Read CHAPTER XIII of The Trimming of Goosie , free online book, by James Hopper, on

On the other side of the continent, Charles-Norton’s retreat began to be haunted.

He was taking his flight above the lake, one morning, in the cool gold of sunrise, when suddenly a suspicion, a vague sensing of peril, passed like a cloud between him and the light. Immediately he let himself eddy to the beach, and there, stretched low along the sand, with craning neck he peered carefully about him.

At first he could see nothing. Twice he half rose to resume his flight, but each time flattened out again to the same subtle sense of presence. And at last, with a thump of his heart, he saw him on the edge of the meadow, a man upon a horse, in the dusk of the pines.

They stood there, man and beast, framed by the pines, immobile and silent. The horse was a beautiful silken white, with a bridle of twisted rawhide heavily plaqued with silver; the saddle, of high-pommeled Spanish style, was also heavily incrusted; and the man sat it as though he had been poured molten into it. He wore a wide, flapping sombrero, set cavalierly upon long white hair that descended to the shoulders of his fringed buckskin jacket; the belt at his waist drooped loosely to the weight of a great holster, out of which protruded the lustrous butt of a silver-mounted revolver; long gleaming boots rose to his hips, their toes within carved tapaderos, their heels, high to the point of feminity, roweled with long rotary spurs.

They stood there a long time, man and beast, motionless, a sculptured group but for the slight forward pricking of the horse’s pointed ears, and the man gazed steadily at Charles-Norton, his eyes shaded by his heavily-buckskinned hand. Charles-Norton, hypnotized, gazed back. There was something about the man, his flaming accouterment, specially about the gesture the theatric peering from beneath gauntleted hand which somehow stirred Charles-Norton with a sense of past experience. They gazed thus long at each other in immobility and silence; then suddenly there ran lightly through the meadow the resonance of a champed bit; the horse, rising on his hind legs, pivoted, the man’s waist bending pliably to the movement and they were gone. A soft thudding of hoofs came muffled through the trees; it rose to a flinty clatter, which in its turn diminished, and ceased.

Charles-Norton, after a while, went on with his usual routine. He had his swim, his breakfast, and his pipe. But an uneasiness was with him now; he cast abrupt, suspecting glances about him, about his profaned retreat. And during the day’s long flight, something seemed to follow him like an impalpable menace.

When he returned at sundown, the man was again there. This time he was among the rocks overlooking the cabin, and was afoot, his white horse motionless behind him with long bridle dropped to the ground. Charles-Norton watched him from behind a tree. He stood there long, his right hand negligently upon the horse’s neck, his left hand shielding his eyes as he looked; and to the posture, somehow, the whole landscape gradually changed its aspect, seemed to take on an air subtly theatrical, the waning sunlight like calcium, the rocks like cardboard, the trees painted. “Where, oh, where have I seen that before?” murmured Charles-Norton, intrigued in the midst of his panic.

The man mounted, the horse came forward, and with a silvery tinkle of spur and bit, they went slowly across the meadow and into the forest, toward the trail that led to the camp.

“Where have I seen that geezer before?” murmured Charles-Norton again, as he was going to sleep that night.

The question was to remain unanswered. The man did not appear again. But on the Sunday following, at dusk, as the lake was aflash with leaping trout, Dolly came running to him out of the trees.