مدرسة صهرجت الصغرى الثانوية

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 THE FACE ON THE WALL

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عدد المساهمات : 347
تاريخ التسجيل : 25/02/2010
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مُساهمةموضوع: THE FACE ON THE WALL   الجمعة أبريل 16, 2010 3:59 pm

THE FACE ON THE WALL

E.V. LUCAS


WE were talking of unusual vents – of events that seemed to have no natural explanation – and most of us had remembered one. Among the strangers to me was a little man with an anxious white face. He watched ach speaker with the closest attention, but said nothing. Wishing to include him in the talk, Dabney turned to him and asked if he had no experience to describe, no story which could not be explained.



He thought a moment. “Well,” he said, “not a story in the ordinary sense of the word. Truth, I always believe, is not only much stranger than stories, but also much more interesting. I could tell you of an event which happened to me personally, and which strangely enough completed itself only this afternoon.



We begged him to begin.



“A year or two ago,” he said, “I was renting a room in Great Ormond Street, in an old house. The place was damp, and great patches of dampness had broken out on the walls. One of these – as indeed often happens – was exactly like a human face. Lying in bed in the morning, I used to watch it and watch it, and gradually I began to think of it as real – as my fellow-lodger, in fact. The strange thing was that while the other patches on the walls grew larger and changed their shapes, this never did. It remained exactly the same.”



“While I was there I fell ill, and all day long I had nothing to do but read or think. It was then that this face began to get a firmer hold of me. It grew more and more real and remarkable. It was the chief thing in my thoughts, day and night. The nose had a curious turn, and the shape of the head was very unusual. It was in fact the face of a very unusual man, a man in a thousand.



“Well, I got better, but the face still controlled me. I found myself searching the streets for one like it. Somewhere, I was sure, the real man must exist, and I wanted to meet him. I didn’t know why: I only knew that he and I were in some way connected by fate. I went to places where men collect together in large numbers – political meetings, football matches, the railway stations. But all in vain. I had never before realized as then did how many different faces of man there are, and how few. They are all different, yet they all belong to only a few groups.”



“the search became like a madness to me. I neglected everything else. I stood at busy corners watching the crowd until people thought me mad. The police began to know me and be suspicious. I never looked at women only men.”



“He passed his hand in a tiered way over his face. “And then,” he continued, “at last I saw him. He was in a taxi driving east along Piccadilly. I turned and ran beside it for a little way and then saw an empty one coming. ‘Follow that taxi,’ I cried, and jumped in. the driver managed to keep it insight and it took us to Charing Cross railway station. I rushed on to the platform and found my man with two ladies and a little girl. They were going to France. I waited to try and speak with him, but in vain. Other friends had joined the party, and they moved to the train together.”



“I hastily bought a ticket to Folkestone, hoping that I should catch him on the boat before it sailed. At Folkestone he got on board before me with his friends, and they disappeared into a large private room. Evidently he was a man of wealth.”



“Again I failed; but I determined to cross to France too, feeling certain that when the voyage had begun he would leave the ladies and come outside for a walk. I had only just enough money for the ticket to Boulogne, but nothing could stop me now. I took up my position opposite his door and waited. After half an hour the door opened and he came out, with the little girl. My heart beat so much that it seemed to shake the boat. There was no mistaking the face – every line was the same. He looked at me and started to move away. It was now or never, I felt.”



‘Excuse me,’ I said uncertainly, ‘but do you mind giving me your card? I have a very important reason for wishing to communicate with you.’



“He seemed to be astonished, but he did what I asked. Very slowly he took out his case and handed me a card and hurried on with the little girl. It was clear that he thought me a madman and considered it best to do what I wanted.”



“Holding the card tightly I hurried to a quiet corner of the ship and read it. My eyes grew dark; my head turned round; for on it were the words, ‘Mr. Ormond Wall’, with an address at Pittsbirg, U.S.A. I remembered no more until I found myself in a hospital at Boulogne. I lay there in a serious condition for some weeks, and I only returned a month ago.”



He was silent.



We looked at him and at one another and waited. All the other talk of the evening was nothing compared with the story of the little pale man.



“I went back,” he continued after a moment or so, “to Great Ormond Street and set to work to discover all I could about this American. I wrote to Pittsburg. I wrote to American newspaper-men. I met Americans in London, but all that I could find out was that he was a millionaire with English parents who had lived in London. But where? I received no answer to that question.”



“And so the time went on until yesterday morning. I had gone to bed more tired than usual, and slept till late. When I woke, the sun was streaming into the room. As I always do, I looked at once at the wall on which the face was to be seen. I rubbed my eyes and sprang up. It could only just be seen. Last night it had been as clear as ever: now it was very faint.”



“I got up sadly and went out. The early evening papers were already on sale, and on the notices I saw ‘American Millionaire’s Motor Accident’. All of you must have seen it. I bought a paper and read at once what I knew I should read. Mr. Ormond Wall, the Pittsburg millionaire, and party, motoring from Spezzia to Pisa, had had an accident; their car had overturned; Mr. Wall’s condition was serious.”



“I went back to my room as if I was in a dream, and sat on the bed looking with unseeing eyes at the face on the wall. And even as I looked, suddenly it completely disappeared.”



“Later I found that Mr. Wall had died at what I believe to be that very moment.”



Again he was silent.



“Most remarkable,” we said; “most extraordinary,” and so on, and we meant it too.



“Yes,” said the stranger. “There are three extraordinary, three most remarkable things about my story. One is that it should be possible for the damp marks in a lodging-house in London not only to be like the face of a gentleman in America, but to disappear with his death. It will be difficult for science to explain that. Another is that the gentleman’s name should have a relation to the place on which his face appeared. Is it not so?”



We agreed with him and a discussion began with increased excitement during which the man who had told the astonishing story stood up and said goodnight. Just as he was at the door, one of our company asked him, before he left, what he considered the third extraordinary thing in connection with his very interesting story. “You said three things, you know,” he explained.



“Oh, the third thing,” he said, as he opened the door; “I was forgetting that. The third extraordinary thing about the story is that I made it up about half an hour ago. Goodnight, again.”

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