Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

PAGE 2

No. 252 Rue M. Le Prince
by [?]

“You do not live in your aunt’s house?” I said at last, interrogatively.

“No, but if this sort of thing keeps on I shall have to. I like Meudon much better, and the house is perfect, all furnished, and nothing in it newer than the last century. You must come out with me to-night and see it. I have got a jolly room fixed up for my Buddha. But there is something wrong with this house opposite. I can’t keep a tenant in it,–not four days. I have had three, all within six months, but the stories have gone around and a man would as soon think of hiring the Cour des Comptes to live in as No. 252. It is notorious. The fact is, it is haunted the worst way.”

I laughed and ordered more vermouth.

“That is all right. It is haunted all the same, or enough to keep it empty, and the funny part is that no one knows how it is haunted. Nothing is ever seen, nothing heard. As far as I can find out, people just have the horrors there, and have them so bad they have to go to the hospital afterwards. I have one ex-tenant in the Bicetre now. So the house stands empty, and as it covers considerable ground and is taxed for a lot, I don’t know what to do about it. I think I’ll either give it to that child of sin, Torrevieja, or else go and live in it myself. I shouldn’t mind the ghosts, I am sure.”

“Did you ever stay there?”

“No, but I have always intended to, and in fact I came up here to-day to see a couple of rake-hell fellows I know, Fargeau and Duchesne, doctors in the Clinical Hospital beyond here, up by the Parc Mont Souris. They promised that they would spend the night with me some time in my aunt’s house,–which is called around here, you must know, ‘la Bouche d’Enfer,’–and I thought perhaps they would make it this week, if they can get off duty. Come up with me while I see them, and then we can go across the river to Vefour’s and have some luncheon, you can get your things at the Chatham, and we will go out to Meudon, where of course you will spend the night with me.”

The plan suited me perfectly, so we went up to the hospital, found Fargeau, who declared that he and Duchesne were ready for anything, the nearer the real “bouche d’enfer” the better; that the following Thursday they would both be off duty for the night, and that on that day they would join in an attempt to outwit the devil and clear up the mystery of No. 252.

“Does M. l’Americain go with us?” asked Fargeau.

“Why of course,” I replied, “I intend to go, and you must not refuse me, d’Ardeche; I decline to be put off. Here is a chance for you to do the honors of your city in a manner which is faultless. Show me a real live ghost, and I will forgive Paris for having lost the Jardin Mabille.”

So it was settled.

Later we went down to Meudon and ate dinner in the terrace room of the villa, which was all that d’Ardeche had said, and more, so utterly was its atmosphere that of the seventeenth century. At dinner Eugene told me more about his late aunt, and the queer goings on in the old house.

Mlle. Blaye lived, it seems, all alone, except for one female servant of her own age; a severe, taciturn creature, with massive Breton features and a Breton tongue, whenever she vouchsafed to use it. No one ever was seen to enter the door of No. 252 except Jeanne the servant and the Sar Torrevieja, the latter coming constantly from none knew whither, and always entering, never leaving. Indeed, the neighbors, who for eleven years had watched the old sorcerer sidle crab-wise up to the bell almost every day, declared vociferously that never had he been seen to leave the house. Once, when they decided to keep absolute guard, the watcher, none other than Maitre Garceau of the Chien Bleu, after keeping his eyes fixed on the door from ten o’clock one morning when the Sar arrived until four in the afternoon, during which time the door was unopened (he knew this, for had he not gummed a ten-centime stamp over the joint and was not the stamp unbroken) nearly fell down when the sinister figure of Torrevieja slid wickedly by him with a dry “Pardon, Monsieur!” and disappeared again through the black doorway.