Read CHAPTER XXII of The Ghost Girl , free online book, by H. De Vere Stacpoole, on ReadCentral.com.

Next morning brought Phyl a letter.  It came by the early post, so that she got it in her bedroom before coming down.

Phyl had few correspondents and she looked at the envelope curiously before opening it.

                        “Miss Berknowles,
                        at Vernons.  Charleston.”

ran the address written in a large, boyish, yet individual hand.  She knew at once and by instinct whom it was from.

“I’m coming to Charleston in a day or two, and I want to see you,” ran the letter which had neither address nor date, “but I’m not coming to Pinckneys.  I’ll be about town and sure to find you somewhere.  I can’t get you out of my mind since last night.  Tried to, but can’t.”

That was all.  Phyl put the letter back in its envelope.  She was not angry, she was disturbed.  There was an assurance about Silas Grangerson daunting in its simplicity and directness.  Something that raised opposition to him in her heart, yet paralysed it.  Instinct told her to avoid him, to drive him from her mind, ay and something more than instinct.  The spirit of Vernons, the calm sweet soul of the place, that seemed to hold the past and the present, Juliet and herself, peace and happiness with the promise of all good things in the future, this spirit rose up against Silas Grangerson as though he were the antagonist to happiness and peace, Juliet and herself, the present and the past.

Rose up, without prevailing entirely.

Silas had impressed himself upon her mind in such a manner that she could not free herself from the impression.  Young as she was, with the terribly clear perception of the male character which all women possess in different degrees, she recognised that Silas was dangerous to that logical and equitable state of existence we call happiness, not on account of his wildness or his eccentricities, but because of some want inherent in his nature, something that spoke vaguely in his words and his actions, in his handsome face and in his careless and graceful manner.

All the same she could not free herself from the impression he had made upon her, she could not drive him from her mind, he had in some way paralysed her volition, called forces to his aid from some unknown part of her nature, perhaps with those kisses which she still felt upon the very face of her soul.

She came down to breakfast, and afterwards finding herself alone with Miss Pinckney, she took Silas’s letter from her pocket and handed it to her.  She had been debating in her own mind all breakfast time as to whether she ought to show the letter; the struggle had been between her instinct to do the right thing, and a powerful antagonism to this instinct which was a new thing in her.

The latter won.

And then, lo and behold, when she found herself alone with Miss Pinckney in the sunlit breakfast room, almost against her will and just as though her hand had moved of its own volition, she put it in her pocket and produced the letter.

Miss Pinckney read it.

“Well, of all the crazy creatures!” said she.  “Why, he has only met you once.  He’s mad!  No, he isn’t ­he’s a Grangerson.  I know them.”

She stopped short and re-read the letter, turned it about and then laid it down.

“Just as if he’d known you for years.  And you scarcely spoke to him.  Did he say anything to you as if he cared for you?”

“No, he didn’t,” said Phyl quite truthfully.

“Did he look at you as if he cared for you?”

“No,” replied the other, dreading another question.  But Miss Pinckney did not put it.  She could not conceive a man kissing a girl who had never betrayed his feelings for her by word or glance.

“Well, it gets me.  It does indeed; acting like a dumb creature and then writing this ­ Do you care for him?”

“I ­I ­no ­you see, I don’t know him ­much.”

“Well, he seems to know you pretty well, there’s no doubt about one thing, Silas Grangerson can make up his mind pretty quick.  He won’t come to Vernons, won’t he?  Well, maybe it’s better for him not, for I’ve no patience with oddities.  That’s what’s wrong with him, he’s an oddity, and it’s those sort of people make the trouble in life ­they’re worse than whisky and cards for bringing unhappiness.  Years and years and years ago ­I’m telling you this though I’ve never told it to any one else ­Seth Grangerson, Silas’s father, seemed to care for me, not much, still he seemed to care.  Then one day all at once he came into the room where I was, through the window, and told me to come off and get married to him, wanted me to go away right off.  I was a fool in those days, but not all a fool, and when he tried to put his arm round my waist, my hand went up and smacked his face.

“We are good enough friends now, but I’ve often thought of what I escaped by not marrying him.  You saw him and the life he’s leading at that out of the way place, but you didn’t see his obstinacy and his queerness, and Silas is ten times worse, more crazy ­well, there, you’re warned ­but mind you I don’t want to be meddling.  I’ve seen so many carefully prepared marriages turn out pure miseries, and so many crazy matches turn out happily, that I’m more than cautious in giving advice.  Seems to me that people before they are married are quite different creatures to what they turn out after they are married.”

“But I don’t want to get married,” said Phyl.

“No, but, seems to me, Silas does,” replied the other.