Antiquity and Photography

Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tales

Stories of the Mills.

The Ghost of the Spool-Room.

By Fanny M. Johnson

Lower Lyman Street Lower Lyman Street.

Grover Street Grover Street.

South Holyoke, From Depot Hill Dwight Street, From Depot Hill.

The Eastern City The Eastern City.

South Holyoke, From Depot Hill
South Holyoke, From Depot Hill.

        In the early winter evenings when the gas was lighted in the spool-room of No. 2 mill, the voice of the machinery took a different sound from the burden it had been carrying through the day. It seemed to be pitched on a higher key, and to break into measures and bars and run like a tune in the head. The long room with its many points of dancing light grew fantastic and dream-like. The figures moving mechanically to and fro, seemed a part of the great machinery that carried the whirling belts and wheels. The spoolgirls, bowing forward and swaying backward among their frames, and the warp tenders guiding the threads from creel to warping beam, with raised right arm and monotonous step, moved like images of a dream. And so with the mechanism of long habit the work went on.
        But one night the semi-stupor that fell upon the tired workers at lighting-up hour was dispelled by a shrill scream. The scrub woman came rushing into the room from the elevator hall, tossing her bare arms above her head and howling with fright.

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary.

        The elevator hall, which also served as the girls’ cloakroom, was a quiet place just off the spool-room, where the scrub woman was in the habit of comforting herself with a nap before going home. It was a customary thing to see her tilted back on a bobbin box, her head resting against the wall and her bare feet planted firmly on the floor before her, sleeping the sound sleep of physical weariness and mental unconcern.
        But she was wide awake enough now. Her black eyes — pretty eyes, perhaps they may have been in days of rosy youth — were staring wild with terror. In her fright her hair had come unbound and hung in a long black cord over her left shoulder.

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