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- A Most Unaccountable Feeling
- No Longer Blinded By Our Eyes
- No Answer at the Door
- A Silenic Grin
- The Letters of Nathaniel Broome
- The Manuscript
- The Strange Case of Nathaniel Broome
- The Panic Of Fear
- The Conflagration
- Sanity And Reason
- The Delicate Aroma Of An Impending Doom
A Most Unaccountable Feeling
For the last twenty-five years I have lived in New York, the drab, unadventurous life of a city bookkeeper. I have been left pretty much out of the running, but, with money sufficient to pay my unassuming bachelor expenses, I have long ago settled down in my shabbily comfortable lodgings on Fourteenth Street.
Nothing ever happening to relieve its monotony, I grew to think that life was to hold little else save humdrum contentment for me during the quiet remainder of my days.
Now all this is changed, and changed forever. I shall never be the same man again.
A few months ago there came to take lodgings in one of the two rooms on my floor a very strange man.
The evening upon which he moved into his room my landlady knocked at my door the way she does occasionally for a little chat.
“Evenin’, Mr. Scrimgeour,” she said. “I suppose you heard him movin’ in his things?”
“Oh, your new lodger,” I replied. “Well, Mrs. Muzzard, you’ve had the room a long while idle on your hands.”
“Yes, Mr. Scrimgeour, but I can’t ezac’ly say as I’m overjoyed that it’s rented.”
“Mr. Scrimgeour, I don’t like him!”
“What’s the matter with him?”
“Why, there ain’t nothin’ the matter with him as far as that goes. It’s only that I have a kind of presentiment, that’s all. He’s so—so queer.”
“That needn’t worry you, Mrs. Muzzard, if he pays his rent. That is, as long as he doesn’t look like a Bolshevik or any other kind of dangerous lunatic.”
“He ain’t no Bolshy and I guess he ain’t no loonier than most of the artists and writers around Greenwich Village here. And as I’ve been living down among them for twenty-odd years I guess I can stand it. No, it ain’t that, Mr. Scrimgeour; I can’t say ezac’ly what it is. I think he’s one of them Spiritualists we hear so much about these days in the papers. Now he asks me for an oil lamp with a heavy shade. Why ain’t the gas light good enough for the likes of him? I’d like to know. I never heard of such a queer thing. What can he be wantin’ a ‘soft light,’ as he calls it, for, if it ain’t so as he can see the spirits? They say them mediums works in the dark. Ugh! It fair makes me creep!”
“Well, if he raises any objectionable spirits around here, you just let me know,” I laughed. “I’ll see what can be done toward exorcising them.”
As my interest was aroused in my fellow lodger by this conversation with my landlady I lingered about in the hallway the following morning in the hope of catching a glimpse of the stranger. But my curiosity was unrewarded.
Every evening during a whole week I heard him climb the uncarpeted stairs and enter his room. Often, during the course of the evening, I could hear his heavy, measured tread as he paced the floor sometimes late into the night.
One evening as I arrived home slightly later than usual, having been detained at the office upon some special work, I passed him in the dark stairway.
He was coming downstairs, and as the light from the upper hall shone upon his back and full into my face, I was unable to see what he looked like. I got the impression only of the hugeness of the man.
Tall, heavily built, his body enveloped in a large black cloak, he appeared, in the exaggerated half-light of the stairway, to be some great giant hovering threateningly over me.
He stood courteously aside, however, pressing himself against the wall to allow me to pass. As I did so I glanced into his face. But he wore a very wide-brimmed Quaker-like hat and, in the shadow which it cast, I could note little save that he wore large, black-rimmed spectacles.
“Good evening,” I murmured.
His reply came to me in a deep, resonant voice, soft and almost tender. There was the rich quality in it of the deep notes of an organ.
A most unaccountable feeling came over me as I brushed past him; something from the inscrutable alchemy of an unusual personality. I felt like a little child that had got lost in an empty house.
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