''I should be much happier if you didn't light the gas,' he said at once, 'for the vibrations of your light hurt me
a good deal. You need not be afraid that I shall injure you. I can't touch your body to begin with, for there's a
great gulf fixed, you know; and really this half-light suits me best. Now, let me continue what I was trying to
say before. You know, so many people have come to this house to see me, and most of them have seen me,
and one and all have been terrified. If only, oh, if only some one would be not terrified, but kind and loving to
me! Then, you see, I might be able to change my condition and get away.'
'His voice was so sad that I felt tears start somewhere at the back of my eyes; but fear kept all else in check,
and I stood shaking and cold as I listened to him.
''Who are you then? Of course Carey didn't send you, I know now,' I managed to utter. My thoughts scattered
dreadfully and I could think of nothing to say. I was afraid of a stroke.
''I know nothing about Carey, or who he is,' continued the man quietly, 'and the name my body had I have
forgotten, thank God; but I am the man who was frightened to death in this house ten years ago, and I have
been frightened ever since, and am frightened still; for the succession of cruel and curious people who come
to this house to see the ghost, and thus keep alive its atmosphere of terror, only helps to render my condition
worse. If only some one would be kind to me--laugh, speak gently and rationally with me, cry if they like,
pity, comfort, soothe me--anything but come here in curiosity and tremble as you are now doing in that
corner. Now, madam, won't you take pity on me?' His voice rose to a dreadful cry. 'Won't you step out into the
middle of the room and try to love me a little?'
'A horrible laughter came gurgling up in my throat as I heard him, but the sense of pity was stronger than the
laughter, and I found myself actually leaving the support of the wall and approaching the center of the floor.
''By God!' he cried, at once straightening up against the window, 'you have done a kind act. That's the first
attempt at sympathy that has been shown me since I died, and I feel better already. In life, you know, I was a
misanthrope. Everything went wrong with me, and I came to hate my fellow men so much that I couldn't bear
to see them even. Of course, like begets like, and this hate was returned. Finally I suffered from horrible
delusions, and my room became haunted with demons that laughed and grimaced, and one night I ran into a
whole cluster of them near the bed--and the fright stopped my heart and killed me. It's hate and remorse, as
much as terror, that clogs me so thickly and keeps me here. If only some one could feel pity, and sympathy,
and perhaps a little love for me, I could get away and be happy. When you came this afternoon to see over the
house I watched you, and a little hope came to me for the first time. I saw you had courage, originality,
resource--love. If only I could touch your heart, without frightening you, I knew I could perhaps tap that love
you have stored up in your being there, and thus borrow the wings for my escape!'
'Now I must confess my heart began to ache a little, as fear left me and the man's words sank their sad
meaning into me. Still, the whole affair was so incredible, and so touched with unholy quality, and the story of
a woman's murder I had come to investigate had so obviously nothing to do with this thing, that I felt myself
in a kind of wild dream that seemed likely to stop at any moment and leave me somewhere in bed after a
'Moreover, his words possessed me to such an extent that I found it impossible to reflect upon anything else
at all, or to consider adequately any ways or means of action or escape.
'I moved a little nearer to him in the gloom, horribly frightened, of course, but with the beginnings of a
strange determination in my heart.
''You women,' he continued, his voice plainly thrilling at my approach, 'you wonderful women, to whom life
often brings no opportunity of spending your great love, oh, if you only could know how many of us simply
yearn for it! It would save our souls, if but you knew. Few might find the chance that you now have, but if you
only spent your love freely, without definite object, just letting it flow openly for all who need, you would
reach hundreds and thousands of souls like me, and release us! Oh, madam, I ask you again to feel with me, to
be kind and gentle--and if you can to love me a little!'