For the first time in years, Nesbitt took his meager dinner at the desk in the library. The lamp threw direct light across his writing and the leather-bound books on the desk, leaving the rest of the room in shadow. With the drapes open, each flash of lightning for an instant illuminated the front room and library. After several hours Nesbitt grew accustomed to the lightning and hardly noticed it.
When he finished eating he eased back into his chair and read the document of ownership he had promised Caleb. Satisfied, he folded it in half and placed it inside the 1897, signed first edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker. He read the second letter he had written, wrapped it about the money he had kept hidden for years, and sealed it all in an envelope addressed to Caleb. This letter he placed inside of the box that held an 1811, three-volume first edition of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.
Putting the writing tablet away, Nesbitt gathered the seven books Caleb was to receive and set them in their special place on the bookshelf. He trusted Caleb would follow the directions in his letter. When graduation day arrived, the sale of the books would fetch enough to allow his young friend to escape Thornton.
Throughout the evening the lightning never ceased and the storm thundered, driving a pelting rain against the mansion. At times lightning struck so close that it seemed to be outside the library window. Those were the moments when the mansion trembled until Nesbitt thought it would surely crumble.
He clicked the library lamp off and carried his empty plate and cup into the front room. Setting them on the table by his rocking chair, he reached for the bent neck lamp.
Three hard knocks at the front door startled him and he turned, leaving the lamp off.
Lightning flashed and illuminated the room.
Nesbitt's first thought was of Eddie; that the boy had been hurt again, only this time it might be worse and he may need a hospital. He hurried to the door.
Leaning on his cane with one hand, he swung the interior door open with the other. Lightning cracked and flashed in a brilliant strobe of light. Thunder grew deafening.
Through the screen door Nesbitt saw a man, silhouetted by the lightning flashes, drenched from the storm, water dripping off the brim of his Fedora hat.
"My God, no!"
"Are you going to keep an old friend out in the rain?"
Another flash of lightning revealed the chilling smile the midnight visitor wore.
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