After swallowing the whiskey in one gulp, the father continued his story.
“The bell rang intensely once more. Apparently, my servant wasn’t waking up. Reluctantly, I lit a candle and descended the stairs while holding it. Then I stood in the entranceway.
I thought of asking, ‘Who is it?’, but I was a little frightened. My lack of self-respect made me feel annoyed as well as ashamed, and I boldly turned the handle quietly. However, my heart was beating loudly, and I could not push the door forward due to my fright.
But when I opened the door resolutely and quickly at last, a white thing was standing in the shadow of the veranda. My body stiffened and was no longer able to move.
‘Who-, who, who are you? –‘
‘Father. It’s me.’
Isn’t that my daughter’s voice? Startled, I instinctively took a step back.
‘It is me, Father.’
While thinking that I must have gone mad, I began to retreat a little by little. As if I was being chased by the white thing that silently entered and came in. When I was about to chase it away, I made a strange gesture as if I was writing a letter in the air, which you saw at dinner yesterday. Thereupon, the white person said:
‘Do not be afraid. I lived. I did not die. Someone cut off my fingers to steal the rings. The blood flowed out, and I recovered consciousness because of the pain.’
I looked at the hand from which blood trickled from. Her white clothes were already covered in blood.
It took my breath away. I did not know whether it was a dream or reality. Whether it was an apparition, or whatever it was. Because it took on the shape of my daughter, I gladly took its hand in a daze. That hand was as cold as a corpse.
I embraced my daughter and took her to my own room. I made her sit in the armchair and immediately tended to her wounds. Then I gazed at my daughter’s ghastly pale face. She was not an apparition. This was certainly my daughter. I suddenly got a lump in my throat, placed my head on my daughter’s knee, and sobbed like a madman.
When my heart finally calmed down a little, I noticed that the room temperature had lowered very much, even though it was cold outside. In a hurry, I kindled a fire in the stove. I wanted to give her something warm to eat, and called out Kou by pushing the bell intensely.
Kou entered in a hurry, but he petrified upon seeing my daughter’s form. It was only reasonable that anyone would be surprised to see a person believed to be dead standing there. However, Kou’s astonishment was still not ordinary at all. While raising a terrified moan, when I thought he suddenly began to tremble, he went mad at once and rushed outside.”
While listening to the father talk, I felt some drowsiness. I nevertheless kept only my eyes open with utmost effort as I stifled a slight yawn. He continued speaking once again and said:
“Opening the gravesite was the deed of my butler Kou. He cut off my daughter’s fingers, stole the rings, and returned to the house with an innocent air. I believed in Kou, he probably underestimated that there’s no way that I would suspect him. But shall we say it was divine punishment? Kou was very much in a hurry, so he forgot to drive the nails into the cover of the coffin which he dug back up. Oh my, are you falling asleep?”
I thought I heard his voice say that from a far distance.
With that, I was no longer aware of anything.
|Bewitching Shadow Chapter 3: Shivering Hands||Bewitching Shadow Chapter 5: Stupefaction|