Free Doppelgänger by Sean Munger

Book: Doppelgänger by Sean Munger Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sean Munger
Tags: horror;ghosts;haunted house
caretaker to look after the place while we were on our honeymoon in Europe. The gentleman, er…he ended his own life, for reasons we don’t understand. Then, just last week, your predecessor in this position—Mrs. O’Haney—she died in the servant’s room upstairs in the garret. She was old and it was entirely natural. She had only been on the job for a day or so. Naturally these two events have caused… rumors .”
    Miss Wicks responded in a curious way. After taking a sip of tea she set down her cup and said, as bluntly as she said everything else, “Are you scared of ghosts, ma’am?”
    I like this woman. She’s got— tapperhet . The Swedish word Anine thought of had a shade of meaning that didn’t translate literally into English. It was somewhere between fortitude and bravery , but whatever it was, she recognized it in Wicks.
    â€œNo.” She smiled. She reached for her teacup. “If after hearing what I’ve had to say you’d still like to join this house, Miss Wicks, I would be very grateful to have you.”
    Wicks calmly finished her tea. Then she stood up, reached under the chair and picked up her carpetbag. “Thank you, ma’am.” Her voice was completely devoid of emotion. “What do you need done first?”
    â€œUnacceptable!” Julian cried. “Completely unacceptable ! You will dismiss her immediately! Now! Tonight! She will not spend one night inside this house, is that perfectly clear?”
    They were standing in the second parlor, the one across the entryway from Anine’s parlor. In her head she had already begun to call her own room the Green Parlor. The décor there was entirely her own, but Julian wanted to reserve the second parlor for himself. It was more red than green, with burgundy leather chairs, the reddish-brown spines of law tomes and the ginger hair of Thomas Jefferson—Julian’s idol—in the painting above the fireplace. Anine could swear that the gas lights in here glowed slightly red too, at least as compared to elsewhere in the house. This, therefore, was the Red Parlor. Right now its tone seemed to match his emotion.
    She stood impassively before him. She’d expected Julian wouldn’t be thrilled at the discovery that she’d employed Miss Wicks when he returned home from the office, but she hadn’t anticipated a full-scale volcanic tantrum. Julian shouted so loud that there was no question everyone in the house—especially Miss Wicks—had heard him. He now stood, jaw quivering with rage, waiting for Anine’s acquiescence.
    She didn’t offer it. “I want her. She’s worked on Fifth Avenue for years. She says she knows society ladies. And she speaks plainly. I like that.”
    â€œYou like that.” Julian made the same sort of phlegmatic grunting sound with which he had dismissed her report of hearing laughter in the hallway. He paced, hands on his hips, and then finally turned toward the wheeled tea-cart in the corner. Its surface was laid with goblets and decanters of spirits. As he began fixing himself a drink he said, “I don’t give a hoot in hell, Anine, whether she can speak ancient Greek while standing on her head. She’s a Negress. There will be no Negroes or Negresses employed in this house. That is final. ”
    â€œWhat does it matter whether she’s a Negress? Besides, we haven’t many other choices. I told you what Mrs. Hennessey said about women being afraid—”
    â€œMrs. Hennessey can go to the devil. You deceived me. You changed the notice without my approval and without my knowledge.”
    â€œIf I hadn’t I would have no ladies’ maid at all.”
    â€œThen perhaps you should get used to doing things for yourself,” he said, before taking a belt of brandy. Wrinkling his nose, in a sneering tone he added, “But of course, we can’t have that ! You’re a little

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