Personal anthology: Virginia Woolf

I have a hard time not quoting Virginia Woolf’s short story (almost a prose poem) “A Haunted House” in its entirety. But instead I’ll just quote the beginning and end, and point you towards the University of Adelaide’s e-books collection where you can read the whole thing.

Whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting. From room to room they went, hand in hand, lifting here, opening there, making sure—a ghostly couple.

“Here we left it,” she said. And he added, “Oh, but here too!” “It’s upstairs,” she murmured. “And in the garden,” he whispered “Quietly,” they said, “or we shall wake them.”

Nearer they come; cease at the doorway. The wind falls, the rain
slides silver down the glass. Our eyes darken; we hear no steps
beside us; we see no lady spread her ghostly cloak. His hands
shield the lantern. “Look,” he breathes. “Sound
asleep. Love upon their lips.”

Stooping, holding their silver lamp above us, long they look and
deeply. Long they pause. The wind drives straightly; the flame
stoops slightly. Wild beams of moonlight cross both floor and wall,
and, meeting, stain the faces bent; the faces pondering; the faces
that search the sleepers and seek their hidden joy.

“Safe, safe, safe,” the heart of the house beats
proudly. “Long years—” he sighs. “Again you
found me.” “Here,” she murmurs, “sleeping;
in the garden reading; laughing, rolling apples in the loft. Here
we left our treasure—” Stooping, their light lifts the
lids upon my eyes. “Safe! safe! safe!” the pulse of the
house beats wildly. Waking, I cry “Oh, is this your buried
treasure? The light in the heart.”

—Virginia Woolf, from “A Haunted House,” in A Haunted House and Other Short Stories

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