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 but Lettie 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 to 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 strangest thing
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 move closer to Lettie,
but when I saw his face, he looked really
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 to leave the house
at once. 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 I
looked 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 to myself 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 looked up. '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
‘Did you not feel cold just then?’ asked Lettie. 'We both
'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 the date 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
trouble and I wanted to remember everything about that
Early the next morning there was a knock at the door. It was
Harry, looking white and frightened. I knew immediately why he was
‘Have you seen the newspaper?' he asked.
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
When I told my wife about George, she began to cry. 'How can we
tell poor Lettie?' she said.
'Ssssshh,' said Harry, but it was too late. Lettie was at the door
and we had to tell her everything. She fell to the floor, her face
as white as paper. We called the doctor immediately but she was
ill for many months.
About two months later, I read about the arrival of the Pioneer,
George's ship, in Britain. I did not tell Lettie about it as she
was only just getting better. A day or two after this there was a
knock at the door and, as I got up to open it, I noticed George's
picture once again. This time, to my surprise, he
held one finger
up and seemed to be warning me. I looked harder at George's face
and was almost sure that I could see blood on it. I walked closer
and saw that the warning finger was really a small
on the picture. I picked up the sleepy moth and put it under a
wine glass. As I did this, the servant came in and said, 'Dr
Vincent Grieve is here to see you, sir.'
As the doctor came in, I saw his face
turn white. 'Please, cover
that picture of George,' he said. 'It is even harder for me to
look at it now that he is dead.'
I covered the picture and Grieve sat down.
‘We were out shooting on the ice,’ he said. ‘It was not easy
Suddenly, George fell. I tried to catch him... I threw my coat for
him... I wanted
to pull him up, but it was impossible. He fell
ice-cold sea and slowly his head went under. His last
words were ‘Say goodbye to her’. As he finished his story,
Grieve looked up. He screamed loudly and jumped up, pointing
behind me. I looked round. The picture was uncovered again and
George's white face looked down at us. I covered it again and
Grieve seemed to feel better.
'I'm sorry,' he said, 'I've been ill.' He stood up. 'I'm sorry,'
he said again. Then he noticed the little white moth, which was
still under the wine glass. 'Has someone else from the Pioneer
been here?' he asked.
'No,' I answered. 'You are the first.'
'Then how did this moth get here? It only lives in the Arctic.
That's very strange... Well,
look after it. It's very unusual.'
He left a few minutes later and Harry and I watched him walk down
the street. 'There's something I don't like about that man,'I
'You're right,' Harry said. 'Do you know he has two shadows?
There's someone or something always standing at his side. That
explains why he's always so frightened.' We decided not to tell
Lettie about his visit.
Two days later, I arrived home and found my sister very angry.
'Grieve came here today and asked me to marry him. He said that
George wanted it. I couldn't believe it. We were in the
sitting-room and he was standing by the wall. As he was speaking,
there was a sound of something breaking, and George's picture fell
on his head and cut it open. We had to carry him upstairs and call
I went angrily upstairs but, when I saw Grieve, it was clear that
he could understand nothing. We could not move him and a nurse
came to stay with him during the night. At about
nurse felt something was wrong in the room. She saw his two
shadows on the wall and, frightened, went to get Lettie to sit
with her. As soon as my sister came into the room, Grieve sat up
and started to talk. 'I could not stop myself,' he said, 'I hit
you with my gun because I loved her and now she'll never
me. I murdered you, George, because I loved her. Don't you see?
Can't you understand? Please, please leave me alone.'
As he shouted the last words, he got out of bed and walked
backwards slowly, all the time looking at something following him,
his eyes wide and afraid. He came to the window and suddenly
seemed to decide something. Very quickly, he turned round, opened
the window and threw himself out. The nurse and Lettie could not
Two days later, the police found his body in the river.