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Weird Tales

October, 1927

A Problem of the Dark

by Frances Arthur

THE Dennison home is a quiet, roomy place, neither new nor old. It has wide, kindly spaces; the walls smile at you.

The house has many closets, but not a skeleton in any of them—and as for ghosts, no one has ever died there.

There is no luxury, and equally, no mystery—not at all the place to tempt a night-marauding visitor, from this or any other world; and Mollie Dennison, its gentle mistress, finds it strange that her husband should be so insistent, of late, about having every door and window on the first floor tightly locked every night. Only last summer, many of them were commonly left open, and even when he forgot to hook the screens, he laughed at her for remonstrating.

What caused this change in him, she is never to know; so John Dennison has vowed to himself, to his son Robert, and to his friend Dr. Hedges.

"A woman couldn't know a thing like that!" he has told them.

At breakfast, on that day, late in the previous summer, which he is never to forget, he had asked Mollie casually, "Robert up yet?"

"Yes—or he was; he's lying on the couch in the library and he wants to see you before you go; he said wouldn't you please come in?"

"Nonsense! Why doesn't he come to the table?"

"John, dear, the boy's sick; and you're so hard with him! You wouldn't listen yesterday--"

"Dreams again, eh?"

"Yes, but he's very hoarse, too. I'm worried."

Dennison left the breakfast table impatiently.

The summer was passing; and the boy, who had come home from college in June with shadowed eyes and a puzzled frown between them, seemed more preoccupied, more listless, every day.

He was thinner, too; not in any way like the big, rollicking chap who had left them last September. He had visited a friend over the Christmas holidays, and both parents had anxiously noted the change in him, after nine months of absence.

"Keep having nightmares—guess I'm bilious!" was the only explanation they had been able to win from him; it had not seemed a sufficient one. Dennison resented the boy's lack of interest in the business (an automobile agency), and gave him hard work to do, tersely remarking that h...

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