The voice

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The voice
Mrs Mary Harter, a rich widow1, lives in a big house with her nephew, Charles. He has convinced her to buy a wireless2 to keep her company. It was about three months after the wireless hadbeen installed that the first eerie3 thing happened. Charles was absent for a bridge party. The programme for that evening was a ballad4 concert. A well-known soprano was singing “Annie Laurie”, andin the middle of “Annie Laurie” a strange thing happened. There was a sudden break, the music ceased for a moment, the buzzing, clicking noise continued and then that too died away. There was deadsilence, and then very faintly a low buzzing sound was heard. Mrs Harter got the impression that the machine was tuned in to somewhere very far away, and then clearly and distinctly a voice spoke, aman’s voice with a faint Irish accent. “Mary – can you hear me, Mary? It is Patrick speaking… I am coming for you soon. You will be ready, won’t you, Mary?” Then, almost immediately, the strains5 of “AnnieLaurie” once more filled the room. Mrs Harter sat rigid in her chair, her hands clenched on each arm in it. Had she been dreaming? Patrick! Patrick’s voice! Patrick’s voice, in this very room,speaking to her. No, it must be a dream, a hallucination perhaps. She must just have dropped off to sleep for a minute or two. A curious thing to have dreamed – that her dead husband’s voice should speak toher over the ether6. It frightened her just a little. What were the words he had said? “I am coming for you soon, Mary. You will be ready, won’t you?” Was it, could it be a premonition? Cardiacweakness. Her heart. After all, she was getting on in years. “It’s a warning – that’s what it is”, said Mrs Harter, rising slowly and painfully from her chair. She said nothing of her experience to anyone,but for the next day or two she was thoughtful and a little preoccupied. And then came the second occasion. Again she was alone in the room. The wireless, which had been playing an orchestral...