Help via Ko-Fi

YOUNG Blythe, startled wide awake but not knowing yet what had aroused him, lay still for a moment blinking at the matchboard walls and ceiling of the bungalow bedroom, bright with the first level rays of the summer sunrise. Before it sounded again—that rapid, frightened knock upon his bedroom door—he had swiftly decided that what had aroused him at this unusual hour was only the twittering of the birds outside his open window, which came to him mingled with the soft dry rustle and scent of the pine trees. But now, at the repetition of the knock, he leaped out of bed. He pushed his feet into slippers, pulled on a bathrobe over his pajamas, and hurriedly unlocked and opened the door.

His mother and Edith Coburn, his fiancée, waiting anxiously in the hall outside, gasped with relief at sight of him.

"Oh, you are safe—you are safe yet!" The girl caught him to her, palpitating still in her relief and shaken by dry sobs. "I saw you dead! I have had that terrible dream again and saw you dead—saw you lying dead, Randall, as I found Charles dead the time I dreamt it before!" She shuddered.

Blythe's mother clutched the young girl by the shoulders and searched her face with hostile eyes.

"You say it is the same dream you had before when you were engaged to Charles Ritchie and—they found him dead?" she demanded. "So it was not merely that you dreamed that something had happened to Randall; it was the same dream that you had before Charles Ritchie's death? I did not understand that before! Then something must be done about it!" She dropped the girl as suddenly as she had caught her.

Young Blythe had flushed at first with the natural aversion of a healthy man to having a fuss made over him; but now he sprang swiftly forward and put his arm protectingly about the girl.

It was the second morning she had aroused the household in terror for Blythe's safety, waking from a dream of his death.

"Mother, mother!" he rebuked sharply. "Are we living in the Book of Daniel? And Edith—Edith!" he cried to the girl. "I can't let this go on, worrying yourself sick and wronging yourself so with mother! We are educated people living in the twentieth century. You know there can be nothing in dreams! "

"No, I don't know that, Randall!" the girl defied him desperately, as she watched suspicion of herself darken in the mother's eyes. "Neither would you know it, if you had seen that terrible dream come true as I have. Whatever your mother may think of me, I shall not. conceal that I am dreaming it again, until—as she says—something has been done about it. For even yesterday, when you told me that Mr. Trant, the psychologist from Chicago, had come to join the camping party at Black Lake, I determined then, if the dream came again, to ask for his help. That is what you, too, want now, is it not, Mrs. Blythe? "

Blythe hit his lip with vexation. He was visiting with his mother at this summer bungalow of Edith Coburn's, which capped a wooded knoll in one of the few spots of wilderness left in northern Michigan. While riding through the warm, damp woods the day before, he had learned and mentioned to Edith that Luther Trant had recently joined a fishing party at the neighboring lake; and he had discussed with Edith the reputation the young psychologist had made for himself in Chicago through his startling successes in tracing the workings of the minds of men through their most secret thoughts and motives to the solution or prevention of crimes.

Two hours later, in response to a letter from Blythe himself, as Edith sat with Blythe and his mother on the wire-inclosed porch, a red-haired man in canvas coat and leggings emerged from the pines which, protected by private ownership, still filled the hollows and topped the low crests of the glacial moraines about the bungalow.

Before the introductions were well over the girl stretched out her hand to him. "Oh, Mr. Trant, if you can only help us!"

"Mr. Blythe's note did not tell me what you want of me," the psychologist answered with an involuntary glance of admiration at the girl's unusual combination of clear olive skin with auburn hair, "and I must tell you that, after coming here for a rest, I would prefer not to take up any investigation at all, unless the matter is of such overwhelming importance that it cannot be put aside."

"The matter is Miss Coburn's peace of mind and my mother's right understanding of her, Mr. Trant," Blythe replied. "Both you can restore by two words, if you will."

"Two words?" Trant smiled, as he glanced at the stem-faced, elder woman.

"Yes. Sit down, Mr. Trant. I ask you as a psychologist only to assure Miss Co burn that her dreams cannot possibly have any significance, for she is not only worrying herself sick over them, but has aroused with them the most absurd superstitions and suspicions in my mother. Neither of them," Blythe went on, as Trant found a seat on the log steps of the porch, "will listen to me when I tell them how impossible their fears are; but they will to you, Mr. Trant, and I appeal to you professionally, as a modern, scientific psychologist," he repeated, "to tell Miss Coburn that her dreams cannot possibly have any meaning. "

"I am afraid you are appealing to the wrong side of me to have me tell you anything like that," Trant answered. "For the serious study of dreams, to learn their interpretation, is one of the most important and absorbing occupations of the modern psychologist. "

"Of course, of course!" Blythe protested hastily. "I understand that dreams may be fascinating to the psychologist as an abstract study. But practically—practically—Mr. Trant, as they certainly cannot be connected with any real experience, you can surely tell Edith that it is absolutely absurd for anyone to fancy, just because she happened to have a peculiar set of dreams before a friend died, that now another friend—in perfect health—must be in some indefinite danger because of the return to her of the same set of dreams under similar conditions."

"So that is how the matter lies!" the psychologist looked with more interest into the tense faces of the women. "But I'm afraid I can't say even that. For we have found, Mr. Blythe, that dreams must always be connected with some real experience."

"Good Lord, Trant!" Blythe ejaculated, with still greater impatience. "I don't want you to treat the matter seriously and frighten them still more!"

For the girl had turned chalk white at this apparent confirmation of her fears.

"Then you think that this return of my dream does mean that—that Randall is in danger?" Edith demanded. "For it is he whom I now see dead—as I saw Charles Ritchie dead the night before he died. And in the same room where Randall is now sleeping!"

Trant smiled as he shook his head. "I have little doubt but that you are going to a worse extreme than Mr. Blythe." He glanced over his shoulder at the sun which had suddenly appeared high in the sky from behind a bank of clouds. "I was going after bass this morning but it is getting too bright for them to bite now. Besides, I was speaking for myself," he confessed, "when I said that the analysis of dreams is sometimes the most absorbing part of a psychologists work. You have so interested me that I shall be glad to hear the details of this remarkable dream."

"I want you to understand at the very first, Mr. Trant," the girl began when they had settled themselves again, "that I am not at all a superstitious person. I know people are likely to think so because, as my mother died before I was two years old and my father's death followed two years afterwards I was brought up mostly by my nurse,' who is now my maid and housekeeper. But Linette, so far from making me superstitious, is harsher than anyone else with me—as Mr. Blythe can tell you—for giving way to myself so much as I have. Dear, proud, loyal Linette! In spite of her few drops of colored blood, she is as fine as any woman I ever knew. In Detroit, where I live in winter with one or the other of my father's sisters, I am considered a sensible sort of person rather independent and headstrong, and not at all easily frightened. And I can honestly say, that, except for this dream, I cannot recall any sort of fright or superstition in connection with any other dream or with anything else; and though I had dreamed the first half of this dream many times before, it never did more than depress me—I mean it never really alarmed me till it came finally in the form in which it foretold Charles Ritchie's death."

"When," asked Trant "did you first begin dreaming the part which had the depressing e?ect? "

"That began as far back as I can remember anything, Mr. Trant," the girl replied. "It must have been very recurrent during my childhood, for I can so vividly recall the sense of depression which it brought to me and which was so entirely absent from my waking consciousness. Then, for a time, it came much less frequently or, perhaps, not at all for a year or two till I was a junior at Comell, where I met and became engaged to Charles Ritchie. But after that it began again to come almost constantly; and that July, when Linette and I came up here to open my grandfather's bungalow, to visit with Charles and his mother free from my aunts, the dream came in its ?nal form, but still starting with the original struggle.

"At the start of this dreaml am always trying to join or to keep up with other people. In the first dreams these people were my aunts and cousins; then Charles was with them, as Randall is with them now. The scene of the dream is always the same—a round-topped hill up the side of which goes a great flight of steps which we climb. The steps are hard for me and I lag in the rear and get farther and farther behind the others in spite of my struggles; and no one of them ever seems to care or to notice that I cannot keep up with them. Always I am left struggling farther and farther behind till, always at the same place, I am stopped—I do not know why or how, but I cannot lift my foot from the place on which I stand, or call out to them to let them know my trouble."

"Such paralysis is a common dream event, Miss Coburn," the psychologist assented. "Can you remember whether it has always been a part of this dream?"

"I think that while I was a child I was able to go up and down the steps as I wished though I never could keep up with the others. But ever since the dream began again while I was at Cornell, I have been stopped."

Trant nodded to her to proceed.

"My companions, still not noticing my plight, go merrily forward, laughing and shouting," the girl continued, "until finally they disappear over the top of the hill, leaving me entirely alone. A dreadful feeling of loneliness and isolation comes over me. But while I still stand, unable to move, I become aware that, though lonely, I am not alone on the hillside. A great crowd of people is moving about on it, and among them are numbers I recognize—acquaintances, people I have seen on the street, my former schoolmates and teachers. Sometimes they come quite close to me; but either they do not see me at all, or, after looking at me compassionately or curiously, they turn from me; and much as I want to join them, I am unable to do so. Finally, there comes and touches me a woman who, half in pity and half in contempt, it seems, takes me by the hand to lead me away. How, or from what I could have got the idea, I do not know, but I am sure that she knows what it is about me which makes me fall behind, unable to join the others; but just as I speak to her each time to find this out, I awake, having learned nothing from her except that her name is 'Miriam.' That, Mr. Trant," the girl concluded collectedly, "was always the way that dream went. But it never especially alarmed me, as I said, till 'Miriam' took me beyond that point for the first time three years ago and again this summer."

"In July after Mr. Ritchie and his mother had come here to visit you, you said?" the psychologist asked rapidly, as he saw that Mrs. Blythe, who had refrained from making any comment, was about to interrupt.

"Yes. During Mr. Ritchie's visit here three years ago, Mr. Trant," the girl continued, "but not when he was here in ]'uly; it was after he had gone away and come back again in August. I had been engaged to Charles a little over four months," she explained more particularly, "and during those months the dream, up to the point of 'Miriam's' entrance into it, kept coming very frequently. It never took me farther than 'Miriam' even during Charles' first visit here in July. He had suddenly to go to Arizona to inspect some properties which he was interested in, and during the two weeks he was gone, I went in the dream five times as far as 'Miriam'; but never any farther till the terrible night that Charles returned. On that night, as soon as he was asleep, in the room across the hall from mine—where Randall is now sleeping, Mr. Trant—I dreamt it again; but now 'Miriam' led me farther.

"Again there came to me, as soon as I fell asleep, the old familiar feeling of falling away, and dropping back, and vainly struggling to stay with my friends and with Charles; again the awful paralysis and the sudden stopping; again the great crowd of people staring at me and never seeing me, and again all the people pressing about me, and 'Miriam,' half pitying, half contemning me. But this time she—silently, and still with her disdainful, cold pity—led me on. So solemn and so still was she that I was afraid to follow; but I forced myself to go with her, still full of fear. The people about me all disappeared, and 'Miriam' without speaking a word guided me through an orchard of peach trees all in full bloom; but the flowers did not give me pleasure at all, somehow. Instead, though they were bright and fresh and the sunlight shone upon them, they only brought an increase to my horror, and added to my dreadful sense of impending misfortune. And, as I felt that, suddenly I saw I was no longer out doors; the peach blossoms were still about me; but now they were forming the walls and ceiling of a dark room—a room furnished like a library, with a desk and deep bookshelves, and a long, ?at couch; and on the couch was a figure covered by a sheet.

"As 'Miriam' now forced me forward and made me lift the sheet, I saw it was my father lying dead before me! But then, as I looked again, I now saw that it was not he but Charles—Charles Ritchie, lying there cold and dead!" The girl gasped. For a moment she could not proceed.

Trant bent forward swiftly and laid his hand on her wrist. "And then?" he urged.

"I awoke and found Charles Ritchie dead, Mr. Trant," the girl managed to reply. "His door was locked, and when I got no answer to my knocks and cries, I got help and had it broken down. And on his bed he lay—his face almost as I had seen it in my dream—dead!"

"I meant, there was no more of the dream?" the psychologist questioned gently.

"No; no more of that dream, Mr. Trant; and never even so much again after that for three years; never anything like the last part of it in any form till the identical dream, with the substitution only of Mr. Blythe for poor Charles Ritchie, came to me yesterday morning and this morning again, and forced me to send for you, Mr. Trant. I fear with all the intuition of a woman—and a woman who loves—that it means death again, if we pay no heed to it!"

"Unless Mr. Trant can assure us," Mrs. Blythe put in, with a distrustful look at the girl, "that nothing threatens Randall in this lonely place, twenty miles from everyone except chance camping parties, while he is sleeping in the same room and surrounded by the same circumstances in which Charles Ritchie met his death in so—peculiar a manner!"

"Mother, are you crazy?" Blythe cried, severely. "Edith, my dear—my dear!" He bent over and patted the girl's hand. "You must not mind what mother says, for that is only because she is frightened for me just as you are. And do not think I cannot appreciate the fears you both feel for me. Now that you have told him all your side, I think Mr. Trant can safely allay your fears—can you not?" Blythe turned to the psychologist. "Ritchie's death came from a perfectly evident and even foreseen cause. His heart was weak, as nobody knows better than Miss Coburn herself. She has told me, when discussing this sanely, that he had been warned by his doctor that he must temporarily avoid all fatigue and excitement. Not only did Ritchie return from his midsummer trip to Arizona entirely exhausted, but he was so obviously distressed and agitated about something which had occurred upon this trip, that even the servants noticed it. His condition, therefore, was such as to make it almost inevitable for her to dream of his death, if she dreamed of him at all, and for his death to happen at that time was perfectly natural. As I am now sleeping in the room where he died, it is not strange that she recollects that experience in her dreams. Is that not so, Mr. Trant?"

The psychologist avoided replying directly to any of the three. He gazed away from them among the dark pines that surrounded the bungalow.

"Dreams are like shifting mists," he said, turning back to them finally. "Through them one can detect, but not easily define, the reality that exists behind them. I think I can detect as much as that in this dream—the presence of a reality. Let me ask you, Miss Coburn, whether you still accept the explanation Mr. Blythe has given of Charles Ritchie's death?"

"I know no other cause for it, Mr. Trant," the girl replied, "though Mr. Blythe overstates it when he says I was prepared for Charles's death. Though his family doctor had warned him, as Mr. Blythe has said, and the local doctor here said that heart exhaustion was undoubtedly the cause of his death, yet that night I was more encouraged about him than I had ever been."

"Then, tell me, are you ever conscious in your waking hours, Miss Coburn, as you are in this strange dream of yours, of any feeling of loneliness and isolation, or of being slighted by other people?"

"Nothing could be more foreign to me when awake than the feelings I have in that dream," the girl replied promptly.

"Then I have only one other question for you," Trant continued. "Whom do you know that may be the prototype of this 'Miriam' who appears always in your dream?"

"I know no one who resembles this dream woman in any way," the girl responded, "and I have never known anyone named Miriam. I have no association with the name at all, except that it is the title of one of the poems in the last book of verses published by my father."


"Just a single stanza among fifty other poems, Mr. Trant, with nothing about it to impress me originally except that it is rather more obscure and melancholy even than most of his other verses. If you wish I will repeat the stanza."

"Let us hear it, then."

The girl leaned back and a shadow came into her eyes as she recited:

" She comes to mod: me, with laughter free,
Though clothed in dead years and in leprosy;
For my heart goes out to the throngs of men-
Though I check it and draw it back again,
 My heart goes out forever;

And triurnphing still over man and God,
As over the prophet who bore the rod,
She laughs; for my hand would be left unclaspt
And she knows I must draw it back at the last
 The thread of my life to sever."

"Obscure and melancholy, as you say!" Trant raised his head at last. "Did your father end his own life? "

"Yes, Mr. Trant," the girl answered. "My father killed himself. He was one of those sweet but willful characters who have a hard time finding their places in the world. At nineteen he had already quarreled violently with my grandfather."

"Why, Miss Coburn?"

"He had written and published his first small volume of poems, and their unconventional tone so offended my sternly religious grandfather and my almost fanatically religious aunts, that my father left home and went West. It was in the West that he met and married my mother. It was not until a year after my grandfather's death that my father finally returned to Detroit. My mother had died on the lonely Arizona ranch, where we had been living, just before my second birthday, and my father, though still only a boy in years, was a broken and discouraged man." Edith Coburn drew her breath sharply and her eyes brightened with tears. "He lived for a few months a lonely and misanthropic life in Detroit, with no companion except myself—his baby daughter—and almost no servants except Linette, who, as I told you, has had charge of me ever since my mother's death. His only occupation during that time was to bring out another edition of his poems. Almost immediately after this book appeared he committed suicide."

"And the means he used to end his life?"

"He poisoned himself with prussic acid," the girl answered steadily. "But I was too young to remember the particulars, though they say they found me with the body—a little frightened child—for the nurse had left me to go out for help."

"Ah, he used poison!" Trant repeated, intently. "I am sorry to have been obliged to give you the pain of telling me—or us—all this, Miss Coburn; but with what I have now in hand it will be odd indeed if I cannot soon see clearly through the mists of this terrifying dream of yours."

"You think this dream warns me of some real danger that threatens Randall? "

The psychologist had already risen to follow young Blythe into the house, and he left her question unanswered.

The bungalow, as Trant saw at once as he followed Blythe through the doorway, was of comfortable but of the very rudest construction. The two large rooms in its center, the living room and dining room, side by side, were lined on walls and ceiling with matchboards nailed against the log walls. In the west wing, which contained the kitchen and the servants' quarters, the rough logs themselves formed the only walls; the eastern wing, where were the bedrooms of Miss Coburn and her guests, was lined with matchboards like the main rooms.

"This is my room," young Blythe said, as he threw open the door of one of the two eastern rooms, which faced each other across the low, wide hallway. "The room next to mine is my mother's; and Miss Coburn and Linette have the corresponding rooms across the hall. "

"But surely there is some connection between the two rooms on the other side," Trant suggested quickly, as he glanced in. "There must be a door between these two—or some other connection?"

"There is a door," Blythe replied, "and also the partitions there do not go to the ceiling. But how did you guess that, Mr. Trant?" he questioned curiously.

"I did not guess; the dream absolutely required some such arrangement," Trant replied shortly, and was turning from the room when he confronted suddenly in the darkened hall a tall and stately woman watching them curiously through the door. The psychologist was at a loss for an instant, till Blythe, who had followed at his heels, said over his shoulder:

"We will not interrupt your work; I'm just showing Mr. Trant the bungalow," and Trant realized that she was a servant.

She came in then, and the psychologist saw that she was colored, an octoroon—a sensitive, intelligent woman, with a face of the rare, almost aquiline type which in favored instances of heredity predominates over the broader features of the negro. Slender, lithe, graceful and reserved, she silently made way for them.

"That is Miss Coburn's maid—the one who was her nurse?" Trant asked, as they went back to the porch to join the others.

"Yes; that is Linette."

The actions of the young detective during the remainder of his visit were thoroughly unaccountable. He asked for the volume of verses containing the poem to Miriam—studied it for ten minutes—and put the volume in his pocket. But he would not answer any questions concerning his theories of Miss Coburn's dreams. He announced his intention of going to town by catching a train on the logging road after walking to the lumber camp. As he rose to go he drew young Blythe aside.

"Is your health good, Mr. Blythe?" he demanded.

"Perfect," the young man answered, "except for a slightly sluggish liver, which is yielding to open air exercise and lemon and hot water that I take mornings."

"You do?" Trant said abruptly. "Then, by any chance, was the lemon bad yesterday or to-day, so that you did not take it? "

"This morning or yesterday morning? Why, yes, the lemons were musty and I did not drink it. But, good Heavens, Mr. Trant!" he cried in astonishment. "How did you guess that?"

"Not so loud, please," Trant warned him quickly. "Like the bedroom partitions it was not a guess, nor even a very long shot; and it means that I shall come back here to the bungalow to-night. I trust you not to let anyone, even Miss Coburn, know that, but be ready to let me in yourself about eleven o'clock."

The young psychologist spent a busy day. His long tramp back from the lumber camp was undertaken by nine o'clock that night, and when he came in sight of the little woodland house he saw by the light of a shaded lamp young Blythe and Edith Coburn on the wire-inclosed porch. Hidden by the darkness he seated himself under a tree to wait until the household had gone to bed.

The light in the living room was extinguished almost immediately, and Mrs. Blythe came out to kiss her son good night. The light in her bedroom burned brighter as she turned it up. Then Blythe and Miss Coburn went in; but almost immediately the young man emerged again. He glanced at his watch, looked curiously out into the darkness, and then at the girl's just lighted window. Linette came out and began to turn down the porch chairs, and for several minutes she and the young man engaged in animated conversation. Then Blythe went in and Linette was alone. Alone and not conscious that she could be observed, slowly and steadily she stepped back. She took the lamp in her hand, and as she stood an instant with her features sharp and distinct in the ?are from above the lamp shade, Trant saw on her face a melancholy—a strange, half submissive, but dominantly defiant melancholy such as he had never seen on a face before.

Trant waited twenty minutes more, glancing several times at the sky—where the stars one by one were being obscured by storm clouds—in fear the storm would be upon him before he could enter the house; then circling the building to assure himself that all lights were out except that which burned dimly in Blythe's bedroom, he tapped softly at that window with his fingers. The window was lifted noiselessly from within, and he climbed over the sill.

The psychologist closed the window quietly and turned out the light, and they sat down side by side upon the bed.

"We must get Miss Coburn out of her room and sleeping somewhere else before morning," Trant whispered.

"We won't have to do that if the storm does its work right," Blythe answered in the same tone. "For the roof of this wing is pretty old, and a storm from the south, like this, starts a leak over Edith's bedroom. Last week she spent one night in the living room of her own accord."

An hour of darkness and silence passed before Trant spoke again. Then he put his mouth close to Blythe's ear.

"Let me ask one thing," he whispered. "Miss Coburn said that the maid, Linette, had no belief in her dream; then—it was not about that she was speaking to you on the porch just before you came in? "

"No; nothing connected with it," Blythe replied. "It was about the ranch in Arizona where Edith's father lived and where Edith was born. I have been trying to buy it from the present holder as my wedding gift to Edith. Edith herself wanted to return to it some years ago, but Linette dissuaded her. My attorney is having difficulties with the title now; but I wired him a couple of days ago to clear the matter up and get the place. Linette, however, still thinks Edith would not be happy there."

"The trouble with the title is in establishing the death of Miss Cobum's mother?"

"Exactly; they cannot find how or where Mrs. Coburn died and the present holder therefore has a clouded title."

It was nearly morning before the first torrent of rain struck the roof as fiercely as though to make up for its delay in coming; and five minutes later Trant roused Blythe, who had fallen into a light slumber.

Trant set the door ajar, and they heard the girl come out of her bedroom and settle herself upon the couch in the living room. Ten minutes later Blythe announced that she was again asleep.

"Then, Mr. Blythe, we will call your mother." Trant relit the lamp. "It is hardly likely any noise we need make will arouse Miss Coburn, if she can sleep in a storm like this, but be as quiet as possible."

Young Blythe followed the psychologist, who went to his mother's door and knocked softly.

"If Miss Coburn is awakened it will be fatal to my plan," was Trant's almost inaudible warning, stopping the woman as she was about to question him. "Go in first, Mrs. Blythe, and call us when we can follow."

He held his hand to prevent the feeble rays of the lamp from falling on the sleeping face within, as the next instant he and Blythe noiselessly followed the woman. Trant swiftly crossed the room and picked up a little china tray from the center table. With the same swift and noiseless step he approached the couch, set the tray upon the floor by its head, and poured into it the contents of the little vial he took from his pocket. Then he raised the window shade about a foot, extinguished his lamp, and returned to a place beside the others.

For several minutes the three watched the girl's peaceful, sleeping face upon the couch, with its aureole of auburn hair, lighted by the dim gray of the dawn from under the partly raised window shade. A pungent peach-like odor from the liquid in the tray was very apparent. The girl stirred uneasily, turning her face still farther toward the light.

As they strained still farther forward, they saw that the unconscious face upon the pillow had taken on strange lines of sadness. They scarcely breathed in the presence of the shadowy but definite changes by which the sleeping mind seemed to radiate through the girl's unconscious body as they watched despair give place to horror and saw the psychologist nod, tensely and expectantly.

"What have you done to her, Mr. Trant?" Mrs. Blythe whispered in dread. "She frightens me—she frightens me!"

But at that instant a moan burst from the girl's feverish lips. Young Blythe, who seemed to recognize in that inarticulate cry his own name, sprang toward her.

"Wait!" Trant firmly caught him back. "She is not awake yet!"

"Randall—oh, Randall!" The choking cry was plainer now.

For a moment they stood in silence, except for the wailing of the storm. Then the dark eyes slowly opened, widening with terror as she sensed her surroundings and the room, and Trant released the boy.

"Now you may speak, Mr. Blythe."

"Edith, Edith!" young Blythe threw himself on his knees beside the couch. "What is it, dear?"

"I saw you dead!" the girl gasped. "Oh, Randall, I have just seen you dead again in the same dream—exactly the same dream that I had before. But why are you here?" she drew back in startled realization. "And your mother and Mr. Trant—why are you here? What does this mean?"

"It means, Miss Coburn," Trant answered gravely, "that we have come to prevent murder."

"Murder!" The three, pale to the lips, stared at Trant, equally astounded.

"Murder?" the voice came from the door into the hall, and Trant, spinning about, came face to face there with Linette.

"Yes, murder!" he spoke to her directly. "Your murder of Mr. Blythe by prussic acid poisoning." And as he spoke he caught the woman's arms.

"She attempted it twice, two days ago and yesterday morning, by putting the acid in the lemon and water," T rant said. "You were spared only by noticing the smell and not drinking it. I do not know whether she tried it again this morning, but you might go to your room and see if she has prepared it again. If she has, bring it here."

Blythe did as he was told.

"Does it have the smell it had yesterday?" Trant asked as the little tray was set before him.

"Not so much as yesterday or before; but—a little," Blythe replied, still dazed. But now the girl had moved.

"What mad charge is this, Mr. Trant?" she asked the psychologist hotly. "Linette—my Linette—try to poison Randall?" Then she laughed. "I do not know what absurd reasoning has led you to make such a charge, Mr. Trant; but you do not understand! Linette loves me and I—love Randall. Linette would die rather than injure me! I would as soon suspect myself of trying to poison Randall as suspect Linette. How dare you make such a charge—how dare you?" She stamped her little foot. " I know Mrs. Blythe has been suspicious of me ever since I had this strange dream; but——"

"I have said nothing, Edith," Mrs. Blythe answered firmly. "But if there is no truth in this charge, Linette surely will be willing to disprove it by drinking the glass she has prepared for my son."

"Linette need not give such a proof," the girl retorted angrily, "and I would not insult her by asking her for it. But if you want that proof I—" She stretched out her hand suddenly to the glass, but Blythe snatched it back from her.

"No, Edith, no!" he said, shuddering. "Mr. Trant must give us his proofs?"

"Mr. Trant has no proofs!" the girl interrupted him. "He can have none! But if he thinks he has, let him give them, as you say! But you see he cannot give them!" she cried in triumph to the others. For the psychologist had dropped his head before the girl with a strangely troubled look almost like defeat. He lifted it again now to meet with one swift look the gaze of the still silent nurse, who searched his face with a tense inquiry which seemed to hold no terror for herself.

"I cannot give the proofs now—or here," he answered. "But you will keep that, Mr. Blythe, for analysis." He motioned to the glass in Blythe's hand; and with a sudden gesture to Mrs. Blythe to follow them, he seized Linette by the arm and led her from the room. The girl, with a cry of triumph, turned back to Blythe and stretched out her hands to him, as he seemed about to follow them.

The psychologist, leading the nurse and closely followed by Mrs. Blythe, crossed the hall to Linette's bedroom, closed the door behind them and locked it. As he released the nurse and she drew back from him, with unchanging, watchful, questioning scrutiny of her face, he turned to Mrs. Blythe.

"I have brought you here, Mrs. Blythe," he said, "to give you—and Linette—the proofs which Miss Coburn demanded of me—to explain to you how this woman came to be the murderer of Charles Ritchie—"

"Murderer?" Mrs. Blythe exclaimed.

"I think there is no doubt of that." Trant faced Linette, who shrank from him, but was still silent. "As little doubt as there is that she was now attempting the life of your son, Mrs. Blythe, as Miss Coburn's dream makes so clear."

"I can very easily make it plain to you now," the psychologist continued, "if you will put aside all other ideas you may have formed of the explanations of dreams. You must consider a dream now simply as a sleeping recollection and representation of matter of fact happenings in the life of the dreamer.

"I do not mean that the dreamer when awake may be able to recollect all the experiences which gave him the material for his dream; he does not. The dream recollection of experiences takes so different a form from any recollections when awake that it is only for ten years or so that psychologists have been able to make certain in what way dreams are recollections of experiences in order to analyze them and reconstruct them into their waking form.

"So, taking this dream which Miss Coburn told me she had had so many times and which stopped, all but three times, at the point where the dream woman 'Miriam' entered it—this dream which was always much more vivid than her other dreams; which always represented her as set away from and separated from her relations and friends with feelings of loneliness and isolation that she did not feel when awake; and which came most often during her engagements to Charles Ritchie and your son—I at once began to search for something that must have occurred in Miss Coburn's life to so represent herself in her dreams."

"You mean, she must have had some real experience to make her feel that way so often, though it was only in her dreams?" Mrs. Blythe questioned intently.

"Precisely," said Trant; "and since she seemed so honestly puzzled by it when awake, I assumed as a possibility that Miss Coburn had received in her childhood an impression that made a barrier between herself and her aunts and cousins. It might have been the mere manner toward her of some one with whom she came continually in contact—such as from her nurse."

Linette started suddenly forward, but drew back with a deep, indrawn breath.

"But later," Trant went on steadily, "surrounded by daily proofs of the reflection and regard of the very people from whom she had felt separated at first, the child would have conquered this impression of her waking life; for, if the old impression were 'not renewed, the new circumstances would completely obliterate it from her conscious recollection. But nothing could blot it out of her subconsciousness, and the struggle in her sleeping mind between the remembrance of that old belief in a barrier and the later disbelief in it would make the dream, in the first place, very much more vivid than ordinary dreams. Then, as Miss Coburn had no knowledge of the real nature of the barrier, she could represent it only in some allegorical form, such as by dreaming—as she did—that she was unaccountably prevented from joining in the walk with her relations and in the play of her schoolmates. And, lastly, it this obscured feeling could separate her also from the man with whom she was in love, it would come in her dreams most frequently in protest at the time when she was thinking of marriage with him. "

"You mean, Mr. Trant, that there is some secret reason why Randall ought not to marry Miss Coburn?"

"The original dream made me assume some such circumstance unremembered by Miss Coburn when awake, which would have separated her from her relations and friends," Trant replied. "And the change in the dream after she met Charles Ritchie, made me quite certain it was of the nature of which you speak. She wished to do something, but some subconscious idea forbade."

"And the same thing now that she was to marry my son!" Blythe's mother looked at Linette, who had drawn back, crouching against the wall, with fascinated eyes fixed upon Trant.

"That very easily accounted for everything in the first dream except the mysterious 'Miriam,'" Trant continued. "But I was sure that the idea 'Miriam' would prove to be connected in Miss Coburn's mind with the other ideas of the dream. And when Miss Coburn gave me the poem that bore that title, that proved to be so. For surely you see now that the poem was a most forcible expression of the same sense of separation from people that I had already seen in the rest of the dream."

"Ah! I see that now, indeed, Mr. Trant," Mrs. Blythe cried. "But what could this strange sense of separation have come from?"

"So far I could only see that probably the same situation which caused the father to write 'Miriam' just before his melancholy death was that which had given his daughter her subconscious sense of separation when she was a small child. But her dream did not ordinarily connect itself with her father's death. 'Miriam' was as far as the dream went—except on three occasions; for her father's death was evidently not so strongly associated with the name 'Miriam' in Miss Coburn's mind as the sense of separation which the poem expressed. But on those three occasions—just before Ritchie's death and these last two mornings—something evidently had happened to cause the dream to go on past the point where 'Miriam' entered it and to recall to her the death of her father."

"Something happened, Mr. Trant?" Mrs. Blythe repeated.

"Yes," Trant answered, "and as it happened while Miss Coburn was sleeping here in this next room on the night before Charles Ritchie died, and as it happened twice since then while your son was in Ritchie's room, and as it never happened under any other condition anywhere else, I felt sure it must have been some physical thing that happened there. A sleeping person, Mrs. Blythe, is far from being insensible. He perceives in a confused way lights and shadows, sounds, odors and contacts which can cause changes in his dream. Now what physical influence—probably either a sound or an odor—could have readied Miss Coburn's sleeping senses on those three occasions to cause her to associate 'Miriam' so strongly with her father's death that it all was pictured so vividly before her?"

"What? You mean the odor of the acid, by which you brought the dream to her this morning again?" Blythe's mother cried, with increasing appreciation.

"Exactly. When Miss Coburn told me that her father had killed himself with prussic acid and that she herself had found him dead, I saw at once that it was possible that the odor of prussic acid had caused the extension of her dream on those three occasions, and in the dream itself there was good evidence that this was so. Prussic acid has an odor which would give her precisely the pervasive impression of peach blossoms all about her. To prove that, I set off at once to town and got the acid."

The boy's mother, with comprehension still but half formed, turned to Linette; but the nurse seemed not to be conscious of her at all, as she still stared mutely toward Trant.

"But I was greatly perplexed as I sought for a motive for all this," Trant was saying; "though plainly the person using the acid must be the nurse Linette, whose room is separated from Miss Coburn's only by the partition over which the odor of the acid would pass freely." He turned sternly to Linette, who now suddenly crouched shuddering against the wall as she saw his face, and covered her own with her hands. "For that would explain also the dream change of Miss Coburn's father into Ritchie in the first place and into Mr. Blythe now. When Linette brought Ritchie's medicine bottle into this room to poison it, as she now brought in the lemon and hot water, the odors in each case would have reminded Miss Coburn of the persons taking the medicine, just as the prussic acid had reminded her of her father. But why should Linette be doing this? It was not until while waiting for the train at the lumber camp I saw a man there reading the Bible that I recalled the significant line in the poem "clothed in dead years and in leprosy" and remembered that 'Miriam' was a Bible character. "

The words were cut short upon Trant's lips, for Linette was upon him.

"You shall not tell! You shall not tell!" she shrieked. "You demon! You devil!"

But the psychologist caught her by the wrists and held her from him.

"You recall that in the poem 'Miriam' was spoken of as coming to mock the writer, Miss Coburn's father, Mrs. Blythe," he said swiftly and collectedly. "But perhaps you do not recall any more than I did the twelfth chapter of Numbers, where it tells that her leprosy was sent on 'Miriam' as a punishment because she mocked at Moses" for having married—as Miss Cobum's father married—a woman of Ethiopian blood!"

The octoroon cried aloud, wrenching to free her wrists and get at him. But her cry was answered by another, so loud and terrible, from the direction of the living room, that she stopped suddenly her struggles, and all three stood staring at one another in horror. Then Trant, recognizing Blythe's voice, unlocked and tore open the door and rushed out into the hall, only to meet Blythe staggering in the doorway of the living room, chalk white with terror.

"She drank it! She drank it!" he screamed, "because I would not admit Trant's charges were false before he had a better chance to prove them!"

"Edith! What have I done? Edith! Edith! My—" Linette, shrieking, tried to push by Trant, who, turning, caught her, stifling her words so that he alone heard the end of it—"my daughter!"

Then as in spite of him she reached the living room door and saw what lay within, she again cried aloud, threw her hands wildly above her head, and, turning, rushed from them out through the rear door, still wildly shrieking and tossing her arms, out into the rain among the dark pines, until they no longer saw or heard her.

"There was no chance of our saving her," Trant said to Mrs. Blythe a half hour later, when the two were alone in the disordered living room. "For the action of the acid is only a little less rapid than a bullet; Linette, as you saw, knew that. And now that this problem is solved this way, I do not know but that it is best as it is— both for poor Miss Coburn herself and for your son."

"Because, Mr. Trant," the woman shuddered as she laid her hand upon his arm, "you said—am I to understand from what you said just before this terrible thing occurred that Edith was—that her father married a black woman?"

"Linette was undoubtedly her mother," the psychologist answered gravely. " I suspected as much, and Linette's words when she saw what had happened—fortunately they were not overheard by your son—confirmed it. There is no doubt that her father, young and defiant of racial as well as social prejudices, when he went West met and became enamored of this stately, educated octoroon and married her. It is plain he never told his relatives in Detroit that his wife was not white, though it is equally plain from Miss Coburn's story that his own father knew or suspected this and cut him off because of it."

"But now, Mr. Trant?" the woman said, with a strange look of pain and hesitancy.

"I understand," the psychologist said gently. "You want to know whether it is necessary to tell your son. I think not, Mrs. Blythe. I doubt whether we shall ever see or hear of Linette again. I feel that in keeping this secret we shall hardly be compounding a felony. Miss Coburn never knew the stain upon her birth, and as for your son—in your place I would let him go on, holding untarnished to the end the memory of this woman he loved. You can rest assured that I shall never reveal any of this."

"I think that is best, Mr. Trant," Blythe's mother said simply. She caught the psychologist's hand and pressed it before, buttoning his coat, he went out and turned back to his camp.