28. Did I see ‘Him’???

I feel awful today, and I’ve got a terrible headache.

I couldn’t sleep – things on my mind, of course. But as I lay there, hair matted to my forehead with sweat, I heard this strange, ghostly music echoing through the metal hull of the ship. I thought I dreamed it – a gramophone, scratchy, warbling faster and slower, wobbling on its axle. It was late – late last night.

Dragging blanket to shawl, I walked into the hall as if I were drunk. Of course, my eyes strayed to cabin 10.

THE DOOR WAS AJAR, and in the red candle light – like firelight – I saw Him dancing to that horrid song, Louis Collins – that disreputable murder ballad done up in Southern guitar, the one that Lucien liked. I’m not sure it’s right – not at all. Who sang it, now?

Anyway, maybe it wasn’t the song that was so horrid. Maybe it was the dancing? It’s hard to say: a sinuous fellow in a long, red, dressing gown and a tall, white, hat, all in shadow. A strange swaying, ballet it was – or a waltz with an invisible woman, who must be tall and haughty and cold, for the way he moved ‘her’.


For a moment I imagined myself in throes of that particular dance, held in those hands, turned with that elegant splay of those long, white fingers, but I caught the horror in myself and looked away – and when I looked back, the door was sliding closed with a well-oiled ‘click’, the music abruptly stilled.

My heart hurts with the fact – he must have seen me. That frightens me more than anything. More than I have sense to understand. And perhaps, with this wretched silhouette, I have found the fellow in that awful painting.

Oh, lawks, Lucy. What a scare!

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