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

When Silas Grangerson left the cemetery of St. Michael’s he walked for half a mile without knowing or caring in what direction he was going.

Phyl had done more than slap his face.  She had slapped his pride, his assurance of himself, and his desire for her all at the same time.

Silas rarely bothered about girls, yet he knew that he had the power to fascinate any woman once he put his mind to the work.  He had not tried his powers of fascination on Phyl.  It was the other way about.  Phyl absolutely unconsciously had used her fascination upon him.

Something in her, recognised by him on their first meeting in the stable yard, had put away the barrier of sex.  He had talked to her as if she had been a boy.  Sitting on the seat beside her whilst the Colonel had been prosing over politics and tobacco, the prompting came to Silas to pinch her finger just for fun; when he had put his hands over her eyes that night it was in obedience to the same prompting, but at the moment of parting from her, a desire quite new had overmastered him.

He had kissed a good many girls, but never in his life had he kissed a girl as he kissed Phyl.

Something cynical in his feelings for the other sex had always left him somewhat cold, but Phyl was different from the others, she had in some way struck straight at his real being.

When he left her that night at Grangersons he was almost as disturbed as she.

He scarcely slept.  He was out at dawn and on his return after she had left he sat down and wrote the letter which Phyl received next morning.

Silas was in love for the first time in his life, but love with Silas was a thing apart from the love of ordinary men.

There was no worship of the object; the something that crystallises out in the form of love-letters, verses, bouquets, and candy was not there.  He wanted Phyl.

He had no more idea of marriage than the great god Pan.  If she had consented he would have taken her off on that yawl of his imagination round the world or down to Florida, without thought of the morrow or the convenances, or Society; but please do not imagine this rather primitive gentleman a chartered libertine.  He would have married her as soon as not, but he had neither the genius nor the inclination for the courtship that leads by slow degrees up to the question, “Will you marry me?”

He wanted her at once.

As he walked along now with the devil awake in his heart, he felt no anger towards Phyl; all his rage was against Pinckney; he had never liked Pinckney, he more than suspected that Phyl cared for him and he wanted some one to hate badly.

He had walked himself into a reasonable state of mind when he found himself outside the Queen City Club.  He went in and one of the first men he met was Pinckney.

So well did he hold himself in hand that Pinckney suspected nothing of his feelings.  Silas was far too good a sportsman to shout at the edge of the wood, too much of a gentleman to desire a brawl in public.  He was going to knife Pinckney, he was also going to capture Phyl, but the knifing of Pinckney was the main objective and that required time and thought.  He did not desire the blood of the gentleman; he wanted his pride and amour propre.  He wanted to hit him on the raw, but he did not know yet where, exactly, the raw was nor how to hit it.  Time would tell him.

He was specially civil to his intended victim, and he went off home that evening plotting all the way, but arriving at nothing.  He was trying to make bricks without straw.  Pinckney did not drink, nor did he gamble, and he was far too good a business man to be had in that way.  However, all things come to him who waits, and next morning’s post brought him a ray of light in the midst of his darkness.

It brought him an invitation to the Rhetts’ dance on the following Wednesday; nearly a week to wait, but, still, something to wait for.

“What are you thinking about, Silas?” asked old Seth Grangerson as they sat at breakfast.

“I’m thinking of a new rabbit trap, suh,” responded the son.

The rabbit trap seemed to give him a good deal of food for thought during the week that followed; food that made him hilarious and gloomy by turns, restless also.

Had he known it, Phyl away at Charleston, was equally restless.  She no longer thought of Silas.  She had dismissed him from her mind, she no longer feared him as a possible source of danger to the man she loved.  Love had her entirely in his possession to torture as he pleased.  She knew only one danger, the danger that Richard Pinckney did not care in the least for her, and as day followed day that danger grew more defined and concrete.  Richard had taken to avoiding her, she became aware of that.

She fancied that she displeased him.

If she had only known!