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For some days past Fraulein Rottenmeier had gone about rather

silently and as if lost in thought. As twilight fell, and she

passed from room to room, or along the long corridors, she was

seen to look cautiously behind her, and into the dark corners, as

if she thought some one was coming silently behind her and might

unexpectedly give her dress a pull. Nor would she now go alone

into some parts of the house. If she visited the upper floor

where the grand guest-chambers were, or had to go down into the

large mysterious council-chamber, where every footstep echoed,

and the old senators with their big white collars looked down so

solemnly and immovably from their frames, she regularly called

Tinette to accompany her, in case, as she said, there might be

something to carry up or down. Tinette on her side did exactly

the same; if she had business upstairs or down, she called

Sebastian to accompany her, and there was always something he

must help her with which she could not carry alone. More curious

still, Sebastian, also, if sent into one of the more distant

rooms, always called John to go with him in case he should want

his assistance in bringing what was required. And John readily

obeyed, although there was never anything to carry, and either

might well have gone alone; but he did not know how soon he might

want to ask Sebastian to do the same service for him. And while

these things were going on upstairs, the cook, who had been in

the house for years, would stand shaking her head over her pots

and kettles, and sighing, "That ever I should live to know such a thing."

For something very strange and mysterious was going on in Herr

Sesemann's house. Every morning, when the servants went

downstairs, they found the front door wide open, although nobody

could be seen far or near to account for it. During the first few

days that this happened every room and corner was searched in

great alarm, to see if anything had been stolen, for the general

idea was that a thief had been hiding in the house and had gone

off in the night with the stolen goods; but not a thing in the

house had been touched, everything was safe in its place. The

door was doubly locked at night, and for further security the

wooden bar was fastened across it; but it was no good--next

morning the door again stood open. The servants in their fear and

excitement got up extra early, but not so early but what the door

had been opened before they got downstairs, although everything

and everybody around were still wrapped in slumber, and the doors

and windows of the adjoining houses all fast shut. At last, after

a great deal of persuasion from Fraulein Rottenmeier, Sebastian

and John plucked up courage and agreed to sit up one night in the

room next to the large council-chamber and to watch and see what

would happen. Fraulein Rottenmeier looked up several weapons

belonging to the master, and gave these and a bottle of spirits

to Sebastian, so that their courage might not faint if it came to a fight.

On the appointed night the two sat down and began at once to take

some of the strengthening cordial, which at first made them very

talkative and then very sleepy, so that they leant back in their

seats and became silent. As midnight struck, Sebastian roused

himself and called to his companion, who, however, was not easy

to wake, and kept rolling his head first to one side and then the

other and continuing to sleep. Sebastian began to listen more

attentively, for he was wide awake now. Everything was still as a

mouse, all sound had died away from the streets even. He did not

feel inclined to go to sleep again, for the stillness was ghostly

to him, and he was afraid now to raise his voice to rouse John,

so he shook him gently to make him stir. At last, as one struck,

John work up, and came back to the consciousness of why he was

sitting in a chair instead of lying in his bed. He now got up

with a great show of courage and said, "Come, Sebastian, we must

go outside and see what is going on; you need not be afraid, just

follow me."

Whereupon he opened the door wide and stepped into the hall. Just

as he did so a sudden gust of air blew through the open front

door and put out the light which John held in his hand. He

started back, almost overturning Sebastian, whom he clutched and

pulled back into the room, and then shutting the door quickly he

turned the key as far as he could make it go. Then he pulled out

his matches and lighted his candle again. Sebastian, in the

suddenness of the affair, did not know exactly what had happened,

for he had not seen the open door or felt the breeze behind

John's broad figure. But now, as he saw the latter in the light,

he gave a cry of alarm, for John was trembling all over and as

white as a ghost. "What's the matter? What did you see, outside?

asked Sebastian sympathetically.

"The door partly open," gasped John, "and a white figure standing

at the top of the steps--there it stood, and then all in a minute

it disappeared."

Sebastian felt his blood run cold. The two sat down close to one

another and did not dare move again till the morning broke and

the streets began to be alive again. Then they left the room

together, shut the front door, and went upstairs to tell Fraulein

Rottenmeier of their experience. She was quite ready to receive

them, for she had not been able to sleep at all in the anxiety of

waiting to hear their report. They had no sooner given her

details of the night's experience than she sat down and wrote

straight off to Herr Sesemann, who had never received such a

letter before in his life. She could hardly write, she told him,

for her fingers were stiff with fear, and Herr Sesemann must

please arrange to come back at once, for dreadful and

unaccountable things were taking place at home. Then she entered

into particulars of all that had happened, of how the door was

found standing open every morning, and how nobody in the house

now felt sure of their life in this unprotected state of things,

and how it was impossible to tell what terrible results might

follow on these mysterious doings.

Herr Sesemann answered that it was quite impossible for him to

arrange to leave his business and return home at once. He was

very much astonished at this ghost tale, but hoped by this time

the ghost had disappeared. If, however, it still continued to

disturb the household, would Fraulein Rottenmeier write to the

grandmother and ask her if she could come and do something; she,

he was sure, would soon find out a way to deal with the ghost so

that it would not venture again to haunt his house. Fraulein

Rottenmeier was not pleased with the tone of this letter; she did

not think the matter was treated seriously enough. She wrote off

without delay to Frau Sesemann, but got no more satisfactory

reply from that quarter, and some remarks in the letter she

considered were quite offensive. Frau Sesemann wrote that she did

not feel inclined to take the journey again from Holstein to

Frankfurt because Rottenmeier fancied she saw ghosts. There had

never been a ghost in the house since she bad known it, and if

there was one now it must be a live one, with which Rottenmeier

ought to be able to deal; if not she had better send for the

watchman to help her.

Fraulein Rottenmeier, however, was determined not to pass any

more days in a state of fear, and she knew the right course to

pursue. She had as yet said nothing to the children of the

ghostly apparitions, for she knew if she did that the children

would not remain alone for a single moment, and that might entail

discomfort for herself. But now she walked straight off into the

study, and there in a low mysterious voice told the two children

everything that had taken place. Clara immediately screamed out

that she could not remain another minute alone, her father must

come home, and Fraulein Rottenmeier must sleep in her room at

night, and Heidi too must not be left by herself, for the ghost

might do something to her. She insisted that they should all

sleep together in one room and keep a light burning all night,

and Tinette had better be in the next room, and Sebastian and

John come upstairs and spend the night in the hall, so that they

might call out and frighten the ghost the instant they saw it

appear on the steps. Clara, in short, grew very excited, and

Fraulein Rottenmeier had great difficulty in quieting her. She

promised to write at once to her father, and to have her bed put

in her room and not to be left alone for a moment. They could not

all sleep in the same room, but if Heidi was frightened, why

Tinette must go into her room. But Heidi was far more frightened

of Tinette than of ghosts, of which the child had never before

heard, so she assured the others she did not mind the ghost, and

would rather be alone at night.

Fraulein Rottenmeier now sat down to write another letter to Herr

Sesemann, stating that these unaccountable things that were going

on in the house had so affected his daughter's delicate

constitution that the worst consequences might be expected.

Epileptic fits and St. Vitus's dance often came on suddenly in

cases like this, and Clara was liable to be attacked by either if

the cause of the general alarm was not removed.

The letter was successful, and two days later Herr Sesemann stood

at his front door and rang the bell in such a manner that

everybody came rushing from all parts of the house and stood

looking affrighted at everybody else, convinced that the ghost

was impudently beginning its evil tricks in daylight. Sebastian

peeped cautiously through a half-closed shutter; as he did so

there came another violent ring at the bell, which it was

impossible to mistake for anything but a very hard pull from a

non-ghostly hand. And Sebastian recognised whose hand it was, and

rushing pell-mell out of the room, fell heels over head

downstairs, but picked himself up at the bottom and flung open

the street door. Herr Sesemann greeted him abruptly and went up

without a moment's delay into his daughter's room. Clara greeted

him with a cry of joy, and seeing her so lively and apparently as

well as ever, his face cleared, and the frown of anxiety passed

gradually away from it as he heard from his daughter's own lips

that she had nothing the matter with her, and moreover was so

delighted to see him that she was quite glad about the ghost, as

it was the cause of bringing him home again.

"And how is the ghost getting on?" he asked, turning to Fraulein

Rottenmeier, with a twinkle of amusement in his eye.

"It is no joke, I assure you," replied that lady. You will not

laugh yourself to-morrow morning, Herr Sesemann; what is going on

in the house points to some terrible thing that has taken place

in the past and been concealed."

"Well, I know nothing about that," said the master of the house,

"but I must beg you not to bring suspicion on my worthy

ancestors. And now will you kindly call Sebastian into the

dining-room, as I wish to speak to him alone."

Herr Sesemann had been quite aware that Sebastian and Fraulein

Rottenmeier were not on the best of terms, and he had his ideas

about this scare.

"Come here, lad," he said as Sebastian appeared, "and tell me

frankly--have you been playing at ghosts to amuse yourself at

Fraulein Rottenmeier's expense?"

"No, on my honor, sir; pray, do not think it; I am very

uncomfortable about the matter myself," answered Sebastian with

unmistakable truthfulness.

"Well, if that is so, I will show you and John to-morrow morning

how ghosts look in the daylight. You ought to be ashamed of

yourself, Sebastian, a great strong lad like you, to run away

from a ghost! But now go and take a message to my old friend the

doctor; give him my kind regards, and ask him if he will come to

me to-night at nine o'clock without fail; I have come by express

from Paris to consult him. I shall want him to spend the night

here, so bad a case is it; so he will arrange accordingly. You


"Yes, sir," replied Sebastian, "I will see to the matter as you

wish." Then Herr Sesemann returned to Clara, and begged her to

have no more fear, as he would soon find out all about the ghost

and put an end to it.

Punctually at nine o'clock, after the children had gone to bed

and Fraulein Rottenmeier had retired, the doctor arrived. He was

a grey-haired man with a fresh face, and two bright, kindly eyes.

He looked anxious as he walked in, but, on catching sight of his

patient, burst out laughing and clapped him on the shoulder.

"Well," he said, "you look pretty bad for a person that I am to

sit up with all night."

"Patience, friend," answered Herr Sesemann, "the one you have to

sit up for will look a good deal worse when we have once caught him."

"So there is a sick person in the house, and one that has first to be caught?"

"Much worse than that, doctor! a ghost in the house! My house is haunted!"

The doctor laughed aloud.

"That's a nice way of showing sympathy, doctor!" continued Herr,

Sesemann. "It's a pity my friend Rottenmeier cannot hear you. She

is firmly convinced that some old member of the family is

wandering about the house doing penance for some awful crime he


"How did she become acquainted with him?" asked the doctor, still

very much amused.

So Herr Sesemann recounted to him how the front door was nightly

opened by somebody, according to the testimony of the combined

household, and he had therefore provided two loaded revolvers, so

as to be prepared for anything that happened; for either the

whole thing was a joke got up by some friend of the servants,

just to alarm the household while he was away--and in that case a

pistol fired into the air would procure him a wholesome

fright--or else it was a thief, who, by leading everybody at

first to think there was a ghost, made it safe for himself when

he came later to steal, as no one would venture to run out if

they heard him, and in that case too a good weapon would not be amiss.

The two took up their quarters for the night in the same room in

which Sebastian and John had kept watch. A bottle of wine was

placed on the table, for a little refreshment would be welcome

from time to time if the night was to be passed sitting up.

Beside it lay the two revolvers, and two good-sized candles had

also been lighted, for Herr Sesemann was determined not to wait

for ghosts in any half light.

The door was shut close to prevent the light being seen in the

hall outside, which might frighten away the ghost. And now the

two gentlemen sat comfortably back in the arm-chairs and began

talking of all sorts of things, now and then pausing to take a

good draught of wine, and so twelve o'clock struck before they

were aware.

"The ghost has got scent of us and is keeping away to-night,"

said the doctor.

"Wait a bit, it does not generally appear before one o'clock,"

answered his friend.

They started talking again. One o'clock struck. There was not a

sound about the house, nor in the street outside. Suddenly the

doctor lifted his finger.

"Hush! Sesemann, don't you hear something?"

They both listened, and they distinctly heard the bar softly

pushed aside and then the key turned in the lock and the door

opened. Herr Sesemann put out his hand for his revolver.

"You are not afraid, are you?" said the doctor as he stood up.

"It is better to take precautions," whispered Herr Sesemann, and

seizing one of the lights in his other hand, he followed the

doctor, who, armed in like manner with a light and a revolver,

went softly on in front. They stepped into the hall. The

moonlight was shining in through the open door and fell on a

white figure standing motionless in the doorway.

"Who is there?" thundered the doctor in a voice that echoed

through the hall, as the two men advanced with lights and weapons

towards the figure.

It turned and gave a low cry. There in her little white nightgown

stood Heidi, with bare feet, staring with wild eyes at the lights

and the revolvers, and trembling from head to foot like a leaf in

the wind. The two men looked as one another in surprise.

"Why, I believe it is your little water-carrier, Sesemann," said the doctor.

"Child, what does this mean?" said Herr Sesemann. "What did you

want? why did you come down here?"

White with terror, and hardly able to make her voice heard, Heidi

answered, "I don't know."

But now the doctor stepped forward. "This is a matter for me to

see to, Sesemann; go back to your chair. I must take the child

upstairs to her bed."

And with that he put down his revolver and gently taking the

child by the hand led her upstairs. "Don't be frightened," he

said as they went up side by side, "it's nothing to be frightened

about; it's all right, only just go quietly."

On reaching Heidi's room the doctor put the candle down on the

table, and taking Heidi up in his arms laid her on the bed and

carefully covered her over. Then he sat down beside her and

waited until Heidi had grown quieter and no longer trembled so

violently. He took her hand and said in a kind, soothing voice,

"There, now you feel better, and now tell me where you were

wanting to go to?"

"I did not want to go anywhere," said Heidi. "I did not know I

went downstairs, but all at once I was there."

"I see, and had you been dreaming, so that you seemed to see and

hear something very distinctly?"

"Yes, I dream every night, and always about the same things. I

think I am back with the grandfather and I hear the sound in the

fir trees outside, and I see the stars shining so brightly, and

then I open the door quickly and run out, and it is all so

beautiful! But when I wake I am still in Frankfurt." And Heidi

struggled as she spoke to keep back the sobs which seemed to choke her.

"And have you no pain anywhere? no pain in your head or back?"

"No, only a feeling as if there were a great stone weighing on me here."

"As if you had eaten something that would not go down."

"No, not like that; something heavy as if I wanted to cry very much."

"I see, and then do you have a good cry?"

"Oh, no, I mustn't; Fraulein Rottenmeier forbade me to cry."

"So you swallow it all down, I suppose? Are you happy here in Frankfurt?"

"Yes," was the low answer; but it sounded more like "No."

"And where did you live with your grandfather?"

"Up on the mountain."

"That wasn't very amusing; rather dull at times, eh?"

"No, no, it was beautiful, beautiful!" Heidi could go no further;

the remembrance of the past, the excitement she had just gone

through, the long suppressed weeping, were too much for the

child's strength; the tears began to fall fast, and she broke

into violent weeping.

The doctor stood up and laid her head kindly down on the pillow.

"There, there, go on crying, it will do you good, and then go to

sleep; it will be all right to-morrow."

Then he left the room and went downstairs to Herr Sesemann; when

he was once more sitting in the armchair opposite his friend,

"Sesemann," he said, "let me first tell you that your little

charge is a sleep-walker; she is the ghost who has nightly opened

the front door and put your household into this fever of alarm.

Secondly, the child is consumed with homesickness, to such an

extent that she is nearly a skeleton already, and soon will be

quite one; something must be done at once. For the first trouble,

due to her over-excited nerves, there is but one remedy, to send

her back to her native mountain air; and for the second trouble

there is also but one cure, and that the same. So to-morrow the

child must start for home; there you have my prescription."

Herr Sesemann had arisen and now paced up and down the room in

the greatest state of concern.

"What!" he exclaimed, "the child a sleep-walker and ill!

Home-sick, and grown emaciated in my house! All this has taken

place in my house and no one seen or known anything about it! And

you mean, doctor, that the child who came here happy and healthy,

I am to send back to her grandfather a miserable little skeleton?

I can't do it; you cannot dream of my doing such a thing! Take

the child in hand, do with her what you will, and make her whole

and sound, and then she shall go home; but you must do something first."

"Sesemann," replied the doctor, "consider what you are doing!

This illness of the child's is not one to be cured with pills and

powders. The child has not a tough constitution, but if you send

her back at once she may recover in the mountain air, if not

--you would rather she went back ill than not at all?"

Herr Sesemann stood still; the doctor's words were a shock to him.

"If you put it so, doctor, there is assuredly only one way--and

the thing must be seen to at once." And then he and the doctor

walked up and down for a while arranging what to do, after which

the doctor said good-bye, for some time had passed since they

first sat down together, and as the master himself opened the

hall door this time the morning light shone down through it into

the house.



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