THE PHANTOM

PHONE CALL

 

         

"It's the devil's instrument, I tell you William, and I don't want it in this house," Mrs Fenwood told her husband.  He drew a long breath,

"Now Martha, you know that's just not so," he said in his deep, slow voice.  "Why they've even installed a telephone at the parish house. It can be turned to good account once we get used to it."



"Good account!  It's been nothing but trouble.  I suppose you expect me to waste my time listening to that thing jabbering."

A small sound made them both turn.  Martha walked to the door and  flung it open.  A girl of about eight stood outside.  She wore a pinafore and high-top leather shoes, with rows of buttons.  Her large eyes shone as she stared at the telephone on the kitchen wall.

"Effie!" snapped Martha in a tone that made the child flinch. "Were you listing at the door?" The girl looked at her, silently studying her face. "Answer me!" Martha shouted.

Mr. Fenwood crouched down and put his arm around the little girl. His moustache tickled her.

     "You weren't eavesdropping, were you? " he prompted. "You just wanted to get a look at the telephone, didn't you?" Effie nodded.

     "The Telephone isn't for children. You're not to touch it; do you understand?" said Martha. A look of determination crossed the girl's face.

     "When Sarah took care of me and Daddy worked late, he always talked to me on the telephone," she said defiantly. The way Effie spoke made Martha uncomfortable. She thought a child should be more respectful.

     "When she speaks, she says just about the rudest thing she can." Martha told her husband, angrily.

    "Your father can't call you," he said in a hoarse voice. With an expression of something borne that is too heavy for her to bear, the girl reluctantly left the room.

     "I think she understands," Bill said to his wife. "You mustn't mind her, Martha. The child is to be pitied."

     "I'm doing my duty taking that girl in and providing her with a home, but I won't put up with her obstinate ways. My brother spoiled the child, ever since her mother died," said Martha.

    "Nonsense. Give her some time, she'll settle down."CL

The house was curiously quiet. Effie listened. There wasn't a sound, not even the familiar ticking of the Grandfather clock. Softly opening the door she slipped into the kitchen. A delicious smell came from a pot that was slowly simmering, A wooden stool was pushed up against the wall where the telephone hung. Effie stood on the stool and was about to do what she had been told not to do, when the door behind her opened. Uncle Bill poked his head in,

     "Watcha doing?" he asked, grinning. Before Effie could answer, Martha came in.

     "William, that clock has stopped," she said in an accusing voice.

     "It just needs winding. I'll see to it. Martha put on her apron and her husband went to wind the hall clock.

     "You can set the table Effie," Martha gave a slight start at the sound of the shrill telephone bell. 

    "William!" she called. With an exasperated sigh she moved toward the telephone, wiping her hands on her apron. But Effie had jumped on the stool, her heart pounded as her fingers grasped the telephone receiver.