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The Haunted Homestead A Novel   By: (1819-1899)

The Haunted Homestead A Novel by Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth

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The Haunted Homestead



Author of "Ishmael," "Retribution," "The Bridal Eve," "A Noble Lord," "The Deserted Wife," "Unknown," "The Lady of the Isle," "The Bride's Fate," "Victor's Triumph," "The Wife's Victory," etc.



A residence for woman, child, or man, A dwelling place and yet no habitation; A house, but under some prodigious ban Of excommunication. HOOD.

In childhood I always had a fearless faith in ghosts. I desired before all sights to see them, and threw myself in the way of meeting them whenever and wherever there seemed the slightest possibility of so doing. Whenever there were mysterious sounds heard in the night, I listened with breathless interest, arose from the bed in silent eagerness, and went stealing on tiptoe through the dark house in the hopes of meeting the ghosts. Once I met a severe blow on the nose from the sharp edge of an open door, and once a tom cat, who made one spring from the top of the pantry shelves upon my head, and another thence through a broken window pane. I would have liked to fancy him a ghostly cat, only I knew him too well for our own "Tom," the cunningest thief that ever run on four feet. Another time, perambulating through the house at midnight, I surprised a burglar, who, mistaking me in the darkness for the master of the house, the watch, or an ambush, jumped straight over my head (or past me, I hardly knew which in my astonishment), and made his escape at the back door. But I must say that I never met a ghost, or even a "vestige" of a ghost until but I think I will begin at the beginning and tell you the whole story.

At the Newton Academy, where I was educated, among two hundred fellow pupils, I had but one bosom friend and confidante quite enough in all discretion for one individual, though you are aware that most young ladies have at least a dozen. My female Pythias was Mathilde Legare, a beautiful and warm hearted Creole from New Orleans. Orestes and Pylades, Castor and Pollux, the Siamese twins, are but faint illustrations of the closeness of our friendship. To say that we were inseparable is nothing to the fact we were united, blended, consolidated; and the one "angel" of Swedenborg formed of two congenial spirits, is the only sufficiently expressive example of our union of hearts. It was of little use for me to study a lesson, for though I had never looked at it, if Mathilde only committed hers to memory I was sure, in some occult manner, to have mine "at my fingers' ends" or, on the other hand, if I studied, Mathilde might play she would recite her task just as well. Moreover, if I told a story Mathilde would swear to it, and vice versa . In short, we two were in all cases "too many" for all the rest of the school principal, assistant, masters and pupils and we afforded a striking illustration of the truth of Robert Browning's lines though I suppose the latter alluded to "a true marriage," and not a schoolgirl friendship:

"If any two creatures grow into one They should do more than the world has done, By each apart ever so weak, Yet vainly thro' the world should you seek, For the knowledge and the might, Which in such union grew their right."

As Mathilde was rich and I was comparatively poor, this friendship brought me many advantages, among which was the privilege of annual travel and change of scene. About the first of every July, Mathilde's father and mother would leave their sugar plantation in Louisiana, and travel northward. They usually arrived at the Newton Academy about the tenth of the month, in time to be present at the annual examination and exhibition of the pupils. Upon these occasions, Mathilde, who possessed quickness and vivacity, rather than depth or strength of mind, generally achieved a brilliant success; though she often told me that her triumph in being first at these milestones on the road to fame, was nothing more than the success of the swift footed, careless hare over the slow and painstaking tortoise, who would win the race at the goal... Continue reading book >>

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