Kathrien, looking down into the firelit
room, saw the white-clad boy starting up in triumph
with his work.
“Why, Willem!” she cried,
dumfounded at sight of the invalid out of bed at such
an hour. “What are you doing down there?
You ought to ”
“Oh, Miss Kathrien!” exclaimed
the child, pointing toward the picture. “Come
“You mustn’t get out of
bed like this when you’re ill,” gently
reproved Kathrien. “I had a feeling that
you weren’t in your room. That is why I
came out to look. Come ”
“But, look!” insisted
Willem, pointing again at the picture puzzle he had
so painstakingly pieced together. “Look,
“Come, dear!” admonished
Kathrien. “You must not play down there.
Wait a minute, and I’ll make your bed again.
It will be more comfortable for you if it’s
made over. Then you must come right upstairs.”
She went to the sick room and set
to work with deft speed rearranging the tumbled sheets
and smoothing the rumpled pillows. Willem looked
down at his disregarded picture and his lip trembled.
He gazed about the room in the hope of seeing Peter
Grimm. He strained his keen ears for sound of
the Dead Man’s gentle, comforting voice.
But Peter Grimm was looking fixedly
toward the dining-room door. And in a moment
it opened and Mrs. Batholommey bustled in.
“I thought I heard some one
call,” observed the rector’s wife for the
benefit of any one who might be in the half-lighted
Then, as her eyes grew accustomed
to the gloom, she espied Willem.
“Why!” she cackled.
“Of all things! You naughty, naughty
child! You ought to be in bed and asleep!”
Willem shrank under the rebuke, but
a touch of Peter Grimm’s hand and a whispered
word of encouragement braced him to reply:
“Old Mynheer Grimm’s come back.”
In the midst of her tirade Mrs. Batholommey
stopped, open-mouthed. She stared at the boy
in dismay. His face, as well as his voice, was
unperturbed. He had stated merely what seemed
to him a perfectly natural but very welcome truth.
He had supposed she would be pleased, not petrified.
He had told her the news in the hope of averting a
scolding. But she did not seem to take it in
the sense of his simple declaration. So he repeated
“Old Mynheer Grimm’s come back, Mrs. Batholommey.”
She gurgled wordlessly, then sputtered:
“What are you talking about,
child? ‘Old Mynheer Grimm,’ as you
call him, is dead. You know that.”
“No, he isn’t,”
stoutly contradicted Willem. “He’s
come back. He’s in this room right now.
At least,” he added as he glanced about and could
not feel the Dead Man’s presence, “at least
he was a minute ago. I know, because I’ve
been talking to him.”
“I’ve been talking to him. He was
standing just where you are now.”
Mrs. Batholommey instinctively started.
In fact, despite her age and bulk and the fact that
she was built for endurance rather than for speed,
she jumped high into the air, with an incredible lightness
and agility, and came to earth several feet away from
the spot Willem had designated.
“At least,” explained
the boy, “he seemed to be about there.
But he seemed to be everywhere.”
Recovering her smashed self-poise,
Mrs. Batholommey frowned with lofty majesty, tempered
by womanly concern.
“You are feverish again,”
she said. “I hoped you were all over it.
You’re light-headed, you poor little fellow.”
Kathrien, the bed being re-made, hurried
downstairs to get Willem.
“His mind is wandering,”
said Mrs. Batholommey. “He imagines all
sorts of ridiculous, impossible things.”
Kathrien dropped into a chair by the
fire and gathered the fragile little body into her
“Yes,” went on Mrs. Batholommey,
“he is out of his head. I think I’ll
run over and get the doctor.”
“You need not trouble to,”
said Peter Grimm. “I have sent for him.
Though he doesn’t know it. He is coming
up the walk.”
The Dead Man turned toward the front
door, the old quizzical smile on his lips.
“Come in, Andrew,” he
said. “I’m going to give you one more
chance at the theory you were wise enough to form
and are not wise enough to practise.”
Dr. McPherson entered.
“I thought I’d just drop
in for a minute before bedtime,” said he, “to
see how Willem ”
“Oh, Doctor!” cried Mrs.
Batholommey. “This is providential.
I was just coming to get you. Here’s Willem.
We found he’d gotten out of bed and wandered
down here. He is worse. Much worse.
He’s quite delirious.”
Dr. McPherson, touching the child’s face and
then laying a finger on the fast, light pulse.
“He doesn’t look it. He has a slight
fever again, but ”
“Oh, he said old Mr. Grimm was
here!” bleated Mrs. Batholommey. “Here
in this room with him.”
“What?” gasped Kathrien.
But the doctor seemed to regard the
statement as the most natural thing imaginable.
“In this room?” he repeated
in a matter of fact tone. “Well, very possibly
he is. There’s nothing so remarkable about
that, is there?”
squealed Mrs. Batholommey; then, bridling, she scoffed:
“Oh, of course. I forgot. You believe
“In fact,” pursued McPherson,
getting under weigh with his pet idea, “you’ll
remember, both of you, that I told you he and I made
a compact to ”
“Oh!” cried Mrs. Batholommey
with a shudder. “That absurd, horrible
‘compact’ you told us about! It was
But McPherson was looking speculatively
down at Willem, and did not accept nor even hear the
challenge to combat.
“I’ve sometimes had the
idea,” said he, “that the boy was a ‘sensitive.’
And this evening, I’ve been wondering ”
“No, you haven’t, Andrew,”
denied Peter Grimm. “It’s I
who have been doing the ‘wondering’; through
that Scotch brain of yours. I’m making
use of that Spiritualistic hobby of yours because you’re
too dense to hear me except through some rarer mortal’s
continued the doctor, “whether perhaps ”
“Yes,” declared Peter
Grimm, as McPherson hesitated, “the boy is a
‘sensitive,’ as you call it.”
“I really believe,” declared
McPherson, his last doubts vanishing, “that
Willem is a ‘sensitive.’ I’m
certain of it. And ”
“A ’sensitive’?” queried Kathrien.
“Well,” reflected the
doctor, “it is rather hard to define in simple
language. A ‘sensitive’ is what is
sometimes known as a ‘medium.’ A
human organism so constructed that it can be ‘informed,’
or ‘controlled’ (as the phrases go) by
those who are who have er who
have passed over.”
He looked apologetically about as
if to assure the possibly-present Peter Grimm that
he had absolutely no intent of using so non-technical
a word as “dead.”
Peter Grimm acknowledged the compliment with a laugh.
“Oh, say it, Andrew! Say
it!” he adjured. “There is
no ‘death’ and there are no ‘dead,’
as this world understands the words. So one term
is as good as another. ‘Dead’ or
‘passed over.’ It’s all one.
Neither phrase means anything. Don’t be
afraid of offending me.”
“And Willem is like that?” asked Kathrien.
“I am sure of it,” answered McPherson.
“Now, Willem ”
“I think I’d better put
the boy to bed!” hastily interposed Mrs. Batholommey,
coming between the doctor and his proposed “subject.”
“Please!” rapped McPherson.
“I propose to find out what ails Willem.
That is what I’m here for. And I’ll
thank you not to interfere, Mrs. Batholommey.
I never break in on your good husband’s pulpit
platitudes, and I’ll ask you to show the same
courtesy toward me. Now then, Willem ”
Mrs. Batholommey, “you surely aren’t going
to permit ?”
A peremptory gesture from McPherson
momentarily checked the pendulum of her tongue.
Kathrien, too, was very evidently on the doctor’s
“Willem,” said McPherson
quietly, “you said just now that Mr. Grimm was
in this room. What made you think so?”
“The things he said to me,”
returned Willem, readily enough.
His simple reply had a galvanic effect
on his three hearers.
“Said to you?”
bleated Mrs. Batholommey. “Said?
Did you say ’said’?”
“Why, Willem!” gasped Kathrien.
“Old Mr. Grimm?”
insisted Dr. McPherson. “Willem, you’re
certain you mean old Mr. Grimm? Not Frederik?”
“Why, yes,” assented Willem
with calm assurance. “Old Mynheer Grimm.”
And now, even Mrs. Batholommey’s
awed curiosity dulled her chronic conscience-pains
into momentary rest. And, with Kathrien, she sat
silent, eager, awaiting the doctor’s next move.
“And,” continued McPherson,
“what did Mr. Grimm say to you? Think carefully
before you answer.”
“Oh,” replied Willem,
in the glorious vagueness of childhood, “lots
and lots of things.”
“Oh, really?” mocked Mrs.
Batholommey, the disappointing answer freeing her
from the grip of awe.
Again McPherson raised a warning hand
that balked further comment from her. And he
returned to the examination.
“Willem,” said he, “how did Mr.
“I didn’t see him,” answered the
“H’m!” sniffed Mrs. Batholommey.
“But, Willem,” urged McPherson, “you
must have seen something.”
“I I thought I saw his hat on the
peg,” hesitated the boy.
All eyes turned involuntarily and in some fear toward
“No,” went on Willem, looking at the vacant
peg, “it’s gone now.”
Mrs. Batholommey, impatiently, “this is so silly!
“I wonder,” whispered
Kathrien to McPherson over the boy’s head, “I
wonder if he really did do you think ?”
She did not finish the sentence.
A growing look of disappointment and troubled doubt
on McPherson’s grim face made her reluctant to
voice the question that her mind had formed.
“Willem!” said the Dead
Man earnestly, pointing towards the pieced-together
picture as he spoke. “Look! Show it
“Look!” echoed Willem,
pointing in turn to the photograph. “Look,
Miss Kathrien! That’s what I wanted to
show you when you called to me to go to bed.”
“Why!” exclaimed Kathrien,
following the direction of the eager little finger.
“It’s his mother! It’s Anne
“His mother!” echoed Mrs.
Batholommey, focussing her near-sighted eyes on the
likeness. “Why, so it is! Well, of
all things! I didn’t know you’d heard
from Anne Marie.”
“We haven’t,” said Kathrien.
“Then how did the photograph get into the house?”
“I don’t know,”
answered the girl. “I never saw the picture
before. It is none we’ve had. How
strange! We’ve all been waiting for news
of Anne Marie. Even her own mother doesn’t
know where she is, and hasn’t heard from her
in years. Or or maybe Marta has received
the picture since I ”
“I’ll ask her,”
said Mrs. Batholommey, all eagerness now that something
tangible was before her.
She bustled off into the kitchen in
search of the old housekeeper.
“If Marta didn’t get it,”
mused Kathrien, her face strained with puzzling thoughts,
“who did have this picture? And why
weren’t the rest of us told? Every one
knew how eager we were for news of Anne Marie.
And who tore up the picture? Did you, Willem?”
“No!” declared the boy.
“It was lying here, torn. I mended
“But,” persisted Kathrien,
“there’s been no one at this desk, except
Frederik. Except Frederik,” she repeated,
half under her breath.
Mrs. Batholommey came back from her
kitchen interview, bubbling with importance.
“No,” she announced, “Marta
hasn’t heard a word from Anne Marie. And
only a few minutes ago she asked Frederik if any message
had come. And he said, no, there hadn’t.”
“I wonder,” suggested
Kathrien, “if there was any message with
“I remember,” volunteered
Mrs. Batholommey, “one of the letters that came
for poor old Mr. Grimm was in a blue envelope and felt
as if it had a photograph in it. I put it with
some others in the desk and I told Frederik about
it this evening.”
Kathrien glanced over the desk and
at the floor around it in search of further clues.
She saw, in the jardiniere, the charred remnants of
a letter and pointed it out to the others. She
drew from the debris the unburned corner of a blue
“That’s the one!”
cried Mrs. Batholommey. “That’s it!
The same colour.”
“You say the envelope was addressed to my uncle?”
“Yes. It gave me such a
turn to see those letters all addressed to a man who
wasn’t alive to ”
“Oh, what does it all mean?” cried the
“We are going to find out,”
said McPherson with sudden determination. “Kathrien,
draw those window shades close. I want the room
darkened as much as possible.”
“Oh, Doctor,” protested
Mrs. Batholommey as Kathrien hastened to obey, “you’re
surely not going to ?”
“Be quiet. You needn’t stay unless
you want to.”
“Oh, I’ll stay. It’s
my duty. But I don’t approve. Please
Kathrien had returned to her place
by the fire and had lifted Willem back on her lap.
The doctor, gazing into space, said in a low, reverential
“Peter Grimm! If you have
come back to us, if you are in this room if
this boy has spoken truly, give us some
sign, some indication ”
“Why, Andrew, I can’t,”
answered the Dead Man. “Not to you.
I have, to the boy. I can’t make you hear
me, Andrew. The obstacles are too strong for
“Peter Grimm,” went on
the doctor after a moment of dead silence, “if
you cannot make your presence known to me and
I realise there must be great difficulties will
you try to send your message by Willem? I presume
you have a message?”
Another space of tense silence.
“Well, Peter,” resumed
McPherson patiently, “I am waiting. We are
“Then stop talking and listen
to Willem,” ordered Peter Grimm.
The doctor involuntarily glanced at
the boy. Willem’s wide-open eyes were glazed
like a sleep-walker’s. The hands that had
been folded in his lap now hung limply at his sides.
His lips parted, and droning, mechanical, lifeless
words came from between them.
“There was Anne Marie and
me and the Other One,” said he.
“What Other One?” asked
McPherson, speaking in a low, emotionless voice so
as not to break in on the thought current.
“The man that came there,” droned the
“The man that made Anne Marie cry.”
“What man made Anne Marie cry?”
“I I can’t
remember,” returned the boy, a hesitant note
of trouble creeping into his dead voice.
“Yes, you can,” prompted
Peter Grimm. “You can remember, Willem.
“So you do remember the
time when you were with Anne Marie?” whispered
Kathrien as the lad hesitated. “You always
told me you didn’t. Doctor, I have the
strangest feeling. A feeling that all this somehow
concerns me, and that I must sift it to the
bottom. Think, Willem. Who was it that came
and went at the house where you lived with Anne Marie?”
“That is what I asked you, Willem,”
said Peter Grimm.
“That is what he asked me,” replied
“Who?” demanded McPherson. “Who
asked you that question, Willem?”
“Just now!” cried Kathrien and Mrs. Batholommey
in a breath.
“S-sh!” admonished the
doctor. “So you both asked the same question,
eh? The man that came to see ?”
“It can’t be possible,”
expostulated Mrs. Batholommey, “that the boy
has any idea what he is talking about.”
A glare from McPherson silenced her. Then the
“What did you tell Mr. Grimm, Willem?”
The boy hesitated.
“Better make haste,” adjured the Dead
Man, “Frederik is coming back.”
Willem, with a shudder, glanced fearfully toward the
“Why does he do that?”
wondered Kathrien. “He looked that way at
the door when he spoke of ‘the Other One.’
Why should he?”
“He’s afraid,” answered Peter Grimm.
“I’m afraid,” echoed Willem.
Kathrien gathered him more closely
in her warm young arms and whispered soothingly to
him. The fear died out of his eyes.
“You’re not afraid, any more?” she
“N-no,” he faltered, “but oh,
please don’t let Mynheer Frederik come
back, Miss Kathrien! Please, don’t!
Because because then I’ll be afraid
again. I know I will.”
McPherson whistled low and long.
A light was beginning to break upon his shrewd Scotch
“Willem!” pleaded the Dead Man. “Willem!”
“Yes, sir,” answered the boy.
“You must say I am very unhappy.”
“He is very unhappy,” repeated Willem,
“Why is he unhappy?” demanded McPherson.
“Why are you unhappy, Mynheer Grimm?”
droned the boy.
“On account of Kathrien’s future,”
replied Peter Grimm.
“What?” questioned Willem,
who did not quite understand the meaning of the words
“account” and “future.”
“To-morrow ” began
the Dead Man.
“To-morrow ” droned
continued Peter Grimm.
“Your ” said the boy,
glancing at Kathrien.
“Kathrien’s?” asked the doctor.
“Is he speaking about Kathrien?”
“What is it, Willem?” begged the girl.
“What about me, to-morrow?”
“Kathrien must not marry Frederik,”
said Peter Grimm, as if teaching a simple lesson to
a very stupid pupil.
began the boy, then flinching, and once more glancing
fearfully over his shoulder toward the door, he whimpered:
“Oh, I must not say that!”
“Say what, Willem?” urged McPherson.
“What what he wanted me to say!”
“Kathrien must not marry Frederik
Grimm,” repeated the Dead Man. “Say
“Speak up, Willem,” exhorted
McPherson. “Don’t be scared.
No one will hurt you.”
“Oh, yes,” denied Willem,
in terror, “he will. I don’t
want to say his name! Because because ”
“Why won’t you tell his name?” insisted
“Hurry, Willem! Hurry!” begged the
“Oh,” wailed Willem, with
another terrified glance at the door, “I’m
afraid! I’m afraid! He’ll
make Anne Marie cry again. And me! And me!”
“Why are you afraid of him?”
asked Kathrien. “Was Frederik the man that
came to see Anne Marie ?”
“Kathrien!” primly reproved Mrs. Batholommey.
Kathrien caught hold of the boy’s
hand as he rose, shaking, to his feet. She knelt
“Willem!” she implored.
“Was Frederik the man who came to see Anne Marie?
Mrs. Batholommey in pious horror, “surely, Kathrien,
you don’t believe ?”
“I have thought of a great many
things this evening,” replied Kathrien, vibrant
with excitement, yet instinctively lowering her voice
so as not to break in on Willem’s semi-trance.
“Little things that I’ve never noticed
before. I’m putting them together.
Just as Willem put that picture together. And
I must know who the Other One was.”
“Hurry, Willem!” exhorted
the Dead Man. “Hurry! Frederik is listening
at the door.”
The announcement brought Willem around
with a gasp toward the door. He stared at its
panels, quaking, aghast.
“I won’t say any more!”
he whimpered, pointing at the door. “He’s
“Who was the man, Willem?”
entreated McPherson. “Come, lad! Out
“Quick, Willem!” supplemented Peter Grimm.
Kathrien, acting on an unexplained
impulse as Willem stared terror-stricken at the door,
hastened toward the vestibule.
“No! No!” shrieked
the boy in anguished falsetto as he divined what she
was about to do. “Please, please
don’t! Don’t! Don’t
let him in. I’m afraid of him. He
made Anne Marie cry.”
But Kathrien’s hand was already
at the latch. She threw the outer door wide open.
Frederik Grimm stood on the threshold, his head still
a little forward. His ear had evidently been
pressed close to the panel.
“You’re sure Frederik’s
the man?” almost shouted McPherson.
“I won’t tell! I
won’t tell! I won’t tell!”
screamed the boy, taking one look at Frederik, then
tearing loose from McPherson’s restraining hand
and dashing up the stairs.
“I must go to bed now,”
sobbed Willem from the gallery above. “He
told me to.”
He ran into his own room and shut
the door quickly behind him.
“You’re a good boy, Willem!”
Peter Grimm called approvingly after him.
The cloud of grief was gone from the
Dead Man’s face, leaving it wondrously bright
and young. With no trace of anxiety, he turned
to witness the consummation of his labours.
Frederik Grimm was standing, nerveless,
dazed, where Kathrien’s impulsive opening of
the door had disclosed him. Dully, he stared from
one to another of the three who confronted him.
It was Kathrien who first spoke. Pointing toward
the photograph that still lay on the desk, she said:
“Frederik, you have heard from Anne Marie.”
His lips parted in denial. Then
he saw the picture, started slightly, and lapsed into
a sullen silence.
“You have had a letter from
her,” pursued Kathrien. “You burned
it. And you tore that picture so that we would
not recognise it. Why did you tell Marta that
you had had no message no news? You
told her so, since that letter and photograph
came. You went to Anne Marie’s home, too.
Why did you tell me you had never seen her since she
left here? Why did you lie to me? Why do you
hate her child?”
Frederik made one dogged effort to
regain what he had so bewilderingly lost.
“Are are you going
to believe what that brat says?” he muttered.
“No,” retorted Kathrien.
“But I’m going to find out for myself.
I am going to find out where Anne Marie is before
I marry you. And I am going to learn the truth
from her. Willem may be right or wrong in what
he thinks he remembers. But I am going
to find out, past all doubt, what Anne Marie was to
you. And, if what I think is true ”
“It is true,” interposed
McPherson. “It is true, Kathrien. I
believe we got that message direct.”
“Andrew is right, Katje,”
prompted the Dead Man. “Believe him.”
“Yes!” cried Kathrien,
as if in reply. “It is true. I believe
Oom Peter was in this room to-night!”
“What?” blurted Frederik. “You
saw him, too?”
His unguarded query was lost in Mrs. Batholommey’s
“Oh, Kathrien, that’s
quite impossible. It was only a coincidence that ”
“I don’t care what any
one else may think,” rushed on Kathrien, swept
along upon the wave of a strange exultation that bore
her far out of her wonted timid self. “People
have the right to think for themselves. I believe
Oom Peter has been here, to-night!”
“I am here, Katje,” breathed the
“I believe he is here, now!”
declared Kathrien, her eyes aglow, and her face flushed.
“He is here. Oh, Oom Peter!” she cried,
her arms stretched wide in appeal, her face alight,
her voice rising like that of a prophetess of old.
“Oom Peter, if you can hear me now, give me back
my promise! Give it back to me or
I’ll take it back!”
“I did give it back to you,
dear,” answered Peter Grimm happily. “But,
oh, what a time I’ve had putting it across!”