Posted: October 27th, 2022

Short story

“I am sitting by the Window in th is Atrocious Nursery.”

THE YELLO\N \\TALL-PAPER.

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By Cltarlotte Perkins Stetson.

T is very seldom
that mere ordi­
nary P””ople like
J ohn and myself
secure ancestral
hall s for the
summer.

A colonial man­
sion, a hereditary
estate, I would
say a haunted

house, and reach the height of romantic
felicity- but that would be asking too
much of fate!

Still I will proudly declare that there is
something queer about it.

Else, why shou ld it be let so cheaply?
And why have stood so long untenanted?

John laughs at me, of course, but one
expects that in marriage.

John is practical in the extreme. He
has no patience with faith, an intense
horror of superstition, and he scoffs
openly at any talk of things not to be felt
and seen and put down in figures.

John is a physician, and perltaps – (I
would not say it to a living soul, of
course, but this is dead paper and a
great relief to my mind – ) per/zaps that
is one reason I do not get well faster.

You see he does not believe I am sick! .
And what can one do?

THE YELLOW WALL-PARER.

If a physician of high standing, and
one’s own husband, assures friends and
relatives that there is really nothing the
matter with one but temporary nervous
depression – a slight hysterical tendency
– what is one to do?

My brother is also a physician, and
also of high standing, and he says the
same thing. •

So I take phosphates or phosphites­
whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys,
and air, and exercise, and am absolutely
forbidden to “work” until I am well again.

Personally, I disagree with their ideas.
Personally, I believe that congenial

work, with excitement and change, would
do me good.

But what is one to do?
I did write for a while 111 spite of

them; but it does exhaust me a good
deal-having to be so sly about it, or
else meet with heavy opposition.

I sometimes fancy that in my condi­
tion if I had less opposition and more

. society and stimulus – but John says the
very worst thing I can do is to think
about my condition, and I confess it
always makes me feel bad.

So I will let it alone and talk about
the house.

The most beautiful place! It is quite
alone, standing well back from the road,
quite three miles from the village. It
makes me think of English places that
you read about, for there are hedges and
walls and gates that lock, and lots of
separate little houses for the gardeners
and people.

There is a delicious garden! I never
saw such a garden -large and shady,
full of box-bordered paths, and lined with
long grape-covered arbors with seats under
them.

There were greenhouses, too, but they
are all broken now.

There was some legal trouble, I be­
lieve, something abou t the heirs and co­
heirs; anyhow, the place has been empty
for years .

That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid,
but I don’t care – there is something
strange about the house – I can feel it.

I even said so to John one moonlight
evening, but he said what I felt was a
drauglzt, and shut the window.

I get unreasonably angry with John
sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be
so sensitive. I think it is due to this
nervous condition.

But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect
proper self-control; so I take pains to
control myself-before him, at least, a nd
that makes me very tired.

I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted
one downstairs that opened on the piazza
and had roses all over the window, and
such pretty old-fashioned chintz hang­
ings! but John would not he ar of it.

He said there was only one window
and not room for two beds, and no near
room for him if he took another.

He is very carefu l and loving, and
hardly lets me stir without special direc­
tion.

I have a schedule prescription for each
hour in the day; he takes a ll care from
me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to
value it ·more.

He said we came here solely on my
account, that I was to have perfect rest
and all the air I could get. “Your ex ­
erc ise depends on your strength, my
dear,” said he,” and your food somewhat
on your appetite; but air you can ab­
sorb all the time.” So we took the nur­
sery at the top of the house.

It is a big, airy room, the whole floor
nearly, with windows that look all ways,
and air and sunshine galore. It was
nursery first and then playroom and
gymnasium, I should judge; for the win­
dows are barred for little children, and
there are rings and things in the walls.

The paint and paper look as if a boys’
school had used it. It is stripped off­
the paper – in great patches all around
the head of my bed, about as far as I can
reach, and in a great place on the other
side of the room low down. I never saw
a worse paper in my life.

One of those sprawling flamboyant
patterns committing every artistic sin.

It is dull enough to confuse the eye in
following, pronounced enough to con­
stantly irritate and provoke study, and
when you follow the lame uncertain
curves for a little distance they suddenly
commit suicide – plunge off at outrage ­
ous angles, destroy themselves in un­
heard of contradictions.

THE YELLOW ·WAL~PAPER. 649

The color is repellant, almost revolt­
ing ; a smouldering unclean yellow,
strangely faded by the slow-turning sun­
light.

It is a dull yet lurid orange in some
places, a sickly sulphur tint in others.

No wonder the children hated it! I
should hate it myself if I had to live in
this room long.

There comes John, and I must put this
away, – he hates to have me write a
word.

• • • • * •
We have been here two·weeks, and I

haven’t felt like writing before, since that
first day.

I am sitting by the window now, up in
this atrocious nursery, and there is noth­
ing to hinder my writing as much as I
please, save lack of strength.

John is away all day, and even some
nights when his cases are serious.

I am glad my case is not serious!
But these nervous troubles are dread­

fully depressing.
John does not know how much I really

suffer. He knows there is no reason to
suffer, and that satisfies him.

Of course it is only nervousness. It does
weigh o”n me so not to do my duty in
any way!

I meant to be such a help to John,
such a real rest and comfort, and here I
am a comparative burden already!

Nobody would believe what an effort it
is to do what little I am able, – to dress
and entertain, and order things.

It is fortunate Mary is so good with
the baby. Such a dear baby!

And yet I cannot be with him, it makes
me so nervous.

I suppose John never was nervous in
his life. He laughs at me so about this
wall-paper!

At first he meant to repaper the room,
but afterwards he said that I was letting
it get the better of me, and that nothing
was worse for a nervous patient than to
give way to such fancies.

He said that after the wall-paper was
changed it would be the heavy bedstead,
and then the barred windows, and then
that gate at the head of the stairs, and so
on.

“You know the place is doing you

good,” he said, “and really, dear, I don’t
care to renovate the house just for a
three months’ rental.”

“Then do let us go downstairs,” I
said, “there are such pretty rooms there.”

Then he took me in his arms and
called me a blessed little goose, and said
he would go down cellar, if I wished, and
have it whitewashed into the bargain.

But he is right enough about the beds
and windows and things.

It is an airy and comfortable room as
anyone need wish, and, of course, I would
not be so silly as to make him uncomfort­
able just for a whim.

I’m really getting quite fond of the
big room, all but that horrid paper.

Out of one window I can see the
garden, those mysterious deep-shaded
arbors, the riotous old-fashioned flowers,
and bushes and gnarly trees.

Out of another I get a lovely view of
the bay and a little private wharf be­
longing to the estate. There is a beauti­
ful shaded lane that runs down there
from the house. I always fancy I see
people walking in these numerous paths
and arbors, but John has cautioned me
not to give way to fancy in the least. He
says that with my imaginative power and
habit of story-making, a nervous weak­
ness like mine is sure to lead to all man­
ner of excited fancies, and that I ought
to use my will and good sense to check
the tendency. So I try.

I think sometimes that if I were only
well enough to write_ a little it would re­
lieve the press of ideas and rest me.

But I find I get pretty tired when I try.
It is so discouraging not to have any

advice and companionship about my
work. When I get really well, John says
we will ask Cousin Henry and Julia down
for a long visit; but he says he would as
soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to
let me have those stimulating people
about now.

I wish I could get well faster.
But I must not think about that. This

paper looks to me as if it knew what a
vicious influence it had!

There is a recurrent spot where the.
pattern lolls like a broken neck and two
bulbous eyes stare at you upside down.

I get positively angry with the imperti­

j

650 THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER.

nence of it and the everlastingness. Up
and down and sideways they crawl, and
those absurd, unblinking eyes are every­
where. There is one place where two
breaths didn’t match, and the eyes go all
up and down the line, one a little higher
than the other.

I never saw so much expression in an
inanimate thing before, and we all know
how much expression they have! I
used to lie awake as a child and get more
entertainment and terror out of blank
walls and plain furniture than most chil­
dren could find in a toy-store.

I remember what a kindly wink the
knobs of our big, old bureau used to
have, and there was one chair that always
seemed like a strong friend.

I used to feel that if any of the other
things looked too fierce I could always
hop into that chair and be safe.

The furniture in this room is no worse
than inharmonious, however, for we had
to bring it all from downstairs. I sup­
pose when this was used as a playroom
they had to take the nursery things out,
and no wonder! I never saw such
raV .lges as the children have made here.

The wall-paper, as I said before, is torn
off in spots, and it sticketh closer than a
brother – they must have had persever­
ance as well as hatred.

Then the floor is scratched and gou~ed
and splintered, the plaster itself is dug
out here and there, and this great heavy
bed which is all we found in the room,
looks as if it had been through the wars.

H But I don’t mind it a bit – only the
paper.

There comes John’s sister. Such a
dear girl as she is, and so careful of me !
I must not let her find me writing.

She is a perfect and enthusiastic house­
keeper, and hopes for no better profes­
sion. I verily believe she thinks it is the
writing which made me sick!

But I can write when she is out, and
see her a long way off from these windows .

There is one that commands the road,
a lovely shaded winding road, and one
that just looks off over the country. A
lovely country, too, full of great elms and
velvet meadows.

This wallpaper has a kind of su b­
pattern in a different shade, a particularly

irritating one, for you can only see It In
certain lights, and not clearly then.

But in the places where it isn’t faded
and where the sun is just so – I can see a
strange, provoking, formless sort of figure,
that seems to skulk about behind that silly
and conspicuous front design.

There’s sister on the stairs!

* * * * * *
Well, the Fourth of July is over! The

people are all gone and I am tired out.
John thought it might do me good to see
a little company, so we just had mother
and Nellie and the children down for a
week.

Of course I didn’t do a thing. Jennie
sees to everything now.

But it tired me all the same.
John says if I don’t pick up faster he

shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall.
But I don’t want to go there at all. I

had a friend who was in his hands once,
and she says he is just like John and my
brother, only more so !

Besides, it is such an undertaking to
go so far.

I don’t feel as if it was worth while to
turn my hand over for anything, and I’m
getting dreadfully fretful and querulous.

I cry at nothing, and cry most of the
time.

Of course I don’t when John is here,
or anybody else, but when I am alone.

And I am alone a good deal just now.
John is kept in town very often by serious
cases, and Jennie is good and lets me
alone when I want her to.

So I walk a little in the garden or
down that lovely lane, sit on the porch
under the roses, and lie down up here a
good deal.

I’m getting really fond of the room in
spite of the wallpaper. Perhaps because
of the wallpaper.

It dwells in my mind so !
I lie here on this great immovable bed

– it is nailed down, I believe – and fol­
low that pattern about by the hour. It it
as good as gymnastics, I assure you. I
start, we’ll say, at the bottom, down in
the corner over there where it has nos
been touched, and I determine for the
thousandth time that I will follow that
pointless pattern to some sort of a con­
clusion.

THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER. 651

I know a little of the principle of
design, and I know this thing wa s not
arranged on any laws of radiation, or
alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or
anything else that I ever heard of.

It is repeated, of course, by the
breadths, but not otherwise.

Looked at in one way each breadth
stands alone, the bloated curves and
flourishes – a kind
of ” debased Roma-
nesque” with deli-
rium tremens – go
waddling up and
down in isolated
columns of fatuity.

But, on the other
hand, they connect
diagonally, and the
sprawling outlines
run off in great
slanting waves of
optic horror, like a
lot of wallowing sea-
weeds in full chase.

The whole thing
goes horizontally,
too, at least it seems
so, and I exhaust
myself in trying to
distinguish the order
of its going in that

” direction.
They have used a

horizontal breadth
for a frieze, and that
adds wonderfully to
the confusion.

There is one end
of the room where
it is almost intact,
and there, when the
crosslights fade and the low sun shines
directly upon it, I can almost fancy radia-
tion after all, – the interminable gro-
tesque seem to form around a common
centre and rush off in headlong plunges
of equal distraction.

It makes me tired to follow it. I will
take a nap I guess.

* * * * * *
I don’t know why I should write this.
I don’t want to.
I don’t feel able.
And I know John would think it

absurd. But I must say what I feel
and think in some way – it is such a-
relief !

But the effort is getting to be greater
than the relief.

Half the time now I am awfully lazy,.
and lie down ever so much.

o John says I mustn’t lose my strength,.
a nd has me take cod liver oil and lots of

II Sh e didn’t know I was in the Room. Il

tonics and things, to say nothing of ale-
and wine and rare meat.

Dear John! He loves me very dearlYr
and hates to have me sick. I tried to
have a real earnest reasonable talk with.
him the other day, and tell him how I
wish he would let me go and make a visit
to Cousin Henry and Julia.

But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor”
able to stand it after I got there j and I
did not make out a very good case for
myself, for I was crying before I had fin-
ished.

·652 THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER.

It is getting to be a great effort for me
to think straight. Just this nervous weak­
ness I suppose.

And dear John gathered me up in his
arms, and just carried me upstairs and
laid me on the bed, and sat by me and
read to me till it tired my head.

He said I was his d arling and his COl).1­
fort and all he had, and that I must take
.care of myself for his sake, and keep
well.

He says no one but myself can help
me out of it, that I must use my will and
self-control and not let any silly fancies
run away with me.

There’s one comfort, the baby is well
.and happy, and does not have to occupy
this nursery with the horrid wallpaper.

If we had not used it, that blessed
child would have! What a fortunate es­
cape! Why, I wouldn’t have a child of
mine, an impressionable little thing, live
in such a room for worlds.

I never thought of it before, but it is
lucky that John kept me here after all, I
.can stand it so much easier than a baby,
you see.

Of course I never mention it to them
.any more – I am too wise, – but I keep
watch of it all the same.

There are things in that paper that
nobody knows but me, or ever will.

Behind that outside pattern the dim
shapes get clearer every day.

It is always the same shape, only very
num::!rous.

And it is like a woman stooping down
.and creeping about behind that pattern.
I don’t like it a bit. I wonder – I be­
-gin to think – I wish John would take
,me away from here!

* * * * * *
It is so hard to talk with John about

my case, because he is so wise, and be­
.cause he loves me so.

But I tried it last night.
It was moonlight. The moon shines

in a ll around just as the sun does.
I hate to see it sometimes, it creeps so

slowly, and always comes in by one win­
,dow or another.

John was asleep and I hated to waken
nim, so I kept still and watched the
moonlight on that undulating wallpaper
till I felt creepy.

The faint figure behind seemed to
shake the pattern, just as if she wanted
to get out.

I got up softly and went to feel and see
if the paper did move, and when I came
back John was awake.

“What is it, little girl?” he said.
“Don’t go walking about like that­
you’ll get cold.”

I thought it was a good time to talk,
so I told him that I really was not gain­
ing here, and that I wished he would
take me away.

“Why, d arling!” said he, “our lease
will be up in three weeks, and I can’t see
how to leave before.

” The repairs are not done at home, and
I cannot possibly leave town just now.
Of course if you were in any danger, I
could and would, but you really are bet­
·ter, dear, whether you can 6ee it or not.
I am a doctor, dear, and I know. You
are gaining flesh and color, your appetite is
better, I feel really much easier about you.”

“I don’t weigh a bit more,” said I,
“nor as much; and my appetite may be
better in the evening when you are here,
but it is worse in the morning when you
are awav!”

” Ble~s her little heart!” s:1id he with
a big hug, “she sha ll be as sick as she
pleases! But now let’s improve the shin­
ing hours by going to sleep, and talk
about it in the morning! ”

“And you won’t go away?” I asked
gloomily.

“Why, how can I, dear? It is only
three weeks more and then we will take
a nice little trip of a few days while
Jennie is getting the house re ady. Really
dear you are better! ”

” Better in body perhaps – ” I began,
and stopped short, for he sat up straig ht
and looked at me with such a stern, re­
proachful look that I could not say
another word.

“My darling,” said he, ” I beg of you,
for my sake and for our child’s sake, as
well as for your own, th at you will never
for one instant let that idea enter your
mind! There is nothing so dangerous,
so fascinating, to a temperament like
yours. It is a false and foolish fancy.
Can you not trust me as a physician when
I tell you so? ”

THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER. 653­

So of course I said no more on that
score, and we went to sleep before long.
He thought I was asleep first, but I
wasn’t, and lay there for hours trying to
.decide wh ether that front pattern and the
back pattern really did move together or
separately.

* * * * * *
On a pattern like this, by daylight,

there is a lack of sequence, a defiance of
law, that is a ‘ constant irritant to a nor­
mal mind.

The color is hideous enough, and un­
reliable enough, and infuriating enough,
but the pattern is torturing.

You think you have mastered it, but
just as you get well underway in following,
it turns a back-somersault and there you
are. It slaps you in the face, knocks
you down, and tra mples upon you. It is
like a bad dream.

The outside pattern is a florid ara­
b esque, reminding one of a fungu s. If
you can imagine a to adstool in joints, an
interminable string of toadstools, budding
and sprouting in endless convolutions­
why, that is something like it.

That is, sometimes!
There is one marked peculiarity about

this paper, a thing nobody seems to
notice but myself, and that is that it
changes as the light changes.

When the sun shoots in through the
east window – I always watch for that
first long, straight ray – it changes so
quickly that I never can quite believe it.

That is why I watch it always.
By moonligh[ – the moon shines in all

night when there is a moon – I wouldn’t
know it was the same paper.

At night in any kind of light, in twi­
light, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of
all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The
outside pattern I mean, and the woman
behind it is as plain as can be.

I didn’t realize for a long time what
th e thing was that showed behind, that
dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure
it is a woman.

By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I
fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so
still. It is so puzzling. It keeps me
quiet by the hour.

I lie down ever so much now. John says
it is good for me, and to sleep all I can.

Indeed he started the habit by making­
me lie down for an hour after each meal.

It is a very bad habit I am convinced,.
for you see I don’t sle ep.

And that cultivates deceit, for I don’t
tell them I’m awake – 0 no !

The fact is I am getting a little afraid
of John.

He seems very queer sometimes, and
even Jennie has an inexplicable look.

It strikes me occasionally, just as a
scientific hypothesis,- that perhaps it is·
the paper!

I have watched John when he did not
know I was looking, and come into the
room suddenly on the most innocent ex­
cuses, and I’ve caught him several times.
looking at the paper! And Jennie too. I
caught Jennie with her hand on it once _

She didn’t know I was in the room,.
and when I asked her in a quiet, a very
quiet voice, with the most restrained man­
ner possible, what she was doing with the
paper – she turned around as if she had
been caught stealing, and looked quite
angry – asked me why I should frighten .
her so !

Then she said tha t the paper stained
everything it touched, that she had found
yellow smooc hes on all my clothes and
John’s, and she wished we would be more’
careful!

Did not that sound innocent? But I
know she was studying th at pattern, and
I am determined that nobody shall find
it out but myself!

* * * * * *
Life is very much more excltmg now

than it used to be. You see I have some­
thing more to expec t, to look forward to,.
to watch . I rea lly do eat better, and am
more quiet than I was.

John is so pleased to see me improve!
He laughed a little the other d ay, and
said I seemed to be flourishing in spite
of my wall-paper.

I turned it off with a laugh. I had no
intention of telling him it was because of
the wall-paper – he would make fun of
me . He might even want to take me away.

I don’t want to leave now until I have
found it out. There is a week more, and
I think that will be enough.

* * * * * *
I’m feeling eve r so much better! I

654 THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER.

<1on't sleep much at night, for it is so in­ teresting to watch developments j but I :sleep a good deal in the daytime.

In the daytime it is tiresome and per­
p lexing.

There are always new shoots on the
fungus, and new shades of yellow all over
jt. I cannot keep count of them, though
I have tried conscientiously.

It is the stra ngest yellow, that wall­
paper! It makes me think of all the
yellow things I ever saw – not beautiful
()nes like buttercups, but old foul, bad yel­
low things.

But there is something else about tha

t

paper – the smell! I noticed it the mo­
ment we came into the room, but with so
much air and sun it was not bad. Now
we have had a week of fog and rain, and
whether the windows are open or not, the
:smell is here.

It creeps all over the house.
I find it hovering in the dining-room,

skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall,
lying in wait for me on the stairs.

It g ets into my hair.
. Even when I go to ride, if I turn my
bead suddenly and surprise it – there is
that smell !

Such a peculiar odor, too! I have
:spent hours in trying to analyze it, to find
what it smelled like.

It is not bad – at first, and very
gentle, hut quite the subtlest, most endur­
ing odor I ever met.

In this damp weather it is awful, I
wake up in the night and fihd it hanging
()ver me.

It used to disturb me at first. I
thought seriously of burning the house­
to reach the smell.

But now I am used to it. The only
thing I can think of that it is like is the
~olor of the paper! A yellow smell.

There is a very funny mark on this
wall, low down, near the mopboard. A
streak that runs round the room. It goes
behind every piece of furnitnre, except
the bed, a long, straight, even smoocll, as
if it had been rubbed over and over.

I ‘wonder how it was done and who did
it, and what they did it for. Round and
round and round – round and round a nd
round – it makes me di zzy!

* * * ¥ * *

i

t

t

t

I really have discovered something at
last.

Through watching so much at night,
when it changes so, I have finally founu out.

The front pattern does move – and no
wonder! The woman behind shakes it!

Sometimes I think there are a great
many women behind, and sometime;, .:;~:!y
one, and she crawls around fast, and her
crawling shakes it all over.

Then in the very ‘ bright spots she
keeps still, and in the very shady spots
she just takes hold of the bars and shakes
them hard.

And she is all the time trying to climb
through. But nobody could climb through
that pattern – it strangles so; I think
that is why it has so many heads.

They get through, and then the pat­
tern strangles them off and turns them
upside down, and makes their eyes white!

If those heads were covered or taken
off it would not be half so bad.

* * * * * *
I think that woman gets out in the

daytime!
And I’ll tell you why – privately ­

I’ve seen her!
I can see her out of everyone of my

windows!
It is the same woman, I know, for she

s always creeping, and most women do
not creep by daylight.

I see her in that long shaded lane,
creeping up and down. I see her in
hose dark grape ‘ arbors, creeping all

around the garden.
I see her on that long road under the

rees, creeping along, and when a car­
riage comes she hides under the black­
berry vines.

I don’t blame her a bit. It must be
very humiliating to be caught creeping by
daylight !

I always lock the door when I creep
by daylight. I can’t do it at night, for I
know John would suspect something at
once.

And John is so queer now, that I don’t
want to irritate him. I wish he would
ake another room! Besides, I don’t

want anybody to get that woman out at
night but myself.

I often wonder if I c ould see her out
of all the windows at once.

655 THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER.

But, turn as fast as I can, I can only
see out of one at one time.

And though I always see her, she may
be able to creep faster than I can turn !

I have watched her sometimes away
off in the open country, creeping as fast
as a cloud shadow in a high wind.

* * * * * *
If only that top pattern could be got­

ten off from the under one! I mean to
try it, little by little.

I have found out another funny thing,
but I shan’t tell it this time! It does
not do to trust people too much.

There are only two more days to get
this paper off, and I believe John is
beginning to notice . I don’t like the
look in his eyes.

And I heard him ask Jennie a lot of
professional questions about me. She
had a very good report to give.

She said I slept a good deal in the
daytime.

John ‘knows I don’t sleep very well at
night, for all I’m so quiet!

He asked me all sorts of questions, too,
and pretended to be very loving and
kind.

As if I couldn’t see through him!
Still, I don’t wonder he acts so, sleep­

ing under this paper for three months.
It only interests me, but I feel sure

John and Jennie are secretly affected by it.
* * * * * *

Hurrah! This is the last day, but it
is enough. John to stay in town over
night, and won’t be out until this evening.

Jennie wanted to sleep with me – the
sly thing! but T told her I should un­
doubtedly rest better for a night all
alone. .

That was clever, for really I wasn’t
alone a bit! As soon as it was moon­
light and that poor thing began to crawl
and shake the pattern, I got up and ran
to help her.

I pulled and she shook, I shook and
she pulled, and before morning we had .
peeled off yards of that paper.

A strip about as high as my head and
half around the room.

And then when the sun came and that
awful pattern began to laugh at me, I de­
cla red I would finish it to-dav !

We go away to-morrow, ~nd they are

moving all my furniture down again to
leave things as they were before.

Jennie looked at the wall in amaze­
ment, but I told her merrily that I did it
out of pure spite at the vicious thing.

She laughed and said she wouldn’t
mind doing it herself, but I must not get
tired .

How she betrayed herself that time!
But I am here, and no person touches

this paper but me,- not alive!
She tried to get me out of the room­

it was too patent! But I said it was so
quiet and empty and clean now that I be­
lieved I would lie down again and sleep
all I could; and not to wake me even for
dinner – I would call when I woke.

So now she is gone, and the servants
are gone, and the things are gone, and
there is nothing left but that great bed­
stead nailed down, with the canvas mat­
tress we found on it.

We shall sleep downstairs to-night, and
take the boat home to-morrow. .

I quite enjoy the room, now it is bare
again.

How those children did tear about
here!

This bedstead is fairly gnawed!
But I must get to work.
I have locked the door and thrown the

key down into the front path.
. I don’t want to go out, and I don’t

want to have anybody come in, till ] ohn
comes.

I want to astonish him.
I’ve got a rope up here that even J en­

nie did not find. If that woman does
get out, and tries to get away, I can tie
her!

But I forgot I could not reach far with­
out anything to stand on !

This bed will not move!
I tried to lift and push it until I was

lame, and then I got so angry I bit off a
little piece at one corner – but it hurt
my teeth.

Then I peeled off all the paper I could
reach standing on the floor. It sticks
horribly and the pattern just enjoys it !
All those strangled heads and bulbous
eyes a nd waddling fungus growths just
shriek with derision i

I am getting angry enough to do som e­
thing desperate. To jump out of the

656 THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER.

window would be admirable exercise, but
the bars are too strong even to try.

Besides I wouldn’t do it. Of course
not. I know well enough that a step like
thJ.t is improper and might be miscon·
strued.

I don’t like to look out of the windows
evell – there are so many of those creep­
ing women, and they creep so fast.

I wonder if they all come out of that
wall-p3.per as I did?

But I am securely fastened now by my
well-hidden rope – you don’t get me out
in the road there !

I suppose I shall have to get back be­
hind the pattern when it comes night,
and that is hard!

It is so pleasant to be out in this great
room and creep around as I please!

I don’t want to go outside. I won’t,
even if Jennie asks me to.

For outside you have to creep on the
ground, and everything is green instead
of yellow.

But here I can creep smoothly on the
floor, and my shoulder just fits in that
long smooch around the wall, so I cannot
lose my way.

Why there’s John at the door!

I t is no use, young man, you can’t open it r
How he does call and pound!
N ow he’s crying for an axe.
It would be a shame to break dOWI1l

that beautiful door!
” John dear! ” said I in the gentlest

voice, “the key is down by the front:
steps, under a plaintain leaf! ”

That silenced him for a few moments_
Then he said – very quietly indeed.

” Open the door, my darling! ”
” I can’t,” said 1. “The key is down

by the front door under a plantain leaf! ..
And then I said it again, several times.

very gently and slowly, and said it so
often that he had to go and see, and he
got it of course, and came in. He stop­
ped short by the door.

“What is the matter?” he cried. “For
God’s sake, what are you doing! ”

I kept on creeping just the same, but I
looked at him over my shoulder.

” I’ve got out at last,” said I, ” in spite
of you and Jane? And I’ve pulled off most
of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ”

Now why should that man have fainted?
But he did, and right across my path by
the wall, so that I had to creep over him
every time!

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