Project Gutenberg Australia
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Note: The Shadows on the Wall is one of a set of short stories which
can be found at Project Gutenberg in Stories Of The Supernatural,
by Mary Wilkins.  Wieland's Madness is an abridged version of Wieland,
The Transformation, by Charles B. Brown also available from Project
Gutenberg.  Finally The Minister's Black Veil can also be read in
From Twice Told Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.


Stories by Modern American Authors
Lock and Key series edited by Julian Hawthorne




THE LOCK AND KEY LIBRARY
THE MOST INTERESTING STORIES OF ALL NATIONS
Edited by Julian Hawthorne



AMERICAN



Table of Contents


INTRODUCTION BY JULIAN HAWTHORNE

"Riddle Stories"


F. MARION CRAWFORD (1854-)
By the Waters of Paradise


MARY E. WILKINS FREEMAN (1862-)
The Shadows on the Wall


MELVILLE D. POST (1871-)
The Corpus Delicti


AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-)
An Heiress from Redhorse
The Man and the Snake


EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-49)
The Oblong Box
The Gold-Bug


WASHINGTON IRVING (1783-1859)
Wolfert Webber, or Golden Dreams
Adventure of the Black Fisherman


CHARLES BROCKDEN BROWN (1771-1810)
Wieland's Madness


FITZJAMES O'BRIEN (1828-1862)
The Golden Ingot
My Wife's Tempter


NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (1804-1864)
The Minister's Black Veil


ANONYMOUS
Horror: A True Tale

* * * * *

"RIDDLE STORIES"

Introduction by Julian Hawthorne


When Poe wrote his immortal Dupin tales, the name "Detective"
stories had not been invented; the detective of fiction not having
been as yet discovered.  And the title is still something of a
misnomer, for many narratives involving a puzzle of some sort,
though belonging to the category which I wish to discuss, are
handled by the writer without expert detective aid.  Sometimes the
puzzle solves itself through operation of circumstance; sometimes
somebody who professes no special detective skill happens upon the
secret of its mystery; once in a while some venturesome genius has
the courage to leave his enigma unexplained.  But ever since
Gaboriau created his Lecoq, the transcendent detective has been in
favor; and Conan Doyle's famous gentleman analyst has given him a
fresh lease of life, and reanimated the stage by reverting to the
method of Poe.  Sherlock Holmes is Dupin redivivus, and mutatus
mutandis; personally he is a more stirring and engaging companion,
but so far as kinship to probabilities or even possibilities is
concerned, perhaps the older version of him is the more
presentable.  But in this age of marvels we seem less difficult to
suit in this respect than our forefathers were.

The fact is, meanwhile, that, in the riddle story, the detective
was an afterthought, or, more accurately, a deus ex machina to make
the story go.  The riddle had to be unriddled; and who could do it
so naturally and readily as a detective?  The detective, as Poe saw
him, was a means to this end; and it was only afterwards that
writers perceived his availability as a character.  Lecoq
accordingly becomes a figure in fiction, and Sherlock, while he was
as yet a novelty, was nearly as attractive as the complications in
which he involved himself.  Riddle-story writers in general,
however, encounter the obvious embarrassment that their detective
is obliged to lavish so much attention on the professional services
which the exigencies of the tale demand of him, that he has very
little leisure to expound his own personal equation--the rather
since the attitude of peering into a millstone is not, of itself,
conducive to elucidations of oneself; the professional endowment
obscures all the others.  We ordinarily find, therefore, our author
dismissing the individuality of his detective with a few strong
black-chalk outlines, and devoting his main labor upon what he
feels the reader will chiefly occupy his own ingenuity with,--
namely, the elaboration of the riddle itself.  Reader and writer
sit down to a game, as it were, with the odds, of course,
altogether on the latter's side,--apart from the fact that a writer
sometimes permits himself a little cheating.  It more often happens
that the detective appears to be in the writer's pay, and aids the
deception by leading the reader off on false scents.  Be that as it
may, the professional sleuth is in nine cases out of ten a dummy by
malice prepense; and it might be plausibly argued that, in the
interests of pure art, that is what he ought to be.  But genius
always finds a way that is better than the rules, and I think it
will be found that the very best riddle stories contrive to drive
character and riddle side by side, and to make each somehow enhance
the effect of the other.--The intention of the above paragraph will
be more precisely conveyed if I include under the name of detective
not only the man from the central office, but also anybody whom the
writer may, for ends of his own, consider better qualified for that
function.  The latter is a professional detective so far as the
exigencies of the tale are concerned, and what becomes of him after
that nobody need care,--there is no longer anything to prevent his
becoming, in his own right, the most fascinating of mankind.

But in addition to the dummyship of the detective, or to the cases
in which the mere slip of circumstance takes his place, there is
another reason against narrowing our conception of the riddle story
to the degree which the alternative appellation would imply.  And
that is, that it would exclude not a few of the most captivating
riddle stories in existence; for in De Quincey's "Avenger," for
example, the interest is not in the unraveling of the web, but in
the weaving of it.  The same remark applies to Bulwer's "Strange
Story"; it is the strangeness that is the thing.  There is, in
short, an inalienable charm in the mere contemplation of mystery
and the hazard of fortunes; and it would be a pity to shut them out
from our consideration only because there is no second-sighted
conjurer on hand to turn them into plain matter of fact.

Yet we must not be too liberal; and a ghost story can be brought
into our charmed and charming circle only if we have made up our
minds to believe in the ghosts; otherwise their introduction would
not be a square deal.  It would not be fair, in other words, to
propose a conundrum on a basis of ostensible materialism, and then,
when no other key would fit, to palm off a disembodied spirit on
us.  Tell me beforehand that your scenario is to include both
worlds, and I have no objection to make; I simply attune my mind to
the more extensive scope.  But I rebel at an unheralded ghostland,
and declare frankly that your tale is incredible.  And I must
confess that I would as lief have ghosts kept out altogether; their
stories make a very good library in themselves, and have no need to
tag themselves on to what is really another department of fiction.
Nevertheless, when a ghost story is told with the consummate art of
a Miss Wilkins, and of one or two others on our list, consistency
in this regard ceases to be a jewel; art proves irresistible.  As
for adventure stories, there is a fringe of them that comes under
the riddle-story head; but for the most part the riddle story
begins after the adventures have finished.  We are to contemplate a
condition, not to watch the events that ultimate in it.  Our
detective, or anyone else, may of course meet with haps and mishaps
on his way to the solution of his puzzle; but an astute writer will
not color such incidents too vividly, lest he risk forfeiting our
preoccupation with the problem that we came forth for to study.  In
a word, One thing at a time!

The foregoing disquisition may seem uncalled for by such rigid
moralists as have made up their minds not to regard detective, or
riddle stories, as any part of respectable literature at all.  With
that sect, I announce at the outset that I am entirely out of
sympathy.  It is not needed to compare "The Gold Bug" with
"Paradise Lost"; nobody denies the superior literary stature of the
latter, although, as the Oxford Senior Wrangler objected, "What
does it prove?"  But I appeal to Emerson, who, in his poem of "The
Mountain and the Squirrel," states the nub of the argument, with
incomparable felicity, as follows:--you will recall that the two
protagonists had a difference, originating in the fact that the
former called the latter "Little Prig."  Bun made a very sprightly
retort, summing up to this effect:--


     "Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
      If I cannot carry forests on my back,
      Neither can you crack a nut."


Andes and Paradises Lost are expedient and perhaps necessary in
their proper atmosphere and function; but Squirrels and Gold Bugs
are indispensable in our daily walk.  There is as fine and as true
literature in Poe's Tales as in Milton's epics; only the elevation
and dimensions differ.  But I would rather live in a world that
possessed only literature of the Poe caliber, than shiver in one
echoing solely the strains of the Miltonian muse.  Mere human
beings are not constructed to stand all day a-tiptoe on the misty
mountain tops; they like to walk the streets most of the time and
sit in easy chairs.  And writings that picture the human mind and
nature, in true colors and in artistic proportions, are literature,
and nobody has any business to pooh-pooh them.  In fact, I feel as
if I were knocking down a man of straw.  I look in vain for any
genuine resistance.  Of course "The Gold Bug" is literature; of
course any other story of mystery and puzzle is also literature,
provided it is as good as "The Gold Bug,"--or I will say, since
that standard has never since been quite attained, provided it is a
half or a tenth as good.  It is goldsmith's work; it is Chinese
carving; it is Daedalian; it is fine.  It is the product of the
ingenuity lobe of the human brain working and expatiating in
freedom.  It is art; not spiritual or transcendental art, but solid
art, to be felt and experienced.  You may examine it at your
leisure, it will be always ready for you; you need not fast or
watch your arms overnight in order to understand it.  Look at the
nice setting of the mortises; mark how the cover fits; how smooth
is the working of that spring drawer.  Observe that this bit of
carving, which seemed mere ornament, is really a vital part of the
mechanism.  Note, moreover, how balanced and symmetrical the whole
design is, with what economy and foresight every part is fashioned.
It is not only an ingenious structure, it is a handsome bit of
furniture, and will materially improve the looks of the empty
chambers, or disorderly or ungainly chambers that you carry under
your crown.  Or if it happen that these apartments are noble in
decoration and proportions, then this captivating little object
will find a suitable place in some spare nook or other, and will
rest or entertain eyes too long focused on the severely sublime and
beautiful.  I need not, however, rely upon abstract argument to
support my contention.  Many of the best writers of all time have
used their skill in the inverted form of story telling, as a glance
at our table of contents will show; and many of their tales depend
for their effect as much on character and atmosphere as on the play
and complication of events.

The statement that a good detective or riddle story is good in art
is supported by the fact that the supply of really good ones is
relatively small, while the number of writers who would write good
ones if they could, and who have tried and failed to write them, is
past computation.  And one reason probably is that such stories,
for their success, must depend primarily upon structure--a sound
and perfect plot--which is one of the rare things in our
contemporary fiction.  Our writers get hold of an incident, or a
sentiment, or a character, or a moral principle, or a hit of
technical knowledge, or a splotch of local color, or even of a new
version of dialect, and they will do something in two to ten
thousand words out of that and call it a short story.  Magazines
may be found to print it--for there are all manner of magazines;
but nothing of that sort will serve for a riddle story.  You cannot
make a riddle story by beginning it and then trusting to luck to
bring it to an end.  You must know all about the end and the middle
before thinking, even, of the beginning; the beginning of a riddle
story, unlike those of other stories and of other enterprises, is
not half the battle; it is next to being quite unimportant, and,
moreover, it is always easy.  The unexplained corpse lies weltering
in its gore in the first paragraph; the inexplicable cipher
presents its enigma at the turning of the opening page.  The writer
who is secure in the knowledge that he has got a good thing coming,
and has arranged the manner and details of its coming, cannot go
far wrong with his exordium; he wants to get into action at once,
and that is his best assurance that he will do it in the right way.
But O! what a labor and sweat it is; what a planning and trimming;
what a remodeling, curtailing, interlining; what despairs succeeded
by new lights, what heroic expedients tried at the last moment, and
dismissed the moment after; what wastepaper baskets full of
futilities, and what gallant commencements all over again!  Did the
reader know, or remotely suspect, what terrific struggles the
writer of a really good detective story had sustained, he would
regard the final product with a new wonder and respect, and read it
all over once more to find out how the troubles occurred.  But he
will search in vain; there are no signs of them left; no, not so
much as a scar.  The tale moves along as smoothly and inevitably as
oiled machinery; obviously, it could not have been arranged
otherwise than it is; and the wise reader is convinced that he
could have done the thing himself without half trying.  At that,
the weary writer smiles a bitter smile; but it is one of the spurns
that patient merit of the unworthy takes.  Nobody, except him who
has tried it, will ever know how hard it is to write a really good
detective story.  The man or woman who can do it can also write a
good play (according to modern ideas of plays), and possesses force
of character, individuality, and mental ability.  He or she must
combine the intuition of the artist with the talent of the master
mechanic, but will seldom be a poet, and will generally care more
for things and events than for fellow creatures.  For, although the
story is often concerned with righting some wrong, or avenging some
murder, yet it must be confessed that the author commonly succeeds
better in the measure of his ruthlessness in devising crimes and
giving his portraits of devils an extra touch of black.  Mercy is
not his strong point, however he may abound in justice; and he will
not stickle at piling up the agony, if thereby he provides
opportunity for enhancing the picturesqueness and completeness of
the evil doer's due.

But this leads me to the admission that one charge, at least, does
lie against the door of the riddle-story writer; and that is, that
he is not sincere; he makes his mysteries backward, and knows the
answer to his riddle before he states its terms.  He deliberately
supplies his reader, also, with all manner of false scents, well
knowing them to be such; and concocts various seeming artless and
innocent remarks and allusions, which in reality are diabolically
artful, and would deceive the very elect.  All this, I say, must be
conceded; but it is not unfair; the very object, ostensibly, of the
riddle story is to prompt you to sharpen your wits; and as you are
yourself the real detective in the case, so you must regard your
author as the real criminal whom you are to detect.  Credit no
statement of his save as supported by the clearest evidence; be
continually repeating to yourself, "Timeo Danaos et dona
ferentes,"--nay, never so much as then.  But, as I said before,
when the game is well set, you have no chance whatever against the
dealer; and for my own part, I never try to be clever when I go up
against these thimble-riggers; I believe all they tell me, and
accept the most insolent gold bricks; and in that way I
occasionally catch some of the very ablest of them napping; for
they are so subtle that they will sometimes tell you the truth
because they think you will suppose it to be a lie.  I do not wish
to catch them napping, however; I cling to the wisdom of ignorance,
and childishly enjoy the way in which things work themselves out--
the cul-de-sac resolving itself at the very last moment into a
promising corridor toward the outer air.  At every rebuff it is my
happiness to be hopelessly bewildered; and I gape with admiration
when the Gordian knot is untied.  If the author be old-fashioned
enough to apostrophize the Gentle Reader, I know he must mean me,
and docilely give ear, and presently tumble head-foremost into the
treacherous pit he has digged for me.  In brief, I am there to be
sold, and I get my money's worth.  No one can thoroughly enjoy
riddle stories unless he is old enough, or young enough, or, at any
rate, wise enough to appreciate the value of the faculty of being
surprised.  Those sardonic and omniscient persons who know
everything beforehand, and smile compassionately or scornfully at
the artless outcries of astonishment of those who are uninformed,
may get an ill-natured satisfaction out of the persuasion that they
are superior beings; but there is very little meat in that sort of
happiness, and the uninformed have the better lot after all.

I need hardly point out that there is a distinction and a
difference between short riddle stories and long ones--novels.  The
former require far more technical art for their proper development;
the enigma cannot be posed in so many ways, but must be stated once
for all; there cannot be false scents, or but a few of them; there
can be small opportunity for character drawing, and all kinds of
ornament and comment must be reduced to their very lowest terms.
Here, indeed, as everywhere, genius will have its way; and while a
merely talented writer would deem it impossible to tell the story
of "The Gold Bug" in less than a volume, Poe could do it in a few
thousand words, and yet appear to have said everything worth
saying.  In the case of the Sherlock Holmes tales, they form a
series, and our previous knowledge of the hero enables the writer
to dispense with much description and accompaniment that would be
necessary had that eminent personage been presented in only a
single complication of events.  Each special episode of the great
analyst's career can therefore be handled with the utmost economy,
and yet fill all the requirements of intelligent interest and
comprehension.  But, as a rule, the riddle novel approaches its
theme in a spirit essentially other than that which inspires the
short tale.  We are given, as it were, a wide landscape instead of
a detailed genre picture.  The number of the dramatis personae is
much larger, and the parts given to many of them may be very small,
though each should have his or her necessary function in the
general plan.  It is much easier to create perplexity on these
terms; but on the other hand, the riddle novel demands a power of
vivid character portrayal and of telling description which are not
indispensable in the briefer narrative.  A famous tale, published
perhaps forty years ago, but which cannot be included in our
series, tells the story of a murder the secret of which is
admirably concealed till the last; and much of the fascination of
the book is due to the ability with which the leading character,
and some of the subordinate ones, are drawn.  The author was a
woman, and I have often marveled that women so seldom attempt this
form of literature; many of them possess a good constructive
faculty, and their love of detail and of mystery is notorious.
Perhaps they are too fond of sentiment; and sentiment must be
handled with caution in riddle stories.  The fault of all riddle
novels is that they inevitably involve two kinds of interest, and
can seldom balance these so perfectly that one or the other of them
shall not suffer.  The mind of the reader becomes weary in its
frequent journeys between human characters on one side the
mysterious events on the other, and would prefer the more single-
eyed treatment of the short tale.  Wonder, too, is a very tender
and short-lived emotion, and sometimes perishes after a few pages.
Curiosity is tougher; but that too may be baffled too long, and end
by tiring of the pursuit while it is yet in its early stages.  Many
excellent plots, admirable from the constructive point of view,
have been wasted by stringing them out too far; the reader
recognizes their merit, but loses his enthusiasm on account of a
sort of monotony of strain; he wickedly turns to the concluding
chapter, and the game is up.  "The Woman in White," by Wilkie
Collins, was published about 1860, I think, in weekly installments,
and certainly they were devoured with insatiable appetite by many
thousands of readers.  But I doubt whether a book of similar merit
could command such a following to-day; and I will even confess that
I have myself never read the concluding parts, and do not know to
this day who the woman was or what were the wrongs from which she
so poignantly suffered.

The tales contained in the volumes herewith offered are the best
riddle or detective stories in the world, according to the best
judgment of the editors.  They are the product of writers of all
nations; and translation, in this case, is less apt to be
misleading than with most other forms of literature, for a mystery
or a riddle is equally captivating in all languages.  Many of the
good ones--perhaps some of the best ones--have been left out,
either because we missed them in our search, or because we had to
choose between them and others seemingly of equal excellence, and
were obliged to consider space limitations which, however
generously laid out, must have some end at last.  Be that as it
may, we believe that there are enough good stories here to satisfy
the most Gargantuan hunger, and we feel sure that our volumes will
never be crowded off the shelf which has once made room for them.
If we have, now and then, a little transcended the strict
definition of the class of fiction which our title would promise,
we shall nevertheless not anticipate any serious quarrel with our
readers; if there be room to question the right of any given story
to appear in this company, there will be all the more reason for
accepting it on its own merits; for it had to be very good indeed
in order to overcome its technical disqualification.  And if it did
not rightfully belong here, there would probably be objections as
strong to admitting it in any other collection.  Between two or
more stools, it would be a pity to let it fall to the ground; so
let it be forgiven, and please us with whatever gift it has.

In many cases where copyrights were still unexpired, we have to
express our acknowledgments to writers and publishers who have
accorded us the courtesy of their leave to reproduce what their
genius or enterprise has created and put forth.  To our readers we
take pleasure in presenting what we know cannot fail to give them
pleasure--a collection of the fruits of the finest literary
ingenuity and nicest art accessible to the human mind.  Gaudeat,
non caveat emptor!

JULIAN HAWTHORNE.



American Mystery Stories


F. Marion Crawford

By the Waters of Paradise


I


I remember my childhood very distinctly.  I do not think that the
fact argues a good memory, for I have never been clever at learning
words by heart, in prose or rhyme; so that I believe my remembrance
of events depends much more upon the events themselves than upon my
possessing any special facility for recalling them.  Perhaps I am
too imaginative, and the earliest impressions I received were of a
kind to stimulate the imagination abnormally.  A long series of
little misfortunes, so connected with each other as to suggest a
sort of weird fatality, so worked upon my melancholy temperament
when I was a boy that, before I was of age, I sincerely believed
myself to be under a curse, and not only myself, but my whole
family and every individual who bore my name.

I was born in the old place where my father, and his father, and
all his predecessors had been born, beyond the memory of man.  It
is a very old house, and the greater part of it was originally a
castle, strongly fortified, and surrounded by a deep moat supplied
with abundant water from the hills by a hidden aqueduct.  Many of
the fortifications have been destroyed, and the moat has been
filled up.  The water from the aqueduct supplies great fountains,
and runs down into huge oblong basins in the terraced gardens, one
below the other, each surrounded by a broad pavement of marble
between the water and the flower-beds.  The waste surplus finally
escapes through an artificial grotto, some thirty yards long, into
a stream, flowing down through the park to the meadows beyond, and
thence to the distant river.  The buildings were extended a little
and greatly altered more than two hundred years ago, in the time of
Charles II., but since then little has been done to improve them,
though they have been kept in fairly good repair, according to our
fortunes.

In the gardens there are terraces and huge hedges of box and
evergreen, some of which used to be clipped into shapes of animals,
in the Italian style.  I can remember when I was a lad how I used
to try to make out what the trees were cut to represent, and how I
used to appeal for explanations to Judith, my Welsh nurse.  She
dealt in a strange mythology of her own, and peopled the gardens
with griffins, dragons, good genii and bad, and filled my mind with
them at the same time.  My nursery window afforded a view of the
great fountains at the head of the upper basin, and on moonlight
nights the Welshwoman would hold me up to the glass and bid me look
at the mist and spray rising into mysterious shapes, moving
mystically in the white light like living things.

"It's the Woman of the Water," she used to say; and sometimes she
would threaten that if I did not go to sleep the Woman of the Water
would steal up to the high window and carry me away in her wet
arms.

The place was gloomy.  The broad basins of water and the tall
evergreen hedges gave it a funereal look, and the damp-stained
marble causeways by the pools might have been made of tombstones.
The gray and weather-beaten walls and towers without, the dark and
massively furnished rooms within, the deep, mysterious recesses and
the heavy curtains, all affected my spirits.  I was silent and sad
from my childhood.  There was a great clock tower above, from which
the hours rang dismally during the day, and tolled like a knell in
the dead of night.  There was no light nor life in the house, for
my mother was a helpless invalid, and my father had grown
melancholy in his long task of caring for her.  He was a thin, dark
man, with sad eyes; kind, I think, but silent and unhappy.  Next to
my mother, I believe he loved me better than anything on earth, for
he took immense pains and trouble in teaching me, and what he
taught me I have never forgotten.  Perhaps it was his only
amusement, and that may be the reason why I had no nursery
governess or teacher of any kind while he lived.

I used to be taken to see my mother every day, and sometimes twice
a day, for an hour at a time.  Then I sat upon a little stool near
her feet, and she would ask me what I had been doing, and what I
wanted to do.  I dare say she saw already the seeds of a profound
melancholy in my nature, for she looked at me always with a sad
smile, and kissed me with a sigh when I was taken away.

One night, when I was just six years old, I lay awake in the
nursery.  The door was not quite shut, and the Welsh nurse was
sitting sewing in the next room.  Suddenly I heard her groan, and
say in a strange voice, "One--two--one--two!"  I was frightened,
and I jumped up and ran to the door, barefooted as I was.

"What is it, Judith?" I cried, clinging to her skirts.  I can
remember the look in her strange dark eyes as she answered:

"One--two leaden coffins, fallen from the ceiling!" she crooned,
working herself in her chair.  "One--two--a light coffin and a
heavy coffin, falling to the floor!"

Then she seemed to notice me, and she took me back to bed and sang
me to sleep with a queer old Welsh song.

I do not know how it was, but the impression got hold of me that
she had meant that my father and mother were going to die very
soon.  They died in the very room where she had been sitting that
night.  It was a great room, my day nursery, full of sun when there
was any; and when the days were dark it was the most cheerful place
in the house.  My mother grew rapidly worse, and I was transferred
to another part of the building to make place for her.  They
thought my nursery was gayer for her, I suppose; but she could not
live.  She was beautiful when she was dead, and I cried bitterly.

The light one, the light one--the heavy one to come," crooned the
Welshwoman.  And she was right.  My father took the room after my
mother was gone, and day by day he grew thinner and paler and
sadder.

"The heavy one, the heavy one--all of lead," moaned my nurse, one
night in December, standing still, just as she was going to take
away the light after putting me to bed.  Then she took me up again
and wrapped me in a little gown, and led me away to my father's
room.  She knocked, but no one answered.  She opened the door, and
we found him in his easy chair before the fire, very white, quite
dead.

So I was alone with the Welshwoman till strange people came, and
relations whom I had never seen; and then I heard them saying that
I must be taken away to some more cheerful place.  They were kind
people, and I will not believe that they were kind only because I
was to be very rich when I grew to be a man.  The world never
seemed to be a very bad place to me, nor all the people to be
miserable sinners, even when I was most melancholy.  I do not
remember that anyone ever did me any great injustice, nor that I
was ever oppressed or ill treated in any way, even by the boys at
school.  I was sad, I suppose, because my childhood was so gloomy,
and, later, because I was unlucky in everything I undertook, till I
finally believed I was pursued by fate, and I used to dream that
the old Welsh nurse and the Woman of the Water between them had
vowed to pursue me to my end.  But my natural disposition should
have been cheerful, as I have often thought.

Among the lads of my age I was never last, or even among the last,
in anything; but I was never first.  If I trained for a race, I was
sure to sprain my ankle on the day when I was to run.  If I pulled
an oar with others, my oar was sure to break.  If I competed for a
prize, some unforeseen accident prevented my winning it at the last
moment.  Nothing to which I put my hand succeeded, and I got the
reputation of being unlucky, until my companions felt it was always
safe to bet against me, no matter what the appearances might be.  I
became discouraged and listless in everything.  I gave up the idea
of competing for any distinction at the University, comforting
myself with the thought that I could not fail in the examination
for the ordinary degree.  The day before the examination began I
fell ill; and when at last I recovered, after a narrow escape from
death, I turned my back upon Oxford, and went down alone to visit
the old place where I had been born, feeble in health and
profoundly disgusted and discouraged.  I was twenty-one years of
age, master of myself and of my fortune; but so deeply had the long
chain of small unlucky circumstances affected me that I thought
seriously of shutting myself up from the world to live the life of
a hermit and to die as soon as possible.  Death seemed the only
cheerful possibility in my existence, and my thoughts soon dwelt
upon it altogether.

I had never shown any wish to return to my own home since I had
been taken away as a little boy, and no one had ever pressed me to
do so.  The place had been kept in order after a fashion, and did
not seem to have suffered during the fifteen years or more of my
absence.  Nothing earthly could affect those old gray walls that
had fought the elements for so many centuries.  The garden was more
wild than I remembered it; the marble causeways about the pools
looked more yellow and damp than of old, and the whole place at
first looked smaller.  It was not until I had wandered about the
house and grounds for many hours that I realized the huge size of
the home where I was to live in solitude.  Then I began to delight
in it, and my resolution to live alone grew stronger.

The people had turned out to welcome me, of course, and I tried to
recognize the changed faces of the old gardener and the old
housekeeper, and to call them by name.  My old nurse I knew at
once.  She had grown very gray since she heard the coffins fall in
the nursery fifteen years before, but her strange eyes were the
same, and the look in them woke all my old memories.  She went over
the house with me.

"And how is the Woman of the Water?" I asked, trying to laugh a
little.  "Does she still play in the moonlight?"

"She is hungry," answered the Welshwoman, in a low voice.

"Hungry?  Then we will feed her."  I laughed.  But old Judith
turned very pale, and looked at me strangely.

"Feed her?  Aye--you will feed her well," she muttered, glancing
behind her at the ancient housekeeper, who tottered after us with
feeble steps through the halls and passages.

I did not think much of her words.  She had always talked oddly, as
Welshwomen will, and though I was very melancholy I am sure I was
not superstitious, and I was certainly not timid.  Only, as in a
far-off dream, I seemed to see her standing with the light in her
hand and muttering, "The heavy one--all of lead," and then leading
a little boy through the long corridors to see his father lying
dead in a great easy chair before a smoldering fire.  So we went
over the house, and I chose the rooms where I would live; and the
servants I had brought with me ordered and arranged everything, and
I had no more trouble.  I did not care what they did provided I was
left in peace and was not expected to give directions; for I was
more listless than ever, owing to the effects of my illness at
college.

I dined in solitary state, and the melancholy grandeur of the vast
old dining-room pleased me.  Then I went to the room I had selected
for my study, and sat down in a deep chair, under a bright light,
to think, or to let my thoughts meander through labyrinths of their
own choosing, utterly indifferent to the course they might take.

The tall windows of the room opened to the level of the ground upon
the terrace at the head of the garden.  It was in the end of July,
and everything was open, for the weather was warm.  As I sat alone
I heard the unceasing splash of the great fountains, and I fell to
thinking of the Woman of the Water.  I rose and went out into the
still night, and sat down upon a seat on the terrace, between two
gigantic Italian flower pots.  The air was deliciously soft and
sweet with the smell of the flowers, and the garden was more
congenial to me than the house.  Sad people always like running
water and the sound of it at night, though I cannot tell why.  I
sat and listened in the gloom, for it was dark below, and the pale
moon had not yet climbed over the hills in front of me, though all
the air above was light with her rising beams.  Slowly the white
halo in the eastern sky ascended in an arch above the wooded
crests, making the outlines of the mountains more intensely black
by contrast, as though the head of some great white saint were
rising from behind a screen in a vast cathedral, throwing misty
glories from below.  I longed to see the moon herself, and I tried
to reckon the seconds before she must appear.  Then she sprang up
quickly, and in a moment more hung round and perfect in the sky.  I
gazed at her, and then at the floating spray of the tall fountains,
and down at the pools, where the water lilies were rocking softly
in their sleep on the velvet surface of the moonlit water.  Just
then a great swan floated out silently into the midst of the basin,
and wreathed his long neck, catching the water in his broad bill,
and scattering showers of diamonds around him.

Suddenly, as I gazed, something came between me and the light.  I
looked up instantly.  Between me and the round disk of the moon
rose a luminous face of a woman, with great strange eyes, and a
woman's mouth, full and soft, but not smiling, hooded in black,
staring at me as I sat still upon my bench.  She was close to me--
so close that I could have touched her with my hand.  But I was
transfixed and helpless.  She stood still for a moment, but her
expression did not change.  Then she passed swiftly away, and my
hair stood up on my head, while the cold breeze from her white
dress was wafted to my temples as she moved.  The moonlight,
shining through the tossing spray of the fountain, made traceries
of shadow on the gleaming folds of her garments.  In an instant she
was gone and I was alone.

I was strangely shaken by the vision, and some time passed before I
could rise to my feet, for I was still weak from my illness, and
the sight I had seen would have startled anyone.  I did not reason
with myself, for I was certain that I had looked on the unearthly,
and no argument could have destroyed that belief.  At last I got up
and stood unsteadily, gazing in the direction in which I thought
the face had gone; but there was nothing to be seen--nothing but
the broad paths, the tall, dark evergreen hedges, the tossing water
of the fountains and the smooth pool below.  I fell back upon the
seat and recalled the face I had seen.  Strange to say, now that
the first impression had passed, there was nothing startling in the
recollection; on the contrary, I felt that I was fascinated by the
face, and would give anything to see it again.  I could retrace the
beautiful straight features, the long dark eyes, and the wonderful
mouth most exactly in my mind, and when I had reconstructed every
detail from memory I knew that the whole was beautiful, and that I
should love a woman with such a face.

"I wonder whether she is the Woman of the Water!" I said to myself.
Then rising once more, I wandered down the garden, descending one
short flight of steps after another from terrace to terrace by the
edge of the marble basins, through the shadow and through the
moonlight; and I crossed the water by the rustic bridge above the
artificial grotto, and climbed slowly up again to the highest
terrace by the other side.  The air seemed sweeter, and I was very
calm, so that I think I smiled to myself as I walked, as though a
new happiness had come to me.  The woman's face seemed always
before me, and the thought of it gave me an unwonted thrill of
pleasure, unlike anything I had ever felt before.

I turned as I reached the house, and looked back upon the scene.
It had certainly changed in the short hour since I had come out,
and my mood had changed with it.  Just like my luck, I thought, to
fall in love with a ghost!  But in old times I would have sighed,
and gone to bed more sad than ever, at such a melancholy
conclusion.  To-night I felt happy, almost for the first time in my
life.  The gloomy old study seemed cheerful when I went in.  The
old pictures on the walls smiled at me, and I sat down in my deep
chair with a new and delightful sensation that I was not alone.
The idea of having seen a ghost, and of feeling much the better for
it, was so absurd that I laughed softly, as I took up one of the
books I had brought with me and began to read.

That impression did not wear off.  I slept peacefully, and in the
morning I threw open my windows to the summer air and looked down
at the garden, at the stretches of green and at the colored flower-
beds, at the circling swallows and at the bright water.

"A man might make a paradise of this place," I exclaimed.  "A man
and a woman together!"

From that day the old Castle no longer seemed gloomy, and I think I
ceased to be sad; for some time, too, I began to take an interest
in the place, and to try and make it more alive.  I avoided my old
Welsh nurse, lest she should damp my humor with some dismal
prophecy, and recall my old self by bringing back memories of my
dismal childhood.  But what I thought of most was the ghostly
figure I had seen in the garden that first night after my arrival.
I went out every evening and wandered through the walks and paths;
but, try as I might, I did not see my vision again.  At last, after
many days, the memory grew more faint, and my old moody nature
gradually overcame the temporary sense of lightness I had
experienced.  The summer turned to autumn, and I grew restless.  It
began to rain.  The dampness pervaded the gardens, and the outer
halls smelled musty, like tombs; the gray sky oppressed me
intolerably.  I left the place as it was and went abroad,
determined to try anything which might possibly make a second break
in the monotonous melancholy from which I suffered.


II


Most people would be struck by the utter insignificance of the
small events which, after the death of my parents, influenced my
life and made me unhappy.  The grewsome forebodings of a Welsh
nurse, which chanced to be realized by an odd coincidence of
events, should not seem enough to change the nature of a child and
to direct the bent of his character in after years.  The little
disappointments of schoolboy life, and the somewhat less childish
ones of an uneventful and undistinguished academic career, should
not have sufficed to turn me out at one-and-twenty years of age a
melancholic, listless idler.  Some weakness of my own character may
have contributed to the result, but in a greater degree it was due
to my having a reputation for bad luck.  However, I will not try to
analyze the causes of my state, for I should satisfy nobody, least
of all myself.  Still less will I attempt to explain why I felt a
temporary revival of my spirits after my adventure in the garden.
It is certain that I was in love with the face I had seen, and that
I longed to see it again; that I gave up all hope of a second
visitation, grew more sad than ever, packed up my traps, and
finally went abroad.  But in my dreams I went back to my home, and
it always appeared to me sunny and bright, as it had looked on that
summer's morning after I had seen the woman by the fountain.

I went to Paris.  I went farther, and wandered about Germany.  I
tried to amuse myself, and I failed miserably.  With the aimless
whims of an idle and useless man come all sorts of suggestions for
good resolutions.  One day I made up my mind that I would go and
bury myself in a German university for a time, and live simply like
a poor student.  I started with the intention of going to Leipzig,
determined to stay there until some event should direct my life or
change my humor, or make an end of me altogether.  The express
train stopped at some station of which I did not know the name.  It
was dusk on a winter's afternoon, and I peered through the thick
glass from my seat.  Suddenly another train came gliding in from
the opposite direction, and stopped alongside of ours.  I looked at
the carriage which chanced to be abreast of mine, and idly read the
black letters painted on a white board swinging from the brass
handrail: BERLIN--COLOGNE--PARIS.  Then I looked up at the window
above.  I started violently, and the cold perspiration broke out
upon my forehead.  In the dim light, not six feet from where I sat,
I saw the face of a woman, the face I loved, the straight, fine
features, the strange eyes, the wonderful mouth, the pale skin.
Her head-dress was a dark veil which seemed to be tied about her
head and passed over the shoulders under her chin.  As I threw down
the window and knelt on the cushioned seat, leaning far out to get
a better view, a long whistle screamed through the station,
followed by a quick series of dull, clanking sounds; then there was
a slight jerk, and my train moved on.  Luckily the window was
narrow, being the one over the seat, beside the door, or I believe
I would have jumped out of it then and there.  In an instant the
speed increased, and I was being carried swiftly away in the
opposite direction from the thing I loved.

For a quarter of an hour I lay back in my place, stunned by the
suddenness of the apparition.  At last one of the two other
passengers, a large and gorgeous captain of the White Konigsberg
Cuirassiers, civilly but firmly suggested that I might shut my
window, as the evening was cold.  I did so, with an apology, and
relapsed into silence.  The train ran swiftly on for a long time,
and it was already beginning to slacken speed before entering
another station, when I roused myself and made a sudden resolution.
As the carriage stopped before the brilliantly lighted platform, I
seized my belongings, saluted my fellow-passengers, and got out,
determined to take the first express back to Paris.

This time the circumstances of the vision had been so natural that
it did not strike me that there was anything unreal about the face,
or about the woman to whom it belonged.  I did not try to explain
to myself how the face, and the woman, could be traveling by a fast
train from Berlin to Paris on a winter's afternoon, when both were
in my mind indelibly associated with the moonlight and the
fountains in my own English home.  I certainly would not have
admitted that I had been mistaken in the dusk, attributing to what
I had seen a resemblance to my former vision which did not really
exist.  There was not the slightest doubt in my mind, and I was
positively sure that I had again seen the face I loved.  I did not
hesitate, and in a few hours I was on my way back to Paris.  I
could not help reflecting on my ill luck.  Wandering as I had been
for many months, it might as easily have chanced that I should be
traveling in the same train with that woman, instead of going the
other way.  But my luck was destined to turn for a time.

I searched Paris for several days.  I dined at the principal
hotels; I went to the theaters; I rode in the Bois de Boulogne in
the morning, and picked up an acquaintance, whom I forced to drive
with me in the afternoon.  I went to mass at the Madeleine, and I
attended the services at the English Church.  I hung about the
Louvre and Notre Dame.  I went to Versailles.  I spent hours in
parading the Rue de Rivoli, in the neighborhood of Meurice's
corner, where foreigners pass and repass from morning till night.
At last I received an invitation to a reception at the English
Embassy.  I went, and I found what I had sought so long.

There she was, sitting by an old lady in gray satin and diamonds,
who had a wrinkled but kindly face and keen gray eyes that seemed
to take in everything they saw, with very little inclination to
give much in return.  But I did not notice the chaperon.  I saw
only the face that had haunted me for months, and in the excitement
of the moment I walked quickly toward the pair, forgetting such a
trifle as the necessity for an introduction.

She was far more beautiful than I had thought, but I never doubted
that it was she herself and no other.  Vision or no vision before,
this was the reality, and I knew it.  Twice her hair had been
covered, now at last I saw it, and the added beauty of its
magnificence glorified the whole woman.  It was rich hair, fine and
abundant, golden, with deep ruddy tints in it like red bronze spun
fine.  There was no ornament in it, not a rose, not a thread of
gold, and I felt that it needed nothing to enhance its splendor;
nothing but her pale face, her dark strange eyes, and her heavy
eyebrows.  I could see that she was slender too, but strong withal,
as she sat there quietly gazing at the moving scene in the midst of
the brilliant lights and the hum of perpetual conversation.

I recollected the detail of introduction in time, and turned aside
to look for my host.  I found him at last.  I begged him to present
me to the two ladies, pointing them out to him at the same time.

"Yes--uh--by all means--uh," replied his Excellency with a pleasant
smile.  He evidently had no idea of my name, which was not to be
wondered at.

"I am Lord Cairngorm," I observed.

"Oh--by all means," answered the Ambassador with the same
hospitable smile.  "Yes--uh--the fact is, I must try and find out
who they are; such lots of people, you know."

"Oh, if you will present me, I will try and find out for you," said
I, laughing.

"Ah, yes--so kind of you--come along," said my host.  We threaded
the crowd, and in a few minutes we stood before the two ladies.

"'Lowmintrduce L'd Cairngorm," he said; then, adding quickly to me,
"Come and dine to-morrow, won't you?" he glided away with his
pleasant smile and disappeared in the crowd.

I sat down beside the beautiful girl, conscious that the eyes of
the duenna were upon me.

"I think we have been very near meeting before," I remarked, by way
of opening the conversation.

My companion turned her eyes full upon me with an air of inquiry.
She evidently did not recall my face, if she had ever seen me.

"Really--I cannot remember," she observed, in a low and musical
voice.  "When?"

"In the first place, you came down from Berlin by the express ten
days ago.  I was going the other way, and our carriages stopped
opposite each other.  I saw you at the window."

"Yes--we came that way, but I do not remember--"  She hesitated.

"Secondly," I continued, "I was sitting alone in my garden last
summer--near the end of July--do you remember?  You must have
wandered in there through the park; you came up to the house and
looked at me--"

"Was that you?" she asked, in evident surprise.  Then she broke
into a laugh.  "I told everybody I had seen a ghost; there had
never been any Cairngorms in the place since the memory of man.  We
left the next day, and never heard that you had come there; indeed,
I did not know the castle belonged to you."

"Where were you staying?" I asked.

"Where?  Why, with my aunt, where I always stay.  She is your
neighbor, since it IS you."

"I--beg your pardon--but then--is your aunt Lady Bluebell?  I did
not quite catch--"

"Don't be afraid.  She is amazingly deaf.  Yes.  She is the relict
of my beloved uncle, the sixteenth or seventeenth Baron Bluebell--I
forget exactly how many of them there have been.  And I--do you
know who I am?"  She laughed, well knowing that I did not.

"No," I answered frankly.  "I have not the least idea.  I asked to
be introduced because I recognized you.  Perhaps--perhaps you are a
Miss Bluebell?"

"Considering that you are a neighbor, I will tell you who I am,"
she answered.  "No; I am of the tribe of Bluebells, but my name is
Lammas, and I have been given to understand that I was christened
Margaret.  Being a floral family, they call me Daisy.  A dreadful
American man once told me that my aunt was a Bluebell and that I
was a Harebell--with two l's and an e--because my hair is so thick.
I warn you, so that you may avoid making such a bad pun."

"Do I look like a man who makes puns?" I asked, being very
conscious of my melancholy face and sad looks.

Miss Lammas eyed me critically.

"No; you have a mournful temperament.  I think I can trust you,"
she answered.  "Do you think you could communicate to my aunt the
fact that you are a Cairngorm and a neighbor?  I am sure she would
like to know."

I leaned toward the old lady, inflating my lungs for a yell.  But
Miss Lammas stopped me.

"That is not of the slightest use," she remarked.  "You can write
it on a bit of paper.  She is utterly deaf."

"I have a pencil," I answered; "but I have no paper.  Would my cuff
do, do you think?"

"Oh, yes!" replied Miss Lammas, with alacrity; "men often do that."

I wrote on my cuff: "Miss Lammas wishes me to explain that I am
your neighbor, Cairngorm."  Then I held out my arm before the old
lady's nose.  She seemed perfectly accustomed to the proceeding,
put up her glasses, read the words, smiled, nodded, and addressed
me in the unearthly voice peculiar to people who hear nothing.

"I knew your grandfather very well," she said.  Then she smiled and
nodded to me again, and to her niece, and relapsed into silence.

"It is all right," remarked Miss Lammas.  "Aunt Bluebell knows she
is deaf, and does not say much, like the parrot.  You see, she knew
your grandfather.  How odd that we should be neighbors!  Why have
we never met before?"

"If you had told me you knew my grandfather when you appeared in
the garden, I should not have been in the least surprised," I
answered rather irrelevantly.  "I really thought you were the ghost
of the old fountain.  How in the world did you come there at that
hour?"

"We were a large party and we went out for a walk.  Then we thought
we should like to see what your park was like in the moonlight, and
so we trespassed.  I got separated from the rest, and came upon you
by accident, just as I was admiring the extremely ghostly look of
your house, and wondering whether anybody would ever come and live
there again.  It looks like the castle of Macbeth, or a scene from
the opera.  Do you know anybody here?"

"Hardly a soul!  Do you?"

"No.  Aunt Bluebell said it was our duty to come.  It is easy for
her to go out; she does not bear the burden of the conversation."

"I am sorry you find it a burden," said I.  "Shall I go away?"

Miss Lammas looked at me with a sudden gravity in her beautiful
eyes, and there was a sort of hesitation about the lines of her
full, soft mouth.

"No," she said at last, quite simply, "don't go away.  We may like
each other, if you stay a little longer--and we ought to, because
we are neighbors in the country."

I suppose I ought to have thought Miss Lammas a very odd girl.
There is, indeed, a sort of freemasonry between people who discover
that they live near each other and that they ought to have known
each other before.  But there was a sort of unexpected frankness
and simplicity in the girl's amusing manner which would have struck
anyone else as being singular, to say the least of it.  To me,
however, it all seemed natural enough.  I had dreamed of her face
too long not to be utterly happy when I met her at last and could
talk to her as much as I pleased.  To me, the man of ill luck in
everything, the whole meeting seemed too good to be true.  I felt
again that strange sensation of lightness which I had experienced
after I had seen her face in the garden.  The great rooms seemed
brighter, life seemed worth living; my sluggish, melancholy blood
ran faster, and filled me with a new sense of strength.  I said to
myself that without this woman I was but an imperfect being, but
that with her I could accomplish everything to which I should set
my hand.  Like the great Doctor, when he thought he had cheated
Mephistopheles at last, I could have cried aloud to the fleeting
moment, Verweile doch, du bist so schon!

"Are you always gay?" I asked, suddenly.  "How happy you must be!"

"The days would sometimes seem very long if I were gloomy," she
answered, thoughtfully.  "Yes, I think I find life very pleasant,
and I tell it so."

"How can you 'tell life' anything?" I inquired.  "If I could catch
my life and talk to it, I would abuse it prodigiously, I assure
you."

"I dare say.  You have a melancholy temper.  You ought to live out-
of-doors, dig potatoes, make hay, shoot, hunt, tumble into ditches,
and come home muddy and hungry for dinner.  It would be much better
for you than moping in your rook tower and hating everything."

"It is rather lonely down there," I murmured, apologetically,
feeling that Miss Lammas was quite right.

"Then marry, and quarrel with your wife," she laughed.  "Anything
is better than being alone."

"I am a very peaceable person.  I never quarrel with anybody.  You
can try it.  You will find it quite impossible."

"Will you let me try?" she asked, still smiling.

"By all means--especially if it is to be only a preliminary
canter," I answered, rashly.

"What do you mean?" she inquired, turning quickly upon me.

"Oh--nothing.  You might try my paces with a view to quarreling in
the future.  I cannot imagine how you are going to do it.  You will
have to resort to immediate and direct abuse."

"No.  I will only say that if you do not like your life, it is your
own fault.  How can a man of your age talk of being melancholy, or
of the hollowness of existence?  Are you consumptive?  Are you
subject to hereditary insanity?  Are you deaf, like Aunt Bluebell?
Are you poor, like--lots of people?  Have you been crossed in love?
Have you lost the world for a woman, or any particular woman for
the sake of the world?  Are you feeble-minded, a cripple, an
outcast?  Are you--repulsively ugly?"  She laughed again.  "Is
there any reason in the world why you should not enjoy all you have
got in life?"

"No.  There is no reason whatever, except that I am dreadfully
unlucky, especially in small things."

"Then try big things, just for a change," suggested Miss Lammas.
"Try and get married, for instance, and see how it turns out."

"If it turned out badly it would be rather serious."

"Not half so serious as it is to abuse everything unreasonably.  If
abuse is your particular talent, abuse something that ought to be
abused.  Abuse the Conservatives--or the Liberals--it does not
matter which, since they are always abusing each other.  Make
yourself felt by other people.  You will like it, if they don't.
It will make a man of you.  Fill your mouth with pebbles, and howl
at the sea, if you cannot do anything else.  It did Demosthenes no
end of good, you know.  You will have the satisfaction of imitating
a great man."

"Really, Miss Lammas, I think the list of innocent exercises you
propose--"

"Very well--if you don't care for that sort of thing, care for some
other sort of thing.  Care for something, or hate something.  Don't
be idle.  Life is short, and though art may be long, plenty of
noise answers nearly as well."

"I do care for something--I mean, somebody," I said.

"A woman?  Then marry her.  Don't hesitate."

"I do not know whether she would marry me," I replied.  "I have
never asked her."

"Then ask her at once," answered Miss Lammas.  "I shall die happy
if I feel I have persuaded a melancholy fellow creature to rouse
himself to action.  Ask her, by all means, and see what she says.
If she does not accept you at once, she may take you the next time.
Meanwhile, you will have entered for the race.  If you lose, there
are the 'All-aged Trial Stakes,' and the 'Consolation Race.'"

"And plenty of selling races into the bargain.  Shall I take you at
your word, Miss Lammas?"

"I hope you will," she answered.

"Since you yourself advise me, I will.  Miss Lammas, will you do me
the honor to marry me?"

For the first time in my life the blood rushed to my head and my
sight swam.  I cannot tell why I said it.  It would be useless to
try to explain the extraordinary fascination the girl exercised
over me, or the still more extraordinary feeling of intimacy with
her which had grown in me during that half hour.  Lonely, sad,
unlucky as I had been all my life, I was certainly not timid, nor
even shy.  But to propose to marry a woman after half an hour's
acquaintance was a piece of madness of which I never believed
myself capable, and of which I should never be capable again, could
I be placed in the same situation.  It was as though my whole being
had been changed in a moment by magic--by the white magic of her
nature brought into contact with mine.  The blood sank back to my
heart, and a moment later I found myself staring at her with
anxious eyes.  To my amazement she was as calm as ever, but her
beautiful mouth smiled, and there was a mischievous light in her
dark-brown eyes.

"Fairly caught," she answered.  "For an individual who pretends to
be listless and sad you are not lacking in humor.  I had really not
the least idea what you were going to say.  Wouldn't it be
singularly awkward for you if I had said 'Yes'?  I never saw
anybody begin to practice so sharply what was preached to him--with
so very little loss of time!"

"You probably never met a man who had dreamed of you for seven
months before being introduced."

"No, I never did," she answered gayly.  "It smacks of the romantic.
Perhaps you are a romantic character, after all.  I should think
you were if I believed you.  Very well; you have taken my advice,
entered for a Stranger's Race and lost it.  Try the All-aged Trial
Stakes.  You have another cuff, and a pencil.  Propose to Aunt
Bluebell; she would dance with astonishment, and she might recover
her hearing."


III


That was how I first asked Margaret Lammas to be my wife, and I
will agree with anyone who says I behaved very foolishly.  But I
have not repented of it, and I never shall.  I have long ago
understood that I was out of my mind that evening, but I think my
temporary insanity on that occasion has had the effect of making me
a saner man ever since.  Her manner turned my head, for it was so
different from what I had expected.  To hear this lovely creature,
who, in my imagination, was a heroine of romance, if not of
tragedy, talking familiarly and laughing readily was more than my
equanimity could bear, and I lost my head as well as my heart.  But
when I went back to England in the spring, I went to make certain
arrangements at the Castle--certain changes and improvements which
would be absolutely necessary.  I had won the race for which I had
entered myself so rashly, and we were to be married in June.

Whether the change was due to the orders I had left with the
gardener and the rest of the servants, or to my own state of mind,
I cannot tell.  At all events, the old place did not look the same
to me when I opened my window on the morning after my arrival.
There were the gray walls below me and the gray turrets flanking
the huge building; there were the fountains, the marble causeways,
the smooth basins, the tall box hedges, the water lilies and the
swans, just as of old.  But there was something else there, too--
something in the air, in the water, and in the greenness that I did
not recognize--a light over everything by which everything was
transfigured.  The clock in the tower struck seven, and the strokes
of the ancient bell sounded like a wedding chime.  The air sang
with the thrilling treble of the song-birds, with the silvery music
of the plashing water and the softer harmony of the leaves stirred
by the fresh morning wind.  There was a smell of new-mown hay from
the distant meadows, and of blooming roses from the beds below,
wafted up together to my window.  I stood in the pure sunshine and
drank the air and all the sounds and the odors that were in it; and
I looked down at my garden and said: "It is Paradise, after all."
I think the men of old were right when they called heaven a garden,
and Eden a garden inhabited by one man and one woman, the Earthly
Paradise.

I turned away, wondering what had become of the gloomy memories I
had always associated with my home.  I tried to recall the
impression of my nurse's horrible prophecy before the death of my
parents--an impression which hitherto had been vivid enough.  I
tried to remember my old self, my dejection, my listlessness, my
bad luck, my petty disappointments.  I endeavored to force myself
to think as I used to think, if only to satisfy myself that I had
not lost my individuality.  But I succeeded in none of these
efforts.  I was a different man, a changed being, incapable of
sorrow, of ill luck, or of sadness.  My life had been a dream, not
evil, but infinitely gloomy and hopeless.  It was now a reality,
full of hope, gladness, and all manner of good.  My home had been
like a tomb; to-day it was Paradise.  My heart had been as though
it had not existed; to-day it beat with strength and youth and the
certainty of realized happiness.  I reveled in the beauty of the
world, and called loveliness out of the future to enjoy it before
time should bring it to me, as a traveler in the plains looks up to
the mountains, and already tastes the cool air through the dust of
the road.

Here, I thought, we will live and live for years.  There we will
sit by the fountain toward evening and in the deep moonlight.  Down
those paths we will wander together.  On those benches we will rest
and talk.  Among those eastern hills we will ride through the soft
twilight, and in the old house we will tell tales on winter nights,
when the logs burn high, and the holly berries are red, and the old
clock tolls out the dying year.  On these old steps, in these dark
passages and stately rooms, there will one day be the sound of
little pattering feet, and laughing child voices will ring up to
the vaults of the ancient hall.  Those tiny footsteps shall not be
slow and sad as mine were, nor shall the childish words be spoken
in an awed whisper.  No gloomy Welshwoman shall people the dusky
corners with weird horrors, nor utter horrid prophecies of death
and ghastly things.  All shall be young, and fresh, and joyful, and
happy, and we will turn the old luck again, and forget that there
was ever any sadness.

So I thought, as I looked out of my window that morning and for
many mornings after that, and every day it all seemed more real
than ever before, and much nearer.  But the old nurse looked at me
askance, and muttered odd sayings about the Woman of the Water.  I
cared little what she said, for I was far too happy.

At last the time came near for the wedding.  Lady Bluebell and all
the tribe of Bluebells, as Margaret called them, were at Bluebell
Grange, for we had determined to be married in the country, and to
come straight to the Castle afterwards.  We cared little for
traveling, and not at all for a crowded ceremony at St. George's in
Hanover Square, with all the tiresome formalities afterwards.  I
used to ride over to the Grange every day, and very often Margaret
would come with her aunt and some of her cousins to the Castle.  I
was suspicious of my own taste, and was only too glad to let her
have her way about the alterations and improvements in our home.

We were to be married on the thirtieth of July, and on the evening
of the twenty-eighth Margaret drove over with some of the Bluebell
party.  In the long summer twilight we all went out into the
garden.  Naturally enough, Margaret and I were left to ourselves,
and we wandered down by the marble basins.

"It is an odd coincidence," I said; "it was on this very night last
year that I first saw you."

"Considering that it is the month of July," answered Margaret with
a laugh, "and that we have been here almost every day, I don't
think the coincidence is so extraordinary, after all."

"No, dear," said I, "I suppose not.  I don't know why it struck me.
We shall very likely be here a year from today, and a year from
that.  The odd thing, when I think of it, is that you should be
here at all.  But my luck has turned.  I ought not to think
anything odd that happens now that I have you.  It is all sure to
be good."

"A slight change in your ideas since that remarkable performance of
yours in Paris," said Margaret.  "Do you know, I thought you were
the most extraordinary man I had ever met."

"I thought you were the most charming woman I had ever seen.  I
naturally did not want to lose any time in frivolities.  I took you
at your word, I followed your advice, I asked you to marry me, and
this is the delightful result--what's the matter?"

Margaret had started suddenly, and her hand tightened on my arm.
An old woman was coming up the path, and was close to us before we
saw her, for the moon had risen, and was shining full in our faces.
The woman turned out to be my old nurse.

"It's only Judith, dear--don't be frightened," I said.  Then I
spoke to the Welshwoman: "What are you about, Judith?  Have you
been feeding the Woman of the Water?"

"Aye--when the clock strikes, Willie--my Lord, I mean," muttered
the old creature, drawing aside to let us pass, and fixing her
strange eyes on Margaret's face.

"What does she mean?" asked Margaret, when we had gone by.

"Nothing, darling.  The old thing is mildly crazy, but she is a
good soul."

We went on in silence for a few moments, and came to the rustic
bridge just above the artificial grotto through which the water ran
out into the park, dark and swift in its narrow channel.  We
stopped, and leaned on the wooden rail.  The moon was now behind
us, and shone full upon the long vista of basins and on the huge
walls and towers of the Castle above.

"How proud you ought to be of such a grand old place!" said
Margaret, softly.

"It is yours now, darling," I answered.  "You have as good a right
to love it as I--but I only love it because you are to live in it,
dear."

Her hand stole out and lay on mine, and we were both silent.  Just
then the clock began to strike far off in the tower.  I counted--
eight--nine--ten--eleven--I looked at my watch--twelve--thirteen--I
laughed.  The bell went on striking.

"The old clock has gone crazy, like Judith," I exclaimed.  Still it
went on, note after note ringing out monotonously through the still
air.  We leaned over the rail, instinctively looking in the
direction whence the sound came.  On and on it went.  I counted
nearly a hundred, out of sheer curiosity, for I understood that
something had broken and that the thing was running itself down.

Suddenly there was a crack as of breaking wood, a cry and a heavy
splash, and I was alone, clinging to the broken end of the rail of
the rustic bridge.

I do not think I hesitated while my pulse beat twice.  I sprang
clear of the bridge into the black rushing water, dived to the
bottom, came up again with empty hands, turned and swam downward
through the grotto in the thick darkness, plunging and diving at
every stroke, striking my head and hands against jagged stones and
sharp corners, clutching at last something in my fingers and
dragging it up with all my might.  I spoke, I cried aloud, but
there was no answer.  I was alone in the pitchy darkness with my
burden, and the house was five hundred yards away.  Struggling
still, I felt the ground beneath my feet, I saw a ray of moonlight-
-the grotto widened, and the deep water became a broad and shallow
brook as I stumbled over the stones and at last laid Margaret's
body on the bank in the park beyond.

"Aye, Willie, as the clock struck!" said the voice of Judith, the
Welsh nurse, as she bent down and looked at the white face.  The
old woman must have turned back and followed us, seen the accident,
and slipped out by the lower gate of the garden.  "Aye," she
groaned, "you have fed the Woman of the Water this night, Willie,
while the clock was striking."

I scarcely heard her as I knelt beside the lifeless body of the
woman I loved, chafing the wet white temples and gazing wildly into
the wide-staring eyes.  I remember only the first returning look of
consciousness, the first heaving breath, the first movement of
those dear hands stretching out toward me.


That is not much of a story, you say.  It is the story of my life.
That is all.  It does not pretend to be anything else.  Old Judith
says my luck turned on that summer's night when I was struggling in
the water to save all that was worth living for.  A month later
there was a stone bridge above the grotto, and Margaret and I stood
on it and looked up at the moonlit Castle, as we had done once
before, and as we have done many times since.  For all those things
happened ten years ago last summer, and this is the tenth Christmas
Eve we have spent together by the roaring logs in the old hall,
talking of old times; and every year there are more old times to
talk of.  There are curly-headed boys, too, with red-gold hair and
dark-brown eyes like their mother's, and a little Margaret, with
solemn black eyes like mine.  Why could not she look like her
mother, too, as well as the rest of them?

The world is very bright at this glorious Christmas time, and
perhaps there is little use in calling up the sadness of long ago,
unless it be to make the jolly firelight seem more cheerful, the
good wife's face look gladder, and to give the children's laughter
a merrier ring, by contrast with all that is gone.  Perhaps, too,
some sad-faced, listless, melancholy youth, who feels that the
world is very hollow, and that life is like a perpetual funeral
service, just as I used to feel myself, may take courage from my
example, and having found the woman of his heart, ask her to marry
him after half an hour's acquaintance.  But, on the whole, I would
not advise any man to marry, for the simple reason that no man will
ever find a wife like mine, and being obliged to go farther, he
will necessarily fare worse.  My wife has done miracles, but I will
not assert that any other woman is able to follow her example.

Margaret always said that the old place was beautiful, and that I
ought to be proud of it.  I dare say she is right.  She has even
more imagination than I.  But I have a good answer and a plain one,
which is this,--that all the beauty of the Castle comes from her.
She has breathed upon it all, as the children blow upon the cold
glass window panes in winter; and as their warm breath crystallizes
into landscapes from fairyland, full of exquisite shapes and
traceries upon the blank surface, so her spirit has transformed
every gray stone of the old towers, every ancient tree and hedge in
the gardens, every thought in my once melancholy self.  All that
was old is young, and all that was sad is glad, and I am the
gladdest of all.  Whatever heaven may be, there is no earthly
paradise without woman, nor is there anywhere a place so desolate,
so dreary, so unutterably miserable that a woman cannot make it
seem heaven to the man she loves and who loves her.

I hear certain cynics laugh, and cry that all that has been said
before.  Do not laugh, my good cynic.  You are too small a man to
laugh at such a great thing as love.  Prayers have been said before
now by many, and perhaps you say yours, too.  I do not think they
lose anything by being repeated, nor you by repeating them.  You
say that the world is bitter, and full of the Waters of Bitterness.
Love, and so live that you may be loved--the world will turn sweet
for you, and you shall rest like me by the Waters of Paradise.


From "The Play-Actress and the Upper Berth," by F. Marion Crawford.
Copyright, 1896, by G. P. Putnam's Sons.



Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

The Shadows on the Wall


"Henry had words with Edward in the study the night before Edward
died," said Caroline Glynn.

She was elderly, tall, and harshly thin, with a hard colourlessness
of face.  She spoke not with acrimony, but with grave severity.
Rebecca Ann Glynn, younger, stouter and rosy of face between her
crinkling puffs of gray hair, gasped, by way of assent.  She sat in
a wide flounce of black silk in the corner of the sofa, and rolled
terrified eyes from her sister Caroline to her sister Mrs. Stephen
Brigham, who had been Emma Glynn, the one beauty of the family. She
was beautiful still, with a large, splendid, full-blown beauty; she
filled a great rocking-chair with her superb bulk of femininity,
and swayed gently back and forth, her black silks whispering and
her black frills fluttering.  Even the shock of death (for her
brother Edward lay dead in the house,) could not disturb her
outward serenity of demeanor.  She was grieved over the loss of her
brother: he had been the youngest, and she had been fond of him,
but never had Emma Brigham lost sight of her own importance amidst
the waters of tribulation.  She was always awake to the
consciousness of her own stability in the midst of vicissitudes and
the splendor of her permanent bearing.

But even her expression of masterly placidity changed before her
sister Caroline's announcement and her sister Rebecca Ann's gasp of
terror and distress in response.

"I think Henry might have controlled his temper, when poor Edward
was so near his end," said she with an asperity which disturbed
slightly the roseate curves of her beautiful mouth.

"Of course he did not KNOW," murmured Rebecca Ann in a faint tone
strangely out of keeping with her appearance.

One involuntarily looked again to be sure that such a feeble pipe
came from that full-swelling chest.

"Of course he did not know it," said Caroline quickly.  She turned
on her sister with a strange sharp look of suspicion.  "How could
he have known it?" said she.  Then she shrank as if from the
other's possible answer.  "Of course you and I both know he could
not," said she conclusively, but her pale face was paler than it
had been before.

Rebecca gasped again.  The married sister, Mrs. Emma Brigham, was
now sitting up straight in her chair; she had ceased rocking, and
was eyeing them both intently with a sudden accentuation of family
likeness in her face.  Given one common intensity of emotion and
similar lines showed forth, and the three sisters of one race were
evident.

"What do you mean?" said she impartially to them both.  Then she,
too, seemed to shrink before a possible answer.  She even laughed
an evasive sort of laugh.  "I guess you don't mean anything," said
she, but her face wore still the expression of shrinking horror.

"Nobody means anything," said Caroline firmly.  She rose and
crossed the room toward the door with grim decisiveness.

"Where are you going?" asked Mrs. Brigham.

"I have something to see to," replied Caroline, and the others at
once knew by her tone that she had some solemn and sad duty to
perform in the chamber of death.

"Oh," said Mrs. Brigham.

After the door had closed behind Caroline, she turned to Rebecca.

"Did Henry have many words with him?" she asked.

"They were talking very loud," replied Rebecca evasively, yet with
an answering gleam of ready response to the other's curiosity in
the quick lift of her soft blue eyes.

Mrs. Brigham looked at her.  She had not resumed rocking.  She
still sat up straight with a slight knitting of intensity on her
fair forehead, between the pretty rippling curves of her auburn
hair.

"Did you--hear anything?" she asked in a low voice with a glance
toward the door.

"I was just across the hall in the south parlor, and that door was
open and this door ajar," replied Rebecca with a slight flush.

"Then you must have--"

"I couldn't help it."

"Everything?"

"Most of it."

"What was it?"

"The old story."

"I suppose Henry was mad, as he always was, because Edward was
living on here for nothing, when he had wasted all the money father
left him."

Rebecca nodded with a fearful glance at the door.

When Emma spoke again her voice was still more hushed.  "I know how
he felt," said she.  "He had always been so prudent himself, and
worked hard at his profession, and there Edward had never done
anything but spend, and it must have looked to him as if Edward was
living at his expense, but he wasn't."

"No, he wasn't."

"It was the way father left the property--that all the children
should have a home here--and he left money enough to buy the food
and all if we had all come home."

"Yes."

"And Edward had a right here according to the terms of father's
will, and Henry ought to have remembered it."

"Yes, he ought."

"Did he say hard things?"

"Pretty hard from what I heard."

"What?"

"I heard him tell Edward that he had no business here at all, and
he thought he had better go away."

"What did Edward say?"

"That he would stay here as long as he lived and afterward, too, if
he was a mind to, and he would like to see Henry get him out; and
then--"

"What?"

"Then he laughed."

"What did Henry say."

"I didn't hear him say anything, but--"

"But what?"

"I saw him when he came out of this room."

"He looked mad?"

"You've seen him when he looked so."

Emma nodded; the expression of horror on her face had deepened.

"Do you remember that time he killed the cat because she had
scratched him?"

"Yes.  Don't!"

Then Caroline reentered the room.  She went up to the stove in
which a wood fire was burning--it was a cold, gloomy day of fall--
and she warmed her hands, which were reddened from recent washing
in cold water.

Mrs. Brigham looked at her and hesitated.  She glanced at the door,
which was still ajar, as it did not easily shut, being still
swollen with the damp weather of the summer.  She rose and pushed
it together with a sharp thud which jarred the house.  Rebecca
started painfully with a half exclamation.  Caroline looked at her
disapprovingly.

"It is time you controlled your nerves, Rebecca," said she.

"I can't help it," replied Rebecca with almost a wail.  "I am
nervous.  There's enough to make me so, the Lord knows."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Caroline with her old air of
sharp suspicion, and something between challenge and dread of its
being met.

Rebecca shrank.

"Nothing," said she.

"Then I wouldn't keep speaking in such a fashion."

Emma, returning from the closed door, said imperiously that it
ought to be fixed, it shut so hard.

"It will shrink enough after we have had the fire a few days,"
replied Caroline.  "If anything is done to it it will be too small;
there will be a crack at the sill."

"I think Henry ought to be ashamed of himself for talking as he did
to Edward," said Mrs. Brigham abruptly, but in an almost inaudible
voice.

"Hush!" said Caroline, with a glance of actual fear at the closed
door.

"Nobody can hear with the door shut."

"He must have heard it shut, and--"

"Well, I can say what I want to before he comes down, and I am not
afraid of him."

"I don't know who is afraid of him!  What reason is there for
anybody to be afraid of Henry?" demanded Caroline.

Mrs. Brigham trembled before her sister's look.  Rebecca gasped
again.  "There isn't any reason, of course.  Why should there be?"

"I wouldn't speak so, then.  Somebody might overhear you and think
it was queer.  Miranda Joy is in the south parlor sewing, you
know."

"I thought she went upstairs to stitch on the machine."

"She did, but she has come down again."

"Well, she can't hear."

"I say again I think Henry ought to be ashamed of himself.  I
shouldn't think he'd ever get over it, having words with poor
Edward the very night before he died.  Edward was enough sight
better disposition than Henry, with all his faults.  I always
thought a great deal of poor Edward, myself."

Mrs. Brigham passed a large fluff of handkerchief across her eyes;
Rebecca sobbed outright.

"Rebecca," said Caroline admonishingly, keeping her mouth stiff and
swallowing determinately.

"I never heard him speak a cross word, unless he spoke cross to
Henry that last night.  I don't know, but he did from what Rebecca
overheard," said Emma.

"Not so much cross as sort of soft, and sweet, and aggravating,"
sniffled Rebecca.

"He never raised his voice," said Caroline; "but he had his way."

"He had a right to in this case."

"Yes, he did."

"He had as much of a right here as Henry," sobbed Rebecca, "and now
he's gone, and he will never be in this home that poor father left
him and the rest of us again."

"What do you really think ailed Edward?" asked Emma in hardly more
than a whisper.  She did not look at her sister.

Caroline sat down in a nearby armchair, and clutched the arms
convulsively until her thin knuckles whitened.

"I told you," said she.

Rebecca held her handkerchief over her mouth, and looked at them
above it with terrified, streaming eyes.

"I know you said that he had terrible pains in his stomach, and had
spasms, but what do you think made him have them?"

"Henry called it gastric trouble.  You know Edward has always had
dyspepsia."

Mrs. Brigham hesitated a moment.  "Was there any talk of an--
examination?" said she.

Then Caroline turned on her fiercely.

"No," said she in a terrible voice.  "No."

The three sisters' souls seemed to meet on one common ground of
terrified understanding through their eyes.  The old-fashioned
latch of the door was heard to rattle, and a push from without made
the door shake ineffectually.  "It's Henry," Rebecca sighed rather
than whispered.  Mrs. Brigham settled herself after a noiseless
rush across the floor into her rocking-chair again, and was swaying
back and forth with her head comfortably leaning back, when the
door at last yielded and Henry Glynn entered.  He cast a covertly
sharp, comprehensive glance at Mrs. Brigham with her elaborate
calm; at Rebecca quietly huddled in the corner of the sofa with her
handkerchief to her face and only one small reddened ear as
attentive as a dog's uncovered and revealing her alertness for his
presence; at Caroline sitting with a strained composure in her
armchair by the stove.  She met his eyes quite firmly with a look
of inscrutable fear, and defiance of the fear and of him.

Henry Glynn looked more like this sister than the others.  Both had
the same hard delicacy of form and feature, both were tall and
almost emaciated, both had a sparse growth of gray blond hair far
back from high intellectual foreheads, both had an almost noble
aquilinity of feature.  They confronted each other with the
pitiless immovability of two statues in whose marble lineaments
emotions were fixed for all eternity.

Then Henry Glynn smiled and the smile transformed his face.  He
looked suddenly years younger, and an almost boyish recklessness
and irresolution appeared in his face.  He flung himself into a
chair with a gesture which was bewildering from its incongruity
with his general appearance.  He leaned his head back, flung one
leg over the other, and looked laughingly at Mrs. Brigham.

"I declare, Emma, you grow younger every year," he said.

She flushed a little, and her placid mouth widened at the corners.
She was susceptible to praise.

"Our thoughts to-day ought to belong to the one of us who will
NEVER grow older," said Caroline in a hard voice.

Henry looked at her, still smiling.  "Of course, we none of us
forget that," said he, in a deep, gentle voice, "but we have to
speak to the living, Caroline, and I have not seen Emma for a long
time, and the living are as dear as the dead."

"Not to me," said Caroline.

She rose, and went abruptly out of the room again.  Rebecca also
rose and hurried after her, sobbing loudly.

Henry looked slowly after them.

"Caroline is completely unstrung," said he.  Mrs. Brigham rocked. A
confidence in him inspired by his manner was stealing over her. Out
of that confidence she spoke quite easily and naturally.

"His death was very sudden," said she.

Henry's eyelids quivered slightly but his gaze was unswerving.

"Yes," said he; "it was very sudden.  He was sick only a few
hours."

"What did you call it?"

"Gastric."

"You did not think of an examination?"

"There was no need.  I am perfectly certain as to the cause of his
death."

Suddenly Mrs. Brigham felt a creep as of some live horror over her
very soul.  Her flesh prickled with cold, before an inflection of
his voice.  She rose, tottering on weak knees.

"Where are you going?" asked Henry in a strange, breathless voice.

Mrs. Brigham said something incoherent about some sewing which she
had to do, some black for the funeral, and was out of the room. She
went up to the front chamber which she occupied.  Caroline was
there.  She went close to her and took her hands, and the two
sisters looked at each other.

"Don't speak, don't, I won't have it!" said Caroline finally in an
awful whisper.

"I won't," replied Emma.

That afternoon the three sisters were in the study, the large front
room on the ground floor across the hall from the south parlor,
when the dusk deepened.

Mrs. Brigham was hemming some black material.  She sat close to the
west window for the waning light.  At last she laid her work on her
lap.

"It's no use, I cannot see to sew another stitch until we have a
light," said she.

Caroline, who was writing some letters at the table, turned to
Rebecca, in her usual place on the sofa.

"Rebecca, you had better get a lamp," she said.

Rebecca started up; even in the dusk her face showed her agitation.

"It doesn't seem to me that we need a lamp quite yet," she said in
a piteous, pleading voice like a child's.

"Yes, we do," returned Mrs. Brigham peremptorily.  "We must have a
light.  I must finish this to-night or I can't go to the funeral,
and I can't see to sew another stitch."

"Caroline can see to write letters, and she is farther from the
window than you are," said Rebecca.

"Are you trying to save kerosene or are you lazy, Rebecca Glynn?"
cried Mrs. Brigham.  "I can go and get the light myself, but I have
this work all in my lap."

Caroline's pen stopped scratching.

"Rebecca, we must have the light," said she.

"Had we better have it in here?" asked Rebecca weakly.

"Of course!  Why not?" cried Caroline sternly.

"I am sure I don't want to take my sewing into the other room, when
it is all cleaned up for to-morrow," said Mrs. Brigham.

"Why, I never heard such a to-do about lighting a lamp."

Rebecca rose and left the room.  Presently she entered with a lamp--
a large one with a white porcelain shade.  She set it on a table,
an old-fashioned card-table which was placed against the opposite
wall from the window.  That wall was clear of bookcases and books,
which were only on three sides of the room.  That opposite wall was
taken up with three doors, the one small space being occupied by
the table.  Above the table on the old-fashioned paper, of a white
satin gloss, traversed by an indeterminate green scroll, hung quite
high a small gilt and black-framed ivory miniature taken in her
girlhood of the mother of the family.  When the lamp was set on the
table beneath it, the tiny pretty face painted on the ivory seemed
to gleam out with a look of intelligence.

"What have you put that lamp over there for?" asked Mrs. Brigham,
with more of impatience than her voice usually revealed.  "Why
didn't you set it in the hall and have done with it.  Neither
Caroline nor I can see if it is on that table."

"I thought perhaps you would move," replied Rebecca hoarsely.

"If I do move, we can't both sit at that table.  Caroline has her
paper all spread around.  Why don't you set the lamp on the study
table in the middle of the room, then we can both see?"

Rebecca hesitated.  Her face was very pale.  She looked with an
appeal that was fairly agonizing at her sister Caroline.

"Why don't you put the lamp on this table, as she says?" asked
Caroline, almost fiercely.  "Why do you act so, Rebecca?"

"I should think you WOULD ask her that," said Mrs. Brigham.  "She
doesn't act like herself at all."

Rebecca took the lamp and set it on the table in the middle of the
room without another word.  Then she turned her back upon it
quickly and seated herself on the sofa, and placed a hand over her
eyes as if to shade them, and remained so.

"Does the light hurt your eyes, and is that the reason why you
didn't want the lamp?" asked Mrs. Brigham kindly.

"I always like to sit in the dark," replied Rebecca chokingly. Then
she snatched her handkerchief hastily from her pocket and began to
weep.  Caroline continued to write, Mrs. Brigham to sew.

Suddenly Mrs. Brigham as she sewed glanced at the opposite wall.
The glance became a steady stare.  She looked intently, her work
suspended in her hands.  Then she looked away again and took a few
more stitches, then she looked again, and again turned to her task.
At last she laid her work in her lap and stared concentratedly. She
looked from the wall around the room, taking note of the various
objects; she looked at the wall long and intently.  Then she turned
to her sisters.

"What IS that?" said she.

"What?" asked Caroline harshly; her pen scratched loudly across the
paper.

Rebecca gave one of her convulsive gasps.

"That strange shadow on the wall," replied Mrs. Brigham.

Rebecca sat with her face hidden: Caroline dipped her pen in the
inkstand.

"Why don't you turn around and look?" asked Mrs. Brigham in a
wondering and somewhat aggrieved way.

"I am in a hurry to finish this letter, if Mrs. Wilson Ebbit is
going to get word in time to come to the funeral," replied Caroline
shortly.

Mrs. Brigham rose, her work slipping to the floor, and she began
walking around the room, moving various articles of furniture, with
her eyes on the shadow.

Then suddenly she shrieked out:

"Look at this awful shadow!  What is it?  Caroline, look, look!
Rebecca, look!  WHAT IS IT?"

All Mrs. Brigham's triumphant placidity was gone.  Her handsome
face was livid with horror.  She stood stiffly pointing at the
shadow.

"Look!" said she, pointing her finger at it.  "Look!  What is it?"

Then Rebecca burst out in a wild wail after a shuddering glance at
the wall:

"Oh, Caroline, there it is again!  There it is again!"

"Caroline Glynn, you look!" said Mrs. Brigham.  "Look!  What is
that dreadful shadow?"

Caroline rose, turned, and stood confronting the wall.

"How should I know?" she said.

"It has been there every night since he died," cried Rebecca.

"Every night?"

"Yes.  He died Thursday and this is Saturday; that makes three
nights," said Caroline rigidly.  She stood as if holding herself
calm with a vise of concentrated will.

"It--it looks like--like--" stammered Mrs. Brigham in a tone of
intense horror.

"I know what it looks like well enough," said Caroline.  "I've got
eyes in my head."

"It looks like Edward," burst out Rebecca in a sort of frenzy of
fear.  "Only--"

"Yes, it does," assented Mrs. Brigham, whose horror-stricken tone
matched her sister's, "only--  Oh, it is awful!  What is it,
Caroline?"

"I ask you again, how should I know?" replied Caroline.  "I see it
there like you.  How should I know any more than you?"

"It MUST be something in the room," said Mrs. Brigham, staring
wildly around.

"We moved everything in the room the first night it came," said
Rebecca; "it is not anything in the room."

Caroline turned upon her with a sort of fury.  "Of course it is
something in the room," said she.  "How you act!  What do you mean
by talking so?  Of course it is something in the room."

"Of course, it is," agreed Mrs. Brigham, looking at Caroline
suspiciously.  "Of course it must be.  It is only a coincidence. It
just happens so.  Perhaps it is that fold of the window curtain
that makes it.  It must be something in the room."

"It is not anything in the room," repeated Rebecca with obstinate
horror.

The door opened suddenly and Henry Glynn entered.  He began to
speak, then his eyes followed the direction of the others'.  He
stood stock still staring at the shadow on the wall.  It was life
size and stretched across the white parallelogram of a door, half
across the wall space on which the picture hung.

"What is that?" he demanded in a strange voice.

"It must be due to something in the room, Mrs. Brigham said
faintly.

"It is not due to anything in the room," said Rebecca again with
the shrill insistency of terror.

"How you act, Rebecca Glynn," said Caroline.

Henry Glynn stood and stared a moment longer.  His face showed a
gamut of emotions--horror, conviction, then furious incredulity.
Suddenly he began hastening hither and thither about the room.  He
moved the furniture with fierce jerks, turning ever to see the
effect upon the shadow on the wall.  Not a line of its terrible
outlines wavered.

"It must be something in the room!" he declared in a voice which
seemed to snap like a lash.

His face changed.  The inmost secrecy of his nature seemed evident
until one almost lost sight of his lineaments.  Rebecca stood close
to her sofa, regarding him with woeful, fascinated eyes.  Mrs.
Brigham clutched Caroline's hand.  They both stood in a corner out
of his way.  For a few moments he raged about the room like a caged
wild animal.  He moved every piece of furniture; when the moving of
a piece did not affect the shadow, he flung it to the floor, his
sisters watching.

Then suddenly he desisted.  He laughed and began straightening the
furniture which he had flung down.

"What an absurdity," he said easily.  "Such a to-do about a
shadow."

"That's so," assented Mrs. Brigham, in a scared voice which she
tried to make natural.  As she spoke she lifted a chair near her.

"I think you have broken the chair that Edward was so fond of,"
said Caroline.

Terror and wrath were struggling for expression on her face.  Her
mouth was set, her eyes shrinking.  Henry lifted the chair with a
show of anxiety.

"Just as good as ever," he said pleasantly.  He laughed again,
looking at his sisters.  "Did I scare you?" he said.  "I should
think you might be used to me by this time.  You know my way of
wanting to leap to the bottom of a mystery, and that shadow does
look--queer, like--and I thought if there was any way of accounting
for it I would like to without any delay."

"You don't seem to have succeeded," remarked Caroline dryly, with a
slight glance at the wall.

Henry's eyes followed hers and he quivered perceptibly.

"Oh, there is no accounting for shadows," he said, and he laughed
again.  "A man is a fool to try to account for shadows."

Then the supper bell rang, and they all left the room, but Henry
kept his back to the wall, as did, indeed, the others.

Mrs. Brigham pressed close to Caroline as she crossed the hall. "He
looked like a demon!" she breathed in her ear.

Henry led the way with an alert motion like a boy; Rebecca brought
up the rear; she could scarcely walk, her knees trembled so.

"I can't sit in that room again this evening," she whispered to
Caroline after supper.

"Very well, we will sit in the south room," replied Caroline.  "I
think we will sit in the south parlor," she said aloud; "it isn't
as damp as the study, and I have a cold."

So they all sat in the south room with their sewing.  Henry read
the newspaper, his chair drawn close to the lamp on the table.
About nine o'clock he rose abruptly and crossed the hall to the
study.  The three sisters looked at one another.  Mrs. Brigham
rose, folded her rustling skirts compactly around her, and began
tiptoeing toward the door.

"What are you going to do?" inquired Rebecca agitatedly.

"I am going to see what he is about," replied Mrs. Brigham
cautiously.

She pointed as she spoke to the study door across the hall; it was
ajar.  Henry had striven to pull it together behind him, but it had
somehow swollen beyond the limit with curious speed.  It was still
ajar and a streak of light showed from top to bottom.  The hall
lamp was not lit.

"You had better stay where you are," said Caroline with guarded
sharpness.

"I am going to see," repeated Mrs. Brigham firmly.

Then she folded her skirts so tightly that her bulk with its
swelling curves was revealed in a black silk sheath, and she went
with a slow toddle across the hall to the study door.  She stood
there, her eye at the crack.

In the south room Rebecca stopped sewing and sat watching with
dilated eyes.  Caroline sewed steadily.  What Mrs. Brigham,
standing at the crack in the study door, saw was this:

Henry Glynn, evidently reasoning that the source of the strange
shadow must be between the table on which the lamp stood and the
wall, was making systematic passes and thrusts all over and through
the intervening space with an old sword which had belonged to his
father.  Not an inch was left unpierced.  He seemed to have divided
the space into mathematical sections.  He brandished the sword with
a sort of cold fury and calculation; the blade gave out flashes of
light, the shadow remained unmoved.  Mrs. Brigham, watching, felt
herself cold with horror.

Finally Henry ceased and stood with the sword in hand and raised as
if to strike, surveying the shadow on the wall threateningly.  Mrs.
Brigham toddled back across the hall and shut the south room door
behind her before she related what she had seen.

"He looked like a demon!" she said again.  "Have you got any of
that old wine in the house, Caroline?  I don't feel as if I could
stand much more."

Indeed, she looked overcome.  Her handsome placid face was worn and
strained and pale.

"Yes, there's plenty," said Caroline; "you can have some when you
go to bed."

"I think we had all better take some," said Mrs. Brigham.  "Oh, my
God, Caroline, what--"

"Don't ask and don't speak," said Caroline.

"No, I am not going to," replied Mrs. Brigham; "but--"

Rebecca moaned aloud.

"What are you doing that for?" asked Caroline harshly.

"Poor Edward," returned Rebecca.

"That is all you have to groan for," said Caroline.  "There is
nothing else."

"I am going to bed," said Mrs. Brigham.  "I sha'n't be able to be
at the funeral if I don't."

Soon the three sisters went to their chambers and the south parlor
was deserted.  Caroline called to Henry in the study to put out the
light before he came upstairs.  They had been gone about an hour
when he came into the room bringing the lamp which had stood in the
study.  He set it on the table and waited a few minutes, pacing up
and down.  His face was terrible, his fair complexion showed livid;
his blue eyes seemed dark blanks of awful reflections.

Then he took the lamp up and returned to the library.  He set the
lamp on the centre table, and the shadow sprang out on the wall.
Again he studied the furniture and moved it about, but
deliberately, with none of his former frenzy.  Nothing affected the
shadow.  Then he returned to the south room with the lamp and again
waited.  Again he returned to the study and placed the lamp on the
table, and the shadow sprang out upon the wall.  It was midnight
before he went upstairs.  Mrs. Brigham and the other sisters, who
could not sleep, heard him.

The next day was the funeral.  That evening the family sat in the
south room.  Some relatives were with them.  Nobody entered the
study until Henry carried a lamp in there after the others had
retired for the night.  He saw again the shadow on the wall leap to
an awful life before the light.

The next morning at breakfast Henry Glynn announced that he had to
go to the city for three days.  The sisters looked at him with
surprise.  He very seldom left home, and just now his practice had
been neglected on account of Edward's death.  He was a physician.

"How can you leave your patients now?" asked Mrs. Brigham
wonderingly.

"I don't know how to, but there is no other way," replied Henry
easily.  "I have had a telegram from Doctor Mitford."

"Consultation?" inquired Mrs. Brigham.

"I have business," replied Henry.

Doctor Mitford was an old classmate of his who lived in a
neighboring city and who occasionally called upon him in the case
of a consultation.

After he had gone Mrs. Brigham said to Caroline that after all
Henry had not said that he was going to consult with Doctor
Mitford, and she thought it very strange.

"Everything is very strange," said Rebecca with a shudder.

"What do you mean?" inquired Caroline sharply.

"Nothing," replied Rebecca.

Nobody entered the library that day, nor the next, nor the next.
The third day Henry was expected home, but he did not arrive and
the last train from the city had come.

"I call it pretty queer work," said Mrs. Brigham.  "The idea of a
doctor leaving his patients for three days anyhow, at such a time
as this, and I know he has some very sick ones; he said so.  And
the idea of a consultation lasting three days!  There is no sense
in it, and NOW he has not come.  I don't understand it, for my
part."

"I don't either," said Rebecca.

They were all in the south parlor.  There was no light in the study
opposite, and the door was ajar.

Presently Mrs. Brigham rose--she could not have told why; something
seemed to impel her, some will outside her own.  She went out of
the room, again wrapping her rustling skirts around that she might
pass noiselessly, and began pushing at the swollen door of the
study.

"She has not got any lamp," said Rebecca in a shaking voice.

Caroline, who was writing letters, rose again, took a lamp (there
were two in the room) and followed her sister.  Rebecca had risen,
but she stood trembling, not venturing to follow.

The doorbell rang, but the others did not hear it; it was on the
south door on the other side of the house from the study.  Rebecca,
after hesitating until the bell rang the second time, went to the
door; she remembered that the servant was out.

Caroline and her sister Emma entered the study.  Caroline set the
lamp on the table.  They looked at the wall.  "Oh, my God," gasped
Mrs. Brigham, "there are--there are TWO--shadows."  The sisters
stood clutching each other, staring at the awful things on the
wall.  Then Rebecca came in, staggering, with a telegram in her
hand.  "Here is--a telegram," she gasped.  "Henry is--dead."


From "The Wind in the Rosebush," by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.
Copyright, 1903, by Doubleday, Page & Company.



Melville Davisson Post


Introduction to The Corpus Delicti

The high ground of the field of crime has not been explored; it has
not even been entered.  The book stalls have been filled to
weariness with tales based upon plans whereby the DETECTIVE, or
FERRETING power of the State might be baffled.  But, prodigious
marvel! no writer has attempted to construct tales based upon plans
whereby the PUNISHING power of the State might be baffled.

The distinction, if one pauses for a moment to consider it, is
striking.  It is possible, even easy, deliberately to plan crimes
so that the criminal agent and the criminal agency cannot be
detected.  Is it possible to plan and execute wrongs in such a
manner that they will have all the effect and all the resulting
profit of desperate crimes and yet not be crimes before the law?

We are prone to forget that the law is no perfect structure, that
it is simply the result of human labor and human genius, and that
whatever laws human ingenuity can create for the protection of men,
those same laws human ingenuity can evade.  The Spirit of Evil is
no dwarf; he has developed equally with the Spirit of Good.

All wrongs are not crimes.  Indeed only those wrongs are crimes in
which certain technical elements are present.  The law provides a
Procrustean standard for all crimes.  Thus a wrong, to become
criminal, must fit exactly into the measure laid down by the law,
else it is no crime; if it varies never so little from the legal
measure, the law must, and will, refuse to regard it as criminal,
no matter how injurious a wrong it may be.  There is no measure of
morality, or equity, or common right that can be applied to the
individual case.  The gauge of the law is iron-bound.  The wrong
measured by this gauge is either a crime or it is not.  There is no
middle ground.

Hence is it, that if one knows well the technicalities of the law,
one may commit horrible wrongs that will yield all the gain and all
the resulting effect of the highest crimes, and yet the wrongs
perpetrated will constitute no one of the crimes described by the
law.  Thus the highest crimes, even murder, may be committed in
such manner that although the criminal is known and the law holds
him in custody, yet it cannot punish him.  So it happens that in
this year of our Lord of the nineteenth century, the skillful
attorney marvels at the stupidity of the rogue who, committing
crimes by the ordinary methods, subjects himself to unnecessary
peril, when the result which he seeks can easily be attained by
other methods, equally expeditious and without danger of liability
in any criminal tribunal.  This is the field into which the author
has ventured, and he believes it to be new and full of interest.

It may be objected that the writer has prepared here a text-book
for the shrewd knave.  To this it is answered that, if he instructs
the enemies, he also warns the friends of law and order; and that
Evil has never yet been stronger because the sun shone on it.


[See Lord Hale's Rule, Russell on Crimes.  For the law in New York
see 18th N. Y. Reports, 179; also N. Y. Reports, 49, page 137.  The
doctrine there laid down obtains in almost every State, with the
possible exception of a few Western States, where the decisions are
muddy.]



The Corpus Delicti


I


"That man Mason," said Samuel Walcott, "is the mysterious member of
this club.  He is more than that; he is the mysterious man of New
York."

"I was much surprised to see him," answered his companion, Marshall
St. Clair, of the great law firm of Seward, St. Clair & De Muth.
"I had lost track of him since he went to Paris as counsel for the
American stockholders of the Canal Company.  When did he come back
to the States?"

"He turned up suddenly in his ancient haunts about four months
ago," said Walcott, "as grand, gloomy, and peculiar as Napoleon
ever was in his palmiest days.  The younger members of the club
call him 'Zanona Redivivus.'  He wanders through the house usually
late at night, apparently without noticing anything or anybody.
His mind seems to be deeply and busily at work, leaving his bodily
self to wander as it may happen.  Naturally, strange stories are
told of him; indeed, his individuality and his habit of doing some
unexpected thing, and doing it in such a marvelously original
manner that men who are experts at it look on in wonder, cannot
fail to make him an object of interest.

"He has never been known to play at any game whatever, and yet one
night he sat down to the chess table with old Admiral Du Brey.  You
know the Admiral is the great champion since he beat the French and
English officers in the tournament last winter.  Well, you also
know that the conventional openings at chess are scientifically and
accurately determined.  To the utter disgust of Du Brey, Mason
opened the game with an unheard-of attack from the extremes of the
board.  The old Admiral stopped and, in a kindly patronizing way,
pointed out the weak and absurd folly of his move and asked him to
begin again with some one of the safe openings.  Mason smiled and
answered that if one had a head that he could trust he should use
it; if not, then it was the part of wisdom to follow blindly the
dead forms of some man who had a head.  Du Brey was naturally angry
and set himself to demolish Mason as quickly as possible.  The game
was rapid for a few moments.  Mason lost piece after piece.  His
opening was broken and destroyed and its utter folly apparent to
the lookers-on.  The Admiral smiled and the game seemed all one-
sided, when, suddenly, to his utter horror, Du Brey found that his
king was in a trap.  The foolish opening had been only a piece of
shrewd strategy.  The old Admiral fought and cursed and sacrificed
his pieces, but it was of no use.  He was gone.  Mason checkmated
him in two moves and arose wearily.

"'Where in Heaven's name, man,' said the old Admiral,
thunderstruck, 'did you learn that masterpiece?'

"'Just here,' replied Mason.  'To play chess, one should know his
opponent.  How could the dead masters lay down rules by which you
could be beaten, sir?  They had never seen you'; and thereupon he
turned and left the room.  Of course, St. Clair, such a strange man
would soon become an object of all kinds of mysterious rumors.
Some are true and some are not.  At any rate, I know that Mason is
an unusual man with a gigantic intellect.  Of late he seems to have
taken a strange fancy to me.  In fact, I seem to be the only member
of the club that he will talk with, and I confess that he startles
and fascinates me.  He is an original genius, St. Clair, of an
unusual order."

"I recall vividly," said the younger man, "that before Mason went
to Paris he was considered one of the greatest lawyers of this city
and he was feared and hated by the bar at large.  He came here, I
believe, from Virginia and began with the high-grade criminal
practice.  He soon became famous for his powerful and ingenious
defenses.  He found holes in the law through which his clients
escaped, holes that by the profession at large were not suspected
to exist, and that frequently astonished the judges.  His ability
caught the attention of the great corporations.  They tested him
and found in him learning and unlimited resources.  He pointed out
methods by which they could evade obnoxious statutes, by which they
could comply with the apparent letter of the law and yet violate
its spirit, and advised them well in that most important of all
things, just how far they could bend the law without breaking it.
At the time he left for Paris he had a vast clientage and was in
the midst of a brilliant career.  The day he took passage from New
York, the bar lost sight of him.  No matter how great a man may be,
the wave soon closes over him in a city like this.  In a few years
Mason was forgotten.  Now only the older practitioners would recall
him, and they would do so with hatred and bitterness.  He was a
tireless, savage, uncompromising fighter, always a recluse."

"Well," said Walcott, "he reminds me of a great world-weary cynic,
transplanted from some ancient mysterious empire.  When I come into
the man's presence I feel instinctively the grip of his intellect.
I tell you, St. Clair, Randolph Mason is the mysterious man of New
York."

At this moment a messenger boy came into the room and handed Mr.
Walcott a telegram.  "St. Clair," said that gentleman, rising, "the
directors of the Elevated are in session, and we must hurry."  The
two men put on their coats and left the house.

Samuel Walcott was not a club man after the manner of the Smart
Set, and yet he was in fact a club man.  He was a bachelor in the
latter thirties, and resided in a great silent house on the avenue.
On the street he was a man of substance, shrewd and progressive,
backed by great wealth.  He had various corporate interests in the
larger syndicates, but the basis and foundation of his fortune was
real estate.  His houses on the avenue were the best possible
property, and his elevator row in the importers' quarter was indeed
a literal gold mine.  It was known that, many years before, his
grandfather had died and left him the property, which, at that
time, was of no great value.  Young Walcott had gone out into the
gold-fields and had been lost sight of and forgotten.  Ten years
afterwards he had turned up suddenly in New York and taken
possession of his property, then vastly increased in value.  His
speculations were almost phenomenally successful, and, backed by
the now enormous value of his real property, he was soon on a level
with the merchant princes.  His judgment was considered sound, and
he had the full confidence of his business associates for safety
and caution.  Fortune heaped up riches around him with a lavish
hand.  He was unmarried and the halo of his wealth caught the keen
eye of the matron with marriageable daughters.  He was invited out,
caught by the whirl of society, and tossed into its maelstrom.  In
a measure he reciprocated.  He kept horses and a yacht.  His
dinners at Delmonico's and the club were above reproach.  But with
all he was a silent man with a shadow deep in his eyes, and seemed
to court the society of his fellows, not because he loved them, but
because he either hated or feared solitude.  For years the strategy
of the match-maker had gone gracefully afield, but Fate is
relentless.  If she shields the victim from the traps of men, it is
not because she wishes him to escape, but because she is pleased to
reserve him for her own trap.  So it happened that, when Virginia
St. Clair assisted Mrs. Miriam Steuvisant at her midwinter
reception, this same Samuel Walcott fell deeply and hopelessly and
utterly in love, and it was so apparent to the beaten generals
present, that Mrs. Miriam Steuvisant applauded herself, so to
speak, with encore after encore.  It was good to see this
courteous, silent man literally at the feet of the young debutante.
He was there of right.  Even the mothers of marriageable daughters
admitted that.  The young girl was brown-haired, brown-eyed, and
tall enough, said the experts, and of the blue blood royal, with
all the grace, courtesy, and inbred genius of such princely
heritage.

Perhaps it was objected by the censors of the Smart Set that Miss
St. Clair's frankness and honesty were a trifle old-fashioned, and
that she was a shadowy bit of a Puritan; and perhaps it was of
these same qualities that Samuel Walcott received his hurt.  At any
rate the hurt was there and deep, and the new actor stepped up into
the old time-worn, semi-tragic drama, and began his role with a
tireless, utter sincerity that was deadly dangerous if he lost.


II


Perhaps a week after the conversation between St. Clair and
Walcott, Randolph Mason stood in the private waiting-room of the
club with his hands behind his back.

He was a man apparently in the middle forties; tall and reasonably
broad across the shoulders; muscular without being either stout or
lean.  His hair was thin and of a brown color, with erratic streaks
of gray.  His forehead was broad and high and of a faint reddish
color.  His eyes were restless inky black, and not over-large.  The
nose was big and muscular and bowed.  The eyebrows were black and
heavy, almost bushy.  There were heavy furrows, running from the
nose downward and outward to the corners of the mouth.  The mouth
was straight and the jaw was heavy, and square.

Looking at the face of Randolph Mason from above, the expression in
repose was crafty and cynical; viewed from below upward, it was
savage and vindictive, almost brutal; while from the front, if
looked squarely in the face, the stranger was fascinated by the
animation of the man and at once concluded that his expression was
fearless and sneering.  He was evidently of Southern extraction and
a man of unusual power.

A fire smoldered on the hearth.  It was a crisp evening in the
early fall, and with that far-off touch of melancholy which ever
heralds the coming winter, even in the midst of a city.  The man's
face looked tired and ugly.  His long white hands were clasped
tight together.  His entire figure and face wore every mark of
weakness and physical exhaustion; but his eyes contradicted.  They
were red and restless.

In the private dining-room the dinner party was in the best of
spirits.  Samuel Walcott was happy.  Across the table from him was
Miss Virginia St. Clair, radiant, a tinge of color in her cheeks.
On either side, Mrs. Miriam Steuvisant and Marshall St. Clair were
brilliant and lighthearted.  Walcott looked at the young girl and
the measure of his worship was full.  He wondered for the
thousandth time how she could possibly love him and by what earthly
miracle she had come to accept him, and how it would be always to
have her across the table from him, his own table in his own house.

They were about to rise from the table when one of the waiters
entered the room and handed Walcott an envelope.  He thrust it
quickly into his pocket.  In the confusion of rising the others did
not notice him, but his face was ash white and his hands trembled
violently as he placed the wraps around the bewitching shoulders of
Miss St. Clair.

"Marshall," he said, and despite the powerful effort his voice was
hollow, "you will see the ladies safely cared for, I am called to
attend a grave matter."

"All right, Walcott," answered the young man, with cheery good
nature, "you are too serious, old man, trot along."

"The poor dear," murmured Mrs. Steuvisant, after Walcott had helped
them to the carriage and turned to go up the steps of the club,--
"The poor dear is hard hit, and men are such funny creatures when
they are hard hit."

Samuel Walcott, as his fate would, went direct to the private
writing-room and opened the door.  The lights were not turned on
and in the dark he did not see Mason motionless by the mantel-
shelf.  He went quickly across the room to the writing-table,
turned on one of the lights, and, taking the envelope from his
pocket, tore it open.  Then he bent down by the light to read the
contents.  As his eyes ran over the paper, his jaw fell.  The skin
drew away from his cheekbones and his face seemed literally to sink
in.  His knees gave way under him and he would have gone down in a
heap had it not been for Mason's long arms that closed around him
and held him up.  The human economy is ever mysterious.  The moment
the new danger threatened, the latent power of the man as an
animal, hidden away in the centers of intelligence, asserted
itself.  His hand clutched the paper and, with a half slide, he
turned in Mason's arms.  For a moment he stared up at the ugly man
whose thin arms felt like wire ropes.

"You are under the dead-fall, aye," said Mason.  "The cunning of my
enemy is sublime."

"Your enemy?" gasped Walcott.  "When did you come into it?  How in
God's name did you know it?  How your enemy?"

Mason looked down at the wide bulging eyes of the man.

"Who should know better than I?" he said.  "Haven't I broken
through all the traps and plots that she could set?"

"She?  She trap you?"  The man's voice was full of horror.

"The old schemer," muttered Mason.  "The cowardly old schemer, to
strike in the back; but we can beat her.  She did not count on my
helping you--I, who know her so well."

Mason's face was red, and his eyes burned.  In the midst of it all
he dropped his hands and went over to the fire.  Samuel Walcott
arose, panting, and stood looking at Mason, with his hands behind
him on the table.  The naturally strong nature and the rigid school
in which the man had been trained presently began to tell.  His
composure in part returned and he thought rapidly.  What did this
strange man know?  Was he simply making shrewd guesses, or had he
some mysterious knowledge of this matter?  Walcott could not know
that Mason meant only Fate, that he believed her to be his great
enemy.  Walcott had never before doubted his own ability to meet
any emergency.  This mighty jerk had carried him off his feet.  He
was unstrung and panic-stricken.  At any rate this man had promised
help.  He would take it.  He put the paper and envelope carefully
into his pocket, smoothed out his rumpled coat, and going over to
Mason touched him on the shoulder.

"Come," he said, "if you are to help me we must go."

The man turned and followed him without a word.  In the hall Mason
put on his hat and overcoat, and the two went out into the street.
Walcott hailed a cab, and the two were driven to his house on the
avenue.  Walcott took out his latchkey, opened the door, and led
the way into the library.  He turned on the light and motioned
Mason to seat himself at the table.  Then he went into another room
and presently returned with a bundle of papers and a decanter of
brandy.  He poured out a glass of the liquor and offered it to
Mason.  The man shook his head.  Walcott poured the contents of the
glass down his own throat.  Then he set the decanter down and drew
up a chair on the side of the table opposite Mason.

"Sir," said Walcott, in a voice deliberate, indeed, but as hollow
as a sepulcher, "I am done for.  God has finally gathered up the
ends of the net, and it is knotted tight."

"Am I not here to help you?" said Mason, turning savagely.  "I can
beat Fate.  Give me the details of her trap."

He bent forward and rested his arms on the table.  His streaked
gray hair was rumpled and on end, and his face was ugly.  For a
moment Walcott did not answer.  He moved a little into the shadow;
then he spread the bundle of old yellow papers out before him.

"To begin with," he said, "I am a living lie, a gilded crime-made
sham, every bit of me.  There is not an honest piece anywhere.  It
is all lie.  I am a liar and a thief before men.  The property
which I possess is not mine, but stolen from a dead man.  The very
name which I bear is not my own, but is the bastard child of a
crime.  I am more than all that--I am a murderer; a murderer before
the law; a murderer before God; and worse than a murderer before
the pure woman whom I love more than anything that God could make."

He paused for a moment and wiped the perspiration from his face.

"Sir," said Mason, "this is all drivel, infantile drivel.  What you
are is of no importance.  How to get out is the problem, how to get
out."

Samuel Walcott leaned forward, poured out a glass of brandy and
swallowed it.

"Well," he said, speaking slowly, "my right name is Richard Warren.
In the spring of 1879 I came to New York and fell in with the real
Samuel Walcott, a young man with a little money and some property
which his grandfather had left him.  We became friends, and
concluded to go to the far west together.  Accordingly we scraped
together what money we could lay our hands on, and landed in the
gold-mining regions of California.  We were young and
inexperienced, and our money went rapidly.  One April morning we
drifted into a little shack camp, away up in the Sierra Nevadas,
called Hell's Elbow.  Here we struggled and starved for perhaps a
year.  Finally, in utter desperation, Walcott married the daughter
of a Mexican gambler, who ran an eating house and a poker joint.
With them we lived from hand to mouth in a wild God-forsaken way
for several years.  After a time the woman began to take a strange
fancy to me.  Walcott finally noticed it, and grew jealous.

"One night, in a drunken brawl, we quarreled, and I killed him.  It
was late at night, and, beside the woman, there were four of us in
the poker room,--the Mexican gambler, a half-breed devil called
Cherubim Pete, Walcott, and myself.  When Walcott fell, the half-
breed whipped out his weapon, and fired at me across the table; but
the woman, Nina San Croix, struck his arm, and, instead of killing
me, as he intended, the bullet mortally wounded her father, the
Mexican gambler.  I shot the half-breed through the forehead, and
turned round, expecting the woman to attack me.  On the contrary,
she pointed to the window, and bade me wait for her on the cross
trail below.

"It was fully three hours later before the woman joined me at the
place indicated.  She had a bag of gold dust, a few jewels that
belonged to her father, and a package of papers.  I asked her why
she had stayed behind so long, and she replied that the men were
not killed outright, and that she had brought a priest to them and
waited until they had died.  This was the truth, but not all the
truth.  Moved by superstition or foresight, the woman had induced
the priest to take down the sworn statements of the two dying men,
seal it, and give it to her.  This paper she brought with her.  All
this I learned afterwards.  At the time I knew nothing of this
damning evidence.

"We struck out together for the Pacific coast.  The country was
lawless.  The privations we endured were almost past belief.  At
times the woman exhibited cunning and ability that were almost
genius; and through it all, often in the very fingers of death, her
devotion to me never wavered.  It was doglike, and seemed to be her
only object on earth.  When we reached San Francisco, the woman put
these papers into my hands."  Walcott took up the yellow package,
and pushed it across the table to Mason.

"She proposed that I assume Walcott's name, and that we come boldly
to New York and claim the property.  I examined the papers, found a
copy of the will by which Walcott inherited the property, a bundle
of correspondence, and sufficient documentary evidence to establish
his identity beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Desperate gambler as I
now was, I quailed before the daring plan of Nina San Croix.  I
urged that I, Richard Warren, would be known, that the attempted
fraud would be detected and would result in investigation, and
perhaps unearth the whole horrible matter.

"The woman pointed out how much I resembled Walcott, what vast
changes ten years of such life as we had led would naturally be
expected to make in men, how utterly impossible it would be to
trace back the fraud to Walcott's murder at Hell's Elbow, in the
wild passes of the Sierra Nevadas.  She bade me remember that we
were both outcasts, both crime-branded, both enemies of man's law
and God's; that we had nothing to lose; we were both sunk to the
bottom.  Then she laughed, and said that she had not found me a
coward until now, but that if I had turned chicken-hearted, that
was the end of it, of course.  The result was, we sold the gold
dust and jewels in San Francisco, took on such evidences of
civilization as possible, and purchased passage to New York on the
best steamer we could find.

"I was growing to depend on the bold gambler spirit of this woman,
Nina San Croix; I felt the need of her strong, profligate nature.
She was of a queer breed and a queerer school.  Her mother was the
daughter of a Spanish engineer, and had been stolen by the Mexican,
her father.  She herself had been raised and educated as best might
be in one of the monasteries along the Rio Grande, and had there
grown to womanhood before her father, fleeing into the mountains of
California, carried her with him.

"When we landed in New York I offered to announce her as my wife,
but she refused, saying that her presence would excite comment and
perhaps attract the attention of Walcott's relatives.  We therefore
arranged that I should go alone into the city, claim the property,
and announce myself as Samuel Walcott, and that she should remain
under cover until such time as we would feel the ground safe under
us.

"Every detail of the plan was fatally successful.  I established my
identity without difficulty and secured the property.  It had
increased vastly in value, and I, as Samuel Walcott, soon found
myself a rich man.  I went to Nina San Croix in hiding and gave her
a large sum of money, with which she purchased a residence in a
retired part of the city, far up in the northern suburb.  Here she
lived secluded and unknown while I remained in the city, living
here as a wealthy bachelor.

"I did not attempt to abandon the woman, but went to her from time
to time in disguise and under cover of the greatest secrecy.  For a
time everything ran smooth, the woman was still devoted to me above
everything else, and thought always of my welfare first and seemed
content to wait so long as I thought best.  My business expanded.
I was sought after and consulted and drawn into the higher life of
New York, and more and more felt that the woman was an albatross on
my neck.  I put her off with one excuse after another.  Finally she
began to suspect me and demanded that I should recognize her as my
wife.  I attempted to point out the difficulties.  She met them all
by saying that we should both go to Spain, there I could marry her
and we could return to America and drop into my place in society
without causing more than a passing comment.

"I concluded to meet the matter squarely once for all.  I said that
I would convert half of the property into money and give it to her,
but that I would not marry her.  She did not fly into a storming
rage as I had expected, but went quietly out of the room and
presently returned with two papers, which she read.  One was the
certificate of her marriage to Walcott duly authenticated; the
other was the dying statement of her father, the Mexican gambler,
and of Samuel Walcott, charging me with murder.  It was in proper
form and certified by the Jesuit priest.

"'Now,' she said, sweetly, when she had finished, 'which do you
prefer, to recognize your wife, or to turn all the property over to
Samuel Walcott's widow and hang for his murder?'

"I was dumfounded and horrified.  I saw the trap that I was in and
I consented to do anything she should say if she would only destroy
the papers.  This she refused to do.  I pleaded with her and
implored her to destroy them.  Finally she gave them to me with a
great show of returning confidence, and I tore them into bits and
threw them into the fire.

"That was three months ago.  We arranged to go to Spain and do as
she said.  She was to sail this morning and I was to follow.  Of
course I never intended to go.  I congratulated myself on the fact
that all trace of evidence against me was destroyed and that her
grip was now broken.  My plan was to induce her to sail, believing
that I would follow.  When she was gone I would marry Miss St.
Clair, and if Nina San Croix should return I would defy her and
lock her up as a lunatic.  But I was reckoning like an infernal
ass, to imagine for a moment that I could thus hoodwink such a
woman as Nina San Croix.

"To-night I received this."  Walcott took the envelope from his
pocket and gave it to Mason.  "You saw the effect of it; read it
and you will understand why.  I felt the death hand when I saw her
writing on the envelope."

Mason took the paper from the envelope.  It was written in Spanish,
and ran:


"Greeting to RICHARD WARREN.

"The great Senor does his little Nina injustice to think she would
go away to Spain and leave him to the beautiful American.  She is
not so thoughtless.  Before she goes, she shall be, Oh so very
rich! and the dear Senor shall be, Oh so very safe!  The Archbishop
and the kind Church hate murderers.

"NINA SAN CROIX.

"Of course, fool, the papers you destroyed were copies.

"N. SAN C."


To this was pinned a line in a delicate aristocratic hand saying
that the Archbishop would willingly listen to Madam San Croix's
statement if she would come to him on Friday morning at eleven.

"You see," said Walcott, desperately, "there is no possible way
out.  I know the woman--when she decides to do a thing that is the
end of it.  She has decided to do this."

Mason turned around from the table, stretched out his long legs,
and thrust his hands deep into his pockets.  Walcott sat with his
head down, watching Mason hopelessly, almost indifferently, his
face blank and sunken.  The ticking of the bronze clock on the
mantel shelf was loud, painfully loud.  Suddenly Mason drew his
knees in and bent over, put both his bony hands on the table, and
looked at Walcott.

"Sir," he said, "this matter is in such shape that there is only
one thing to do.  This growth must be cut out at the roots, and cut
out quickly.  This is the first fact to be determined, and a fool
would know it.  The second fact is that you must do it yourself.
Hired killers are like the grave and the daughters of the horse
leech,--they cry always, 'Give, Give.'  They are only palliatives,
not cures.  By using them you swap perils.  You simply take a stay
of execution at best.  The common criminal would know this.  These
are the facts of your problem.  The master plotters of crime would
see here but two difficulties to meet:

"A practical method for accomplishing the body of the crime.

"A cover for the criminal agent.

"They would see no farther, and attempt to guard no farther.  After
they had provided a plan for the killing, and a means by which the
killer could cover his trail and escape from the theater of the
homicide, they would believe all the requirements of the problems
met, and would stop.  The greatest, the very giants among them,
have stopped here and have been in great error.

"In every crime, especially in the great ones, there exists a third
element, preeminently vital.  This third element the master
plotters have either overlooked or else have not had the genius to
construct.  They plan with rare cunning to baffle the victim.  They
plan with vast wisdom, almost genius, to baffle the trailer.  But
they fail utterly to provide any plan for baffling the punisher.
Ergo, their plots are fatally defective and often result in ruin.
Hence the vital necessity for providing the third element--the
escape ipso jure."

Mason arose, walked around the table, and put his hand firmly on
Samuel Walcott's shoulder.  "This must be done to-morrow night," he
continued; "you must arrange your business matters to-morrow and
announce that you are going on a yacht cruise, by order of your
physician, and may not return for some weeks.  You must prepare
your yacht for a voyage, instruct your men to touch at a certain
point on Staten Island, and wait until six o'clock day after
tomorrow morning.  If you do not come aboard by that time, they are
to go to one of the South American ports and remain until further
orders.  By this means your absence for an indefinite period will
be explained.  You will go to Nina San Croix in the disguise which
you have always used, and from her to the yacht, and by this means
step out of your real status and back into it without leaving
traces.  I will come here to-morrow evening and furnish you with
everything that you shall need and give you full and exact
instructions in every particular.  These details you must execute
with the greatest care, as they will be vitally essential to the
success of my plan."

Through it all Walcott had been silent and motionless.  Now he
arose, and in his face there must have been some premonition of
protest, for Mason stepped back and put out his hand.  "Sir," he
said, with brutal emphasis, "not a word.  Remember that you are
only the hand, and the hand does not think."  Then he turned around
abruptly and went out of the house.


III


The place which Samuel Walcott had selected for the residence of
Nina San Croix was far up in the northern suburb of New York.  The
place was very old.  The lawn was large and ill kept; the house, a
square old-fashioned brick, was set far back from the street, and
partly hidden by trees.  Around it all was a rusty iron fence.  The
place had the air of genteel ruin, such as one finds in the
Virginias.

On a Thursday of November, about three o'clock in the afternoon, a
little man, driving a dray, stopped in the alley at the rear of the
house.  As he opened the back gate an old negro woman came down the
steps from the kitchen and demanded to know what he wanted.  The
drayman asked if the lady of the house was in.  The old negro
answered that she was asleep at this hour and could not be seen.

"That is good," said the little man, "now there won't be any row.
I brought up some cases of wine which she ordered from our house
last week and which the Boss told me to deliver at once, but I
forgot it until to-day.  Just let me put it in the cellar now,
Auntie, and don't say a word to the lady about it and she won't
ever know that it was not brought up on time."

The drayman stopped, fished a silver dollar out of his pocket, and
gave it to the old negro.  "There now, Auntie," he said, "my job
depends upon the lady not knowing about this wine; keep it mum."

"Dat's all right, honey," said the old servant, beaming like a May
morning.  "De cellar door is open, carry it all in and put it in de
back part and nobody ain't never going to know how long it has been
in dar."

The old negro went back into the kitchen and the little man began
to unload the dray.  He carried in five wine cases and stowed them
away in the back part of the cellar as the old woman had directed.
Then, after having satisfied himself that no one was watching, he
took from the dray two heavy paper sacks, presumably filled with
flour, and a little bundle wrapped in an old newspaper; these he
carefully hid behind the wine cases in the cellar.  After awhile he
closed the door, climbed on his dray, and drove off down the alley.

About eight o'clock in the evening of the same day, a Mexican
sailor dodged in the front gate and slipped down to the side of the
house.  He stopped by the window and tapped on it with his finger.
In a moment a woman opened the door.  She was tall, lithe, and
splendidly proportioned, with a dark Spanish face and straight
hair.  The man stepped inside.  The woman bolted the door and
turned round.

"Ah," she said, smiling, "it is you, Senor?  How good of you!"

The man started.  "Whom else did you expect?" he said quickly.

"Oh!" laughed the woman, "perhaps the Archbishop."

"Nina!" said the man, in a broken voice that expressed love,
humility, and reproach.  His face was white under the black
sunburn.

For a moment the woman wavered.  A shadow flitted over her eyes,
then she stepped back.  "No," she said, "not yet."

The man walked across to the fire, sank down in a chair, and
covered his face with his hands.  The woman stepped up noiselessly
behind him and leaned over the chair.  The man was either in great
agony or else he was a superb actor, for the muscles of his neck
twitched violently and his shoulders trembled.

"Oh," he muttered, as though echoing his thoughts, "I can't do it,
I can't!"

The woman caught the words and leaped up as though some one had
struck her in the face.  She threw back her head.  Her nostrils
dilated and her eyes flashed.

"You can't do it!" she cried.  "Then you do love her!  You shall do
it!  Do you hear me?  You shall do it!  You killed him!  You got
rid of him! but you shall not get rid of me.  I have the evidence,
all of it.  The Archbishop will have it to-morrow.  They shall hang
you!  Do you hear me?  They shall hang you!"

The woman's voice rose, it was loud and shrill.  The man turned
slowly round without looking up, and stretched out his arms toward
the woman.  She stopped and looked down at him.  The fire glittered
for a moment and then died out of her eyes, her bosom heaved and
her lips began to tremble.  With a cry she flung herself into his
arms, caught him around the neck, and pressed his face up close
against her cheek.

"Oh! Dick, Dick," she sobbed, "I do love you so!  I can't live
without you!  Not another hour, Dick!  I do want you so much, so
much, Dick!"

The man shifted his right arm quickly, slipped a great Mexican
knife out of his sleeve, and passed his fingers slowly up the
woman's side until he felt the heart beat under his hand, then he
raised the knife, gripped the handle tight, and drove the keen
blade into the woman's bosom.  The hot blood gushed out over his
arm, and down on his leg.  The body, warm and limp, slipped down in
his arms.  The man got up, pulled out the knife, and thrust it into
a sheath at his belt, unbuttoned the dress, and slipped it off of
the body.  As he did this a bundle of papers dropped upon the
floor; these he glanced at hastily and put into his pocket.  Then
he took the dead woman up in his arms, went out into the hall, and
started to go up the stairway.  The body was relaxed and heavy, and
for that reason difficult to carry.  He doubled it up into an awful
heap, with the knees against the chin, and walked slowly and
heavily up the stairs and out into the bathroom.  There he laid the
corpse down on the tiled floor.  Then he opened the window, closed
the shutters, and lighted the gas.  The bathroom was small and
contained an ordinary steel tub, porcelain lined, standing near the
window and raised about six inches above the floor.  The sailor
went over to the tub, pried up the metal rim of the outlet with his
knife, removed it, and fitted into its place a porcelain disk which
he took from his pocket; to this disk was attached a long platinum
wire, the end of which he fastened on the outside of the tub.
After he had done this he went back to the body, stripped off its
clothing, put it down in the tub and began to dismember it with the
great Mexican knife.  The blade was strong and sharp as a razor.
The man worked rapidly and with the greatest care.

When he had finally cut the body into as small pieces as possible,
he replaced the knife in its sheath, washed his hands, and went out
of the bathroom and downstairs to the lower hall.  The sailor
seemed perfectly familiar with the house.  By a side door he passed
into the cellar.  There he lighted the gas, opened one of the wine
cases, and, taking up all the bottles that he could conveniently
carry, returned to the bathroom.  There he poured the contents into
the tub on the dismembered body, and then returned to the cellar
with the empty bottles, which he replaced in the wine cases.  This
he continued to do until all the cases but one were emptied and the
bath tub was more than half full of liquid.  This liquid was
sulphuric acid.

When the sailor returned to the cellar with the last empty wine
bottles, he opened the fifth case, which really contained wine,
took some of it out, and poured a little into each of the empty
bottles in order to remove any possible odor of the sulphuric acid.
Then he turned out the gas and brought up to the bathroom with him
the two paper flour sacks and the little heavy bundle.  These sacks
were filled with nitrate of soda.  He set them down by the door,
opened the little bundle, and took out two long rubber tubes, each
attached to a heavy gas burner, not unlike the ordinary burners of
a small gas stove.  He fastened the tubes to two of the gas jets,
put the burners under the tub, turned the gas on full, and lighted
it.  Then he threw into the tub the woman's clothing and the papers
which he had found on her body, after which he took up the two
heavy sacks of nitrate of soda and dropped them carefully into the
sulphuric acid.  When he had done this he went quickly out of the
bathroom and closed the door.

The deadly acids at once attacked the body and began to destroy it;
as the heat increased, the acids boiled and the destructive process
was rapid and awful.  From time to time the sailor opened the door
of the bathroom cautiously, and, holding a wet towel over his mouth
and nose, looked in at his horrible work.  At the end of a few
hours there was only a swimming mass in the tub.  When the man
looked at four o'clock, it was all a thick murky liquid.  He turned
off the gas quickly and stepped back out of the room.  For perhaps
half an hour he waited in the hall; finally, when the acids had
cooled so that they no longer gave off fumes, he opened the door
and went in, took hold of the platinum wire and, pulling the
porcelain disk from the stopcock, allowed the awful contents of the
tub to run out.  Then he turned on the hot water, rinsed the tub
clean, and replaced the metal outlet.  Removing the rubber tubes,
he cut them into pieces, broke the porcelain disk, and, rolling up
the platinum wire, washed it all down the sewer pipe.

The fumes had escaped through the open window; this he now closed
and set himself to putting the bathroom in order, and effectually
removing every trace of his night's work.  The sailor moved around
with the very greatest degree of care.  Finally, when he had
arranged everything to his complete satisfaction, he picked up the
two burners, turned out the gas, and left the bathroom, closing the
door after him.  From the bathroom he went directly to the attic,
concealed the two rusty burners under a heap of rubbish, and then
walked carefully and noiselessly down the stairs and through the
lower hall.  As he opened the door and stepped into the room where
he had killed the woman, two police officers sprang out and seized
him.  The man screamed like a wild beast taken in a trap and sank
down.

"Oh! oh!" he cried, "it was no use! it was no use to do it!"  Then
he recovered himself in a manner and was silent.  The officers
handcuffed him, summoned the patrol, and took him at once to the
station house.  There he said he was a Mexican sailor and that his
name was Victor Ancona; but he would say nothing further.  The
following morning he sent for Randolph Mason and the two were long
together.


IV


The obscure defendant charged with murder has little reason to
complain of the law's delays.  The morning following the arrest of
Victor Ancona, the newspapers published long sensational articles,
denounced him as a fiend, and convicted him.  The grand jury, as it
happened, was in session.  The preliminaries were soon arranged and
the case was railroaded into trial.  The indictment contained a
great many counts, and charged the prisoner with the murder of Nina
San Croix by striking, stabbing, choking, poisoning, and so forth.

The trial had continued for three days and had appeared so
overwhelmingly one-sided that the spectators who were crowded in
the court room had grown to be violent and bitter partisans, to
such an extent that the police watched them closely.  The attorneys
for the People were dramatic and denunciatory, and forced their
case with arrogant confidence.  Mason, as counsel for the prisoner,
was indifferent and listless.  Throughout the entire trial he had
sat almost motionless at the table, his gaunt form bent over, his
long legs drawn up under his chair, and his weary, heavy-muscled
face, with its restless eyes, fixed and staring out over the heads
of the jury, was like a tragic mask.  The bar, and even the judge,
believed that the prisoner's counsel had abandoned his case.

The evidence was all in and the People rested.  It had been shown
that Nina San Croix had resided for many years in the house in
which the prisoner was arrested; that she had lived by herself,
with no other companion than an old negro servant; that her past
was unknown, and that she received no visitors, save the Mexican
sailor, who came to her house at long intervals.  Nothing whatever
was shown tending to explain who the prisoner was or whence he had
come.  It was shown that on Tuesday preceding the killing the
Archbishop had received a communication from Nina San Croix, in
which she said she desired to make a statement of the greatest
import, and asking for an audience.  To this the Archbishop replied
that he would willingly grant her a hearing if she would come to
him at eleven o'clock on Friday morning.  Two policemen testified
that about eight o'clock on the night of Thursday they had noticed
the prisoner slip into the gate of Nina San Croix's residence and
go down to the side of the house, where he was admitted; that his
appearance and seeming haste had attracted their attention; that
they had concluded that it was some clandestine amour, and out of
curiosity had both slipped down to the house and endeavored to find
a position from which they could see into the room, but were unable
to do so, and were about to go back to the street when they heard a
woman's voice cry out in, great anger: "I know that you love her
and that you want to get rid of me, but you shall not do it!  You
murdered him, but you shall not murder me!  I have all the evidence
to convict you of murdering him!  The Archbishop will have it to-
morrow!  They shall hang you!  Do you hear me?  They shall hang you
for this murder!" that thereupon one of the policemen proposed that
they should break into the house and see what was wrong, but the
other had urged that it was only the usual lovers' quarrel and if
they should interfere they would find nothing upon which a charge
could be based and would only be laughed at by the chief; that they
had waited and listened for a time, but hearing nothing further had
gone back to the street and contented themselves with keeping a
strict watch on the house.

The People proved further, that on Thursday evening Nina San Croix
had given the old negro domestic a sum of money and dismissed her,
with the instruction that she was not to return until sent for.
The old woman testified that she had gone directly to the house of
her son, and later had discovered that she had forgotten some
articles of clothing which she needed; that thereupon she had
returned to the house and had gone up the back way to her room,--
this was about eight o'clock; that while there she had heard Nina
San Croix's voice in great passion and remembered that she had used
the words stated by the policemen; that these sudden, violent cries
had frightened her greatly and she had bolted the door and been
afraid to leave the room; shortly thereafter, she had heard heavy
footsteps ascending the stairs, slowly and with great difficulty,
as though some one were carrying a heavy burden; that therefore her
fear had increased and that she had put out the light and hidden
under the bed.  She remembered hearing the footsteps moving about
upstairs for many hours, how long she could not tell.  Finally,
about half-past four in the morning, she crept out, opened the
door, slipped downstairs, and ran out into the street.  There she
had found the policemen and requested them to search the house.

The two officers had gone to the house with the woman.  She had
opened the door and they had had just time to step back into the
shadow when the prisoner entered.  When arrested, Victor Ancona had
screamed with terror, and cried out, "It was no use! it was no use
to do it!"

The Chief of Police had come to the house and instituted a careful
search.  In the room below, from which the cries had come, he found
a dress which was identified as belonging to Nina San Croix and
which she was wearing when last seen by the domestic, about six
o'clock that evening.  This dress was covered with blood, and had a
slit about two inches long in the left side of the bosom, into
which the Mexican knife, found on the prisoner, fitted perfectly.
These articles were introduced in evidence, and it was shown that
the slit would be exactly over the heart of the wearer, and that
such a wound would certainly result in death.  There was much blood
on one of the chairs and on the floor.  There was also blood on the
prisoner's coat and the leg of his trousers, and the heavy Mexican
knife was also bloody.  The blood was shown by the experts to be
human blood.

The body of the woman was not found, and the most rigid and
tireless search failed to develop the slightest trace of the
corpse, or the manner of its disposal.  The body of the woman had
disappeared as completely as though it had vanished into the air.

When counsel announced that he had closed for the People, the judge
turned and looked gravely down at Mason.  "Sir," he said, "the
evidence for the defense may now be introduced."

Randolph Mason arose slowly and faced the judge.

"If your Honor please," he said, speaking slowly and distinctly,
"the defendant has no evidence to offer."  He paused while a murmur
of astonishment ran over the court room.  "But, if your Honor
please," he continued, "I move that the jury be directed to find
the prisoner not guilty."

The crowd stirred.  The counsel for the People smiled.  The judge
looked sharply at the speaker over his glasses.  "On what ground?"
he said curtly.

"On the ground," replied Mason, "that the corpus delicti has not
been proven."

"Ah!" said the judge, for once losing his judicial gravity.  Mason
sat down abruptly.  The senior counsel for the prosecution was on
his feet in a moment.

"What!" he said, "the gentleman bases his motion on a failure to
establish the corpus delicti?  Does he jest, or has he forgotten
the evidence?  The term 'corpus delicti' is technical, and means
the body of the crime, or the substantial fact that a crime has
been committed.  Does anyone doubt it in this case?  It is true
that no one actually saw the prisoner kill the decedent, and that
he has so successfully hidden the body that it has not been found,
but the powerful chain of circumstances, clear and close-linked,
proving motive, the criminal agency, and the criminal act, is
overwhelming.

"The victim in this case is on the eve of making a statement that
would prove fatal to the prisoner.  The night before the statement
is to be made he goes to her residence.  They quarrel.  Her voice
is heard, raised high in the greatest passion, denouncing him, and
charging that he is a murderer, that she has the evidence and will
reveal it, that he shall be hanged, and that he shall not be rid of
her.  Here is the motive for the crime, clear as light.  Are not
the bloody knife, the bloody dress, the bloody clothes of the
prisoner, unimpeachable witnesses to the criminal act?  The
criminal agency of the prisoner has not the shadow of a possibility
to obscure it.  His motive is gigantic.  The blood on him, and his
despair when arrested, cry 'Murder! murder!' with a thousand
tongues.

"Men may lie, but circumstances cannot.  The thousand hopes and
fears and passions of men may delude, or bias the witness.  Yet it
is beyond the human mind to conceive that a clear, complete chain
of concatenated circumstances can be in error.  Hence it is that
the greatest jurists have declared that such evidence, being rarely
liable to delusion or fraud, is safest and most powerful.  The
machinery of human justice cannot guard against the remote and
improbable doubt.  The inference is persistent in the affairs of
men.  It is the only means by which the human mind reaches the
truth.  If you forbid the jury to exercise it, you bid them work
after first striking off their hands.  Rule out the irresistible
inference, and the end of justice is come in this land; and you may
as well leave the spider to weave his web through the abandoned
court room."

The attorney stopped, looked down at Mason with a pompous sneer,
and retired to his place at the table.  The judge sat thoughtful
and motionless.  The jurymen leaned forward in their seats.

"If your Honor please," said Mason, rising, "this is a matter of
law, plain, clear, and so well settled in the State of New York
that even counsel for the People should know it.  The question
before your Honor is simple.  If the corpus delicti, the body of
the crime, has been proven, as required by the laws of the
commonwealth, then this case should go to the jury.  If not, then
it is the duty of this Court to direct the jury to find the
prisoner not guilty.  There is here no room for judicial
discretion.  Your Honor has but to recall and apply the rigid rule
announced by our courts prescribing distinctly how the corpus
delicti in murder must be proven.

"The prisoner here stands charged with the highest crime.  The law
demands, first, that the crime, as a fact, be established.  The
fact that the victim is indeed dead must first be made certain
before anyone can be convicted for her killing, because, so long as
there remains the remotest doubt as to the death, there can be no
certainty as to the criminal agent, although the circumstantial
evidence indicating the guilt of the accused may be positive,
complete, and utterly irresistible.  In murder, the corpus delicti,
or body of the crime, is composed of two elements:

"Death, as a result.

"The criminal agency of another as the means.

It is the fixed and immutable law of this State, laid down in the
leading case of Ruloff v. The People, and binding upon this Court,
that both components of the corpus delicti shall not be established
by circumstantial evidence.  There must be direct proof of one or
the other of these two component elements of the corpus delicti.
If one is proven by direct evidence, the other may be presumed; but
both shall not be presumed from circumstances, no matter how
powerful, how cogent, or how completely overwhelming the
circumstances may be.  In other words, no man can be convicted of
murder in the State of New York, unless the body of the victim be
found and identified, or there be direct proof that the prisoner
did some act adequate to produce death, and did it in such a manner
as to account for the disappearance of the body."

The face of the judge cleared and grew hard.  The members of the
bar were attentive and alert; they were beginning to see the legal
escape open up.  The audience were puzzled; they did not yet
understand.  Mason turned to the counsel for the People.  His ugly
face was bitter with contempt.

"For three days," he said," I have been tortured by this useless
and expensive farce.  If counsel for the People had been other than
play-actors, they would have known in the beginning that Victor
Ancona could not be convicted for murder, unless he were confronted
in this court room with a living witness, who had looked into the
dead face of Nina San Croix; or, if not that, a living witness who
had seen him drive the dagger into her bosom.

"I care not if the circumstantial evidence in this case were so
strong and irresistible as to be overpowering; if the judge on the
bench, if the jury, if every man within sound of my voice, were
convinced of the guilt of the prisoner to the degree of certainty
that is absolute; if the circumstantial evidence left in the mind
no shadow of the remotest improbable doubt; yet, in the absence of
the eyewitness, this prisoner cannot be punished, and this Court
must compel the jury to acquit him."

The audience now understood, and they were dumfounded.  Surely this
was not the law.  They had been taught that the law was common
sense, and this,--this was anything else.

Mason saw it all, and grinned.  "In its tenderness," he sneered,
"the law shields the innocent.  The good law of New York reaches
out its hand and lifts the prisoner out of the clutches of the
fierce jury that would hang him."

Mason sat down.  The room was silent.  The jurymen looked at each
other in amazement.  The counsel for the People arose.  His face
was white with anger, and incredulous.

"Your Honor," he said, "this doctrine is monstrous.  Can it be said
that, in order to evade punishment, the murderer has only to hide
or destroy the body of the victim, or sink it into the sea?  Then,
if he is not seen to kill, the law is powerless and the murderer
can snap his finger in the face of retributive justice.  If this is
the law, then the law for the highest crime is a dead letter.  The
great commonwealth winks at murder and invites every man to kill
his enemy, provided he kill him in secret and hide him.  I repeat,
your Honor,"--the man's voice was now loud and angry and rang
through the court room--"that this doctrine is monstrous!"

"So said Best, and Story, and many another," muttered Mason, "and
the law remained."

"The Court," said the judge, abruptly, "desires no further
argument."

The counsel for the People resumed his seat.  His face lighted up
with triumph.  The Court was going to sustain him.

The judge turned and looked down at the jury.  He was grave, and
spoke with deliberate emphasis.

"Gentlemen of the jury," he said, "the rule of Lord Hale obtains in
this State and is binding upon me.  It is the law as stated by
counsel for the prisoner: that to warrant conviction of murder
there must be direct proof either of the death, as of the finding
and identification of the corpse, or of criminal violence adequate
to produce death, and exerted in such a manner as to account for
the disappearance of the body; and it is only when there is direct
proof of the one that the other can be established by
circumstantial evidence.  This is the law, and cannot now be
departed from.  I do not presume to explain its wisdom.  Chief-
Justice Johnson has observed, in the leading case, that it may have
its probable foundation in the idea that where direct proof is
absent as to both the fact of the death and of criminal violence
capable of producing death, no evidence can rise to the degree of
moral certainty that the individual is dead by criminal
intervention, or even lead by direct inference to this result; and
that, where the fact of death is not certainly ascertained, all
inculpatory circumstantial evidence wants the key necessary for its
satisfactory interpretation, and cannot be depended on to furnish
more than probable results.  It may be, also, that such a rule has
some reference to the dangerous possibility that a general
preconception of guilt, or a general excitement of popular feeling,
may creep in to supply the place of evidence, if, upon other than
direct proof of death or a cause of death, a jury are permitted to
pronounce a prisoner guilty.

"In this case the body has not been found and there is no direct
proof of criminal agency on the part of the prisoner, although the
chain of circumstantial evidence is complete and irresistible in
the highest degree.  Nevertheless, it is all circumstantial
evidence, and under the laws of New York the prisoner cannot be
punished.  I have no right of discretion.  The law does not permit
a conviction in this case, although every one of us may be morally
certain of the prisoner's guilt.  I am, therefore, gentlemen of the
jury, compelled to direct you to find the prisoner not guilty."

"Judge," interrupted the foreman, jumping up in the box, "we cannot
find that verdict under our oath; we know that this man is guilty."

"Sir," said the judge, "this is a matter of law in which the wishes
of the jury cannot be considered.  The clerk will write a verdict
of not guilty, which you, as foreman, will sign."

The spectators broke out into a threatening murmur that began to
grow and gather volume.  The judge rapped on his desk and ordered
the bailiffs promptly to suppress any demonstration on the part of
the audience.  Then he directed the foreman to sign the verdict
prepared by the clerk.  When this was done he turned to Victor
Ancona; his face was hard and there was a cold glitter in his eyes.

"Prisoner at the bar," he said, "you have been put to trial before
this tribunal on a charge of cold-blooded and atrocious murder.
The evidence produced against you was of such powerful and
overwhelming character that it seems to have left no doubt in the
minds of the jury, nor indeed in the mind of any person present in
this court room.

"Had the question of your guilt been submitted to these twelve
arbiters, a conviction would certainly have resulted and the death
penalty would have been imposed.  But the law, rigid, passionless,
even-eyed, has thrust in between you and the wrath of your fellows
and saved you from it.  I do not cry out against the impotency of
the law; it is perhaps as wise as imperfect humanity could make it.
I deplore, rather, the genius of evil men who, by cunning design,
are enabled to slip through the fingers of this law.  I have no
word of censure or admonition for you, Victor Ancona.  The law of
New York compels me to acquit you.  I am only its mouthpiece, with
my individual wishes throttled.  I speak only those things which
the law directs I shall speak.

"You are now at liberty to leave this court room, not guiltless of
the crime of murder, perhaps, but at least rid of its punishment.
The eyes of men may see Cain's mark on your brow, but the eyes of
the Law are blind to it."

When the audience fully realized what the judge had said they were
amazed and silent.  They knew as well as men could know, that
Victor Ancona was guilty of murder, and yet he was now going out of
the court room free.  Could it happen that the law protected only
against the blundering rogue?  They had heard always of the boasted
completeness of the law which magistrates from time immemorial had
labored to perfect, and now when the skillful villain sought to
evade it, they saw how weak a thing it was.


V


The wedding march of Lohengrin floated out from the Episcopal
Church of St. Mark, clear and sweet, and perhaps heavy with its
paradox of warning.  The theater of this coming contract before
high heaven was a wilderness of roses worth the taxes of a county.
The high caste of Manhattan, by the grace of the check book, were
present, clothed in Parisian purple and fine linen, cunningly and
marvelously wrought.

Over in her private pew, ablaze with jewels, and decked with
fabrics from the deft hand of many a weaver, sat Mrs. Miriam
Steuvisant as imperious and self-complacent as a queen.  To her it
was all a kind of triumphal procession, proclaiming her ability as
a general.  With her were a choice few of the genus homo, which
obtains at the five-o'clock teas, instituted, say the sages, for
the purpose of sprinkling the holy water of Lethe.

"Czarina," whispered Reggie Du Puyster, leaning forward, "I salute
you.  The ceremony sub jugum is superb."

"Walcott is an excellent fellow," answered Mrs. Steuvisant; "not a
vice, you know, Reggie."

"Aye, Empress," put in the others, "a purist taken in the net.  The
clean-skirted one has come to the altar.  Vive la vertu!"

Samuel Walcott, still sunburned from his cruise, stood before the
chancel with the only daughter of the blue blooded St. Clairs.  His
face was clear and honest and his voice firm.  This was life and
not romance.  The lid of the sepulcher had closed and he had
slipped from under it.  And now, and ever after, the hand red with
murder was clean as any.

The minister raised his voice, proclaiming the holy union before
God, and this twain, half pure, half foul, now by divine ordinance
one flesh, bowed down before it.  No blood cried from the ground.
The sunlight of high noon streamed down through the window panes
like a benediction.

Back in the pew of Mrs. Miriam Steuvisant, Reggie Du Puyster turned
down his thumb.  "Habet!" he said.


From "The Strange Schemes of Randolph Mason," by Melville Davisson
Post.  Copyright, 1896, by G. P. Putnam's Sons.



Ambrose Bierce

An Heiress from Redhorse


CORONADO, June 20th.

I find myself more and more interested in him.  It is not, I am
sure, his--do you know any noun corresponding to the adjective
"handsome"?  One does not like to say "beauty" when speaking of a
man.  He is handsome enough, heaven knows; I should not even care
to trust you with him--faithful of all possible wives that you are--
when he looks his best, as he always does.  Nor do I think the
fascination of his manner has much to do with it.  You recollect
that the charm of art inheres in that which is undefinable, and to
you and me, my dear Irene, I fancy there is rather less of that in
the branch of art under consideration than to girls in their first
season.  I fancy I know how my fine gentleman produces many of his
effects, and could, perhaps, give him a pointer on heightening
them.  Nevertheless, his manner is something truly delightful.  I
suppose what interests me chiefly is the man's brains.  His
conversation is the best I have ever heard, and altogether unlike
anyone's else.  He seems to know everything, as, indeed, he ought,
for he has been everywhere, read everything, seen all there is to
see--sometimes I think rather more than is good for him--and had
acquaintance with the QUEEREST people.  And then his voice--Irene,
when I hear it I actually feel as if I ought to have PAID AT THE
DOOR, though, of course, it is my own door.


July 3d.

I fear my remarks about Dr. Barritz must have been, being
thoughtless, very silly, or you would not have written of him with
such levity, not to say disrespect.  Believe me, dearest, he has
more dignity and seriousness (of the kind, I mean, which is not
inconsistent with a manner sometimes playful and always charming)
than any of the men that you and I ever met.  And young Raynor--you
knew Raynor at Monterey--tells me that the men all like him, and
that he is treated with something like deference everywhere.  There
is a mystery, too--something about his connection with the
Blavatsky people in Northern India.  Raynor either would not or
could not tell me the particulars.  I infer that Dr. Barritz is
thought--don't you dare to laugh at me--a magician!  Could anything
be finer than that?  An ordinary mystery is not, of course, as good
as a scandal, but when it relates to dark and dreadful practices--
to the exercise of unearthly powers--could anything be more
piquant?  It explains, too, the singular influence the man has upon
me.  It is the undefinable in his art--black art.  Seriously, dear,
I quite tremble when he looks me full in the eyes with those
unfathomable orbs of his, which I have already vainly attempted to
describe to you.  How dreadful if we have the power to make one
fall in love!  Do you know if the Blavatsky crowd have that power--
outside of Sepoy?


July 1

The strangest thing!  Last evening while Auntie was attending one
of the hotel hops (I hate them) Dr. Barritz called.  It was
scandalously late--I actually believe he had talked with Auntie in
the ballroom, and learned from her that I was alone.  I had been
all the evening contriving how to worm out of him the truth about
his connection with the Thugs in Sepoy, and all of that black
business, but the moment he fixed his eyes on me (for I admitted
him, I'm ashamed to say) I was helpless, I trembled, I blushed, I--
O Irene, Irene, I love the man beyond expression, and you know how
it is yourself!

Fancy!  I, an ugly duckling from Redhorse--daughter (they say) of
old Calamity Jim--certainly his heiress, with no living relation
but an absurd old aunt, who spoils me a thousand and fifty ways--
absolutely destitute of everything but a million dollars and a hope
in Paris--I daring to love a god like him!  My dear, if I had you
here, I could tear your hair out with mortification.

I am convinced that he is aware of my feeling, for he stayed but a
few moments, said nothing but what another man might have said half
as well, and pretending that he had an engagement went away.  I
learned to-day (a little bird told me--the bell bird) that he went
straight to bed.  How does that strike you as evidence of exemplary
habits?


July 17th.

That little wretch, Raynor, called yesterday, and his babble set me
almost wild.  He never runs down--that is to say, when he
exterminates a score of reputations, more or less, he does not
pause between one reputation and the next.  (By the way, he
inquired about you, and his manifestations of interest in you had,
I confess, a good deal of vraisemblance.)

Mr. Raynor observes no game laws; like Death (which he would
inflict if slander were fatal) he has all seasons for his own.  But
I like him, for we knew one another at Redhorse when we were young
and true-hearted and barefooted.  He was known in those far fair
days as "Giggles," and I--O Irene, can you ever forgive me?--I was
called "Gunny."  God knows why; perhaps in allusion to the material
of my pinafores; perhaps because the name is in alliteration with
"Giggles," for Gig and I were inseparable playmates, and the miners
may have thought it a delicate compliment to recognize some kind of
relationship between us.

Later, we took in a third--another of Adversity's brood, who, like
Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy, had a chronic inability to
adjudicate the rival claims (to himself) of Frost and Famine.
Between him and the grave there was seldom anything more than a
single suspender and the hope of a meal which would at the same
time support life and make it insupportable.  He literally picked
up a precarious living for himself and an aged mother by
"chloriding the dumps," that is to say, the miners permitted him to
search the heaps of waste rock for such pieces of "pay ore" as had
been overlooked; and these he sacked up and sold at the Syndicate
Mill.  He became a member of our firm--"Gunny, Giggles, and Dumps,"
thenceforth--through my favor; for I could not then, nor can I now,
be indifferent to his courage and prowess in defending against
Giggles the immemorial right of his sex to insult a strange and
unprotected female--myself.  After old Jim struck it in the
Calamity, and I began to wear shoes and go to school, and in
emulation Giggles took to washing his face, and became Jack Raynor,
of Wells, Fargo & Co., and old Mrs. Barts was herself chlorided to
her fathers, Dumps drifted over to San Juan Smith and turned stage
driver, and was killed by road agents, and so forth.

Why do I tell you all this, dear?  Because it is heavy on my heart.
Because I walk the Valley of Humility.  Because I am subduing
myself to permanent consciousness of my unworthiness to unloose the
latchet of Dr. Barritz's shoe.  Because-oh, dear, oh, dear--there's
a cousin of Dumps at this hotel!  I haven't spoken to him.  I never
had any acquaintance with him, but--do you suppose he has
recognized me?  Do, please, give me in your next your candid, sure-
enough opinion about it, and say you don't think so.  Do you think
He knows about me already and that is why He left me last evening
when He saw that I blushed and trembled like a fool under His eyes?
You know I can't bribe ALL the newspapers, and I can't go back on
anybody who was good to Gunny at Redhorse--not if I'm pitched out
of society into the sea.  So the skeleton sometimes rattles behind
the door.  I never cared much before, as you know, but now--NOW it
is not the same.  Jack Raynor I am sure of--he will not tell him.
He seems, indeed, to hold him in such respect as hardly to dare
speak to him at all, and I'm a good deal that way myself.  Dear,
dear!  I wish I had something besides a million dollars!  If Jack
were three inches taller I'd marry him alive and go back to
Redhorse and wear sackcloth again to the end of my miserable days.


July 25th.

We had a perfectly splendid sunset last evening, and I must tell
you all about it.  I ran away from Auntie and everybody, and was
walking alone on the beach.  I expect you to believe, you infidel!
that I had not looked out of my window on the seaward side of the
hotel and seen him walking alone on the beach.  If you are not lost
to every feeling of womanly delicacy you will accept my statement
without question.  I soon established myself under my sunshade and
had for some time been gazing out dreamily over the sea, when he
approached, walking close to the edge of the water--it was ebb
tide.  I assure you the wet sand actually brightened about his
feet!  As he approached me, he lifted his hat, saying: "Miss
Dement, may I sit with you?--or will you walk with me?"

The possibility that neither might be agreeable seems not to have
occurred to him.  Did you ever know such assurance?  Assurance?  My
dear, it was gall, downright GALL!  Well, I didn't find it
wormwood, and replied, with my untutored Redhorse heart in my
throat: "I--I shall be pleased to do ANYTHING."  Could words have
been more stupid?  There are depths of fatuity in me, friend o' my
soul, which are simply bottomless!

He extended his hand, smiling, and I delivered mine into it without
a moment's hesitation, and when his fingers closed about it to
assist me to my feet, the consciousness that it trembled made me
blush worse than the red west.  I got up, however, and after a
while, observing that he had not let go my hand, I pulled on it a
little, but unsuccessfully.  He simply held on, saying nothing, but
looking down into my face with some kind of a smile--I didn't know--
how could I?--whether it was affectionate, derisive, or what, for
I did not look at him.  How beautiful he was!--with the red fires
of the sunset burning in the depths of his eyes.  Do you know,
dear, if the Thugs and Experts of the Blavatsky region have any
special kind of eyes?  Ah, you should have seen his superb
attitude, the godlike inclination of his head as he stood over me
after I had got upon my feet!  It was a noble picture, but I soon
destroyed it, for I began at once to sink again to the earth.
There was only one thing for him to do, and he did it; he supported
me with an arm about my waist.

"Miss Dement, are you ill?" he said.

It was not an exclamation; there was neither alarm nor solicitude
in it.  If he had added: "I suppose that is about what I am
expected to say," he would hardly have expressed his sense of the
situation more clearly.  His manner filled me with shame and
indignation, for I was suffering acutely.  I wrenched my hand out
of his, grasped the arm supporting me, and, pushing myself free,
fell plump into the sand and sat helpless.  My hat had fallen off
in the struggle, and my hair tumbled about my face and shoulders in
the most mortifying way.

"Go away from me," I cried, half choking.  "Oh, PLEASE go away,
you--you Thug!  How dare you think THAT when my leg is asleep?"

I actually said those identical words!  And then I broke down and
sobbed.  Irene, I BLUBBERED!

His manner altered in an instant--I could see that much through my
fingers and hair.  He dropped on one knee beside me, parted the
tangle of hair, and said, in the tenderest way: My poor girl, God
knows I have not intended to pain you.  How should I?--I who love
you--I who have loved you for--for years and years!"

He had pulled my wet hands away from my face and was covering them
with kisses.  My cheeks were like two coals, my whole face was
flaming and, I think, steaming.  What could I do?  I hid it on his
shoulder--there was no other place.  And, oh, my dear friend, how
my leg tingled and thrilled, and how I wanted to kick!

We sat so for a long time.  He had released one of my hands to pass
his arm about me again, and I possessed myself of my handkerchief
and was drying my eyes and my nose.  I would not look up until that
was done; he tried in vain to push me a little away and gaze into
my eyes.  Presently, when it was all right, and it had grown a bit
dark, I lifted my head, looked him straight in the eyes, and smiled
my best--my level best, dear.

"What do you mean," I said, "by 'years and years'?"

"Dearest," he replied, very gravely, very earnestly, "in the
absence of the sunken cheeks, the hollow eyes, the lank hair, the
slouching gait, the rags, dirt, and youth, can you not--will you
not understand?  Gunny, I'm Dumps!"

In a moment I was upon my feet and he upon his.  I seized him by
the lapels of his coat and peered into his handsome face in the
deepening darkness.  I was breathless with excitement.

"And you are not dead?" I asked, hardly knowing what I said.

"Only dead in love, dear.  I recovered from the road agent's
bullet, but this, I fear, is fatal."

"But about Jack--Mr. Raynor?  Don't you know--"

"I am ashamed to say, darling, that it was through that unworthy
person's invitation that I came here from Vienna."

Irene, they have played it upon your affectionate friend,

MARY JANE DEMENT.


P.S.--The worst of it is that there is no mystery.  That was an
invention of Jack to arouse my curiosity and interest.  James is
not a Thug.  He solemnly assures me that in all his wanderings he
has never set foot in Sepoy.



The Man and the Snake


I


It is of veritabyll report, and attested of so many that there be
nowe of wyse and learned none to gaynsaye it, that ye serpente hys
eye hath a magnetick propertie that whosoe falleth into its svasion
is drawn forwards in despyte of his wille, and perisheth miserabyll
by ye creature hys byte.


Stretched at ease upon a sofa, in gown and slippers, Harker Brayton
smiled as he read the foregoing sentence in old Morryster's
"Marvells of Science."  "The only marvel in the matter," he said to
himself, "is that the wise and learned in Morryster's day should
have believed such nonsense as is rejected by most of even the
ignorant in ours."

A train of reflections followed--for Brayton was a man of thought--
and he unconsciously lowered his book without altering the
direction of his eyes.  As soon as the volume had gone below the
line of sight, something in an obscure corner of the room recalled
his attention to his surroundings.  What he saw, in the shadow
under his bed, were two small points of light, apparently about an
inch apart.  They might have been reflections of the gas jet above
him, in metal nail heads; he gave them but little thought and
resumed his reading.  A moment later something--some impulse which
it did not occur to him to analyze--impelled him to lower the book
again and seek for what he saw before.  The points of light were
still there.  They seemed to have become brighter than before,
shining with a greenish luster which he had not at first observed.
He thought, too, that they might have moved a trifle--were somewhat
nearer.  They were still too much in the shadow, however, to reveal
their nature and origin to an indolent attention, and he resumed
his reading.  Suddenly something in the text suggested a thought
which made him start and drop the book for the third time to the
side of the sofa, whence, escaping from his hand, it fell sprawling
to the floor, back upward.  Brayton, half-risen, was staring
intently into the obscurity beneath the bed, where the points of
light shone with, it seemed to him, an added fire.  His attention
was now fully aroused, his gaze eager and imperative.  It
disclosed, almost directly beneath the foot rail of the bed, the
coils of a large serpent--the points of light were its eyes!  Its
horrible head, thrust flatly forth from the innermost coil and
resting upon the outermost, was directed straight toward him, the
definition of the wide, brutal jaw and the idiotlike forehead
serving to show the direction of its malevolent gaze.  The eyes
were no longer merely luminous points; they looked into his own
with a meaning, a malign significance.


II


A snake in a bedroom of a modern city dwelling of the better sort
is, happily, not so common a phenomenon as to make explanation
altogether needless.  Harker Brayton, a bachelor of thirty-five, a
scholar, idler, and something of an athlete, rich, popular, and of
sound health, had returned to San Francisco from all manner of
remote and unfamiliar countries.  His tastes, always a trifle
luxurious, had taken on an added exuberance from long privation;
and the resources of even the Castle Hotel being inadequate for
their perfect gratification, he had gladly accepted the hospitality
of his friend, Dr. Druring, the distinguished scientist.  Dr.
Druring's house, a large, old-fashioned one in what was now an
obscure quarter of the city, had an outer and visible aspect of
reserve.  It plainly would not associate with the contiguous
elements of its altered environment, and appeared to have developed
some of the eccentricities which come of isolation.  One of these
was a "wing," conspicuously irrelevant in point of architecture,
and no less rebellious in the matter of purpose; for it was a
combination of laboratory, menagerie, and museum.  It was here that
the doctor indulged the scientific side of his nature in the study
of such forms of animal life as engaged his interest and comforted
his taste--which, it must be confessed, ran rather to the lower
forms.  For one of the higher types nimbly and sweetly to recommend
itself unto his gentle senses, it had at least to retain certain
rudimentary characteristics allying it to such "dragons of the
prime" as toads and snakes.  His scientific sympathies were
distinctly reptilian; he loved nature's vulgarians and described
himself as the Zola of zoology.  His wife and daughters, not having
the advantage to share his enlightened curiosity regarding the
works and ways of our ill-starred fellow-creatures, were, with
needless austerity, excluded from what he called the Snakery, and
doomed to companionship with their own kind; though, to soften the
rigors of their lot, he had permitted them, out of his great
wealth, to outdo the reptiles in the gorgeousness of their
surroundings and to shine with a superior splendor.

Architecturally, and in point of "furnishing," the Snakery had a
severe simplicity befitting the humble circumstances of its
occupants, many of whom, indeed, could not safely have been
intrusted with the liberty which is necessary to the full enjoyment
of luxury, for they had the troublesome peculiarity of being alive.
In their own apartments, however, they were under as little
personal restraint as was compatible with their protection from the
baneful habit of swallowing one another; and, as Brayton had
thoughtfully been apprised, it was more than a tradition that some
of them had at divers times been found in parts of the premises
where it would have embarrassed them to explain their presence.
Despite the Snakery and its uncanny associations--to which, indeed,
he gave little attention--Brayton found life at the Druring mansion
very much to his mind.


III


Beyond a smart shock of surprise and a shudder of mere loathing,
Mr. Brayton was not greatly affected.  His first thought was to
ring the call bell and bring a servant; but, although the bell cord
dangled within easy reach, he made no movement toward it; it had
occurred to his mind that the act might subject him to the
suspicion of fear, which he certainly did not feel.  He was more
keenly conscious of the incongruous nature of the situation than
affected by its perils; it was revolting, but absurd.

The reptile was of a species with which Brayton was unfamiliar.
Its length he could only conjecture; the body at the largest
visible part seemed about as thick as his forearm.  In what way was
it dangerous, if in any way?  Was it venomous?  Was it a
constrictor?  His knowledge of nature's danger signals did not
enable him to say; he had never deciphered the code.

If not dangerous, the creature was at least offensive.  It was de
trop--"matter out of place"--an impertinence.  The gem was unworthy
of the setting.  Even the barbarous taste of our time and country,
which had loaded the walls of the room with pictures, the floor
with furniture, and the furniture with bric-a-brac, had not quite
fitted the place for this bit of the savage life of the jungle.
Besides--insupportable thought!--the exhalations of its breath
mingled with the atmosphere which he himself was breathing!

These thoughts shaped themselves with greater or less definition in
Brayton's mind, and begot action.  The process is what we call
consideration and decision.  It is thus that we are wise and
unwise.  It is thus that the withered leaf in an autumn breeze
shows greater or less intelligence than its fellows, falling upon
the land or upon the lake.  The secret of human action is an open
one--something contracts our muscles.  Does it matter if we give to
the preparatory molecular changes the name of will?

Brayton rose to his feet and prepared to back softly away from the
snake, without disturbing it, if possible, and through the door.
People retire so from the presence of the great, for greatness is
power, and power is a menace.  He knew that he could walk backward
without obstruction, and find the door without error.  Should the
monster follow, the taste which had plastered the walls with
paintings had consistently supplied a rack of murderous Oriental
weapons from which he could snatch one to suit the occasion.  In
the meantime the snake's eyes burned with a more pitiless
malevolence than ever.

Brayton lifted his right foot free of the floor to step backward.
That moment he felt a strong aversion to doing so.

"I am accounted brave," he murmured; "is bravery, then, no more
than pride?  Because there are none to witness the shame shall I
retreat?"

He was steadying himself with his right hand upon the back of a
chair, his foot suspended.

"Nonsense!" he said aloud; "I am not so great a coward as to fear
to seem to myself afraid."

He lifted the foot a little higher by slightly bending the knee,
and thrust it sharply to the floor--an inch in front of the other!
He could not think how that occurred.  A trial with the left foot
had the same result; it was again in advance of the right.  The
hand upon the chair back was grasping it; the arm was straight,
reaching somewhat backward.  One might have seen that he was
reluctant to lose his hold.  The snake's malignant head was still
thrust forth from the inner coil as before, the neck level.  It had
not moved, but its eyes were now electric sparks, radiating an
infinity of luminous needles.

The man had an ashy pallor.  Again he took a step forward, and
another, partly dragging the chair, which, when finally released,
fell upon the floor with a crash.  The man groaned; the snake made
neither sound nor motion, but its eyes were two dazzling suns.  The
reptile itself was wholly concealed by them.  They gave off
enlarging rings of rich and vivid colors, which at their greatest
expansion successively vanished like soap bubbles; they seemed to
approach his very face, and anon were an immeasurable distance
away.  He heard, somewhere, the continual throbbing of a great
drum, with desultory bursts of far music, inconceivably sweet, like
the tones of an aeolian harp.  He knew it for the sunrise melody of
Memnon's statue, and thought he stood in the Nileside reeds,
hearing, with exalted sense, that immortal anthem through the
silence of the centuries.

The music ceased; rather, it became by insensible degrees the
distant roll of a retreating thunderstorm.  A landscape, glittering
with sun and rain, stretched before him, arched with a vivid
rainbow, framing in its giant curve a hundred visible cities.  In
the middle distance a vast serpent, wearing a crown, reared its
head out of its voluminous convolutions and looked at him with his
dead mother's eyes.  Suddenly this enchanting landscape seemed to
rise swiftly upward, like the drop scene at a theater, and vanished
in a blank.  Something struck him a hard blow upon the face and
breast.  He had fallen to the floor; the blood ran from his broken
nose and his bruised lips.  For a moment he was dazed and stunned,
and lay with closed eyes, his face against the door.  In a few
moments he had recovered, and then realized that his fall, by
withdrawing his eyes, had broken the spell which held him.  He felt
that now, by keeping his gaze averted, he would be able to retreat.
But the thought of the serpent within a few feet of his head, yet
unseen--perhaps in the very act of springing upon him and throwing
its coils about his throat--was too horrible.  He lifted his head,
stared again into those baleful eyes, and was again in bondage.

The snake had not moved, and appeared somewhat to have lost its
power upon the imagination; the gorgeous illusions of a few moments
before were not repeated.  Beneath that flat and brainless brow its
black, beady eyes simply glittered, as at first, with an expression
unspeakably malignant.  It was as if the creature, knowing its
triumph assured, had determined to practice no more alluring wiles.

Now ensued a fearful scene.  The man, prone upon the floor, within
a yard of his enemy, raised the upper part of his body upon his
elbows, his head thrown back, his legs extended to their full
length.  His face was white between its gouts of blood; his eyes
were strained open to their uttermost expansion.  There was froth
upon his lips; it dropped off in flakes.  Strong convulsions ran
through his body, making almost serpentine undulations.  He bent
himself at the waist, shifting his legs from side to side.  And
every movement left him a little nearer to the snake.  He thrust
his hands forward to brace himself back, yet constantly advanced
upon his elbows.


IV


Dr. Druring and his wife sat in the library.  The scientist was in
rare good humor.

"I have just obtained, by exchange with another collector," he
said, "a splendid specimen of the Ophiophagus."

"And what may that be?" the lady inquired with a somewhat languid
interest.

"Why, bless my soul, what profound ignorance!  My dear, a man who
ascertains after marriage that his wife does not know Greek, is
entitled to a divorce.  The Ophiophagus is a snake which eats other
snakes."

"I hope it will eat all yours," she said, absently shifting the
lamp.  "But how does it get the other snakes?  By charming them, I
suppose."

"That is just like you, dear," said the doctor, with an affectation
of petulance.  "You know how irritating to me is any allusion to
that vulgar superstition about the snake's power of fascination."

The conversation was interrupted by a mighty cry which rang through
the silent house like the voice of a demon shouting in a tomb.
Again and yet again it sounded, with terrible distinctness.  They
sprang to their feet, the man confused, the lady pale and
speechless with fright.  Almost before the echoes of the last cry
had died away the doctor was out of the room, springing up the
staircase two steps at a time.  In the corridor, in front of
Brayton's chamber, he met some servants who had come from the upper
floor.  Together they rushed at the door without knocking.  It was
unfastened, and gave way.  Brayton lay upon his stomach on the
floor, dead.  His head and arms were partly concealed under the
foot rail of the bed.  They pulled the body away, turning it upon
the back.  The face was daubed with blood and froth, the eyes were
wide open, staring--a dreadful sight!

"Died in a fit," said the scientist, bending his knee and placing
his hand upon the heart.  While in that position he happened to
glance under the bed.  "Good God!" he added; "how did this thing
get in here?"

He reached under the bed, pulled out the snake, and flung it, still
coiled, to the center of the room, whence, with a harsh, shuffling
sound, it slid across the polished floor till stopped by the wall,
where it lay without motion.  It was a stuffed snake; its eyes were
two shoe buttons.


From "Tales of Soldiers and Civilians," by Ambrose Bierce.
Copyright, 1891, by E. L. G. Steele.



Edgar Allan Poe

The Oblong Box


Some years ago, I engaged passage from Charleston, S. C, to the
city of New York, in the fine packet-ship "Independence," Captain
Hardy.  We were to sail on the fifteenth of the month (June),
weather permitting; and on the fourteenth, I went on board to
arrange some matters in my stateroom.

I found that we were to have a great many passengers, including a
more than usual number of ladies.  On the list were several of my
acquaintances, and among other names, I was rejoiced to see that of
Mr. Cornelius Wyatt, a young artist, for whom I entertained
feelings of warm friendship.  He had been with me a fellow-student
at C---- University, where we were very much together.  He had the
ordinary temperament of genius, and was a compound of misanthropy,
sensibility, and enthusiasm.  To these qualities he united the
warmest and truest heart which ever beat in a human bosom.

I observed that his name was carded upon THREE state-rooms; and,
upon again referring to the list of passengers, I found that he had
engaged passage for himself, wife, and two sisters--his own.  The
state-rooms were sufficiently roomy, and each had two berths, one
above the other.  These berths, to be sure, were so exceedingly
narrow as to be insufficient for more than one person; still, I
could not comprehend why there were THREE staterooms for these four
persons.  I was, just at that epoch, in one of those moody frames
of mind which make a man abnormally inquisitive about trifles: and
I confess, with shame, that I busied myself in a variety of ill-
bred and preposterous conjectures about this matter of the
supernumerary stateroom.  It was no business of mine, to be sure,
but with none the less pertinacity did I occupy myself in attempts
to resolve the enigma.  At last I reached a conclusion which
wrought in me great wonder why I had not arrived at it before.  "It
is a servant of course," I said; "what a fool I am, not sooner to
have thought of so obvious a solution!"  And then I again repaired
to the list--but here I saw distinctly that NO servant was to come
with the party, although, in fact, it had been the original design
to bring one--for the words "and servant" had been first written
and then over-scored.  "Oh, extra baggage, to be sure," I now said
to myself--"something he wishes not to be put in the hold--
something to be kept under his own eye--ah, I have it--a painting
or so--and this is what he has been bargaining about with Nicolino,
the Italian Jew."  This idea satisfied me, and I dismissed my
curiosity for the nonce.

Wyatt's two sisters I knew very well, and most amiable and clever
girls they were.  His wife he had newly married, and I had never
yet seen her.  He had often talked about her in my presence,
however, and in his usual style of enthusiasm.  He described her as
of surpassing beauty, wit, and accomplishment.  I was, therefore,
quite anxious to make her acquaintance.

On the day in which I visited the ship (the fourteenth), Wyatt and
party were also to visit it--so the captain informed me--and I
waited on board an hour longer than I had designed, in hope of
being presented to the bride, but then an apology came.  "Mrs. W.
was a little indisposed, and would decline coming on board until
to-morrow, at the hour of sailing."

The morrow having arrived, I was going from my hotel to the wharf,
when Captain Hardy met me and said that, "owing to circumstances"
(a stupid but convenient phrase), "he rather thought the
'Independence' would not sail for a day or two, and that when all
was ready, he would send up and let me know."  This I thought
strange, for there was a stiff southerly breeze; but as "the
circumstances" were not forthcoming, although I pumped for them
with much perseverance, I had nothing to do but to return home and
digest my impatience at leisure.

I did not receive the expected message from the captain for nearly
a week.  It came at length, however, and I immediately went on
board.  The ship was crowded with passengers, and every thing was
in the bustle attendant upon making sail.  Wyatt's party arrived in
about ten minutes after myself.  There were the two sisters, the
bride, and the artist--the latter in one of his customary fits of
moody misanthropy.  I was too well used to these, however, to pay
them any special attention.  He did not even introduce me to his
wife;--this courtesy devolving, per force, upon his sister Marian--
a very sweet and intelligent girl, who, in a few hurried words,
made us acquainted.

Mrs. Wyatt had been closely veiled; and when she raised her veil,
in acknowledging my bow, I confess that I was very profoundly
astonished.  I should have been much more so, however, had not long
experience advised me not to trust, with too implicit a reliance,
the enthusiastic descriptions of my friend, the artist, when
indulging in comments upon the loveliness of woman.  When beauty
was the theme, I well knew with what facility he soared into the
regions of the purely ideal.

The truth is, I could not help regarding Mrs. Wyatt as a decidedly
plain-looking woman.  If not positively ugly, she was not, I think,
very far from it.  She was dressed, however, in exquisite taste--
and then I had no doubt that she had captivated my friend's heart
by the more enduring graces of the intellect and soul.  She said
very few words, and passed at once into her state-room with Mr. W.

My old inquisitiveness now returned.  There was NO servant--THAT
was a settled point.  I looked, therefore, for the extra baggage.
After some delay, a cart arrived at the wharf, with an oblong pine
box, which was every thing that seemed to be expected.  Immediately
upon its arrival we made sail, and in a short time were safely over
the bar and standing out to sea.

The box in question was, as I say, oblong.  It was about six feet
in length by two and a half in breadth; I observed it attentively,
and like to be precise.  Now this shape was PECULIAR; and no sooner
had I seen it, than I took credit to myself for the accuracy of my
guessing.  I had reached the conclusion, it will be remembered,
that the extra baggage of my friend, the artist, would prove to be
pictures, or at least a picture; for I knew he had been for several
weeks in conference with Nicolino:--and now here was a box, which,
from its shape, COULD possibly contain nothing in the world but a
copy of Leonardo's "Last Supper;" and a copy of this very "Last
Supper," done by Rubini the younger, at Florence, I had known, for
some time, to be in the possession of Nicolino.  This point,
therefore, I considered as sufficiently settled.  I chuckled
excessively when I thought of my acumen.  It was the first time I
had ever known Wyatt to keep from me any of his artistical secrets;
but here he evidently intended to steal a march upon me, and
smuggle a fine picture to New York, under my very nose; expecting
me to know nothing of the matter.  I resolved to quiz him WELL, now
and hereafter.

One thing, however, annoyed me not a little.  The box did NOT go
into the extra stateroom.  It was deposited in Wyatt's own; and
there, too, it remained, occupying very nearly the whole of the
floor--no doubt to the exceeding discomfort of the artist and his
wife;--this the more especially as the tar or paint with which it
was lettered in sprawling capitals, emitted a strong, disagreeable,
and, to my fancy, a peculiarly disgusting odor.  On the lid were
painted the words--"Mrs. Adelaide Curtis, Albany, New York.  Charge
of Cornelius Wyatt, Esq.  This side up.  To be handled with care."

Now, I was aware that Mrs. Adelaide Curtis, of Albany, was the
artist's wife's mother,--but then I looked upon the whole address
as a mystification, intended especially for myself.  I made up my
mind, of course, that the box and contents would never get farther
north than the studio of my misanthropic friend, in Chambers
Street, New York.

For the first three or four days we had fine weather, although the
wind was dead ahead; having chopped round to the northward,
immediately upon our losing sight of the coast.  The passengers
were, consequently, in high spirits and disposed to be social.  I
MUST except, however, Wyatt and his sisters, who behaved stiffly,
and, I could not help thinking, uncourteously to the rest of the
party.  Wyatt's conduct I did not so much regard.  He was gloomy,
even beyond his usual habit--in fact he was MOROSE--but in him I
was prepared for eccentricity.  For the sisters, however, I could
make no excuse.  They secluded themselves in their staterooms
during the greater part of the passage, and absolutely refused,
although I repeatedly urged them, to hold communication with any
person on board.

Mrs. Wyatt herself was far more agreeable.  That is to say, she was
CHATTY; and to be chatty is no slight recommendation at sea.  She
became EXCESSIVELY intimate with most of the ladies; and, to my
profound astonishment, evinced no equivocal disposition to coquet
with the men.  She amused us all very much.  I say "amused"--and
scarcely know how to explain myself.  The truth is, I soon found
that Mrs. W. was far oftener laughed AT than WITH.  The gentlemen
said little about her; but the ladies, in a little while,
pronounced her "a good-hearted thing, rather indifferent looking,
totally uneducated, and decidedly vulgar."  The great wonder was,
how Wyatt had been entrapped into such a match.  Wealth was the
general solution--but this I knew to be no solution at all; for
Wyatt had told me that she neither brought him a dollar nor had any
expectations from any source whatever.  "He had married," he said,
"for love, and for love only; and his bride was far more than
worthy of his love."  When I thought of these expressions, on the
part of my friend, I confess that I felt indescribably puzzled.
Could it be possible that he was taking leave of his senses?  What
else could I think?  HE, so refined, so intellectual, so
fastidious, with so exquisite a perception of the faulty, and so
keen an appreciation of the beautiful!  To be sure, the lady seemed
especially fond of HIM--particularly so in his absence--when she
made herself ridiculous by frequent quotations of what had been
said by her "beloved husband, Mr. Wyatt."  The word "husband"
seemed forever--to use one of her own delicate expressions--forever
"on the tip of her tongue."  In the meantime, it was observed by
all on board, that he avoided HER in the most pointed manner, and,
for the most part, shut himself up alone in his state-room, where,
in fact, he might have been said to live altogether, leaving his
wife at full liberty to amuse herself as she thought best, in the
public society of the main cabin.

My conclusion, from what I saw and heard, was, that, the artist, by
some unaccountable freak of fate, or perhaps in some fit of
enthusiastic and fanciful passion, had been induced to unite
himself with a person altogether beneath him, and that the natural
result, entire and speedy disgust, had ensued.  I pitied him from
the bottom of my heart--but could not, for that reason, quite
forgive his incommunicativeness in the matter of the "Last Supper."
For this I resolved to have my revenge.

One day he came upon deck, and, taking his arm as had been my wont,
I sauntered with him backward and forward.  His gloom, however
(which I considered quite natural under the circumstances), seemed
entirely unabated.  He said little, and that moodily, and with
evident effort.  I ventured a jest or two, and he made a sickening
attempt at a smile.  Poor fellow!--as I thought of HIS WIFE, I
wondered that he could have heart to put on even the semblance of
mirth.  At last I ventured a home thrust.  I determined to commence
a series of covert insinuations, or innuendoes, about the oblong
box--just to let him perceive, gradually, that I was NOT altogether
the butt, or victim, of his little bit of pleasant mystification.
My first observation was by way of opening a masked battery.  I
said something about the "peculiar shape of THAT box--,"and, as I
spoke the words, I smiled knowingly, winked, and touched him gently
with my forefinger in the ribs.

The manner in which Wyatt received this harmless pleasantry
convinced me, at once, that he was mad.  At first he stared at me
as if he found it impossible to comprehend the witticism of my
remark; but as its point seemed slowly to make its way into his
brain, his eyes, in the same proportion, seemed protruding from
their sockets.  Then he grew very red--then hideously pale--then,
as if highly amused with what I had insinuated, he began a loud and
boisterous laugh, which, to my astonishment, he kept up, with
gradually increasing vigor, for ten minutes or more.  In
conclusion, he fell flat and heavily upon the deck.  When I ran to
uplift him, to all appearance he was DEAD.

I called assistance, and, with much difficulty, we brought him to
himself.  Upon reviving he spoke incoherently for some time.  At
length we bled him and put him to bed.  The next morning he was
quite recovered, so far as regarded his mere bodily health.  Of his
mind I say nothing, of course.  I avoided him during the rest of
the passage, by advice of the captain, who seemed to coincide with
me altogether in my views of his insanity, but cautioned me to say
nothing on this head to any person on board.

Several circumstances occurred immediately after this fit of Wyatt
which contributed to heighten the curiosity with which I was
already possessed.  Among other things, this: I had been nervous--
drank too much strong green tea, and slept ill at night--in fact,
for two nights I could not be properly said to sleep at all.  Now,
my state-room opened into the main cabin, or dining-room, as did
those of all the single men on board.  Wyatt's three rooms were in
the after-cabin, which was separated from the main one by a slight
sliding door, never locked even at night.  As we were almost
constantly on a wind, and the breeze was not a little stiff, the
ship heeled to leeward very considerably; and whenever her
starboard side was to leeward, the sliding door between the cabins
slid open, and so remained, nobody taking the trouble to get up and
shut it.  But my berth was in such a position, that when my own
state-room door was open, as well as the sliding door in question
(and my own door was ALWAYS open on account of the heat,) I could
see into the after-cabin quite distinctly, and just at that portion
of it, too, where were situated the state-rooms of Mr. Wyatt.
Well, during two nights (NOT consecutive) while I lay awake, I
clearly saw Mrs. W., about eleven o'clock upon each night, steal
cautiously from the state-room of Mr. W., and enter the extra room,
where she remained until daybreak, when she was called by her
husband and went back.  That they were virtually separated was
clear.  They had separate apartments--no doubt in contemplation of
a more permanent divorce; and here, after all I thought was the
mystery of the extra stateroom.

There was another circumstance, too, which interested me much.
During the two wakeful nights in question, and immediately after
the disappearance of Mrs. Wyatt into the extra stateroom, I was
attracted by certain singular cautious, subdued noises in that of
her husband.  After listening to them for some time, with
thoughtful attention, I at length succeeded perfectly in
translating their import.  They were sounds occasioned by the
artist in prying open the oblong box, by means of a chisel and
mallet--the latter being apparently muffled, or deadened, by some
soft woollen or cotton substance in which its head was enveloped.

In this manner I fancied I could distinguish the precise moment
when he fairly disengaged the lid--also, that I could determine
when he removed it altogether, and when he deposited it upon the
lower berth in his room; this latter point I knew, for example, by
certain slight taps which the lid made in striking against the
wooden edges of the berth, as he endeavored to lay it down VERY
gently--there being no room for it on the floor.  After this there
was a dead stillness, and I heard nothing more, upon either
occasion, until nearly daybreak; unless, perhaps, I may mention a
low sobbing, or murmuring sound, so very much suppressed as to be
nearly inaudible--if, indeed, the whole of this latter noise were
not rather produced by my own imagination.  I say it seemed to
RESEMBLE sobbing or sighing--but, of course, it could not have been
either.  I rather think it was a ringing in my own ears.  Mr.
Wyatt, no doubt, according to custom, was merely giving the rein to
one of his hobbies--indulging in one of his fits of artistic
enthusiasm.  He had opened his oblong box, in order to feast his
eyes on the pictorial treasure within.  There was nothing in this,
however, to make him SOB.  I repeat, therefore, that it must have
been simply a freak of my own fancy, distempered by good Captain
Hardy's green tea.  just before dawn, on each of the two nights of
which I speak, I distinctly heard Mr. Wyatt replace the lid upon
the oblong box, and force the nails into their old places by means
of the muffled mallet.  Having done this, he issued from his state-
room, fully dressed, and proceeded to call Mrs. W. from hers.

We had been at sea seven days, and were now off Cape Hatteras, when
there came a tremendously heavy blow from the southwest.  We were,
in a measure, prepared for it, however, as the weather had been
holding out threats for some time.  Every thing was made snug, alow
and aloft; and as the wind steadily freshened, we lay to, at
length, under spanker and foretopsail, both double-reefed.

In this trim we rode safely enough for forty-eight hours--the ship
proving herself an excellent sea-boat in many respects, and
shipping no water of any consequence.  At the end of this period,
however, the gale had freshened into a hurricane, and our after--
sail split into ribbons, bringing us so much in the trough of the
water that we shipped several prodigious seas, one immediately
after the other.  By this accident we lost three men overboard with
the caboose, and nearly the whole of the larboard bulwarks.
Scarcely had we recovered our senses, before the foretopsail went
into shreds, when we got up a storm staysail and with this did
pretty well for some hours, the ship heading the sea much more
steadily than before.

The gale still held on, however, and we saw no signs of its
abating.  The rigging was found to be ill-fitted, and greatly
strained; and on the third day of the blow, about five in the
afternoon, our mizzen-mast, in a heavy lurch to windward, went by
the board.  For an hour or more, we tried in vain to get rid of it,
on account of the prodigious rolling of the ship; and, before we
had succeeded, the carpenter came aft and announced four feet of
water in the hold.  To add to our dilemma, we found the pumps
choked and nearly useless.

All was now confusion and despair--but an effort was made to
lighten the ship by throwing overboard as much of her cargo as
could be reached, and by cutting away the two masts that remained.
This we at last accomplished--but we were still unable to do any
thing at the pumps; and, in the meantime, the leak gained on us
very fast.

At sundown, the gale had sensibly diminished in violence, and as
the sea went down with it, we still entertained faint hopes of
saving ourselves in the boats.  At eight P. M., the clouds broke
away to windward, and we had the advantage of a full moon--a piece
of good fortune which served wonderfully to cheer our drooping
spirits.

After incredible labor we succeeded, at length, in getting the
longboat over the side without material accident, and into this we
crowded the whole of the crew and most of the passengers.  This
party made off immediately, and, after undergoing much suffering,
finally arrived, in safety, at Ocracoke Inlet, on the third day
after the wreck.

Fourteen passengers, with the captain, remained on board, resolving
to trust their fortunes to the jolly-boat at the stern.  We lowered
it without difficulty, although it was only by a miracle that we
prevented it from swamping as it touched the water.  It contained,
when afloat, the captain and his wife, Mr. Wyatt and party, a
Mexican officer, wife, four children, and myself, with a negro
valet.

We had no room, of course, for any thing except a few positively
necessary instruments, some provisions, and the clothes upon our
backs.  No one had thought of even attempting to save any thing
more.  What must have been the astonishment of all, then, when
having proceeded a few fathoms from the ship, Mr. Wyatt stood up in
the stern-sheets, and coolly demanded of Captain Hardy that the
boat should be put back for the purpose of taking in his oblong
box!

"Sit down, Mr. Wyatt," replied the captain, somewhat sternly, "you
will capsize us if you do not sit quite still.  Our gunwhale is
almost in the water now."

"The box!" vociferated Mr. Wyatt, still standing--"the box, I say!
Captain Hardy, you cannot, you will not refuse me.  Its weight will
be but a trifle--it is nothing--mere nothing.  By the mother who
bore you--for the love of Heaven--by your hope of salvation, I
implore you to put back for the box!"

The captain, for a moment, seemed touched by the earnest appeal of
the artist, but he regained his stern composure, and merely said:

"Mr. Wyatt, you are mad.  I cannot listen to you.  Sit down, I say,
or you will swamp the boat.  Stay--hold him--seize him!--he is
about to spring overboard! There--I knew it--he is over!"

As the captain said this, Mr. Wyatt, in fact, sprang from the boat,
and, as we were yet in the lee of the wreck, succeeded, by almost
superhuman exertion, in getting hold of a rope which hung from the
fore-chains.  In another moment he was on board, and rushing
frantically down into the cabin.

In the meantime, we had been swept astern of the ship, and being
quite out of her lee, were at the mercy of the tremendous sea which
was still running.  We made a determined effort to put back, but
our little boat was like a feather in the breath of the tempest.
We saw at a glance that the doom of the unfortunate artist was
sealed.

As our distance from the wreck rapidly increased, the madman (for
as such only could we regard him) was seen to emerge from the
companion--way, up which by dint of strength that appeared
gigantic, he dragged, bodily, the oblong box.  While we gazed in
the extremity of astonishment, he passed, rapidly, several turns of
a three-inch rope, first around the box and then around his body.
In another instant both body and box were in the sea--disappearing
suddenly, at once and forever.

We lingered awhile sadly upon our oars, with our eyes riveted upon
the spot.  At length we pulled away.  The silence remained unbroken
for an hour.  Finally, I hazarded a remark.

"Did you observe, captain, how suddenly they sank?  Was not that an
exceedingly singular thing?  I confess that I entertained some
feeble hope of his final deliverance, when I saw him lash himself
to the box, and commit himself to the sea."

"They sank as a matter of course," replied the captain, "and that
like a shot.  They will soon rise again, however--BUT NOT TILL THE
SALT MELTS."

"The salt!" I ejaculated.

"Hush!" said the captain, pointing to the wife and sisters of the
deceased.  "We must talk of these things at some more appropriate
time."


We suffered much, and made a narrow escape, but fortune befriended
us, as well as our mates in the long-boat.  We landed, in fine,
more dead than alive, after four days of intense distress, upon the
beach opposite Roanoke Island.  We remained here a week, were not
ill-treated by the wreckers, and at length obtained a passage to
New York.

About a month after the loss of the "Independence," I happened to
meet Captain Hardy in Broadway.  Our conversation turned,
naturally, upon the disaster, and especially upon the sad fate of
poor Wyatt.  I thus learned the following particulars.

The artist had engaged passage for himself, wife, two sisters and a
servant.  His wife was, indeed, as she had been represented, a most
lovely, and most accomplished woman.  On the morning of the
fourteenth of June (the day in which I first visited the ship), the
lady suddenly sickened and died.  The young husband was frantic
with grief--but circumstances imperatively forbade the deferring
his voyage to New York.  It was necessary to take to her mother the
corpse of his adored wife, and, on the other hand, the universal
prejudice which would prevent his doing so openly was well known.
Nine-tenths of the passengers would have abandoned the ship rather
than take passage with a dead body.

In this dilemma, Captain Hardy arranged that the corpse, being
first partially embalmed, and packed, with a large quantity of
salt, in a box of suitable dimensions, should be conveyed on board
as merchandise.  Nothing was to be said of the lady's decease; and,
as it was well understood that Mr. Wyatt had engaged passage for
his wife, it became necessary that some person should personate her
during the voyage.  This the deceased lady's-maid was easily
prevailed on to do.  The extra state-room, originally engaged for
this girl during her mistress' life, was now merely retained.  In
this state-room the pseudo-wife, slept, of course, every night.  In
the daytime she performed, to the best of her ability, the part of
her mistress--whose person, it had been carefully ascertained, was
unknown to any of the passengers on board.

My own mistake arose, naturally enough, through too careless, too
inquisitive, and too impulsive a temperament.  But of late, it is a
rare thing that I sleep soundly at night.  There is a countenance
which haunts me, turn as I will.  There is an hysterical laugh
which will forever ring within my ears.



The Gold-Bug


What ho! what ho! this fellow is dancing mad!
He hath been bitten by the Tarantula.
                                  --All in the Wrong.


Many years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. William
Legrand.  He was of an ancient Huguenot family, and had once been
wealthy: but a series of misfortunes had reduced him to want.  To
avoid the mortification consequent upon his disasters, he left New
Orleans, the city of his forefathers, and took up his residence at
Sullivan's Island, near Charleston, South Carolina.

This island is a very singular one.  It consists of little else
than the sea sand, and is about three miles long.  Its breadth at
no point exceeds a quarter of a mile.  It is separated from the
mainland by a scarcely perceptible creek, oozing its way through a
wilderness of reeds and slime, a favorite resort of the marsh hen.
The vegetation, as might be supposed, is scant, or at least
dwarfish.  No trees of any magnitude are to be seen.  Near the
western extremity, where Fort Moultrie stands, and where are some
miserable frame buildings, tenanted, during summer, by the
fugitives from Charleston dust and fever, may be found, indeed, the
bristly palmetto; but the whole island, with the exception of this
western point, and a line of hard, white beach on the seacoast, is
covered with a dense undergrowth of the sweet myrtle so much prized
by the horticulturists of England.  The shrub here often attains
the height of fifteen or twenty feet, and forms an almost
impenetrable coppice, burdening the air with its fragrance.

In the inmost recesses of this coppice, not far from the eastern or
more remote end of the island, Legrand had built himself a small
hut, which he occupied when I first, by mere accident, made his
acquaintance.  This soon ripened into friendship--for there was
much in the recluse to excite interest and esteem.  I found him
well educated, with unusual powers of mind, but infected with
misanthropy, and subject to perverse moods of alternate enthusiasm
and melancholy.  He had with him many books, but rarely employed
them.  His chief amusements were gunning and fishing, or sauntering
along the beach and through the myrtles, in quest of shells or
entomological specimens--his collection of the latter might have
been envied by a Swammerdamm.  In these excursions he was usually
accompanied by an old negro, called Jupiter, who had been
manumitted before the reverses of the family, but who could be
induced, neither by threats nor by promises, to abandon what he
considered his right of attendance upon the footsteps of his young
"Massa Will."  It is not improbable that the relatives of Legrand,
conceiving him to be somewhat unsettled in intellect, had contrived
to instill this obstinacy into Jupiter, with a view to the
supervision and guardianship of the wanderer.

The winters in the latitude of Sullivan's Island are seldom very
severe, and in the fall of the year it is a rare event indeed when
a fire is considered necessary.  About the middle of October, 18--,
there occurred, however, a day of remarkable chilliness.  Just
before sunset I scrambled my way through the evergreens to the hut
of my friend, whom I had not visited for several weeks--my
residence being, at that time, in Charleston, a distance of nine
miles from the island, while the facilities of passage and
repassage were very far behind those of the present day.  Upon
reaching the hut I rapped, as was my custom, and getting no reply,
sought for the key where I knew it was secreted, unlocked the door,
and went in.  A fine fire was blazing upon the hearth.  It was a
novelty, and by no means an ungrateful one.  I threw off an
overcoat, took an armchair by the crackling logs, and awaited
patiently the arrival of my hosts.

Soon after dark they arrived, and gave me a most cordial welcome.
Jupiter, grinning from ear to ear, bustled about to prepare some
marsh hens for supper.  Legrand was in one of his fits--how else
shall I term them?--of enthusiasm.  He had found an unknown
bivalve, forming a new genus, and, more than this, he had hunted
down and secured, with Jupiter's assistance, a scarabaeus which he
believed to be totally new, but in respect to which he wished to
have my opinion on the morrow.

"And why not to-night?" I asked, rubbing my hands over the blaze,
and wishing the whole tribe of scarabaei at the devil.

"Ah, if I had only known you were here!" said Legrand, "but it's so
long since I saw you; and how could I foresee that you would pay me
a visit this very night of all others?  As I was coming home I met
Lieutenant G----, from the fort, and, very foolishly, I lent him
the bug; so it will be impossible for you to see it until the
morning.  Stay here to-night, and I will send Jup down for it at
sunrise.  It is the loveliest thing in creation!"

"What?--sunrise?"

"Nonsense! no!--the bug.  It is of a brilliant gold color--about
the size of a large hickory nut--with two jet black spots near one
extremity of the back, and another, somewhat longer, at the other.
The antennae are--"

"Dey ain't NO tin in him, Massa Will, I keep a tellin' on you,"
here interrupted Jupiter; "de bug is a goole-bug, solid, ebery bit
of him, inside and all, sep him wing--neber feel half so hebby a
bug in my life."

"Well, suppose it is, Jup," replied Legrand, somewhat more
earnestly, it seemed to me, than the case demanded; "is that any
reason for your letting the birds burn?  The color"--here he turned
to me--"is really almost enough to warrant Jupiter's idea.  You
never saw a more brilliant metallic luster than the scales emit--
but of this you cannot judge till to-morrow.  In the meantime I can
give you some idea of the shape."  Saying this, he seated himself
at a small table, on which were a pen and ink, but no paper.  He
looked for some in a drawer, but found none.

"Never mind," he said at length, "this will answer;" and he drew
from his waistcoat pocket a scrap of what I took to be very dirty
foolscap, and made upon it a rough drawing with the pen.  While he
did this, I retained my seat by the fire, for I was still chilly.
When the design was complete, he handed it to me without rising.
As I received it, a loud growl was heard, succeeded by a scratching
at the door.  Jupiter opened it, and a large Newfoundland,
belonging to Legrand, rushed in, leaped upon my shoulders, and
loaded me with caresses; for I had shown him much attention during
previous visits.  When his gambols were over, I looked at the
paper, and, to speak the truth, found myself not a little puzzled
at what my friend had depicted.

"Well!" I said, after contemplating it for some minutes, "this IS a
strange scarabaeus, I must confess; new to me; never saw anything
like it before--unless it was a skull, or a death's head, which it
more nearly resembles than anything else that has come under MY
observation."

"A death's head!" echoed Legrand.  "Oh--yes--well, it has something
of that appearance upon paper, no doubt.  The two upper black spots
look like eyes, eh? and the longer one at the bottom like a mouth--
and then the shape of the whole is oval."

"Perhaps so," said I; "but, Legrand, I fear you are no artist.  I
must wait until I see the beetle itself, if I am to form any idea
of its personal appearance."

"Well, I don't know," said he, a little nettled, "I draw tolerably--
SHOULD do it at least--have had good masters, and flatter myself
that I am not quite a blockhead."

"But, my dear fellow, you are joking then," said I, "this is a very
passable SKULL--indeed, I may say that it is a very EXCELLENT
skull, according to the vulgar notions about such specimens of
physiology--and your scarabaeus must be the queerest scarabaeus in
the world if it resembles it.  Why, we may get up a very thrilling
bit of superstition upon this hint.  I presume you will call the
bug Scarabaeus caput hominis, or something of that kind--there are
many similar titles in the Natural Histories.  But where are the
antennae you spoke of?"

"The antennae!" said Legrand, who seemed to be getting
unaccountably warm upon the subject; "I am sure you must see the
antennae.  I made them as distinct as they are in the original
insect, and I presume that is sufficient."

"Well, well," I said, "perhaps you have--still I don't see them;"
and I handed him the paper without additional remark, not wishing
to ruffle his temper; but I was much surprised at the turn affairs
had taken; his ill humor puzzled me--and, as for the drawing of the
beetle, there were positively NO antennae visible, and the whole
DID bear a very close resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a death's
head.

He received the paper very peevishly, and was about to crumple it,
apparently to throw it in the fire, when a casual glance at the
design seemed suddenly to rivet his attention.  In an instant his
face grew violently red--in another excessively pale.  For some
minutes he continued to scrutinize the drawing minutely where he
sat.  At length he arose, took a candle from the table, and
proceeded to seat himself upon a sea chest in the farthest corner
of the room.  Here again he made an anxious examination of the
paper, turning it in all directions.  He said nothing, however, and
his conduct greatly astonished me; yet I thought it prudent not to
exacerbate the growing moodiness of his temper by any comment.
Presently he took from his coat pocket a wallet, placed the paper
carefully in it, and deposited both in a writing desk, which he
locked.  He now grew more composed in his demeanor; but his
original air of enthusiasm had quite disappeared.  Yet he seemed
not so much sulky as abstracted.  As the evening wore away he
became more and more absorbed in reverie, from which no sallies of
mine could arouse him.  It had been my intention to pass the night
at the hut, as I had frequently done before, but, seeing my host in
this mood, I deemed it proper to take leave.  He did not press me
to remain, but, as I departed, he shook my hand with even more than
his usual cordiality.

It was about a month after this (and during the interval I had seen
nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at Charleston, from
his man, Jupiter.  I had never seen the good old negro look so
dispirited, and I feared that some serious disaster had befallen my
friend.

"Well, Jup," said I, "what is the matter now?--how is your master?"

"Why, to speak the troof, massa, him not so berry well as mought
be."

"Not well!  I am truly sorry to hear it.  What does he complain
of?"

"Dar! dot's it!--him neber 'plain of notin'--but him berry sick for
all dat."

"VERY sick, Jupiter!--why didn't you say so at once?  Is he
confined to bed?"

"No, dat he aint!--he aint 'fin'd nowhar--dat's just whar de shoe
pinch--my mind is got to be berry hebby 'bout poor Massa Will."

"Jupiter, I should like to understand what it is you are talking
about.  You say your master is sick.  Hasn't he told you what ails
him?"

"Why, massa, 'taint worf while for to git mad about de matter--
Massa Will say noffin at all aint de matter wid him--but den what
make him go about looking dis here way, wid he head down and he
soldiers up, and as white as a goose?  And den he keep a syphon all
de time--"

"Keeps a what, Jupiter?"

"Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on de slate--de queerest figgurs I
ebber did see.  Ise gittin' to be skeered, I tell you.  Hab for to
keep mighty tight eye 'pon him 'noovers.  Todder day he gib me slip
'fore de sun up and was gone de whole ob de blessed day.  I had a
big stick ready cut for to gib him deuced good beating when he did
come--but Ise sich a fool dat I hadn't de heart arter all--he
looked so berry poorly."

"Eh?--what?--ah yes!--upon the whole I think you had better not be
too severe with the poor fellow--don't flog him, Jupiter--he can't
very well stand it--but can you form no idea of what has occasioned
this illness, or rather this change of conduct?  Has anything
unpleasant happened since I saw you?"

"No, massa, dey aint bin noffin onpleasant SINCE den--'twas 'FORE
den I'm feared--'twas de berry day you was dare."

"How? what do you mean."

"Why, massa, I mean de bug--dare now."

"The what?"

"De bug--I'm berry sartin dat Massa Will bin bit somewhere 'bout de
head by dat goole-bug."

"And what cause have you, Jupiter, for such a supposition?"

"Claws enuff, massa, and mouff, too.  I nebber did see sich a
deuced bug--he kick and he bite eberyting what cum near him.  Massa
Will cotch him fuss, but had for to let him go 'gin mighty quick, I
tell you--den was de time he must ha' got de bite.  I didn't like
de look ob de bug mouff, myself, nohow, so I wouldn't take hold oh
him wid my finger, but I cotch him wid a piece oh paper dat I
found.  I rap him up in de paper and stuff a piece of it in he
mouff--dat was de way."

"And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by the
beetle, and that the bite made him sick?"

"I don't think noffin about it--I nose it.  What make him dream
'bout de goole so much, if 'taint cause he bit by the goole-bug?
Ise heered 'bout dem goole-bugs 'fore dis."

"But how do you know he dreams about gold?"

"How I know?  why, 'cause he talk about it in he sleep--dat's how I
nose."

"Well, Jup, perhaps you are right; but to what fortunate
circumstance am I to attribute the honor of a visit from you to-
day?"

"What de matter, massa?"

"Did you bring any message from Mr. Legrand?"

"No, massa, I bring dis here pissel;" and here Jupiter handed me a
note which ran thus:


"MY DEAR ----

"Why have I not seen you for so long a time?  I hope you have not
been so foolish as to take offense at any little brusquerie of
mine; but no, that is improbable.

"Since I saw you I have had great cause for anxiety.  I have
something to tell you, yet scarcely know how to tell it, or whether
I should tell it at all.

"I have not been quite well for some days past, and poor old Jup
annoys me, almost beyond endurance, by his well-meant attentions.
Would you believe it?--he had prepared a huge stick, the other day,
with which to chastise me for giving him the slip, and spending the
day, solus, among the hills on the mainland.  I verily believe that
my ill looks alone saved me a flogging.

"I have made no addition to my cabinet since we met.  "If you can,
in any way, make it convenient, come over with Jupiter.  DO come.
I wish to see you TO-NIGHT, upon business of importance.  I assure
you that it is of the HIGHEST importance.

"Ever yours,

"WILLIAM LEGRAND."


There was something in the tone of this note which gave me great
uneasiness.  Its whole style differed materially from that of
Legrand.  What could he be dreaming of?  What new crotchet
possessed his excitable brain?  What "business of the highest
importance" could HE possibly have to transact?  Jupiter's account
of him boded no good.  I dreaded lest the continued pressure of
misfortune had, at length, fairly unsettled the reason of my
friend.  Without a moment's hesitation, therefore, I prepared to
accompany the negro.

Upon reaching the wharf, I noticed a scythe and three spades, all
apparently new, lying in the bottom of the boat in which we were to
embark.

"What is the meaning of all this, Jup?" I inquired.

"Him syfe, massa, and spade."

"Very true; but what are they doing here?"

"Him de syfe and de spade what Massa Will sis 'pon my buying for
him in de town, and de debbil's own lot of money I had to gib for
em."

"But what, in the name of all that is mysterious, is your 'Massa
Will' going to do with scythes and spades?"

"Dat's more dan I know, and debbil take me if I don't b'lieve 'tis
more dan he know too.  But it's all cum ob de bug."

Finding that no satisfaction was to be obtained of Jupiter, whose
whole intellect seemed to be absorbed by "de bug," I now stepped
into the boat, and made sail.  With a fair and strong breeze we
soon ran into the little cove to the northward of Fort Moultrie,
and a walk of some two miles brought us to the hut.  It was about
three in the afternoon when we arrived.  Legrand had been awaiting
us in eager expectation.  He grasped my hand with a nervous
empressement which alarmed me and strengthened the suspicions
already entertained.  His countenance was pale even to ghastliness,
and his deep-set eyes glared with unnatural luster.  After some
inquiries respecting his health, I asked him, not knowing what
better to say, if he had yet obtained the scarabaeus from
Lieutenant G----.

"Oh, yes," he replied, coloring violently, "I got it from him the
next morning.  Nothing should tempt me to part with that
scarabaeus.  Do you know that Jupiter is quite right about it?"

"In what way?" I asked, with a sad foreboding at heart.

"In supposing it to be a bug of REAL GOLD."  He said this with an
air of profound seriousness, and I felt inexpressibly shocked.

"This bug is to make my fortune," he continued, with a triumphant
smile; "to reinstate me in my family possessions.  Is it any
wonder, then, that I prize it?  Since Fortune has thought fit to
bestow it upon me, I have only to use it properly, and I shall
arrive at the gold of which it is the index.  Jupiter, bring me
that scarabaeus!"

"What! de bug, massa?  I'd rudder not go fer trubble dat bug; you
mus' git him for your own self."  Hereupon Legrand arose, with a
grave and stately air, and brought me the beetle from a glass case
in which it was enclosed.  It was a beautiful scarabaeus, and, at
that time, unknown to naturalists--of course a great prize in a
scientific point of view.  There were two round black spots near
one extremity of the back, and a long one near the other.  The
scales were exceedingly hard and glossy, with all the appearance of
burnished gold.  The weight of the insect was very remarkable, and,
taking all things into consideration, I could hardly blame Jupiter
for his opinion respecting it; but what to make of Legrand's
concordance with that opinion, I could not, for the life of me,
tell.

"I sent for you," said he, in a grandiloquent tone, when I had
completed my examination of the beetle, "I sent for you that I
might have your counsel and assistance in furthering the views of
Fate and of the bug--"

"My dear Legrand," I cried, interrupting him, "you are certainly
unwell, and had better use some little precautions.  You shall go
to bed, and I will remain with you a few days, until you get over
this.  You are feverish and--"

"Feel my pulse," said he.

I felt it, and, to say the truth, found not the slightest
indication of fever.

"But you may be ill and yet have no fever.  Allow me this once to
prescribe for you.  In the first place go to bed.  In the next--"

"You are mistaken," he interposed, "I am as well as I can expect to
be under the excitement which I suffer.  If you really wish me
well, you will relieve this excitement."

"And how is this to be done?"

"Very easily.  Jupiter and myself are going upon an expedition into
the hills, upon the mainland, and, in this expedition, we shall
need the aid of some person in whom we can confide.  You are the
only one we can trust.  Whether we succeed or fail, the excitement
which you now perceive in me will be equally allayed."

"I am anxious to oblige you in any way," I replied; "but do you
mean to say that this infernal beetle has any connection with your
expedition into the hills?"

"It has."

"Then, Legrand, I can become a party to no such absurd proceeding."

"I am sorry--very sorry--for we shall have to try it by ourselves."

"Try it by yourselves!  The man is surely mad!--but stay!--how long
do you propose to be absent?"

"Probably all night.  We shall start immediately, and be back, at
all events, by sunrise."

"And will you promise me, upon your honor, that when this freak of
yours is over, and the bug business (good God!) settled to your
satisfaction, you will then return home and follow my advice
implicitly, as that of your physician?"

"Yes; I promise; and now let us be off, for we have no time to
lose."

With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend.  We started about four
o'clock--Legrand, Jupiter, the dog, and myself.  Jupiter had with
him the scythe and spades--the whole of which he insisted upon
carrying--more through fear, it seemed to me, of trusting either of
the implements within reach of his master, than from any excess of
industry or complaisance.  His demeanor was dogged in the extreme,
and "dat deuced bug" were the sole words which escaped his lips
during the journey.  For my own part, I had charge of a couple of
dark lanterns, while Legrand contented himself with the scarabaeus,
which he carried attached to the end of a bit of whipcord; twirling
it to and fro, with the air of a conjurer, as he went.  When I
observed this last, plain evidence of my friend's aberration of
mind, I could scarcely refrain from tears.  I thought it best,
however, to humor his fancy, at least for the present, or until I
could adopt some more energetic measures with a chance of success.
In the meantime I endeavored, but all in vain, to sound him in
regard to the object of the expedition.  Having succeeded in
inducing me to accompany him, he seemed unwilling to hold
conversation upon any topic of minor importance, and to all my
questions vouchsafed no other reply than "we shall see!"

We crossed the creek at the head of the island by means of a skiff,
and, ascending the high grounds on the shore of the mainland,
proceeded in a northwesterly direction, through a tract of country
excessively wild and desolate, where no trace of a human footstep
was to be seen.  Legrand led the way with decision; pausing only
for an instant, here and there, to consult what appeared to be
certain landmarks of his own contrivance upon a former occasion.

In this manner we journeyed for about two hours, and the sun was
just setting when we entered a region infinitely more dreary than
any yet seen.  It was a species of table-land, near the summit of
an almost inaccessible hill, densely wooded from base to pinnacle,
and interspersed with huge crags that appeared to lie loosely upon
the soil, and in many cases were prevented from precipitating
themselves into the valleys below, merely by the support of the
trees against which they reclined.  Deep ravines, in various
directions, gave an air of still sterner solemnity to the scene.

The natural platform to which we had clambered was thickly
overgrown with brambles, through which we soon discovered that it
would have been impossible to force our way but for the scythe; and
Jupiter, by direction of his master, proceeded to clear for us a
path to the foot of an enormously tall tulip tree, which stood,
with some eight or ten oaks, upon the level, and far surpassed them
all, and all other trees which I had then ever seen, in the beauty
of its foliage and form, in the wide spread of its branches, and in
the general majesty of its appearance.  When we reached this tree,
Legrand turned to Jupiter, and asked him if he thought he could
climb it.  The old man seemed a little staggered by the question,
and for some moments made no reply.  At length he approached the
huge trunk, walked slowly around it, and examined it with minute
attention.  When he had completed his scrutiny, he merely said:

"Yes, massa, Jup climb any tree he ebber see in he life."

"Then up with you as soon as possible, for it will soon be too dark
to see what we are about."

"How far mus' go up, massa?" inquired Jupiter.

"Get up the main trunk first, and then I will tell you which way to
go--and here--stop! take this beetle with you."

"De bug, Massa Will!--de goole-bug!" cried the negro, drawing back
in dismay--"what for mus' tote de bug way up de tree?--d--n if I
do!"

"If you are afraid, Jup, a great big negro like you, to take hold
of a harmless little dead beetle, why you can carry it up by this
string--but, if you do not take it up with you in some way, I shall
be under the necessity of breaking your head with this shovel."

"What de matter now, massa?" said Jup, evidently shamed into
compliance; "always want for to raise fuss wid old nigger.  Was
only funnin anyhow.  ME feered de bug! what I keer for de bug?"
Here he took cautiously hold of the extreme end of the string, and,
maintaining the insect as far from his person as circumstances
would permit, prepared to ascend the tree.

In youth, the tulip tree, or Liriodendron tulipiferum, the most
magnificent of American foresters, has a trunk peculiarly smooth,
and often rises to a great height without lateral branches; but, in
its riper age, the bark becomes gnarled and uneven, while many
short limbs make their appearance on the stem.  Thus the difficulty
of ascension, in the present case, lay more in semblance than in
reality.  Embracing the huge cylinder, as closely as possible, with
his arms and knees, seizing with his hands some projections, and
resting his naked toes upon others, Jupiter, after one or two
narrow escapes from falling, at length wriggled himself into the
first great fork, and seemed to consider the whole business as
virtually accomplished.  The RISK of the achievement was, in fact,
now over, although the climber was some sixty or seventy feet from
the ground.

"Which way mus' go now, Massa Will?" he asked.

"Keep up the largest branch--the one on this side," said Legrand.
The negro obeyed him promptly, and apparently with but little
trouble; ascending higher and higher, until no glimpse of his squat
figure could be obtained through the dense foliage which enveloped
it.  Presently his voice was heard in a sort of halloo.

"How much fudder is got to go?"

"How high up are you?" asked Legrand.

"Ebber so fur," replied the negro; "can see de sky fru de top oh de
tree."

"Never mind the sky, but attend to what I say.  Look down the trunk
and count the limbs below you on this side.  How many limbs have
you passed?"

"One, two, tree, four, fibe--I done pass fibe big limb, massa, 'pon
dis side."

"Then go one limb higher."

In a few minutes the voice was heard again, announcing that the
seventh limb was attained.

"Now, Jup," cried Legrand, evidently much excited, "I want you to
work your way out upon that limb as far as you can.  If you see
anything strange let me know."

By this time what little doubt I might have entertained of my poor
friend's insanity was put finally at rest.  I had no alternative
but to conclude him stricken with lunacy, and I became seriously
anxious about getting him home.  While I was pondering upon what
was best to be done, Jupiter's voice was again heard.

"Mos feered for to ventur pon dis limb berry far--'tis dead limb
putty much all de way."

"Did you say it was a DEAD limb, Jupiter?" cried Legrand in a
quavering voice.

"Yes, massa, him dead as de door-nail--done up for sartin--done
departed dis here life."

"What in the name of heaven shall I do?" asked Legrand, seemingly
in the greatest distress.

"Do!" said I, glad of an opportunity to interpose a word, "why come
home and go to bed.  Come now!--that's a fine fellow.  It's getting
late, and, besides, you remember your promise."

"Jupiter," cried he, without heeding me in the least, "do you hear
me?"

"Yes, Massa Will, hear you ebber so plain."

"Try the wood well, then, with your knife, and see if you think it
VERY rotten."

"Him rotten, massa, sure nuff," replied the negro in a few moments,
"but not so berry rotten as mought be.  Mought venture out leetle
way pon de limb by myself, dat's true."

"By yourself!--what do you mean?"

"Why, I mean de bug.  'Tis BERRY hebby bug.  Spose I drop him down
fuss, an den de limb won't break wid just de weight of one nigger."

"You infernal scoundrel!" cried Legrand, apparently much relieved,
"what do you mean by telling me such nonsense as that?  As sure as
you drop that beetle I'll break your neck.  Look here, Jupiter, do
you hear me?"

"Yes, massa, needn't hollo at poor nigger dat style."

"Well! now listen!--if you will venture out on the limb as far as
you think safe, and not let go the beetle, I'll make you a present
of a silver dollar as soon as you get down."

"I'm gwine, Massa Will--deed I is," replied the negro very
promptly--"mos out to the eend now."

"OUT TO THE END!" here fairly screamed Legrand; "do you say you are
out to the end of that limb?"

"Soon be to de eend, massa--o-o-o-o-oh!  Lor-gol-a-marcy! what IS
dis here pon de tree?"

"Well!" cried Legrand, highly delighted, "what is it?"

"Why 'taint noffin but a skull--somebody bin lef him head up de
tree, and de crows done gobble ebery bit ob de meat off."

"A skull, you say!--very well,--how is it fastened to the limb?--
what holds it on?"

"Sure nuff, massa; mus look.  Why dis berry curious sarcumstance,
pon my word--dare's a great big nail in de skull, what fastens ob
it on to de tree."

"Well now, Jupiter, do exactly as I tell you--do you hear?"

"Yes, massa."

"Pay attention, then--find the left eye of the skull."

"Hum! hoo! dat's good! why dey ain't no eye lef at all."

"Curse your stupidity! do you know your right hand from your left?"

"Yes, I knows dat--knows all about dat--'tis my lef hand what I
chops de wood wid."

"To be sure! you are left-handed; and your left eye is on the same
side as your left hand.  Now, I suppose, you can find the left eye
of the skull, or the place where the left eye has been.  Have you
found it?"

Here was a long pause.  At length the negro asked:

"Is de lef eye of de skull pon de same side as de lef hand of de
skull too?--cause de skull aint got not a bit oh a hand at all--
nebber mind!  I got de lef eye now--here de lef eye! what mus do
wid it?"

Let the beetle drop through it, as far as the string will reach--
but be careful and not let go your hold of the string."

"All dat done, Massa Will; mighty easy ting for to put de bug fru
de hole--look out for him dare below!"

During this colloquy no portion of Jupiter's person could be seen;
but the beetle, which he had suffered to descend, was now visible
at the end of the string, and glistened, like a globe of burnished
gold, in the last rays of the setting sun, some of which still
faintly illumined the eminence upon which we stood.  The scarabaeus
hung quite clear of any branches, and, if allowed to fall, would
have fallen at our feet.  Legrand immediately took the scythe, and
cleared with it a circular space, three or four yards in diameter,
just beneath the insect, and, having accomplished this, ordered
Jupiter to let go the string and come down from the tree.

Driving a peg, with great nicety, into the ground, at the precise
spot where the beetle fell, my friend now produced from his pocket
a tape measure.  Fastening one end of this at that point of the
trunk of the tree which was nearest the peg, he unrolled it till it
reached the peg and thence further unrolled it, in the direction
already established by the two points of the tree and the peg, for
the distance of fifty feet--Jupiter clearing away the brambles with
the scythe.  At the spot thus attained a second peg was driven, and
about this, as a center, a rude circle, about four feet in
diameter, described.  Taking now a spade himself, and giving one to
Jupiter and one to me, Legrand begged us to set about digging as
quickly as possible.

To speak the truth, I had no especial relish for such amusement at
any time, and, at that particular moment, would willingly have
declined it; for the night was coming on, and I felt much fatigued
with the exercise already taken; but I saw no mode of escape, and
was fearful of disturbing my poor friend's equanimity by a refusal.
Could I have depended, indeed, upon Jupiter's aid, I would have had
no hesitation in attempting to get the lunatic home by force; but I
was too well assured of the old negro's disposition, to hope that
he would assist me, under any circumstances, in a personal contest
with his master.  I made no doubt that the latter had been infected
with some of the innumerable Southern superstitions about money
buried, and that his fantasy had received confirmation by the
finding of the scarabaeus, or, perhaps, by Jupiter's obstinacy in
maintaining it to be "a bug of real gold."  A mind disposed to
lunacy would readily be led away by such suggestions--especially if
chiming in with favorite preconceived ideas--and then I called to
mind the poor fellow's speech about the beetle's being "the index
of his fortune."  Upon the whole, I was sadly vexed and puzzled,
but, at length, I concluded to make a virtue of necessity--to dig
with a good will, and thus the sooner to convince the visionary, by
ocular demonstration, of the fallacy of the opinion he entertained.

The lanterns having been lit, we all fell to work with a zeal
worthy a more rational cause; and, as the glare fell upon our
persons and implements, I could not help thinking how picturesque a
group we composed, and how strange and suspicious our labors must
have appeared to any interloper who, by chance, might have stumbled
upon our whereabouts.

We dug very steadily for two hours.  Little was said; and our chief
embarrassment lay in the yelpings of the dog, who took exceeding
interest in our proceedings.  He, at length, became so obstreperous
that we grew fearful of his giving the alarm to some stragglers in
the vicinity,--or, rather, this was the apprehension of Legrand;--
for myself, I should have rejoiced at any interruption which might
have enabled me to get the wanderer home.  The noise was, at
length, very effectually silenced by Jupiter, who, getting out of
the hole with a dogged air of deliberation, tied the brute's mouth
up with one of his suspenders, and then returned, with a grave
chuckle, to his task.

When the time mentioned had expired, we had reached a depth of five
feet, and yet no signs of any treasure became manifest.  A general
pause ensued, and I began to hope that the farce was at an end.
Legrand, however, although evidently much disconcerted, wiped his
brow thoughtfully and recommenced.  We had excavated the entire
circle of four feet diameter, and now we slightly enlarged the
limit, and went to the farther depth of two feet.  Still nothing
appeared.  The gold-seeker, whom I sincerely pitied, at length
clambered from the pit, with the bitterest disappointment imprinted
upon every feature, and proceeded, slowly and reluctantly, to put
on his coat, which he had thrown off at the beginning of his labor.
In the meantime I made no remark.  Jupiter, at a signal from his
master, began to gather up his tools.  This done, and the dog
having been unmuzzled, we turned in profound silence toward home.

We had taken, perhaps, a dozen steps in this direction, when, with
a loud oath, Legrand strode up to Jupiter, and seized him by the
collar.  The astonished negro opened his eyes and mouth to the
fullest extent, let fall the spades, and fell upon his knees.

"You scoundrel!" said Legrand, hissing out the syllables from
between his clenched teeth--"you infernal black villain!--speak, I
tell you!--answer me this instant, without prevarication!--which--
which is your left eye?"

"Oh, my golly, Massa Will! aint dis here my lef eye for sartain?"
roared the terrified Jupiter, placing his hand upon his RIGHT organ
of vision, and holding it there with a desperate pertinacity, as if
in immediate, dread of his master's attempt at a gouge.

"I thought so!--I knew it! hurrah!" vociferated Legrand, letting
the negro go and executing a series of curvets and caracols, much
to the astonishment of his valet, who, arising from his knees,
looked, mutely, from his master to myself, and then from myself to
his master.

"Come! we must go back," said the latter, "the game's not up yet;"
and he again led the way to the tulip tree.

"Jupiter," said he, when we reached its foot, "come here! was the
skull nailed to the limb with the face outward, or with the face to
the limb?"

"De face was out, massa, so dat de crows could get at de eyes good,
widout any trouble."

"Well, then, was it this eye or that through which you dropped the
beetle?" here Legrand touched each of Jupiter's eyes.

"'Twas dis eye, massa--de lef eye--jis as you tell me," and here it
was his right eye that the negro indicated.

"That will do--we must try it again."

Here my friend, about whose madness I now saw, or fancied that I
saw, certain indications of method, removed the peg which marked
the spot where the beetle fell, to a spot about three inches to the
westward of its former position.  Taking, now, the tape measure
from the nearest point of the trunk to the peg, as before, and
continuing the extension in a straight line to the distance of
fifty feet, a spot was indicated, removed, by several yards, from
the point at which we had been digging.

Around the new position a circle, somewhat larger than in the
former instance, was now described, and we again set to work with
the spade.  I was dreadfully weary, but, scarcely understanding
what had occasioned the change in my thoughts, I felt no longer any
great aversion from the labor imposed.  I had become most
unaccountably interested--nay, even excited.  Perhaps there was
something, amid all the extravagant demeanor of Legrand--some air
of forethought, or of deliberation, which impressed me.  I dug
eagerly, and now and then caught myself actually looking, with
something that very much resembled expectation, for the fancied
treasure, the vision of which had demented my unfortunate
companion.  At a period when such vagaries of thought most fully
possessed me, and when we had been at work perhaps an hour and a
half, we were again interrupted by the violent howlings of the dog.
His uneasiness, in the first instance, had been, evidently, but the
result of playfulness or caprice, but he now assumed a bitter and
serious tone.  Upon Jupiter's again attempting to muzzle him, he
made furious resistance, and, leaping into the hole, tore up the
mold frantically with his claws.  In a few seconds he had uncovered
a mass of human bones, forming two complete skeletons, intermingled
with several buttons of metal, and what appeared to be the dust of
decayed woolen.  One or two strokes of a spade upturned the blade
of a large Spanish knife, and, as we dug farther, three or four
loose pieces of gold and silver coin came to light.

At sight of these the joy of Jupiter could scarcely be restrained,
but the countenance of his master wore an air of extreme
disappointment.  He urged us, however, to continue our exertions,
and the words were hardly uttered when I stumbled and fell forward,
having caught the toe of my boot in a large ring of iron that lay
half buried in the loose earth.

We now worked in earnest, and never did I pass ten minutes of more
intense excitement.  During this interval we had fairly unearthed
an oblong chest of wood, which, from its perfect preservation and
wonderful hardness, had plainly been subjected to some mineralizing
process--perhaps that of the bichloride of mercury.  This box was
three feet and a half long, three feet broad, and two and a half
feet deep.  It was firmly secured by bands of wrought iron,
riveted, and forming a kind of open trelliswork over the whole.  On
each side of the chest, near the top, were three rings of iron--six
in all--by means of which a firm hold could be obtained by six
persons.  Our utmost united endeavors served only to disturb the
coffer very slightly in its bed.  We at once saw the impossibility
of removing so great a weight.  Luckily, the sole fastenings of the
lid consisted of two sliding bolts.  These we drew back--trembling
and panting with anxiety.  In an instant, a treasure of
incalculable value lay gleaming before us.  As the rays of the
lanterns fell within the pit, there flashed upward a glow and a
glare, from a confused heap of gold and of jewels, that absolutely
dazzled our eyes.

I shall not pretend to describe the feelings with which I gazed.
Amazement was, of course, predominant.  Legrand appeared exhausted
with excitement, and spoke very few words.  Jupiter's countenance
wore, for some minutes, as deadly a pallor as it is possible, in
the nature of things, for any negro's visage to assume.  He seemed
stupefied--thunderstricken.  Presently he fell upon his knees in
the pit, and burying his naked arms up to the elbows in gold, let
them there remain, as if enjoying the luxury of a bath.  At length,
with a deep sigh, he exclaimed, as if in a soliloquy:

"And dis all cum of de goole-bug! de putty goole-bug! de poor
little goole-bug, what I boosed in that sabage kind oh style!
Ain't you shamed oh yourself, nigger?--answer me dat!"

It became necessary, at last, that I should arouse both master and
valet to the expediency of removing the treasure.  It was growing
late, and it behooved us to make exertion, that we might get
everything housed before daylight.  It was difficult to say what
should he done, and much time was spent in deliberation--so
confused were the ideas of all.  We, finally, lightened the box by
removing two thirds of its contents, when we were enabled, with
some trouble, to raise it from the hole.  The articles taken out
were deposited among the brambles, and the dog left to guard them,
with strict orders from Jupiter neither, upon any pretense, to stir
from the spot, nor to open his mouth until our return.  We then
hurriedly made for home with the chest; reaching the hut in safety,
but after excessive toil, at one o'clock in the morning.  Worn out
as we were, it was not in human nature to do more immediately.  We
rested until two, and had supper; starting for the hills
immediately afterwards, armed with three stout sacks, which, by
good luck, were upon the premises.  A little before four we arrived
at the pit, divided the remainder of the booty, as equally as might
be, among us, and, leaving the holes unfilled, again set out for
the hut, at which, for the second time, we deposited our golden
burdens, just as the first faint streaks of the dawn gleamed from
over the treetops in the east.

We were now thoroughly broken down; but the intense excitement of
the time denied us repose.  After an unquiet slumber of some three
or four hours' duration, we arose, as if by preconcert, to make
examination of our treasure.

The chest had been full to the brim, and we spent the whole day,
and the greater part of the next night, in a scrutiny of its
contents.  There had been nothing like order or arrangement.
Everything had been heaped in promiscuously.  Having assorted all
with care, we found ourselves possessed of even vaster wealth than
we had at first supposed.  In coin there was rather more than four
hundred and fifty thousand dollars--estimating the value of the
pieces, as accurately as we could, by the tables of the period.
There was not a particle of silver.  All was gold of antique date
and of great variety--French, Spanish, and German money, with a few
English guineas, and some counters, of which we had never seen
specimens before.  There were several very large and heavy coins,
so worn that we could make nothing of their inscriptions.  There
was no American money.  The value of the jewels we found more
difficulty in estimating.  There were diamonds--some of them
exceedingly large and fine--a hundred and ten in all, and not one
of them small; eighteen rubies of remarkable brilliancy;--three
hundred and ten emeralds, all very beautiful; and twenty-one
sapphires, with an opal.  These stones had all been broken from
their settings and thrown loose in the chest.  The settings
themselves, which we picked out from among the other gold, appeared
to have been beaten up with hammers, as if to prevent
identification.  Besides all this, there was a vast quantity of
solid gold ornaments; nearly two hundred massive finger and ears
rings; rich chains--thirty of these, if I remember; eighty-three
very large and heavy crucifixes; five gold censers of great value;
a prodigious golden punch bowl, ornamented with richly chased vine
leaves and Bacchanalian figures; with two sword handles exquisitely
embossed, and many other smaller articles which I cannot recollect.
The weight of these valuables exceeded three hundred and fifty
pounds avoirdupois; and in this estimate I have not included one
hundred and ninety-seven superb gold watches; three of the number
being worth each five hundred dollars, if one.  Many of them were
very old, and as timekeepers valueless; the works having suffered,
more or less, from corrosion--but all were richly jeweled and in
cases of great worth.  We estimated the entire contents of the
chest, that night, at a million and a half of dollars; and upon the
subsequent disposal of the trinkets and jewels (a few being
retained for our own use), it was found that we had greatly
undervalued the treasure.

When, at length, we had concluded our examination, and the intense
excitement of the time had, in some measure, subsided, Legrand, who
saw that I was dying with impatience for a solution of this most
extraordinary riddle, entered into a full detail of all the
circumstances connected with it.

"You remember," said he, "the night when I handed you the rough
sketch I had made of the scarabaeus.  You recollect, also, that I
became quite vexed at you for insisting that my drawing resembled a
death's head.  When you first made this assertion I thought you
were jesting; but afterwards I called to mind the peculiar spots on
the back of the insect, and admitted to myself that your remark had
some little foundation in fact.  Still, the sneer at my graphic
powers irritated me--for I am considered a good artist--and,
therefore, when you handed me the scrap of parchment, I was about
to crumple it up and throw it angrily into the fire."

"The scrap of paper, you mean," said I.

"No; it had much of the appearance of paper, and at first I
supposed it to be such, but when I came to draw upon it, I
discovered it at once to be a piece of very thin parchment.  It was
quite dirty, you remember.  Well, as I was in the very act of
crumpling it up, my glance fell upon the sketch at which you had
been looking, and you may imagine my astonishment when I perceived,
in fact, the figure of a death's head just where, it seemed to me,
I had made the drawing of the beetle.  For a moment I was too much
amazed to think with accuracy.  I knew that my design was very
different in detail from this--although there was a certain
similarity in general outline.  Presently I took a candle, and
seating myself at the other end of the room, proceeded to
scrutinize the parchment more closely.  Upon turning it over, I saw
my own sketch upon the reverse, just as I had made it.  My first
idea, now, was mere surprise at the really remarkable similarity of
outline--at the singular coincidence involved in the fact that,
unknown to me, there should have been a skull upon the other side
of the parchment, immediately beneath my figure of the scarabaeus,
and that this skull, not only in outline, but in size, should so
closely resemble my drawing.  I say the singularity of this
coincidence absolutely stupefied me for a time.  This is the usual
effect of such coincidences.  The mind struggles to establish a
connection--a sequence of cause and effect--and, being unable to do
so, suffers a species of temporary paralysis.  But, when I
recovered from this stupor, there dawned upon me gradually a
conviction which startled me even far more than the coincidence.  I
began distinctly, positively, to remember that there had been NO
drawing upon the parchment, when I made my sketch of the
scarabaeus.  I became perfectly certain of this; for I recollected
turning up first one side and then the other, in search of the
cleanest spot.  Had the skull been then there, of course I could
not have failed to notice it.  Here was indeed a mystery which I
felt it impossible to explain; but, even at that early moment,
there seemed to glimmer, faintly, within the most remote and secret
chambers of my intellect, a glow-wormlike conception of that truth
which last night's adventure brought to so magnificent a
demonstration.  I arose at once, and putting the parchment securely
away, dismissed all further reflection until I should be alone.

"When you had gone, and when Jupiter was fast asleep, I betook
myself to a more methodical investigation of the affair.  In the
first place I considered the manner in which the parchment had come
into my possession.  The spot where we discovered the scarabaeus
was on the coast of the mainland, about a mile eastward of the
island, and but a short distance above high-water mark.  Upon my
taking hold of it, it gave me a sharp bite, which caused me to let
it drop.  Jupiter, with his accustomed caution, before seizing the
insect, which had flown toward him, looked about him for a leaf, or
something of that nature, by which to take hold of it.  It was at
this moment that his eyes, and mine also, fell upon the scrap of
parchment, which I then supposed to be paper.  It was lying half
buried in the sand, a corner sticking up.  Near the spot where we
found it, I observed the remnants of the hull of what appeared to
have been a ship's longboat.  The wreck seemed to have been there
for a very great while, for the resemblance to boat timbers could
scarcely be traced.

"Well, Jupiter picked up the parchment, wrapped the beetle in it,
and gave it to me.  Soon afterwards we turned to go home, and on
the way met Lieutenant G----.  I showed him the insect, and he
begged me to let him take it to the fort.  Upon my consenting, he
thrust it forthwith into his waistcoat pocket, without the
parchment in which it had been wrapped, and which I had continued
to hold in my hand during his inspection.  Perhaps he dreaded my
changing my mind, and thought it best to make sure of the prize at
once--you know how enthusiastic he is on all subjects connected
with Natural History.  At the same time, without being conscious of
it, I must have deposited the parchment in my own pocket.

"You remember that when I went to the table, for the purpose of
making a sketch of the beetle, I found no paper where it was
usually kept.  I looked in the drawer, and found none there.  I
searched my pockets, hoping to find an old letter, when my hand
fell upon the parchment.  I thus detail the precise mode in which
it came into my possession, for the circumstances impressed me with
peculiar force.

"No doubt you will think me fanciful--but I had already established
a kind of CONNECTION.  I had put together two links of a great
chain.  There was a boat lying upon a seacoast, and not far from
the boat was a parchment--NOT A PAPER--with a skull depicted upon
it.  You will, of course, ask 'where is the connection?'  I reply
that the skull, or death's head, is the well-known emblem of the
pirate.  The flag of the death's head is hoisted in all
engagements.

"I have said that the scrap was parchment, and not paper.
Parchment is durable--almost imperishable.  Matters of little
moment are rarely consigned to parchment; since, for the mere
ordinary purposes of drawing or writing, it is not nearly so well
adapted as paper.  This reflection suggested some meaning--some
relevancy--in the death's head.  I did not fail to observe, also,
the FORM of the parchment.  Although one of its corners had been,
by some accident, destroyed, it could be seen that the original
form was oblong.  It was just such a slip, indeed, as might have
been chosen for a memorandum--for a record of something to be long
remembered, and carefully preserved."

"But," I interposed, "you say that the skull was NOT upon the
parchment when you made the drawing of the beetle.  How then do you
trace any connection between the boat and the skull--since this
latter, according to your own admission, must have been designed
(God only knows how or by whom) at some period subsequent to your
sketching the scarabaeus?"

"Ah, hereupon turns the whole mystery; although the secret, at this
point, I had comparatively little difficulty in solving.  My steps
were sure, and could afford but a single result.  I reasoned, for
example, thus: When I drew the scarabaeus, there was no skull
apparent upon the parchment.  When I had completed the drawing I
gave it to you, and observed you narrowly until you returned it.
YOU, therefore, did not design the skull, and no one else was
present to do it.  Then it was not done by human agency.  And
nevertheless it was done.

"At this stage of my reflections I endeavored to remember, and DID
remember, with entire distinctness, every incident which occurred
about the period in question.  The weather was chilly (oh, rare and
happy accident!), and a fire was blazing upon the hearth.  I was
heated with exercise and sat near the table.  You, however, had
drawn a chair close to the chimney.  Just as I placed the parchment
in your hand, and as you were in the act of inspecting it, Wolf,
the Newfoundland, entered, and leaped upon your shoulders.  With
your left hand you caressed him and kept him off, while your right,
holding the parchment, was permitted to fall listlessly between
your knees, and in close proximity to the fire.  At one moment I
thought the blaze had caught it, and was about to caution you, but,
before I could speak, you had withdrawn it, and were engaged in its
examination.  When I considered all these particulars, I doubted
not for a moment that HEAT had been the agent in bringing to light,
upon the parchment, the skull which I saw designed upon it.  You
are well aware that chemical preparations exist, and have existed
time out of mind, by means of which it is possible to write upon
either paper or vellum, so that the characters shall become visible
only when subjected to the action of fire.  Zaffre, digested in
aqua regia, and diluted with four times its weight of water, is
sometimes employed; a green tint results.  The regulus of cobalt,
dissolved in spirit of niter, gives a red.  These colors disappear
at longer or shorter intervals after the material written upon
cools, but again become apparent upon the reapplication of heat.

"I now scrutinized the death's head with care.  Its outer edges--
the edges of the drawing nearest the edge of the vellum--were far
more DISTINCT than the others.  It was clear that the action of the
caloric had been imperfect or unequal.  I immediately kindled a
fire, and subjected every portion of the parchment to a glowing
heat.  At first, the only effect was the strengthening of the faint
lines in the skull; but, upon persevering in the experiment, there
became visible, at the corner of the slip, diagonally opposite to
the spot in which the death's head was delineated, the figure of
what I at first supposed to be a goat.  A closer scrutiny, however,
satisfied me that it was intended for a kid."

"Ha! ha!" said I, "to be sure I have no right to laugh at you--a
million and a half of money is too serious a matter for mirth--but
you are not about to establish a third link in your chain--you will
not find any especial connection between your pirates and a goat--
pirates, you know, have nothing to do with goats; they appertain to
the farming interest."

"But I have just said that the figure was NOT that of a goat."

"Well, a kid then--pretty much the same thing."

"Pretty much, but not altogether," said Legrand.  "You may have
heard of one CAPTAIN Kidd.  I at once looked upon the figure of the
animal as a kind of punning or hieroglyphical signature.  I say
signature; because its position upon the vellum suggested this
idea.  The death's head at the corner diagonally opposite, had, in
the same manner, the air of a stamp, or seal.  But I was sorely put
out by the absence of all else--of the body to my imagined
instrument--of the text for my context."

"I presume you expected to find a letter between the stamp and the
signature."

"Something of that kind.  The fact is, I felt irresistibly
impressed with a presentiment of some vast good fortune impending.
I can scarcely say why.  Perhaps, after all, it was rather a desire
than an actual belief;--but do you know that Jupiter's silly words,
about the bug being of solid gold, had a remarkable effect upon my
fancy?  And then the series of accidents and coincidents--these
were so VERY extraordinary.  Do you observe how mere an accident it
was that these events should have occurred upon the SOLE day of all
the year in which it has been, or may be sufficiently cool for
fire, and that without the fire, or without the intervention of the
dog at the precise moment in which he appeared, I should never have
become aware of the death's head, and so never the possessor of the
treasure?"

"But proceed--I am all impatience."

"Well; you have heard, of course, the many stories current--the
thousand vague rumors afloat about money buried, somewhere upon the
Atlantic coast, by Kidd and his associates.  These rumors must have
had some foundation in fact.  And that the rumors have existed so
long and so continuous, could have resulted, it appeared to me,
only from the circumstance of the buried treasures still REMAINING
entombed.  Had Kidd concealed his plunder for a time, and
afterwards reclaimed it, the rumors would scarcely have reached us
in their present unvarying form.  You will observe that the stories
told are all about money-seekers, not about money-finders.  Had the
pirate recovered his money, there the affair would have dropped.
It seemed to me that some accident--say the loss of a memorandum
indicating its locality--had deprived him of the means of
recovering it, and that this accident had become known to his
followers, who otherwise might never have heard that the treasure
had been concealed at all, and who, busying themselves in vain,
because unguided, attempts to regain it, had given first birth, and
then universal currency, to the reports which are now so common.
Have you ever heard of any important treasure being unearthed along
the coast?"

"Never."

"But that Kidd's accumulations were immense, is well known.  I took
it for granted, therefore, that the earth still held them; and you
will scarcely be surprised when I tell you that I felt a hope,
nearly amounting to certainty, that the parchment so strangely
found involved a lost record of the place of deposit."

"But how did you proceed?"

"I held the vellum again to the fire, after increasing the heat,
but nothing appeared.  I now thought it possible that the coating
of dirt might have something to do with the failure: so I carefully
rinsed the parchment by pouring warm water over it, and, having
done this, I placed it in a tin pan, with the skull downward, and
put the pan upon a furnace of lighted charcoal.  In a few minutes,
the pan having become thoroughly heated, I removed the slip, and,
to my inexpressible joy, found it spotted, in several places, with
what appeared to be figures arranged in lines.  Again I placed it
in the pan, and suffered it to remain another minute.  Upon taking
it off, the whole was just as you see it now."

Here Legrand, having reheated the parchment, submitted it to my
inspection.  The following characters were rudely traced, in a red
tint, between the death's head and the goat:


"53++!305))6*;4826)4+)4+).;806*;48!8]60))85;1+8*:+(;:+*8!83(88)5*!;
46(;88*96*?;8)*+(;485);5*!2:*+(;4956*2(5*-4)8]8*;4069285);)6!8)4++;
1(+9;48081;8:8+1;48!85;4)485!528806*81(+9;48;(88;4(+?34;48)4+;161;:
188;+?;"


"But," said I, returning him the slip, "I am as much in the dark as
ever.  Were all the jewels of Golconda awaiting me upon my solution
of this enigma, I am quite sure that I should be unable to earn
them."

"And yet," said Legrand, "the solution is by no means so difficult
as you might be led to imagine from the first hasty inspection of
the characters.  These characters, as anyone might readily guess,
form a cipher--that is to say, they convey a meaning; but then from
what is known of Kidd, I could not suppose him capable of
constructing any of the more abstruse cryptographs.  I made up my
mind, at once, that this was of a simple species--such, however, as
would appear, to the crude intellect of the sailor, absolutely
insoluble without the key."

"And you really solved it?"

"Readily; I have solved others of an abstruseness ten thousand
times greater.  Circumstances, and a certain bias of mind, have led
me to take interest in such riddles, and it may well be doubted
whether human ingenuity can construct an enigma of the kind which
human ingenuity may not, by proper application, resolve.  In fact,
having once established connected and legible characters, I
scarcely gave a thought to the mere difficulty of developing their
import.

"In the present case--indeed in all cases of secret writing--the
first question regards the LANGUAGE of the cipher; for the
principles of solution, so far, especially, as the more simple
ciphers are concerned, depend upon, and are varied by, the genius
of the particular idiom.  In general, there is no alternative but
experiment (directed by probabilities) of every tongue known to him
who attempts the solution, until the true one be attained.  But,
with the cipher now before us, all difficulty was removed by the
signature.  The pun upon the word 'Kidd' is appreciable in no other
language than the English.  But for this consideration I should
have begun my attempts with the Spanish and French, as the tongues
in which a secret of this kind would most naturally have been
written by a pirate of the Spanish main.  As it was, I assumed the
cryptograph to be English.

"You observe there are no divisions between the words.  Had there
been divisions the task would have been comparatively easy.  In
such cases I should have commenced with a collation and analysis of
the shorter words, and, had a word of a single letter occurred, as
is most likely, (a or I, for example,) I should have considered the
solution as assured.  But, there being no division, my first step
was to ascertain the predominant letters, as well as the least
frequent.  Counting all, I constructed a table thus:


Of the character 8 there are 33.
                 ;     "     26.
                 4     "     19.
                +)     "     16.
                 *     "     13.
                 5     "     12.
                 6     "     11.
                !1     "      8.
                 0     "      6.
                92     "      5.
                :3     "      4.
                 ?     "      3.
                 ]     "      2.
                -.     "      1.


"Now, in English, the letter which most frequently occurs is e.
Afterwards, the succession runs thus: a o i d h n r s t u y c f g l
m w b k p q x z.  E predominates so remarkably, that an individual
sentence of any length is rarely seen, in which it is not the
prevailing character.

"Here, then, we have, in the very beginning, the groundwork for
something more than a mere guess.  The general use which may be
made of the table is obvious--but, in this particular cipher, we
shall only very partially require its aid.  As our predominant
character is 8, we will commence by assuming it as the e of the
natural alphabet.  To verify the supposition, let us observe if the
8 be seen often in couples--for e is doubled with great frequency
in English--in such words, for example, as 'meet,' 'fleet,'
'speed,' 'seen,' 'been,' 'agree,' etc.  In the present instance we
see it doubled no less than five times, although the cryptograph is
brief.

"Let us assume 8, then, as e.  Now, of all WORDS in the language,
'the' is most usual; let us see, therefore, whether there are not
repetitions of any three characters, in the same order of
collocation, the last of them being 8.  If we discover repetitions
of such letters, so arranged, they will most probably represent the
word 'the.'  Upon inspection, we find no less than seven such
arrangements, the characters being ;48.  We may, therefore, assume
that ; represents t, 4 represents h, and 8 represents e--the last
being now well confirmed.  Thus a great step has been taken.

"But, having established a single word, we are enabled to establish
a vastly important point; that is to say, several commencements and
terminations of other words.  Let us refer, for example, to the
last instance but one, in which the combination ;48 occurs--not far
from the end of the cipher.  We know that the ; immediately ensuing
is the commencement of a word, and, of the six characters
succeeding this 'the,' we are cognizant of no less than five.  Let
us set these characters down, thus, by the letters we know them to
represent, leaving a space for the unknown--


t eeth.


"Here we are enabled, at once, to discard the 'th,' as forming no
portion of the word commencing with the first t; since, by
experiment of the entire alphabet for a letter adapted to the
vacancy, we perceive that no word can be formed of which this th
can be a part.  We are thus narrowed into


t ee,


and, going through the alphabet, if necessary, as before, we arrive
at the word 'tree,' as the sole possible reading.  We thus gain
another letter, r, represented by (, with the words 'the tree' in
juxtaposition.

"Looking beyond these words, for a short distance, we again see the
combination ;48, and employ it by way of TERMINATION to what
immediately precedes.  We have thus this arrangement:


the tree ;4(4+?34 the,


or, substituting the natural letters, where known, it reads thus:


the tree thr+?3h the.


"Now, if, in place of the unknown characters, we leave blank
spaces, or substitute dots, we read thus:


the tree thr...h the,


when the word 'through' makes itself evident at once.  But this
discovery gives us three new letters, o, u, and g, represented by
+, ?, and 3.

"Looking now, narrowly, through the cipher for combinations of
known characters, we find, not very far from the beginning, this
arrangement,


83(88, or egree,


which plainly, is the conclusion of the word 'degree,' and gives us
another letter, d, represented by !.

"Four letters beyond the word 'degree,' we perceive the combination


;46(;88.


"Translating the known characters, and representing the unknown by
dots, as before, we read thus:


th.rtee,


an arrangement immediately suggestive of the word thirteen,' and
again furnishing us with two new characters, i and n, represented
by 6 and *.

"Referring, now, to the beginning of the cryptograph, we find the
combination,


53++!.


"Translating as before, we obtain


.good,


which assures us that the first letter is A, and that the first two
words are 'A good.'

"It is now time that we arrange our key, as far as discovered, in a
tabular form, to avoid confusion.  It will stand thus:


5 represents a
!     "      d
8     "      e
3     "      g
4     "      h
6     "      i
*     "      n
+     "      o
(     "      r
;     "      t
?     "      u


"We have, therefore, no less than eleven of the most important
letters represented, and it will be unnecessary to proceed with the
details of the solution.  I have said enough to convince you that
ciphers of this nature are readily soluble, and to give you some
insight into the rationale of their development.  But be assured
that the specimen before us appertains to the very simplest species
of cryptograph.  It now only remains to give you the full
translation of the characters upon the parchment, as unriddled.
Here it is:


"'A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat forty-one
degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north main branch
seventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of the death's head
a bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.'"


"But," said I, "the enigma seems still in as bad a condition as
ever.  How is it possible to extort a meaning from all this jargon
about 'devil's seats,' 'death's heads,' and 'bishop's hostels'?"

"I confess," replied Legrand, "that the matter still wears a
serious aspect, when regarded with a casual glance.  My first
endeavor was to divide the sentence into the natural division
intended by the cryptographist."

"You mean, to punctuate it?"

"Something of that kind."

"But how was it possible to effect this?"

"I reflected that it had been a POINT with the writer to run his
words together without division, so as to increase the difficulty
of solution.  Now, a not overacute man, in pursuing such an object,
would be nearly certain to overdo the matter.  When, in the course
of his composition, he arrived at a break in his subject which
would naturally require a pause, or a point, he would be
exceedingly apt to run his characters, at this place, more than
usually close together.  If you will observe the MS., in the
present instance, you will easily detect five such cases of unusual
crowding.  Acting upon this hint I made the division thus:


"'A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat--forty-
one degrees and thirteen minutes--northeast and by north--main
branch seventh limb east side--shoot from the left eye of the
death's head--a bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty feet
out.'"


"Even this division," said I, "leaves me still in the dark."

"It left me also in the dark," replied Legrand, "for a few days;
during which I made diligent inquiry in the neighborhood of
Sullivan's Island, for any building which went by name of the
'Bishop's Hotel'; for, of course, I dropped the obsolete word
'hostel.'  Gaining no information on the subject, I was on the
point of extending my sphere of search, and proceeding in a more
systematic manner, when, one morning, it entered into my head,
quite suddenly, that this 'Bishop's Hostel' might have some
reference to an old family, of the name of Bessop, which, time out
of mind, had held possession of an ancient manor house, about four
miles to the northward of the island.  I accordingly went over to
the plantation, and reinstituted my inquiries among the older
negroes of the place.  At length one of the most aged of the women
said that she had heard of such a place as Bessop's Castle, and
thought that she could guide me to it, but that it was not a
castle, nor a tavern, but a high rock.

"I offered to pay her well for her trouble, and, after some demur,
she consented to accompany me to the spot.  We found it without
much difficulty, when, dismissing her, I proceeded to examine the
place.  The 'castle' consisted of an irregular assemblage of cliffs
and rocks--one of the latter being quite remarkable for its height
as well as for its insulated and artificial appearance.  I
clambered to its apex, and then felt much at a loss as to what
should be next done.

"While I was busied in reflection, my eyes fell upon a narrow ledge
in the eastern face of the rock, perhaps a yard below the summit
upon which I stood.  This ledge projected about eighteen inches,
and was not more than a foot wide, while a niche in the cliff just
above it gave it a rude resemblance to one of the hollow-backed
chairs used by our ancestors.  I made no doubt that here was the
'devil's seat' alluded to in the MS., and now I seemed to grasp the
full secret of the riddle.

"The 'good glass,' I knew, could have reference to nothing but a
telescope; for the word 'glass' is rarely employed in any other
sense by seamen.  Now here, I at once saw, was a telescope to be
used, and a definite point of view, ADMITTING NO VARIATION, from
which to use it.  Nor did I hesitate to believe that the phrases,
'forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes,' and 'northeast and by
north,' were intended as directions for the leveling of the glass.
Greatly excited by these discoveries, I hurried home, procured a
telescope, and returned to the rock.

"I let myself down to the ledge, and found that it was impossible
to retain a seat upon it except in one particular position.  This
fact confirmed my preconceived idea.  I proceeded to use the glass.
Of course, the 'forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes' could
allude to nothing but elevation above the visible horizon, since
the horizontal direction was clearly indicated by the words,
'northeast and by north.'  This latter direction I at once
established by means of a pocket compass; then, pointing the glass
as nearly at an angle of forty-one degrees of elevation as I could
do it by guess, I moved it cautiously up or down, until my
attention was arrested by a circular rift or opening in the foliage
of a large tree that overtopped its fellows in the distance.  In
the center of this rift I perceived a white spot, but could not, at
first, distinguish what it was.  Adjusting the focus of the
telescope, I again looked, and now made it out to be a human skull.

"Upon this discovery I was so sanguine as to consider the enigma
solved; for the phrase 'main branch, seventh limb, east side,'
could refer only to the position of the skull upon the tree, while
'shoot from the left eye of the death's head' admitted, also, of
but one interpretation, in regard to a search for buried treasure.
I perceived that the design was to drop a bullet from the left eye
of the skull, and that a bee-line, or, in other words, a straight
line, drawn from the nearest point of the trunk 'through the shot'
(or the spot where the bullet fell), and thence extended to a
distance of fifty feet, would indicate a definite point--and
beneath this point I thought it at least POSSIBLE that a deposit of
value lay concealed."

"All this," I said, "is exceedingly clear, and, although ingenious,
still simple and explicit.  When you left the Bishop's Hotel, what
then?"

"Why, having carefully taken the bearings of the tree, I turned
homeward.  The instant that I left 'the devil's seat,' however, the
circular rift vanished; nor could I get a glimpse of it afterwards,
turn as I would.  What seems to me the chief ingenuity in this
whole business, is the fact (for repeated experiment has convinced
me it IS a fact) that the circular opening in question is visible
from no other attainable point of view than that afforded by the
narrow ledge upon the face of the rock.

"In this expedition to the 'Bishop's Hotel' I had been attended by
Jupiter, who had, no doubt, observed, for some weeks past, the
abstraction of my demeanor, and took especial care not to leave me
alone.  But, on the next day, getting up very early, I contrived to
give him the slip, and went into the hills in search of the tree.
After much toil I found it.  When I came home at night my valet
proposed to give me a flogging.  With the rest of the adventure I
believe you are as well acquainted as myself."

"I suppose," said I, "you missed the spot, in the first attempt at
digging, through Jupiter's stupidity in letting the bug fall
through the right instead of through the left eye of the skull."

"Precisely.  This mistake made a difference of about two inches and
a half in the 'shot'--that is to say, in the position of the peg
nearest the tree; and had the treasure been BENEATH the 'shot,' the
error would have been of little moment; but 'the shot,' together
with the nearest point of the tree, were merely two points for the
establishment of a line of direction; of course the error, however
trivial in the beginning, increased as we proceeded with the line,
and by the time we had gone fifty feet threw us quite off the
scent.  But for my deep-seated impressions that treasure was here
somewhere actually buried, we might have had all our labor in
vain."

"But your grandiloquence, and your conduct in swinging the beetle--
how excessively odd!  I was sure you were mad.  And why did you
insist upon letting fall the bug, instead of a bullet, from the
skull?"

"Why, to be frank, I felt somewhat annoyed by your evident
suspicions touching my sanity, and so resolved to punish you
quietly, in my own way, by a little bit of sober mystification.
For this reason I swung the beetle, and for this reason I let it
fall from the tree.  An observation of yours about its great weight
suggested the latter idea."

"Yes, I perceive; and now there is only one point which puzzles me.
What are we to make of the skeletons found in the hole?"

"That is a question I am no more able to answer than yourself.
There seems, however, only one plausible way of accounting for
them--and yet it is dreadful to believe in such atrocity as my
suggestion would imply.  It is clear that Kidd--if Kidd indeed
secreted this treasure, which I doubt not--it is clear that he must
have had assistance in the labor.  But this labor concluded, he may
have thought it expedient to remove all participants in his secret.
Perhaps a couple of blows with a mattock were sufficient, while his
coadjutors were busy in the pit; perhaps it required a dozen--who
shall tell?"



Washington Irving

Wolfert Webber, or Golden Dreams


In the year of grace one thousand seven hundred and--blank--for I
do not remember the precise date; however, it was somewhere in the
early part of the last century,--there lived in the ancient city of
the Manhattoes a worthy burgher, Wolfert Webber by name.  He was
descended from old Cobus Webber of the Brill[1] in Holland, one of
the original settlers, famous for introducing the cultivation of
cabbages, and who came over to the province during the
protectorship of Oloffe Van Kortlandt, otherwise called "the
Dreamer."


[1] The Brill is a fortified seaport of Holland, on the Meuse
River, near Rotterdam.


The field in which Cobus Webber first planted himself and his
cabbages had remained ever since in the family, who continued in
the same line of husbandry with that praiseworthy perseverance for
which our Dutch burghers are noted.  The whole family genius,
during several generations, was devoted to the study and
development of this one noble vegetable, and to this concentration
of intellect may doubtless be ascribed the prodigious renown to
which the Webber cabbages attained.

The Webber dynasty continued in uninterrupted succession, and never
did a line give more unquestionable proofs of legitimacy.  The
eldest son succeeded to the looks as well as the territory of his
sire, and had the portraits of this line of tranquil potentates
been taken, they would have presented a row of heads marvelously
resembling, in shape and magnitude, the vegetables over which they
reigned.

The seat of government continued unchanged in the family mansion,--
a Dutch-built house, with a front, or rather gable end, of yellow
brick, tapering to a point, with the customary iron weathercock at
the top.  Everything about the building bore the air of long-
settled ease and security.  Flights of martins peopled the little
coops nailed against its walls, and swallows built their nests
under the eaves, and everyone knows that these house-loving birds
bring good luck to the dwelling where they take up their abode.  In
a bright summer morning in early summer, it was delectable to hear
their cheerful notes as they sported about in the pure, sweet air,
chirping forth, as it were, the greatness and prosperity of the
Webbers.

Thus quietly and comfortably did this excellent family vegetate
under the shade of a mighty buttonwood tree, which by little and
little grew so great as entirely to overshadow their palace.  The
city gradually spread its suburbs round their domain.  Houses
sprang up to interrupt their prospects.  The rural lanes in the
vicinity began to grow into the bustle and populousness of streets;
in short, with all the habits of rustic life they began to find
themselves the inhabitants of a city.  Still, however, they
maintained their hereditary character and hereditary possessions,
with all the tenacity of petty German princes in the midst of the
empire.  Wolfert was the last of the line, and succeeded to the
patriarchal bench at the door, under the family tree, and swayed
the scepter of his fathers,--a kind of rural potentate in the midst
of the metropolis.

To share the cares and sweets of sovereignty he had taken unto
himself a helpmate, one of that excellent kind called "stirring
women"; that is to say, she was one of those notable little
housewives who are always busy where there is nothing to do.  Her
activity, however, took one particular direction,--her whole life
seemed devoted to intense knitting; whether at home or abroad,
walking or sitting, her needles were continually in motion, and it
is even affirmed that by her unwearied industry she very nearly
supplied her household with stockings throughout the year.  This
worthy couple were blessed with one daughter who was brought up
with great tenderness and care; uncommon pains had been taken with
her education, so that she could stitch in every variety of way,
make all kinds of pickles and preserves, and mark her own name on a
sampler.  The influence of her taste was seen also in the family
garden, where the ornamental began to mingle with the useful; whole
rows of fiery marigolds and splendid hollyhocks bordered the
cabbage beds, and gigantic sunflowers lolled their broad, jolly
faces over the fences, seeming to ogle most affectionately the
passers-by.

Thus reigned and vegetated Wolfert Webber over his paternal acres,
peacefully and contentedly.  Not but that, like all other
sovereigns, he had his occasional cares and vexations.  The growth
of his native city sometimes caused him annoyance.  His little
territory gradually became hemmed in by streets and houses, which
intercepted air and sunshine.  He was now and then subjected to the
eruptions of the border population that infest the streets of a
metropolis, who would make midnight forays into his dominions, and
carry off captive whole platoons of his noblest subjects.  Vagrant
swine would make a descent, too, now and then, when the gate was
left open, and lay all waste before them; and mischievous urchins
would decapitate the illustrious sunflowers, the glory of the
garden, as they lolled their heads so fondly over the walls.  Still
all these were petty grievances, which might now and then ruffle
the surface of his mind, as a summer breeze will ruffle the surface
of a mill pond, but they could not disturb the deep-seated quiet of
his soul.  He would but seize a trusty staff that stood behind the
door, issue suddenly out, and anoint the back of the aggressor,
whether pig or urchin, and then return within doors, marvelously
refreshed and tranquilized.

The chief cause of anxiety to honest Wolfert, however, was the
growing prosperity of the city.  The expenses of living doubled and
trebled, but he could not double and treble the magnitude of his
cabbages, and the number of competitors prevented the increase of
price; thus, therefore, while everyone around him grew richer,
Wolfert grew poorer, and he could not, for the life of him,
perceive how the evil was to be remedied.

This growing care, which increased from day to day, had its gradual
effect upon our worthy burgher, insomuch that it at length
implanted two or three wrinkles in his brow, things unknown before
in the family of the Webbers, and it seemed to pinch up the corners
of his cocked hat into an expression of anxiety totally opposite to
the tranquil, broad-brimmed, low-crowned beavers of his illustrious
progenitors.

Perhaps even this would not have materially disturbed the serenity
of his mind had he had only himself and his wife to care for; but
there was his daughter gradually growing to maturity, and all the
world knows that when daughters begin to ripen, no fruit nor flower
requires so much looking after.  I have no talent at describing
female charms, else fain would I depict the progress of this little
Dutch beauty: how her blue eyes grew deeper and deeper, and her
cherry lips redder and redder, and how she ripened and ripened, and
rounded and rounded, in the opening breath of sixteen summers,
until, in her seventeenth spring, she seemed ready to burst out of
her bodice, like a half-blown rosebud.

Ah, well-a-day!  Could I but show her as she was then, tricked out
on a Sunday morning in the hereditary finery of the old Dutch
clothespress, of which her mother had confided to her the key!  The
wedding dress of her grandmother, modernized for use, with sundry
ornaments, handed down as heirlooms in the family.  Her pale brown
hair smoothed with buttermilk in flat, waving lines on each side of
her fair forehead.  The chain of yellow, virgin gold that encircled
her neck; the little cross that just rested at the entrance of a
soft valley of happiness, as if it would sanctify the place.  The--
but pooh! it is not for an old man like me to be prosing about
female beauty; suffice it to say, Amy had attained her seventeenth
year.  Long since had her sampler exhibited hearts in couples
desperately transfixed with arrows, and true lovers' knots worked
in deep blue silk, and it was evident she began to languish for
some more interesting occupation than the rearing of sunflowers or
pickling of cucumbers.

At this critical period of female existence, when the heart within
a damsel's bosom, like its emblem, the miniature which hangs
without, is apt to be engrossed by a single image, a new visitor
began to make his appearance under the roof of Wolfert Webber.
This was Dirk Waldron, the only son of a poor widow, but who could
boast of more fathers than any lad in the province, for his mother
had had four husbands, and this only child, so that, though born in
her last wedlock, he might fairly claim to be the tardy fruit of a
long course of cultivation.  This son of four fathers united the
merits and the vigor of all his sires.  If he had not had a great
family before him he seemed likely to have a great one after him,
for you had only to look at the fresh, buxom youth to see that he
was formed to be the founder of a mighty race.

This youngster gradually became an intimate visitor of the family.
He talked little, but he sat long.  He filled the father's pipe
when it was empty, gathered up the mother's knitting needle, or
ball of worsted, when it fell to the ground, stroked the sleek coat
of the tortoise-shell cat, and replenished the teapot for the
daughter from the bright copper kettle that sang before the fire.
All these quiet little offices may seem of trifling import, but
when true love is translated into Low Dutch it is in this way that
it eloquently expresses itself.  They were not lost upon the Webber
family.  The winning youngster found marvelous favor in the eyes of
the mother; the tortoise-shell cat, albeit the most staid and
demure of her kind, gave indubitable signs of approbation of his
visits; the teakettle seemed to sing out a cheering note of welcome
at his approach; and if the sly glances of the daughter might be
rightly read, as she sat bridling and dimpling, and sewing by her
mother's side, she was not a whit behind Dame Webber, or grimalkin,
or the teakettle, in good will.

Wolfert alone saw nothing of what was going on.  Profoundly wrapt
up in meditation on the growth of the city and his cabbages, he sat
looking in the fire, and puffing his pipe in silence.  One night,
however, as the gentle Amy, according to custom, lighted her lover
to the outer door, and he, according to custom, took his parting
salute, the smack resounded so vigorously through the long, silent
entry as to startle even the dull ear of Wolfert.  He was slowly
roused to a new source of anxiety.  It had never entered into his
head that this mere child, who, as it seemed, but the other day had
been climbing about his knees and playing with dolls and baby
houses, could all at once be thinking of lovers and matrimony.  He
rubbed his eyes, examined into the fact, and really found that
while he had been dreaming of other matters, she had actually grown
to be a woman, and, what was worse, had fallen in love.  Here arose
new cares for Wolfert.  He was a kind father, but he was a prudent
man.  The young man was a lively, stirring lad, but then he had
neither money nor land.  Wolfert's ideas all ran in one channel,
and he saw no alternative in case of a marriage but to portion off
the young couple with a corner of his cabbage garden, the whole of
which was barely sufficient for the support of his family.

Like a prudent father, therefore, he determined to nip this passion
in the bud, and forbade the youngster the house, though sorely did
it go against his fatherly heart, and many a silent tear did it
cause in the bright eye of his daughter.  She showed herself,
however, a pattern of filial piety and obedience.  She never pouted
and sulked; she never flew in the face of parental authority; she
never flew into a passion, nor fell into hysterics, as many
romantic, novel-read young ladies would do.  Not she, indeed.  She
was none such heroical, rebellious trumpery, I'll warrant ye.  On
the contrary, she acquiesced like an obedient daughter, shut the
street door in her lover's face, and if ever she did grant him an
interview, it was either out of the kitchen window or over the
garden fence.

Wolfert was deeply cogitating these matters in his mind, and his
brow wrinkled with unusual care, as he wended his way one Saturday
afternoon to a rural inn, about two miles from the city.  It was a
favorite resort of the Dutch part of the community, from being
always held by a Dutch line of landlords, and retaining an air and
relish of the good old times.  It was a Dutch-built house, that had
probably been a country seat of some opulent burgher in the early
time of the settlement.  It stood near a point of land called
Corlear's Hook,[1] which stretches out into the Sound, and against
which the tide, at its flux and reflux, sets with extraordinary
rapidity.  The venerable and somewhat crazy mansion was
distinguished from afar by a grove of elms and sycamores that
seemed to wave a hospitable invitation, while a few weeping
willows, with their dank, drooping foliage, resembling falling
waters, gave an idea of coolness that rendered it an attractive
spot during the heats of summer.


[1] A point of land at the bend of the East River below Grand
Street, New York City.


Here, therefore, as I said, resorted many of the old inhabitants of
the Manhattoes, where, while some played at shuffleboard[1] and
quoits,[2] and ninepins, others smoked a deliberate pipe, and
talked over public affairs.


[1] A game played by pushing or shaking pieces of money or metal so
as to make them reach certain marks on a board.

[2] A game played by pitching a flattened, ring-shaped piece of
iron, called a quoit, at a fixed object.


It was on a blustering autumnal afternoon that Wolfert made his
visit to the inn.  The grove of elms and willows was stripped of
its leaves, which whirled in rustling eddies about the fields.  The
ninepin alley was deserted, for the premature chilliness of the day
had driven the company within doors.  As it was Saturday afternoon
the habitual club was in session, composed principally of regular
Dutch burghers, though mingled occasionally with persons of various
character and country, as is natural in a place of such motley
population.

Beside the fireplace, in a huge, leather-bottomed armchair, sat the
dictator of this little world, the venerable Rem, or, as it was
pronounced, "Ramm" Rapelye.  He was a man of Walloon[1] race, and
illustrious for the antiquity of his line, his great-grandmother
having been the first white child born in the province.  But he was
still more illustrious for his wealth and dignity.  He had long
filled the noble office of alderman, and was a man to whom the
governor himself took off his hat.  He had maintained possession of
the leather-bottomed chair from time immemorial, and had gradually
waxed in bulk as he sat in his seat of government, until in the
course of years he filled its whole magnitude.  His word was
decisive with his subjects, for he was so rich a man that he was
never expected to support any opinion by argument.  The landlord
waited on him with peculiar officiousness,--not that he paid better
than his neighbors, but then the coin of a rich man seems always to
be so much more acceptable.  The landlord had ever a pleasant word
and a joke to insinuate in the ear of the august Ramm.  It is true
Ramm never laughed, and, indeed, ever maintained a mastiff-like
gravity and even surliness of aspect; yet he now and then rewarded
mine host with a token of approbation, which, though nothing more
nor less than a kind of grunt, still delighted the landlord more
than a broad laugh from a poorer man.


[1] A people of French origin, inhabiting the frontiers between
France and Flanders.  A colony of one hundred and ten Walloons came
to New York in 1624.


"This will be a rough night for the money diggers," said mine host,
as a gust of wind bowled round the house and rattled at the
windows.

"What! are they at their works again?" said an English half-pay
captain, with one eye, who was a very frequent attendant at the
inn.

"Aye are they," said the landlord, "and well may they be.  They've
had luck of late.  They say a great pot of money has been dug up in
the fields just behind Stuyvesant's orchard.  Folks think it must
have been buried there in old times by Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch
governor."

"Fudge!" said the one-eyed man of war, as he added a small portion
of water to a bottom of brandy.

"Well, you may believe it or not, as you please," said mine host,
somewhat nettled, "but everybody knows that the old governor buried
a great deal of his money at the time of the Dutch troubles, when
the English redcoats seized on the province.  They say, too, the
old gentleman walks, aye, and in the very same dress that he wears
in the picture that hangs up in the family house."

"Fudge!" said the half-pay officer.

"Fudge, if you please!  But didn't Corney Van Zandt see him at
midnight, stalking about in the meadow with his wooden leg, and a
drawn sword in his hand, that flashed like fire?  And what can he
be walking for but because people have been troubling the place
where he buried his money in old times?"

Here the landlord was interrupted by several guttural sounds from
Ramm Rapelye, betokening that he was laboring with the unusual
production of an idea.  As he was too great a man to be slighted by
a prudent publican, mine host respectfully paused until he should
deliver himself.  The corpulent frame of this mighty burgher now
gave all the symptoms of a volcanic mountain on the point of an
eruption.  First there was a certain heaving of the abdomen, not
unlike an earthquake; then was emitted a cloud of tobacco smoke
from that crater, his mouth; then there was a kind of rattle in the
throat, as if the idea were working its way up through a region of
phlegm; then there were several disjointed members of a sentence
thrown out, ending in a cough; at length his voice forced its way
into a slow, but absolute tone of a man who feels the weight of his
purse, if not of his ideas, every portion of his speech being
marked by a testy puff of tobacco smoke.

"Who talks of old Peter Stuyvesant's walking? (puff).  Have people
no respect for persons? (puff--puff).  Peter Stuyvesant knew better
what to do with his money than to bury it (puff).  I know the
Stuyvesant family (puff), every one of them (puff); not a more
respectable family in the province (puff)--old standards (puff)--
warm householders (puff)--none of your upstarts (puff--puff--puff).
Don't talk to me of Peter Stuyvesant's walking (puff--puff--puff--
puff)."

Here the redoubtable Ramm contracted his brow, clasped up his mouth
till it wrinkled at each corner, and redoubled his smoking with
such vehemence that the cloudy volumes soon wreathed round his
head, as the smoke envelops the awful summit of Mount Aetna.

A general silence followed the sudden rebuke of this very rich man.
The subject, however, was too interesting to be readily abandoned.
The conversation soon broke forth again from the lips of Peechy
Prauw Van Hook, the chronicler of the club, one of those prosing,
narrative old men who seem to be troubled with an incontinence of
words as they grow old.

Peechy could, at any time, tell as many stories in an evening as
his hearers could digest in a month.  He now resumed the
conversation by affirming that, to his knowledge, money had, at
different times, been digged up in various parts of the island.
The lucky persons who had discovered them had always dreamed of
them three times beforehand, and, what was worthy of remark, those
treasures had never been found but by some descendant of the good
old Dutch families, which clearly proved that they had been buried
by Dutchmen in the olden time.

"Fiddlestick with your Dutchmen!" cried the half-pay officer.  "The
Dutch had nothing to do with them.  They were all buried by Kidd
the pirate, and his crew."

Here a keynote was touched that roused the whole company.  The name
of Captain Kidd was like a talisman in those times, and was
associated with a thousand marvelous stories.

The half-pay officer took the lead, and in his narrations fathered
upon Kidd all the plunderings and exploits of Morgan,[1]
Blackbeard,[2] and the whole list of bloody buccaneers.


[1] Sir Henry Morgan (1637-90), a noted Welsh buccaneer.  He was
captured and sent to England for trial, but Charles II., instead of
punishing him, knighted him, and subsequently appointed him
governor of Jamaica.

[2] Edward Teach, one of the most cruel of the pirates, took
command of a pirate ship in 1717, and thereafter committed all
sorts of atrocities until he was slain by Lieutenant Maynard in
1718.  His nickname of "Blackbeard" was given him because of his
black beard.


The officer was a man of great weight among the peaceable members
of the club, by reason of his warlike character and gunpowder
tales.  All his golden stories of Kidd, however, and of the booty
he had buried, were obstinately rivaled by the tales of Peechy
Prauw, who, rather than suffer his Dutch progenitors to be eclipsed
by a foreign freebooter, enriched every field and shore in the
neighborhood with the hidden wealth of Peter Stuyvesant and his
contemporaries.

Not a word of this conversation was lost upon Wolfert Webber.  He
returned pensively home, full of magnificent ideas.  The soil of
his native island seemed to be turned into gold dust, and every
field to teem with treasure.  His head almost reeled at the thought
how often he must have heedlessly rambled over places where
countless sums lay, scarcely covered by the turf beneath his feet.
His mind was in an uproar with this whirl of new ideas.  As he came
in sight of the venerable mansion of his forefathers, and the
little realm where the Webbers had so long and so contentedly
flourished, his gorge rose at the narrowness of his destiny.

"Unlucky Wolfert!" exclaimed he; "others can go to bed and dream
themselves into whole mines of wealth; they have but to seize a
spade in the morning, and turn up doubloons[1] like potatoes; but
thou must dream of hardships, and rise to poverty, must dig thy
field from year's end to year's end, and yet raise nothing but
cabbages!"


[1] Spanish gold coins, equivalent to $15.60.


Wolfert Webber went to bed with a heavy heart, and it was long
before the golden visions that disturbed his brain permitted him to
sink into repose.  The same visions, however, extended into his
sleeping thoughts, and assumed a more definite form.  He dreamed
that he had discovered an immense treasure in the center of his
garden.  At every stroke of the spade he laid bare a golden ingot;
diamond crosses sparkled out of the dust; bags of money turned up
their bellies, corpulent with pieces-of-eight[1] or venerable
doubloons; and chests wedged close with moidores,[2] ducats,[3] and
pistareens,[4] yawned before his ravished eyes, and vomited forth
their glittering contents.


[1] Spanish coins, worth about $1 each.
[2] Portuguese gold coins, valued at $6.50.
[3] Coins of gold and silver, valued at $2 and $1 respectively.
[4] Spanish silver coins, worth about $.20.


Wolfert awoke a poorer man than ever.  He had no heart to go about
his daily concerns, which appeared so paltry and profitless, but
sat all day long in the chimney corner, picturing to himself ingots
and heaps of gold in the fire.  The next night his dream was
repeated.  He was again in his garden digging, and laying open
stores of hidden wealth.  There was something very singular in this
repetition.  He passed another day of reverie, and though it was
cleaning day, and the house, as usual in Dutch households,
completely topsy-turvy, yet he sat unmoved amidst the general
uproar.

The third night he went to bed with a palpitating heart.  He put on
his red nightcap wrong side outward, for good luck.  It was deep
midnight before his anxious mind could settle itself into sleep.
Again the golden dream was repeated, and again he saw his garden
teeming with ingots and money bags.

Wolfert rose the next morning in complete bewilderment.  A dream,
three times repeated, was never known to lie, and if so, his
fortune was made.

In his agitation he put on his waistcoat with the hind part before,
and this was a corroboration of good luck.[1]  He no longer doubted
that a huge store of money lay buried somewhere in his cabbage
field, coyly waiting to be sought for, and he repined at having so
long been scratching about the surface of the soil instead of
digging to the center.


[1] It is an old superstition that to put on one's clothes wrong
side out forebodes good luck.


He took his seat at the breakfast table, full of these
speculations, asked his daughter to put a lump of gold into his
tea, and on handing his wife a plate of slapjacks, begged her to
help herself to a doubloon.

His grand care now was how to secure this immense treasure without
its being known.  Instead of his working regularly in his grounds
in the daytime, he now stole from his bed at night, and with spade
and pickax went to work to rip up and dig about his paternal acres,
from one end to the other.  In a little time the whole garden,
which had presented such a goodly and regular appearance, with its
phalanx of cabbages, like a vegetable army in battle array, was
reduced to a scene of devastation, while the relentless Wolfert,
with nightcap on head and lantern and spade in hand, stalked
through the slaughtered ranks, the destroying angel of his own
vegetable world.

Every morning bore testimony to the ravages of the preceding night
in cabbages of all ages and conditions, from the tender sprout to
the full-grown head, piteously rooted from their quiet beds like
worthless weeds, and left to wither in the sunshine.  In vain
Wolfert's wife remonstrated; in vain his darling daughter wept over
the destruction of some favorite marigold.  "Thou shalt have gold
of another-guess[1] sort," he would cry, chucking her under the
chin; "thou shalt have a string of crooked ducats for thy wedding
necklace, my child."  His family began really to fear that the poor
man's wits were diseased.  He muttered in his sleep at night about
mines of wealth, about pearls and diamonds, and bars of gold.  In
the daytime he was moody and abstracted, and walked about as if in
a trance.  Dame Webber held frequent councils with all the old
women of the neighborhood; scarce an hour in the day but a knot of
them might be seen wagging their white caps together round her
door, while the poor woman made some piteous recital.  The
daughter, too, was fain to seek for more frequent consolation from
the stolen interviews of her favored swain, Dirk Waldron.  The
delectable little Dutch songs with which she used to dulcify the
house grew less and less frequent, and she would forget her sewing,
and look wistfully in her father's face as he sat pondering by the
fireside.  Wolfert caught her eye one day fixed on him thus
anxiously, and for a moment was roused from his golden reveries.
"Cheer up, my girl," said he exultingly; "why dost thou droop?
Thou shalt hold up thy head one day with the Brinckerhoffs, and the
Schermerhorns, the Van Hornes, and the Van Dams.[2]  By St.
Nicholas, but the patroon[3] himself shall be glad to get thee for
his son!"


[1] A corruption of the old expression "another-gates," or "of
another gate," meaning "of another way or manner"; hence, "of
another kind."

[2] Names of rich and influential Dutch families in the old Dutch
colony of New Amsterdam.

[3] The patroons were members of the Dutch West India Company, who
purchased land in New Netherlands of the Indians, and after
fulfilling certain conditions imposed with a view to colonizing
their territory, enjoyed feudal rights similar to those of the
barons of the Middle Ages.


Amy shook her head at his vainglorious boast, and was more than
ever in doubt of the soundness of the good man's intellect.

In the meantime Wolfert went on digging and digging; but the field
was extensive, and as his dream had indicated no precise spot, he
had to dig at random.  The winter set in before one tenth of the
scene of promise had been explored.

The ground became frozen hard, and the nights too cold for the
labors of the spade.

No sooner, however, did the returning warmth of spring loosen the
soil, and the small frogs begin to pipe in the meadows, but Wolfert
resumed his labors with renovated zeal.  Still, however, the hours
of industry were reversed.

Instead of working cheerily all day, planting and setting out his
vegetables, he remained thoughtfully idle, until the shades of
night summoned him to his secret labors.  In this way he continued
to dig from night to night, and week to week, and month to month,
but not a stiver[1] did he find.  On the contrary, the more he
digged the poorer he grew.  The rich soil of his garden was digged
away, and the sand and gravel from beneath was thrown to the
surface, until the whole field presented an aspect of sandy
barrenness.


[1] A Dutch coin, worth about two cents; hence, anything of little
worth.


In the meantime, the seasons gradually rolled on.  The little frogs
which had piped in the meadows in early spring croaked as bullfrogs
during the summer heats, and then sank into silence.  The peach
tree budded, blossomed, and bore its fruit.  The swallows and
martins came, twittered about the roof, built their nests, reared
their young, held their congress along the eaves, and then winged
their flight in search of another spring.  The caterpillar spun its
winding sheet, dangled in it from the great buttonwood tree before
the house, turned into a moth, fluttered with the last sunshine of
summer, and disappeared; and finally the leaves of the buttonwood
tree turned yellow, then brown, then rustled one by one to the
ground, and whirling about in little eddies of wind and dust,
whispered that winter was at hand.

Wolfert gradually woke from his dream of wealth as the year
declined.  He had reared no crop for the supply of his household
during the sterility of winter.  The season was long and severe,
and for the first time the family was really straitened in its
comforts.  By degrees a revulsion of thought took place in
Wolfert's mind, common to those whose golden dreams have been
disturbed by pinching realities.  The idea gradually stole upon him
that he should come to want.  He already considered himself one of
the most unfortunate men in the province, having lost such an
incalculable amount of undiscovered treasure, and now, when
thousands of pounds had eluded his search, to be perplexed for
shillings and pence was cruel in the extreme.

Haggard care gathered about his brow; he went about with a money-
seeking air, his eyes bent downward into the dust, and carrying his
hands in his pockets, as men are apt to do when they have nothing
else to put into them.  He could not even pass the city almshouse
without giving it a rueful glance, as if destined to be his future
abode.

The strangeness of his conduct and of his looks occasioned much
speculation and remark.  For a long time he was suspected of being
crazy, and then everybody pitied him; and at length it began to be
suspected that he was poor, and then everybody avoided him.

The rich old burghers of his acquaintance met him outside the door
when he called, entertained him hospitably on the threshold,
pressed him warmly by the hand at parting, shook their heads as he
walked away, with the kindhearted expression of "poor Wolfert," and
turned a corner nimbly if by chance they saw him approaching as
they walked the streets.  Even the barber and the cobbler of the
neighborhood, and a tattered tailor in an alley hard by, three of
the poorest and merriest rogues in the world, eyed him with that
abundant sympathy which usually attends a lack of means, and there
is not a doubt but their pockets would have been at his command,
only that they happened to be empty.

Thus everybody deserted the Webber mansion, as if poverty were
contagious, like the plague--everybody but honest Dirk Waldron, who
still kept up his stolen visits to the daughter, and indeed seemed
to wax more affectionate as the fortunes of his mistress were on
the wane.

Many months had elapsed since Wolfert had frequented his old
resort, the rural inn.  He was taking a long, lonely walk one
Saturday afternoon, musing over his wants and disappointments, when
his feet took instinctively their wonted direction, and on awaking
out of a reverie, he found himself before the door of the inn.  For
some moments he hesitated whether to enter, but his heart yearned
for companionship, and where can a ruined man find better
companionship than at a tavern, where there is neither sober
example nor sober advice to put him out of countenance?

Wolfert found several of the old frequenters of the inn at their
usual posts and seated in their usual places; but one was missing,
the great Ramm Rapelye, who for many years had filled the leather-
bottomed chair of state.  His place was supplied by a stranger, who
seemed, however, completely at home in the chair and the tavern.
He was rather under size, but deep-chested, square, and muscular.
His broad shoulders, double joints, and bow knees gave tokens of
prodigious strength.  His face was dark and weather-beaten; a deep
scar, as if from the slash of a cutlass, had almost divided his
nose, and made a gash in his upper lip, through which his teeth
shone like a bulldog's.  A mop of iron-gray hair gave a grisly
finish to this hard-favored visage.  His dress was of an amphibious
character.  He wore an old hat edged with tarnished lace, and
cocked in martial style on one side of his head; a rusty[1] blue
military coat with brass buttons; and a wide pair of short
petticoat trousers,--or rather breeches, for they were gathered up
at the knees.  He ordered everybody about him with an authoritative
air, talking in a brattling[2] voice that sounded like the
crackling of thorns under a pot, d--d the landlord and servants
with perfect impunity, and was waited upon with greater
obsequiousness than had ever been shown to the mighty Ramm himself.


[1] Shabby.

[2] Noisy.


Wolfert's curiosity was awakened to know who and what was this
stranger who had thus usurped absolute sway in this ancient domain.
Peechy Prauw took him aside into a remote corner of the hall, and
there, in an under voice and with great caution, imparted to him
all that he knew on the subject.  The inn had been aroused several
months before, on a dark, stormy night, by repeated long shouts
that seemed like the howlings of a wolf.  They came from the water
side, and at length were distinguished to be hailing the house in
the seafaring manner, "House ahoy!"  The landlord turned out with
his head waiter, tapster, hostler, and errand boy--that is to say,
with his old negro Cuff.  On approaching the place whence the voice
proceeded, they found this amphibious-looking personage at the
water's edge, quite alone, and seated on a great oaken sea chest.
How he came there,--whether he had been set on shore from some
boat, or had floated to land on his chest,--nobody could tell, for
he did not seem disposed to answer questions, and there was
something in his looks and manners that put a stop to all
questioning.  Suffice it to say, he took possession of a corner
room of the inn, to which his chest was removed with great
difficulty.  Here he had remained ever since, keeping about the inn
and its vicinity.  Sometimes, it is true, he disappeared for one,
two, or three days at a time, going and returning without giving
any notice or account of his movements.  He always appeared to have
plenty of money, though often of very strange, outlandish coinage,
and he regularly paid his bill every evening before turning in.

He had fitted up his room to his own fancy, having slung a hammock
from the ceiling instead of a bed, and decorated the walls with
rusty pistols and cutlasses of foreign workmanship.  A greater part
of his time was passed in this room, seated by the window, which
commanded a wide view of the Sound, a short, old-fashioned pipe in
his mouth, a glass of rum toddy[1] at his elbow, and a pocket
telescope in his hand, with which he reconnoitered every boat that
moved upon the water.  Large square-rigged vessels seemed to excite
but little attention; but the moment he descried anything with a
shoulder-of-mutton[2] sail, or that a barge or yawl or jolly-boat
hove in sight, up went the telescope, and he examined it with the
most scrupulous attention.


[1] A mixture of rum and hot water sweetened.

[2] Triangular.


All this might have passed without much notice, for in those times
the province was so much the resort of adventurers of all
characters and climes that any oddity in dress or behavior
attracted but small attention.  In a little while, however, this
strange sea monster, thus strangely cast upon dry land, began to
encroach upon the long established customs and customers of the
place, and to interfere in a dictatorial manner in the affairs of
the ninepin alley and the barroom, until in the end he usurped an
absolute command over the whole inn.  It was all in vain to attempt
to withstand his authority.  He was not exactly quarrelsome, but
boisterous and peremptory, like one accustomed to tyrannize on a
quarter-deck; and there was a dare-devil[1] air about everything he
said and did that inspired wariness in all bystanders.  Even the
half-pay officer, so long the hero of the club, was soon silenced
by him, and the quiet burghers stared with wonder at seeing their
inflammable man of war so readily and quietly extinguished.


[1] Reckless.


And then the tales that he would tell were enough to make a
peaceable man's hair stand on end.  There was not a sea fight, nor
marauding nor freebooting adventure that had happened within the
last twenty years, but he seemed perfectly versed in it.  He
delighted to talk of the exploits of the buccaneers in the West
Indies and on the Spanish Main.[1]  How his eyes would glisten as
he described the waylaying of treasure ships; the desperate fights,
yardarm and yardarm,[2] broadside and broadside;[3] the boarding
and capturing huge Spanish galleons!  With what chuckling relish
would he describe the descent upon some rich Spanish colony, the
rifling of a church, the sacking of a convent!  You would have
thought you heard some gormandizer dilating upon the roasting of a
savory goose at Michaelmas,[4] as he described the roasting of some
Spanish don to make him discover his treasure,--a detail given with
a minuteness that made every rich old burgher present turn
uncomfortably in his chair.  All this would be told with infinite
glee, as if he considered it an excellent joke, and then he would
give such a tyrannical leer in the face of his next neighbor that
the poor man would be fain to laugh out of sheer faint-heartedness.
If anyone, however, pretended to contradict him in any of his
stories, he was on fire in an instant.  His very cocked hat assumed
a momentary fierceness, and seemed to resent the contradiction.
"How the devil should you know as well as I?  I tell you it was as
I say;" and he would at the same time let slip a broadside of
thundering oaths[5] and tremendous sea phrases, such as had never
been heard before within these peaceful walls.


[1] The coast of the northern part of South America along the
Caribbean Sea, the route formerly traversed by the Spanish treasure
ships between the Old and New Worlds.

[2] Ships are said to be yardarm and yardarm when so near as to
touch or interlock their yards, which are the long pieces of timber
designed to support and extend the square sails.

[3] "Broadside and broadside," i.e., with the side of one ship
touching that of another.

[4] The Feast of the Archangel Michael, a church festival
celebrated on September 29th.

[5] "Broadside of thundering oaths," i.e., a volley of abuse.


Indeed, the worthy burghers began to surmise that he knew more of
those stories than mere hearsay.  Day after day their conjectures
concerning him grew more and more wild and fearful.  The
strangeness of his arrival, the strangeness of his manners, the
mystery that surrounded him,--all made him something
incomprehensible in their eyes.  He was a kind of monster of the
deep to them; he was a merman, he was a behemoth, he was a
leviathan,--in short, they knew not what he was.

The domineering spirit of this boisterous sea urchin at length grew
quite intolerable.  He was no respecter of persons; he contradicted
the richest burghers without hesitation; he took possession of the
sacred elbow chair, which time out of mind had been the seat of
sovereignty of the illustrious Ramm Rapelye.  Nay, he even went so
far, in one of his rough, jocular moods, as to slap that mighty
burgher on the back, drink his toddy, and wink in his face,--a
thing scarcely to be believed.  From this time Ramm Rapelye
appeared no more at the inn.  His example was followed by several
of the most eminent customers, who were too rich to tolerate being
bullied out of their opinions or being obliged to laugh at another
man's jokes.  The landlord was almost in despair; but he knew not
how to get rid of this sea monster and his sea chest, who seemed
both to have grown like fixtures, or excrescences on his
establishment.

Such was the account whispered cautiously in Wolfert's ear by the
narrator, Peechy Prauw, as he held him by the button in a corner of
the hall, casting a wary glance now and then toward the door of the
barroom, lest he should be overheard by the terrible hero of his
tale.

Wolfert took his seat in a remote part of the room in silence,
impressed with profound awe of this unknown, so versed in
freebooting history.  It was to him a wonderful instance of the
revolutions of mighty empires, to find the venerable Ramm Rapelye
thus ousted from the throne, and a rugged tarpaulin[1] dictating
from his elbow chair, hectoring the patriarchs, and filling this
tranquil little realm with brawl and bravado.


[1] A kind of canvas used about a ship; hence, a sailor.


The stranger was, on this evening, in a more than usually
communicative mood, and was narrating a number of astounding
stories of plunderings and burnings on the high seas.  He dwelt
upon them with peculiar relish, heightening the frightful
particulars in proportion to their effect on his peaceful auditors.
He gave a swaggering detail of the capture of a Spanish
merchantman.  She was lying becalmed during a long summer's day,
just off from the island which was one of the lurking places of the
pirates.  They had reconnoitered her with their spyglasses from the
shore, and ascertained her character and force.  At night a picked
crew of daring fellows set off for her in a whaleboat.  They
approached with muffled oars, as she lay rocking idly with the
undulations of the sea, and her sails flapping against the masts.
They were close under the stern before the guard on deck was aware
of their approach.  The alarm was given; the pirates threw hand
grenades[1] on deck, and sprang up the main chains,[2] sword in
hand.


[1] "Hand grenades," i.e., small shells of iron or glass filled
with gunpowder and thrown by hand.

[2] "Main chains," i.e., strong bars of iron bolted at the lower
end to the side of a vessel, and secured at the upper end to the
iron straps of the blocks by which the shrouds supporting the masts
are extended.


The crew flew to arms, but in great confusion; some were shot down,
others took refuge in the tops, others were driven overboard and
drowned, while others fought hand to hand from the main deck to the
quarter-deck, disputing gallantly every inch of ground.  There were
three Spanish gentlemen on board, with their ladies, who made the
most desperate resistance.  They defended the companion way,[1] cut
down several of their assailants, and fought like very devils, for
they were maddened by the shrieks of the ladies from the cabin.
One of the dons was old, and soon dispatched.  The other two kept
their ground vigorously, even though the captain of the pirates was
among their assailants.  Just then there was a shout of victory
from the main deck.  "The ship is ours!" cried the pirates.


[1] The companion way is a staircase leading to the cabin of a
ship.


One of the dons immediately dropped his sword and surrendered; the
other, who was a hot-headed youngster, and just married, gave the
captain a slash in the face that laid all open.  The captain just
made out to articulate the words, "No quarter."

"And what did they do with their prisoners?" said Peechy Prauw
eagerly.

"Threw them all overboard," was the answer.  A dead pause followed
the reply.  Peechy Prauw sank quietly back, like a man who had
unwarily stolen upon the lair of a sleeping lion.  The honest
burghers cast fearful glances at the deep scar slashed across the
visage of the stranger, and moved their chairs a little farther
off.  The seaman, however, smoked on without moving a muscle, as
though he either did not perceive, or did not regard, the
unfavorable effect he had produced upon his hearers.

The half-pay officer was the first to break the silence, for he was
continually tempted to make ineffectual head against this tyrant of
the seas, and to regain his lost consequence in the eyes of his
ancient companions.  He now tried to match the gunpowder tales of
the stranger by others equally tremendous.  Kidd, as usual, was his
hero, concerning whom he seemed to have picked up many of the
floating traditions of the province.  The seaman had always evinced
a settled pique against the one-eyed warrior.  On this occasion he
listened with peculiar impatience.  He sat with one arm akimbo, the
other elbow on the table, the hand holding on to the small pipe he
was pettishly puffing, his legs crossed, drumming with one foot on
the ground, and casting every now and then the side glance of a
basilisk at the prosing captain.  At length the latter spoke of
Kidd's having ascended the Hudson with some of his crew, to land
his plunder in secrecy.

Kidd up the Hudson!" burst forth the seaman, with a tremendous
oath; "Kidd never was up the Hudson!"

"I tell you he was," said the other.  "Aye, and they say he buried
a quantity of treasure on the little flat that runs out into the
river, called the Devil's Dans Kammer."[1]


[1] A huge, flat rock, projecting into the Hudson River above the
Highlands.


"The Devil's Dans Kammer in your teeth!"[1] cried the seaman.  "I
tell you Kidd never was up the Hudson.  What a plague do you know
of Kidd and his haunts?"


[1] "In your teeth," a phrase to denote direct opposition or
defiance.


"What do I know?" echoed the half-pay officer.  "Why, I was in
London at the time of his trial; aye, and I had the pleasure of
seeing him hanged at Execution Dock."

"Then, sir, let me tell you that you saw as pretty a fellow hanged
as ever trod shoe leather.  Aye!" putting his face nearer to that
of the officer, "and there was many a landlubber[1] looked on that
might much better have swung in his stead."


[1] A term of contempt used by seamen for those who pass their
lives on land.


The half-pay officer was silenced; but the indignation thus pent up
in his bosom glowed with intense vehemence in his single eye, which
kindled like a coal.

Peechy Prauw, who never could remain silent, observed that the
gentleman certainly was in the right.  Kidd never did bury money up
the Hudson, nor indeed in any of those parts, though many affirmed
such to be the fact.  It was Bradish[1] and others of the
buccaneers who had buried money, some said in Turtle Bay,[2] others
on Long Island, others in the neighborhood of Hell Gate.  "Indeed,"
added he, "I recollect an adventure of Sam, the negro fisherman,
many years ago, which some think had something to do with the
buccaneers.  As we are all friends here, and as it will go no
further, I'll tell it to you.


[1] Bradish was a pirate whose actions were blended in the popular
mind with those of Kidd.  He was boatswain of a ship which sailed
from England in 1697, and which, like Kidd's, bore the name of the
Adventure.  In the absence of the captain on shore, he seized the
ship and set out on a piratical cruise.  After amassing a fortune,
he sailed for America and deposited a large amount of his wealth
with a confederate on Long Island.  He was apprehended in Rhode
Island, sent to England, and executed.

[2] A small cove in the East River two miles north of Corlear's
Hook.


"Upon a dark night many years ago, as Black Sam was returning from
fishing in Hell Gate--"

Here the story was nipped in the bud by a sudden movement from the
unknown, who, laying his iron fist on the table, knuckles downward,
with a quiet force that indented the very boards, and looking
grimly over his shoulder, with the grin of an angry bear,--
"Hearkee, neighbor," said he, with significant nodding of the head,
"you'd better let the buccaneers and their money alone; they're not
for old men and old women to meddle with.  They fought hard for
their money--they gave body and soul for it; and wherever it lies
buried, depend upon it he must have a tug with the devil who gets
it!

This sudden explosion was succeeded by a blank silence throughout
the room.  Peechy Prauw shrunk within himself, and even the one-
eyed officer turned pale.  Wolfert, who from a dark corner of the
room had listened with intense eagerness to all this talk about
buried treasure, looked with mingled awe and reverence at this bold
buccaneer, for such he really suspected him to be.  There was a
chinking of gold and a sparkling of jewels in all his stories about
the Spanish Main that gave a value to every period, and Wolfert
would have given anything for the rummaging of the ponderous sea
chest, which his imagination crammed full of golden chalices,
crucifixes, and jolly round bags of doubloons.

The dead stillness that had fallen upon the company was at length
interrupted by the stranger, who pulled out a prodigious watch of
curious and ancient workmanship, and which in Wolfert's eyes had a
decidedly Spanish look.  On touching a spring, it struck ten
o'clock, upon which the sailor called for his reckoning, and having
paid it out of a handful of outlandish coin, he drank off the
remainder of his beverage, and without taking leave of anyone,
rolled out of the room, muttering to himself as he stamped upstairs
to his chamber.

It was some time before the company could recover from the silence
into which they had been thrown.  The very footsteps of the
stranger, which were heard now and then as he traversed his
chamber, inspired awe.

Still the conversation in which they had been engaged was too
interesting not to be resumed.  A heavy thunder gust had gathered
up unnoticed while they were lost in talk, and the torrents of rain
that fell forbade all thoughts of setting off for home until the
storm should subside.  They drew nearer together, therefore, and
entreated the worthy Peechy Prauw to continue the tale which had
been so discourteously interrupted.  He readily complied,
whispering, however, in a tone scarcely above his breath, and
drowned occasionally by the rolling of the thunder; and he would
pause every now and then and listen, with evident awe, as he heard
the heavy footsteps of the stranger pacing overhead.  The following
is the purport of his story:


Adventure of the Black Fisherman


Everybody knows Black Sam, the old negro fisherman, or, as he is
commonly called, "Mud Sam," who has fished about the Sound for the
last half century.  It is now many years since Sam, who was then as
active a young negro as any in the province, and worked on the farm
of Killian Suydam on Long Island, having finished his day's work at
an early hour, was fishing, one still summer evening, just about
the neighborhood of Hell Gate.

He was in a light skiff, and being well acquainted with the
currents and eddies, had shifted his station, according to the
shifting of the tide, from the Hen and Chickens to the Hog's Back,
from the Hog's Back to the Pot, and from the Pot to the Frying Pan;
but in the eagerness of his sport he did not see that the tide was
rapidly ebbing, until the roaring of the whirlpools and eddies
warned him of his danger, and he had some difficulty in shooting
his skiff from among the rocks and breakers, and getting to the
point of Blackwell's Island.[1]  Here he cast anchor for some time,
waiting the turn of the tide to enable him to return homeward.  As
the night set in, it grew blustering and gusty.  Dark clouds came
bundling up in the west, and now and then a growl of thunder or a
flash of lightning told that a summer storm was at hand.  Sam
pulled over, therefore, under the lee of Manhattan Island, and,
coasting along, came to a snug nook, just under a steep, beetling
rock, where he fastened his skiff to the root of a tree that shot
out from a cleft, and spread its broad branches like a canopy over
the water.  The gust came scouring along, the wind threw up the
river in white surges, the rain rattled among the leaves, the
thunder bellowed worse than that which is now bellowing, the
lightning seemed to lick up the surges of the stream; but Sam,
snugly sheltered under rock and tree, lay crouching in his skiff,
rocking upon the billows until he fell asleep.


[1] A long, narrow island in the East River, between New York and
Long Island City.


When he woke all was quiet.  The gust had passed away, and only now
and then a faint gleam of lightning in the east showed which way it
had gone.  The night was dark and moonless, and from the state of
the tide Sam concluded it was near midnight.  He was on the point
of making loose his skiff to return homeward when he saw a light
gleaming along the water from a distance, which seemed rapidly
approaching.  As it drew near he perceived it came from a lantern
in the bow of a boat gliding along under shadow of the land.  It
pulled up in a small cove close to where he was.  A man jumped on
shore, and searching about with the lantern, exclaimed, "This is
the place--here's the iron ring."  The boat was then made fast, and
the man, returning on board, assisted his comrades in conveying
something heavy on shore.  As the light gleamed among them, Sam saw
that they were five stout, desperate-looking fellows, in red woolen
caps, with a leader in a three-cornered hat, and that some of them
were armed with dirks, or long knives, and pistols.  They talked
low to one another, and occasionally in some outlandish tongue
which he could not understand.

On landing they made their way among the bushes, taking turns to
relieve each other in lugging their burden up the rocky bank.
Sam's curiosity was now fully aroused, so leaving his skiff he
clambered silently up a ridge that overlooked their path.  They had
stopped to rest for a moment, and the leader was looking about
among the bushes with his lantern.  "Have you brought the spades?"
said one.  "They are here," replied another, who had them on his
shoulder.  "We must dig deep, where there will be no risk of
discovery," said a third.

A cold chill ran through Sam's veins.  He fancied he saw before him
a gang of murderers, about to bury their victim.  His knees smote
together.  In his agitation he shook the branch of a tree with
which he was supporting himself as he looked over the edge of the
cliff.

"What's that?" cried one of the gang.  "Some one stirs among the
bushes!"

The lantern was held up in the direction of the noise.  One of the
red-caps cocked a pistol, and pointed it toward the very place
where Sam was standing.  He stood motionless, breathless, expecting
the next moment to be his last.  Fortunately his dingy complexion
was in his favor, and made no glare among the leaves.

"'Tis no one," said the man with the lantern.  "What a plague! you
would not fire off your pistol and alarm the country!"

The pistol was uncocked, the burden was resumed, and the party
slowly toiled along the bank.  Sam watched them as they went, the
light sending back fitful gleams through the dripping bushes, and
it was not till they were fairly out of sight that he ventured to
draw breath freely.  He now thought of getting back to his boat,
and making his escape out of the reach of such dangerous neighbors;
but curiosity was all-powerful.  He hesitated, and lingered, and
listened.  By and by he heard the strokes of spades.  "They are
digging the grave!" said he to himself, and the cold sweat started
upon his forehead.  Every stroke of a spade, as it sounded through
the silent groves, went to his heart.  It was evident there was as
little noise made as possible; everything had an air of terrible
mystery and secrecy.  Sam had a great relish for the horrible; a
tale of murder was a treat for him, and he was a constant attendant
at executions.  He could not resist an impulse, in spite of every
danger, to steal nearer to the scene of mystery, and overlook the
midnight fellows at their work.  He crawled along cautiously,
therefore, inch by inch, stepping with the utmost care among the
dry leaves, lest their rustling should betray him.  He came at
length to where a steep rock intervened between him and the gang,
for he saw the light of their lantern shining up against the
branches of the trees on the other side.  Sam slowly and silently
clambered up the surface of the rock, and raising his head above
its naked edge, beheld the villains immediately below him, and so
near that though he dreaded discovery he dared not withdraw lest
the least movement should be heard.  In this way he remained, with
his round black face peering above the edge of the rock, like the
sun just emerging above the edge of the horizon, or the round-
cheeked moon on the dial of a clock.

The red-caps had nearly finished their work, the grave was filled
up, and they were carefully replacing the turf.  This done they
scattered dry leaves over the place.  "And now," said the leader,
"I defy the devil himself to find it out."

"The murderers!" exclaimed Sam involuntarily.

The whole gang started, and looking up beheld the round black head
of Sam just above them, his white eyes strained half out of their
orbits, his white teeth chattering, and his whole visage shining
with cold perspiration.

"We're discovered!" cried one.

"Down with him!" cried another.

Sam heard the cocking of a pistol, but did not pause for the
report.  He scrambled over rock and stone, through brush and brier,
rolled down banks like a hedgehog, scrambled up others like a
catamount.  In every direction he heard some one or other of the
gang hemming him in.  At length he reached the rocky ridge along
the river; one of the red-caps was hard behind him.  A steep rock
like a wall rose directly in his way; it seemed to cut off all
retreat, when fortunately he espied the strong, cord-like branch of
a grapevine reaching half way down it.  He sprang at it with the
force of a desperate man, seized it with both hands, and, being
young and agile, succeeded in swinging himself to the summit of the
cliff.  Here he stood in full relief against the sky, when the red-
cap cocked his pistol and fired.  The ball whistled by Sam's head.
With the lucky thought of a man in an emergency, he uttered a yell,
fell to the ground, and detached at the same time a fragment of the
rock, which tumbled with a loud splash into the river.

"I've done his business," said the red-cap to one or two of his
comrades as they arrived panting.  "He'll tell no tales, except to
the fishes in the river."

His pursuers now turned to meet their companions.  Sam, sliding
silently down the surface of the rock, let himself quietly into his
skiff, cast loose the fastening, and abandoned himself to the rapid
current, which in that place runs like a mill stream, and soon
swept him off from the neighborhood.  It was not, however, until he
had drifted a great distance that he ventured to ply his oars, when
he made his skiff dart like an arrow through the strait of Hell
Gate, never heeding the danger of Pot, Frying Pan, nor Hog's Back
itself, nor did he feel himself thoroughly secure until safely
nestled in bed in the cockloft of the ancient farmhouse of the
Suydams.


Here the worthy Peechy Prauw paused to take breath, and to take a
sip of the gossip tankard that stood at his elbow.  His auditors
remained with open mouths and outstretched necks, gaping like a
nest of swallows for an additional mouthful.

"And is that all?" exclaimed the half-pay officer.

"That's all that belongs to the story," said Peechy Prauw.

"And did Sam never find out what was buried by the red-caps?" said
Wolfert eagerly, whose mind was haunted by nothing but ingots and
doubloons.

"Not that I know of," said Peechy; "he had no time to spare from
his work, and, to tell the truth, he did not like to run the risk
of another race among the rocks.  Besides, how should he recollect
the spot where the grave had been digged? everything would look so
different by daylight.  And then, where was the use of looking for
a dead body when there was no chance of hanging the murderers?"

"Aye, but are you sure it was a dead body they buried?" said
Wolfert.

"To be sure," cried Peechy Prauw exultingly.  "Does it not haunt in
the neighborhood to this very day?"

"Haunts!" exclaimed several of the party, opening their eyes still
wider, and edging their chairs still closer.

"Aye, haunts," repeated Peechy; "have none of you heard of Father
Red-cap, who haunts the old burned farmhouse in the woods, on the
border of the Sound, near Hell Gate?"

"Oh, to be sure, I've heard tell of something of the kind, but then
I took it for some old wives' fable."

"Old wives' fable or not," said Peechy Prauw, "that farmhouse
stands hard by the very spot.  It's been unoccupied time out of
mind, and stands in a lonely part of the coast, but those who fish
in the neighborhood have often heard strange noises there, and
lights have been seen about the wood at night, and an old fellow in
a red cap has been seen at the windows more than once, which people
take to be the ghost of the body buried there.  Once upon a time
three soldiers took shelter in the building for the night, and
rummaged it from top to bottom, when they found old Father Red-cap
astride of a cider barrel in the cellar, with a jug in one hand and
a goblet in the other.  He offered them a drink out of his goblet,
but just as one of the soldiers was putting it to his mouth--whew!-
-a flash of fire blazed through the cellar, blinded every mother's
son of them for several minutes, and when they recovered their
eyesight, jug, goblet, and Red-cap had vanished, and nothing but
the empty cider barrel remained."

Here the half-pay officer, who was growing very muzzy and sleepy,
and nodding over his liquor, with half-extinguished eye, suddenly
gleamed up like an expiring rush-light.

"That's all fudge!" said he, as Peechy finished his last story.

"Well, I don't vouch for the truth of it myself," said Peechy
Prauw, "though all the world knows that there's something strange
about that house and grounds; but as to the story of Mud Sam, I
believe it just as well as if it had happened to myself."


The deep interest taken in this conversation by the company had
made them unconscious of the uproar abroad among the elements, when
suddenly they were electrified by a tremendous clap of thunder.  A
lumbering crash followed instantaneously, shaking the building to
its very foundation.  All started from their seats, imagining it
the shock of an earthquake, or that old Father Red-cap was coming
among them in all his terrors.  They listened for a moment, but
only heard the rain pelting against the windows and the wind
howling among the trees.  The explosion was soon explained by the
apparition of an old negro's bald head thrust in at the door, his
white goggle eyes contrasting with his jetty poll, which was wet
with rain, and shone like a bottle.  In a jargon but half
intelligible he announced that the kitchen chimney had been struck
with lightning.

A sullen pause of the storm, which now rose and sank in gusts,
produced a momentary stillness.  In this interval the report of a
musket was heard, and a long shout, almost like a yell, resounded
from the shores.  Everyone crowded to the window; another musket
shot was heard, and another long shout, mingled wildly with a
rising blast of wind.  It seemed as if the cry came up from the
bosom of the waters, for though incessant flashes of lightning
spread a light about the shore, no one was to be seen.

Suddenly the window of the room overhead was opened, and a loud
halloo uttered by the mysterious stranger.  Several hailings passed
from one party to the other, but in a language which none of the
company in the barroom could understand, and presently they heard
the window closed, and a great noise overhead, as if all the
furniture were pulled and hauled about the room.  The negro servant
was summoned, and shortly afterwards was seen assisting the veteran
to lug the ponderous sea chest downstairs.

The landlord was in amazement.  "What, you are not going on the
water in such a storm?"

"Storm!" said the other scornfully, "do you call such a sputter of
weather a storm?"

"You'll get drenched to the skin; you'll catch your death!" said
Peechy Prauw affectionately.

"Thunder and lightning!" exclaimed the veteran; "don't preach about
weather to a man that has cruised in whirlwinds and tornadoes."

The obsequious Peechy was again struck dumb.  The voice from the
water was heard once more in a tone of impatience; the bystanders
stared with redoubled awe at this man of storms, who seemed to have
come up out of the deep, and to be summoned back to it again.  As,
with the assistance of the negro, he slowly bore his ponderous sea
chest toward the shore, they eyed it with a superstitious feeling,
half doubting whether he were not really about to embark upon it
and launch forth upon the wild waves.  They followed him at a
distance with a lantern.

"Dowse[1] the light!" roared the hoarse voice from the water.  "No
one wants light here!"


[1] Extinguish.


"Thunder and lightning!" exclaimed the veteran, turning short upon
them; "back to the house with you!"

Wolfert and his companions shrank back in dismay.  Still their
curiosity would not allow them entirely to withdraw.  A long sheet
of lightning now flickered across the waves, and discovered a boat,
filled with men, just under a rocky point, rising and sinking with
the heaving surges, and swashing the waters at every heave.  It was
with difficulty held to the rocks by a boat hook, for the current
rushed furiously round the point.  The veteran hoisted one end of
the lumbering sea chest on the gunwale of the boat, and seized the
handle at the other end to lift it in, when the motion propelled
the boat from the shore, the chest slipped off from the gunwale,
and, sinking into the waves, pulled the veteran headlong after it.
A loud shriek was uttered by all on shore, and a volley of
execrations by those on board, but boat and man were hurried away
by the rushing swiftness of the tide.  A pitchy darkness succeeded.
Wolfert Webber, indeed, fancied that he distinguished a cry for
help, and that he beheld the drowning man beckoning for assistance;
but when the lightning again gleamed along the water all was void;
neither man nor boat was to be seen,--nothing but the dashing and
weltering of the waves as they hurried past.

The company returned to the tavern to await the subsiding of the
storm.  They resumed their seats and gazed on each other with
dismay.  The whole transaction had not occupied five minutes, and
not a dozen words had been spoken.  When they looked at the oaken
chair they could scarcely realize the fact that the strange being
who had so lately tenanted it, full of life and Herculean vigor,
should already be a corpse.  There was the very glass he had just
drunk from; there lay the ashes from the pipe which he had smoked,
as it were, with his last breath.  As the worthy burghers pondered
on these things, they felt a terrible conviction of the uncertainty
of existence, and each felt as if the ground on which he stood was
rendered less stable by his awful example.

As, however, the most of the company were possessed of that
valuable philosophy which enables a man to bear up with fortitude
against the misfortunes of his neighbors, they soon managed to
console themselves for the tragic end of the veteran.  The landlord
was particularly happy that the poor dear man had paid his
reckoning before he went, and made a kind of farewell speech on the
occasion.

"He came," said he, "in a storm, and he went in a storm; he came in
the night, and he went in the night; he came nobody knows whence,
and he has gone nobody knows where.  For aught I know he has gone
to sea once more on his chest, and may land to bother some people
on the other side of the world; though it's a thousand pities,"
added he, "if he has gone to Davy Jones's[1] locker, that he had
not left his own locker[2] behind him."


[1] Davy Jones is the spirit of the sea, or the sea devil, and Davy
Jones's locker is the bottom of the ocean; hence, "gone to Davy
Jones's locker" signifies "dead and buried in the sea."

[2] Chest.


"His locker!  St. Nicholas preserve us!" cried Peechy Prauw.  "I'd
not have had that sea chest in the house for any money; I'll
warrant he'd come racketing after it at nights, and making a
haunted house of the inn.  And as to his going to sea in his chest,
I recollect what happened to Skipper Onderdonk's ship on his voyage
from Amsterdam.

"The boatswain died during a storm, so they wrapped him up in a
sheet, and put him in his own sea chest, and threw him overboard;
but they neglected, in their hurry-skurry, to say prayers over him,
and the storm raged and roared louder than ever, and they saw the
dead man seated in his chest, with his shroud for a sail, coming
hard after the ship, and the sea breaking before him in great
sprays like fire; and there they kept scudding day after day and
night after night, expecting every moment to go to wreck; and every
night they saw the dead boatswain in his sea chest trying to get up
with them, and they heard his whistle above the blasts of wind, and
he seemed to send great seas, mountain high, after them that would
have swamped the ship if they had not put up the deadlights.  And
so it went on till they lost sight of him in the fogs off
Newfoundland, and supposed he had veered ship and stood for Dead
Man's Isle.[1]  So much for burying a man at sea without saying
prayers over him."


[1] Probably Deadman's Point, a small island near Deadman's Bay,
off the eastern coast of Newfoundland.


The thunder gust which had hitherto detained the company was now at
an end.  The cuckoo clock in the hall told midnight; everyone
pressed to depart, for seldom was such a late hour of the night
trespassed on by these quiet burghers.  As they sallied forth they
found the heavens once more serene.  The storm which had lately
obscured them had rolled away, and lay piled up in fleecy masses on
the horizon, lighted up by the bright crescent of the moon, which
looked like a little silver lamp hung up in a palace of clouds.

The dismal occurrence of the night, and the dismal narrations they
had made, had left a superstitious feeling in every mind.  They
cast a fearful glance at the spot where the buccaneer had
disappeared, almost expecting to see him sailing on his chest in
the cool moonshine.  The trembling rays glittered along the waters,
but all was placid, and the current dimpled over the spot where he
had gone down.  The party huddled together in a little crowd as
they repaired homeward, particularly when they passed a lonely
field where a man had been murdered, and even the sexton, who had
to complete his journey alone, though accustomed, one would think,
to ghosts and goblins, went a long way round rather than pass by
his own churchyard.

Wolfert Webber had now carried home a fresh stock of stories and
notions to ruminate upon.  These accounts of pots of money and
Spanish treasures, buried here and there and everywhere about the
rocks and bays of these wild shores, made him almost dizzy.
"Blessed St. Nicholas!" ejaculated he, half aloud, "is it not
possible to come upon one of these golden hoards, and to make
oneself rich in a twinkling?  How hard that I must go on, delving
and delving, day in and day out, merely to make a morsel of bread,
when one lucky stroke of a spade might enable me to ride in my
carriage for the rest of my life!"

As he turned over in his thoughts all that had been told of the
singular adventure of the negro fisherman, his imagination gave a
totally different complexion[1] to the tale.  He saw in the gang of
red-caps nothing but a crew of pirates burying their spoils, and
his cupidity was once more awakened by the possibility of at length
getting on the traces of some of this lurking wealth.  Indeed, his
infected fancy tinged everything with gold.  He felt like the
greedy inhabitant of Bagdad when his eyes had been greased with the
magic ointment of the dervish, that gave him to see all the
treasures of the earth.[2]  Caskets of buried jewels, chests of
ingots, and barrels of outlandish coins seemed to court him from
their concealments, and supplicate him to relieve them from their
untimely graves.


[1] Aspect.

[2] See Story of the Blind Man, Baba Abdalla, in Arabian Nights'
Entertainment.  An inhabitant of Bagdad, Asiatic Turkey, meets with
a dervish, or Turkish monk, who presents him with a vast treasure
and with a box of magic ointment, which, applied to the left eye,
enables one to see the treasures in the bosom of the earth, but on
touching the right eye, causes blindness.  Having applied it to the
left eye with the result predicted, he uses it on his right eye, in
the hope that still greater treasures may be revealed, and
immediately becomes blind.


On making private inquiries about the grounds said to be haunted by
Feather Red-cap, he was more and more confirmed in his surmise.  He
learned that the place had several times been visited by
experienced money diggers who had heard Black Sam's story, though
none of them had met with success.  On the contrary, they had
always been dogged with ill luck of some kind or other, in
consequence, as Wolfert concluded, of not going to work at the
proper time and with the proper ceremonials.  The last attempt had
been made by Cobus Quackenbos, who dug for a whole night, and met
with incredible difficulty, for as fast as he threw one shovelful
of earth out of the hole, two were thrown in by invisible hands.
He succeeded so far, however, as to uncover an iron chest, when
there was a terrible roaring, ramping, and raging of uncouth
figures about the hole, and at length a shower of blows, dealt by
invisible cudgels, fairly belabored him off of the forbidden
ground.  This Cobus Quackenbos had declared on his deathbed, so
that there could not be any doubt of it.  He was a man that had
devoted many years of his life to money digging, and it was thought
would have ultimately succeeded had he not died recently of a brain
fever in the almshouse.

Wolfert Webber was now in a worry of trepidation and impatience,
fearful lest some rival adventurer should get a scent of the buried
gold.  He determined privately to seek out the black fisherman, and
get him to serve as guide to the place where he had witnessed the
mysterious scene of interment.  Sam was easily found, for he was
one of those old habitual beings that live about a neighborhood
until they wear themselves a place in the public mind, and become,
in a manner, public characters.  There was not an unlucky urchin
about town that did not know Sam the fisherman, and think that he
had a right to play his tricks upon the old negro.  Sam had led an
amphibious life for more than half a century, about the shores of
the bay and the fishing grounds of the Sound.  He passed the
greater part of his time on and in the water, particularly about
Hell Gate, and might have been taken, in bad weather, for one of
the hobgoblins that used to haunt that strait.  There would he be
seen, at all times and in all weathers, sometimes in his skiff,
anchored among the eddies, or prowling like a shark about some
wreck, where the fish are supposed to be most abundant; sometimes
seated on a rock from hour to hour, looking, in the mist and
drizzle, like a solitary heron watching for its prey.  He was well
acquainted with every hole and corner of the Sound, from the
Wallabout[1] to Hell Gate, and from Hell Gate unto the Devil's
Stepping-Stones; and it was even affirmed that he knew all the fish
in the river by their Christian names.


[1] A bay of the East River, on which the Brooklyn Navy Yard is
situated.


Wolfert found him at his cabin, which was not much larger than a
tolerable dog house.  It was rudely constructed of fragments of
wrecks and driftwood, and built on the rocky shore at the foot of
the old fort, just about what at present forms the point of the
Battery.[1]  A "very ancient and fishlike smell"[2] pervaded the
place.  Oars, paddles, and fishing rods were leaning against the
wall of the fort, a net was spread on the sand to dry, a skiff was
drawn up on the beach, and at the door of his cabin was Mud Sam
himself, indulging in the true negro luxury of sleeping in the
sunshine.


[1] The southern extremity of New York City.

[2] See Shakespeare's The Tempest, act ii., sc. 2.


Many years had passed away since the time of Sam's youthful
adventure, and the snows of many a winter had grizzled the knotty
wool upon his head.  He perfectly recollected the circumstances,
however, for he had often been called upon to relate them, though
in his version of the story he differed in many points from Peechy
Prauw, as is not infrequently the case with authentic historians.
As to the subsequent researches of money diggers, Sam knew nothing
about them; they were matters quite out of his line; neither did
the cautious Wolfert care to disturb his thoughts on that point.
His only wish was to secure the old fisherman as a pilot to the
spot, and this was readily effected.  The long time that had
intervened since his nocturnal adventure had effaced all Sam's awe
of the place, and the promise of a trifling reward roused him at
once from his sleep and his sunshine.

The tide was adverse to making the expedition by water, and Wolfert
was too impatient to get to the land of promise to wait for its
turning; they set off, therefore, by land.  A walk of four or five
miles brought them to the edge of a wood, which at that time
covered the greater part of the eastern side of the island.  It was
just beyond the pleasant region of Bloomen-dael.[1]  Here they
struck into a long lane, straggling among trees and bushes very
much overgrown with weeds and mullein stalks, as if but seldom
used, and so completely overshadowed as to enjoy but a kind of
twilight.  Wild vines entangled the trees and flaunted in their
faces; brambles and briers caught their clothes as they passed; the
garter snake glided across their path; the spotted toad hopped and
waddled before them; and the restless catbird mewed at them from
every thicket.  Had Wolfert Webber been deeply read in romantic
legend he might have fancied himself entering upon forbidden,
enchanted ground, or that these were some of the guardians set to
keep watch upon buried treasure.  As it was, the loneliness of the
place, and the wild stories connected with it, had their effect
upon his mind.


[1] At the time this story was written Bloomen-dael (Flowery
Valley) was a village four miles from New York.  It is now that
part of New York known as Bloomingdale, on the west side, between
about Seventieth and One Hundredth Streets.


On reaching the lower end of the lane they found themselves near
the shore of the Sound, in a kind of amphitheater surrounded by
forest trees.  The area had once been a grass plot, but was now
shagged with briers and rank weeds.  At one end, and just on the
river bank, was a ruined building, little better than a heap of
rubbish, with a stack of chimneys rising like a solitary tower out
of the center.  The current of the Sound rushed along just below
it, with wildly grown trees drooping their branches into its waves.

Wolfert had not a doubt that this was the haunted house of Father
Red-cap, and called to mind the story of Peechy Prauw.  The evening
was approaching, and the light, falling dubiously among the woody
places, gave a melancholy tone to the scene well calculated to
foster any lurking feeling of awe or superstition.  The night hawk,
wheeling about in the highest regions of the air, emitted his
peevish, boding cry.  The woodpecker gave a lonely tap now and then
on some hollow tree, and the firebird[1] streamed by them with his
deep red plumage.


[1] Orchard oriole.


They now came to an inclosure that had once been a garden.  It
extended along the foot of a rocky ridge, but was little better
than a wilderness of weeds, with here and there a matted rosebush,
or a peach or plum tree, grown wild and ragged, and covered with
moss.  At the lower end of the garden they passed a kind of vault
in the side of a bank, facing the water.  It had the look of a root
house.[1]  The door, though decayed, was still strong, and appeared
to have been recently patched up.  Wolfert pushed it open.  It gave
a harsh grating upon its hinges, and striking against something
like a box, a rattling sound ensued, and a skull rolled on the
floor.  Wolfert drew back shuddering, but was reassured on being
informed by the negro that this was a family vault, belonging to
one of the old Dutch families that owned this estate, an assertion
corroborated by the sight of coffins of various sizes piled within.
Sam had been familiar with all these scenes when a boy, and now
knew that he could not be far from the place of which they were in
quest.


[1] "Root house," i.e., a house for storing up potatoes, turnips,
or other roots for the winter feed of cattle.


They now made their way to the water's edge, scrambling along
ledges of rocks that overhung the waves, and obliged often to hold
by shrubs and grapevines to avoid slipping into the deep and
hurried stream.  At length they came to a small cove, or rather
indent of the shore.  It was protected by steep rocks, and
overshadowed by a thick copse of oaks and chestnuts, so as to be
sheltered and almost concealed.  The beach shelved gradually within
the cove, but, the current swept deep and black and rapid along its
jutting points.  The negro paused, raised his remnant of a hat, and
scratched his grizzled poll for a moment, as he regarded this nook;
then suddenly clapping his hands, he stepped exultingly forward,
and pointed to a large iron ring, stapled firmly in the rock, just
where a broad shelf of stone furnished a commodious landing place.
It was the very spot where the red-caps had landed.  Years had
changed the more perishable features of the scene; but rock and
iron yield slowly to the influence of time.  On looking more
closely Wolfert remarked three crosses cut in the rock just above
the ring, which had no doubt some mysterious signification.  Old
Sam now readily recognized the overhanging rock under which his
skiff had been sheltered during the thunder gust.  To follow up the
course which the midnight gang had taken, however, was a harder
task.  His mind had been so much taken up on that eventful occasion
by the persons of the drama as to pay but little attention to the
scenes, and these places looked so different by night and day.
After wandering about for some time, however, they came to an
opening among the trees which Sam thought resembled the place.
There was a ledge of rock of moderate height, like a wall, on one
side, which he thought might be the very ridge whence he had
overlooked the diggers.  Wolfert examined it narrowly, and at
length discovered three crosses similar to those on the above ring,
cut deeply into the face of the rock, but nearly obliterated by
moss that had grown over them.  His heart leaped with joy, for he
doubted not they were the private marks of the buccaneers.  All now
that remained was to ascertain the precise spot where the treasure
lay buried, for otherwise he might dig at random in the
neighborhood of the crosses, without coming upon the spoils, and he
had already had enough of such profitless labor.  Here, however,
the old negro was perfectly at a loss, and indeed perplexed him by
a variety of opinions, for his recollections were all confused.
Sometimes he declared it must have been at the foot of a mulberry
tree hard by; then beside a great white stone; then under a small
green knoll, a short distance from the ledge of rocks, until at
length Wolfert became as bewildered as himself.

The shadows of evening were now spreading themselves over the
woods, and rock and tree began to mingle together.  It was
evidently too late to attempt anything further at present, and,
indeed, Wolfert had come unprovided with implements to prosecute
his researches.  Satisfied, therefore, with having ascertained the
place, he took note of all its landmarks, that he might recognize
it again, and set out on his return homeward, resolved to prosecute
this golden enterprise without delay.

The leading anxiety which had hitherto absorbed every feeling being
now in some measure appeased, fancy began to wander, and to conjure
up a thousand shapes and chimeras as he returned through this
haunted region.  Pirates hanging in chains seemed to swing from
every tree, and he almost expected to see some Spanish don, with
his throat cut from ear to ear, rising slowly out of the ground,
and shaking the ghost of a money bag.

Their way back lay through the desolate garden, and Wolfert's
nerves had arrived at so sensitive a state that the flitting of a
bird, the rustling of a leaf, or the falling of a nut was enough to
startle him.  As they entered the confines of the garden, they
caught sight of a figure at a distance advancing slowly up one of
the walks, and bending under the weight of a burden.  They paused
and regarded him attentively.  He wore what appeared to be a woolen
cap, and, still more alarming, of a most sanguinary red.

The figure moved slowly on, ascended the bank, and stopped at the
very door of the sepulchral vault.  Just before entering it he
looked around.  What was the affright of Wolfert when he recognized
the grisly visage of the drowned buccaneer!  He uttered an
ejaculation of horror.  The figure slowly raised his iron fist and
shook it with a terrible menace.  Wolfert did not pause to see any
more, but hurried off as fast as his legs could carry him, nor was
Sam slow in following at his heels, having all his ancient terrors
revived.  Away, then, did they scramble through bush and brake,
horribly frightened at every bramble that tugged at their skirts,
nor did they pause to breathe until they had blundered their way
through this perilous wood, and fairly reached the highroad to the
city.

Several days elapsed before Wolfert could summon courage enough to
prosecute the enterprise, so much had he been dismayed by the
apparition, whether living or dead, of the grisly buccaneer.  In
the meantime, what a conflict of mind did he suffer!  He neglected
all his concerns, was moody and restless all day, lost his
appetite, wandered in his thoughts and words, and committed a
thousand blunders.  His rest was broken, and when he fell asleep
the nightmare, in shape of a huge money bag, sat squatted upon his
breast.  He babbled about incalculable sums, fancied himself
engaged in money digging, threw the bedclothes right and left, in
the idea that he was shoveling away the dirt, groped under the bed
in quest of the treasure, and lugged forth, as he supposed, an
inestimable pot of gold.

Dame Webber and her daughter were in despair at what they conceived
a returning touch of insanity.  There are two family oracles, one
or other of which Dutch housewives consult in all cases of great
doubt and perplexity,--the dominie and the doctor.  In the present
instance they repaired to the doctor.  There was at that time a
little dark, moldy man of medicine, famous among the old wives of
the Manhattoes for his skill, not only in the healing art, but in
all matters of strange and mysterious nature.  His name was Dr.
Knipperhausen, but he was more commonly known by the appellation of
the "High German Doctor."[1]  To him did the poor women repair for
counsel and assistance touching the mental vagaries of Wolfert
Webber.


[1] The same, no doubt, of whom mention is made in the history of
Dolph Heyliger.


They found the doctor seated in his little study, clad in his dark
camlet[1] robe of knowledge, with his black velvet cap, after the
manner of Boerhaave,[2] Van Helmont,[3] and other medical sages, a
pair of green spectacles set in black horn upon his clubbed nose,
and poring over a German folio that reflected back the darkness of
his physiognomy.  The doctor listened to their statement of the
symptoms of Wolfert's malady with profound attention, but when they
came to mention his raving about buried money the little man
pricked up his ears.  Alas, poor women! they little knew the aid
they had called in.


[1] A fabric made of goat's hair and silk, or wool and cotton.

[2] Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738), a celebrated Dutch physician and
philosopher.

[3] Jan Baptista Van Helmont (1577-1644), a celebrated Flemish
physician and chemist.


Dr. Knipperhausen had been half his life engaged in seeking the
short cuts to fortune, in quest of which so many a long lifetime is
wasted.  He had passed some years of his youth among the Harz[1]
mountains of Germany, and had derived much valuable instruction
from the miners touching the mode of seeking treasure buried in the
earth.  He had prosecuted his studies, also, under a traveling sage
who united the mysteries of medicine with magic and legerdemain.
His mind, therefore, had become stored with all kinds of mystic
lore; he had dabbled a little in astrology, alchemy, divination;[2]
knew how to detect stolen money, and to tell where springs of water
lay hidden; in a word, by the dark nature of his knowledge he had
acquired the name of the "High German Doctor," which is pretty
nearly equivalent to that of necromancer.  The doctor had often
heard rumors of treasure being buried in various parts of the
island, and had long been anxious to get on the traces of it.  No
sooner were Wolfert's waking and sleeping vagaries confided to him
than he beheld in them the confirmed symptoms of a case of money
digging, and lost no time in probing it to the bottom.  Wolfert had
long been sorely oppressed in mind by the golden secret, and as a
family physician is a kind of father confessor, he was glad of any
opportunity of unburdening himself.  So far from curing, the doctor
caught the malady from his patient.  The circumstances unfolded to
him awakened all his cupidity; he had not a doubt of money being
buried somewhere in the neighborhood of the mysterious crosses, and
offered to join Wolfert in the search.  He informed him that much
secrecy and caution must be observed in enterprises of the kind;
that money is only to be dug for at night, with certain forms and
ceremonies and burning of drugs, the repeating of mystic words,
and, above all, that the seekers must first be provided with a
divining rod,[3] which had the wonderful property of pointing to
the very spot on the surface of the earth under which treasure lay
hidden.  As the doctor had given much of his mind to these matters
he charged himself with all the necessary preparations, and, as the
quarter of the moon was propitious, he undertook to have the
divining rod ready by a certain night.


[1] A mountain chain in northwestern Germany, between the Elbe and
the Weser.

[2] Astrology, alchemy, and divination were three imaginary arts.
The first pretended to judge of the influence of the stars on human
affairs, and to foretell events by their positions and aspects; the
second aimed to transmute the baser metals into gold, and to find a
universal remedy for diseases; while the third dealt with the
discovery of secret or future events by preternatural means.

[3] A divining rod is a rod used by those who pretend to discover
water or metals underground.  It is commonly made of witch hazel,
with forked branches.


Wolfert's heart leaped with joy at having met with so learned and
able a coadjutor.  Everything went on secretly but swimmingly.  The
doctor had many consultations with his patient, and the good women
of the household lauded the comforting effect of his visits.  In
the meantime the wonderful divining rod, that great key to nature's
secrets, was duly prepared.  The doctor had thumbed over all his
books of knowledge for the occasion, and the black fisherman was
engaged to take them in his skiff to the scene of enterprise, to
work with spade and pickax in unearthing the treasure, and to
freight his bark with the weighty spoils they were certain of
finding.

At length the appointed night arrived for this perilous
undertaking.  Before Wolfert left his home he counseled his wife
and daughter to go to bed, and feel no alarm if he should not
return during the night.  Like reasonable women, on being told not
to feel alarm they fell immediately into a panic.  They saw at once
by his manner that something unusual was in agitation; all their
fears about the unsettled state of his mind were revived with
tenfold force; they hung about him, entreating him not to expose
himself to the night air, but all in vain.  When once Wolfert was
mounted on his hobby,[1] it was no easy manner to get him out of
the saddle.  It was a clear, starlight night when he issued out of
the portal of the Webber palace.  He wore a large flapped hat, tied
under the chin with a handkerchief of his daughter's, to secure him
from the night damp, while Dame Webber threw her long red cloak
about his shoulders, and fastened it round his neck.


[1] Hobby, or hobbyhorse, a favorite theme of thought; hence, "to
mount a hobby" is to follow a favorite pursuit.


The doctor had been no less carefully armed and accoutered by his
housekeeper, the vigilant Frau Ilsy, and sallied forth in his
camlet robe by way of surcoat,[1] his black velvet cap under his
cocked hat, a thick clasped book under his arm, a basket of drugs
and dried herbs in one hand, and in the other the miraculous rod of
divination.


[1] Overcoat.


The great church clock struck ten as Wolfert and the doctor passed
by the churchyard, and the watchman bawled in hoarse voice a long
and doleful "All's well!"  A deep sleep had already fallen upon
this primitive little burgh; nothing disturbed this awful silence
excepting now and then the bark of some profligate, night-walking
dog, or the serenade of some romantic cat.  It is true Wolfert
fancied more than once that he heard the sound of a stealthy
footfall at a distance behind them; but it might have been merely
the echo of their own steps along the quiet streets.  He thought
also at one time that he saw a tall figure skulking after them,
stopping when they stopped and moving on as they proceeded; but the
dim and uncertain lamplight threw such vague gleams and shadows
that this might all have been mere fancy.

They found the old fisherman waiting for them, smoking his pipe in
the stern of the skiff, which was moored just in front of his
little cabin.  A pickax and spade were lying in the bottom of the
boat, with a dark lantern, and a stone bottle of good Dutch
courage,[1] in which honest Sam no doubt put even more faith than
Dr. Knipperhausen in his drugs.


[1] Dutch courage is courage that results from indulgence in Dutch
gin or Hollands; here applied to the gin itself.


Thus, then, did these three worthies embark in their cockleshell of
a skiff upon this nocturnal expedition, with a wisdom and valor
equaled only by the three wise men of Gotham,[1] who adventured to
sea in a bowl.  The tide was rising and running rapidly up the
Sound.  The current bore them along, almost without the aid of an
oar.  The profile of the town lay all in shadow.  Here and there a
light feebly glimmered from some sick chamber, or from the cabin
window of some vessel at anchor in the stream.  Not a cloud
obscured the deep, starry firmament, the lights of which wavered on
the surface of the placid river, and a shooting meteor, streaking
its pale course in the very direction they were taking, was
interpreted by the doctor into a most propitious omen.


     [1] "Three wise men of Gotham,
          They went to sea in a bowl--
          And if the bowl had been stronger,
          My tale had been longer."
                                 Mother Goose Melody.


[1] Gotham was a village proverbial for the blundering simplicity of
its inhabitants.  At first the name referred to an English village.
Irving applied it to New York City.


In a little while they glided by the point of Corlear's Hook, with
the rural inn which had been the scene of such night adventures.
The family had retired to rest, and the house was dark and still.
Wolfert felt a chill pass over him as they passed the point where
the buccaneer had disappeared.  He pointed it out to Dr.
Knipperhausen.  While regarding it they thought they saw a boat
actually lurking at the very place; but the shore cast such a
shadow over the border of the water that they could discern nothing
distinctly.  They had not proceeded far when they heard the low
sounds of distant oars, as if cautiously pulled.  Sam plied his
oars with redoubled vigor, and knowing all the eddies and currents
of the stream, soon left their followers, if such they were, far
astern.  In a little while they stretched across Turtle Bay and
Kip's Bay,[1] then shrouded themselves in the deep shadows of the
Manhattan shore, and glided swiftly along, secure from observation.
At length the negro shot his skiff into a little cove, darkly
embowered by trees, and made it fast to the well-known iron ring.
They now landed, and lighting the lantern gathered their various
implements and proceeded slowly through the bushes.  Every sound
startled them, even that of their own footsteps among the dry
leaves, and the hooting of a screech owl, from the shattered
chimney of the neighboring ruin, made their blood run cold.


[1] A small bay in the East River below Corlear's Hook.


In spite of all Wolfert's caution in taking note of the landmarks,
it was some time before they could find the open place among the
trees, where the treasure was supposed to be buried.  At length
they came to the ledge of rock, and on examining its surface by the
aid of the lantern, Wolfert recognized the three mystic crosses.
Their hearts beat quick, for the momentous trial was at hand that
was to determine their hopes.

The lantern was now held by Wolfert Webber, while the doctor
produced the divining rod.  It was a forked twig, one end of which
was grasped firmly in each hand, while the center, forming the
stem, pointed perpendicularly upward.  The doctor moved his wand
about, within a certain distance of the earth, from place to place,
but for some time without any effect, while Wolfert kept the light
of the lantern turned full upon it, and watched it with the most
breathless interest.  At length the rod began slowly to turn.  The
doctor grasped it with greater earnestness, his hands trembling
with the agitation of his mind.  The wand continued to turn
gradually, until at length the stem had reversed its position, and
pointed perpendicularly downward, and remained pointing to one spot
as fixedly as the needle to the pole.

"This is the spot!" said the doctor, in an almost inaudible tone.

Wolfert's heart was in his throat.

"Shall I dig?" said the negro, grasping the spade.

"Pots tausend,[1] no!" replied the little doctor hastily.  He now
ordered his companions to keep close by him, and to maintain the
most inflexible silence; that certain precautions must be taken and
ceremonies used to prevent the evil spirits which kept about buried
treasure from doing them any harm.  He then drew a circle about the
place, enough to include the whole party.  He next gathered dry
twigs and leaves and made a fire, upon which he threw certain drugs
and dried herbs which he had brought in his basket.  A thick smoke
rose, diffusing a potent odor savoring marvelously of brimstone and
asafetida, which, however grateful it might be to the olfactory
nerves of spirits, nearly strangled poor Wolfert, and produced a
fit of coughing and wheezing that made the whole grove resound.
Dr. Knipperhausen then unclasped the volume which he had brought
under his arm, which was printed in red and black characters in
German text.  While Wolfert held the lantern, the doctor, by the
aid of his spectacles, read off several forms of conjuration in
Latin and German.  He then ordered Sam to seize the pickax and
proceed to work.  The close-bound soil gave obstinate signs of not
having been disturbed for many a year.  After having picked his way
through the surface, Sam came to a bed of sand and gravel, which he
threw briskly to right and left with the spade.


[1] A German exclamation of anger, equivalent to the English
"zounds!"


"Hark!" said Wolfert, who fancied he heard a trampling among the
dry leaves and a rustling through the bushes.  Sam paused for a
moment, and they listened.  No footstep was near.  The bat flitted
by them in silence; a bird, roused from its roost by the light
which glared up among the trees, flew circling about the flame.  In
the profound stillness of the woodland they could distinguish the
current rippling along the rocky shore, and the distant murmuring
and roaring of Hell Gate.

The negro continued his labors, and had already digged a
considerable hole.  The doctor stood on the edge, reading formulae
every now and then from his black-letter volume, or throwing more
drugs and herbs upon the fire, while Wolfert bent anxiously over
the pit, watching every stroke of the spade.  Anyone witnessing the
scene thus lighted up by fire, lantern, and the reflection of
Wolfert's red mantle, might have mistaken the little doctor for
some foul magician, busied in his incantations, and the grizzly-
headed negro for some swart goblin obedient to his commands.

At length the spade of the fisherman struck upon something that
sounded hollow.  The sound vibrated to Wolfert's heart.  He struck
his spade again.

"'Tis a chest," said Sam.

"Full of gold, I'll warrant it!" cried Wolfert, clasping his hands
with rapture.

Scarcely had he uttered the words when a sound from above caught
his ear.  He cast up his eyes, and lo! by the expiring light of the
fire he beheld, just over the disk of the rock, what appeared to be
the grim visage of the drowned buccaneer, grinning hideously down
upon him.

Wolfert gave a loud cry and let fall the lantern.  His panic
communicated itself to his companions.  The negro leaped out of the
hole, the doctor dropped his book and basket, and began to pray in
German.  All was horror and confusion.  The fire was scattered
about, the lantern extinguished.  In their hurry-scurry[1] they ran
against and confounded one another.  They fancied a legion of
hobgoblins let loose upon them, and that they saw, by the fitful
gleams of the scattered embers, strange figures, in red caps,
gibbering and ramping around them.  The doctor ran one way, the
negro another, and Wolfert made for the water side.  As he plunged
struggling onward through brush and brake, he heard the tread of
some one in pursuit.  He scrambled frantically forward.  The
footsteps gained upon him.  He felt himself grasped by his cloak,
when suddenly his pursuer was attacked in turn; a fierce fight and
struggle ensued, a pistol was discharged that lit up rock and bush
for a second, and showed two figures grappling together; all was
then darker than ever.  The contest continued, the combatants
clinched each other, and panted and groaned, and rolled among the
rocks.  There was snarling and growling as of a cur, mingled with
curses, in which Wolfert fancied he could recognize the voice of
the buccaneer.  He would fain have fled, but he was on the brink of
a precipice, and could go no farther.


[1] A swift, disorderly movement.


Again the parties were on their feet, again there was a tugging and
struggling, as if strength alone could decide the combat, until one
was precipitated from the brow of the cliff, and sent headlong into
the deep stream that whirled below.  Wolfert heard the plunge, and
a kind of strangling, bubbling murmur, but the darkness of the
night hid everything from him, and the swiftness of the current
swept everything instantly out of hearing.  One of the combatants
was disposed of, but whether friend or foe Wolfert could not tell,
nor whether they might not both be foes.  He heard the survivor
approach, and his terror revived.  He saw, where the profile of the
rocks rose against the horizon, a human form advancing.  He could
not be mistaken; it must be the buccaneer.  Whither should he fly?-
-a precipice was on one side, a murderer on the other.  The enemy
approached--he was close at hand.  Wolfert attempted to let himself
down the face of the cliff.  His cloak caught in a thorn that grew
on the edge.  He was jerked from off his feet, and held dangling in
the air, half choked by the string with which his careful wife had
fastened the garment around his neck.  Wolfert thought his last
moment was arrived; already had he committed his soul to St.
Nicholas, when the string broke, and he tumbled down the bank,
bumping from rock to rock and bush to bush, and leaving the red
cloak fluttering like a bloody banner in the air.

It was a long while before Wolfert came to himself.  When he opened
his eyes, the ruddy streaks of morning were already shooting up the
sky.  He found himself grievously battered, and lying in the bottom
of a boat.  He attempted to sit up, but was too sore and stiff to
move.  A voice requested him in a friendly accents to lie still.
He turned his eyes toward the speaker; it was Dirk Waldron.  He had
dogged the party, at the earnest request of Dame Webber and her
daughter, who, with the laudable curiosity of their sex, had pried
into the secret consultations of Wolfert and the doctor.  Dirk had
been completely distanced in following the light skiff of the
fisherman, and had just come in time to rescue the poor money
digger from his pursuer.

Thus ended this perilous enterprise.  The doctor and Black Sam
severally found their way back to the Manhattoes, each having some
dreadful tale of peril to relate.  As to poor Wolfert, instead of
returning in triumph, laden with bags of gold, he was borne home on
a shutter, followed by a rabble-rout[1] of curious urchins.  His
wife and daughter saw the dismal pageant from a distance, and
alarmed the neighborhood with their cries; they thought the poor
man had suddenly settled the great debt of nature in one of his
wayward moods.  Finding him, however, still living, they had him
speedily to bed, and a jury of old matrons of the neighborhood
assembled to determine how he should be doctored.  The whole town
was in a buzz with the story of the money diggers.  Many repaired
to the scene of the previous night's adventures; but though they
found the very place of the digging, they discovered nothing that
compensated them for their trouble.  Some say they found the
fragments of an oaken chest, and an iron pot lid, which savored
strongly of hidden money, and that in the old family vault there
were traces of bales and boxes; but this is all very dubious.


[1] A noisy throng.


In fact, the secret of all this story has never to this day been
discovered.  Whether any treasure were ever actually buried at that
place; whether, if so, it were carried off at night by those who
had buried it; or whether it still remains there under the
guardianship of gnomes and spirits until it shall be properly
sought for, is all matter of conjecture.  For my part, I incline to
the latter opinion, and make no doubt that great sums lie buried,
both there and in other parts of this island and its neighborhood,
ever since the times of the buccaneers and the Dutch colonists; and
I would earnestly recommend the search after them to such of my
fellow citizens as are not engaged in any other speculations.

There were many conjectures formed, also, as to who and what was
the strange man of the seas, who had domineered over the little
fraternity at Corlear's Hook for a time, disappeared so strangely,
and reappeared so fearfully.  Some supposed him a smuggler
stationed at that place to assist his comrades in landing their
goods among the rocky coves of the island.  Others, that he was one
of the ancient comrades of Kidd or Bradish, returned to convey away
treasures formerly hidden in the vicinity.  The only circumstance
that throws anything like a vague light on this mysterious matter
is a report which prevailed of a strange, foreign-built shallop,
with much the look of a picaroon,[1] having been seen hovering
about the Sound for several days without landing or reporting
herself, though boats were seen going to and from her at night; and
that she was seen standing out of the mouth of the harbor, in the
gray of the dawn, after the catastrophe of the money diggers.


[1] A piratical vessel.


I must not omit to mention another report, also, which I confess is
rather apocryphal, of the buccaneer who is supposed to have been
drowned, being seen before daybreak, with a lantern in his hand,
seated astride of his great sea chest, and sailing through Hell
Gate, which just then began to roar and bellow with redoubled fury.

While all the gossip world was thus filled with talk and rumor,
poor Wolfert lay sick and sorrowfully in his bed, bruised in body
and sorely beaten down in mind.  His wife and daughter did all they
could to bind up his wounds, both corporal and spiritual.  The good
old dame never stirred from his bedside, where she sat knitting
from morning till night, while his daughter busied herself about
him with the fondest care.  Nor did they lack assistance from
abroad.  Whatever may be said of the desertion of friends in
distress, they had no complaint of the kind to make.  Not an old
wife of the neighborhood but abandoned her work to crowd to the
mansion of Wolfert Webber, to inquire after his health and the
particulars of his story.  Not one came, moreover, without her
little pipkin of pennyroyal, sage, balm, or other herb tea,
delighted at an opportunity of signalizing her kindness and her
doctorship.  What drenchings did not the poor Wolfert undergo, and
all in vain!  It was a moving sight to behold him wasting away day
by day, growing thinner and thinner and ghastlier and ghastlier,
and staring with rueful visage from under an old patchwork
counterpane, upon the jury of matrons kindly assembled to sigh and
groan and look unhappy around him.

Dirk Waldron was the only being that seemed to shed a ray of
sunshine into this house of mourning.  He came in with cheery look
and manly spirit, and tried to reanimate the expiring heart of the
poor money digger, but it was all in vain.  Wolfert was completely
done over.[1]  If anything was wanting to complete his despair, it
was a notice, served upon him in the midst of his distress, that
the corporation was about to run a new street through the very
center of his cabbage garden.  He now saw nothing before him but
poverty and ruin; his last reliance, the garden of his forefathers,
was to be laid waste, and what then was to become of his poor wife
and child?


[1] Exhausted.


His eyes filled with tears as they followed the dutiful Amy out of
the room one morning.  Dirk Waldron was seated beside him; Wolfert
grasped his hand, pointed after his daughter, and for the first
time since his illness broke the silence he had maintained.

"I am going!" said he, shaking his head feebly, "and when I am
gone, my poor daughter--"

"Leave her to me, father!" said Dirk manfully; "I'll take care of
her!"

Wolfert looked up in the face of the cheery, strapping youngster,
and saw there was none better able to take care of a woman.

"Enough," said he, "she is yours!  And now fetch me a lawyer--let
me make my will and die."

The lawyer was brought,--a dapper, bustling, round-headed little
man, Roorback (or Rollebuck, as it was pronounced) by name.  At the
sight of him the women broke into loud lamentations, for they
looked upon the signing of a will as the signing of a death
warrant.  Wolfert made a feeble motion for them to be silent.  Poor
Amy buried her face and her grief in the bed curtain.  Dame Webber
resumed her knitting to hide her distress, which betrayed itself,
however, in a pellucid tear, which trickled silently down, and hung
at the end of her peaked nose; while the cat, the only unconcerned
member of the family, played with the good dame's ball of worsted
as it rolled about the floor.

Wolfert lay on his back, his nightcap drawn over his forehead, his
eyes closed, his whole visage the picture of death.  He begged the
lawyer to be brief, for he felt his end approaching, and that he
had no time to lose.  The lawyer nibbed[1] his pen, spread out his
paper, and prepared to write.


[1] In Irving's time, quills were made into pens by pointing or
"nibbing" their ends.


"I give and bequeath," said Wolfert faintly, "my small farm--"

"What! all?" exclaimed the lawyer.

Wolfert half opened his eyes and looked upon the lawyer.

"Yes, all," said he.

"What! all that great patch of land with cabbages and sunflowers,
which the corporation is just going to run a main street through?"

"The same," said Wolfert, with a heavy sigh, and sinking back upon
his pillow.

"I wish him joy that inherits it!" said the little lawyer,
chuckling and rubbing his hands involuntarily.

"What do you mean?" said Wolfert, again opening his eyes.

"That he'll be one of the richest men in the place," cried little
Rollebuck.

The expiring Wolfert seemed to step back from the threshold of
existence; his eyes again lighted up; he raised himself in his bed,
shoved back his red worsted nightcap, and stared broadly at the
lawyer.

"You don't say so!" exclaimed he.

"Faith but I do!" rejoined the other.  "Why, when that great field
and that huge meadow come to be laid out in streets and cut up into
snug building lots,--why, whoever owns it need not pull off his hat
to the patroon!"

"Say you so?" cried Wolfert, half thrusting one leg out of bed;
"why, then, I think I'll not make my will yet."

To the surprise of everybody the dying man actually recovered.  The
vital spark, which had glimmered faintly in the socket, received
fresh fuel from the oil of gladness which the little lawyer poured
into his soul.  It once more burned up into a flame.

Give physic to the heart, ye who would revive the body of a spirit-
broken man!  In a few days Wolfert left his room; in a few days
more his table was covered with deeds, plans of streets and
building lots.  Little Rollebuck was constantly with him, his right
hand man and adviser, and instead of making his will assisted in
the more agreeable task of making his fortune.  In fact Wolfert
Webber was one of those worthy Dutch burghers of the Manhattoes
whose fortunes have been made, in a manner, in spite of themselves;
who have tenaciously held on to their hereditary acres, raising
turnips and cabbages about the skirts of the city, hardly able to
make both ends meet, until the corporation has cruelly driven
streets through their abodes, and they have suddenly awakened out
of their lethargy, and, to their astonishment, found themselves
rich men.

Before many months had elapsed a great, bustling street passed
through the very center of the Webber garden, just where Wolfert
had dreamed of finding a treasure.  His golden dream was
accomplished; he did, indeed, find an unlooked-for source of
wealth, for, when his paternal lands were distributed into building
lots and rented out to safe tenants, instead of producing a paltry
crop of cabbages they returned him an abundant crop of rent,
insomuch that on quarter day it was a goodly sight to see his
tenants knocking at the door from morning till night, each with a
little round-bellied bag of money, a golden produce of the soil.

The ancient mansion of his forefathers was still kept up, but,
instead of being a little yellow-fronted Dutch house in a garden,
it now stood boldly in the midst of a street, the grand home of the
neighborhood; for Wolfert enlarged it with a wing on each side, and
a cupola or tea room on top, where he might climb up and smoke his
pipe in hot weather, and in the course of time the whole mansion
was overrun by the chubby-faced progeny of Amy Webber and Dirk
Waldron.

As Wolfert waxed old and rich and corpulent he also set up a great
gingerbread-colored carriage, drawn by a pair of black Flanders
mares with tails that swept the ground; and to commemorate the
origin of his greatness he had for his crest a full-blown cabbage
painted on the panels, with the pithy motto, ALLES KOPF, that is to
say, ALL HEAD, meaning thereby that he had risen by sheer head
work.

To fill the measure of his greatness, in the fullness of time the
renowned Ramm Rapelye slept with his fathers, and Wolfert Webber
succeeded to the leather-bottomed armchair in the inn parlor at
Corlear's Hook; where he long reigned, greatly honored and
respected, insomuch that he was never known to tell a story without
its being believed, nor to utter a joke without its being laughed
at.



Introduction to "Wieland's Madness," from "Wieland, or The
Transformation."


     From Virtue's blissful paths away
     The double-tongued are sure to stray;
     Good is a forth-right journey still.
     And mazy paths but lead to ill.


"WIELAND" is the first American novel.  It appeared in 1798; its
author was soon recognized as the earliest American novelist; and
he remained the greatest, until Fenimore Cooper brought forth his
Leather-stocking Tales, a quarter of a century later.

Although modern sophistication easily points out flaws in Charles
Brockden Brown's story-structure, and reproves him for
improbability, morbidness, and a style often too elevated, yet his
work lives.  His downright originality is worthy of Cooper himself,
and his weird imaginations and horribly sustained scenes of terror
have been surpassed by few writers save Edgar Allan Poe.



Charles Brockden Brown


FIRST PART

I

Wieland's Madness


[As the story opens, the narratress, Clara Wieland, is entering
upon the happy realization of her love for Henry Pleyel, closest
friend of her brother "Wieland."

Their woodland home, Mettingen, on the banks of the then remote
Schuylkill, is the abode of music, letters and thorough culture.
The peace of high thinking and simple outdoor life hovers over
all.]


One sunny afternoon I was standing in the door of my house, when I
marked a person passing close to the edge of the bank that was in
front.  His pace was a careless and lingering one, and had none of
that gracefulness and ease which distinguish a person with certain
advantages of education from a clown.  His gait was rustic and
awkward.  His form was ungainly and disproportioned.  Shoulders
broad and square, breast sunken, his head drooping, his body of
uniform breadth, supported by long and lank legs, were the
ingredients of his frame.  His garb was not ill adapted to such a
figure.  A slouched hat, tarnished by the weather, a coat of thick
gray cloth, cut and wrought, as it seemed, by a country tailor,
blue worsted stockings, and shoes fastened by thongs and deeply
discolored by dust, which brush had never disturbed, constituted
his dress.

There was nothing remarkable in these appearances: they were
frequently to be met with on the road and in the harvest-field.  I
cannot tell why I gazed upon them, on this occasion, with more than
ordinary attention, unless it were that such figures were seldom
seen by me except on the road or field.  This lawn was only
traversed by men whose views were directed to the pleasures of the
walk or the grandeur of the scenery.

He passed slowly along, frequently pausing, as if to examine the
prospect more deliberately, but never turning his eye toward the
house, so as to allow me a view of his countenance.  Presently he
entered a copse at a small distance, and disappeared.  My eye
followed him while he remained in sight.  If his image remained for
any duration in my fancy after his departure, it was because no
other object occurred sufficient to expel it.

I continued in the same spot for half an hour, vaguely, and by
fits, contemplating the image of this wanderer, and drawing from
outward appearances those inferences, with respect to the
intellectual history of this person, which experience affords us.
I reflected on the alliance which commonly subsists between
ignorance and the practice of agriculture, and indulged myself in
airy speculations as to the influence of progressive knowledge in
dissolving this alliance and embodying the dreams of the poets.  I
asked why the plow and the hoe might not become the trade of every
human being, and how this trade might be made conducive to, or at
least consistent with, the acquisition of wisdom and eloquence.

Weary with these reflections, I returned to the kitchen to perform
some household office.  I had usually but one servant, and she was
a girl about my own age.  I was busy near the chimney, and she was
employed near the door of the apartment, when some one knocked.
The door was opened by her, and she was immediately addressed with,
"Prythee, good girl, canst thou supply a thirsty man with a glass
of buttermilk?"  She answered that there was none in the house.
"Aye, but there is some in the dairy yonder.  Thou knowest as well
as I, though Hermes never taught thee, that, though every dairy be
a house, every house is not a dairy."  To this speech, though she
understood only a part of it, she replied by repeating her
assurances that she had none to give.  "Well, then," rejoined the
stranger, "for charity's sweet sake, hand me forth a cup of cold
water."  The girl said she would go to the spring and fetch it.
"Nay, give me the cup, and suffer me to help myself.  Neither
manacled nor lame, I should merit burial in the maw of carrion
crows if I laid this task upon thee."  She gave him the cup, and he
turned to go to the spring.

I listened to this dialogue in silence.  The words uttered by the
person without affected me as somewhat singular; but what chiefly
rendered them remarkable was the tone that accompanied them.  It
was wholly new.  My brother's voice and Pleyel's were musical and
energetic.  I had fondly imagined that, in this respect, they were
surpassed by none.  Now my mistake was detected.  I cannot pretend
to communicate the impression that was made upon me by these
accents, or to depict the degree in which force and sweetness were
blended in them.  They were articulated with a distinctness that
was unexampled in my experience.  But this was not all.  The voice
was not only mellifluent and clear, but the emphasis was so just,
and the modulation so impassioned, that it seemed as if a heart of
stone could not fail of being moved by it.  It imparted to me an
emotion altogether involuntary and uncontrollable.  When he uttered
the words, "for charity's sweet sake," I dropped the cloth that I
held in my hand; my heart overflowed with sympathy and my eyes with
unbidden tears.

This description will appear to you trifling or incredible.  The
importance of these circumstances will be manifested in the sequel.
The manner in which I was affected on this occasion was, to my own
apprehension, a subject of astonishment.  The tones were indeed
such as I never heard before; but that they should in an instant,
as it were, dissolve me in tears, will not easily be believed by
others, and can scarcely be comprehended by myself.

It will be readily supposed that I was somewhat inquisitive as to
the person and demeanor of our visitant.  After a moment's pause, I
stepped to the door and looked after him.  Judge my surprise when I
beheld the selfsame figure that had appeared a half-hour before
upon the bank.  My fancy had conjured up a very different image.  A
form and attitude and garb were instantly created worthy to
accompany such elocution; but this person was, in all visible
respects, the reverse of this phantom.  Strange as it may seem, I
could not speedily reconcile myself to this disappointment.
Instead of returning to my employment, I threw myself in a chair
that was placed opposite the door, and sunk into a fit of musing.

My attention was in a few minutes recalled by the stranger, who
returned with the empty cup in his hand.  I had not thought of the
circumstance, or should certainly have chosen a different seat.  He
no sooner showed himself, than a confused sense of impropriety,
added to the suddenness of the interview, for which, not having
foreseen it, I had made no preparation, threw me into a state of
the most painful embarrassment.  He brought with him a placid brow;
but no sooner had he cast his eyes upon me than his face was as
glowingly suffused as my own.  He placed the cup upon the bench,
stammered out thanks, and retired.

It was some time before I could recover my wonted composure.  I had
snatched a view of the stranger's countenance.  The impression that
it made was vivid and indelible.  His cheeks were pallid and lank,
his eyes sunken, his forehead overshadowed by coarse straggling
hairs, his teeth large and irregular, though sound and brilliantly
white, and his chin discolored by a tetter.  His skin was of coarse
grain and sallow hue.  Every feature was wide of beauty, and the
outline of his face reminded you of an inverted cone.

And yet his forehead, so far as shaggy locks would allow it to be
seen, his eyes lustrously black, and possessing, in the midst of
haggardness, a radiance inexpressibly serene and potent, and
something in the rest of his features which it would be in vain to
describe, but which served to betoken a mind of the highest order,
were essential ingredients in the portrait.  This, in the effects
which immediately flowed from it, I count among the most
extraordinary incidents of my life.  This face, seen for a moment,
continued for hours to occupy my fancy, to the exclusion of almost
every other image.  I had proposed to spend the evening with my
brother; but I could not resist the inclination of forming a sketch
upon paper of this memorable visage.  Whether my hand was aided by
any peculiar inspiration, or I was deceived by my own fond
conceptions, this portrait, though hastily executed, appeared
unexceptionable to my own taste.

I placed it at all distances and in all lights; my eyes were
riveted upon it.  Half the night passed away in wakefulness and in
contemplation of this picture.  So flexible, and yet so stubborn,
is the human mind!  So obedient to impulses the most transient and
brief, and yet so unalterably observant of the direction which is
given to it!  How little did I then foresee the termination of that
chain of which this may be regarded as the first link!

Next day arose in darkness and storm.  Torrents of rain fell during
the whole day, attended with incessant thunder, which reverberated
in stunning echoes from the opposite declivity.  The inclemency of
the air would not allow me to walk out.  I had, indeed, no
inclination to leave my apartment.  I betook myself to the
contemplation of this portrait, whose attractions time had rather
enhanced than diminished.  I laid aside my usual occupations, and,
seating myself at a window, consumed the day in alternately looking
out upon the storm and gazing at the picture which lay upon a table
before me.  You will perhaps deem this conduct somewhat singular,
and ascribe it to certain peculiarities of temper.  I am not aware
of any such peculiarities.  I can account for my devotion to this
image no otherwise than by supposing that its properties were rare
and prodigious.  Perhaps you will suspect that such were the first
inroads of a passion incident to every female heart, and which
frequently gains a footing by means even more slight and more
improbable than these.  I shall not controvert the reasonableness
of the suspicion, but leave you at liberty to draw from my
narrative what conclusions you please.

Night at length returned, and the storm ceased.  The air was once
more clear and calm, and bore an affecting contrast to that uproar
of the elements by which it had been preceded.  I spent the
darksome hours, as I spent the day, contemplative and seated at the
window.  Why was my mind absorbed in thoughts ominous and dreary?
Why did my bosom heave with sighs and my eyes overflow with tears?
Was the tempest that had just passed a signal of the ruin which
impended over me?  My soul fondly dwelt upon the images of my
brother and his children; yet they only increased the mournfulness
of my contemplations.  The smiles of the charming babes were as
bland as formerly.  The same dignity sat on the brow of their
father, and yet I thought of them with anguish.  Something
whispered that the happiness we at present enjoyed was set on
mutable foundations.  Death must happen to all.  Whether our
felicity was to be subverted by it to-morrow, or whether it was
ordained that we should lay down our heads full of years and of
honor, was a question that no human being could solve.  At other
times these ideas seldom intruded.  I either forbore to reflect
upon the destiny that is reserved for all men, or the reflection
was mixed up with images that disrobed it of terror; but now the
uncertainty of life occurred to me without any of its usual and
alleviating accompaniments.  I said to myself, We must die.  Sooner
or later, we must disappear forever from the face of the earth.
Whatever be the links that hold us to life, they must be broken.
This scene of existence is, in all its parts, calamitous.  The
greater number is oppressed with immediate evils, and those the
tide of whose fortunes is full, how small is their portion of
enjoyment, since they know that it will terminate!

For some time I indulged myself, without reluctance, in these
gloomy thoughts; but at length the delection which they produced
became insupportably painful.  I endeavored to dissipate it with
music.  I had all my grandfather's melody as well as poetry by
rote.  I now lighted by chance on a ballad which commemorated the
fate of a German cavalier who fell at the siege of Nice under
Godfrey of Bouillon.  My choice was unfortunate; for the scenes of
violence and carnage which were here wildly but forcibly portrayed
only suggested to my thoughts a new topic in the horrors of war.

I sought refuge, but ineffectually, in sleep.  My mind was thronged
by vivid but confused images, and no effort that I made was
sufficient to drive them away.  In this situation I heard the
clock, which hung in the room, give the signal for twelve.  It was
the same instrument which formerly hung in my father's chamber, and
which, on account of its being his workmanship, was regarded by
everyone of our family with veneration.  It had fallen to me in the
division of his property, and was placed in this asylum.  The sound
awakened a series of reflections respecting his death.  I was not
allowed to pursue them; for scarcely had the vibrations ceased,
when my attention was attracted by a whisper, which, at first,
appeared to proceed from lips that were laid close to my ear.

No wonder that a circumstance like this startled me.  In the first
impulse of my terror, I uttered a slight scream and shrunk to the
opposite side of the bed.  In a moment, however, I recovered from
my trepidation.  I was habitually indifferent to all the causes of
fear by which the majority are afflicted.  I entertained no
apprehension of either ghosts or robbers.  Our security had never
been molested by either, and I made use of no means to prevent or
counterwork their machinations.  My tranquillity on this occasion
was quickly retrieved.  The whisper evidently proceeded from one
who was posted at my bedside.  The first idea that suggested itself
was that it was uttered by the girl who lived with me as a servant.
Perhaps somewhat had alarmed her, or she was sick, and had come to
request my assistance.  By whispering in my ear she intended to
rouse without alarming me.

Full of this persuasion, I called, "Judith, is it you?  What do you
want?  Is there anything the matter with you?"  No answer was
returned.  I repeated my inquiry, but equally in vain.  Cloudy as
was the atmosphere, and curtained as my bed was, nothing was
visible.  I withdrew the curtain, and, leaning my head on my elbow,
I listened with the deepest attention to catch some new sound.
Meanwhile, I ran over in my thoughts every circumstance that could
assist my conjectures.

My habitation was a wooden edifice, consisting of two stories.  In
each story were two rooms, separated by an entry, or middle
passage, with which they communicated by opposite doors.  The
passage on the lower story had doors at the two ends, and a
staircase.  Windows answered to the doors on the upper story.
Annexed to this, on the eastern side, were wings, divided in like
manner into an upper and lower room; one of them comprised a
kitchen, and chamber above it for the servant, and communicated on
both stories with the parlor adjoining it below and the chamber
adjoining it above.  The opposite wing is of smaller dimensions,
the rooms not being above eight feet square.  The lower of these
was used as a depository of household implements; the upper was a
closet in which I deposited my books and papers.  They had but one
inlet, which was from the room adjoining.  There was no window in
the lower one, and in the upper a small aperture which communicated
light and air, but would scarcely admit the body.  The door which
led into this was close to my bed head, and was always locked but
when I myself was within.  The avenues below were accustomed to be
closed and bolted at nights.

The maid was my only companion; and she could not reach my chamber
without previously passing through the opposite chamber and the
middle passage, of which, however, the doors were usually
unfastened.  If she had occasioned this noise, she would have
answered my repeated calls.  No other conclusion, therefore, was
left me, but that I had mistaken the sounds, and that my
imagination had transformed some casual noise into the voice of a
human creature.  Satisfied with this solution, I was preparing to
relinquish my listening attitude, when my ear was again saluted
with a new and yet louder whispering.  It appeared, as before, to
issue from lips that touched my pillow.  A second effort of
attention, however, clearly showed me that the sounds issued from
within the closet, the door of which was not more than eight inches
from my pillow.

This second interruption occasioned a shock less vehement than the
former.  I started, but gave no audible token of alarm.  I was so
much mistress of my feelings as to continue listening to what
should be said.  The whisper was distinct, hoarse, and uttered so
as to show that the speaker was desirous of being heard by some one
near, but, at the same time, studious to avoid being overheard by
any other:--

"Stop! stop, I say, madman as you are! there are better means than
that.  Curse upon your rashness!  There is no need to shoot."

Such were the words uttered, in a tone of eagerness and anger,
within so small a distance of my pillow.  What construction could I
put upon them?  My heart began to palpitate with dread of some
unknown danger.  Presently, another voice, but equally near me, was
heard whispering in answer, "Why not?  I will draw a trigger in
this business; but perdition be my lot if I do more!"  To this the
first voice returned, in a tone which rage had heightened in a
small degree above a whisper, "Coward! stand aside, and see me do
it.  I will grasp her throat; I will do her business in an instant;
she shall not have time so much as to groan."  What wonder that I
was petrified by sounds so dreadful!  Murderers lurked in my
closet.  They were planning the means of my destruction.  One
resolved to shoot, and the other menaced suffocation.  Their means
being chosen, they would forthwith break the door.  Flight
instantly suggested itself as most eligible in circumstances so
perilous.  I deliberated not a moment; but, fear adding wings to my
speed, I leaped out of bed, and, scantily robed as I was, rushed
out of the chamber, downstairs, and into the open air.  I can
hardly recollect the process of turning keys and withdrawing bolts.
My terrors urged me forward with almost a mechanical impulse.  I
stopped not till I reached my brother's door.  I had not gained the
threshold, when, exhausted by the violence of my emotions and by my
speed, I sunk down in a fit.

How long I remained in this situation I know not.  When I
recovered, I found myself stretched on a bed, surrounded by my
sister and her female servants.  I was astonished at the scene
before me, but gradually recovered the recollection of what had
happened.  I answered their importunate inquiries as well as I was
able.  My brother and Pleyel, whom the storm of the preceding day
chanced to detain here, informing themselves of every particular,
proceeded with lights and weapons to my deserted habitation.  They
entered my chamber and my closet, and found everything in its
proper place and customary order.  The door of the closet was
locked, and appeared not to have been opened in my absence.  They
went to Judith's apartment.  They found her asleep and in safety.
Pleyel's caution induced him to forbear alarming the girl; and,
finding her wholly ignorant of what had passed, they directed her
to return to her chamber.  They then fastened the doors and
returned.

My friends were disposed to regard this transaction as a dream.
That persons should be actually immured in this closet, to which,
in the circumstances of the time, access from without or within was
apparently impossible, they could not seriously believe.  That any
human beings had intended murder, unless it were to cover a scheme
of pillage, was incredible; but that no such design had been formed
was evident from the security in which the furniture of the house
and the closet remained.

I revolved every incident and expression that had occurred.  My
senses assured me of the truth of them; and yet their abruptness
and improbability made me, in my turn, somewhat incredulous.  The
adventure had made a deep impression on my fancy; and it was not
till after a week's abode at my brother's that I resolved to resume
the possession of my own dwelling.

There was another circumstance that enhanced the mysteriousness of
this event.  After my recovery, it was obvious to inquire by what
means the attention of the family had been drawn to my situation.
I had fallen before I had reached the threshold or was able to give
any signal.  My brother related that, while this was transacting in
my chamber, he himself was awake, in consequence of some slight
indisposition, and lay, according to his custom, musing on some
favorite topic.  Suddenly the silence, which was remarkably
profound, was broken by a voice of most piercing shrillness, that
seemed to be uttered by one in the hall below his chamber.  "Awake!
arise!" it exclaimed; "hasten to succor one that is dying at your
door!"

This summons was effectual.  There was no one in the house who was
not roused by it.  Pleyel was the first to obey, and my brother
overtook him before he reached the hall.  What was the general
astonishment when your friend was discovered stretched upon the
grass before the door, pale, ghastly, and with every mark of death!

But how was I to regard this midnight conversation?  Hoarse and
manlike voices conferring on the means of death, so near my bed,
and at such an hour!  How had my ancient security vanished!  That
dwelling which had hitherto been an inviolate asylum was now beset
with danger to my life.  That solitude formerly so dear to me could
no longer be endured.  Pleyel, who had consented to reside with us
during the months of spring, lodged in the vacant chamber, in order
to quiet my alarms.  He treated my fears with ridicule, and in a
short time very slight traces of them remained; but, as it was
wholly indifferent to him whether his nights were passed at my
house or at my brother's, this arrangement gave general
satisfaction.


II


I will enumerate the various inquiries and conjectures which these
incidents occasioned.  After all our efforts, we came no nearer to
dispelling the mist in which they were involved; and time, instead
of facilitating a solution, only accumulated our doubts.

In the midst of thoughts excited by these events, I was not
unmindful of my interview with the stranger.  I related the
particulars, and showed the portrait to my friends.  Pleyel
recollected to have met with a figure resembling my description in
the city; but neither his face or garb made the same impression
upon him that it made upon me.  It was a hint to rally me upon my
prepossessions, and to amuse us with a thousand ludicrous anecdotes
which he had collected in his travels.  He made no scruple to
charge me with being in love; and threatened to inform the swain,
when he met him, of his good fortune.

Pleyel's temper made him susceptible of no durable impressions.
His conversation was occasionally visited by gleams of his ancient
vivacity; but, though his impetuosity was sometimes inconvenient,
there was nothing to dread from his malice.  I had no fear that my
character or dignity would suffer in his hands, and was not
heartily displeased when he declared his intention of profiting by
his first meeting with the stranger to introduce him to our
acquaintance.

Some weeks after this I had spent a toilsome day, and, as the sun
declined, found myself disposed to seek relief in a walk.  The
river bank is, at this part of it and for some considerable space
upward, so rugged and steep as not to be easily descended.  In a
recess of this declivity, near the southern verge of my little
demesne, was placed a slight building, with seats and lattices.
From a crevice of the rock to which this edifice was attached there
burst forth a stream of the purest water, which, leaping from ledge
to ledge for the space of sixty feet, produced a freshness in the
air, and a murmur, the most delicious and soothing imaginable.
These, added to the odors of the cedars which embowered it, and of
the honeysuckle which clustered among the lattices, rendered this
my favorite retreat in summer.

On this occasion I repaired hither.  My spirits drooped through the
fatigue of long attention, and I threw myself upon a bench, in a
state, both mentally and personally, of the utmost supineness.  The
lulling sounds of the waterfall, the fragrance, and the dusk,
combined to becalm my spirits, and, in a short time, to sink me
into sleep.  Either the uneasiness of my posture, or some slight
indisposition, molested my repose with dreams of no cheerful hue.
After various incoherences had taken their turn to occupy my fancy,
I at length imagined myself walking, in the evening twilight, to my
brother's habitation.  A pit, methought, had been dug in the path I
had taken, of which I was not aware.  As I carelessly pursued my
walk, I thought I saw my brother standing at some distance before
me, beckoning and calling me to make haste.  He stood on the
opposite edge of the gulf.  I mended my pace, and one step more
would have plunged me into this abyss, had not some one from behind
caught suddenly my arm, and exclaimed, in a voice of eagerness and
terror, "Hold! hold!"

The sound broke my sleep, and I found myself, at the next moment,
standing on my feet, and surrounded by the deepest darkness.
Images so terrific and forcible disabled me for a time from
distinguishing between sleep and wakefulness, and withheld from me
the knowledge of my actual condition.  My first panic was succeeded
by the perturbations of surprise to find myself alone in the open
air and immersed in so deep a gloom.  I slowly recollected the
incidents of the afternoon, and how I came hither.  I could not
estimate the time, but saw the propriety of returning with speed to
the house.  My faculties were still too confused, and the darkness
too intense, to allow me immediately to find my way up the steep.
I sat down, therefore, to recover myself, and to reflect upon my
situation.

This was no sooner done, than a low voice was heard from behind the
lattice, on the side where I sat.  Between the rock and the lattice
was a chasm not wide enough to admit a human body; yet in this
chasm he that spoke appeared to be stationed.  "Attend! attend! but
be not terrified."

I started, and exclaimed, "Good heavens! what is that?  Who are
you?"

"A friend; one come not to injure but to save you: fear nothing."

This voice was immediately recognized to be the same with one of
those which I had heard in the closet; it was the voice of him who
had proposed to shoot rather than to strangle his victim.  My
terror made me at once mute and motionless.  He continued, "I
leagued to murder you.  I repent.  Mark my bidding, and be safe.
Avoid this spot.  The snares of death encompass it.  Elsewhere
danger will be distant; but this spot, shun it as you value your
life.  Mark me further: profit by this warning, but divulge it not.
If a syllable of what has passed escape you, your doom is sealed.
Remember your father, and be faithful."

Here the accents ceased, and left me overwhelmed with dismay.  I
was fraught with the persuasion that during every moment I remained
here my life was endangered; but I could not take a step without
hazard of falling to the bottom of the precipice.  The path leading
to the summit was short, but rugged and intricate.  Even starlight
was excluded by the umbrage, and not the faintest gleam was
afforded to guide my steps.  What should I do?  To depart or remain
was equally and eminently perilous.

In this state of uncertainty, I perceived a ray flit across the
gloom and disappear.  Another succeeded, which was stronger, and
remained for a passing moment.  It glittered on the shrubs that
were scattered at the entrance, and gleam continued to succeed
gleam for a few seconds, till they finally gave place to
unintermitted darkness.

The first visitings of this light called up a train of horrors in
my mind; destruction impended over this spot; the voice which I had
lately heard had warned me to retire, and had menaced me with the
fate of my father if I refused.  I was desirous, but unable to
obey; these gleams were such as preluded the stroke by which he
fell; the hour, perhaps, was the same.  I shuddered as if I had
beheld suspended over me the exterminating sword.

Presently a new and stronger illumination burst through the lattice
on the right hand, and a voice from the edge of the precipice above
called out my name.  It was Pleyel.  Joyfully did I recognize his
accents; but such was the tumult of my thoughts that I had not
power to answer him till he had frequently repeated his summons.  I
hurried at length from the fatal spot, and, directed by the lantern
which he bore, ascended the hill.

Pale and breathless, it was with difficulty I could support myself.
He anxiously inquired into the cause of my affright and the motive
of my unusual absence.  He had returned from my brother's at a late
hour, and was informed by Judith that I had walked out before
sunset and had not yet returned.  This intelligence was somewhat
alarming.  He waited some time; but, my absence continuing, he had
set out in search of me.  He had explored the neighborhood with the
utmost care, but, receiving no tidings of me, he was preparing to
acquaint my brother with this circumstance, when he recollected the
summer-house on the bank, and conceived it possible that some
accident had detained me there.  He again inquired into the cause
of this detention, and of that confusion and dismay which my looks
testified.

I told him that I had strolled hither in the afternoon, that sleep
had overtaken me as I sat, and that I had awakened a few minutes
before his arrival.  I could tell him no more.  In the present
impetuosity of my thoughts, I was almost dubious whether the pit
into which my brother had endeavored to entice me, and the voice
that talked through the lattice, were not parts of the same dream.
I remembered, likewise, the charge of secrecy, and the penalty
denounced if I should rashly divulge what I had heard.  For these
reasons I was silent on that subject, and, shutting myself in my
chamber, delivered myself up to contemplation.

What I have related will, no doubt, appear to you a fable.  You
will believe that calamity has subverted my reason, and that I am
amusing you with the chimeras of my brain instead of facts that
have really happened.  I shall not be surprised or offended if
these be your suspicions.  I know not, indeed, how you can deny
them admission.  For, if to me, the immediate witness, they were
fertile of perplexity and doubt, how must they affect another to
whom they are recommended only by my testimony?  It was only by
subsequent events that I was fully and incontestably assured of the
veracity of my senses.

Meanwhile, what was I to think?  I had been assured that a design
had been formed against my life.  The ruffians had leagued to
murder me.  Whom had I offended?  Who was there, with whom I had
ever maintained intercourse, who was capable of harboring such
atrocious purposes?

My temper was the reverse of cruel and imperious.  My heart was
touched with sympathy for the children of misfortune.  But this
sympathy was not a barren sentiment.  My purse, scanty as it was,
was ever open, and my hands ever active, to relieve distress.  Many
were the wretches whom my personal exertions had extricated from
want and disease, and who rewarded me with their gratitude.  There
was no face which lowered at my approach, and no lips which uttered
imprecations in my hearing.  On the contrary, there was none, over
whose fate I had exerted any influence or to whom I was known by
reputation, who did not greet me with smiles and dismiss me with
proofs of veneration: yet did not my senses assure me that a plot
was laid against my life?

I am not destitute of courage.  I have shown myself deliberative
and calm in the midst of peril.  I have hazarded my own life for
the preservation of another; but now was I confused and panic-
struck.  I have not lived so as to fear death; yet to perish by an
unseen and secret stroke, to be mangled by the knife of an
assassin, was a thought at which I shuddered: what had I done to
deserve to be made the victim of malignant passions?

But soft! was I not assured that my life was safe in all places but
one?  And why was the treason limited to take effect in this spot?
I was everywhere equally defenseless.  My house and chamber were at
all times accessible.  Danger still impended over me; the bloody
purpose was still entertained, but the hand that was to execute it
was powerless in all places but one!

Here I had remained for the last four or five hours, without the
means of resistance or defense; yet I had not been attacked.  A
human being was at hand, who was conscious of my presence, and
warned me hereafter to avoid this retreat.  His voice was not
absolutely new, but had I never heard it but once before?  But why
did he prohibit me from relating this incident to others, and what
species of death will be awarded if I disobey?

Such were the reflections that haunted me during the night, and
which effectually deprived me of sleep.  Next morning, at
breakfast, Pleyel related an event which my disappearance had
hindered him from mentioning the night before.  Early the preceding
morning, his occasions called him to the city: he had stepped into
a coffee-house to while away an hour; here he had met a person
whose appearance instantly bespoke him to be the same whose hasty
visit I have mentioned, and whose extraordinary visage and tones
had so powerfully affected me.  On an attentive survey, however, he
proved, likewise, to be one with whom my friend had had some
intercourse in Europe.  This authorized the liberty of accosting
him, and after some conversation, mindful, as Pleyel said, of the
footing which this stranger had gained in my heart, he had ventured
to invite him to Mettingen.  The invitation had been cheerfully
accepted, and a visit promised on the afternoon of the next day.

This information excited no sober emotions in my breast.  I was, of
course, eager to be informed as to the circumstances of their
ancient intercourse.  When and where had they met?  What knew he of
the life and character of this man?

In answer to my inquiries, he informed me that, three years before,
he was a traveler in Spain.  He had made an excursion from Valencia
to Murviedro, with a view to inspect the remains of Roman
magnificence scattered in the environs of that town.  While
traversing the site of the theater of old Saguntum, he alighted
upon this man, seated on a stone, and deeply engaged in perusing
the work of the deacon Marti.  A short conversation ensued, which
proved the stranger to be English.  They returned to Valencia
together.

His garb, aspect, and deportment were wholly Spanish.  A residence
of three years in the country, indefatigable attention to the
language, and a studious conformity with the customs of the people,
had made him indistinguishable from a native when he chose to
assume that character.  Pleyel found him to be connected, on the
footing of friendship and respect, with many eminent merchants in
that city.  He had embraced the Catholic religion, and adopted a
Spanish name instead of his own, which was CARWIN, and devoted
himself to the literature and religion of his new country.  He
pursued no profession, but subsisted on remittances from England.

While Pleyel remained in Valencia, Carwin betrayed no aversion to
intercourse, and the former found no small attractions in the
society of this new acquaintance, On general topics he was highly
intelligent and communicative.  He had visited every corner of
Spain, and could furnish the most accurate details respecting its
ancient and present state.  On topics of religion and of his own
history, previous to his TRANSFORMATION into a Spaniard, he was
invariably silent.  You could merely gather from his discourse that
he was English, and that he was well acquainted with the
neighboring countries.

His character excited considerable curiosity in the observer.  It
was not easy to reconcile his conversion to the Romish faith with
those proofs of knowledge and capacity that were exhibited by him
on different occasions.  A suspicion was sometimes admitted that
his belief was counterfeited for some political purpose.  The most
careful observation, however, produced no discovery.  His manners
were at all times harmless and inartificial, and his habits those
of a lover of contemplation and seclusion.  He appeared to have
contracted an affection for Pleyel, who was not slow to return it.

My friend, after a month's residence in this city, returned into
France, and, since that period, had heard nothing concerning Carwin
till his appearance at Mettingen.

On this occasion Carwin had received Pleyel's greeting with a
certain distance and solemnity to which the latter had not been
accustomed.  He had waived noticing the inquiries of Pleyel
respecting his desertion of Spain, in which he had formerly
declared that it was his purpose to spend his life.  He had
assiduously diverted the attention of the latter to indifferent
topics, but was still, on every theme, as eloquent and judicious as
formerly.  Why he had assumed the garb of a rustic Pleyel was
unable to conjecture.  Perhaps it might be poverty; perhaps he was
swayed by motives which it was his interest to conceal, but which
were connected with consequences of the utmost moment.

Such was the sum of my friend's information.  I was not sorry to be
left alone during the greater part of this day.  Every employment
was irksome which did not leave me at liberty to meditate.  I had
now a new subject on which to exercise my thoughts.  Before evening
I should be ushered into his presence, and listen to those tones
whose magical and thrilling power I had already experienced.  But
with what new images would he then be accompanied?

Carwin was an adherent to the Romish faith, yet was an Englishman
by birth, and, perhaps, a Protestant by education.  He had adopted
Spain for his country, and had intimated a design to spend his days
there, yet now was an inhabitant of this district, and disguised by
the habiliments of a clown!  What could have obliterated the
impressions of his youth and made him abjure his religion and his
country?  What subsequent events had introduced so total a change
in his plans?  In withdrawing from Spain, had he reverted to the
religion of his ancestors? or was it true that his former
conversion was deceitful, and that his conduct had been swayed by
motives which it was prudent to conceal?

Hours were consumed in revolving these ideas.  My meditations were
intense; and, when the series was broken, I began to reflect with
astonishment on my situation.  From the death of my parents till
the commencement of this year my life had been serene and blissful
beyond the ordinary portion of humanity; but now my bosom was
corroded by anxiety.  I was visited by dread of unknown dangers,
and the future was a scene over which clouds rolled and thunders
muttered.  I compared the cause with the effect, and they seemed
disproportioned to each other.  All unaware, and in a manner which
I had no power to explain, I was pushed from my immovable and lofty
station and cast upon a sea of troubles.

I determined to be my brother's visitant on this evening; yet my
resolves were not unattended with wavering and reluctance.
Pleyel's insinuations that I was in love affected in no degree my
belief; yet the consciousness that this was the opinion of one who
would probably be present at our introduction to each other would
excite all that confusion which the passion itself is apt to
produce.  This would confirm him in his error and call forth new
railleries.  His mirth, when exerted upon this topic, was the
source of the bitterest vexation.  Had he been aware of its
influence upon my happiness, his temper would not have allowed him
to persist; but this influence it was my chief endeavor to conceal.
That the belief of my having bestowed my heart upon another
produced in my friend none but ludicrous sensations was the true
cause of my distress; but if this had been discovered by him my
distress would have been unspeakably aggravated.


III


As soon as evening arrived, I performed my visit.  Carwin made one
of the company into which I was ushered.  Appearances were the same
as when I before beheld him.  His garb was equally negligent and
rustic.  I gazed upon his countenance with new curiosity.  My
situation was such as to enable me to bestow upon it a deliberate
examination.  Viewed at more leisure, it lost none of its wonderful
properties.  I could not deny my homage to the intelligence
expressed in it, but was wholly uncertain whether he were an object
to be dreaded or adored, and whether his powers had been exerted to
evil or to good.

He was sparing in discourse; but whatever he said was pregnant with
meaning, and uttered with rectitude of articulation and force of
emphasis of which I had entertained no conception previously to my
knowledge of him.  Notwithstanding the uncouthness of his garb, his
manners were not unpolished.  All topics were handled by him with
skill, and without pedantry or affectation.  He uttered no
sentiment calculated to produce a disadvantageous impression; on
the contrary, his observations denoted a mind alive to every
generous and heroic feeling.  They were introduced without parade,
and accompanied with that degree of earnestness which indicates
sincerity.

He parted from us not till late, refusing an invitation to spend
the night here, but readily consented to repeat his visit.  His
visits were frequently repeated.  Each day introduced us to a more
intimate acquaintance with his sentiments, but left us wholly in
the dark concerning that about which we were most inquisitive.  He
studiously avoided all mention of his past or present situation.
Even the place of his abode in the city he concealed from us.

Our sphere in this respect being somewhat limited, and the
intellectual endowments of this man being indisputably great, his
deportment was more diligently marked and copiously commented on by
us than you, perhaps, will think the circumstances warranted.  Not
a gesture, or glance, or accent, that was not, in our private
assemblies, discussed, and inferences deduced from it.  It may well
be thought that he modeled his behavior by an uncommon standard,
when, with all our opportunities and accuracy of observation, we
were able for a long time to gather no satisfactory information.
He afforded us no ground on which to build even a plausible
conjecture.

There is a degree of familiarity which takes place between constant
associates, that justifies the negligence of many rules of which,
in an earlier period of their intercourse, politeness requires the
exact observance.  Inquiries into our condition are allowable when
they are prompted by a disinterested concern for our welfare; and
this solicitude is not only pardonable, but may justly be demanded
from those who choose us for their companions.  This state of
things was more slow to arrive at on this occasion than on most
others, on account of the gravity and loftiness of this man's
behavior.

Pleyel, however, began at length to employ regular means for this
end.  He occasionally alluded to the circumstances in which they
had formerly met, and remarked the incongruousness between the
religion and habits of a Spaniard with those of a native of
Britain.  He expressed his astonishment at meeting our guest in
this corner of the globe, especially as, when they parted in Spain,
he was taught to believe that Carwin should never leave that
country.  He insinuated that a change so great must have been
prompted by motives of a singular and momentous kind.

No answer, or an answer wide of the purpose, was generally made to
these insinuations.  Britons and Spaniards, he said, are votaries
of the same Deity, and square their faith by the same precepts;
their ideas are drawn from the same fountains of literature, and
they speak dialects of the same tongue; their government and laws
have more resemblances than differences; they were formerly
provinces of the same civil, and, till lately, of the same
religious, empire.

As to the motives which induce men to change the place of their
abode, these must unavoidably be fleeting and mutable.  If not
bound to one spot by conjugal or parental ties, or by the nature of
that employment to which we are indebted for subsistence, the
inducements to change are far more numerous and powerful than
opposite inducements.

He spoke as if desirous of showing that he was not aware of the
tendency of Pleyel's remarks; yet certain tokens were apparent that
proved him by no means wanting in penetration.  These tokens were
to be read in his countenance, and not in his words.  When anything
was said indicating curiosity in us, the gloom of his countenance
was deepened, his eyes sunk to the ground, and his wonted air was
not resumed without visible struggle.  Hence, it was obvious to
infer that some incidents of his life were reflected on by him with
regret; and that, since these incidents were carefully concealed,
and even that regret which flowed from them laboriously stifled,
they had not been merely disastrous.  The secrecy that was observed
appeared not designed to provoke or baffle the inquisitive, but was
prompted by the shame or by the prudence of guilt.

These ideas, which were adopted by Pleyel and my brother as well as
myself, hindered us from employing more direct means for
accomplishing our wishes.  Questions might have been put in such
terms that no room should be left for the pretense of misapprehension;
and, if modesty merely had been the obstacle, such questions would
not have been wanting; but we considered that, if the disclosure
were productive of pain or disgrace, it was inhuman to extort it.

Amidst the various topics that were discussed in his presence,
allusions were, of course, made to the inexplicable events that had
lately happened.  At those times the words and looks of this man
were objects of my particular attention.  The subject was
extraordinary; and anyone whose experience or reflections could
throw any light upon it was entitled to my gratitude.  As this man
was enlightened by reading and travel, I listened with eagerness to
the remarks which he should make.

At first I entertained a kind of apprehension that the tale would
be heard by him with incredulity and secret ridicule.  I had
formerly heard stories that resembled this in some of their
mysterious circumstances; but they were commonly heard by me with
contempt.  I was doubtful whether the same impression would not now
be made on the mind of our guest; but I was mistaken in my fears.

He heard them with seriousness, and without any marks either of
surprise or incredulity.  He pursued with visible pleasure that
kind of disquisition which was naturally suggested by them.  His
fancy was eminently vigorous and prolific; and, if he did not
persuade us that human beings are sometimes admitted to a sensible
intercourse with the Author of nature, he at least won over our
inclination to the cause.  He merely deduced, from his own
reasonings, that such intercourse was probable, but confessed that,
though he was acquainted with many instances somewhat similar to
those which had been related by us, none of them were perfectly
exempted from the suspicion of human agency.

On being requested to relate these instances, he amused us with
many curious details.  His narratives were constructed with so much
skill, and rehearsed with so much energy, that all the effects of a
dramatic exhibition were frequently produced by them.  Those that
were most coherent and most minute, and, of consequence, least
entitled to credit, were yet rendered probable by the exquisite art
of this rhetorician.  For every difficulty that was suggested a
ready and plausible solution was furnished.  Mysterious voices had
always a share in producing the catastrophe; but they were always
to be explained on some known principles, either as reflected into
a focus or communicated through a tube.  I could not but remark
that his narratives, however complex or marvelous, contained no
instance sufficiently parallel to those that had befallen
ourselves, and in which the solution was applicable to our own
case.

My brother was a much more sanguine reasoner than our guest.  Even
in some of the facts which were related by Carwin, he maintained
the probability of celestial interference, when the latter was
disposed to deny it, and had found, as he imagined, footsteps of a
human agent.  Pleyel was by no means equally credulous.  He
scrupled not to deny faith to any testimony but that of his senses,
and allowed the facts which had lately been supported by this
testimony not to mold his belief, but merely to give birth to
doubts.

It was soon observed that Carwin adopted, in some degree, a similar
distinction.  A tale of this kind, related by others, he would
believe, provided it was explicable upon known principles; but that
such notices were actually communicated by beings of a higher order
he would believe only when his own ears were assailed in a manner
which could not be otherwise accounted for.  Civility forbade him
to contradict my brother or myself, but his understanding refused
to acquiesce in our testimony.  Besides, he was disposed to
question whether the voices were not really uttered by human
organs.  On this supposition he was desired to explain how the
effect was produced.

He answered that the cry for help, heard in the hall on the night
of my adventure, was to be ascribed to a human creature, who
actually stood in the hall when he uttered it.  It was of no
moment, he said, that we could not explain by what motives he that
made the signal was led hither.  How imperfectly acquainted were we
with the condition and designs of the beings that surrounded us!
The city was near at hand, and thousands might there exist whose
powers and purposes might easily explain whatever was mysterious in
this transaction.  As to the closet dialogue, he was obliged to
adopt one of two suppositions, and affirm either that it was
fashioned in my own fancy, or that it actually took place between
two persons in the closet.

Such was Carwin's mode of explaining these appearances.  It is
such, perhaps, as would commend itself as most plausible to the
most sagacious minds; but it was insufficient to impart conviction
to us.  As to the treason that was meditated against me, it was
doubtless just to conclude that it was either real or imaginary;
but that it was real was attested by the mysterious warning in the
summer-house, the secret of which I had hitherto locked up in my
own breast.

A month passed away in this kind of intercourse.  As to Carwin, our
ignorance was in no degree enlightened respecting his genuine
character and views.  Appearances were uniform.  No man possessed a
larger store of knowledge, or a greater degree of skill in the
communication of it to others; hence he was regarded as an
inestimable addition to our society.  Considering the distance of
my brother's house from the city, he was frequently prevailed upon
to pass the night where he spent the evening.  Two days seldom
elapsed without a visit from him; hence he was regarded as a kind
of inmate of the house.  He entered and departed without ceremony.
When he arrived he received an unaffected welcome, and when he
chose to retire no importunities were used to induce him to remain.

Carwin never parted with his gravity.  The inscrutableness of his
character, and the uncertainty whether his fellowship tended to
good or to evil, were seldom absent from our minds.  This
circumstance powerfully contributed to sadden us.

My heart was the seat of growing disquietudes.  This change in one
who had formerly been characterized by all the exuberances of soul
could not fail to be remarked by my friends.  My brother was always
a pattern of solemnity.  My sister was clay, molded by the
circumstances in which she happened to be placed.  There was but
one whose deportment remains to be described as being of importance
to our happiness.  Had Pleyel likewise dismissed his vivacity?

He was as whimsical and jestful as ever, but he was not happy.  The
truth in this respect was of too much importance to me not to make
me a vigilant observer.  His mirth was easily perceived to be the
fruit of exertion.  When his thoughts wandered from the company, an
air of dissatisfaction and impatience stole across his features.
Even the punctuality and frequency of his visits were somewhat
lessened.  It may be supposed that my own uneasiness was heightened
by these tokens; but, strange as it may seem, I found, in the
present state of my mind, no relief but in the persuasion that
Pleyel was unhappy.

That unhappiness, indeed, depended for its value in my eyes on the
cause that produced it.  There was but one source whence it could
flow.  A nameless ecstasy thrilled through my frame when any new
proof occurred that the ambiguousness of my behavior was the cause.


IV


My brother had received a new book from Germany.  It was a tragedy,
and the first attempt of a Saxon poet of whom my brother had been
taught to entertain the highest expectations.  The exploits of
Zisca, the Bohemian hero, were woven into a dramatic series and
connection.  According to German custom, it was minute and diffuse,
and dictated by an adventurous and lawless fancy.  It was a chain
of audacious acts and unheard-of disasters.  The moated fortress
and the thicket, the ambush and the battle, and the conflict of
headlong passions, were portrayed in wild numbers and with terrific
energy.  An afternoon was set apart to rehearse this performance.
The language was familiar to all of us but Carwin, whose company,
therefore, was tacitly dispensed with.

The morning previous to this intended rehearsal I spent at home.
My mind was occupied with reflections relative to my own situation.
The sentiment which lived with chief energy in my heart was
connected with the image of Pleyel.  In the midst of my anguish, I
had not been destitute of consolation.  His late deportment had
given spring to my hopes.  Was not the hour at hand which should
render me the happiest of human creatures?  He suspected that I
looked with favorable eyes upon Carwin.  Hence arose disquietudes
which he struggled in vain to conceal.  He loved me, but was
hopeless that his love would be compensated.  Is it not time, said
I, to rectify this error?  But by what means is this to be
effected?  It can only be done by a change of deportment in me; but
how must I demean myself for this purpose?

I must not speak.  Neither eyes nor lips must impart the
information.  He must not be assured that my heart is his, previous
to the tender of his own; but he must be convinced that it has not
been given to another; he must be supplied with space whereon to
build a doubt as to the true state of my affections; he must be
prompted to avow himself.  The line of delicate propriety,--how
hard it is not to fall short, and not to overleap it!

This afternoon we shall meet. . . .  We shall not separate till
late.  It will be his province to accompany me home.  The airy
expanse is without a speck.  This breeze is usually steadfast, and
its promise of a bland and cloudless evening may be trusted.  The
moon will rise at eleven, and at that hour we shall wind along this
bank.  Possibly that hour may decide my fate.  If suitable
encouragement be given, Pleyel will reveal his soul to me; and I,
ere I reach this threshold, will be made the happiest of beings.

And is this good to be mine?  Add wings to thy speed, sweet
evening; and thou, moon, I charge thee, shroud thy beams at the
moment when my Pleyel whispers love.  I would not for the world
that the burning blushes and the mounting raptures of that moment
should be visible.

But what encouragement is wanting?  I must be regardful of
insurmountable limits.  Yet, when minds are imbued with a genuine
sympathy, are not words and looks superfluous?  Are not motion and
touch sufficient to impart feelings such as mine?  Has he not eyed
me at moments when the pressure of his hand has thrown me into
tumults, and was it impossible that he mistook the impetuosities of
love for the eloquence of indignation?

But the hastening evening will decide.  Would it were come!  And
yet I shudder at its near approach.  An interview that must thus
terminate is surely to be wished for by me; and yet it is not
without its terrors.  Would to heaven it were come and gone!

I feel no reluctance, my friends, to be thus explicit.  Time was,
when these emotions would be hidden with immeasurable solicitude
from every human eye.  Alas! these airy and fleeting impulses of
shame are gone.  My scruples were preposterous and criminal.  They
are bred in all hearts by a perverse and vicious education, and
they would still have maintained their place in my heart, had not
my portion been set in misery.  My errors have taught me thus much
wisdom:--that those sentiments which we ought not to disclose it is
criminal to harbor.

It was proposed to begin the rehearsal at four o'clock.  I counted
the minutes as they passed; their flight was at once too rapid and
too slow: my sensations were of an excruciating kind; I could taste
no food, nor apply to any task, nor enjoy a moment's repose; when
the hour arrived I hastened to my brother's.

Pleyel was not there.  He had not yet come.  On ordinary occasions
he was eminent for punctuality.  He had testified great eagerness
to share in the pleasures of this rehearsal.  He was to divide the
task with my brother, and in tasks like these he always engaged
with peculiar zeal.  His elocution was less sweet than sonorous,
and, therefore, better adapted than the mellifluences of his friend
to the outrageous vehemence of this drama.

What could detain him?  Perhaps he lingered through forgetfulness.
Yet this was incredible.  Never had his memory been known to fail
upon even more trivial occasions.  Not less impossible was it that
the scheme had lost its attractions, and that he stayed because his
coming would afford him no gratification.  But why should we expect
him to adhere to the minute?

A half-hour elapsed, but Pleyel was still at a distance.  Perhaps
he had misunderstood the hour which had been proposed.  Perhaps he
had conceived that to-morrow, and not to-day, had been selected for
this purpose; but no.  A review of preceding circumstances
demonstrated that such misapprehension was impossible; for he had
himself proposed this day, and this hour.  This day his attention
would not otherwise be occupied; but to-morrow an indispensable
engagement was foreseen, by which all his time would be engrossed;
his detention, therefore, must be owing to some unforeseen and
extraordinary event.  Our conjectures were vague, tumultuous, and
sometimes fearful.  His sickness and his death might possibly have
detained him.

Tortured with suspense, we sat gazing at each other, and at the
path which led from the road.  Every horseman that passed was, for
a moment, imagined to be him.  Hour succeeded hour, and the sun,
gradually declining, at length disappeared.  Every signal of his
coming proved fallacious, and our hopes were at length dismissed.
His absence affected my friends in no insupportable degree.  They
should be obliged, they said, to defer this undertaking till the
morrow; and perhaps their impatient curiosity would compel them to
dispense entirely with his presence.  No doubt some harmless
occurrence had diverted him from his purpose; and they trusted that
they should receive a satisfactory account of him in the morning.

It may be supposed that this disappointment affected me in a very
different manner.  I turned aside my head to conceal my tears.  I
fled into solitude, to give vent to my reproaches without
interruption or restraint.  My heart was ready to burst with
indignation and grief.  Pleyel was not the only object of my keen
but unjust upbraiding.  Deeply did I execrate my own folly.  Thus
fallen into ruins was the gay fabric which I had reared!  Thus had
my golden vision melted into air!

How fondly did I dream that Pleyel was a lover!  If he were, would
he have suffered any obstacle to hinder his coming?  "Blind and
infatuated man!" I exclaimed.  "Thou sportest with happiness.  The
good that is offered thee thou hast the insolence and folly to
refuse.  Well, I will henceforth intrust my felicity to no one's
keeping but my own."

The first agonies of this disappointment would not allow me to be
reasonable or just.  Every ground on which I had built the
persuasion that Pleyel was not unimpressed in my favor appeared to
vanish.  It seemed as if I had been misled into this opinion by the
most palpable illusions.

I made some trifling excuse, and returned, much earlier than I
expected, to my own house.  I retired early to my chamber, without
designing to sleep.  I placed myself at a window, and gave the
reins to reflection.

The hateful and degrading impulses which had lately controlled me
were, in some degree, removed.  New dejection succeeded, but was
now produced by contemplating my late behavior.  Surely that
passion is worthy to be abhorred which obscures our understanding
and urges us to the commission of injustice.  What right had I to
expect his attendance?  Had I not demeaned myself like one
indifferent to his happiness, and as having bestowed my regards
upon another?  His absence might be prompted by the love which I
considered his absence as a proof that he wanted.  He came not
because the sight of me, the spectacle of my coldness or aversion,
contributed to his despair.  Why should I prolong, by hypocrisy or
silence, his misery as well as my own?  Why not deal with him
explicitly, and assure him of the truth?

You will hardly believe that, in obedience to this suggestion, I
rose for the purpose of ordering a light, that I might instantly
make this confession in a letter.  A second thought showed me the
rashness of this scheme, and I wondered by what infirmity of mind I
could be betrayed into a momentary approbation of it.  I saw with
the utmost clearness that a confession like that would be the most
remediless and unpardonable outrage upon the dignity of my sex, and
utterly unworthy of that passion which controlled me.

I resumed my seat and my musing.  To account for the absence of
Pleyel became once more the scope of my conjectures.  How many
incidents might occur to raise an insuperable impediment in his
way!  When I was a child, a scheme of pleasure, in which he and his
sister were parties, had been in like manner frustrated by his
absence; but his absence, in that instance, had been occasioned by
his falling from a boat into the river, in consequence of which he
had run the most imminent hazard of being drowned.  Here was a
second disappointment endured by the same persons, and produced by
his failure.  Might it not originate in the same cause?  Had he not
designed to cross the river that morning to make some necessary
purchases in New Jersey?  He had preconcerted to return to his own
house to dinner but perhaps some disaster had befallen him.
Experience had taught me the insecurity of a canoe, and that was
the only kind of boat which Pleyel used; I was, likewise, actuated
by an hereditary dread of water.  These circumstances combined to
bestow considerable plausibility on this conjecture; but the
consternation with which I began to be seized was allayed by
reflecting that, if this disaster had happened, my brother would
have received the speediest information of it.  The consolation
which this idea imparted was ravished from me by a new thought.
This disaster might have happened, and his family not be apprised
of it.  The first intelligence of his fate may be communicated by
the livid corpse which the tide may cast, many days hence, upon the
shore.

Thus was I distressed by opposite conjectures; thus was I tormented
by phantoms of my own creation.  It was not always thus.  I can
ascertain the date when my mind became the victim of this
imbecility; perhaps it was coeval with the inroad of a fatal
passion,--a passion that will never rank me in the number of its
eulogists; it was alone sufficient to the extermination of my
peace; it was itself a plenteous source of calamity, and needed not
the concurrence of other evils to take away the attractions of
existence and dig for me an untimely grave.

The state of my mind naturally introduced a train of reflections
upon the dangers and cares which inevitably beset a human being.
By no violent transition was I led to ponder on the turbulent life
and mysterious end of my father.  I cherished with the utmost
veneration the memory of this man, and every relic connected with
his fate was preserved with the most scrupulous care.  Among these
was to be numbered a manuscript containing memoirs of his own life.
The narrative was by no means recommended by its eloquence; but
neither did all its value flow from my relationship to the author.
Its style had an unaffected and picturesque simplicity.  The great
variety and circumstantial display of the incidents, together with
their intrinsic importance as descriptive of human manners and
passions, made it the most useful book in my collection.  It was
late: but, being sensible of no inclination to sleep, I resolved to
betake myself to the perusal of it.

To do this, it was requisite to procure a light.  The girl had long
since retired to her chamber: it was therefore proper to wait upon
myself.  A lamp, and the means of lighting it, were only to be
found in the kitchen.  Thither I resolved forthwith to repair; but
the light was of use merely to enable me to read the book.  I knew
the shelf and the spot where it stood.  Whether I took down the
book, or prepared the lamp in the first place, appeared to be a
matter of no moment.  The latter was preferred, and, leaving my
seat, I approached the closet in which, as I mentioned formerly, my
books and papers were deposited.

Suddenly the remembrance of what had lately passed in this closet
occurred.  Whether midnight was approaching, or had passed, I knew
not.  I was, as then, alone and defenseless.  The wind was in that
direction in which, aided by the deathlike repose of nature, it
brought to me the murmur of the waterfall.  This was mingled with
that solemn and enchanting sound which a breeze produces among the
leaves of pines.  The words of that mysterious dialogue, their
fearful import, and the wild excess to which I was transported by
my terrors, filled my imagination anew.  My steps faltered, and I
stood a moment to recover myself.

I prevailed on myself at length to move toward the closet.  I
touched the lock, but my fingers were powerless; I was visited
afresh by unconquerable apprehensions.  A sort of belief darted
into my mind that some being was concealed within whose purposes
were evil.  I began to contend with those fears, when it occurred
to me that I might, without impropriety, go for a lamp previously
to opening the closet.  I receded a few steps; but before I reached
the chamber door my thoughts took a new direction.  Motion seemed
to produce a mechanical influence upon me.  I was ashamed of my
weakness.  Besides, what aid could be afforded me by a lamp?

My fears had pictured to themselves no precise object.  It would be
difficult to depict in words the ingredients and hues of that
phantom which haunted me.  A hand invisible and of preternatural
strength, lifted by human passions, and selecting my life for its
aim, were parts of this terrific image.  All places were alike
accessible to this foe; or, if his empire were restricted by local
bounds, those bounds were utterly inscrutable by me.  But had I not
been told, by some one in league with this enemy, that every place
but the recess in the bank was exempt from danger?

I returned to the closet, and once more put my hand upon the lock.
Oh, may my ears lose their sensibility ere they be again assailed
by a shriek so terrible!  Not merely my understanding was subdued
by the sound; it acted on my nerves like an edge of steel.  It
appeared to cut asunder the fibers of my brain and rack every joint
with agony.

The cry, loud and piercing as it was, was nevertheless human.  No
articulation was ever more distinct.  The breath which accompanied
it did not fan my hair, yet did every circumstance combine to
persuade me that the lips which uttered it touched my very
shoulder.

"Hold! hold!" were the words of this tremendous prohibition, in
whose tone the whole soul seemed to be wrapped up, and every energy
converted into eagerness and terror.

Shuddering, I dashed myself against the wall, and, by the same
involuntary impulse, turned my face backward to examine the
mysterious monitor.  The moonlight streamed into each window, and
every corner of the room was conspicuous, and yet I beheld nothing!

The interval was too brief to be artificially measured, between the
utterance of these words and my scrutiny directed to the quarter
whence they came.  Yet, if a human being had been there, could he
fail to have been visible?  Which of my senses was the prey of a
fatal illusion?  The shock which the sound produced was still felt
in every part of my frame.  The sound, therefore, could not but be
a genuine commotion.  But that I had heard it was not more true
than that the being who uttered it was stationed at my right ear;
yet my attendant was invisible.

I cannot describe the state of my thoughts at that moment.
Surprise had mastered my faculties.  My frame shook, and the vital
current was congealed.  I was conscious only of the vehemence of my
sensations.  This condition could not be lasting.  Like a tide,
which suddenly mounts to an overwhelming height and then gradually
subsides, my confusion slowly gave place to order, and my tumults
to a calm.  I was able to deliberate and move.  I resumed my feet,
and advanced into the midst of the room.  Upward, and behind, and
on each side, I threw penetrating glances.  I was not satisfied
with one examination.  He that hitherto refused to be seen might
change his purpose, and on the next survey be clearly
distinguishable.

Solitude imposes least restraint upon the fancy.  Dark is less
fertile of images than the feeble luster of the moon.  I was alone,
and the walls were checkered by shadowy forms.  As the moon passed
behind a cloud and emerged, these shadows seemed to be endowed with
life, and to move.  The apartment was open to the breeze, and the
curtain was occasionally blown from its ordinary position.  This
motion was not unaccompanied with sound.  I failed not to snatch a
look and to listen when this motion and this sound occurred.  My
belief that my monitor was posted near was strong, and instantly
converted these appearances to tokens of his presence; and yet I
could discern nothing.

When my thoughts were at length permitted to revert to the past,
the first idea that occurred was the resemblance between the words
of the voice which I had just heard and those which had terminated
my dream in the summer-house.  There are means by which we are able
to distinguish a substance from a shadow, a reality from the
phantom of a dream.  The pit, my brother beckoning me forward, the
seizure of my arm, and the voice behind, were surely imaginary.
That these incidents were fashioned in my sleep is supported by the
same indubitable evidence that compels me to believe myself awake
at present; yet the words and the voice were the same.  Then, by
some inexplicable contrivance, I was aware of the danger, while my
actions and sensations were those of one wholly unacquainted with
it.  Now, was it not equally true that my actions and persuasions
were at war?  Had not the belief that evil lurked in the closet
gained admittance, and had not my actions betokened an
unwarrantable security?  To obviate the effects of my infatuation,
the same means had been used.

In my dream, he that tempted me to my destruction was my brother.
Death was ambushed in my path.  From what evil was I now rescued?
What minister or implement of ill was shut up in this recess?  Who
was it whose suffocating grasp I was to feel should I dare to enter
it?  What monstrous conception is this?  My brother?

No; protection, and not injury, is his province.  Strange and
terrible chimera!  Yet it would not be suddenly dismissed.  It was
surely no vulgar agency that gave this form to my fears.  He to
whom all parts of time are equally present, whom no contingency
approaches, was the author of that spell which now seized upon me.
Life was dear to me.  No consideration was present that enjoined me
to relinquish it.  Sacred duty combined with every spontaneous
sentiment to endear to me my being.  Should I not shudder when my
being was endangered?  But what emotion should possess me when the
arm lifted against me was Wieland's?

Ideas exist in our minds that can be accounted for by no
established laws.  Why did I dream that my brother was my foe?  Why
but because an omen of my fate was ordained to be communicated?
Yet what salutary end did it serve?  Did it arm me with caution to
elude or fortitude to bear the evils to which I was reserved?  My
present thoughts were, no doubt, indebted for their hue to the
similitude existing between these incidents and those of my dream.
Surely it was frenzy that dictated my deed.  That a ruffian was
hidden in the closet was an idea the genuine tendency of which was
to urge me to flight.  Such had been the effect formerly produced.
Had my mind been simply occupied with this thought at present, no
doubt the same impulse would have been experienced; but now it was
my brother whom I was irresistibly persuaded to regard as the
contriver of that ill of which I had been forewarned.  This
persuasion did not extenuate my fears or my danger.  Why then did I
again approach the closet and withdraw the bolt?  My resolution was
instantly conceived, and executed without faltering.

The door was formed of light materials.  The lock, of simple
structure, easily forewent its hold.  It opened into the room, and
commonly moved upon its hinges, after being unfastened, without any
effort of mine.  This effort, however, was bestowed upon the
present occasion.  It was my purpose to open it with quickness; but
the exertion which I made was ineffectual.  It refused to open.

At another time, this circumstance would not have looked with a
face of mystery.  I should have supposed some casual obstruction
and repeated my efforts to surmount it.  But now my mind was
accessible to no conjecture but one.  The door was hindered from
opening by human force.  Surely, here was a new cause for affright.
This was confirmation proper to decide my conduct.  Now was all
ground of hesitation taken away.  What could be supposed but that I
deserted the chamber and the house? that I at least endeavored no
longer to withdraw the door?

Have I not said that my actions were dictated by frenzy?  My reason
had forborne, for a time, to suggest or to sway my resolves.  I
reiterated my endeavors.  I exerted all my force to overcome the
obstacle, but in vain.  The strength that was exerted to keep it
shut was superior to mine.

A casual observer might, perhaps, applaud the audaciousness of this
conduct.  Whence, but from a habitual defiance of danger, could my
perseverance arise?  I have already assigned, as distinctly as I am
able, the cause of it.  The frantic conception that my brother was
within, that the resistance made to my design was exerted by him,
had rooted itself in my mind.  You will comprehend the height of
this infatuation, when I tell you that, finding all my exertions
vain, I betook myself to exclamations.  Surely I was utterly bereft
of understanding.

Now I had arrived at the crisis of my fate.  "Oh, hinder not the
door to open," I exclaimed, in a tone that had less of fear than of
grief in it.  "I know you well.  Come forth, but harm me not.  I
beseech you, come forth."

I had taken my hand from the lock and removed to a small distance
from the door.  I had scarcely uttered these words, when the door
swung upon its hinges and displayed to my view the interior of the
closet.  Whoever was within was shrouded in darkness.  A few
seconds passed without interruption of the silence.  I knew not
what to expect or to fear.  My eyes would not stray from the
recess.  Presently, a deep sigh was heard.  The quarter from which
it came heightened the eagerness of my gaze.  Some one approached
from the farther end.  I quickly perceived the outlines of a human
figure.  Its steps were irresolute and slow.  I recoiled as it
advanced.

By coming at length within the verge of the room, his form was
clearly distinguishable.  I had prefigured to myself a very
different personage.  The face that presented itself was the last
that I should desire to meet at an hour and in a place like this.
My wonder was stifled by my fears.  Assassins had lurked in this
recess.  Some divine voice warned me of danger that at this moment
awaited me.  I had spurned the intimation, and challenged my
adversary.

I recalled the mysterious countenance and dubious character of
Carwin.  What motive but atrocious ones could guide his steps
hither?  I was alone.  My habit suited the hour, and the place, and
the warmth of the season.  All succor was remote.  He had placed
himself between me and the door.  My frame shook with the vehemence
of my apprehensions.

Yet I was not wholly lost to myself; I vigilantly marked his
demeanor.  His looks were grave, but not without perturbation.
What species of inquietude it betrayed the light was not strong
enough to enable me to discover.  He stood still; but his eyes
wandered from one object to another.  When these powerful organs
were fixed upon me, I shrunk into myself.  At length he broke
silence.  Earnestness, and not embarrassment, was in his tone.  He
advanced close to me while he spoke:--

"What voice was that which lately addressed you?"

He paused for an answer; but, observing my trepidation, he resumed,
with undiminished solemnity, "Be not terrified.  Whoever he was, he
has done you an important service.  I need not ask you if it were
the voice of a companion.  That sound was beyond the compass of
human organs.  The knowledge that enabled him to tell you who was
in the closet was obtained by incomprehensible means.

"You knew that Carwin was there.  Were you not apprised of his
intents?  The same power could impart the one as well as the other.
Yet, knowing these, you persisted.  Audacious girl!  But perhaps
you confided in his guardianship.  Your confidence was just.  With
succor like this at hand you may safely defy me.

"He is my eternal foe; the baffler of my best-concerted schemes.
Twice have you been saved by his accursed interposition.  But for
him I should long ere now have borne away the spoils of your
honor."

He looked at me with greater steadfastness than before.  I became
every moment more anxious for my safety.  It was with difficulty I
stammered out an entreaty that he would instantly depart, or suffer
me to do so.  He paid no regard to my request, but proceeded in a
more impassioned manner:--

"What is it you fear?  Have I not told you you are safe?  Has not
one in whom you more reasonably place trust assured you of it?
Even if I execute my purpose, what injury is done?  Your prejudices
will call it by that name, but it merits it not.

"I was impelled by a sentiment that does you honor; a sentiment
that would sanctify my deed; but, whatever it be, you are safe.  Be
this chimera still worshiped; I will do nothing to pollute it."
There he stopped.

The accents and gestures of this man left me drained of all
courage.  Surely, on no other occasion should I have been thus
pusillanimous.  My state I regarded as a hopeless one.  I was
wholly at the mercy of this being.  Whichever way I turned my eyes,
I saw no avenue by which I might escape.  The resources of my
personal strength, my ingenuity, and my eloquence, I estimated at
nothing.  The dignity of virtue and the force of truth I had been
accustomed to celebrate, and had frequently vaunted of the
conquests which I should make with their assistance.

I used to suppose that certain evils could never befall a being in
possession of a sound mind; that true virtue supplies us with
energy which vice can never resist; that it was always in our power
to obstruct, by his own death, the designs of an enemy who aimed at
less than our life.  How was it that a sentiment like despair had
now invaded me, and that I trusted to the protection of chance, or
to the pity of my persecutor?

His words imparted some notion of the injury which he had
meditated.  He talked of obstacles that had risen in his way.  He
had relinquished his design.  These sources supplied me with
slender consolation.  There was no security but in his absence.
When I looked at myself, when I reflected on the hour and the
place, I was overpowered by horror and dejection.

He was silent, museful, and inattentive to my situation, yet made
no motion to depart.  I was silent in my turn.  What could I say?
I was confident that reason in this contest would be impotent.  I
must owe my safety to his own suggestions.  Whatever purpose
brought him hither, he had changed it.  Why then did he remain?
His resolutions might fluctuate, and the pause of a few minutes
restore to him his first resolutions.

Yet was not this the man whom we had treated with unwearied
kindness? whose society was endeared to us by his intellectual
elevation and accomplishments? who had a thousand times expatiated
on the usefulness and beauty of virtue?  Why should such a one be
dreaded?  If I could have forgotten the circumstances in which our
interview had taken place, I might have treated his words as jests.
Presently, he resumed:--

"Fear me not: the space that severs us is small, and all visible
succor is distant.  You believe yourself completely in my power;
that you stand upon the brink of ruin.  Such are your groundless
fears.  I cannot lift a finger to hurt you.  Easier would it be to
stop the moon in her course than to injure you.  The power that
protects you would crumble my sinews and reduce me to a heap of
ashes in a moment, if I were to harbor a thought hostile to your
safety.

"Thus are appearances at length solved.  Little did I expect that
they originated hence.  What a portion is assigned to you!  Scanned
by the eyes of this intelligence, your path will be without pits to
swallow or snares to entangle you.  Environed by the arms of this
protection, all artifices will be frustrated and all malice
repelled."

Here succeeded a new pause.  I was still observant of every gesture
and look.  The tranquil solemnity that had lately possessed his
countenance gave way to a new expression.  All now was trepidation
and anxiety.

"I must be gone," said he, in a faltering accent.  "Why do I linger
here?  I will not ask your forgiveness.  I see that your terrors
are invincible.  Your pardon will be extorted by fear, and not
dictated by compassion.  I must fly from you forever.  He that
could plot against your honor must expect from you and your friends
persecution and death.  I must doom myself to endless exile."

Saying this, he hastily left the room.  I listened while he
descended the stairs, and, unbolting the outer door, went forth.  I
did not follow him with my eyes, as the moonlight would have
enabled me to do.  Relieved by his absence, and exhausted by the
conflict of my fears, I threw myself on a chair, and resigned
myself to those bewildering ideas which incidents like these could
not fail to produce.


V


Order could not readily be introduced into my thoughts.  The voice
still rung in my ears.  Every accent that was uttered by Carwin was
fresh in my remembrance.  His unwelcome approach, the recognition
of his person, his hasty departure, produced a complex impression
on my mind which no words can delineate.  I strove to give a slower
motion to my thoughts, and to regulate a confusion which became
painful; but my efforts were nugatory.  I covered my eyes with my
hand, and sat, I know not how long, without power to arrange or
utter my conceptions.

I had remained for hours, as I believed, in absolute solitude.  No
thought of personal danger had molested my tranquillity.  I had
made no preparation for defense.  What was it that suggested the
design of perusing my father's manuscript?  If, instead of this, I
had retired to bed and to sleep, to what fate might I not have been
reserved.  The ruffian, who must almost have suppressed his
breathings to screen himself from discovery, would have noticed
this signal, and I should have awakened only to perish with
affright, and to abhor myself.  Could I have remained unconscious
of my danger?  Could I have tranquilly slept in the midst of so
deadly a snare?

And who was he that threatened to destroy me?  By what means could
he hide himself in this closet?  Surely he is gifted with
supernatural power.  Such is the enemy of whose attempts I was
forewarned.  Daily I had seen him and conversed with him.  Nothing
could be discerned through the impenetrable veil of his duplicity.
When busied in conjectures as to the author of the evil that was
threatened, my mind did not light for a moment upon his image.  Yet
has he not avowed himself my enemy?  Why should he be here if he
had not meditated evil?

He confesses that this has been his second attempt.  What was the
scene of his former conspiracy?  Was it not he whose whispers
betrayed him?  Am I deceived? or was there not a faint resemblance
between the voice of this man and that which talked of grasping my
throat and extinguishing my life in a moment?  Then he had a
colleague in his crime; now he is alone.  Then death was the scope
of his thoughts; now an injury unspeakably more dreadful.  How
thankful should I be to the power that has interposed to save me!

That power is invisible.  It is subject to the cognizance of one of
my senses.  What are the means that will inform me of what nature
it is?  He has set himself to counter-work the machinations of this
man, who had menaced destruction to all that is dear to me, and
whose coming had surmounted every human impediment.  There was none
to rescue me from his grasp.  My rashness even hastened the
completion of his scheme, and precluded him from the benefits of
deliberation.  I had robbed him of the power to repent and forbear.
Had I been apprised of the danger, I should have regarded my
conduct as the means of rendering my escape from it impossible.
Such, likewise, seem to have been the fears of my invisible
protector.  Else why that startling entreaty to refrain from
opening the closet?  By what inexplicable infatuation was I
compelled to proceed?

"Surely," said I, "there is omnipotence in the cause that changed
the views of a man like Carwin.  The divinity that shielded me from
his attempts will take suitable care of my future safety.  Thus to
yield to my fears is to deserve that they should be real."

Scarcely had I uttered these words, when my attention was startled
by the sound of footsteps.  They denoted some one stepping into the
piazza in front of my house.  My new-born confidence was
extinguished in a moment.  Carwin, I thought, had repented his
departure, and was hastily returning.  The possibility that his
return was prompted by intentions consistent with my safety found
no place in my mind.  Images of violation and murder assailed me
anew, and the terrors which succeeded almost incapacitated me from
taking any measures for my defense.  It was an impulse of which I
was scarcely conscious that made me fasten the lock and draw the
bolts of my chamber door.  Having done this, I threw myself on a
seat; for I trembled to a degree which disabled me from standing,
and my soul was so perfectly absorbed in the act of listening, that
almost the vital motions were stopped.

The door below creaked on its hinges.  It was not again thrust to,
but appeared to remain open.  Footsteps entered, traversed the
entry, and began to mount the stairs.  How I detested the folly of
not pursuing the man when he withdrew, and bolting after him the
outer door!  Might he not conceive this omission to be a proof that
my angel had deserted me, and be thereby fortified in guilt?

Every step on the stairs which brought him nearer to my chamber
added vigor to my desperation.  The evil with which I was menaced
was to be at any rate eluded.  How little did I preconceive the
conduct which, in an exigence like this, I should be prone to
adopt!  You will suppose that deliberation and despair would have
suggested the same course of action, and that I should have
unhesitatingly resorted to the best means of personal defense
within my power.  A penknife lay open upon my table.  I remembered
that it was there, and seized it.  For what purpose you will
scarcely inquire.  It will be immediately supposed that I meant it
for my last refuge, and that, if all other means should fail, I
should plunge it into the heart of my ravisher.

I have lost all faith in the steadfastness of human resolves.  It
was thus that in periods of calm I had determined to act.  No
cowardice had been held by me in greater abhorrence than that which
prompted an injured female to destroy, not her injurer ere the
injury was perpetrated, but herself when it was without remedy.
Yet now this penknife appeared to me of no other use than to baffle
my assailant and prevent the crime by destroying myself.  To
deliberate at such a time was impossible; but, among the tumultuous
suggestions of the moment, I do not recollect that it once occurred
to me to use it as an instrument of direct defense.

The steps had now reached the second floor.  Every footfall
accelerated the completion without augmenting the certainty of
evil.  The consciousness that the door was fast, now that nothing
but that was interposed between me and danger, was a source of some
consolation.  I cast my eye toward the window.  This, likewise, was
a new suggestion.  If the door should give way, it was my sudden
resolution to throw myself from the window.  Its height from the
ground, which was covered beneath by a brick pavement, would insure
my destruction; but I thought not of that.

When opposite to my door the footsteps ceased.  Was he listening
whether my fears were allayed and my caution were asleep?  Did he
hope to take me by surprise?  Yet, if so, why did he allow so many
noisy signals to betray his approach?  Presently the steps were
again heard to approach the door.  A hand was laid upon the lock,
and the latch pulled back.  Did he imagine it possible that I
should fail to secure the door?  A slight effort was made to push
it open, as if, all bolts being withdrawn, a slight effort only was
required.

I no sooner perceived this than I moved swiftly toward the window.
Carwin's frame might be said to be all muscle.  His strength and
activity had appeared, in various instances, to be prodigious.  A
slight exertion of his force would demolish the door.  Would not
that exertion be made?  Too surely it would; but, at the same
moment that this obstacle should yield and he should enter the
apartment, my determination was formed to leap from the window.  My
senses were still bound to this object.  I gazed at the door in
momentary expectation that the assault would be made.  The pause
continued.  The person without was irresolute and motionless.

Suddenly it occurred to me that Carwin might conceive me to have
fled.  That I had not betaken myself to flight was, indeed, the
least probable of all conclusions.  In this persuasion he must have
been confirmed on finding the lower door unfastened and the chamber
door locked.  Was it not wise to foster this persuasion?  Should I
maintain deep silence, this, in addition to other circumstances,
might encourage the belief, and he would once more depart.  Every
new reflection added plausibility to this reasoning.  It was
presently more strongly enforced when I noticed footsteps
withdrawing from the door.  The blood once more flowed back to my
heart, and a dawn of exultation began to rise; but my joy was
short-lived.  Instead of descending the stairs, he passed to the
door of the opposite chamber, opened it, and, having entered, shut
it after him with a violence that shook the house.

How was I to interpret this circumstance?  For what end could he
have entered this chamber?  Did the violence with which he closed
the door testify the depth of his vexation?  This room was usually
occupied by Pleyel.  Was Carwin aware of his absence on this night?
Could he be suspected of a design so sordid as pillage?  If this
were his view, there were no means in my power to frustrate it.  It
behooved me to seize the first opportunity to escape; but, if my
escape were supposed by my enemy to have been already effected, no
asylum was more secure than the present.  How could my passage from
the house be accomplished without noises that might incite him to
pursue me?

Utterly at a loss to account for his going into Pleyel's chamber, I
waited in instant expectation of hearing him come forth.  All,
however, was profoundly still.  I listened in vain for a
considerable period to catch the sound of the door when it should
again be opened.  There was no other avenue by which he could
escape, but a door which led into the girl's chamber.  Would any
evil from this quarter befall the girl?

Hence arose a new train of apprehensions.  They merely added to the
turbulence and agony of my reflections.  Whatever evil impended
over her, I had no power to avert it.  Seclusion and silence were
the only means of saving myself from the perils of this fatal
night.  What solemn vows did I put up, that, if I should once more
behold the light of day, I would never trust myself again within
the threshold of this dwelling!

Minute lingered after minute, but no token was given that Carwin
had returned to the passage.  What, I again asked, could detain him
in this room?  Was it possible that he had returned, and glided
unperceived away?  I was speedily aware of the difficulty that
attended an enterprise like this; and yet, as if by that means I
were capable of gaining any information on that head, I cast
anxious looks from the window.

The object that first attracted my attention was a human figure
standing on the edge of the bank.  Perhaps my penetration was
assisted by my hopes.  Be that as it will, the figure of Carwin was
clearly distinguishable.  From the obscurity of my station, it was
impossible that I should be discerned by him; and yet he scarcely
suffered me to catch a glimpse of him.  He turned and went down the
steep, which in this part was not difficult to be scaled.

My conjecture, then, had been right.  Carwin has softly opened the
door, descended the stairs, and issued forth.  That I should not
have overheard his steps was only less incredible than that my eyes
had deceived me.  But what was now to be done?  The house was at
length delivered from this detested inmate.  By one avenue might he
again reenter.  Was it not wise to bar the lower door?  Perhaps he
had gone out by the kitchen door.  For this end, he must have
passed through Judith's chamber.  These entrances being closed and
bolted, as great security was gained as was compatible with my
lonely condition.

The propriety of these measures was too manifest not to make me
struggle successfully with my fears.  Yet I opened my own door with
the utmost caution, and descended as if I were afraid that Carwin
had been still immured in Pleyel's chamber.  The outer door was
ajar.  I shut it with trembling eagerness, and drew every bolt that
appended to it.  I then passed with light and less cautious steps
through the parlor, but was surprised to discover that the kitchen
door was secure.  I was compelled to acquiesce in the first
conjecture that Carwin had escaped through the entry.

My heart was now somewhat eased of the load of apprehension.  I
returned once more to my chamber, the door of which I was careful
to lock.  It was no time to think of repose.  The moonlight began
already to fade before the light of the day.  The approach of
morning was betokened by the usual signals.  I mused upon the
events of this night, and determined to take up my abode henceforth
at my brother's.  Whether I should inform him of what had happened
was a question which seemed to demand some consideration.  My
safety unquestionably required that I should abandon my present
habitation.

As my thoughts began to flow with fewer impediments, the image of
Pleyel, and the dubiousness of his condition, again recurred to me.
I again ran over the possible causes of his absence on the
preceding day.  My mind was attuned to melancholy.  I dwelt, with
an obstinacy for which I could not account, on the idea of his
death.  I painted to myself his struggles with the billows, and his
last appearance.  I imagined myself a midnight wanderer on the
shore, and to have stumbled on his corpse, which the tide had cast
up.  These dreary images affected me even to tears.  I endeavored
not to restrain them.  They imparted a relief which I had not
anticipated.  The more copiously they flowed, the more did my
general sensations appear to subside into calm, and a certain
restlessness give way to repose.

Perhaps, relieved by this effusion, the slumber so much wanted
might have stolen on my senses, had there been no new cause of
alarm.


VI


I was aroused from this stupor by sounds that evidently arose in
the next chamber.  Was it possible that I had been mistaken in the
figure which I had seen on the bank? or had Carwin, by some
inscrutable means, penetrated once more into this chamber?  The
opposite door opened; footsteps came forth, and the person,
advancing to mine, knocked.

So unexpected an incident robbed me of all presence of mind, and,
starting up, I involuntarily exclaimed, "Who is there?"  An answer
was immediately given.  The voice, to my inexpressible
astonishment, was Pleyel's.

"It is I.  Have you risen?  If you have not, make haste; I want
three minutes' conversation with you in the parlor.  I will wait
for you there."  Saying this, he retired from the door.

Should I confide in the testimony of my ears?  If that were true,
it was Pleyel that had been hitherto immured in the opposite
chamber; he whom my rueful fancy had depicted in so many ruinous
and ghastly shapes; he whose footsteps had been listened to with
such inquietude!  What is man, that knowledge is so sparingly
conferred upon him! that his heart should be wrung with distress,
and his frame be exanimated with fear, though his safety be
encompassed with impregnable walls!  What are the bounds of human
imbecility!  He that warned me of the presence of my foe refused
the intimation by which so many racking fears would have been
precluded.

Yet who would have imagined the arrival of Pleyel at such an hour?
His tone was desponding and anxious.  Why this unseasonable
summons? and why this hasty departure?  Some tidings he, perhaps,
bears of mysterious and unwelcome import.

My impatience would not allow me to consume much time in
deliberation; I hastened down.  Pleyel I found standing at a
window, with eyes cast down as in meditation, and arms folded on
his breast.  Every line in his countenance was pregnant with
sorrow.  To this was added a certain wanness and air of fatigue.
The last time I had seen him appearances had been the reverse of
these.  I was startled at the change.  The first impulse was to
question him as to the cause.  This impulse was supplanted by some
degree of confusion, flowing from a consciousness that love had too
large, and, as it might prove, a perceptible, share in creating
this impulse.  I was silent.

Presently be raised his eyes and fixed them upon me.  I read in
them an anguish altogether ineffable.  Never had I witnessed a like
demeanor in Pleyel.  Never, indeed, had I observed a human
countenance in which grief was more legibly inscribed.  He seemed
struggling for utterance; but, his struggles being fruitless, he
shook his head and turned away from me.

My impatience would not allow me to be longer silent.  "What," said
I, "for heaven's sake, my friend,--what is the matter?"

He started at the sound of my voice.  His looks, for a moment,
became convulsed with an emotion very different from grief.  His
accents were broken with rage:--

"The matter!  O wretch!--thus exquisitely fashioned,--on whom
nature seemed to have exhausted all her graces; with charms so
awful and so pure! how art thou fallen!  From what height fallen!
A ruin so complete,--so unheard of!"

His words were again choked by emotion.  Grief and pity were again
mingled in his features.  He resumed, in a tone half suffocated by
sobs:--

"But why should I upbraid thee?  Could I restore to thee what thou
hast lost, efface this cursed stain, snatch thee from the jaws of
this fiend, I would do it.  Yet what will avail my efforts?  I have
not arms with which to contend with so consummate, so frightful a
depravity.

"Evidence less than this would only have excited resentment and
scorn.  The wretch who should have breathed a suspicion injurious
to thy honor would have been regarded without anger: not hatred or
envy could have prompted him; it would merely be an argument of
madness.  That my eyes, that my ears, should bear witness to thy
fall!  By no other way could detestable conviction be imparted.

"Why do I summon thee to this conference?  Why expose myself to thy
derision?  Here admonition and entreaty are vain.  Thou knowest him
already for a murderer and thief.  I thought to have been the first
to disclose to thee his infamy; to have warned thee of the pit to
which thou art hastening; but thy eyes are open in vain.  Oh, foul
and insupportable disgrace!

"There is but one path.  I know you will disappear together.  In
thy ruin, how will the felicity and honor of multitudes be
involved!  But it must come.  This scene shall not be blotted by
his presence.  No doubt thou wilt shortly see thy detested
paramour.  This scene will be again polluted by a midnight
assignation.  Inform him of his dangers; tell him that his crimes
are known; let him fly far and instantly from this spot, if he
desires to avoid the fate which menaced him in Ireland.

"And wilt thou not stay behind?  But shame upon my weakness!  I
know not what I would say.  I have done what I purposed.  To stay
longer, to expostulate, to beseech, to enumerate the consequences
of thy act,--what end can it serve but to blazon thy infamy and
embitter our woes?  And yet, oh, think--think ere it be too late--
on the distresses which thy flight will entail upon us; on the
base, groveling, and atrocious character of the wretch to whom thou
hast sold thy honor.  But what is this?  Is not thy effrontery
impenetrable and thy heart thoroughly cankered?  Oh, most specious
and most profligate of women!"

Saying this, he rushed out of the house.  I saw him in a few
moments hurrying along the path which led to my brother's.  I had
no power to prevent his going, or to recall or to follow him.  The
accents I had heard were calculated to confound and bewilder.  I
looked around me, to assure myself that the scene was real.  I
moved, that I might banish the doubt that I was awake.  Such
enormous imputations from the mouth of Pleyel!  To be stigmatized
with the names of wanton and profligate!  To be charged with the
sacrifice of honor! with midnight meetings with a wretch known to
be a murderer and thief! with an intention to fly in his company!

What I had heard was surely the dictate of frenzy, or it was built
upon some fatal, some incomprehensible mistake.  After the horrors
of the night, after undergoing perils so imminent from this man, to
be summoned to an interview like this!--to find Pleyel fraught with
a belief that, instead of having chosen death as a refuge from the
violence of this man, I had hugged his baseness to my heart, had
sacrificed for him my purity, my spotless name, my friendships, and
my fortune!  That even madness could engender accusations like
these was not to be believed.

What evidence could possibly suggest conceptions so wild?  After
the unlooked-for interview with Carwin in my chamber, he retired.
Could Pleyel have observed his exit?  It was not long after that
Pleyel himself entered.  Did he build on this incident his odious
conclusions?  Could the long series of my actions and sentiments
grant me no exemption from suspicions so foul?  Was it not more
rational to infer that Carwin's designs had been illicit? that my
life had been endangered by the fury of one whom, by some means, he
had discovered to be an assassin and robber? that my honor had been
assailed, not by blandishments, but by violence?

He has judged me without hearing.  He has drawn from dubious
appearances conclusions the most improbable and unjust.  He has
loaded me with all outrageous epithets.  He has ranked me with
prostitutes and thieves.  I cannot pardon thee, Pleyel, for this
injustice.  Thy understanding must be hurt.  If it be not,--if thy
conduct was sober and deliberate,--I can never forgive an outrage
so unmanly and so gross.

These thoughts gradually gave place to others.  Pleyel was
possessed by some momentary frenzy; appearances had led him into
palpable errors.  Whence could his sagacity have contracted this
blindness?  Was it not love?  Previously assured of my affection
for Carwin, distracted with grief and jealousy, and impelled hither
at that late hour by some unknown instigation, his imagination
transformed shadows into monsters, and plunged him into these
deplorable errors.

This idea was not unattended with consolation.  My soul was divided
between indignation at his injustice and delight on account of the
source from which I conceived it to spring.  For a long time they
would allow admission to no other thoughts.  Surprise is an emotion
that enfeebles, not invigorates.  All my meditations were
accompanied with wonder.  I rambled with vagueness, or clung to one
image with an obstinacy which sufficiently testified the maddening
influence of late transactions.

Gradually I proceeded to reflect upon the consequences of Pleyel's
mistake, and on the measures I should take to guard myself against
future injury from Carwin.  Should I suffer this mistake to be
detected by time?  When his passion should subside, would he not
perceive the flagrancy of his injustice and hasten to atone for it?
Did it not become my character to testify resentment for language
and treatment so opprobrious?  Wrapped up in the consciousness of
innocence, and confiding in the influence of time and reflection to
confute so groundless a charge, it was my province to be passive
and silent.

As to the violences meditated by Carwin, and the means of eluding
them, the path to be taken by me was obvious.  I resolved to tell
the tale to my brother and regulate myself by his advice.  For this
end, when the morning was somewhat advanced, I took the way to his
house.  My sister was engaged in her customary occupations.  As
soon as I appeared, she remarked a change in my looks.  I was not
willing to alarm her by the information which I had to communicate.
Her health was in that condition which rendered a disastrous tale
particularly unsuitable.  I forbore a direct answer to her
inquiries, and inquired, in my turn, for Wieland.

"Why," said she, "I suspect something mysterious and unpleasant has
happened this morning.  Scarcely had we risen when Pleyel dropped
among us.  What could have prompted him to make us so early and so
unseasonable a visit I cannot tell.  To judge from the disorder of
his dress, and his countenance, something of an extraordinary
nature has occurred.  He permitted me merely to know that he had
slept none, nor even undressed, during the past night.  He took
your brother to walk with him.  Some topic must have deeply engaged
them, for Wieland did not return till the breakfast hour was
passed, and returned alone.  His disturbance was excessive; but he
would not listen to my importunities, or tell me what had happened.
I gathered, from hints which he let fall, that your situation was
in some way the cause; yet he assured me that you were at your own
house, alive, in good health, and in perfect safety.  He scarcely
ate a morsel, and immediately after breakfast went out again.  He
would not inform me whither he was going, but mentioned that he
probably might not return before night."

I was equally astonished and alarmed by this information.  Pleyel
had told his tale to my brother, and had, by a plausible and
exaggerated picture, instilled into him unfavorable thoughts of me.
Yet would not the more correct judgment of Wieland perceive and
expose the fallacy of his conclusions?  Perhaps his uneasiness
might arise from some insight into the character of Carwin, and
from apprehensions for my safety.  The appearances by which Pleyel
had been misled might induce him likewise to believe that I
entertained an indiscreet though not dishonorable affection for
Carwin.  Such were the conjectures rapidly formed.  I was
inexpressibly anxious to change them into certainty.  For this end
an interview with my brother was desirable.  He was gone no one
knew whither, and was not expected speedily to return.  I had no
clew by which to trace his footsteps.

My anxieties could not be concealed from my sister.  They
heightened her solicitude to be acquainted with the cause.  There
were many reasons persuading me to silence; at least, till I had
seen my brother, it would be an act of inexcusable temerity to
unfold what had lately passed.  No other expedient for eluding her
importunities occurred to me but that of returning to my own house.
I recollected my determination to become a tenant of this roof.  I
mentioned it to her.  She joyfully acceded to this proposal, and
suffered me with less reluctance to depart when I told her that it
was with a view to collect and send to my new dwelling what
articles would be immediately useful to me.

Once more I returned to the house which had been the scene of so
much turbulence and danger.  I was at no great distance from it
when I observed my brother coming out.  On seeing me he stopped,
and, after ascertaining, as it seemed, which way I was going, he
returned into the house before me.  I sincerely rejoiced at this
event, and I hastened to set things, if possible, on their right
footing.

His brow was by no means expressive of those vehement emotions with
which Pleyel had been agitated.  I drew a favorable omen from this
circumstance.  Without delay I began the conversation.

"I have been to look for you," said I, "but was told by Catharine
that Pleyel had engaged you on some important and disagreeable
affair.  Before his interview with you he spent a few minutes with
me.  These minutes he employed in upbraiding me for crimes and
intentions with which I am by no means chargeable.  I believe him
to have taken up his opinions on very insufficient grounds.  His
behavior was in the highest degree precipitate and unjust, and,
until I receive some atonement, I shall treat him, in my turn, with
that contempt which he justly merits; meanwhile, I am fearful that
he has prejudiced my brother against me.  That is an evil which I
most anxiously deprecate, and which I shall indeed exert myself to
remove.  Has he made me the subject of this morning's conversation?"

My brother's countenance testified no surprise at my address.  The
benignity of his looks was nowise diminished.

"It is true," said he, "your conduct was the subject of our
discourse.  I am your friend as well as your brother.  There is no
human being whom I love with more tenderness and whose welfare is
nearer my heart.  Judge, then, with what emotions I listened to
Pleyel's story.  I expect and desire you to vindicate yourself from
aspersions so foul, if vindication be possible."

The tone with which he uttered the last words affected me deeply.
"If vindication be possible!" repeated I.  "From what you know, do
you deem a formal vindication necessary?  Can you harbor for a
moment the belief of my guilt?"

He shook his head with an air of acute anguish.  "I have
struggled," said he, "to dismiss that belief.  You speak before a
judge who will profit by any pretense to acquit you who is ready to
question his own senses when they plead against you."

These words incited a new set of thoughts in my mind.  I began to
suspect that Pleyel had built his accusations on some foundation
unknown to me.  "I may be a stranger to the grounds of your belief.
Pleyel loaded me with indecent and virulent invectives, but he
withheld from me the facts that generated his suspicions.  Events
took place last night of which some of the circumstances were of an
ambiguous nature.  I conceived that these might possibly have
fallen under his cognizance, and that, viewed through the mists of
prejudice and passion, they supplied a pretense for his conduct,
but believed that your more unbiased judgment would estimate them
at their just value.  Perhaps his tale has been different from what
I suspect it to be.  Listen, then, to my narrative.  If there be
anything in his story inconsistent with mine, his story is false."

I then proceeded to a circumstantial relation of the incidents of
the last night.  Wieland listened with deep attention.  Having
finished, "This," continued I, "is the truth.  You see in what
circumstances an interview took place between Carwin and me.  He
remained for hours in my closet, and for some minutes in my
chamber.  He departed without haste or interruption.  If Pleyel
marked him as he left the house, (and it is not impossible that he
did,) inferences injurious to my character might suggest themselves
to him.  In admitting them, he gave proofs of less discernment and
less candor than I once ascribed to him."

"His proofs," said Wieland, after a considerable pause, "are
different.  That he should be deceived is not possible.  That he
himself is not the deceiver could not be believed, if his testimony
were not inconsistent with yours; but the doubts which I
entertained are now removed.  Your tale, some parts of it, is
marvelous; the voice which exclaimed against your rashness in
approaching the closet, your persisting, notwithstanding that
prohibition, your belief that I was the ruffian, and your
subsequent conduct, are believed by me, because I have known you
from childhood, because a thousand instances have attested your
veracity, and because nothing less than my own hearing and vision
would convince me, in opposition to her own assertions, that my
sister had fallen into wickedness like this."

I threw my arms around him and bathed his cheek with my tears.
"That," said I, "is spoken like my brother.  But what are the
proofs?"

He replied, "Pleyel informed me that, in going to your house, his
attention was attracted by two voices.  The persons speaking sat
beneath the bank, out of sight.  These persons, judging by their
voices, were Carwin and you.  I will not repeat the dialogue.  If
my sister was the female, Pleyel was justified in concluding you to
be indeed one of the most profligate of women.  Hence his
accusations of you, and his efforts to obtain my concurrence to a
plan by which an eternal separation should be brought about between
my sister and this man."

I made Wieland repeat this recital.  Here indeed was a tale to fill
me with terrible foreboding.  I had vainly thought that my safety
could be sufficiently secured by doors and bars, but this is a foe
from whose grasp no power of divinity can save me!  His artifices
will ever lay my fame and happiness at his mercy.  How shall I
counterwork his plots or detect his coadjutor?  He has taught some
vile and abandoned female to mimic my voice.  Pleyel's ears were
the witnesses of my dishonor.  This is the midnight assignation to
which he alluded.  Thus is the silence he maintained when
attempting to open the door of my chamber, accounted for.  He
supposed me absent, and meant, perhaps, had my apartment been
accessible, to leave in it some accusing memorial.



SECOND PART


I


[As this part opens, the unhappy Clara is describing her hurried
return to the same ill-fated abode at Mettingen.  Hence kind
friends had borne her after the catastrophe of her brother
Wieland's "transformation."  This was the crowning horror of all:
the morbid fanatic, prepared by gloomy anticipations of some
terrible sacrifice to be demanded in the name of religion, had
found himself goaded to blind fury, by a mysterious compelling
voice, to yield up to God the lives of his beloved wife and family;
and had done the awful deed!

Though chained in his madhouse, he persists in his delusion;
insists that it still remains for him to sacrifice his sister
Clara; and twice breaks away in wild efforts to find and destroy
her.]


I took an irregular path which led me to my own house.  All was
vacant and forlorn.  A small enclosure near which the path led was
the burying ground belonging to the family.  This I was obliged to
pass.  Once I had intended to enter it, and ponder on the emblems
and inscriptions which my uncle had caused to be made on the tombs
of Catharine and her children; but now my heart faltered as I
approached, and I hastened forward that distance might conceal it
from my view.

When I approached the recess, my heart again sunk.  I averted my
eyes, and left it behind me as quickly as possible.  Silence
reigned through my habitation, and a darkness which closed doors
and shutters produced.  Every object was connected with mine or my
brother's history.  I passed the entry, mounted the stair, and
unlocked the door of my chamber.  It was with difficulty that I
curbed my fancy and smothered my fears.  Slight movements and
casual sounds were transformed into beckoning shadows and calling
shapes.

I proceeded to the closet.  I opened and looked round it with
fearfulness.  All things were in their accustomed order.  I sought
and found the manuscript where I was used to deposit it.  This
being secured, there was nothing to detain me; yet I stood and
contemplated awhile the furniture and walls of my chamber.  I
remembered how long this apartment had been a sweet and tranquil
asylum; I compared its former state with its present dreariness,
and reflected that I now beheld it for the last time.

Here it was that the incomprehensible behavior of Carwin was
witnessed; this the stage on which that enemy of man showed himself
for a moment unmasked.  Here the menaces of murder were wafted to
my ear; and here these menaces were executed.

These thoughts had a tendency to take from me my self-command.  My
feeble limbs refused to support me, and I sunk upon a chair.
Incoherent and half-articulate exclamations escaped my lips.  The
name of Carwin was uttered and eternal woes--woes like that which
his malice had entailed upon us--were heaped upon him.  I invoked
all-seeing heaven to drag to light and punish this betrayer, and
accused its providence for having thus long delayed the retribution
that was due to so enormous a guilt.

I have said that the window shutters were closed.  A feeble light,
however, found entrance through the crevices.  A small window
illuminated the closet, and, the door being closed, a dim ray
streamed through the keyhole.  A kind of twilight was thus created,
sufficient for the purposes of vision, but, at the same time,
involving all minuter objects in obscurity.

This darkness suited the color of my thoughts.  I sickened at the
remembrance of the past.  The prospect of the future excited my
loathing.  I muttered, in a low voice, "Why should I live longer?
Why should I drag a miserable being?  All for whom I ought to live
have perished.  Am I not myself hunted to death?"

At that moment my despair suddenly became vigorous.  My nerves were
no longer unstrung.  My powers, that had long been deadened, were
revived.  My bosom swelled with a sudden energy, and the conviction
darted through my mind, that to end my torments was, at once,
practicable and wise.

I knew how to find way to the recesses of life.  I could use a
lancet with some skill, and could distinguish between vein and
artery.  By piercing deep into the latter, I should shun the evils
which the future had in store for me, and take refuge from my woes
in quiet death.

I started on my feet, for my feebleness was gone, and hasted to the
closet.  A lancet and other small instruments were preserved in a
case which I had deposited here.  Inattentive as I was to foreign
considerations, my ears were still open to any sound of mysterious
import that should occur.  I thought I heard a step in the entry.
My purpose was suspended, and I cast an eager glance at my chamber
door, which was open.  No one appeared, unless the shadow which I
discerned upon the floor was the outline of a man.  If it were, I
was authorized to suspect that some one was posted close to the
entrance, who possibly had overheard my exclamations.

My teeth chattered, and a wild confusion took the place of my
momentary calm.  Thus it was when a terrific visage had disclosed
itself on a former night.  Thus it was when the evil destiny of
Wieland assumed the lineaments of something human.  What horrid
apparition was preparing to blast my sight?

Still I listened and gazed.  Not long, for the shadow moved; a
foot, unshapely and huge, was thrust forward; a form advanced from
its concealment, and stalked into the room.  It was Carwin!

While I had breath, I shrieked.  While I had power over my muscles,
I motioned with my hand that he should vanish.  My exertions could
not last long: I sunk into a fit.

Oh that this grateful oblivion had lasted forever!  Too quickly I
recovered my senses.  The power of distinct vision was no sooner
restored to me, than this hateful form again presented itself, and
I once more relapsed.

A second time, untoward nature recalled me from the sleep of death.
I found myself stretched upon the bed.  When I had power to look
up, I remembered only that I had cause to fear.  My distempered
fancy fashioned to itself no distinguishable image.  I threw a
languid glance round me: once more my eyes lighted upon Carwin.

He was seated on the floor, his back rested against the wall; his
knees were drawn up, and his face was buried in his hands.  That
his station was at some distance, that his attitude was not
menacing, that his ominous visage was concealed, may account for my
now escaping a shock violent as those which were past.  I withdrew
my eyes, but was not again deserted by my senses.

On perceiving that I had recovered my sensibility, he lifted his
head.  This motion attracted my attention.  His countenance was
mild, but sorrow and astonishment sat upon his features.  I averted
my eyes and feebly exclaimed, "Oh, fly!--fly far and forever!--I
cannot behold you and live!"

He did not rise upon his feet, but clasped his hands, and said, in
a tone of deprecation, "I will fly.  I am become a fiend, the sight
of whom destroys.  Yet tell me my offense!  You have linked curses
with my name; you ascribe to me a malice monstrous and infernal.  I
look around: all is loneliness and desert!  This house and your
brother's are solitary and dismantled!  You die away at the sight
of me!  My fear whispers that some deed of horror has been
perpetrated; that I am the undesigning cause."

What language was this?  Had he not avowed himself a ravisher?  Had
not this chamber witnessed his atrocious purposes?  I besought him
with new vehemence to go.

He lifted his eyes:--"Great heaven! what have I done?  I think I
know the extent of my offenses.  I have acted, but my actions have
possibly effected more than I designed.  This fear has brought me
back from my retreat.  I come to repair the evil of which my
rashness was the cause, and to prevent more evil.  I come to
confess my errors."

"Wretch!" I cried, when my suffocating emotions would permit me to
speak, "the ghosts of my sister and her children,--do they not rise
to accuse thee?  Who was it that blasted the intellect of Wieland?
Who was it that urged him to fury and guided him to murder?  Who,
but thou and the devil, with whom thou art confederated?"

At these words a new spirit pervaded his countenance.  His eyes
once more appealed to heaven.  "If I have memory--if I have being--
I am innocent.  I intended no ill; but my folly, indirectly and
remotely, may have caused it.  But what words are these?  Your
brother lunatic!  His children dead!"

What should I infer from this deportment?  Was the ignorance which
these words implied real or pretended?  Yet how could I imagine a
mere human agency in these events?  But, if the influence was
preternatural or maniacal in my brother's case, they must be
equally so in my own.  Then I remembered that the voice exerted was
to save me from Carwin's attempts.  These ideas tended to abate my
abhorrence of this man, and to detect the absurdity of my
accusations.

"Alas!" said I, "I have no one to accuse.  Leave me to my fate.
Fly from a scene stained with cruelty, devoted to despair."

Carwin stood for a time musing and mournful.  At length he said,
"What has happened?  I came to expiate my crimes: let me know them
in their full extent.  I have horrible forebodings!  What has
happened?"

I was silent; but, recollecting the intimation given by this man
when he was detected in my closet, which implied some knowledge of
that power which interfered in my favor, I eagerly inquired, "What
was that voice which called upon me to hold when I attempted to
open the closet?  What face was that which I saw at the bottom of
the stairs?  Answer me truly."

"I came to confess the truth.  Your allusions are horrible and
strange.  Perhaps I have but faint conceptions of the evils which
my infatuation has produced; but what remains I will perform.  It
was MY VOICE that you heard!  It was MY FACE that you saw!"

For a moment I doubted whether my remembrance of events were not
confused.  How could he be at once stationed at my shoulder and
shut up in my closet?  How could he stand near me and yet be
invisible?  But if Carwin's were the thrilling voice and the fiery
image which I had heard and seen, then was he the prompter of my
brother, and the author of these dismal outrages.

Once more I averted my eyes and struggled for speech:--"Begone!
thou man of mischief!  Remorseless and implacable miscreant,
begone!"

"I will obey," said he, in a disconsolate voice; "yet, wretch as I
am, am I unworthy to repair the evils that I have committed?  I
came as a repentant criminal.  It is you whom I have injured, and
at your bar am I willing to appear and confess and expiate my
crimes.  I have deceived you; I have sported with your terrors; I
have plotted to destroy your reputation.  I come now to remove your
terrors; to set you beyond the reach of similar fears; to rebuild
your fame as far as I am able.

"This is the amount of my guilt, and this the fruit of my remorse.
Will you not hear me?  Listen to my confession, and then denounce
punishment.  All I ask is a patient audience."

"What!" I replied; "was not thine the voice that commanded my
brother to imbrue his hands in the blood of his children?--to
strangle that angel of sweetness, his wife?  Has he not vowed my
death, and the death of Pleyel, at thy bidding?  Hast thou not made
him the butcher of his family?--changed him who was the glory of
his species into worse than brute?--robbed him of reason and
consigned the rest of his days to fetters and stripes?"

Carwin's eyes glared and his limbs were petrified at this
intelligence.  No words were requisite to prove him guiltless of
these enormities: at the time, however, I was nearly insensible to
these exculpatory tokens.  He walked to the farther end of the
room, and, having recovered some degree of composure, he spoke:--

"I am not this villain.  I have slain no one; I have prompted none
to slay; I have handled a tool of wonderful efficacy without
malignant intentions, but without caution.  Ample will be the
punishment of my temerity, if my conduct has contributed to this
evil."  He paused.

I likewise was silent.  I struggled to command myself so far as to
listen to the tale which he should tell.  Observing this, he
continued:--

"You are not apprised of the existence of a power which I possess.
I know not by what name to call it.[1]  It enables me to mimic
exactly the voice of another, and to modify the sound so that it
shall appear to come from what quarter and be uttered at what
distance I please.

"I know not that everyone possesses this power.  Perhaps, though a
casual position of my organs in my youth showed me that I possessed
it, it is an art which may be taught to all.  Would to God I had
died unknowing of the secret!  It has produced nothing but
degradation and calamity."


[1] Biloquium, or ventrilocution.  Sound is varied according to the
variations of direction and distance.  The art of the ventriloquist
consists in modifying his voice according to all these variations,
without changing his place.  See the work of the Abbe de la
Chappelle, in which are accurately recorded the performances of one
of these artists, and some ingenious though unsatisfactory
speculations are given on the means by which the effects are
produced.  This power is, perhaps, given by nature, but is
doubtless improvable, if not acquirable, by art.  It may, possibly,
consist in an unusual flexibility or extension of the bottom of the
tongue and the uvula.  That speech is producible by these alone
must be granted, since anatomists mention two instances of persons
speaking without a tongue.  In one case the organ was originally
wanting, but its place was supplied by a small tubercle, and the
uvula was perfect.  In the other the tongue was destroyed by
disease, but probably a small part of it remained.

This power is difficult to explain, but the fact is undeniable.
Experience shows that the human voice can imitate the voice of all
men and of all inferior animals.  The sound of musical instruments,
and even noises from the contact of inanimate substances, have been
accurately imitated.  The mimicry of animals is notorious; and Dr.
Burney ("Musical Travels") mentions one who imitated a flute and
violin, so as to deceive even his ears.



THIRD PART


I


[After Carwin's confession of his powers of ventriloquism all the
mysteries are cleared up--save one.  The owner of the voice heard
in Clara's chamber, on the first night after the wanderer appeared
at Mettingen; the threatener on the edge of the precipice; the spy
in Clara's closet, and would-be intruder; the manipulator of the
vile plot that destroyed her lover's confidence--all these hidden
identities have materialized in the person of this one unhappy man.
But while confessing the prying disposition which led to these
sins, in efforts to protect himself from discovery, Carwin still
denies that Wieland's mad acts were perpetrated at his
instigation.]


"I have uttered the truth.  This is the extent of my offenses.  You
tell me a horrid tale of Wieland being led to the destruction of
his wife and children by some mysterious agent.  You charge me with
the guilt of this agency, but I repeat that the amount of my guilt
has been truly stated.  The perpetrator of Catharine's death was
unknown to me till now; nay, it is still unknown to me."

At that moment, the closing of a door in the kitchen was distinctly
heard by us.  Carwin started and paused.  "There is some one
coming.  I must not be found here by my enemies, and need not,
since my purpose is answered."

I had drunk in, with the most vehement attention, every word that
he had uttered.  I had no breath to interrupt his tale by
interrogations or comments.  The power that he spoke of was
hitherto unknown to me; its existence was incredible; it was
susceptible of no direct proof.

He owns that his were the voice and face which I heard and saw.  He
attempts to give a human explanation of these phantasms but it is
enough that he owns himself to be the agent: his tale is a lie, and
his nature devilish.  As he deceived me, he likewise deceived my
brother, and now do I behold the author of all our calamities!

Such were my thoughts when his pause allowed me to think.  I should
have bade him begone if the silence had not been interrupted; but
now I feared no more for myself; and the milkiness of my nature was
curdled into hatred and rancor.  Some one was near, and this enemy
of God and man might possibly be brought to justice.  I reflected
not that the preternatural power which he had hitherto exerted
would avail to rescue him from any toils in which his feet might be
entangled.  Meanwhile, looks, and not words, of menace and
abhorrence, were all that I could bestow.

He did not depart.  He seemed dubious whether by passing out of the
house, or by remaining somewhat longer where he was, he should most
endanger his safety.  His confusion increased when steps of one
barefoot were heard upon the stairs.  He threw anxious glances
sometimes at the closet, sometimes at the window, and sometimes at
the chamber door; yet he was detained by some inexplicable
fascination.  He stood as if rooted to the spot.

As to me, my soul was bursting with detestation and revenge.  I had
no room for surmises and fears respecting him that approached.  It
was doubtless a human being, and would befriend me so far as to aid
me in arresting this offender.

The stranger quickly entered the room.  My eyes and the eyes of
Carwin were at the same moment darted upon him.  A second glance
was not needed to inform us who he was.  His locks were tangled,
and fell confusedly over his forehead and ears.  His shirt was of
coarse stuff, and open at the neck and breast.  His coat was once
of bright and fine texture, but now torn and tarnished with dust.
His feet, his legs, and his arms, were bare.  His features were the
seat of a wild and tranquil solemnity, but his eyes bespoke
inquietude and curiosity.

He advanced with a firm step, and looking as in search of some one.
He saw me and stopped.  He bent his sight on the floor, and,
clenching his hands, appeared suddenly absorbed in meditation.
Such were the figure and deportment of Wieland!  Such, in his
fallen state, were the aspect and guise of my brother!

Carwin did not fail to recognize the visitant.  Care for his own
safety was apparently swallowed up in the amazement which this
spectacle produced.  His station was conspicuous, and he could not
have escaped the roving glances of Wieland; yet the latter seemed
totally unconscious of his presence.

Grief at this scene of ruin and blast was at first the only
sentiment of which I was conscious.  A fearful stillness ensued.
At length Wieland, lifting his hands, which were locked in each
other, to his breast, exclaimed, "Father! I thank thee.  This is
thy guidance.  Hither thou hast led me, that I might perform thy
will.  Yet let me not err; let me hear again thy messenger!"

He stood for a minute as if listening; but, recovering from his
attitude, he continued, "It is not needed.  Dastardly wretch! thus
eternally questioning the behests of thy Maker! weak in resolution,
wayward in faith!"

He advanced to me, and, after another pause, resumed:--"Poor girl!
a dismal fate has set its mark upon thee.  Thy life is demanded as
a sacrifice.  Prepare thee to die.  Make not my office difficult by
fruitless opposition.  Thy prayers might subdue stones; but none
but he who enjoined my purpose can shake it."

These words were a sufficient explication of the scene.  The nature
of his frenzy, as described by my uncle, was remembered.  I, who
had sought death, was now thrilled with horror because it was near.
Death in this form, death from the hand of a brother, was thought
upon with indescribable repugnance.

In a state thus verging upon madness, my eye glanced upon Carwin.
His astonishment appeared to have struck him motionless and dumb.
My life was in danger, and my brother's hand was about to be
imbrued in my blood.  I firmly believed that Carwin's was the
instigation.  I could rescue myself from this abhorred fate; I
could dissipate this tremendous illusion; I could save my brother
from the perpetration of new horrors, by pointing out the devil who
seduced him.  To hesitate a moment was to perish.  These thoughts
gave strength to my limbs and energy to my accents; I started on my
feet:--

"Oh, brother! spare me! spare thyself!  There is thy betrayer.  He
counterfeited the voice and face of an angel, for the purpose of
destroying thee and me.  He has this moment confessed it.  He is
able to speak where he is not.  He is leagued with hell, but will
not avow it; yet he confesses that the agency was his."

My brother turned slowly his eyes, and fixed them upon Carwin.
Every joint in the frame of the latter trembled.  His complexion
was paler than a ghost's.  His eye dared not meet that of Wieland,
but wandered with an air of distraction from one space to another.

"Man," said my brother, in a voice totally unlike that which he had
used to me, "what art thou?  The charge has been made.  Answer it.
The visage--the voice--at the bottom of these stairs--at the hour
of eleven--to whom did they belong?  To thee?"

Twice did Carwin attempt to speak, but his words died away upon his
lips.  My brother resumed, in a tone of greater vehemence:--

"Thou falterest.  Faltering is ominous.  Say yes or no; one word
will suffice; but beware of falsehood.  Was it a stratagem of hell
to overthrow my family?  Wast thou the agent?"

I now saw that the wrath which had been prepared for me was to be
heaped upon another.  The tale that I heard from him, and his
present trepidations, were abundant testimonies of his guilt.  But
what if Wieland should be undeceived!  What if he shall find his
act to have proceeded not from a heavenly prompter, but from human
treachery!  Will not his rage mount into whirlwind?  Will not he
tear limb from limb this devoted wretch?

Instinctively I recoiled from this image; but it gave place to
another.  Carwin may be innocent, but the impetuosity of his judge
may misconstrue his answers into a confession of guilt.  Wieland
knows not that mysterious voices and appearances were likewise
witnessed by me.  Carwin may be ignorant of those which misled my
brother.  Thus may his answers unwarily betray himself to ruin.

Such might be the consequences of my frantic precipitation, and
these it was necessary, if possible, to prevent.  I attempted to
speak; but Wieland, turning suddenly upon me, commanded silence, in
a tone furious and terrible.  My lips closed, and my tongue refused
its office.

"What art thou?" he resumed, addressing himself to Carwin.  "Answer
me: whose form--whose voice,--was it thy contrivance?  Answer me."

The answer was now given, but confusedly and scarcely articulated.
"I meant nothing--I intended no ill--if I understand--if I do not
mistake you--it is too true--I did appear--in the entry--did speak.
The contrivance was mine, but--"

These words were no sooner uttered, than my brother ceased to wear
the same aspect.  His eyes were downcast; he was motionless; his
respiration became hoarse, like that of a man in the agonies of
death.  Carwin seemed unable to say more.  He might have easily
escaped; but the thought which occupied him related to what was
horrid and unintelligible in this scene, and not to his own danger.

Presently the faculties of Wieland, which, for a time, were chained
up, were seized with restlessness and trembling.  He broke silence.
The stoutest heart would have been appalled by the tone in which he
spoke.  He addressed himself to Carwin:--

"Why art thou here?  Who detains thee?  Go and learn better.  I
will meet thee, but it must be at the bar of thy Maker.  There
shall I bear witness against thee."

Perceiving that Carwin did not obey, he continued, "Dost thou wish
me to complete the catalogue by thy death?  Thy life is a worthless
thing.  Tempt me no more.  I am but a man, and thy presence may
awaken a fury which may spurn my control.  Begone!"

Carwin, irresolute, striving in vain for utterance, his complexion
pallid as death, his knees beating one against another, slowly
obeyed the mandate and withdrew.


II


A few words more and I lay aside the pen forever.  Yet why should I
not relinquish it now?  All that I have said is preparatory to this
scene, and my fingers, tremulous and cold as my heart, refuse any
further exertion.  This must not be.  Let my last energies support
me in the finishing of this task.  Then will I lay down my head in
the lap of death.  Hushed will be all my murmurs in the sleep of
the grave.

Every sentiment has perished in my bosom.  Even friendship is
extinct.  Your love for me has prompted me to this task; but I
would not have complied if it had not been a luxury thus to feast
upon my woes.  I have justly calculated upon my remnant of
strength.  When I lay down the pen the taper of life will expire;
my existence will terminate with my tale.

Now that I was left alone with Wieland, the perils of my situation
presented themselves to my mind.  That this paroxysm should
terminate in havoc and rage it was reasonable to predict.  The
first suggestion of my fears had been disproved by my experience.
Carwin had acknowledged his offenses, and yet had escaped.  The
vengeance which I had harbored had not been admitted by Wieland;
and yet the evils which I had endured, compared with those
inflicted on my brother, were as nothing.  I thirsted for his
blood, and was tormented with an insatiable appetite for his
destruction; but my brother was unmoved, and had dismissed him in
safety.  Surely thou wast more than man, while I am sunk below the
beasts.

Did I place a right construction on the conduct of Wieland?  Was
the error that misled him so easily rectified?  Were views so vivid
and faith so strenuous thus liable to fading and to change?  Was
there not reason to doubt the accuracy of my perceptions?  With
images like these was my mind thronged, till the deportment of my
brother called away my attention.

I saw his lips move and his eyes cast up to heaven.  Then would he
listen and look back, as if in expectation of some one's
appearance.  Thrice he repeated these gesticulations and this
inaudible prayer.  Each time the mist of confusion and doubt seemed
to grow darker and to settle on his understanding.  I guessed at
the meaning of these tokens.  The words of Carwin had shaken his
belief, and he was employed in summoning the messenger who had
formerly communed with him, to attest the value of those new
doubts.  In vain the summons was repeated, for his eye met nothing
but vacancy, and not a sound saluted his ear.

He walked to the bed, gazed with eagerness at the pillow which had
sustained the head of the breathless Catharine, and then returned
to the place where I sat.  I had no power to lift my eyes to his
face: I was dubious of his purpose; this purpose might aim at my
life.

Alas! nothing but subjection to danger and exposure to temptation
can show us what we are.  By this test was I now tried, and found
to be cowardly and rash.  Men can deliberately untie the thread of
life, and of this I had deemed myself capable.  It was now that I
stood upon the brink of fate, that the knife of the sacrificer was
aimed at my heart, I shuddered, and betook myself to any means of
escape, however monstrous.

Can I bear to think--can I endure to relate the outrage which my
heart meditated?  Where were my means of safety?  Resistance was
vain.  Not even the energy of despair could set me on a level with
that strength which his terrific prompter had bestowed upon
Wieland.  Terror enables us to perform incredible feats; but terror
was not then the state of my mind: where then were my hopes of
rescue?

Methinks it is too much.  I stand aside, as it were, from myself; I
estimate my own deservings; a hatred, immortal and inexorable, is
my due.  I listen to my own pleas, and find them empty and false:
yes, I acknowledge that my guilt surpasses that of mankind; I
confess that the curses of a world and the frowns of a Deity are
inadequate to my demerits.  Is there a thing in the world worthy of
infinite abhorrence?  It is I.

What shall I say?  I was menaced, as I thought, with death, and, to
elude this evil, my hand was ready to inflict death upon the
menacer.  In visiting my house, I had made provision against the
machinations of Carwin.  In a fold of my dress an open penknife was
concealed.  This I now seized and drew forth.  It lurked out of
view; but I now see that my state of mind would have rendered the
deed inevitable if my brother had lifted his hand.  This instrument
of my preservation would have been plunged into his heart.

O insupportable remembrance! hide thee from my view for a time;
hide it from me that my heart was black enough to meditate the
stabbing of a brother! a brother thus supreme in misery; thus
towering in virtue!

He was probably unconscious of my design, but presently drew back.
This interval was sufficient to restore me to myself.  The madness,
the iniquity, of that act which I had purposed rushed upon my
apprehension.  For a moment I was breathless with agony.  At the
next moment I recovered my strength, and threw the knife with
violence on the floor.

The sound awoke my brother from his reverie.  He gazed alternately
at me and at the weapon.  With a movement equally solemn he stooped
and took it up.  He placed the blade in different positions,
scrutinizing it accurately, and maintaining, at the same time, a
profound silence.

Again he looked at me; but all that vehemence and loftiness of
spirit which had so lately characterized his features were flown.
Fallen muscles, a forehead contracted into folds, eyes dim with
unbidden drops, and a ruefulness of aspect which no words can
describe, were now visible.

His looks touched into energy the same sympathies in me, and I
poured forth a flood of tears.  This passion was quickly checked by
fear, which had now no longer my own but his safety for their
object.  I watched his deportment in silence.  At length he spoke:--

"Sister," said he, in an accent mournful and mild, "I have acted
poorly my part in this world.  What thinkest thou?  Shall I not do
better in the next?"

I could make no answer.  The mildness of his tone astonished and
encouraged me.  I continued to regard him with wistful and anxious
looks.

"I think," resumed he, "I will try.  My wife and my babes have gone
before.  Happy wretches!  I have sent you to repose, and ought not
to linger behind."

These words had a meaning sufficiently intelligible.  I looked at
the open knife in his hand and shuddered, but knew not how to
prevent the deed which I dreaded.  He quickly noticed my fears, and
comprehended them.  Stretching toward me his hand, with an air of
increasing mildness, "Take it," said he; "fear not for thy own
sake, nor for mine.  The cup is gone by, and its transient
inebriation is succeeded by the soberness of truth.

"Thou angel whom I was wont to worship! fearest thou, my sister,
for thy life?  Once it was the scope of my labors to destroy thee,
but I was prompted to the deed by heaven; such, at least, was my
belief.  Thinkest thou that thy death was sought to gratify
malevolence?  No.  I am pure from all stain.  I believed that my
God was my mover!

"Neither thee nor myself have I cause to injure.  I have done my
duty; and surely there is merit in having sacrificed to that all
that is dear to the heart of man.  If a devil has deceived me, he
came in the habit of an angel.  If I erred, it was not my judgment
that deceived me, but my senses.  In thy sight, Being of beings! I
am still pure.  Still will I look for my reward in thy justice!"

Did my ears truly report these sounds?  If I did not err, my
brother was restored to just perceptions.  He knew himself to have
been betrayed to the murder of his wife and children, to have been
the victim of infernal artifice; yet he found consolation in the
rectitude of his motives.  He was not devoid of sorrow, for this
was written on his countenance; but his soul was tranquil and
sublime.

Perhaps this was merely a transition of his former madness into a
new shape.  Perhaps he had not yet awakened to the memory of the
horrors which he had perpetrated.  Infatuated wretch that I was!
To set myself up as a model by which to judge of my heroic brother!
My reason taught me that his conclusions were right; but, conscious
of the impotence of reason over my own conduct, conscious of my
cowardly rashness and my criminal despair, I doubted whether anyone
could be steadfast and wise.

Such was my weakness, that even in the midst of these thoughts my
mind glided into abhorrence of Carwin, and I uttered, in a low
voice, "O Carwin! Carwin! what hast thou to answer for?"

My brother immediately noticed the involuntary exclamation.
"Clara!" said he, "be thyself.  Equity used to be a theme for thy
eloquence.  Reduce its lessons to practice, and be just to that
unfortunate man.  The instrument has done its work, and I am
satisfied.

"I thank thee, my God, for this last illumination!  My enemy is
thine also.  I deemed him to be a man,--the man with whom I have
often communed; but now thy goodness has unveiled to me his true
nature.  As the performer of thy behests, he is my friend."

My heart began now to misgive me.  His mournful aspect had
gradually yielded place to a serene brow.  A new soul appeared to
actuate his frame, and his eyes to beam with preternatural luster.
These symptoms did not abate, and he continued:--

"Clara, I must not leave thee in doubt.  I know not what brought
about thy interview with the being whom thou callest Carwin.  For a
time I was guilty of thy error, and deduced from his incoherent
confessions that I had been made the victim of human malice.  He
left us at my bidding, and I put up a prayer that my doubts should
be removed.  Thy eyes were shut and thy ears sealed to the vision
that answered my prayer.

"I was indeed deceived.  The form thou hast seen was the
incarnation of a demon.  The visage and voice which urged me to the
sacrifice of my family were his.  Now he personates a human form;
then he was environed with the luster of heaven.

"Clara," he continued, advancing closer to me, "thy death must
come.  This minister is evil, but he from whom his commission was
received is God.  Submit then with all thy wonted resignation to a
decree that cannot be reversed or resisted.  Mark the clock.  Three
minutes are allowed to thee, in which to call up thy fortitude and
prepare thee for thy doom."  There he stopped.

Even now, when this scene exists only in memory, when life and all
its functions have sunk into torpor, my pulse throbs, and my hairs
uprise; my brows are knit, as then, and I gaze around me in
distraction.  I was unconquerably averse to death; but death,
imminent and full of agony as that which was threatened, was
nothing.  This was not the only or chief inspirer of my fears.

For him, not for myself, was my soul tormented.  I might die, and
no crime, surpassing the reach of mercy, would pursue me to the
presence of my Judge; but my assassin would survive to contemplate
his deed, and that assassin was Wieland!

Wings to bear me beyond his reach I had not.  I could not vanish
with a thought.  The door was open, but my murderer was interposed
between that and me.  Of self-defense I was incapable.  The frenzy
that lately prompted me to blood was gone: my state was desperate;
my rescue was impossible.

The weight of these accumulated thoughts could not be borne.  My
sight became confused; my limbs were seized with convulsion; I
spoke, but my words were half formed:--

"Spare me, my brother!  Look down, righteous Judge! snatch me from
this fate! take away this fury from him, or turn it elsewhere! "

Such was the agony of my thoughts that I noticed not steps entering
my apartment.  Supplicating eyes were cast upward; but when my
prayer was breathed I once more wildly gazed at the door.  A form
met my sight; I shuddered as if the God whom I invoked were
present.  It was Carwin that again intruded, and who stood before
me, erect in attitude and steadfast in look!

The sight of him awakened new and rapid thoughts.  His recent tale
was remembered; his magical transitions and mysterious energy of
voice.  Whether he were infernal or miraculous or human, there was
no power and no need to decide.  Whether the contriver or not of
this spell, he was able to unbind it, and to check the fury of my
brother.  He had ascribed to himself intentions not malignant.
Here now was afforded a test of his truth.  Let him interpose, as
from above; revoke the savage decree which the madness of Wieland
has assigned to heaven, and extinguish forever this passion for
blood!

My mind detected at a glance this avenue to safety.  The
recommendations it possessed thronged as it were together, and made
but one impression on my intellect.  Remoter effects and collateral
dangers I saw not.  Perhaps the pause of an instant had sufficed to
call them up.  The improbability that the influence which governed
Wieland was external or human; the tendency of this stratagem to
sanction so fatal an error or substitute a more destructive rage in
place of this; the insufficiency of Carwin's mere muscular forces
to counteract the efforts and restrain the fury of Wieland, might,
at a second glance, have been discovered; but no second glance was
allowed.  My first thought hurried me to action, and, fixing my
eyes upon Carwin, I exclaimed,--

"O wretch! once more hast thou come?  Let it be to abjure thy
malice; to counterwork this hellish stratagem; to turn from me and
from my brother this desolating rage!

"Testify thy innocence or thy remorse; exert the powers which
pertain to thee, whatever they be, to turn aside this ruin.  Thou
art the author of these horrors!  What have I done to deserve thus
to die?  How have I merited this unrelenting persecution?  I adjure
thee, by that God whose voice thou hast dared to counterfeit, to
save my life!

"Wilt thou then go?--leave me!  Succorless!"

Carwin listened to my entreaties unmoved, and turned from me.  He
seemed to hesitate a moment,--then glided through the door.  Rage
and despair stifled my utterance.  The interval of respite was
past; the pangs reserved for me by Wieland were not to be endured;
my thoughts rushed again into anarchy.  Having received the knife
from his hand, I held it loosely and without regard; but now it
seized again my attention, and I grasped it with force.

He seemed to notice not the entrance or exit of Carwin.  My gesture
and the murderous weapon appeared to have escaped his notice.  His
silence was unbroken; his eye, fixed upon the clock for a time, was
now withdrawn; fury kindled in every feature; all that was human in
his face gave way to an expression supernatural and tremendous.  I
felt my left arm within his grasp.

Even now I hesitated to strike.  I shrunk from his assault, but in
vain.

Here let me desist.  Why should I rescue this event from oblivion?
Why should I paint this detestable conflict?  Why not terminate at
once this series of horrors?--Hurry to the verge of the precipice,
and cast myself forever beyond remembrance and beyond hope?

Still I live; with this load upon my breast; with this phantom to
pursue my steps; with adders lodged in my bosom, and stinging me to
madness; still I consent to live!

Yes!  I will rise above the sphere of mortal passions; I will spurn
at the cowardly remorse that bids me seek impunity in silence, or
comfort in forgetfulness.  My nerves shall be new-strung to the
task.  Have I not resolved?  I will die.  The gulf before me is
inevitable and near.  I will die, but then only when my tale is at
an end.


III


My right hand, grasping the unseen knife, was still disengaged.  It
was lifted to strike.  All my strength was exhausted but what was
sufficient to the performance of this deed.  Already was the energy
awakened and the impulse given that should bear the fatal steel to
his heart, when--Wieland shrunk back; his hand was withdrawn.
Breathless with affright and desperation, I stood, freed from his
grasp; unassailed; untouched.

Thus long had the power which controlled the scene forborne to
interfere: but now his might was irresistible; and Wieland in a
moment was disarmed of all his purposes.  A voice, louder than
human organs could produce, shriller than language can depict,
burst from the ceiling and commanded him--TO HOLD!

Trouble and dismay succeeded to the steadfastness that had lately
been displayed in the looks of Wieland.  His eyes roved from one
quarter to another, with an expression of doubt.  He seemed to wait
for a further intimation.

Carwin's agency was here easily recognized.  I had besought him to
interpose in my defense.  He had flown.  I had imagined him deaf to
my prayer, and resolute to see me perish; yet he disappeared merely
to devise and execute the means of my relief.

Why did he not forbear when this end was accomplished?  Why did his
misjudging zeal and accursed precipitation overpass that limit?  Or
meant he thus to crown the scene, and conduct his inscrutable plots
to this consummation?

Such ideas were the fruit of subsequent contemplation.  This moment
was pregnant with fate.  I had no power to reason.  In the career
of my tempestuous thoughts, rent into pieces as my mind was by
accumulating horrors, Carwin was unseen and unsuspected.  I partook
of Wieland's credulity, shook with his amazement, and panted with
his awe.

Silence took place for a moment: so much as allowed the attention
to recover its post.  Then new sounds were uttered from above:--

"Man of errors! cease to cherish thy delusion; not heaven or hell,
but thy senses, have misled thee to commit these acts.  Shake off
thy frenzy, and ascend into rational and human.  Be lunatic no
longer."

My brother opened his lips to speak.  His tone was terrific and
faint.  He muttered an appeal to heaven.  It was difficult to
comprehend the theme of his inquiries.  They implied doubt as to
the nature of the impulse that hitherto had guided him, and
questioned whether he had acted in consequence of insane
perceptions.

To these interrogatories the voice, which now seemed to hover at
his shoulder, loudly answered in the affirmative.  Then
uninterrupted silence ensued.

Fallen from his lofty and heroic station; now finally restored to
the perception of truth; weighed to earth by the recollection of
his own deeds; consoled no longer by a consciousness of rectitude
for the loss of offspring and wife,--a loss for which he was
indebted to his own misguided hand,--Wieland was transformed at
once into the MAN OF SORROWS!

He reflected not that credit should be as reasonably denied to the
last as to any former intimation; that one might as justly be
ascribed to erring or diseased senses as the other.  He saw not
that this discovery in no degree affected the integrity of his
conduct; that his motives had lost none of their claims to the
homage of mankind; that the preference of supreme good, and the
boundless energy of duty, were undiminished in his bosom.

It is not for me to pursue him through the ghastly changes of his
countenance.  Words he had none.  Now he sat upon the floor,
motionless in all his limbs, with his eyes glazed and fixed, a
monument of woe.

Anon a spirit of tempestuous but undesigning activity seized him.
He rose from his place and strode across the floor, tottering and
at random.  His eyes were without moisture, and gleamed with the
fire that consumed his vitals.  The muscles of his face were
agitated by convulsions.  His lips moved, but no sound escaped him.

That nature should long sustain this conflict was not to be
believed.  My state was little different from that of my brother.
I entered, as it were, into his thoughts.  My heart was visited and
rent by his pangs.  "Oh that thy frenzy had never been cured! that
thy madness, with its blissful visions, would return! or, if that
must not be, that thy scene would hasten to a close!--that death
would cover thee with his oblivion!

"What can I wish for thee?  Thou who hast vied with the great
Preacher of thy faith in sanctity of motives, and in elevation
above sensual and selfish!  Thou whom thy fate has changed into
parricide and savage!  Can I wish for the continuance of thy being?
No."

For a time his movements seemed destitute of purpose.  If he
walked; if he turned; if his fingers were entwined with each other;
if his hands were pressed against opposite sides of his head with a
force sufficient to crush it into pieces; it was to tear his mind
from self-contemplation; to waste his thoughts on external objects.

Speedily this train was broken.  A beam appeared to be darted into
his mind which gave a purpose to his efforts.  An avenue to escape
presented itself; and now he eagerly gazed about him.  When my
thoughts became engaged by his demeanor, my fingers were stretched
as by a mechanical force, and the knife, no longer heeded or of
use, escaped from my grasp and fell unperceived on the floor.  His
eye now lighted upon it; he seized it with the quickness of
thought.

I shrieked aloud, but it was too late.  He plunged it to the hilt
in his neck; and his life instantly escaped with the stream that
gushed from the wound.  He was stretched at my feet; and my hands
were sprinkled with his blood as he fell.

Such was thy last deed, my brother!  For a spectacle like this was
it my fate to be reserved!  Thy eyes were closed--thy face ghastly
with death--thy arms, and the spot where thou lyedst, floated in
thy life's blood!  These images have not for a moment forsaken me.
Till I am breathless and cold, they must continue to hover in my
sight.

Carwin, as I said, had left the room; but he still lingered in the
house.  My voice summoned him to my aid; but I scarcely noticed his
reentrance, and now faintly recollect his terrified looks, his
broken exclamations, his vehement avowals of innocence, the
effusions of his pity for me, and his offers of assistance.

I did not listen--I answered him not--I ceased to upbraid or
accuse.  His guilt was a point to which I was indifferent.  Ruffian
or devil, black as hell or bright as angels, thenceforth he was
nothing to me.  I was incapable of sparing a look or a thought from
the ruin that was spread at my feet.

When he left me, I was scarcely conscious of any variation in the
scene.  He informed the inhabitants of the hut of what had passed,
and they flew to the spot.  Careless of his own safety, he hasted
to the city to inform my friends of my condition.

My uncle speedily arrived at the house.  The body of Wieland was
removed from my presence, and they supposed that I would follow it;
but no, my home is ascertained; here I have taken up my rest, and
never will I go hence, till, like Wieland, I am borne to my grave.

Importunity was tried in vain.  They threatened to remove me by
violence,--nay, violence was used; but my soul prizes too dearly
this little roof to endure to be bereaved of it.  Force should not
prevail when the hoary locks and supplicating tears of my uncle
were ineffectual.  My repugnance to move gave birth to
ferociousness and frenzy when force was employed, and they were
obliged to consent to my return.

They besought me--they remonstrated--they appealed to every duty
that connected me with Him that made me and with my fellow-men--in
vain.  While I live I will not go hence.  Have I not fulfilled my
destiny?

Why will ye torment me with your reasonings and reproofs?  Can ye
restore to me the hope of my better days?  Can ye give me back
Catharine and her babes?  Can ye recall to life him who died at my
feet?

I will eat--I will drink--I will lie down and rise up--at your
bidding; all I ask is the choice of my abode.  What is there
unreasonable in this demand?  Shortly will I be at peace.  This is
the spot which I have chosen in which to breathe my last sigh.
Deny me not, I beseech you, so slight a boon.

Talk not to me, O my reverend friend! of Carwin.  He has told thee
his tale, and thou exculpatest him from all direct concern in the
fate of Wieland.  This scene of havoc was produced by an illusion
of the senses.  Be it so; I care not from what source these
disasters have flowed; it suffices that they have swallowed up our
hopes and our existence.

What his agency began, his agency conducted to a close.  He
intended, by the final effort of his power, to rescue me and to
banish his illusions from my brother.  Such is his tale, concerning
the truth of which I care not.  Henceforth I foster but one wish: I
ask only quick deliverance from life and all the ills that attend
it.

Go, wretch! torment me not with thy presence and thy prayers.--
Forgive thee?  Will that avail thee when thy fateful hour shall
arrive?  Be thou acquitted at thy own tribunal, and thou needest
not fear the verdict of others.  If thy guilt be capable of blacker
hues, if hitherto thy conscience be without stain, thy crime will
be made more flagrant by thus violating my retreat.  Take thyself
away from my sight if thou wouldst not behold my death!

Thou art gone! murmuring and reluctant!  And now my repose is
coming--my work is done!



Fitzjames O'Brien

The Golden Ingot


I had just retired to rest, with my eyes almost blind with the
study of a new work on physiology by M. Brown-Sequard, when the
night bell was pulled violently.

It was winter, and I confess I grumbled as I rose and went
downstairs to open the door.  Twice that week I had been aroused
long after midnight for the most trivial causes.  Once, to attend
upon the son and heir of a wealthy family, who had cut his thumb
with a penknife, which, it seems, he insisted on taking to bed with
him; and once, to restore a young gentleman to consciousness, who
had been found by his horrified parent stretched insensible on the
staircase.  Diachylon in the one case and ammonia in the other were
all that my patients required; and I had a faint suspicion that the
present summons was perhaps occasioned by no case more necessitous
than those I have quoted.  I was too young in my profession,
however, to neglect opportunities.  It is only when a physician
rises to a very large practice that he can afford to be
inconsiderate.  I was on the first step of the ladder, so I humbly
opened my door.

A woman was standing ankle deep in the snow that lay upon the
stoop.  I caught but a dim glimpse of her form, for the night was
cloudy; but I could hear her teeth rattling like castanets, and, as
the sharp wind blew her clothes close to her form, I could discern
from the sharpness of the outlines that she was very scantily
supplied with raiment.

"Come in, come in, my good woman," I said hastily, for the wind
seemed to catch eagerly at the opportunity of making itself at home
in my hall, and was rapidly forcing an entrance through the half-
open door.  "Come in, you can tell me all you have to communicate
inside."

She slipped in like a ghost, and I closed the door.  While I was
striking a light in my office, I could hear her teeth still
clicking out in the dark hall, till it seemed as if some skeleton
was chattering.  As soon as I obtained a light I begged her to
enter the room, and, without occupying myself particularly about
her appearance, asked her abruptly what her business was.

"My father has met with a severe accident," she said, "and requires
instant surgical aid.  I entreat you to come to him immediately."

The freshness and the melody of her voice startled me.  Such voices
rarely, if ever, issue from any but beautiful forms.  I looked at
her attentively, but, owing to a nondescript species of shawl in
which her head was wrapped, I could discern nothing beyond what
seemed to be a pale, thin face and large eyes.  Her dress was
lamentable.  An old silk, of a color now unrecognizable, clung to
her figure in those limp folds which are so eloquent of misery.
The creases where it had been folded were worn nearly through, and
the edges of the skirt had decayed into a species of irregular
fringe, which was clotted and discolored with mud.  Her shoes--
which were but half concealed by this scanty garment--were
shapeless and soft with moisture.  Her hands were hidden under the
ends of the shawl which covered her head and hung down over a bust,
the outlines of which, although angular, seemed to possess grace.
Poverty, when partially shrouded, seldom fails to interest: witness
the statue of the Veiled Beggar, by Monti.

"In what manner was your father hurt?" I asked, in a tone
considerably softened from the one in which I put my first
question.

"He blew himself up, sir, and is terribly wounded."

"Ah!  He is in some factory, then?"

"No, sir, he is a chemist."

"A chemist?  Why, he is a brother professional.  Wait an instant,
and I will slip on my coat and go with you.  Do you live far from
here?"

"In the Seventh Avenue, not more than two blocks from the end of
this street."

"So much the better.  We will be with him in a few minutes.  Did
you leave anyone in attendance on him?"

"No, sir.  He will allow no one but myself to enter his laboratory.
And, injured as he is, I could not induce him to quit it."

"Indeed!  He is engaged in some great research, perhaps?  I have
known such cases."

We were passing under a lamp-post, and the woman suddenly turned
and glared at me with a look of such wild terror that for an
instant I involuntarily glanced round me under the impression that
some terrible peril, unseen by me, was menacing us both.

"Don't--don't ask me any questions," she said breathlessly.  "He
will tell you all.  But do, oh, do hasten!  Good God! he may be
dead by this time!"

I made no reply, but allowed her to grasp my hand, which she did
with a bony, nervous clutch, and endeavored with some difficulty to
keep pace with the long strides--I might well call them bounds, for
they seemed the springs of a wild animal rather than the paces of a
young girl--with which she covered the ground.  Not a word more was
uttered until we stopped before a shabby, old-fashioned tenement
house in the Seventh Avenue, not far above Twenty-third Street.
She pushed the door open with a convulsive pressure, and, still
retaining hold of my hand, literally dragged me upstairs to what
seemed to be a back offshoot from the main building, as high,
perhaps, as the fourth story.  In a moment more I found myself in a
moderate-sized chamber, lit by a single lamp.  In one corner,
stretched motionless on a wretched pallet bed, I beheld what I
supposed to be the figure of my patient.

"He is there," said the girl; "go to him.  See if he is dead--I
dare not look."

I made my way as well as I could through the numberless dilapidated
chemical instruments with which the room was littered.  A French
chafing dish supported on an iron tripod had been overturned, and
was lying across the floor, while the charcoal, still warm, was
scattered around in various directions.  Crucibles, alembics, and
retorts were confusedly piled in various corners, and on a small
table I saw distributed in separate bottles a number of mineral and
metallic substances, which I recognized as antimony, mercury,
plumbago, arsenic, borax, etc.  It was veritably the apartment of a
poor chemist.  All the apparatus had the air of being second-hand.
There was no luster of exquisitely annealed glass and highly
polished metals, such as dazzles one in the laboratory of the
prosperous analyst.  The makeshifts of poverty were everywhere
visible.  The crucibles were broken, or gallipots were used instead
of crucibles.  The colored tests were not in the usual transparent
vials, but were placed in ordinary black bottles.  There is nothing
more melancholy than to behold science or art in distress.  A
threadbare scholar, a tattered book, or a battered violin is a mute
appeal to our sympathy.

I approached the wretched pallet bed on which the victim of
chemistry was lying.  He breathed heavily, and had his head turned
toward the wall.  I lifted his arm gently to arouse his attention.
"How goes it, my poor friend?" I asked him.  "Where are you hurt?"

In a moment, as if startled by the sound of my voice, he sprang up
in his bed, and cowered against the wall like a wild animal driven
to bay.  "Who are you?  I don't know you.  Who brought you here?
You are a stranger.  How dare you come into my private rooms to spy
upon me?"

And as he uttered this rapidly with a frightful nervous energy, I
beheld a pale distorted face, draped with long gray hair, glaring
at me with a mingled expression of fury and terror.

"I am no spy," I answered mildly.  "I heard that you had met with
an accident, and have come to cure you.  I am Dr. Luxor, and here
is my card."

The old man took the card, and scanned it eagerly.  "You are a
physician?" he inquired distrustfully.

"And surgeon also."

"You are bound by oath not to reveal the secrets of your patients."

"Undoubtedly."

"I am afraid that I am hurt," he continued faintly, half sinking
back in the bed.

I seized the opportunity to make a brief examination of his body.
I found that the arms, a part of the chest, and a part of the face
were terribly scorched; but it seemed to me that there was nothing
to be apprehended but pain.

"You will not reveal anything that you may learn here?" said the
old man, feebly fixing his eyes on my face while I was applying a
soothing ointment to the burns.  "You will promise me."

I nodded assent.

"Then I will trust you.  Cure me--I will pay you well."

I could scarce help smiling.  If Lorenzo de' Medici, conscious of
millions of ducats in his coffers, had been addressing some leech
of the period, he could not have spoken with a loftier air than
this inhabitant of the fourth story of a tenement house in the
Seventh Avenue.

"You must keep quiet," I answered.  "Let nothing irritate you.  I
will leave a composing draught with your daughter, which she will
give you immediately.  I will see you in the morning.  You will be
well in a week."

"Thank God!" came in a murmur from a dusk corner near the door.  I
turned, and beheld the dim outline of the girl, standing with
clasped hands in the gloom of the dim chamber.

"My daughter!" screamed the old man, once more leaping up in the
bed with renewed vitality.  "You have seen her, then?  When?
Where?  Oh, may a thousand cur--"

"Father! father!  Anything--anything but that.  Don't, don't curse
me!"  And the poor girl, rushing in, flung herself sobbing on her
knees beside his pallet.

"Ah, brigand!  You are there, are you?  Sir," said he, turning to
me, "I am the most unhappy man in the world.  Talk of Sisyphus
rolling the ever-recoiling stone--of Prometheus gnawed by the
vulture since the birth of time.  The fables yet live.  There is my
rock, forever crushing me back! there is my eternal vulture,
feeding upon my heart!  There! there! there!"  And, with an awful
gesture of malediction and hatred, he pointed with his wounded
hand, swathed and shapeless with bandages, at the cowering,
sobbing, wordless woman by his side.

I was too much horror-stricken to attempt even to soothe him.  The
anger of blood against blood has an electric power which paralyzes
bystanders.

"Listen to me, sir," he continued, "while I skin this painted
viper.  I have your oath; you will not reveal.  I am an alchemist,
sir.  Since I was twenty-two years old, I have pursued the
wonderful and subtle secret.  Yes, to unfold the mysterious Rose
guarded with such terrible thorns; to decipher the wondrous Table
of Emerald; to accomplish the mystic nuptials of the Red King and
the White Queen; to marry them soul to soul and body to body,
forever and ever, in the exact proportions of land and water--such
has been my sublime aim, such has been the splendid feat that I
have accomplished."

I recognized at a glance, in this incomprehensible farrago, the
argot of the true alchemist.  Ripley, Flamel, and others have
supplied the world, in their works, with the melancholy spectacle
of a scientific bedlam.

"Two years since," continued the poor man, growing more and more
excited with every word that he uttered--"two years since, I
succeeded in solving the great problem--in transmuting the baser
metals into gold.  None but myself, that girl, and God knows the
privations I had suffered up to that time.  Food, clothing, air,
exercise, everything but shelter, was sacrificed toward the one
great end.  Success at last crowned my labors.  That which Nicholas
Flamel did in 1382, that which George Ripley did at Rhodes in 1460,
that which Alexander Sethon and Michael Scudivogius did in the
seventeenth century, I did in 1856.  I made gold!  I said to
myself, 'I will astonish New York more than Flamel did Paris.'  He
was a poor copyist, and suddenly launched into magnificence.  I had
scarce a rag to my back: I would rival the Medicis.  I made gold
every day.  I toiled night and morning; for I must tell you that I
never was able to make more than a certain quantity at a time, and
that by a process almost entirely dissimilar to those hinted at in
those books of alchemy I had hitherto consulted.  But I had no
doubt that facility would come with experience, and that ere long I
should be able to eclipse in wealth the richest sovereigns of the
earth.

"So I toiled on.  Day after day I gave to this girl here what gold
I succeeded in fabricating, telling her to store it away after
supplying our necessities.  I was astonished to perceive that we
lived as poorly as ever.  I reflected, however, that it was perhaps
a commendable piece of prudence on the part of my daughter.
Doubtless, I said, she argues that the less we spend the sooner we
shall accumulate a capital wherewith to live at ease; so, thinking
her course a wise one, I did not reproach her with her
niggardliness, but toiled on, amid want, with closed lips.

"The gold which I fabricated was, as I said before, of an
invariable size, namely, a little ingot worth perhaps thirty or
forty-five dollars.  In two years I calculated that I had made five
hundred of these ingots, which, rated at an average of thirty
dollars apiece, would amount to the gross sum of fifteen thousand
dollars.  After deducting our slight expenses for two years, we
ought to have had nearly fourteen thousand dollars left.  It was
time, I thought, to indemnify myself for my years of suffering, and
surround my child and myself with such moderate comforts as our
means allowed.  I went to my daughter and explained to her that I
desired to make an encroachment upon our little hoard.  To my utter
amazement, she burst into tears, and told me that she had not got a
dollar--that all of our wealth had been stolen from her.  Almost
overwhelmed by this new misfortune, I in vain endeavored to
discover from her in what manner our savings had been plundered.
She could afford me no explanation beyond what I might gather from
an abundance of sobs and a copious flow of tears.

"It was a bitter blow, doctor, but nil desperandum was my motto, so
I went to work at my crucible again, with redoubled energy, and
made an ingot nearly every second day.  I determined this time to
put them in some secure place myself; but the very first day I set
my apparatus in order for the projection, the girl Marion--that is
my daughter's name--came weeping to me and implored me to allow her
to take care of our treasure.  I refused decisively, saying that,
having found her already incapable of filling the trust, I could
place no faith in her again.  But she persisted, clung to my neck,
threatened to abandon me; in short, used so many of the bad but
irresistible arguments known to women that I had not the heart to
refuse her.  She has since that time continued to take the ingots.

"Yet you behold," continued the old alchemist, casting an
inexpressibly mournful glance around the wretched apartment, "the
way we live.  Our food is insufficient and of bad quality; we never
buy clothes; the rent of this hole is a mere nothing.  What am I to
think of the wretched girl who plunges me into this misery?  Is she
a miser, think you?--or a female gamester?--or--or--does she
squander it riotously in places I know not of?  O Doctor, Doctor!
do not blame me if I heap imprecations on her head, for I have
suffered bitterly!"  The poor man here closed his eyes and sank
back groaning on his bed.

This singular narrative excited in me the strangest emotions.  I
glanced at the girl Marion, who had been a patient listener to
these horrible accusations of cupidity, and never did I behold a
more angelic air of resignation than beamed over her countenance.
It was impossible that anyone with those pure, limpid eyes; that
calm, broad forehead; that childlike mouth, could be such a monster
of avarice or deceit as the old man represented.  The truth was
plain enough: the alchemist was mad--what alchemist was there ever
who was not?--and his insanity had taken this terrible shape.  I
felt an inexpressible pity move my heart for this poor girl, whose
youth was burdened with such an awful sorrow.

"What is your name?" I asked the old man, taking his tremulous,
fevered hand in mine.

"William Blakelock," he answered.  "I come of an old Saxon stock,
sir, that bred true men and women in former days.  God! how did it
ever come to pass that such a one as that girl ever sprung from our
line?"  The glance of loathing and contempt that he cast at her
made me shudder.

"May you not be mistaken in your daughter?" I said, very mildly.
"Delusions with regard to alchemy are, or have been, very common--"

"What, sir?" cried the old man, bounding in his bed.  "What?  Do
you doubt that gold can be made?  Do you know, sir, that M. C.
Theodore Tiffereau made gold at Paris in the year 1854 in the
presence of M. Levol, the assayer of the Imperial Mint, and the
result of the experiments was read before the Academy of Sciences
on the sixteenth of October of the same year?  But stay; you shall
have better proof yet.  I will pay you with one of my ingots, and
you shall attend me until I am well.  Get me an ingot!"

This last command was addressed to Marion, who was still kneeling
close to her father's bedside.  I observed her with some curiosity
as this mandate was issued.  She became very pale, clasped her
hands convulsively, but neither moved nor made any reply.

"Get me an ingot, I say!" reiterated the alchemist passionately.

She fixed her large eyes imploringly upon him.  Her lips quivered,
and two huge tears rolled slowly down her white cheeks.

"Obey me, wretched girl," cried the old man in an agitated voice,
"or I swear, by all that I reverence in heaven and earth, that I
will lay my curse upon you forever!"

I felt for an instant that I ought perhaps to interfere, and spare
the girl the anguish that she was so evidently suffering; but a
powerful curiosity to see how this strange scene would terminate
withheld me.

The last threat of her father, uttered as it was with a terrible
vehemence, seemed to appall Marion.  She rose with a sudden leap,
as if a serpent had stung her, and, rushing into an inner
apartment, returned with a small object which she placed in my
hand, and then flung herself in a chair in a distant corner of the
room, weeping bitterly.

"You see--you see," said the old man sarcastically, "how
reluctantly she parts with it.  Take it, sir; it is yours."

It was a small bar of metal.  I examined it carefully, poised it in
my hand--the color, weight, everything, announced that it really
was gold.

"You doubt its genuineness, perhaps," continued the alchemist.
"There are acids on yonder table--test it."

I confess that I DID doubt its genuineness; but after I had acted
upon the old man's suggestion, all further suspicion was rendered
impossible.  It was gold of the highest purity.  I was astounded.
Was then, after all, this man's tale a truth?  Was his daughter,
that fair, angelic-looking creature, a demon of avarice, or a slave
to worse passions?  I felt bewildered.  I had never met with
anything so incomprehensible.  I looked from father to daughter in
the blankest amazement.  I suppose that my countenance betrayed my
astonishment, for the old man said: "I perceive that you are
surprised.  Well, that is natural.  You had a right to think me mad
until I proved myself sane."

"But, Mr. Blakelock," I said, "I really cannot take this gold.  I
have no right to it.  I cannot in justice charge so large a fee."

"Take it--take it," he answered impatiently; "your fee will amount
to that before I am well.  Besides," he added mysteriously, "I wish
to secure your friendship.  I wish that you should protect me from
her," and he pointed his poor, bandaged hand at Marion.

My eyes followed his gesture, and I caught the glance that replied--
a glance of horror, distrust, despair.  The beautiful face was
distorted into positive ugliness.

"It's all true," I thought; "she is the demon that her father
represents her."

I now rose to go.  This domestic tragedy sickened me.  This
treachery of blood against blood was too horrible to witness.  I
wrote a prescription for the old man, left directions as to the
renewal of the dressings upon his burns, and, bidding him good
night, hastened toward the door.

While I was fumbling on the dark, crazy landing for the staircase,
I felt a hand laid on my arm.

"Doctor," whispered a voice that I recognized as Marion
Blakelock's, "Doctor, have you any compassion in your heart?"

"I hope so," I answered shortly, shaking off her hand; her touch
filled me with loathing.

"Hush! don't talk so loud.  If you have any pity in your nature,
give me back, I entreat of you, that gold ingot which my father
gave you this evening."

"Great heaven!" said I, "can it be possible that so fair a woman
can be such a mercenary, shameless wretch?"

"Ah! you know not--I cannot tell you!  Do not judge me harshly.  I
call God to witness that I am not what you deem me.  Some day or
other you will know.  But," she added, interrupting herself, "the
ingot--where is it?  I must have it.  My life depends on your
giving it to me."

"Take it, impostor!" I cried, placing it in her hand, that closed
on it with a horrible eagerness.  "I never intended to keep it.
Gold made under the same roof that covers such as you must be
accursed."

So saying, heedless of the nervous effort she made to detain me, I
stumbled down the stairs and walked hastily home.

The next morning, while I was in my office, smoking my matutinal
cigar, and speculating over the singular character of my
acquaintances of last night, the door opened, and Marion Blakelock
entered.  She had the same look of terror that I had observed the
evening before, and she panted as if she had been running fast.

"Father has got out of bed," she gasped out, "and insists on going
on with his alchemy.  Will it kill him?"

"Not exactly," I answered coldly.  "It were better that he kept
quiet, so as to avoid the chance of inflammation.  However, you
need not be alarmed; his burns are not at all dangerous, although
painful."

"Thank God! thank God!" she cried, in the most impassioned accents;
and, before I was aware of what she was doing, she seized my hand
and kissed it.

"There, that will do," I said, withdrawing my hand; "you are under
no obligations to me.  You had better go back to your father."

"I can't go," she answered.  "You despise me--is it not so?"

I made no reply.

"You think me a monster--a criminal.  When you went home last
night, you were wonderstruck that so vile a creature as I should
have so fair a face."

"You embarrass me, madam," I said, in a most chilling tone.  "Pray
relieve me from this unpleasant position."

"Wait.  I cannot bear that you should think ill of me.  You are
good and kind, and I desire to possess your esteem.  You little
know how I love my father."

I could not restrain a bitter smile.

"You do not believe that?  Well, I will convince you.  I have had a
hard struggle all last night with myself, but am now resolved.
This life of deceit must continue no longer.  Will you hear my
vindication?"

I assented.  The wonderful melody of her voice and the purity of
her features were charming me once more.  I half believed in her
innocence already.

"My father has told you a portion of his history.  But he did not
tell you that his continued failures in his search after the secret
of metallic transmutation nearly killed him.  Two years ago he was
on the verge of the grave, working every day at his mad pursuit,
and every day growing weaker and more emaciated.  I saw that if his
mind was not relieved in some way he would die.  The thought was
madness to me, for I loved him--I love him still, as a daughter
never loved a father before.  During all these years of poverty I
had supported the house with my needle; it was hard work, but I did
it--I do it still!"

"What?" I cried, startled, "does not--"

"Patience.  Hear me out.  My father was dying of disappointment.  I
must save him.  By incredible exertions, working night and day, I
saved about thirty-five dollars in notes.  These I exchanged for
gold, and one day, when my father was not looking, I cast them into
the crucible in which he was making one of his vain attempts at
transmutation.  God, I am sure, will pardon the deception.  I never
anticipated the misery it would lead to.

"I never beheld anything like the joy of my poor father, when,
after emptying his crucible, he found a deposit of pure gold at the
bottom.  He wept, and danced, and sang, and built such castles in
the air, that my brain was dizzy to hear him.  He gave me the ingot
to keep, and went to work at his alchemy with renewed vigor.  The
same thing occurred.  He always found the same quantity of gold in
his crucible.  I alone knew the secret.  He was happy, poor man,
for nearly two years, in the belief that he was amassing a fortune.
I all the while plied my needle for our daily bread.  When he asked
me for the savings, the first stroke fell upon me.  Then it was
that I recognized the folly of my conduct.  I could give him no
money.  I never had any--while he believed that I had fourteen
thousand dollars.  My heart was nearly broken when I found that he
had conceived the most injurious suspicions against me.  Yet I
could not blame him.  I could give no account of the treasure I had
permitted him to believe was in my possession.  I must suffer the
penalty of my fault, for to undeceive him would be, I felt, to kill
him.  I remained silent then, and suffered.

"You know the rest.  You now know why it was that I was reluctant
to give you that ingot--why it was that I degraded myself so far as
to ask it back.  It was the only means I had of continuing a
deception on which I believed my father's life depended.  But that
delusion has been dispelled.  I can live this life of hypocrisy no
longer.  I cannot exist and hear my father, whom I love so, wither
me daily with his curses.  I will undeceive him this very day.
Will you come with me, for I fear the effect on his enfeebled
frame?"

"Willingly," I answered, taking her by the hand; "and I think that
no absolute danger need be apprehended.  Now, Marion," I added,
"let me ask forgiveness for having even for a moment wounded so
noble a heart.  You are truly as great a martyr as any of those
whose sufferings the Church perpetuates in altar-pieces."

"I knew you would do me justice when you knew all," she sobbed,
pressing my hand; "but come.  I am on fire.  Let us hasten to my
father, and break this terror to him."

When we reached the old alchemist's room, we found him busily
engaged over a crucible which was placed on a small furnace, and in
which some indescribable mixture was boiling.  He looked up as we
entered.

"No fear of me, doctor," he said, with a ghastly smile, "no fear; I
must not allow a little physical pain to interrupt my great work,
you know.  By the way, you are just in time.  In a few moments the
marriage of the Red King and White Queen will be accomplished, as
George Ripley calls the great act, in his book entitled 'The Twelve
Gates.'  Yes, doctor, in less than ten minutes you will see me make
pure, red, shining gold!"  And the poor old man smiled
triumphantly, and stirred his foolish mixture with a long rod,
which he held with difficulty in his bandaged hands.  It was a
grievous sight for a man of any feeling to witness.

"Father," said Marion, in a low, broken voice, advancing a little
toward the poor old dupe, "I want your forgiveness."

"Ah, hypocrite! for what?  Are you going to give me back my gold?"

"No, father, but for the deception that I have been practicing on
you for two years--"

"I knew it!  I knew it!" shouted the old man, with a radiant
countenance.  "She has concealed my fourteen thousand dollars all
this time, and now comes to restore them.  I will forgive her.
Where are they, Marion?"

"Father--it must come out.  You never made any gold.  It was I who
saved up thirty-five dollars, and I used to slip them into your
crucible when your back was turned--and I did it only because I saw
that you were dying of disappointment.  It was wrong, I know--but,
father, I meant well.  You'll forgive me, won't you?"  And the poor
girl advanced a step toward the alchemist.

He grew deathly pale, and staggered as if about to fall.  The next
instant, though, he recovered himself, and burst into a horrible
sardonic laugh.  Then he said, in tones full of the bitterest
irony: "A conspiracy, is it?  Well done, doctor!  You think to
reconcile me with this wretched girl by trumping up this story that
I have been for two years a dupe of her filial piety.  It's clumsy,
doctor, and is a total failure.  Try again."

"But I assure you, Mr. Blakelock," I said as earnestly as I could,
"I believe your daughter's statement to be perfectly true.  You
will find it to be so, as she has got the ingot in her possession
which so often deceived you into the belief that you made gold, and
you will certainly find that no transmutation has taken place in
your crucible."

"Doctor," said the old man, in tones of the most settled
conviction, "you are a fool.  The girl has wheedled you.  In less
than a minute I will turn you out a piece of gold purer than any
the earth produces.  Will that convince you?"

"That will convince me," I answered.  By a gesture I imposed
silence on Marion, who was about to speak.  I thought it better to
allow the old man to be his own undeceiver--and we awaited the
coming crisis.

The old man, still smiling with anticipated triumph, kept bending
eagerly over his crucible, stirring the mixture with his rod, and
muttering to himself all the time.  "Now," I heard him say, "it
changes.  There--there's the scum.  And now the green and bronze
shades flit across it.  Oh, the beautiful green! the precursor of
the golden-red hue that tells of the end attained!  Ah! now the
golden-red is coming--slowly--slowly!  It deepens, it shines, it is
dazzling!  Ah, I have it!"  So saying, he caught up his crucible in
a chemist's tongs, and bore it slowly toward the table on which
stood a brass vessel.

"Now, incredulous doctor!" he cried, "come and be convinced," and
immediately began carefully pouring the contents of the crucible
into the brass vessel.  When the crucible was quite empty he turned
it up and called me again.  "Come, doctor, come and be convinced.
See for yourself."

"See first if there is any gold in your crucible," I answered,
without moving.

He laughed, shook his head derisively, and looked into the
crucible.  In a moment he grew pale as death.

"Nothing!" he cried.  "Oh, a jest, a jest!  There must be gold
somewhere.  Marion!"

"The gold is here, father," said Marion, drawing the ingot from her
pocket; "it is all we ever had."

"Ah!" shrieked the poor old man, as he let the empty crucible fall,
and staggered toward the ingot which Marion held out to him.  He
made three steps, and then fell on his face.  Marion rushed toward
him, and tried to lift him, but could not.  I put her aside gently,
and placed my hand on his heart.

"Marion," said I, "it is perhaps better as it is.  He is dead!"



Fitzjames O'Brien


My Wife's Tempter

I

A PREDESTINED MARRIAGE

Elsie and I were to be married in less than a week.  It was rather
a strange match, and I knew that some of our neighbors shook their
heads over it and said that no good would come.  The way it came to
pass was thus.

I loved Elsie Burns for two years, during which time she refused me
three times.  I could no more help asking her to have me, when the
chance offered, than I could help breathing or living.  To love her
seemed natural to me as existence.  I felt no shame, only sorrow,
when she rejected me; I felt no shame either when I renewed my
suit.  The neighbors called me mean-spirited to take up with any
girl that had refused me as often as Elsie Burns had done; but what
cared I about the neighbors?  If it is black weather, and the sun
is under a cloud every day for a month, is that any reason why the
poor farmer should not hope for the blue sky and the plentiful
burst of warm light when the dark month is over?  I never entirely
lost heart.  Do not, however, mistake me.  I did not mope, and
moan, and grow pale, after the manner of poetical lovers.  No such
thing.  I went bravely about my business, ate and drank as usual,
laughed when the laugh went round, and slept soundly, and woke
refreshed.  Yet all this time I loved--desperately loved--Elsie
Burns.  I went wherever I hoped to meet her, but did not haunt her
with my attentions.  I behaved to her as any friendly young man
would have behaved: I met her and parted from her cheerfully.  She
was a good girl, too, and behaved well.  She had me in her power--
how a woman in Elsie's situation could have mortified a man in
mine!--but she never took the slightest advantage of it.  She
danced with me when I asked her, and had no foolish fears of
allowing me to see her home of nights, after a ball was over, or of
wandering with me through the pleasant New England fields when the
wild flowers made the paths like roads in fairyland.

On the several disastrous occasions when I presented my suit I did
it simply and manfully, telling her that I loved her very much, and
would do everything to make her happy if she would be my wife.  I
made no fulsome protestations, and did not once allude to suicide.
She, on the other hand, calmly and gravely thanked me for my good
opinion, but with the same calm gravity rejected me.  I used to
tell her that I was grieved; that I would not press her; that I
would wait and hope for some change in her feelings.  She had an
esteem for me, she would say, but could not marry me.  I never
asked her for any reasons.  I hold it to be an insult to a woman of
sense to demand her reasons on such an occasion.  Enough for me
that she did not then wish to be my wife; so that the old
intercourse went on--she cordial and polite as ever, I never for
one moment doubting that the day would come when my roof tree would
shelter her, and we should smile together over our fireside at my
long and indefatigable wooing.

I will confess that at times I felt a little jealous--jealous of a
man named Hammond Brake, who lived in our village.  He was a weird,
saturnine fellow, who made no friends among the young men of the
neighborhood, but who loved to go alone, with his books and his own
thoughts for company.  He was a studious and, I believe, a learned
young man, and there was no avoiding the fact that he possessed
considerable influence over Elsie.  She liked to talk with him in
corners, or in secluded nooks of the forest, when we all went out
blackberry gathering or picnicking.  She read books that he gave
her, and whenever a discussion arose relative to any topic higher
than those ordinary ones we usually canvassed, Elsie appealed to
Brake for his opinion, as a disciple consulting a beloved master.
I confess that for a time I feared this man as a rival.  A little
closer observation, however, convinced me that my suspicions were
unfounded.  The relations between Elsie and Hammond Brake were
purely intellectual.  She reverenced his talents and acquirements,
but she did not love him.  His influence over her, nevertheless,
was none the less decided.

In time--as I thought all along--Elsie yielded.  I was what was
considered a most eligible match, being tolerably rich, and Elsie's
parents were most anxious to have me for a son-in-law.  I was good-
looking and well educated enough, and the old people, I believe,
pertinaciously dinned all my advantages into my little girl's ears.
She battled against the marriage for a long time with a strange
persistence--all the more strange because she never alleged the
slightest personal dislike to me; but after a vigorous cannonading
from her own garrison (in which, I am proud to say, I did not in
any way join), she hoisted the white flag and surrendered.

I was very happy.  I had no fear about being able to gain Elsie's
heart.  I think--indeed I know--that she had liked me all along,
and that her refusals were dictated by other feelings than those of
a personal nature.  I only guessed as much then.  It was some time
before I knew all.

As the day approached for our wedding Elsie did not appear at all
stricken with woe.  The village gossips had not the smallest
opportunity for establishing a romance, with a compulsory bride for
the heroine.  Yet to me it seemed as if there was something strange
about her.  A vague terror appeared to beset her.  Even in her most
loving moments, when resting in my arms, she would shrink away from
me, and shudder as if some cold wind had suddenly struck upon her.
That it was caused by no aversion to me was evident, for she would
the moment after, as if to make amends, give me one of those
voluntary kisses that are sweeter than all others.

Once only did she show any emotion.  When the solemn question was
put to her, the answer to which was to decide her destiny, I felt
her hand--which was in mine--tremble.  As she gasped out a
convulsive "Yes," she gave one brief, imploring glance at the
gallery on the right.  I placed the ring upon her finger, and
looked in the direction in which she gazed.  Hammond Brake's dark
countenance was visible looking over the railings, and his eyes
were bent sternly on Elsie.  I turned quickly round to my bride,
but her brief emotion, of whatever nature, had vanished.  She was
looking at me anxiously, and smiling--somewhat sadly--through her
maiden's tears.

The months went by quickly, and we were very happy.  I learned that
Elsie really loved me, and of my love for her she had proof long
ago.  I will not say that there was no cloud upon our little
horizon.  There was one, but it was so small, and appeared so
seldom, that I scarcely feared it.  The old vague terror seemed
still to attack my wife.  If I did not know her to be pure as
heaven's snow, I would have said it was a REMORSE.  At times she
scarcely appeared to hear what I said, so deep would be her
reverie.  Nor did those moods seem pleasant ones.  When rapt in
such, her sweet features would contract, as if in a hopeless effort
to solve some mysterious problem.  A sad pain, as it were, quivered
in her white, drooped eyelids.  One thing I particularly remarked:
SHE SPENT HOURS AT A TIME GAZING AT THE WEST.  There was a small
room in our house whose windows, every evening, flamed with the red
light of the setting sun.  Here Elsie would sit and gaze westward,
so motionless and entranced that it seemed as if her soul was going
down with the day.  Her conduct to me was curiously varied.  She
apparently loved me very much, yet there were times when she
absolutely avoided me.  I have seen her strolling through the
fields, and left the house with the intention of joining her, but
the moment she caught sight of me approaching she has fled into the
neighboring copse, with so evident a wish to avoid me that it would
have been absolutely cruel to follow.

Once or twice the old jealousy of Hammond Brake crossed my mind,
but I was obliged to dismiss it as a frivolous suspicion.  Nothing
in my wife's conduct justified any such theory.  Brake visited us
once or twice a week--in fact, when I returned from my business in
the village, I used to find him seated in the parlor with Elsie,
reading some favorite author, or conversing on some novel literary
topic; but there was no disposition to avoid my scrutiny.  Brake
seemed to come as a matter of right; and the perfect
unconsciousness of furnishing any grounds for suspicion with which
he acted was a sufficient answer to my mind for any wild doubts
that my heart may have suggested.

Still I could not but remark that Brake's visits were in some
manner connected with Elsie's melancholy.  On the days when he had
appeared and departed, the gloom seemed to hang more thickly than
ever over her head.  She sat, on such occasions, all the evening at
the western window, silently gazing at the cleft in the hills
through which the sun passed to his repose.

At last I made up my mind to speak to her.  It seemed to me to be
my duty, if she had a sorrow, to partake of it.  I approached her
on the matter with the most perfect confidence that I had nothing
to learn beyond the existence of some girlish grief, which a
confession and a few loving kisses would exorcise forever.

"Elsie," I said to her one night, as she sat, according to her
custom, gazing westward, like those maidens of the old ballads of
chivalry watching for the knights that never came--"Elsie, what is
the matter with you, darling?  I have noticed a strange melancholy
in you for some time past.  Tell me all about it."

She turned quickly round and gazed at me with eyes wide open and
face filled with a sudden fear.  "Why do you ask me that, Mark?"
she answered.  "I have nothing to tell."

From the strange, startled manner in which this reply was given, I
felt convinced that she had something to tell, and instantly formed
a determination to discover what it was.  A pang shot through my
heart as I thought that the woman whom I held dearer than anything
on earth hesitated to trust me with a petty secret.

I believed I understood.  I was tolerably rich.  I knew it could
not be any secret over milliners' bills or women's usual money
troubles.  God help me!  I felt sad enough at the moment, though I
kissed her back and ceased to question her.  I felt sad, because my
instinct told me that she deceived me; and it is very hard to be
deceived, even in trifles, by those we love.  I left her sitting at
her favorite window, and walked out into the fields.  I wanted to
think.

I remained out until I saw lights in the parlor shining through the
dusky evening; then I returned slowly.  As I passed the windows--
which were near the ground, our house being cottage-built--I looked
in.  Hammond Brake was sitting with my wife.  She was sitting in a
rocking chair opposite to him, holding a small volume open on her
lap.  Brake was talking to her very earnestly, and she was
listening to him with an expression I had never before seen on her
countenance.  Awe, fear, and admiration were all blent together in
those dilating eyes.  She seemed absorbed, body and soul, in what
this man said.  I shuddered at the sight.  A vague terror seized
upon me; I hastened into the house.  As I entered the room rather
suddenly, my wife started and hastily concealed the little volume
that lay on her lap in one of her wide pockets.  As she did so, a
loose leaf escaped from the volume and slowly fluttered to the
floor unobserved by either her or her companion.  But I had my eye
upon it.  I felt that it was a clew.

"What new novel or philosophical wonder have you both been poring
over?" I asked quite gayly, stealthily watching at the same time
the telltale embarrassment under which Elsie was laboring.

Brake, who was not in the least discomposed, replied.  "That," said
he, "is a secret which must be kept from you.  It is an advance
copy, and is not to be shown to anyone except your wife."

"Ha!" cried I, "I know what it is.  It is your volume of poems that
Ticknor is publishing.  Well, I can wait until it is regularly for
sale."

I knew that Brake had a volume in the hands of the publishing house
I mentioned, with a vague promise of publication some time in the
present century.  Hammond smiled significantly, but did not reply.
He evidently wished to cultivate this supposed impression of mine.
Elsie looked relieved, and heaved a deep sigh.  I felt more than
ever convinced that a secret was beneath all this.  So I drew my
chair over the fallen leaf that lay unnoticed on the carpet, and
talked and laughed with Hammond Brake gayly, as if nothing was on
my mind, while all the time a great load of suspicion lay heavily
at my heart.

At length Hammond Brake rose to go.  I wished him good night, but
did not offer to accompany him to the door.  My wife supplied this
omitted courtesy, as I had expected.  The moment I was alone I
picked up the book leaf from the floor.  It was NOT the leaf of a
volume of poems.  Beyond that, however, I learned nothing.  It
contained a string of paragraphs printed in the biblical fashion,
and the language was biblical in style.  It seemed to be a portion
of some religious book.  Was it possible that my wife was being
converted to the Romish faith?  Yes, that was it.  Brake was a
Jesuit in disguise--I had heard of such things--and had stolen into
the bosom of my family to plant there his destructive errors.
There could be no longer any doubt of it.  This was some portion of
a Romish book--some infamous Popish publication.  Fool that I was
not to see it all before!  But there was yet time.  I would forbid
him the house.

I had just formed this resolution when my wife entered.  I put the
strange leaf in my pocket and took my hat.

"Why, you are not going out, surely?" cried Elsie, surprised.

"I have a headache," I answered.  "I will take a short walk."

Elsie looked at me with a peculiar air of distrust.  Her woman's
instinct told her that there was something wrong.  Before she could
question me, however, I had left the room and was walking rapidly
on Hammond Brake's track.

He heard the footsteps, and I saw his figure, black against the
sky, stop and peer back through the dusk to see who was following
him.

"It is I, Brake," I called out.  "Stop; I wish to speak with you."

He stopped, and in a minute or so we were walking side by side
along the road.  My fingers itched at that moment to be on his
throat.  I commenced the conversation.

"Brake," I said, "I'm a very plain sort of man, and I never say
anything without good reason.  What I came after you to tell you
is, that I don't wish you to come to my house any more, or to speak
with Elsie any farther than the ordinary salutations go.  It's no
joke.  I'm quite in earnest."

Brake started, and, stopping short, faced me suddenly in the road.
"What have I done?" he asked.  "You surely are too sensible a man
to be jealous, Dayton."

"Oh," I answered scornfully, "not jealous in the ordinary sense of
the word, a bit.  But I don't think your company good company for
my wife, Brake.  If you WILL have it out of me, I suspect you of
being a Roman Catholic, and of trying to convert my wife."

A smile shot across his face, and I saw his sharp white teeth gleam
for an instant in the dusk.

"Well, what if I am a Papist?" he said, with a strange tone of
triumph in his voice.  "The faith is not criminal.  Besides, what
proof have you that I was attempting to proselyte your wife?"

"This," said I, pulling the leaf from my pocket--"this leaf from
one of those devilish Papist books you and she were reading this
evening.  I picked it up from the floor.  Proof enough, I think!"

In an instant Brake had snatched the leaf from my hand and torn it
into atoms.

"You shall be obeyed," he said.  "I will not speak with Elsie as
long as she is your wife.  Good night.  You think I'm a Papist,
then, Dayton?  You're a clever fellow!"

And with rather a sneering chuckle he marched on along the road and
vanished into the darkness.


II

THE SECRET DISCOVERED


Brake came no more.  I said nothing to Elsie about his prohibition,
and his name was never mentioned.  It seemed strange to me that she
should not speak of his absence, and I was very much puzzled by her
silence.  Her moodiness seemed to have increased, and, what was
most remarkable, in proportion as she grew more and more reserved,
the intenser were the bursts of affection which she exhibited for
me.  She would strain me to her bosom and kiss me, as if she and I
were about to be parted forever.  Then for hours she would remain
sitting at her window, silently gazing, with that terrible, wistful
gaze of hers, at the west.

I will confess to having watched my wife at this time.  I could not
help it.  That some mystery hung about her I felt convinced.  I
must fathom it or die.  Her honor I never for a moment doubted; yet
there seemed to weigh continually upon me the prophecy of some
awful domestic calamity.  This time the prophecy was not in vain.

About three weeks after I had forbidden Brake my house, I was
strolling over my farm in the evening apparently inspecting my
agriculture, but in reality speculating on that topic which
latterly was ever present to me.

There was a little knoll covered with evergreen oaks at the end of
the lawn.  It was a picturesque spot, for on one side the bank went
off into a sheer precipice of about eighty feet in depth, at the
bottom of which a pretty pool lay, that in the summer time was
fringed with white water-lilies.  I had thought of building a
summer-house in this spot, and now my steps mechanically directed
themselves toward the place.  As I approached I heard voices.  I
stopped and listened eagerly.  A few seconds enabled me to
ascertain that Hammond Brake and my wife were in the copse talking
together.  She still followed him, then; and he, scoundrel that he
was, had broken his promise.  A fury seemed to fill my veins as I
made this discovery.  I felt the impulse strong upon me to rush
into the grove, and then and there strangle the villain who was
poisoning my peace.  But with a powerful effort I restrained
myself.  It was necessary that I should overhear what was said.  I
threw myself flat on the grass, and so glided silently into the
copse until I was completely within earshot.  This was what I
heard.

My wife was sobbing.  "So soon--so soon?  I--Hammond, give me a
little time!"

"I cannot, Elsie.  My chief orders me to join him.  You must
prepare to accompany me."

"No, no!" murmured Elsie.  "He loves me so!  And I love him.  Our
child, too--how can I rob him of our unborn babe?"

"Another sheep for our flock," answered Brake solemnly.  "Elsie, do
you forget your oath?  Are you one of us, or are you a common
hypocrite, who will be of us until the hour of self-sacrifice, and
then fly like a coward?  Elsie, you must leave to-night."

"Ah! my husband, my husband!" sobbed the unhappy woman.

"You have no husband, woman," cried Brake harshly.  "I promised
Dayton not to speak to you as long as you were his wife, but the
vow was annulled before it was made.  Your husband in God yet
awaits you.  You will yet be blessed with the true spouse."

"I feel as if I were going to die," cried Elsie.  "How can I ever
forsake him--he who was so good to me?"

"Nonsense! no weakness.  He is not worthy of you.  Go home and
prepare for your journey.  You know where to meet me.  I will have
everything ready, and by daybreak there shall be no trace of us
left.  Beware of permitting your husband to suspect anything.  He
is not very shrewd at such things--he thought I was a Jesuit in
disguise--but we had better be careful.  Now go.  You have been too
long here already.  Bless you, sister."

A few faint sobs, a rustling of leaves, and I knew that Brake was
alone.  I rose, and stepped silently into the open space in which
he stood.  His back was toward me.  His arms were lifted high over
his head with an exultant gesture, and I could see his profile, as
it slightly turned toward me, illuminated with a smile of scornful
triumph.  I put my hand suddenly on his throat from behind, and
flung him on the ground before he could utter a cry.

"Not a word," I said, unclasping a short-bladed knife which I
carried; "answer my questions, or, by heaven, I will cut your
throat from ear to ear!"

He looked up into my face with an unflinching eye, and set his lips
as if resolved to suffer all.

"What are you?  Who are you?  What object have you in the seduction
of my wife?"

He smiled, but was silent.

"Ah! you won't answer.  We'll see."

I pressed the knife slowly against his throat.  His face contracted
spasmodically, but although a thin red thread of blood sprang out
along the edge of the blade, Brake remained mute.  An idea suddenly
seized me.  This sort of death had no terrors for him.  I would try
another.  There was the precipice.  I was twice as powerful as he
was, so I seized him in my arms, and in a moment transported him to
the margin of the steep, smooth cliff, the edge of which was
garnished with the tough stems of the wild vine.  He seemed to feel
it was useless to struggle with me, so allowed me passively to roll
him over the edge.  When he was suspended in the air, I gave him a
vine stem to cling to and let him go.  He swung at a height of
eighty feet, with face upturned and pale.  He dared not look down.
I seated myself on the edge of the cliff, and with my knife began
to cut into the thick vine a foot or two above the place of his
grasp.  I was correct in my calculation.  This terror was too much
for him.  As he saw the notch in the vine getting deeper and
deeper, his determination gave way.

"I'll answer you," he gasped out, gazing at me with starting
eyeballs; "what do you ask?"

"What are you?" was my question, as I ceased cutting at the stem.

"A Mormon," was the answer, uttered with a groan.  "Take me up.  My
hands are slipping.  Quick!"

"And you wanted my wife to follow you to that infernal Salt Lake,
City, I suppose?"

"For God's sake, release me!  I'll quit the place, never to come
back.  Do help me up, Dayton--I'm falling!"

I felt mightily inclined to let the villain drop; but it did not
suit my purpose to be hung for murder, so I swung him back again on
the sward, where he fell panting and exhausted.

"Will you quit the place to-night?" I said.  "You'd better.  By
heaven, if you don't, I'll tell all the men in the village, and
we'll lynch you, as sure as your name is Brake."

"I'll go--I'll go," he groaned.  "I swear never to trouble you
again."

"You ought to be hanged, you villain.  Be off!"

He slunk away through the trees like a beaten dog; and I went home
in a state bordering on despair.  I found Elsie crying.  She was
sitting by the window as of old.  I knew now why she gazed so
constantly at the west.  It was her Mecca.  Something in my face, I
suppose, told her that I was laboring under great excitement.  She
rose startled as soon as I entered the room.

"Elsie," said I, "I am come to take you home."

"Home?  Why, I AM at home, am I not?  What do you mean?"

"No.  This is no longer your home.  You have deceived me.  You are
a Mormon.  I know all.  You have become a convert to that apostle
of hell, Brigham Young, and you cannot live with me.  I love you
still, Elsie, dearly; but--you must go and live with your father."



Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Minister's Black Veil


A PARABLE[1]


[1] Another clergyman in New England, Mr. Joseph Moody, of York,
Maine, made himself remarkable by the same eccentricity that is
here related of the Reverend Mr. Hooper.  In his case, however,
the symbol had a different import.  In early life he had
accidentally killed a beloved friend, and from that day till
the hour of his own death, he hid his face from men.


The sexton stood in the porch of Milford meeting-house, pulling
busily at the bell-rope.  The old people of the village came
stooping along the street.  Children, with bright faces, tripped
merrily beside their parents, or mimicked a graver gait, in the
conscious dignity of their Sunday clothes.  Spruce bachelors
looked sidelong at the pretty maidens, and fancied that the
Sabbath sunshine made them prettier than on week days.  When the
throng had mostly streamed into the porch, the sexton began to
toll the bell, keeping his eye on the Reverend Mr. Hooper's door.
The first glimpse of the clergyman's figure was the signal for
the bell to cease its summons.

"But what has good Parson Hooper got upon his face?" cried the
sexton in astonishment.

All within hearing immediately turned about, and beheld the
semblance of Mr. Hooper, pacing slowly his meditative way towards
the meetinghouse.  With one accord they started, expressing more
wonder than if some strange minister were coming to dust the
cushions of Mr. Hooper's pulpit.

"Are you sure it is our parson?" inquired Goodman Gray of the
sexton.

"Of a certainty it is good Mr. Hooper," replied the sexton.  "He
was to have exchanged pulpits with Parson Shute, of Westbury; but
Parson Shute sent to excuse himself yesterday, being to preach a
funeral sermon."

The cause of so much amazement may appear sufficiently slight.
Mr. Hooper, a gentlemanly person, of about thirty, though still a
bachelor, was dressed with due clerical neatness, as if a careful
wife had starched his band, and brushed the weekly dust from his
Sunday's garb.  There was but one thing remarkable in his
appearance.  Swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his
face, so low as to be shaken by his breath, Mr. Hooper had on a
black veil.  On a nearer view it seemed to consist of two folds of
crape, which entirely concealed his features, except the mouth
and chin, but probably did not intercept his sight, further than
to give a darkened aspect to all living and inanimate things.
With this gloomy shade before him, good Mr. Hooper walked onward,
at a slow and quiet pace, stooping somewhat, and looking on the
ground, as is customary with abstracted men, yet nodding kindly to
those of his parishioners who still waited on the meeting-house
steps.  But so wonder-struck were they that his greeting hardly
met with a return.

"I can't really feel as if good Mr. Hooper's face was behind that
piece of crape," said the sexton.

"I don't like it," muttered an old woman, as she hobbled into the
meeting-house.  "He has changed himself into something awful, only
by hiding his face."

"Our parson has gone mad!" cried Goodman Gray, following him
across the threshold.

A rumor of some unaccountable phenomenon had preceded Mr. Hooper
into the meeting-house, and set all the congregation astir.  Few
could refrain from twisting their heads towards the door; many
stood upright, and turned directly about; while several little
boys clambered upon the seats, and came down again with a
terrible racket.  There was a general bustle, a rustling of the
women's gowns and shuffling of the men's feet, greatly at
variance with that hushed repose which should attend the entrance
of the minister.  But Mr. Hooper appeared not to notice the
perturbation of his people.  He entered with an almost noiseless
step, bent his head mildly to the pews on each side, and bowed as
he passed his oldest parishioner, a white-haired great grandsire,
who occupied an arm-chair in the centre of the aisle.  It was
strange to observe how slowly this venerable man became conscious
of something singular in the appearance of his pastor.  He seemed
not fully to partake of the prevailing wonder, till Mr. Hooper
had ascended the stairs, and showed himself in the pulpit, face
to face with his congregation, except for the black veil.  That
mysterious emblem was never once withdrawn.  It shook with his
measured breath, as he gave out the psalm; it threw its obscurity
between him and the holy page, as he read the Scriptures; and
while he prayed, the veil lay heavily on his uplifted
countenance.  Did he seek to hide it from the dread Being whom he
was addressing?

Such was the effect of this simple piece of crape, that more
than one woman of delicate nerves was forced to leave the
meeting-house.  Yet perhaps the pale-faced congregation was almost
as fearful a sight to the minister, as his black veil to them.

Mr. Hooper had the reputation of a good preacher, but not an
energetic one: he strove to win his people heavenward by mild,
persuasive influences, rather than to drive them thither by the
thunders of the Word.  The sermon which he now delivered was
marked by the same characteristics of style and manner as the
general series of his pulpit oratory.  But there was something,
either in the sentiment of the discourse itself, or in the
imagination of the auditors, which made it greatly the most
powerful effort that they had ever heard from their pastor's
lips.  It was tinged, rather more darkly than usual, with the
gentle gloom of Mr. Hooper's temperament.  The subject had
reference to secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hide
from our nearest and dearest, and would fain conceal from our own
consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can detect
them.  A subtle power was breathed into his words.  Each member of
the congregation, the most innocent girl, and the man of hardened
breast, felt as if the preacher had crept upon them, behind his
awful veil, and discovered their hoarded iniquity of deed or
thought.  Many spread their clasped hands on their bosoms.  There
was nothing terrible in what Mr. Hooper said, at least, no
violence; and yet, with every tremor of his melancholy voice, the
hearers quaked.  An unsought pathos came hand in hand with awe.  So
sensible were the audience of some unwonted attribute in their
minister, that they longed for a breath of wind to blow aside the
veil, almost believing that a stranger's visage would be
discovered, though the form, gesture, and voice were those of Mr.
Hooper.

At the close of the services, the people hurried out with
indecorous confusion, eager to communicate their pent-up
amazement, and conscious of lighter spirits the moment they lost
sight of the black veil.  Some gathered in little circles, huddled
closely together, with their mouths all whispering in the centre;
some went homeward alone, wrapt in silent meditation; some talked
loudly, and profaned the Sabbath day with ostentatious laughter.
A few shook their sagacious heads, intimating that they could
penetrate the mystery; while one or two affirmed that there was
no mystery at all, but only that Mr. Hooper's eyes were so
weakened by the midnight lamp, as to require a shade.  After a
brief interval, forth came good Mr. Hooper also, in the rear of
his flock.  Turning his veiled face from one group to another, he
paid due reverence to the hoary heads, saluted the middle aged
with kind dignity as their friend and spiritual guide, greeted
the young with mingled authority and love, and laid his hands on
the little children's heads to bless them.  Such was always his
custom on the Sabbath day.  Strange and bewildered looks repaid
him for his courtesy.  None, as on former occasions, aspired to
the honor of walking by their pastor's side.  Old Squire Saunders,
doubtless by an accidental lapse of memory, neglected to invite
Mr. Hooper to his table, where the good clergyman had been wont
to bless the food, almost every Sunday since his settlement.  He
returned, therefore, to the parsonage, and, at the moment of
closing the door, was observed to look back upon the people, all
of whom had their eyes fixed upon the minister.  A sad smile
gleamed faintly from beneath the black veil, and flickered about
his mouth, glimmering as he disappeared.

"How strange," said a lady, "that a simple black veil, such as
any woman might wear on her bonnet, should become such a terrible
thing on Mr. Hooper's face!"

"Something must surely be amiss with Mr. Hooper's intellects,"
observed her husband, the physician of the village.  "But the
strangest part of the affair is the effect of this vagary, even
on a sober-minded man like myself.  The black veil, though it
covers only our pastor's face, throws its influence over his
whole person, and makes him ghostlike from head to foot.  Do you
not feel it so?"

"Truly do I," replied the lady; "and I would not be alone with
him for the world.  I wonder he is not afraid to be alone with
himself!"

"Men sometimes are so," said her husband.

The afternoon service was attended with similar circumstances.  At
its conclusion, the bell tolled for the funeral of a young lady.
The relatives and friends were assembled in the house, and the
more distant acquaintances stood about the door, speaking of the
good qualities of the deceased, when their talk was interrupted
by the appearance of Mr. Hooper, still covered with his black
veil.  It was now an appropriate emblem.  The clergyman stepped
into the room where the corpse was laid, and bent over the
coffin, to take a last farewell of his deceased parishioner.  As
he stooped, the veil hung straight down from his forehead, so
that, if her eyelids had not been closed forever, the dead maiden
might have seen his face.  Could Mr. Hooper be fearful of her
glance, that he so hastily caught back the black veil?  A person
who watched the interview between the dead and living, scrupled
not to affirm, that, at the instant when the clergyman's features
were disclosed, the corpse had slightly shuddered, rustling the
shroud and muslin cap, though the countenance retained the
composure of death.  A superstitious old woman was the only
witness of this prodigy.  From the coffin Mr. Hooper passed into
the chamber of the mourners, and thence to the head of the
staircase, to make the funeral prayer.  It was a tender and
heart-dissolving prayer, full of sorrow, yet so imbued with
celestial hopes, that the music of a heavenly harp, swept by the
fingers of the dead, seemed faintly to be heard among the saddest
accents of the minister.  The people trembled, though they but
darkly understood him when he prayed that they, and himself, and
all of mortal race, might be ready, as he trusted this young
maiden had been, for the dreadful hour that should snatch the
veil from their faces.  The bearers went heavily forth, and the
mourners followed, saddening all the street, with the dead before
them, and Mr. Hooper in his black veil behind.

"Why do you look back?" said one in the procession to his
partner.

"I had a fancy," replied she, "that the minister and the maiden's
spirit were walking hand in hand."

"And so had I, at the same moment," said the other.

That night, the handsomest couple in Milford village were to be
joined in wedlock.  Though reckoned a melancholy man, Mr. Hooper
had a placid cheerfulness for such occasions, which often excited
a sympathetic smile where livelier merriment would have been
thrown away.  There was no quality of his disposition which made
him more beloved than this.  The company at the wedding awaited
his arrival with impatience, trusting that the strange awe, which
had gathered over him throughout the day, would now be dispelled.
But such was not the result.  When Mr. Hooper came, the first
thing that their eyes rested on was the same horrible black veil,
which had added deeper gloom to the funeral, and could portend
nothing but evil to the wedding.  Such was its immediate effect on
the guests that a cloud seemed to have rolled duskily from
beneath the black crape, and dimmed the light of the candles.  The
bridal pair stood up before the minister.  But the bride's cold
fingers quivered in the tremulous hand of the bridegroom, and her
deathlike paleness caused a whisper that the maiden who had been
buried a few hours before was come from her grave to be married.
If ever another wedding were so dismal, it was that famous one
where they tolled the wedding knell.  After performing the
ceremony, Mr. Hooper raised a glass of wine to his lips, wishing
happiness to the new-married couple in a strain of mild pleasantry
that ought to have brightened the features of the guests, like a
cheerful gleam from the hearth.  At that instant, catching a
glimpse of his figure in the looking-glass, the black veil
involved his own spirit in the horror with which it overwhelmed
all others.  His frame shuddered, his lips grew white, he spilt
the untasted wine upon the carpet, and rushed forth into the
darkness.  For the Earth, too, had on her Black Veil.

The next day, the whole village of Milford talked of little else
than Parson Hooper's black veil.  That, and the mystery concealed
behind it, supplied a topic for discussion between acquaintances
meeting in the street, and good women gossiping at their open
windows.  It was the first item of news that the tavern-keeper
told to his guests.  The children babbled of it on their way to
school.  One imitative little imp covered his face with an old
black handkerchief, thereby so affrighting his playmates that the
panic seized himself, and he well-nigh lost his wits by his own
waggery.

It was remarkable that all of the busybodies and impertinent
people in the parish, not one ventured to put the plain question
to Mr. Hooper, wherefore he did this thing.  Hitherto, whenever
there appeared the slightest call for such interference, he had
never lacked advisers, nor shown himself averse to be guided by
their judgment.  If he erred at all, it was by so painful a degree
of self-distrust, that even the mildest censure would lead him to
consider an indifferent action as a crime.  Yet, though so well
acquainted with this amiable weakness, no individual among his
parishioners chose to make the black veil a subject of friendly
remonstrance.  There was a feeling of dread, neither plainly
confessed nor carefully concealed, which caused each to shift the
responsibility upon another, till at length it was found
expedient to send a deputation of the church, in order to deal
with Mr. Hooper about the mystery, before it should grow into a
scandal.  Never did an embassy so ill discharge its duties.  The
minister received then with friendly courtesy, but became silent,
after they were seated, leaving to his visitors the whole burden
of introducing their important business.  The topic, it might be
supposed, was obvious enough.  There was the black veil swathed
round Mr. Hooper's forehead, and concealing every feature above
his placid mouth, on which, at times, they could perceive the
glimmering of a melancholy smile.  But that piece of crape, to
their imagination, seemed to hang down before his heart, the
symbol of a fearful secret between him and them.  Were the veil
but cast aside, they might speak freely of it, but not till then.
Thus they sat a considerable time, speechless, confused, and
shrinking uneasily from Mr. Hooper's eye, which they felt to be
fixed upon them with an invisible glance.  Finally, the deputies
returned abashed to their constituents, pronouncing the matter
too weighty to be handled, except by a council of the churches,
if, indeed, it might not require a general synod.

But there was one person in the village unappalled by the awe
with which the black veil had impressed all beside herself.  When
the deputies returned without an explanation, or even venturing
to demand one, she, with the calm energy of her character,
determined to chase away the strange cloud that appeared to be
settling round Mr. Hooper, every moment more darkly than before.
As his plighted wife, it should be her privilege to know what the
black veil concealed.  At the minister's first visit, therefore,
she entered upon the subject with a direct simplicity, which made
the task easier both for him and her.  After he had seated
himself, she fixed her eyes steadfastly upon the veil, but could
discern nothing of the dreadful gloom that had so overawed the
multitude: it was but a double fold of crape, hanging down from
his forehead to his mouth, and slightly stirring with his breath.

"No," said she aloud, and smiling, "there is nothing terrible in
this piece of crape, except that it hides a face which I am
always glad to look upon.  Come, good sir, let the sun shine from
behind the cloud.  First lay aside your black veil: then tell me
why you put it on."

Mr. Hooper's smile glimmered faintly.

"There is an hour to come," said he, "when all of us shall cast
aside our veils.  Take it not amiss, beloved friend, if I wear
this piece of crape till then."

"Your words are a mystery, too," returned the young lady. "Take
away the veil from them, at least."

"Elizabeth, I will," said he, "so far as my vow may suffer me.
Know, then, this veil is a type and a symbol, and I am bound to
wear it ever, both in light and darkness, in solitude and before
the gaze of multitudes, and as with strangers, so with my
familiar friends.  No mortal eye will see it withdrawn.  This
dismal shade must separate me from the world: even you,
Elizabeth, can never come behind it!"

"What grievous affliction hath befallen you," she earnestly
inquired, "that you should thus darken your eyes forever?"

"If it be a sign of mourning," replied Mr. Hooper, "I, perhaps,
like most other mortals, have sorrows dark enough to be typified
by a black veil."

"But what if the world will not believe that it is the type of an
innocent sorrow?" urged Elizabeth.  "Beloved and respected as you
are, there may be whispers that you hide your face under the
consciousness of secret sin.  For the sake of your holy office, do
away this scandal!"

The color rose into her cheeks as she intimated the nature of the
rumors that were already abroad in the village.  But Mr. Hooper's
mildness did not forsake him.  He even smiled again--that same sad
smile, which always appeared like a faint glimmering of light,
proceeding from the obscurity beneath the veil.

"If I hide my face for sorrow, there is cause enough," he merely
replied; "and if I cover it for secret sin, what mortal might not
do the same?"

And with this gentle, but unconquerable obstinacy did he resist
all her entreaties.  At length Elizabeth sat silent.  For a few
moments she appeared lost in thought, considering, probably, what
new methods might be tried to withdraw her lover from so dark a
fantasy, which, if it had no other meaning, was perhaps a symptom
of mental disease.  Though of a firmer character than his own, the
tears rolled down her cheeks.  But, in an instant, as it were, a
new feeling took the place of sorrow: her eyes were fixed
insensibly on the black veil, when, like a sudden twilight in the
air, its terrors fell around her.  She arose, and stood trembling
before him.

"And do you feel it then, at last?" said he mournfully.

She made no reply, but covered her eyes with her hand, and turned
to leave the room.  He rushed forward and caught her arm.

"Have patience with me, Elizabeth!" cried he, passionately.  "Do
not desert me, though this veil must be between us here on earth.
Be mine, and hereafter there shall be no veil over my face, no
darkness between our souls!  It is but a mortal veil--it is not
for eternity!  O! you know not how lonely I am, and how
frightened, to be alone behind my black veil.  Do not leave me in
this miserable obscurity forever!"

"Lift the veil but once, and look me in the face," said she.

"Never!  It cannot be!" replied Mr. Hooper.

"Then farewell!" said Elizabeth.

She withdrew her arm from his grasp, and slowly departed, pausing
at the door, to give one long shuddering gaze, that seemed almost
to penetrate the mystery of the black veil.  But, even amid his
grief, Mr. Hooper smiled to think that only a material emblem had
separated him from happiness, though the horrors, which it
shadowed forth, must be drawn darkly between the fondest of
lovers.

From that time no attempts were made to remove Mr. Hooper's black
veil, or, by a direct appeal, to discover the secret which it was
supposed to hide.  By persons who claimed a superiority to popular
prejudice, it was reckoned merely an eccentric whim, such as
often mingles with the sober actions of men otherwise rational,
and tinges them all with its own semblance of insanity.  But with
the multitude, good Mr. Hooper was irreparably a bugbear.  He could
not walk the street with any peace of mind, so conscious was he
that the gentle and timid would turn aside to avoid him, and that
others would make it a point of hardihood to throw themselves in
his way.  The impertinence of the latter class compelled him to
give up his customary walk at sunset to the burial ground; for
when he leaned pensively over the gate, there would always be
faces behind the gravestones, peeping at his black veil.  A fable
went the rounds that the stare of the dead people drove him
thence.  It grieved him, to the very depth of his kind heart, to
observe how the children fled from his approach, breaking up
their merriest sports, while his melancholy figure was yet afar
off.  Their instinctive dread caused him to feel more strongly
than aught else, that a preternatural horror was interwoven with
the threads of the black crape.  In truth, his own antipathy to
the veil was known to be so great, that he never willingly passed
before a mirror, nor stooped to drink at a still fountain, lest,
in its peaceful bosom, he should be affrighted by himself.  This
was what gave plausibility to the whispers, that Mr. Hooper's
conscience tortured him for some great crime too horrible to be
entirely concealed, or otherwise than so obscurely intimated.
Thus, from beneath the black veil, there rolled a cloud into the
sunshine, an ambiguity of sin or sorrow, which enveloped the poor
minister, so that love or sympathy could never reach him.  It was
said that ghost and fiend consorted with him there.  With
self-shudderings and outward terrors, he walked continually in
its shadow, groping darkly within his own soul, or gazing through
a medium that saddened the whole world.  Even the lawless wind, it
was believed, respected his dreadful secret, and never blew aside
the veil.  But still good Mr. Hooper sadly smiled at the pale
visages of the worldly throng as he passed by.

Among all its bad influences, the black veil had the one
desirable effect, of making its wearer a very efficient
clergyman.  By the aid of his mysterious emblem--for there was no
other apparent cause--he became a man of awful power over souls
that were in agony for sin.  His converts always regarded him with
a dread peculiar to themselves, affirming, though but
figuratively, that, before he brought them to celestial light,
they had been with him behind the black veil.  Its gloom, indeed,
enabled him to sympathize with all dark affections.  Dying sinners
cried aloud for Mr. Hooper, and would not yield their breath till
he appeared; though ever, as he stooped to whisper consolation,
they shuddered at the veiled face so near their own.  Such were
the terrors of the black veil, even when Death had bared his
visage!  Strangers came long distances to attend service at his
church, with the mere idle purpose of gazing at his figure,
because it was forbidden them to behold his face.  But many were
made to quake ere they departed!  Once, during Governor Belcher's
administration, Mr. Hooper was appointed to preach the election
sermon.  Covered with his black veil, he stood before the chief
magistrate, the council, and the representatives, and wrought so
deep an impression, that the legislative measures of that year
were characterized by all the gloom and piety of our earliest
ancestral sway.

In this manner Mr. Hooper spent a long life, irreproachable in
outward act, yet shrouded in dismal suspicions; kind and loving,
though unloved, and dimly feared; a man apart from men, shunned
in their health and joy, but ever summoned to their aid in mortal
anguish.  As years wore on, shedding their snows above his sable
veil, he acquired a name throughout the New England churches, and
they called him Father Hooper.  Nearly all his parishioners, who
were of mature age when he was settled, had been borne away by
many a funeral: he had one congregation in the church, and a more
crowded one in the churchyard; and having wrought so late into
the evening, and done his work so well, it was now good Father
Hooper's turn to rest.

Several persons were visible by the shaded candlelight, in the
death chamber of the old clergyman.  Natural connections he had
none.  But there was the decorously grave, though unmoved
physician, seeking only to mitigate the last pangs of the patient
whom he could not save.  There were the deacons, and other
eminently pious members of his church.  There, also, was the
Reverend Mr. Clark, of Westbury, a young and zealous divine, who
had ridden in haste to pray by the bedside of the expiring
minister.  There was the nurse, no hired handmaiden of death, but
one whose calm affection had endured thus long in secrecy, in
solitude, amid the chill of age, and would not perish, even at
the dying hour.  Who, but Elizabeth!  And there lay the hoary head
of good Father Hooper upon the death pillow, with the black veil
still swathed about his brow, and reaching down over his face, so
that each more difficult gasp of his faint breath caused it to
stir.  All through life that piece of crape had hung between him
and the world: it had separated him from cheerful brotherhood and
woman's love, and kept him in that saddest of all prisons, his
own heart; and still it lay upon his face, as if to deepen the
gloom of his darksome chamber, and shade him from the sunshine of
eternity.

For some time previous, his mind had been confused, wavering
doubtfully between the past and the present, and hovering
forward, as it were, at intervals, into the indistinctness of the
world to come.  There had been feverish turns, which tossed him
from side to side, and wore away what little strength he had.  But
in his most convulsive struggles, and in the wildest vagaries of
his intellect, when no other thought retained its sober
influence, he still showed an awful solicitude lest the black
veil should slip aside.  Even if his bewildered soul could have
forgotten, there was a faithful woman at this pillow, who, with
averted eyes, would have covered that aged face, which she had
last beheld in the comeliness of manhood.  At length the
death-stricken old man lay quietly in the torpor of mental and
bodily exhaustion, with an imperceptible pulse, and breath that
grew fainter and fainter, except when a long, deep, and irregular
inspiration seemed to prelude the flight of his spirit.

The minister of Westbury approached the bedside.

"Venerable Father Hooper," said he, "the moment of your release
is at hand.  Are you ready for the lifting of the veil that shuts
in time from eternity?"

Father Hooper at first replied merely by a feeble motion of his
head; then, apprehensive, perhaps, that his meaning might be
doubted, he exerted himself to speak.

"Yea," said he, in faint accents, "my soul hath a patient
weariness until that veil be lifted."

"And is it fitting," resumed the Reverend Mr. Clark, "that a man
so given to prayer, of such a blameless example, holy in deed and
thought, so far as mortal judgment may pronounce; is it fitting
that a father in the church should leave a shadow on his memory,
that may seem to blacken a life so pure?  I pray you, my venerable
brother, let not this thing be!  Suffer us to be gladdened by your
triumphant aspect as you go to your reward.  Before the veil of
eternity be lifted, let me cast aside this black veil from your
face!"

And thus speaking, the Reverend Mr. Clark bent forward to reveal
the mystery of so many years.  But, exerting a sudden energy, that
made all the beholders stand aghast, Father Hooper snatched both
his hands from beneath the bedclothes, and pressed them strongly
on the black veil, resolute to struggle, if the minister of
Westbury would contend with a dying man.

"Never!" cried the veiled clergyman. "On earth, never!"

"Dark old man!" exclaimed the affrighted minister, "with what
horrible crime upon your soul are you now passing to the
judgment?"

Father Hooper's breath heaved; it rattled in his throat; but,
with a mighty effort, grasping forward with his hands, he caught
hold of life, and held it back till he should speak.  He even
raised himself in bed; and there he sat, shivering with the arms
of death around him, while the black veil hung down, awful, at
that last moment, in the gathered terrors of a lifetime.  And yet
the faint, sad smile, so often there, now seemed to glimmer from
its obscurity, and linger on Father Hooper's lips.

"Why do you tremble at me alone?" cried he, turning his veiled
face round the circle of pale spectators. "Tremble also at each
other!  Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children
screamed and fled, only for my black veil?  What, but the mystery
which it obscurely typifies, has made this piece of crape so
awful?  When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the
lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from
the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of
his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I
have lived, and die!  I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a
Black Veil!"

While his auditors shrank from one another, in mutual affright,
Father Hooper fell back upon his pillow, a veiled corpse, with a
faint smile lingering on the lips.  Still veiled, they laid him in
his coffin, and a veiled corpse they bore him to the grave.  The
grass of many years has sprung up and withered on that grave, the
burial stone is moss-grown, and good Mr. Hooper's face is dust;
but awful is still the thought that it mouldered beneath the
Black Veil!



Anonymous

Horror: A True Tale


I was but nineteen years of age when the incident occurred which
has thrown a shadow over my life; and, ah me! how many and many a
weary year has dragged by since then!  Young, happy, and beloved I
was in those long-departed days.  They said that I was beautiful.
The mirror now reflects a haggard old woman, with ashen lips and
face of deadly pallor.  But do not fancy that you are listening to
a mere puling lament.  It is not the flight of years that has
brought me to be this wreck of my former self: had it been so I
could have borne the loss cheerfully, patiently, as the common lot
of all; but it was no natural progress of decay which has robbed me
of bloom, of youth, of the hopes and joys that belong to youth,
snapped the link that bound my heart to another's, and doomed me to
a lone old age.  I try to be patient, but my cross has been heavy,
and my heart is empty and weary, and I long for the death that
comes so slowly to those who pray to die.

I will try and relate, exactly as it happened, the event which
blighted my life.  Though it occurred many years ago, there is no
fear that I should have forgotten any of the minutest
circumstances: they were stamped on my brain too clearly and
burningly, like the brand of a red-hot iron.  I see them written in
the wrinkles of my brow, in the dead whiteness of my hair, which
was a glossy brown once, and has known no gradual change from dark
to gray, from gray to white, as with those happy ones who were the
companions of my girlhood, and whose honored age is soothed by the
love of children and grandchildren.  But I must not envy them.  I
only meant to say that the difficulty of my task has no connection
with want of memory--I remember but too well.  But as I take my pen
my hand trembles, my head swims, the old rushing faintness and
Horror comes over me again, and the well-remembered fear is upon
me.  Yet I will go on.

This, briefly, is my story: I was a great heiress, I believe,
though I cared little for the fact; but so it was.  My father had
great possessions, and no son to inherit after him.  His three
daughters, of whom I was the youngest, were to share the broad
acres among them.  I have said, and truly, that I cared little for
the circumstance; and, indeed, I was so rich then in health and
youth and love that I felt myself quite indifferent to all else.
The possession of all the treasures of earth could never have made
up for what I then had--and lost, as I am about to relate.  Of
course, we girls knew that we were heiresses, but I do not think
Lucy and Minnie were any the prouder or the happier on that
account.  I know I was not.  Reginald did not court me for my
money.  Of THAT I felt assured.  He proved it, Heaven be praised!
when he shrank from my side after the change.  Yes, in all my
lonely age, I can still be thankful that he did not keep his word,
as some would have done--did not clasp at the altar a hand he had
learned to loathe and shudder at, because it was full of gold--much
gold!  At least he spared me that.  And I know that I was loved,
and the knowledge has kept me from going mad through many a weary
day and restless night, when my hot eyeballs had not a tear to
shed, and even to weep was a luxury denied me.

Our house was an old Tudor mansion.  My father was very particular
in keeping the smallest peculiarities of his home unaltered.  Thus
the many peaks and gables, the numerous turrets, and the mullioned
windows with their quaint lozenge panes set in lead, remained very
nearly as they had been three centuries back.  Over and above the
quaint melancholy of our dwelling, with the deep woods of its park
and the sullen waters of the mere, our neighborhood was thinly
peopled and primitive, and the people round us were ignorant, and
tenacious of ancient ideas and traditions.  Thus it was a
superstitious atmosphere that we children were reared in, and we
heard, from our infancy, countless tales of horror, some mere
fables doubtless, others legends of dark deeds of the olden time,
exaggerated by credulity and the love of the marvelous.  Our mother
had died when we were young, and our other parent being, though a
kind father, much absorbed in affairs of various kinds, as an
active magistrate and landlord, there was no one to check the
unwholesome stream of tradition with which our plastic minds were
inundated in the company of nurses and servants.  As years went on,
however, the old ghostly tales partially lost their effects, and
our undisciplined minds were turned more towards balls, dress, and
partners, and other matters airy and trivial, more welcome to our
riper age.  It was at a county assembly that Reginald and I first
met--met and loved.  Yes, I am sure that he loved me with all his
heart.  It was not as deep a heart as some, I have thought in my
grief and anger; but I never doubted its truth and honesty.
Reginald's father and mine approved of our growing attachment; and
as for myself, I know I was so happy then, that I look back upon
those fleeting moments as on some delicious dream.  I now come to
the change.  I have lingered on my childish reminiscences, my
bright and happy youth, and now I must tell the rest--the blight
and the sorrow.

It was Christmas, always a joyful and a hospitable time in the
country, especially in such an old hall as our home, where quaint
customs and frolics were much clung to, as part and parcel of the
very dwelling itself.  The hall was full of guests--so full,
indeed, that there was great difficulty in providing sleeping
accommodation for all.  Several narrow and dark chambers in the
turrets--mere pigeon-holes, as we irreverently called what had been
thought good enough for the stately gentlemen of Elizabeth's reign--
were now allotted to bachelor visitors, after having been empty
for a century.  All the spare rooms in the body and wings of the
hall were occupied, of course; and the servants who had been
brought down were lodged at the farm and at the keeper's, so great
was the demand for space.  At last the unexpected arrival of an
elderly relative, who had been asked months before, but scarcely
expected, caused great commotion.  My aunts went about wringing
their hands distractedly.  Lady Speldhurst was a personage of some
consequence; she was a distant cousin, and had been for years on
cool terms with us all, on account of some fancied affront or
slight when she had paid her LAST visit, about the time of my
christening.  She was seventy years old; she was infirm, rich, and
testy; moreover, she was my godmother, though I had forgotten the
fact; but it seems that though I had formed no expectations of a
legacy in my favor, my aunts had done so for me.  Aunt Margaret was
especially eloquent on the subject.  "There isn't a room left," she
said; "was ever anything so unfortunate!  We cannot put Lady
Speldhurst into the turrets, and yet where IS she to sleep?  And
Rosa's godmother, too!  Poor, dear child, how dreadful!  After all
these years of estrangement, and with a hundred thousand in the
funds, and no comfortable, warm room at her own unlimited disposal--
and Christmas, of all times in the year!"  What WAS to be done?
My aunts could not resign their own chambers to Lady Speldhurst,
because they had already given them up to some of the married
guests.  My father was the most hospitable of men, but he was
rheumatic, gouty, and methodical.  His sisters-in-law dared not
propose to shift his quarters; and, indeed, he would have far
sooner dined on prison fare than have been translated to a strange
bed.  The matter ended in my giving up my room.  I had a strange
reluctance to making the offer, which surprised myself.  Was it a
boding of evil to come?  I cannot say.  We are strangely and
wonderfully made.  It MAY have been.  At any rate, I do not think
it was any selfish unwillingness to make an old and infirm lady
comfortable by a trifling sacrifice.  I was perfectly healthy and
strong.  The weather was not cold for the time of the year.  It was
a dark, moist Yule--not a snowy one, though snow brooded overhead
in the darkling clouds.  I DID make the offer, which became me, I
said with a laugh, as the youngest.  My sisters laughed too, and
made a jest of my evident wish to propitiate my godmother.  "She is
a fairy godmother, Rosa," said Minnie; "and you know she was
affronted at your christening, and went away muttering vengeance.
Here she is coming back to see you; I hope she brings golden gifts
with her."

I thought little of Lady Speldhurst and her possible golden gifts.
I cared nothing for the wonderful fortune in the funds that my
aunts whispered and nodded about so mysteriously.  But since then I
have wondered whether, had I then showed myself peevish or
obstinate--had I refused to give up my room for the expected
kinswoman--it would not have altered the whole of my life?  But
then Lucy or Minnie would have offered in my stead, and been
sacrificed--what do I say?--better that the blow should have fallen
as it did than on those dear ones.

The chamber to which I removed was a dim little triangular room in
the western wing, and was only to be reached by traversing the
picture-gallery, or by mounting a little flight of stone stairs
which led directly upward from the low-browed arch of a door that
opened into the garden.  There was one more room on the same
landing-place, and this was a mere receptacle for broken furniture,
shattered toys, and all the lumber that WILL accumulate in a
country-house.  The room I was to inhabit for a few nights was a
tapestry-hung apartment, with faded green curtains of some costly
stuff, contrasting oddly with a new carpet and the bright, fresh
hangings of the bed, which had been hurriedly erected.  The
furniture was half old, half new; and on the dressing-table stood a
very quaint oval mirror, in a frame of black wood--unpolished
ebony, I think.  I can remember the very pattern of the carpet, the
number of chairs, the situation of the bed, the figures on the
tapestry.  Nay, I can recollect not only the color of the dress I
wore on that fated evening, but the arrangement of every scrap of
lace and ribbon, of every flower, every jewel, with a memory but
too perfect.

Scarcely had my maid finished spreading out my various articles of
attire for the evening (when there was to be a great dinner-party)
when the rumble of a carriage announced that Lady Speldhurst had
arrived.  The short winter's day drew to a close, and a large
number of guests were gathered together in the ample drawing-room,
around the blaze of the wood-fire, after dinner.  My father, I
recollect, was not with us at first.  There were some squires of
the old, hard-riding, hard-drinking stamp still lingering over
their port in the dining-room, and the host, of course, could not
leave them.  But the ladies and all the younger gentlemen--both
those who slept under our roof, and those who would have a dozen
miles of fog and mire to encounter on their road home--were all
together.  Need I say that Reginald was there?  He sat near me--my
accepted lover, my plighted future husband.  We were to be married
in the spring.  My sisters were not far off; they, too, had found
eyes that sparkled and softened in meeting theirs, had found hearts
that beat responsive to their own.  And, in their cases, no rude
frost nipped the blossom ere it became the fruit; there was no
canker in their flowerets of young hope, no cloud in their sky.
Innocent and loving, they were beloved by men worthy of their
esteem.

The room--a large and lofty one, with an arched roof--had somewhat
of a somber character, from being wainscoted and ceiled with
polished black oak of a great age.  There were mirrors, and there
were pictures on the walls, and handsome furniture, and marble
chimney-pieces, and a gay Tournay carpet; but these merely appeared
as bright spots on the dark background of the Elizabethan woodwork.
Many lights were burning, but the blackness of the walls and roof
seemed absolutely to swallow up their rays, like the mouth of a
cavern.  A hundred candles could not have given that apartment the
cheerful lightness of a modern drawing room.  But the gloomy
richness of the panels matched well with the ruddy gleam from the
enormous wood-fire, in which, crackling and glowing, now lay the
mighty Yule log.  Quite a blood-red luster poured forth from the
fire, and quivered on the walls and the groined roof.  We had
gathered round the vast antique hearth in a wide circle.  The
quivering light of the fire and candles fell upon us all, but not
equally, for some were in shadow.  I remember still how tall and
manly and handsome Reginald looked that night, taller by the head
than any there, and full of high spirits and gayety.  I, too, was
in the highest spirits; never had my bosom felt lighter, and I
believe it was my mirth that gradually gained the rest, for I
recollect what a blithe, joyous company we seemed.  All save one.
Lady Speldhurst, dressed in gray silk and wearing a quaint head-
dress, sat in her armchair, facing the fire, very silent, with her
hands and her sharp chin propped on a sort of ivory-handled crutch
that she walked with (for she was lame), peering at me with half-
shut eyes.  She was a little, spare old woman, with very keen,
delicate features of the French type.  Her gray silk dress, her
spotless lace, old-fashioned jewels, and prim neatness of array,
were well suited to the intelligence of her face, with its thin
lips, and eyes of a piercing black, undimmed by age.  Those eyes
made me uncomfortable, in spite of my gayety, as they followed my
every movement with curious scrutiny.  Still I was very merry and
gay; my sisters even wondered at my ever-ready mirth, which was
almost wild in its excess.  I have heard since then of the Scottish
belief that those doomed to some great calamity become fey, and are
never so disposed for merriment and laughter as just before the
blow falls.  If ever mortal was fey, then I was so on that evening.
Still, though I strove to shake it off, the pertinacious
observation of old Lady Speldhurst's eyes DID make an impression on
me of a vaguely disagreeable nature.  Others, too, noticed her
scrutiny of me, but set it down as a mere eccentricity of a person
always reputed whimsical, to say the least of it.

However, this disagreeable sensation lasted but a few moments.
After a short pause my aunt took her part in the conversation, and
we found ourselves listening to a weird legend, which the old lady
told exceedingly well.  One tale led to another.  Everyone was
called on in turn to contribute to the public entertainment, and
story after story, always relating to demonology and witchcraft,
succeeded.  It was Christmas, the season for such tales; and the
old room, with its dusky walls and pictures, and vaulted roof,
drinking up the light so greedily, seemed just fitted to give
effect to such legendary lore.  The huge logs crackled and burned
with glowing warmth; the blood-red glare of the Yule log flashed on
the faces of the listeners and narrator, on the portraits, and the
holly wreathed about their frames, and the upright old dame, in her
antiquated dress and trinkets, like one of the originals of the
pictures, stepped from the canvas to join our circle.  It threw a
shimmering luster of an ominously ruddy hue upon the oaken panels.
No wonder that the ghost and goblin stories had a new zest.  No
wonder that the blood of the more timid grew chill and curdled,
that their flesh crept, that their hearts beat irregularly, and the
girls peeped fearfully over their shoulders, and huddled close
together like frightened sheep, and half fancied they beheld some
impish and malignant face gibbering at them from the darkling
corners of the old room.  By degrees my high spirits died out, and
I felt the childish tremors, long latent, long forgotten, coming
over me.  I followed each story with painful interest; I did not
ask myself if I believed the dismal tales.  I listened, and fear
grew upon me--the blind, irrational fear of our nursery days.  I am
sure most of the other ladies present, young or middle-aged, were
affected by the circumstances under which these traditions were
heard, no less than by the wild and fantastic character of them.
But with them the impression would die out next morning, when the
bright sun should shine on the frosted boughs, and the rime on the
grass, and the scarlet berries and green spikelets of the holly;
and with me--but, ah! what was to happen ere another day dawn?
Before we had made an end of this talk my father and the other
squires came in, and we ceased our ghost stories, ashamed to speak
of such matters before these new-comers--hard-headed, unimaginative
men, who had no sympathy with idle legends.  There was now a stir
and bustle.

Servants were handing round tea and coffee, and other refreshments.
Then there was a little music and singing.  I sang a duet with
Reginald, who had a fine voice and good musical skill.  I remember
that my singing was much praised, and indeed I was surprised at the
power and pathos of my own voice, doubtless due to my excited
nerves and mind.  Then I heard someone say to another that I was by
far the cleverest of the Squire's daughters, as well as the
prettiest.  It did not make me vain.  I had no rivalry with Lucy
and Minnie.  But Reginald whispered some soft, fond words in my ear
a little before he mounted his horse to set off homeward, which DID
make me happy and proud.  And to think that the next time we met--
but I forgave him long ago.  Poor Reginald!  And now shawls and
cloaks were in request, and carriages rolled up to the porch, and
the guests gradually departed.  At last no one was left but those
visitors staying in the house.  Then my father, who had been called
out to speak with the bailiff of the estate, came back with a look
of annoyance on his face.

"A strange story I have just been told," said he; "here has been my
bailiff to inform me of the loss of four of the choicest ewes out
of that little flock of Southdowns I set such store by, and which
arrived in the north but two months since.  And the poor creatures
have been destroyed in so strange a manner, for their carcasses are
horribly mangled."

Most of us uttered some expression of pity or surprise, and some
suggested that a vicious dog was probably the culprit.

"It would seem so," said my father; "it certainly seems the work of
a dog; and yet all the men agree that no dog of such habits exists
near us, where, indeed, dogs are scarce, excepting the shepherds'
collies and the sporting dogs secured in yards.  Yet the sheep are
gnawed and bitten, for they show the marks of teeth.  Something has
done this, and has torn their bodies wolfishly; but apparently it
has been only to suck the blood, for little or no flesh is gone."

"How strange!" cried several voices.  Then some of the gentlemen
remembered to have heard of cases when dogs addicted to sheep-
killing had destroyed whole flocks, as if in sheer wantonness,
scarcely deigning to taste a morsel of each slain wether.

My father shook his head.  "I have heard of such cases, too," he
said; "but in this instance I am tempted to think the malice of
some unknown enemy has been at work.  The teeth of a dog have been
busy, no doubt, but the poor sheep have been mutilated in a
fantastic manner, as strange as horrible; their hearts, in
especial, have been torn out, and left at some paces off, half-
gnawed.  Also, the men persist that they found the print of a naked
human foot in the soft mud of the ditch, and near it--this."  And
he held up what seemed a broken link of a rusted iron chain.

Many were the ejaculations of wonder and alarm, and many and shrewd
the conjectures, but none seemed exactly to suit the bearings of
the case.  And when my father went on to say that two lambs of the
same valuable breed had perished in the same singular manner three
days previously, and that they also were found mangled and gore-
stained, the amazement reached a higher pitch.  Old Lady Speldhurst
listened with calm, intelligent attention, but joined in none of
our exclamations.  At length she said to my father, "Try and
recollect--have you no enemy among your neighbors?"  My father
started, and knit his brows.  "Not one that I know of," he replied;
and indeed he was a popular man and a kind landlord.  "The more
lucky you," said the old dame, with one of her grim smiles.  It was
now late, and we retired to rest before long.  One by one the
guests dropped off.  I was the member of the family selected to
escort old Lady Speldhurst to her room--the room I had vacated in
her favor.  I did not much like the office.  I felt a remarkable
repugnance to my godmother, but my worthy aunts insisted so much
that I should ingratiate myself with one who had so much to leave
that I could not but comply.  The visitor hobbled up the broad
oaken stairs actively enough, propped on my arm and her ivory
crutch.  The room never had looked more genial and pretty, with its
brisk fire, modern furniture, and the gay French paper on the
walls.  "A nice room, my dear, and I ought to be much obliged to
you for it, since my maid tells me it is yours," said her ladyship;
"but I am pretty sure you repent your generosity to me, after all
those ghost stories, and tremble to think of a strange bed and
chamber, eh?"  I made some commonplace reply.  The old lady arched
her eyebrows.  "Where have they put you, child?" she asked; "in
some cock-loft of the turrets, eh? or in a lumber-room--a regular
ghost-trap?  I can hear your heart beating with fear this moment.
You are not fit to be alone."  I tried to call up my pride, and
laugh off the accusation against my courage, all the more, perhaps,
because I felt its truth.  "Do you want anything more that I can
get you, Lady Speldhurst?"  I asked, trying to feign a yawn of
sleepiness.  The old dame's keen eyes were upon me.  "I rather like
you, my dear," she said, "and I liked your mamma well enough before
she treated me so shamefully about the christening dinner.  Now, I
know you are frightened and fearful, and if an owl should but flap
your window to-night, it might drive you into fits.  There is a
nice little sofa-bed in this dressing closet--call your maid to
arrange it for you, and you can sleep there snugly, under the old
witch's protection, and then no goblin dare harm you, and nobody
will be a bit the wiser, or quiz you for being afraid."  How little
I knew what hung in the balance of my refusal or acceptance of that
trivial proffer!  Had the veil of the future been lifted for one
instant! but that veil is impenetrable to our gaze.

I left her door.  As I crossed the landing a bright gleam came from
another room, whose door was left ajar; it (the light) fell like a
bar of golden sheen across my path.  As I approached the door
opened and my sister Lucy, who had been watching for me, came out.
She was already in a white cashmere wrapper, over which her
loosened hair hung darkly and heavily, like tangles of silk.
"Rosa, love," she whispered, "Minnie and I can't bear the idea of
your sleeping out there, all alone, in that solitary room--the very
room too Nurse Sherrard used to talk about!  So, as you know Minnie
has given up her room, and come to sleep in mine, still we should
so wish you to stop with us to-night at any rate, and I could make
up a bed on the sofa for myself or you--and--"  I stopped Lucy's
mouth with a kiss.  I declined her offer.  I would not listen to
it.  In fact, my pride was up in arms, and I felt I would rather
pass the night in the churchyard itself than accept a proposal
dictated, I felt sure, by the notion that my nerves were shaken by
the ghostly lore we had been raking up, that I was a weak,
superstitious creature, unable to pass a night in a strange
chamber.  So I would not listen to Lucy, but kissed her, bade her
good-night, and went on my way laughing, to show my light heart.
Yet, as I looked back in the dark corridor, and saw the friendly
door still ajar, the yellow bar of light still crossing from wall
to wall, the sweet, kind face still peering after me from amidst
its clustering curls, I felt a thrill of sympathy, a wish to
return, a yearning after human love and companionship.  False shame
was strongest, and conquered.  I waved a gay adieu.  I turned the
corner, and peeping over my shoulder, I saw the door close; the bar
of yellow light was there no longer in the darkness of the passage.
I thought at that instant that I heard a heavy sigh.  I looked
sharply round.  No one was there.  No door was open, yet I fancied,
and fancied with a wonderful vividness, that I did hear an actual
sigh breathed not far off, and plainly distinguishable from the
groan of the sycamore branches as the wind tossed them to and fro
in the outer blackness.  If ever a mortal's good angel had cause to
sigh for sorrow, not sin, mine had cause to mourn that night.  But
imagination plays us strange tricks and my nervous system was not
over-composed or very fitted for judicial analysis.  I had to go
through the picture-gallery.  I had never entered this apartment by
candle-light before and I was struck by the gloomy array of the
tall portraits, gazing moodily from the canvas on the lozenge-paned
or painted windows, which rattled to the blast as it swept howling
by.  Many of the faces looked stern, and very different from their
daylight expression.  In others a furtive, flickering smile seemed
to mock me as my candle illumined them; and in all, the eyes, as
usual with artistic portraits, seemed to follow my motions with a
scrutiny and an interest the more marked for the apathetic
immovability of the other features.  I felt ill at ease under this
stony gaze, though conscious how absurd were my apprehensions; and
I called up a smile and an air of mirth, more as if acting a part
under the eyes of human beings than of their mere shadows on the
wall.  I even laughed as I confronted them.  No echo had my short-
lived laughter but from the hollow armor and arching roof, and I
continued on my way in silence.

By a sudden and not uncommon revulsion of feeling I shook off my
aimless terrors, blushed at my weakness, and sought my chamber only
too glad that I had been the only witness of my late tremors.  As I
entered my chamber I thought I heard something stir in the
neglected lumber-room, which was the only neighboring apartment.
But I was determined to have no more panics, and resolutely shut my
eyes to this slight and transient noise, which had nothing
unnatural in it; for surely, between rats and wind, an old manor-
house on a stormy night needs no sprites to disturb it.  So I
entered my room, and rang for my maid.  As I did so I looked around
me, and a most unaccountable repugnance to my temporary abode came
over me, in spite of my efforts.  It was no more to be shaken off
than a chill is to be shaken off when we enter some damp cave.
And, rely upon it, the feeling of dislike and apprehension with
which we regard, at first sight, certain places and people, was not
implanted in us without some wholesome purpose.  I grant it is
irrational--mere animal instinct--but is not instinct God's gift,
and is it for us to despise it?  It is by instinct that children
know their friends from their enemies--that they distinguish with
such unerring accuracy between those who like them and those who
only flatter and hate them.  Dogs do the same; they will fawn on
one person, they slink snarling from another.  Show me a man whom
children and dogs shrink from, and I will show you a false, bad
man--lies on his lips, and murder at his heart.  No; let none
despise the heaven-sent gift of innate antipathy, which makes the
horse quail when the lion crouches in the thicket--which makes the
cattle scent the shambles from afar, and low in terror and disgust
as their nostrils snuff the blood-polluted air.  I felt this
antipathy strongly as I looked around me in my new sleeping-room,
and yet I could find no reasonable pretext for my dislike.  A very
good room it was, after all, now that the green damask curtains
were drawn, the fire burning bright and clear, candles burning on
the mantel-piece, and the various familiar articles of toilet
arranged as usual.  The bed, too, looked peaceful and inviting--a
pretty little white bed, not at all the gaunt funereal sort of
couch which haunted apartments generally contain.

My maid entered, and assisted me to lay aside the dress and
ornaments I had worn, and arranged my hair, as usual, prattling the
while, in Abigail fashion.  I seldom cared to converse with
servants; but on that night a sort of dread of being left alone--a
longing to keep some human being near me possessed me--and I
encouraged the girl to gossip, so that her duties took her half an
hour longer to get through than usual.  At last, however, she had
done all that could be done, and all my questions were answered,
and my orders for the morrow reiterated and vowed obedience to, and
the clock on the turret struck one.  Then Mary, yawning a little,
asked if I wanted anything more, and I was obliged to answer no,
for very shame's sake; and she went.  The shutting of the door,
gently as it was closed, affected me unpleasantly.  I took a
dislike to the curtains, the tapestry, the dingy pictures--
everything.  I hated the room.  I felt a temptation to put on a
cloak, run, half-dressed, to my sisters' chamber, and say I had
changed my mind and come for shelter.  But they must be asleep, I
thought, and I could not be so unkind as to wake them.  I said my
prayers with unusual earnestness and a heavy heart.  I extinguished
the candles, and was just about to lay my head on my pillow, when
the idea seized me that I would fasten the door.  The candles were
extinguished, but the firelight was amply sufficient to guide me.
I gained the door.  There was a lock, but it was rusty or hampered;
my utmost strength could not turn the key.  The bolt was broken and
worthless.  Balked of my intention, I consoled myself by
remembering that I had never had need of fastenings yet, and
returned to my bed.  I lay awake for a good while, watching the red
glow of the burning coals in the grate.  I was quiet now, and more
composed.  Even the light gossip of the maid, full of petty human
cares and joys, had done me good--diverted my thoughts from
brooding.  I was on the point of dropping asleep, when I was twice
disturbed.  Once, by an owl, hooting in the ivy outside--no
unaccustomed sound, but harsh and melancholy; once, by a long and
mournful howling set up by the mastiff, chained in the yard beyond
the wing I occupied.  A long-drawn, lugubrious howling was this
latter, and much such a note as the vulgar declare to herald a
death in the family.  This was a fancy I had never shared; but yet
I could not help feeling that the dog's mournful moans were sad,
and expressive of terror, not at all like his fierce, honest bark
of anger, but rather as if something evil and unwonted were abroad.
But soon I fell asleep.

How long I slept I never knew.  I awoke at once with that abrupt
start which we all know well, and which carries us in a second from
utter unconsciousness to the full use of our faculties.  The fire
was still burning, but was very low, and half the room or more was
in deep shadow.  I knew, I felt, that some person or thing was in
the room, although nothing unusual was to be seen by the feeble
light.  Yet it was a sense of danger that had aroused me from
slumber.  I experienced, while yet asleep, the chill and shock of
sudden alarm, and I knew, even in the act of throwing off sleep
like a mantle, WHY I awoke, and that some intruder was present.
Yet, though I listened intently, no sound was audible, except the
faint murmur of the fire--the dropping of a cinder from the bars--
the loud, irregular beatings of my own heart.  Notwithstanding this
silence, by some intuition I knew that I had not been deceived by a
dream, and felt certain that I was not alone.  I waited.  My heart
beat on; quicker, more sudden grew its pulsations, as a bird in a
cage might flutter in presence of the hawk.  And then I heard a
sound, faint, but quite distinct, the clank of iron, the rattling
of a chain!  I ventured to lift my head from the pillow.  Dim and
uncertain as the light was, I saw the curtains of my bed shake, and
caught a glimpse of something beyond, a darker spot in the
darkness.  This confirmation of my fears did not surprise me so
much as it shocked me.  I strove to cry aloud, but could not utter
a word.  The chain rattled again, and this time the noise was
louder and clearer.  But though I strained my eyes, they could not
penetrate the obscurity that shrouded the other end of the chamber
whence came the sullen clanking.  In a moment several distinct
trains of thought, like many-colored strands of thread twining into
one, became palpable to my mental vision.  Was it a robber?  Could
it be a supernatural visitant?  Or was I the victim of a cruel
trick, such as I had heard of, and which some thoughtless persons
love to practice on the timid, reckless of its dangerous results?
And then a new idea, with some ray of comfort in it, suggested
itself.  There was a fine young dog of the Newfoundland breed, a
favorite of my father's, which was usually chained by night in an
outhouse.  Neptune might have broken loose, found his way to my
room, and, finding the door imperfectly closed, have pushed it open
and entered.  I breathed more freely as this harmless
interpretation of the noise forced itself upon me.  It was--it must
be--the dog, and I was distressing myself uselessly.  I resolved to
call to him; I strove to utter his name--"Neptune, Neptune," but a
secret apprehension restrained me, and I was mute.

Then the chain clanked nearer and nearer to the bed, and presently
I saw a dusky, shapeless mass appear between the curtains on the
opposite side to where I was lying.  How I longed to hear the whine
of the poor animal that I hoped might be the cause of my alarm.
But no; I heard no sound save the rustle of the curtains and the
clash of the iron chains.  Just then the dying flame of the fire
leaped up, and with one sweeping, hurried glance I saw that the
door was shut, and, horror! it is not the dog! it is the semblance
of a human form that now throws itself heavily on the bed, outside
the clothes, and lies there, huge and swart, in the red gleam that
treacherously died away after showing so much to affright, and
sinks into dull darkness.  There was now no light left, though the
red cinders yet glowed with a ruddy gleam like the eyes of wild
beasts.  The chain rattled no more.  I tried to speak, to scream
wildly for help; my mouth was parched, my tongue refused to obey.
I could not utter a cry, and, indeed, who could have heard me,
alone as I was in that solitary chamber, with no living neighbor,
and the picture-gallery between me and any aid that even the
loudest, most piercing shriek could summon.  And the storm that
howled without would have drowned my voice, even if help had been
at hand.  To call aloud--to demand who was there--alas! how
useless, how perilous!  If the intruder were a robber, my outcries
would but goad him to fury; but what robber would act thus?  As for
a trick, that seemed impossible.  And yet, WHAT lay by my side, now
wholly unseen?  I strove to pray aloud as there rushed on my memory
a flood of weird legends--the dreaded yet fascinating lore of my
childhood.  I had heard and read of the spirits of the wicked men
forced to revisit the scenes of their earthly crimes--of demons
that lurked in certain accursed spots--of the ghoul and vampire of
the east, stealing amidst the graves they rifled for their ghostly
banquets; and then I shuddered as I gazed on the blank darkness
where I knew it lay.  It stirred--it moaned hoarsely; and again I
heard the chain clank close beside me--so close that it must almost
have touched me.  I drew myself from it, shrinking away in loathing
and terror of the evil thing--what, I knew not, but felt that
something malignant was near.

And yet, in the extremity of my fear, I dared not speak; I was
strangely cautious to be silent, even in moving farther off; for I
had a wild hope that it--the phantom, the creature, whichever it
was--had not discovered my presence in the room.  And then I
remembered all the events of the night--Lady Speldhurst's ill-
omened vaticinations, her half-warnings, her singular look as we
parted, my sister's persuasions, my terror in the gallery, the
remark that "this was the room nurse Sherrard used to talk of."
And then memory, stimulated by fear, recalled the long-forgotten
past, the ill-repute of this disused chamber, the sins it had
witnessed, the blood spilled, the poison administered by unnatural
hate within its walls, and the tradition which called it haunted.
The green room--I remembered now how fearfully the servants avoided
it--how it was mentioned rarely, and in whispers, when we were
children, and how we had regarded it as a mysterious region, unfit
for mortal habitation.  Was It--the dark form with the chain--a
creature of this world, or a specter?  And again--more dreadful
still--could it be that the corpses of wicked men were forced to
rise and haunt in the body the places where they had wrought their
evil deeds?  And was such as these my grisly neighbor?  The chain
faintly rattled.  My hair bristled; my eyeballs seemed starting
from their sockets; the damps of a great anguish were on my brow.
My heart labored as if I were crushed beneath some vast weight.
Sometimes it appeared to stop its frenzied beatings, sometimes its
pulsations were fierce and hurried; my breath came short and with
extreme difficulty, and I shivered as if with cold; yet I feared to
stir.  IT moved, it moaned, its fetters clanked dismally, the couch
creaked and shook.  This was no phantom, then--no air-drawn
specter.  But its very solidity, its palpable presence, were a
thousand times more terrible.  I felt that I was in the very grasp
of what could not only affright but harm; of something whose
contact sickened the soul with deathly fear.  I made a desperate
resolve: I glided from the bed, I seized a warm wrapper, threw it
around me, and tried to grope, with extended hands, my way to the
door.  My heart beat high at the hope of escape.  But I had
scarcely taken one step before the moaning was renewed--it changed
into a threatening growl that would have suited a wolf's throat,
and a hand clutched at my sleeve.  I stood motionless.  The
muttering growl sank to a moan again, the chain sounded no more,
but still the hand held its gripe of my garment, and I feared to
move.  It knew of my presence, then.  My brain reeled, the blood
boiled in my ears, and my knees lost all strength, while my heart
panted like that of a deer in the wolf's jaws.  I sank back, and
the benumbing influence of excessive terror reduced me to a state
of stupor.

When my full consciousness returned I was sitting on the edge of
the bed, shivering with cold, and barefooted.  All was silent, but
I felt that my sleeve was still clutched by my unearthly visitant.
The silence lasted a long time.  Then followed a chuckling laugh
that froze my very marrow, and the gnashing of teeth as in demoniac
frenzy; and then a wailing moan, and this was succeeded by silence.
Hours may have passed--nay, though the tumult of my own heart
prevented my hearing the clock strike, must have passed--but they
seemed ages to me.  And how were they passed?  Hideous visions
passed before the aching eyes that I dared not close, but which
gazed ever into the dumb darkness where It lay--my dread companion
through the watches of the night.  I pictured It in every abhorrent
form which an excited fancy could summon up: now as a skeleton;
with hollow eye-holes and grinning, fleshless jaws; now as a
vampire, with livid face and bloated form, and dripping mouth wet
with blood.  Would it never be light!  And yet, when day should
dawn I should be forced to see It face to face.  I had heard that
specter and fiend were compelled to fade as morning brightened, but
this creature was too real, too foul a thing of earth, to vanish at
cock-crow.  No! I should see it--the Horror--face to face!  And
then the cold prevailed, and my teeth chattered, and shiverings ran
through me, and yet there was the damp of agony on my bursting
brow.  Some instinct made me snatch at a shawl or cloak that lay on
a chair within reach, and wrap it round me.  The moan was renewed,
and the chain just stirred.  Then I sank into apathy, like an
Indian at the stake, in the intervals of torture.  Hours fled by,
and I remained like a statue of ice, rigid and mute.  I even slept,
for I remember that I started to find the cold gray light of an
early winter's day was on my face, and stealing around the room
from between the heavy curtains of the window.

Shuddering, but urged by the impulse that rivets the gaze of the
bird upon the snake, I turned to see the Horror of the night.  Yes,
it was no fevered dream, no hallucination of sickness, no airy
phantom unable to face the dawn.  In the sickly light I saw it
lying on the bed, with its grim head on the pillow.  A man?  Or a
corpse arisen from its unhallowed grave, and awaiting the demon
that animated it?  There it lay--a gaunt, gigantic form, wasted to
a skeleton, half-clad, foul with dust and clotted gore, its huge
limbs flung upon the couch as if at random, its shaggy hair
streaming over the pillows like a lion's mane.  His face was toward
me.  Oh, the wild hideousness of that face, even in sleep!  In
features it was human, even through its horrid mask of mud and
half-dried bloody gouts, but the expression was brutish and
savagely fierce; the white teeth were visible between the parted
lips, in a malignant grin; the tangled hair and beard were mixed in
leonine confusion, and there were scars disfiguring the brow.
Round the creature's waist was a ring of iron, to which was
attached a heavy but broken chain--the chain I had heard clanking.
With a second glance I noted that part of the chain was wrapped in
straw to prevent its galling the wearer.  The creature--I cannot
call it a man--had the marks of fetters on its wrists, the bony arm
that protruded through one tattered sleeve was scarred and bruised;
the feet were bare, and lacerated by pebbles and briers, and one of
them was wounded, and wrapped in a morsel of rag.  And the lean
hands, one of which held my sleeve, were armed with talons like an
eagle's.  In an instant the horrid truth flashed upon me--I was in
the grasp of a madman.  Better the phantom that scares the sight
than the wild beast that rends and tears the quivering flesh--the
pitiless human brute that has no heart to be softened, no reason at
whose bar to plead, no compassion, naught of man save the form and
the cunning.  I gasped in terror.  Ah! the mystery of those
ensanguined fingers, those gory, wolfish jaws! that face, all
besmeared with blackening blood, is revealed!

The slain sheep, so mangled and rent--the fantastic butchery--the
print of the naked foot--all, all were explained; and the chain,
the broken link of which was found near the slaughtered animals--it
came from his broken chain--the chain he had snapped, doubtless, in
his escape from the asylum where his raging frenzy had been
fettered and bound, in vain! in vain!  Ah me! how had this grisly
Samson broken manacles and prison bars--how had he eluded guardian
and keeper and a hostile world, and come hither on his wild way,
hunted like a beast of prey, and snatching his hideous banquet like
a beast of prey, too!  Yes, through the tatters of his mean and
ragged garb I could see the marks of the seventies, cruel and
foolish, with which men in that time tried to tame the might of
madness.  The scourge--its marks were there; and the scars of the
hard iron fetters, and many a cicatrice and welt, that told a
dismal tale of hard usage.  But now he was loose, free to play the
brute--the baited, tortured brute that they had made him--now
without the cage, and ready to gloat over the victims his strength
should overpower.  Horror! horror!  I was the prey--the victim--
already in the tiger's clutch; and a deadly sickness came over me,
and the iron entered into my soul, and I longed to scream, and was
dumb!  I died a thousand deaths as that morning wore on.  I DARED
NOT faint.  But words cannot paint what I suffered as I waited--
waited till the moment when he should open his eyes and be aware of
my presence; for I was assured he knew it not.  He had entered the
chamber as a lair, when weary and gorged with his horrid orgy; and
he had flung himself down to sleep without a suspicion that he was
not alone.  Even his grasping my sleeve was doubtless an act done
betwixt sleeping and waking, like his unconscious moans and
laughter, in some frightful dream.

Hours went on; then I trembled as I thought that soon the house
would be astir, that my maid would come to call me as usual, and
awake that ghastly sleeper.  And might he not have time to tear me,
as he tore the sheep, before any aid could arrive?  At last what I
dreaded came to pass--a light footstep on the landing--there is a
tap at the door.  A pause succeeds, and then the tapping is
renewed, and this time more loudly.  Then the madman stretched his
limbs, and uttered his moaning cry, and his eyes slowly opened--
very slowly opened and met mine.  The girl waited a while ere she
knocked for the third time.  I trembled lest she should open the
door unbidden--see that grim thing, and bring about the worst.

I saw the wondering surprise in his haggard, bloodshot eyes; I saw
him stare at me half vacantly, then with a crafty yet wondering
look; and then I saw the devil of murder begin to peep forth from
those hideous eyes, and the lips to part as in a sneer, and the
wolfish teeth to bare themselves.  But I was not what I had been.
Fear gave me a new and a desperate composure--a courage foreign to
my nature.  I had heard of the best method of managing the insane;
I could but try; I DID try.  Calmly, wondering at my own feigned
calm, I fronted the glare of those terrible eyes.  Steady and
undaunted was my gaze--motionless my attitude.  I marveled at
myself, but in that agony of sickening terror I was OUTWARDLY firm.
They sink, they quail, abashed, those dreadful eyes, before the
gaze of a helpless girl; and the shame that is never absent from
insanity bears down the pride of strength, the bloody cravings of
the wild beast.  The lunatic moaned and drooped his shaggy head
between his gaunt, squalid hands.

I lost not an instant.  I rose, and with one spring reached the
door, tore it open, and, with a shriek, rushed through, caught the
wondering girl by the arm, and crying to her to run for her life,
rushed like the wind along the gallery, down the corridor, down the
stairs.  Mary's screams filled the house as she fled beside me.  I
heard a long-drawn, raging cry, the roar of a wild animal mocked of
its prey, and I knew what was behind me.  I never turned my head--I
flew rather than ran.  I was in the hall already; there was a rush
of many feet, an outcry of many voices, a sound of scuffling feet,
and brutal yells, and oaths, and heavy blows, and I fell to the
ground crying, "Save me!" and lay in a swoon.  I awoke from a
delirious trance.  Kind faces were around my bed, loving looks were
bent on me by all, by my dear father and dear sisters; but I
scarcely saw them before I swooned again.

When I recovered from that long illness, through which I had been
nursed so tenderly, the pitying looks I met made me tremble.  I
asked for a looking-glass.  It was long denied me, but my
importunity prevailed at last--a mirror was brought.  My youth was
gone at one fell swoop.  The glass showed me a livid and haggard
face, blanched and bloodless as of one who sees a specter; and in
the ashen lips, and wrinkled brow, and dim eyes, I could trace
nothing of my old self.  The hair, too, jetty and rich before, was
now as white as snow; and in one night the ravages of half a
century had passed over my face.  Nor have my nerves ever recovered
their tone after that dire shock.  Can you wonder that my life was
blighted, that my lover shrank from me, so sad a wreck was I?

I am old now--old and alone.  My sisters would have had me to live
with them, but I chose not to sadden their genial homes with my
phantom face and dead eyes.  Reginald married another.  He has been
dead many years.  I never ceased to pray for him, though he left me
when I was bereft of all.  The sad weird is nearly over now.  I am
old, and near the end, and wishful for it.  I have not been bitter
or hard, but I cannot bear to see many people, and am best alone.
I try to do what good I can with the worthless wealth Lady
Speldhurst left me, for, at my wish, my portion was shared between
my sisters.  What need had I of inheritance?--I, the shattered
wreck made by that one night of horror!



THE END




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