill house with a kind of sisterly embrace." "he means he would think you were batty, nelldear." generated "well," eleanor said, "i expect i would be.

if i had to take sides with hill house againstthe rest of you, i would expect you to send me away." why me, she wondered, why me? am i the public conscience? expected always to say in cold words whatthe rest of them are too arrogant to recognize? am i supposed to be the weakest, weaker thantheodora? of all of us, she thought, i am surely theone least likely to turn against the others. "poltergeists are another thing altogether,"the doctor said, his eyes resting briefly on eleanor.

"they deal entirely with the physical world;they throw stones, they move objects, they smash dishes; mrs. foyster at borley rectorywas a long-suffering woman, but she finally lost her temper entirely when her best teapotwas hurled through the window. poltergeists, however, are rock-bottom onthe supernatural social scale; they are destructive, but mindless and will-less; they are merelyundirected force. do you recall," he asked with a little smile,"oscar wilde's lovely story, 'the canterville ghost'?" "the american twins who routed the fine oldenglish ghost," theodora said. "exactly.

i have always liked the notion that the americantwins were actually a poltergeist phenomenon; certainly poltergeists can overshadow anymore interesting manifestation. bad ghosts drive out good." and he patted his hands happily. "they drive out everything else, too," headded. "there is a manor in scotland, infested withpoltergeists, where as many as seventeen spontaneous fires have broken out in one day; poltergeistslike to turn people out of bed violently by tipping the bed end over end, and i rememberthe case of a minister who was forced to leave his home because he was tormented, day afterday, by a poltergeist who hurled at his head

hymn books stolen from a rival church." suddenly, without reason, laughter trembledinside eleanor; she wanted to run to the head of the table and hug the doctor, she wantedto reel, chanting, across the stretches of the lawn, she wanted to sing and to shoutand to fling her arms and move in great emphatic, possessing circles around the rooms of hillhouse; i am here, i am here, she thought. she shut her eyes quickly in delight and thensaid demurely to the doctor, "and what do we do today?" "you're still like a pack of children," thedoctor said, smiling too. "always asking me what to do today.

can't you amuse yourselves with your toys? or with each other?i have work to do." "all ireally want to do"—and theodora giggled—"isslide down that banister." the excited gaiety had caught her as it hadeleanor. "hide and seek," luke said. "try not to wander around alone too much,"the doctor said. "i can't think of a good reason why not, butit does seem sensible." "because there are bears in the woods," theodorasaid. "and tigers in the attic," eleanor said.

"and an old witch in the tower, and a dragonin the drawing room." "i am quite serious," the doctor said, laughing. "it's ten o'clock. i clear—" generated by abc amber lit converter, "good morning, mrs. dudley," the doctor said, andeleanor and theodora and luke leaned back and laughed helplessly. "i clear at ten o'clock." "we won't keep you long. about fifteen minutes, please, and then youcan clear the table."

"i clear breakfast at ten o'clock. i set on lunch at one. dinner i set on at six. it's ten o'clock." "mrs. dudley," the doctor began sternly, andthen, noticing luke's face tight with silent laughter, lifted his napkin to cover his eyes,and gave in. "you may clear the table, mrs. dudley," thedoctor said brokenly. happily, the sound of their laughter echoingalong the halls of hill house and carrying to the marble group in the drawing room andthe nursery upstairs and the odd little top

to the tower, they made their way down thepassage to their parlor and fell, still laughing, into chairs. "we must not make fun of mrs. dudley," thedoctor said and leaned forward, his face in his hands and his shoulders shaking. they laughed for a long time, speaking nowand then in halfphrases, trying to tell one another something, pointing at one anotherwildly, and their laughter rocked hill house until, weak and aching, they lay back, spent,and regarded one another. "now—" the doctor began, and was stoppedby a little giggling burst from theodora. "now," the doctor said again, more severely,and they were quiet.

"i want more coffee," he said, appealing. "don't we all?" "you mean go right in there and ask mrs. dudley?" "walk right up to her when it isn't one o'clockor six o'clock and justask her for some coffee?" theodora demanded. "roughly, yes," the doctor said. "luke, my boy, i have observed that you arealready something of a favorite with mrs. dudley—" "and how," luke inquired with amazement,"did you ever manage to observe anything so unlikely?

mrs. dudley regards me with the same particularloathing she gives a dish not properly on its shelf; in mrs. dudley's eyes—" "youare, after all, the heir to the house," the doctor said coaxingly. "mrs. dudley must feel for you as an old familyretainer feels for the young master." "in mrs. dudley's eyes i am something lowerthan a dropped fork. i beg of you, if you are contemplating askingthe old fool for something, send theo, or our charming nell.they are not afraid—""nope," theodora said. "you can't send a helpless female to facedown mrs. dudley. nell and i are here to be protected, not toman the battlements for you cowards."

"the doctor—" "nonsense," the doctor saidheartily. "you certainly wouldn't think of askingme, an older man; anyway, youknow she adores you. generated "insolent graybeard," luke said. "sacrificing me for a cup of coffee. do not be surprised, and i say it darkly,do not be surprised if you lose your luke in this cause; perhaps mrs. dudley has notyet had her own midmorning snack, and she is perfectly capable of afilet de luke ã la meuniã©re , or perhaps dieppoise , depending upon her mood; if i do not return"—and heshook his finger warningly under the doctor's

nose—"i entreat you to regard your lunchwith the gravest suspicion." bowing extravagantly, as befitted one offto slay a giant, he closed the door behind "lovely luke." "lovely hill house," eleanor said. "theo, there is a kind of little summerhousein the side garden, all overgrown; i noticed it yesterday. can we explore it this morning?" "delighted," theodora said. "i would not like to leave one inch of hillhouse uncherished.

anyway, it's too nice, a day to stay inside." "we'll ask luke to come too," eleanor said. "and you, doctor?" "my notes—" the doctor began, and then stoppedas the door opened so suddenly that in eleanor's mind was only the thought that luke had notdared face mrs. dudley after all, but had stood, waiting, pressed against the door;then, looking at his white face and hearing the doctor say with fury, "i broke my ownfirst rule; i sent him alone," she found herself only asking urgently, "luke? luke?"

"it's all right." luke even smiled. "but come into the long hallway." chilled by his face and his voice and hissmile, they got up silently and followed him through the doorway into the dark long hallwaywhich led back to the front hall. "here," luke said, and a little winding shiverof sickness went down eleanor's back when she saw that he was holding a lighted matchup to the wall. "it's—writing?" eleanor asked, pressing closer to see.

"writing," luke said. "i didn't even notice it until i was comingback. mrs. dudley said no," he added, his voicetight. "my flash." the doctor took his flashlight from his pocket,and under its light, as he moved slowly from one end of the hall to the other, the lettersstood out clearly. "chalk," the doctor said, stepping forwardto touch a letter with the tip of his finger. "written in chalk." the writing was large and straggling and oughtto have looked, eleanor thought, as though

it had been scribbled by bad boys on a fence. instead, it was incredibly real, going inbroken lines over the thick paneling of the hallway. from one end of the hallway to the other theletters went, almost too large to read, even when she stood back against the opposite wall. "can you read it?" luke asked softly, and the doctor, movinghis flashlight, read slowly: help eleanor come home. and eleanor felt the words stop in her throat;she had seen her name as the doctor read it.

it is me, she thought. it is my name standing out there so clearly;i should not be on the walls of this house. "wipe it off,please ," she said, and felttheodora' s arm go around her shoulders. "it'scrazy ," eleanor said, bewildered. generated "crazy is the word, all right," theodora said strongly. "come back inside, nell, and sit down. luke will get something and wipe it off." "but it'scrazy ," eleanor said, hanging backto see her name on the wall.

"why—?" firmly the doctor put her through the doorinto the little parlor and closed it; luke had already attacked the message with hishandkerchief. "now you listen to me," the doctor said toeleanor. "just because your name—" "that's it," eleanorsaid, staring at him. "it knowsmy name, doesn't it? it knows my name." "shut up, will you?" theodora shook her violently.

"it could have said any of us; it knowsallour names." "did you write it?" eleanor turned to theodora. "please tell me—i won't be angry or anything,just so i can know that—maybe it was only a joke? to frighten me?" she looked appealingly at the doctor. "you know that none of us wrote it," the doctorsaid. luke came in, wiping his hands on his handkerchief,and eleanor turned hopefully.

"luke," she said, "you wrote it, didn't you? when you went out?" luke stared, and then came to sit on the armof her chair. "listen," he said, "you want me to go writingyour name every- where? carving your initials on trees? writing 'eleanor, eleanor' on little scrapsof paper?" he gave her hair a soft little pull. "i've got more sense," he said. "behave yourself."

"then why me?" eleanor said, looking from one of them toanother; i am outside, she thought madly, i am the one chosen, and she said quickly,beggingly, "did i do something to attract attention, more than anyone else?" "no more than usual, dear," theodora said. she was standing by the fireplace, leaningon the mantel and tapping her fingers, and when she spoke she looked at eleanor witha bright smile. "maybe you wrote it yourself." angry, eleanor almost shouted.

"you think iwant to see my name scribbledall over this foul house? you thinki like the idea that i'm the centerof attention?i'm not the spoiled baby, after all—idon't like being singled out—" "askingfor help, did you notice?" theodora said lightly. "perhaps the spirit of the poor little companionhas found a means of communication at last. maybe she was only waiting for some drab,timid—" "maybe it was only addressed to me because no possible appeal for help couldget through that iron selfishness of yours; maybe i might have more sympathy and understandingin one minute than—" "and maybe, of course, you wrote it to yourself," theodora said again.

after the manner of men who see women quarreling,the doctor and luke had withdrawn, standing tight generated by abc amber lit converter, together in miserable silence; now, at last, luke movedand spoke. "that's enough, eleanor," he said, unbelievably,and eleanor whirled around, stamping. "how dare you?" she said, gasping. "howdare you?" and the doctor laughed, then, and she staredat him and then at luke, who was smiling and watching her. what is wrong with me? she thought.

then—but they think theodora did it on purpose,made me mad so i wouldn't be frightened; how shameful to be maneuvered that way. she covered her face and sat down in her chair. "nell, dear," theodora said, "iam sorry." i must say something, eleanor told herselfi must show them that i am a good sport, after all; a good sport; let them think that i amashamed of myself. "i'msorry," she said. "i was frightened." "of course you were," the doctor said, andeleanor thought, how simple he is, how transparent;

he believes every silly thing he has everheard. he thinks, even, that theodora shocked meout of hysteria. she smiled at him and thought, now i am backin the fold. "i really thought you were going to startshrieking," theodora said, coming to kneel by eleanor's chair. "i would have, in your place. but we can't afford to have you break up,you know." we can't afford to have anyone but theodorain the center of the stage, eleanor thought; if eleanor is going to be the outsider, sheis going to be it all alone.

she reached out and patted theodora's headand said, "thanks. i guess i was kind of shaky for a minute." "i wondered if you two were going to cometo blows," luke said, "until i realized what theodora was doing." smiling down into theodora's bright, happyeyes, eleanor thought, but that isn't what theodora was doing at all. 2 time passed lazily at hill house. eleanor and theodora, the doctor and luke,alert against terror, wrapped around by the rich hills and securely set into the warm,dark luxuries of the house, were permitted

a quiet day and a quiet night—enough, perhaps,to dull them a little. they took their meals together, and mrs. dudley'scooking stayed perfect. they talked together and played chess; thedoctor finishedpamela and began onsir charles grandison . a compelling need for occasionalprivacy led them to spend some hours alone in their separate rooms, without disturbance. theodora and eleanor and luke explored thetangled thicket behind the house and found the little summerhouse, while the doctor saton the wide lawn, writing, within sight and hearing. they found a walled-in rose garden, grownover with weeds, and a vegetable garden tenderly

nourished by the dudleys. they spoke often of arranging their picnicby the brook. there were wild strawberries near the summerhouse,and theodora and eleanor and luke brought back a handkerchief full and lay on the lawnnear the doctor, eating them, staining their hands and their mouths; like children, thedoctor told them, looking up with amusement from his notes. each of them had written—carelessly, andwith little attention to detail—an account of what they thought they had seen and heardso far in hill house, and the doctor had put the papers away in his portfolio.

the next morning—their third morning inhill house—the doctor, aided by luke, had spent a loving and maddening hour on the floorof the upstairs hall, trying, with chalk and measuring tape, to determine the precise dimensionsof the cold spot, while eleanor and theodora sat cross-legged on the generated by abc amberlit converter, hall floor, noting down the doctor's measurementsand playing tictac-toe. the doctor was considerably hampered in hiswork by the fact that, his hands repeatedly chilled by the extreme cold, he could nothold either the chalk or the tape for more than a minute at a time. luke, inside the nursery doorway, could holdone end of the tape until his hand came into

the cold spot, and then his fingers lost strengthand relaxed helplessly. a thermo- meter, dropped into the center ofthe cold spot, refused to register any change at all, but continued doggedly maintainingthat the temperature there was the same as the temperature down the rest of the hall,causing the doctor to fume wildly against the statisticians of borley rectory, who hadcaught an eleven-degree drop. when he had defined the cold spot as wellas he could, and noted his results in his notebook, he brought them downstairs for lunchand issued a general challenge to them, to meet him at croquet in the cool of the afternoon. "it seems foolish," he explained, "to spenda morning as glorious as this has been looking

at a frigid place on a floor. we must plan to spend more time outside"—andwas mildly surprised when they laughed. "is there still a world somewhere?" eleanor asked wonderingly. mrs. dudley had made them a peach shortcake,and she looked down at her plate and said, "i am sure mrs. dudley goes somewhere elseat night, and she brings back heavy cream each morning, and dudley comes up with groceriesevery afternoon, but as far as i can remember there is no other place than this." "we are on a desert island," luke said.

"i can't picture any world but hill house,"eleanor said. "perhaps," theodora said, "we should makenotches on a stick, or pile pebbles in a heap, one each day, so we will know how long wehave been marooned." "how pleasant not to have any word from outside." luke helped himself to an enormous heap ofwhipped cream. "no letters, no newspapers; anything mightbe happening." "unfortunately—" the doctor said, and thenstopped. "i beg your pardon," he went on. i meant only to say that wordwill be reachingus from outside, and of course it is not unfortunate

at all. mrs. montague—my wife, that is—will behere on saturday." "but when is saturday?" "delighted to see mrs. montague, of course." "day after tomorrow." the doctor thought. "yes," he said after a minute, "i believethat the day after tomorrow is saturday. we will know it is saturday, of course," hetold them with a little twinkle, "because mrs. montague will be here."

"i hope she is not holding high hopes of thingsgoing bump in the night," theodora said. "hill house has fallen far short of its originalpromise, i think. or perhaps mrs. montague will be greeted witha volley of psychic experiences." "mrs. montague," the doctor said, "will beperfectly ready to receive them." "i wonder," theodora said to eleanor as theyleft the lunch table under mrs. dudley's watchful eye, "why everythinghas been so quiet. i think this waiting is nerve-racking, almostworse than having something happen. "it's not us doing the waiting," eleanor said. "it's the house.

i think it's biding its time." generated "waiting until we feel secure, maybe, and then it will pounce." "i wonder how long it can wait." eleanor shivered and started up the greatstaircase. "i am almost tempted to write a letter tomy sister. you know—'having a perfectlysplendid timehere in jolly old hill house…'" "'you really must plan to bring the wholefamily next summer,"' theodora went on. "'we sleep under blankets every night…'"

"'the air is so bracing, particularly in theupstairs hall…"' "'you go around all the time just glad tobe alive…'" "'there's something going on every minute…'" "'civilization seems so far away…'" she was ahead of theodora, at the top of thestairs. the dark hallway was a little lightened thisafternoon, because they had left the nursery door open and the sunlight came through thewindows by the tower and touched the doctor's measuring tape and chalk on the floor. the light reflected from the stained-glasswindow on the stair landing and made shattered

fragments of blue and orange and green onthe dark wood of the hall. "i'm going to sleep," she said. "i've never been so lazy in my life." "i'm going to lie on my bed and dream aboutstreetcars," theodora said. it had become eleanor's habit to hesitatein the doorway of her room, glancing around quickly before she went inside; she told herselfthat this was because the room was so exceedingly blue and always took a moment to get usedto. when she came inside she went across to openthe window, which she always found closed; today she was halfway across the room beforeshe heard theodora's door slam back, and theodora's

smothered "eleanor!" moving quickly, eleanor ran into the halland to theodora's doorway, to stop, aghast, looking over theodora's shoulder. "what does itlook like?" theodora's voice rose crazily. "what does itlook like, you fool?" and i won't forgive her that, either, eleanorthought concretely through her bewilderment. "it looks like paint," she said hesitantly. "except"—realizing—"except the smell isawful."

"it's blood," theodora said with finality. she clung to the door, swaying as the doormoved, staring. "blood," she said. "all over. do you see it?" "of course i see it. and it's notall over. stop making such a fuss." although, she thought conscientiously, theodorawas making very little of a fuss, actually.

one of these times, she thought, one of usis going to put her head back and really howl, and i hope it won't be me, because i'm tryingto guard against it; itwill be theodora who…and then, cold, she asked, "is that more writingon the wall?"—and heard theodora's wild laugh, and thought, maybe it will be me, afterall, and i can't afford to. i must be steady, and she closed her eyesand found herself saying silently, 0 stay and hear, your true love's coming, that cansing both high and low. trip no further, pretty sweeting; journeysend in lovers meeting… "yes indeed, dear," theodora said. "i don't know how you managed it."

generated every wise man's son doth know. "be sensible," eleanor said. "call luke. and the doctor." "why?" "wasn't it to be just a little private surprisefor me? a secret just for the two of us?" then, pulling away from eleanor, who triedto hold her from going farther into the room, she ran to the great wardrobe and threw openthe door and, cruelly, began to cry.

"my clothes," she said. "my clothes." steadily eleanor turned and went to the topof the stairs. "luke," she called, leaning over the banisters. "doctor." her voice was not loud, and she had triedto keep it level, but she heard the doctor's book drop to the floor and then the poundingof feet as he and luke ran for the stairs. she watched them, seeing their apprehensivefaces, wondering at the uneasiness which lay so close below the surface in all of them,so that each of them seemed always waiting

for a cry for help from one of the others;intelligence and understanding are really no protection at all, she thought. "it's theo," she said as they came to thetop of the stairs. "she's hysterical. someone—something—has gotten red paintin her room, and she's crying over her clothes." now i could not have put it more fairly thanthat, she thought, turning to follow them. could i have put it more fairly than that?she asked herself, and found that she was smiling. theodora was still sobbing wildly in her roomand kicking at the wardrobe door, in a tantrum

that might have been laughable if she hadnot been holding her yellow shirt, matted and stained; her other clothes had been tornfrom the hangers and lay trampled and disordered on the wardrobe floor, all of them smearedand reddened. luke asked the doctor, and the doctor, shakinghis head, said, "i would swear that it was blood, and yet to get so much blood one wouldalmost have to…'' and then was abruptly quiet. all of them stood in silence for a momentand looked at help eleanor come home eleanor written in shaky red letters on the wallpaperover theodora's bed. this time i am ready, eleanor told herself,and said, "you'd better get her out of here;

bring her into my room." "my clothes are ruined," theodora said tothe doctor. "do you see my clothes?" the smell was atrocious, and the writing onthe wall had dripped and splattered. there was a line of drops from the wall tothe wardrobe-perhaps what had first turned theodora's attention that way and a greatirregular stain on the green rug. "it's disgusting," eleanor said. "please get theo into my room." luke and the doctor between them persuadedtheodora through the bathroom and into eleanor's

room, and eleanor, looking at the red paint(it must be paint, she told herself; it's simplygot to be paint; what elsecould it be?),said aloud, "butwhy ?" and stared up at the writing on the wall. here lies one, she thought gracefully, whosename was writ in blood; is it possible that i am not quite coherent at this moment? "is she all right?" she asked, turning asthe doctor came back into the room. "she will be in a few minutes. we'll have to move her in with you for a while,i should think; i can't imagine her wanting to sleep inhere again."

the doctor smiled a little wanly. "it will be a long time, i think, before sheopens another door by herself." generated "i suppose she'll have to wear my clothes." "i suppose she will, if you don't mind." "this message troubles you less than the other?" "it's too silly," eleanor said, trying tounderstand her own feelings. "i've been standing here looking at it andjust wonderingwhy . i mean, it's like a joke that didn't come off; i was supposed to bemuchmore frightened than this, i think, and i'm not because it's simplytoo horrible to bereal.

and i keep remembering theo putting red polish…" she giggled, and the doctor looked at hersharply, but she went on, "it might aswell be paint, don't you see?" i can't stop talking, she thought; what doihave to explain in all this? "maybe i can't take it seriously," she said,"after the sight of theo screaming over her poor clothes and accusing me of writing myname all over her wall. maybe i'm getting used to her blaming me foreverything." "nobody's blaming you for anything," the doctorsaid, and eleanor felt that she had been reproved. "i hope my clothes will be good enough forher," she said tartly.

the doctor turned, looking around the room;he touched one finger gingerly to the letters on the wall and moved theodora's yellow shirtwith his foot. "later," he said absently. "tomorrow, perhaps." he glanced at eleanor and smiled. "i can make an exact sketch of this," he said. "i can help you," eleanor said. "it makes me sick, but it doesn't frightenme." "yes," the doctor said.

"i think we'd better close up the room fornow, however; we don't want theodora blundering in here again. then later, at my leisure, i can study it. also," he said with a flash of amusement,"i would not like to have mrs. dudley coming in here to straighten up." eleanor watched silently while he locked thehall door from inside the room, and then they went through the bathroom and he locked theconnecting door into theodora's green room. "i'll see about moving in another bed," hesaid, and then, with some awkwardness, "you've kept your head well, eleanor; it's a helpto me."

"i told you, it makes me sick but it doesn'tfrighten me," she said, pleased, and turned to theodora. theodora was lying on eleanor's bed, and eleanorsaw with a queasy turn that theodora had gotten red on her hands and it was rubbing off ontoeleanor's pillow. "look," she said harshly, coming over to theodora,"you'll have to wear my clothes until you get new ones, or until we get the others cleaned." "cleaned?" theodora rolled convulsively on the bed andpressed her stained hands against her eyes. " cleaned?"

"for heaven's sake," eleanor said, "let mewash you off." she thought, without trying to find a reason,that she had never felt such uncontrollable loathing for any person before, and she wentinto the bathroom and soaked a towel and came back to scrub roughly at theodora's handsand face. "you're filthy with the stuff," she said,hating to touch theodora. suddenly theodora smiled at her. "i don't really think you did it," she said,and eleanor turned to see that luke was behind her, looking down at them. "what a fool i am," theodora said to him,and luke laughed.

generated "you will be a delight in nell's red sweater," he said. she is wicked, eleanor thought, beastly andsoiled and dirty. she took the towel into the bathroom and leftit to soak in cold water; when she came out luke was saying,"…another bed in here; yougirls are going to share a room from now on." "share a room and share our clothes," theodorasaid. "we're going to be practically twins." "cousins," eleanor said, but no one heardher. 3 "it was the custom, rigidly adhered to,"luke said, turning the brandy in his glass,

"for the public executioner, before a quartering,to outline his knife strokes in chalk upon the belly of his victim—for fear of a slip,you understand." i would like to hit her with a stick, eleanorthought, looking down on theodora's head beside her chair; i would like to batter her withrocks. "an exquisite refinement, exquisite. because of course the chalk strokes wouldhave been almost unbearable, excruciating, if the victim were ticklish." i hate her, eleanor thought, she sickens me;she is all washed and clean and wearing my red sweater.

"when the death was by hanging in chains,however, the executioner…" "nell?" theodora looked up at her and smiled. "i really am sorry, you know," she said. i would like to watch her dying, eleanor thought,and smiled back and said, "don't be silly." "among the sufis there is a teaching thatthe universe has never been created and consequently cannot be destroyed. i have spent the afternoon," luke announcedgravely, "browsing in our little library." the doctor sighed.

"no chess tonight, i think," he said to luke,and luke nodded. "it has been an exhausting day," the doctorsaid, "and i think you ladies should retire early." "not until i am well dulled with brandy,"theodora said firmly. "fear," the doctor said, "is the relinquishmentof logic, thewilling relinquishing of reasonable patterns. we yield to it or we fight it, but we cannotmeet it halfway." "i was wondering earlier," eleanor said, feelingshe had somehow an apology to make to all of them.

"i thought i was altogether calm, and yetnow i know i was terribly afraid." she frowned, puzzled, and they waited forher to go on. "when iam afraid, i can see perfectly thesensible, beautiful not-afraid side of the world, i can see chairs and tables and windowsstaying the same, not affected in the least, and i can see things like the careful woventexture of the carpet, not even moving. but when i am afraid i no longer exist inany relation to these things. i suppose because things arenot afraid." "i think we are only afraid of ourselves,"the doctor said slowly. generated "no," luke said.

"of seeing ourselves clearly and without disguise." "of knowing what we really want," theodorasaid. she pressed her cheek against eleanor's handand eleanor, hating the touch of her, took her hand away quickly. "i am always afraid of being alone," eleanorsaid, and wondered, ami talking like this? am i saying something i will regret bitterlytomorrow? am i making more guilt for myself? "those letters spelled out my name, and noneof you know what that feels like—it's sofamiliar ." and she gestured to them, almost in appeal.

"try tosee ," she said. "it's my own dear name, and it belongs tome, and something is using it and writing it and calling me with it and my own name…" she stopped and said, looking from one ofthem to another, even down onto theodora's face looking up at her, "look. there's only one of me, and it's all i'vegot. i hate seeing myself dissolve and slip andseparate so that i'm living in one half, my mind, and i see the other half of me helplessand frantic and driven and i can't stop it, but i know i'm not really going to be hurtand yet time is so long and even a second

goes on and on and i could stand any of itif i could only surrender—" "surrender?" said the doctor sharply, and eleanor stared. "surrender?" luke repeated. "i don't know," eleanor said, perplexed. i was just talking along, she told herself,i was saying something—what was i just saying? "she has done this before," luke said to thedoctor. "i know," said the doctor gravely, and eleanorcould feel them all looking at her. "i'm sorry," she said.

"did i make a fool of myself? it's probably because i'm tired." "not at all," the doctor said, still grave. "drink your brandy." "brandy? "and eleanor looked down, realizing that sheheld a brandy glass. "what did isay ?" she asked them. theodora chuckled. "drink," she said.

"you need it, my nell." obediently eleanor sipped at her brandy, feelingclearly its sharp burn, and then said to the doctor, "i must have said something silly,from the way you're all staring at me." "stop trying to be the center of attention." "vanity," luke said serenely. "have to be in the limelight," theodora said,and they smiled fondly, all looking at eleanor. 4 sitting up in the two beds beside each other,eleanor and theodora reached out between and held hands tight; the room was brutally coldand thickly dark. from the room next door, the room which untilthat morning had been theodora's, came the

steady low sound of a voice babbling, toolow for words to be understood, too steady for disbelief. holding hands so hard that each of them couldfeel the other's bones, eleanor and theodora listened, and the low, steady sound went onand on, the voice lifting generated by abc amber lit converter, for an emphasis on a mumbled word, falling sometimes to a breath, going on andon. then, without warning, there was a littlelaugh, the small gurgling laugh that broke through the babbling, and rose as it laughed,on up and up the scale, and then broke off suddenly in a little painful gasp, and thevoice went on.

theodora's grasp loosened, and tightened,and eleanor, lulled for a minute by the sounds, started and looked across to where theodoraought to be in the darkness, and then thought, screamingly, why is it dark?why it dark? she rolled and clutched theodora's hand withboth of hers, and tried to speak and could not, and held on, blindly, and frozen, tryingto stand her mind on its feet, trying to reason again. we left the light on, she told herself, sowhy is it dark? theodora, she tried to whisper, and her mouthcould not move; theodora, she tried to ask, why is it dark? and the voice went on, babbling,low and steady, a little liquid gloating sound.

she thought she might be able to distinguishwords if she lay perfectly still, if she lay perfectly still, and listened, and listenedand heard the voice going on and on, never ceasing, and she hung desperately to theodora'shand and felt an answering weight on her own hand. then the little gurgling laugh came again,and the rising mad sound of it drowned out the voice, and then suddenly absolute silence. eleanor took a breath, wondering if she couldspeak now, and then she heard a little soft cry which broke her heart, a little infinitelysad cry, a little sweet moan of wild sadness. it is a child , she thought with disbelief,a child is crying somewhere, and then, upon

that thought, came the wild shrieking voiceshe had never heard before and yet knew she had heard always in her nightmares. "go away!" it screamed. "go away, go away, don't hurt me," and, after,sobbing, "please don't hurt me. please let me go home," and then the littlesad crying again. i can't stand it, eleanor thought concretely. this is monstrous, this is cruel, they havebeen hurting a child and i won't let anyone hurt a child, and the babbling went on, lowand steady, on and on and on, the voice rising a little and falling a little, going on andon.

now, eleanor thought, perceiving that shewas lying sideways on the bed in the black darkness, holding with both hands to theodora'shand, holding so tight she could feel the fine bones of theodora's fingers, now, i willnot endure this. they think to scare me. well, they have. i am scared, but more than that, i am a person,i am human, i am a walking reasoning humorous human being and i will take a lot from thislunatic filthy house but i will not go along with hurting a child, no, i will not; i willby god get my mouth to open right now and i will yell i will i will yell "stop it,"she shouted, and the lights were on the way

they had left them and theodora was sittingup in bed, startled and disheveled. "what?" theodora was saying. "what, nell? what?" "god god," eleanor said, flinging herselfout of bed and across the room to stand shuddering in a corner, "god god—whose hand was i holding?" chapter 6 i am learning the pathways of theheart, eleanor thought quite seriously, and then wondered what she could have meant bythinking any such thing.

it was afternoon, and she sat in the sunlighton the steps of the summerhouse beside luke; these are the silent pathways of the heart,she thought. she knew that she was pale, and still shaken,with dark circles under her eyes, but the sun was warm and the leaves moved gently overhead,and luke beside her lay lazily against the step. "luke," she asked, going slowly for fear ofridicule, "why do people want to talk to each other? i mean, what are the things people alwayswant to find out about other people?" generated "what do you want to know about me, for instance?"

he laughed. she thought, but why not ask whathe wantsto know aboutme ; he is so extremely vain—and laughed in turn and said, "what can ieverknow about you, beyond what i see?"see was the least of the words she might have chosen,but the safest. tell me something that only i will ever know,was perhaps what she wanted to ask him, or, what will you give me to remember you by?—or,even, nothing of the least importance has ever belonged to me; can you help? then she wondered if she had been foolish,or bold, amazed at her own thoughts, but he only stared down at the leaf he held in hishands and frowned a little, as one who devotes

himself completely to an absorbing problem. he is trying to phrase everything to makeas good an impression as possible, she thought, and i will know how he holds me by what heanswers; how is he anxious to appear to me? does he think that i will be content withsmall mysticism, or will he exert himself to seem unique? is he going to be gallant? that would be humiliating, because then hewould show that he knows that gallantry enchants me; will he be mysterious? mad?

and how am i to receive this, which i perceivealready will be a confidence, even if it is not true? grant that luke take me at my worth,she thought, or at least let me not see the difference. let him be wise, or let me be blind; don'tlet me, she hoped concretely, don't let me know too surely what he thinks of me. then he looked at her briefly and smiled whatshe was coming to know as his self-deprecatory smile; did theodora, she wondered, and thethought was unwelcome, did theodora know him as well as this? "i never had a mother," he said, and the shockwas enormous.

isthat all he thinks of me, his estimate ofwhat i want to hear of him; will i enlarge this into a confidence making me worthy ofgreat confidences? shall i sigh? murmur? walk away? "no one ever loved me because i belonged,"he said. "i suppose you can understand that?" no, she thought, you are not going to catchme so cheaply; i do not understand words and will not accept them in trade for my feelings;this man is a parrot.

i will tell him that i can never understandsuch a thing, that maudlin self-pity does not move directly at my heart; i will notmake a fool of myself by encouraging him to mock me. "i understand, yes," she said. "i thought you might," he said, and she wanted,quite honestly, to slap his face. "i think you must be a very fine person, nell,"he said, and then spoiled it by adding, "warmhearted, and honest. afterwards, when you go home…" his voice trailed off, and she thought, eitherhe is beginning to tell me something extremely

important, or he is killing time until thisconversation can gracefully be ended. he would not speak in this fashion withouta reason; he does not willingly give himself away. does he think that a human gesture of affectionmight seduce me into hurling myself madly at him? is he afraid that i cannot behave like a lady? what does he know about me, about how i thinkand feel; does he feel sorry for me? "journeys end in lovers meeting," she said. "yes," he said.

"i never had a mother, as i told you. now i find that everyone else has had something-thati missed." he smiled at her. "i am entirely selfish," he said ruefully,"and always hoping that someone will tell me to behave, someone will make herself responsiblefor me and make me be grown-up." he is altogether selfish, she thought in somesurprise, the only man i have ever sat and talked to alone, and i am impatient; he issimply not very interesting. "why don't you grow up by yourself?" she askedhim, and wondered how many people—how many women—had already asked him that.

"you're clever." and how many times had he answered that way? generated this conversation must be largely instinctive, she thought with amusement, and said gently,"you must be a very lonely person." all i want is to be cherished, she thought,and here i am talking gibberish with a selfish man. "you must be very lonely indeed." he touched her hand, and smiled again. "you were so lucky," he told her.

"you had a mother." 2 "i found it in the library," luke said. "i swear i found it in the library." "incredible," the doctor said. "look," luke said. he set the great book on the table and turnedto the title page. "he made it himself—look, the title's beenlettered in ink:memories, for sophia anne lester crain; a legacy for her education andenlightenment during her lifetime from her affectionate and devoted father, hugh desmondlester crain; twenty-first june, 1881 ." they

pressed around the table, theodora and eleanorand the doctor, while luke lifted and turned the first great page of the book. "you see," luke said, "his little girl isto learn humility. he has clearly cut up a number of fine oldbooks to make this scrapbook, because i seem to recognize several of the pictures, andthey are all glued in. "the vanity of human accomplishment," thedoctor said. sadly. "think of the books hugh cram hacked apartto make this. now here is a goya etching; a horrible thingfor a little girl to meditate upon."

"underneath he has written," luke said, "underthis ugly picture: 'honor thy father and thy mother, daughter, authors of thy being, uponwhom a heavy charge has been laid, that they lead their child in innocence and righteousnessalong the fearful narrow path to everlasting bliss, and render her up at last to her goda pious and a virtuous soul; reflect, daughter, upon the joy in heaven as the souls of thesetiny creatures wing upward, released before they have learned aught of sin or faithlessness,and make it thine unceasing duty to remain as pure as these."' "poor baby," eleanor said, and gasped as luketurned the page; hugh cram's second moral lesson derived from a color plate of a snakepit, and vividly painted snakes writhed and

twisted along the page, above the message,neatly printed, and touched with gold: "eternal damnation is the lot of mankind; neither tears,nor reparation, can undo man's heritage of sin. daughter, hold apart from this world, thatits lusts and ingratitudes corrupt thee not; daughter, preserve thyself." "next comes hell," luke said. "don't look if you're squeamish." "i think i will skip hell," eleanor said,"but read it to me." "wise of you," the doctor said.

"an illustration from foxe; one of the lessattractive deaths, i have always thought, although who can fathom the ways of martyrs?" "see this, though," luke said. "he's burnt away a corner of the page, andhere is what he says: 'daughter, could you but hear for a moment the agony, the screaming,the dreadful crying out and repentance, of those poor souls condemned to everlastingflame! could thine eyes be seared, but for an generated instant, with the red glare of wasteland burningalways! alas, wretched beings, in undying pain!

daughter, your father has this minute touchedthe corner of his page to his candle, and seen the frail paper shrivel and curl in theflame; consider, daughter, that the heat of this candle is to the everlasting fires ofhell as a grain of sand to the reaching desert, and, as this paper burns in its slight flameso shall your soul burn forever, in fire a thousandfold more keen.'" "i'll bet he read it to her every night beforeshe went to sleep," theodora said. "wait," luke said. "you haven't seen heaven yet—evenyou canlook at this one, nell. it's blake, and a bit stern, i think, butobviously better than hell.

listen—'holy, holy, holy! in the pure light of heaven the angels praisehim and one another unendingly. daughter, it is here that i will seek thee.'" "what a labor of love it is," the doctor said. "hours of time just planning it, and the letteringis so dainty, and the gilt—" "now the seven deadly sins," luke said, "and i think theold boy drew them himself." "he really put his heart into gluttony," theodorasaid. "i'm not sure i'll ever be hungry again." "wait till lust," luke told her.

"the old fellow outdid himself." "i don't really want to look at any more ofit, i think," theodora said. "i'll sit over here with nell, and if youcome across any particularly edifying moral precepts you think would do me good, readthem aloud." "hereis lust," luke said. "was ever woman in this humor wooed?" "good heavens," said the doctor. "good heavens." "hemust have drawn it himself," luke said.

"for achild ?" the doctor was outraged. "her very own scrapbook. note pride, the very image of our nell here." "what?" said eleanor, starting up. "teasing," the doctor said placatingly. "don't come look, my dear; he's teasing you." "sloth, now," luke said. "envy," said the doctor. "how the poor child dared trans- gress…"

"the last page is the very nicest, i think. this, ladies, is hugh cram's blood. nell, do you want to see hugh cram's blood?" "no, thank you." "theo? no? in any case, i insist, for the sake of yourtwo consciences, in reading what hugh cram has to say in closing his book: 'daughter:sacred pacts are signed in blood, and i have here taken from my own wrist the vital fluidwith which i bind you.

live virtuously, be meek, have faith in thyredeemer, and generated by abc amber lit converter, inme, thy father, and i swear to thee that we will be joined together hereafter in unendingbliss. accept these precepts from thy devoted father,who in humbleness of spirit has made this book. may it serve its purpose well, my feeble effort,and preserve my child from the pitfalls of this world and bring her safe to her fathers arms in heaven.' and signed: 'thy everloving father, in thisworld and the next, author of thy being and guardian of thy virtue; in meekest love, hughcram."'

"how he must have enjoyed it," she said, "signinghis name in his own blood; i can see him laughing his head off." "not healthy, not at all a healthy work fora man," the doctor said. "but she must have been very small when herfather left the house," eleanor said. "i wonder if he ever did read it to her." "i'm sure he did, leaning over her cradleand spitting out the words so they would take root in her little mind. hugh cram," theodora said, "you were a dirtyold man, and you made a dirty old house and if you can still hear me from anywhere i wouldlike to tell you to your face that i genuinely

hope you will spend eternity in that foulhorrible picture and never stop burning for a minute." she made a wild, derisive gesture around theroom, and for a minute, still remembering, they were all silent, as though waiting foran answer, and then the coals in the fire fell with a little crash, and the doctor lookedat his watch and luke rose. "the sun is over the yardarm," the doctorsaid happily. 3 theodora curled by the fire, looking upwickedly at eleanor; at the other end of the room the chessmen moved softly, jarring withlittle sounds against the table, and theodora spoke gently, torment- ingly.

"will you have him at your little apartment,nell, and offer him to drink from your cup of stars?" eleanor looked into the fire, not answering. i have been so silly, she thought, i havebeen a fool. "is there room enough for two? would he come if you asked him?" nothing could be worse than this, eleanorthought; i have been a fool. "perhaps he has been longing for a tiny home—somethingsmaller, of course, than hill house; perhaps he will come home with you."

a fool, a ludicrous fool. "your white curtains—your tiny stone lions—"eleanor looked down at her, almost gently. "but ihad to come," she said, and stood up,turning blindly to get away. not hearing the startled voices behind her,not seeing where or how she went, she blundered somehow to the great front door and out intothe soft warm night. "i had to come," she said to the world outside. fear and guilt are sisters; theodora caughther on the lawn. silent, angry, hurt, they left hill houseside generated by abc amber lit converter, byside, walking together, each sorry for the

other. a person angry; or laughing, or terrified,or jealous, will go stubbornly on into extremes of behavior impossible at another time; neithereleanor nor theodora reflected for a minute that it was imprudent for them to walk farfrom hill house after dark. each was so bent upon her own despair thatescape into darkness was vital, and, containing themselves in that tight, vulnerable, impossiblecloak which is fury, they stamped along together, each achingly aware of the other, each determinedto be the last to speak. eleanor spoke first, finally; she had hurther foot against a rock and tried to be too proud to notice it, but after a minutes herfoot paining, she said, in a voice tight with

the attempt to sound level, "i can't imaginewhy you think you have any right to interfere in my affairs," her language formal to preventa flood of recrimination, or undeserved reproach (were they not strangers? cousins?). "i am sure that nothing i do is of any interestto you." "that's right," theodora said grimly. "nothing that you do is of any interest tome." we are walking on either side of a fence,eleanor thought, but i have a right to live too, and i wasted an hour with luke at thesummerhouse trying to prove it.

"i hurt my foot," she said. "i'm sorry." theodora sounded genuinely grieved. "you know what a beast he is." she hesitated. "a rake, she said finally, with a touch ofamusement. "i'm sure it's nothing to mewhat he is." and then, because they were women quarreling,"as ifyou cared, anyway." "he shouldn't be allowed to get away withit," theodora said.

"get away withwhat ?" eleanor asked daintily. "you're making a fool of yourself," theodorasaid. "suppose i'm not, though? you'd mind terribly if you turned out to bewrong this time, wouldn't you?" theodora's voice was wearied, cynical. "if i'm wrong," she said, "i will bless youwith all my heart. fool that you are." "you could hardly say anything else." they were moving along the path toward thebrook.

in the darkness their feet felt that theywere going downhill, and each privately and perversely accused the other of taking, deliberately,a path they had followed together once before in happiness. "anyway," eleanor said, in a reasonable tone,"it doesn't mean anything to you, no matter what happens. why should you care whether i make a foolof myself?" theodora was silent for a minute, walkingin the darkness, and eleanor was suddenly absurdly sure that theodora had put out ahand to her, unseen. "theo," eleanor said awkwardly, "i'm no goodat talking to people and saying things."

"whatare you good at?" she demanded. "running away?" nothing irrevocable had yet been spoken, butthere was only the barest margin of safety left them; each generated by abc amber litconverter, of them moving delicately along the outskirtsof an open question, and, once spoken, such a question—as "do you love me?"—couldnever be answered or forgotten. they walked slowly, meditating, wondering,and the path sloped down from their feet and they followed, walking side by side in themost extreme intimacy of expectation; their feinting and hesitation done with, they couldonly await passively for resolution.

each knew, almost within a breath, what theother was thinking and wanting to say; each of them almost wept for the other. they perceived at the same moment the changein the path and each knew then the other's knowledge of it; theodora took eleanor's armand, afraid to stop, they moved on slowly, close together, and ahead of them the pathwidened and blackened and curved. eleanor caught her breath, and theodora'shand tightened, warning her to be quiet. on either side of them the trees, silent,relinquished the dark color they had held, paled, grew transparent and stood white andghastly against the black sky. the grass was colorless, the path wide andblack; there was nothing else.

eleanor's teeth were chattering, and the nauseaof fear almost doubled her; her arm shivered under theodora's holding hand, now almosta clutch, and she felt every slow step as a willed act, a precise mad insistence uponthe putting of one foot down after the other as the only sane choice. her eyes hurt with tears against the screamingblackness of the path and the shuddering whiteness of the trees, and she thought, with a clearintelligent picture of the words in her mind, burning, now i am really afraid. they moved on, the path unrolling ahead ofthem, the white trees unchanging on either side and, above all, the black sky lying thickoverhead; their feet were shimmering white

where they touched the path; theodora's handwas pale and luminous. ahead of them the path curved out of sight,and they walked slowly on, moving their feet precisely because it was the only physicalact possible to them, the only thing left to keep them from sinking into the awful blacknessand whiteness and luminous evil glow. now i am really afraid, eleanor thought inwords of fire; remotely she could still feel theodora's hand on her arm, but theodora wasdistant, locked away; it was bitterly cold, with no human warmth near. now i am really afraid, eleanor thought, andput her feet forward one after another, shivering as they touched the path, shivering with mindlesscold.

the path unwound; perhaps it was taking themsomewhere, willfully, since neither of them could step off it and go knowingly into theannihilation of whiteness that was the grass the path curved, black and shining, and theyfollowed. theodora's hand tightened, and eleanor caughther breath on a little sob—had something moved, ahead, something whiter than the whitetrees, beckoning? beckoning, fading into the trees, watching? was there movement beside them, imperceptiblein the soundless night; did some footstep go invisibly along with them in the whitegrass? where were they?

the path led them to its destined end anddied beneath their feet. eleanor and theodora looked into a garden,their eyes blinded with the light of sun and rich color; incredibly, there was a picnicparty on the grass in the garden. they could hear the laughter of the childrenand the affectionate, amused voices of the mother and father; the grass was richly, thicklygreen, the flowers were colored red and orange and yellow, the sky was blue and gold, andone child wore a scarlet jumper and raised its voice again in laughter, tumbling aftera puppy over the grass. there was a checked tablecloth spread out,and, smiling, the mother leaned over to take up a plate of bright fruit; then theodorascreamed.

"don't look back," she cried out in a voicehigh with fear, "don't look back—don't look—run!" running, without knowing why she ran, eleanorthought that she would catch her foot in the checked tablecloth; she was afraid she mightstumble over the puppy; but as they ran across the garden there was nothing except weedsgrowing blackly in the darkness, and theodora, screaming still, trampled over the busheswhere there had been flowers and stumbled, sobbing, over halfburied stones and what mighthave been a broken cup. then they were beating and scratching wildlyat the white stone wall where vines grew blackly, screaming still and begging to be let out,until a rusted iron gate gave way and they ran, generated by abc amber lit converter, crying

and gasping and somehow holding hands, acrossthe kitchen garden of hill house, and crashed through a back door into the kitchen to seeluke and the doctor hurrying to them. luke said, catching at theodora. "are you all right?" "we've been nearly crazy," the doctor said,worn. "we've been out looking for you for hours." "it was a picnic," eleanor said. she had fallen into a kitchen chair and shelooked down at her hands, scratched and bleeding and shaking without her knowledge.

"we tried to get out," she told them, holdingher hands out for them to see. "it was a picnic. the children . . theodora laughed in a littlecontinuing cry, laughing on and on thinly, and said through her laughter, "i looked back—iwent and looked behind us…" and laughed on. "the children…and a puppy…" theodora turned wildly and put her head againsteleanor. "eleanor," she said. and, holding theodora, eleanor looked up atluke and the doctor, and felt the room rock

madly, and time, as she had always known time,stop. chapter 7 on the afternoon of the day thatmrs. montague was expected, eleanor went alone into the hills above hill house, not reallyintending to arrive at any place in particular, not even caring where or how she went, wantingonly to be secret and out from under the heavy dark wood of the house. she found a small spot where the grass wassoft and dry and lay down, wondering how many years it had been since she had lain on softgrass to be alone to think. around her the trees and wild flowers, withthat oddly courteous air of natural things suddenly interrupted in their pressing occupationsof growing and dying, turned toward her with

attention, as though, dull and imperceptiveas she was, it was still necessary for them to be gentle to a creation so unfortunateas not to be rooted in the ground, forced to go from one place to another, heartbreakinglymobile. idly eleanor picked a wild daisy, which diedin her fingers, and, lying on the grass, looked up into its dead face. there was nothing in her mind beyond an overwhelmingwild happiness. she pulled at the daisy, and wondered, smilingat herself, whatam i going to do? what am i going to do? 2 "put the bags down in the hall, arthur,"mrs. montague said.

"wouldn't you think there'd be someone hereto help us with this door? they'llhave to get someone to take the bagsupstairs. john? john?" "my dear, my dear." dr. montague hurried into the hallway, carryinghis napkin, and kissed his wife obediently on the cheek she held out for him. "how nice that you got here; we'd given youup." "isaid i'd be here today, didn't i?

did you ever know menot to come when i saidi would? i brought arthur." "arthur," the doctor said without enthusiasm. generated "well,somebody had to drive," mrs. montague "i imagine you expected that i would drivemyself all the way out here? because you know perfectly well that i gettired. how do you do." the doctor turned, smiling on eleanor andtheodora, with luke behind them, clustered uncertainly in the doorway.

"my dear," he said, "these are my friendswho have been staying in hill house with me these past few days. theodora. eleanor vance. luke sanderson." theodora and eleanor and luke murmured civilly,and mrs. montague nodded and said, "i see you didn't bother to wait dinner for us." "we'd given you up," the doctor said. "i believe that i told you that i would behere today.

of course, it isperfectly possible that iam mistaken, but it is my recollection that i said i would be here today. i'm sure i will get to know all your namesvery soon. this gentleman is arthur parker; he droveme here because i dislike driving myself. arthur, these are john's friends. can anybody do something about our suitcases?" the doctor and luke approached, murmuring,and mrs. montague went on, "i am to be in your most haunted room, of course. arthur can go anywhere.

that blue suitcase is mine, young man, andthe small attachã© case; they will go in your most haunted room. "the nursery, i think," dr. montague saidwhen luke looked at him inquiringly. "i believe the nursery is one source of disturbance,"he told his wife, and she sighed irritably. "it does seem to me that you could be moremethodical," she said. "you've been here nearly a week and i supposeyou've donenothing with planchette? automatic writing? i don't imagine either of these young womenhas mediumistic gifts? those are arthur's bags right there.

he brought his golf clubs, just in case." "just in case of what?" theodora asked blankly, and mrs. montagueturned to regard her coldly. "please don't let me interrupt your dinner,"she said finally. "there's a definite cold spot just outsidethe nursery door," the doctor told his wife hopefully. "yes, dear, very nice. isn't that young man going to take arthur'sbags upstairs? you do seem to be in a good deal of confusionhere, don't you?

after nearly a week i certainly thought you'dhave things in some kind of order. any figures materialize?" "there have been decided manifestations—""well, i'm here now, and we'll get things going right. where is arthur to put the car?" "there's an empty stable in back of the housewhere we have put our other cars. he can take it around in the morning." "nonsense. i do not believe in putting things off, john,as you know perfectly well.

arthur will have plenty to do in the morningwithout adding tonight's work. he must move the car at once." "it's dark outside," the doctor said hesitantly. generated "john, you astound me. is it your belief that i do not know whetherit is dark outside at night? the car has lights, john, and that young mancan go with arthur to show him the way." "thank you," said luke grimly, "but we havea positive policy against going outside after dark. arthur may, of course, if he cares to, buti will not."

"the young ladies," the doctor said, "hada shocking—" "young man's a coward," arthur he had concluded his fetching of suitcasesand golf bags and hampers from the car and now stood beside mrs. montague, looking downon luke; arthur's face was red and his hair was white, and now, scorning luke, he bristled. "ought to be ashamed of yourself, fellow,in front of the women. "the women are just as much afraid as i am,"luke said primly. "indeed, indeed." dr. montague put his hand on arthur's armsoothingly. "after you've been here for a while, arthur,you'll understand that luke's attitude is

sensible, not cowardly. we make a point of staying together afterdark." "i must say, john, i never expected to findyou all sonervous ," mrs. montague said. "i deplore fear in these matters." she tapped her foot irritably. "you know perfectly well, john, that thosewho have passed beyondexpect to see us happy and smiling; theywant to know that we arethinking of them lovingly. the spirits dwelling in this house may beactuallysuffering because they are aware that you are afraid of them."

"we can talk about it later," the doctor saidwearily. "now, how about dinner?" mrs. montague glanced at theodora and eleanor. "what a pity that we had to interrupt you,"she said. "have you had dinner?" "naturally we have not had dinner, john. isaid we would be here for dinner, didn'ti? or am i mistaken again?" "at any rate, i told mrs. dudley that youwould be here," the doctor said, opening the

door which led to the game room and on intothe dining room. "she left us a splendid feast." poor dr. montague, eleanor thought, standingaside to let the doctor take his wife into the dining room; he is so uncomfortable; iwonder how long she is going to stay. "i wonder how long she is going to stay?" theodora whispered in her ear. "maybe her suitcase is filled with ectoplasm,"eleanor said hopefully. "and how long will you be able to stay?" dr. montague asked, sitting at the head ofthe dinner table with his wife cozily beside

"well, dear," mrs. montague said, tastingdaintily of mrs. dudley's caper sauce "—you have found a fair cook, have you not?—youknowthat arthur has to get back to his school; arthur is a headmaster," she generated byabc amber lit converter, explained down the table, "and he has generouslycanceled his appointments for monday. so we had better leave monday afternoon andthen arthur can be there for classes on tuesday." "a lot of happy schoolboys arthur no doubtleft behind," luke said softly to theodora, and theodora said, "but today is only saturday." "i do not mind this cooking at all," mrs.montague said. "john, i will speak to your cook in the morning."

"mrs. dudley is an admirable woman," the doctorsaid carefully. "bit fancy formy taste," arthur said. "i'm a meat-and-potatoes man, myself," heexplained to theodora. "don't drink, don't smoke, don't read trash. bad example for the fellows at the school. they look up to one a bit, you know." "i'm sure they must all model themselves onyou," theodora said soberly. "get a bad hat now and then," arthur said,shaking his head. "no taste for sports, you know.

moping in corners. crybabies. knockthat out of them fast enough." he reached for the butter. mrs. montague leaned forward to look downthe table at arthur. "eat lightly, arthur," she advised. "we have a busy night ahead of us." "what on earth do you plan to do?" "i'm sure thatyou would never dream of goingabout these things with any system, but you

will have to admit, john, that in this areai have simply more of an instinctive understanding; women do, you know, john, at leastsome women." she paused and regarded eleanor and theodoraspeculatively. "neither of them , i daresay. unless, of course, i am mistaken again? you are very fond of pointing out my errors,john." "my dear—" "i cannot abide a slipshod jobin anything. arthur will patrol, of course. i brought arthur for that purpose.

it is so rare," she explained to luke, whosat on her other side, "to find persons in the educational field who are interested inthe other world; you will find arthur surprisingly well informed. i will recline in your haunted room with onlya nightlight burning, and will endeavor to get in touch with the elements disturbingthis house. i never sleep when there are troubled spiritsabout," she told luke, who nodded, speechless. "little sound common sense," arthur said. "got to go about these things in the rightway. never pays to aim too low.

tell my fellows that." "i think perhaps after dinner we will havea little session with planchette," mrs. montague "just arthur and i, of course; the rest ofyou, i can see, are not ready yet; you would only drive away the spirits. we will need a quiet room—" "the library,"luke suggested politely. "the library? i think it might do; books are frequentlyvery good carriers, you know. materializations are generated by abc amberlit converter, often best produced in rooms where there arebooks.

i cannot think of any time when materializationwas in any way hampered by the presence of books. i suppose the library has been dusted? arthur sometimes sneezes." "mrs. dudley keeps the entire house in perfectorder," the doctor said. "i really will speak to mrs. dudley in themorning. you will show us the library, then, john,and that young man will bring down my case; not the large suitcase, mind, but the smallattachã© case. bring it to me in the library.

we will join you later; after a session withplanchette i require a glass of milk and perhaps a small cake; crackers will do if they arenot too heavily salted. a few minutes of quiet conversation with congenialpeople is also very helpful, particularly if i am to be receptive during the night;the mind is a precise instrument and cannot be tended too carefully. arthur?" she bowed distantly to eleanor and theodoraand went out, escorted by arthur, luke, and her husband. after a minute theodora said, "i think i amgoing to be simply crazy about mrs. montague."

"i don't know," eleanor said. "arthur is rather more to my taste. and luke is a coward, i think." "poor luke," theodora said. "he never had a mother." looking up, eleanor found that theodora wasregarding her with a curious smile, and she moved away from the table so quickly thata glass spilled. "we shouldn't be alone," she said, oddly breathless. "we've got to find the others."

she left the table and almost ran from theroom, and theodora ran after her, laughing, down the corridor and into the little parlor,where luke and the doctor stood before the "please, sir," luke was saying meekly, "whois planchette?" the doctor sighed irritably. "imbeciles," he said, and then, "sorry. the whole idea annoys me, but if she likesit…he turned and poked the fire furiously. "planchette," he went on after a moment, "isa device similar to the ouija board, or perhaps i might explain better by saying that it isa form of automatic writing; a method of communicating with—ah—intangible beings, although tomyway of thinking the only intangible beings

who ever get in touch through one of thosethings are the imaginations of the people running it. planchette is a little piece of light wood,usually heart-shaped or triangular. a pencil is set into the narrow end, and atthe other end is a pair of wheels, or feet which will slip easily over paper. two people place fingers on it, ask it questions,and the object moves, pushed by what force we will not here discuss, and writes answers. the ouija board, as i say, is very similar,except that the object moves on a board pointing to separate letters.

an ordinary wineglass will do the same thing;i have seen it tried with a child's wheeled toy, although i will admit that it lookedsilly. each person uses the tips of the fingers ofone hand, keeping the other hand free to note down questions and answers. the answers are invariably, i believe, meaningless,although of course my wife will tell you different. balderdash." and he went at the fire again. "schoolgirls," he said. "superstition."

3 "planchette has been very kind tonight,"mrs. montague said. "john, there are definitely foreign elementspresent in this house." generated "quite a splendid sitting, really," arthur he waved a sheaf of paper triumphantly. "we've gotten a good deal of information foryou," mrs. montague said. "now. planchette was quite insistent about a nun. have you learned anything about a nun, john?" "in hill house?

not likely." "planchette felt very strongly about a nun,john. perhaps something of the sort—a dark, vaguefigure, even—has been seen in the neighborhood? villagers terrified when staggering home lateat night?" "the figure of a nun is a fairly common—""john, if you please. i assume you are suggesting that i am mistaken. or perhaps it is your intention to point outthatplanchette may be mistaken? i assure you—and you must believe planchette,even ifmy word is not good enough for you—that a nun was most specifically suggested."

"i am only trying to say, my dear, that thewraith of a nun is far and away the most common form of appearance. there has never been such a thing connectedwith hill house, but in almost every—" "john,if youplease . i assume i may continue? or is planchette to be dismissed without ahearing? thank you." mrs. montague composed herself. "now, then. there is also a name, spelled variously ashelen, or helene, or elena.

who might that be?" "my dear, many people have lived—" "helenbrought us a warning against a mysterious monk. now when a monk and a nunboth turn up in onehouse—" "expect the place was built on an older site," arthur said. "influences prevailing, you know. older influences hanging around," he explainedmore fully. "it sounds very much like broken vows, doesit not? very much."

"had a lot of that back then, you know. temptation, probably." "i hardly think—" the doctor began. "i daresay she was walled up alive," mrs.montague said. "the nun, i mean. they always did that, you know. you've no idea the messages i've gotten fromnuns walled up alive." "there isno case on record ofany nun everbeing— "john. may i point out to you once more that imyselfhave had messages from nuns walled up alive?

do you think i am telling you a fib, john? or do you suppose that a nun would deliberatelypretendto have been walled up alive when she was not? is it possible that i am mistaken once more,john?" "certainly not, my dear." dr. montague sighed wearily. "with one candle and a crust of bread," arthurtold theodora. generated "horrible thing to do, when you think about it."

"no nun was ever walled up alive," the doctorsaid sullenly. he raised his voice slightly. "it is a legend. a story. a libel circulated—" "all right, john. we won't quarrel over it. you may believe whatever you choose. just understand, however, that sometimes purelymaterialistic views must give way beforefacts . now it is a proven fact that among the visitationstroubling this house are a nun and a—" "what

else was there?" luke asked hastily. "i am so interested in hearing what—ah—planchettehad to say." mrs. montague waggled a finger roguishly. "nothing aboutyou , young man. although one of the ladies present may hearsomething of interest." impossible woman, eleanor thought; impossible,vulgar, possessive woman. "now, helen," mrs. montague went on, "wantsus to search the cellar for an old well." "don't tell mehelen wasburied alive," thedoctor said.

"i hardly think so, john. i am sure that she would have mentioned it. as a matter of fact, helen was most unclearabout just what wewere to find in the well. i doubt, however, that it will be treasure. one so rarely meets withreal treasure in acase of this kind. more likely evidence of the missing nun." "more likely eighty years of rubbish." "john, icannot understand this skepticismin you, of all people. after all, you did come to this house to collectevidence of supernatural activity, and now,

when i bring you a full account of thecauses, and an indication of where to start looking, you are positively scornful." "we have no authority to dig up the cellar." "arthur could—" mrs. montague began hopefully,but the doctor said with firmness, "no. my lease of the house specifically forbidsme to tamper with the house itself. there will be no digging of cellars, no tearingout of woodwork, no ripping up of floors. hill house is still a valuable property, andwe are students, not vandals." "i should think you'd want to know thetruth, john." "there is nothing i should like to know more."

dr. montague stamped across the room to thechessboard and took up a knight and regarded it furiously. he looked as though he were doggedly countingto a hundred. "dear me, how patient one must be sometimes." mrs. montague sighed. "but i do want to read you the little passagewe received toward the end. arthur, do you have it?" arthur shuffled through his sheaf of papers. "it was just after the message about the flowersyou are to send to your aunt," mrs. montague

"planchette has a control named merrigot,"she explained, "and merrigot takes a genuine personal interest in arthur; brings him wordfrom relatives, and so on." "not a fatal illness, you understand," arthursaid gravely. generated "have to send flowers, of course, but merrigot is most reassuring." "now." mrs. montague selected several pages, andturned them over quickly; they were covered with loose, sprawling penciled words, andmrs. montague frowned, running down the pages with her finger.

"here," she said. "arthur, you read the questions and i'll readthe answers; that way, it will sound more natural." "off we go," arthur said brightly, and leanedover mrs. montague's shoulder. "now—let me see—start right about here?" "with 'who are you?'" "righto. who are you?" "nell," mrs. montague read in her sharp voice,and eleanor and theodora and luke and the

doctor turned, listening. "nell who?" "eleanor nellie nell nell. they sometimes do that," mrs. montague brokeoff to explain. "they repeat a word over and over to makesure it comes across all right." arthur cleared his throat. "what do you want?" he read. "home." "do you want to go home?"

and theodora shrugged comically at eleanor. "want to be home." "what are you doing here?" "waiting." "waiting for what?" arthur stopped, and nodded profoundly. "there it is again," he said. "like a word, and use it over and over, justfor the sound of it." "ordinarily we never askwhy ," mrs. montaguesaid, "because it tends to confuse planchette.

however, this time we were bold, and cameright out and asked. arthur read. "mother," mrs. montague read. "so you see, this time we were right to ask,because planchette was perfectly free with the answer." "is hill house your home?" arthur read levelly. "home," mrs. montague responded, and the doctorsighed. generated "are you suffering?"

"no answer here." mrs. montague nodded reassuringly. "sometimes they dislike admitting to pain;it tends to discourage those of us left behind, you know. just like arthur's aunt, for instance, willneverlet on that she is sick, but merrigot always lets us know, and it's even worse when they'vepassed over." "stoical," arthur confirmed, and read, "canwe help you?" "no," mrs. montague read. "can we do anything at all for you?"

lost. lost." mrs. montague looked up. "you see?" she asked. "one word, over and over again. theylove to repeat themselves. i've had one word go on to cover a whole pagesometimes." "what do you want?" "mother," mrs. montague read back.

"child." "where is your mother?" "where is your home?" "lost. and after that," mrs. montague said, foldingthe paper briskly, "there was nothing but gibberish." "neverknown planchette so cooperative," arthursaid confidingly to theodora. "quite an experience, really." "but why pick on nell?"

theodora asked with annoyance. "your fool planchette has no right to sendmessages to people without permission or—" "you'll never get results by abusing planchette,"arthur began, but mrs. montague interrupted him, swinging to stare at eleanor. "you'renell?" she demanded, and turned ontheodora. "we thought you were nell," she said. "so?" said theodora impudently. "it doesn't affect the messages, of course,"mrs. montague said, tapping her paper irritably, "although i do think we might have been correctlyintroduced.

i am sure thatplanchette knew the differencebetween you, but i certainly do not care to be misled." generated "don't feel neglected," luke said to theodora. "we will bury you alive." "when i get a message from that thing," theodorasaid, "i expect it to be about hidden treasure. none of this nonsense about sending flowersto my aunt." they are all carefully avoiding looking atme, eleanor thought; i have been singled out again, and they are kind enough to pretendit is nothing; "why do you think all that was sent to me?" she asked, helpless.

"really, child," mrs. montague said, droppingthe papers on the low table, "i couldn'tbegin to say. although you are rather more than a child,aren't you? perhaps you are more receptive psychicallythan you realize, although"—and she turned away indifferently—"how youcould be, a weekin this house and not picking up the simplest message from beyond…that fire wants stirring." "nell doesn't want messages from beyond,"theodora said comfortingly, moving to take eleanor's cold hand in hers. "nell wants her warm bed and a little sleep."

peace, eleanor thought concretely; what iwant in all this world is peace, a quiet spot to lie and think, a quiet spot up among theflowers where i can dream and tell myself sweet stories. 4 "i," arthur said richly, "shall make myheadquarters in the small room just this side of the nursery, well within shouting distance. i shall have with me a drawn revolver—donot take alarm, ladies; i am an excellent shot—and a flashlight, in addition to amost piercing whistle. i shall have no difficulty summoning the restof you in case i observe anything worth your notice, or i require—ah—company.

you may all sleep quietly, i assure you. "arthur," mrs. montague explained, "will patrolthe house. every hour, regularly, he will make a roundof the upstairs rooms; i think he need hardly bother with the downstairs rooms tonight,sincei shall be up here. we have done this before, many times. come along, everyone." silently they followed her up the staircase,watching her little affectionate dabs at the stair rail and the carvings on the walls. "it is such a blessing," she said once, "toknow that the beings in this house are only

waiting for an opportunity to tell their storiesand free themselves from the burden of their sorrow. now. arthur will first of all inspect the bedrooms. "with apologies, ladies, with apologies,"arthur said, opening the door of the blue room, which eleanor and theodora shared. "a dainty spot," he said plummily, "fit fortwo such charming ladies; i shall, if you like, save you the trouble of glancing intothe closet and under the bed." solemnly they watched arthur go down ontohis hands and knees and look under the beds

and then rise, dusting his hands. "perfectly safe," he said. "now, where am i to be?" mrs. montague asked. "where did that young man put my bags?" "directly at the end of the hall," the doctorsaid. "we call it the nursery." mrs. montague, followed by arthur, moved purposefullydown the hall, passed the cold spot in the hall, and shivered.

"i will certainly need extra blankets," shesaid. "have that young man bring extra blanketsfrom one of the other rooms." opening the nursery door, she nodded and said,"the bed looks quite fresh, i must admit, but has the room been aired?" generated "i told mrs. dudley," the doctor said. "it smells musty. arthur, you will have to open that window,in spite of the cold." drearily the animals on the nursery wall lookeddown on mrs. montague. "are you sure…"

the doctor hesitated, and glanced up apprehensivelyat the grinning faces over the nursery door. "i wonder if you ought to have someone inhere with you," he said. "my dear." mrs. montague, good-humored now in the presenceof those who had passed beyond, was amused. "how many hours—how many,many hours—havei sat in purest love and understanding, alone in a room and yet never alone? my dear, how can i make you perceive thatthere is no danger where there is nothing but love and sympathetic understanding? i am here tohelp these unfortunate beings—iam here to extend the hand of heartfelt fondness,

and let them know that there are stillsomewho remember, who will listen and weep for them; their loneliness is over, and i—""yes," the doctor said, "but leave the door open." "unlocked, if you insist." mrs. montague was positively magnanimous. "i shall be only down the hall," the doctorsaid. "i can hardly offer to patrol, since thatwill be arthur's occupation, but if you need anything i can hear you." mrs. montague laughed and waved her hand athim.

"these others need your protection so muchmore than i," she said. "i will do what i can, of course. but they are so very,very vulnerable, withtheir hard hearts and their unseeing eyes." arthur, followed by a luke looking very muchamused, returned from checking the other bedrooms on the floor and nodded briskly at the doctor. "all clear," he said. "perfectly safe for you to go to bed now." "thank you," the doctor told him soberly andthen said to his wife, "good night. be careful."

"good night," mrs. montague said, and smiledaround at all of them. "please don't be afraid," she said. "no matter what happens, remember that i amhere." "good night," theodora said, and "good night,"said luke, and with arthur behind them assuring them that they might rest quietly, and notto worry if they heard shots, and he would start his first patrol at midnight, eleanorand theodora went into their own room, and luke on down the hall to his. after a moment the doctor, turning reluctantlyaway from his wife's closed door, followed. "wait," theodora said to eleanor, once intheir room.

"luke said they want us down the hall; don'tget undressed and be quiet." she opened the door a crack and whisperedover her shoulder, "i swear that old biddy's going to blow this house wide open with thatperfect love business; if i ever saw a place that had no use for perfect love, it's hillhouse. arthur's closed his door: quick. be quiet." silently, making no sound on the hall carpeting,they hurried in their stocking feet down the hall to the doctor's room. "hurry," the doctor said, opening the doorjust wide enough for them to come in, "be

quiet." "it's not safe," luke said, closing the doorto a crack and coming back to sit on the floor, "that man's going to shoot somebody." generated "i don't like it," the doctor said, worried. "luke and i will stay up and watch, and iwant you two ladies in here where we can keep an eye on you. something's going to happen," he said. "i don't like it." "i just hope she didn't go and make anythingmad, with her planchette," theodora said.

"sorry, doctor montague. i don't intend to speak rudely of your wife." the doctor laughed, but stayed with his eyeto the door. "she originally planned to come for our entirestay," he said, "but she had enrolled in a course in yoga and could not miss her meetings. she is an excellent woman in most respects,"he added, looking earnestly around at them. "she is a good wife, and takes very good careof me. she does things splendidly, really. buttons on my shirts."

he smiled hopefully. "this"—and he gestured in the directionof the hall—"thisis practically her only vice." "perhaps she feels she is helping you withyour work," eleanor said. the doctor grimaced, and shivered; at thatmoment the door swung wide and then crashed shut, and in the silence outside they couldhear slow rushing movements as though a very steady, very strong wind were blowing thelength of the hall. glancing at one another, they tried to smile,tried to look courageous under the slow coming of the unreal cold and then, through the noiseof wind, the knocking on the doors downstairs.

without a word theodora took up the quiltfrom the foot of the doctor's bed and folded it around eleanor and herself, and they movedclose together, slowly in order not to make a sound. eleanor, clinging to theodora, deadly coldin spite of theodora's arms around her, thought, it knows my name, it knows my name this time. the pounding came up the stairs, crashingon each step. the doctor was tense, standing by the door,and luke moved over to stand beside him. "it's nowhere near the nursery," he said tothe doctor, and put his hand out to stop the doctor from opening the door.

"how weary one gets of this constant pounding,"theodora said ridiculously. "next summer, i must really go somewhere else." "there are disadvantages everywhere," luketold her. "in the lake regions you get mosquitoes." "could we have exhausted the repertoire ofhill house?" theodora asked, her voice shaking in spiteof her light tone. "seems like we've had this pounding act before;is it going to start everything all over again?" the crashing echoed along the hail, seemingto come from the far end, the farthest from the nursery, and the doctor, tense againstthe door, shook his head anxiously.

"i'm going to have to go out there," he said. "she might be frightened," he told them. eleanor, rocking to the pounding, which seemedinside her head as much as in the hail, holding tight to theodora, said, "they know wherewe are," and the others, assuming that she meant arthur and mrs. montague, nodded andlistened. the knocking, eleanor told herself, pressingher hands to her eyes and swaying with the noise, will go on down the hail, it will goon and on to the end of the hail and turn and come back again, it will just go on andon the way it did before and then it will stop and we will look at each other and laughand try to remember how cold we were, and

the little swimming curls of fear on our backs;after a while it will stop. "it never hurt us," theodora was telling thedoctor, across the noise of the pounding. "it won't hurtthem ." "i only hope she doesn'ttry todo anything about it," the doctor said grimly; he was still at the door, but generated seemingly unable to open it against the volumeof noise outside. "i feel positively like an old hand at this,"theodora said to eleanor. "come closer, nell; keep warm," and she pulledeleanor even nearer to her under the blanket, and the sickening, still cold surrounded them. then there came, suddenly, quiet, and thesecret creeping silence they all remembered;

holding their breaths, they looked at oneanother. the doctor held the doorknob with both hands,and luke, although his face was white and his voice trembled, said lightly, "brandy,anyone? my passion for spirits—" "no." theodora giggled wildly. "not that pun," she said. "sorry. you won't believe me," luke said, the brandydecanter rattling against the glass as he tried to pour, "but i no longer think of itas a pun.

that is what living in a haunted house doesfor a sense of humor." using both hands to carry the glass, he cameto the bed where theodora and eleanor huddled under the blanket, and theodora brought outone hand and took the glass. "here," she said, holding it to eleanor'smouth. "drink." sipping, not warmed, eleanor thought, we arein the eye of the storm; there is not much more time. she watched luke carefully carry a glass ofbrandy over to the doctor and hold it out, and then, without comprehending, watched theglass slip through luke's fingers to the floor

as the door was shaken, violently and silently. luke pulled the doctor back, and the doorwas attacked without sound, seeming almost to be pulling away from its hinges, almostready to buckle and go down, leaving them exposed. backing away, luke and the doctor waited,tense and helpless. "it can't get in," theodora was whisperingover and over, her eyes on the door, "it can't get in, don't let it get in, it can't getin—" the shaking stopped, the door was quiet, and a little caressing touch began on thedoorknob, feeling intimately and softly and then, because the door was locked, pattingand fondling the doorframe, as though wheedling

to be let in. "it knows we're here," eleanor whispered,and luke, looking back at her over his shoulder, gestured furiously for her to be quiet. it is so cold, eleanor thought childishly;i will never be able to sleep again with all this noise coming from inside my head; howcan these others hear the noise when it is coming from inside my head? i am disappearing inch by inch into this house,i am going apart a little bit at a time because all this noise is breaking me; why are theothers frightened? she was aware, dully, that the pounding hadbegun again, the metallic overwhelming sound

of it washed over her like waves; she puther cold hands to her mouth to feel if her face was still there; i have had enough, shethought, i am too cold. "at the nursery door," luke said tensely,speaking clearly through the noise. "at the nursery door; don't." and he put out a hand to stop the doctor. "purest love," theodora said madly, "purestlove." and she began to giggle again. "if they don't open the doors—" luke saidto the doctor. the doctor stood now with his head againstthe door, listening, with luke holding his

arm to keep him from moving. now we are going to have a new noise, eleanorthought, listening to the inside of her head; it is generated by abc amber lit converter, changing. the pounding had stopped, as though it hadproved ineffectual, and there was now a swift movement up and down the hall, as of an animalpacing back and forth with unbelievable impatience, watching first one door and then another,alert for a movement inside, and there was again the little babbling murmur which eleanorremembered; am i doing it? she wondered quickly, is that me? and heard the tiny laughter beyond the door,mocking her.

"fe-fi-fo-fum," theodora said under her breath,and the laughter swelled and became a shouting; it's inside my head, eleanor thought, puttingher hands over her face, it's inside my head and it's getting out, -etting out, gettingout— now the house shivered and shook, the curtains dashing against the windows, thefurniture swaying, and the noise in the hall became so great that it pushed against thewalls; they could hear breaking glass as the pictures in the hall came down, and perhapsthe smashing of windows. luke and the doctor strained against the door,as though desperately holding it shut, and the floor moved under their feet. we're going, we're going, eleanor thought,and heard theodora say, far away, "the house

is coming down." she sounded calm, and beyond fear. holding to the bed, buffeted and shaken, eleanorput her head down and closed her eyes and bit her lips against the cold and felt thesickening drop as the room fell away beneath her and then right itself and then tamed,slowly, swinging. "god almighty," theodora said, and a mileaway at the door luke caught the doctor and held him upright. luke called, back braced against the door,holding the doctor by the shoulders. "theo, are you all right?"

"hanging on," theodora said. "i don't know about nell." "keep her warm," luke said, far away. "we haven't seen it all yet." his voice trailed away; eleanor could hearand see him far away in the distant room where he and theodora and the doctor still waited;in the churning darkness where she fell endlessly nothing was real except her own hands whitearound the bedpost. she could see them, very small, and see themtighten when the bed rocked and the wall leaned forward and the door turned sideways far away.

somewhere there was a great, shaking crashas some huge thing came headlong; it must be the tower, eleanor thought, and i supposedit would stand for years; we are lost, lost; the house is destroying itself. she heard the laughter over all, coming thinand lunatic, rising in its little crazy tune, and thought, no; it is over for me. it is too much, she thought, i will relinquishmy possession of this self of mine, abdicate, give over willingly what i never wanted atall; whatever it wants of me it can have. "i'll come," she said aloud, and was speakingup to theodora, who leaned over her. the room was perfectly quiet, and betweenthe still curtains at the window she could

see the sunlight. luke sat in a chair by the window; his facewas bruised and his shirt was torn, and he was still drinking brandy. the doctor sat back in another chair; hishair freshly combed, looking neat and dapper and self-possessed. theodora, leaning over eleanor, said, "she'sall right, i think," and eleanor sat up and shook her head, staring. composed and quiet, the house lifted itselfprimly around her, and nothing had been moved. "how…"

eleanor said, and all three of them laughed. "another day," the doctor said, and in spiteof his appearance his voice was wan. "another night," he said. "as i tried to say earlier," luke remarked,"living in a haunted house plays hell with a sense of humor; i really did not intendto make a forbidden pun," he told theodora. generated "how—are they?" eleanor asked, the words sounding unfamiliarand her mouth stiff. "both sleeping like babies," the doctor said. "actually," he said, as though continuinga conversation begun while eleanor slept,

"i cannot believe that my wife stirred upthat storm, but i do admit that one more word about pure love…" eleanor asked; i must have been gritting myteeth all night, she thought, the way my mouth feels. "hill house went dancing," theodora said,"taking us along on a mad midnight fling. at least, ithink it was dancing; it mighthave been turning somersaults." "it's almost nine," the doctor said. "when eleanor is ready…" "come along, baby," theodora said.

"theo will wash your face for you and makeyou all neat for breakfast." chapter 8 "did anyone tell them that mrs.dudley clears at ten?" theodora looked into the coffee pot speculatively. the doctor hesitated. "i hate to wake them after such a night." "but mrs. dudley clears at ten." "they're coming," eleanor said. "i can hear them on the stairs." i can hear everything, all over the house,she wanted to tell them.

then, distantly, they could all hear mrs.montague's voice, raised in irritation and luke, realizing, said, "oh, lord—they can'tfind the dining room," and hurried out to open doors. "—properly aired." mrs. montague's voice preceded her, and sheswept into the dining room, tapped the doctor curtly on the shoulder by way of greetingand seated herself with a general nod to the others. "i must say," she began at once, "that i thinkyou might have called us for breakfast. i suppose everything is cold?

is the coffee bearable?" "good morning," arthur said sulkily, and satdown himself with an air of sullen ill temper. theodora almost upset the coffee pot in herhaste to set a cup of coffee before mrs. montague. "itseems hot enough," mrs. montague said. "i shall speak to your mrs. dudley this morningin any case. that room must be aired." "and your night?" the doctor asked timidly. "did you spend a—ah—profitable night?" "if by profitable you meant comfortable, john,i wish you would say so.

no, in answer to your most civil inquiry,i did not spend a comfortable night. i did not sleep a wink. that room is unendurable." "noisy old house, isn't it?" arthur said. "branch kept tapping against my window allnight; nearly drove me crazy, tapping and tapping." "even with the windows open that room is stuffy. mrs. dudley's coffee is not as poor as hergenerated

housekeeping. another cup, if you please. i am astonished, john, that you put me ina room not properly aired; if there is to be any communication with those beyond, theair circulation, at least, ought to be adequate. i smelled dust all night." "can't understandyou ," arthur said to thedoctor, "letting yourself get all nervy about this place. sat there all night long with my revolverand not a mouse stirred. except for that infernal branch tapping onthe window.

nearly drove me crazy," he confided to theodora. "we will not give up hope, of course." mrs. montague scowled at her husband. "perhaps tonight there may be some manifestations." 2 "theo?" eleanor put down her notepad, and theodora,scribbling busily, looked up with a frown. "i've been thinking about something." "ihate writing these notes; i feel like adamn fool trying to write this crazy stuff." "i've been wondering."

"well?" theodora smiled a little. "you look so serious," she said. "are you coming to some great decision?" "yes," eleanor said, deciding. "about what i'm going to do afterwards. after we all leave hill house." "well? "i'm coming with you," eleanor said.

"coming where with me?" "back with you, back home. i"—and eleanor smiled wryly—"am goingto follow you home." theodora stared. "why?" she asked blankly. "i never had anyone to care about," eleanorsaid, wondering where she had heard someone say something like this before. "i want to be someplace where i belong." "i am not in the habit of taking home straycats," theodora said lightly.

eleanor laughed too. "i am a kind of stray cat, aren't i?" "well." theodora took up her pencil again. "you have your own home," she said. "you'll be glad enough to get back to it whenthe time comes, nell my nellie. i suppose we'll all be glad to get back home. what are you saying about those noises lastnight?i can't describe them." "i'll come, you know," eleanor said.

"i'll just come. "nellie, nellie." theodora laughed again. "this is just a summer, just a few weeks'visit to a lovely old summer resort in the country. you have your life back home, i havemy life. when the generated by abc amber lit converter, summer is over, we go back. we'll write each other, of course, and maybevisit, but hill house is not forever, you

know." "i can get a job; i won't be in your way. "i don't understand." theodora threw down her pencil in exasperation. "do youalways go where you're not wanted?" eleanor smiled placidly. "i've never been wantedanywhere ," she said. 3 "it's all so motherly," luke said. "everything so soft.

everything so padded. great embracing chairs and sofas which turnout to be hard and unwelcome when you sit down, and reject you at once—" "theo?" eleanor said softly, and theodora looked ather and shook her head in bewilderment. "—and hands everywhere. little soft glass hands, curving out to you,beckoning—" "theo?" "no," theodora said. "i won't have you. and i don't want to talk about it any more.

"perhaps," luke said, watching them, "thesingle most repulsive aspect is the emphasis upon the globe. i ask you to regard impartially the lampshademade of tiny pieces of broken glass glued together, or the great round balls of thelights upon the stairs or the fluted iridescent candy jar at theo's elbow. in the dining room there is a bowl of particularlyfilthy yellow glass resting upon the cupped hands of a child, and an easter egg of sugarwith a vision of shepherds dancing inside. a bosomy lady supports the stair-rail on herhead, and under glass in the drawing room—" "nellie, leave me alone.

let's walk down to the brook or something." "—a child's face, done in cross-stitch. nell, don't look so apprehensive; theo hasonly suggested that you walk down to the brook. if you like, i will go along." "anything," theodora said. "to frighten away rabbits. if you like, i will carry a stick. if you like, i will not come at all. theo has only to say the word."

"perhaps nell would rather stay here and writeon walls." "so unkind," luke said. "callous of you, theo." "i want to hear more about the shepherds dancingin the easter egg," theodora said. "a world contained in sugar. six very tiny shepherds dancing, and a shepherdessin pink and blue reclining upon a mossy bank enjoying them; there are flowers and treesand sheep, and an old goatherd playing pipes. i would like to have been a goatherd, i think." generated "if you were not a bullfighter," theodora

"if i were not a bullfighter. nell's affairs are the talk of the cafã©s,you will recall." "pan," theodora said. "you should live in a hollow tree, luke." "nell," luke said, "you are not listening." "i think you frighten her, luke." "because hill house will be mine someday,with its untold treasures and its cushions? i am not gentle with a house, nell; i mighttake a fit of restlessness and smash the sugar easter egg, or shatter the little child handsor go stomping and shouting up and down the

stairs striking at glued-glass lamps witha cane and slashing at the bosomy lady with the staircase on her head; i might—" "yousee? you do frighten her." "i believe i do," luke said. "nell, i am only talking nonsense." "i don't think he even owns a cane," theodorasaid. "as a matter of fact, i do. nell, i amonly talking nonsense. what is she thinking about, theo?"

theodora said carefully, "she wants me totake her home with me after we leave hill house, and i won't do it." luke laughed. "poor silly nell," he said. "journeys end in lovers meeting. let's go down to the brook." "a mother house," luke said, as they camedown the steps from the veranda to the lawn, "a housemother, a headmistress, a housemistress. i am sure i will be a very poor housemaster,like our arthur, when hill house belongs to

''i can't understand anyone wanting to ownhill house," theodora said, and luke turned and looked back with amusement at the house. "you never know what you are going to wantuntil you see it clearly," he said. "if i never had a chance of owning it i mightfeel very differently. what do people really want with each other,as nell asked me once; what use are other people?" "it was my fault my mother died," eleanorsaid. "she knocked on the wall and called me andcalled me and i never woke up. i ought to have brought her the medicine;i always did before.

but this time she called me and i never wokeup." "you should have forgotten all that by now,"theodora said. "i've wondered ever since if i did wake up. if i did wake up and hear her, and if i justwent back to sleep. it would have been easy, and i've wonderedabout it." "turn here," luke said. "if we're going to the brook." "you worry too much, nell. you probably justlike thinking it was yourfault."

generated "it was going to happen sooner or later, in any case," eleanor said. "but of course no matter when it happenedit was going to be my fault." "if it hadn't happened you would never havecome to hill house." "we go single file along here," luke said. "nell, go first." smiling, eleanor went on ahead, kicking herfeet comfortably along the path. now i know where i am going, she thought;i told her about my mother so that's all right; i will find a little house, or maybe an apartmentlike hers.

i will see her every day, and we will go searchingtogether for lovely things gold-trimmed dishes, and a white cat, and a sugar easter egg, anda cup of stars. i will not be frightened or alone any more;i will call myself justeleanor . "are you two talking about me?" she asked over hershoulder. after a minute luke answered politely, "astruggle between good and evil for the soul of nell. i suppose i will have to be god, however." "but of course shecannot trust either of us,"theodora said, amused. "not me, certainly," luke said.

"besides, nell," theodora said, "we were nottalking about you at all. as though i were the games mistress," shesaid, half angry, to luke. i have waited such a long time, eleanor wasthinking; i have finally earned my happiness. she came, leading them, to the top of thehill and looked down to the slim line of trees they must pass through to get to the brook. they are lovely against the sky, she thought,so straight and free; luke was wrong about the softness everywhere, because the treesare hard like wooden trees. they are still talking about me, talking abouthow i came to hill house and found theodora and now i will not let her go.

behind her she could hear the murmur of theirvoices, edged sometimes with malice, sometimes rising in mockery, sometimes touched witha laughter almost of kinship, and she walked on dreamily, hearing them come behind. she could tell when they entered the tallgrass a minute after she did, because the grass moved hissingly beneath their feet anda startled grasshopper leaped wildly away. i could help her in her shop, eleanor thought;she loves beautiful things and i would go with her to find them. we could go anywhere we pleased, to the edgeof the world if we liked, and come back when we wanted to.

he is telling her now what he knows aboutme: that i am not easily taken in, that i had an oleander wall around me, and she islaughing because i am not going to be lonely any more. they are very much alike and they are verykind; i would not really have expected as much from them as they are giving me; i wasvery right to come because journeys end in lovers meeting. she came under the hard branches of the treesand the shadows were pleasantly cool after the hot sun on the path; now she had to walkmore carefully because the path led downhill and there were sometimes rocks and roots acrossher way.

behind her their voices went on, quick andsharp, and then more slowly and laughing; i will not look back, she thought happily,because then they would know what i am thinking; we will talk about it together someday, theoand i, when we have plenty of time. how strange i feel, she thought, coming outof the trees onto the last steep part of the path going down to the brook; i am caughtin a kind of wonder,' i am still with joy. i will not look around until i am next tothe brook, where she almost fell the day we came; i will remind her about the golden fishin the brook and about our picnic. she sat down on the narrow green bank andput her chin on her knees; i will not forget this one moment generated by abc amber litconverter,

in my life, she promised herself, listeningto their voices and their footsteps coming slowly down the hill. "hurry up," she said, turning her head tolook for theodora. "i—" and was silent. there was no one on the hill, nothing butthe footsteps coming clearly along the path and the faint mocking laughter. "who—?" she whispered. "who?" she could see the grass go down under theweight of the footsteps.

she saw another grasshopper leap wildly away,and a pebble jar and roll. she heard clearly the brush of footsteps onthe path and then, standing back hard against the bank, heard the laughter very close; "eleanor,eleanor," and she heard it inside and outside her head; this was a call she had been listeningfor all her life. the footsteps stopped and she was caught ina movement of air so solid that she staggered and was held. "eleanor, eleanor," she heard through therushing of air past her ears, "eleanor, eleanor," and she was held tight and safe. it is not cold at all, she thought, it isnot cold at all.

she closed her eyes and leaned back againstthe bank and thought, don't let me go, and then, stay, stay, as the firmness which heldher slipped away, leaving her and fading; "eleanor, eleanor," she heard once more andthen she stood beside the brook, shivering as though the sun had gone, watching withoutsurprise the vacant footsteps move across the water of the brook, sending small ripplesgoing, and then over onto the grass on the other side, moving slowly and caressinglyup and over the hill. come back, she almost said, standing shakingby the brook, and then she turned and ran madly up the hill, crying as she ran and calling,"theo? she found them in the little group of trees,leaning against a tree trunk and talking softly

and laughing; when she ran to them they turned,startled, and theodora was almost angry. "what on earth do you want this time?" shesaid. "i waited for you by the brook—" "we decidedto stay here where it was cool," theodora "we thought you heard us calling you. didn't we, luke?" "oh, yes," said luke, embarrassed. "we were sure you heard us calling." "anyway," theodora said, "we were going tocome along in a minute. weren't we, luke?"

"yes," said luke, grinning. "oh, yes." 4 "subterranean waters," the doctor said,waving his fork. does mrs. dudley do all your cooking? the asparagus is more than passable. arthur, let that young man help you to asparagus.'' the doctor looked fondly upon his wife. "it has become our custom to rest for an houror so after lunch; if you—" "certainly not. i have far too much to do while i am here.

i must speak to your cook, i must see thatmy room is aired, i must ready planchette for another session this evening; arthur mustclean his revolver." generated "mark of a fighting man," arthur conceded. "firearms always in good order.'' "youandthese young people may rest, of course. perhaps you do not feel the urgency whichi do, the terrible compulsion to aid whatever poor souls wander restlessly here; perhapsyou find me foolish in my sympathy for them, perhaps i am even ludicrous in your eyes becausei can spare a tear for a lost abandoned soul, left without any helping hand; pure love—""croquet?"

luke said hastily. "croquet, perhaps?" he looked eagerly from one to another. "badminton?" he suggested. "croquet?" "subterranean waters?" theodora added helpfully. "no fancy sauces forme ," arthur said firmly. "tell my fellows it's the mark of a cad."

he looked thoughtfully at luke. "mark of a cad. fancy sauces, women waiting on fellowswait on themselves. mark of a man," he said to theodora. "and what else do you teach them?" theodora asked politely. "teach? you mean—do they learn anything, my fellows? you mean—algebra, like?

latin? certainly." arthur sat back, pleased. "leave all that kind of thing to the teachers,"he explained. "and how many fellows are there in your school?" theodora leaned forward, courteous, interested,making conversation with a guest, and arthur basked; at the head of the table mrs. montaguefrowned and tapped her fingers impatiently. "how many? how many.

got a crack tennis team, you know." he beamed on theodora. "crack. absolutely tophole. not counting milksops?" "not counting," said theodora, "milksops." "oh. tennis. golf.

baseball. track. cricket." he smiled slyly. "didn't guess we played cricket, did you? then there's s swimming, and volleyball. some fellows go out for everything, though,"he told her anxiously. "all-around types. maybe seventy, altogether."

"arthur?" mrs. montague could contain herself no longer. "no shop talk, now. you're on vacation, remember." "yes, silly of me." arthur smiled fondly. "got to check the weapons," he explained. "it's two o'clock," mrs. dudley said in thedoorway. "i clear off at two."

5 theodora laughed, and eleanor, hidden deepin the shadows behind the summerhouse, put her hands over her mouth to keep from speakingto let them know she was there; i've got to find out, she was thinking, i've got to findout. generated "it's called 'the grattan murders,'" luke was saying. "lovely thing. i can even sing it if you prefer." "mark of a cad." "poor luke; i would have said 'scoundrel.'"

"if you would rather be spending this briefhour with arthur…" "of course i would rather be with arthur. an educated man is always an enlivening companion." "cricket," luke said. "never would have thought we played cricket,would you?" "sing, sing," theodora said, laughing. luke sang, in a nasal monotone, emphasizingeach word distinctly: "the first was young miss grattan, she tried not to let him in;he stabbed her with a corn knife, that's how his crimes begin.

"the next was grandma grattan, so old andtired and gray; she fit off her attacker until her strength give way. "the next was grandpa grattan, a-settin' bythe fire; he crept up close behind him and strangled him with a wire. "the last was baby grattan all in his trundlebed; he stove him in the short ribs until that child was dead. "and spit tobacco juice all on his goldenhead." when he finished there was a moment's silence,and then theodora said weakly, "it's lovely, luke.

perfectly beautiful. i will never hear it again without thinkingof you." "i plan to sing it to arthur," luke said. when are they going to talk about me? eleanor wondered in the shadows. after a minute luke went on idly, "i wonderwhat the doctor's book will be like, when he writes it? do you suppose he'll put us in?" "you will probably turn up as an earnest youngpsychic researcher.

and i will be a lady of undeniable gifts butdubious reputation." "i wonder if mrs. montague will have a chapterto herself." "and arthur. and mrs. dudley. i hope he doesn't reduce us all to figureson a graph." generated "i wonder, i wonder," said luke. "it's warm this afternoon," he said. "what could we do that is cool?" "we could ask mrs. dudley to make lemonade."

"you know what i want to do?" luke said. "i want to explore. let's follow the brook up into the hills andsee where it comes from; maybe there's a pond somewhere and we can go swimming." "or a waterfall; it looks like a brook thatruns naturally from a waterfall." "come on, then." listening behind the summerhouse, eleanorheard their laughter and the sound of their feet running down

the path to the house. 6 "here's an interesting thing, here," arthur'svoice said in the manner of one endeavoring valiantly to entertain, "here in this book. says how to make candles out of ordinary children'scrayons." "interesting." the doctor sounded weary. "if you will excuse me, arthur, i have allthese notes to write up." "sure, doctor.

all got our work to do. not a sound." eleanor, listening outside the parlor door,heard the small irritating noises of arthur settling down to be quiet. "not much to do around here, is there?" "how d'you pass the time generally?" "working," the doctor said shortly. "you writing down what happens in the house?" "you got me in there?"

"seems like you ought to put in our notesfrom planchette. what are you writing now?" "arthur. can you read, or something. "sure. never meant to make a nuisance of myself." eleanor heard arthur take up a book, and putit down, and light a cigarette, and sigh, and stir, and finally say, "listen, isn'tthere anything todo around here? whereis everybody?"

the doctor spoke patiently, but without interest. "theodora and luke have gone to explore thebrook, i think. and i suppose the others are around somewhere. as a matter of fact, i believe my wife waslooking for mrs. dudley." "oh." arthur sighed again. "might as well read, i guess," he said, andthen, after a minute, "say, doctor. i don't like to bother you, but listen towhat it says here in this book…" 7 "no," mrs. montague said, "i donot believein throwing young people together promiscuously,

mrs. generated by abc amber lit converter, dudley. if my husband had consultedme before arrangingthis fantastic house party—" "well, now." it was mrs. dudley's voice, and eleanor, pressedagainst the dining-room door, stared and opened her mouth wide against the wooden panels ofthe door. "i always say, mrs. montague, that you'reonly young once. those young people are enjoying themselves,and it's only natural for the young." "but living under one roof—" "it's not asthough they weren't grown up enough to know right from wrong. that pretty theodora lady is old enough totake care of herself, i'd think, no matter

how gay mr. luke." "i need a dry dishtowel, mrs. dudley, forthe silverware. it's a shame, i think, the way children growup these days knowing everything. there should be more mysteries for them, morethings that belong rightly to grownups, that they have to wait to find out." "then they find them out the hard way." mrs. dudley's voice was comfortable and easy. "dudley brought in these tomatoes from thegarden this morning," she said. "they did well this year."

"shall i start on them?" "no, oh, no. you sit down over there and rest; you've doneenough. i'll put on the water and we'll have a nicecup of tea." 8 "journeys end in lovers meeting," luke said,and smiled across the room at eleanor. "does that blue dress on theo really belongto you? i've never seen it before." "i am eleanor," theodora said wickedly, "becausei have a beard." "you were wise to bring clothes for two,"luke told eleanor.

"theo would never have looked half so wellin my old blazer." "i am eleanor," theo said, "because i am wearingblue. i love my love with an e because she is ethereal. her name is eleanor, and she lives in expectation." she is being spiteful, eleanor thought remotely;from a great distance, it seemed, she could watch these people and listen to them. now she thought, theo is being spiteful andluke is trying to be nice; luke is ashamed of himself for laughing at me and he is ashamedof theo for being spiteful. "luke," theodora said, with a half-glanceat eleanor, "come and sing to me again.

"later," luke said uncomfortably. "the doctor has just set up the chessmen." he turned away in some haste. theodora, piqued, leaned her head againstthe back of her chair and closed her eyes, clearly determined not to speak. eleanor sat, looking down at her hands, andlistened to the sounds of the house. somewhere upstairs a door swung quietly shut;a bird touched the tower briefly and flew off. in the kitchen the stove was settling andcooling, with little soft creakings.

an animal—a rabbit?—moved through thebushes by the summerhouse. she could even hear, with her new awarenessof the house, the generated by abc amber lit converter, drifting gently in the attics, the wood aging. only the library was closed to her; she couldnot hear the heavy breathing of mrs. montague and arthur over their planchette, nor theirlittle excited questions; she could not hear the books rotting or rust seeping into thecircular iron stairway to the tower. in the little parlor she could hear, withoutraising her eyes, theodora's small irritated tappings and the quiet sound of the chessmenbeing set down.

she heard when the library door slammed open,and then the sharp angry sound of footsteps coming to the little parlor, and then allof them turned as mrs. montague opened the door and marched in. "i must say," said mrs. montague on a sharp,explosive breath, "i really must say that this is the mostinfuriating —" "my dear." the doctor rose, but mrs. montague waved himaside angrily. "if you had thedecency —" she said. arthur, coming behind her sheepishly, movedpast her and, almost slinking, settled in a chair by the fire.

he shook his head warily when theodora turnedto him. "the commondecency . after all, john, i didcome all this way, and so did arthur, just to help out, and i certainly must say thati never expected to meet with such cynicism and incredulity fromyou , of all people, andthese—" she gestured at eleanor and theodora and luke. "all iask , all i ask, is some small minimumof trust, just a little bit of sympathy for all i am trying to do, and instead you disbelieve,you scoff, you mock and jeer." breathing heavily, red-faced, she shook herfinger at the doctor. "planchette," she said bitterly, "will notspeak to me tonight.

notone single word have i had from planchette,as a direct result of your sneering and your skepticism; planchette may very possibly notspeak to me for a matter of weeks—it has happened before, i can tell you; it has happenedbefore, when i subjected it to the taunts of unbelievers; i have known planchette tobe silent for weeks, and the very least i could have expected, coming here as i didwith none but the finest motives, was a little respect." she shook her finger at the doctor, wordlessfor the moment. "my dear," the doctor said, "i am certainthat none of us would knowingly have interfered." "mocking and jeering, were you not?

skeptical, with planchette's very words beforeyour eyes? those young people pert and insolent?" "mrs. montague, really…" said luke, butmrs. montague brushed past him and sat herself down, her lips tight and her eyes blazing. the doctor sighed, started to speak, and thenstopped. turning away from his wife, he gestured lukeback to the chess table. apprehensively, luke followed, and arthur,wriggling in his chair, said in a low voice to theodora, "never seen her so upset, youknow. miserable experience, waiting for planchette.

so easily offended, of course. sensitive to atmosphere." seeming to believe that he had satisfactorilyexplained the situation, he sat back and smiled timidly. eleanor was hardly listening, wondering dimlyat the movement in the room. someone was walking around, she thought withoutinterest; luke was walking back and forth in the room, talking softly to himself surelyan odd way to play chess? humming? singing?

once or twice she almost made out a brokenword, and then luke spoke quietly; he was at the chess table where he belonged, andeleanor turned and looked at the empty center of the room, where someone was walking andsinging softly, and then she heard it clearly: go walking through the valley, go walkingthrough the valley, generated by abc amber lit converter, walking through the valley, as we have done before. why, i know that, she thought, listening,smiling, to the faint melody; we used to play that game; i remember that. "it's simply that it's a most delicate andintricate piece of machinery," mrs. montague

was saying to theodora; she was still angry,but visibly softening under theodora's sympathetic attention. "the slightest air of disbelief offends it,naturally. how wouldyou feel if people refused to believeinyou ?" go in and out the windows, go in and out the windows, go in and out the windows,as we have done before. the voice was light, perhaps only a child'svoice, singing sweetly and thinly, on the barest breath, and eleanor smiled and remembered,hearing the little song more clearly than mrs. montague's voice continuing about planchette. go forth and face your lover, go forth andface your lover, go forth and face your lover,

as we have done before. she heard the little melody fade, and feltthe slight movement of air as the footsteps came close to her, and something almost brushedher face; perhaps there was a tiny sigh against her cheek, and she turned in surprise. luke and the doctor bent over the chessboard,arthur leaned confidingly close to theodora, and mrs. montague talked. none of them heard it, she thought with joy;nobody heard it but me. chapter 9 eleanor closed the bedroom doorsoftly behind her, not wanting to awaken theodora, although the noise of a door closing wouldhardly disturb anyone, she thought, who slept

so soundly as theodora; i learned to sleepvery lightly, she told herself comfortingly, when i was listening for my mother. the hall was dim, lighted only by the smallnightlight over the stairs, and all the doors were closed. funny, eleanor thought, going soundlesslyin her bare feet along the hall carpet, it's the only house i ever knew where you don'thave to worry about making noise at night, or at least about anyone knowing it's you. she had awakened with the thought of goingdown to the library, and her mind had supplied her with a reason: i cannot sleep, she explainedto herself, and so i am going downstairs to

get a book. if anyone asks me where i am going, it isdown to the library to get a book because i cannot sleep. it was warm, drowsily, luxuriously warm. she went barefoot and in silence down thegreat staircase and to the library door before she thought, but i can't go in there; i'mnot allowed in there—and recoiled in the doorway before the odor of decay, which nauseatedher. "mother," she said aloud, and stepped quicklyback. "come along," a voice answered distinctlyupstairs, and eleanor turned, eager, and hurried

to the staircase. "mother?" she said softly, and then again,"mother?" a little soft laugh floated down to her, andshe ran, generated by abc amber lit converter, breathless,up the stairs and stopped at the top, looking to right and left along the hallway at theclosed doors. "you're here somewhere," she said, and downthe hall the little echo went, slipping in a whisper on the tiny currents of air. "somewhere," it said. "somewhere."

laughing, eleanor followed, running soundlesslydown the hall to the nursery doorway; the cold spot was gone, and she laughed up atthe two grinning faces looking down at her. "are you in here?" she whispered outside thedoor, "are you in here?" and knocked, pounding with her fists. "yes?" it was mrs. montague, inside, clearly justawakened. "yes? come in, whatever you are. no, no, eleanor thought, hugging herself andlaughing silently, not in there, not with

mrs. montague, and slipped away down the hall,hearing mrs. montague behind her calling, "i am your friend; i intend you no harm. come in and tell me what is troubling you." she won't open her door, eleanor thought wisely;she is not afraid but she won't open her door, and knocked, pounding, against arthur's doorand heard arthur's awakening gasp. dancing, the carpet soft under her feet, shecame to the door behind which theodora slept; faithless theo, she thought, cruel, laughingtheo, wake up, wake up, wake up, and pounded and slapped the door, laughing, and shookthe doorknob and then ran swiftly down the hall to luke's door and pounded; wake up,she thought, wake up and be faithless.

none of them will open their doors, she thought;they will sit inside, with the blankets pressed around them, shivering and wondering whatis going to happen to them next; wake up, she thought, pounding on the doctor's door;i dare you to open your door and come out to see me dancing in the hall of hill house. then theodora startled her by calling outwildly, "nell? nell? doctor, luke, nell's not here!" poor house, eleanor thought, i had forgotteneleanor; now they will have to open their doors, and she ran quickly down the stairs,hearing behind her the doctor's voice raised

anxiously, and theodora calling, "nell? eleanor?" what fools they are, she thought; now i willhave to go into the library. "mother, mother," she whispered, "mother,"and stopped at the library door, sick. behind her she could hear them talking upstairsin the hall; funny, she thought, i can feel the whole house, and heard even mrs. montagueprotesting, and arthur, and then the doctor, clearly, "we've got to look for her; everyoneplease hurry." well, i can hurry too, she thought, and randown the corridor to the little parlor, where the fire flickered briefly at her when sheopened the door, and the chessmen sat where

luke and the doctor had left their game. the scarf theodora had been wearing lay acrossthe back of her chair; i can take care ofthat too, eleanor thought, her maid's patheticfinery, and put one end of it between her teeth and pulled, tearing, and then droppedit when she heard them behind her on the stairs. they were coming down all together, anxious,telling one another where to look first, now and then calling, "eleanor? nell?" "coming? coming?" she heard far away, somewhere elsein the house, and she heard the stairs shake

under their feet and a cricket stir on thelawn. daring, gay, she ran down the corridor againto the hall and peeked out at them from the doorway. they were moving purposefully, all together,straining to stay near one another, and the doctor's flashlight swept the hall and stoppedat the great front door, which was generated standing open wide. then, in a rush, calling "eleanor,eleanor," they ran all together across the hall and out the front door, looking and calling, theflashlight moving busily. eleanor clung to the door and laughed untiltears came into her eyes; what fools they

are, she thought; we trick them so easily. they are so slow, and so deaf and soheavy; they trample over the house, poking and peering and rough. she ran across the hall and through the gameroom and into the dining room and from there into the kitchen, with its doors. it's good here, she thought, i can go in anydirection when i hear them. when they came back into the front hall, blunderingand calling her, she darted quickly out onto the veranda into the cool night. she stood with her back against the door,the little mists of hill house curling around

her ankles, and looked up at the pressing,heavy hills. gathered comfortably into the hills, she thought,protected and warm; hill house is lucky. they were very close, and she ran along theveranda and darted into the drawing room; "hugh cram," she said, "will you come anddance with me?" she curtsied to the huge leaning statue, andits eyes flickered and shone at her; little reflected lights touched the figurines andthe gilded chairs, and she danced gravely before hugh cram, who watched her, gleaming. "go in and out the windows," she sang, andfelt her hands taken as she danced. "go in and out the windows," and she dancedout onto the veranda and around the house.

going around and around and around the house,she thought, and none of them can see me. she touched a kitchen door as she passed,and six miles away mrs. dudley shuddered in her sleep. she came to the tower, held so tightly inthe embrace of the house, in the straining grip of the house, and walked slowly pastits gray stones, not allowed to touch even the outside. then she turned and stood before the greatdoorway; the door was closed again, and she put out her hand and opened it effortlessly. thus i enter hill house, she told herself,and stepped inside as though it were her own.

"here i am," she said aloud. "i've been all around the house, in and outthe windows, and i danced—" "eleanor?" it was luke's voice, and she thought, of allof them i would least like to have luke catch me; don't let him see me, she thought beggingly,and turned and ran, without stopping, into the library. and here i am, she thought. here i am inside. it was not cold at all, but deliciously, fondlywarm. it was light enough for her to see the ironstairway curving around and around up to the

tower, and the little door at the top. under her feet the stone floor moved caressingly,rubbing itself against the soles of her feet, and all around the soft air touched her, stirringher hair, drifting against her fingers, coming in a light breath across her mouth, and shedanced in circles. no stone lions for me, she thought, no oleanders;i have broken the spell of hill house and somehow come inside. i am home, she thought, and stopped in wonderat the thought. i am home, i am home, she thought; now toclimb. climbing the narrow iron stairway was intoxicating—goinghigher and higher, around and around, looking

down, clinging to the slim iron railing, lookingfar far down onto the stone floor. climbing, looking down, she thought of thesoft green grass outside and the rolling hills and the rich trees. looking up, she thought of the tower of hillhouse rising triumphantly between the trees, tall over the road which wound through hillsdaleand past a white house set in flowers and past the magic oleanders and past the stonelions and on, far, far away, to a little lady who was going to pray for her. time is ended now, she thought, allthat isgone and left behind, and that poor little lady, praying still, for me.

"eleanor!" for a minute she could not remember who theywere (had they been guests of hers in the house of the stone lions? dining at her long table in the candlelight? had she met them at the inn, over the tumblingstream? had one of them come riding down a green hill,banners flying? had one of them run beside her in the darkness?and then she remembered, and they fell into place where they belonged) and she hesitated,clinging to the railing. they were so small, so ineffectual.

they stood far below on the stone floor andpointed at her; they called to her, and their voices were urgent and far away. generated "luke," she said, remembering. they' could hear her, because they were quietwhen she spoke. "doctor montague," she said. "mrs. montague. arthur." she could not remember the other, who stoodsilent and a little apart. "eleanor," dr. montague called, "turn aroundvery carefully and come slowly down the steps.

move very, very slowly, eleanor. hold on to the railing all the time. now turn and come down." "what on earth is the creature doing?" mrs. montague demanded. her hair was in curlers, and her bathrobehad a dragon on the stomach. "make her come down so we can go back to bed. arthur, make her come down at once. "see here," arthur began, and luke moved tothe foot of the stairway and started up.

"for god's sake be careful," the doctor saidas luke moved steadily on. "the thing is rotted away from the wall." "it won't hold both of you," mrs. montaguesaid positively. "you'll have it down on our heads. arthur, move over here near the door." "eleanor," the doctor called, "can you turnaround and start down slowly?" above her was only the little trapdoor leadingout onto the turret; she stood on the little narrow platform at the top and pressed againstthe trap door, but it would not move. futilely she hammered against it with herfists, thinking wildly, make it open, make

it open, or they'll catch me. glancing over her shoulder, she could seeluke climbing steadily, around and around. "eleanor," he said, "stand still. don't move," and he sounded frightened. i can't get away, she thought, and lookeddown; she saw one face clearly, and the name came into her mind. "theodora," she said. "nell, do as they tell you. please."

"theodora? i can't get out; the door's been nailed shut." "damn right it's been nailed shut," luke said. "and lucky for you, too, my girl." climbing, coming very slowly, he had almostreached the narrow platform. "stay perfectly still," he said. "stay perfectly still, eleanor," the doctorsaid. "nell," theodora said. "pleasedo what they say."

eleanor looked down and saw the dizzy fallof the tower below her, the iron stairway clinging to the tower walls, shaking and strainingunder luke's feet, the cold stone floor, the distant, pale, staring faces. "how can i get down?" she asked helplessly. "doctor—how can i get down?" "move very slowly," he said. "do what luke tells you." "nell," theodora said, "don't be frightened. it will be all right, really."

generated "of course it will be all right," luke said grimly. "probably it will only bemy neck that getsbroken. hold on, nell; i'm coming onto the platform. i want to get past you so you can go downahead of me." he seemed hardly out of breath, in spite ofclimbing, but his hand trembled as he reached out to take hold of the railing, and his facewas wet. "come on," he said sharply. eleanor hung back.

"the last time you told me to go ahead younever followed," she said. "perhaps i will just push you over the edge,"luke said. "let you smash down there on the floor. now behave yourself and move slowly; get pastme and start down the stairs. and just hope," he added furiously, "thati can resist the temptation to give you a shove." meekly she came along the platform and pressedherself against the hard stone wall while luke moved cautiously past her. "start down," he said.

"i'll be right behind you. precariously, the iron stairway shaking andgroaning with every step, she felt her way. she looked at her hand on the railing, whitebecause she was holding so tight, and at her bare feet going one at a time, step by step,moving with extreme care, but never looked down again to the stone floor. go down very slowly, she told herself overand over, not thinking of more than the steps which seemed almost to bend and buckle beneathher feet, go down very very very slowly. "steady," luke said behind her. "take it easy, nell, nothing to be afraidof, we're almost there."

involuntarily, below her, the doctor and theodoraheld out their arms, as though ready to catch her if she fell, and once when eleanor stumbledand missed a step, the handrail wavering as she clung to it, theodora gasped and ran tohold the end of the stairway. "it's all right, my nellie," she said overand over, "it's all right, it's all right." "only a little farther," the doctor said. creeping, eleanor slid her feet down, onestep after another, and at last, almost before she could believe it, stepped off onto thestone floor. behind her the stairway rocked and clangedas luke leaped down the last few steps and walked steadily across the room to fall againsta chair and stop, head down and trembling

still. eleanor turned and looked up to the infinitelyhigh little spot where she had been standing, at the iron stairway, warped and crooked andswaying against the tower wall, and said in a small voice, "i ran up. i ran up all the way." mrs. montague moved purposefully forward fromthe doorway where she and arthur had been sheltering against the probable collapse ofthe stairway. "does anybody agree with me," she asked withgreat delicacy, "in thinking that this young woman has given us quite enough trouble tonight?i, for one, would like to go back to bed, and

so would arthur." "hill house—" the doctor began. "this childish nonsense has almost certainlydestroyed any chance of manifestationstonight , i can tell you. i certainly do not look to see any of ourfriends from beyond afterthis ridiculous performance, so if you will all excuse me—and if youare sure that you are finished with your posturing and performing and waking up busy people—iwill say good night. mrs. montague swept out, dragon rampant, quiveringwith indignation. "luke was scared," eleanor said, looking atthe doctor and at theodora.

generated "luke was most certainly scared," he agreed from behind her. "luke was so scared he almost didn't get himselfdown from there. nell, what an imbecile you are." "i would be inclined to agree with luke." the doctor was displeased, and eleanor lookedaway, looked at theodora, and theodora said, "i suppose you had to do it, nell?" "i'm all right," eleanor said, and could notlonger look at any of them. she looked, surprised, down at her own barefeet, realizing suddenly that they had carried

her, unfeeling, down the iron stairway. she thought, looking at her feet, and thenraised her head. "i came down to the library to get a book,"she said. 2 it was humiliating, disastrous. nothing was said at breakfast, and eleanorwas served coffee and eggs and rolls just like the others. she was allowed to linger over her coffeewith the rest of them, observe the sunlight outside, comment upon the good day ahead;for a few minutes she might have been persuaded to believe that nothing had happened.

luke passed her the marmalade, theodora smiledat her over arthur's head, the doctor bade her good morning. then, after breakfast, after mrs. dudley'sentrance at ten, they came without comment, following one another silently, to the littleparlor, and the doctor took his position before the fireplace. theodora was wearing eleanor's red sweater. "luke will bring your car around," the doctorsaid gently. in spite of what he was saying, his eyes wereconsiderate and friendly. "theodora will go up and pack for you."

eleanor giggled. "she can't. she won't have anything to wear." "nell—" theodora began, and stopped andglanced at mrs. montague, who shrugged her shoulders and said, "i examined the room.naturally. i can't imagine why none ofyou thought to do it." "i was going to," the doctor said apologetically. "but i thought—" "youalways think, john,and that's your trouble.naturally i examined the room at once.

"theodora's room?" "i wouldn't like to go in there again." mrs. montague sounded surprised. "i can't think why not," she said. "there's nothing wrong with it." "i went in and looked at my clothes," theodorasaid to the doctor. "they're perfectly fine." "the room needs dusting,naturally , but whatcan you expect if you lock the door and mrs. dudley cannot—" the doctor's voice roseover his wife's.

"—cannot tell you how sorry i am," he wassaying. "if there is ever anything i can do…" "but i can't leave," she said, wondering whereto find words to explain. generated "you have been here quite long enough," the doctor said. theodora stared at her. "i don't need your clothes," she said patiently. "didn't you just hear mrs. montague? i don't need your clothes, and even if ididi wouldn't wear them now; nell, you've got

to go away from here." "but i can't leave," eleanor said, laughingstill because it was so perfectly impossible to explain. "madam," luke said somberly, "you are no longerwelcome as my guest." "perhaps arthurhad better drive her back tothe city. arthur could see that she gets there safely." "gets where?" eleanor shook her head at them, feeling herlovely heavy hair around her face. "gets where?" she asked happily.

"why," the doctor said, "home, of course,"and theodora said, "nell, your own little place, your own apartment, where all yourthings are," and eleanor laughed. "i haven't any apartment," she said to theodora. "i made it up. i sleep on a cot at my sister's, in the baby'sroom. i haven't any home, no place at all. and i can't go back to my sister's becausei stole her car." she laughed, hearing her own words, so inadequateand so unutterably sad. "i haven't any home," she said again, andregarded them hopefully.

"no home. everything in all the world that belongs tome is in a carton in the back of my car. that's all i have, some books and things ihad when i was a little girl, and a watch my mother gave me. so you see there's no place you can send me." i could, of course, go on and on, she wantedto tell them, seeing always their frightened, staring faces. i could go on and on, leaving my clothes fortheodora; i could go wandering and homeless, errant, and i would always come back here.

it would be simpler to let me stay, more sensible,she wanted to tell them, happier. "i want to stay here," she said to them. "i've already spoken to the sister," mrs.montague said importantly. "i must say, she asked first about the car. a vulgar person; i told her she need haveno fear. you were very wrong, john, to let her stealher sister's car and come here." "my dear," dr. montague began, and stopped,spreading his hands helplessly. "at any rate, she is expected. the sister was most annoyed at me becausethey had planned to go off on their vacation

today, although why she should be annoyedatme …" mrs. montague scowled at eleanor. "i do think someone ought to see her safelyinto their hands," she said. the doctor shook his head. "it would be a mistake," he said slowly. "it would be a mistake to send one of us withher. she must be allowed to forget everything aboutthis house as soon as she can; we cannot prolong the association. once away from here, she will be herself again;can you find your way home?" he asked eleanor, "i'll go and get that packing done," theodorasaid.

"luke, check her car and bring it around;she's only got one suitcase." generated "walled up alive." eleanor began to laugh again at their stonefaces. "walled up alive," she said. "i want to stay here." 3 they made a solid line along the steps ofhill house, guarding the door. beyond their heads she could see the windowslooking down, and to one side the tower waited confidently. she might have cried if she could have thoughtof any way of telling them why; instead, she

smiled brokenly up at the house, looking ather own window, at the amused, certain face of the house, watching her quietly. the house was waiting now, she thought, andit was waiting for her; no one else could satisfy it. "the house wants me to stay," she told thedoctor, and he stared at her. he was standing very stiff and with greatdignity, as though he expected her to choose him instead of the house, as though, havingbrought her here, he thought that by unwinding his directions he could send her back again. his back was squarely turned to the house,and, looking at him honestly, she said, "i'm

sorry. i'm terribly sorry, really." "you'll go to hillsdale," he said levelly;perhaps he was afraid of saying too much, perhaps he thought that a kind word, or asympathetic one, might rebound upon himself and bring her back. the sun was shining on the hills and the houseand the garden and the lawn and the trees and the brook; eleanor took a deep breathand turned, seeing it all. "in hillsdale turn onto route five going east;at ashton you will meet route thirty-nine, and that will take you home.

for your own safety," he added with a kindof urgency, "for your own safety, my dear; believe me, if i had foreseen this—" "i'mreally terribly sorry," she said. "we can't take chances, you know, any chances. i am only beginning to perceive what a terriblerisk i was asking of you all. now…" he sighed and shook his head. "you'll remember?" he asked. "to hillsdale, and then route five—" "look." eleanor was quiet for a minute, wanting totell them all exactly how it was.

"i wasn't afraid," she said at last. "i really wasn't afraid. i'm fine now. i was—happy." she looked earnestly at the doctor. " happy," she said. "i don't know what to say," she said, afraidagain that she was going to cry. "i don't want to go away from here." "there might be a next time," the doctor saidsternly.

"can't you understand that wecannot take thatchance?" eleanor faltered. "someone is praying for me," she said foolishly. "a lady i met a long time ago. the doctor's voice was gentle, but he tappedhis foot im- patiently. "you will forget all of this quite soon,"he said. "you must forget everything about hill house. i was so wrong to bring you here," he said. "how longhave we been here?"

eleanor asked suddenly. "a little over a week. why?" "it's the only time anything's ever happenedto me. i liked it." "that," said the doctor, "is why you are leavingin such a hurry." eleanor closed her eyes and sighed, feelingand hearing and smelling the house; a flowering bush beyond generated by abc amber lit converter, the kitchen was heavy with scent, and the waterin the brook moved sparkling over the stones.

far away, upstairs, perhaps in the nursery,a little eddy of wind gathered itself and swept along the floor, carrying dust. in the library the iron stairway swayed, andlight glittered on the marble eyes of hugh grain; theodora's yellow shirt hung neat andunstained, mrs. dudley was setting the lunch table for five. hill house watched, arrogant and patient. "i won't go away," eleanor said up to thehigh windows. "youwill go away," the doctor said, showinghis impatience at last. "right now."

eleanor laughed, and turned, holding out herhand. "luke," she said, and he came toward her,silent. "thank you for bringing me down last night,"she said. "that was wrong of me. i know it now, and you were very brave." "i was indeed," luke said. "it was an act of courage far surpassing anyother inmy life. and i am glad to see you going, nell, becausei would certainly never do it again." "well, it seems tome ," mrs. montague said,"if you're going you'd better get on with

i've no quarrel with saying good-by, althoughi personally feel that you've all got an exaggerated view of this place, but i do think we've gotbetter things to do than stand here arguing when we all know you'vegot to go. you'll be a time as it is, getting back tothe city, and your sister waiting to go on her vacation." arthur nodded. "tearful farewells," he said. "don't hold with them, myself." far away, in the little parlor, the ash droppedsoftly in the fireplace.

"john," mrs. montague said, "possibly itwouldbe better if arthur—" "no," the doctor said "eleanor has to go back the way she came." "and who do i thank for a lovely time?" the doctor took her by the arm and, with lukebeside her, led her to her car and opened the door for her. the carton was still on the back seat, hersuitcase was on the floor, her coat and pocketbook on the seat; luke had left the motor running. "doctor," eleanor said, clutching at him,"doctor." "i'm sorry," he said.

"good-by." "drive carefully," luke said politely. "you can't justmake me go," she said wildly. "youbrought me here." "and i am sending you away," the doctor said. "we won't forget you, eleanor. but right now the only important thing foryouis to forget hill house and all of us. good-by." "good-by," mrs. montague said firmly fromthe steps, and arthur said, "good-by, have

a good trip." then eleanor, her hand on the door of thecar, stopped and turned. "theo?" she said inquiringly, and theodoraran down the steps to her. "i thought you weren't going to say good-byto me," she said. "oh, nellie, my nell—be happy; please behappy. don'treally forget me; someday things reallywillbe all right again, and you'll write me letters and i'll answer and we'll visit each otherand we'll have fun generated by abc amber lit converter, over the crazy things we did and saw and heard in hill house—oh, nellie!

i thought you weren't going to say goodbyto me. "good-by," eleanor said to her. "nellie," theodora said timidly, and put outa hand to touch eleanor's cheek, "listen—maybe someday we can meet here again? and have our picnic by the brook? we never had our picnic," she told the doctor,and he shook his head, looking at eleanor. "good-by," eleanor said to mrs. montague,"good-by, arthur. good-by, doctor. i hope your book is very successful.

luke," she said, "good-by. and good-by." "nell," theodora said, "please be careful." "good-by," eleanor said, and, slid into thecar; it felt un- familiar and awkward; i am too used already to the comforts of hill house,she thought, and reminded herself to wave a hand from the car window. "good-by," she called, wondering if therehad ever been another word for her to say, "good-by, good-by." clumsily, her hands fumbling, she releasedthe brake and let the car move slowly.

they waved back at her dutifully, standingstill, watching her. they will watch me down the drive as far asthey can see, she thought; it is only civil for them to look at me until i am out of sight;so now i am going. but iwon't go, she thought, and laughed aloudto herself hill house is not as easy asthey are; just by telling me to go away they can'tmake me leave, not if hill house means me to stay. "go away, eleanor," she chanted aloud, "goaway, eleanor, we don't want you any more, not inour hill house, go away, eleanor, youcan't stayhere ; but i can," she sang, "but i can;they don't make the rules aroundhere. they can't turn me out or shut me out or

laugh at me or hide from me; i won't go, andhill house belongs tome ." with what she perceived as quick cleverness she pressed her foot downhard on the accelerator; they can't run fast enough to catch me this time, she thought,but by now they must be beginning to realize; i wonder who notices first? luke, almost certainly. i can hear them calling now, she thought,and the little footsteps running through hill house and the soft sound of the hills pressingcloser. i am really doing it, she thought, turningthe wheel to send the car directly at the great tree at the curve of the driveway, iam really doing it, i am doing this all by

myself, now, at last; this is me, i am reallyreally really doing it by myself. in the unending, crashing second before thecar hurled into the tree she thought clearly,why am i doing this? why am i doing this? why don't they stop me? 4 mrs. sanderson was enormously relieved tohear that dr. montague and his party had left hill house; she would have turned them out,she told the family lawyer, if dr. montague had shown any sign of wanting to stay. theodora's friend, mollified and contrite,was delighted to see theodora back so soon;

luke took himself off to paris, where hisaunt fervently hoped he would stay for a while. dr. montague finally retired from active scholarlypursuits after the cool, almost contemptuous reception of his preliminary article analyzingthe psychic phenomena of hill house. hill house itself, not sane, stood againstits hills, holding darkness within; it had within, its walls continued upright, bricksmet neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily againstthe wood and stone of hill house, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

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