Unfortunately, it did not last. A few days after, there was a brilliant sunset, after a storm, with gorgeous yellow light slanting everywhere, and the sun looking at us between bars of dark purple cloud, edged with gold where they touched the pale blue sky; all this fading at last into a great whirl of gray to the northward, with a cold purple ground. At the height of the show, I climbed the wall to my favorite piazza, and was surprised to find Severance already there.
He sat facing the sunset, but with his head sunk between his hands. At my approach, he looked up, and rose to his feet. "Do not deceive me any more," he said, almost savagely, and pointed to the window.
I looked in, and must confess that, for a moment, I too was startled. There was a perceptible moment of time during which it seemed as if no possible philosophy could explain what appeared in sight. Not that any object showed itself within the great drawing-room, but I distinctly saw--across the apartment, and through the opposite window--the dark figure of a man about my own size, who leaned against the long window, and gazed intently on me. Above him spread the yellow sunset light, around him the birch-boughs hung and the ivy-tendrils swayed, while behind him there appeared a glimmering water-surface, across which slowly drifted the tall masts of a schooner. It looked strangely like a view I had seen of some foreign harbor,--Amalfi, perhaps,--with a vine-clad balcony and a single human figure in the foreground. So real and startling was the sight that at first it was not easy to resolve the whole scene into its component parts. Yet it was simply such a confused mixture of real and reflected images as one often sees from the window of a railway carriage, where the mirrored interior seems to glide beside the train, with the natural landscape for a background. In this case, also, the frame and foliage of the picture were real, and all else was reflected; the sunlit bay behind us was reproduced as in a camera, and the dark figure was but the full-length image of myself.
It was easy to explain all this to Severance, but he shook his head. "So cool a philosopher as yourself," he said, "should remember that this image is not always visible. At our last visit, we looked for it in vain. When we first saw it, it appeared and disappeared within ten minutes. On your mechanical theory it should be other-wise."
This staggered me for a moment. Then the ready solution occurred, that the reflection depended on the strength and direction of the light; and I proved to him that, in our case, it had appeared and disappeared with the sunshine. He was silenced, but evidently not convinced; yet time and common-sense, it seemed, would take care of that.
Soon after all this, I was called out of town for a week or two. If Severance would go with me, it would doubtless complete the cure, I thought; but this he obstinately declined. After my departure, my sister wrote, he seemed absolutely to haunt the empty house by the Blue Rocks. He undoubtedly went here to sketch, she thought. The house was in charge of a real-estate agent,--a retired landscape-painter, whose pictures did not sell so profitably as their originals; and her theory was, that this agent hoped to make our friend buy the place, and so allured him there under pretence of sketching. Moreover, she surmised, he was studying some effect of shadow, because, unlike most men, he appeared in decent spirits only on cloudy days. It is always so easy to fit a man out with a set of ready-made motives! But I drew my own conclusions, and was not surprised to hear, soon after, that Severance was seriously ill.
This brought me back at once,--sailing down from Providence in an open boat, I remember, one lovely moonlight night. Next day I saw Severance, who declared that he had suffered from nothing worse than a prolonged sick-headache. I soon got out of him all that had happened. He had seen the figure in the window every sunny day, he said. Of course he had, if he chose to look for it, and I could only smile, though it perhaps seemed unkind. But I stopped smiling when he went on to tell that, not satisfied with these observations, he had visited the house by moonlight also, and had then seen, as he averred, a second figure standing beside the first.
Of course, there was no defence against such a theory as this, except simply to laugh it down; but it made me very anxious, for it showed that he was growing thoroughly morbid. "Either it was pure fancy," I said, "or it was Paul the gardener."
Source of this article：http://nyhps.medkent.com/news/85e998921.html
Copyright statement: The content of this article was voluntarily contributed by internet users, and the views expressed in this article only represent the author themselves. This website only provides information storage space services and does not hold any ownership or legal responsibility. If you find any suspected plagiarism, infringement, or illegal content on this website, please send an email to report it. Once verified, this website will be immediately deleted.