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Du Maurier, Daphne - Not After Midnight & Other Stories (Aka Don't Look Now)

Du Maurier, Daphne - Not After Midnight & Other Stories (Aka Don't Look Now)

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Published by: GothicRose on May 06, 2012
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04/29/2013

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DaphneduMaurierNOTAFTERMIDNIGHTANDOTHERSTORIESPublishedintheU.S.A.as"Don'tLookNow"FirstpublishedinGreatBritainin1971CONTENTSDON'TLOOKNOWNOTAFTERMIDNIGHTABORDER-LINECASETHEWAYOFTHECROSSTHEBREAKTHROUGHDON'TLOOKNOW'DON'TLOOKNOW,'Johnsaidtohiswife,'butthereareacoupleofoldgirlstwotablesawaywhoaretryingtohypnotiseme.'Laura,quickoncue,madeanelaboratepretenceofyawning,thentiltedherheadasthoughsearchingtheskiesforanon-existentaeroplane.'Rightbehindyou,'headded.'That'swhyyoucan'tturnroundatonce--itwouldbemuchtooobvious.'Lauraplayedtheoldesttrickintheworldanddroppedhernapkin,thenbenttoscrabbleforitunderherfeet,sendingashootingglanceoverherleftshoulderasshestraightenedonceagain.Shesuckedinhercheeks,thefirsttell-talesignofsuppressedhysteria,andloweredherhead.'They'renotoldgirlsatall,'shesaid.'They'remaletwinsindrag.'Hervoicebrokeominously,thepreludetouncontrolledlaughter,andJohnquicklypouredsomemorechiantiintoherglass.'Pretendtochoke,'hesaid,'thentheywon'tnotice.Youknowwhatitis--they'recriminalsdoingthesightsofEurope,changingsexateachstop.TwinsistershereonTorcello.TwinbrotherstomorrowinVenice,oreventonight,paradingarm-in-armacrossthePiazzaSanMarco.Justamatterofswitchingclothesandwigs.''Jewelthievesormurderers?'askedLaura.'Oh,murderers,definitely.Butwhy,Iaskmyself,havetheypickedonme?'Thewaitermadeadiversionbybringingcoffeeandbearingawaythefruit,whichgaveLauratimetobanishhysteriaandregaincontrol.'Ican'tthink,'shesaid,'whywedidn'tnoticethemwhenwearrived.Theystandouttohighheaven.Onecouldn'tfail.''ThatgangofAmericansmaskedthem,'saidJohn,'andthebeardedmanwithamonoclewholookedlikeaspy.Itwasn'tuntiltheyallwentjustnowthatIsawthetwins.OhGod,theonewiththeshockofwhitehairhasgothereyeonmeagain.'Lauratookthepowdercompactfromherbagandhelditinfrontofherface,themirroractingasareflector.'Ithinkit'smethey'relookingat,notyou,'shesaid.'ThankheavenIleftmypearlswiththemanageratthehotel.'Shepaused,dabbingthesidesof
 
hernosewithpowder.'Thethingis,'shesaidafteramoment,'we'vegotthemwrong.They'reneithermurderersnorthieves.They'reacoupleofpatheticoldretiredschoolmistressesonholiday,who'vesavedupalltheirlivestovisitVenice.TheycomefromsomeplacewithanamelikeWalabangainAustralia.Andthey'recalledTillyandTiny.'Hervoice,forthefirsttimesincetheyhadcomeaway,tookontheoldbubblingqualityheloved,andtheworriedfrownbetweenherbrowshadvanished.Atlast,hethought,atlastshe'sbeginningtogetoverit.IfIcankeepthisgoing,ifwecanpickupthefamiliarroutineofjokessharedonholidayandathome,theridiculousfantasiesaboutpeopleatothertables,orstayinginthehotel,orwanderinginartgalleriesandchurches,theneverythingwillfallintoplace,lifewillbecomeasitwasbefore,thewoundwillheal,shewillforget.'Youknow,'saidLaura,'thatreallywasaverygoodlunch.Ididenjoyit.'ThankGod,hethought,thankGod....Thenheleantforward,speakinglowinaconspirator'swhisper.'Oneofthemisgoingtotheloo,'hesaid.Doyousupposehe,orshe,isgoingtochangeherwig?''Don'tsayanything,'Lauramurmured.'I'llfollowherandfindout.Shemayhaveasuitcasetuckedawaythere,andshe'sgoingtoswitchclothes.'Shebegantohumunderherbreath,thesignal,toherhusband,ofcontent.Theghostwastemporarilylaid,andallbecauseofthefamiliarholidaygame,abandonedtoolong,andnow,throughmerechance,blissfullyrecaptured.'Issheonherway?'askedLaura.'Abouttopassourtablenow,'hetoldher.Seenonherown,thewomanwasnotsoremarkable.Tall,angular,aquilinefeatures,withtheclose-croppedhairwhichwasfashionablycalledanEtoncrop,heseemedtoremember,inhismother'sday,andaboutherpersonthestampofthatparticulargeneration.Shewouldbeinhermiddlesixties,hesupposed,themasculineshirtwithcollarandtie,sportsjacket,greytweedskirtcomingtomid-calf.Greystockingsandlacedblackshoes.Hehadseenthetypeongolf-coursesandatdog-shows--invariablyshowingnotsportingbreedsbutpugs--andifyoucameacrossthematapartyinsomebody'shousetheywerequickeronthedrawwithacigarette-lighterthanhewashimself,ameremale,withpocket-matches.Thegeneralbeliefthattheykepthousewithamorefeminine,fluffycompanionwasnotalwaystrue.Frequentlytheyboasted,andadored,agolfinghusband.No,thestrikingpointaboutthisparticularindividualwasthatthereweretwoofthem.Identicaltwinscastinthesamemould.Theonlydifferencewasthattheotheronehadwhiterhair.'Supposing,'murmuredLaura,'whenIfindmyselfinthetoilettebesidehershestartstostrip?''Dependsonwhatisrevealed,'Johnanswered.'Ifshe'shermaphrodite,makeaboltforit.Shemighthaveahypodermicsyringeconcealedandwanttoknockyououtbeforeyoureachedthedoor.'Laurasuckedinhercheeksoncemoreandbegantoshake.Then,squaringhershoulders,sherosetoherfeet.'Isimplymustnotlaugh,'shesaid,'andwhateveryoudo,don'tlookatmewhenIcomeback,especiallyifwecomeouttogether.'Shepickedupherbagandstrolledself-consciouslyawayfromthetableinpursuitofherprey.Johnpouredthedregsofthechiantiintohisglassandlitacigarette.Thesunblazeddownuponthelittlegardenoftherestaurant.TheAmericanshadleft,andthemonocledman,andthefamilypartyatthefarend.Allwaspeace.Theidenticaltwinwassittingbackinherchairwithhereyesclosed.Thankheaven,hethought,forthismomentatanyrate,whenrelaxationwaspossible,andLaurahadbeenlauncheduponherfoolish,harmlessgame.Theholidaycouldyetturnintothecuresheneeded,blottingout,ifonlytemporarily,thenumbdespairthathadseizedhersincethechilddied.'She'llgetoverit,'thedoctorsaid.'Theyallgetoverit,intime.Andyouhavetheboy.''Iknow,'Johnhadsaid,'butthegirlmeanteverything.Shealwaysdid,
 
rightfromthestart,Idon'tknowwhy.Isupposeitwasthedifferenceinage.Aboyofschoolage,andatoughoneatthat,issomeoneinhisownright.Notababyoffive.Lauraliterallyadoredher.JohnnieandIwerenowhere.''Givehertime,'repeatedthedoctor,'givehertime.Andanyway,you'rebothyoungstill.There'llbeothers.Anotherdaughter.'Soeasytotalk....Howreplacethelifeofalovedlostchildwithadream?HeknewLauratoowell.Anotherchild,anothergirl,wouldhaveherownqualities,aseparateidentity,shemighteveninducehostilitybecauseofthisveryfact.Ausurperinthecradle,inthecot,thathadbeenChristine's.Achubby,flaxenreplicaofJohnnie,notthelittlewaxendark-hairedspritethathadgone.Helookedup,overhisglassofwine,andthewomanwasstaringathimagain.Itwasnotthecasual,idleglanceofsomeoneatanearbytable,waitingforhercompaniontoreturn,butsomethingdeeper,moreintent,theprominent,lightblueeyesoddlypenetrating,givinghimasuddenfeelingofdiscomfort.Damnthewoman!Allright,bloodystare,ifyoumust.Twocanplayatthatgame.Heblewacloudofcigarettesmokeintotheairandsmiledather,hehopedoffensively.Shedidnotregister.Theblueeyescontinuedtoholdhis,sothathewasobligedtolookawayhimself,extinguishhiscigarette,glanceoverhisshoulderforthewaiterandcallforthebill.Settlingforthis,andfumblingwiththechange,withafewcasualremarksabouttheexcellenceofthemeal,broughtcomposure,butapricklyfeelingonhisscalpremained,andanoddsensationofunease.Thenitwent,asabruptlyasithadstarted,andstealingafurtiveglanceattheothertablehesawthathereyeswereclosedagain,andshewassleeping,ordozing,asshehaddonebefore.Thewaiterdisappeared.Allwasstill.Laura,hethought,glancingathiswatch,isbeingahellofatime.Tenminutesatleast.Somethingtoteaseherabout,anyway.Hebegantoplantheformthejokewouldtake.Howtheolddollyhadstrippedtohersmalls,suggestingthatLaurashoulddolikewise.Andthenthemanagerhadburstinuponthemboth,exclaiminginhorror,thereputationoftherestaurantdamaged,thehintthatunpleasantconsequencesmightfollowunless...Thewholeexerciseturningouttobeaplant,anexerciseinblackmail.HeandLauraandthetwinstakeninapolicelaunchbacktoVeniceforquestioning.Quarterofanhour....Oh,comeon,comeon....Therewasacrunchoffeetonthegravel.Laura'stwinwalkedslowlypast,alone.Shecrossedovertohertableandstoodthereamoment,hertall,angularfigureinterposingitselfbetweenJohnandhersister.Shewassayingsomething,buthecouldn'tcatchthewords.Whatwastheaccent,though--Scottish?Thenshebent,offeringanarmtotheseatedtwin,andtheymovedawaytogetheracrossthegardentothebreakinthelittlehedgebeyond,thetwinwhohadstaredatJohnleaningonhersister'sarm.Herewasthedifferenceagain.Shewasnotquitesotall,andshestoopedmore--perhapsshewasarthritic.Theydisappearedoutofsight,andJohn,becomingimpatient,gotupandwasabouttowalkbackintothehotelwhenLauraemerged.'Well,Imustsay,youtookyourtime,'hebegan,andthenstopped,becauseoftheexpressiononherface.'What'sthematter,what'shappened?'heasked.Hecouldtellatoncetherewassomethingwrong.Almostasifshewereinastateofshock.Sheblunderedtowardsthetablehehadjustvacatedandsatdown.Hedrewupachairbesideher,takingherhand.'Darling,whatisit?Tellme--areyouill?'Sheshookherhead,andthenturnedandlookedathim.Thedazedexpressionhehadnoticedatfirsthadgivenwaytooneofdawningconfidence,almostofexaltation.'It'squitewonderful,'shesaidslowly,'themostwonderfulthingthatcouldpossiblybe.Yousee,sheisn'tdead,she'sstillwithus.That'swhytheykeptstaringatus,thosetwosisters.TheycouldseeChristine.'OhGod,hethought.It'swhatI'vebeendreading.She'sgoingoffherhead.WhatdoIdo?HowdoIcope?'Laura,sweet,'hebegan,forcingasmile,'look,shallwego?I'vepaid

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