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Weird Tales

FEBRUARY, 1936

A Visitor from Far Away

By LORETTA BURROUGH

A dreadful horror hung over Mrs. Bowen for twenty years, and then
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THE wind was scooping great whining hollows in the air, whirling the snow against windowpanes and frosted roof of Laurel House, piling it deep upon projecting cornices, rolling it into soft white drifts on the unprinted path to the front door. It was very still within the house; the hinges of a loose shutter squealed, groaned, worked up to a terrific bang against the wooden walls, squealed again.

It was so silent that to the woman lying quiet and nervous in the bed, the page she was turning seemed to shout hoarsely as it slipped bade against its fellows, although she knew it had only whispered beneath her thumb. She was reading a book on astronomy, but as time passed she found it harder and harder to think about stars, harder to remember that they were shining somewhere beyond this blizzard in all the veiled brightness of their galaxies.

It was the knowledge that she was alone in the house, completely solitary, that frightened her. There were too many rooms beyond whose empty lighted windows (lighted by her as darkness fell, to cheat that dark) the pale white storm dipped and swayed. Ever since the Occurrence—that was how she phrased it to herself, as though it had been an eclipse, or an earthquake—she had taken good care not to be without a friend or servant in her house at night. Solitude was an invitation to those dreadful and oppressive thoughts that would sometimes descend upon her like a dark hawk even in the midst of a crowd's gayety; but more apt to happen—oh much more!—in solitude. And although the source of those thoughts lay twenty years back, and Mrs. Bowen at forty-five did not look in any way like Mrs. Bowen at twenty-five, they were one and the same and therefore subject to bad dreams and a strange horror of being left alone.

Mrs. Bowen closed her book and threw it aside, lay there a moment listening to the high-pitched voice of the storm, ...

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