The House Accursed





Near Gallipolis, Ohio, there stood within a few years an old house of

four rooms that had been occupied by Herman Deluse. He lived there alone,

and, though his farming was of the crudest sort, he never appeared to

lack for anything. The people had an idea that the place was under ban,

and it was more than suspected that its occupant had been a pirate. In

fact, he called his place the Isle of Pines, after a buccaneers'

rendezvous in the West Indies, and made no attempt to conceal the strange

plunder and curious weapons that he had brought home with him, but of

money he never appeared to have much at once. When it came his time to

die he ended his life alone, so far as any knew--at least, his body was

found in his bed, without trace of violence or disorder. It was buried

and the public administrator took charge of the estate, locking up the

house until possible relatives should come to claim it, and the rustic

jury found that Deluse came to his death by visitation of God.



It was but a few nights after this that the Rev. Henry Galbraith returned

from a visit of a month to Cincinnati and reached his home after a night

of boisterous storm. The snow was so deep and the roads so blocked with

windfalls that he put up his horse in Gallipolis and started for his

house on foot.



But where did you pass the night? inquired his wife, after the

greetings were over. With old Deluse in the Isle of Pines, he answered.

I saw a light moving about the house, and rapped. No one came; so, as I

was freezing, I forced open the door, built a fire, and lay down in my

coat before it. Old Deluse came in presently and I apologized, but he

paid no attention to me. He seemed to be walking in his sleep and to be

searching for something. All night long I could hear his footsteps about

the house, in pauses of the storm.



The clergyman's wife and son looked at each other, and a friend who was

present--a lawyer, named Maren--remarked, You did not know that Deluse

was dead and buried? The clergyman was speechless with amazement. You

have been dreaming, said the lawyer. Still, if you like, we will go

there to-night and investigate.



The clergyman, his son, and the lawyer went to the house about nine

o'clock, and as they approached it a noise of fighting came from

within--blows, the clink of steel, groans, and curses. Lights appeared,

first at one window, then at another. The men rushed forward, burst in

the door, and were inside--in darkness and silence. They had brought

candles and lighted them, but the light revealed nothing. Dust lay thick

on the floor except in the room where the clergyman had passed the

previous night, and the door that he had then opened stood ajar, but the

snow outside was drifted and unbroken by footsteps. Then came the sound

of a fall that shook the building. At the same moment it was noticed by

the other two men that young Galbraith was absent. They hurried into the

room whence the noise had come. A board was wrenched from the wall there,

disclosing a hollow that had been used for a hiding-place, and on the

floor lay young Galbraith with a sack of Spanish coins in his hand. His

father stooped to pick him up, but staggered back in horror, for the

young man's life had gone. A post-mortem examination revealed no cause of

death, and a rustic jury again laid it to a visitation of God.





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