THE NOISE IN THE ATTIC

    There had been very curious noises heard in the attic.
Miss Ethel heard them, and so did her mother and father and
her brother Harry.  But when they went up to investigate
there was nothing and nobody there.  So they began to say
the house was haunted.  But the facts are simply these:
    One day pretty Miss Ethel and her mother visited the attic
to open an old cedar chest.  In this chest reposed many
heirlooms--among them the gown which Ethel's mother had
worn twenty or more years ago, on her graduating day.
    Miss Ethel was about to graduate and she wished to wear
the dress her mother had worn.  So they opened the old chest
and took it out.  As they crossed the attic on the way
toward the stairs, Miss Ethel's garments brushed against a
pile of rubbish at one side of the room.  She did not hear the
flutter and suppressed excitement which emanated from that
pile of rubbish at the touch of her garments.
    As soon as she disappeared there was heard a chorus of
angry and excited voices.
    "I think it inhuman," said one.
    "It is inconceivable," said another.
    "You would think we were no more to her than rub-
bish," said a third.
    And in the midst of it all, came one shrill, hysterical scream
like that of an angry spoiled child.  That was the voice of
Camille, a wax doll, once the belle of the household and Miss
Ethel's pride and delight.
    Camille had been very beautiful in her day, but the rose
of her cheek was now a dingy brown, her alabaster brow was
scaled off in patches, one eye was gone and the end of her
Grecian nose was broken off.  Her lovely golden hair had
disappeared, and her scalp looked scrofulous.
    The silken finery she used to sport was missing, and her
only attire was a ragged chemise, much worse for wear.
    Camille had no mirror in which to view herself, and she
lived in memory of the days when she was beautiful, and
when Miss Ethel used to place her before the mirror for hours
at a time.  Nothing is so difficult as for a doll to realize that
her youth and beauty are things of the past.
    Camille was lying on her side, surrounded by several other
dolls, all more or less maimed and disfigured, a rocking-
horse with one broken rocker, a steam engine and a train of
cars, all out of repair.  They had been placed in this corner
of the attic several years before, some of them, while others
had been added more recently.
    The shrill screams of Camille silenced the voices which had
first spoken.
    "To think she should pass me, me!" shrieked the passe
belle of dolldom hysterically, "without so much as a glance.
I can understand how she might forget all of you except my-
self.  But I was so dear to her, and she was so proud of me."
    "She was fond of me too," said another. "And of me--
and of me," they all echoed.
    "Yes, I know, but I was her favorite," insisted the
wax doll.  "You know my history is an unusual one.  I was
beautiful, and a belle from the first.  I was reared in luxury;
my first memories of life were of plate-glass windows, where,
clothed in silks and laces, I sat while thousands of people
paused and admired me."
    The other dolls and the toys sighed, as they heard Camille
launch forth in the reminiscences of past splendor.  They
had heard these things so many times, for like most faded
beauties Camille was incapable of talking on other subjects
to any extent, but she was voluble upon this, and she seemed
oblivious of the fact that it was not an interesting topic to
her companions.
    "Then after Miss Ethel's mother bought me for a Christ-
mas gift to her little daughter I lived in splendor, worshiped
by my young mistress and all her playmates.  Such tea
parties as I presided over! such elegant costumes as I wore,
often having my dress changed three times a day.  Miss
Ethel doted on me.  She neglected all the rest of you for me.
My reign lasted three years.  Then Miss Ethel was fourteen
and her parents decided to send her away to school.  Her
last words to her mother were not to allow any one to touch
me; to leave me in her room ready to greet her home-coming.
The rest of you were allowed to stay, with the exception of
the rag doll yonder, who was banished to the attic.  The
year following was a lonely one for us all, but we lived on
the thoughts of Miss Ethel's return in June. When she came
what a disappointment awaited us! she had changed beyond
belief.  All her thoughts were with her school life, her new
companions, her music, drawing and dancing.  She seemed
utterly indifferent to us.  You were all packed off to the
garret, and I was given to Master Harry one luckless day to
stop him from crying when Miss Ethel went driving without
him.
    "He dragged me along the veranda, holding me by my
feet, my head upon the floor.  Until that day he had never
been allowed to touch me, and many had been his parox-
ysms of rage on my account.  Now he revenged himself upon
me, and for four months I endured every indignity it is possi-
ble to thrust upon a doll.  Then I was sent to the attic to
rest and recuperate.  Here I have been during four long
years.  I have never looked upon Miss Ethel's face in that
time until to-day.  And as you all saw, she passed me with-
out a glance.  It is evident she never intends to notice us
again."  Camille paused, her voice trembling with resent-
ment.
    "She was desperately fond of me for a long time," spoke
up the rag doll.  "Her mother used to say she lavished more
caresses upon me than upon all the others before you came.
My features are blurred by her infantile caresses."
    "But you never had any beauty to lose, and you cannot
suffer as I suffer at the thought of the past," said Camille.
    "Times have changed for all of us," spoke up the wooden
rocking horse.  "Master Harry used to make things lively
for me, but I haven't seen his face for nearly three years.
He is all taken up with out-door sports now."
    "Well, there is no use in expecting anything of Miss Ethel
or Master Harry in the future, that is plain to see," said
Camille, "and we might as well try to enjoy ourselves after
our own fashion.  I propose that we get up a party here
among ourselves."
    " I second the motion," said a blue marble, and it was
unanimously carried.  The fun commenced.  The rag doll
began to roll marbles with an India-rubber baby; Camille
rode about the attic on the lame rocking-horse, and a battered
tin soldier set the train of cars to running.  Such a racket as
they made!  No wonder the people down stairs came rush-
ing up to see what was the matter.  But as soon as the attic
door was heard to open, the dolls and toys all scrabbled back
to their place on the attic floor and were as inert and lifeless
as possible until the people went down again.  Then they
began to frolic with renewed force, and that is how the re-
port came about ghosts in the attic.

The Beautiful Land of Nod by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: Morrill, Higgins & Co. [1892]


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