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The House of Dreams

This is the story of John Segrave—of his life, which was unsatisfactory; of his love, which was unsatisfied; of his dreams, and of his death; and if in the two latter he found what was denied in the two former, then his life may, after all, be taken as a success. Who knows?

John Segrave came of a family which had been slowly going down the hill for the last century. They had been landowners since the days of Elizabeth, but their last piece of property was sold. It was thought well that one of the sons at least should acquire the useful art of money-making. It was an unconscious irony of Fate that John should be the one chosen.

With his strangely sensitive mouth, and the long dark blue slits of eyes that suggested an elf or a faun, something wild and of the woods, it was incongruous that he should be offered up, a sacrifice on the altar of Finance. The smell of the earth, the taste of the sea salt on one’s lips, and the free sky above one’s head—these were the things beloved by John Segrave, to which he was to bid farewell.

At the age of eighteen he became a junior clerk in a big business house. Seven years later he was still a clerk, not quite so junior, but with status otherwise unchanged. The faculty for “getting on in the world” had been omitted from his makeup. He was punctual, industrious, plodding—a clerk and nothing but a clerk.

And yet he might have been—what? He could hardly answer that question himself, but he could not rid himself of the conviction that somewhere there was a life in which he could have—counted. There was power in him, swiftness of vision, a something of which his fellow toilers had never had a glimpse. They liked him. He was popular because of his air of careless friendship, and they never appreciated the fact that he barred them out by that same manner from any real intimacy.

The dream came to him suddenly. It was no childish fantasy growing and developing through the years. It came on a midsummer night, or rather early morning, and he woke from it tingling all over, striving to hold it to him as it fled, slipping from his clutch in the elusive way dreams have.

Desperately he clung to it. It must not go—it must not— He must remember the house. It was the House, of course! The House he knew so well. Was it a real house, or did he merely know it in dreams? He didn’t remember—but he certainly knew it—knew it very well.

The faint grey light of the early morning was stealing into the room. The stillness was extraordinary. At 4:30 a.m. London, weary London, found her brief instant of peace.

John Segrave lay quiet, wrapped in the joy, the exquisite wonder and beauty of his dream. How clever it had been of him to remember it! A dream flitted so quickly as a rule, ran past you just as with waking consciousness your clumsy fingers sought to stop and hold it. But he had been too quick for this dream! He had seized it as it was slipping swiftly by him.

It was really a most remarkable dream! There was the house and— His thoughts were brought up with a jerk, for when he came to think of it, he couldn’t re- member anything but the house. And suddenly, with a tinge of disappointment, he recognised that, after all, the house was quite strange to him. He hadn’t even dreamed of it before.

It was a white house, standing on high ground. There were trees near it, blue hills in the distance, but its peculiar charm was independent of surroundings for (and this was the point, the climax of the dream) it was a beautiful, a strangely beautiful house. His pulses quickened as he remembered anew the strange beauty of the house.

The outside of it, of course, for he hadn’t been inside. There had been no question of that—no question of it whatsoever.

Then, as the dingy outlines of his bed-sitting room began to take shape in the growing light, he experienced the disillusion of the dreamer. Perhaps, after all, his dream hadn’t been so very wonderful—or had the wonderful, the explanatory part, slipped past him, and laughed at his ineffectual clutching hands? A white house, standing on high ground—there wasn’t much there to get excited about, surely. It was rather a big house, he remembered, with a lot of windows in it, and the blinds were all down, not because the people were away (he was sure of that), but because it was so early that no one was up yet.

Then he laughed at the absurdity of his imaginings, and remembered that he was to dine with Mr. Wetterman that night.

Maisie Wetterman was Rudolf Wetterman’s only daughter, and she had been accustomed all her life to having exactly what she wanted. Paying a visit to her father’s office one day, she had noticed John Segrave. He had brought in some letters that her father had asked for. When he had departed again, she asked her father about him. Wetterman was communicative.

“One of Sir Edward Segrave’s sons. Fine old family, but on its last legs. This boy will never set the Thames on fire. I like him all right, but there’s nothing to him. No punch of any kind.”

Maisie was, perhaps, indifferent to punch. It was a quality valued more by her parent than herself. Anyway, a fortnight later she persuaded her father to ask John Segrave to dinner. It was an intimate dinner, her- self and her father, John Segrave, and a girlfriend who was staying with her.

The girlfriend was moved to make a few remarks.

“On approval, I suppose, Maisie? Later, father will do it up in a nice little parcel and bring it home from the city as a present to his dear little daughter, duly bought and paid for.”

“Allegra! You are the limit.”

Allegra Kerr laughed.

“You do take fancies, you know, Maisie. I like that hat—I must have it! If hats, why not husbands?”

“Don’t be absurd. I’ve hardly spoken to him yet.”

“No. But you’ve made up your mind,” said the other girl. “What’s the attraction, Maisie?”

“I don’t know,” said Maisie Wetterman slowly. “He’s—different.”

“Different?”

“Yes. I can’t explain. He’s good-looking, you know, in a queer sort of way, but it’s not that. He’s a way of not seeing you're there. Really, I don’t believe he as much as glanced at me that day in father’s office.”

Allegra laughed.

“That’s an old trick. Rather an astute young man, I should say.”

“Allegra, you’re hateful!”

“Cheer up, darling. Father will buy a woolly lamb for his little Maisiekins.”

“I don’t want it to be like that.”

“Love with a capital L. Is that it?”

“Why shouldn’t he fall in love with me?”

“No reason at all. I expect he will.”

Allegra smiled as she spoke, and let her glance sweep over the other. Maisie Wetterman was short— inclined to be plump—she had dark hair, well shingled and artistically waved. Her naturally good complexion was enhanced by the latest colours in powder and lip- stick. She had a good mouth and teeth, dark eyes, rather small and twinkly, and a jaw and chin slightly on the heavy side. She was beautifully dressed.

“Yes,” said Allegra, finishing her scrutiny. “I’ve no doubt he will. The whole effect is really very good, Maisie.”

Her friend looked at her doubtfully.

“IT mean it,” said Allegra. “I mean it—honour bright. But just supposing, for the sake of argument, that he shouldn’t. Fall in love, I mean. Suppose his affection to become sincere, but platonic. What then?”

“IT may not like him at all when I know him better.”

“Quite so. On the other hand you may like him very much indeed. And in that latter case—”

Maisie shrugged her shoulders.

“I should hope I’ve too much pride—”

Allegra interrupted.

“Pride comes in handy for masking one’s feelings—it doesn’t stop you from feeling them.”

“Well,” said Maisie, flushed. “I don’t see why I shouldn’t say it. l am a very good match. I mean—from his point of view, father’s daughter and everything.”

“Partnership in the offing, et cetera,” said Allegra. “Yes, Maisie. You’re father’s daughter, all right. I'm awfully pleased. I do like my friends to run true to type.”

The faint mockery of her tone made the other uneasy.

“You are hateful, Allegra.”

“But stimulating, darling. That’s why you have me here. I’m a student of history, you know, and it always intrigued me why the court jester was permitted and encouraged. Now that I’m one myself, I see the point. It’s rather a good role, you see, I had to do something. There was I, proud and penniless like the heroine of a novelette, well born and badly educated. ‘What to do, girl? God wot,’ saith she. The poor relation type of girl, all willingness to do without a fire in her room and content to do odd jobs and help dear Cousin So and So, I observed to be at a premium. Nobody really wants her—except those people who can’t keep their servants, and they treat her like a galley slave.

“So I became the court fool. Insolence, plain speaking, a dash of wit now and again (not too much lest I should have to live up to it), and behind it all, a very shrewd observation of human nature. People rather like being told how horrible they really are. That’s why they flock to popular preachers. It’s been a great success. I’m always overwhelmed with invitations. I can live on my friends with the greatest ease, and I’m careful to make no pretence of gratitude.”

“There’s no one quite like you, Allegra. You don’t mind in the least what you say.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. I mind very much—I take care and thought about the matter. My seeming outspokenness is always calculated. I’ve got to be careful. This job has got to carry me on to old age.”

“Why not marry? I know heaps of people have asked you.”

Allegra’s face grew suddenly hard.

“I can never marry.”

“Because—” Maisie left the sentence unfinished, looking at her friend. The latter gave a short nod of assent.

Footsteps were heard on the stairs. The butler threw open the door and announced:

“Mr. Segrave.”

John came in without any particular enthusiasm. He couldn’t imagine why the old boy had asked him. If he could have got out of it he would have done so. The house depressed him, with its solid magnificence and the soft pile of its carpet.

A girl came forward and shook hands with him. He remembered vaguely having seen her one day in her father’s office.

“How do you do, Mr. Segrave? Mr. Segrave—Miss Kerr?"

Then he woke. Who was she? Where did she come from? From the flame-coloured draperies that floated round her, to the tiny Mercury wings on her small Greek head, she was a being transitory and fugitive, standing out against the dull background with an effect of unreality.

Rudolph Wetterman came in, his broad expanse of gleaming shirtfront creaking as he walked. They went down informally to dinner.

Allegra Kerr talked to her host. John Segrave had to devote himself to Maisie. But his whole mind was on the girl on the other side of him. She was marvelously effective. Her effectiveness was, he thought, more studied than natural. But behind all that, there lay something else. Flickering fire, fitful, capricious, like the will-o’-the-wisps that of old lured men into the marshes.

At last he got a chance to speak to her. Maisie was giving her father a message from some friend she had met that day. Now that the moment had come, he was tongue-tied. His glance pleaded with her dumbly.

“Dinner-table topics,” she said lightly. “Shall we start with the theatres, or with one of those innumerable openings, beginning, ‘Do you like—?’”

John laughed.

“And if we find we both like dogs and dislike sandy cats, it will form what is called a ‘bond’ between us?”

“Assuredly,” said Allegra gravely.

“It is, I think, a pity to begin with a catechism.”

“Yet it puts conversation within the reach of all.”

“True, but with disastrous results.”

“It is useful to know the rules—if only to break them.”

John smiled at her.

“I take it, then, that you and I will indulge our personal vagaries. Even though we display thereby the genius that is akin to madness.”

With a sharp unguarded movement, the girl’s hand swept a wineglass off the table. There was the tinkle of broken glass. Maisie and her father stopped speaking.

“I'm so sorry, Mr. Wetterman. I’m throwing glasses on the floor.”

“My dear Allegra, it doesn’t matter at all, not at all.”

Beneath his breath John Segrave said quickly: “Broken glass. That’s bad luck. I wish—it hadn’t happened.”

“Don’t worry. How does it go? ‘Ill luck thou canst not bring where ill luck has its home.’”

She turned once more to Wetterman. John, resuming conversation with Maisie, tried to place the quotation. He got it at last. They were the words used by Sieglinde in the Walkure when Sigmund offers to leave the house.

He thought: “Did she mean—”

But Maisie was asking his opinion of the latest revue. Soon he had admitted that he was fond of music.

“After dinner,” said Maisie, “we’ll make Allegra play for us.”

They all went up to the drawing room together. Secretly, Wetterman considered it a barbarous custom. He liked the ponderous gravity of the wine passing round, the handed cigars. But perhaps it was as well tonight. He didn’t know what on earth he could find to say to young Segrave. Maisie was too bad with her whims. It wasn’t as though the fellow were good-looking—really good-looking—and certainly he wasn’t amusing. He was glad when Maisie asked Allegra Kerr to play. They’d get through the evening sooner. The young idiot didn’t even play bridge.

Allegra played well, though without the sure touch of a professional. She played modern music, Debussy and Strauss, a little Scriabine. Then she dropped into the first movement of Beethoven’s Pathétique, that expression of a grief that is infinite, a sorrow that is endless and vast as the ages, but in which from end to end breathes the spirit that will not accept defeat. In the solemnity of undying woe, it moves with the rhythm of the conqueror to its final doom.

Towards the end she faltered, her fingers struck a discord, and she broke off abruptly. She looked across at Maisie and laughed mockingly.

“You see,” she said. “They won’t let me.”

Then, without waiting for a reply to her somewhat enigmatical remark, she plunged into a strange haunting melody, a thing of weird harmonies and curious measured rhythm, quite unlike anything Segrave had ever heard before. It was delicate as the flight of a bird, poised, hovering— Suddenly, without the least warning, it turned into a mere discordant jangle of notes, and Allegra rose laughing from the piano.

In spite of her laugh, she looked disturbed and almost frightened. She sat down by Maisie, and John heard the latter say in a low tone to her:

“You shouldn’t do it. You really shouldn’t do it.”

“What was the last thing?” John asked eagerly.

“Something of my own.”

She spoke sharply and curtly. Wetterman changed the subject.

That night John Segrave dreamed again of the House.

John was unhappy. His life was irksome to him as never before. Up to now he had accepted it patiently—a disagreeable necessity, but one which left his inner freedom essentially untouched. Now all that was changed. The outer world and the inner intermingled.

He did not disguise to himself the reason for the change. He had fallen in love at first sight with Allegra Kerr. What was he going to do about it?

He had been too bewildered that first night to make any plans. He had not even tried to see her again. A little later, when Maisie Wetterman asked him down to her father’s place in the country for a weekend, he went eagerly, but he was disappointed, for Allegra was not there.

He mentioned her once, tentatively, to Maisie, and she told him that Allegra was up in Scotland paying a visit. He left it at that. He would have liked to go on talking about her, but the words seemed to stick in his throat.

Maisie was puzzled by him that weekend. He didn’t appear to see—well, to see what was so plainly to be seen. She was a direct young woman in her methods, but directness was lost upon John. He thought her kind, but a little overpowering.

Yet the Fates were stronger than Maisie. They willed that John should see Allegra again.

They met in the park one Sunday afternoon. He had seen her from far off, and his heart thumped against the side of his ribs. Supposing she should have forgotten him—

But she had not forgotten. She stopped and spoke. In a few minutes they were walking side by side, striking out across the grass. He was ridiculously happy.

He said suddenly and unexpectedly: “Do you believe in dreams?”

“I believe in nightmares.”

The harshness of her voice startled him.

“Nightmares,” he said stupidly. “I didn’t mean nightmares.”

Allegra looked at him.

“No,” she said. “There have been no nightmares in your life. I can see that.”

Her voice was gentle—different—

He told her then of his dream of the white house, stammering a little. He had had it now six—no, seven times. Always the same. It was beautiful—so beautiful!

He went on.

“You see—it’s to do with you—in some way. I had it first the night before I met you—”

“To do with me?” She laughed—a short bitter laugh. “Oh, no, that’s impossible. The house was beautiful.”

“So are you,” said John Segrave.

Allegra flushed a little with annoyance.

“I'm sorry—I was stupid. I seemed to ask for a compliment, didn’t 1? But I didn’t really mean that at all. The outside of me is all right, 1 know.”

“I haven't seen the inside of the house yet,” said John Segrave. “When I do I know it will be quite as beautiful as the outside.”

He spoke slowly and gravely, giving the words a meaning that she chose to ignore.

“There is something more I want to tell you—if you will listen.”

“I will listen,” said Allegra.

“I am chucking up this job of mine. I ought to have done it long ago—I see that now. I have been content to drift along knowing I was an utter failure, without caring much, just living from day to day. A man shouldn't do that. Is a man’s business to find something he can do and make a success of it. I’m chucking this, and taking on something else—quite a different sort of thing. It's a kind of expedition in West Africa—I can’t tell you the details. They're not supposed to be known; but if it comes off—well, I shall be a rich man.”

“So you, too, count success in terms of money?”

“Money,” said John Segrave, “means just one thing to me—you! When I come back—” he paused.

She bent her head. Her face had grown very pale.

“I won't pretend to misunderstand. That’s why I must tell you now, once and for all: I shall never marry.”

He stayed a little while considering, then he said very gently:

“Can't you tell me why?”

“I could, but more than anything in the world I want not to tell you.”

Again he was silent, then he looked up suddenly and a singularly attractive smile illumined his faun’s face.

“I see,” he said, “So you won’t let me come inside the House—not even to peep in for a second? The blinds are to stay down.”

Allegra leaned forward and laid her hand on his.

“I will tell you this much. You dream of your House. But I—I don’t dream, My dreams are nightmares!”

And on that she left him, abruptly, disconcertingly.

That night, once more, he dreamed. Of late, he had realised that the House was most certainly tenanted. He had seen a hand draw aside the blinds, had caught glimpses of moving figures within.

Tonight the House seemed fairer than it had ever done before. Its white walls shone in the sunlight. The peace and the beauty of it were complete.

Then, suddenly, he became aware of a fuller ripple of the waves of joy. Someone was coming to the window. He knew it. A hand, the same hand that he had seen before, laid hold of the blind, drawing it back. In a minute he would see—

He was awake—still quivering with the horror, the unutterable loathing of the Thing that had looked out at him from the window of the House.

It was a Thing utterly and wholly horrible, a Thing so vile and loathsome that the mere remembrance of it made him feel sick. And he knew that the most unutterably and horribly vile thing about it was its presence in that House—the House of Beauty.

For where that Thing abode was horror—horror that rose up and slew the peace and the serenity which were the birthright of the House. The beauty, the wonderful immortal beauty of the House was destroyed for ever, for within its holy consecrated walls there dwelt the Shadow of an Unclean Thing!

If ever again he should dream of the House, Segrave knew he would awake at once with a start of terror, lest from its white beauty that Thing might suddenly look out at him.

The following evening, when he left the office, he went straight to the Wettermans’ house. He must see Allegra Kerr. Maisie would tell him where she was to be found.

He never noticed the eager light that flashed into Maisie’s eyes as he was shown in, and she jumped up to greet him. He stammered out his request at once, with her hand still in his.

“Miss Kerr. I met her yesterday, but I don’t know where she’s staying.”

He did not feel Maisie’s hand grow limp in his as she withdrew it. The sudden coldness of her voice told him nothing.

“Allegra is here—staying with us. But I’m afraid you can’t see her.”

“But—”

“You see, her mother died this morning. We've just had the news.”

“Oh!” He was taken aback.

“It is all very sad,” said Maisie. She hesitated just a minute, then went on. “You see, she died in—well, practically an asylum. There’s insanity in the family. The grandfather shot himself, and one of Allegra’s aunts is a hopeless imbecile, and another drowned herself.”

John Segrave made an inarticulate sound.

“I thought I ought to tell you,” said Maisie virtuously. “We're such friends, aren’t we? And of course Allegra is very attractive. Lots of people have asked her to marry them, but naturally she won’t marry at all—she couldn't, could she?”

“She’s all right,” said Segrave. “There’s nothing wrong with her.”

His voice sounded hoarse and unnatural in his own ears.

“One never knows; her mother was quite all right when she was young. And she wasn’t just—peculiar, you know. She was quite raving mad. It’s a dreadful thing—insanity.”

“Yes,” he said, “it’s a most awful Thing—”

He knew now what it was that had looked at him from the window of the House.

Maisie was still talking on. He interrupted her brusquely.

“I really came to say good-bye—and to thank you for all your kindness.”

“You're not—going away?”

There was alarm in her voice.

He smiled sideways at her—a crooked smile, pathetic and attractive.

“Yes,” he said. “To Africa.”

“Africa!”

Maisie echoed the word blankly. Before she could pull herself together he had shaken her by. the hand and gone. She was left standing there, her hands clenched by her sides, an angry spot of colour in each cheek.

Below, on the doorstep, John Segrave came face to face with Allegra coming in from the street. She was in black, her face white and lifeless, She took one glance at him then drew him into a small morning room.

“Maisie told you,” she said. “You know?”

He nodded.

“But what does it matter? You're all right. It—it leaves some people out.”

She looked at him somberly, mournfully.

“You are all right,” he repeated.

“I don’t know,” she almost whispered it. “I don’t know. I told you—about my dreams. And when I play—when I’m at the piano—those others come and take hold of my hands.”

He was staring at her—paralyed. For one instant, as she spoke, something looked out from her eyes. It was gone in a flash—but he knew it. It was the Thing that had looked out from the House.

She caught his momentary recoil.

“You see,” she whispered. “You see— But I wish Maisie hadn’t told you. It takes everything from you.”

“Everything?”

“Yes. There won't even be the dreams left. For now—you'll never dare to dream of the House again.”

The West African sun poured down, and the heat was intense.

John Segrave continued to moan.

“I can’t find it. I ean’t find it.”

The little English doctor with the red head and the tremendous jaw scowled down upon his patient in that bullying manner which he had made his own.

“He’s always saying that. What does he mean?”

“He speaks, I think, of a house, monsieur.” The soft-voiced Sister of Charity from the Roman Catholic Mission spoke with her gentle detachment, as she too looked down on the stricken man.

“A house, eh? Well, he’s got to get it out of his head, or we shan’t pull him through. It’s on his mind. Segrave! Segrave!”

The wandering attention was fixed. The eyes rested with recognition on the doctor’s face.

“Look here, you’re going to pull through. I’m going to pull you through. But you’ve got to stop worrying about this house. [t can’t run away, you know. So don’t bother about looking for it now.”

“All right.” He seemed obedient. “I suppose it can’t very well run away if it’s never been there at all.”

“Of course not!” The doctor laughed his cheery laugh. “Now you'll be all right in no time.” And with a boisterous bluntness of manner he took his departure.

Segrave lay thinking. The fever had abated for the moment, and he could think clearly and lucidly. He must find that House.

For ten years he had dreaded finding it—the thought that he might come upon it unawares had been his greatest terror. And then, he remembered, when his fears were quite lulled to rest, one day if had found him. He recalled clearly his first haunting terror, and then his sudden, his exquisite, relief. For, after all, the House was empty!

Quite empty and exquisitely peaceful. It was as he remembered it ten years before. He had not forgotten. There was a huge black furniture van moving slowly away from the House. The last tenant, of course, moving out with his goods. He went up to the men in charge of the van and spoke to them. There was something rather sinister about that van, it was so very black. The horses were black, too, with freely flowing manes and tails, and the men all wore black clothes and gloves. It all reminded him of something else, something that he couldn’t remember.

Yes, he had been quite right. The last tenant was moving oul, as his lease was up. The House was to stand empty for the present, until the owner came back from abroad.

And waking, he had been full of the peaceful beauty of the empty House.

A month after that, he had received a letter from Maisie (she wrote to him perseveringly, once a month). In it she told him that Allegra Kerr had died in the same home as her mother, and wasn’t it dreadfully sad? Though of course a merciful release.

It had really been very odd indeed. Coming after his dream like that. He didn’t quite understand it all. But it was odd.

And the worst of it was that he’d never been able to find the House since. Somehow, he'd forgotten the way.

The fever began to take hold of him once more. He tossed restlessly. Of course, he’d forgotten, the House was on high ground! He must climb to get there. But it was hot work climbing cliffs—dreadfully hot. Up, up, up— Oh! he had slipped! He must start again from the bottom. Up, up, up—days passed, weeks—he wasn’t sure that years didn’t go by! And he was still climbing,

Once he heard the doctor's voice. But he couldn't slop climbing to listen. Besides the doctor would tell him to leave off looking for the House. He thought it was an ordinary house. He didn’t know.

He remembered suddenly that he must be calm, very calm. You couldn't find the House unless you were very calm. It was no use looking for the House in a hurry, or being excited.

If he could only keep calm! But it was so hot! Hot? It was cold—yes, cold. These weren't cliffs, they were icebergs—jagged, cold icebergs.

He was so tired. He wouldn’t go on looking—it was no good—Ah! here was a lane—that was better than icebergs, anyway. How pleasant and shady it was in the cool, green lane. And those trees—they were splendid! They were rather like—what? He couldn’t remember, but it didn’t matter.

Ah! here were flowers. All golden and blue! How lovely it all was—and how strangely familiar. Of course, he had been here before. There, through the trees, was the gleam of the House, standing on the high ground. How beautiful it was. The green lane and the trees and the flowers were as nothing to the paramount, the all-satisfying beauty of the House.

He hastened his steps. To think that he had never yet been inside! How unbelievably stupid of him—when he had the key in his pocket all the time!

And of course the beauty of the exterior was as nothing to the beauty that lay within—especially now that the Owner had come back from abroad. He mounted the steps to the great door.

Cruel strong hands were dragging him back! They fought him, dragging him to and fro, backwards and forwards.

The doctor was shaking him, roaring in his ear. “Hold on, man, you can. Don’t let go. Don’t let go.” His eyes were alight with the fierceness of one who sees an enemy. Segrave wondered who the Enemy was. The black-robed nun was praying. That, too, was strange.

And all he wanted was to be left alone. To go back to the House. For every minute the House was growing fainter.

That, of course, was because the doctor was so strong. He wasn’t strong enough to fight the doctor. If he only could.

But stop! There was another way—the way dreams went in the moment of waking. No strength could stop them—they just flitted past. The doctor’s hands wouldn't be able to hold him if he slipped—just slipped!

Yes, that was the way! The white walls were visible once more, the doctor’s voice was fainter, his hands were barely felt. He knew now how dreams laugh when they give you the slip!

He was at the door of the House. The exquisite stillness was unbroken. He put the key in the lock and turned it.

Just a moment he waited, to realise to the full the perfect, the ineffable, the all-satisfying completeness of joy.

Then—he passed over the Threshold.

English writer known for her detective novels and short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.