Often, when I wake at night,
I can hear the strangest sounds,
Stealthy noises, left and right,
As of some one going his rounds:
On the stairs there comes a crack
As if some one mounted there;
Then the door creaks; and the back
Settles of the rocking-chair,
As if some one had sat down.
Then I get up in my gown;
Run to mother; hide my head;
Snuggle down by her in bed.
And she says to me, "My dear,
There is nothing here to fear:
All the noises that you hear
Are the old house and the weather,
Dry old weather,
Having a little talk together.
You just heard the old house stretching,
Waking up to have a chat:
Seems to me that it is catching.
Don't wake up again for that."
And again I wake at night,
And can see the queerest things:
In the gas-jet's lowered light,
The tall mantle with its rings
And its mirror seems a face
With a monster eye and nose
And a mouth, the fireplace,
Making faces at me. Those
Chairs against the wall move out,
Limping, as if lame with gout:
And I'm scared as scared can be,
Call, till father comes to me.
And he says, "There's nothing there;
Nothing that could hurt or scare.
And that mantle and that chair
Guess that they were only courting,
While the other was cavorting.
You just saw what these were thinking;
Longing there to hug and kiss:
Seems to me you caught them winking.
But don't wake again for this."