The Man With Two Shadows
George was a brave man, who loved the sea, and I was not surprised when he decided to travel to the Arctic on a ship called the Pioneer. Lettie was afraid when he told her, but she could not stop him.
My younger brother Harry liked painting, so he decided to paint a picture of George before he left. It was quite a good picture. I thought the face was too white butLettie was very pleased with it and she put it on the wall in our sitting-room.
Before the ship sailed, George met the ship's doctor, a Scotsman called Vincent Grieve. He brought him to dinner with us and I disliked him immediately. He sat too close Lettie and seemed more like her lover than George. At first George did not notice, but Lettie did and she was unhappy about it. The strangestthing was when he saw the picture of George on the wall. He sat down opposite it, but stood up as soon as he saw it. 'I'm sorry,' he said, 'but I cannot look at that picture.' 'Well, I know it's not very good...' I began. 'It's not that it's either good or bad. I know nothing about painting,' he said. 'It's the eyes they seem to follow me everywhere.'
I thought that perhaps he just wanted to movecloser to Lettie, but when I saw his face, he looked really frigthenet.
We were all surprised when Vincent came again the next day. He brought a note for Lettie from George and after that he came almost every day. On the last day before the ship sailed, Vincent said to Lettie, 'If anything happens to George, I will still love you and you can marry me.'
Lettie was very angry and told him toleave the house al mose. She did not tell George about it because she wanted him to leave happily. The time came for George and Lettie to say goodbye and, when he left, Lettie cried for hours. I went in and put my arm around her. As lokeed up, I noticed the picture of George on the wall. The face looked very, very white and I thought there was water on it. Perhaps it's just the light, I thought tomyself and tried to forget about it.
The Pioneer sailed. George sent two letters, and then a year passed before we heard anything. We once read about the ship in the newspaper, but that was all. Spring-time came, and one beautiful warm evening we were all at home. The children were playing outside and Harry was watching them from the window.
Suddenly the room felt very cold. Lettie lookedup. 'How strange,' she said. 'Do you feel how cold it is?'
'Just like the weather in the Arctic,' I said. As I spoke, I looked at the picture on the wall and what I saw made me terribly afraid. His face suddenly looked like a dead man’s , with no eyes.
Without thinking, I said, 'Poor George.'
‘What do you mean?’ asked Lettie, looking frightened. ‘Have you heard something about George?’‘No, no,' I said quickly. 'I was just thinking about the cold weather where he is.’
At this moment, Harry put his head back into the room. 'Cold?' he said.
‘Did you not feel cold just then?’ asked Lettie. 'We both did.'
'Not at all,' he said happily. 'How can you feel cold on a beautiful spring evening like this?'
I followed him out of the room.
'Harry,' I said, 'what's thedate today?'
'It's Tuesday, February the 23rd. Look, here's the newspaper.'
I told him about the change in the picture and the cold feeling and asked him to write it down. I was sure that George was in some kind of trouble and I wanted to remember everything about that evening.
Early the next morning there was a knock at the door. It was Harry, looking white and frightened. I knewimmediately why he was there.
‘Have you seen the newspaper?' he asked.
On the front page was the news that George was dead. One sentence from the newspaper stayed in my mind: 'Lieutenant George Mason was out shooting with the ship's doctor, Vincent Grieve, when he died.’
When I told my wife about George, she began to cry. 'How can we tell poor Lettie?' she said.
'Ssssshh,' said Harry, but it...
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