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The Starkville news. (Starkville, Miss.) 1902-1960, October 01, 1920, Image 8

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065612/1920-10-01/ed-1/seq-8/

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|l Mystery of II
House |
|l ' i;
[ Illustrated by Irwin Myers < >
Copyright by Georgs H. Doran Cos.
?- ' ' ' -T-- O
Synopsis. Dr. John Mlchelson,
lust beginning hls career, becomes
resident physician and companion
of Homer Sidney at Hartley house.
Mr. Sidney is an American, a seml-
Invalld, old and rich and very de
sirous to live. Mrs. Sidney Is a
Spanish woman, dignified and reti
cent. Jed, the butler, acts like a
privileged member of the family.
Hartley house Is a fine old Isolated
country place, with a murder story,
a "haunted pool,” and many watch
dogs. and an atmosphere of mys
tery. The "haunted pool" Is where
Richard Dobson, son of a former
owner of Hartley house, had killed
hls brother. Arthur Dobson. Jed
begins operations by locking the
doctor In hls room the very first
night. Doctor John fixe* hls door
no he can't be locked In. He meets
Isobel, daughter of the house and
falls In love at first sight. In the
night he finds the butler drunk and
holding Mrs. Sidney by the wrist.
He interferes. Mrs. Sidney makes
fight of It. John buys a revolver.
John overhears Jed telling Mrs.
Sidney he will have hls way. In
reply she says she will not hesitate
to kill him. Mrs. Sidney asks John
to consent to the announcement of
1 his engagement to Isobel. The
young people consent to the make
believe engagement. Later they
find It Is to "head oft Jed, who
would marry Isobel. Jed tries to
kill John, but the matter Is
smoothed over. John, though "en
gaged” to Isobel, conceals hls love.
, CHAPTER IV—Continued.
j —b
Onr charming old gentleman could
sot go through the entire Institution,
mid the warden led him to the most
accessible parts of the Interesting
place. We saw the rattnn-chnir works
anti the honor men In the gardens. We
also took one glance at a tier of cell
louses and peeped Into the dining-hall
snd into the chapel.
The warden would have had us stay
to dinner.
I had to forbid this. It would have
been too much of n physical strain
upon Mr. Sidney. I knew that the lit
tle diversion was Interesting him, and
1 was glad to have him interested, but
3 did not want to tax his strength.
“I’m the doctor’s servant," he said.
"Til look Into ihe library if you don’t
mind, warden, and then we’ll abejr'the
Warden Williams led us to the li
brary, which contained a large col
lection of hooks. An elderly convict
was engaged In cataloguing some new
volumes which had Just been taken
out of boxes. He was Interested and
paid no attention to us.
Sir. Sidney looked at him for a few
“What did you say was his crime?"
he nsked of the warden.
“That’s Dobson," said Mr. Williams.
"Ton must know Ids story. He is the
man who killed his brother. You are
living in the Dobson house.”
1 looked at ihe frnll, white-haired
man with n sudden shock of Interest.
Tills was the man who had created the
ghost story at Hartley house. He was
fumbling registry cards and writing on
them. He was frail and insignificant.
He had been once, by legend, a sturdy,
mnscular, cruel brute. He was now
feeble and Interested In cataloguing.
Mr. Sidney looked about the room,
“This does not seem to be so well
protected as the other parts of the
prison,” he said.
"It is not thought necessary,” said
the warden. "Escape front here might
not he Impossible for an agile man. It
not Impossible from any part of the
prison. It can only he made improb
able. It would be easier from here,
bnt still difficult. But this old man
would bo in a harder prison of depri
vation and fri endlessness outside than
he Is inside.”
"Do you mean that he Is (he man
who made the ghost story I bought
With my house?” Mr. Sidney nsked.
“That’s all there is human of your
Ifiost story,” said the warden.
"It Is more than most ghost stories
have,” said Mr. Sidney.
I could not believe the slightest par
ticle In the ghost story. I am ration
alistic. But as the legend of the pond
took shape, my imagination began to
give substance to Its shadows.
Yet the place was gonial and cordial.
Mr. Sidney’s joviality was the dom
inant note In the house. An aging sick
man might naturally have been testy.
He might have been Impatient, have
bad whims and crochets. He nvight
have been Irascible In hls demands
upon and acceptance of service. Hut
Mr. Sidney was always cordial and
considerate. A great deal of tlie time
he spent In bed. When ho was not In
hejl, he sat In u great chair, and very
often a yellow Persian cat rested on
his knees. It was a difficult If not
dangerous matter for any one eNo than
Mr. Sidney to touch th< cat. named
"The Wlnk'ng Demon," said Mr.
Sidney, fingering the cat’s ruff ns It
lay or. his lap. and purred. I knew Just
enough of the star Algol and Its vari
ability to understand the whimsicality
of an old man’s naming n cat for the
winking sun. Algol In Mr. Sidney's
lap blinked at me. and the old man’s
genius for understanding and classi
fication seemed uncanny.
Mr. Sidney's room was of great size.
It had two fireplaces and a large cove
of windows bulging toward the west.
At the smaller of the two fireplaces
he had his breakfast. Either at the
large fireplace or In the outward bulge
of windows, he had hls dinner.
In spite of the Persian cat, Mr. Sid
ney had throe canaries In the room.
Algol respected them after a fashion
that I thought uncertain. I have seen
a canary sitting on the cat’s head, but
I thought it was a decided case of mis
placed confidence. Algol wanted that
canary and would continue to want It
He was deterred from natural action
In the matter by his affection for the
strange but kindly master who want
ed cats and canaries to live together In
I know I never fully grasped Mr.
Sidney’s scheme of life, but I thought
that he found existence Ironic. Hls
graciousness and his cheerfulness, I
thought, represented the garlands of
hls conquest of morbidity. His per
sonal charm was extraordinary. Every
one In the house felt It. But an aston
ishing thing about Mr. Sidney was an
occasional emotion which, as It mani
fested Itself In hls expressions—and
that was the only fashion I saw It for
a long time —was one of savage hate.
It was only by coming on him when
he was not expecting me that I saw
this. I remember that the first time
I saw the expression on his face I was
dumfounded. That I was not expected
in hls room was entirely without Inten
tion on my part. People who were ac
customed to being with him walked
Into the room without ceremony. • Hls
bedroom and bath were to one side.
Hls living-room he Insisted should be
open without formality.
On the occasion I speak of I had come
in quietly, but it was without Intention
to surprise ray patient. He was sitting
In hls large chair with Algol on his
knees. Ills eyes were closed, and on
hls face was an expression of malevol
ence that was almost demoniac. It
was so startling that the sight of It
stopped me In my step and made me
feel more than uneasy, almost afraid.
Mr. Sidney was quiet, except that with
one hand he stroked Algol about the
head and ears. The caress was al
most Imperceptible in motion, but Al
gol was purring so loudly that the
sound filled the otherwise quiet room.
The malevolence—the malignancy,
hatred, concentrated essence of feroc
ity—in Mr. Sidney's face would have
stopped anyone. To one who had af
fection for him as I had, it was ab
horrent to see him so. It was a con
fession of something 1 did not want
to know.
1 was In fear that he might hear mo
and, opening his eyes, find that I had
discovered him. I was embarrassed
and uncertain what to do. It was a
silly predicament, as I saw afterward.
My part was quite simple. I should
have paid no attention to any such
phenomenon as the expression on a
man’s face and have acted perfectly
The common-sense thing—and I con
sider myself fairly sensible—was ap
parent afterward. It indicates the as
tonishing shock of the thing that I was
unable to act sensibly. What was the
expression in an amiable, charming
man's face, to knock a sensible person
out of nil his senses? Here was a
dozing man merely toying with a cat’s
ears, and the very sight of whaf was
expressed In his face, made me numb.
I cannot understand it now, the ter
rifying sensation being one which dis
appeared as the recollection of the
emotions faded. What I did was to
back toward the door, open it as quiet
ly as I could, back out, and then re
enter the room noisily.
Mr. Sidney was looking at me smil
ingly. Hls charm of manner never
seemed more positive and active.
“Hello, doctor!" he said. “I needed
company and just your company. If
you would only drink wine!”
• 4t ) • * * * •
A broken pipe In the laundry made
It necessary to call a plumber from
Hartley, and to get quick service, It
was agreed that we should send a car
for the man and hls helper.
The day was pleasant, and for the
soke of Ihe drive 1 went with the
driver. The plumber was a fat man
of the comic type. I thought he must
he the embodiment of all the plumbers’
jokes. They seemed to have created
him ; lie was the product of the comics.
I even asked him If he were sure he
had all hls tools. I thought he would
be sure to send ns back for a wrench.
He was amiable, laughed at* anything
or nothing and was saved from being
a nuisance only by un abounding aul
nml optimism which was Infectious.
Driving through the Findley house
grounds we mine to the pool, and the
pl imher—named Harkins—chuckled.
Thus fnr, whenever he or something
else amused him, he had laughed. Now
he chuckled ns If In recollection of an
experience -richer or deeper than any
he had been talking of.
"That place Is going to be remem
bered by me," he said. "I have been
out here only onee since the night I
made n bet I was not afraid to sit on
the bank here for an hour. They’ve
got a good many stories of this place
In town. I hud been drinking a Utile.
I don’t do it steady, but once In a while
I get out. You’ve got to do It to keep
the house going happy. (live the wife
something to talk about. My wife
would rather scold me than eat, and
she U vea her food.
“We were at the White Pigeon, hav
ing a good time hut thinking of going
home, when someone started on this
Hartley house story. Everybody had
something to say, and 1 said that there
was no ghost that could scare me, at
least no ghost that ever was within a
hundred miles of Hartley. That’s
where I made a fool of myself. I’ve
got to admit that’s where I made a
fool of myself.
“I bet five dollars I would sit an
hour on the bank at this place. I for
got all about the dogs, or I’d not have
made the bet. Anyway, they didn’t
bother me. We got un automobile and
drove out here. The fellows left me
at the pool and went a mile back.
They were going to take ray word for
It. I was to stay un hour and then
start walking hack. At the end of an
hour they would start toward me and
pick me up. They had beer and sand
wiches. I had a couple of bottles and
some cheese and crackers.
"I wasn't afraid of that place. I’m
not afraid of any place unless I get
to thinking about this one. It was
along In October. A hoot-owl was
somewhere hack of me, and there was
a whippoorwill up toward the house.
“I’m used to hoot-owls and whip
poorwills, but I hadn’t drunk more
than half a bottle of beer before even
these things began to sound different.
“The current of the river kept knock
ing at the big rock at the up end of
the pool, and you began to think that
things were reaching for you out of
the dark. I’d have given ten dollars to
quit, but I got so that I didn’t want to
move. I felt safer sitting still.
“Then I began to hear things that I
don’t suppose were making a noise at
all. It may be it was rabbits In the
bush. I nearly died wlien I heard a
cry about fifty feet back of me. I did
hear that. I guess a ferret had got a
rabbit. Yon know how a rabbit cries
—like a baby.
“I was sitting In the open, and I
thought I’d feel better If I got my hack
up against something. So I crawled
over to some bushes and sat down be
hind them.
"Maybe I had been there a half an
hour, feeling scary and uncomfortable,
when I heard a regular yell. There
wasn't any fooling about that. It
sounded like someone being hurt but
yelling not so much because of the
hurt as because he was mad.
“You've beam fellows talking about
(heir hair standing on end. I never
knew what It really meant before, tint
my hair just stood right in’. I felt
like someone was trying to scalp me,
and I was gooseUesh all over.
“It had been dark on account of
clouds, hut just then the moon came
out and lighted ujr the place. There
was a man standing on the edge of the
pool, just about where I had been sit
ting. He was leaning with both hands
on a cane and standing perfectly still.
He didn’t seem like a man. He looked
like one, hut you had a feeling that he
wasn’t one.
“I don’t want c\**r to be so scared
again. I didn’t know who had yelled,
hut I thought this man hatj, and I
didn't think he was a man. I thought
he was a ghost. I’m not saying what
I think now, but If I had to, Pd say
that I saw the ghost of this place—
and anybody that want’s to laugh can
laugh. He can come down here at
night and get cured of laughing.
"I couldn’t move foe a while. The
man stood still, leaning on his cane.
I watched him until I began to feel
that I could use my legs again. I
don’t know why I was so scared, but I
was. I crawled away through the
brush for a hundred feet or so. Then
I got up and ran.
“I heard that yell behind me again
I’ll bet nobody around here ever ran a
mile as fast as I did. 1 scared the
fellows who were waiting for me. They
didn’t poke any fun at me. They
looked at me and got that automobile
started. I paid the bet, but they didn’t
have any laugh on me. There Isn’t
one of them would come down here at
night now.”
"When was this?” I asked.
“Four or five years ago,” said the
plumber. “Some time In October.”
We came to the house, and he went
Into the laundry to fix-the pipes.
“It doesn't look haunted around
here,” he said as he perceived the
tangible joviality of the place, “but
you’ve got to get me out before dark.”
That was virtually the complete sub
stance of the Hartley house ghost—
the picture of a man leaning on a cane
by the edge of the river. Romance
had to he content With It.
• •••••*
One evening In late October, which
had fumed chill and brought up a high
wind, Mr. Sidney produced anew
phenomenon. He had a strange flash
of strength. When I went to his room
after dinner I found him walking about
without help. Ordinarily, If lie walked
at all. Jed was his strength.
"Occasionally I can do It, doctor,” he
said. "The strength comes. I usual
ly pay for It next day, however.”
“I'd he very careful, then,” I sug
“Yes, but you do not know how
grateful It Is to feel vigor once In a
while," he said, continuing to walk
forth and back In the room.
I sat down and watched him without
remonstrating. It was astonishing to
see him so agile ami. strong hut I had
learned that timid prudence was very
ineffective. I had confessed my Inabil
ity to understand him.
He did not seem to want to continue
life for the purpose of preserving Its
sensations but for the purpose of some
accomplishment. His conditions were
so pleasant that It might be reasonable
to desire a prolonging of them. Evi
dently he was not set upon that. He was
not trying to accomplish anything. He
did nothing. He had no unfinished
work. And yet his will to live, I knew,
was a will to see the fruit of some
thing. He seemed to have a spiritual
incentive; something that had other
than a physical impulse controlled him
and gave him resolution.
I was marveling at his strange ac
tivity when Isobel and Mrs. Sidney
came In. Mr. Sidney .proposed whist,
and we began a game. The wind In
creased In violence, and the log fire
grew In comfort. We had a pleasant
game, disturbed for me only by specu
lations as to the cause of Mr. Sidney’s
strange animation and strength.
Shortly after ten o’clock the ladisn
said good night, and Jed came in with
a fresh log for the fire. The wind had
been Increasing In volume, sound and
power. I was thinking of bed.
“Sit a while longer, doctor,” Mr. Sid
ney urged. “Jed and I shall be the
better for some other company. This
Is the sort of night we like to sit up to
enjoy. Esthotlcally one ought to make
the most of such a night”
Jed went out and presently came In
again with two bottles of wine.
“What are we drinking tonight
Jed?” Mr. Sidney asked.
“I thought the evening suggested a
warm sherry.” said Jed.
“I think It does,” said Mr. Sidney,
"There Is body and a live soul In
“But certainly,” I suggested In
alarm, “you will not drink sherry."
“Indeed not,” said Mr. Sidney. “Jed
drinks It for me, and I watch him. You
must have a glass with him—just one.
He’ll have a dozen —I don’t ask you to
follow him —but just one.”
Jed opened a bottle, and when he
offered me a glass I yielded. I wanted
to Increase the sense of protective
comforts against that shrill wind out
Jed drew n comfortable chair close
to the fire and took his wine in large
hut appreciative gulps. I took mine
In small but appreciative sips. The
fire roared, and the wind howled.
Jed. drinking by gulps, soon was ex
hilarated. Mr. Sidney and I had been
rational. We had been talking, I re
call, of the substitution of a Syrian
Idea of Immortality, concerned chiefly
with precious metals and stones, for
the nqrth European idea of Valhalla,
when Jed began to sing, and with
gusto and affection opened another
bottle of wine. The wind grew In vio
“It Is a night for any of the living
dead about a place,” I said.
“I like a wind that has many voices,”
said Mr. Sidney. “It produces certain
or emotions that are primi
tive. It suggests a threat and Increases
the sense of shelter and comfort. We
sit like peasants about the fireplace
and are inclined to legends.”
Story of the Dobion Murder.
Happiness Not Found in Crowds.
Contact with great crowds Is no
guarantee of happiness. Almost every
man at some time or another gets the
fever for the great city. If he could
only mingle with the crowds that
throng the streets and rub shoulders
with multitudes striving for success
or Unlimited pleasures he would be
sure to revel In happiness. How rude
the awakening must be when he tries
It. The great city doesn’t know you
have entered It. Yon may be the
oracle of your own town hut you may
stand on the street of the city and
watch the passers-hy for hours at a
time and no one will say a word to
you. There Is no more lonesome feel
ing In the world than that of feeling
yourself alone In the midst of people.
It’s ns bad ns being thirsty In the mid
dle of the ocean. Crowds do not give
The Spanish government will permit
experiments In tobacco cultivation and
will inspect the seeds and plants and
supervise the disposal of the crop.
An East Nashville Grocer Says He
Has Used Black-Draught for
Years, Whenever Troubled
With Torpid Liver.
East Nashville, Tenn—" You ask me
about Black-Draught. It Is without
doubt the best liver medicine made,
and I don’t believe I could get along
without it," declared Mr. W. N.
Parsons, recently.
Mr. Parsons, who Is a prominent
grocer at 243 North First street, says
further: “I take It (Black-Draught)
for sour stomach, headache, bad liver,
Indigestion, and all other troubles that
are the result of a torpid liver. I
have known and used it for years, and
can and do highly recommend It to
every one. I won’t go to bed without
It In the house. It will do all It claims
to do. I can’t say enough for it.”
Thedford’s Black-Draught, which
has been in successful use for more
than 70 years, is a medicine especially
adapted to the treatment of many
liver troubles. It has proved helpful
to thousands and thousands of per
sons suffering from stomach and liver
complaints, and should be helpful to
Black-Draught is easy to take and
has not the bad after-effects, so com
mon with many mineral drugs.
Most good druggists sell It. —Adv,
A man full of himself is as disagree
able as a man full of whisky.
Buy only “Diamond Dyes’*
Bach package of “Diamond Dye
contains directions so simple that any
woman can diamond-dye worn, shabby
skirts, waists, dresses, coats, gloves,
stockings sweaters, draperies every
thing, whether wool, silk, linen, cotton
or mixed goods, new, rich fadeless col
ors. Have druggist show you “Dia
mond Dyes Color Card.” —Adv.
A crow is never whiter for often
washing.—Danish Proverb.
important to Mothers
Examine carefully every bottle of
CASTOKIA, that famous old* remedy
for infants and children, and see that it
In Use for Over 30 Years.
Children Cry for Fletcher’s Castoria
The flirt of today will be the old
maid of tomorrow, maybe.
99 OUT OF 100
Need Vacher-Balm at Times.
Nothing better for summer colds,
hurts or Itching. Keep It handy.
Agents wanted where we have none.
E. W. Vacher, Inc., New Orleans,
It Is never too late to break your
self of a bad habit.
Catarrh Can Be Cured
Catarrh i(£ (i local disease greatly Influ
enced by Constitutional conditions. It
therefore requires constitutional treat
is taken Internally and acts through
Blood on the Mucous Surfaces of
the System. HALL’S CATARRH
MEDICINE destroys the foundation of
the disease, gives the patient strength by
improving the general health and assists
nature In doing Its work.
All Druggists. Circular* free.
F. J. Oheney & Cos., Toledo, Ohio.
It is usually the blunt man who says
the sharpest things.
vodmiee disagreeable
sometimes alarming symptoms. Wrlrht's
India* Vegetable Pills stimulate the dtee>
tlvs processes to function naturally, Adv.
All the Facilities.
“Has your friend a pull!”
“He ought to have. He Is in the tug
/f Irki § ya9 ’ Tire,ltch,
to* Smarter Bum, If Sore,
Vhlm FVtC Irritated, Inflamed or
IVImCTJuj Granulated,useMurine
often. Sooth.., Refreshes. Saf. for
At all Druggists. Write for
Free Eye Book, fhria, Eye Remedy Ce,,CUcijs

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