The Empty House

E. F. O'Gorman
Form 4A.

It was a big house, not quite a mansion, but dark and sombre looking. The moon was full, a veiled, pale orb with gentle beams shedding their light on to the countryside, filtering through the trees, making the road a ribbon of dusty whiteness winding gently through the fields, past wind-bent corn, ready, waiting to be cut, asleep in the cool breeze of the night; on, past the cross-roads, with their tall sentinels, pointing silent fingers away over fields of soft brightness, like the glow of satin, spread beneath the racing moon. It wandered beneath the high wall, which cast its dark shadow half-way over the road, a coverlet to the restful peace of the quiet white road, straying curiously round to the wrought-iron gates, which lay recumbent on their hinges, like guards asleep at their post.

The road crept in, fearful of waking them, whose creaking was the only sound in the night, apart from the whispering wind, wisps of the kingdom within whose lands the gravel drive now fearfully lay - still and quiet - beneath the dark avenue of lofty trees, gazing into the countryside, like so many sleepwalkers, swaying slightly on giant legs.

The moon here glowed pale green, and slowly the gravel drive crept on, peeping fearfully round each new corner, then straying to the next.

The last corner, and round, while the moon above raced to keep pace with the road's wanderings. Here, like so many live things, leaves were scurrying hither and thither; the wind was at his sport, and blew in gusts exhausted leaves which vainly sought a sheltered spot to rest from his frolics. But even he stopped to watch, as, with fearful tread, the gravel drive came closer. A door hung loose on hinges, and the windows were broken and dark, like eyes, blank and unseeing, staring forth at this intruder.

The great stone edifice, black against the sky of racing clouds and ghostly moon, seemed to race with them, gliding silently in silver sheen, under the vault of heaven.

The road durst go no further, but, inside, with the road left breathless, watching, everything was dead. A stone staircase rose heavenwards, with great wide steps, and banister. The wind moaned and whistled through broken window panes, like some mad thing mourning at a funeral. It wailed and shrieked that night, so loud that, with a crash of broken glass, a whole window fell inside and settled in the dust, while the wind rushed through with great intensity, and, rushing fiercely down the stairs, the banister swayed and crashed headlong to the ground, and was dashed in pieces by the hard stone floor.

The wind blew on through an open door, which creaked and groaned, like a thing in pain, then crashed to the ground to rot away in the dust of centuries. After this, it howled away into the open air, while behind, the whole house shook and groaned.

The road passed on, out of the wrought iron gates, on, into the countryside, where the air was fresher and the wind blew cleaner, than in the dusty, sombre gardens of that house with the wrought iron gates.

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